31 January 2010

Denmark: Muslims feeling less religious, more Danish

While the government is dealing with the burka ban .... and is increasing requirements for foreigners who want permanent residence in Denmark, integration is going ahead, according to new data from the Catinét analysis institute, which researched a big group of refugees and immigrants regarding their relationship to religion and Danish-ness. Religion is taking up less space, and the percent of immigrants who feel Danish is increasing, the data shows. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Should Richard Dawkins be arrested for incitement to religious hatred?

.... What fate would befall Cranmer if he equated all Muslims with the ‘obnoxious’ Osama Bin Laden? What persecution and injustice would he endure of he criticised the Qur’an; parodied the ‘nauseating’ and ‘barbaric’ teachings which emanated from the ‘nasty human mind’ of Mohammed; or said the ‘entire religion is founded on an obsession’ with killing the infidel?

.... Might he find himself in court, like Geert Wilders, accused of inciting hatred for daring to articulate a religious opinion? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

30 January 2010

The roots of Muslim rage

In one of his letters Thomas Jefferson remarked that in matters of religion "the maxim of civil government" should be reversed and we should rather say, "Divided we stand, united, we fall." In this remark Jefferson was setting forth with classic terseness an idea that has come to be regarded as essentially American: the separation of Church and State.

This idea was not entirely new; it had some precedents in the writings of Spinoza, Locke, and the philosophers of the European Enlightenment. It was in the United States, however, that the principle was first given the force of law and gradually, in the course of two centuries, became a reality. [ICJS Research] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

29 January 2010

Sharia’s Dominion

.... Both Sultan and Darwish document how traditional Islamic law, or sharia, underpins Islamic life. Darwish argues that under Islam’s golden period of conquest and imperial rule, sharia’s most important aspect was “total control of the large and diverse Muslim empire—everyone’s behavior, loyalty, mind and even soul.”

.... She would have sharia declared an illegal, dangerous totalitarian ideology, in much the same way that the United States did decades ago with Communism. These steps would not stop the entry of Muslims intent on subverting the Western system, but they would put them on notice. [City Journal] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Italy moves towards emulating France on burqa ban

Italy may soon seek a ban on full-face Muslim veils, drawing on debate in France where President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the burqa as unwelcome and legislators are considering a vote to outlaw or restrict it.

Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna has said the Italian government will quickly follow in France’s footsteps, breathing new life into four draft bills on burqas already circulating in parliamentary committees. [Reuters Faithworld] Read more

28 January 2010

Most Britons Would Ban Burqa in Public Places, Airports and Schools

As lawmakers in France openly recommend a ban on full veils, people in Britain believe that garments that cover the face should also be outlawed in the United Kingdom, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

% Agree or disagree with banning in public places
AgreeDisagreeNot sure

% Agree or disagree with banning at airports
AgreeDisagreeNot sure

Garments that conceal a woman’s face are an effront to British values
% Agree% Disagree% Not sure

The Government should not tell individuals what they can or cannot wear
% Agree% Disagree% Not sure

[Angus Reid] Read more

Denmark urges full use of rules limiting face veil

Denmark's government said Thursday that face-covering Muslim veils don't belong in Danish society but no ban is needed because their use can be limited under existing rules.

The center-right government said the burqa - an all-covering dress - and the niqab face veil are "diametrically opposed" to the values on which Danish society is built. It called for the full use of existing rules that allow schools, as well as both public and private employers, to demand that students, teachers and workers show their faces. [newsobserver.com] Read more

German Mosques Raided Over Wife-Beating Manual

In a nationwide raid, police impounded copies of a banned book which called for violence against women. Beating of women is justified as "discipline,” so long as no bones are broken and no bruises left on the body.

.... "Women under the Protection of Islam” is the German translation of a book published in Saudi Arabia. Descriptions in the chapter "Beating the Woman” have been declared by the Federal Department for Media Likely to Endanger Young People as both discrimination and incitement to violence. [Gates of Vienna and EuropeNews] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Azad Ali and Man Made Law

Harry’s Place is pleased to report some joyous news about Azad Ali, the civil servant who says of al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki “I really do love him for the sake of Allah, he has an uncanny way of explaining things to people which is endearing”.

Azad has stepped down from the presidency of the Civil Service Islamic Society (CSIS), but his replacement is very proud of the contributions of the Awlaki supporter, and “as a Trustee he will remain involved with Society business”. Mashallah. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Geert Wilders: on trial for telling the truth

There is nothing hyperbolic in stating that a trial which has just started in Holland will have unparalleled significance for the future of Europe. It is not just about whether our culture will survive, but whether we are even allowed to state the fact that it is being threatened.

The trial of Geert Wilders has garnered hardly any attention in the mainstream press here. Fortunately the blogosphere can correct some of this. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islam and Dutch Tolerance The Netherlands is a nation long known for its emphasis on tolerance and liberal thinking. However those qualities are being put to the test at the moment with the trial of politician Geert Wilders. The outspoken MP has been at the forefront of warning against the Islamisation of Holland and Europe. For his troubles he is now on trial.

Wilders has been charged with “incitement and discrimination against Muslims” in his numerous public speeches and writings. Hate speech crimes are alive and well in Holland, and if convicted he can face up to two years in prison. [CultureWatch] Read more

Muslims in the UK: beyond the hype

Today, we are proud to launch the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) at the University of Exeter. We hope that the EMRC will be part of a wider process of voices and perspectives which are too often being ignored, or buried under a tide of negative portrayals of Muslim communities and Islam by vociferous sections of the media and populist politicians. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Media and politicians 'fuel rise in hate crimes against Muslims' A rise in the number of hate crimes against Muslims in London is being encouraged by mainstream politicians and sections of the media, a study written by a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer, published yesterday, says.

Attacks ranging from death threats and murder to persistent low-level assaults, such as spitting and name-calling, are in part whipped up by extremists and sections of mainstream society, the study says. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

[Another and earlier study commissioned by Ken Livingstone set out to blame the media for the negative portrayal of Muslims and Islam. See here]

27 January 2010

Let God be God

Last November the Malaysian government refused to release 10,000 Bibles it had seized because they contained the word Allah to refer to God. The Herald, a publication of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, challenged the government's decision to ban for non-Muslims the use of the word Allah to refer to God.

In December, a Malaysian court ruled that such a ban was unconstitutional. The court's decision provoked anger among some Muslims. The Times reported a speaker in a Kuala Lumpur mosque as saying, "We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches. Heresy arises from words wrongly used. Allah is only for us." [altmuslim] Read more

Muslim Sportswoman Fails to Overturn Headscarf Ban

A Swiss basketball player has failed in her bid to have a court overturn a headscarf ban when she plays in league games.

A local court in the canton of Lucerne said in a ruling published Wednesday that the ban doesn't breach the rights of the player, who is Muslim. [AP] Read more

Ministers attacked over tackling anti-Islamic hostility

There is growing disenchantment at the government's "lacklustre response" to rising anti-Islamic hostility, the Muslim Council of Britain has said. The council wrote to the home secretary on the "growing problem" after a march by the English Defence League (EDL). Some 1,500 EDL supporters protested against Islamic extremism in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday.

The Home Office insisted the government "will challenge any views that reject or undermine our shared values". A spokesman added: "We do not encourage or advocate any voices of hatred or violence within our communities." [BBC] Read more

‘The Niqab has no place in Islam’

.... It allows one person to remain anonymous during face-to-face communication, thus depriving the right of the other to reciprocate whilst registering the changes in facial expressions, which is vital in such communication, in conjunction to voice that is used for everyday communication.

Whether in public offices, educational institutions or out on the streets, the disadvantage to those who are required to deal with women covered under a niqab or burqa is immense. [Pickled Politics] Read more

At least she wasn't stoned

The Telegraph brings us the charming story of a 16 year old Bangladeshi girl whose misfortune it was to have grown up in a village ruled by a combination of hardline religion and traditional community values. The formal authorities have little power here, so when she was raped by the local sex-pest she had nowhere to turn. The truth emerged some weeks later when, after an arranged marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant. She was immediately divorced and sent home in shame. [Heresy Corner] Read more

We should not absolve Islam of the crimes committed in its name A young girl in Bangladesh has been sentenced to 101 lashes for having become pregnant as a consequence of being raped. Her father will also have to pay a fine to the local Islamic savages who presided over the case. The rapist was pardoned by the village elders. The girl, who married shortly after the attack, has since been divorced in the usual peremptory Islamic manner. [The Spectator] Read more

Gallup Coexist Study 2009 – The Headlines You Didn’t See!

