30 June 2009

Don't demonise sharia courts

According to the Civitas press release, MacEoin has researched the present report on sharia tribunals in the UK by: "Reproduc[ing] a range of fatwas issued by popular online fatwa sites, run out of or accessed through mosques in the UK, and in some cases … from UK Muslim schools," because, he claims, "It is extremely difficult to find out what goes on in these courts" and "these online fatwas can give a good indication of the rulings of sharia courts in Britain."

It might seem perfectly possible in our Wikipedia age to trawl through online fatwas and infer from them a summation of the operations of sharia tribunals, but it would hardly stand up to scrutiny as a piece of serious, reliable work. Nor would it accurately reflect what sharia tribunals mediate on and what sorts of mediated outcomes arise from their involvement.

.... Sharia councils deal mainly with marital disputes, with the most common referrals being from Muslim women who have approached the sharia councils to grant them an Islamic divorce (khul'a) because of the refusal of the husband to agree to do so. [Guardian CiF] Read more

See what Guardian Cif readers think of this post here

Sharia courts: are their rulings breaching British law?

Sharia courts operate in Britain in the shadows. Little is known about them or their rulings or how extensive their network is or the reach of their jurisdiction.

A report this week sheds some light. It reveals that there are not just the main five generally acknowledged to exist — in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton — there are another 85 operating largely out of mosques.

It also concludes that such courts, or tribunals, are handing down rulings that are likely to breach fundamental principles of British law and it urges the removal of their formal statutory recognition under the Arbitration Act 1996.

Sharia Law or ‘One law for all’? comes from Civitas, the independent think-tank. David Green, its director, says in an introduction to the report: “It cannot be accepted that Sharia councils are nothing more than independent arbitrators guided by faith.

“The reality is that for many Muslims, Sharia courts are part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat.” He adds: “The underlying problem is that Sharia reflects male-dominated Asian and Arabic cultures. [Times Online] Read more See Also: [The Asian News] Read more

Sharia Courts In Britain – Ruling Against British Law?

Given that under Islamic laws, women have few rights, there is rising concern about these Sharia Courts. They meet behind closed doors and apparently don’t maintain any form of records.

Sharia courts have existed in Britain since 2007, primarily in London, Bradford, Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester. The courts’ rulings are legally binding under the 1996 Arbitration Act, on condition that both parties are happy touse them, and as long as their decisions do not contradict British law.

But the Arbitration Act specifically excludes rulings on divorce and child-care cases. Now Civitas notes that many Sharia courts are exceeding the original mandate. [Jew With A View] Read more

College bars visitor wearing veil

.... Mr McMahon said: "Dialogue can only take place if all those in the college are prepared to participate in full communication. "When the policy was explained to them all except one were willing to remove it.

"This lady, a member of staff at the [pupils'] school, refused, and opted to leave the premises. He added the college was committed to promoting understanding between people from different backgrounds. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said it was a "trivial issue". [BBC] Read more

St Mary's Catholic College turns away Muslim teacher wearing veil

Abdul Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “It is a sad event but it has happened and we will try to address it and find out why it happened.” Kevin McMahon, the Principal of St Mary’s, said that the college had a policy that people entering the site did not have their faces covered.

He said that at the “taster days” for prospective students some visitors arrived wearing veils. When the policy was explained to them, all except one were willing to remove the veil. “This lady, a member of staff at the school, refused and opted to leave the premises. My colleagues offered to arrange transport but this offer was declined.” [Times Online] Read more

Qaeda warns France of revenge for burka stance

Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing threatened on Tuesday to take revenge on France for its opposition to the burka, calling on Muslims to retaliate against the country, the US monitoring service SITE Intelligence reported.

Earlier this month, President Nicolas Sarkozy said the burka, which covers the whole face, was not welcome in the strictly secular country.

"Yesterday was the hijab (the Islamic headscarf long banned in French schools) and today, it is the niqab (the full veil)," Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was quoted as saying.

"We will take revenge for the honour of our daughters and sisters against France and against its interests by every means at our disposal."

The group also called on Muslims to retaliate for what it called French "hostility" against the community and its attempt to obstruct Islam's practice on its territory. [AFP News] Read more

29 June 2009

At least 85 sharia 'courts' operating in Britain, says Civitas report

A study by the thinktank found that scores of unofficial tribunals and councils regularly apply Islamic law to resolve domestic, marital and business disputes, many operating in mosques.

It led to claims of a "creeping" acceptance of sharia principles in British law, but the Muslim Council of Britain dismissed the report as "scaremongering". The study follows the outcry over remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, last year that the adoption of aspects of Muslim law in Britain, such as in divorce proceedings, "seems inevitable".

Lord Phillips, who was then the Lord Chief Justice, attracted controversy by saying that there was "no reason why" sharia principles could not form the basis of mediation in disputes. Some decisions of Islamic tribunals are already considered legally binding and could theoretically be enforced in civil courts in England and Wales. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Sharia courts in UK giving illegal advice, transgressing human rights

Any surprised? Now that the sharia pandora is out of its box, and apparently out of legal bounds, will UK officials call off their multi-culti death wish or give themselves more rope from which to hang?

Dozens of sharia courts in the UK are regularly giving illegal advice on issues including marriage and divorce, a report published today claims.

Decisions concerning marriages not recognised under English law, polygamy, and disputes regarding children are being made by at least 85 sharia courts, according to the report by the thinktank Civitas.

“Some of these courts are advising illegal actions,” said Denis MacEoin, a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies who wrote the report. “And others transgress human rights standards.” [Creeping Sharia] Read more

Think tank concludes that Sharia courts should not be recognised in Britain

Sharia courts should not be recognised under Britain’s 1996 Arbitration Act, according to a new report from independent think-tank Civitas.

