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Captors of SA photographer Shiraaz Mohamed demand R10m for his freedom

The family of South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who is being held hostage in Syria, has made an impassioned plea to the country to help raise the $700,000 his captors are demanding for his release.

Mohamed was captured in Syria on January 10 2017 in Darkoush, after travelling there to narrate the tragedy of the Syrian people to the world through pictures. He had arrived in Syria on January 4 that year.

In a statement released by his family on Friday, Mohamed’s mother, Shireen, said her son’s captors were demanding $700,000 (just over R10.3m) in exchange for his freedom.

“They have told us that this is not a ransom amount but it is their cost for my son’s maintenance and upkeep during his time of captivity,” said Shireen.

She said the family had tried all avenues to raise the money.

“No one is willing to help us. We cannot raise this amount by ourselves. It is an impossible task. We have tried countless organisations, individuals and even our government, but no one is helping us,” Shireen said.

“Our message to Shiraaz is that we – his mother, brother, sisters, brother-in-law and Shaaziya – are trying our very best to get you home safely. We have not deserted nor forgotten about you. You are in our thoughts and prayers every moment of every day. We love you more than anything and will never forsake you.

“From me, as a mother, this is a desperate call to my fellow South Africans and the world, any organisation, any individual, any government, any country, anyone who can help, I plead with you all, if you have any means to help me in any way possible, please do so. My son needs you, my family and I need you.

“Please make contact with us and you can be assured that any assistance will be treated in the strictest of confidence, if so desired. Time is running out. Please help me save my son’s life,” Shireen said.

Mohamed’s family’s plea comes after 32 months of him being held in Syria. He had gone with Gift of the Givers.

TimesLIVE reported that a search for Mohamed was carried out four days after he disappeared.

Gift of the Givers’ founder Imtiaz Sooliman confirmed in 2017 that Mohamed had been working with the group and was abducted on his way to the Turkish border.

Sooliman said initially the men who kidnapped Mohamed said they needed to question him and promised to bring him back in two days, TimesLIVE reported.

He went to Syria on a week-long assignment, commissioned by Gift of the Givers.

His intention was to capture the experiences and suffering of the Syrian people, hoping to garner South African and worldwide support.

Source : Timeslive

Police : No waiting period to report missing person

Police are urging the communities and the public to assist them find people that have been reported missing in the country. 

Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya emphasized the need for improved police-community relations.

“With Community Policing being a fundamental pillar towards effective policing, as the SAPS we cannot overemphasize community involvement in assisting the work of our police,”Mgwenya said. 

She called on call on all citizens, other government departments and law enforcement agencies, civil society and community members to rise against these abhorrent acts by supporting the work of the police in detecting, preventing and reporting incidents of Gender Based Violence timeously. 

This will ensure that together we realise the National Development Plan’s Vision of 2030 where women can walk freely in the streets and children can play safely outside”. 

The public is further reminded that there is no waiting period to report a missing person.

Communities can assist the SAPS when reporting a missing person by following these steps:

 • Produce a recent photograph of the missing person, if possible.

• Give a complete description of the missing person’s last whereabouts, clothes that they were wearing, as well as any information that can assist the investigating officer.

• Complete and sign a SAPS 55(A) form. This form safeguards the SAPS from hoax reports and indemnifies the SAPS to distribute the photograph and information of the missing person.

 • Obtain the investigating officers contact details, and send any additional information that might become available.

 • If a missing person is found or returns voluntarily, inform the investigating officer immediately. A SAPS 92 form must be completed to inform the Bureau of Missing Persons that the missing persons report can be removed from the circulation system.

Source : IOL, Daily News
Photo by Ehimetal or Unuabona

Four-day-old baby found buried alive in India

An investigation has been launched to find the parents of a four-day-old girl, who was buried alive in northern India.

According to a CNN report, the infant was rescued after she was found in an earthen pot in a cemetery.

She was pulled to safety in Uttar Pradesh on October 10 by a couple who were burying their child who had died in hospital. 

The couple, Hitesh Sirohi and Vaishali Kumar, alerted the police and ambulance services and the baby was taken to a hospital where she is receiving treatment for a lung infection, The Sun reported.

