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Saudi woman activist Suad Al Shammary was released from prison on Feb. 7 after a three month incarceration. She was jailed after she tweeted in a microblog that if Islam says that men should have beards to distinguish them from non-believers, it did not make any sense. Several clerics in the conservative Kingdom condemned her tweet and accused her of denigrating Islam. Suad is co-founder of the Saudi Liberals group along with Raef Badawi, who is serving a prison term on charges of setting up a website that undermines general security and ridiculing religious figures.

Pir Amin ul Hasnat, Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has said the Government of Pakistan organized about 10 religious festivals of minorities officially. The Minister, referring to a survey by Gallup Pakistan said 78 per cent of Pakistanis are in favour of Christians being allowed to build places of worship which, he claimed, show that the nation has the ability to accept and respect followers of other faiths.

Five Gazan Kids Excel in Music
Five boys from the Gaza music school house in the Edward Saeed National Conservatory of Music stole the show at the Arab Got Talent TV show in Beirut in January. The group was trained by Anas Al Najjar at the Conservatory. The school is housed in a nondescript building owned by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Tel Al Hawa, a middle class neighbourhood of Gaz city. The school was started in 2008 as a project of the AM Qattan Foundation which runs cultural programmes in the Arab world. Nearly 40 students get admission in the school annually. It has a staff of 13.

Unani Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award for Unani medicine was presented to Dr. Syed Farooq, Chairman, Himalaya Drug Company on Februrary at a function to celebrate the International Unani Day by the All India Unani Tibbi Congress in New Delhi. Hakeem Ajmal Khan Award was given to Dr. Qamaruz Zaman Saharanpuri of Cure Herbal Remedies. Dr. M. S. Basu was adjudged winner of the Ayurvedic Award. Dr. K. T. Ajmal from Kerala was presented the Hakim Abdur Razzaque Award for Research and Promotion of Unani Medicine. Dr. Mohammad Ashfaq, Lucknow was adjudged the winner of the Abdul Hameed Award for Medical Services and Dr. Khalid Saifullah, Kolkata was presented the Hakim Siyanatullah Amrohvi Award for Promotion of Unani Medicine. Journalist Rahul Anand (Navbharat Times), Abdul Bari Masoud (Muslim Mirror), A. N. Shibli (Hindustan Express), Khaja rasheeduddin (Drug Today), Amit Kasana (Dainik Jagaran), and S. M. Faisal (Allied Advtg) were chosen for A. U. Azmi Award for journalism.

Ayesha Hassan AbdulRahman Al Marzooqi from Abu Dhabi has become the first Muslim woman crane operator. The 28-year old Emirati citizen works at Abu Dhabi Ports flagship Khalifa Port, the first semi-automated port in the GCC region. She operates even the super-post-Panamax crane which has a height of 126.5 metres and a weight of 1,932 tons. The crane is used to unload container vessels and has an outreach of 65m (22 containers) and a lifting capacity of 90 tons – the same weight as 48 four-wheel drives. The crane is used to unload container vessels and has an outreach of 65m (22 containers) and a lifting capacity of 90 tons – the same weight as 48 four-wheel drives. Ayesha says she was inspired by an Emirati Air Force woman pilot and felt she too could do anything that men do.

Died: Urdu poet Kaleem Aajiz died in Patna on February 15 at the age of 90. He was state Ameer of Tablighi Jamaat. Aajiz expressed himself in extremely simple yet immensely meaningful words. He was born in Tikhad village of Nalanda district in 1925. He taught Urdu in Patna University for several years. He was buried at his ancestral village.

Indo-Pak Hindu Royals Marry
Jaipur:
Kunwar Karni Singh Sodha from Umerkot in Pakistan married Padmini Singh Rathore hailing from the royal Kanota family of Jaipur on February 19 at the Narain Niwas Palace, a heritage hotel owned by the latter’s family. Groom’s father Rana Hamir Singh is renowned politician in Pakistan and is heir apparent of the royal family of Umerkot, the Hindu majority district in Sindh across the border. The family owns the Umerkot Fort where mughal e azam Akbar was born. Akbar’s father Humayun was on the run then having been dislodged from power by Turk ruler Sher Shah Suri in Delhi. The Rajput royal family of Umerkot provided refuge to Humayun for several year till he regrouped his forces and recaptured the Delhi throne.
Padmini is alumnus of Rani Gayatri Devi School in Jaipur and St. Bedes College, Shimla and is a graphic designer. Padmini told the media she will settle down in Umerkot, Pakistan. Karni graduated from Karachi University and later studied law in London. Sodha Rajputs in Pakistan and India got divided due to Partition but are supposed to marry across the gotras within the larger Rajput community. Hundreds of Sodha Rajputs from Pakistan arrive in Rajasthan every year to seek matrimony among Indian counterparts.

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