IndianMuslimObserver.com becomes Media Partner of Saudi International Halal Expo 2021

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 31 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper – IndianMuslimObserver.com is proud to announce that it has become the Media Partner of the Saudi International Halal Expo 2021, to be held from November 29 to December 1 this year at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. Earlier, the Saudi International Halal Expo was scheduled to be held in 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Saudi International Halal Expo 2021 promises to be an outstanding platform for businesses providing both products and services that efficiently promotes ethical as well as fair business interactions and transactions. At a time when paradigm shift in economy is taking place post COVID-19 era, the Saudi International Halal Expo 2021 provides a great opportunity for businesses to position their brand among the latest and most state- of-the-art Halal products and services, which shape the global Halal industry.

The Saudi International Halal Expo 2021 is expected to host more than 200 national and international exhibitors, along with 5000-8000 visitors. The expo will also incorporate a series of B2B meetings engaging more than 200 buyers from 35 countries engaging within this exceptional trade business event.

According to a recent study, the large investments in halal products around the world exceeded $ 7 trillion in 2019. The investments in halal products and services are expected to increase in coming years.

A top official of the Saudi International Halal Expo 2021 in a statement said: “The World Bank has described Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top summits in providing good and attractive business for all kinds of investments. We are undoubtedly proud to help in leading the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to become part of a list that includes 190 countries where the business environment has improved. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has jumped up 30 places to be placed 62nd.”

The statement added: “The food processing industry in Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to grow at a considerable rate in the near future. Domestic, regional and international demands for Saudi food products have been increasing year after year, with seafood, dates and halal foods leading the way. The Kingdom is famed for its authentic halal food products — particularly those from Makkah and Madinah. Saudi Arabia market is a great potential Halal Food Market, where Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) has announced plans to launch what is claimed to be the world’s largest center for halal food and products. Plans for the center came under the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform agenda and aimed to utilize its geographical position between continents and role as the birthplace of Islam.”

Halal as a Lifestyle

The halal lifestyle leads to the right and unbiased way of life; it also refers to actions in our everyday life that incorporates different principles, values and standard of living. The concept of “Halal” goes far beyond the food and beverage industry and applies to the daily lives of Muslims and Non-Muslims , where it has a wider meaning due to nowadays complex manufacturing process. This makes it applicable to many sectors and even becoming the important way of life of the Muslim population. These sectors can be played together or simultaneously integrated in global trading that leads to Islamic economic growth. Being halal-conscious is actually the springboard to an optimal and cordial lifestyle-choice.

[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper  IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

Mumbai’s Dongri Police Station gets its first Muslim lady in-charge officer

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

Mumbai: Muslim women in India are increasingly breaking stereotypes and taking a proactive role in national affairs. Shabana Shaikh has made the community proud by becoming the first Muslim woman in-charge officer of Dongri police station in its history, Hindustan Times reported.

Shabana Shaikh, who is a role model and an inspiration to women in uniform, first joined the Maharashtra police in 1992. Shabana originally hails from the Akole taluka of Ahmadnagar district, and is the first Muslim woman to become a police officer from her district.

Before joining as in-charge officer of Dongri police station, Shabana had earlier served as an inspector in the special branch in the Mumbai police.

Shabana Shaikh was born in a large joint family, and has two brothers and seven sisters. She says that though her father is not much educated but he took care of his children and stressed on education by sending them to school. Shabana moved to Pune for higher education and completed her Masters from there.

Shabana Shaikh said, “I always wanted to do something different. Police service became a natural choice. I failed to qualify for the direct Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) examination for the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police. I however cracked the sub-inspector exam in my first attempt, and also completed my MA during the training itself. I also want my two daughters to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) as well.”

Kerala: IUML to change its policy, may allow more Muslim women to contest state polls

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service 

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Muslim political outfit the Indian Muslim Union League (IUML) seems to have a change of heart and is open to the idea of fielding more Muslim women during the 2021 state assembly elections. The IUML, which has so far fielded only one woman in its history in 1996 assembly elections, has now decided to change its policy during the current polls in the key South Indian state, IANS news agency reported. 

The IUML had fielded Muslim Women League leader Khamarunnisa Anwar as the party candidate in 1996 elections from Kozhikode North seat. She however failed to win the seat. 

After the drubbing, the IUML refrained from fielding women candidates either for assembly or parliament elections. However, several women leaders contested and won elections in gram panchayats, block panchayats, district panchayats, municipalities and corporations. 

The male-dominated IUML sought to block women candidates from fighting assembly and parliamentary elections on the plea that their presence in elections would be strongly opposed by Muslim clerics. 

E.T. Mohammed Basheer, IUML organising secretary and Member of Parliament, has already hinted that a large section of the party leadership want to see women candidates to be fielded in the 2021 assembly elections in certain sure seats. He said that he would convey his opinion in the party state executive, after which the party may decide to take a call on this. 

P. Kulsul, Muslim Woman League state secretary and former member of Kerala state woman's commission, was quoted as saying that women candidates will be welcomed in the next assembly elections. The women have waited for long ever since 1996 when the then Muslim Woman League president Khamarunnisa Anwar contested from Kozhikode. She said that it is strongly hoped that the IUML will be fielding some women in the current state election.

Madinah acknowledged among world’s healthiest cities by WHO

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 January 2021 | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Jeddah: The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the holy city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia as among the world’s healthiest cities. The accreditation was given to Madinah after a WHO team visited the holy city and said that it met all the global standards required for being a healthy city, Arab News reported.

Madinah has become the first city with a population of above 2 million to be recognized by WHO under its healthy cities program. The WHO accreditation was made possible with the active assistance from 22 government, community, charity and volunteer agencies.

Taibah University collaborated in a strategic partnership with the city’s integrated program to create an electronic platform for recording government requirements for the WHO’s review.

The WHO also selected Taibah University for providing training to other national city agencies as well who want to take part in the healthy cities program.

A healthy city as defined by WHO is the one that constantly creates and improves those social and physical environments and expands those community resources that enables people for mutually supporting each other to perform all functions of live and develop to their maximum potential.

The story of the UAE is only just beginning

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Fifty years ago, our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may his soul rest in peace, laid down the core values for our new nation: peace, hope, equality, tolerance, openness and coexistence. It is these values that helped us endure the extraordinary year of 2020, and underpin the UAE’s commitment to making 2021 a year of recovery, growth and decade-defining ambitions.

This year marks the UAE’s Golden Jubilee – a period of celebration and a time to look ahead towards the success that we aspire to achieve in the country’s next 50 years. While preparing for this remarkable anniversary, we may also reflect on the astonishing firsts that our young nation has reached, as a global innovator, a super-hub for international trade and humanitarian logistics and a champion of the values of tolerance, generosity and dynamism on the world stage.

While the last 12 months have challenged the entire world as we have collectively fought Covid-19, the introduction of effective vaccines and breakthrough treatments has sparked hope for a recovery that will stimulate economic growth, facilitate international connectivity once more and boost the quality of life for all while improving global health outcomes.

Although Covid-19 defined the year 2020, it certainly did not define us as a nation. What defined the UAE was our reaction to the pandemic, which allowed us to demonstrate the UAE’s strong commitment to its proud values, a commitment that we feel will help make future years better, prosperous, and safer—not only for our own people, but for our region and beyond.

