Morocco Refuses To Normalize Ties With Israel

The Prime Minister issued a rejection of any relations with Israel.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani has rejected any normalization of relations with Israel, Reuters reports.

El Otmani told his Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) that “we refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people.”

This follows the recent announcement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel’s deal to normalize ties. Following this announcement there was speculation as to whether or not any other Arab countries would do the same. 

Morocco, however, has made it clear they will not normalize ties with Israel. 

According to Reuters Morocco has been in support of a “two-state solution” with East Jerusalem as a capital of a Palestinian state. 

In 1993, Morocco and Israel commenced low level ties after a peace deal called the Oslo Records was reached. However in 2000, Rabat, the capital of Morocco, suspended relations with Israel after the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising.

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Christchurch Terrorist Sentenced Life In Prison With No Parole

This marks New Zealand’s history as it is the first life sentence without parole imposed on any criminal in the country.

The Australian terrorist responsible for the Christchurch massacre will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. This marks the first terrorist conviction of New Zealand’s history and is also the first such sentence imposed on any criminal in the country.

Brenton Tarrant, 29, pleaded guilty to the murders of 51 people, attempted murder of another 40 people, and one charge of terrorism. This announcement came after his initial denial of the charges against him. 

Following the emotional confrontations of the victims in the courtroom, the judge, Justice Cameron Mander, asked the convict if he wished to say anything. He denied the offer while maintaining his usual expressionless manner. 

Judge Mander labeled his actions as “inhumane” and that he “showed no mercy” during his killing spree on March 15th, 2019. 

“Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment,” the Judge said. He went on to express his disappointment for Tarrant’s lack of remorse for his actions of slaughtering “unarmed, defenseless individuals.”

“You have offered no apology or public acknowledgment of the harms you have caused … While I appreciate that you have forsaken the opportunity to use these proceedings as a platform, you appear neither contrite nor ashamed,” Judge Mander said. 

Tarrant plotted his attacks three years in advance, deciding his targets a couple of months before. He had complete architectural plans of the mosques and planned his attacks to the very last detail. Tarrant’s original plan included hitting three mosques and murdering a greater number of individuals to which he admitted at the time of his arrest. 

The lead prosecutor of the case, Mark Zarifeh, stated that “given the gravity of the offending and the devastating loss of life and injury” no minimum duration of imprisonment was sufficient for the criminal. He also named Tarrant as the worst murderer in the country’s history.

This verdict similarly garnered positive reactions from the victims. While they agreed that no punishment will be able to bring back what they lost, the justice served will help them sleep well at night. 

“We are not in a country where we can expect the death penalty. But they have served justice, giving the maximum prison time without parole,” said Hina Amir, one of the people outside the mosque at the time of the attack.

To express their support, the public began gathering outside the courthouse as well, holding signs reading: “We are one.”

New Zealand’s Prime minister Jacinda Ardern communicated her approval of the sentencing and stated,“Today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist.”

The country finally put an end to the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history which prompted stricter gun laws in New Zealand among other things, possibly obstructing the way for any such attempts in the future.

Young Black Muslim Mother-To-Be Shot Dead In Maryland

Both CAIR and the Howard County Police are offering separate rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the suspect.

A young Black pregnant Muslim woman was fatally shot in her home July 31  in Columbia, Maryland on Eid weekend, according to local authorities. The woman, Rabiah Ahmad, was a hairstylist with her own brand, House of Kiyomi. Her baby girl, Ajha, was delivered but is in critical condition. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the woman’s killer.

On August 6, an update to a GoFundMe campaign organized by Ahmad’s cousin revealed that Ajha also died. 

Howard County Police say that officers responded to the 6600 block of Dovecote Drive for a report of several shots fired around 11 p.m. on Friday. Multiple bullets were fired into the residence from the outside, and one of which struck Rabiah Ahmad, who was 30.

