Saudi Arabia Says Baghdadi ‘Distorted’ Image Of Islam, Praises Killing

The chief of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi purportedly appears for the first time in five years in a propaganda video in an undisclosed location.  AL-FURQAN MEDIA / AFP


Saudi Arabia said Monday that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had distorted the image of Islam, and hailed his killing by US special forces in northwestern Syria.

“The kingdom appreciates the US administration’s efforts to pursue members of this terrorist organisation that distorted the real image of Islam… and committed atrocities and crimes,” said a Saudi foreign ministry source, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia continues its efforts with its allies, especially the United States, in fighting terrorism,” the source added.

US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Baghdadi had died “like a dog” in an overnight raid by US special forces in Syria.

Trump said many IS jihadists had been killed in the raid and that Baghdadi had detonated a suicide vest when he was cornered in a tunnel.

IS had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, imposing a violent form of Islamic rule on some seven million residents of its “caliphate”, headed by Baghdadi.

The Iraqi, believed to be 48 years old, was rarely seen during his years as leader of the group, last appearing in a propaganda video in April.


Maldives Destroys British Statues Deemed Offensive To Islam

File photo of Maldives president President Abdulla Yameen                                                                AFP


Police armed with pickaxes and power tools have destroyed a modern artwork by a celebrated British sculptor in the Maldives, after the outgoing president in the tourist haven declared the installation offensive to Islam.

Abdulla Yameen in July ordered the sculptures demolished but his ruling was not acted upon until Friday, on the eve of a presidential election which he lost to a liberal candidate.

A series of statues by Jason deCaires Taylor were placed inside a semi-submerged metal cube in July at a resort in the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims popular with tourists.

Islam, the official religion in the Maldives, bans the depiction of idols, and the work provoked some criticism from clerics even though the statues have no religious symbols or meaning.

Yameen said in July that “significant public sentiment” against the artwork known as ‘Coralarium’ had guided his decision to destroy it.

It is unclear why the sculptures were not raised from the waters until Friday, just two days before Yameen was turfed out of office.

Police were photographed chipping away at the works with pickaxes and using power tools to remove them from the large and ornate cage housing them.

A video posted by state media showed several men tearing a statue off a plinth.

“I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue,” deCaires Taylor told AFP in a statement.

“The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else!

“The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment.”

The import of statues is prohibited in the Maldives. Even depictions of the Buddha are banned despite a long legacy of Buddhism in the islands before Islam came to dominate the archipelago.

Despite the edict, huge cutouts of Yameen towered over the capital Male in the lead-up to Sunday’s poll, which he lost after five years of strongman rule marked by a regression from democracy.

Many of these cardboard posters depicting the ousted leader were torn down after he suffered a shock defeat to opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an act of defiance unthinkable under his iron-fisted leadership.



Man Commits Suicide At Mecca’s Grand Mosque

An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on June 3, 2018. PHOTO: Bandar Al-DANDANI / AFP


A man has committed suicide by throwing himself off the roof of the Grand Mosque in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca, Saudi police said on Saturday.

“A foreigner threw himself from the roof of the Grand Mosque in Mecca” to the courtyard below, “resulting in his instant death”, state news agency SPA said, quoting police.

The rare act was not the first of its kind to take place in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam — which, like other monotheistic religions, prohibits suicide.

The body was transported to the hospital, with an investigation underway “to determine the victim’s identity, what led to the act and how he was able to commit it despite the existence of a metal fence”, SPA said.

Last year, a Saudi man tried to set himself on fire in front of the Kaaba — the square stone building in the centre of the mosque compound — but was stopped by security forces.

Every year, millions of Muslim pilgrims from across the world travel to Mecca and Medina, Islam’s second holiest site, also in western Saudi Arabia.


Pope Francis Departs Egypt After Two-Day Visit

Pope Francis departed Cairo on Saturday after a two-day visit to Egypt which he used to denounce religious violence.

The pope was escorted to his plane by Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and had to remove his zucchetto as he made his way down the red carpet battling strong winds.

The pair exchanged laughter and pleasantries before the pope made his way onto the plane.

Francis’ trip comes three weeks after Islamic State killed at least 45 people in attacks on two Egyptian churches. During his visit, Francis launched a strong appeal for religious freedom and accused extremists of distorting the nature of God.


Pope Francis Arrives In Cairo

Pope Francis was greeted by Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail upon his arrival at Cairo airport on Friday, as the pontiff began a two-day visit in which he hopes to mend ties with Islamic religious leaders just as Egypt’s ancient Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants who have threatened to wipe it out.

Francis will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar – the world’s most influential seat of Sunni Islamic theology and learning, and Pope Tawadros II – head of the Coptic Orthodox Church who narrowly escaped a church bombing in Alexandria on Palm Sunday.

Francis is expected to give his key address to a conference on religious dialogue at Al-Azhar, part of efforts to improve relations with the 1,000-year-old centre after Egyptian Muslim leaders cut ties in 2011 over what they said were repeated insults against Islam by Pope Benedict.

