Fener Greek Patriarch offers greetings for Ramadan

             By Esber Ayaydin</p>  <p>IZMİR, Turkey (AA) - Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew officiated a service Wednesday at the Saint John Church in memory of the youngest apostle of Jesus and he wished Muslims success in Ramadan.</p>  <p>The grave of the Bible writer Saint John is located at the church in western Izmir province.</p>  <p>Bartholomew delivered a portion of his address in Turkish and congratulated Muslims on the holy month. </p>  <p>“I would like to offer most sincere congratulations and best wishes of myself and the Christian Orthodox community to Muslims for the incipient holy month of Ramadan,” Bartholomew said. </p>  <p>He thanked national and local authorities for giving his community permission to hold the liturgy. </p>  <p>“We pray that Allah will accept your fasts and prayers,” he said. “We wish you to celebrate your holy Ramadan feast with enthusiasm and love a month hence.”</p>  <p>Many Orthodox members from Turkey and Greece attended the liturgy, including Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos’s wife, Vlasia; Greek Ambassador to Ankara Petros Mavroidis; Greece's Consul-General in Izmir Argyro Papoulia and the Head of Greek Orthodox community in Izmir Yorgo Teodoridis.</p>  <p>On Ramadan’s first night, Sunday, Muslims offered a special night prayer, Tarawih, which will continue every night during the month.</p>  <p>Fasting is observed from dawn to dusk throughout the month and it is one of the five pillars of Islam. </p>  <p>Ramadan is a time of self-examination, religious devotion and intense spirituality when believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven are opened and Allah's blessings and mercy are abundant. </p>  <p>But it is also a time of great excitement, filling cities with festivities that bring the streets to life when the sun sets.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz </p>  <p> 

Muslims welcoming holy month of Ramadan

             By Jeyhun Aliyev</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Muslims all around the world are getting ready to welcome the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Sunday evening in Turkey.</p>  <p>Millions of Muslims on Sunday will offer their first special evening Ramadan prayer called Tarawih, which will then continue throughout the holy month.</p>  <p>Ramadan is believed to be a time of intense spirituality when believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven open, and Allah's blessings and mercy are abundant. But it is also a time of great excitement, filling the cities with jubilant festivities bringing the streets to life when the sun goes down.</p>  <p>Fasting, held from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and great religious devotion.</p>  <p>There is also a holy night called Laylat al-Qadr, which means &quot;Night of Power,&quot; when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.</p>  <p>Muslims are instructed to seek the Night of Power during the last 10 days of Ramadan, particularly on the odd-numbered nights.</p>  <p>It is reported that the prophet said, &quot;Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully believing (in Allah's promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins.&quot;</p>  <p>Muslims in Turkey will begin fasting on Monday.</p>  <p>The holy month will see many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims commit to a strict daytime fast, often taking the opportunity to make promises to improve their lives.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- Global aid</p>  <p>The Eid al-Fitr holiday -- expected to start on June 4 in Turkey -- marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and is celebrated for three consecutive days.</p>  <p>Muslims in various places around the globe fast for different hours, due to the differing lengths of days. The longest fasting takes place in Murmansk, Russia -- which has only around three hours of darkness -- with 20 hours and 45 minutes, while the shortest fasting hours are in Ushuaia, Argentina, with just 11 hours.</p>  <p>During the holy month, Turkey’s aid agencies will also help millions of oppressed and needy people in over 100 countries across the globe.</p>  <p>The agencies, including the Red Crescent (Kizilay), Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), Cansuyu Charity and Solidarity Organization, Sadakatasi, and Iyilikder, will send aid to millions of people in need across the world.</p>  <p>&quot;During the month of Ramadan, the Red Crescent will reach 14.7 million people in need in Turkey and abroad,” according to Red Crescent head Kerem Kinik.</p>  <p>Kinik also said that Kizilay plans to deliver aid to 37 countries, 39 locales, and more than 400 points in Turkey, adding that the agency hopes to deliver at least 400,000 food boxes to their destinations.</p>  <p>The IHH, for its part, also aims to deliver aid to 3 million people in 120 countries during the month of Ramadan.</p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p>  <p> 

‘Iqbal, Ersoy worked for intellectual revival of Ummah’

            By Zehra Nur Duz <br>

ANKARA (AA) – The works of Pakistani poet Muhammad Iqbal and Turkish poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy were instrumental in the intellectual revival of the Muslim Ummah and showing them a new direction, said Azad Kashmir President Masood Khan.

He made the remark during an international symposium organized by the Urdu department of Istanbul University.

The event, titled “Two Great Poets of the East: Muhammad Iqbal and Mehmet Akif Ersoy”, was held April 29-30 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence.

It was also attended by Pakistan's Ambassador to Turkey Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi and distinguished scholars and literary figures from Pakistan, Turkey and various parts of the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Khan said that both Iqbal and Ersoy dedicated their poetry to reviving the spirit of resistance against colonialism and intellectual imperialism.

He also thanked the government and people of Turkey for their steadfast support for the just struggle for self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

In particular, he thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being the voice of the Muslim Ummah and his role in highlighting the plight of the Kashmiri people.

