Khatib: we will not succumb to the Israeli measures

Islamic Awqaf about metal detectors al-Aqsa Mosque

Director-general of the Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem, Azzam al-Khatib, confirmed on Monday his support for the decision of the Islamic bodies in the city not to enter al-Aqsa Mosque via the metal detectors set up at its gates by the Israeli authorities.

Khatib said in a televised statement, “This is our mosque and we will not succumb to any pressures aimed at changing the status quo there.”

For the second day in a row, Palestinians continue their sit-ins at the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque, refusing to enter the Mosque through the metal detectors erected by the Israeli authorities on Sunday.

(Source / 17.07.2017)

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers pray at Al-Aqsa on Ramadan’s holiest night

Praying at Al-Aqsa

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Some 300,000 Muslim worshipers from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and foreign countries prayed overnight between Wednesday and Thursday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem to mark Laylat al-Qadr, “Night of Power,” one of Ramadan’s holiest nights, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.Wafa quoted the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), which manages the Al-Aqsa compound, as saying that among the hundreds of thousands of worshippers at the mosque were visitors from various countries, including Malaysia, Turkey, South Africa, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Indonesia.Director of the mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani addressed worshipers at the site, saying the masses who came from all around the world to attend the overnight prayers reaffirmed “the Islamic nature of this mosque.”According to Wafa, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director of the Jerusalem office of the Waqf, condemned Israel’s permit regime and restrictions on movement of Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank, saying “all Muslim worshipers should have the right to access the holy site throughout the year and with no restrictions.”Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr, which is typically observed on the 27th night of Ramadan, is believed by Muslims to be better than 1,000 months of prayers.

 The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.During Ramadan, Israeli authorities permit men above the age of 40, women of all ages, and children younger than 12 years of age from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit on Fridays.

In the wake of a deadly attack at the entrance of the Old City last Friday, which left three Palestinians assailants and one Israeli police officer dead, Israeli authorities enforced a strict crackdown on occupied East Jerusalem, with Palestinians saying they were subjected to “collective punishment” through road closures, arbitrary searches, and mass detentions.
Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police were conducting physical searches on Palestinians, including women and children, and forcing holders of West Bank IDs to board special buses, which had been deployed across Jerusalem since the early hours of Saturday morning following the attack.
The “deportations” followed a decision from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to revoke family visitation permits issued to Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and Israel for Ramadan, as a punitive reaction to the attack. According to Israeli news site Haaretz, 250,000 Palestinians had their permits revoked.
(Source / 22.06.2017)

Sheikh Sabri calls for visiting al-Aqsa Mosque in Ramadan

Sheikh Sabri

Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, called on Palestinians to visit al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy month of Ramadan which started on Saturday.

He underlined that visiting al-Aqsa Mosque for worship and Islamic education is a duty for all Muslims.

In a statement on Saturday, the Preacher of al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Sabri, urged Palestinians to close their restaurants and cafes during fasting hours in Ramadan. He also advised people to control their expenses during the fasting month and save money in order to help the poor and needy families.

(Source / 27.05.2017)

The West does not really support Turkish democracy, it undermines Islamic unity

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on 8 February 2017 [Presidency of Turkey / Yasin Bülbül/Anadolu Agency]

Image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [Presidency of Turkey]

By Motasem A Dalloul

In the past few days, the German, Dutch and Swedish authorities have cancelled public rallies for their Turkish citizens on the grounds that they constitute a security threat. In Germany and Holland, the situation was very clear as senior Turkish officials, including ministers, were denied entry or deported. Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies, for example, was detained by the Dutch police and then deported. Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya claims that she witnessed “inhumane treatment” by the authorities.

Image of Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 12, 2017 [Berk Özkan / Anadolu Agency]

The rallies had been organised to garner support amongst Turkish voters living in Europe for a referendum to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the West, Erdogan is seen as “arrogant” and “authoritarian” despite the fact that his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has freed Turkey from military rule, reformed the military institutions and restructured the security services, intelligence apparatus and Special Forces.

Under Erdogan’s AK Party, Turkey has passed through several democratic elections smoothly, political pluralism has a meaning in the country and the role of civil society has clearly widened. The era of military coups has become history, as the failure of last year’s coup attempt demonstrated, with civil institutions supported by the people putting down an internationally-backed uprising; hundreds of generals and senior officers have since been imprisoned.

