31 March 2010

Prejudice still has a hold on German attitudes to Turkish culture

Germany is home to the biggest Turkish diaspora in the world, but when it comes to accepting and appreciating Turkish culture, many Germans still have reservations.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently suggested Germany should encourage more Turkish-language schools in Germany. His comments reignited the debate on Turkish integration in Germany, which many believe has not been entirely successful.

But integration is a two-way street and requires the indigenous population to do its share too, according to a comprehensive, pan-European study on attitudes to migrants and prejudice spearheaded by a team of university researchers based in the western German city of Bielefeld. [Deutsche Welle] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

The Prevent strategy: a textbook example of how to alienate just about everybody

.... It is a good job that the MPs heard Singh and a few others because otherwise their committee was notable for the fact that it listened to some people who can be alarmingly unhelpful. In fact, it constituted exactly the sort of people who have helped lead Britain into such a fragmenting mess.

They included a Khomeinist group, the Islamic Human Rights Commission. They included professional race-relations industry “experts”, who have done so much to deform this country in recent years. And they included groups who gave glowing endorsements to Prevent precisely because they receive huge funding from the pot [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Anti-extremist scheme 'spies on Muslims' A key government policy on countering extremism in Britain has "stigmatised and alienated" Muslims and undermined community relations, a Commons report says today.

Many Muslims told the cross-party committee of MPs that they believed the purpose of the Prevent programme was to "spy" on Asian communities, and that the Government was using funding to engineer a moderate form of acceptable Islam.

The Communities and Local Government Committee said ministers should investigate claims the strategy had been hijacked by police and MI5 to gather intelligence on alleged radicals. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Islamic groups block shaving contest

The banned Jamaat-ut Dawah (JuD) organisation, along with other religious parties in Karachi, have prevented the holding of a promotion event organised by a leading multinational company for its shaving razors by ransacking the venue.

The competition, organised by Gillette Pakistan, was supposed to create a local record of number of people shaving at the same time. [Hindustan Times] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Islam scholars recast jihadists' favorite fatwa

Prominent Muslim scholars have recast a famous medieval fatwa on jihad, arguing the religious edict radical Islamists often cite to justify killing cannot be used in a globalised world that respects faith and civil rights.

A conference in Mardin in southeastern Turkey declared the fatwa by 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya rules out militant violence and the medieval Muslim division of the world into a "house of Islam" and "house of unbelief" no longer applies. [AlArabiya.net] Read more [via The Spittoon]

Norway: Preacher defends husband's right to beat wife

Islam Net claims they correct misunderstandings about Islam. Which is why, I suppose, they invite the most radical preachers to their conferences. The preachers in this conference included: Bilal Philips, as the (secret) featured speaker, Abdurraheem Green, Ali Mohammed Salah, Yusuf Chambers and Hussain Yee. [Islam in Europe] Read more

City bans headscarves, draft law to ban burka

Belgium is set to become the first European country to impose a full ban on wearing a burkha. A parliamentary committee in Belgium has unanimously voted to ban the wearing of full face-covering veils in public, paving the way for the first clampdown of its kind in Europe. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Antwerp: Lecture shouted down by radical Muslims

Dutch author and notorious critic of Islam, Benno Barnard, gave a lecture last night titled: "The Islam Debate: Long Live God, Down with Allah!". It was part of a series of lectures about the Enlightenment, organized by the secularists in Antwerp University. Several radical Muslim organizations called beforehand via websites to come to the hall and disturb the lecture. [Islam in Europe] Read more

30 March 2010

French PM advised against total Islamic veil ban

The wearing of full veils has been the subject of a fierce debate in France. France's top administrative body has advised the government that any total ban on face-covering Islamic veils could be unconstitutional.

The State Council also said a ban could be justified in some public places. Prime Minster Francois Fillon had asked the council for a legal opinion before drawing up a law on the subject. [BBC] Read more

Muslim leaders 'failing to tackle extremists'

Muslim leaders have been criticised by a University of Oxford academic for not doing enough to tackle extremists. At the same time a parliamentary committee has attacked a central plank of the Government’s counter-extremism programme by arguing that its “Prevent” strategy has “stigmatised and alienated” Muslims.

Nick Chatrath, a researcher at Oxford’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, claims in a paper to be published this week that in the face of growing radicalisation in Britain, Muslim leaders are ignoring extremists’ points of view and glossing over some of the more unsavoury parts of Islam’s ancient texts. [Times Online] Read more

Where the Far-Left Joins the Far-Right

.... Nominally left-wing politicians' appeasement of religious reactionaries is so routine that it takes a convulsive event to reveal the extent of liberal perfidy.

.... I had a small warning that UCL was not the centre of enlightenment thinking it seemed when I went there to interview the urbane geneticist Steve Jones a couple of years ago. At the end of a discussion of the dangers of holding an unquestioning faith in the power of genetics to deliver miracle cures, he started to worry about creationism.

I thought he would criticise the American religious Right, as all liberals were doing at the time. Instead, his urbanity cracked slightly and he began to talk about Islamist anti-Darwinism. [Standpoint] Read more

Christian nurse 'ordered to remove crucifix... at hospital where Muslims were allowed to wear headscarves'

A Christian nurse was ‘forced to choose between her job and her faith’ after being ordered to remove her crucifix at a hospital where Muslim staff wore headscarves unchallenged, a tribunal heard yesterday.