The victim was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she died. Ahmad was 28 weeks pregnant. At first doctors were able to save and deliver the baby girl, Ahja, but unfortunately she passed away just days later on August 5.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball addressed the horrific tragedy and offered condolences to Ahmad’s friends and relatives in a statement:

“It is an unimaginable and unacceptable tragedy which took place in our community overnight. Our condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ms. Ahmad and to our entire Howard County Muslim community who are shocked and saddened by the incident which occurred on Eid al-Adha, the Day of Sacrifice.”

At this time, the motive for the shooting is unknown.

“The Howard County police department is working diligently on this case and my office has been in touch with leaders within the Muslim community to offer our support and resources where needed to help those impacted,” Ball added.

Zainab Chaudry, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations office in Maryland, made the following statement:

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s loved ones, and especially to the infant in critical condition. We urge anyone with information about this horrific crime to contact authorities and help bring justice for this family. At this point, there are too many unanswered questions, and the community’s help can make a tremendous difference.”

Both CAIR and the Howard County Police are offering separate rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the suspect. Anyone with any information at all is urged to contact CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry, zchaudry@cair.com, 410-971-6062.

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First Two Muslim-American Women Elected To Congress Won Their Re-Election Primaries

Congratulations to Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar!

Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to the United States Congress, have won their primaries for re-election — both of them by a landslide. 

This past Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar won her primary in Minnesota’s historically Democratic 5th Congressional District, which includes the entire city of Minneapolis. Omar is the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen of African birth and the first woman of color from Minnesota to be elected to Congress. Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, defeated Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in the Democratic 13th District primary in a closely watched race. The first-term incumbent scored 66% of the vote against Jones’ 33%. The last time the two campaigned against each other in 2018, Tlaib won by a tiny margin, beating Jones by only about 900 votes out of roughly 89,000 cast.

Omar and Tlaib both received endorsements from fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Each of the women will move on to the general election, which takes place on November 3, 2020. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 35 of 100 senate seats, and the office of President of the United States will be voted on. 

This year’s general election is generating much concern due to a lack of federal funding for USPS, which carries the burden of processing most of the country’s ballots this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We found a handy guide with voting information specific to each state here. Find out if you’re registered and how to get a mail-in ballot in your area as soon as possible, as significant delays are expected

U.S. Citizen Shot In Pakistani Courtroom While Facing Blasphemy Charges

Tahir Naseem, a U.S. citizen, was shot in a courtroom at the Peshawar Judicial Complex by a local 19-year-old resident.

Tahir Ahmad Naseem, 47, was accused of blasphemy in 2018 in Pakistan for allegedly claiming to be a prophet, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Mr. Naseem, a U.S. citizen, was shot in a courtroom at the Peshawar Judicial Complex by a local 19-year-old resident. It is not clear how he managed to bring a weapon into the court premises.

A video of the gunman was shared widely on social media. While being held by police he is heard saying that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told him in a dream to kill Mr. Naseem. Police officer Ijaz Ahmed has given a statement to clarify the progress of the case. 

“The culprit accepts responsibility for killing him and says that he killed him for having committed blasphemy,” said police official Ahmed. “[The suspect] has been arrested from the scene.”

Mr. Naseem was born into the Ahmadiyya sect, according to a community spokesperson. Following the Second Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution in 1974, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are declared non-Muslims by the Government of Pakistan. They are no strangers to persecution. 

The community spokesperson however added that Mr. Naseem had left the sect and had been exhibiting signs of being mentally ill. In YouTube videos uploaded by Mr. Naseem, he claimed to be a messiah. 

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive subject in Pakistan, with rumors of the crime spurring vigilantes and mobs to take lethal action against supposed perpetrators. 

Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. While prominent politicians have acknowledged the harm that blasphemy laws have done, hard-line religious parties continue to mount pressure against any that aim to repeal them. 

In 2011, a Punjabi governor was murdered by his own guard for defending a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. In 2018 Bibi was acquitted after spending nine years on death row and subsequently fled the country. Islamic extremists send her death threats to this day. 

A prominent Islamic scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, publicly attacked the laws during the Bibi case, warning that a failure to repeal them will only strengthen extremists in the country. 

“The blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam. These ulema [council of clerics] are just telling lies to the people.” 

An ally of Mr. Ghamidi, Dr. Farooq Khan, was assassinated for speaking out publicly on the same issue. 