Read: Turkey sends back Dutch cows amid diplomatic dispute

However, the West still insists that it does not host electoral campaigns for a “dictator” who is planning to concentrate power in his own hands. This has been made very clear in the remarks of European leaders. Compare this with the comments of such leaders in the wake of the AK Party’s 2015 election victory; Arab writer Mohamed Amari found that they all welcomed the election result and congratulated the Turks on the success of their free, democratic process. They were, however, clearly unhappy about Erdogan and his party being in control.

Put very simply, it is obvious that the West does not want Muslims — labelled “Islamists” — to rule Turkey, which was the seat of the Ottoman Empire, the historic Caliphate defeated in the First World War and destroyed altogether in 1924. It is no secret that the West was behind the removal of the Ottoman Sultans, backing Mustafa Kamal Ataturk to “modernise” Turkey by removing Islam from Turkish life; Western clothing was promoted and the Arabic script was replaced by adapted Roman letters for the Turkish language.

The then British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon told the House of Commons after the Lausanne Treaty in 1923, “As we have already succeeded in finishing off the Caliphate, so we must ensure that there will never rise again unity for the Muslims, whether it be intellectual or cultural unity.” He also said that the West “must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims.” That, in a nutshell, has been the West’s agenda in the Muslim world ever since.

Read: Erdogan to Turks: Don’t vote for ‘fascists’ in Dutch election

Western leaders have for decades been working to undermine any attempt at Islamic unity and this has been very clear in the ongoing campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the ironies of what looks very much like a war against the movement is that America’s joy at the murder of Hassan Al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, opened the eyes and mind of a senior Egyptian official in the ministry of culture to the group and the whole idea of Islamic unity. Sayyid Qutb was on a sabbatical tour of the US in 1949 when this happened and said that he was surprised to see the Americans celebrating the murder of a Muslim figure.

The Muslim world, especially the Middle East, has been witnessing an Islamic awakening after trying many different “isms”, including Marxism, capitalism and secularism. Correspondingly, the West has increased its efforts to demonise Islam and Muslims. Although the Muslim Brotherhood promotes democracy and not violence, and Turkey’s ruling AK Party is moderate and democratically-minded, they are regularly mentioned in the same breath by Western critics as the most extreme “Islamic” groups which have actually carried out more atrocities against Muslims than against non-Muslims.

In a 2005 speech, the then US President George W Bush made it clear that he does not want to see Islamists get together or lead their states because they would build an Islamic empire. “The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses,” he claimed, “enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.” His idea of “moderate governments” are those dictatorships and absolute monarchies which accede to Western demands.

President Bush referred to Muslims as terrorists and expressed the real fear of the West: “With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.” Even though this is far from what the vast majority of Muslims are seeking to do, it displays the Islamophobia in his thoughts and actions.

Read: Turkey targets Dutch with diplomatic sanctions as ‘Nazi’ row escalates

Bush’s words were more or less echoed by Britain’s Tony Blair and his Home Office Minister Charles Clarke; America’s Dick Cheney, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others also expressed such fears. All of these leaders want to keep the Muslims disunited so that they cannot re-establish the Caliphate, a word which has been mentioned by many.

So what is the Caliphate? “A united political leadership of the Muslim world,” explains one source, “which was destroyed in 1924 after about 1,350 years. Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, caliphs were appointed to the leadership of the Muslims. In the ensuing centuries, the centre and nature of this power moved around, resting in Istanbul at the time of its destruction. In its dynamic period, the Islamic caliphate was at the heart of a great civilisation, leading the world in science, philosophy, law, maths and astronomy.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been saying since it was founded that its main and long-term goal is reviving the Caliphate, insisting that this is the best way for Muslims to return to their prosperous ages in the field of science as one of the most civilised of nations. It is a historical fact that when Muslims were united under one political entity they were often the most developed Ummah in many different fields of human activity. This, I would suggest, is why the West does not want Muslims to be re-united ever again; why there is so much enmity against the likes of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose moderate Islam is still too much for the West to bear.

Erdogan does not consider the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and adopts an Islamic ideology which is very close to the movement’s, so the West does not like him. If he had been an ardent secularist he would be supported by the West even if he ruled Turkey with an iron fist for decades. We just have to look at how the West supports undemocratic dictators across the Arab world to know the truth of this.