It is without doubt that our advanced technology, healthcare systems, governance model and leadership helped us combat the virus. So did the strength of our economy, the diversity and expertise of our people, and our foresight in ensuring food and financial security for those affected by the pandemic. Now, what stands out to me is not how we successfully managed to help ourselves, but how we helped others in this difficult time.

When the UAE secured the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for Phase 3 clinical trials, thousands of volunteers were among the first to take the vaccine and helped prove its safety and efficacy. This year, the UAE will continue to build upon its world-leading role as the top provider of humanitarian aid by continuing to develop its advanced logistical capabilities to store and distribute the vaccine worldwide, while ensuring equitable access through our agreement to distribute millions of vaccines globally through Abu Dhabi’s Hope Consortium.

This spirit of goodwill and faith in a post-Covid future was just as evident abroad as it was at home – from the UAE’s hundreds of repatriation flights, the thousands of tonnes of medical assistance and equipment provided to countries and frontline workers around the world, and our partnership with the World Food Programme for the global delivery of food and medicines. Therefore, the UAE will continue its efforts in the fight against Covid-19, and in making the world a better place.

The UAE’s contribution to the global fight against the pandemic was not the only notable achievement during 2020. We are proud that we were the first Arab country to commission a peaceful civilian nuclear energy power plant in the region at Barakah, and also became the first Arab nation to send a space probe to Mars. This follows the UAE’s landmark success as a nation in sending the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station in 2019, a moment that inspired thousands of Arab youth to explore how they may contribute towards further strengthening global innovation and co-operation among nations to the benefit of humankind.

The signing of the historic Abraham Accords with the State of Israel stands out as another defining moment of 2020. The Accords delivered a genuine opportunity for lasting peace in the Middle East, and hope for achieving prosperity for future generations through unprecedented levels of co-operation in fields such as science, medicine, education, culture, tourism, artificial intelligence and investments. Ultimately, the Abraham Accords exemplify what can be achieved when nations set aside their differences and focus on what they have in common in the service of their peoples and the opportunities they deserve.

Peaceful coexistence and tolerance will always be at the heart of the UAE’s story and legacy. I am very much looking forward to the UAE advancing in its construction this year of the Abrahamic Family House, a multidenominational place of worship for people from all cultures and religions to come together in the spirit of tolerance and coexistence. On a much larger scale, we will welcome the world in October 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai, which extends the hands of friendship to more than 190 participating countries and global organisations.

A decade ago, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced to the Cabinet his vision for 2021: “To make the UAE among the best countries in the world.” The four supporting pillars of this vision were prosperity, knowledge, destiny and responsibility. In overcoming the challenges we faced over the past 10 years, we have come a long way towards achieving this vision. We have a prosperous, growing, sustainable economy, world-class healthcare, a first-rate education system, a strong judiciary and a cohesive society that is now acknowledged globally as one of the safest in the world.

Finally, the stage is indeed set for our nation to achieve truly spectacular accomplishments before our centenary in 2071. The only limit is our imagination. The only challenge is our creativity. The only path forward for the UAE is illuminated by boundless enthusiasm and hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future for all.

[Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Head of the UAE Golden Jubilee Celebrations Committee]

(Courtesy: The National)

Saudi Arabia: Uttar Pradesh Overseas Welfare Association Riyadh holds online competition among Children

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Riyadh: Uttar Pradesh Overseas Welfare Association (UPOWA) Riyadh conducted an online Painting, Speech and Essay Writing Competition among the children of the families of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, especially from Gonda, Basti, Balarampur and Siddharth Nagar living in Riyadh. 

The competitors were divided into three groups:

Group (A) Painting: KG - 3rd

Group (B) Speech: 4th - 7th

Group (C) Essay Writing: 8th - 12th

The winners of the first, second and third positions were awarded certificates along with cash prizes.

Here are the winners of the position:

1. Group (A): Summayah Ataur-Rahman (1st), Yasir Hossam (2nd) and Muhammad Abdul Mubeen (3rd).

2. Group (B): Ali Faris (1st), Abdullah Khan (2nd) and Shadin Irfan (3rd).

3. Group (C): Haifa Irfan and Tuba Akmal (1st), Huda Akmal (2nd) and Hassan Abdul Mubeen (3rd).

Abid Aqeel was the Judge for Painting Competition, while Dr. Abdul Rahim, Abdul Mateen Nadvi and Zafar Bari were the Judges for Speech and Essay Writing Competition.

Irfan Ahmed Khan, President of the UPOWA, congratulated the winners. He encouraged and thanked all the participants in this contest and thanked all the judges who volunteered their services.

The guardians of the children expressed their good wishes for the association and also expressed their desire to hold such competitive programs in the future as well. General Secretary of the UPOWA Muhammad Akmal and other officials made their best efforts to make the program successful.

OPINION: Conspiracy of silence to the growing Hindu radicalization in India

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Hindu radicalization is brimming at its seams but many among the community refuse to acknowledge this growing phenomenon under the Modi rule. The hallmark of the Modi government is the radicalization of the Hindu community and the victimization of Muslims in India. There is no social or institutional opposition to this blatant disregard of the constructional values that is taking place in the country. It seems there is a conspiracy of silence to the Hindu radicalization in India.

The Hindu society refuses to acknowledge that the victimization of Muslims is taking place due to the radicalization of the Hindus. They see this radicalization as a normal phenomenon and refuse to raise their voices against such open bigotry. The Hindu community fails to recognize that majoritarian communalism is against the spirit of the Indian constitution.

This Hindu radicalization is happening at two levels. First, at the societal level second among those who run the country; politicians, police, judiciary, bureaucracy media, etc.

In a general conversation among families and in private discourse the Hindu bigots justify this trend, citing similar developments in other countries. The Hindu society refuses to accept that constitutional values are being flaunted by maltreating the Muslims in India.

There is a definite conspiracy of silence among the Hindu community towards the growing radicalization within their fold. Their normal response towards the blatant bigotry against the Muslims is; look how Hindus were oppressed during the Muslim rule, then they will turn to the maltreatment of Pandits in Kashmir; after that, they may talk about the activities of the Taliban and ISIS and finally they come to Pakistan and highlight the maltreatment of the Hindus there to justify Hindu radicalization in India.

The bigotry within Hindu society is growing since 2014. It is a part of well-crafted state policy. The radicalization of the Hindus is at the expense of the victimization of the Muslims. The Hindu religious extremists have taken the law in its hands and hate crimes that began as a trickle by the fringe Hindu elements became a flood under the Modi rule.

There have been several instances where Hindu mob attacking Muslims and taking their lives. This is happening in complete disregard to the rule of law AND in complete defiance of the constitution. But there is none to uphold the rule of law and protect the oppressed.

Most perpetrators of crime against Muslims get away without any punitive action and some are even felicitated by BJP ministers. The most erroneous part is such hate crimes are slowly slipping from the front pages in the media to inside pages with small headlines to signify that there is nothing unusual in such activity. This new media culture has given a gist to the Hindu radicals to do whatever they like to do, as this is a new normal under Modi rule.

The mass radicalization of Hindus explains Modi’s enduring popularity despite his bad governance, autocratic behavior, and economic disaster. What Modi has been able to succeed is to instill in Hindu's minds to believe that a golden era that reflects their glorious, ancient tradition is round the corner. The Hindus will be redeemed of the centuries of Muslim oppression and the pampered Muslim community in India will be shown its place under Modi rule.