Sirohi told The Times of India that he found the baby wrapped in a cloth, crying.

“At one point I thought that my daughter had come alive. But then realised the voice was  coming from a pot,” he told the publication.

The infant’s burial, according to The Guardian, is suspected to be a case of female infanticide as some parents in India prefer sons to daughters.

The country, according to an annual report compiled by the United Nations Development Programme, was ranked 130 out of 151 countries in last year’s gender inequality index.

Source : Timeslive
Feature Image : Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič

Gordon’s Bay mosque approved after five-year wait

After a five-year wait and over a hundred objections from residents, the Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society has been given the green light to begin construction on what will be the seaside town’s first mosque.

“We are elated. We are very pleased that justice had prevailed here,” said Cassim Peer, Islamic Society Chairperson in a GroundUp report.

In 2014, the 2 700m² piece of land on the corner of Roos Street and Lancaster Road was purchased by the Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society with the intention of building a mosque for about 100 Muslim families residing in the town.

In the meantime, Muslim residents have two options.

They could drive to one of the seven mosques in Strand, the neighbouring seaside suburb, but many Muslim residents live on the outskirts of town in farm residences.

Or they could use a converted warehouse behind a local supermarket on Mariner’s Way. This space was not intended for use on a regular basis.

The warehouse entrance is behind a garbage collection area in an alleyway that frequently floods when it rains.

“We used to pray there [in the warehouse], then we decided that we need a proper premises because the community was growing,” said Peer.

When the land was purchased in 2014, the Islamic Society was hopeful that this meant soon Muslim residents would have an adequate prayer space in Gordon’s Bay.

Located between rows of houses and around the corner from the Gordon’s Bay Spar and Woolworths, the land was zoned for commercial and residential use. Before proceeding, the land needed to be rezoned for a place of worship. This is when the objections were raised.

The Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society submitted the application for rezoning on June 1, 2017.

During the public participation process, which took place from June 14, until July 17, 2017, 134 objections and one letter of support were received from residents.

The Islamic Society then responded to objections on August 23, 2017, and a hearing with the Municipal Planning Tribunal was set for April 19, 2019.

“The Municipal Planning Tribunal considered all of the objections very carefully,” tribunal chairperson David Daniels told Daily Maverick in July.

“Many of the objections received related to concerns regarding noise levels. We can confirm that the applicant specifically undertook measures to ensure that the mosque will not be a noise nuisance.”

The Planning Tribunal approved the mosque with conditions agreed to by the Islamic Society. These are that the mosque will not amplify the call to prayer so it will not be heard by those living around the mosque. Also, the Islamic Society will expand the parking area to include 40 bays plus disabled parking bays.

Peer believes that the bulk of the objections raised were ” disingenuous” and “unsubstantiated”.

“They are just taking whatever they can find and throwing it into the pot, hoping something will catch. We see that. We see through it.

“Even at the Tribunal, they were quite nasty and were using words that were not appropriate,” said Peer.

Following the Tribunal, the matter was then taken on appeal to the City’s Planning Appeals Advisory Panel on September 10. A formal notification was then sent out on Thursday, October 9, advising that the appeal was dismissed.

“The Planning Appeals Advisory Panel recommended to the Appeal Authority (the Executive Mayor) that the appeal be dismissed, which was subsequently formally dismissed by the Appeal Authority,” said Marian Nieuwoudt, mayco member for spatial planning and environment.

“This means the application has been approved and that the development can continue. Those who disagree with the mayor’s decision may approach the Western Cape High Court with a review application,” said Nieuwoudt.

Peer said many of the initial objectors had sent emails after the appeal was dismissed to congratulate the Islamic Society on the outcome.

“Congratulations to the Islamic Society of Gordon’s Bay the final approval for the mosque has been granted – it has been a long road, but finally you have all the permission and we look forward to seeing the new design,” wrote the Gordon’s Bay Residents Association, one of the initial objectors, in a Facebook post on 11 October.

Although there had initially been 134 objections, the panel only received one valid appeal. This was submitted by Leonor Bosman, convenor of the objections against the land rezoning.

