STATE OF THE ART  ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY IN INDONESIA

Indonesia International Islamic University (UIII) in Depok, West Java, is finally ready to open its doors to students. Officials have touted the Rp 700 billion (US$50.4 million) project, which has been under construction for just three years, as the answer to the growing need to establish an academic centre on modern Islamic civilization in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. The new state university is also expected to catapult the nation’s Islamic studies scholars onto the global stage. Its foundation stone was laud by President Joko Widodo in June 2018. UIII Rector Komarudin Hidayat, himself a notable Islamic studies scholar, hosted a number of officials and Muslim figures at a convocation, among them former vice president Jusuf Kalla and incumbent Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas. Kalla had attended the ground-breaking ceremony in 2018 with the President.  

KAZAKHSTAN LAUNCHES DIGITAL GOVERNMENT OFFICE

The office of Centre of Digital Transformation in Kazakhstan includes the National Analytical Centre, the Centre of Digital Transformation, and the National Project Office. It will be responsible for digitising the country’s state bodies. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Trade and Integration presented the analytical platform on domestic and foreign trade that will enable online monitoring of food prices and the formation of forecast prices. All IT initiatives of the public sector will be based exclusively on the new platform of the Kazakh state technical supervision. It will eliminate duplication, ineffective costs, and bureaucracy, 100% of public services will be available to citizens from smartphones. Secondly, all business processes of government agencies will be revised and converted into a digital format.

OVER TWO-THIRDS OF MUSLIMS EXPERIENCE ISLAMOPHOBIA IN US

Some 67.5% of the Muslims living in the US experience Islamophobia at least once in their life, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley. Women reported more Islamophobic experience than men as the rates stood at 76.7% for Muslim women compared to 58.6% Muslim men, the Othering & Belonging Institute said in a press release. According to the survey, two out of three Muslims were exposed to Islamophobic acts, while 33% of respondents said they had hidden their religious identities at some moments in fear of Islamophobic acts and 88.2% stated that they avoided certain speeches and actions for fear of facing backlash. An overwhelming 93.7% of the respondents stated that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental health.

PROMINENT ROHINGYA LEADER SHOT DEAD IN BANGLADESH

Mohibullah, head of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, was gunned down outside his office in the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar. “Seven or eight assailants shot at Mohibullah outside his office after the evening prayers at around 8.30 p.m. (1430GMT),” said Mohammad Ahsan, a Rohingya refugee who saw the attack. The shooters managed to escape from the area, according to Ahsan. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Mohibullah was “documenting the Myanmar military’s crimes against the Rohingya and advocating for the refugees’ rights in international forums … (and) faced death threats in recent years for his work.” “Mohibullah was a vital voice for the community of Rohingya who had already suffered unimaginable loss and pain when they arrived as refugees in Bangladesh,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director.

MUSLIM WOMAN ATTACKED FOR WEARING HIJAB IN AUSTRIA

Baraa Bolat, a Muslim woman living in the Austrian capital Vienna, was physically harmed as she was subjected to a racist attack for wearing hijab. “A woman approached, and told me to go back to Turkey with prejudice as I was wearing hijab, even though I am not from Turkey.” She ignored the racist attack and moved toward the front of the bus, however, the assailant did not leave her alone and continued with insulting and racist remarks. “I ignored her until she spat on me… I thereupon got off, she followed me and attacked my hijab, pulling it very hard….I yelled at her but she did not stop until I took out my mobile phone and started taking pictures (of her), she then crossed to other side of street,” she said.

IRANIAN BOY HAILED AS ‘NATIONAL HERO’ AFTER TRAGIC DEATH IN FIRE

Ali Landi, 15, was laid to rest with full state honours after succumbing to third-degree burns he sustained while saving two elderly women from a burning house in his hometown of Izeh. Leading tributes to the teenager, President Ebrahim Raisi hailed him as a “national hero” and said his “story of self-sacrifice” must be narrated through art and literature to “inspire future generations.” Vice President Mohammad Mokhber also condoled Landi’s tragic death, asserting that his “selfless action” had set an example for those “who strive to spread and deepen the culture of self-sacrifice and selflessness.” Landi hailed from a small village in Khuzestan.

WANTED PERSON ARRESTED AND RELEASED ON BAIL IN THAILAND

Thai authorities arrested a Malaysian transgender celebrity wanted back home for dressing as a woman at a mosque, sparking calls from rights groups to block any extradition requests over fears she’ll face persecution in the Muslim-majority country. Cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman fell afoul of Malaysian religious police in February after she failed to show up for a Sharia court hearing over a case that was brought against her for dressing up in traditional Muslim women’s clothes at a gathering at a local mosque in 2018. Her absence from court proceedings triggered a huge search party by Malaysian police and Islamic authorities. Weeks later, Malaysian media reported she had fled the country and was seeking refuge in neighbouring Thailand. However, she was reportedly released on bail of $2,000.

SHARKS FLOWN IN FROM SRI LANKA FOR TURKMEN OCEANARIUM

A Turkmen Boeing 777 made an unusual flight to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. No Turkmen plane had ever flown to Colombo before. When the aircraft returned to Turkmenistan, it landed in the port city of Turkmenbashi, rather than Turkmenabat, reportedly carrying sharks to Turkmenistan. It is further reported that the sharks were destined for the personal oceanarium of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Such public expenses to meet personal taste and preference of the head of a state may result in raising of eyebrows and public disapproval.

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