18 November 2020

· Tablighi Jamaat, Communal Reporting and Govt's Curious Decision to Cherry Pick Media Houses. Haryana to set up committee to draft strict law against ‘love jihad’. Allahabad HC seeks UP govt’s response on claiming illegal detention, torture of minors during anti-CAA protests. Delhi revises limit on wedding guests from 200 to 50 amid rise in cases. Bahrain FM arrives in Israel on first official visit



18-11-2020 ,19:48 IST


·     Tablighi Jamaat, Communal Reporting and Govt's Curious Decision to Cherry Pick Media Houses: The Wire

·     Haryana will set up committee to draft strict law against ‘love jihad’, says minister Anil Vij

·     Allahabad HC seeks UP govt’s response on claiming illegal detention, torture of minors during anti-CAA protests

·     Jailed Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan gets to talk to lawyer for 5 mins 49 days after arrest

·     Indian Army sets up habitat facilities for troops deployed in eastern Ladakh amid China row

·     Coronavirus: Delhi revises limit on wedding guests from 200 to 50 amid rise in cases

·     Mike Pompeo to visit illegal settlement in occupied West Bank

·     Bahrain FM arrives in Israel on first official visit




Tablighi Jamaat, Communal Reporting and Govt's Curious Decision to Cherry Pick Media Houses: The Wire

Mumbai: On November 17, Ministry of Information and Broadcast submitted a rather strange affidavit before the Supreme Court. In response to a petition filed by the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind and others over the highly communal reporting of the COVID-19 outbreak following Tablighi gathering in National Capital, the I&B ministry claimed that media in India had by far provided a “balanced and neutral perspective”. What was even more surprising was the ‘evidence’ that the ministry chose to present before the court to build its case.The ministry cherry-picked a few media houses like The Indian Express, The Wire, and ThePrint, etc. to claim that the press in India has acted responsibly in covering news related to Tablighi Jamaat. Political leaders like Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and Sharad Pawar were also invoked in the affidavit to show political efforts made to prevent communalisation of the virus. I&B ministry highlighted the work done by one section of the press. What it did not present – or rather suppressed – was the biased and openly bigoted coverage at that time by several news outlets, particularly by Hindi and regional TV channels. The ministry also remained silent over the role played by its BJP ministers and party leaders in fanning communal sentiments across the country at that time.  I&B ministry’s attempt to gloss over TV media’s role in communally portraying the Tablighi Jamaat congregation did not go well with the Supreme Court. The bench, headed by CJI S.A. Bobde, expressed its displeasure, prompting the Centre to offer to file a fresh affidavit. The matter is scheduled to be heard again after 3 weeks. The court has suggested that the government consider setting up a regulatory mechanism under Cable TV Network Act to deal with such content on news channels. Several right-leaning media outlets like Zee News, Republic TV, Times Now and media houses like Amar Ujala and news agency ANI openly launched a tirade against the Muslim community. In no uncertain terms, their coverage blamed the Tablighi Jamaat for causing a spike in the number of cases in the country. Several regional media houses too joined in in flaring up communal tension and promoting hate speech.Not just TV anchors but several political leaders too participated in spreading communal hatred


Haryana will set up committee to draft strict law against ‘love jihad’, says minister Anil Vij

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday said a committee will be set up to draft a strict law against “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory used by right-wing groups who accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage, NDTV reported. Vij’s announcement came on the same day Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state will introduce a “love jihad law” in the Assembly, which includes five years of rigorous imprisonment for violators.“We have decided to set up a drafting committee comprising members from the home department and office of the advocate general Haryana to make a strict law against ‘love jihad’,” said Vij, who chaired a meeting with senior officials of the home department, according to The TOI. “We will also have a detailed discussion with the chief minister.”




Tired of ‘casteist’ CPM, Dalit woman in Kerala to seek solace in Islam

Kannur: Life has been one long struggle for Chithralekha. Ostracised and shunned over years because of her layered identity as a Dalit woman autorickshaw driver, the hardest battle she has had to fight, however, might have been against CPM which, she says, has been continually harassing her in the name of caste. Tired of waging the lone battle against Goliath party and its alleged casteism, Payyannur native has now made the decision to try and escape from the shackles of caste by converting to Islam. “I am doing this because I am unable to continue this fight alone anymore,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.“Just because I was born a Pulaya woman and I dared to question the caste discrimination practised by CPM, I was tortured to the extent that I had to run away from my own village,” Chithralekha said in her post. Chithralekha said she was not even given the consideration that she was a woman and belonged to a Dalit community. Stating that she had to learn more about the religion before converting, she said she hadn’t decided when to embrace Islam yet.Meanwhile, she warned people against troubling her further with allegations of ‘love jihad’, adding that all she wished was to live peacefully.



