‘They have crushed our voices’, Kashmiris on not being allowed to pray

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A Kashmiri boy displays a placard from a window at a protest site after Friday prayers during restrictions, after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 23, 2019. (REUTERS)
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A Kashmiri woman shows hands messages at protest after Friday prayers during restrictions after the Indian government scrapped the special constitutional status for Kashmir, in SrinagarAugust 16, 2019. ( Reuters)
Updated 27 August 2019
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‘They have crushed our voices’, Kashmiris on not being allowed to pray

  • More than 3,000 people have been arrested from different parts of the valley, media reports
  • Most of the big mosques have been shutdown to avoid people amassing for a large congregation

SRINAGAR, Kashmir: A strange silence engulfs Kashmir valley three weeks after the abrogation of the Article 370 that ensured a special autonomous status for Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian union.
This is the silence enforced by the fear of the gun after arrests of a large number of politicians, activists, lawyers, businessmen, and commoners.
“I have been summoned at least four times by the Indian troops and harassed, barring me from offering my prayers. I requested them, explaining that no one indulges in agitation in this area...” Hafiz Altaf Ahmed Shah, an imam at the local mosque told Arab News.
Media reports suggest that more than 3,000 people have been arrested from different parts of the valley and put in special detention centers in the semi-autonomous state or outside.
For those spared or lucky to avoid arrest, a lurking danger looms if they resist – be it a cleric or a professor, male or female, exercising restraint is the only option left.
In Srinagar and outside, most of the big mosques have been shutdown to avoid people amassing for a large congregation – a potential recipe for resistance.
“Our three story mosque is usually at full capacity but today, only 10 to 12 people offered Friday prayers because of the curfew,” Shah said.
Small and medium-sized mosques are under constant vigil. The clerics of these mosques have been ordered to lie low and not lead prayers in their mosques.
“We are being subjected to injustice by the Indian government and the world is aware. But no one is speaking on these issues. They have shut down our communication. They have silenced and crushed our voices,” Shah said.
Watch this exclusive video by Arab News to get a sense of what’s happening in the area.


UAE citizens in Pakistan cast votes as balloting begins for Federal National Council

Updated 22 September 2019
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UAE citizens in Pakistan cast votes as balloting begins for Federal National Council

  • More than 200 UAE citizens in Pakistan are expected to cast their vote
  • Half of the council this year is expected to be women: UAE envoy

ISLAMABAD: The UAE envoy to Pakistan was the first to cast his vote on Sunday at the UAE embassy, as balloting began for the country’s citizens residing or working abroad to elect a political candidate to represent them in the Federal National Council (FNC), a parliamentary body for the seven emirates that make up the UAE.
According to UAE officials, more than 200 of the country’s citizens live in Pakistan including over 60 residing in the capital, Islamabad.
“This is the fourth election for the Federal (National) Council in UAE, and we are really proud of this democracy process in UAE,” Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan said while speaking to Arab News during the balloting session at the embassy in Islamabad.
The UAE has more than 118 diplomatic missions around the world which have set up polling booths for citizens to cast their votes, Al-Zaabi said.
“The (polling for the FNC) election in Pakistan will be held in Islamabad and at the consulate in Karachi on September 22 and 23. The big election in UAE will be held between October 2 to 4, followed by results... announced on October 5,” the UAE Ambassador said.
FNC, as per the provision of the UAE Constitution, was established in 1971 and comprises of 40 members representing the Arab peninsula’s seven Emirates; with Abu Dhabi and Dubai having the most number of seats followed by Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, and less populated Fujairah, Ajman, and Umm al Quwain with the least.
In the past, all members were appointed by the emirates’ respective rulers, but in 2006 the method was revised to introduce a partial form of democracy that allows the people of UAE to elect 20 FNC members through an electoral process.
“We started in 2006 and now we are in 2019 and this year it is totally different because half of this council will be women. UAE and its leadership support women empowerment and encourages females to be part of the country’s legislative decisions,” Al-Zaabi said.
The Ambassador, widely known for his philanthropic activities in Pakistan and his continued efforts to strengthen fraternal ties between the two countries said: “We have reached our goals to support democracy and encourage the people in UAE to be part of this democratic process.”