Shirley Chaplin, 54, said she had been wearing the religious symbol around her neck without complaint for 31 years before she was ordered to hide it away. But the grandmother claims that after refusing to comply and then pointing out that two women doctors were allowed to wear headscarves, she was moved to a desk job. [MailOnline] Read more

The Penalty for Apostasy

Take a look at Dr Mohammad Mukadam, chairman of the AMS-UK (Association of Muslim Schools UK). He believes in practising the shari’ah in toto. But is reticent when it comes to stating the shari’ah penalty for apostasy in a public televised debate. When pushed, he relents and speaks his mind:

“If it’s an Islamic country, then the Shari’a is very clear. Apostasy is dealt with the death penalty. But what’s the relevance between what happens in an Islamic country and Great Britain. I fail to see the connection.”

Personally, I agree that there should not even be a notional relevance between the shari’ah in an Islamic country and public law affecting muslims in Britain. [The Spittoon] Read more

The conflict of interest at ENGAGE - Islam Channel Part 3

IEngage have written a letter to Charles Farr, Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, complaining about the Quilliam Foundation.

Earlier this week Quilliam released a report about the Islam Channel revealing that it sometimes gives a platform to preachers who espouse extreme and reactionary views. [Standpoint] Read more

The Dubious Claims of Mohammed Ali Harrath Mohammed Ali Harrath, the CEO of the Islam Channel, was on Hardtalk last night defending his network from the allegations made against it by Quilliam in their latest report, ‘Reprogramming British Muslims: A Study of the Islam Channel’. It really is a remarkable interview, in which Harrath dodges questions regarding his Interpol Red notice and his work with the Muslim Contact Unit. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Mohamed Ali Harrath vindicated in 'Interpol Red Notice Charge' trial in South Africa Islam Channel CEO – Mohamed Ali Harrath appeared this morning in Kempton Park Magistrates Court in Pretoria, in what was regarded as a formality following his arrest at the end of January this year, in connection with an Interpol Red Notice posted by the Tunisian authorities. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

29 March 2010

Hardline Muslim clerics' books still publicly available

Works by the jailed preacher Abdullah al-Faisal and the controversial Islamic leader Bilal Philips are available to borrow from the controversial Tower Hamlets council in East London.

The council leader Lutfur Rahman, has been accused of gaining power through his links with an organisation called the Islamic Forum of Europe, based at East London mosque, that secretly campaigns for an Islamic social and political order. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

ENGAGE critique of QF report: 'Re-programming British Muslims' - Islam Channel Part 2

.... What follows is ENGAGE’s critique (not exhaustive) of the report, its many howlers, and some recommendations of our own for the Foreign Office and Home Office, the sources responsible for the QF’s financial viability. The financial and other support of these offices for the QF renders neither impervious to criticisms of complicity in this latest smear campaign. [ENGAGE] Read more

Newsnight Spoiler: Islam Channel Islamic Propagandists Shock Horror!! With support for the ludicrous occupation of Afghanistan flagging, government efforts to ramp up Islamophobia become ncreasingly febrile.

Now we have the deeply unlovely taxpayer funded Quilliam Foundation being paid by Newsnight to produce a piece exposing the Islam Channel as a biased and unbalanced source of Islamic propaganda. It will be hitting our screens sometime in the next week. [Craig Murray] Read more

28 March 2010

Stockholm: Saudi prince to finance mosque

The 'million program' district of Tensta, is about to have Stockholm's largest mosques. A giant building (11,000 sqm) of Andalusian style is planned at the outskirts of the suburb, clearly visible from the E18. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Saudis fund Balkan Muslims spreading hate of the West

SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.

According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.

Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans. [Times Online] Read more

MUSLIM MP quit after complaining his signature was forged on legal documents

A MUSLIM MP brought in to deradicalise the mosque used by Abu Hamza to recruit Al-Qaeda terrorists is to quit as a trustee after complaining his signature was forged on legal documents.

Khalid Mahmood has called for a Charity Commission investigation after the alleged forgery on papers prepared by the North London Central Mosque. The signature of a second trustee, Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, was also allegedly forged.

Mahmood’s resignation will renew controversy at the former Finsbury Park Mosque, which was linked to Al-Qaeda terrorists including the shoebomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker in the 9/11 attacks. [Times Online] Read more

Lambert’s Temple In Ruins The North London Central Mosque, otherwise known as the Finsbury Park Mosque, was the former home of Al Qaeda aligned cleric, Abu Hamza. It had been linked to shoebomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui. When Abu Hamza was expelled, the mosque was gifted, with the assistance of David Blunkett, the Charity Commission and Bob Lambert’s Muslim Contact Unit, to a motley crew of trustees. [Harry’s Place] Read more

27 March 2010

Female Muslim doctors allowed to wear disposable sleeves for modesty: official guidance

All staff involved in caring for patients should be 'bare below the elbows' to ensure sleeves do not become contaminated and hands can be washed thoroughly to prevent infections passed around the ward.

