India warns Pakistan of more pain in Kashmir fight
New Delhi – India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200km stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism”, Indian defence minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV in an interview.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May promising a tough response to violence in the Himalayan territory. It accuses Pakistan of helping Islamist militants cross into its side to keep alive a 25-year armed revolt in India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Military officers on both sides say Indian border commanders adopted a more aggressive stance in the clashes this month, firing 1 000 mortars on one day this month.
It was not clear what triggered the fighting.
Pakistani army officials said the trouble began with India’s decision to beef up border defences, in violation of the ceasefire pact.
Indian army commanders, for their part, were incensed by the killing of a soldier on their side of the Line of Control in Kashmir in a remote-controlled explosion that they blamed on militants backed by Pakistani army regulars.
“When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword”, said Jaitley, a close associate of Modi who is also finance minister.
Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration as part of a push to rebuild trust with neighbours. But while relations with the smaller neighbours are improving, Pakistan has remained a stumbling block.
In August, the Modi government abruptly called off talks between the two countries’ top diplomats, objecting to Pakistan’s ambassador to New Delhi holding talks with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting.
Jaitley said it was up to Pakistan to create the conditions for dialogue.
“Of course we can talk to Pakistan, but it is up to Pakistan to create an atmosphere for talks. Pakistan has to stop triggers which upset the environment in which talks are held”, he said.
Agencies | 21 October 2014/26 Dhul Hijjah 1435
Religious authorities in the northeast Malay heartland state of Kelantan have announced plans to lock up men who skip Jummuah prayers, without a reason, for three consecutive weeks.
The decision to apply the 10-year-old by-law was announced last week by Kelantan Islamic development, dakwah (Islamic propagation), information and regional relations committee chairperson Mohammed Nassuruddin Daud.
Under Section 104 of the Council of Religion of Islam and Malay Customs (Kelantan) Enactment 1994, those who miss Friday prayer for three consecutive weeks will be fined 1,000 Malaysian Ringit or face a one-year jail sentence.
“Friday is a noble day. There is no reason for men to skip Friday prayers, which are only held once a week,” Nassuruddin told the Kelantan state assembly last Wednesday.
He said anyone, including the imam and the mosque’s committee members, can make a complaint on a person’s failure to perform Friday prayers so that he can be charged.
“Those who want to make a complaint should fill in a form and submit it to the Kelantan Department of Islamic Affairs (Jaheik),” he said.
The department’s enforcement division will then investigate and discuss with the imam, he noted.
“A book will be given to the imam to ask the particular individual to perform prayers at the mosque for three consecutive times,” Mohammed Nassuruddin said.
“The imam will take note of the person’s attendance. If he fails to do as directed, he will be charged.”
Certain human rights groups in Malaysia have however argued that the law was impractical as it hinders Muslim men’s freedom to perform prayers in other mosques or to go outside Kelantan for any reason.
“Besides breaching fundamental freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution, its obvious impracticality brings into question whether the Kelantan government has thought through the enforcement of such a wide-ranging provision,” Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said in a statement.
“What happens when the person wants to go to Friday prayer in a different mosque other than the local mosque? Can he register in more than one mosque or must he register in all mosques that he attends?
“What happens when he goes out of Kelantan or overseas? What happens if he is ill or has other obligations?
“Does he have an obligation under law to inform the local mosque or all mosques he is registered to every time he is unable to attend Friday prayer? Does it affect Muslims travelling to Kelantan? What about foreigner Muslims?
“We therefore call upon the Kelantan government to revoke its decision.”
In a Hadith narrated in the Sunan of Abu-Dawood, reported by Al-Ja’d ad-Damri RA, the Prophet (SAW) said: “He who leaves the Friday prayer (continuously) for three Fridays on account of slackness, Allah will print a stamp on his heart.”
The unholy, anti-Muslim pact of Buddhist and Hindu fanatics
by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Now it is official. Extremist Buddhists and Hindus are forming a grand alliance against Muslims in South Asia. What damage they can cause Muslims is not really known, beyond a cowardly attack on Muslims here and a riot there.
However, they are certainly capable of embittering Hindu-Muslim and Muslim Buddhist relations across the region. Keeping this in view, the Dalai Lama had earlier this year appealed to the Buddhist extremists to stop attacks against Muslim minorities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
The New York Times wrote recently: “It is folly for the governments of Mr Rajpaksa in Sri Lanka, President Thein Sein of Myanmar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, or their political allies, to give even the appearance of tolerating these Islamophobic groups in a region that is too often convulsed by religious sectarian violence.”
Last month, the leader of the Sri Lankan group Bodu Bala Sena’s chief Galagodaththe Gnansara announced, “The time has come to ally internationally.” The recent past has seen several murderous attacks on Muslims in Sri Lanka in which many people died. A more menacing figure, Buddhist terrorist leader of Myanmar, Ashin Wirathu, was sharing the stage with Gnansara.
Wirathu’s badge of honour comes from his gang’s relentless attacks on Myanmar’s poor, hapless Muslims, who pose no threat either to the majority Buddhists or the country. Sri Lankan Muslims and Christians had, fearing escalation of Buddhist attacks, requested the government to deny Wirathu a Sri Lankan visa. But their request was turned down.