The state, the judiciary, and the media are all working in tandem to perpetrate Hindu radicalization. The Hindu radicalization has seeped into the veins of many Indians. The administration, the judiciary, politicians, all echo what Hindu-vigilante boldly profess while showing their hatred against the Muslims.

There are many new laws mainly aimed at cementing Hindu supremacy and restricting social and economic options for the Muslims in India. These laws are meant to send the message to the Muslim community that the constitutional guarantee no more holds true and they have to live under the shadow of the majority community.

There is virtually no criticism from the Hindu community to the laws that are made targeting the Muslim community. Even the political Opposition’s do not resist the Hindu radicalization going on under Modi’s rule. They fear the ruling government and try to soft-peddle this phenomenon as if, its normal discourse.

This is definitely a disintegration of the rule of law. The state is blatantly aligning with the Hindu religion. The President of India Ram Nath Kovind has publicly announced making a contribution of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The government of Uttar Pradesh has opened a bank account and has urged the government employees to make a “voluntary donation” to temple construction. It is a clear cut case of the state and the religion getting entwined under the Modi rule which is against the grain of the constitution.

The government has further spurred Islamophobic instincts with changes in Muslim divorce law and bringing many new laws that are anchored in severing majoritarian interests. These laws are eagerly prosecuted by the police and the courts are allowing such anti-human laws without any legal basis. As Hindu radicalization progresses, Indian Muslims are finding hard to negotiate their life under the Modi rule and there is no sympathy towards their misery by the majority community.

The irony is many Hindus do not acknowledge that there is a mass radicalization of their community taking place at the expense of the Muslims. Even liberals among Hindus who use to go gung-ho at the Muslim radicalization are mute spectators to the radicalization of their own community. They also interpret the new phenomena with the same false equivalence of Islamic intolerance, within or outside India. They fail to bring out much-needed attention to the oppression against the Muslims that is going on in the country and maintain a stoke silence to the phenomena of the Hindu radicalization.

There is no doubt that the national consensus on maintaining religious harmony is falling apart. There are individuals and institutions that are actively engaged in dismantling the concept of peaceful coexistence in India. This is in complete disregard to the constitutional values and the rule of law in the country. Anyone criticizing such activities could be made liable and persecuted under Modi rule.

To say that every Hindu in India is radicalized will be a misnomer. Indeed, the majority are not. The Hindu society is very complex and even if the BJP may be able to consolidate many Hindu caste groups and divisions, it certainly cannot lord over the entire Sanatan-Dharma. This is not to deny the fact that those who defend Hindu bigotry in response to Islamophobia are on the rise in India. They have high-jacked the public discourse and are enjoying their time of fame under Modi rule.

There is little doubt that there is general withering away of the rule of law under the Modi regime. There are also no two opinions that victimization of Muslims has increased many folds under his rule. However, there are too few Hindus to raise a voice against the oppression of the Muslims they are singled out for persecution and this phenomenon is glaringly obvious. What does all this mean? Well, this is Post-Truth India the Brand New Republic.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. His forthcoming book is Post Truth India- Brand New Republic. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Muslim scholars Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and late Maulana Kalbe Sadiq to get Padma awards

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

The Government of India has announced conferring of the nation’s second highest civilian award ‘Padma Vibhushan’ to prominent Muslim scholar 96-year-old Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for his distinguished and exceptional service to bridge Hindu-Muslim divide through his writings focused on interfaith harmony.

The renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is originally from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, but is currently residing in Hazrat Nizamuddin area in Delhi for past several decades. Khan is widely acclaimed to propagate his ideas and teachings through writing. He had in the past written Tazkirul Quran, a commentary on the Holy Quran, and also runs a popular monthly magazine Al Risala. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has been presented several awards including Padma Bhushan (2000), Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavna Award (2009), National Citizens’ Award, Demiurgus Peace International Award and others.

Late Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, a prominent Shia Muslim scholar, has been awarded posthumously the country’s third highest civilian award ‘Padma Bhushan’. Considered to be a great ambassador of Shia-Sunni unity, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq died in November 2020. He was also Vice President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Both Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and late Maulana Kalbe Sadiq were considered close to Hindu right-wing ruling party BJP at the Centre, and were vocal proponents asking Muslims to give up their claim on Babri Masjid. They also had a neutral stand on the construction of Ram Mandir on the ruins of Babri Masjid dismantled by Hindu zealots.

The Padma awards were announced for other Muslim personalities as well. India’s fourth highest civilian award ‘Padma Shri’ was given to Ali Manikfan, Gulfam Ahmed, Lakha Khan, Ghulam Rasool Khan, Sanjida Khatun and Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir.

Ali Manikfan, a marine researcher, ecologist, shipbuilder, agriculturist and a polyglot from Minicoy Island of Lakshwadeep, was awarded for his contribution in grassroots level innovations. Gulfam Ahmed from Uttar Pradesh was awarded for his contribution in the field of Art, Lakha Khan from Rajasthan for Literature, Ghulam Rasool Khan from Jammu and Kashmir for Art, and Sanjida Khatun for Art and Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir for Public Affairs (both from Bangladesh).

This year the Padma awards will be given to 119 personalities (7 Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan and 102 Padma Shri). The awards are announced every year by the Union Government to commemorate India’s Republic Day. The awards will be presented by President of India Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremonial function at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Philippines to observe February 1 as National Hijab Day every year

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 January 2021 | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

Manila: Philippines has decided to give Muslim women due honor by observing National Hijab Day every year. The move comes at a time when Islamophobia has become a worldwide phenomenon.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women in several countries across the world. It is used to cover the head and chest to ward off male gaze when the women are among men outside their immediate family.

Philippines’ House of Representatives voted unanimously on January 26 approving a bill to declare February 1 as National Hijab Day every year.

The House Bill No. 8249 was unanimously approved after a total of 203 members of House of Representatives voted in favour of it. There were neither abstentions nor negative votes, SunStar Philippines reported.

Representatives Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong and Amihilda Sangcopan jointly sponsored the bill in the House. The measure is aimed at promoting understanding towards the Muslim traditions of wearing a hijab, and removing the misconception of hijab being a symbol of oppression and terrorism.

The non-Muslim women will also be able to experience wearing the hijab, and stop discriminating against hijabis. The bill is also aimed at protecting the right of Muslim women to practice their religion in the country, and specifically promoting appreciation of diversity, promoting understanding of wearing a hijab as an act of modesty and dignity, and promoting tolerance and acceptance of other lifestyles.

According to the government, the private sector, schools and government institutions will be encouraged to observe National Hijab Day on February 1 every year.

Turkish Airlines gets “Diamond” status in the health and safety review conducted by APEX and SimpliFlying

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Istanbul: As the airline that flies to the most international destinations in the world, Turkish Airlines also managed to become one of the busiest airlines during the pandemic period that has been plaguing the globe since last year. With its extra guidelines for safe travel and comprehensive hygiene precautions due to pandemic, the flag carrier airline has been awarded the highest “Diamond” status by APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying. 

Analyzed in three categories named Gold, Platinum and Diamond according to the hygiene precautions and preventative measures taken by airlines in the face of the ongoing pandemic, the online audit was conducted with 10 categories and 75 touchpoints in mind as the answers about the health and hygiene precautions were entered with concrete indicators by the participants. Reviewed alongside other airlines, Turkish Airlines achieved the Diamond status which symbolizes the highest health and safety level, thus maintaining its unparalleled service approach and quality in these extraordinary times. 

