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Israel: Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur Clashes in Jerusalem Feared

Inside Israel’s Tourism Industry – Jerusalem

Israel is on high alert over fears of possible violent clashes as two of the most important holidays in the Jewish and Muslim religions overlap for the first time in 30 years.

Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha will be celebrated by Muslims and Jews around the world this weekend. But Israeli police are preparing for sectarian violence by closing off roads and reinforcing security contingents in the region’s major cities, which are fraught with religious tension.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said extra police had been deployed across Israel, particularly in the cities with significant Muslim minorities: Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre.

The military has also closed off access from Israel to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which is a common practice during major Jewish holidays.

The meaning behind the holidays

Eid al-Adha animal sacrifice

A Yemeni man carries a goat at a livestock market in the capital Sanaa on 2 October ahead of Eid al-Adha(Getty)

Yom Kippur is Judaism’s Day of Atonement during which Jews ask God to forgive them for their transgressions and refrain for eating and drinking, instead attending intense prayer services in synagogues.

The holiday, which is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people, is a 25-hour period and will begin at sunset on Friday 3 October.

Businesses and airports shut down and TV and radio stations go silent. Highways will be largely empty of cars as Jewish people refrain from driving (as is typical on the weeklyShabbas). The annual holy day leaves much of Israel’s roads clear for secular Israelis to travel and cycle on the empty streets.

Eid al-Adha is the second most important holiday in the Muslim calendar. It last for three days and starts on Saturday 4 October and is an occasion for family celebrations and outings to celebrate the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (or Abrahim as he is known in the Bible) to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s will.

On the start of Eid, Muslims slaughter sheep, cattle and other livestock and give part of the meat to the poor.

The holidays coincide once every 33 years. However, due to the quirks of the Jewish leap year and the fact that the faiths use different lunar calendars, it will also occur again in 2015.

The Gaza problem

Tensions are high between Arab Muslims and Jews after the 50-day war in Gaza this summer and near-constant rioting in east Jerusalem, which has a large Muslim population.

The confluence of the two holidays has leaders of both states concerned that any interaction between Muslim and Jewish groups during Saturday’s celebrations could quickly degenerate into widespread violence, as seen in 2008.

A Palestinian prepares to throw fire crackers during clashes with Israeli police in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz September 8, 2014.

East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz expected to be a hot spot of tension as the religious holidays clash(Reuters)

Acre in Israel saw widespread rioting on Yom Kippur in 2008 when an Arab resident drove through an observant Jewish neighbourhood playing loud music.

Following an agreement between Muslim and local officials, the old city of Acre had been closed to all traffic and small electric cars (that would make less noise that engines during the Jewish holy day) were provided to those wishing to go to the mosque and pray.

A clash of customs

Each religion’s different customs could also lead to increased tensions this weekend. Rabbi Michael Malchior told Times of Israel:

“The way that Jews celebrate Yom Kippur is very internal… We go into our homes and into our synagogues, it’s not a day of external celebrations.

We’ve had bad riots here in Jerusalem over the past couple of months and a terrible war this summer. There’s been a lot of bloodshed and a lot of bad feelings.– Rabbi Michael Malchior

“This is the exact opposite of Eid al-Adha. They visit each other, they travel to visit family and friends, they have a custom of going to visit grave yards, they play music. So if you don’t know that it’s a festival, some Jews might assume that the Muslim celebration is a provocation or something, which of course is not intended in any way.”

Over the past seven weeks, leaders from both communities have been working to combat this lack of knowledge.

The Chief Rabbis of Israel put out a statement to encourage Jews to be respectful of their Muslim neighbours’ customs. The Education Ministry sent a similar letter to all students explaining the holiday.

Neighbourhood rabbis of cities with mixed Muslim-Jewish populations have also appealed to their congregations for calm.

Melchior said: “This year, especially, it’s happening on such a gloomy background.

“We’ve had bad riots here in Jerusalem over the past couple of months and a terrible war this summer. There’s been a lot of bloodshed and a lot of bad feelings. I would like to take this to a place of tikkun, of healing. Maybe this is a sign that we will be going to a better place.”

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Serbia Arrests 7 Linked to Srebrenica Massacre

FILE - International War Crimes Tribunal investigators clear away soil and debris from dozens of Srebrenica victims buried in a mass grave near the village of Pilica, some 55 kms (32 miles) north east of Tuzla, in 2006.
FILE – International War Crimes Tribunal investigators clear away soil and debris from dozens of Srebrenica victims buried in a mass grave near the village of Pilica, some 55 kms (32 miles) north east of Tuzla, in 2006.

Serbian police have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Bosnian Serb fighters.

A prosecutor in Belgrade said Wednesday that the suspects are believed to have committed war crimes against civilians. They are specifically alleged to have been involved in the killing of 1,000 people at a warehouse on the outskirts of Srebrenica.

