Rape charges: Hang over U.N. peacekeepers in Africa

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR151515AA001.jpegBANGUI, Central African Republic — Sitting under a mango tree on the outskirts of this capital city, Abdou Mbone, 58, says U.N. peacekeeping troops raped his wife, Halima, before leaving her dead body in the street a year ago.

Mbone’s wife had gone to purchase food for dinner before realizing that Christian militias were in the neighborhood fighting Islamic rebels. She hurried to a nearby market to find the peacekeepers who often stood guard there.

Read more at USA Today

Palestinians admit: Working with Israel to foil attacks

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ISR140807aa002.jpegRAMALLAH, West Bank — It’s a revelation that has sent shock waves throughout the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: The Palestinian Authority (PA) has acknowledged thwarting dozens of attacks on Israelis planned by local militants.

Last month, Palestinian General Intelligence Service chief Majid Faraj told Defense News that the PA has foiled 200 attacks on Israelis, confiscated weapons and arrested 100 Palestinians since October, when the so-called Third Intifada, an uprising against Israel’s dominance of the Palestinian lands, began.

Read more at The Washington Times

Loubna Abidar: Moroccan actress, finds fame tinged with fury

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA150225aa001.jpegPARIS — THE first indication the actress Loubna Abidar had that her life was about to change was on the flight home to Morocco after the premiere of the movie “Much Loved,” in which she plays a prostitute. She was shocked when a flight attendant told her she was “a disgrace for Morocco and Moroccan women.”

Ten months later, Ms. Abidar, 30, is still a celebrity in her homeland, albeit an infamous one who is now in exile. She has received hundreds of hate messages and threats on social media. She is also poised to earn France’s top honor in film — a César — this month.

Read more at The New York Times

Pakistan’s radical: Madrassas retain clout despite crackdown

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK130912aa001.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities say they have shuttered over 180 Islamic religious schools called madrassas across the country in a yearlong crackdown on extremism, but even so, the closures affect only a fraction of the total number of seminaries suspected of preaching hatred and promoting a violent brand of Islamic extremism.

And despite the official campaign, the number of madrassas — and their power — are growing.

Read more at The Washington Times

Muslim conference: Calls for protection of religious minorities

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA150111aa001.jpegMARRAKESH, Morocco — At a recent conference held by Muslim scholars to confront violence in the Islamic world, a representative of the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq and Syria said his people desperately needed protection from the Islamic State.

“Please help us,” said Hadi Baba Sheikh, the Yazidi representative. “They are killing us and kidnapping our women and children.”

Read more at The New York Times

Voices: Terrorist attack hits close to home

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130705aa003.jpegRABAT, Morocco — Al-Qaeda killed my friend.

The headlines are cold and harsh: Leila Alaoui, 33, a photographer, killed in the Burkina Faso terrorist attack. They are straightforward, and I feel disconnected to them — as if they’re talking about someone I don’t know.

Read more at USA Today

Morocco summit: Pushes Muslim clerics to improve the lot of religious minorities

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130705aa001.jpegMARRAKESH, Morocco (RNS) After the Prophet Muhammad established the first Muslim state, he wrote the Charter of Medina to make sure his subjects lived in harmony, whether they were Muslims, Jews or people of other faiths.

Nearly 1,400 years later, hundreds of religious scholars met in Marrakesh in a bid to revive the charter to protect religious minorities in Muslim communities today.

Read more at Religion News Service

A student: In the midst of an intifada

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY141212aa001.jpegWhat an extremely tiring semester. Finally, I am done.

This semester, when I returned to my studies in the West Bank, was different than all the others I’ve experienced, for two reasons: First, this semester came after studying in Berlin. Germany was a breather from the politics and terrible situation in Palestine. I avoided talk about Palestine there.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Latest flare-up: In Israeli-Palestinian conflict

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GAZ140508AA001.jpegHEBRON, West Bank — Palestinians are calling it the “Al-Aqsa Intifada,” naming the latest bloody flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

But the violence that broke out in October when Israel curtailed access to the Al-Aqsa mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam — after a spate of attacks on Israeli citizens has been centered in Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Israeli settlers have moved into a Palestinian city.

