Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan

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On May 6, Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s Minister of the Interior, was shot during a rally in his own constituency, in the province of Punjab. Fortunately, he survived the attack, but the bullet in his abdomen could not be removed. “The bullet lodged in my body… will keep reminding me of the impending need to remove the seeds of hatred sowed in the country,” Iqbal said.

An initial report suggested that the main suspect, Abid Hussain, 21, had carefully planned the attack; recently, Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court issued an 8-day judicial remand of four possible accomplices.

According to other reports, Hussain is linked to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — also known as Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (“Movement of the Prophet’s Followers”). TLP is a new Sunni extremist party known for aggressively calling for enforcing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty, and for opposing any relaxation of these laws.

Many fear that this assault is not an isolated incident and that other members of the cabinet are on the TLP’s hit list. This apprehension, however, does not mean that the government is against sharia or blasphemy laws, or is even thinking of reforming them. Many extremist Muslims are aiming at even more government submission to sharia through intimidation and terror.

via Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan

US Jewish Leaders Call for Global Condemnation of Hamas for ‘Eco-Terrorism’ Attacks Against Israel

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Hamas must be castigated globally for the kite bomb and incendiary balloon attacks it has been conducting against Israel in recent months, two top American Jewish leaders said on Tuesday.

“These are acts of terror that must be condemned by all those who profess to care about the poisoning of the atmosphere and the destruction of the ecosystem, let alone peace in the region,” Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP) Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said in a statement. “We urge environmental organizations in the US and abroad as well as people of good will to join in condemning these acts of eco-terrorism.”

via US Jewish Leaders Call for Global Condemnation of Hamas for ‘Eco-Terrorism’ Attacks Against Israe

A strange and unfamiliar sound

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A strange, startling and deeply unfamiliar sound was heard this week. A Trump tweet imploding, perhaps? Kim Jong-Un finally destroying his nuclear arsenal? A distant rumble from the Hawaii volcano?

No. It was the sound of the European Union and United Nations loudly supporting Israel against attack.

In the heaviest onslaught since 2014, southern Israel was attacked from Gaza this week by Islamic Jihad and Hamas launching dozens of rocket and mortar attacks, as well as bursts of machine-gun fire. An Israeli kindergarten was hit, although no one was hurt. After Israel pummeled terrorist targets, Egypt brokered a truce.

What was striking was that the Israel-averse European Union, United Nations, France, Italy, Germany and Ireland criticized the Gaza attackers and expressed support for Israel.

France declared that its commitment to Israel’s security was “unwavering.” Germany said the targeting of Israeli civilians was “malicious,” and that it was “Israel’s right to preserve its security, defend its borders and respond proportionately to attacks.”

via A strange and unfamiliar sound

The Terrorist Semi-States of Hamas and Hizballah

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The terrorist threat Israel faces is an unusual one: the terrorist organizations seeking to destroy it control their own territory, making them a kind of semi-state.

The armed, fundamentalist entities situated on Israel’s borders have control over their own land, and they govern populations. This creates an inherent contradiction between their hardline Islamist ideologies on the one hand, and their self-preservation interests on the other.

This paradox is playing out most visibly in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is trying to relieve the security blockade over its enclave, using a range of violent pressure tactics to achieve this goal, as it tries to avoid an economic meltdown in Gaza.

Yet it is unwilling to stop enlarging its arsenal of offensive weapons that it points at Israel, meaning that Gaza’s economy remains dysfunctional.