Meticulously implementing comprehensive precautions and newly developed changes since the start of the pandemic in order to continue providing a healthy and safe travel experience for its passengers, Turkish Airlines achieved the Diamond status with numerous criteria such as touch-free check-in process, implementation of social distancing, temperature measuring at entrances, Covid-19 test service at the airport, extra hygiene precautions, in-flight social distancing, hygiene expert cabin crews appointed in flights and hygiene kits offered to passengers.

As the pandemic and its effects are still present around the globe, the precautions may differ from time to time due to rapidly changing conditions. But since the fight against the pandemic requires continuity and commitment, the precautions and measures taken by the airlines in the report will be reviewed every three months to check on the continuity of their statuses.

On the results, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı stated: “We continue to meticulously implement the comprehensive hygiene precautions in order to ensure that our passengers can travel in health and safety during the pandemic. We provided comfort and reassurance for our passengers with our Hygiene Expert cabin crews appointed in our flights and hygiene kits offered to all of our passengers, along with all the precautions taken in airports and in our aircrafts. We are glad that our guidelines for safe travel have achieved the highest “Diamond” status. We will continue to work selflessly to provide the best possible travel experience for our passengers.”

In his statement on the matter APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader said: “Turkish Airlines consistently has provided incredible passengers experience now topped by Diamond level certified, hospital-grade health safety for its customers. From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic forward, Turkish Airlines has demonstrated a step-by-step customer health safety plan as expansive as its 127 country route-map. APEX applauds the incredible commitment and diligence by Turkish Airlines for passenger safety worldwide.”

Rise of Islamophobia Across the World

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Peace Olanipekun

In recent years, Islamophobia has been spreading across the world, stretching from eastern countries like China to western countries such as Europe and the United States. In China, the government has been detaining more than a million Muslims since 2017. They are held in what the government calls “re-education” camps. A large portion of this group is Uyghurs, an ethnic group mainly from China’s northwestern region called Xinjiang. Chinese authorities initially denied these camps’ presence until later when they described them as vocational training and re-education initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and counter-terrorism threats. According to satellite images obtained by the Australian Strategic Policy institute, 380 of these detention centers ranged from low-security re-education camps to reinforced prisons. Despite this, Chinese officials continue to argue that the camps fulfill two purposes: to teach Mandarin and Chinese law and work skills while actively working to prevent extremist ideas, thereby stopping terrorist activities.

The Chinese government substantiates these claims with the fact that Xinjiang has not experienced a terrorist attack since December 2016, a fact that they attribute heavily to the camps for preventing violence. Despite these numerous claims by officials to assuage the calls for these camps to be closed, they refuse to allow journalists, human rights groups or diplomats independent access to the camps and visitors to the regions where camps are located face heavy surveillance. While China continues what many has called a cultural genocide, it is essential to hold their government officials accountable for the numerous individuals held captive. Still, we must also remember that this is not an isolated case but rather a growing concern as the rest of the world implements and grows in Islamophobic ideals.

Islamophobia is nothing new in the United States following the rapid incline after the tragic 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In a recent survey performed by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 62% of Muslims within the U.S. and 68% of Muslim women experienced some form of religious discrimination in 2019. The Pew Research Center also released a poll revealing 82% of U.S. adults believed and agreed that Muslims within the country were subjected to at least some form of prejudice. This statistic is an overwhelming amount of individuals and does not even take into account the 56% of people who believed that Muslims faced a high amount of discrimination within the country. This is not a phenomenon isolated to only the United States within North America; however as Statistics Canada discovered that hate crimes against those of the Islamic faith grew by 253% from 2012 to 2015 in Canada.

There is a long and detailed history of policies within the Canadian sphere that promotes Islamophobia and limits the right of specifically Muslim women to freely and openly take part in their religion, a significant violation of the Canadian Rights and Freedoms. One of the most prominent cases that continue to be debated to this day is Quebec’s Bill 94, which banned the niqab from public and civic spaces, which only contributed to the insane amount of Islamophobia that continues to rise in Quebec. It is essential to note the contribution media has on this noticeable rise. When reporting on domestic terrorism within countries, there is a visible difference in the approach the media takes when the suspect is Islamic. When someone commits domestic terrorism, not of the Islamic faith, it does not receive the same amount of attention as one that is.

In June, the Constitutional Court of Belgium ruled that banning religious symbols, including hijabs, in higher education establishments does not violate the freedom of religion or right to education. This is a slap in the face to Muslim women who wear the hijab and niqab, especially when one considers the background of universities and higher education in general. The first university in the world was founded in 895 CE in what is now known as Morocco by Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya or as she is more commonly known as Fatima al-Fihri. Fatima was a proud Muslim woman who founded the university of Al Qarawiynn, which still to this day remains the oldest operational education institution. Despite the numerous protests that have been and continue to happen in Belgium protesting the new ruling by the Constitutional Court of Belgium, there has been minimal media attention given to these protesters, especially from some of the biggest worldwide news stations.

Belgium is far from the only country within Europe that is facing problems of Islamophobia. A prominent country that has arisen in recent years concerning religious discrimination issues in France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. France is a staunch secularist country that it claims is a state of neutrality in religion areas, supporting neither the absence nor existence of religion, also emphasizing a strong separation of religion and the state as a whole. However, it is important to understand that the legal definition of secularism within France calls for the neutrality of the state and not enforced neutrality on individuals and this is where the reality strays from the perceived ideal. In 2004, France banned the wearing of any conspicuous religious symbols or clothing, a law which while applying to all religions specifically affected Muslim communities in a much more prominent way.

Islamophobia is an issue that we can simply attribute to one country alone or one section of the world. This is a prominent problem being faced by Muslims of all races, gender, cultural backgrounds and free of territorial claim, it is a worldwide problem that can never truly be solved without addressing the differing discriminations being faced by Muslims all around the world. We need to dismantle the discriminatory stereotype that is often pushed by world leaders due to terrorism and extremist groups who account for a very small percentage of the Islam community and who often twist and distort the ideals and pillars of the religion.

(Courtesy: OWP)

Cambodia to establish Department of Halal Affairs

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Cambodia is ready to welcome Muslim tourists in a big way. The government has announced it will be soon establishing the Department of Halal Affairs under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce’s General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention (CCF), The Phnom Penh Post reported.

A meeting was conducted by Cambodian Halal Steering Committee (CHSC) on January 21 for discussing the draft sub-decree No. 160 dated July 29, 2016 which established the committee, informed CHSC deputy chairman Osman Hassan.

The meeting, which was chaired by Council of Ministers secretary of state Tekreth Samrach, focused on establishing the halal affairs department after revising some of the articles in the sub-decree. Also, the composition of the CHSC will be fine-tuned after amending the sub-decree.

The halal affairs department will immediately become operational as soon as the sub-decree is implemented. The judicial police officers will be inspecting the legal data and enforcing halal labeling laws at all enterprises.

The Halal Affairs Department will be enforce stricter management of halal products and small and medium-sized enterprises will be inspected for properly putting halal labels according to Cambodian technical standards.

The government’s move has been welcomed by the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA). A statement by CATA said, “The management of halal products, especially food, will play an important role in attracting Muslim tourists to Cambodia down the line.”

The commerce ministry has so far registered and issued certificates for 666 halal products in Cambodia.