“I am not the only one. There are hundreds of objectors in Gordon’s Bay,” said Bosman. “I have a list of 100 objectors that have pledged money for further actions … So there are still 100 objectors feeling very strongly about the case.”

The key points highlighted by Bosman were the lack of a visual impact study, an environmental impact study, and what the objectors believe is an “inappropriate” location choice.

The objectors feel there has not been adequate assessment of how the mosque, in particular the planned minarets, will fit in with the aesthetics of the town, what it may do to surrounding property values, and its impact on tourism and businesses in the area.

However, Peer said as part of the application made to the City, various impact studies were done by independent assessors who did not find any potential problems that could arise from the presence of a mosque in the area.

“The only thing they can do now is go to court and we are quite comfortable with that,” said Peer. “I am a lawyer; I will defend the case myself.”

Bosman wanted to be clear that this was not an issue of religious intolerance and said the same concerns would be expressed whether it was a church or mosque or any other religious building.

“The placement of that building is wrong. A place of worship in the middle of a business hub is not rational,” said Bosman. “The appeal has been rejected and we are considering further steps. I don’t think it’s totally the end of the story.”

By Aisha Abdool Karim for GroundUp

Nigerian police rescue 67 from ‘inhuman’ conditions at Rehabilitation Center… NOT Islamic school

MAIDUGURI – Police in northern Nigeria rescued nearly 70 men and boys from a second purported Islamic school where they were shackled and subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatments.”

The raid in Katsina, the northwestern home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, came less than a month after about 300 men and boys were freed from another supposed Islamic school in neighbouring Kaduna state where they were allegedly tortured and sexually abused.

“In the course of the investigation, sixty-seven persons from the ages of 7 to 40 years were found shackled with chains,” Katsina police spokesman Sanusi Buba said in a statement. “Victims were also found to have been subjected to various inhuman and degrading treatments.”

Speaking to Markaz Sahaba Online, Human Rights Activist Professor Ishaq Akintola, says that the so called Islamic schools are no more than rehabilitation centres.

Akintola, who is also the Director at Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) Professor of Islamic Eschatology in Lagos State University told the online Islamic broadcaster that this is a smear campaign against the name of Islam.

He said that the owners of these rehabilitation centres had Muslim names, prompting various media outlets to label the centre as “Muslim Schools”.

The raid occurred on 12 October in Sabon Garin in the Daura local government area of Katsina state. Police issued a statement on Monday and said they were working to reunite the victims with their families.

Lawal Ahmad, a 33-year-old who was held captive, said he witnessed sexual assault, beatings and the death of other captives during his two years there.

“They were just beating, abusing and punishing us every day with the name of teaching us,” he said through tears, adding “they are not teaching us for the sake of God.”

Police arrested one man, 78-year-old Mallam Bello Abdullahi Umar, for running what they called an “illegal detention/remand home.”

Lawai Musa, a trader who lived near the centre, told Reuters by phone that families sent unruly men and boys there believing it was an Islamic teaching facility that would straighten them out and teach them Islamic beliefs.

“The way he is treating the children is un-Islamic” he said. “We are not happy, they were treated illegally.”

Islamic schools, known as Almajiris, are common across the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a local organisation, estimates about 10 million children attend them.

In June, President Buhari, himself a Muslim, said the government planned to ban the schools, but would not do so immediately. After the incident in Kaduna, the president issued a statement calling on traditional authorities to work with the government to expose “unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children.”

Buhari’s office declined to immediately comment on the Katsina raid, saying it would issue a statement after a full briefing from the police.

“The command enjoins parents to desist from taking their children/wards to illegal, unauthorized or unapproved remand/rehabilitation centres,” the police statement said.

Source : Reuters
Additional reporting by Markaz Sahaba staff
Feature Image : STRINGER/ REUTERS (People with chained legs are pictured after being rescued by police in Sabon Garin.)

Burkina Faso: 16 killed in mosque attack

DAKAR, Senegal (AA): Death toll from a mosque attack in Burkina Faso rose to 16, local media reported on Saturday.

On Friday evening, an armed group stormed the Great Salmossi Mosque in Markoye as Muslims were praying, the northern province of Oudalan, killing 10 people.