A quarter of British Muslims don’t have confidence in the country’s Judicial system and courts!

British Muslims are the least integrated in Europe, only one in 10 is integrated

Loyalty doesn't mean much

British Muslims at greatest odds with their countrymen over what integration means – the veil is a serious issue

British Muslims have less respect for other religions than other European Muslims do

Huge gap between British Muslims and the British public regarding freedom of speech

British Muslims most likely to support violence in a noble cause

Survey may have deliberately avoided important and contentious issues

These are reasonable and accurate conclusions drawn from the 2009 Gallup Coexist study which involved 513, 506, and 504 interviews of French, German and British Muslims respectively and of 1006, 1011, and 1001 non-Muslims respectively. [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

26 January 2010

A Matter of Urbanism

This article from Novopress is a good example of the cynical nonchalance with which Sarkozy's UMP party regards the Islamic presence in France, and minarets in this particular case.

The title of the Novopress article is: "For UMP, a church steeple or a minaret, it's kif-kif". But in the long term it is not kif-kif. There is no such thing as 50-50 when you are dealing with Islam. And of course the UMP knows this: [GalliaWatch] Read more

Switzerland: Minaret referendum was a vote against the spread of Islam

According to a new analysis the supporters of the minaret ban weren't voting against Muslims, they were voting against the spread of Islam. It doesn't matter whether Islam is compatible with Swiss culture or, as Tariq Ramadan claims, 'Islam is European'.

I think this supports my view that the bottom line here is that the Swiss want Switzerland to be Swiss. They don't mind Muslims living there, but they do not want Muslim culture taking over. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Reza Pankhurst Responds

Reza has now produced a written response to the articles which appeared in The Times recently claiming that he was a member of Hizb ut Tahrir. It makes for very interesting and sometimes amusing reading. He says:

"When applying to the LSE, I made it clear who I was and the views I was persecuted for in Egypt, and my hope that I could add a different voice and angle within academic circles that is mostly absent in a highly politicised field currently being filled largely by anti-terrorism careerists rather than serious research." [Harry’s Place] Read more

'We Are Not Really Germans'

Many women in Germany who wear the headscarf say they experience barriers to employment, according to a new survey published by the Open Society Institute.

It's no secret that many immigrants have a hard time in Germany. A new study has found that women wearing headscarves have a particularly hard time on the job market and a quarter of those with Turkish backgrounds face discrimination when looking for work. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

The Bad Sufi - the client faith of the American Empire

Sufism - once just another variant of Islam, now bankrolled by Britain and the US as a 'moderate' form of the religion that could help counter extremism in Pakistan. But what is Sufism? Where did it come from? And what role does it play today?

In the first of a two-part series on Sufism, Qalandar Bux Memon argues that modern Sufi leaders have become part of Pakistan's corrupt ruling elite, favoured by the West not for their 'moderation' but for their compliance. [The Samosa] Read more

Burqa - France

A French parliament report called Tuesday for a ban on the full Islamic veil in all schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices, saying the burqa was an affront to French values. "The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable," the report released by a parliament commission said. "We must condemn this excess."

After six months of hearings, the panel of 32 lawmakers recommended a ban on the face-covering veil in all state-run institutions and offices, the broadest move yet to restrict Muslim dress in France. The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the burqa was "contrary to the values of the republic" and proclaiming that "all of France is saying 'no' to the full veil." [AFP] Read more

The cloak of darkness is no exercise of civil liberties It is gratifying that so many white British liberals have come out to defend shrouded Muslim women. Their generosity of spirit and messianic belief in liberty makes them recoil from a state ban on the burka.

France under Sarkozy is set to take this step to be followed swiftly, I am sure, by some other EU countries. In Egypt too, top theologian, Sheikh Tantawi, of al-Azhar university is pushing for an anti-burka injunction, and Turkey remains ferociously divided over the militant secularism instated by its founding fathers. [independent.co.uk] Read more

In a burka you’re cutting me off as well as you I confess that I once fell over on the job. In 2001 I was sent near the Pakistan border to interview fleeing Afghans and the local imam asked me to wear an extra-large faded blue burka in the refugee camp. I was taken to interview a woman who had lost five of her six children before managing to walk with her baby across the mountains to safety. [Times Online] Read more

Is it liberal to ban the burka? The French proposal to restrict the public wearing of burkas and face-veils seems to be gaining momentum, with an official report recommending that such garments be banned in official buildings and public transport, and even that wearers be refused residence cards and citizenship on the grounds that they exhibit "radical religious practice".

Among the claims made in the document are that the veil (worn, it is thought, by fewer than two thousand women in France) is "a challenge to the Republic", "the symbol of the repression of women, and... of extremist fundamentalism" and something that "all France is saying Non to". It added, "this is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess." [Heresy Corner] Read more

'No place for burqa' in Denmark, says Prime Minister THE face-covering burqa and niqab veils worn by some Muslim women "have no place in Danish society", Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has said. "They symbolise a view of women and humanity that we totally oppose and that we want to combat in Danish society," he said.

Denmark was "an open, democratic society where we look at the person to whom we are talking, whether it's in a classroom or on the job"."That is why we don't want to see this garment in Danish society," he said. [heraldsun.com] Read more

Ban on burqas receives strong public support in France A report drawn up by French MPs will this week call for a ban on Afghan-style burqas and other garments that cover a woman’s face. The proposal has strong public support. According to an opinion poll by Ipsos for the magazine Le Point, 57% of voters favour a ban while 37% are opposed. [Times Online] Read more

25 January 2010

Concervative Politicians Meet Muslim Law Students

.... Ross and I spent about an hour talking about issues such as the application of the two legal heritages in Britain, making it plain that in the courts of England the law of England was and must remain paramount but that what people did privately to sort out disputes was up to them, unless it led to oppression or unfairness or affected the rights of others under the law of the land.

Sharia councils do not operate in public and may not have the same regard to the rights and interests of women in family disputes or inheritance cases. [politics.co.uk] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Whither Multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism, like so many modern nostrums, was always better in theory than in practice. Indeed, it can work when it is simply allowed to happen, as was the case with the American melting pot. There social cohesion was possible despite all the diversity because people came to America wanting to become Americans. They wanted the American dream.

But when multiculturalism is enforced by governments, it usually ends up backfiring. Indeed, the hoped for integration usually ends us in disintegration. Equality by decree, or community by government fiat, will seldom work. Unless people agree to a common social vision, the various disruptive and divisive pulls will be too strong to overcome. [CultureWatch] Read more

24 January 2010

Why is the fear of a coming Eurabia so strong in certain quarters?

Khaled Diab, a Brussels based journalist, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian debunking the Eurabian invasion theory. I've discussed the issue of demographics on this blog in the past.

But Diab doesn't only ask whether Europe will become Muslim (his answer being a resounding no). He also asks why Europe fears the possibility. [Islam in Europe] Read more

23 January 2010

Terror threat will get worse, warns Government adviser

.... He urged the Government to introduce the controversial policy of 'passenger profiling' - singling out particular groups for security checks at airports or other transport hubs - in order to combat the threat posed from Islamist extremists. "The stakes are too high to worry about my individual rights," he said. "What about the right not to be bombed?"

However, Mr Wahhab, who owns the Roast restaurant in London and is chairman of the Department for Work and Pensions ethnic minority advisory group, stressed that it is vital that young Muslims are given a sense of hope if they are to be less vulnerable to the lure of extremism. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

"Jihad! The Musical' is predictably gutless. Why don't we write an Islamic 'Life of Brian'?