First-of-its-kind Gym for Women opens in a Hyderabad Mosque

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

There is a growing need for fitness and healthy well being of Muslim women in India. A mosque in Telangana’s capital Hyderabad realized the health concerns of women and recently set up a wellness center, including a gymnasium in its complex. The mosque Masjid-e-Mustafa is situated in Wadi-e-Mahmood, a slum area in Rajendranagar mandal, in the southern state’s capital city. 

This is the first-of-its-kind initiative taken by a mosque in the state. The gym for women, which has an expert trainer, is being funded by US-based NGO called Support for Education and Economic Development (SEED). 

The purpose of the gym is to effectively curb the growing cases of non-communicable diseases in women residing in the slum areas. A professional woman trainer will be conducting two sessions daily and help women to achieve fitness.

The wellness centre will be operated with the help of Hyderabad-based NGO Helping Hand Foundation (HHF) in coordination with the mosque committee. The HHF had last year collaborated with the mosque to open a community healthcare centre for helping women and children living in the slums. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, HHF managing trustee, while talking to mediapersons said, “The key components of the NCD programme at the mosque clinic-cum-gym are risk assessment, counselling on diet and exercise and screening for renal, liver and eye issues. Trained and professional counsellors are part of the clinic.”

A recent study conducted on Hyderabad slum-dwellers said that 52 percent women are at risk of cardiometabolic syndrome and about 30 percent women are suffering from the polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD). Among other health problems include diabetes, hypertension, thyroid and obesity.

India’s ex chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi’s new book debunking Muslim population myth to be launched in February

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 18 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

India’s former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi has sought to debunk the bogus Muslim population myth often raised by right-wing Hindutva protagonists through his new book "The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India". The book analyses India’s demographics from a religious perspective, and will be launched in February.

Published by HarperCollins India, the book provides a detailed perspective on the rate of Muslim growth in India after in-depth study of population data, and national and international reports.

The book has extensively discussed on how the majoritarian fears of a demographic skew are being stoked by often using these myths. Mr. Quraishi has also used facts for demolishing these myths and demonstrating how a planned population is in the interest of all communities.

The book, which will hit the stands, focuses on how the Quran and the Hadith have shown how Islam might have been one of the first religions in the world for actually advocating smaller families, and how several Islamic countries have population policies in place.

"Indians have been fed for decades the propaganda that Muslims produce too many children in order to overtake the Hindus, that this is how Muslims plan to capture political power," argued Quraishi in his book and added, "Derogatory slogans aimed at Muslims 'hum paanch, hamare pachchees' or 'hum chaar, hamare chalees' - have been voiced repeatedly at the top political level to strengthen this narrative. On the other hand, many Muslims also tend to believe that Islam is against family planning."

Quraishi was India’s 17th Chief Election Commissioner. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971. He is credited with introducing several electoral reforms, including creating of a voter education division, expenditure monitoring division, the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, and launched the National Voters Day.

Turkish Airlines launches “TK Extra Care” in collaboration with Dr. Oz

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Istanbul: Turkish Airlines has launched a new hygiene programme “TK Extra Care”, which highlights new protective hygiene measures, in collaboration with the global carrier’s ambassador Dr. Mehmet Oz, the producer and host of the world-renowned “The Dr. Oz Show.”

The announcement of the new animated in-flight video comes at a time when health and safety is a top consideration on travelers’ checklists. Inspired by the airline’s ongoing dedication to its passengers’ well-being, the three-minute video follows Dr. Oz through the travel experience passengers should expect when flying with the global airline today. From the moment Dr. Oz checks-in for his flight to when he arrives at his destination, viewers will not only be reminded of the airline’s hygiene protocols necessary for a safe flying experience, but will have full assurance that Turkey’s flag carrier is enforcing a higher level of protection for every stage of the journey that goes above and beyond industry standards.

Turkish Airlines puts passenger hygiene at the forefront, protecting its guests at each stage of the journey. In the three-minute animated video, Dr. Oz shows that from checking-in online and carrying only personal items in the cabin, passenger contact is reduced. Viewers learn that upon entering the airport, all passengers must wear a mask and are provided with hand disinfectant and body temperature screenings throughout the terminal. The video also highlights that Turkish Airlines has taken extra safety steps to ensure peace of mind, such as disinfecting luggage with a UV system and boarding passengers in smaller groups from the back of the plane to the front. Hygiene Experts are present on each flight to maintain a high health and safety level, while each passenger will receive a hygiene kit upon boarding.

Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı commented on the video’s debut; “There is no question that travelers around the world are facing an immense need for enforced safety measures and peace of mind while traveling. At Turkish Airlines, the hygiene standards for our passengers are our top priority and we offer the highest standards. These extra safety precautions have been introduced following the authorized committees’ evaluations and approvals. With the release of ‘TK Extra Care’, we are hopeful that viewers will recognize Turkish Airlines’ hard work and dedication in keeping both passengers and crews safe, and we are pleased to have Dr. Oz share our message with the world.”

In June, with the resumption of services, Turkish Airlines announced new ‘Guidelines for Safe Travel,’ as well as two new in-flight services to protect the health of its guests. The airline continues to distribute “Hygiene Kits,” containing a face mask, disinfectant and antiseptic tissue to its guests, while “Hygiene Expert” cabin crews are appointed to flights to enforce all on-board hygiene and social distancing measures for the healthy travel of passengers.

Dr. Oz has been sharing his expertise with Turkish Airlines’ passengers since 2017, when the airline launched its “Fly Good Feel Good” project, created to provide an even more comfortable and healthy travel experience to its passengers.

Equity Markets – Best Investment Option for Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Imtiaz Merchant

Muslims should take advantage of the boom witnessed in the Indian Equity markets and they should not get left behind in the economic growth that is being witnessed throughout the country and likely continue for years to come. India is one of the fastest growing nations in the world with the GDP growing over 7 % for 2017-18 and expected to grow above 8 to 10 in 2021 onwards.

To be part of the main stream of the economy and get equal investment opportunity, Equity stock markets (The Islamic way) provides the most cost-effective investment solution for the Muslims. Equity markets have proved that they are not only the most cost effective, transparent, liquid and conducive to small and big size investors as a means of investment, nonetheless history has also proved that it outperforms and gives better returns than all other asset classes where return on investments as the parameter considered. In the long term a developing economy, equity (stock) market always goes up and up. though volatility is not ruled, so considering the inherent benefits Muslims must invest in the Equity Market.

On the onset Investment in equity markets is Islamically permissible since it is based on Musharaka (Partnership) principle where the profit is earned with the risk of loss, where in profit and losses are shared (PLS). With Ulema’s (Islamic scholar) guidance and approval it is now possible to invest in regulated Equity markets, of course with some stipulated conditions, and in fact Investment in equity markets the Islamic way is probably the best and only option available for the Muslims in a regulated environment. The government body SEBI being liberal about shariah based investment makes more sense to invest in equity markets after having been approved by the Islamic Scholar.

Now we investigate the inherent advantage investments in equities the Shariah way have over other forms of structured investments.

Fixed Interest (Riba) Based Investments (Banks)

Fixed interest (Riba) based investments like the Saving Bank deposit, Bank FDR; Postal savings, Debentures, Bonds etc. are strictly prohibited in Islam. Allah says in the Holy Quran,‘O those who believe, do not eat Riba (usury or interest) multiplied many times. And fear Allah, so that you may be successful.’ (Holy Quran Al-Imran verse 130). Islam since inception has discouraged interest based fixed saving and withholding wealth, but it has encouraged Business& Investments. ‘Profit should be earned only with the risk of losses’, in equity investment the profit and loss are shared in proportion to the investments made. Thus, investment in equity market is in accordance to the Quran and Hadeeth injunctions.

