Oct 042017
Iran-Funded Center a Lifeline for Jakarta’s Marginalized Shia Minority

JAKARTA, INDONESIA The first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram, is not a very big deal for most Indonesians, outside of New Year’s Day. But every night of Muharram since it started on Sept. 21, hundreds of Shia Muslims have come together at a tile-clad building in South Jakarta to ceremonially mourn the death of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson.They listen to a live or streaming sermon in Bahasa Indonesia or Farsi and pray, often tearfully.The mourning rites of Muharram are an important Shia tradition, but as Indonesia’s Shia minorities face growing intolerance, they have steadily lowered their profile. So this month’s nightly gatherings at the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC), which was built in 2002 with funding from Iran, are among the largest sites of Shia activity in the whole country.Over 99 percent of Indonesian Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination, but that belies Shia cultural influence in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. (Sunni and Shia are the two major Muslim denominations, which diverged early in Islamic history over a debate on the rightful successors to the prophet.)Shia Islam may have been the first strain to reach Indonesia, through Arab traders who reached Aceh around the 12th century, and Shia traditions like veneration of the dead and visiting shrines are still observed in pockets across Indonesia, even by Sunnis.But most of Indonesia’s roughly one million Shia are concentrated in the Jakarta metro area, and the ICC is a nexus of their community.Iranian Outpost in IndonesiaICC, clad in blue and white ceramic [Read More…]

Sep 282017
Buy it if you can

The price of tomato in wholesale markets was reduced to Rs100 per kilogram, but retailers are still selling tomatoes for Rs150-200 per kilogram. According to the relevant authorities, customers will soon notice a decline in the price of tomatoes since the government has imported tomatoes in large quantities from India and Iran. However, consumers can only get benefit of this decline in the price when retailers also sell tomatoes at low prices. The relevant authorities must take remedial measures to keep a check on retailers. Mohammad Shumayil (Karachi) Click for detailed story

Sep 242017
More airlines to fly with

Airports in Pakistan look deserted and dull in the absence of many airlines from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Despite being a nation of over 200 million, the country only has a handful of foreign airlines, mainly from the Middle East, which are offering services to Pakistanis. On the contrary, our eastern neighbour India is served by top airlines from every corner of the globe. Similarly, our neighbour Iran is also wooing world class airlines to start their services in the country. Unfortunately we are lagging behind and not promoting ourselves in a better way. It is time we invested in the infrastructure and up gradation of airports in the country so that they come at par with the airports of developed countries. I do hope that with passage of time different top foreign airlines would choose Pakistan as a destination of choice. Raashid Mohsin (Islamabad) Click for detailed story

Sep 212017

TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader on Thursday lashed out against US President Donald Trump describing the speech he delivered at the UN this week as full of “gangster and cowboy” rhetoric. “The reason behind the foolish, very ugly, insolent and disorderly speech with cowboy and gangster wording… is their anger (and) desperation,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in reference to Trump and the US administration. In remarks to a top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, carried by his website, Khamenei described Trump and the US administration as “having no brains”. “The US president’s remarks are not a source of pride for the American nation and the elite of that country should feel ashamed of… having such a president,” Khamenei said. At UN, Trump says US may have to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea The Assembly of Experts is a body of elected clerics that oversees the functions of the supreme leader and has constitutional powers to select and even dismiss the leader. Trump delivered a scathing verbal attack against Iran in his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. The US president referred to the Islamic republic as a “murderous regime” and a “depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos”. He also called the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, an “embarrassment” for Washington. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased under Trump’s administration. In 2015, Iran reached an agreement with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US to curtail [Read More…]

Sep 202017

TEHRAN: A man was hanged in front of cheering crowds in Iran on Wednesday after being convicted of the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl which had outraged the nation. The execution of 42-year-old Esmail Jafarzadeh was shown in an amateur video shared on the state broadcaster’s website. He was hanged at dawn in the square of the small northwestern town of Parsabad, in Ardebil province. The execution was held in public “to restore citizens’ sense of security and relieve their troubled minds,” Ardebil’s prosecutor Naser Atabati told reporters. Seven-year-old Atena Aslani went missing on June 19 after walking away from her street vendor father, sparking huge concern on social media. Iran hangs man for raping dozens of women Prosecutors said that Jafarzadeh, who was already the prime suspect, confessed to her rape and murder shortly after her body was found by police in the garage of his house, the judiciary-linked Mizan Online website reported. President Hassan Rouhani described the case as ‘horrendous’ and called for swift justice. It took less than a week to convict Jafarzadeh after his trial began in late August. His death sentence was confirmed by the supreme court on September 11. Parsabad’s public prosecutor Abdollah Tabatabayi later announced that Jafarzadeh had also confessed to the murder two years ago of a woman whose body was never found. Iran does not provide official figures on executions, but human rights group Amnesty International says it was among the world’s top five executioners in 2016, with most of [Read More…]