However female Muslim staff had been concerned about the rule as exposure of their forearms is seen as immodest. Staff in several hospitals had reportedly refused to expose their arms for hand washing and 'scrubbing in' procedures before surgery. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Most Canadians want niqab restricted

Most Quebecers and Canadians agree that women wearing the niqab or burqa should not receive government services, hospital care or university instruction, a new Angus Reid poll shows.

Ninety-five per cent of Quebecers support a proposed provincial law barring the face veil from government offices, schools and other publicly funded institutions, says the poll, provided exclusively to The Gazette yesterday.

In the rest of Canada, three out of four people give the thumbs up to Bill 94, tabled Wednesday by the Charest government. The bill would require all public sector employees to have their faces uncovered, as well as any citizen using government services, for example, someone applying for a medicare card or paying her car registration. [The Gazette] Read more

Rally in Warsaw to protest mosque

Warsaw - Dozens of people rallied on Saturday in Warsaw to protest plans by the country's Muslim community to build a second mosque in the city.

Poland's Muslim population, though growing, is still tiny and such protests are unusual. The event offered evidence that anxieties gripping the rest of Europe are now also taking root in this former communist country, as well.

.... The anti-mosque protesters said they feared that radical Muslims would use the mosque to gain a foothold in Polish society. They were particularly disturbed by rumours that Saudi money is funding it - a claim that could not be immediately confirmed. [News24] Read more

Radical Islamic elder preaching jihad in Perth's suburbs

A RADICAL Islamic elder who praises the Taliban and preaches violent jihad to a band of keen followers is being investigated in Perth by WA and Federal police.

Sources confirmed the joint-agency investigation after The Sunday Times revealed to police that the newspaper had infiltrated a group in which the sheik described armed jihad as the "top" ideal for Muslims and likened the Taliban to "angels". [The Sunday Times] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

26 March 2010

Following in Switzerland's Footsteps

.... The hosts are a relatively new group of German right-wing conservatives called Pro-NRW (an abbreviation of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia) and the goal of the conference is clear: to follow in Switzerland's footsteps and ban minarets across Europe. And they want to use a provision of the European Union's new Lisbon Treaty to do it.

"I don't think that minarets are part of our heritage," conference attendee Filip Dewinter, floor leader for Vlaams Belang in the Flemish parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "They are symbols of radical Islam. The question is whether Islam is a religion like Protestantism and Catholicism and for me it is not. It is a political system, it is a way of life and it is one that is not compatible with ours." [Spiegal Online] Read more

Conservatives will shun the Muslim Council of Britain

The MCB has been around since 1997 and purports to represent about 800 Muslim organisations in the UK, making it the self-declared ‘most representative Muslim body in the UK’.

That David Cameron has now promised to sideline them in favour of other representative bodies is one of the most significant social policy announcements to emerge during this interminable pre-General Election period. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Man banned from municipality buildings for insulting headscarf wearing employee

The Hoogezand-Sappemeer municipality in the Netherlands banned a man who treated an employee with a headscarf aggressively. A municipality spokesperson confirmed the news report which appeared in the Dagblad van het Noorden.

A week ago the man refused to be helped by a headscarf wearing employee and made that clear very loudly. He spoke to the woman with 'discrimination and contempt'. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Opinion: A confession

I've got a confession to make. I'm not impressed by Vilks' artwork, and his Mohammad as a dog cartoon makes me uncomfortable. Why? The obvious reason might be because I'm pro-Islamic (thanks MI5!!), but it's a bit more complicated, actually.

On Sunday I posted a news story about the cartoon in question. A Dutch news-site used the cartoon to illustrate a story about the plot to murder Vilks. The cartoon was later removed, and the site claimed this had nothing to do with Muslim pressure. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Vijay Kumar Interviewed at Frontpage

You are one of the rare individuals running for office in America who is actually making the issue of Islamic Jihad a significant part of your campaign. Tell us your view of Islamic Jihad and the background you have to make you see it the way you do.

Kumar: I am a native of Hyderabad, India, which is where I first encountered the Muslim culture. We have a substantial number of Muslims there, a higher percentage than most other parts of India, and I began to observe things that troubled me. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Re-programming British Muslims: A study of the Islam Channel - Islam Channel Part 1

.... Talal Rajab, the report’s author, says: “Islam Channel is the most watched Muslim TV channel in the UK. Unfortunately during the three-month period that we monitored its output, it repeatedly promoted bigoted and reactionary views towards women, non-Muslims and other Muslims who follow different versions of Islam. Although the channel does not directly call for terrorist violence, it clearly helps to create an atmosphere in which religiously-sanctioned intolerance and even hatred might be seen as acceptable.”

“By promoting a single narrow version of Islam – namely Saudi Wahhabism – at the expense of more diverse and tolerant schools of Islamic thought, the Islam Channel is wasting an enormous opportunity to positively shaping British Islam. [Quilliam Foundation] Read more

Islamic TV show 'backed marital rape' and promotes extremist groups, claims Muslim think tank Britain's leading Islamic TV channel has regularly broadcast demeaning material about women and promoted extremist groups, it was alleged yesterday. Programmes on the Islam Channel have told women they should not refuse to have sex with their husbands or leave home without their permission, an inquiry by the Islamic think-tank the Quilliam Foundation found.