Investment in Real Estate

Investment in Real Estate / Properties, although permissible in Islam but it has many disadvantages over equities. First, Equity Market is well regulated by SEBI and Real Estate market is not regulated by any institutions, unit size is concern, it is not possible for every individual to buy property since the investment involved is huge, whereas one can invest in equity for an amount as low as Rs. One thousand and there is no upper limit. Secondly, property is subject to a lot of legal paper work and one has to go through a very cumbersome procedure to acquire properties. However, it is very easy to buy and sell shares by becoming the member of SEBI registered broker. Thus buying and selling shares is as easy as snapping your fingers. There is often a threat of encroachment of the property which involves costly litigation. Equity shares have a big advantage here since the stocks purchased get directly deposited in the investor's D-mat account where it is in the safe custody and one can sell them whenever he desires to sell. Further If returns on investments is considered as a parameter than historically it’s proved that returns earned in equity investments is superior to all the asset classes including the real estate over a long term. The Real Estate has given an annualized return of 8 to 9 percent whereas equity has given a yield of 12 to 15 percent. Finally One can make partial withdrawals from equities and get the sale proceeds in maximum three days (T+2),whereas it is not possible to get part withdrawals in the real estate, one has to sell the entire property and the payment proceeds sometimes takes months. Hence Equity market has immense liquidity to take immediate Exit whenever he or she decides and that is far too easier and faster than Real Estate.

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds is not permissible from the view point that these mutual funds are not mandate to follow Shariah norms thus they even invest in stocks of prohibited businesses like Liquor, Banks, Hotels, Entertainment, Cinema, Casino etc. that is strictly prohibited in Islam, hence profit earned from these mutual funds is impure and tainted. They invest in Debt & derivatives instrument too which is not allowed under the Shariah laws. And moreover, since about 45 percent of the Market Capitalization is Shariah Non- Compliant, presumably almost 40 to 45 percent returns earned is not Halal, hence this option too is not shariah compatible for Investments. However, Muslims can invest in Authentic Shariah- Compliant Mutual fund / Shariah compliant PMS, approved and monitored by reputed Shariah Scholars and fund manage by people who have faith in shariah.

Big Advantage

One more point that goes in the favor of equity Investment is the Capital gains tax. The long-term capital gains tax is just 5 % that too if the gains are above 1 Lac i.e. if the investment is held for more than one year. And the short-term investments for less than a year, investors is obliged pay only 15 % percent tax on its gains on booked profit after subtracting losses. Muslims must take advantage of this benefit and invest in equities that would help them create wealth in the long term in the Shariah way. The only concerning part in the equities investment is the market risk and volatility. The performance of the company, industry and economy is never static and varies from time to time and since the market is a result of mass psychology it goes up or down on fear and hope based on the underlying fundamentals. Andin order to overcome this and to optimize Halal return on investments, one needs to take guidance from Shariah based Equity Research advisors and Fund managers who can guide and advise the prospective investors based on their Risk Profile and Risk Appetite. If this part is taken care of diligently, then equity investment certainly is the best Investment option for Muslims.

Role of Shariah Scholar

Islam makes ‘Lawful Earning’ (Halal) mandatory, and in Islam, the spiritual and secular aspects are one and the same. This implies that Islam emphasizes the need to make a living by means that are permissible under it. After many years of debate and discussions and looking into the need for Muslims to Invest in equity markets as an alternate to Bank and Insurance, Islamic scholars have permitted Muslims to invest in equity markets with certain strict stipulated conditions. With the advent of computer technology and with so much of information available, now it is possible to screen the companies on Shariah norms and do the purging as well.

Imtiaz Merchant
Shariah scholars have imposed investment restriction and conditions and only upon fulfilling these conditions Muslims can invest in equity markets the Halal way.

The conditions laid down are as follows:

  • Restriction based on the type of Securities: Investment should only be done in Shariah compliant stocks as defined. A security trading in derivatives and day trading in stocks is strictly not permitted. Short selling is prohibited. Securities should only be sold after having its complete possession.
  • Restriction on Business Activity: No investment shall be made in stocks of the companies whose business activity is Prohibited (Haram)
  • Conventional interest-based banks and other financial institutions like banks, NBFC, Insurance companies, stock brokers, Securities traders etc.
  • Alcoholic beverages like wine and other liquor related products and services.
  • Pork and non-Halal food products
  • Entertainment includes film production companies, cinema, Cable TV, music etc.
  • Restriction based on financial ratios: Apart from the above restriction, Islamic scholars from different part of the world have set certain financial criteria based on the need and essentiality. In India Islamic Investment &Finance Board (IIFB) and independent Shariah Board comprising of eminent scholars have approved the following financial criteria:
  • Interest bearing debt of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Cash plus interest bearing securities of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Trade receivable and other debtors of the companies to its twelve months’ average market capitalization should not exceed 33 percent.
  • Interest Income plus prohibited activity (impure) income of the companies to the company’s total income should not exceed 5 percent. (subject to cleansing)
  • Shariah Screening Process: Shariah screenings conducted for all the listed equities as prescribed and mandated by Shariah scholars. This process is done every quarter. Those stocks that successfully pass the Shariah screening norms are thus called Shariah complaint universe. This process is done under the supervision and audit of Shariah committee of Aalims and muftis.
  • Purification of Impure Income (purging): The income thus derived from trading and investments in shares do have some portion of impure or prohibited income. This income can be in form of interest received by the companies or some prohibited activity carried on by the company that earns impure or tainted income which needs to be cleansed or purged. This is a compulsory process. The impure income consequently cleansed should be given as charity (Without expecting Sawaab).

In conclusion we can confidently and vividly say that Equity investment the Islamic way is the Best option or alternate available to Muslims to park their saving. The investment in the company is well regulated by SEBI and approved by Shariah scholar, it is liquid enough to withdraw as and when, transparent, safe in D-mat A/c, lower Taxes, least cumbersome as compare to other asset classes and above all superior returns in the long term, the equity investment in the listed companies are almost coefficient of the economic growth.

No lending or borrowing, just investing. And truly an ethical and socially responsible way of Wealth Creation.

Note: The above text is the property of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. The above content cannot be used or reproduced without the consent and permission from Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. in written.

[Imtiaz Merchant is Managing Director of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. He is Editor of Islami Tijara Magazine and Owner of Brand Adaaf Advisory Services. He can be reached at merchant@pragmaticwealth.net]

Future Leaders felicitated by AMP with National Talent Search (NTS) 2020 Awards

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

Fidha (Kerala) from IIT Dharwad in the Senior Category and Adnan Shamshi (Delhi) of Jamila Millia Islamia in Junior Category tops the Exam at National Level

IMO News Service

Mumbai: Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), a pan-India NGO working for more than a Decade, in the domains of Education, Employment Assistance & Economic Empowerment awarded the winners of AMP National Talent Search Exam- 2020 for College going students yesterday.

Chief Guest Lt. General (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, Former Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University commended AMP for holding these unique exams and for rewarding the winners. He said “These students who participated in the exams are the future leaders of the country as they tested themselves for their skills and knowledge and will learn from their failures on the path to success.” He addressed the students on the basic characteristics of leadership and congratulated all participants.