Some friends took me to Jihad! The Musical the other night. The Edinburgh fringe show is now showing in London at the Jermyn Street Theatre and runs for another couple of weeks. On the way out, I overheard one of the noticeably smart crowd remark with amazement that we had even been allowed to see what we just had, and expressing surprise there hadn’t been any threats.

I doubt many East London jihadis get the listings for Jermyn Street. But even if they did, they’d find little to complain about. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Ed Balls set to ban smacking in Muslim schools

Islamic schools are set to be banned from smacking children after a Mail on Sunday exposé forced Schools Secretary Ed Balls to act.

He is expected to close a legal loophole that allows Britain’s estimated 1,600 Muslim schools – or madrasahs – to smack children even though it is banned in all full-time schools. [MailOnline] Read more

Why do we kowtow to the MCB?

Last week, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that it was lifting its ban on Whitehall contact with the Muslim Council of Britain, the self-proclaimed umbrella group of British Muslims.

Quite apart from the tactical mistake of such a move — far from being an ally in the fight against extremism, the MCB is part of the problem — the group’s return to the Whitehall fold is a story of breathtaking cynicism and mind-boggling incompetence.

.... Dr Abdullah remains deputy secretary-general. His name remains appended to the Istanbul Declaration. And the MCB remains, as it has always been, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islam, the Islamist party. But the ban has been lifted. [The Spectator] Read more

22 January 2010

Islam's war against others

.... When the dots are connected, the picture that emerges is not pretty: an "Islamic world" in which terrorists are regarded often with lenience, sometimes with respect and occasionally with reverence, while minority groups face increasing intolerance, persecution and "cleansing," where even their histories are erased. We in the West are too polite, too politically correct and perhaps too cowardly to say much about it. [Washington Times] Read more

On Trial for Telling the Truth: Free Speech vs Political Correctness

Wilders and Levant Today, You, Me, Tomorrow. As we all know, the bravest man in Europe is on trial for telling the truth. This matter is obscene, and, according to Bruce Bawer, “surreal,” in part because Holland prides itself on its tolerance and commitment to free speech.

Ah, but the Dutch do not mean “truth speech” because in the picturesque land of tulips and windmills, not all of Orwell’s pigs are equal. Truth is relative, subjective, ever-changing. Thus, if something is true but that truth offends the most reactionary Muslims — then it is not protected speech; in fact, it is criminalized. [Pajamas Media] Read more

Dalia Mogahed of Gallup: Bias against Jews “linked” to bias against Muslims

Yesterday, Dalia Mogahed, the Gallup Muslim West Facts Project (MWFP) pollster released findings from a survey conducted last fall of 1,000 Americans concerning perceptions about major religions, Islam being prominent among them.

Mogahed is on President Obama’s Faith – based initiatives advisory panel. She created controversy given her appearance on a UK program discussing the joys of Shari’a for Muslim women with representatives of the extremist anti-.Jewish Hizb ut -Tahrir. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Life under ‘Blasphemy’ Law

A young Christian shopkeeper was sentenced to a life term in prison and fined more than $1,000 last week following a dubious conviction of desecrating the Quran, according to Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

.... The conviction was based on the accusation of a rival shopkeeper who, as part of an Islamic extremist proselytizing group, allegedly used a mosque loudspeaker system to incite a mob that beat Masih and ransacked his shop. [Compass Direct] Read More

Quilliam launches new ‘Concept Series’

Quilliam today released its latest publication, A Brief History of Islamism, a 16-page booklet which provides an accessible introduction to key Islamist movements and their ideas. The publication is the first in Quilliam’s new ‘Concept Series’ of short and easily-digestible publications which will help people better understand the nature of the Islamist threat in the world today.

A Brief History of Islamism particularly focuses on the emergence of Islamist movements such as Jamaat-i-Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hizb ut-Tahrir and shows how their political ideology, when combined with puritanical Saudi Wahhabism, helped to create modern Jihadism. [Quilliam] Read more

Geert Wilders addresses the court in his political show trial

If one cannot say that the Islam is a backward religion, or that Mohammad was a criminal, or defame the Qur'an even by placing it on the bottom shelf of a public library, then one is living in an Islamic country.

Especially when one is free to say that Christianity is composed of nothing but fantasies and fairytales, to desecrate the Bible with filth and pornography, or say that Jesus was gay, fantasised about sex with prostitutes, or (if he existed at all) was a fraud and a liar. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Geert Wilders: 'I want Muslim fanatic to speak in my defence' Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-Right MP, has demanded that his race hate trial should hear evidence from the fanatic who used the Koran to justify killing the director of an anti-Islamic film.

It marked an incendiary opening to the landmark case that has divided the Netherlands over the limits of freedom. Mr Wilders, 46, who is accused of incitement and discrimination, asked for 18 witnesses to be called in his defence, including Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who stabbed and shot Theo Van Gogh in an Amsterdam street in 2004. [Times Online] Read more

A Dark Day for the Enlightenment - The Geert Wilders trial is an affront to Western liberty ..... Wilder’s trial—the event today is a pretrial hearing—has been in the offing a long time. It was first announced a year ago. And yet one still finds oneself staring in disbelief at this list of charges, this document that embodies the Netherlands’ surrender of its freedoms in the name of an illusory domestic social harmony. [City Journal] Read more

21 January 2010

UK govt stands firm against UN defamation of religion proposals

It is nice to hear that repeated attempts by the ridiculous Organisation of the Islamic Conference to push a blasphemy law at the UN are being stoutly resisted by the UK government.

Last week, Lord Patten raised the question of the government’s position in Parliament, and it was answered by Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: [MediaWatchWatch] Read more

Runaway girl, 17, who converted from Islam to Christianity will be allowed to live away from Muslim parents

A runaway teenage girl who converted from Islam to Christianity has reached a court settlement that allows her to live away from her Muslim parents. Rifqa Bary, 17, will stay in a foster home under state custody in Columbus, America, until she turns 18 in August.

Bary's attorney read a statement in Franklin County Juvenile Court, saying that the girl and her parents love and respect each other and will try to resolve their differences through counselling. [MailOnline] Read more

Ambreen Sadiq, Muslim girl boxer, aims to combat prejudice to succeed in the ring

Few girls, let alone Muslim girls, can expect to be encouraged to pick up a pair of boxing gloves and go out fighting. But Ambreen Sadiq, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Bradford, has overcome opposition in her community to win her latest fight and aim for the 2016 Olympics.

Hailed tonight as a “pioneer” by the Amateur Boxing Association, Ambreen has already won the national female championship for her age and weight. She has overcome opposition from her community to be nominated as junior sports personality of the year at the British Asian Sports Awards. [Times Online] Read more

The truth about the Islamic Human Rights Commission, recommended by Britain's Muslim Police

As I noted earlier, the National Association of Muslim Police thinks British Muslims should report crimes to the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). It sounds a lovely organisation, doesn’t it? Human Rights. Who could be against that?

The only problem, as so often with Islamic groups, is that it doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

20 January 2010

Who are you calling a kaffir?

One of the main questions at the moment is who is dividing Muslims? The answer that sometimes springs from the lips of disgruntled associates is non-Muslims putting us into categories such as extremist and moderate, pro-Caliphate vs secular, austere vs fun enough to go down the pub with.

While it is true that the wider populace could really do with a more nuanced understanding of the rainbow of sectarian and political factions that are associated with Muslims, we should never forget that we are the ones responsible for making this happen. But think carefully as to how you go about this. A wise person once told me: "Take the cause seriously, but never fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously." [The Samosa] Read more

A Criticism From The French Left: Tariq Ramadan The Reactionary “40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot”

.... The text presents factual information about the politics of Tariq Ramadan. There are many issues the Left must address. First is the question of honest polemic. Useful political debate requires clearly presented political positions and an attempt to honestly engage with opponents.

And yet Yves Coleman believes that it almost impossible to either ‘catch’ or ‘corner’ Tariq Ramadan. He is difficult to pin down. The reason is simple: Tariq Ramadan often says one thing to one group, and something different, or contradictory, elsewhere. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Muslim police say Islam not to blame for terror attacks

The National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) claimed that ministers were wrong to blame Islam for being the “driver” behind recent terrorist attacks. Far-Right extremists were a more dangerous threat to national security, it said.