MP to form ‘cow Cabinet’, announces CM Chouhan

 Madhya Pradesh government will form a “gau Cabinet” for the protection and welfare of cows in the state, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced on Twitter on Wednesday. BJP leader did not provide any details about the exact duties of the panel.Various government departments, including animal husbandry, farmers and rural development, will be a part of the Cabinet, Chauhan added. “It has been decided to set up a ‘cabinet’ for the protection and promotion of cattle in the state,” Chouhan wrote. “Animal Husbandry, Forest, Panchayat and Rural Development, Revenue, Home and Farmers Welfare Department will be included in the panel. The first meeting will be held on Nov.22 at 12 noon on Gopashtami at Gau Sanctuary, Agar Malwa.”



Allahabad HC seeks UP govt’s response on claiming illegal detention, torture of minors during anti-CAA protests

Lucknow :Allahabad High Court on Tuesday sought a reply from the Uttar Pradesh government while hearing a PIL alleging illegal detention and torture of juveniles during anti-CAA protests in the state in December last year.The petition was filed on the basis of a fact-finding report prepared by HAQ-Centre for Child Rights, which alleged that many minors were illegally detained and tortured in UP — particularly in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Sambhal, and Lucknow — during the CAA-NRC protests.The bench, comprising of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma, asked the state to file all details relating to each and every district of the state with regard to the application of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. It posted the matter for hearing on December 14.The report called ‘Brutalising Innocence – Detention, Torture and Criminalization of Minors by UP police to quell anti – CAA protests’, was first published on January 31, 2020. HAQ-Centre for Child Rights, an NGO, was represented by advocates Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee and Tanmay Sadh.




Jailed Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan gets to talk to lawyer for 5 mins 49 days after arrest

New Delhi:  Arrested on his way to cover the death of Hathras victim in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan (41) finally managed to speak to his lawyer on Tuesday. Chief of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Siddique Kappan has been in police custody for 50 days now. Based out of Delhi, Siddique Kappan was heading to Boolgarhi village in UP's Hathras when he was arrested at a toll plaza on October 5. As many as 49 days since his arrest, Siddique was finally allowed to contact his lawyer on Tuesday evening, according to a report by The Print. He was reportedly allowed to talk for five minutes. During the phone call, Kappan informed Advocate Wills Mathews about his well being and said he was getting food and medicines on time.Advocate Mathews is the lawyer for KUWJ, the organisation of which Siddique Kappan is a part of.KUWJ has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court of India seeking Kappan's release from custody. An application before the magistrate in UP's Mathura has also been filed in this regard apart from a second plea in the Supreme Court.



Indian Muslims Face Impending Genocide, Warn Experts and Activists; Demand Global Action

Washington: Global experts researching genocidal violence raised an alarm that the international community needed to wake up to the impending genocide of India’s 200 Million Muslims on the watch of the present regime. The panel discussion on “Ten Stages of Genocide and India’s Muslims,” expressed an urgent need to not only indict and sanction the current dispensation but to also expose it in the international community to prevent crimes against humanity. The discussion was organised by Indian American Muslim Council.Dr Gregory Stanton, the founder-president of Genocide Watch, an organisation that works to predict, prevent and stop genocide and other forms of mass murder around the world said, “Preparation for a genocide is definitely underway in India.” He explained, “The persecution of Muslims in Assam and Kashmir is the stage just before a genocide. The next stage is extermination—that’s what we call a genocide.”Dr Stanton who served in the US State Department in the 1990s when he drafted UN Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that the “systematic crimes against humanity are already underway” in India. He mentioned the demolition of Babri mosque and the building of a temple as “important in the development of cultural underpinnings for genocide.”Clarion India




‘He’s almost on deathbed’, says Bombay HC; orders shifting of Varavara Rao from prison to Nanavati Hospital

Taking note of the critical medical condition of the 81-year old undertrial Varavara Rao, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed that he be shifted to Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital from Taloja Jail, for 15 days for a thorough check-up, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.A Division Bench comprising of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar said, "Ultimately the man is on almost death bed. He needs some treatment. Can the State say no no we will treat him in Taloja? We are only saying transfer him to Nanavati for two weeks. We will further see after two weeks."The bench further directed that he should not be discharged from the hospital without informing the Court. The medical reports have to be submitted before the Court. Also, the family members of Rao should be allowed to meet him at the hospital. The court will next consider the matter on December 3.




