JAPAN’S KOBE MOSQUE CELEBRATES RAMADAN

Japan’s first mosque will look back on more than eight decades of history as it joins the rest of the Muslim world in Ramadan worship. The three-storey mosque in Nakayamate Dori in Chuo-ku, Kobe, was designed by Czech architect Jan Josef Svagr and built in 1935. It has a central prayer hall on the ground floor, as well as a white marble mihrab and minbar. An Islamic Culture Centre in the building also offers study sessions and general information about Islam. According to a 1936 Kobe mosque report, the building was opened by Mr. Ferozuddin on Friday, August 2, 1935, before “a large gathering of Muslim ladies and gentlemen coming from many lands.” On the afternoon of October 11, 1935, “about 600 guests responded to our invitation to see the mosque building.  Later in the evening of the same day they gathered in the Tor Hotel, where a great reception was held.”

ISRAELI FORCES DESECRATE AL-AQSA MOSQUE

Palestinian Muslims are continuously being brutally attacked inside Al-Aqsa Mosque while praying during Ramadan with hundreds injured and arrested by the Israeli occupation forces.  The Arab League condemned the Israeli restriction on Muslims for their right of worship in Jerusalem’s Old City, while allowing ultra-nationalist Jews to enter the sacred site under police protection. Regular videos have appeared showing dozens of Israeli police brutally hitting old men, women and children and firing stun grenades on worshippers inside the mosque continuously now for over a week. The Haram al Sharif compound is forcibly evacuated of Muslim worshippers during Ramadan several times in a day with groups of Jewish visitors in their religious clothing allowed in, protected by Israeli armed forces.

MOSQUE IN VIRGINIA VANDALISED 2ND  TIME IN 6 MONTHS

A mosque in the US state of Virginia has been vandalised for the second time in the past six months. The latest crime happened over the weekend. Authorities say the West End Islamic Centre in Glen Allen, a northern suburb of the capital of Richmond, was targeted by vandals. “Whenever a house of worship is targeted, law enforcement needs to take it seriously and not minimise it to, ‘Oh, it’s just another isolated incident,’” said Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The previous incident happened in the fall, which included physical damage, including graffiti. He says the more concerning aspect of this latest crime is that it is taking place during the middle of the holy month of Ramadan.

RACIST COVERAGE OF UKRAINIAN REFUGEES CONDEMNED

Several remarks by reporters and media pundits describing Ukrainian refugees as more “civilised” and “looking like us” compared to other refugees from non-European war-torn countries have been condemned as “smacking of blatant racism” and sparked a wide-scale backlash. “[Ukraine] isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilised, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen,” were among some of the controversial comments. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata made that statement while reporting from Kyiv a day after Russia began its largescale invasion of Ukraine. On social media, his comments were met with mockery and outrage, with many pointing out how his statements dehumanise non-white, non-European people suffering in conflict.

FOUR UIGHURS RISK EXTRADITION TO CHINA FROM SAUDI ARABIA

Several NGOs have accused Saudi Arabia of having arbitrarily arrested four Uighurs and of trying to extradite them to China, where their fate is extremely uncertain. The detainees include two men who had travelled to the country to make a pilgrimage to Makkah in November 2020, as well as a mother and her 13-year-old daughter, who were arrested on March 31. Videos of their cries for help are circulating on social media. According to several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter, as well as two men, are facing imminent extradition to China. “We are in a police car. Save us, we are on our way to death. They are taking us to Riyadh to send us [to China],” she implores in Uighur in a video shared on April 9 by activists and human rights associations on Twitter, to raise awareness about their plight.

INDONESIA PASSES SEXUAL VIOLENCE LAW AMID GROWING CASES

Indonesia’s parliament approved a far-reaching law that sets punishments for sexual violence after being spurred into action by a recent case in which a boarding school principal raped and impregnated several students. The legislation had languished for years amid arguments that it contravenes religious and cultural values in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation. The law recognises that men and children can be victims of sexual violence. Indonesia’s Criminal Code, a legacy of the Dutch colonial era, recognises only rape and lewd crimes committed by men against women and doesn’t have provisions for restitution or other remedies for victims and survivors. Nine forms of sexual violence are recognised in the law: physical and nonphysical sexual harassment, sexual torture, forced contraception, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and cyber sexual harassment.

MALAYSIAN WRITER ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY INSULTING THE PROPHET

Malaysian writer Uthaya Sankar, who was arrested over a Facebook post that allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, has vowed not to write anything about Islam in the future. According to the reports, Uthaya Sankar was arrested by the Kuala Lumpur police over a Facebook post that was put up on April 7. In his post, Sankar had allegedly written about the issue of polygamy and the Prophet ﷺ, which was alleged to be insulting to Islam. He was booked under Section 298A of the Penal Code, a law that stipulates offences related to creating disharmony and disunity, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for improper use of communications networks. The police said they had seized a mobile phone and a SIM card from the suspect which are believed to have been used when uploading the post. However, he was released two days after police failed to secure a four-day remand order against Uthaya.

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