The West does not defend democracy; it claims that Erdogan is leading Turkey to authoritarianism and dictatorship. If it is really concerned about democracy, though, why does it maintain such strong relations with the tyrannical regimes in Egypt, the Gulf States and many other countries? Why does it turn a blind eye to the atrocious human rights record of the Egyptian regime, for example, which came to power through a military coup against the democratically-elected president? Instead of condemning the regime in Cairo, its leader is feted in Western capitals and given ample funds and weapons to keep his people subdued enough not to think about electing a Muslim Brotherhood president ever again. The West doesn’t really support any democracy in the Muslim world, least of all in Turkey; it is only interested in making sure that Muslims are and remain disunited.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Jordan: Banning Muslim call to prayer violates peace treaty

Image of Palestinian Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

Image of Palestinian Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound

Jordan has rejected the Israeli Knesset’s passage of a bill that bans the use of loudspeakers for the call for prayer in mosques in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem saying it violates the peace treaty signed between the two countries.

Image of Jordanian government spokesman, Mohammad Momani [Youtube]

Government spokesman, Mohammad Momani, said the bill “is discriminatory and violates Israel’s obligations under international human rights laws and many charters and international conventions.”

“East Jerusalem falls under the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, which state that the Jerusalem Awqaf Department is the only competent authority entitled to organise mosque Affairs in East Jerusalem, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and affiliated mosques, including organising the athan [Muslim call to prayer],” the minister said .

He highlighted a clause in the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel which clearly states that Israel respect Jordan’s role in overseeing Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset approved the first reading of a bill which bans the use of loudspeakers to call for Muslim prayer between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00. The reading was approved by a vote of 55 in favour and 45 against.

Arab members of the Knesset said the new law amounted to a “declaration of war on our identity”.

(Source / 10.03.2017)

What Prophet Muhammad’s covenants with Christians say about IS

Article of 3 June 2016

Prophet Muhammad’s covenants state that Muslims are duty bound to protect Christians. It is time that IS sympathizers heeded his call

Picture this. A Muslim leader reaches out to a group of Christians and invites them to his country. The Christians happily accept the invitation, while the Muslim leader prepares his people for their arrival. This is the first time the two communities have met in an official delegation. Matters of state, politics and religion are the topics of discussion. The two groups see eye-to-eye on most issues, but also agree to disagree on theological issues. If one phrase can best describe their meeting, it is “mutual respect”.

At the end of their talks, the Christians tell the Muslims, “It is time for us to pray”. The problem for the Christians is that there is no church nearby to worship. Instead of letting the Christians pray on the dirty street, the Muslim leader tells the Christians, “You are followers of the one true God, so please come pray inside my mosque. We are all brothers in humanity.” The Christians agree to use the “Islamic space” as their own. A bridge between these religious communities is made in the name of peace and goodwill.

This story is not some fairytale. It is a historical fact (I did, however, make-up quotes based on how the interaction might have played out). The Muslim leader of the story is Prophet Muhammad and the Christians are from Najran, or modern-day Yemen. The event happened in Medina in 631 AD. This moment in time represents one of the first examples of Muslim-Christian dialogue, but more importantly, one of the first acts of religious pluralism in Islamic history.

Now fast forward to 2016 in Damascus, Syria. The city – and much of the Middle East – has plunged into darkness. Pastor Edward Awabdeh leads a prayer in a Church despite threats on his life by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militant group. Pastor Awabdeh maintains the Christian faith, although many of his religion have fled a country which is now ranked the fifth most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian.

The militant group regularly persecutes religious minorities in the large swathes of Syrian territory it has taken, and its ultimate aim is to destroy all traces of Christianity in the Middle East.

But to put it bluntly, the daily abductions, murders, beheadings and destruction perpetrated by IS fanatics on the vulnerable Christians of the Middle East directly contradict Prophet Muhammad’s vision of an Islamic state.

The covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time indicate that Christians living within the ummah – Arabic for community – were protected and defended. These covenants were written between 622 and 632 AD and were designed to protect peaceful Christian communities, not attack them.

The covenants have been located in obscure monasteries around the world and books that have been out of print for centuries. Islamic scholar John Andrew Morrow, author of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time (Angelico Press 2013), is responsible for translating the documents and distributing them to a wider audience. Scholars like myself are turning to them now in the hope of countering the widespread violence against Christians in the Middle East.

In “The Covenant of the Prophet with the Christians of Najran,” the prophet was emphatic on the issue of complete religious freedom. He was not relegating Christians to the status of second-class citizens. On the contrary, the prophet was treating them as equal citizens of the Islamic state.