Qazi, for his part, highlighted Iqbal’s association with Turkey and its leading literary figure Ersoy.

He said Iqbal and Ersoy, through their writings and poems, encouraged their compatriots to participate in their national liberation struggles.

Highlighting the similarities between the two great poets, Qazi said both wanted to unite Muslims and liberate them from Western imperialism and struggled for an Islamic renaissance.

During the event, numerous research papers were presented highlighting their poetic works and philosophies.

US driver hits pedestrians believing they were Muslims

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – An army veteran who rammed his car into pedestrians in Sunnyvale, California this week was targeting Muslims, according to police.

The attack happened on Tuesday, which left eight people injured. Of those, a 13-year-old girl is in critical condition.

The driver, identified as Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, "intentionally targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim Faith," said Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety on Friday.

Peoples, who was arrested at the scene, is charged with eight counts of attempted murder.

He was ordered held without bail at his first appearance in court Friday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The defendant said nothing during the brief appearance in Judge Richard Loftus’ courtroom at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose," the newspaper said.

Prosecutors have not filed hate crime charges in the case, but such charges would be filed so "if the investigation yields enough evidence," Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Borarsky told the newspaper.

"There is very appalling, disturbing evidence that at least one or two of these victims were targeted based on the defendant’s view of what their race or religion may have been," he said. "We have zero tolerance for any sort of hate crime."

The newspaper said Chuck Smith, Peoples’ attorney, disputed the accusations and said his client did not intentionally run down anyone.

Muslims in the U.S. were the target of nearly 19% of religiously motivated hate crimes, according to FBI data released in 2018.

Sri Lanka attacks shouldn't be used to harass Muslims

By Aynur Ekiz, Ahmet Sertan Usul and Ferdi Turkten

ANKARA (AA) – Terror attacks in Sri Lanka shouldn't be used as a tool to harass Muslims, Turkey's ruling party spokesman said on Saturday.

"No one should use Sri Lanka terror attacks, which we strongly condemned, to harass Muslims," the Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesman Omer Celik told reporters.

Celik said that following last weekend's terror attacks in Sri Lanka, Muslims living there were oppressed, even some had to leave their houses.

The attacks were unjustly being attached to Muslims, he added.

On April 21, Easter Sunday, a total of eight explosions targeted different locations in and outside Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka killing at least 253 people. Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Turkey strongly condemned the terrorist attacks.

Celik also praised New Zealand's politics and premier for the stance over the Christchurch attack, and said their stance following the attack should be a model for everyone.

At least 50 Muslim worshippers were massacred, with as many injured, in a terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch on March 15.

Just after the attacks, hundreds of people gathered in front of the mosques to pay tribute to the victims as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for unity and solidarity with the Muslim community.

Less than a month after the massacre, New Zealand’s Parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill restricting the use of semiautomatic weapons.

California school celebrates Turkey, its culture

            By Vakkas Dogantekin</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Students at a Muslim school in the U.S. state of California celebrated Turkey and its culture Friday on the school's International Day.</p>  <p>Second grade students waved Turkish flags and sang the Turkish song &quot;Hasat Vakti&quot; (Harvest Time) by Maher Zain. </p>  <p>Parents of the students shared the joy of their children.</p>  <p>Zain composed the song for the 2018 election campaign of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. </p>  <p>&quot;Our 2nd graders at Orange Crescent School celebrated Turkey during International Day today,&quot; Ahmad Al Mutawwa, the Kuwaiti-American administrator of the school, told Anadolu Agency. </p>  <p>&quot;Students at the school and their parents have a great admiration and respect for Turkey,&quot; Mutawwa added. </p>  <p>He said the Turkish television series &quot;Dirilis Ertugrul&quot;, which narrates the story of the foundation of the Ottoman Empire, has had a big impact on Muslims in California in terms of connecting with Turkish culture. </p>  <p>Orange Crescent School was founded in 1983 by the Islamic Society of Orange County, one of the biggest Islamic centers in the U.S. </p>  <p>The school has a student population representing more than 20 nationalities, according to its website.

Turkey’s top cleric receives Russia's grand mufti

             By Jeyhun Aliyev</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - The head of Turkey’s religious authority met with Russia's grand mufti in the capital Ankara, officials said Wednesday.</p>  <p>Ali Erbas, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), expressed his happiness at meeting with Ravil Gaynutdin, head of the Russian Muftis Council, adding that the directorate always supports Russian Muslims with religious education and delivery of religious services, said a statement by the directorate.</p>  <p>Underlining close ties between Ankara and Moscow, Erbas said:  &quot;We need more than ever to develop unity, togetherness, and brotherhood.&quot;

He also added that the directorate is ready to help with this.

Gaynutdin, for his part, thanked Turkey and the directorate for their contributions to Muslims in Russia.

"Our regards, tribute, and prayers go to the Turkish nation, Turkey, and to our friend President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helps us so much," he added.