The officers told MPs that Muslims were being “stigmatised” by the Government’s attempts to tackle terrorism, which was adding to “hatred” against entire communities. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

The National Association of Muslim Police is in denial over Islamist terrorism The Telegraph’s report on the hugely unhelpful intervention by the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) is highly disturbing at a time when Great Britain faces an enormous threat from Islamist terrorism. The Telegraph piece reveals the controversial stance of the NAMP put forth in a memorandum submitted to a parliamentary committee investigating extremism. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Send for the Grammar Police .... NAMP complained that the concept of "Islamist terrorism" unfairly singled out Muslims. It also denounced the British government for not allowing its foreign policy to be decided by Islamic representatives such as NAMP or the Muslim Council of Britain.

Instead, it complained, "established pressure groups" - thought to be a reference to the notoriously influential Jewish lobby - and pseudo-Muslim groups such as the Quilliam Foundation monopolised the government's attention. [Heresy Corner] Read more

Despite Everything, Government Confirms that NAMP Is ‘Key Partner’ You will have read the Telegraph report on the near-illiterate National Association of Muslim Police position paper in which they rubbished PREVENT while engaging in extensive grievance-mongering. You will also have seen that the NAMP links to and promotes the Khomeinist front, the so-called Islamic Human Rights Commission. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The thin blue line of jihad .... The government has bent over backwards to avoid associating Islam with terrorism. In an attempt to peel moderate Muslims away from the radicals, it has poured more than £140 million a year into ‘moderate’ Muslim groups.

It has positively fallen over itself to encourage the recruitment of Muslim police officers in the belief that that this would persuade British Muslims that the government had no problem with them, only with the radicals in their midst. Yet these are precisely the policies which the NAMP claims have led to ‘hatred against Muslims’ which ‘has grown to a level that defies all logic and is an affront to British values’.

Thus the fruits of appeasement. Rather than taming jihadi extremism in Britain, the cowardice of politicians has merely resulted in fracturing the thin blue line that protects us -- and turning it into a potential weapon of the jihad. [The Spectator] Read more

19 January 2010

Interview with Nigel Farage of UKIP on why he wants to ban the Burka

Q: You have come out in favour of a ban on the burka. In what context exactly do you mean? In all areas or in public life?

A: I mean in public life and that means schools, it means airports, it means on buses it means on underground stations, it means in banks, it means in shopping centres. It doesn’t necessarily mean walking down the street, that’s rather different.

In all of those places I have mentioned, most of us would not be allowed to wear crash helmets or balaclavas, there is the need in the modern security age for us to show our face and there needs to be a level playing field on that. [Gaps in the Dialogue] Read more

The OIC shows not all condemnations are equal

The Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) recent condemnation of extremist Muslim violence would be absolutely remarkable except for one small problem – there's no reason to believe that the OIC actually meant a word of it.

.... The crucial difference between the two statements is that, while the OIC's condemnation of Aftenposten was quickly posted to the OIC website in English, French, and Arabic, the earlier condemnation of Westergaard's attacker has yet to be posted in Arabic.

Considering the OIC's continued attempts to globally criminalize 'blasphemy,' there is no reason to doubt its sincerity in condemning newspapers like Aftenposten. However, if the OIC were serious about condemning attacks like the one on Westergaard as anti-Islamic, it would have conveyed the message in the language its own people are most likely to read -- Arabic. [The Legal Project] Read more

Ban decision was not taken lightly

Last week you published several articles criticising my decision to ban al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and the other offshoots of what is essentially one organisation. …. This decision was not taken lightly. Nor is it a process that happens overnight – such a step takes months, not days. It had nothing to do with the proposed Wootton Bassett demonstration.

There is a high legal threshold defined by the 2000 Terrorism Act that must be met before the government can outlaw an organisation. The fact that al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK frequently expressed views which most people – including Muslims – find abhorrent, would never be enough in itself to trigger a ban. In our democracy, only actions can be illegal, not beliefs. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Free speech martyrs .... But to fight such a dangerous disease requires a tough, nuanced strategy. That strategy requires British civil society to embrace, not erode, freedom of speech, and it also requires British Muslims and non-Muslims to recognize that challenging radical ideologies such as those espoused by Islam4UK cannot be done successfully until all quarters of civil society recognize their role in the struggle. Chipping away at the freedom of speech only emboldens Mr. Choudary and his ilk. [altmuslim] Read more

18 January 2010

Islamic sect’s plan to build mega-mosque next to Olympics site collapses

Controversial plans to build Europe’s biggest mosque close to the London Olympics site have been halted, The Times has learnt.

Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted this week from the East London site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers. [Times Online] Read more

East Java: fatwa against fancy women’s hairdos and pre-marital photos

Wearing elaborate hairdos and being photographed before one’s wedding are haram, against the Islamic religion and morality. Two all-female educational institutions (pesantren) issued a fatwa to that effect. In doing so, they add more fuel to an already heated debate over bans.

In fact, a ban has been imposed on smoking in public places and on women wearing tight jeans or travelling on motorbikes. [AsiaNews] Religious Watch]

France must ban Muslim veil, says Sarkozy party chief

Xavier Bertrand, head of the conservative UMP party, said the full veil "is simply a prison for women who wear it" and "will make no one believe" a woman wearing it wants to integrate.

France is moving closer to banning such veils, even though only a tiny minority of Muslim women wear them. A top UMP lawmaker last week filed legislation to ban the garb, and a parliamentary committee studying the issue for the past six months is to turn in its report on whether a law is needed by the end of the month. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Banning of burkas is oppressive, says the Respect leader Salma Yaqoob Plans to ban Muslim women from covering their faces in public areas are oppressive, the leader of the Respect party said yesterday.

Salma Yaqoob’s comments came as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) announced a formal policy that would make the wearing of garments such as the burka or the niqab — both of which conceal most of the face — to be illegal. [Times Online] Read more

Islamic school plan delights Muslim community in Southampton

MEMBERS of Southampton’s Islamic community say a Muslim school for children is in great demand because many parents feel they are being failed by mainstream education.

Plans for a private primary school to offer Islamic education for children in the city have been welcomed by parents, according to some of the city’s Mosques. Zahir Ahmad, secretary of Southampton Central Abu Backr Mosque said parents had been talking about the planned private Islamic school and considering it for their children. [The Southern Daily Echo] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Plans for Muslim school in Southampton What strikes me about these plans is from what I recall the Muslim population in Southampton are small compared to for example Crawley. London Muslim has regularly made clear my strong opposition to all faith schools here and here but sadly we as a society have allowed narrow minded and bigoted parents of all faiths to dictate the agenda of separation rather than inclusion. [London Muslim] Read more

17 January 2010

Double standards row as Ed Balls refuses to ban smacking at mosque schools to avoid 'upsetting Muslim sensitivities'

Schools Secretary Ed Balls has been accused of refusing to ban Islamic schools from smacking children for fear of upsetting Muslim 'sensitivities'.

Mr Balls was last week urged to close a legal loophole which gives teachers in Britain's estimated 1,600 schools associated with mosques the right to smack children - even though it is banned in other schools.

He refused, prompting claims that he is allowing an alleged 'culture of physical abuse' in some of the mosque schools - or madrasahs - go unchecked. [MailOnline] Read more

Polish Disc Jockey Threatened By Islamic Fundamentalists

Islamic fundamentalists posted death threats against a Polish disk jockey soon after he published a song that he says was supposed to be a tribute to the Muslim culture. It started on Christmas Eve.

Jakub Rene Kosik, a 27-year-old DJ from Poland excused himself from the dinner table and checked his Facebook. Word of his newest composition, Mekka, was out. And it was ill-received. [The Polish Outlook] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Austria: Majority of Turks want Sharia personal law incorporated into legal system

.... More than half of the approx. 220,000 Turkish immigrants - 2.65% of the 8.3 million people in Austria - want Islamic law introduced into the Austrian legal system.

Asked whether some parts of Islamic law (e.g. marriage, family and inheritance laws) should be incorporated into Austrian law, 50% agreed, 16% said it depended on which elements were incorporated and 22% were against it. Responses varied by education level and German language skills, but religion was the most decisive factor.