Local news website Infowakat said citing security sources that the death toll reached 16 on Saturday. Two people were wounded in the attack.

No official statement has been made so far.

On Saturday, around 1,000 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou “to denounce terrorism and the presence of foreign military bases in Africa.”

“Terrorism has now become an ideal pretext for installing foreign military bases in our country,” Gabin Korbeogo, one of the organizers of the march, said.

He added: “The French, American, Canadian, German and other armies have set foot in our sub-region, saying they want to fight terrorism. But despite this massive presence… the terrorist groups… are growing stronger.”

Burkina Faso has been battling militants and inter-ethnic violence since 2015.

Reports indicate hundreds of people have been killed so far this year and more than 150,000 fled their homes due to attacks which spill across the Sahel region.

Last December, a state of emergency was declared in several northern regions, allowing security forces extra powers to search homes and restrict freedom of movement.

France has 200 soldiers in Burkina Faso to fight terrorism.

More than 500,000 people have been forced out of their homes because of the conflict and violence, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Around 3,000 schools have been closed.

Source : Muslim News
Feature Image : BBC

Facebook takes down page of Palestine news site

Facebook on Wednesday deleted the page of the Palestinian InformationCentre (PIC) in a move, the news site says, which is part of its war on Palestinian content on social media networks.

The site’s management said Facebook provided them with no prior warning before deleting the page, which had nearly five million followers, without any justification.

They called on Facebook to reinstate the page and stop its battle against Palestinian content, saying they have contested the ban.

The Palestinian InformationCentre has previously been forced to suspend posting on Facebook after the social media giant banned the accounts of some of its directors. Member of management have also seen their accounts deleted and removed.

The blocking of the PIC’s page comes as part of an extensive campaign in recent weeks that included many Palestinian social media platforms.

The Palestinian Information Centre was founded in December 1997 in Arabic, as the first Palestinian news site, dedicated to advocating the Palestinian cause and the Arab conflict with the Zionist occupier. It is biased in favour of the rights of the Palestinian people and their sanctities and the legitimate right to resist the occupier by all legitimate and internationally guaranteed means. It is the only Palestinian site that broadcasts its material in eight languages.

Earlier this week, journalists and activists in Palestine launched a social media campaign against Facebook’s censorship of Palestinian content.

Using the hashtag FBblocksPalestine, the drive hopes to bring to light “the threat posed by Facebook against Palestinian content, and to make it public, as well as reveal the double-standard policy of Facebook management in dealing with Israeli and Palestinian incitement on its site,” says Eyad Rifai, head of Sada Social Centre which is running the drive.

Source : MEMO

Methodist Church of Southern Africa joins BDS

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) – to which the South African President Nelson Mandela belonged – has joined the BDS movement, the movement’s South Africa branch reported in its newsletter today.

At its recent conference, held in Cape Town, the two million strong church noted “Israel’s ongoing ill-treatment and oppression of Palestinian people, and the historic prophetic role played by the church and international community in fighting Apartheid, and any form of discrimination and injustice.”

As an act of solidarity with the people of Palestine, the Church directed “the Methodist people to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) all businesses that benefit the Israeli economy.” The church has also called for a “boycott of all Israeli pilgrimage operators and tours” and is urging Christians visiting the Holy Land to rather “deliberately seek out tours that offer an alternative Palestinian” perspective. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has communities in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

The South African human rights NGO and Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa, commended the Methodist Church for joining the growing list of African churches who are vocally lending their support to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid and, in particular, to the Palestinian Christian community in the Holy Land.

Source: MEMO

Chinese muslims reveal rapes, abortions and forced sterilisations ‘using chilli paste’ at ‘concentration camps’ as shocking footage emerges of hundreds of shackled and blindfolded prisoners

Muslim women who have fled China’s ‘concentration camps’ have revealed a world of rapes, abortions and sterilisations as they find refuge abroad.

It comes as shocking footage emerged allegedly showing hundreds of shackled and blindfolded Muslim prisoners being transferred in Xinjiang, western China.

