Israel security forces batter Palestinians

Palestinian news agency (WAFA) reported that scores of Palestinians suffered suffocation cases after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces at a demonstration that took place in the campus of the Palestine Technical University north of al-Khalil.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian youth was injured when the Israeli occupation forces opened fire on him during clashes with the demonstrators north of Salfit.

In the northern entrance of al-Birah city, the occupation forces fired rubber bullet and tear gas on a demonstration, causing a number of suffocation cases among Palestinians and journalists.

A mass rally was held in Ramallah city which was called by the national and Islamic forces in condemnation of Trump decision on Al-Quds, during which the participants raised the Palestinian flags and chanted slogans condemning the US decision and calling for the support of the Palestinian cause.

In Tulkarm city, a massive demonstration was held against Trump decision as demonstrators took to the streets towards the headquarters of the Red Cross.

In Gaza Strip a Palestinian young man was injured in clashes with the occupation forces east of Khuza’a, south of the besieged Strip.


Muslim leaders discuss al-Quds at OIC emergency meeting in Istanbul

Representatives from 57 OIC members are attending the summit, which is meant to coordinate a response to a US decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

“Firstly the Palestinian state must be recognized by all other countries. We must all strive together for this,” the top Turkish diplomat, Mevlut Cavusoglu , said. “We must encourage other countries to recognize the Palestinian state on the basis of its 1967 borders with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital.”

Erdogan: al-Quds ‘red line for Muslims’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the OIC, was the first head of state to address the event.

He told OIC leaders that Israel’s expansionism is “skyrocketing,” describing the entity as “a state of occupation.” “Besides this, Israel is a state of terror.”

The Turkish leader further urged the international community to recognize East Jerusalem as the “capital of Palestine.”

Erdogan described Washington’s decision as a reward for Israeli “terror acts” and said the city was a red line for Muslims.

‘Al-Quds will forever be Palestine’s capital’

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decried the Trump administration’s decision as the “greatest crime” and a flagrant violation of international law. He said Washington was giving away Jerusalem al-Quds a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” as if it were an American city, adding, “It crosses all the red lines.”

“Jerusalem [al-Quds] is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state… There will be no peace, no stability without that,” he said.

Abbas rejected any future role for the United States in the so-called Middle East peace process, noting that Washington is biased in favor of Israel.

He called on the UN to assume the mediating role in the Mideast peace process and revive it with a new mechanism as the US is no longer “fit” for the task.

The Palestinian president pointed to the unanimous international opposition to Trump’s decision, calling it a “provocation” to Muslim and Christian sentiments.

Rouhani: Muslims must unite against Israel

In his address to OIC leaders, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the Zionists as “strangers” who have planted seeds of regional violence in the Middle East.

Rouhani expressed Iran’s preparedness to cooperate with Muslim countries to defend the Palestinian rights and called on Muslims across the world to unite against Israel’s policies.

The Iranian chief executive slammed certain regional states for seeking to establish relations with the Zionist regime, warning, “Today it is no secret that the biggest enemy of the Jews [is] not the Muslims and Arabs but the dangerous project of Zionism.”

“Instead of countering the threats of the Zionists, some countries in our region are aligned with the US and Zionists to prescribe the fate of Palestine—If such prescriptions are taken, the Zionists would permanently dominate the Palestinians,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president further called on the Muslim world to unite against the Zionist regime.

“If we suffer from differences amongst ourselves over some issues, we should not be divided on defending the holy Quds and the Palestinian cause. All the problems of the Muslim world can be resolved through dialogue. It is only through Islamic unity that we can better support the rights of the Islamic Ummah and the holy Quds,” he added.

Prior to his speech to OIC leaders, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to twitter to condemn the US for disrespecting Palestinian rights.

“The recent decision by the US admin made it clear that the US is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The US has never been an honest mediator and will never be,” Rouhani tweeted.