Close to 62% of religious-political Muslims agreed Sharia should be incorporated, compared to 41% of secular Muslims. In both groups, an additional 16% said it depends on what elements were to be incorporated. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Shrugging off Spinoza

Any one who still claims that the trial against Geert Wilders MP, leader of the Party for Freedom (9 seats in Parliament and 27 in the polls), which starts on the 20th of January, is not a political process: get a grip.

Accused by the Dutch ‘Openbaar Ministerie’ exactly a year ago for insulting Islam, comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf and delivering hate speeches, the coming trial against Wilders suddenly got a Kafkaesque and potentially murderous twist. Finally, seven days before his first day in Court, all fangs were out and faces off.

“It is irrelevant whether Wilder’s witnesses might prove Wilders’ observations to be correct”, the ‘Openbaar Ministerie’ stated, “what’s relevant is that his observations are illegal”. [The Free Press Magazine] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

When Can, or Should, Toleration Be Suspended?

In Visions of Order, Richard Weaver argues that modern, liberal society may suspend tolerance under one circumstance - when the competing civilization attributes immanence to its forms. That is certainly the case with Islam.

How can we continue to tolerate an aggressive and growing minority who believe it their God-given right to overthrow our governments and reduce us to penury? The Netherlands' prosecutors of Geert Wilders have not thought through the larger questions and seem to maintain that total tolerance must be enforced at all times, even if it leads the the destruction of the very system they are using to prosecute him - the system Wilders is trying to save. [New English Review] Read more

Friends Reunited

.... Now an unrepentant MCB leadership rejoins New Labour's charmed circle of Faith. Some people speculate these unwelcome developments have something to do with the presence of substantial numbers of Muslims in some marginal Labour seats.

Perhaps so. There's also a long-standing belief in sections of the police and the security services that the best way to neutralise extremism is to give money and credibility to people who are only slightly less extreme. Either way, it's a dangerous road they're going down. [Heresy Corner] Read more

The MCB – reality bites, sanity reigns, but problems remain They call it the art of the possible. In any given scenario, a government cannot just wish away imperfections and invent a perfect world. Its first job is to deal with what’s in front of it. Working with British Muslim community groups is no different in that respect. It’s just taken the British government a long time to work it out. [The Samosa] Read more

Labour restores official ties with Muslim Council of Britain despite their refusal to remove deputy accused of supporting Hamas .... But critics accused the Government of capitulating for fear of losing votes at the upcoming General Election.

Tory MP Paul Goodman said: 'It is a surrender to extremism by a bunch of politicians who are scared witless over losing their seat and are prepared to compromise real cohesion and real integration in order to appease an organisation that remains tainted.'

Labour's relationship with the MCB - which acted as a key adviser to Tony Blair in the wake of the July 7 attacks - has lurched between being very close and frosty in recent years. [MailOnline] Read more

Government ties with MCB restored but not for deputy The Government has restored ties with the Muslim Council of Britain, even though its controversial deputy, who was accused of backing calls for attacks on British troops, is still in place.

John Denham, the Communities Secretary, brought the MCB back in to the Whitehall fold after receiving assurances from the organisation that it is "categorically opposed" to such attacks and will ensure all its members actions reflect such a positions and other agreed stances, such as those against anti-Semitism and racism, in the future.

But the department will still have no engagement with the man at the centre of the row, Dr Daud Abdullah, the deputy secretary general of the MCB. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

16 January 2010

Security increased at Christian churches as Allah row divides Malaysia

Malaysian Christians will attend services in guarded churches alongside plain-clothes detectives tomorrow after another week of unsolved attacks on religious institutions provoked by a controversy over the use of the word Allah.

Six more churches in different parts of Malaysia were vandalised or firebombed after the first round of four attacks the week before, amid growing suspicion that the police were deliberately refraining from arrests to avoid further inflaming Muslim anger. [Times Online] Read more

Feminist actress attacked in Paris

Police launched a terrorism investigation in Paris yesterday after two men tried to set fire to an Algerian feminist playwright and actress. The attackers sprayed Rayhana, known only by her first name, with petrol and threw a lit cigarette in her face. The petrol did not ignite, possibly because of the extreme cold.

Rayhana, 45, is appearing in and directing her own play about the oppression of women in Algeria. She was walking to a theatre in a north-eastern suburb of the city when she was insulted in Arabic and attacked. A fortnight ago, she was approached in the same area by two men who said: "We know who you are, you miscreant whore. This is a warning." [independent.co.uk] Read more

15 January 2010

Iran court upholds death by stoning verdict for two Azeris

A court in Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province has upheld the sentence of death by stoning for two Azeri Iranians, the Human Rights Activists News Agency reported on Friday. The two defendants, identified as Sarimeh Ebadi, 30, and Booali Janfeshani, 32, were convicted of adultery, the report said.

.... Under Iran’s Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning, despite a 2002 directive by then-Judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, imposing a moratorium on the punishment.

But since then, at least five people in Iran have been stoned to death, as the directive has no legal weight and judges are free to ignore it, according to Amnesty International. [Washington TV] Read more [via Religious Watch]

‘Hizb ut-Tahrir obsessed with radicalising students’

At universities across the country, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates freely behind a series of “front groups” holding events covertly and spreading its dangerous message of confrontation and separation. In recent years it has become more sophisticated in how it does this, circumventing attempts to clamp down on its activities. [Times Online] Read more

A dangerous anachronism - Blasphemy laws are a blight on any society that values freedom of speech

.... With regard to some religious beliefs, the court of public opinion can be particularly scathing. The God of the Bible is frequently depicted as a ruthless, bloodthirsty, cruel and vindictive being who employs collective punishment wherever he finds sin.

In the New Testament, the trinity and the resurrection, to say nothing of the miracle accounts, jar with our rationalist sensibilities. In Islamic practice, the use of capital punishment for apostasy is in direct conflict with western freedoms. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Does Hizb-ut look big in this?

.... So who, one has to wonder, is enabling this? Is there simply a blind spot, or are the same sort of people who – in a previous era – muddied the waters enough for KGB agents to take up positions in the civil service, academia and the media now doing the same for the Islamists? [Harry’s Place] Read more

14 January 2010

Muslims say fresco must be destroyed

Muslim leaders in Italy are demanding the removal or destruction of a priceless 15th century fresco in Bologna that they say offends Islam by showing the Prophet Muhammad being cast into the flames of Hell.

The row over The Last Judgment by Giovanni da Modena, in Bologna Cathedral, could threaten the already strained relations between the Roman Catholic Church and members of Italy's Muslim community. Hindu [Vivek Kendra] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: immigrants should accept Britain’s Christian values

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said the country must never again repeat the multicultural experiment of recent decades. He also called for an end to the segregation of Muslims in British cities, which he warned provides a breeding ground for extremists.

The bishop made his strongly-worded comments after Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, backed a campaign by the cross-party Balanced Immigration Group to stop Britain’s population reaching 70 million. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Charter for Compassion

All CiF lovers - and there are many many of us - should head straight to Simon Tisdall's latest piece. He's noticed that there's a great deal of anti-Christian violence in the Muslim world nowadays...Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Malaysia, Iraq. Indeed it would be hard to miss. I posted something myself the other day. So what's it all about? Well, read it for yourselves, but this, perhaps, is the central message: [Mick Hartley] Read more

Pat Condell on Anjem Choudary

Condell argues that Choudary has done the British public a favour, by alerting us to an Islamic reality that mainstream Muslims - he mentions the Muslim Council of Britain, to which I would add the doubly duplicitous Quilliam Foundation - would rather we didn't know about.

By their words shall ye know them. As well as for the content, this video is interesting for the words - once obscure, but now current in the British press - that Condell uses. These are Dhimmi, Taqiyya and Kuffar. Condell knows his onions: [Iconoclast] Read more

13 January 2010

Muslim and Sikh groups are challenging a ruling which bans amateur boxers from the ring if they have a beard

The Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) recently ruled that all fighters had to be clean shaven to allow cuts to the face to be seen.

