Battle to free Mosul of Daesh ‘intellectual terrorism’

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A graduate of an anti-jihadist ideology course organised by the Muslim Scholars Forum of Mosul speaks to new volunteer recruits after his ceremony in the northern Iraqi city on February 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Sheikh Saleh al-Obeidi (R), head of the Muslim Scholars Forum of Mosul, hands out a certificate to a new graduate during a graduation ceremony in the northern Iraqi city, in this February 8, 2018 photo. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2018

Battle to free Mosul of Daesh ‘intellectual terrorism’

MOSUL, Iraq: In a classroom of the University of Mosul, in the Daesh group’s former Iraqi capital, around 50 volunteers have undergone a week’s training on how to combat the terrorists’ ideology.
The ulema, or Islamic scholars, aim to set up “brigades” tasked with ridding Mosul residents of extremist ideas following the city’s recapture last July which ended three years of Daesh rule.
“Mosul must be liberated from the thinking of Daesh after having been liberated militarily,” said Mussaab Mahmud, who just completed the course, using an Arabic acronym for Daesh.
“We were deceived by Daesh ideas and now we are trying to free ourselves from its ideology,” said the 30-year-old day laborer.
The first group of volunteers came from all sectors of Mosul society, including mechanics, teachers and a sheikh.
The men aged from 25 to 45 signed up on Facebook for the course run by the Ulema Forum of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which was left shattered by the months-long battle to expel Daesh.
The classes are being conducted by five teachers who are experts in Islamic jurisprudence from Mosul and Tikrit, a city to the south that was also previously under brutal Daesh rule.
“The lessons are concentrated on human rights, human development, peaceful coexistence and communal peace,” the forum’s president Sheikh Saleh Al-Obeidi told AFP.
He said participants were tutored on “faith, Islamic jurisprudence and the Hadith (record of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) to allow them to counter the ideas of Daesh and its intellectual terrorism.”

Daesh imposed its own rigid interpretation of Islamic law on all aspects of everyday life, branding opponents “apostates” who should be killed.
Most members of religious and ethnic minorities who had lived in peace for centuries alongside Mosul’s majority Sunni Muslims fled to escape the radicals with their beatings and public executions.
Sheikh Obeidi said the brigades will go out and “combat the extremist ideas on social media and by calling on residents in their homes.”
His forum was established in 2014 in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, to the north of Mosul, by ulema who had fled the city.
They broadcast on private television channels but residents risked the wrath of Daesh if they were caught tuning in to the forum’s programs.
Sheikh Obeidi said that the classes would expand to cover “all social groups and both sexes,” although it was still looking for permanent premises in the war-battered city.
Priority will be the children indoctrinated in Daesh-run schools where they were taught the terrorsit version of Islam and given weapons training.
“As a teacher myself, what I’ve learnt here will allow me as far as possible to erase the radical Daesh ideas instilled in pupils, because they were the worst affected and influenced,” said Ibrahim Mohammad Hamid, 27.
“I will go to the parents because the home and the family play a major role in spreading the idea of tolerance and coexistence,” he said.
Mohammad Abaiji, a 24-year-old imam, or prayer leader, said he would run seminars in the mosque for children “to spread enlightened ideas, because Islam is a religion of tolerance.”


Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

Updated 8 min 8 sec ago

Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

  • The death is the second during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country

BEIRUT: A man was shot dead south of Beirut after the army opened fire to disperse protesters blocking roads, Lebanese state media said Wednesday, nearly a month into an unprecedented anti-graft street movement.
The victim “succumbed to his injuries” in hospital, the National News Agency said, the second death during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country.
The army said in a statement that it had arrested a soldier after he opened fire in the coastal town of Khalde, just below the capital, to clear protesters “injuring one person.”
Protesters have been demanding the ouster of a generation of politicians seen by demonstrators as inefficient and corrupt, in a movement that has been largely peaceful.
On Tuesday night, street protests erupted after President Michel Aoun defended the role of his allies, the Shiite movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon’s government.
Protesters responded by cutting off several major roads in and around Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and the eastern region of Bekaa.
The Progressive Socialist Party, led by influential Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, said in a statement that the man shot dead was one its members.
A long-time opponent of President Michel Aoun, Jumblatt appealed to his supporters to stay calm.
“In spite of what happened, we have no other refuge than the state. If we lose hope in the state, we enter chaos,” he said.
The government stepped down on October 29 but stayed on in a caretaker capacity and no overt efforts have so far been made to form a new one, as an economic crisis brings the country to the brink of default.
On Tuesday morning, dozens of protesters had gathered near the law courts in central Beirut and tried to stop judges and lawyers from going to work, demanding an independent judiciary.
Employees at the two main mobile operators, Alfa and Touch, started a nationwide strike.
Many schools and universities were closed, as were banks after their employees called for a general strike over alleged mistreatment by customers last week.

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The UN’s special coordinator for the country, Jan Kubis, urged Lebanon to accelerate the formation of a new government that would be able “to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners.”
“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” he said.
The leaderless protest movement first erupted after a proposed tax on calls via free phone apps, but it has since morphed into an unprecedented cross-sectarian outcry against everything from perceived state corruption to rampant electricity cuts.
Demonstrators say they are fed up with the same families dominating government institutions since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
In his televised address on Tuesday, Aoun proposed a government that includes both technocrats and politicians.
“A technocratic government can’t set the policies of the country” and would not “represent the people,” he said in the interview on Lebanese television.
Asked if he was facing pressure from outside Lebanon not to include the Iran-backed Hezbollah in a new government, he did not deny it.
But, he said, “they can’t force me to get rid of a party that represents at least a third of Lebanese,” referring to the weight of the Shiite community.
The latest crisis in Lebanon comes at a time of high tensions between Iran and the United States, which has sanctioned Hezbollah members in Lebanon.
Forming a government typically takes months in Lebanon, with protracted debate on how best to maintain a fragile balance between religious communities.
The World Bank says around a third of Lebanese live in poverty and has warned the country’s struggling economy could further deteriorate if a new cabinet is not formed rapidly.