UN experts and activists say at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in Xinjiang.China describes them as ‘training centres’ helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

But the escaped women and local rights groups say attempts to curb the Muslim population – using methods such as rubbing chilli paste on women’s privates – are common.

Muslim women who have fled China’s ‘reeducation camps’ have revealed a world of rapes, abortions and forced sterilisations as they find refuge abroad. Gulzira Mogdyn, 38, said officials cut her open and ripped out her fetus without anaesthetic

Student Ruqiye Perhat, who was arrested in Xinjiang in 2009 and spent four years in prison before fleeing to Turkey, told the Washington Post: ‘Any woman or man under age 35 was raped and sexually abused.’

And others who have fled the camp more recently claimed the rapes had become more systematic than in normal prisons.

The camps’ guards would ‘put bags on the heads of the ones they wanted’ before dragging the women outside and raping them through the night.

In one case, a human rights activists claimed there had been seven instances of women forced into having intrauterine devices implanted.

And it was claimed women who were pregnant when they were arrested were made to have brutal abortions.

The camps’ guards would ‘put bags on the heads of the ones they wanted’ before dragging the women outside and raping them through the night. Pictured: Gulzira Mogdyn on the phone at a bus stop on the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan 

Gulzira Mogdyn, 38, who fled to Almaty, Kazakhstan, told of the gruesome way officials cut her open and ripped out her fetus without anaesthetic.

Others have previously said the Chinese guards would also medically experiment on them ahead of planned organ harvesting.

China has been forced to defend its authorities’ actions as ‘normal tasks’ following the emergence of shocking footage purported to show hundreds of shackled and blindfolded Muslim prisoners being transferred.

The drone video shows the detainees being led from trains with their heads shaven, eyes covered and hands bound.

The video, uploaded to social media and unverified, appeared as the United States is increasing its pressure on Beijing over what it says is the systematic oppression of Muslims.  

Social media footage purports to show Uighur Muslim prisoners being transferred in China

With their heads shaven, eyes covered and hands bound, the detainees are seen wearing purple vests with the words ‘Kashgar Detention Center’ written on their backs in the clip

The alleged prisoners are also seen in the clip sitting in rows outside what appears to be a train station watched by dozens of SWAT officers. 

Many of them, thought to be ethnic minority Uighurs, are seen wearing purple vests with the words ‘Kashgar Detention Center’ written on their backs.  

US officials believed the footage to be authentic.

Former detainees have revealed that Muslims were forced to eat pork and speak Mandarin in those internment camps.

China has also kept thousands of Uighur children away from their Muslim parents before indoctrinating them in camps posing as schools and orphanages, recent evidence shows. 

The detainees are seen sitting in rows in a train station watched by dozens of SWAT officers

The clip then shows them being taken away by the SWAT officers to an unknown location

A Western intelligence official was able to verify the movement of some 500 prisoners earlier this year from Kashgar to Korla in Xinjiang, a Muslim-dominant region in western China

Muslims make up about two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China. However, as the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

The Muslim population in China is projected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.

The clip, filmed by a Chinese-made DJI drone, was posted to YouTube last month by a user known as ‘Fear on War’. 

Words in the video suggest the scene was captured in Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, an autonomous prefecture for Mongols in southern Xinjiang. 

A pervasive security apparatus has subdued the ethnic unrest that has long plagued China’s north-western Xinjiang region. Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the re-education camps, but some said that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism 

Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been told to vow loyalty to the Communist Party of China and the country’s leader Xi Jinping. Pictured, a woman walks past a screen showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kashgar on June 4, 2019

Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region have rounded up an estimated one million mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities into internment camps in what they call an ‘anti-terror’ campaign

Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the footage was likely to have been taken at the Korla West Train Station in Korla after analysing the footage, according to Mr Ruser’s tweets.

Korla is a city of 550,000 people in Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture.

Authorities of Xinjiang said: ‘Transporting inmates by judicial authorities (is related) to normal judicial activities.’

In a statement to CNN, the authorities said: ‘Cracking down on crimes in accordance with law is the common practice of all countries.’

They added: ‘Xinjiang’s crackdown on crimes has never been linked to ethnicities or religions.’

