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India’s BJP asks staff to exercise caution after Islamic nations protest




Over 30 members and some federal ministers of the Hindu nationalist party, who are authorised to take part in TV debates, asked to be “extremely cautious” when talking about religion, two BJP leaders say.

Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party have instructed officials to be “extremely cautious” when talking about religion on public platforms after derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Ayesha drew angry protests from Islamic countries.

Two Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] leaders said on Tuesday the verbal instructions were given to over 30 senior officials and some federal ministers who are authorised to take part in debates hosted by Indian news channels often broadcast live to millions of viewers.

“We don’t want party officials to speak in a way that hurts the religious sentiments of any community … They must ensure the party’s doctrine gets shared in a sophisticated manner,” said a senior BJP leader and federal minister in New Delhi.

READ MORE: India faces uproar after ruling BJP officials insult Prophet Muhammad

Muslims under pressure

India’s minority Muslims have felt more pressure on everything from freedom of worship to hijab head scarves under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.

Since he came to power in 2014, Hindu mobs have lynched scores of people — mainly Muslims and Dalit Hindus — suspected of illegally transporting cows or consuming beef.

Hindu far-right groups have targeted Muslims over “love jihad”, the conspiracy theory that Muslims are luring Hindu women with the aim of conversion and eventually national domination.

Muslims were also accused of spreading Covid-19. In recent years, Hindu mobs have targeted Muslims praying on Fridays in northern India.

BJP recently banned wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka state. Hardline Hindu groups later demanded such restrictions in more Indian states. Muslim mutton sellers and fruit vendors have also become the target of the far-right Hindu groups.

During a Hindu festival earlier in April, Hindu mobs pelted stones on mosques in several areas while DJs played loud music outside the mosques as worshippers prayed.

Hindu monks known for their incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric have been calling for Rohingya-type ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims.

With about 110 million members, mainly Hindus, the BJP is the world’s largest political party, while Muslims comprise around 13 percent, around 200 million, of India’s 1.35 billion population.

READ MORE: India’s Muslims mark ‘most painful’ Eid after series of far-right attacks

Widespread anger 

Last week BJP suspended its spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled another official Naveen Jindal after Islamic nations demanded apologies from the Indian government and summoned diplomats to protest against anti-Islamic remarks made during a TV debate.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran were among the nations that made their complaints public. Bahrain, Malaysia, Maldives, and Türkiye also expressed outrage over the insulting comments.

The Grand Mufti of Oman described the “obscene rudeness” of Modi’s party toward Islam as a form of “war.” Riyadh said the comments were insulting and called for “respect for beliefs and religions.” And Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni world’s foremost institution of religious learning, described the remarks as “real terrorism (that) can plunge the entire world into severe crises and deadly wars.”

The influential 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said in a statement that the insults came in the context of an increasingly intense atmosphere of hatred toward Islam in India and systematic harassment of Muslims.

India, however, rejected the comments by the OIC as “unwarranted” and “narrow-minded.”

Although Modi’s party has denied any rise in communal tensions during his reign, BJP rule has emboldened hardline Hindu groups in recent years to take up causes they say to defend their faith, stoking a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment.

India’s embassies in Qatar and Kuwait released a statement saying the views expressed about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam were not those of the Indian government and were made by “fringe elements.”

US report on anti-minorities policies

The US State Department, in an annual report on international religious freedom released in June, said that attacks on members of minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, took place in India throughout 2021.

India’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday the offensive tweets and comments did not in any way reflect the government’s views.

“We are not barred from speaking on sensitive religious issues, but we must never insult the basic tenets of any religion,” said senior BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal.

Modi in recent years has improved economic ties with energy-rich Islamic nations, the main source for India’s fuel imports, but relations have come under stress from the anti-Islamic utterances of the two BJP members, foreign policy experts said.

Small-scale protests erupted in parts of India as Muslim groups demanded the arrest of the suspended BJP officials.