Ties were restored last year after Tayeb visited the Vatican.

Tayeb, widely considered among the most moderate clerics in Egypt, has condemned Islamic State and its practice of declaring others as apostates and infidels as a pretext for waging violent jihad.


Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian Relationship

Religious Leaders Seek Stronger Muslim-Christian RelationshipReligious leaders are seeking for stronger Muslim-Christian relations, to end the ethno-religious conflicts that have engulfed Southern Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria over the years.

The leaders, including the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and Sheik Ahmed Gumi, made the call at the graduation ceremony of some clerics from the Christian-Muslim Relations Centre in Kaduna State.

They identified ignorance about the teachings of Islam and Christianity as largely responsible for the various ethno-religious conflicts across the country.

The clerics asked government to rise up to its responsibilities of protecting lives and property, and to also ensure that those responsible for the Southern Kaduna crises were brought to justice.

Speaking at the ceremony, the General Secretary of the Anglican Church Worldwide and Founder of the Centre, Bishop Idowu Fearon, noted that diversity in religion and tribe is a blessing from God and not a tool for division.

“Kaduna will become a state where Christians and Muslims, in spite of our differences, can work together for peace, freedom and the culture of respect,” he said.

On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, condemned the killing of innocent people in Southern Kaduna by gunmen.

He also warned religious, political and traditional rulers against making inflammatory statements that can worsen the situation.

“The responsibility of all persons of faith is so immense, including the obligation to uphold truth and to promote ethical conduct and respect for others.

“Anybody that wishes to be magisterial to issue statements laden with certainty to their followers must first ensure that what they say, or what they are saying is not only factual, but does not violate any laws”, he warned.

The Christian-Muslim Relations Centre is founded to serve as a veritable platform for genuine interaction, and to promote harmonious relationship among Christians and Muslims in Kaduna State.

Stakeholders expressed hope that the engagement would continue to promote interfaith platforms for religious scholars and leaders, as well as foster religious freedom among others.

Buhari Blames Corruption For Boko Haram’s Late Defeat

Muhammadu Buhari, Corruption, Boko Haram,President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday in Abuja that corruption was largely responsible for the inability of the Nigerian military to quickly defeat Boko Haram.

Speaking at an audience with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, President Buhari said that the loss of 14 local government areas to Boko Haram had greatly tarnished the reputation of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The President noted, however, that with measures taken by his administration to curb corruption and provide better weaponry, logistics, training and welfare for soldiers on the front lines, the Nigerian military has now almost totally incapacitated Boko Haram as a fighting force and recovered all territories that were lost to the terrorist sect.

“When we curbed corruption and removed the injustice in the military, we began to make progress,” he said in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu.

Welcoming the support of Muslims across the world for Nigeria’s war against the dreaded sect, the President said that the war against terrorism was also a war against injustice, which is not condoned by Islam and all the major religions.

“You can’t kill the innocent in churches or in mosques and shout Allahu Akbar,” President Buhari said, adding that the visit of Dr. El-Tayeb and his expression of solidarity with Nigeria in the war against terrorism was a clear indication of global Muslim support for Nigeria against the unjust killing of the innocent by terrorists.

Reaffirming the Federal Government’s determination to resettle all persons who were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency, he thanked the Grand Imam for the donation of scholarships, educational and medical supplies to Nigeria’s Internally Displaced Persons.

In his words, Dr. El-Tayeb told President Buhari that Muslims all over the world share Nigeria’s pains from terrorism and would continue to support efforts to ensure the return of peace and unity amongst all faiths in the country.

Police Service Commission To Sanction Officers Culpable In Ese’s Abduction

PoliceThe Police Service Commission has vowed to prosecute any Police personnel found culpable in the abduction of Ese Oruru.

The Commission made the declaration in a statement on Thursday while reacting to the abduction saga of 14-year-old Ese who was said to have been abducted and forced into marriage in Kano State, northwest Nigeria.

“The Commission is waiting on the ongoing investigation of some Police officers on the directive of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Solomon Arase, and will ensure that any Police officer who is found to have compromised himself either by omission or commission in the saga will be flushed out,” the statement read.

The Commission also commended the Inspector General of Police for his swift action in rescuing the teenager and ensuring that she was immediately reunited with her family.

It added that it would work with the IGP to see that Nigerians, including the likes of Ese were guaranteed their freedom to life.

“The Police Service Commission is constitutionally mandated to exercise disciplinary action against members of the Police among other responsibilities and has the right to dismiss any officer found culpable in the ongoing abduction saga,” it maintained.

The ordeal of Ese started on August 12, 2015 in Yenagoa of Bayelsa State, when Yinusa a known customer of Ese’s mother, Mrs Rose Oruru, took her away from Bayelsa to Kano on the purported excuse that she had converted to Islam.

Yunusa was a Keke [tricycle] rider in Yenogoa, who sold all his belongings before he eloped with the girl.

Ese’s parents have travelled to Kano State on several occasions in the past six months with officers of the Nigeria Police Force to secure her release without positive result.