Indian Army sets up habitat facilities for troops deployed in eastern Ladakh amid China row

Leh:As the border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh shows no signs of immediate resolution, the Indian Army has created modern habitats with all required facilities for thousands of troops deployed in the high-altitude region which is under the grip of harsh winter, government sources said on Wednesday. The habitats have been provided with proper heating facilities as the region receives up to 40 feet of snow after November every year while temperatures fall up to minus 40 degree Celsius in the winter months, they said.“In order to ensure operational efficiency of troops deployed in winters, the Indian Army has completed establishment of habitat facilities for all troops deployed in the sector,” said a source.Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between India and China have not yielded any concrete outcome to resolve the military standoff that erupted in early May. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.PTI



Twitter has apologised in writing for ‘Ladakh in China’ error: Meenakshi Lekhi

Social media giant Twitter has apologised in writing to a key parliamentary panel for wrongly showing Ladakh in China and has promised to correct the error by the month-end, the committee’s chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi said. Twitter’s deposition has come in form of an affidavit signed by Damien Karien, Chief Privacy Officer of Twitter Inc, for wrong geo-tagging of India’s map, Lekhi told PTI.PTI



‘Baseless, fake’: Indian Army on reports that China used ‘microwave weapons’ in Ladakh

Indian Army on Wednesday dismissed reports that China had used ‘microwave weapons’ in eastern Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese soldiers are locked in a border standoff for the last 6 months.“Media articles on employment of microwave weapons in Eastern Ladakh are baseless. The news is FAKE,” the Indian Army said in a tweet.A report published in UK daily The Times had claimed that Chinese forces had turned two strategic hilltops occupied by Indian soldiers “into a microwave oven”, forcing them to retreat and allowing the positions to be retaken without an exchange of conventional fire.



RSS leader Indresh launches campaign for Pakistan to vacate PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan

Jammu :RSS leader Indresh Kumar on Tuesday launched a campaign to put pressure on Pakistan to vacate PoK as well as Gilgit-Baltistan.He also asked former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah to leave India and settle in Pakistan and China over their remarks on the tricolour and allegedly seeking China’s support for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.“You (Farooq Abdullah) should leave Hindustan, you should leave J-K, you should leave Kashmir and go to China,” Kumar told a conference of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch here. PTI



‘Which gang were you part of?’ Kapil Sibal hits back at Amit Shah for Gupkar remark

Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday hit back at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for saying that Congress and People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration wanted to take Jammu and Kashmir back to the era of terror and turmoil. He also criticised Shah for using the term “Gupkar Gang”.“Amit Shah alleges: Congress wants to take J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil, when in talk with other parties in the upcoming District Development Council elections,” Sibal said in a tweet. “Amitji was BJP-PDP alliance to bring back terror in J&K? Which gang were you then part of?”Congress leader Saifuddin Soz also criticised Shah for the comments, saying that the home minister has shown India and its democracy in poor light by describing the alliance of mainstream political parties as a “gang”, PTI reported.On Shah’s comments, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also said in an interview: “The home minister is bypassing his responsibilities and making misleading comments.”Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, meanwhile, lashed out at Shah for his remarks against the party. Singh said in a statement that “spreading lies and creating new illusions” had become the way of the Modi-led government.



