Showing posts from April, 2019

Local Muslims say they reported mastermind of Sri Lanka terror attacks years ago

Community leaders sounded the alarm about Zahran Hashim after seminary expelled him for ‘hardline’ views; Hashim had dozens of hate-filled sermons uploaded to YouTube. KATTANKUDY, Sri Lanka — Zahran Hashim’s sword-wielding Islamic zealotry fueled fears in the sleepy east coast town of Kattankudy long before the cleric became Sri Lanka’s most wanted man over the horrific Easter Sunday suicide attacks. The country’s president announced Friday that Hashim led and died in the attack on the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo — one of three hotels and three churches hit by bombers wearing explosive backpacks.    The round-faced preacher headed the extremist Muslim group blamed for the bombings which left more than 250 dead. He featured in a video released by the Islamic State group when it claimed responsibility.          Heavy security surrounded the main mosque in the Muslim-majority town of Kattankudy, where religious leaders say they sounded the alarm about Hashim years ago, beg

Choice on Myanmar: Defend religious freedom now, or pay price later

John L. Allen Jr Globally speaking, religious freedom isn’t just a matter of principle but an urgent security priority, because places that start eroding the rights of religious minorities almost always end up engulfed in violence that threatens stability well beyond their borders. Thus it is that news on Tuesday out of Myanmar, also known as Burma, ought to be of concern. What happened is that the country’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by two reporters for Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were sentenced to seven years in jail last September for violation of the Official Secrets Act related to their reporting on human rights violations against the largely Muslim Rohingya minority. The two reporters had exposed the massacre of 10 Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in September 2017. According to their findings, local Buddhist villagers had dug a mass grave and hacked two Rohingyas to death. The others, based on their reporting, were shot by the Burma army. A

Rohingya crisis: Expert opinion

Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, who is also the director of the Center for Genocide Studies in Dhaka University, says Bangladesh needs to change the “body language” when it deals with Myanmar on the Rohingya refugee issue. “It would be easier to do it now than at any time before. We have had the election. We (the government) have a five-year mandate. So I think the government should be in a position….the body language ought to change,” he said, speaking at a seminar in Dhaka on Sunday. The Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) organised the seminar titled ‘Rohingya crisis: International Role for Tangible Solutions in Rakhine’ with its president Raheed Ejaz in chair. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam was present as chief guest while UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh Steven Corliss spoke as a panelist. DCAB General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib made welcome remarks. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, secretaries to the foreign ministry Md Khurshed Alam, K

Election Manifestos 2019: Locating Rights of in India

Election Manifestos 2019: Locating Rights of Minorities Part I Neha Dabhade [1] The Lok Sabha elections, 2019 are in progress in India. The largest democracy is going to polls and the electoral promises are unraveling thick and fast. Almost all political parties and prospective candidates have promises to make to the voters and some political parties have them written in the form of manifestos which spells out their vision for the society and policies that they wish to implement when voted into power. This manifesto doesn’t always translate into reality or is implemented in its entirety if the party is voted into power but does give the voter a glimpse of its world view or what can we expect from the party in some degree. The manifesto is also the stated position of the political party and thus it is morally binding on it to implement it. This article will analyze the manifestos of some of the political parties to understand how they locate minorities in their idea of India or t

Sri Lanka attacks: What led to carnage?

By Anbarasan Ethirajan Sri Lanka is in a state of shock and confusion, trying to understand how a little-known Islamist group may have unleashed the wave of co-ordinated suicide bombings that resulted in the Easter Sunday carnage - the worst since the end of the civil war a decade ago. The South Asian island nation has experience of such attacks - suicide bombers were used by Tamil Tiger rebels during the civil war. But the ruthlessness of the new atrocities has stunned the nation anew. Eventually the government spokesman, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, came out and blamed National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), a home-grown Islamist group, for the bombings. "There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded," he told reporters on Monday. That might go some way to explaining how a group that has been blamed for promoting hate speech may now have been able to scale up its capacity so monumentally.   On Tuesday, however, the Islamic S