A Western intelligence official believed the footage to be authentic. The official was able to verify the movement of some 500 prisoners earlier this year from Kashgar to Korla, according to CNN.

Omir Bekali cries as he details the psychological stress endured while in a Chinese internment camp. The programme aims to rewire detainees’ thinking and reshape their identities 

A European security source also claimed that the footage was genuine and showed up to 600 Uighur Muslim prisoners being moved earlier this year. 

The source told Sky News last month: ‘This is typical of the way the Chinese move this type of prisoner.’  

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the footage demonstrates the ‘gross human rights violations’ against Uighurs from Beijing.

It called for an independent investigation into China’s treatment of its Muslim residents.

A spokesperson from the group told MailOnline: ‘While HRW hasn’t yet corroborated this footage, it raises the specter of many of the same kinds of gross human rights violations against Uyghurs we have documented – especially mass arbitrary detention and lack of access to family or counsel. 

‘It underscores the urgent need for an independent investigation; Chinese authorities lost all credibility on this issue months ago by denying these abuses even exist.’ 

Uighur men are seen leaving a mosque after prayers in Xinjiang’s Hotan city on May 31, 2019

China is systematically indoctrinating Uighur Muslim children with detainee parents in what has been described as ‘children’s education camps’, investigation has shown (file photo)

Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese. Armed police and soldiers are common sight in Xinjiang after ethnic unrest in capital Urumqi left nearly 200 people killed

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week blasted China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims.

Pompeo reserved his toughest criticism for China in a keynote speech at a Vatican conference on religious freedom.

‘When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God. That’s why China has put more than one million Uighur Muslims … in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail,’ he said.

‘When the state rules absolutely, God becomes an absolute threat to authority,’ he said. 

A building of what is officially called a vocational skills education centre in Hotan, Xinjiang

Muslim trainees work in a factory in the Hotan Vocational Education and Training Center

Pompeo had previously called Beijing’s treatment of the country’s ethnic Uighur minority among ‘the worst stains on the world’. 

Beijing slammed Pompeo’s remarks as ‘lies’. 

‘The lies of American politicians can’t trick people around the world and will only further expose the purpose of their hidden political motives,’ said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

‘We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to these US officials who disregard the facts… and seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs,’ she told reporters at a press briefing in Beijing.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said China ‘demands its citizens worship government, not God’ in a keynote speech at a Vatican conference on religious freedom

China has come under international scrutiny over its policies in the north-western region of Xinjiang, where as many as one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are being held in re-education camps, according to the 2018 findings of an independent UN panel.

After initially denying their existence, Beijing now defends the camps, which it calls ‘vocational education centres’, as a necessary measure to counter religious extremism and terrorism.

But former inmates and rights groups say individuals are subjected to political indoctrination and abuse.

Who are the Chinese Muslims?

Muslims are not a new presence in China. Most of China’s Muslim communities, including the Hui, Uighurs and Kazakhs, have lived in China for more than 1,000 years, according to fact tank Pew Research Center. 

The largest concentrations of Muslims today are in the western provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai and Gansu. 

A substantial number of Muslims live in the cities of Beijing, Xi’an, Tianjin and Shanghai. 

Chinese Muslim men take part in gathering for the celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, at the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China

They make up about two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China. However, as the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

The Muslim population in China is projected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.

Those who grow up and live in places dominated by the Han Chinese have little knowledge about Islam – or religions in general – thus view it as a threat. 

Beijing’s policymakers are predominately Han. 

At the same time, radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, causing China to implement even more extreme measures to quash potential separatist movements.

Uighurs in particular have long been used to heavy-handed curbs on dress, religious practice and travel after a series of deadly riots in 2009 in Urumqi, according to the Financial Times.

Schoolchildren were banned from fasting during Ramadan and attending religious events while parents were banned from giving newborns Muslim names such as ‘Mohammed’ and ‘Jihad’. 

Certain symbols of Islam, such as beards and the veil, were also forbidden. Women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses. Unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca were also restricted. 

Source: dailymail.co.uk
Feature Image : AFP

Erdogan: Khashoggi murder is most controversial event in 21st century, apart from 9/11

Turkey has vowed to continue its efforts to shed light on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, with its president calling it the most controversial event of the 21st century after the 9/11 attacks.

