US accuses Pakistan over violations of religious freedom

Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans at a protest in Quetta on Jan. 4, 2018. Pakistan dismissed threats by US President Donald Trump to cut off aid as “completely incomprehensible” in the latest diplomatic row to rock the shaky alliance between Washington and Islamabad.(AFP)
Updated 04 January 2018

US accuses Pakistan over violations of religious freedom

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom Thursday in a further sign of deteriorating relations.
The State Department announced that it’s placing the South Asian nation on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation. The step does not carry any serious consequences, but it comes in the wake of stiff criticism from President Donald Trump this week.
On Monday, Trump reiterated US concerns that Pakistan provides safe havens for militants, saying it had played US leaders for “fools.” The administration is currently holding up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.
The State Department did not elaborate on reasons for Pakistan’s inclusion on the watch list.
In its latest annual religious freedom report, which was published in August and covered 2016, the department highlighted the continued enforcement by courts in Muslim-majority Pakistan of blasphemy laws. Punishment ranges from life in prison to the death sentence for a range of charges, including “defiling the Prophet Muhammad.”
Pakistan’s embassy in Washington and mission at the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.


Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

Updated 12 min 21 sec ago

Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

  • The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin
  • Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011

WARSAW: Polish agents arrested two people accused of planning attacks against Muslims inspired by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, the security service said on Wednesday.
The arrests follow a spate of attacks involving white supremacists targeting ethnic and religious minorities across the globe. Far-right groups have grown in strength in Poland, the largest of the European Union’s post-communist states.
The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin.
“The arrests are the result of information collected earlier by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) about an extremist group whose aim was to intimidate Muslims living in Poland,” the statement said.
“The materials gathered during the investigation show the group modelled itself on terrorist attacks carried out by extremists including Anders Breivik (in 2011 in Norway) and Brenton Tarrant (in 2019 in New Zealand).”
The group intended to carry out attacks using firearms and explosives, the statement said, and during one search of a house in the Warsaw suburb of Wlochy, ABW agents found materials for making large quantities of explosives, guns and ammunition.
Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011.
Tarrant has been charged with an attack broadcast live on Facebook in 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people and wounded dozens.