Notre Dame of Gaza: Our Mosques and Churches are Also Burning

by Ramzy Baroud As the 300-foot spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris tragically came tumbling down on live television, my thoughts ventured to Nuseirat Refugee Camp, my childhood home in the Gaza Strip. Then, also on television, I watched as a small bulldozer hopelessly clawed through the rubble of my neighborhood mosque. I grew up around that mosque. I spent many hours there with my grandfather, Mohammed, a refugee from historic Palestine. Before grandpa became a refugee, he was a young Imam in a small mosque in his long-destroyed village of Beit Daras. Mohammed and many in his generation took solace in erecting their own mosque in the refugee camp as soon as they arrived to the Gaza Strip in late 1948. The new mosque was first made of hardened mud, but was eventually remade with bricks, and later concrete. He spent much of his time there, and when he died, his old, frail body was taken to the same mosque for a final prayer, before being buried in the adjacent Martyrs Grav

'We don't want another Sisi': Sudanese protesters reject Egyptian interference

Alarm bells are ringing in Khartoum after Egypt's president urges more time for Sudan's military leaders. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is not welcome in Sudan's protest movement. Sisi's recent intervention calling for Sudan's military to remain in power for three months was widely rejected by demonstrators in Khartoum. "Tell Sisi this is Sudan, your borders are just [until] Aswan," Sudanese pro-democracy protesters chanted, referring to the border with Egypt, Sudan's neighbour to the north. Demonstrations in Sudan have not ceased since longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir was ousted after 30 years of rule on 11 April. The military who removed him, however, have not put power into the hands of civilians, much to the people's chagrin. This week, after meeting with African leaders, Sisi said that the military council currently ruling Sudan should be allowed three months to implement reforms and ensure a smooth handover of power. On Th

Trump's designation of Iran is bound to lock into enmity

By Tr ita Parsi Branding the Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists serves Israel and Saudi Arabia’s interests but makes an Obama-style rapprochement by a future president more difficult. ith the stroke of a pen, the Donald Trump administration declared more than 11 million Iranians – nearly one-seventh of the country’s population – terrorists. The unprecedented move to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization has rightfully raised concerns that the John Bolton-Mike Pompeo wing of the administration is pushing a clueless Trump closer to open conflict with Iran. But the greater risk is not the short-term impact of this reckless decision, but the way it will entrap future administrations – long after Trump has left the White House – in a no-win enmity with Iran. The sad history of the US and revolutionary Iran cannot be understood solely from the perspective of these two countries alone. From the outset, it has been an enmity driven as much by th

Message from Sound Vision on preparing for Ramadan

In his book “Eat the Frog”, productivity expert Brian Tracy notes that 10 to 12 minutes invested in planning your day will save at least two hours of wasted time and effort throughout the day. Imagine having two hours of your life back to spend on what really matters. With Ramadan beginning in barely a week, this is a critical practice we can all use to make the most of the blessed month. Making the most of Ramadan is a reminder we routinely see and hear in the weeks preceding it. But how many of us truly consider that this may be our last Ramadan? Just as we are often reminded before congregational prayers to “pray as if it is your last prayer”, we need to approach Ramadan the same way. This blessed month can’t be left to become a blur in our memories. It has to be more than that time of the year we squeeze in fasting amongst the other things we do daily. But doing that requires planning on your own, as well as with family and friends. Please take the time in the comi

'Do not forget the Rohingya': UN urges support for refuge

Top UN officials have urged the international community not to forget the plight of  Rohingya refugees  in Bangladesh and called for global support to ensure their safe and voluntary return to Myanmar . Speaking to reporters following a visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh 's Cox's Bazar on Friday,  Mark Lowcock, the  United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the body was  seeking to raise nearly a billion dollars to help the Rohingya refugees and their host community.  More than 700,000 members of the persecuted minority fled Myanmar following a brutal military crackdown in response to attacks by a Rohingya armed group. More than 1.2 million now live in overcrowded and squalid refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh.  Lowcock said the "great exodus" of Rohingya refugees arriving to Cox's Bazar "caused all sorts of issues". READ MORE Outcry mounts over deaths in custody in Myanmar's Rakhine State "O