In an article in the Washington Post earlier today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will proceed with its investigation into the murder and its search for Khashoggi’s remains, as well as for those responsible.

Throughout the article, Erdogan outlined the numerous questions that are still left unanswered about the details in the investigation, particularly the court proceedings in Saudi Arabia which has been held responsible for ordering the murder in October last year. “The near-complete lack of transparency surrounding the trial, the lack of public access to hearings and the allegation that some of Khashoggi’s murderers enjoy de facto freedom fail to meet the international community’s expectations and tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia,” stated Erdogan. This is “something that Turkey, as its friend and ally, does not desire.”

Erdogan also emphasised the seriousness of the matter, the extent to which it has affected international relations, and the loss of trust and safety between the press and states within which it operates by calling it “arguably the most influential and controversial incident of the 21st century, barring the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” He insisted that “no other event since 9/11 has posed such a serious threat to the international order or challenged the conventions that the world has come to take for granted.”

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post who held an influential position in the Saudi press before going into self-exile for criticising the kingdom’s recent policies, disappeared on 2 October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It was later confirmed that Saudi agents murdered Khashoggi in a “premediated” attack.

His remains have not been found but international organisations including the UN and CIA have said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the hit which Turkey said was carried out by a 15-man squad.

Erdogan ensured, however, that Saudi-Turkish relations were not harmed in the article, reassuring that he “made a clear and unmistakable distinction between the thugs, who murdered Khashoggi and King Salman and his loyal subjects.”

He also stated that Turkey’s concern over the murder is merely “based on our desire to uphold the rules-based international system. Hence our refusal to let the Khashoggi murder be portrayed as a bilateral dispute between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Turkey has always seen, and continues to see, the kingdom as its friend and ally.”

The topic and uproar over Khashoggi’s murder has been reignited in recent weeks, ahead of the anniversary of his disappearance which will be marked on Wednesday.

In an interview with US TV station PBS which is set to be aired tomorrow, Bin Salman has said that he bears responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi “because it happened under my watch” however he went on to deny ordering the killing.

Source : Al Jazeera
Feature Image : James Reinl

EXPLAINER: Grade 9 certificate is not an exit from school, says education dept

The introduction of a General Education Certificate (GEC) did not mean pupils could leave school after completing Grade 9, the education department said.

Instead, the move was aimed at sending more people to technical education institutions.

In an address to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) on Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga outlined plans for the certificate and the introduction of other qualifications. 

“The first cycle of systemic evaluations in grades 3, 6 and 9 will be finalised by June 2020. The field trial for the general education certificate at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020,” she said at Sadtu’s national congress at Nasrec, near Soweto. 

But departmental spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Motshekga’s announcement was misinterpreted. 

Certificate is three-stream based

“The GEC at the end of Grade 9 acknowledges a broad foundation of knowledge and skills as a basis for further learning and study, which could happen in a range of further education institutions.

“Offering a GEC is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9,” Mhlanga said.

The certificate is meant to offer pathways between schools and colleges at a level below Grade 12.

He said the certificate is based on a three-stream mode that includes the academic pathway, the technical vocational pathway and the technical or occupational pathway, adding that the move was aimed at attracting more students towards technical education.

“Under the technical vocational stream, there was a target of 10 000 artisans per year. The department has also introduced new subjects – technical mathematics and technical science – which could be referred to as applied mathematics and applied science.

“These were relevant in supporting areas of specialisation and schools that offer these subjects were currently being unveiled in different parts of the country with the majority of them presently launched in Gauteng,” he said.

NQF-registered qualification

The department said the discussion relating to the certificate was not something new and had been raised since January.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also mentioned it in his speeches at the basic education lekgotla and his State of Nation Address in February.

Mhlanga said the GEC would be an NQF-registered qualification to be awarded after the completion of Grade 9.

He said the certificate would recognise that pupils acquired a structured set of competencies built up from grades R to 9 and, possibly, inform pupils of pathways they may want to take.