.... And, the inquiry by the Islamic think tank the Quilliam Foundation found, its broadcasts are also trying to sow hatred between different Muslim groups by promoting a single strand of hardline theology. The Islam Channel, launched in 2004, is the most watched satellite channel aimed at a Muslim audience and the think tank is now calling for an investigation by regulator Ofcom. [MailOnline] Read more

UK's Muslim TV: Wives must not refuse sex with spouse Britain's leading Muslim TV channel was accused of encouraging “marital rape” and promoting other intolerant views of women in a report on extremism published today.

The report by think tank Quillam says that the London-based Islam Channel broadcast comments saying that “the idea a woman cannot refuse her husband relations” was “not strange” and was instead part of “maintaining a strong marriage”.

It says that the channel also broadcast advice that a wife should not leave her home without her husband's permission and that a woman who wears perfume in public is a prostitute. [London Evening Standard] Read more

“Defamation of Religion” resolution passes at Human Rights Council

The non-binding “defamation of religion” resolution that has been an annual fixture at the United Nations Human Rights Council was passed again yesterday – but only narrowly. Voting in favour were 20 states, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. 17 — mostly Western nations — opposed, including the United States and the Netherlands. Eight states abstained. (Last year the vote was 23 in favour, 11 opposed and 13 abstentions).

The resolution was similar to one passed last year, but also included a section slamming the recent Swiss referendum vote to ban the construction of minarets in the country. [National Secular Society] Read more

UN rights council slams 'defamation of religion' Geneva - In a tight vote Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted in favour of a resolution condemning so-called "defamation of religion."

A coalition of 17 mostly Western nations, including the United States and the Netherlands, opposed the resolution, but 20 states, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, voted in favour. Eight states abstained.

The resolution adopted by the 47-member council was similar to one passed last year, but also included a section slamming the recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets in the country. [The Earth Times] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

25 March 2010

More rage from the Religion of Peace during Indonesia’s blasphemy law review

A JUDICIAL review of Indonesia’s blasphemy law turned ugly yesterday when two members of two hard-line Islamic groups roughed up two lawyers acting for groups who want the law scrapped.

According to this report, several members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Defenders Army (Laskar Pembela Islam) grabbed the lawyers and tried to persuade them to withdraw from the hearing. [The Freethinker] Read more

Bonfire of the Intellectuals: Paul Berman's outraged attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali's attackers

.... The most contentious assertion in Berman's book is that some of the most prominent of these—people who rushed to the defense of Salman Rushdie when he was threatened with death for a novel deemed blasphemously irreverent to Islam—have failed to offer wholehearted support to Muslim dissidents today, people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born author and Muslim apostate, whose lives are similarly threatened.

This failure, this "flight of the intellectuals," Berman argues, represents a deeply troubling abandonment of Enlightenment values in the face of recurrent threats to freedom of expression. [Slate] Read more

Another Muslim non-story

A man was unable to buy a burger from KFC, given that KFC had stopped selling that burger. This shouldn’t be a news story; businesses remove products from circulation all the time, because of a drop in demand, increasing costs of raw materials and so on.

If a local newsagents stopped selling cola bottles, it wouldn’t hit the headlines. So what was different about this story to attract the attention of the Daily Mail? A diner was left furious after a KFC restaurant refused to sell him a bacon burger – because it wasn’t halal. Ahh… Muslims are involved. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Islamophobia is a threat to democracy

This letter has been published in The Guardian: We are concerned by the rise of Islamophobia, the negative coverage of Muslims in the media, the violent street mobilisations of extreme rightwing organisations like the English Defence League, and the rising electoral support for the British National party (The battle for Barking, Weekend, 13 March).

Following Channel 4’s recent inflammatory documentary, Britain’s Islamic Republic, which saw concentrated attacks on the East London Mosque, the English Defence League marched through central London with placards including the demand “Close the East London Mosque now”. [Harry’s Place] Read more

24 March 2010

The final blow to IslamOnline

.... More than 200 of the 330 Cairo editors immediately tendered their resignation in protest of the lockdown last Monday and went on strike in the Cairo offices. They pleaded with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born cleric living in Qatar who founded Islam Online in 1997, to intervene.

More than 48 hours into the strike, Sheikh Qaradawi, who was in Saudi Arabia when the site was locked down, succeeded in having two of the Qatari directors (who many Islam Online editors felt were behind the push to turn the site into a conservative religious voice) sacked. My colleagues in Cairo said there was a flicker of hope at that point. [altmuslim] Read more

Denmark: Majority against religious concessions at school, work

Halal meat, prayer rooms, vacations on holidays. There are many option to accommodate religious minorities in the workplace, but the Danes say 'no thanks'.

A survey conducted by YouGov Zapera for Metroxpress shows that a majority of 58% don't support any type of special concessions for religion in the workplace. Integration consultant Esma Birdi can understand that.

"Religion is a private issue. There should be as little religion in the public space as possible. Overall it doesn't belong in the workplace," Esma Birdi says there are other, more important, ways of meeting new-Danes. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Female poet uses 'Arabic Idol' to attack Muslim clerics

A veiled female poet has used verse to lash out at hard-line Muslim clerics on live television during the popular Arabic version of "American Idol." In The Million's Poet programme, competitors battle it out to impress a panel of judges with traditional Arabic poems, not pop songs.