Read more at The Washington Times

Iraq retakes: Central Ramadi from Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ15122aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqi government forces retook central parts of the key city of Ramadi on Monday from Islamic State militants, the military said.

The announcement by Iraq's military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, was broadcast live on state TV. He said Ramadi had been "grabbed from the hateful claws" of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

Read more at USA Today

Iraqis celebrate: Victory in Ramadi over Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRA140912AA001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqis on Tuesday celebrated the biggest victory against the Islamic State since the extremist group seized chunks of their country last year: The recapture of Ramadi's city center.

Some people created traffic jams driving back into the heavily bombed-out city. Others flooded the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere in the country, carrying Iraqi flags and portraits of Iraqi military leaders and shooting off fireworks. The jubilation reflected a yearning to beat back the extremists that had been pent up for months.

Read more at USA Today

Iraqi military: Claims key victory in Ramadi, says ISIL is in retreat

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150318aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces on Sunday claimed control of a key government facility in central Ramadi, wresting more territory in the disputed city from Islamic State fighters after several days of fierce fighting.

In Syria, U.S.-backed fighters took control of a key dam, severing a supply line between Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital, and militant fighters on the Turkish border.

Read more at USA Today

Pakistanis outraged: Over unending terrorist rampages

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LAHORE, Pakistan — Altaf Hussain will never forget his 6-year-old daughter's first day of school on Dec. 16, 2014. Seven Taliban gunman attacked the Peshawar Army Public School in Pakistan's unruly north, and killed the girl and 131 classmates. "Who knew that my daughter Khaula's first day at school will be her last day?" he lamented.

A year later, grief lingers over the loss of at least 141 people along with outrage over the Pakistani government's failure to curb terrorist rampages that continue to plague the region. The country closed schools nationwide Wednesday as part of a national day of mourning as well as a safeguard against possible attacks to mark the anniversary.

Read more at USA Today 

Online event: About evolution for Arabic readers is shut down

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU121126AA001.jpegHackers appear to have shut down an online event organized by Arab scientific organizations and designed to explain the concept of evolution to Arabic readers.

At least one opponent of the event is celebrating its demise with a sarcastic cartoon showing an event organizer consulting a psychiatrist. Evolution, particularly the idea that humans have evolved from animals, is a sensitive topic in Islam, and the concept is banned from many textbooks in the Arab region or else treated as an unproven theory.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Tashfeen Malik: Exposed to radical Islam at home, school in Pakistan, focus of investigation

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LAHORE, Pakistan — When Pakistani-born Tashfeen Malik, 29, swore allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook in the final moments of her life last week and went on a deadly shooting rampage with her husband in San Bernardino, California, it was the culmination of years of exposure to radical Islam.

Malik's father, Haji Gulzar Ahmed Malik, had become explicitly more religious after moving to Saudi Arabia to pursue his engineering career 25 years ago, said Javed Rabbani, brother of Haji Gulzar Ahmed Malik and Malik's paternal uncle.

Read more at The Washington Times 

Iraqis liberated: From the Islamic State return to a destroyed Sinjar

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SINJAR, Iraq — Farmer Ato Choki feels bittersweet emotions following the liberation of his northern Iraq community this month from more than a year of brutal Islamic State rule. "I was very happy to see the city free, but it's all destroyed," he lamented.

The militants, who were ousted by Kurdish fighters on Nov. 13, left their mark everywhere in Sinjar — from graffiti-sprayed walls to tunnels dug through the floors of homes that lead to bunkers built to withstand airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. One resident returned to his home to find Islamic State uniforms and a Quran in his child's bedroom.

Read more at USA Today 

Voices: Viral 'miracles' a terror tool in Mali

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BAMAKO, Mali – When I woke up Friday morning, the first thing I heard was news of the terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in my city.