“More importantly, as learners’ circumstances change and influence their participation in FET (Further Education and Training) programmes, so the access to various learning pathways can match those circumstances and prioritise how they access learning versus exiting programmes. This means that learners continue learning even if the programme or institution where they learn further changes.” 

Early grade literacy should be a priority

Wits School of Education Professor Brahm Fleisch said the country’s education priority at this stage, should be on getting early grade literacy right.

He said Ramaphosa had made it clear that the priority for his administration was getting pupils to read for meaning by the age of 10, adding that the GEC plans would be a huge distraction in the attempts to achieve this goal.

“There is evidence that suggests that there is little economic benefit for additional years of schooling below Grade 12.  We also need to recognise that substantial real cost of an additional examination system and the potential capacity it would require to operationalise,” he said.

Fleisch added, however, that an additional examination in Grade 9 to obtain the certificate could hold schools accountable for learner outcomes at an earlier point.

Source : News24

Jammu & Kashmir: Indian women’s group alleges 13000 Muslim boys arrested

Indian authorities arrested an estimated “13,000 boys” in Jammu and Kashmir since Aug. 5, according to a fact-finding report by a team of five women who visited the region recently.

“Shops closed, hotels closed, schools, colleges, institutes and universities closed, streets deserted was the first visual impact as we drove out from the airport,” said the report, titled “Women’s Voice: Fact Finding Report on Kashmir.”

“To us, it seemed a punitive mahaul [environment] that blocked free breathing” the report noted on Tuesday.

Kashmiris are waiting for the world to understand the humanitarian costs of the lockdown since Aug. 5, Syeda Hameed from Muslim Women’s Forum told Anadolu Agency over the phone after the release of the report.

Hameed is one of the five women activists from several local NGOs who visited Jammu and Kashmir on Sept. 17-21 and prepared the report after meeting people in Bandipora, Shopian and Pulwama districts.

“We wanted to see with our own eyes how this 43-day lockdown [until Sept.17] had affected the people, particularly women and children,” read the report.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s move on Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of the region.

“This report is our chashmdeed gawahi [eye witness account] of ordinary people who have lived for 43 days under an iron siege,” the report said.

Hameed told Anadolu Agency that people of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir are waiting for Friday when UN General Assembly (UNGA) session listens to prime ministers of India and Pakistan.

“People are waiting for world opinion [to build] pressure [on India],” she added.

The report claimed that boys as young as 14 or 15 are taken away by the authorities and allegedly tortured.

“One estimate given to us was 13,000 boys were lifted during this crackdown,” the report said about the alleged detentions by Indian forces to disallow any protests.

“Army pounces on young boys; it seems they hate their very sight. When fathers go to rescue their children, they are made to deposit money, anywhere between 20,000 Indian rupees [$281] to 60,000 Indian rupees [$845],” read the report.

Negating claims of Indian government that Aug. 5 move was for development of Kashmir, Hameed, who has been a member of India’s now defunct planning commission, said: “Human development indicators of Kashmir are very high when compared to any other part of India. This

[government’s]

argument makes no sense.”

Responding to a question about Indian government’s claim that removing special provisions granted Jammu and Kashmir the ability to fight separatism in the region, Hameed said: “Even those politicians who stood for India have been arrested.”

The report said that doctors are facing problems to examine patients because of the hurdles imposed by the government.
An orthopedic doctor was stopped by Indian army while on way to his duties, and held for seven days, it added.

“It is a big human tragedy,” Hameed said.

The women’s activists said women in Kashmir, especially those from Sikh community, denied that they face any sexual harassment at the hands of Kashmiri men.

“It was an important conversation with women in Kashmir. They told us that incidents in India, like sexual harassment, does not happen in Kashmir,” Hameed added.

The group demanded that for normalcy to restore in the region, the Indian government should immediately withdraw army and paramilitary forces.

They added that cases filed against people including First Information Reports should be withdrawn and allegations of torture by Indian army should be investigated.

It demanded an immediate lifting of the communications blackout and restoration of special provisions back to their status before Aug. 5.

Since then, the Indian government has blocked communication access and imposed restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

India said that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.

India and Pakistan hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Source : Muslim News
Feature Image : Anadolu News agency

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