Jammu and Kashmir HC orders release of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam

Jammu and Kashmir high court has ordered the release of hardline separatist leader, Masarat Alam maintaining that the detention order against him has outlived its life.A division bench of the J&K high court comprising Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Rajnesh Oswal on Tuesday ordered release of Masarat Alam, chairman of the separatist Muslim League, after noticing that the detention order against Alam had outlived its life.Masarat Alam holds the unenviable record of having been detained under the harsh PSA 36 times.IANS




Shillong Times Editor Patricia Mukhim Quits Editors Guild of India, Cites 'Silence' on HC Ruling Against Her

Shillong: Editor of The Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, on Tuesday resigned as member of Editors Guild of India (EGI) in protest against what she called, the organisation’s “complete silence” on the recent high court ruling which refused to quash an FIR against her and held her guilty of creating communal disharmony through her Facebook post in July.The veteran journalist, who is known for her vocal stand on many issues and rights of the lesser known voices across the North East, said the Guild was silent about her case, while it issued statements condemning the arrest of non-member Arnab Goswami whose arrest was not even on grounds of journalistic pursuits.On November 10 the single bench judge of Meghalaya high court in his ruling found Mukhim guilty of creating communal disharmony and refused to quash an FIR filed by Lawsohtun Dorbar Shnong (a traditional institution). PTI



2 arrested in burning alive of Bihar Muslim girl, Police not allowing victim’s family to go outside

Bihar police have arrested two main accused involved in burning alive a young Muslim women in Rasoolpur village under Desari Police Station of Vaishali district more than a fortnight ago.The arrest of the accused was done only after the issue was raised by Opposition leaders-Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.A senior official of Vaishali district police told India Tomorrow over phone that the main accused involved in the case-Satish Rai and Chandan Rai-have been arrested while the hunt for the third accused is on. Meanwhile, Chandpura police outpost in-charge V D Dubey, under whose jurisdiction the village comes, has been placed under suspension.India Tomorrow



‘Hurt by provocative narrative’: Bengali Hindus write to Meghalaya CM over ‘Bangladeshi’ banners

More than 80 members of the Bengali community in Meghalaya have written to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, saying they were “shocked and pained” at the recent claim that all Bengali residents in the state are illegal migrants, and urged him to take urgent steps to secure the “fundamental, constitutional and legal rights” of all citizens, North East Now reported on Tuesday.Tensions between tribal groups and Bengali Hindus in Meghalaya rose to the surface on October 21, when banners went up in Shillong, calling Bengali Hindus “Bangladeshis”.



11 men in Army uniform arrested near Guwahati airport, police suspect conspiracy

11 men in Indian Army uniform were arrested by Assam Police near Guwahati’s Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport on Monday, after they could not produce valid documents, reported the HT. “On verification, it was found that they were not authorised to wear the uniform and had ulterior motives,” a police statement quoted by the newspaper said.



AMU: 5,500 Ex-Employees Paid Half Pension as UGC Slashes Funds

New Delhi: In his time, Hamid Ali has been acting vice-chancellor, dean, director, four-time chairman and also the elected president of the teachers’ association at AMU. However, despite all this, he says he feels betrayed by the university. Ali has only received half the pension amount for this month.“They have funds for everything except our retirement benefits, such as leave encashment and gratuity. On top of that, I only received half of my pension for the last month,” says Ali, who is among the oldest professors of AMU. He served the university from 1980 until his retirement in November last year.More than 5,500 retired AMU staff have received only half of their pensions for the month of October. The reason for this is that UGC has not released the full amount for pensioners. This is not all. Many pensioners have not been receiving their full retirement benefits due to non-availability of funds since 2019.



Election results show Congress has zero or weakened organisational presence on ground: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said that the results of the recently-held Bihar Assembly elections and bye-polls in several states show that the party either has no organisational presence left on the ground or has weakened considerably, reported Dainik Bhaskar on Wednesday.“The ground was fertile for RJD-Congress in Bihar,” he said in an interview to the Hindi daily. “There should be a comprehensive review of why we lost even after being so close to winning.” The Congress leader said that it should be remembered that the party won the elections in Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand a while ago.



No Muslim representation in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet

In Bihar, NDA has taken office after winning 125 of 243 seats in the recently held Assembly elections. Nitish Kumar on Monday was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time. Kumar also announced the various portfolios allotted among his council of ministers, keeping the home portfolio for himself. A 14-member council of ministers was sworn in by Governor Phagu Chauhan in Patna - seven from BJP, 5 from JDU and one each from HAM and VIP.



