30 April 2009

Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Birmingham

I am not just a woman who was born in a Muslim family; I am also a British citizen who loves her country and stands behind our soldiers who lose their limbs and lives fighting Jihadists and Islamists. I grew up with friends and neighbours from all walks of lives, gays, atheist, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. My mother never taught me to hate or despise anyone from a different religion or culture.

So I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Muslim woman who fled an arranged marriage to live in Holland where she became famous as an MP, a writer, a fighter for Muslim women's rights and an opponent of terrorism. In her remarkable books Infidel and The Caged Virgin she tells us important truths that many of us have maybe suppressed.

There are men who have written disparagingly about Ayaan who clearly have no idea how much courage that took. Ayaan shows us that personal trauma can be the spur to speak out against patriarchal communities which lock us away and religious preachers who say we are inferior. [Democratiya] Read more

29 April 2009

Denmark: 18% of Muslims want to see Sharia law implemented

Close to a fifth of Muslims in Denmark want to see Sharia law implemented in Denmark. A study conducted by analysis institute Capacent for DR news shows that 18% of Muslims in Denmark declare they 'agree' or 'completely agree' with the statement: "Sharia law should be integrated into Danish law". [Islam in Europe] Read more

27 April 2009

Denmark: 55% of Muslims think criticizing religion should be forbidden, 64% support curtailing freedom of speech

A clear majority of Muslims in Denmark doesn't want religion to be criticized, according to a survey Capacent prepared for DR. In the study "Your Muslim Neighbor" conducted among Muslims in Denmark, They were asked whether it should be forbidden to criticize religion. 55% thought it should, while 34% didn't agree.

Capacent also asked the rest of the Danish population the same and here 10% thought that it should be forbidden to criticize religion. [Islam in Europe] Read more

26 April 2009

Flemming Rose on free speech

When asked why he decided to publish the cartoons, Rose said, "Not to insult the Muslims. It was in response to the spreading self censorship with regards to Islam. It started with a discussion on a children's books about Muhammad, whose author could not find an illustrator for it. One person was willing to do the drawings, but demand to remain anonymous, and later admitted this was out of fear of the Muslims' reactions.

"The publication also came after the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh at the hands of a Muslim (in response to his film about the Islam's attitude towards women), and the assault of a non-Muslim professor in Denmark after reading from the Quran to his class in the university. [Islam in Europe] Read more

24 April 2009

One Law for All - No Sharia Campaign

Sharia law is discriminatory and unjust, particularly against women and children. Sharia courts in Britain are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion.

Their voluntary nature is a sham as many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions. Those who fail to make use of Sharia law or seek to opt out will be made to feel guilty and can be treated as apostates and outcasts. [RichardDawkins.net] Read more

21 April 2009

Supreme Court dismisses plea against death sentence for blasphemy

The Pakistani Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against a Federal Shariat Court judgement holding that death was the only punishment for people convicted of blasphemy, a media report Tuesday said. With this, the Federal Shariat Court’s order that a light sentence in blasphemy cases is un-Islamic and unconstitutional has become effective, Dawn News channel said.

Deputy Attorney General Agha Tariq Mahmood was present before the Sharia appellate bench while the case was being heard.

Dismissing the petition, the five-member special bench noted the absence from the courtroom of those who had challenged the Shariat court judgement. [Thaindian News] Read more

13 April 2009

Muslims/Christians: A Bridge to Far?

Mohamed Pascal Hilout is the former vice-president of the Movement for French Secular Maghrebians and co-editor of Riposte Laïque. He's the founder of the reform movement Le nouvel islam (New Islam).

To summarize what Hilout says: Religion is not a basis for dialog, human rights are. Muslims must recognize their history - that Mohammad was a warrior, and the Koran calls for Jihad (war) - and move beyond it. The West must stand for its fundamental values, and Muslims must accept human rights. Freedom of speech enables people to evolve further.

The Islamic world has problems with human rights. Relativism got to Europe, which means inequality is tolerated. If you respect Muslims, you should push them for more equality, democracy and freedom, and not tolerate what is unacceptable. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Britain Struggles With Questions Of Identity

The whole concept of what it means to be British has come into question in recent years, as immigration has increased and as the pillars of the old identity that united the kingdom — empire, monarchy, the Church of England — have been eroded.

Many communities have now withdrawn into a kind of tribal loyalty to their own groups. Rightly or wrongly, the spotlight has fallen on the Muslim community, and a journey across the British landscape in many ways has to begin with them. [NPR (National Public Radio)] Read more

12 April 2009

The Free World Bars Free Speech

For years, the Western world has listened aghast to stories out of Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations of citizens being imprisoned or executed for questioning or offending Islam. Even the most seemingly minor infractions elicit draconian punishments. Late last year, two Afghan journalists were sentenced to prison for blasphemy because they translated the Koran into a Farsi dialect that Afghans can read. In Jordan, a poet was arrested for incorporating Koranic verses into his work. And last week, an Egyptian court banned a magazine for running a similar poem.