But instead of choosing an ode to the beauty of Bedouin life, Hissa Hilal, only her eyes visible through her black veil, delivered a blistering attack on Muslim preachers "who sit in the position of power" but are "frightening" people with their fatwas, or religious edicts, and "preying like a wolf" on those seeking peace. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslim students tell embassies to lobby City University

Muslim students are demanding their embassies lobby City University to overturn a ban on them using their prayer room. The University, which has students from Muslim countries including Bangladesh, Iran and Pakistan, padlocked the prayer room on Whiskin Street because of security concerns after six Muslim students were attacked in November.

Hundreds of male members of the Islamic Society (ISoc) have been gathering twice a day to pray in Northampton Square in protest. Up to 400 students have been attending sermons in the square during Friday prayers.

The University have offered the students space in a multi-faith prayer room, but the students say they cannot use a space that is shared by all faiths. [ISLINGTON NOW] Read more

Islamism: why the west gets it wrong - What Guardian readers think

It …. seems dangerously close to excusing Islamism as an 'anti-imperial' struggle, which it fundamentally is not. Islamism is another form of barbaric imperialism, something the European left (painting in broad strokes) has been worryingly slow to accept... [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

British Muslims must punish the warmongers at the general election

.... By some estimates the United Kingdom’s 2 million Muslims could influence up to 100 marginal seats. And in a closely fought election where the marginals are predicted to decide the outcome, that could swing the balance of power.

So either British Muslims can prove there is such a thing as a “Muslim vote”, thereby sending a clear message to politicians that there will be a price to pay if they get trampled over. Or they can remain divided, vote according to trivial self-interest and thus open the door to further Islamophobia at home and crusading wars abroad.

Here’s what I’m proposing: Firstly, British Muslims should punish those MPs who voted for the genocidal Iraq war, who support the current aggression in Afghanistan, and who backed the discriminatory anti-terror laws which target Muslims in the UK. If they do this politicians will think twice about doing the same again because their jobs will be at stake. [Harry’s Place] Read more

MP investigated by police after criticising Muslim veils in Parliament

Philip Hollobone had described the face coverings worn by some devout Muslim women as the “religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes”.

He defended his comments in a local newspaper and then found that he had been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred, by the head of a taxpayer-funded equality group. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

In Germany, Xenophobia Diverted by Open Doors

.... But many local Muslims, like Ridvan Carpar, said it was better not to press the issue. Mr. Carpar, 35, came from Turkey when he was 5 years old and works in a kebab stand across from the mosque, which itself is evidence of the city’s changing face. Above the sign for Pasha kebabs, grimy letters on the facade still spell out “Schreiner’s Drugstore.”

“Until now, we’ve never had any problems,” Mr. Carpar said. “A mosque is a mosque, whether it has a minaret or not.”

Mr. Carpar inadvertently echoed the same sentiment as Frank Franz, the state chairman in the Saarland of the far-right party, the National Democrats, which has two seats on the city council. “A minaret has nothing to do with freedom of religion; it isn’t necessary,” Mr. Franz said.[Völklingen Journal] Read more

23 March 2010

Immigrant school children fear Wilders could deport them

A boy with short cropped brown hair raised his hand to ask teacher Mohammed Kaaouass a question about the anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. "Sir, why is Wilders only taking on Moroccans. Why aren’t French people being kicked out of the country?"

.... Children at the Al-Imam school were playing a game of tag with the boys chasing the girls during recess, supervised by Harry van der Bijl. In his ten years at the Islamic school he had seen the response to 9/11, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim radical and, recently, the rise of the PVV. "As a teacher, I try not to take sides," he said. [NRC Handelsblad] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

New Mosque Rattles Small Austrian Town

Muslim immigration is clearly changing the face of Europe in places like London, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Austria is no exception.

Its largest city, Vienna, has seen a large influx of Turkish Muslims in recent years. But this growing influence isn't limited to big cities.

CBN News recently traveled to one small town in Austria where residents are up in arms over the newest local attraction: a multi-million dollar Islamic center. [The Christian Broadcasting Network] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Islamic social worker 'told Muslim mother to move to Bangladesh or lose children to Christianity'

Faatien Le Jardin, a social worker for Merton's Children in Need team in south London, allegedly told the mother that she should leave the country to prevent her children being placed with English foster parents who "would make them Christian". [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

22 March 2010

European Muslims Reconcile Cultures through Fashion

European critics deride the Islamic veil as a mark of female oppression. But for a new generation of young Muslim women, it is part of an emerging fashion that seeks to integrate European and Muslim identities.

.... Emma Tarlo is a British social anthropologist and author of a new book, "Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith". She points to the hijab, or headscarf, as the most obvious manifestation of this fashion revolution.

"In a sense they're using fashion to try to contradict the idea of the hijab being just about politics, traditionalism or piety even. They are still associating it with modesty and the idea that a woman keeps part of her body private. But they're active in the public sphere and they're modern - and they want to be seen as modern." [VOANews.com] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Bangladesh hospital bans burqa to prevent theft

Bangladesh's largest state-run hospital has banned staff from wearing full-face burqas after an increase in thefts of mobile phones and wallets from wards, a hospital chief said Monday.