According to Denis MacEoin, author of Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’?, sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation that derive from the values of the Enlightenment and are inherent in modern codes of human rights. Sharia rulings contain great potential for controversy and may involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation, the report says. [National Secular Society] Read more

Britain has 85 sharia courts: The astonishing spread of the Islamic justice behind closed doors

At least 85 Islamic sharia courts are operating in Britain, a study claimed yesterday. The astonishing figure is 17 times higher than previously accepted.

The tribunals, working mainly from mosques, settle financial and family disputes according to religious principles. They lay down judgments which can be given full legal status if approved in national law courts.

However, they operate behind doors that are closed to independent observers and their decisions are likely to be unfair to women and backed by intimidation, a report by independent think-tank Civitas said.

.... The spread of sharia law has become increasingly controversial since its role was backed last year by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice who stepped down last October. Dr Williams said a recognised role for sharia law seemed 'unavoidable' and Lord Phillips said there was no reason why decisions made on sharia principles should not be recognised by the national courts. [MailOnline] Read more

Netherlands: 51% of Muslims considering leaving

More than a third of Turkish and Moroccan Muslims (36%) in the Netherlands want to emigrate due to the increasing popularity of Geert Wilders. More than half (51%) are considering leaving more and more often. This according to a survey by actuality program NCRV Netwerk.

Wilders' PVV party triumphed in the recent EU elections. Netwerk wanted to know what influence this had on the feeling of belonging among Muslims. 76% still feel they belong in the Netherlands, but for a majority of 57% that feeling has decreased, according to the survey which will be shown this evening on the show. Three quarters of the Muslims think it would be a threat if the PVV would be part of the cabinet after the next elections. Strikingly, 90% expect that such a cabinet will be unsuccessful.

Additionally, 75% have a feeling they're judged more negatively than in the past. 40% says they're more often discriminated. 24% says they're regularly discriminated against in the Netherlands. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Catholic school bars Muslim teacher who refused to remove face veil so staff could identify her

A Muslim teacher was barred from visiting a Catholic college after refusing to remove her full-face veil so staff could identify her.

Now the school may face a claim of religious discrimination after the woman left rather than agreeing to reveal her face. The teacher, who works at an Islamic school, was attending an open day at the sixth form college along with two teenage pupils, all of them wearing veils which left only their eyes visible. They were asked to remove them as it was against the college policy - but while the girls complied, their teacher refused.

The incident, which happened in Jack Straw's Blackburn constituency, comes as the issue of the full-face veil is once again at the centre of debate, and could see the school plunged into a court battle. [MailOnline] Read more

The truth about sharia courts

The scary revelation that there are at least 85 sharia courts operating in Britain brought this swift response from the Muslim Arbirtration Tribunal: Qamar Bhatti, a member of the governing body of the MAT, said: “We don’t have a court, it’s an arbitration, we don’t have a judge sitting with a gavel in his hand but that’s the image that this report is creating.” Aha. May I suggest that the MAT might want to redesign its website (see below)? [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

28 June 2009

Does God Hate Women?: Do religions enshrine mysogyny? This book has all the answers, but is it asking the right question?

But Benson and Stangroom don't really have religion in general in mind – there's one in particular they're after. True, a few pages deal out blame to the Christian, Jewish and Hindu deities for the misogynistic activities of some of their more extreme devotees. For all the time this book spends excoriating the backward, sexist and barbaric practices it associates with Islam, however, it's clear that the question really exercising the authors is "Does Allah Hate Women?" Not that they need have bothered with the interrogative, as they take no serious account of any arguments that might lead to the answer "no". [independent.co.uk] Read more

26 June 2009

The Muslim Menace to Our British Nationality. For Real!

Well, the bigots and racists were wrong back then and I rather fancy they're wrong again today and that, in 80 years time, people will look back upon this era of scaremongering and paranoia and consider it a grubby, shameful episode.

As I say, these matters are not exact and history rarely repeats itself in detail but it's worth bearing in mind that the apocalypse has never lacked for prophets and that, generally speaking, these prophets have subsequently been proved wrong and, in some cases, wicked. [The Spectator] Read more

Veiled threat: The burka, a symbol of repression, has no place in a free society

Among European liberals the burka is seen as a symbol of female subservience. And the freedom to opt for such deplorable status runs counter to other liberties regarded as more important in the hierarchy of freedoms: openness, transparency, equality and opportunity.

Within Western society, the covering of the face negates all such fundamental rights. The mistrust, alienation and brake on communication engendered by a face veil were the basis of Jack Straw's principled but contentious denunciation of the niqab. Such objections apply even more forcefully to the burka. [Times Online] Read more

Veiled threats: row over Islamic dress opens bitter divisions in France

Six months ago she began wearing a loose, floor-length black jilbab, showing only her expertly made-up face from eyebrows to chin. She now wants to add the final piece, and wear full niqab, covering her face and leaving just her eyes visible.

"But this week, after Sarkozy announced that full veils weren't welcome in France, things have got really difficult," she said. "As it is, people sometimes shout 'Ninja' at me. It's impossible to find a job – I'm a qualified childminder and get plenty of interviews because of my CV, but when people see me in person, they don't call back. It's difficult in this country, there's a certain mood in the air. I don't feel comfortable walking around." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

25 June 2009

Somalia steps up amputations for criminals

Four men from Somalia have had their hands cut off for stealing phones and guns. Hardline Islamists carried out the sentences on the men after they had been convicted in a Sharia court earlier this week.

