Sri Lanka enforces ban on burqa after terror attacks

            By Omer Faruk Yildiz

KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – A week after bombs ripped through the island nation Sri Lanka on Easter, the government on Monday enforced a ban on clothing covering face.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s office said covering the face “in order to avoid the identification” of a person is being banned to ensure public safety. Sirisena took the decision under the Emergency Regulations.

“All kinds of clothes covering the face that prevents the identification of citizens and causing security risk are prohibited,” said the order.

The ban was brought to the agenda at a Cabinet held last week.

On Easter Sunday, at least 253 people were killed and 500 injured when eight explosions targeted various locations in and outside Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

The bombings hit churches in the cities of Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa, as well as Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels in Colombo.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A week late on the first Sunday after Easter, no mass was held in any church across the country. People either prayed near churches or in homes even as curfew in the country was lifted, barring the areas in Kalmunai, Sammanthurai and Chavalakade.

*Written by Beyza Binnur Donmez

UPDATE – Death toll from Sri Lanka bombings rises to 310

              UPDATE WITH CLAIM OF RESPONSIBILITY, CHANGED LEAD</p>    <p>By Recep Sakar and Emre Aytekin</p>    <p>MELBOURNE (AA) - The death toll from Sunday's multiple terror attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, according to media reports. </p>    <p>Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara, according to the Daily Mirror, said around 40 suspects -- all from Sri Lanka -- have also been detained in operation carried out following the attacks.</p>    <p>Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, local media reported. </p>    <p>On Easter Sunday, a total of eight explosions targeted eight different locations in and outside Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. </p>    <p>The bombings hit churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa cities, as well as Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels in Colombo. </p>    <p>At least 500 people were also injured in the attacks, Gunasekara said. </p>    <p>Sri Lanka has declared April 23 a national day of mourning. </p>  <p> </p>  <p>* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev and Busra Nur Bilgic</p>  <p> 

New Zealand shooter to face 50 murder charges: Police

            By Faruk Zorlu </p>  <p>WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AA) – The man accused of carrying out last month’s terrorist attacks on two New Zealand mosques will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges, local police said early Thursday.</p>  <p>He will be appearing at the High Court in Christchurch on Friday, they said on Twitter.</p>  <p>&quot;Other charges are still under consideration. As the case is before the court,  the police are not in a position to comment further,&quot; they said.</p>  <p>At least 50 Muslim worshippers were massacred, with as many injured, in an alleged white supremacist terror attack by an Australian-born man on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15.

UK: Islamophobia soars after New Zealand terror attack

             By Muhammad Mussa</p>    <p>LONDON (AA) - Anti-Muslim hate crimes have soared across the U.K. in the aftermath of the New Zealand terror attacks, a monitoring group found.</p>    <p>Tell Mama, an NGO that documents Islamophobic incidences in the U.K., reported Sunday that anti-Muslim hate crime increased by 593 percent in the U.K. in the week after the Christchurch shootings in which 50 Muslim worshippers were murdered by a right-wing terrorist.</p>    <p>“This shows that some people see Muslims as fair game for hate and it is now clear that we have an ongoing and persistent ideology of hate that is generating a focus on Muslims,” said Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama.</p>    <p>“Muslims in New Zealand were killed and British Muslims feel the anger of bigots. It is perverse,” she added.</p>    <p>According to the monitoring group, 95 incidences were reported between March 15, the day of the New Zealand attacks, and March 21. Some 85 incidences, 89 percent of the total, directly referenced the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures that mimicked firearms and guns being fired at Muslims.</p>    <p>Muslims in north London, Southampton and Oxford have reported verbal abuse being directed towards them, including intimidating gestures that include gun gestures and bullet noises. In other incidences of verbal abuse, Muslims were told that “you need to be shot” and that “Muslims must die”.</p>    <p>On March 16, the day after the terrorist attack, a teenager was stabbed by a 50-year-old man, an incident the police say bears the “hallmarks of a terror event” that was inspired by the far-right.</p>    <p>Furthermore, four mosques were attacked and vandalized in Birmingham as well as one mosque in Scotland.</p>    <p>Majority of the attacks were carried out in person (45) rather than online (40) and according to Tell Mama, the perpetrators carrying out these attacks believe they would not be caught and due to the boldness of such attacks, they were not concerned about the consequences of what they had done.</p>    <p>“Experience tells us … that we should sadly expect that a horrific attack such as the one in Christchurch will have an impact on levels of hostility in the U.K. but it will also increase the fear of crime in affected communities. Both of these factors are likely to increase reporting levels,” said Mark Hamilton, assistant chief constable. </p>    <p>Last week, State Minister for Security Ben Wallace said that the New Zealand terrorist attacks could “absolutely happen” in the U.K. and that the government was considering plans to increase security funding for mosques and Muslim communities.</p>    <p>According to research conducted by the Independent Newspaper, far-right extremism is growing in the U.K. and white British people are more likely to sympathize with extremism than those of Asian Muslim descent. The government has been warned to not solely focus on Muslim-oriented extremism as far-right extremism is an increasing threat.</p>    <p>On March 15, far-right terror attacks massacred at least 50 Muslim worshippers and injured as many as they prepared for Friday prayers at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Royal commission to investigate terror attacks in NZ