Aug 152017

DOHA: An Arab embargo on Qatar is inflicting pain on foreign migrant workers struggling amid an oil slump and disruption of deliveries for large construction projects linked to the 2022 soccer World Cup. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed sanctions on fellow US ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies. To get around the boycott Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects. But the feud is making life harder for some foreign workers in Qatar, already faced by layoffs caused by low oil prices and a work-sponsorship system that restricts their movement. Fresh vegetables usually trucked across Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia, a route now blocked, have increased in price. That is indebting some workers from places like India and Nepal who typically earn 800 rial ($219.78) a month and who make up about 90% of Qatar’s 2.7 million population. Arab states demand Qatar closes Jazeera, cuts back ties to Iran South Asian workers have been left stranded on Qatari farms in Saudi Arabia without food after their Qatari employers fled to Doha in June, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Last week dozens of Indian and African workers at hotels in Doha were told to take extended unpaid leave and return to their countries because of a drop in occupancy caused by [Read More…]

Aug 092017

Islamic State issued a video on Wednesday threatening new attacks in the Iranian capital Tehran and calling on young Iranians to rise up. A man wearing a black ski mask and holding an AK-47, seated alongside two others, made the threat in a video bearing the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency logo and showing footage of two attacks in Tehran in June claimed by the militant group. Iran’s Rouhani names two female vice presidents after backlash over male-only cabinet “The same way we are cutting the necks of your dogs in Iraq and Syria we will cut your necks in the center of Tehran,” the man said, speaking accented Farsi. Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim group which has sought to establish a caliphate in parts of the Gulf but is now under pressure from national armies and international groups in Syria and Iraq, sees Iran, which is predominantly Shia, as one of its biggest enemies in the region. The group killed at least 18 people in attacks on parliament in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 7. Iran’s Rouhani under fire for male-only cabinet Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired several missiles at Islamic State bases in Syria on June 18 in response to that attack. Iranian officials have also announced the arrests of dozens allegedly linked to the attacks. Another portion of the video showed militants in black ski masks speaking out against Shias in Arabic and threatening attacks against them in Iraq. The post Islamic State threatens [Read More…]

Aug 062017

TEHRAN: At least four soldiers were killed and eight injured when one of their colleagues opened fire on a military air base in southern Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian military said in a statement. The incident was “probably related to psychological problems of the soldier who suddenly started firing on his comrades,” the statement said. It took place on a shooting range, and could also have been the result of a gun misfiring, the statement added. “The injured were transported to a medical centre and an investigation has been opened,” it said. Iran hits back at missile test criticism State television reported a similar incident last month when a serviceman opened fire at a barracks in Abyek, around 40 kilometres northwest of Tehran, killing three and injuring six. The gunman in that incident, who had reportedly been denied a transfer to his home town, shot himself but survived his injuries, according to the ISNA news agency. Military service of two years is mandatory for Iranian men when they turn 19. The post Four dead, eight injured as soldier opens fire on Iran military base appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Aug 022017
Wushu chiefs to discuss Asian Games plans soon

KARACHI: Pakistan Wushu Federation’s (PWF) top officials will put their heads together in the next few days to decide about the training camp and other relevant matters relating to the preparation for the Asian Games slated to be held in Palembang, Indonesia, from August 18 to September 2, 2018. “I have contacted my secretary and senior-vice president and we will meet on August 6 or 7 to decide about the camp which is expected to be set up in the third week of this month,” PWF president Malik Iftikhar told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Wednesday. Wushu is one of the disciplines in which Pakistan has a fine record in the Asiad as the country has been able to win medals in the last three Asian Games on the trot. Pakistan won bronze medal on debut in the Asiad through Syed Maratab Ali Shah in the 2006 Doha Asian Games. In the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Ijaz Ahmed secured silver medal. In the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Pakistan completed hat-trick of medals when Maratab claimed bronze medal. Malik said that the purpose of the early start of the camp for the Asiad was to determine the weak points of the players and take remedial measures. “Some of our fighters are very good. They are very bold but they have not clicked so far. At some stages our players also remained unlucky. One of our boys knocked out his opponent in the Baku Islamic Games but you know referees favoured our [Read More…]

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