Mr. Ghamidi himself had to flee the country following a foiled bomb plot against his home. Speaking to the Guardian in Malaysia, he expressed worries over how mob killings embolden the religious right and thus enable future vigilantism against those who speak out.

“It became impossible to live there,” he said.

Banksy Paintings Auctions For $2.9m With Proceeds Going To A Palestinian Hospital

They were donated to ABCD Bethlehem, a non-for-profit group that supports Palestinian children with disabilities.

Three paintings by anonymous British artist, Banksy, have sold for $2.9m at a London auction, with the proceeds being donated to a hospital in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Banksy is known for his works of political and social commentary. 

The trio of paintings, titled the “Mediterranean Sea View 2017” reference the European refugee crisis. 

The “traditionally framed, romantic-era style oil paintings depicting tumultuous seascapes” as described by BBC, were altered by Banksy’s addition of life jackets and buoys.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe, said prior to the auction, “In ‘Mediterranean Sea View 2017,’ Banksy corrupts three found oil paintings with his own witty reworkings to create something that, while posing as a 19th-Century seascape, spotlights one of the burning issues of the 21st Century.”

The paintings are a powerful social commentary on Europe’s migrant crisis of the past decade. The migrant crisis saw countless amounts of refugees enduring dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean and Aegean seas on boats and makeshift to flee war, armed conflict and social unrest. While many made it to European shores, thousands died at sea. 

Prior to the London based auction, the paintings were displayed in the lobby of The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The Walled Off Hotel was opened by Banksy in 2017, to draw attention to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

They were donated to ABCD Bethlehem, a non-for-profit group that supports Palestinian children with disabilities. The proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and buying children’s rehabilitation equipment for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR). The BASR provides medical, surgical and rehabilitation services in Palestine.

READ MORE: Artists Show Us What It Means To Be Muslim Through Art

Quebec Judge To Apologize For Ordering Woman To Remove Hijab In Court

“I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding,” the Judge said.

Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo, who had told Rania El-Alloul that her case would be heard on condition that her hijab be removed in February 2015, is ready to apologize for her order. The province’s judicial council stated that the judge will offer a letter of apology to El-Alloul which will be made public, in exchange for the dropping of disciplinary complaints launched against Marengo as a result of her comments. The news comes as a settlement agreement is finalized between the parties.

A five-year legal battle between Marengo and El-Alloul started when El-Alloul appeared in court in order to retrieve her impounded car.  “In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. “Decorum is important. Hats and sunglasses, for example are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either.” 

Marengo continued, “I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding.”

El-Alloul, who described the experience as humiliating, refused to remove her hijab. “I felt that I had to choose between my sincerely held beliefs and my fundamental right to be heard by a court on an application that was important to me,” she said.

After hiring renown Canadian human rights and constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, El-Alloul and Grey filed a motion to have the Quebec Superior Court issue a statement clarifying that religious attire is permitted in courts. In October 2018, after the case was appealed, Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled that Marengo’s order for El-Alloul to remove her hijab was a violation of her fundamental rights. The decision stated that citizens who appear in front of the courts should be allowed to have access to justice while exhibiting their freedom of religious expression.

The appeal panel, composed of three judges, stated that courts are indeed spaces of religious neutrality, within limits. “This does not mean, however, that judges may rely on the neutrality of the courts alone as a justification for preventing litigants from accessing a courtroom simply because they are expressing sincerely held religious beliefs” the appeal panel stated.

Additionally, numerous complaints were filed with the Conseil de la magistrature, the body that hears complaints against judges within the province. A committee was formed to investigate Marengo’s conduct in 2016. Marengo attempted to halt the investigations by filing appeals both with the Court of Appeal, and later with the Supreme Court of Canada who refused to hear her case. The Court of Appeal stated that continuation of the investigation was necessary, as it is “the only possible avenue for an enlightened justice.”

READ MORE: Kansas City Gun Range Denies Muslim Woman Entry Because Of Her Hijab

Dozens Killed, Thousands Of Casualties From Explosion In Lebanon’s Capital Beirut

A massive explosion rocked the city of Beirut, killing at least 73, thousands left wounded, ripping apart the buildings throughout the city and flattening most of the port.