In 2011 Serbia arrested Ratko Mladic, the leader held responsible for the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war. He is currently in The Hague on trial in an international criminal court.

But the Associated Press reports that the seven arrests on Wednesday were the first seizures of men accused of direct involvement in the massacre, Europe’s worst civilian slaughter since World War II.

At the start of the Bosnian war in 1992, Srebrenica was a mainly Muslim town in a Serb-held part of Bosnia, and as such gained protection by the United Nations. In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the so-called safe haven, separated women and children from men, and then systematically murdered the men in mass executions. Mass graves were later found in the area.

#JeSuisAhmed Reveals the Hero of the Paris Shooting Everyone Needs to Know

In the hours following the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, much of the public support has been directed toward the victims that worked for the magazine, like editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier, 76-year-old cartoonist Jean Cabut and economist Bernard Maris.

The recognition of their ultimate sacrifice in the name of free speech and open discourse is beautiful, but it’s equally important to remember that the lives of the victims extended beyond the confines of the magazine.

Two of those killed, 42-year-old Ahmed Merabet and 49-year-old Franck Brinsolaro, were police officers — the very people tasked with protecting Charlie Hebdo‘s staff.

Merabet’s death was captured on film during a French television broadcast and shared quickly across social media. Two masked gunmen can be seen approaching him, ignoring his pleas to spare his life.

Who was he? As information about the victims began to filter out, the world learned that Merabet worked at a police station in Paris’ 11th Arrondissement, near the location of Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. Reports also emerged that Merabet was himself Muslim.

Merabet, then, died at the hands of one of his own — albeit its fanatical and dangerous minority. It is especially and darkly ironic given that the gunmen allegedly shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.” The name “Ahmed” shares linguistic roots with “Muhammad,” and the prophet was sometimes referred to as Ahmed.

12 dead in shooting at French satirical magazine HQ

Twitter users show solidarity with French magazine using #JeSuisCharlie hashtag

An image being widely shared on social media in the aftermath of the attack

Twitter users have rushed to show their support for the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that appears to have been the target of today’s shooting in Paris.

The #CharlieHebdo hashtag was trending worldwide within minutes of the news breaking, quickly followed by #JeSuisCharlie – French for “I am Charlie”.

The #JeSuisCharlie hashtag has been used more than 65,000 times so far today.

Many Twitter users have also been tweeting some of the striking, and frequently controversial, front pages the magazine has printed in recent years.

Others tweeted the famous misquote of French philosopher Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The British satirical magazine The Daily Mash showed its solidarity by changing its Twitter profile photo:

The Twitter campaign is reminiscent of the #IAmMalala hashtag that was widely used to show support for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot by the Taliban.

More recently, the Twittershere jumped to the support of Muslims worldwide in the aftermath of a hostage situation in Sydney, using the hashtag #illridewithyou.

Interior Minister: Eight injured, four in serious condition

Police and rescue vehicles at the scene after the shooting.

Police and rescue vehicles at the scene after the shooting. Credit: Reuters

Four people remain in serious condition after the gun attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, France’s Interior Minister has said.

Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed 12 had been killed in the “barbarous” attack and a further eight injured overall.

He said all the resources of both the interior and justice ministries had been mobilised immediately in order to identify and arrest the perpetrators.

Obama: US strongly condemns horrific Paris shooting

US President Barack Obama has condemned the “horrific shooting” in Paris that has left 12 people dead.

Reuters

President Obama has condemned the ‘hateful vision’ of the Paris attackers. Credit: Reuters

Mr Obama said America stood with France in standing up to the “hateful vision of these killers”, adding that US intelligence officials would provide any assistance to help “bring these terrorists to justice”.

“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine that reportedly killed 12 people,” President Obama said.

“France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world.

“France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers.”

French media call for moment of silence for terror victims

Police at the scene in Paris.

Police at the scene in Paris. Credit: Reuters

Journalists in France have called on their colleagues “in newsrooms everywhere” to hold a moment of silence for those killed in the Paris terror attack.

In a statement, the union Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ) said: “There are no words strong enough to express the sadness and the anger of the profession today.

“The massacre perpetrated against the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo is a horror that strikes at us all.

“When journalists are killed, it is done to make an entire profession feel fear; it is done to silence. Attacking a newspaper is an attempt to muzzle the freedom of expression that exists in a democracy.”

The SNJ also urged Parisians to rally this evening for press freedom at Place de la Republique, not far from satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s offices.