READ MORE: US says some Indian officials ‘supporting’ religious attacks

Source: TRT World 


Chief of Defence Force inducted into International Fellows Hall of Fame





Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal has been inducted into the International Fellows Hall of Fame at the National Defence University (NDU) in Washington, DC, United States (US).

Major General Shamaal received the award at the International Fellows Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Sydney Sheraton Grand Hotel. Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, the President of the NDU, presented the certificate and memento of induction into the International Fellows Hall of Fame.

Major General Shamaal is the first Maldivian to be awarded the honour. He and four others from four countries have been awarded the honour. He completed a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies from the NDU in 2012 and was awarded the Distinguished Honour Graduate of the course.

The International Fellows Hall of Fame was established in 1999. The purpose of the programme is to provide a prestigious and visible means of honouring NDU graduates who have attained through merit the highest positions in their nation’s armed forces, service component, or government, or who have held an equivalent position in a multinational organisation. The members of the International Fellows Hall of Fame are recognised in a formal ceremony on the NDU campus. Their photographs are displayed in Marshall Hall in the Hall of Fame area.


Source: psmnews

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Media urged to highlight nations’ joint BRI efforts





A senior official underlined on Tuesday the important role of media in boosting high-quality cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, urging international media outlets to tell about participating countries’ joint efforts to promote peace and prosperity, open, green and innovative development, and cultural progress.

Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remark in a video speech at the 2022 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road, which was held in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

Huang said that jointly building the Belt and Road was a significant initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in line with the trend of global development and in answering the call of the times, with a view to advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Since the initiative was proposed, infrastructure connectivity has advanced, the synergy of rules and standards has made progress and the bonds among people in countries involved in the initiative have been strengthened, Huang said.

The efforts to enhance Belt and Road cooperation have been deepened with fruitful results, and the initiative has become a global public good and a platform for international cooperation welcomed by the international community, he added.

Emphasizing the media’s important role in promoting the communication of information, enhancing mutual trust and building consensus, Huang said jointly building the Belt and Road is inseparable from the active participation of the media outlets worldwide as well as their sincere exchanges and pragmatic cooperation.

Looking forward, Huang expressed his hope that international media organizations will actively promote the perspective of civilization that features equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness, make the voices of win-win cooperation heard and contribute to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The forum was held in both an online and offline format. It was jointly organized by People’s Daily, the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and the Shaanxi provincial government. More than 120 media representatives from over 40 countries and international organizations attended the forum.

By the end of March, a total of 149 countries and 32 international organizations had signed cooperation documents with China on jointly building the Belt and Road.

From 2013 to 2021, the volume of trade in goods between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road amounted to around $11 trillion, and two-way investment exceeded $230 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.


Source: China Daily

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Management plans to be implemented this year for two protected areas in Baa Atoll





The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office has stated management plans will be formulated and implemented this year for two more areas in the atoll declared as protected areas.

Baa Atoll currently has 10 protected areas, of which three areas have a management plan. These three areas are Hanifaru, Olhugiri and Mendhoo region.

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office revealed management plans are being formulated for two more areas, to be implemented this year. As such, management plans are to be implemented this year for the areas of Angafaru and Goidhoo Koaru.

Angafaru was declared protected on June 6, 2009. The protected area includes Dhonfanuthila, Dhiguthila and Mahaanagaa. The area used to be a breeding ground for both grey and white tip reef sharks. However, reef shark numbers have dramatically decreased from the site due to overfishing

Goidhoo Koaru, located on the northern side on the inhabited island of Goidhoo, was declared protected on June 5, 2011. This area has the highest biodiversity and largest mangrove forest within Baa Atoll. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems within the nation and has a high biodiversity population of mangrove associated vertebrates and invertebrates. This site is also a popular roosting site for migratory birds such as the Ruddy Turnstone and Northern Shoveler.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has declared Baa Atoll as a biosphere reserve for an additional 10 years. UNESCO has instructed the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office to formulate and implement effective management plans for all protected areas in the region.


Source: psmnews

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