Female staff have been ordered to wear standard uniforms, which do not cover either the hair or face, while on duty at the Bangabandhu Medical University Hospital in Dhaka, senior administrator Abdul Majid Bhuiyan told [AFP] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

PVE Funds Islamist Extremism in Tower Hamlets

The Preventing Violent Extremism programme across the country, but particularly in Tower Hamlets, has become a means whereby money intended to fund projects to stop young Muslims becoming involved in extreme Islamist groups has in fact been diverted to those self same groups. [Harry’s Place] Read more

His Actions Made Him an Infidel

Ali Hussain Sibat was a Lebanese TV presenter who would give advice and make predictions about the future on his show. Then he made the foolish mistake of visiting Saudi Arabia:

Amnesty International has called on the King of Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a Lebanese national, whose death sentence for charges relating to "sorcery" was upheld by a court last week....

'Ali Hussain Sibat was arrested by the Mutawa'een (religious police) on charges of "sorcery" in May 2008 while he was in Saudi Arabia to perform a form of Muslim pilgrimage, the 'umra. [Mick Hartley] Read more

The real issues behind the veil

.... It's more than simply a "when in Rome" question. The Canadian version of "when in Rome" involves a vastness of multicultural potential. When in Canada, you could happily wear a turban, a yarmulke, a headscarf, a tam o' shanter, a tuque, even a nun's wimple in public, and you'd fit right in.

Nobody cares what clothing you adopt here, or whether or not it reflects a particular religion or ethnic heritage. And no one thinks you should be told what you can or cannot wear. But that's not what the public face-covering debate is about.

While non-Muslims must leave the religious aspects of the discussion to Muslims (because there is apparently a sharp diversity of opinion on this within Muslim communities), other elements of the debate should be clear to everyone. [The Ottawa Citizen] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Marriages between cousins

The Baroness’ suggestions seem sensible, though I am not sure about her plan to test genetic defects in those who have arranged marriages. It makes sense, but how would you differentiate between arranged and love marriages?

The problem is that, like in Europe a few centuries ago, first marriages are still an attractive prospect for families: they help to solidify alliances and keep property within a family. This is an issue that needs to be discussed a great deal more. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Rise in marriages between cousins ‘is putting children’s health at risk’.... Fifty-five per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and in Bradford the figure is 75 per cent. British Pakistanis represent 3 per cent of all births in Britain but one third of children with recessive disorders. [Times Online] Read more

The true meaning of halal

Nesrine Malik's article on "The rights and wrongs of halal", which has been vigorously commented upon by Guardian readers, fits the shoddy bill. Its purpose, like many articles on British Islam, is to dig a great gaping gulf between "religious" values and the "secular ethical ones" (anyone reminded of the Rushdie affair?) Malik scaremongers by providing inept source evidence for the British secular reaction against halal meat, and by providing no source evidence whatsoever on the Islamic concept of "halal". [Guardian Cif] Read more

The rights and wrongs of halal I remember vividly the first time I saw an animal slaughtered at our home in Sudan. The hapless sheep was brought to the house and tethered in the garden days before the Eid festival. My sisters and I fed it, watered it and giggled at its silly bleats outside our bedroom windows at night.

I was vaguely aware that this sheep was to provide food for us, but as a five-year-old had not fully grasped the concept until I walked out on Eid morning just in time to see the butcher slit its throat.

[Reader Comment] Yet another sorry example of religious groups obtaining exemptions from the law that the rest of us have to follow. I might start my own religion where paying tax is considered blasphemous. [Guardian Cif] Read more

21 March 2010

Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public?

As a Muslim woman and as a feminist I support banning the face veil, everywhere and not just in France where they are to vote on a resolution and possibly a ban on wearing the garment in public places [hospitals, schools and public transport, but not in the streets] after regional elections end. [The Observer] Read more

A Place For Zahir Mahmood

.... Tower Hamlets Council is launching its ‘No Place for Hate’ DVD on Thursday 25 March at the London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel Road, E1. The DVD explores the strength of dialogue between different religions and communities within Tower Hamlets.

.... This separatist message fully rejects “the strength of dialogue between different religions and communities”. It is welcome and common among speakers at the East London Mosque and its London Muslim Centre. [Harry’s Place] Read more

20 March 2010

Qaradawi Video Compilation

MEMRI has produced two video compilations of some of the extremist statements of Youssef Qaradawi. The first collections contains Qaradawi’s statements about Europe and the US as well as about Israel and Jews. Some of these statements have been discussed in previous posts including Qaradawi stating:

Islam will conquer Europe through peaceful means.

Hitler was divine punishment for the misdeeds of the Jews and that the Holocaust was exaggerated.

He desires to end his life in the service of Jihad by visiting Israel and throwing a bomb, becoming a “martyr” in the process

Calling for the death of all Jews.

Calling for the collapse of the US if it doesn’t end its “unjust ways.”