Gnansara has claimed that he is in contact with “high-level” RSS functionaries in India to create a “Hindu-Buddhist Peace Zone” in South Asia. The NYT wrote that RSS spokesman Ram Madhav had denied it. However, Madhav has been writing in support of Buddhist extremists on Facebook and Twitter.
What the NYT has exposed was known to many people, that anti-Muslim Buddhist and Hindu groups were getting closer in their campaign against Muslim minorities. Such people have also been busy aggravating the Muslim-Buddhist tensions in the Ladakh region of J&K.
Muslims are not greatly perturbed about it because they know these groups will end up harming their countries more than they harm Muslims.
Iraq: Shi’a militias commit war crimes retaliating against ISIS
Shi’a militias, supported and armed by the government of Iraq, have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months and enjoy total impunity for these war crimes, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published this week.
Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq provides harrowing details of sectarian attacks carried out by increasingly powerful Shi’a militias in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk, apparently in revenge for attacks by the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). Scores of unidentified bodies have been discovered across the country handcuffed and with gunshot wounds to the head, indicating a pattern of deliberate execution-style killings.
“By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart. Iraqi government support for militia rule must end now,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
The fate of many of those abducted by Shi’a militias weeks and months ago remains unknown. Some captives were killed even after their families had paid ransoms of $80,000 and more to secure their release.
Salem, a 40-year-old businessman and father of nine from Baghdad was abducted in July. Two weeks after his family had paid the kidnappers a $60,000 ransom, his body was found in Baghdad’s morgue; with his head crushed and his hands still cuffed together.
The growing power of Shi’a militias has contributed to an overall deterioration in security and an atmosphere of lawlessness. The relative of one victim from Kirkuk told Amnesty International:
“I have lost one son and don’t want to lose any more. Nothing can bring him back and I can’t put my other children at risk. Who knows who will be next? There is no rule of law, no protection.”
Among the Shi’a militias believed to be behind the string of abductions and killings are: ‘Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, and Kata’ib Hizbullah.
These militias have further risen in power and prominence since June, after the Iraqi army retreated, ceding nearly a third of the country to IS fighters. Militia members, numbering tens of thousands, wear military uniforms, but they operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight.
“By failing to hold militias accountable for war crimes and other gross human rights abuses the Iraqi authorities have effectively granted them free rein to go on the rampage against Sunnis. The new Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must act now to rein in the militias and establish the rule of law,” said Donatella Rovera.
“Shi’a militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism, in an apparent bid to punish Sunnis for the rise of the IS and for its heinous crimes.”
At a checkpoint north of Baghdad, for instance, Amnesty International heard a member of the ‘Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia say: “If we catch ‘those dogs’ [Sunnis] coming down from the Tikrit area we execute them…. They come to Baghdad to commit terrorist crimes, so we have to stop them.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi government forces also continue to perpetrate serious human rights violations. Amnesty International uncovered evidence of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, as well as deaths in custody of Sunni men detained under the 2005 anti-terrorism law.
The body of a 33-year-old lawyer and father of two young children who died in custody showed bruises, open wounds and burns consistent with the application of electricity. Another man held for five months was tortured with electric shocks and threatened with rape with a stick before being released without charge.
“Successive Iraqi governments have displayed a callous disregard for fundamental human rights principles. The new government must now change course and put in place effective mechanisms to investigate abuses by Shi’a militias and Iraqi forces and hold accountable those responsible,” said Donatella Rovera.
Israel to vote on partitioning Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews
An Arab Knesset member has revealed that there will be a vote in the next month on a law drafted by an Israeli committee regarding the partition of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews.
Arab MK Masoud Ghanayim was quoted on Monday by Palestinian newspaper Felesteen as saying that “the draft law, which has been prepared by the interior parliamentary committee in the Knesset, stipulates that Jews can perform prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He continued: “This is based on a proposal that gives Muslims and Jews equal rights in their access and use of the holy site. It also specifies certain locations where Jews can perform their prayers.”
It is important to note that both Rabbinical and Israeli law currently bans Jews from prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sanctity of the site for the Jewish religion. Most Jews who lobby to pray there are illegal settlers with a right wing agenda.
The Old City in Jerusalem where Al-Aqsa is located is internationally recognised as occupied land. The Israeli occupation authorities frequently prevent Muslims from praying there.
According to Ghanayim, the same draft law also bans organising civil protests and demonstrations in Al-Aqsa compound, and sets out punishment for any violations.
Ghanayim said that putting such a law for any vote is a “flagrant aggression on the religious rights of Muslims around the world.” He also called it part of the Judaisation plan for the city of Jerusalem.
Commenting on the basis of this law, Ghanayim said it “is solely based on a legitimacy built on historical and religious myths bolstered with the power of the oppressive occupation.”
He stressed that Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the Islamic and Arabic world and cannot be partitioned at any time or place. He reiterated: “It is part of Arab and Palestinian lands, which is occupied by the Zionists and the [illegal] occupation does not have the right to impose its laws.”
At the same time, he insisted that the Israeli government is behind all the attempts by the extremist right wing settlers to extend Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque and warned that the Israeli government would pay the price for this aggression on the rights of Arabs and Muslims.