Mainly women and children watched as masked men cut off a hand and foot of each of the men with machetes. Witnesses have said the four men cried for help during and after the amputations.

The four men had reportedly admitted to the robberies, but were given no appeal against their sentence. Most Somalis traditionally practise a more tolerant form of Islam but President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who took office in January, immediately allowed Sharia law. [Baltimore News.Net] Read more

Voile la difference?

Most British commentators explained the strange (to them) French headscarf ban as being somehow connected to the tradition of laïcité (republican secularism) and, more broadly, to a view of citizenship which stressed conformity and assimilation. But while we congratulated ourselves on our greater national "tolerance", few noticed that a much larger Muslim community in France seemed to produce far fewer terrorists or radicals, and almost no-one seemed aware that the strongest supporters of the ban had actually been Muslim feminists.

The cross-channel difference still exists, as Agnes Poirier (in The Times) noted: For someone like me, firmly on the Left, the defence of secularism is the only way to guarantee cultural diversity and national cohesion. One cannot go without the other. However, when I get on Eurostar to London, I feel totally alien. To my horror, my liberal-left British friends find such a position closer to that of the hard Right.

But the tone this time has been slightly different - partly, perhaps, because in the case of the burqa it is more difficult to pretend that the wearing of it is no more than a simple matter of personal choice. [Heresy Corner] Read more

The burkha should not be banned

There are plenty of reasons to criticise the burkha. It makes some people feel uncomfortable because it denies them face to face contact with the person underneath, while in certain situations, such as checking in at airports, it is clearly inappropriate. Some women are forced or pressured to wear it, while their husbands and male relatives go around uncovered. There is not even Qur’anic justification for it. Yet do these objections mean that it should be banned? No. There are two reasons for this: the practicality of such a ban, and the loss of liberty.

Enforcing such a ban would be hard. Would we have police ripping off women’s clothes if their faces were covered? Pregnant women and young mothers put behind bars for repeatedly defying the ban? Would anyone who covered their face up be breaking the law? Would Darth Vader impersonators be held? How much face would have to be covered up for it to be illegal? [Pickled Politics] Read more

24 June 2009

Banning the Burka and the BNP - the edge of tolerance

Mr Sarkozy certainly knows how to stir things up. For a number of political reasons his statements about the form of dress from Afghanistan used to enforce visual apartheid between men and women ( mostly at the expense of the women - only Japanese Ninja's seem keen on covering up. If the visual sight of someone's face is such a problem how come its always the women who have to walk around in an inverted sack ? ).

Sarko has his argument thought through to some extent, pointing out that the burka didn't exist in the time of the religion of Islam's prophet Mohamed, which points out the hypocrisy nicely of some of the Islamacist movements people who's first question on anything is "What did Mohamed do ?" - which outlaws music, TV etc but not apparently RPG's or Kalashnikovs.

His logic appears to have been accepted by the UK pressure group the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) who counter in terms of feelings and perceptions, rather than an argument about their scriptures. After all this line of self generating grievance, where the self appointed victim can say their feelings are beyond question and must mean changes to everyone else's behaviour. [Man in a Shed] Read more

Daily Express calls for banning the burqa

The niqab and burqa debate sparked off by Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on Monday continues apace in today’s papers.

The Daily Express informs us that both Muslims and non – Muslims want Britain to ban the burqa. Their sources of authoritative commentary? Among others, the rabid neo-con Douglas Murray and Ghaffar Hussain of the Quilliam Foundation. What a surprise. Murray tells the Express that a religious defence of the burkha is “completely bogus”, and that “there are parts [of the Qur’an] which speak of modesty but not this complete covering up. This idea that it is a religious requisite is only put forward by the extremists.”

But you see, those defending the rights of women to wear the burqa aren’t doing so on the basis of a religious edict, but a liberal one. How a woman interprets verses on modest dress is her business, and whether she opts for a headscarf, a niqab, a burqa, or none of the above, is her business and her business alone. In proscribing her ability to exercise such a right Murray is no different to the extremists who compel Muslim women to observe dress codes not of their choosing. [ENGAGE] Read more

Why I, as a British Muslim woman, want the burkha banned from our streets

I was born in this country, and my parents' greatest desire for me was that I would integrate and take advantage of the British education system.

They wanted me to make friends at school, and be able to take part in PE lessons - not feel alienated and cut off from my peers. So at home, I wore the salwar kameez, while at school I wore a wore a typical English school uniform.

Now, to some fundamentalists, that made us not proper Muslims. Really? I have read the Koran. Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a woman's face and body must be covered in a layer of heavy black cloth. Instead, Muslim women should dress modestly, covering their arms and legs.

Many of my adult British Muslim friends cover their heads with a headscarf - and I have no problem with that. The burkha is an entirely different matter. It is an imported Saudi Arabian tradition, and the growing number of women veiling their faces in Britain is a sign of creeping radicalisation, which is not just regressive, it is oppressive and downright dangerous. [MailOnline] Read more

How to ban the veil?

Answer: find some co-operative Muslims who will agree with you, and promote their views as representative of the community. That way you neatly deflect accusations of racism. So we have the Express asserting that "both Muslims and non-Muslims" advocate a ban, while the Daily Mail wheels out Saira Khan, who writes in terms that could just as easily be found on some far-right website:

"In hardline Muslim communities right across Britain, the burkha and hijab – the Muslim headscarf – are becoming the norm.... Thanks to fundamentalist Muslims and 'hate' preachers working in Britain, the veiling of women is suddenly all-pervasive and promoted as a basic religious right. We are led to believe that we must live with this in the name of 'tolerance'. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Why the burka is part of Britain: Modern moderate Muslims feel banning such religious clothing would prove counter-productive

Imagine this scene at the next State Opening of Parliament. The Queen is standing in front of the assembled Lords and Commons, reading from the speech prepared for her by the Prime Minister. "My Government," she says in that familiar high-pitched but colourless voice, "will ban the burka. It is not welcome in Britain. In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen."

