Iran urges extraordinary OIC meeting over Israel’s bestial onslaught against Rafah

News Network
June 1, 2024

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Iran’s interim Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, and end the Israeli genocide. 

“During a telephone conversation with Ahmed Attaf, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, I talked about the latest developments in the Gaza war, the Zionist regime’s crimes in Gaza and Rafah, as well as mutual cooperation between Iran and Algeria,"  Bagheri Kani wrote in a post published on the social media platform X on Friday.

“While thanking the Algerian President [Abdelmadjid Tebboune], Minister of Foreign Affairs and other Algerian officials for their kind messages over the martyrdom of [late Iranian President] Ayatollah [Ebrahim] Raeisi and [late Foreign Minister Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian, I supported the efforts and initiatives of the Algerian government at the behest of Muslim countries in presenting a draft resolution to stop the Zionist regime’s assaults,” he added.

Bagheri Kani also underlined the need for an urgent and joint action by Muslim states to stop Israeli crimes against Palestinians, and step up delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Accordingly, I called for an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the proposal was welcomed,” he said. 

Israel launched its onslaught against the Gaza Strip, targeting hospitals, residences, and houses of worship after Palestinian fighters launched a surprise attack, dubbed Operation al-Aqsa Storm, against the regime on October 7.

Nearly 36,300 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children. More than 1.7 million people have been internally displaced during the war as well.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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Bengaluru: The ruling Congress in Karnataka has improved its tally by winning nine seats while the BJP and JD(S) combine emerged victorious in 19 constituencies in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP won 17 seats and the JD(S) secured victory in two constituencies.

The BJP, on its own, won 17 seats, making it a happy camper as Karnataka voters continued their trend (since 2004) of giving the saffron party the highest number of Lok Sabha seats in the state. The JD(S) won two out of the three seats it contested.

Out of nine seats won by the Congress, five are in Kalyana Karnataka region. Interestingly, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, during Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s first term, the Congress won nine seats while the BJP won 17 and JD(S) two seats.

Congress, which stormed to power with a huge majority in the Assembly polls last year, was bullish on winning more than 10 seats, which it did last in 1999.

“We didn’t get the result we expected. We wanted 15-20 seats. Our calculations went wrong,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said. His deputy DK Shivakumar, who is also Karnataka Congress president, was more candid. “We expected more seats - 14 to 15 - because of the guarantees. We expected more votes for the work we’ve done. That didn’t happen,” he said.

Admittedly, the Congress’ guarantees, around which the party had designed its Lok Sabha poll campaign in Karnataka, failed to yield the desired electoral benefits.

Also, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar faced setbacks as Congress lost Mysore (CM’s native) and Bangalore Rural (where BJP defeated Shivakumar's brother DK Suresh).

But Congress has something to cheer about. Besides winning nine seats, the Congress’ vote share in Karnataka is up from 31.88% to 45.34%.

The result came in handy for the BJP to go after the ruling Congress. “The Siddaramaiah-Shivakumar government was arrogant for having 136 MLAs. People have taught them a lesson. Neither their MLAs nor the guarantees helped Congress,” Leader of the Opposition R Ashoka said.

Faced with an aggressive Congress, the BJP got the help it needed from the JD(S). Going by the result, the BJP-JD(S) alliance worked well on the ground as both parties gave their votes to each other.

The JD(S), struggling for survival after its near-rout in the Assembly polls last year, will view the Lok Sabha result as the battery it needed to recharge. “The result is the people’s reply to those who arrogantly chided JD(S) for having only 19 MLAs,” JD(S) state president HD Kumaraswamy said.

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News Network
June 12,2024

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Kuwait: At least 49 people, including many Indians, were killed in a massive fire in a six-storeyed building at Mangaf block in Kuwait's Ahmadi Governorate on Wednesday. 

According to reports, the casualties also include people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. 

Out of the 35 placed under intensive care, the condition of seven is understood to be critical. At least five people are on ventilator support.

The Indians, who were killed in the fire are Umarudheen Shameer, 33, from Kollam's Oyoor,  Ranjith, Shibu Varghese, Thomas Joseph, Praveen Madhav, Lukose Vadakkott Unnoonni, Bhoonath Richard Roy Anand, Kelu Ponmaleri, Stephen Abraham Sabu, Anil Giri, Muhammad Shareef, Saju Varghese, Dwarikesh Patnaik, P V Muraleedharan, Viswas Krishnan, Arun Babu, Sajan George, Raymond, Jesus Lopez, Akash Sasidharan Nair and Denny Baby Karunakaran.

The building, which accommodates over 195 labourers from the nearby commercial area, housed people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North India. The building belongs to NBTC group owned by Malayali businessman KG Abraham. Employees at NBTC's supermarket also lived in the building.

Deputy PM orders action

Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah visited the site and ordered a police inquiry in the matter. He has instructed the police to detain the owner of the building, its janitor, and the employer of the workers living there until the conclusion of the criminal investigation into the fire. He has also directed the Kuwait Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower to take immediate action to address similar violations, where a large number of workers are crowded into residential buildings. 

The incident was reported to authorities at 6:00 am local time (0300 GMT), Major General Eid Rashed Hamad said."The building in which the fire occurred was used to house workers, and there was a large number of workers there. Dozens were rescued, but unfortunately there were many deaths as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire," another senior police commander told state TV. "We always alert and warn against" cramming too many workers into housing accommodation," he said, without providing details on the workers' type of employment or place of origin.

Embassy opens helpline

"In connection with the tragic fire-accident involving Indian workers today, Embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number: +965-65505246. All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. Embassy remains committed to render all possible assistance," the Indian Embassy in Kuwait said in a post on X.

"Deeply shocked by the news of the fire incident in Kuwait City. There are reportedly over 40 deaths and over 50 have been hospitalized. Our Ambassador has gone to the camp. We are awaiting further information," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a post on X.

"Deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives. Wish early and full recovery to those who have been injured. Our Embassy will render the fullest assistance to all concerned in this regard," he added.

The incident

The fire originated from a kitchen in one of the lower floors within the labour camp at 4.30 am on Wednesday. Preliminary investigation suggests that a short circuit led to the fire. According to sources, the fire quickly spread to all the rooms in the apartment. The presence of gas cylinders aggravated matters.

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Agencies
June 15,2024

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Mount Arafat, June 15: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.

It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

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