The second collections contains various statements by Qaradawi on social issues such as discussing the killing of homosexuals and stating that beating is “suitable” for some wives. [Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report] Read more

Back door blasphemy prosecution in Liverpool

I bet you thought that the UK finally did away with blasphemy in 2008? The National Secular Society held a party featuring gay actor Ian McKellen reading aloud James Kirkup’s poem The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name, which was the subject of “Scary” Mary Whitehouse’s prosecution for blasphemous libel against Denis Lemon, the editor of Gay News in 1977. A ridiculous anachronism finally buried in these progressive times, right? Well, think again.[manicstreetpreacher] Read more

Contemplating Islam

If we consider the Islamic texts, their content and the devotion that so many Muslims - including in America - attach to them; if we consider the tragic upshot of these teachings in terms of our current world’s security, is it not a duty for each one of us to view Islam not frivolously but in a most serious manner? [The Iconoclast] Read more

19 March 2010

Muslims in the Media: Appreciating the Imperfections

I often hear the complaint, with some justification, from many friends that Muslims are almost always portrayed negatively in the media; as wildly exaggerated caricatures of stereotypical backward types, or as the vanguard of the new feminist movement who are using driving lessons to kick start the revolution.

For some reason, they say, of all the immigrant religious communities that live in Britain, Sikhs and Hindus are seen as being more integrated and seem to get a better press. How do they manage it without trying, they wonder? It’s not like Muslims are so very different. [The Platform] Read more

Saudi writer charged with blasphemy

.... The Saudi plaintiffs said the writer’s action would not be accepted by any Muslim who is proud of his religion. They said such actions would not be tolerated in the land of the Two Holy Mosques.

The plaintiffs have presented a copy of the writer’s interview with the television channel to the court along with their complaint in which they accused the writer of attacking the prophet’s personality.

This is the second lawsuit filed against media organizations and media persons for allegedly insulting the Hadith or Sayings of the Prophet. [ARAB NEWS] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Campaign changes to attitudes of people towards Islam

A campaign to help change attitudes towards Islam has been rolled out in Keighley. Members of the public could see ‘Love For All Hatred For None’ advertisements on buses travelling through the town and district.

And youngsters from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association youth group in Keighley have been delivering leaflets through doors, in a bid to halt the spread of Islamophobia, which is reportedly at an all-time high. [Keighley News] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Council's 'capitulation' to aggressive Muslim campaign 'caused teacher's breakdown'

Ruling that headteacher Erica Connor, was entitled £400,000 damages, the Court of Appeal criticised criticised Surrey County Council for failing to protect her. Mrs Connor, 57, left the New Monument primary school in Woking in 2006 because of stress after she was accused of Islamophobia.

In March last year, a deputy High Court judge ruled that the council had failed in its duty to to intervene when the actions of the schools governors created problems. He awarded her £407,700 damages. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

18 March 2010

Police officers banned from asking for 'Christian' names

Officers taking down a suspect’s particulars must now ask them for a “personal and family name” in case the word “Christian” offends Muslims, Sikhs or other faiths, according to the new official guidance.

Kent Police's prescriptive diversity rulebook also tells officers to refrain from using phrases such as “my dear” or “love”, when addressing women for fear it may cause “embarrassment or offence”. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Diane Abbott MP tables Early Day Motion condemning the 'demonisation of British Muslims'

Diane Abbott MP .... has presented an early day motion entitled ‘Muslims in Britain’ which ‘welcomes the participation and contribution of Muslims in British society, including in politics; and believes that the full participation of all communities in the forthcoming general election is in the interests of democracy.’ [ENGAGE] Read more

Hirsi Ali: 'Europe is sleepwalking towards its downfall'

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is proceeding in her new book with her campaign against radical Islam. She calls on the Church to wage a propaganda battle with Islam, which according to her doesn't get much resistance. Americans underestimate the growth of Islam in their country. Europe is sleepwalking towards its downfall. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The ELM, Dispatches and Awlaki

The East London Mosque (ELM) continues pushing the line that it only hosted the al-Qaeda linked preacher Anwar al-Awlaki at its mosque on one occasion and that ‘there was no credible evidence at the time of the event that al-Awlaki might be an extremist'.

.... Long before Awlaki spoke at the ELM he was translating and disseminating jihadist texts such as Thawaabit Ala' Darb Al-Jihad - which means ‘The Constants of Jihad'. .... Let's assume the ELM is sincere when it says it did not know the truth about Awlaki. Surely that means its senior management - such as Mohammed Abdul Bari - are grossly unfit to continue serving as government advisers on violent extremism? [Standpoint] Read more

17 March 2010

Quebec Predictably Follows France’s Lead

The Niqab issue has hit North American shores. Is it a result of the divisive dialogue and law slated for spring in France that will effectively ban the face veil? This seems likely as Quebec, the French speaking Canadian province seems to be headed in the same direction.

The veil is a hot topic of debate even amongst Muslims but one point that both sides of the debate, those who do and don’t find the face veil to be an obstacle can agree upon is that it is not the job of the government to legislate what women can and cannot wear. It seems to be the height of intrusiveness for a government to inject itself into the wardrobes of women. Western nations who pride themselves on being democracies and valuing freedom should know better then to do that. [Loonwatch] Read more

Muslims seeking female clerk can ‘line up again’

In recent years, the few fully veiled Muslim women who had dealings with Quebec's health-insurance board could choose to be served by a woman to avoid exposing their faces to a man outside their family.

But in the latest example of the province's growing resistance to the accommodation of minority religious practices, the insurance board on Tuesday announced the end of the policy after the provincial human rights commission said it has no duty to acquiesce.