The sound of jaws dropping would be audible at the Channel ports. And yet, only two hours' train journey away, it is possible for President Sarkozy to make such an announcement (for Britain, of course, read France). And these weren't off-the-cuff comments. He picked the first time both the National Assembly and Senate have met in one place for nearly 150 years – at the Palace of Versailles, no less – to launch his attack on this form of Muslim dress. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

23 June 2009

A Sign of Subservience

So the arch-secularist Sarkozy has come out in favour of a ban on the burka. Mr Sarkozy was adding his voice to a strong consensus that has emerged this month against women in France’s five million-strong Muslim community who wear the full or nearly-full cover of their bodies and faces. The latest French controversy over Muslim dress, which follows the 2004 ban on head-cover in state schools, began this month when 60 MPs from both sides of the house demanded action against the burka and the niqab.

I can't argue with his sentiments, and I find it interesting that the majority of commenters both here at the Times, and at the Guardian, seem to be in general agreement with the little Frenchman. But really, you can't have governments legislating on how people dress. Still, I admit to being quietly pleased that he's said what he's said, even if I don't necessarily agree with his conclusion.

As I've argued before, this is a feminist issue. I look forward to the time when I come across a group of sisters stopping a be-niqabed or burka'd woman and explaining to her exactly why they find such attire deeply offensive. Some day.... [Mick Hartley] Read more

22 June 2009

Hallway culture clash: In a Toronto apartment building, a feud has broken out over a neighbourly 'hello.' What hath multiculturalism wrought?

When the landlady of my Toronto apartment building said an outraged neighbour had filed a complaint about me over an apparently inappropriate hallway interaction with his wife, my mind raced through the countless conversations I've had with fellow tenants, none of which seemed a possible source of offence.It turns out, it wasn't a salacious transaction that had caused the complaint, but rather a neighbourly and -- to me -- entirely forgettable greeting, little more than a brief "good morning" as I passed my neighbours on the way to work.

Still, it was enough of an affront for the man -- once a doctor somewhere in the Middle East, my landlady clarified -- to feel I had broken a cultural taboo. The incident started an awkward feud which has involved warnings not to repeat my indiscretion and one face-to-face shouting match, which included allusions to my impending death. [National Post] Read more

Nicolas Sarkozy says Islamic veils are not welcome in France

In the west covering the face is seen as hostile and suspicious. Women who choose (sic) to wear Islamic dress cut themselves off from the west and whether they intend it or not they send an unfreindly message to all they meet. The full covering of the face makes them invisible and anonymous.

Given that most communication is non verbal and facial expression is extremely important during communication non muslims will always find this form of dress off putting.

.... As the headscarf and veil are recent developments they can hardly be classified as either traditional or a religious requirement. Muslims who came to live here in the 60's and 70's saw no reason to dress in this way so why do they now? I believe they are a good indicator of the level of influence the islamists have in the wider muslim community. If it isn't contentious to ban hats and hoodies in public places why is it contentious to ban islamic coverings? [guardian.co.uk] Read more See Also: [Time.com] Read more

20 June 2009


I have argued for YEARS that the UK government should ban the Burqa I am therefore fascinated to read that President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is to consider banning the burka and other Islamic clothing which French MPs claim is degrading to women.

I am 100% in support of this and think that all of us who are not dhimmi shills should support the French in this initiative. Mind you, I can but think that the "youths" who enjoy recreational rioting in the banlieus may not be too happy about this.

Can you imagine Labour or the Conservatives finding the cajones to do likewise? Hope the French follow through. [A Tangled Web] Read more

18 June 2009

Wafa Sultan’s Speech in Copenhagen

I insisted that publishing the cartoons was a very initial step to educate Muslims all over the world to acknowledge criticism and listen respectfully to how others view aspects of their religion.

Ever since, I have been closely watching Arabic media, and assure you that publication of those cartoons has played a major role in making a positive change. And if that crisis, Islamic ideology emblazoned in hatred, violence, and intolerance, had not been questioned or challenged by outsiders in such a strong manner, the cartoon episode changed the paradigm and so was a turning point from which there is no way back.

However, Muslims still find it difficult to accept responsibility for their actions, and the question is why. Muslims have been hostages to their belief system for 1400 years. They simply have not been exposed to the world outside their Islamic restricted prison. They follow blindly their dogma and aren’t at all capable of critically reflecting and self-criticizing. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

Clashes as Muslim extremists attempt to segregate women

A public debate organised by a banned Islamist group sparked scuffles and angry confrontations over segregated seating for women.

Police were called after members of Al Muhajiroun physically prevented men and women from sitting next to each other leading to claims of assault and intimidation.

The event titled Sharia law versus British law was meant to see radical preacher Anjem Choudary debate Douglas Murray, director of the right-wing thinktank the Centre for Social Cohesion at Conway Hall in central London last night. [Evening Standard] Read more

Muslim council slams call for burqa inquiry

France's Muslim council hit out Thursday at a lawmakers' call for an inquiry into women who wear the burka, the head-to-toe Islamic veil, warning not to "stigmatise" the country's five million Muslims.