I couldn't help it – my first thought was how lucky I was. I could have been among those who were trapped in that hotel. I was there the day before, about 10 hours before the assault began. And scarier still, the terrorists, who had registered as guests several days before, were already there.

Read more at USA Today

Up to: 27 dead in Mali hotel siege; one American slain

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BAMAKO, Mali — Malian security forces, aided by U.S. and French special forces, ended a 7-hour siege Friday at a Radisson Blu hotel Friday that left up to 27 hostages and two extremists dead, according to a U.N. official.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed that an American citizen is among those who were killed. The Washington Post identified the woman as Anita Datar, a 41-year-old international development worker from Takoma Park, Md.

Read more at USA Today 

Syrian refugees: Overwhelm Lebanon to the breaking point

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_LB151125aa002.jpegBEIRUT — Gharam Al Shuqi is one of three Syrian widows with 11 children squeezed into a windowless space that used to be a shop on a dusty road in Ghazze, a Lebanese city halfway between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.

Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon from the civil war next door — like Al Shuqi with her widowed sister and sister-in-law — now outnumber the local population around Ghazze by four to one. 

Read more at USA Today

Voices: Amid Paris headlines, don't forget Beirut

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LONDON – As I compulsively checked my newsfeeds in the aftermath of the devastating attacks in Paris last Friday night, a new feature popped up on Facebook. My friends in the city, it told me, had checked in safe. I was relieved. Then I thought how useful the tool would have been just the day before, when a bomb, also the work of the Islamic State, had hit my former home of Beirut.

The suicide bomb had killed 43 people in a busy shopping district, the worst attack in Lebanon's capital since the end of its civil war in 1990. But Facebook hadn't deployed the Safety Check for Beirut. Nor had it offered users an easy way to show their solidarity with the country as it had with France, by giving the option of adding the national flag to profile pictures. And while the tragedy in Paris dominated the worldwide news agenda for days, Beirut had made only a few headlines.

Read more at USA Today 

'Massive' French: Airstrikes hit Islamic State to retaliate for attacks

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France's military launched "massive" retaliatory airstrikes against Islamic State sites in Syria on Sunday night, saying French aircraft struck a command center and training camp at Raqqa.

The French Air Force posted videos on its Facebook page of the planes embarking on the raid of the extremist group's de facto capital. The strikes come two days after the worst attacks in Paris since World War II. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks at six sites that killed 132 people and wounded hundreds more.

Read more at USA Today 

Palestinian political: Divisions Play Out at Birzeit University

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAL151125aa001.jpegPalestine — The conflict between the two major Palestinian political groups—Fatah and Hamas—has turned students against each other at Birzeit University.


Whereas Hamas militants hold sway in the Gaza Strip, more moderate Fatah officials who control the Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank. The two sides have long been at loggerheads over who should lead Palestine and what stance they should adopt toward Israel.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media 

Nigerians disenchanted: As new president ‘too slow’ to deliver on lofty campaign promises

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150410aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — President Muhammadu Buhari rode to victory in May on a promise to revive the country’s moribund economy, vanquish Boko Haram terrorists who controlled much of the northeastern part of the country and tackle the pervasive corruption that has stifled development in Africa’s most populous nation.

Five months later there is growing disenchantment that the president has not delivered on his lofty promises, while taking an unprecedented amount of time just getting his government staffed.

Read more at The Washington Times

Forgotten war: Forgotten country, forgotten universities

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_LYB130412MG002.jpegThis month, hundreds of thousands of students in Libya are heading back to universities, keen to start a delayed academic year. But the semester could be stopped at any moment due to endless fighting and an absence of security.

“I want to go back to my faculty, but I am not sure I can really go back,” said Suad Al Mabrouk, a third-year student in medical school in Sabha University.


Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Sympathy for: ISIL runs high in Jordan's restive Maan

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Maan, Jordan - When Ali ran away from home in the middle of the night two years ago to fight in the Syrian civil war, his father, Abdallah Salah, understood his son's decision.

Although his 18-year-old son died only 45 days later, Salah accepted his son's fate.

Read more at Al Jazeera 

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