Nitish's 1st Controversy In New Term - "Tainted" Education Minister

Patna (Bihar): Within two days of government formation in Bihar a controversy has erupted over the appointment of corruption-accused Janata Dal United (JDU) legislator, Mewalal Choudhary, as the Education Minister.State's main opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, has questioned the ruling BJP-JDU combine over the decision to elevate the tainted leader while ignoring legislators from minority communities.Choudhary, however, has dismissed as baseless all allegations against him related to corruption in building construction and irregularities in appointments to posts of assistant professor and junior scientist. The allegations surfaced in 2017 when he was vice-chancellor of Bhagalpur agriculture university.



Clip from 2016 shared as Shah-Owaisi struck ‘secret deal’ ahead of 2020 Bihar polls

A video that shows Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reading a letter he received from former Gujarat BJP MLA Yatin Oza is circulating on social media. The letter alleges that BJP leader Amit Shah met with AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, brother of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, where it was agreed that Owaisi will field his candidates in Bihar, particularly in the Muslim belt, in Bihar elections.The clip has been shared against the backdrop of the recently-concluded Bihar polls where NDA retained power and AIMIM won five seats for the first time.



PM’s office is unique, says CJI & refuses adjournment of BSF trooper’s case against Modi

Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Wednesday said the Prime Minister's Office is an "unique office", as it denied adjournment during the hearing on sacked BSF constable Tej Bahadur's plea against the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi constituency in Uttar Pradesh.A bench headed by the Chief Justice said: "This is too important a matter to be adjourned so many times. The respondent occupies an unique office. He is the PM of India."Bahadur's counsel repeatedly sought adjournment, as he was unable to answer a specific query by the top court.The observation from the top court came as Bahadur's counsel repeatedly sought adjournment in the matter, but the Chief Justice refused citing that the matter has already been adjourned many times.IANS




Kangana Ranaut, Rangoli Chandel summoned by Mumbai police for third time in sedition case

Mumbai Police on Wednesday summoned actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel for the third time to record their statements in a sedition case registered against them for allegedly promoting enmity between different communities, HT reported.  the 2 have been summoned for questioning on Nov.23 and 24. “We have issued the third notice and asked them to join and cooperate with Bandra police in the investigation,” DCP Abhishek Trimukhe told the paper.



In Meerut, Muslim family hands over temple land ownership papers to mgmt committee

A Muslim family handed over ownership papers of a piece of land, on which a Shiva temple is built, to the temple’s management committee.According to the family members, in 1976 their grandfather had verbally donated the land in the city’s Indira Nagar locality for the temple.The temple was constructed on this donated land almost 25 years ago but land was still in the name of late Kasim Ali of Shakoor Nagar here. Meanwhile, a group of local residents tried to take control of the temple as there was no management committee to take care of it. Another group of local residents, led by Sumit Kumar Sharma, opposed them and formed a committee of 11 members for management of the temple. Kasim Ali’s sons Hazi Asim, Sajid and Sabir assured them of handing over the documents of the land soon. Kashif Ali, son of Sajid and a TV artiste in Mumbai, said his family got the papers of the land prepared and handed them over to the committee on Diwali day.




Coronavirus: Delhi revises limit on wedding guests from 200 to 50 amid rise in cases

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Wednesday approved AAP govt’s proposal to allow only 50 guests at weddings, instead of the earlier limit of 200, NDTV reported. The decision came amid a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the Capital. CM Arvind Kejriwal had on Tuesday written to Baijal for permission to implement the order. He had also asked the Centre for permission to shut markets which could be potential infection hotspots.Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, meanwhile, said that the government may impose certain local restrictions but won’t enforce a total lockdown, HT reported. He had on Monday said that the third wave of the coronavirus in Delhi had passed its peak.Delhi has witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28 when the daily rise breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and it crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11. On Tuesday, Delhi recorded 6,396 cases and 99 deaths. The Capital’s tally rose to 4,95,598 and the toll reached 7,812. The sudden spike in coronavirus cases came amid the festive season and rising pollution levels in the Capital.



Coronavirus: Noida begins random testing of commuters from Delhi at entry points

Administration of UP’s Gautam Buddh Nagar district on Wednesday began conducting random coronavirus tests on people coming from Delhi, amid a surge in cases in the Capital, PTI reported. Teams of health officials were deployed at Delhi-Noida-Direct flyway and Chilla, which are 2 popular points of entry to Noida from Delhi. Gautam Buddh Nagar CMO Deepak Ohri said that the officials were doing rapid antigen tests on the commuters randomly, to ensure that the movement of traffic is not affected. “If anyone is found positive, they are sent back to Delhi,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “Only those testing negative are allowed to enter Noida.”