It came after Mohammed Patel, a 25-year-old bearded Muslim boxer from Bolton, was stopped from competing last January. At the time, ABAE rules stated only Sikh fighters were exempt, so the Bolton Council of Mosques challenged the ABAE on Mr Patel's behalf.

But the ABAE then ruled all competitors had to be clean shaven, a decision both Muslim and Sikh groups want reversed, particularly as professional fighters have been allowed facial hair for more than 20 years. [BBC] Read more

Kindergartens drop pork from menu

The six Langenæsstien kindergartens in Aarhus will not be serving meatballs, liver pate or sausages any more.

The administration has decided to drop pork from the menu, both in order to have healthier food and to prevent the Muslim children from accidentally eating the meat, says day-care manager Ruth Theilmann of Langenæsstien. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The Theological Split

Abbas Milani explains "how the Iranian uprising has transformed Shiism": To varying degrees, thinkers and theologians identified with the democratic movement have been offering a new reading of Shiism that makes the faith more amenable to democracy and secularism.

The most significant innovation—found in essays, sermons, books, and even fatwas—is the acceptance of the separation of mosque and state, the idea that religion must be limited to the private domain. Some of these thinkers refuse to afford any privileged position to the clergy’s reading and rendition of Shiism--a radical democratization of the faith. [TheAtlantic.com] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

Stopping terrorism is not 'criminalising dissent'

The Home Secretary finally banned al-Muhajiroun and its front group Islam4UK yesterday. Personally, I support the move - but it's interesting to look at those who don't.

True to form, Inayat Bunglawala was straight out of the starting blocks yesterday writing a characteristically confused and rambling piece on the Guardian's Comment is Free website, the only outlet that will publish him these days. [Standpoint] Read more

The state is wrong to ban thought-crime

.... The difference is that Amjem Choudary’s outfit firstly does not have any noticeable degree of popular support among Muslims, and secondly has never planted a bomb. To outlaw them is manifestly unjust. Organisations can fall foul of the Terrorism Act if they ‘commit or participate in acts of terrorism, prepare for, promote or encourage terrorism or are otherwise concerned in terrorism’.

It has not been shown conclusively that Islam4UK has done any of these things, within the legal meaning of these terms. If there is evidence of direct terrorist involvement, then those suspected of it should rightly stand trial. [Liberal Conspiracy] Read more

No free speech for those who would destroy it Peter Tatchell is dead wrong here, where he writes opposing the conviction under the Public Order Act of five al-Muhajiroun Islamists who insulted British troops in Luton.

Tatchell acknowledges that these scum ‘want to destroy our democracy and freedoms’ but then argues for their ‘right’ to do so. Wrong, wrong, wrong! That is precisely why they should have no ‘right’ to ‘free speech’. To claim they do is to invite our own destruction. It’s a kind of high principled masochism and is fundamentally irrational. [Edmund Standing] Read more

Islam4UK: free speech is never absolute Alan Johnson's decision to ban Islam4UK has led to many predictable and intelligent responses of derision from the left, notably at Index on Censorship and Our Kingdom.

I've criticised various organisations, including Muslim ones, for not embracing free speech enough in the past. But here are the reasons why I believe it's right for Islam4UK to be banned. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Anjem Choudary: Freedom for the thought we hate I have no problem with banning groups that participate in or incite acts of terrorism, but that is where my tolerance for anti-free speech laws ends.

There is absolutely no justification, in a liberal democracy, for outlawing the glorification of terrorism - none whatsoever. I reserve the right to revel in the dead bodies of 9/11 and to dance, metaphorically at least, on the graves of the dead of Bali, Beslan or Belfast - or, for that matter, Belsen. This is freedom of thought at its most basic, and should in my view be curtailed only if, in supporting terrorism, I directly cause others to go out and try to emulate those grisly deeds. [Mr Eugenides] Read more

Those waging war on society shouldn't have access to its law But those who seek to wage war against a society should not have recourse to the civil laws of that society. Their activities should be examined by a tribunal, where the sifting of all evidence has primacy and the distractions and dissembling of a public trial have no audience and thus no point.

We have the capacity to create such a system, but not yet the will. It would be anathema to the human rights industry, and a winner with the electorate.

[Comment]"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself" - Thomas Paine [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

12 January 2010

Thumbs down (again)

Guardian Cif readers think Mr Bunglawala's suggestions for preventing terrorism by actual or former UK students fall short of what is required. 53% of commenters were critical of him and they got over 80% of Cif readers’ votes. [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

British holidaymaker who claimed Dubai rape is arrested for illegal sex

A BRITISH woman on holiday in Dubai went to police after being raped - but was arrested for having illegal sex.

The 23-year-old Londoner says she was attacked by a waiter in a hotel toilet after celebrating her engagement to her boyfriend with drinks, The Sun reports. But after she admitted drinking alcohol and sharing a hotel room with her fiancé, police in the strict Islamic state arrested her for "illegal drinking" outside licensed premises and having sex outside marriage.

Her 44-year-old fiancé, also from London, was charged with the same offences. Both were thrown in police cells by officers who paid little heed to the rape. [Herald Sun] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Eurabian Follies

By 2050, Europe will be unrecognizable. Instead of romantic cafes, Paris's Boulevard Saint-Germain will be lined with halal butcheries and hookah bars; the street signs in Berlin will be written in Turkish. School-children from Oslo to Naples will read Quranic verses in class, and women will be veiled.

At least, that's what the authors of the strange new genre of "Eurabia" literature want you to believe. Not all books of this alarmist Europe-is-dying category, which received its most intellectually hefty treatment yet with the recent release of Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, offer such dire and colorful predictions. But they all make the case that low fertility rates among natives, massive immigration from Muslim countries, and the fateful encounter between an assertive Islamic culture and a self-effacing European one will lead to a Europe devoid of all Western identity. [FP Foreign Policy] Read more

While Europe Sneered .... His thesis: Europe is chugging along just fine; Islam poses no real challenge to the continent’s freedom and prosperity; after all, the “experts” say so. Never mind the draining of European welfare systems by Muslim families, the explosion in rapes and gay-bashings and Jew-baitings, the proliferation of honor killings and forced marriages and no-go zones; never mind the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh by fanatics who objected to those men’s positions on Islam; never mind the threats directed at critics of Islam, such as Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Robert Redeker, which have obliged them to live in hiding or with round-the-clock bodyguards. [City Journal] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Islam4UK to be banned, says Alan Johnson

The Islamist group Islam4UK, which planned a march through Wootton Bassett, and its "parent" organisation, al-Muhajiroun, will be banned under new legislation outlawing the "glorification" of terrorism, Alan Johnson announced today.

The order, which will come into effect on Thursday, will make it a criminal offence to be a member of either of the groups, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Human rights activist says 'Luton five' verdict threatens free speech Commenting on the guilty verdicts reached yesterday against five Muslim men who demonstrated at a home-coming parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton in March 2009, the human rights and green campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has said that their conviction is an infringement of free speech and the right to protest - no matter how offensive their views.

The response came as Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced this morning that Islam4UK, the group which provoked outrage with plans to march through Wootton Bassett, is to be banned under counter-terrorism laws - though this is for their alleged role in promoting terror, rather than their protests. [Ekklesia] Read more

We all have the right to be offensive Islam4UK's desire to demonstrate in Wootton Basset may be despicable but it should not be banned. .... Maybe that's not your idea of utopia – millions of people screaming: "Fuck off" at each other – but it beats banning it, making an opinion against the law. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Islam4UK: bad, but not worth banning .... The appropriate way to deal with the actions of al-Muhajiroun members is surely transparently and through our legal system. If individuals are known to have incited violence then they should be prosecuted.

But we should be very wary of giving our government the arbitrary power to ban entire organisations. It also sets a bad precedent. The Conservative party has already made clear that if they attain power they will ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, a party that is fiercely critical of the UK's foreign policies in the Middle East but is also an avowedly non-violent group. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Liberty on Trial in Dutch Court

On January 7th, it was reported that Minnesota prosecutors had declined to prosecute a man who had posted anti-Muslim images, on the grounds that it was, as Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall aptly put it, a "classic First Amendment case." Indeed, the case would only have been significant if prosecutors had attempted to bring charges.