The lawmaker spearheading the drive, Communist Andre Gerin, is mayor of the southern city of Venissieux, home to a large north African immigrant community, where he says the sight of fully-covered women has become commonplace. [AFP News] Read more

17 June 2009

Why Sharia doesn’t seek the Sharia to be enforced by the State

Muslim scholars do not have a single detailed rule of Sharia that they agree upon. They agree on broad principles which most humans do, but in general they do not agree on a single body of law which they call Sharia. They have loads of different interpretations on most aspects of their religious code – if not all. To give an example let’s take the rulings of alcohol and wine. Is wine or alcohol forbidden? If it is both or either, is there a punishment? If so, what is the punishment? If not then it is up to the authorities to criminalize or not – a process called Tazir. The fact is there is no consensus on such issues.

So Islamists are not imposing Sharia in as much as calling for a sectarian state such as Shia Islamist Iran, or Wahabist Saudi Arabia or Taliban-twisted interpretations of Deobandism in Afghanistan, etc. [The Spittoon] Read more

No, madam, it's you who have offended MY values

On a train to London, a young woman wearing a burkha, with only her heavily made-up eyes peeping out, did not have a valid ticket.

Challenged by the guard, the young woman gave a litany of excuses. She had left her bag at her boyfriend's, he had bought the ticket, she had no money on her... My friend Jane, who was in the same carriage, noticed how the guard became nervous as the Muslim girl presented herself as an innocent in a society she didn't understand. Instead of issuing a penalty fine, the guard backed off, shrugging his helplessness at the other passengers. [MailOnline] Read more

16 June 2009

Conversion to Christianity Threatens Public Order

An Egyptian court refused on Saturday, a request by Muslim-born Maher El-Gowhary, who converted to Christianity 34 years ago, to order the Civil Registry to alter his religious designation on his ID. The Civil registry had refused to amend his State identification documents to show his Christian name Peter Athanasious and his Christian affiliation, leading him to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior.

According to the Court ruling, the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic law and poses a threat to the "Public Order" in Egypt.

"It is a sad day for freedom of religion in Egypt," said Fayez Saeed, a member of the legal team working on El-Gohary's case, to the Coptic News Bulletin. "Today the Egyptian judiciary was struggling between establishing the principle of religious freedom to which Egypt is committed and its support for the Islamic State advocated by the Salafis in Egypt (fundamentalist Islamic thought), but it (the judiciary) sided for the victory of an Islamic State at the expense of Freedoms." [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more

Light sensors cause religious row

A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.

Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights. The couple's religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays. They have now issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination. [BBC] Read more

15 June 2009

Quilliam Foundation exposed by new report as having no support amongst UK Muslims

The already microscopically minuscule credibility of the Quilliam Foundation has suffered yet another hugely embarrassing setback with the publication of a new report from the Redbridge Faith Forum.

The report produced by Redbridge Faith Forum (RFF) for Redbridge Safer Communities Partnership (RSCP), entitled, “Conversations with Muslim Community leaders in Redbridge about the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Agenda”, finds that contrary to the views articulated by the anti-Muslim brigade at Harry’s Place, the QF has no following whatsoever among British Muslims. [ENGAGE] Read more

For criticism of above article see article below.

Bungles Continues Comical Crusade Against Quilliam Further to his increasingly pathetic obsession with anybody who stands against Islamism in the UK, Inayat Bunglawala has launched (via his iEngage group) yet another attack on Quilliam,. This time he is citing a report from the Redbridge Faith Forum.

.... Unfortunately for him, the evidence does not support his assertions. He claims the report shows no British Muslim support for Quilliam – but have a look at page six. [The Spittoon] Read more

Muslim waitress awarded £3,000 for being made to wear low-cut dress

Fata Lemes, 33, quit her job after claiming that the low-cut dress was “disgusting” and made her look like a “prostitute”. Miss Lemes, a Bosnian Muslim, had told an employment tribunal that she “might as well have been naked” in the dress. “I was brought up a Muslim and am not used to wearing sexually attractive clothes,” she said.

But lawyers acting for the Rocket Bar where she worked, have tried to re-open the case after a picture emerged of Miss Lemes on Facebook showed her wearing a plunging T-shirt exposing her cleavage while she was at the beach. [Times Online] Read more

14 June 2009

Diana West addresses Copenhagen conference

Americans are proud, and rightly so, of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which, among other things, protects speech from government control. The Amendment says in part: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Increasingly, however, Americans seem content to regard the First Amendment not as the fundamental working tool of democracy, but as a national heirloom, a kind of antique to admire rather than put to use. I don’t think many of my countrymen perceive how profoundly their attitude toward free speech has changed.

But there is a difference between having freedom of speech and exercising freedom of speech, one that has become glaringly and distressingly obvious to me since September 11, 2001. So, while it is true that the US government is not Constitutionally empowered to make laws that censor Americans, it is also true, I believe, that Americans have come to censor themselves. But why? [International Free Press Society] Read more

13 June 2009

Secretary forced out of Muslim school by parents who thought she was a man

Shifa Patel, who dressed for work in a traditional hijab (head covering) and full-length robe, was targeted after photographs of her with short hair and wearing a shirt and trousers were copied from social networking site Facebook.

The photos were circulated among pupils at Al-Islah Muslim Girls' School in Blackburn, Lancashire, by email before it reached parents, who began to complain. When Fatima Patel, the acting head teacher, heard the gossip, she sent a letter reassuring parents of Miss Patel's gender. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

12 June 2009

Allow divorce, woman urges Muslim leaders

A woman says she feels "heartbroken" and "trapped" at not being able to secure a divorce under Muslim law, despite separating from her husband 14 years ago. Masuma Jariwalla, of Oadby, is divorced from her husband under British civil law, but if she wishes to remarry as a Shia Muslim, her husband must agree to a divorce under their religion's law. He has still not accepted their civil separation in 1995 as binding and refuses to grant her a religious divorce. Her situation was raised in the House of Commons this week with Justice Minister Bridget Prentice. [Leicester Mercury Media Group] Read more

11 June 2009

Radical Islamists must be exposed, not invited to tea

One of the bravest things I have witnessed is the stand taken by ex-Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears against political Islam. As her adviser, I saw first-hand the pressures on her to sit round the table with groups whose political outlook was the diametric opposite of her beliefs in pluralist democracy, rights for minorities and equality for women. She consistently stood firm.