India working on strategy to procure Pfizer vaccine despite cold storage challenges, says Centre

Union health ministry on Tuesday said the cold-chain requirements of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer posed a big challenge to India’s mass-vaccination campaign, but the government is examining all possibilities for its procurement, reported PTI. Pfizer’s vaccine, which was shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on initial data, must be shipped and stored at freezing temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius from the moment they are bottled to the time they are ready to be injected. This is significantly lower than the standard 2-8 degrees Celsius storage requirement.



Officials will discuss Xi’s offer of cooperation with India to develop COVID-19 vaccine: China

Officials of China and India will discuss the modalities of cooperation to develop COVID-19 vaccine which was proposed by President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.In his speech at the 12th BRICS summit, Xi said on Tuesday that the Chinese companies are working with their Russian and Brazilian partners on phase three clinical trials for vaccines. “We are prepared to have cooperation with South Africa and India as well,” he said addressing the virtual summit, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.PTI






Mike Pompeo to visit illegal settlement in occupied West Bank

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s expected tour of a winery in the occupied West Bank this week marks the first time a top American diplomat has visited an illegal Israeli settlement. Psagot winery, established in part on land the Palestinians say was stolen from local residents, is part of a sprawling network of Israeli settlements in the West Bank that are considered illegal under international law and a major obstacle in peace negotiations.The winery, located in Jabal al-Tawil, just outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, is a focus of Israel’s efforts to promote tourism in the occupied territory and a potent symbol of its fight against campaigns to boycott or label products from the settlements.



Hamas: UAE plays 'suspicious' role in supporting settlers

Hamas believes UAE is playing a "suspicious" role in supporting Israeli Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Anadolu reported."We think that UAE is playing a serious role in Jerusalem and the West Bank," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.Abu Zuhri added: "The dangerous UAE role in Jerusalem and its agreements with Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank reflect that UAE-Israeli relations went beyond a normalisation deal."



Bahrain FM arrives in Israel on first official visit

A Bahrain government delegation led by its foreign minister has landed in Tel Aviv on its first official visit from the Gulf kingdom, which normalised relations with Israel in September.Abdullatif Al Zayani was welcomed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport by his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, a live Israeli television broadcast showed on Wednesday.The visit came as the two countries look to broaden cooperation that US has promoted as an anti-Iran alliance and potential economic bonanza.The delegation arrived by Gulf Air’s flight GF972 – a reference to Israel’s telephone country code – on the airline’s first commercial flight to Tel Aviv.US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Avi Berkowitz, was also on the flight which flew over Saudi Arabia, which has so far resisted US appeals to normalise ties with Israel.




Hamas condemns PA's resumption of ties with Israel

Hamas yesterday condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s resolution to restore relations with the Israeli occupation, a statement said.In taking this step, Hamas said, the PA "is ignoring all the national values and principles as well as the outcomes of the conference held by secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions.""This resolution is a stab in the back of the national efforts aimed at building up national partnerships and developing a national strategy to face off annexation plans and the deal of the century."



Israeli military says it struck Syrian, Iranian forces in Syria

Israel said it launched airstrikes against Syrian army and Iranian Quds Force targets in Syria on Wednesday after explosive devices were planted in Israeli-held Golan Heights.The Syrian state news agency reported that 3 military personnel were killed and one was wounded in "Israeli aggression".Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said eight targets in areas stretching from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights to the Damascus periphery were attacked.



US legislator: Israel 'asked me' to introduce bill against groups boycotting it

Georgia's Legislator Deborah Silcox has said that an Israeli consulate asked her to introduce a bill against groups advocating a boycott of the Israeli occupation, news agencies reported.At a hearing, Silcox said that the Israeli consulate "asked me" to introduce an amendment to the law which opposed boycotts of Israel. The lawmaker appeared at the hearing in March with an Israeli consular officer seated at her side and introduced him to the House committee.According to news reports, 32 American states, including Georgia, adopted laws denying state funds to those who advocate boycotting Israel.