In marked contrast, the upcoming criminal trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders for having "intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims," and the potential of a two-year prison sentence for this 'crime,' is nearly unfathomable. [The Legal Project] Read more

Family sentenced for death threats

The statements, unheard of before in the Graz Provincial Criminal Court, are quiet, but piercing. "In our cultural circle," says a 19 year old with a Graz dialect, "it's not common to marry an Austrian."

"You are also Austrian," prosecutor Hansjörg Bacher reminds her. Yes, but she is also a Turk and a Muslim. And: 'people would rather stay amongst themselves'. She sits next to her father and mother on the dock. Her older sister (20) fell in love with an Austrian, a Christian. "We couldn't envision our daughter marrying an Austrian," says the father. [Islam in Europe] Read more

11 January 2010

Anti-Sex Laws of Islam: Not as Simple as You May Think

.... Many people erroneously think that all mainstream interpretations of Islam necessarily criminalize zinnah (fornication and adultery)–fornicators are to be lashed and adulterers stoned, no questions asked.

…. However, it is important to recognize the multiplicity of Islamic understandings that exist today; I will categorize the various interpretations of the anti-zinnah laws into fundamentalist, conservative, and reformist views.

Clearly, fundamentalist understandings ought not to be tolerated, but I would argue that reformist views (and perhaps conservative ones) are not completely incompatible with Western ideals…at least not any less so than Judaic and Christian views. [Loonwatch.com] Read more

Blasphemy, an unjustified privilege

Blasphemy is a religious concept, like sin, not a moral one, like compassion, or a political one, like free speech or equality or justice. It's as well to maintain these distinctions, rather than blurring them.

Blasphemy is specifically impiety, an affront to a god or gods; it's not the same thing as violating a taboo or outraging personal feelings. There is some overlap, especially emotionally, but that's not a reason to blur the distinctions or to expand the category of blasphemy to cover every kind of extra-upsetting action or speech.

Doing that tends to be a rhetorical move on the part of people who want to impose their particular sense of the "sacred" or "holy" or inviolable on everyone else. It's a power-play, and should be regarded with a great deal of suspicion. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Wakkas Khan: Faithful Islamist

Here’s some news from the Department for Communities and Local Government. It has established a panel of 13 “faith advisers who will act as a ’sounding board’ to advise on effective engagement with faith communities, and the impact of Communities and Local Government policy on faith communities”. Here’s John Denham: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Muslim prisoners 'refuse to take part in rehabilitation programmes'

Haraam refers to anything that is prohibited by faith, and in Islamic culture criminals are barred from discussing their offences with others.

Previously, Muslim prisoners refused to take part in Sex Offender Treatment Programmes because it involved talking about offences against women, but now some are refusing to take part in all rehabilitation sessions where they have to 'open up' in front of other cons. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islam divides us, say the majority of Britons

More than half the population believe Britain is deeply divided along religious lines, according to an official survey. A majority would also strongly oppose the development of a mosque in their neighbourhood, the research into social attitudes found.

Almost half - 45 per cent - say they do not believe that diversity has brought benefits to the country and that religious diversity has had a negative impact. The government-backed inquiry revealed that only one in four people in Britain feel positively about Islam. The warnings on the extent of the divide between Muslims and much of the rest of the country come in the annual British Social Attitudes survey, produced with funding from Whitehall. [MailOnline] Read more

Is Islamophobia real? .... Dislike of Muslims in the survey is clearly related to the belief that religious diversity is harming Britain; something that 45% of the population believe. Among the irreligious these proportions are reversed. 52% think Britain is "deeply divided along religious lines".

And further to point up the question of what religions are felt to be dangerously diverse, one half of the sample were asked whether whether they would object to the construction of a large mosque: 55% would; the other half were asked how they would feel about the construction of a large church in their neighbourhood: 15% would object. [Guardian Cif] Read more

10 January 2010

'Morality police' in immigrant neighborhood

Bobby Burner is hungry after work and is chewing a samosa while walking on Grønlandsleiret street. Suddenly two young strangers block his way. Curtly and aggressively they ask: "Don't you know it's Ramadan? You should know better!"

.... In Grønland turban-wearing men leave Friday prayers as the young and trendy start the long weekend in town. The city's greatest concentration of khat joints and minarets are here. Burner likes the cultural diversity. But in particular after September 11, 2001 he's noticed a negative development: increased use of social control, hijab and full-body veils. More men with beards. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Banning the burqa unveils some nasty traits in us

France is considering passing a law that would mean women who wear the burqa or niqab in public would face a £700 fine. French MPs will vote on the proposal later this month; the fine would apply to anyone “whose face is fully covered in public”.

Jean-François Copé, parliamentary leader of Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP group, told Le Figaro that the proposed law was based on sexual equality and public safety considerations, not on religious ones. “We spoke to religious and secular figures, who all confirmed [the burqa] was not a religious prescription. Wearing the full body veil is about extremists who want to test the republic,” he said. [Times Online] Read more

What women wear It's not only in secular Europe where societies are trying to grapple with the highly emotive question of Islamic dress. Following the victory of four women in Kuwait's parliamentary elections, Islamists attempted to prevent two of them from taking their seats in the house for not wearing the hijab. After a legal battle, the country's constitutional court ruled that the women in question were not obliged to wear the Islamic attire. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Women who wear burkas and niqabs on the street in France face fines of £700 .... The amount could be doubled for Muslim men who force female members of their family to cover their faces. Jean-Francois Cope, president of Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP Party, said the legislation was intended to protect the ‘dignity’ and ‘security’ of women. [MailOnline] Read more

Metropolitan Museum pulls Mohammed images

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York said several images of the Prophet Mohammed were removed from a collection and are "under review."

The New York Post said Sunday the removal of the images from the museum's Islamic collection comes after a number of conservative Muslims opposed the inclusion of the Mohammed images based on their religious beliefs. [UPI] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Anticipating the Caliphate

Shaker Assem, 44, was born in Cairo to a Muslim Egyptian father and a Catholic Austrian mother. Following his father’s death he moved to Austria at the age of 16.

.... Shaker Assem is the media spokesperson for the Islamic liberation party Hizb-ut-Tahrir. This radical party of Islamists boasts 20,000 members worldwide. In this interview Assem speaks about “legitimate” suicide attacks, homosexuality being a crime, and why a woman cannot be the leader of a state. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

09 January 2010

Cracks in the Islamist Curtain

.... it has become harder for the Muslim establishment to keep the lid on Muslims questioning their system, religion and holy wars. Criticism of Islam is coming at them from every direction, putting Muslim clerics in a quagmire unable to honestly answer questions.

Muslim scholars were never trained to answer questions critical of Islam or engage in hostile debate. But now, suddenly, they are challenged to the core like never before, not by Western critics, but by brave hosts of Arabic language shows from unidentified locations in the West and hosted by former Muslims and/or Egyptian Christian Copts. [FrontPage] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

McDonald’s pulls pig toy

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has stirred up a controversy in Singapore by omitting pig characters from its latest toy promotions.

The pig soft toy was expected to have been part of a 12-character Doraemon set depicting the animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar. Customers wanting the toy would have to pay US$2 on top of making a food purchase. But McDonald’s decided not to include the pig toy to avoid offending Muslim customers, and had a Doraemon Cupid toy in its place instead.