Reuters journalists lose appeal in Myanmar

            <p>By Kyaw Ye Lynn</p>  <p>  <p>YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – Myanmar’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal of two Reuters journalists Tuesday against their sentences for reporting on extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. </p>  <p>  <p>Shortly after the court session started, Supreme Court Justice Soe Naing read a statement confirming the court’s decision to uphold the convictions. </p>  <p>  <p>&quot;The court upholds the previous convictions made by the lower courts,&quot; Naing said.</p>  <p>  <p>Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were each sentenced to seven years in prison last September under a colonial-era law for allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act for investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men</p>  <p> </p><br>

'Muslims in India need education, capacity building'

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – Muslims in India should bridge the gap between the person they elect to public office and their community by focusing on education and capacity building of their youth, said an academic.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Istanbul on the sidelines of a conference, Varsha Basheer, an expert on religious pluralism at the University of Kerala, said the distance between a lawmaker and a common man in India is so wide that if he “thinks of bridging that divide, he cannot”.

India is currently holding general elections to vote for the new prime minister and members of the parliament. The multi-phased polls which started on April 11 will end on May 19.

The main contest is between right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, a fresh face of the oldest political dynasty of India.

She said there were wide divisions in the Indian Muslim community, owing largely to their conservative traditional practices, which has alienated and ghettoized them.

Quoting an example from a 2005 official report on the state of Muslims in India, she said “the Sachar Committee report shows us how dismal their status is on all counts.”

Its findings showed a dismal image of living, educational and economic status of Muslims living in India.

Basheer said the Muslim community leadership should be able to negotiate with the government, hold politicians accountable and remind them of their promises.

"So that kind of community leadership and that kind of community negotiation happening with the policy makers is the only way Muslims can bring about some kind of pressure on the government,” she said.

“Only crying and making Dua won’t do… that is half of it… Then Allah says you have to work on it.”

Basheer said that education and capacity building play a major role in the process.

“Indian Muslims need to allocate funds on developing capacity of their youth who can make policy changes and present demands of the community to their public representatives.”

  • Indian elections

Commenting on the ongoing general elections, Basheer said that the Indian Muslim has already seen five years of right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule and “what it brought forth; brutal lynching [of Muslims] throughout their strongholds”.

“From what the BJP is saying right now, what they have put in their manifesto, the kind of sloganeering they are using in the [election] campaigns, there is a clear message [in it],” she said.

According to Human Rights Watch, India has witnessed increase in communal rhetoric since 2014 spurring violent vigilante campaign against beef consumption.

Data recorded by online Factchecker on lynching in India shows 46 people were killed since 2012 in the incidents which pre-dominantly targeted Muslims.

Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and since Modi came to power in 2014 there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow protection groups emerging in the country.

Basheer said the economy was in tatters and the BJP was not focusing on the issue.

“All they promise is that they will clamp down on Muslims. If this is not an open call to divide the society on communal lines, what is it? They are trying to define ‘who an Indian is’,” she added.

On the other hand, she said, the Indian National Congress, a secular party founded by independence leaders of the country, has come up with an election manifesto that promises an “equal footing to all the poor and destitute in the country and that gives hope”.

“But that does not mean we forget that it [Congress] was ruling all these years and that is when the major riots that were anti-Muslim pogroms happened (in 1969, 1983, 1992).”

However, she concluded that if the Congress comes to power Muslims will have “at least a chance of negotiating a better settlement”.

Americans say Muslims face most intolerance in US

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Eight in ten Americans believe Muslims face more discrimination than any other group in the U.S., according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.</p>  <p>Eighty-two percent of respondents said Muslims face discrimination. Eighty percent of those surveyed said blacks faced some discrimination.</p>  <p>Pew released the figures Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a video that attacked Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. </p>  <p>The video was of a speech delivered by Omar in which she discussed how Muslim Americans came to be seen as second-class citizens after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The president's tweet mixed in footage from the attacks with parts of the speech.</p>  <p>Omar is one of the first Muslim lawmakers to be elected to Congress, alongside Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, and has faced a flurry of attacks since she began in office this year.</p>  <p>The Muslim congresswoman said she has faced more death threats since the president posted the tweet, sparking criticism that Trump is condoning harmful attacks against the country's own elected officials.</p>  <p>The survey was conducted prior to the president's tweet.</p>  <p>Ninety-two percent of Democrats said there is discrimination against Muslims in America, with 75% saying there is a lot of discrimination, according to the poll. While less Republican respondents said the same, 69%, a large majority, agreed.</p>  <p>The percentage of people that think Jews face &quot;a lot&quot; of discrimination nearly doubled since 2016, rising from 13% to 24%, with 64% of respondents saying there is some discrimination against the group, according to Pew.</p>  <p>Race played a large factor in predicting how much discrimination a respondent thought was happening. Seventy-three percent of black respondents said there is &quot;a lot&quot; of discrimination against blacks and 63% of Hispanics said the same about discrimination against Hispanics.</p>  <p>However, among whites, it was partisanship that was the biggest factor in deciding how they answered.</p>  <p>Among white Democrats and Democrat-leaning respondents, around two-thirds said there is discrimination against blacks, while only 16% of white Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents said the same.</p>  <p>The survey was conducted between March 20 and 25 and surveyed 1,503 adults.