             By Recep Sakar</p>    <p>MELBOURNE (AA) - New Zealand established a royal commission of inquiry into security agencies in the wake of twin terror attacks on Christchurch mosques, local media reported on Monday.</p>    <p>Quoting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the broadcaster Radio New Zealand said the inquiry will examine the ways to prevent terror attacks. </p>    <p>&quot;It will look at the actions of SIS [Security Information Systems], the GCSB [The Government Communications Security Bureau], police, Customs, Immigration and any other relevant government departments or agencies,&quot; Ardern said.</p>    <p>She also added that the commission will investigate events leading up to the attacks, rather than responding them immediately as both are two separate works.</p>    <p>At least 50 Muslims were killed and as many injured on March 15 when a terrorist -- identified as Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, 28 -- entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch and shot worshippers in cold blood, including four children younger than 18.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>*Writing by Gozde Bayar

‘Scarves in Solidarity’ in NZ urges support for Muslims

             </p>                 <p>By Sena Guler and Meryem Goktas</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - A New Zealander spearheaded an event Thursday to show solidarity with the victims of terror attacks that claimed at least 50 lives last week in Christchurch.</p>    <p>Raewyn Rasch started the &quot;Scarves in Solidarity&quot;  campaign, encouraging women to wear a scarf around head to support Muslim women of Christchurch.</p>    <p>“This is a personal response to the Christchurch terror attacks and a simple gesture on Friday 22 March to support our Muslim community,” Rasch said on the event page on Facebook.</p>    <p>On Wednesday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also encouraged women in the country to wear headscarves when attending two moments of silence during a memorial service to be held on Friday as a gesture of respect for the victims.</p>    <p>International attention has been drawn to New Zealand since last week’s terror attacks, bringing the rising Islamophobia in Western countries to focus.</p>    <p>Friday marks the first week since the terrorist attacks, in which at least 50 Muslims were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshipers during weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.</p>    <p>The terrorist streamed the massacre for 17 minutes on his social media platform.</p>    <p>Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is being charged for the massacre.

Survivor of N.Zealand attack: Bullets missed me twice

             By Receb Sakar and Tevfik Durul<br>

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AA) – Mohammed Abdi Jemal Afi, a survivor of last week’s terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, said the terrorist tried to shoot him twice but somehow he was not hit.

Afi, a 60-year-old survivor of the attacks, told Anadolu Agency that he got frighteningly close to the terrorist when he was about to enter Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, one of the two mosques where the gunman shot and killed 50 Muslims.

"The Friday sermon was about to start, and at the mosque entrance a Somali woman spoke to me in our language saying: 'Brother Jamal, pay attention to the man behind you who’s about to shoot you'," he recalled.

Afi said the terrorist was recording what he was doing with a camera on his helmet, adding that the first bullet grazed his head and the second missed him when he fell to the ground.

"There was a single step between us. There was only one step between us. He waited for a few seconds. He wasn't shooting, he wasn't talking, and he was just looking at my face.

“Then he walks away two steps, and I started running towards the mosque door. He was dressed like a military man. And he said, 'You can’t enter the mosque, get out of here.' and started shooting at me," he added.

-'People came to pray, not to fight'

Afi also underlined that he saw the terrorist killing an Afghan man from the congregation who was greeting him. Afi also witnessed multiple women and men getting shot in the chest and head, he said.

After escaping the attack, Afi called the police and ambulance, and they arrived within about 18-20 minutes, he said.

Due to his fall, Afi had both of his knees broken, and doctors told him that he needs surgery, but he said he postponed the treatment until the funerals of all the victims are done.

"All the people were unarmed, empty-handed, just here to pray, not to fight.

“God willing, our martyrs will enter paradise, they were in the mosque to worship. They were listening to the sermon. They will go to heaven," he said.

At least 50 Muslims were killed when a gunman opened fire on worshipers during weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand in a cold-blooded shooting — another sign of rising Islamophobia.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is being charged over the massacre.