Palestine hopeful about US President-elect Biden

Palestine is hopeful that US President-elect Joe Biden will revive the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Anadolu agency reported Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki saying.Speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin, Al-Maliki said Palestinians suffered tremendously during the Trump administration, which sided with Israel."Now with the new administration in Washington, we see a change, we see a hope, and we want not to be victims of the past," he said, adding that they were ready to openly and positively engage with the Biden administration.




Trump fires top official who contradicted his claims of election fraud

US President Donald Trump has fired a top election official who rejected his claims of fraud in 2020 presidential polls.Trump announced the decision on Twitter. “Votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more,” he said. “Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. US president said that Krebs’ recent statement on the security of the presidential election was highly inaccurate, “in that there were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, “glitches” in the voting machines which changed.” Both of Trump’s tweets were flagged by the microblogging site.



US announces sharp cut in troops in Iraq, Afghan by mid-Jan

US will sharply reduce its troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by mid-January, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, according to BBC. Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller in a statement said that commanders and advisors agreed with the withdrawal plan, which will cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500, and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500. In a separate report, Reuters quoted White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien as saying that incumbent President Donald Trump hopes that all US troops will return from Afghanistan and Iraq by May.The plan has been put in place despite arguments from senior military officials in favour of a slower, more methodical pullout to preserve hard-fought gains, according to AP. Trump administration’s decison has not been received well some of his Republican party members.



Modi calls Biden, discusses coronavirus crisis, climate change, bilateral ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday spoke to US President-elect Joe Biden and congratulated him on winning the presidential elections. The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus crisis, climate change and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.This was the first conversation between Modi and Biden since his victory in US polls. Modi had tweeted a congratulatory message to the Democrat earlier this month.



FB, Twitter CEOs testify before Congress, defend handling of disinformation in US prez election

CEOs of Facebook and Twitter have testified before a powerful Senate Judiciary Committee of Congress where they defended their handling of disinformation in the closely-fought US presidential election.Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers on Tuesday that ahead of the November 3 election, the social media giant undertook the largest election integrity effort by any private company in recent times.Altogether, I believe this was the largest election integrity effort by any private company in recent times. This is what people expect of us, Zuckerberg told the Senate Judiciary Committee which held a hearing on Censorship and the 2020 Election.PTI



Iran: Saudi Arabia ‘scapegoating’ its pursuit of nuclear arms

Iran’s United Nations ambassador says Saudi Arabia is trying to use Iran as an excuse to develop nuclear arms after a Saudi minister said the kingdom reserves the right to arm itself with nuclear weapons.In tweets in Farsi and English, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Kazem Gharibabadi, said “scapegoating and fearmongering are two common and classic methods used by demagogues”.



New Zealand Police introduce hijab to uniform, first officer to wear it feels ‘proud’

Constable Zeena Ali is New Zealand Police’s first member to wear a specially designed hijab introduced as part of the force’s uniform to encourage more Muslim women to join the ranks. Zeena, 30, was inspired to join the police to help her Muslim community after the Christchurch terror attack last year in which 51 people were killed at two mosques in New Zealand. This week she will not only graduate as a police officer, but will become the first in New Zealand to don a police-issued hijab as part of her uniform, the New Zealand Herald reported.PTI



Ethiopia: Both sides claim military gains as fighting rages

The leaders of Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray region refused on Wednesday to surrender to federal troops and instead claimed they were winning a war that has exacerbated ethnic fractures in the vast nation and further destabilised the Horn of Africa. Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said it was defeating “the enemy” and its citizens “will never kneel” – a day after federal government forces launched air raids on the regional capital, Mekelle, and deployed ground forces towards the city.





Albatross Around Asaduddin Owaisi’s Neck and Why He Should Disown It:Faisal C.K.



How Macron’s French secularism is at odds with ‘Anglo-American’ liberalism:ThePrint



From Akbar’s court to Baghdad, Muslims laid foundation for scientific education and curiosity:Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz




In memory of Professor Ataullah Siddiqui, a leading figure in multi-faith dialogue and religious pluralism:Rafat Ali



Democratic barbarism, where every issue is seen as partisan combat, is aided by judicial power:Pratap Bhanu Mehta



Gandhis, BJP, divisive nationalism: What Obama says about India in memoir







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