Editor and veteran cartoonist among shooting victims

 Stephane Charbonnier aka Charb and Jean Cabut, known as Cabu were among the Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack

Stephane Charbonnier aka Charb and Jean Cabut, known as Cabu – who was reportedly the world’s highest paid cartoonist – were among the Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack Credit: Reuters/PA

The 12 people killed in today’s shooting attack on Charlie Hebdu’s Paris office included the magazine’s editor and chief cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, aka Charb, and Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre of the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed.

Paris police continue hunt for three ‘dangerous’ gunmen

Three gunmen still at large following the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office are considered to be “armed and dangerous,” police have warned

Paris police are continuing the hunt for three 'armed and dangerous' suspects.

Paris police are continuing the hunt for three ‘armed and dangerous’ suspects. Credit: ABACA/ABACA/Press Association Images

“As you can imagine, all of our colleagues are looking for them, checking all video and cameras in Paris and we really hope to be able to find them quickly,” Emmanuel Quemener, of the police union Alliance, told reporters.

“These individuals are being thoroughly pursued and this is a priority because they are armed and extremely dangerous and things will certainly develop,” Quemener added.

French Muslim groups condemn Paris killings

The Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), which represents more than 250 Muslim organisations across France, has condemned the Paris terror killings.

In a statement, it said: “The UOIF condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this criminal attack and these horrible murders and offers its condolences to the families as well as the employees of Charlie Hebdo.”

Danish newspaper steps up security after Paris attack

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which triggered protests after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, has increased its security after Paris shooting.

The paper sent an email to its staff informing them they could be at an increased risk of attack.

Muslim groups complained after it published the cartoons in September 2005 which later led to protests and riots in some Muslim countries.

Jihadists Praise Attack on French Magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris

Jihadists posted messages Wednesday praising the gunmen who attacked a French satirical magazine, according to a monitoring group.

A sample of jihadist sentiment gathered by SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist organizations, included mentions of the magazine’s mockery of the Muslim prophet Muhammad and of French military involvement in Muslim countries.

“Congratulations to France and its people for harvesting what their hands have sown,” said one post on a pro-jihadist forum.

The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was the target of a firebomb in 2011. The French military has pursued militants in Mali, a former French colony, and France was the first country to join U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.

According to SITE, jihadists have also called for lone-wolf attackers to follow Mohammed Merah, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in 2012.

Head of Chechnya: Al-Baghdadi is CIA agent, ISIS supported by western intelligence

159741907 Head of Chechnya: Al Baghdadi is CIA agent, ISIS supported by western intelligence

Grozny, Chechnya (IraqiNews.com) The head of Chechnya Ramadan Kadyrov said that ISIS is an organization on the payroll of western secret services and ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdad is a CIA agent.

Itar-Tass News Agency quoted Kadyrov statement for the local press-service that, the ISIS leader, Ibrahim Samarrai, known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, works for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is financially supported by western secret services.

He urged the ISIS leader to admit he works for the U.S. intelligence. “Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi should take off his mask and declare loudly and clearly that he is a CIA agent, that he has been recruited.

If he really considers himself a devout Muslim, he must openly confess that he is killing his brothers in faith, to apologize to his coreligionists and to disband his gang. Only then there will be peace. Otherwise they must be wiped out” said Kadyrov.

“They have enjoyed support from the Western secret services all along, which are providing them will all essentials. Where do these bandits take money for aircraft and for tens of thousands of sets of full combat gear? Certainly, they are being helped by high-placed people.”

“I would ask one and all not to call them Islamic State. They are Shaitans (evils) and their sole obsession is to grab as much money as they can lay hands on. They are acting on orders from the West” he said.

Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest-Ever Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban in 2012, has been awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

The 17-year-old girl was shot because she was advocating women’s rights to receive an education in the country.

The announcement was delivered by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Yousafzai survived the attempted homicide and was transferred to the UK with her family, where she was able to go to school and has since become a worldwide symbol for the fight against oppression on women and the right to education.

Yousafzai shared the award with Kailash Satyarthi, a child human rights activist based in India.

The Prize was awarded to the two activists “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” Jagland said.

 “Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.

“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” he continued.

“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

Pope Francis to Travel to Albania

(TIRANA, Albania) — Pope Francis will travel to the capital of Albania on Sunday, meeting with political and religious leaders.

According to Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, the pope’s trip to Albania will be his fourth international voyage and his first trip to a European country outside of Italy.

Pope Francis will spend his time in Albania honoring the “victims of atheistic Communism,” Vatican Radio reports. He will also aim to encourage interreligious coexistence, as Albania is the only European nation with a Muslim majority of its population.

In his 11 hours in Albania, the pope will meet with Albanian President Bujar Nishani and other civil leaders, preside over a mass in Mother Teresa Square, and meet with the nation’s bishops before a meeting with religious leaders.

While in Albania, the pope is expected to make all of his speeches in Italian. About 15 percent of Albanians are Catholic and more than 60 percent are Muslim.

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