* Writing by Munira Abdelmenan Awel

UPDATE – Turkey blasts Europe's 'silence' on NZ terror attacks

             <p>UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS </p>  <p>By Faruk Zorlu</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey’s president on Monday blasted European countries for being silent in the face of last week's terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, killing or injuring some 100 people.</p>  <p>Europe is silent on this issue, and the Western media is insidious, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a televised interview.</p>  <p>At least 50 people were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers last week at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.</p>  <p>About as many were injured, with several still in critical condition.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>- Turkish-EU ties</p>  <p>Commenting on Turkish-EU relations, Erdogan said the EU cannot halt Turkey's accession negotiations because they need Turkey.</p>  <p>Erdogan's remarks came after the European Parliament last week passed a non-binding report urging the suspension of Turkey's EU accession process.</p>  <p>Ankara slammed the report for bias, inaccuracy, and prejudice.</p>  <p>Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.</p>  <p>But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- Defeating terror corridor in northern Syria</p>  <p>Speaking on a potential terrorist corridor in northern Syria, Erdogan said if Turkey had not carried out operations in Afrin and Jarabulus, its southern borders would be occupied by PYD/YPG terrorists, referring to Turkey’s successful Operation Olive Branch in Syria.</p>  <p>Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch last January to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.</p>  <p>In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children. The PYD/YPG is its Syrian branch.</p>      

Turkey blasts Europe's 'silence' on NZ terror attacks

By Faruk Zorlu

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s president on Monday blasted European countries for being silent in the face of last week's terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, killing or injuring some 100 people.

Europe is silent on this issue, and the Western media is insidious, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a televised interview.

At least 50 people were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers last week at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

About as many were injured, with several still in critical condition.

N. Zealand attacks ‘shatter dreams’ of Pakistani family

                        By Aamir Latif</p>    <p>KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Slouched against a wall and surrounded by a dozen of people in a small room of a middle-size house located in Karachi's central district, Syed Ayaz Ahmad was receiving condolences over death of his son, who was among dead in Friday’s terror attacks at New Zealand mosques.</p>    <p>Syed Areeb Ahmad, 27, was his only son who went to offer Friday prayers at Al-Noor Mosque Christchurch, one of the two mosques, where a terrorist shot him together with 49 other Muslims in a cold-blooded shooting -- another sign of rising Islamophobia in the West. </p>    <p>Among dead, nine belonged to Pakistan -- four of them from Karachi -- whereas several Pakistanis were also injured in the gruesome attack, the bloodiest in New Zealand's peace time history.</p>    <p>Pakistanis observed a day of mourning on Monday to show solidarity with victims of the terror attack victim, with national flag flew at half-mast on the parliament and all other government buildings.</p>    <p>Family members of some of the victims have departed to New Zealand to attend their funerals. </p>    <p>Naeem Rasheed, one of the victims who tried to stopped the attacker and secured his fellow Muslims, has been declared a hero by Pakistani government and the international media.</p>    <p>His mother and a brother have left for New Zealand as his family has decided to bury him in Christchurch.</p>    <p>Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced a national award for Naeem for his heroic work.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- ‘Dreams shattered’</p>    <p>Areeb had visited his hometown Karachi just one and a half months before the tragedy to attend the engagement of his younger sister.</p>    <p>“He was very happy [on the occasion], and keenly discussed his only sister’s wedding plan with us,” Muzzaffer Khan, Areeb’s maternal uncle, told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>The family was informed of the tragedy by Areeb's colleague, who himself was present at Al-Noor Mosque at the time of the terror attack but luckily survived unhurt.</p>    <p>&quot;He (colleague) was not sure about what happened to Areeb. He could only tell us that Areeb was missing after the incident. It was after two days when Pakistani High Commissioner to New Zealand confirmed his death,&quot; Ayaz said.</p>    <p>Areeb's untimely death turns out to be dream shattering for his family as he was the only son and the lone bread earner.</p>    <p>A chartered accountant by profession, Areeb was offered a job by a local chartered accountant firm and he moved to New Zealand in 2017.</p>    <p>&quot;The news (of his death) was no less than a bombshell. We could not believe that initially as it was not in our wildest imagination that such terrible things could happen in a country like New Zealand&quot;, Ayaz told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>Hailing from a low income family, Areeb was a fine example of self-making. He did tuitions and other part-time jobs to support his father --  a taxi driver -- but never compromised on his studies.</p>    <p>He got chartered accountant degree with flying colors from Pakistan's top-ranked institute, and was offered a lucrative job in Christchurch soon after completion of his studies.</p>    <p>&quot;He (Areeb) was  a pure self-made person. When he got a job in New Zealand, we thought our tough days were over. We were very happy for his successes,&quot; Ayaz said while trying to fight back his tears.</p>    <p>&quot;But we never knew what future had stocked for us.</p>    <p>&quot;It seems if all our dreams have been shattered.&quot;, Ayaz said as tears rolled down his cheeks.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>* Islamuddin Sajid from Islamabad also contributed to this story.