27 December 2008

Sharia divorces should be recognised by courts and the Government, according to one of the country's most senior legal figures

Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former head of the Family Division, called for judges to stop granting civil divorces to separating Muslim couples unless they had already been through a religious divorce.

She claimed the move would end the "injustice" of women being left unable to remarry if their husband refused to grant them a divorce, because under Islam only men have the power to end marriages. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

19 December 2008

U.N. assembly again votes against defaming religion

The U.N. General Assembly condemned defamation of religion for the fourth year running on Thursday, ignoring critics who said the resolution threatens freedom of speech.

The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and opposed by Western countries, passed by 86 votes to 53 with 42 abstentions. Opponents noted that support had fallen since last year, when the vote was 108-51 with 25 abstentions.

The seven-page text urges states to provide "adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."

.... The resolution only specifically mentions Islam. It deplores ethnic and religious profiling of Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and says Islam is often and wrongly associated with terrorism. [Reuters.com] Read more

18 December 2008

Prestigious journal investigates the spread of Islamic creationism

.... “the next major battle over evolution is likely to take place in the Muslim world… Relatively poor education standards, in combination with frequent misinformation about evolutionary ideas, make the Muslim world a fertile ground for rejection of the theory”.

The article also throws up some shocking statistics. Out of six countries examined, five of them have populations where 50% of people reject evolution theory outright, and that’s not including those who believe that the theory is ‘probably untrue’.

In Kazakhstan only around 28% of the population reject evolution, which is considerably less then in the United States (where 40% of the populace do not believe in evolution theory).[Counterknowledge.com] Read more

10 December 2008

Self-appointed religious “authorities” awarding themselves court-like powers

In some cases they are using the Arbitration Act and other legal devices to enforce their decisions with the full weight of English law. .... It gets worse. Someone very senior in this area, Sheik Suhaib Hassan, who is general secretary of a London-based organisation called the Islamic Sharia Council, told a television team: "Sharia is knocking on the door of Britain. ...If Sharia law is implemented, we can turn this country into a haven of peace, because if a thief's hand is cut off, nobody steals. If once -- just once – an adulterer is stoned, no one would commit this crime," he said. British society, he added, should acknowledge this system. "If they don't accept it, they'll need more and more prisons."

To me, both the Government and the judicial authorities appear to be sitting on their hands and letting the justice system slowly disintegrate. But some at least have got the message and we need to start the fight back. I am indebted to Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar and a practising Muslim, for saying, with admirable directness, "What Lord Phillips and the archbishop are discussing is something that is completely outside their area of understanding." ... “Allowing Sharia in parts of the UK would be divisive. ... "This would create a two-tier society. It is highly retrograde. It will segregate and alienate the Muslim community from the rest of British society. [National Secular Society] Read more

Launch of One Law for All - Campaign against Sharia law in Britain

The campaign calls on the UK government to recognise that Sharia law is arbitrary and discriminatory and for an end to Sharia courts and all religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights. The campaign also calls for the law to be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.

In the words of the Campaign Declaration: “Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.” [National Secular Society] Read more

Teachers 'beat and abuse' Muslim children in British Koran classes

Muslim children are being beaten and abused regularly by teachers at some British madrassas - Islamic evening classes - an investigation by The Times has found.

Students have been slapped, punched and had their ears twisted, according to an unpublished report by an imam based on interviews with victims in the north of England. One was “picked up by one leg and spun around” while another said a madrassa teacher was “kicking in my head - like a football”, says the report which was compiled by Irfan Chishti, a former government adviser on Islamic affairs.

Almost 1,600 madrassas operate in Britain, teaching Arabic and the Koran on weekday evenings to about 200,000 children aged from four to their mid-teens. [Times Online] Read more

09 December 2008

Saudi judge condemns 'immoral TV'

The most senior judge in Saudi Arabia has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes.

Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan said some "evil" entertainment programmes aired by the channels promoted debauchery. Dozens of satellite television channels broadcast across the Middle East, where they are watched by millions of Arabs every day. He was speaking in response to a listener who asked his opinion on the airing of programmes featuring scantily-dressed women during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"There is no doubt that these programmes are a great evil, and the owners of these channels are as guilty as those who watch them," said the sheikh. "It is legitimate to kill those who call for corruption if their evil can not be stopped by other penalties.” [BBC] Read more

05 December 2008

Some Imams 'biased against women': Many women felt they did not get a fair hearing under Sharia law

A Muslim think tank has found some UK Imams discriminate against women when enforcing Islamic Sharia law. Scholars at the Centre for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) interviewed 90 Muslims in London, the West Midlands, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

They found some women did not get fair hearings in forced marriage, arranged marriage and domestic violence matters. It comes after an NHS doctor was freed in Bangladesh following claims she was being held there for a forced marriage. [BBC] Read more

04 December 2008

As Europeans adapt to a more diverse citizenry, they must avoid any kind of cultural, religious, or racial determinism

The growing Muslim presence in Europe has become a central issue for all European countries, east and west. The numerous debates that have been breaking out across the continent about "multiculturalism," "secularity", or even "identity" are almost always connected to this "Islamic" factor.This link is not necessarily bigoted, because there is a fundamental relationship between "values" and "laws" on the one hand, and "culture" and "diversity" on the other.

Indeed, more than a debate over "Islam" and the "Muslims", Europe needs a serious dialogue with itself over this relationship, for it is facing a crisis.The right question to ask is this: can Europe remain consistent with its own values (democracy, equality, justice, respect, etc) and at the same time tolerate and accommodate new citizens from different backgrounds and religions? Or, to put it differently, are Europeans intellectually, linguistically, and culturally equipped to face the challenge of marrying equality with an ever more diverse European citizenry? [Guardian CiF] Read more