Muhammad wrote: “I hereby declare that my horsemen, my foot-soldiers, my armies, my resources, and my Muslim partisans will protect the Christians as far away as they may be located… I commit myself to support them, to place their persons under my protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of their anchorites wherever they are found… I will protect their religion and their Church… I commit myself to protect them from any harm or damage; to exempt them from any requisitions or any onerous obligations and to protect them myself, by means of my assistants, my followers and my nation against every enemy who targets me and them.”

Prophet Muhammad is clear – Christians should be free to be Christians while living in the ummah. This is an integral part of any “Islamic state.” Similar, if not identical passages are found in other covenants of the prophet with Christians that were living in Egypt, Persia and Jerusalem.

“The Covenant of the Prophet with the Christians of Najran” goes further than simply tolerating or supporting Christians in practicing their religion. Muhammad commanded that Muslims are duty bound to aid and care for Christians.

In a recent peer-reviewed paper that appeared in the academic journal Religions, I argue that the principle of religious pluralism espoused by Muhammad in the covenants can and should be used to further improve relations between Muslims and Christians not only in “Islamic states,” but also around the world.

The covenants reveal that Muhammad preferred religious pluralism over mere tolerance. He called on Muslims to energetically engage with diversity, both cultural and religious, and called on his followers to embrace commitments and agreements across the religious divide. Ultimately, the covenants show that the prophet of Islam encouraged members of the ummah to celebrate – instead of denounce – difference. Tolerance, after all, is too thin of a foundation for a community of religious difference and proximity.

The covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time clearly show that modern-day “Islamic states” that mistreat Christians cannot be justified in light of Prophet Muhammad’s commandments and vision. Considering that IS’s treatment of Christians is so severe that it has been called “genocide” by the United States, it is difficult harmonise Muhammad’s views and the actions of IS.

Christian heritage is part of the social fabric of the Middle East and always has been. Prophet Muhammad’s treatment of Christians is a testament to that. His covenants can be viewed as a kind of medicine to cure the diseases of both Islamophobia and Islamic extremism. It is time that IS and its sympathizers heed his call.

(Source / 04.03.2017)

No Room for Women at Mosques?

No Room for Women at Mosques?

There are mosques that completely ignore the needs of half of their community. Then there are mosques where women are not allowed at all, or are made to feel like their mere existence is burdensome

By Theresa Corbin (New Orleans native and Muslimah)

Umm Humayd told the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “O Messenger of Allaah, I love to pray with you.” He (PBUH) said: “I know that you love to pray with me, but praying in your house is better for you than praying in your courtyard, and praying in your courtyard is better for you than praying in the mosque of your people, and praying in the mosque of your people is better for you than praying in my mosque.”

So she ordered that a prayer-place be built for her in the furthest and darkest part of her house, and she always prayed there until she met Allaah (Ahmed).

If you are a woman whose heart is tied to the mosque, you have probably had some version of this hadith quoted to you at some point. You have probably questioned why it is that you are shunned from the mosque simply because of your sex. You might even have felt resentful for it. I and many other women have been there.

This hadith is quoted over and over again and is usually narrated as, “the best place for a women to pray is in the innermost part of her home”. But few know the context in which the hadith was narrated. Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan explains that this hadith was only for one sister (Umm Humayd) who was in a troubled marriage. This one woman was told to pray in the innermost part of her home in order to remove herself from her husband’s distracting behaviors while she prayed.

But since this hadith is used out of context, it is widely thought that a woman’s place to pray is at home. And because of this lack of understanding many mosques neglect women’s space or simply flat out refuse admittance to women. This has been my experience in many mosques, and two in particular:

The women’s (not enough) room- Mobile, AL

A stray cockroach crawls quickly across the room. A shriek is heard, but there is no room to turn and see what is wrong. There is only enough room for me to expand my ribs to breath. Children begin to cry and women push and shove as the insects approaches. It is Ramadan and iftar has just been served in a room that holds well over a hundred people but is only big enough to hold 35.

I am told, as the overcrowded room makes me feverish in January, that the men’s section has been expanded two times while the women’s room remains the same tiny size. One sister chimes in that the women’s room did get new carpeting, as if in defense of the “oversight”.

Another lady, straining to carry two sweating children to the singular bathroom, overhears our conversation about the lack of space. She lets it be known that the men just had extra bathrooms with a wudu’ area installed.