The move has upset Chinese customers keen on collecting all 12 toys in the series. One of them, staff nurse Daphne Koh, 26, said: “I was born in the Year of the Pig and would have collected the whole set. But without the pig, it makes no sense for me to do so.” [The Malaysian Insider] Read more [via Religious Watch]

08 January 2010

Killing freedom and cartoonists

.... this power to intimidate, though informal, is potentially decisive. It is the same power exercised by those who threaten journalists in Russia, those who kill policemen in Mexico, or the Ku Klux Klan in the US south of a century ago. Such acts make law. It is remarkable how few people they have to harm to do so.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, was not just mouthing a cliché when he described the attack on Mr Westergaard as “an attack on our open society”. Once a competing source of predictable violence emerges in an open society, government must do something to stop it. [FT.com] Read more

Liberal Norwegian Muslims stand up for free speech

A liberal Norwegian Muslim organisation named LIM (Equality, Integration, Diversity) is standing up for free speech and against Islamism. Shakil Rehman of LIM has spoken in defence of republishing the notorious Jyllands-Posten cartoons in the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen. Rehman states: [Harry’s Place] Read more

France deports radical imam to Egypt

France on Thursday deported to Egypt a radical imam who for months had been inciting followers in Paris area mosques to rise up against the West, the government said. Described as dangerous, Ali Ibrahim Al-Sudani was detained and sent back to Egypt under an emergency deportation order, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said in a statement.

…. The Egyptian national was the 29th imam or Islamic preacher to have been deported from France since 2001, according to the interior ministry. In all, 129 Islamic radicals have been expelled from French territory, it added. [AFP] Read more

The church fights back against Islamification

We have had to wait decades for this moment, but it has finally happened. A leading British clergyman has said something sensible about immigration.

Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, this week signed a declaration by the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration calling for an urgent tightening of borders to stop the British population reaching 70 million by 2029. He also gave an interview yesterday in which he called for a tougher Church. "We Christians are very often so soft that we allow other people to walk over us, and we are not as tough in what we want, in expressing our beliefs, because we do not want to upset other people," he said. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Migration threatens the DNA of our nation If we are to stop the extreme Right, we must respond to real fears over the number and nature of those coming to Britain. .... the idea that Britain can continue to welcome with open arms immigrants who immediately establish their own tribunals to apply Sharia, rather than make use of British civil law, is deeply socially divisive. The last thing any of us want is ghettos. And while we don’t expect groups to assimilate, there must be a willingness on their part to integrate with the rest of British society. [The Times] Read more

Cardinal says Christian Europe is to blame for Islamisation Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the Archbishop of Prague, said Muslims were well placed to fill the spiritual void "created as Europeans systematically empty the Christian content of their lives".

"Europe will pay dear for having left its spiritual foundations and that this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it," he said.

The Muslims definitely have many reasons to be heading here. They also have a religious one – to bring the spiritual values of faith in God to the pagan environment of Europe, to its atheistic style of life. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

07 January 2010

The tensions of being Muslim and American

AZHAR USMAN, a stand-up comic, says he is a “very patriotic” American Muslim. “I would die for this country,” he declares. After a pause, he adds: “By blowing myself up.” After another pause: “Inside of a Dunkin’ Donuts.” His largely white, liberal audience guffaws.

But not everyone gets the joke: one furious listener thought he was advocating the murder of police officers, who apparently can often be found in doughnut shops. [The Economist] Read more

Is Google Censoring Islam Suggestions?

Confused about what Islam is? Join the party — it seems Google can’t figure it out either. Or, at least its search suggestion program can’t.

If you type, “Buddhism is” or “Christianity is,” Google will quickly show you suggestions for what it thinks you might be trying to type. In the former query’s case, the Google guesses “not a religion,” “wrong,” “not what you think.” Christianity gets tougher treatment with the suggestions “bullshit” and “not a religion.”

But the query “Islam is”? Not a thing comes to mind for Google to suggest. (Search results are still there, of course.) [Wired.com] Read more

Hearts, minds and Mecca

.... Long before his bungled effort hit the headlines, the role of Islamic Societies (ISOCs in student jargon) in British colleges—and of similar associations on other Western campuses—was sparking arguments. In 2008 a report and opinion poll from the Centre for Social Cohesion, a right-of-centre think-tank, had argued that these Muslim student associations in Britain needed much more careful watching.

They seemed to be acting as incubators for fundamentalist ideas that favoured self-segregation by Muslims, and dreamt of Islamic governance and law. And as the report noted, several young Britons involved in terrorism had a record of ISOC activism; for example, Yassin Nassari, convicted in 2007 of bringing missile plans into Britain, had led one branch of the ISOC at the University of Westminster. [The Economist] Read more

Radical Islamism: An Introductory Primer

.... Neither more democracy nor more prosperity provides simple solutions to this challenge by Islamism. Many Islamist leaders and cadre come from well-off families. They are driven by ideological, cultural, and religious factors just as left-wing students in the West seek utopian transformations of society. Equally, they are not driven by antagonism to tyranny since their goal is to establish a new, worse tyranny.

Both the Nazis and Communists came to power by overthrowing democratic regimes, in part through elections. With Islamism’s strength, the problem is not the lack of democracy by the rulers but the lack of a strong democratic movement to compete with it. [Rubin Report] Read more [via EuropeNews]

06 January 2010

Muslim mourners pay tribute to soldiers at Wootton Bassett ....

A Muslim couple heaped shame on hate preacher Anjem Choudary yesterday as they paid tribute to two British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Abdul Latif and his wife Samina joined hundreds of people in the streets of Wootton Bassett as two more casualties of the war returned to Britain for burial. [MailOnline] Read more

Muslim scholars: Seek Islamic spirit, not state

.... The importance of the ummah over the Islamic state demonstrates a shift from the state-the political apparatus-to individuals and communities who become active agents responsible for implementing Islamic ideals in their pluralistic societies. This interesting proposition, rooted in an Islamic worldview, could be a more fluid and suitable framework for our globalised world. [Global Arab Network] Read more [via EuropeNews]

An Interview with Christopher Hitchens, Part I

.... Then you pick up yesterday's Guardian, one of the most liberal newspapers in the Western world, and there's a long article that says, ah, that picture, that moral picture, that instinct to protect the old and the young doesn't apply in this case. The man asked for it. He drew a cartoon that upset some people. We aren't at all entitled to use our moral instincts in the correct way.

This is a sort of cultural and moral suicide, in my opinion. It's not exactly comparable to the reaction of the church in Ireland which wants to make it illegal to criticize any religion, which in Ireland doesn't really mean much more than one. Many Irish people I know are already publicly planning to break this law. [Michael J Totten] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

Fearless Westergaard .... It's no counter to say that the exercise of free speech can cause deep offence and hurt. Of course it can. That's how knowledge and culture advance, by brutally exposing bad ideas to scrutiny and derision. There isn't nearly enough derision of religious belief in European societies, let alone in the United States, but at least we have the ability to exercise it. [Times Online] Read more

05 January 2010

College Bans Certain Head Coverings

A Massachusetts pharmacy college instituted a ban on clothing that obscures the face, including face veils and burqas, weeks after a Muslim alumnus who is also the son of a professor was charged with plotting terror strikes.

.... Michael Ratty, a college spokesman, said the policy was developed in the fall during the school's annual review of its public safety procedures ..... Ratty said the school believed everyone entering the small Boston campus should be able to be properly identified. He said the college discussed the policy with Muslim students and officials at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, and all understood the need for the change. [ASSOCIATED PRESS] Read more

“They ARE the Reformation”

.... The second reason why renewing Islam leads to radicalism is that many of the harsher elements of Islamic law – such death for apostates, stoning adulterers, cutting off the hands of thieves, enslaving one’s enemies, and killing non-believers – are firmly grounded in Muhammad’s example.

Australian Muslim Waleed Aly was entirely correct when he said Islam has already had its Reformation, and the outcome has been Islamic radicalism: [Former Muslims United] Read more

Fear and censorship

Last summer Yale University Press struck a blow for censorship-by-prediction-of-violence when it decided to withdraw illustrations from the academic Jytte Klausen's book about the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. YUP removed not only the cartoons that are the subject of the book, but also all other purported images of Mohammed.

This move was fraught with irony given that the cartoon affair itself revolved around predictions of violence, and self-censorship because of fears of violence, and predicted violence eventually, after much effort and encouragement, morphing into actual violence. [Guardian Cif] Read more

One Law for All – Yes and No

Islamic Sharia councils are now recognised as Arbitration Tribunals under the 1996 Arbitration Act, and are part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure available to UK citizens.

So far at least five councils have been recognised as arbitration tribunals in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Nuneaton and Manchester and moves are afoot to have scores more throughout the country. [LibertyPhile Research] Read more