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National Geographic ‘Afghan girl’ arrested in Pakistan

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2016)

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By: AFP

An Afghan woman immortalised on a celebrated National Geographic magazine cover as a green-eyed 12-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday for living in Pakistan on fraudulent identity papers.

The haunting image of Sharbat Gula, taken in a Pakistan refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine’s history.

She now faces up to 14 years in jail, a Pakistani official warned.

Gula was arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for fraud following a two-year-long investigation in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, the capital of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

“FIA arrested Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman, today for obtaining a fake ID card,” Shahid Ilyas, an official of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), told AFP.

Ilyas said that FIA is also seeking three NADRA officials who were found responsible for issuing Pakistan’s national identity card to Gula, who have been at large since the fraud was detected.

He said that Gula faces seven to 14 years prison time and fine between $3,000 to $5,000 if convicted by court over fraud.

Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in Peshawar in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi.

She was one of thousands of Afghan refugees who managed to dodge Pakistan’s computerised system and to get an identity card.

The original image of Gula was taken in 1984 in a refugee camp in northwest Pakistan at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

McCurry later tracked her down, after a 17-year search, to a remote Afghan village in 2002 where she was married to a baker and the mother of three daughters.

Pakistan has launched a crackdown against those who have obtained fake ID cards fraudulently and launched a reverification campaign across the country.

Officials say NADRA has so far reverified 91 million ID cards and detected 60,675 cards by non nationals fraudulently.

A NADRA official told AFP that 2,473 foreigners, mostly Afghans, had voluntarily surrendered their ID cards which they obtained fraudulently.

Some 18 officials of the authority were under investigation for issuing ID cards to foreigners and eight were arrested, the official said.

More than 350,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their war-torn homeland from Pakistan this year, UN data shows, with the torrent of people crossing the border expected to continue.

Pakistan has for decades provided safe haven for millions of Afghans who fled their country after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UNHCR figures from earlier this year, making it the third-largest refugee hosting nation in the world. A further one million unregistered refugees are estimated to be in the country.

Since 2009, Islamabad has repeatedly pushed back a deadline for them to return, but fears are growing that the latest cutoff date in March 2017 will be final.

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Footballers ‘take a knee’ in commemoration of George Floyd

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

Liverpool players in a training session took a knee at the center circle at Anfield stadium.

Following the death of George Floyd and nationwide protests in the USA, Liverpool football players took a knee at Anfield Stadium on Monday in a gesture of support and unity, said an Aljazeera report.

The players posted a picture of the act on their social media accounts with the caption “Unity is strength #BlackLivesMatter”.

This was an act to show the solidarity of Liverpool players to the death of George Floyd who was killed in police custody.

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United forward also reacted to the death of George Floyd.

“Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter,” Rashford wrote.

Apart from the Premier League, in Bundesliga, the Borussia Dortmund players Jadon Sancho and Ashraf Hakimi wore shirts on Sunday with the message “Justice for George Floyd” in a match.

It is to be recalled that Floyd died May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on the Black man’s neck.

Floyd’s death has been followed by nationwide protests and chaos in the United States.

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Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens to worshippers – Jerusalem

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

After over two months of lockdown for the Coronavirus, Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been reopened, international news agencies.

The Council of Islamic Waqf, which oversees Muslim sites on the complex, said the restriction was lifted after the virus’ spread slowed down locally.

The council also imposed some precautionary measures to reduce the risk of contagion at Islam’s third-holiest site.

That is, worshippers must wear face masks and bring personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.

It worth mentioning that the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam.

The mosque was built on top of the Temple Mount, known as the Al Aqsa Compound or Haram-e-Sharif in Islam.

Celebrating the reopening, dozens of Muslims gathered in front of the large wooden doors, pronouncing, “God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood.”

Reportedly, the resumption of prayers capped a somber period for Jerusalem’s Muslims, who this year marked the fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday without their usual daily visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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Angry protesters take to streets over police brutality – USA

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

Clashes between the police and the protesters over George Floyd’s death in police custody have been intensified, western news outlets report.

As demonstrations escalated in several US cities, protesters in Minneapolis met a more determined response from police officers and National Guard troops.

Reports show that several other US states have activated National Guard troops to help quell the protests, some of which have turned violent.

Cities nationwide have also implemented curfews, but protesters appear undeterred.

It is noteworthy that Floyd died on Monday after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck.

The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter; however, the other officers have not been charged.

According to reports, protesters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have pledged to continue until all four officers involved in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, are charged.

In the meantime, the US President Donald Trump has ordered Pentagon to put military police on alert, saying they may be deployed to Minnesota.

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