Still another sister squeezes through the sea of women and children, as if a contortionist of sorts, asking if anyone can give money in order to buy a new vacuum to clean the carpet in the women’s room. I look over at the cockroach that has made its way to my side and wonder how the mosque can afford two expansions for the brothers but can’t supply the sisters with a vacuum.

Istanbul, Turkey-- At the Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul, the women's sections are at the back of the enormous open prayer area but divided by wooden screens. Vice-deputy Kadriye Avci Erdemli, a woman, has spearheaded a project aimed at improving the women's prayer experience at nearly 3,000 mosques within the city. PHOTO BY JODI HILTON

No girls allowed somewhere in Louisiana

I am refused entrance to this mosque because I happen to have two X chromosomes. But I wonder what is inside. I imagine it is a dark place where men go to frown at each other and make little rascal-style signs that say, “He-man woman haters club. No girls allowed”.

I know that this is just my imagination, and tell myself to give them excuses. But as I sit in the sisters’ halaqa of my local mosque, the imam’s wife tells of her treatment upon arrival for asr prayer at the no girls allowed mosque.

“We were out and time for prayer came. So we looked for a place to pray and found this mosque. When I went to go pray, a big man came out and told me I wasn’t allowed in the mosque, even though I was fully covered and only my hands, feet, and face shown.”

I shook my head in disbelief as she continued to say that she, an elderly woman, had to ask for a prayer rug so she could pray on the side of the road while her husband was welcomed inside.

But being neglected or shunned has not always been my experience:

All are welcome- Memphis, Tn

Sweet smells welcome one and all, as smiling people greet each other on their way to make wudu’  or enter the prayer area. To the left are the sounds of children playing in the two babysitting rooms. To the right, in the prayer area, there is one big, open, airy space speckled with support columns.

Large, flat televisions hang on the walls of the prayer space every 25 feet to broadcast the lecture for all to see and feed a sound system that invites everyone to listen and gain knowledge. Women take off their shoes as they enter the half of the room designated for them in full view of the mimbar.

I am transported to a different time. A time I have only read about in narrations of what the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque was like. Where women were welcomed. Where women prayed in the same room as men, and were not shoved to a small, darkly lit and dirty closet. Where women felt safe to ask questions, study, and participate in their own community.

There are mosques that completely ignore the needs of half of their community. Then there are mosques where women are not allowed at all, or are made to feel like their mere existence is burdensome. Then there are the communities that realize the mosque belongs to women as much as it belongs to men.

But the former two approaches are far more frequently the case than is the latter. It is my hope that with the efforts of people like Hind Makki and her Side Entrance project, MasjidforALL community , and supporters for women’s space like Dawah Addict , and Nouman Ali Khan, that we can reeducate those who believe that women don’t belong at the mosque, that we can bring to light the situation sisters face when going to the mosque, and that with knowledge will come change.

It is my hope that the stellar examples of the mosques who already have opened their doors to women and included them on their board of directors will not just be the exception but will become the rule.

“The believing men and women are protectors and helpers of each other. They (collaborate) to promote all that is good and oppose all that is evil; establish prayers and give charity, and obey Allah and his Messenger. Those are the people whom Allah would grant mercy. Indeed Allah is Exalted and Wise.“ (Al-Tawbah 9:71)

Let us not forget that we are helpers to one another. Let us build better mosques together as believing women and men, and earn Allah’s mercy.

If you are a woman whose heart is tied to the mosque, you have probably questioned why it is that you are shunned from it simply because of your sex.

(Source / 02.03.2017)

Rallies In Support Of US Muslims Held Across US

Trump has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration. He also has called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.

People carry posters during a rally in support of Muslim Americans and protest of President Donald Trump's immigration policies in Times Square, New York, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP/Andres Kudacki)

People carry posters during a rally in support of Muslim Americans and protest of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in Times Square, New York, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017

NEW YORK (REPORT) — Demonstrations were held in cities around the U.S. this weekend to support Muslim Americans and to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

More than a thousand people of various faiths rallied in New York City on Sunday.

The “I Am A Muslim Too” event was held in Times Square and was organized by several groups, including the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Some protesters waved American flags, while others held signs saying “No Muslim Ban.”

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the peaceful rally, saying “we have to dispel the stereotypes” and that America is “a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs.”

Trump has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration. He also has called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons headlined the event. He said the Muslim community was being used as a scapegoat, but that “diversity will prevail.”