Aamir Edresy, President of Association of Muslim Professionals and the brain behind the initiative said, “The National Talent Search Awards (NTS) are just a beginning in the long road to help students achieve their full potential. In the coming days we will help all these Students with all the initiative of AMP”. He further announced that “AMP will launch a unique mobile App specially for these students soon, through which we will provide all information pertaining to Higher Education as well as AMP Projects & Activities which will help them in completing their education and get on to the path of Professional & Personal success.”

Mohammed Lateef Khan, Founder Trustee and Chairman of MS Education Academy and a sponsor for the event, appreciated AMP for taking the lead in organizing the Talent Search Exam nationally and bringing all students together on one platform. He said the #COVID-19 pandemic made it possible that he could address students from so many cities simultaneously today, which was unthinkable before. Thus this pandemic while bringing in problems has also thrown open doors for many new possibilities.

While hosting the event, Prof. Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Project Lead – NTS 2020 and a Mentor & Trainer for last 20 years, said “The winners of this NTS exam have shown that it doesn’t matter what the background is but the students’ hardwork which matters.” He gave example of Miss Asna Fatema, the 2nd prize winner (Rs. 20,000) in the Junior category, who studied in Urdu Girls High School & Junior College, in Buldhana district of Maharshtra.

Razak Shaikh, Head – AMP Projects and the driver of the NTS exam project, said that AMP is like a funnel for gathering talent. He said the main aim of the NTS – 2020 was to make students think of competing on a National level and not be contented of excelling at the city or the state level. He further said that in the next year’s edition, AMP would be looking at a participation of at least 1 lakh student in each category.

The awards and prizes were announced by Miss Sufi Qureshi, Mr. Syed Furqan and Mr. Farook Siddiqui. The Awards were given for the top 10 winners of the exams in both the categories, with the top 3 winners, who were felicitated personally by AMP members in their respective cities. There were Cash Prizes for the first 3 Toppers in each category.

The following are the top 3 winners of the NTS-2020 awards in both the categories:

For Junior College Students (XI & XII):

1st Rank (Rs. 30,000) – Adnan Shamsi of Syed Abid Husain Sr. Sec College, Jamia, Delhi

2nd Rank (Rs. 20,000) - Asna Fatema Syed Rizwan of Urdu Girls High School & Science Junior College, Malkapur, Buldhana, Maharashtra

3rd Rank (Rs. 10,000) Varun Varshney of Saiyyid Hamid School, AMU, Aligarh, UP

For Senior/Degree College Students (Undergrads):

1st Rank - Fidha of Mallapuram, Kearala, studying at IIT Dharwad

2nd Rank - Sohil Ayub Luhar studying at K J Somaiya Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra

3rd Rank - Alveena Khan of Government Medical College, Kota Rajasthan

There was no participation fee for the NTS 2020 exam and it was open for the students from all over the Country to mentally challenge themselves and know where they stand for the forthcoming competitive exams.

The other top scorers received special certificate along with Cash Prize of Rs 2000 each and all participants were awarded an E-Certificate. The participants will also be given access to AMP’s various projects and activities like higher education scholarships, employability training programmes, skill training programmes, campus placement job fairs & job drives, mentorship and guidance through TheIndiaMentors.com, fresher’s jobs through AmpowerJobs.com, and many other similar programmes.

About AMP

Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) is a Platform for all Muslim professionals and volunteers to share their knowledge, intellect, experience and skills for the overall development of the Society at large. AMP will shortly be completing 13 years of existence, working in domains of Education & Economic Empowerment. We have inspired and convened Professionals from all walks of life and in the process uplifted several thousand people from the underprivileged sections of the society.

Islamophobia rising in Germany causing concern among Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

The Turkish-Muslim community in Germany is worried and greatly concerned about the increasing Islamophobic hate crimes in the country, Anadolu Agency reported recently.

The news agency quoted Kemal Ergun, president of the Turkish-Muslim association IGMG, as saying that a number of mosques have been targeted, vandalized and faced arson incidents in recent months. "At least 122 mosques were targeted in such attacks last year. Dozens of mosques received multiple bomb threats by neo-Nazis or other extremist groups. These incidents have sparked worries among the Muslim community in the country. We call on the police authorities to conduct more effective investigations and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks," said Ergun.

The rise of anti-Muslim prejudice has led to increased hostility and discrimination with each passing day. The headscarves-wearing Muslim women are particularly targeted, verbally harassed and physically assaulted on the streets.

So far 632 Islamophobic crimes have been reported from January to November 2020, the news agency said citing police records. These crimes included damage to property, physical assaults, disruption of religious practice, threatening letters and insults. However, the real figures are said to be much higher as many victims avoid filing criminal complaints with the police due to biased attitude of the law enforcement authorities.

Germany has a population of over 80 million, and is home to Western Europe’s second-largest Muslim population after France. There are nearly 4.7 million Muslims in the country, with 3 million being of Turkish origin.

Pakistan’s Entertainment Industry Is Finally Confronting Its Sexual Harassment Problem

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Neha Maqsood

The blurring of personal boundaries has long been accepted as an integral part of art, but cases like Meesha Shafi’s and others are challenging that perception.

It goes without saying that acting is an inherently odd profession. You are put in a room with a group of people you’ve never met before but are now expected to be completely vulnerable with. Actors, writers, directors, and producers face a quiet responsibility to nurture an intimate working relationship to allow for greater creative breakthrough. Artists also spend a large proportion of their time separated from the outside world. These blurred personal boundaries enable the perpetuation of the existing systems of exploitation within the acting industry.

Ahmed Majeed Agloria, a Pakistani method artist who trained at Lee Strasberg, explains how the notion of a set or stage becoming an “alternate reality or another dimension without consequences leads to the blurring of lines, a phenomenon particularly taken advantage of in patriarchal countries like India or Pakistan.”

When I was 17, I was cast in a play in Karachi at the Arts Council. During one of our night shows, I had fumbled my stage direction and exited the stage from where I wasn’t supposed to. As I quickly shuffled off, the director grabbed a chunk of my hair and yanked me back roughly. Unable to express nor understand what had just happened, I went straight home after the show finished and wept.

For many other Pakistani-Muslim women, choosing to step into the media industry also means that they become subjects that viewers can simultaneously objectify and impose questions of morality upon. This makes it further complicated for these women to find redressal.

Shahana Jan, a Pakistani-American actor and content creator, spoke about how even when certain advances and moments made her feel uncomfortable, she’d “often have to shrug it off and act like it didn’t happen.”

“In my mind, I would hear people say, ‘Well, she’s in the media – why’d she put herself in that position in the first place?’”

The burden of maintaining a professional and cordial working relationship thus falls onto the women. A female makeup artist who wished to remain anonymous revealed the measures she takes to protect herself within the industry – from avoiding being “overfriendly” to never giving out her number and refusing to mingle with the crew after rehearsals – the latter being a space where she believes things become murky.

Actress Hina Altaf recently spoke out about how closeness on film sets is exploited. On the talk show, To Be Honest, she said her co-star Faisal Rehman would use intimate scenes to become “too romantic” with her. “For instance, if you hold a finger in a scene, this man will just grab your arm.”

Jan explains how cultures that enable such behavior occur are created at the top. “Many producers were involved in creating an environment that wasn’t just predatory and unsafe for young women but also fostered traits of toxic masculinity in young men – validating certain behaviours to make us feel that this was okay and that if we said anything, we were overreacting.”