‘Al-Quds status quo must not change’

Jordanian King Abdullah II rejected any attempt to change the status quo of East Jerusalem al-Quds and its holy sites.

He stressed that the Middle East cannot witness peace until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. “All violence… is a result of a failure to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue.”

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and tasked the State Department with making preparations for the relocation of Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Palestinian city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s Jerusalem al-Quds policy drew fierce criticism from the international community, including the United States’ Western allies, and triggered demonstrations against the US and Israel worldwide.

On Tuesday, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, reaffirmed the position of the European Union, saying East Jerusalem, which hosts the al-Aqa Mosque compound, shall become the capital of a Palestinian state and the western part of the city shall go to Israel as part of a so-called two state solution.

“We have made it clear that we will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem [al-Quds], as Europeans, including the relocation of our embassies until the final status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] is resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” she added.

On Saturday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo. The meeting urged Washington to rescind its decision and called on the international community to recognize the Palestinian state.

Jerusalem al-Quds is under Israel’s control. The international community views the regime’s grip on the eastern part of the city, which came after the Six-Day War of 1967, as illegal, and urges talks to decide the fate of the entire city in any future peace deal.


Christian school in Basra welcomes Muslim students

SHAFAQNA – The Iraqi Ministry of Education issued a permit Nov. 4 for the establishment of a private, mixed Christian school, which will teach Christians, Muslims and students from other communities. After spending a year and a half working on the official procedures, the school will officially open next year as the first interfaith school in Iraq since the 1970s.

Archbishop Habib Jajou, the Chaldean archbishop of Basra and southern Iraq, told Al-Monitor about the project. “We have successfully experimented with Christian nurseries and kindergartens,” he said, “and now we want to open a primary school as an expansion to offer successful education to both Muslim and Christian citizens, especially after we saw how many Muslim families want to register their children in Christian educational institutions. Over the past 20 years, thousands of Muslim children have been admitted into Christian kindergartens.”

Middle-class families want to send their children to schools that offer a better education and a high level of security control, which makes parents feel more comfortable in light of the increased rate of kidnappings in the city.

The reputation of Christian instructors who teach foreign languages is another factor that has made Christian schools popular. Basra residents still remember quite well the great role Christian schools played in the city’s history, such as the American Rajaa School for Higher Education, which John Van Aiss opened in 1912. This school was attended by the children of powerful families at the time, and the majority of Basra’s elites graduated from it, namely Yusuf Salman Yusuf (known also by his nom de guerre Fahd), the founder of the Iraqi Communist Party.

The quest to open the Christian school in Basra is not only about meeting the demands of Muslims and Christians alike, but it is also about the harassment Christian students suffer in government-run schools.

On Nov. 15, Jajou wrote on the Basra and the South Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese Facebook page a post titled Muslims and Christianity, in which he tackled the importance of Basra’s Muslims getting to know Christian beliefs better in order to put an end to violations stemming from ignorance of the Christian religion. The post was published after a Christian girl was severely scratched during a fight with Muslim students, for being the only Christian in a Muslim-dominated school, in which students know nothing about the Christian religion.

Jajou said, “This experiment is a test to strengthen national identity, the spirit of citizenship and coexistence, by mixing students from diverse religious backgrounds, such as Muslims, Christians and Mandaeans,” in addition to providing an educational body that reflects the diversity of the social fabric of Basra.

“The school hired a Mandaean teacher, a Muslim teacher and an Armenian teacher, in addition to Chaldean teachers, because we believe we are one family and successful coexistence stems from learning from diversity,” he added.

In terms of language teaching, the new school will focus on the Assyrian language, which was spoken by Christ over 2,000 years ago and will be compulsory for Christians and optional for Muslims. This could provide a unique opportunity to revive a strong cultural heritage, especially after the school received requests from university professors in Basra to learn this language from Assyrian-language teachers.