In Oregon, hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday in front of the Oregon State Capitol to voice their support for immigration rights.

Yesica Navarro spoke about growing up as an immigrant. She said she came to the U.S. as a child with her family, and they managed to succeed despite the odds, The Statesman Journal reported.

“We love this country, and we want to be accepted. This is our home,” Navarro said.

The crowd, which organizers said neared 1,000, cheered and clapped as cars honked their horns, the newspaper said. The rally was part of a national effort called Immigrants’ March Presidents Day 2017.

In Dallas on Saturday, police estimated about 1,700 people rallied downtown in a peaceful show of support for immigrants and refugees.

The Dallas Morning News reported that religious and civic leaders were among those protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Some marchers carried U.S. flags or banners from other nations and chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.” No arrests were made.

About a dozen counter-protesters stood nearby in support of Trump.

(Source / 21.02.2017)

Saudi Shura Council Receives Proposal to Reduce Time between Adhan, Iqamah

Saudi

Shura Council members in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 6, 2015

Riyadh – A Shura Council member presented a draft to the consultative body and recommended reducing the time between the call to prayer (Adhan) and the actual holding of the prayer (Iqamah) in malls.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Committee in the Saudi Shura Council Ata Al-Subaiti, who submitted the proposal, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his proposal requires the Ministry for Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Dawa and Guidance to change the time period between Adhan and Iqamah in mosques and places of worship located in malls to only five minutes instead of the current time.

Subaiti said that reducing time between Adhan and Iqamah has several considerations, including the fact that in Shariah law there is no specific time between them, but the initiative to pray at the beginning of its time is better, according to a fatwa issued by late Sheikh Mohammed ibn al-Uthaymeen.

Ibn al-Uthaymeen stressed in his fatwa that the specified time between Adhan and Iqamah differs among countries according to people’s interests, allowing workers in the malls to pray on time and take into consideration the interests of investors and shoppers.

The Shura Council member added that in Makkah there is no long time interval between Adhan and Iqamah, noting that shops tend to close for more than an hour and a half every day, disabling citizens’ interests and affecting the developing country.

(Source / 20.02.2017)

Merkel: ‘Islam is not the source of terrorism’

Both Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence attend key security conference in Munich with Russia high on the agenda.

Merkel also stressed the need to preserve and strengthen multilateral structures such as the EU and NATO during her address [Thomas Kienzle/AFP]

Merkel also stressed the need to preserve and strengthen multilateral structures such as the EU and NATO during her address

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Islam is not the source of “terrorism” and that cooperating with predominantly Muslim states in the fight against it is vital.

Merkel, who has been critical of US President Donald Trump’s attempt to impose a temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, was speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, with US Vice President Mike Pence in the audience.

Merkel said Europe’s ties with Russia remained challenging, but it was important to work with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) and similar groups.

She stressed the need to preserve and strengthen multilateral structures such as the EU, NATO and the UN during an address that came as concern grew about the Trump administration’s approach to international affairs and fears that it may have little interest in working in multilateral forums.

Trump’s criticism of NATO as “obsolete”, his praise for Britain’s decision to leave the EU as well as his softer approach towards Russia have unnerved allies.

“Acting together strengthens everyone,” said Merkel. “We must see that the multilateral structures are in many places not efficient enough.

“I am firmly convinced that it is worth fighting for our common international multilateral structures, but we must improve them in many places.”

Pence reassures watchful allies

Pence, though, in his first overseas trip since being named vice president, said Trump would stand by NATO and no one should doubt his commitment after the sacrifices made to defend it.

“The president asked me to be here today to convey a message, a reassurance – the US strongly supports NATO and we will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance,” Pence said. “Let no one doubt our commitment.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump ‘committed to NATO’

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from the conference, said many people had wanted to hear Pence speak as speculation grew about Trump’s approach to foreign policy.

“Delegates here will be discussing the future of NATO as well as the future of the West,” Kane said. “With all these leaders speaking, it shows how important the conference has become in recent time.

“The fact that Merkel spoke about ISIL and Boko Haram and the need to consign these people to history shows leaders here are in earnest about how they deal with the problem.

“The question is though what policy will emerge from this. Is it likely this conference will arrive at a meaningful policy which will deal with these groups? That’s a much more difficult question to answer.”

Pence is also scheduled to sit down with the leaders of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – all countries dealing with the threat of Russian incursion – along with Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim.

(Source / 18.02.2017)