A huge explosion in a port warehouse district near the center of Beirut, killed at least 73 and injured over 3700 others, releasing shockwaves across the Lebanese capital in the evening hours of Tuesday, shattering windows, causing apartment balconies to collapse, and causing widespread damage to everything in between the shockwaves.

In the developing story, the cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. Reportedly, the warehouse situated in the port was loaded with highly explosive 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate which was on the way to Africa when they exploded, Lebanon General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim said.

Officials expect the death toll to rise sharply as emergency workers dig through rubble across the city to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful blast to hit the Lebanese capital in years, making the ground tremble.

 

Map made by Al Jazeera

 

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that those responsible for the explosion at a “dangerous” warehouse in the Beirut port area would pay the price, and called for a day of mourning on Wednesday.

Countries like Iran, UK, Saudi Arabia, offered their support and solidarity with Lebanese people. France, Turkey and Qatar sent medical aid and field hospitals to support medical response.

This comes at a time where Lebanon is suffering from an economic crisis while battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Thousands of Lebanese people reportedly lost their savings overnight while prices for basic goods have inflated. The country is also experiencing higher COVID-19 rates. 

This is a developing story, updates to follow;

In the meantime anyone who wants to help the Lebanese people suffering they can donate through the below mentioned links. As the country is going through a deep economical crisis, donating in US Dollars would be of great assistance.

Donate to Disaster Relief for Beirut Explosion 

Urgent Blood Needs 

Donate to the Lebanese Red Cross 

 

Muslim Woman Becomes Face Of UK’s National Healthcare System

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) in South London.

July 2020 marks 72 years of Britain’s free nationwide healthcare system, the NHS – and to celebrate the occasion, a Muslim doctor graces billboards up and down the country.

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) at a medical center in a deprived area of South London. The mother of two has, like medical staff worldwide, been on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Hussain is among twelve National Health Service staff who have been photographed especially for the anniversary by acclaimed British photographer Rankin, known for his portraits of Kate Moss, the Rolling Stones and even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The NHS pictures can be seen across the country on billboards and in shopping centers, not to mention at the iconic Piccadilly Circus lights in central London – undoubtedly the most famous advertising spot in the UK.

Dr Hussain hasn’t let it go to her head. “It’s difficult to put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives and to help battle this global pandemic.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we see the humanity that makes up our GP practices, community services and hospitals. Every member of staff has their own story, fears and hopes for the future. I think Rankin’s photography brings this out really well.”

You can read her full statement on the official NHS page.

This is a great achievement not just for the Muslim community, but also specifically Muslim women, the hijabi community, the Bengali community and the South Asian community. It is yet another proud moment for Muslims in the UK – earlier in the year a British key worker graced the cover of Vogue –  towards finally achieving the recognition British Muslims deserve. 

READ MORE: British Vogue’s Latest Cover Star Is A Black Hijabi Supermarket Assistant

Car Bomb Attack Kills At Least Five, Wounds 85 in Rebel-Held Syria’s Azaz

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack until as of now. 

Azaz, Syria – An explosive laden car blew up in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern town of Azaz on Sunday, killing at least 5 and injuring around 85 people, including women and children. The incident took place in the village of Siccu. Injured civilians, who were in critical condition, were taken to a hospital on the Turkish side of the border.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack until as of now. 

The Northwestern Syrian town of Azaz has been under the control of rebels backed by Turkey since the state got its control into Syria in 2016. And the YPG/PKK terror organization, which regularly attacks from Syria’s Tal Rifaat and Manbij regions, often targets Jarabulus, Azaz and Afrin.

Attack in Afrin

Earlier on Sunday in another terror attack, 13 people, including children, were injured in Afrin, a northwestern town of Syria, which is controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters. Sunday’s attacks came as parliamentary elections took place in government-held parts of the war-torn country. As in previous elections in Syria, the vote could produce a rubber-stamp body loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: The missions, Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

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