Muhammad was the fifth most popular name for male British babies in 2020, the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed on October 18. Mohammed and Mohammad were also among the 100 most popular baby boy names in the UK – ranking 32 and 74 – though neither came close to the Muhammad spelling. Noah, an important figure in all three Abrahamic religions, was the fourth most popular name for male British babies. Two other Muslim names – Ibrahim and Yusuf – made it into the top 100 for 2020. All three spellings of the prophet’s name, as well as Yusuf and Ibrahim, have been climbing in popularity consistently since 1996. Despite being spelled differently by different groups, the origins and intention behind the naming are likely shared by each culture and ethnicity employing it.

Image with caption: Court decides not to proceed with prison sentence given to Ibrahim Serif


The 80-day prison sentence given by the lower court in northern port city of Thessaloniki was suspended on October 21 by the Court of Appeals, said Ibrahim Serif, the elected mufti of Komotini (Gumulcine) in north-eastern Greece. Serif was charged in March 2018 by Greek authorities with “usurping office” of the country’s mufti. Ahmet Mete, the current Mufti of Xanthi (Iskece), and his predecessor Mehmet Emin Aga had also previously been convicted by Greek courts on the same charges. Since 1991, the mufti election has been a vexing issue in Greece. The government is  appointing muftis which is not recognised by the local Muslims, who, instead, elect their own mufti. This action of the majority of Muslim-Turks in the cities of Komotini and Xanthi, in turn, is not recognised by the state. And the bone of contention continues.


Palestinian resistance group Hamas has welcomed a decision to postpone the approval of Israel’s observer status in the African Union (AU). “The decision by the AU Executive Council to postpone taking a final decision to grant the occupation state observer status is a step in the right direction,” Hamas leader Basem Naim said in a statement. Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said a decision was taken by the AU Executive Council to delay a decision on granting Israel observer status in the pan-African body until the AU summit in February 2022. Last month, a group of international lawyers, researchers and activists filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights seeking the revocation of Israel’s AU observer status.

Image with caption: Women secure 97 parliament seats in Iraq


Women have won 97 seats in Iraq’s 329-member parliament in the recent parliamentary elections. The cabinet said in a statement that women candidates gained 29.4% of the parliament’s seats in the voting. The statement called on all women to “continue efforts to  participate in the various stages of the political process and decision-making, and to pay attention to women’s issues and legislation that would guarantee their rights and enhance their position in society.” The women’s quota system in Iraq guarantees at least 25% of parliament’s seats for women, in order to guarantee female representation in Iraq. The polls were originally scheduled for 2022, but political parties decided to hold early elections following mass protests that erupted in 2019 against deep-seated corruption and poor governance.

Image with caption: ‘Soul-searching’ in Malaysia over ASEAN non-Interference


Since taking up his portfolio in August, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has taken to task ASEAN for its limp response to the coup and ensuing crisis in Myanmar. Earlier this month, Saifuddin suggested that if the junta continued to stonewall the Southeast Asian bloc in its attempt to implement the Five-Point Consensus agreed in April, his government could officially open talks with the opposition National Unity Government (NUG), which is competing with the junta for international recognition. Speaking at a virtual dialogue on human rights in Myanmar on October 21, Saifuddin suggested ASEAN should also rethink its decades-long policy of non-interference in the affairs of member states, which, together with the principle of consensus-based decision making, forms the core of the “ASEAN way.”

Image with caption: Minister Idris Ahmad says two religious bills to be tabled in Parliament will only focus on the Muslims


The religious rights of non-Muslims in Malaysia will not be affected by the proposed RUU355 and the bill to restrict the propagation on non-Islamic religions, the government said on October 6. The minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Idris Ahmad, gave this assurance in the Dewan Rakyat when responding to a question by Fong Kui Lun (PH-Bukit Bintang), who expressed concern that the bills will infringe on religious freedom enshrined in the Federal Constitution. “The bill to restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions will only be enforced on Muslims. Non-Muslims are free to propagate their faiths among themselves,” the minister in the prime minister’s department said. Asked by Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (PAS-Pasir Mas) on how the government will tackle the perceptions by non-Muslims that the two bills will pave the way to discrimination”, Idris said they “will not concern the non-Muslim community at all”.

Image with caption: Officials hope the new complex is expected to boost the region’s tourism prospects


President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited the Zhoshy Khan historical and cultural complex in Ulytau District as part of his working visit to the Karaganda Region. Officials hope the new complex is expected to boost the region’s tourism prospects. The centre serves as a tourist destination that takes visitors into the ancient Kazakh past and aims to become a scientific centre for studying the era of the Golden Horde,  a medieval multinational state also known as the Ulus of Jochi, Ulug Ulus, or the Kipchak Khanate. The 2,500 square meters complex is named after Jochi Khan (Zhoshy Khan in Kazakh), the eldest son of Chinggis Khan and a Mongol army commander who was known to be a participant in his father’s conquest of Central Asia. According to historical records, his stavka, or headquarters, were based in the Ulytau, a low-altitude mountain range and the vast steppe lands located some 50 kilometres from the town of Zhezkazgan.

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