For years, government ministers unquestioningly invited the leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to meetings to “represent” the political, ethnic and religious diversity of Britain’s Muslims, as though such a thing were possible.

First under Ruth Kelly, then Hazel Blears, the Government wised up to the nonsense that a small, unelected group of men, drawn from the conservative elements of Islamic politics, spoke for millions of Muslims in modern Britain.

New groups were nurtured and supported, such as the Muslim Women’s Advisory Group. The hardliners in the MCB and other groups were challenged, not fêted. It culminated in a boycott of the MCB after one of its leaders attended a conference in Istanbul dominated by supporters of Hamas. [The Jewish Chronicle] Read more

Culture of hatred exists in Muslim world

Currently, schoolchildren in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are taught to hate Israelis, Jews and westerners. Saudi Arabia claims, however, that its Education Ministry has eliminated the intolerant, hateful rhetoric from school textbooks.

These claims are false. Saudi textbooks continue to teach young students to hate, according to a 2008 report by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. According to this report, Saudi textbooks continue to have hateful and intolerant statements, such as: “Every religion other than Islam is false”, “The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers (Muslims),” and, “The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

In 2008, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education issued its own report that concluded that “little has changed over the years in Saudi school curricula.” According to this report, textbook statements include: “Now it (Palestine) is occupied by the Jews, a people of treachery and betrayal, who have gathered there from every place ... their end, by God’s will, is perdition”; and “The struggle of this nation (the Muslim nation) with Jews and Christians goes on, and it will last forever ...” [The State Journal-Register] Read more

Muslim ‘educator’ accuses British schools of ‘cultural fascism’

IFTIKHAR Ahmad, of the London School of Islamics, has launched yet another broadside against the British educational system, accusing it of “cultural fascism”. Ahmad caught our attention yesterday with an email headed Muslim Children and Sex Education.

In it he laments the fact that a group of Muslim parents face possible prosecution for withdrawing their children from gay and lesbian lessons given earlier this year at the George Tomlinson School in Waltham Forest, East London. [The Freethinker] Read more

Brit hate preacher wants ‘impure’ Barbie, Peppa Pig banned

Muslim extremists want toys such as Peppa Pig and Barbie banned, fearing they bring a corrupting influence on their kids by promoting “western values” against Islam.

Some shopping centres, including one in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were reported to have already dropped the Peppa Pig dolls from their shelves. [Thaindian News] Read more

10 June 2009

MPACUK Is About the Political Revival of the Ummah

What we mean by the political revival of the Ummah is: The protecting of the religion and the Ummah and the organising of Muslim affairs. Thus, we see no reason why our Scholars, Mosques and the ISOCs be left unaccountable to the Ummah for refusing to bring about the true nature of Islam, and instead pacify its nature by pre-occupying the Muslims with trivial matters of fiqh while the protection of Islam, and the Ummah is left unattended by these leaders and flawed scholars who teach this version of Islam.

Hence, the Palestinians are slaughtered while the Mosques teach the Ummah the perfect length of the trousers or some other relatively trivial matters. Hence, thousands of so-called practicing Muslims walk around with trousers above their ankles, or long flowing beards or the sisters with their own, pre-occupation with outward appearance and yet these very same people never lift a finger in their daily lives, never get political for the sake of the Ummah. [MPACUK] Read more

Prison magazine withdrawn because satirical swine-flu article offends Muslim inmates

The Jailhouselawyer’s Blog carries news that Inside Time, a monthly magazine distributed free to prisoners in the UK, has recalled 50,000 copies of its latest issue because of fears that a humorous article on swine flu and an accompanying cartoon could be offensive to Muslim inmates. [MediaWatchWatch] Read more See Also: [Dizzy Thinks] Read more

Calls for Red Cross symbol to be axed over links to the Crusades

A Labour minister has sparked controversy by claiming that an alternative symbol is needed for the Red Cross because of the logo's supposed links to the Crusades.

Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant said that the historic emblem risked undermining the work of the humanitarian organisation.His intervention came as MPs debated the adoption of the 'red crystal' - a diamond-shaped badge - to avoid the religious connotations of the cross and crescent symbols currently used by the international body. [MailOnline] Read more

09 June 2009

Muslim prisoners are revolting

A little jailbird contacted me from inside to inform me "that the gov has ordered the removal of the latest issue, [of Inside Time - The National Newspaper for Prisoners,] due to the "angry andy" column on p31".

I phoned John Roberts, Operations Director and Company Secretary at Inside Time, and he confirmed that all 50,000 copies have been removed from prisoners throughout the penal estate because of a complaint received from the Iman as it was believed it would offend Muslim prisoners. Mr Roberts added that plans are under way to republish and redistribute the June issue without the "offending" satirical article. [jailhouselawyer] Read more

08 June 2009

Thank you, to all those Muslims who have failed to engage with the non-Muslims around them ....

I strongly believe that it's more important to educate and empower young British Muslims than the many backward, ignorant and incompetent older British Muslims who have continuously failed to defend the British Muslim community and Islam. After all, it is young British Muslims who will be the next generation of leaders that will need to lead this weak community that is known as the British Muslim community. [MPACUK] Read more

Christians must protect britain from muslims

PASTOR JONATHAN Oloyede, the church leader behind prayer initiative Global Day of Prayer London (GDOP), has called on Christians to stand up for their faith and protect Britain’s cultural heritage. Speaking at a special GDOP prayer event held in the London Borough of Newham Pastor Oloyede said Muslims “want to take over” the country.

