Muslim woman told to 'remove face covering or get out' of US shopping mall:
A New Jersey woman was told to get out of a popular shopping mall on Saturday because she was wearing a traditional Muslim face covering. Wakeelah Salaam lodged a complaint with Bridgewater Commons Mall after a security guard approached her twice demanding she remove the veil, known as a niqab, worn by some Muslim women. 'He said, 'ma'am, I'm telling you, you cannot wear that mask in here. He came as close to me as though he was going to kiss me, and then he made the hand gesture like he was going to lift it up for me,' Ms Salaam told WABC News. Ms Salaam was born in the United States, and was raised Muslim. She has always worn a long dress, or hijab, and a headscarf. But when she was in her mid-20s, she decided to start wearing the niqab that shows only her eyes when she's in public. Some women choose to wear the scarf so men don't judge them by their appearance. 'This is a protection for me,' Ms Salaam told WABC. 'This is my honour'.
Turkey says US favourable to sale of armed drones:
President Barack Obama's administration is inclined to sell armed drones to Turkey but has to convince Congress first, Turkey's president told reporters after a meeting with the U.S. leader. Washington, which is providing technical and intelligence to Ankara in its fight against autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels, deployed four Predator drones from Iraq to Turkey last year. NATO-ally Turkey is now trying to acquire armed drones -- the kind the U.S. has used to target militants in places like Yemen and the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But analysts say some Congress members may oppose the sale of armed Predator drones to Turkey due to its tense relations with Israel, a close U.S. ally. A botched Turkish military airstrike in December aimed at the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party that killed 34 civilians is also likely to further complicate any sale. "The administration's position (toward the sale) is favorable," Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency quoted President Abdullah Gul as telling Turkish reporters after a meeting with Obama on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Chicago late Monday. "They are trying to convince Congress." "President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and their aides are trying their best," he added. The Turkish president said he told Obama during their discussions that the armed drones are not as lethal as F-16 fighter jets, which Turkey already has in its fleet, or the F-35 fighter jet whose development Turkey is involved in."This must be explained to Congress," Gul said. "They must not act begrudgingly toward an important allied country. They have to trust it."
Kuwait's ruler blocks MPs' Islamic law proposal:
Kuwait's ruler has blocked a proposal by 31 of the 50 elected members of parliament to amend the constitution to make all legislation in the Gulf Arab state comply with Islamic law, an MP said on last week. The approval of Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is needed for any constitutional change. "His highness the emir is not in favour," said Mohammad al-Dallal, an Islamist MP and legal expert. The proposal was put forward by the Islamic Justice Bloc and signed by 31 lawmakers, he said. Political parties are banned in Kuwait so MPs have to rely on forming blocs in parliament. The 15-member cabinet selected by the prime minister can also vote in parliament. "We must think again about convincing the emir or submitting it again in another format," Dallal said. "Our society is a conservative society, a lot of people request that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law). We also do not have a stable political system," he said, adding such an amendment could help make lawmaking less chaotic.
U.S. general says Afghanistan will need "combat power":
The United States will require "significant firepower" in Afghanistan in 2013-14, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there said, but decisions about further U.S. troop reductions will only be made after this fall at the earliest. "We're going to need combat power. I don't think anyone questions that," Marine General John Allen said on Wednesday. "I owe the president some real analysis on this." Allen spoke to reporters two days after NATO leaders discussed Afghanistan's future in Chicago, embracing a plan to hand control to local security forces by the middle of 2013 and, Western leaders hope, to end the long, costly Afghan conflict. By the end of this summer, Allen is due to withdraw all the 33,000 "surge" troops that President Barack Obama sent to battle the Taliban in 2009-2010. Once those troops are gone, Allen will assess the campaign and make recommendations to the White House about how best to withdraw most of the remaining U.S. force of about 68,000. "I intend to take a very hard look at the state of the insurgency," Allen said, and how Afghanistan's growing military is faring. Those factors will inform his recommendations to Obama about how many troops can be pulled in 2013 and 2014 without allowing the Taliban to stage a comeback. "So there's not a number right now," he said. While most foreign troops will be gone from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a modest number of Western soldiers are expected to stay beyond then, focused on targeted strikes against militants and advising Afghan forces.
Conditional aid: US senators vote to tie Pakistan aid to supply routes:
A US Senate panel voted cuts in aid to Pakistan on Wednesday and threatened to withhold even more cash if Islamabad does not reopen its supply routes for Nato soldiers in Afghanistan, reflecting American frustration over a months-long standoff. The action by the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid followed a weekend Nato summit in Chicago at which Washington had hoped to reach a deal with Islamabad to end the supply line dispute. Pakistan closed the supply routes through its territory to Afghanistan in protest when US aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border last November. The Senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan by 58% in fiscal 2013 from the request by the administration of US President Barack Obama, said the panel's chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, who is a Democrat. The senators voted $1 billion for Pakistan, including $800 million in foreign aid. However, funding for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund was limited to just $50 million, and that money was tied to the supply lines' reopening, said Senator Lindsey Graham, the panel's top Republican. "We're not going to be giving money to an ally that won't be an ally," Graham told reporters. The counterinsurgency fund was established several years ago to help train and equip Pakistan's military. Pakistan has been one of the leading recipients of US foreign aid and in recent years US lawmakers have approved more than $20 billion in aid and reimbursements since 2001. The administration suspended $800 million in aid for Pakistan's military last year but American officials have suggested the aid could be restored if Pakistan would display more commitment to counter-terrorism operations.
05 Rajab 1433