Unfortunately, very few film, theatre, advertisement studios, and production houses within Pakistan have an operational Human Resource department or a governing body equipped to handle misconduct allegations. Due to the immense ramifications of filing misconduct allegations – losing out on critical job opportunities or getting boycotted by the industry – women are extremely unlikely to report their harassers. And if they do come forward with their stories, they find themselves inadvertently becoming centres of speculation, upon whom moral investigations are conducted. Oftentimes, to sustain one’s livelihood and pursue the work one’s passionate about, many actors are forced to collaborate with their abusers and harassers.

In October 2017, the #MeToo movement that called out the widespread gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the Hollywood entertainment industry also made its way to Pakistan. It provided a platform for media artists to come forward with their stories. Unfortunately, the stories of those who worked behind the camera – production assistants, makeup artists, grips – were not brought to the forefront despite the crew forming perhaps the most essential part of any production.

The most prominent of these stories was that of singer Meesha Shafi, who alleged sexual harassment against fellow singer Ali Zafar. Following her statement, a handful of Pakistani women came forward sharing similar incidents of Zafar’s inappropriate behavior. However, as Shafi went public with her claim, she faced immense backlash and was shamed incessantly on social media. It worked to only further highlight the misogynistic attitudes still ubiquitous among the masses and the social and emotional cost of coming forward with such statements.

Sajeer Shaikh, an editor at the digital publication, Mangobaaz, explained that terms like “harassment and sexual assault are new to our (Pakistan’s) vocabulary which makes it difficult to articulate what’s happening.” Unfortunately, in Pakistan where tradition and honour heavily prevail, many continue to question the veracity of sexual harassment allegations.

During productions, the cast and crew are thrown together and told that they’re one big happy family and that everything goes. But perhaps that is a flawed way of looking at things. Roles, job descriptions, and boundaries should be more clearly defined – the job of the director should remain principally to direct and the actor to deliver accordingly. Those overseeing the production, from casting directors and producers to stage managers and financiers, must ensure greater accountability and consequences for misdemeanour on set. Before any production is given the green light, harassment policies must be outlined to the entire crew and made clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated in order to ensure that every person feels protected.

Acting is a fabulous profession that manages to stop the flurry of the world around you, albeit for a minute. But in order to preserve that wondrous and surreal feeling more often for female actors, the dynamics and structures within the world of acting need to be thoroughly reformed.

(Courtesy: Swaddle)

Turkish Airlines launches 3-day sale offer with 40 percent discount for international flights

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Turkish Airlines has launched a 3-day 40 percent discount campaign for its customers who want to discover the world again putting their COVID-19 fears behind. Passengers taking advantage of the exclusive prices will be able to discover the most beautiful cities around the globe with the flexible ticket options at advantageous prices of Turkish Airlines.

The customers who want to take advantage of the campaign will have to purchase their tickets between January 13 and 15, 2021, which is valid with all ticket types of the flag carrier’s international flights for travel between April 1 and December 31, 2021. The offer comes free date change option. The refunds and cancellations will however be subject to the rules of the fare classes.

Flights to/from Ercan Airport and Chinese Mainland (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an) are not included in this campaign.

More detailed information can be found at the www.turkishairlines.com website.

India from 2020 Crisis to Crisis in 2021

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 January 2021 | Posted in , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

India has moved into 2021 with the following crisis. Indians are looking at the government for its solution. Government’s stoic silence on all these issues speaks to its inability to set things right.

Economic Peril: What started from demonetization to ill-planned GST to prolonged lockdown, Indian economy has taken one hit after another.

Assertion of majoritarianism: Under the Modi rule there is huge assertion of right wing Hindutva forces. The secular aspects of the constitution have suffered serious blows and minorities particularly Muslims, have been feeling insecure.

Democratic Space is shrinking: There is an increasing feeling of the narrowing of democratic space which is a huge worry for the people of the country.

Assertion of social movements: Indians are witnessing assertion of social movements this in view of the significant problems and issues facing the people. There was a CAA protest earlier and now farmers protest. There are other issues of social reform and environment protection that are waiting for expressions.

Farmers Protest: It raises some wider concerns of food security, ecologically, protective and sustainable farming. It’s part of a larger agrarian crisis.

Agrarian Crisis: India’s farm economy is in turmoil Suicides, debt burden, falling prices of produce are part of agrarian crisis. An estimated 26 crore people work in the agriculture sector. This is to say that about 55-57percent of the population is dependent on the farm sector.

Political Arrogance: It is from PM Modi downwards, all those holding the reins of governance are full of arrogance. Politicians consistently misuse their position and members of bureaucracy are at their worst.

Unemployment: One in three formally trained youth in India is unemployed. Pandemics have hugely contributed to unemployment. The 1990s employment bubble has burst and Indian youth are back to 1970s syndrome.

Rising crime against women: Extreme cases against women are reported from all over the country. The country had recorded 3,78,236 cases of crimes against women on Sep 30, 2020. It was 62.4 per cent in 2019, up from the 58.8 percent figure of 2018. Rape of women is a continuing theme. 87 Rape cases are reported each day.

Media Menace:
Misinformation, hate speech and false propaganda has become part and parcel of Indian media discourse. The government of the day and the courts are presiding over the prostitution of the pen, that’s going on with impunity.

Pending Justice: Justice delayed is justice denied. Bureaucratic sloth coupled with slow settlement of cases in courts is a scourge in this country. Many Kafkaesque trials are going on in India.

Poor Police system: India has a ratio of 138 police personnel per lakh of population. Less than 25 percent of Indians do not trust the police. The distrust is due to the inhuman way of police treatment with the people.

Water Crisis: While the government is busy building a new Parliament, India is facing the worst water crisis. The NITI Aayog has warned that the demand for drinking water will outstrip supply by 2030 if preventive steps are not taken. Experts predict that 21 big cities will run out of groundwater by 2030.

Monsoon Fury: Floods are synonymous with monsoon. It’s the same story every year: thousands evacuated, hundreds dead, livelihoods lost, villages and settlements washed away, houses submerged etc. In the end authorities are blamed for doing nothing.

Corruption: The most widely spread endemic in India is corruption, which is ignored even though it was touted as the second freedom struggle in 2014 general elections.

Basic Sanitation: Sanitation is yet another problem, one of the biggest, in India. There are about 700 million people who have no access to basic toilets at home.

Healthcare System: India is world’s most populous country but it grossly lacks in providing proper healthcare facilities to its entire population. It was thought that pandemics could be made the reason to augment the health infrastructure but that never happened.

Poverty: The population of India living below the poverty line has declined over the years but poverty has not been eliminated from the country. It is said that one in five Indians lives in extreme poverty.

Pollution: Pollution and other environmental issues that are the other challenges before India but little attention is given to face the situation.

Infrastructure: India is lacking in infrastructure development, towards better roads, affordable housing and services like water, sanitation, primary healthcare, etc.

India has taken giant strides in the last few decades. But this does not mean to forget issues, which continue to pose hurdles in the progress of the nation. These social, political and economic issues are to be taken seriously to improve the prevailing condition of our society. With the proliferation of information and technology, more awareness is spreading among the masses. As Indians we should really work hard to eradicate these problems from their very roots. Blaming the government and others will remain counterproductive.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

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