"I used to be a Muslim. The Muslims don't just want to build a mosque. They want to take over,” he said. “If you want to roll over and play dead while the legacy of your forefathers is thrown in the dust and you can't stand up and say enough is enough, then you are not fit to be a Christian." [The Voice] Read more

UN free speech rapporteur told to watch his mouth

Frank la Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to free expression, got a firm telling off by representatives of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Geneva last week. His crime? To suggest that Restrictions [on free speech] should never be used to protect particular institutions or abstract notions, concepts or beliefs, including religious ones. And that “defamation of religions does not accord with international standards on freedom of expression”

Enraged diplomats from Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and individual delegations such as Algeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Sudan and Yemen claimed that La Rue was overstepping the bounds of his mandate by saying such things. [MediaWatchWatch] Read more See Also: [National Secular Society] Read more

07 June 2009

Islam’s Law of Apostasy in Our Globalized World

Even as these new immigrants to the West were able to practice their religious and political beliefs in complete freedom, another completely opposite phenomenon was occurring in the lands of their birth. The leaders in many of those newly de-colonized countries were drafting policies that did not allow for tolerance and freedom of expression for any religion but Islam. Many guest workers from Asia and Africa went to live and work in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East. But they had a rude awakening when they attempted to practice Christianity.

Saudi Arabia in particular has been very hostile to religious freedom of its guest workers. They are absolutely forbidden to engage in any worship activity. It is obvious to all who follow world events that conditions for natives in many African countries in particular are even worse. Many who hold to a faith other than Islam are mercilessly sought out, harassed and murdered. [Faith Freedom International] Read more

06 June 2009

Dutch anti-immigrant party emerges as big winner in EU elections

A far-right anti-Islamic party emerged as the big winner in the European elections in the Netherlands yesterday as the rest of the Continent braced itself for further gains by fringe parties over the weekend.

The Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders, the maverick Dutch MP who was banned from entering Britain this year for his beliefs, won four seats in the European Parliament at the first time of asking, having been formed in 2006.

The result, which placed the party second in the Netherlands, behind only the ruling Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA), suggested that anti-immigrant parties would attract disaffected voters in a number of countries in the European polls. [Times Online] Read more

Imam bridges a wedding divide

MUSLIM women and their Christian fiancés from across Europe are travelling to Oxford to get married because imams in their own countries refuse to perform the ceremonies. Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, said he had performed about 36 marriages in the past two years between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. More imams are happy to marry Muslim men to non-Muslim women. [The Oxford Times] Read more

Religious garb open to security searches, if sharia compliant; Muslims complain

To minimize potential conflicts, Gansler’s office suggests that security details have male and female officers and that a private space be set aside at courthouse entrances for those whose religion discourages them from removing a head covering in public or in front of a member of the opposite sex.

A private area to show your face? Creep creep. That sounds like it could be a potential burden to the state of Maryland as it would require women officers to either be on duty or on call 24/7 to accommodate the sharia legal standard of Muslim women who don’t want to remove their veils and burqas in front of men. [Creeping Sharia] Read more

05 June 2009

Lord Tebbit compares Sharia law with Kray twins' arbitration system

The former Cabinet minister used the example of the twins - Ronnie and Reggie - who ran an underworld empire in the 1950s and 60s, to highlight the problem of women precluded from access to British law by some cultures.

At question time in the Lords, Lord Bach had told peers that individuals have "the option to use religious councils or any other system of alternative dispute resolution" but that English law would prevail if there was any conflict.

But Lord Tebbit said: "A few years ago in the East End of London there was a system of arbitration of disputes that was run by the Kray brothers.

"Are you not not aware that there is extreme pressure put upon vulnerable women to go through a form of arbitration that results in them being virtually precluded from access to British law? [telegraph.co.uk] Read more See Also: [MailOnline] Read more

Government 'complacent' about Sharia say Lords

Peers in the House of Lords have warned that the Government is “disturbingly complacent” about the operation of Islamic Sharia law in the UK. They were not convinced by the Government’s assurance that application of Sharia law by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal remains subject to English law.

During House of Lords questions yesterday, Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked the Government “whether they support the implementation of Sharia Law in the United Kingdom”. In response, justice minister Lord Bach said: “Sharia law is not part of the law of the United Kingdom and the Government have no intention of making any change to that position”.

Lord Pearson said this reply suggested that the Government “may be disturbingly complacent about the fact that Sharia law is incompatible with the values and law of this country”. [The Christian Institute] Read more

Moderate Muslims fight back

Bizarrely, from the Daily Fail, comes good news for British moderate muslims. One of the straw men often presented to the moderate muslim community (apart from “There is no moderate muslim community!”) is that if they existed, and cared, and were not tacit fascists, they’d be out in the streets protesting against or confronting the militants in their own community.

Where are the moderate muslims shouting down Omar Bakri? Where are the muslim Britons defending our troops from the insults of extremists?
Well, Luton, apparently. [Liberal Conspiracy] Read more

Cultural festival dropped after halal meals fuss

The Dutch city of Arnhem had to drop the 'Klarendal Culturendal' festival. A fuss about halal meals according to the Islamic prescriptions in the kitchen of the De Leuke Linde playground led to the premature end of the festival.