But now an equally troubling trend is developing in the West. Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticizing religion. The "Free World," it appears, may be losing faith in free speech. [The Washington Post] Read more

07 April 2009

The Guardian and Islamism - is anybody counting?

Last week The Guardian’s Comment is Free (CiF) weblog published a robust defence of ‘mainstream Islamists such as Daud Abdullah’ claiming that they were being ‘unjustly demonised and uniquely held out for political attack’. This also illustrated the power of anti-Islamist groups.

Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), recently attended a conference of Islamic religious scholars, clerics and Hamas officials in Istanbul and signed the conference declaration (see BBC report: Clerics urge new jihad over Gaza). [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Studying European Islam

On January 1st, 2009, the Free University named Thijl Sunier to the first 'Islam in Europa' professor. The interest of this professorship: following a dynamic religions which is developing in a European context.

"Islam in Europe is now in a transition phase. It changes from a brought along religion to an integrated one. Therefore it's necessary to study and research the dynamics and changes in Islam, such as it experiences in Europe. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamophobia or legitimate defense

Swiss newspaper Le Matin reports of a new book titled "Islamophobia or legitimate defense: Equality of the Sexes and Democracy - the Swiss face Islamic Fundamentalism". In her book Mireille Valette says that when it comes to Islam, in Switzerland, the only ones to be constantly heard on the side of this religion are the fundamentalist, their imams and their spokespeople. Even worse, to put the people to sleep, these spokespeople adorn themselves with the trappings of modernity and open mind, and are specialists in double-talk, ducking and maneuvering. [Islam in Europe] Read more

03 April 2009

Muslim chaplain at Harvard to be toying with idea of executing apostates?

.... there is an uproar developing over comments made by Harvard Muslim Chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser in response to an email query about apostasy stating that apostates should be killed - though they can only be killed by a legitimate “Muslim governmental authority and can not be performed by non-state, private actors.”

Concerned Muslims who are Harvard alums (or not) are being encouraged to write to Harvard and complain. Some are calling for his removal. Below the fold, the message fragment that is being forwarded around. [Talk Islam] Read more See Also: [Diana West] Read more

A Muslim mother was turned away from a school parents' evening for her son because she was wearing a full-length veil

Police were called when the 34-year-old refused to leave Our Lady and St. John Catholic Art College, in Blackburn, Lancashire, which she attended herself. The comprehensive school operates a policy which requires anyone entering the building to remove specific headwear for identification purposes.

She claims the problem first surfaced at a parents' evening two years when she was told she was not allowed into the main hall while wearing her niqab. The full veil, which covers all the body except the eyes, is worn by a minority of Muslim women in the UK as part of their religious beliefs, to protect their modesty from men. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

02 April 2009

Muslim Union says veiled woman should not use bus-passes

Bus drivers are right to require to reject Muslim women who get on the bus with a monthly pass and a veiled face, says the Muslim Union, which represents 30 Muslim associations and organizations.

The union published a statement calling on Muslim women to accept that they can only pay with a ticket, if they go with a niqab for religious reasons. A niqab only leaves the eyes visible.

The union says that bus drivers should of course be able to obtain identification from the passengers to a sufficient degree, so that they can adequately establish the correspondence between the passenger and the photo in her pass. [Islam in Europe] Read more

01 April 2009

British Islam after Rushdie

The young Muslims who protested on the streets of Bradford, Bolton, and Birmingham, who attended in their thousands the rallies in Hyde Park, are no longer so young, but neither are they so old. Most are probably in their late thirties or forties. Half a generation behind them are the young Muslims of today, the inheritors of a mantle forged in the flames of a burning book.

One strand of the Islamist narrative that began twenty years ago led, tragically, to the events of the 7 July 2005. But, as I have argued before (Prospect, August 2008), Islamism is not—and never was—a unitary phenomenon and other threads have led in different directions. How have these other stories turned out?

In order to find out, I began a journey across Britain, speaking to "ordinary" young Muslims—that is, those who are not, or have ever been, affiliated to radical Islamism—from different ethnic, class, regional and doctrinal backgrounds. I wanted to hear what they had to say for themselves; I wanted to peer into their inner worlds, to mine their experiences and emotions as well as their thoughts and opinions. [Prospect] Read more

Mosque goers vs. Dog walkers

Visitors of the El Fath mosque in the Amersfoort neighborhood of Liendert (Netherlands) and dog walkers along the Valleikanaal, behind the prayer house, are not hitting it off. Some mosque goers are annoyed by the four-legged animals, who for many Muslims are impure, running freely.

The dog owners say that El Fath didn't have permission for an entrance on the footpath. Most don't plan to leash their dogs. Local party BPA brought the issue up to the city council. [Islam in Europe] Read more