Hamas has failed to prioritize Gaza’s civilian needs, despite being the government. Instead of tackling unemployment, or doing whatever it takes to ensure a steady electricity supply, it is trying to intimidate Israel, and pressure the Palestinian Authority and Egypt into rescuing Gaza’s economy. Unemployment in Gaza is at 44 percent, and it stands at more than 60 percent for young people, many of whom have university degrees. Most of Gaza’s estimated 2 million residents have access to about four hours of electricity per day, and its water sources face depletion in the coming years.

via The Terrorist Semi-States of Hamas and Hizballah

The Impact on India of the Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal is likely to deal a blow to India’s strategic investments in energy-rich Iran and land-locked Afghanistan as the Chinese strategic footprint there grows. Maintaining good relations with both Riyadh and Tehran will also become more challenging for New Delhi. The Iran dilemma materialized at the wrong time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as India is preparing for parliamentary elections in less than a year. The pressure being exerted by the Trump administration on the Modi government to stop all oil imports from Tehran is set to complicate India’s diplomatic ties with Iran. It remains to be seen how India will secure its interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia without Iranian support.

Following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear drama continues to trigger geopolitical reconfigurations and strategic realignments.

Washington’s latest decision to postpone the high-level inaugural 2+2 dialogue with New Delhi, scheduled for July 6 in Washington, is not helpful to the generally favorable atmosphere in Indo-US relations. The 2+2 dialogue format was one of the major takeaways from Modi’s landmark visit to the US in June 2017. India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman were scheduled to visit Washington to hold joint talks with their counterparts, Mike Pompeo and James Mattis.

The postponement comes at a time when New Delhi has been asked to “go to zero” in Iranian oil imports by November 4. This tough message was delivered by Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative to the UN, during her recent India visit. It is not clear if the Trump administration’s abrupt decision is linked to India’s reported reluctance to cut down on oil supplies from Iran, but it clearly indicates the uncertainty characterizing Indo-US relations regarding Iran.

via The Impact on India of the Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Syrian Testimony: “Israel, Only Country Aiding Syrian Refugees”

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On Tuesday, dozens of displaced Syrians marched toward the Israeli border by the Golan Heights after at least 10 were killed in a Russian backed airstrike that hit a school. Those marching demanded protection from the government offensives, asking Israel to open the borders.

In a Jerusalem press conference, Syrians at the border spoke with Israeli and foreign journalists by video conference. Abu Hossain, a coordinator in the Quneitra region and southwestern Daraa province of Syria reported that the majority of those affected by the airstrike were children and women.

“Tens of refugees are approaching the Israeli fence,” said Hossain. “We are facing a horrible and terrible situation. I want the whole world to hear us and deliver our message we are in a critical situation,” he explained. “We are calling on Israel and the international community to provide us with protection and help.

According to Hossain, the refugees are scared of the Russian airstrikes and the approaching regime, which he said is just 10 kilometers from the refugee camps.

“The Syrian regime is really bad. They take away the bodies of the dead from their graves. Just recently, they took one body buried 11 years ago from the grave,” he said.

via Syrian Testimony: “Israel, Only Country Aiding Syrian Refugees”

India: Husband and two sons of Qur’an teacher sexually harass nine-year-old girl during lessons

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The victim was nine years old. This may have been because Chand Babu’s reverence for Muhammad led him to think of children as sexual objects. Islamic apologists in the West routinely deny that Muhammad consummated his marriage with (i.e., raped) Aisha when she was nine, and go through all sorts of contortions to deny the evidence of the texts, but the fact is that child marriage is accepted in wide swaths of the Islamic world, even by the Diyanet, the directorate of religious affairs in once-“moderate” and now rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey. This most clearly shows those apologists’ dishonesty. The Diyanet wouldn’t approve of child marriage if it weren’t Islamic, as it explains in its own defense. And child marriage has abundant attestation in Islamic tradition and law.

“Islam has no age barrier in marriage and Muslims have no apology for those who refuse to accept this” — Ishaq Akintola, professor of Islamic Eschatology and Director of Muslim Rights Concern, Nigeria

“There is no minimum marriage age for either men or women in Islamic law. The law in many countries permits girls to marry only from the age of 18. This is arbitrary legislation, not Islamic law.” — Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-‘Ubeidi, Iraqi expert on Islamic law

There is no minimum age for marriage and that girls can be married “even if they are in the cradle.” — Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council

via India: Husband and two sons of Qur’an teacher sexually harass nine-year-old girl during lessons