The administration of De Leuke Linde think that the Islamic Union was biased and demanding during the preparations. "We do not agree with this manner of collaboration and did not want to continue," writes Ron Onstein on behalf of the administration to those directly concerned. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Won’t somebody please think of the children

Muhammad’s marriage to A’isha would logically only be of real concern to a non-Muslim living in 21st century Britain if Muslims were, following his model, regularly involved in child marriages. But, apart from possibly in Saudi Arabia and Iran, they aren’t.

If your claim is that Islam is fundamentally depraved because Muslims seek to emulate Muhammad and he married a six-year-old, then it is entirely shot down by Muslims not emulating Muhammad on this matter. [The Spittoon] Read more

Throwing women under the bus

YESTERDAY my colleague in Washington defended Barack Obama's tepid defence of women's rights in his Cairo speech. He noted that a few years ago Karen Hughes, a Bush aide, tried to talk up the subject on a PR tour of the Middle East. She didn't get anywhere, so why push it?

I think this is dubious reasoning. Is America supposed to give up on any challenge if the Bush people couldn't tackle it? [Economist.com] Read more

04 June 2009

Still making excuses for religious extremists

Oh look, ex-Muslim Council of Britain honcho Inayat Bunglawala has written an article not only arguing for free speech for the extremist group al-Muhajiroun, but also chiding Luton Muslims for driving away those idiots last week!

Amusing to watch a man, until recently obsessed with telling everyone how free speech and Islamophobia was hurting Muslims, now singing like a canary about how great freedom of expression is. Inayat Bunglawala’s two-faced hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Yesterday’s Independent carried an excellent article: Luton fights back against right-wing extremists. It mentions that many of Luton’s ordinary Muslims had to face constant hassle and goading from extremists from the al-Muhajiroun/al-Ghuraaba lot. The demo against British soldiers was clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back and the following week they drove the extremists off the Mosque. Good on them. [Pickled Politics] Read more

03 June 2009

Blind passenger hounded off bus because of his dog

A driver told a blind cancer sufferer to get off his bus when a woman and her children became hysterical at the sight of his guide dog. George Herridge, 71, told how the mum flew into a rage and shouted at him in a foreign language. A passenger explained she wanted him to get off the bus during the incident on May 20. Mr Herridge, from Tern Close, Tilehurst, said: “Her child was kicking and screaming and someone off the bus told me her child was frightened of my dog. The driver said, ‘Look mate, can’t you get off?’

.... As part of a Muslim Council of Britain project, Mufti Zubair Butt, Shar’ia advisor to Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS, admitted Muslims “require some education” on guide dogs.

In response to concerns raised about guide dogs in mid-2008, he said: “It is important that one does not impose one’s own understanding upon others, but one shows understanding and compassion for others, their needs and their views, especially in an open communal space and in a country where Muslims are living as a minority.” [Reading Post] Read more

Islamists in the Hospital Ward

A number of incidents are showing the incompatibility of radical Islam with modern medicine. Here are a trio to get this blog going, with more examples to be listed, in reverse chronological order, as they occur:

.... Muslim dentist insists patients obey Islamic dress codes: Omer Butt, 32, is a dentist at the Unsworth Smile Clinic, in Bury, Lancashire, a clinic funded by taxpayers via the National Health Service, and also the brother of the notorious Hassan Butt, former spokesman of "Al-Muhajiroun." Butt posted put a sign in his waiting room informing women under his care – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – that they must wear a hijab or find another dentist, while men had to remove any gold jewelry. [Daniel Pipes] Read more

01 June 2009

Three pieces of blasphemy news from Europe today, and they are all good

Firstly, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, the body’s constitutional law experts, advised that “blasphemy” should not be a criminal offence. They affirmed that blasphemy is part of a person’s freedom of expression, and was thus protected speech. “Incitement to religious hatred” on the other hand, should be illegal.

Secondly, the Norwegian parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove the “blasphemy paragraph” from a raft of new legislation. It was replaced with an additional paragraph on racism. Only the Christian People’s Party wanted blasphemy to be formally criminalised, as a “symbolic law.” [MediaWatchWatch] Read more

Tories set to create boom in Islamic schools

"The reality is that parents who want to can send their children to an independent Islamic school, can send them to madrassahs for religious teaching after school and many pupils will be attending schools where de-facto segregation already exists.

"We want to meet the rights of parents to give their children a faith-based education in accordance with their Islamic beliefs while at the same time ensuring that these schools are properly run and promoting the values of a modern Britain.

He said any new school would be expected to teach English history and a "sense that were are all one nation who have made a certain set of shared sacrifices but enjoy certain shared freedoms." Mr Gove also said that any new faith school would be monitored by inspectors who were trained to be able to distinguish between moderate mainstream views and extremist teachings. [Yorkshire Post] Read more

Girls Pressured to Wear Hijab at Norwegian School

Just before Easter, Human Rights Service (HRS), the Oslo-based foundation for which I serve as information director, got a tip about what was described as an intense pressure to wear hijab at Vahl Grade School in downtown Oslo. Sources connected to the school told HRS that a female employee of Pakistani origin was openly trying to push hijabs on girls as young as first graders. She flattered the girls who didn’t wear hijab by telling them how pretty they would be if they only put on hijabs, and said that she could give them hijabs as gifts. [Pajamas Media] Read more

Religion and cruelty

Today’s Observer carried an opinion piece by the co-author of a book called Does God Hate Women?, to be published by Continuum this week, which gives a brief list of the worst things religious people have done in the past century or so. (The book probably has quite a few more examples.) The article left me wondering how a respectable liberal Sunday broadsheet can print such a shoddy article containing such obvious generalisations and faulty logic, but then, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s ramblings a few weeks ago left me feeling the same way. [Indigo Jo] Read more