She had been released to the Nigeria Police Force subsequent to the directive of IGP Arase that Ese be reunited with her family.

Ese subsequently arrived Bayelsa State from Abuja, in company of her mother, Mrs Rose Oruru, and some Police officers on Wednesday.

Confirming the arrest of the alleged abductor of the teenager, Yunusa Dahiru, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, Shaibu Lawan, said that Yunusa would be prosecuted for taking away a minor from her parents.

Forced Marriage: Abducted Ese Oruru Released To Police

Ese-OruruA 14-year old girl, Ese Oruru, allegedly abducted in Bayelsa State and taken to Kano for marriage under Islamic rites has been released to the Nigeria Police Force.

It was gathered that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, has instructed that Ese be reunited with her family on Tuesday.

The ordeal of Ese started on August 12, 2015 in Yenagoa of Bayelsa State, when Yinusa a known customer of Ese’s mother, Mrs Rose Oruru, took her away from Bayelsa to Kano on the purported excuse that she had converted to Islam.

Yunusa was a Keke [tricycle] rider in Yenogoa, who sold all his belongings before he eloped with the girl.

Ese’s parents have travelled to Kano State on several occasions in the past six months with officers of the Nigeria Police Force to secure her release without positive result.

Her alleged kidnap has caused quite an outrage, as earlier on Monday the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, in Yenagoa issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Arewa Community in Bayelsa State to ensure that she is released and safely returned to the state.

A human rights activist, Ankio Briggs, had also called for her release.

In a tweet, a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, quoted the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, as saying that Ese would be taken to Abuja on Tuesday and handed over to the Commissioner of Police in charge of Bayelsa to reunite her with her parents.

“She is crying and refusing to go home. She does not want to go back but I have insisted she must go,” she quoted the Emir as saying.

Ed-el-Fitr : Okowa Preaches Peace, Unity, Love In Nigeria

okowa-on-ed-el-fitrThe Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on Muslims and  all Nigerians to use the occasion of Ed-el-Fitr celebration to imbibe the culture of peace, unity and love among one another.

Governor Okowa, in a statement signed by his spokesman, Mr Aniagwu Ehiedu, urged Muslims in the state to adhere strictly to the teachings of the great Prophet of Islam, Mohammad and to sustain the ideals of the month of Ramadan beyond the Ramadan period.

The Governor said: “Islam is indeed a religion of peace and the true essence of the religion is to unite the entire mankind in love and harmony.

“We must all continue to pray and work hard towards building a peaceful, united and prosperous Nigeria”.

While calling on Nigerians to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in his determination to build a peaceful, united and virile nation, Governor Okowa urged Deltans both at home and in the Diaspora to use the occasion to pray for peace and unity across the state to ensure the smooth implementation of the SMART agenda programme in the state.

He also seized the opportunity of Ed-el-Fitr celebration to restate his commitment to the actualisation of the prosperity for all.

Eid-el-Fitr: Amosun Preaches Peaceful Coexistence Among Nigerians

amosunAs Muslims around the world celebrate the Feast of Breaking the Fast (Ed-el-Fitr) on Friday July 16, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has called on Muslims to be in the vanguard of the campaign for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.

In his Eid-el-Fitr message signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa, Governor Amosun expressed hope that Nigeria will overcome its current challenges and emerge a strong, united and prosperous nation.

“The attributes of self-discipline, compassion, brotherliness and patriotism exhibited during the holy month of Ramadan, if sustained, will bring within our reach and attainment, the dreams of our founding fathers for a united and prosperous nation,” he said.

The Governor also tasked Muslims on respect for the sanctity of life, noting that “Islam is a religion of peace”.

Governor Amosun enjoined all adherents of Islam to continue to strengthen their relationship with the Almighty Allah through fasting and prayers and obedience to the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

Amosun wished the Muslim Ummah a happy celebration.

President Buhari Condemns Latest Terrorist Killings

president buhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned the latest attacks and killings by Boko Haram in Borno State, north-east Nigeria.

This came after the attack on Kukawa village on Thursday in Borno State, which left at least 90 people dead.

According to a statement released by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President urged Muslims around the world to reject with one voice, the claim by attackers to be acting in the name of Islam.

“President Buhari considers the murder by the terrorists of up to 150 innocent men, women and children in Kukawa a very heinous atrocity which must be unreservedly condemned by all people of conscience,” the statement read.

The President believes that these last desperate acts of fleeing agents of terrorism underscore the urgent need to bring to early fruition the efforts of his government to form a more effective  international coalition against insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

President Buhari conveyed his heart-felt condolences to families of the victims of Boko Haram’s dreadful killings in Kukawa.

He had also called on the international community to unite and forge a stronger worldwide consensus for more effective action against global terrorism.

In a condolence message to the government and people of Egypt on the recent murder of the country’s Attorney General, Hesham Barakat and the killing of about 70 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula by terrorists, President Buhari restated his conviction that concerted global action was needed to overcome terrorism in all parts of the world.