Salah Aziz Yusuf, an expert in the Assyrian language, told Al-Monitor, “Teaching the Assyrian language is important for all Iraqis as it is part of Iraq’s cultural heritage, but unfortunately we do not have qualified instructors to teach it.”

This is why Yusuf might have to teach the language himself, although he only had administrative responsibilities as the coordinator of the Assyrian-language department at the Directorate of Education of Basra governorate.

Christian schools in Baghdad also aim to achieve a similar experience in terms of providing better education and achieving coexistence, while overcoming the negative aspect of receiving education in government schools.

In this context, Father Younan Alfred, the director of Al-Farah primary school for the Orthodox in Baghdad, told Al-Monitor about his joint teaching staff of Christian and Muslim teachers who teach 346 students, 33% of whom are Christian, while the majority, 65%, is Muslim, in addition to some Yazidi students.

He explained the methodology of his school’s approach that focuses on teaching Arabic, English and French, as well as Assyrian, which is usually restricted to Christians. “The teachers devote time every morning to stress the values of citizenship and encourage coexistence and tolerance to the students,” he said.

In the past, Muslim families had the option to learn about the Christian religion, but this idea was later rejected for fear of being accused of carrying out missionary activities.

Alfred said, “Although Christian-Muslim coexistence inside the school was a success, to achieve full harmony and more effective coexistence, people need to learn about other religions. While Christian and Muslim students share the same classes and activities, they are separated in the religion courses.”

Alfred added, “We try to keep them together but religion ends up separating them.” So eliminating religion courses from schools could be the solution to stop separating students and finally be able to achieve full harmony among them.

Alfred, who shares Jajou’s viewpoint, concluded, “The Iraqi Ministry of Education should develop a curriculum to teach the history of Iraq and strengthen the sense of national identity and lose sectarian and religious affiliations.”

Source: Al-Monitor


“With this campaign we are trying to unit Muslims as well as Christians”

SHAFAQNA – Dozens of Muslim youth braved freezing snowy weather to give away 6000 roses to the London public, in honour of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as part of the annual #RosesForPeace event organised by the Love Muhammad campaign in Oxford Circus, London, England.

The main organiser for the London Rose Event Laila Mahdi:

“The roses have tags on them that talk about peace, love, kindness, unity. On the back of them it has quotes from the Bible. With this campaign we are trying to unite Muslims as well as Christians. Because it’s both Christmas time and time of Prophet Muhammad birthday.”

Many of the recipients of the roses took to Instagram to show their appreciation & love for this wonderful heart-warming initiative.

Many more recipients were sharing the feeling of love they received via Instagram.

The themes of kindness and love was clearly crossing the language barrier.

There was a lot of love in the air. A French couple attending Oxford Circus during the #RosesForPeace event, decided the moment was right to propose to his girlfriend and make her his fiancé.

She accepted of course, clutching the roses in her hands. It seems the roses truly brought out the love inside many who received them.

The Love Muhammad campaign has been active for 6 years, celebrating the diversity of the Muslim faith with events held annually throughout the UK, Australia, various Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

Recently the birth of Prophet Muhammad (BPUH) has coincided with the Christmas season, a strong sense off outreach was envisioned for the #RosesForPeace initiative, to celebrate these two occasions together. Every year the amount of roses has increased from several thousand, to last year where twelve thousand roses were given away to the UK public in multiple cities, to fifteen thousand roses given away this year.

The name of Islam and Muslims is constantly under attack by various groups, and Islamophobia is on the rise within the UK and other European countries. Initiatives like #RosesForPeace are one way of countering this negative narrative and creating a positive and more accurate narrative about Muslims and the teachings of Islam.

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) managed to truly change the Arabian society of its time into a force for positive change, and creating a path for those who follow the religion of Islam to progress intellectually. Muslims in the West have also felt a need to develop more comprehensive, intellectual and engaging arguments to counter the negative perceptions created with in non-Muslim societies. #RosesForPeace is one of those initiatives.

By Reza John Vedadi – This article was initially published on

Islamic News