"From now on, for a woman who is veiled with a niqab or a burka and comes to our office asking to be photographed by a woman, the answer is no," said Marc Lortie, spokesman for the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec. "Line up again, or come back another day." [National Post] Read more

Fundamentalist-linked council official resigns

Lutfur Ali, one of the key figures in the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe/ East London Mosque’s influence over Tower Hamlets Council, has tonight resigned, the council confirmed. Mr Ali was the second most powerful officer on the council and his departure is a major blow to the fundamentalists. The IFE’s opponents are overjoyed. “This is the tipping point,” says Badrul Islam, one of the main local opponents of the group. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Cabin crew in Dubai jailed for sexy texting

Two Emirates Airline cabin crew in Dubai were given three-month jail terms for exchanging sexy text messages, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

The then-married flight attendant, 42, and her male supervisor, 47, were convicted of "coercion to commit sin," the National daily reported court documents as saying. [AFP] Read more [via Religious Watch]

16 March 2010

Belgium: Half of lamb meat is halal

About half of lamb and mutton meat in Belgian supermarkets and restaurants is halal slaughtered. That means that it's ritually slaughtered and blessed by Muslim men, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamism: why the west gets it wrong

The west is ill at ease with Islam", a BBC colleague remarked, long before 9/11. "Even communism was more familiar." Communism, after all, came from within the western intellectual tradition. Islam, in contrast, is alien as well as threatening. Our mistake is to see Islam as monolithic.

We think of the Saudi brand as the norm – as if cutting off hands, outlawing the building of churches and denying women the right to drive were the norm across the vast sweep of the Muslim world.

After 30 years' experience travelling in the Muslim world – most of that time as a regional specialist with the BBC World Service – I'm still constantly startled by how many ways there are of being a Muslim in the modern world. [Guardian Cif] Read more

“No to Islamism” campaign boosts France’s National Front in poll

Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, playing on fears over the spread of Islam, has regained the political initiative in France with a strong result in regional elections that poses a problem for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Bouncing back from a string of recent reversals, Le Pen’s National Front won a surprise 11.74 percent of the national vote in Sunday’s first round ballot and will dilute support for Sarkozy’s conservative block in crucial run-offs on March 21.

Aged 81, Le Pen himself enjoyed a remarkable personal triumph, winning 20.29 percent backing in the southern French Provence-Cote d’Azur region, which has absorbed hundreds of thousands of mainly North African immigrants in recent decades. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

‘Don’t punish wife-beaters, it’s against Islam’ says mad Muslim cleric

A PROPOSAL to introduce prison terms for men who beat their wives goes against the Koran and the teachings of the “prophet” Mohammed, according to the head of Algeria’s Superior Islamic Council.

Qaher Sharif fiercely criticised the bill presented to the country’s head of state by Farouk Qustantiti, of the Consultative Council on Human Rights. A “stunned” and outraged Sharif told the Arab-language edition of the daily newspaper El Khabar: [The Freethinker] Read more

Denmark wants Brussels to stop UK Mohammed cartoon lawsuit

The Danish minister of justice has called on the European Commission to put a stop to a lawsuit by a Saudi lawyer who is using the UK's famously libel-happy courts to go after Danish newspapers for their publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

"It's fundamentally reasonable that judgments in the EU can often be exercised across borders," the minister, Lars Barfoed, said according to the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

"But it would be taking it to the extreme if a UK court could rule against the Danish media and then require compensation and court costs to be paid." [EUobserver.com] Read more [via Religious Watch]

IslamOnline website in crisis as employees in Egypt stage sit-in

The future of one of the largest Islamic websites in the world was in doubt today after hundreds of staff walked out, accusing new managers of trying to hijack the site in order to promote a hardline, conservative agenda.

IslamOnline, which draws over 120,000 visitors a day and is one of the most popular internet destinations in the Middle East, was plunged into crisis following an attempt by the website's senior management in Qatar to wrest control of the site's content away from its editorial offices in Cairo. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Online goes offline .... The site was founded in 1997 under the guidance of Egyptian cleric Yousef el-Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar. It has numerous sections-news, arts & culture, youth, health & science, politics in-depth, reading Islam (for new Muslims) and others.

In my experience of freelancing there for 10 years and working exclusively as their U.S. correspondent/editor since January, I've come to known Islam Online as a site that covers topics other Muslim sites don't dare to address: marital issues, homosexuality, and child abuse. This, in addition to offering news from the Muslim world and fascinating arts reporting. When I came on board, the site was on an initiative to increase its coverage of Muslim-Americans, for which I was heavily involved. [altmuslim] Read more

Workers' jihad at Islamic website Islamic advice websites aren't the first thing that spring to mind when talking of strikes, sit-ins and workers' occupations, but if there's any proof needed that Egypt's extraordinary wave of industrial action is reaching every corner of the nation, then today's drama at IslamOnline.net fits the bill.

With more than 120,000 hits a day and a global reach that extends through several languages, IslamOnline is one of the biggest and most influential Muslim websites in the world. From Baghdad to Basildon, Muslims use it as a key source of scholarly advice on everything from impotency to the insurgency in Iraq. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Workers' jihad at Islamic website - What Guardian readers think "Well I'm consciously drawn to Guardian articles on Islam, mainly because they often wrong, usually partial, and almost always weird.

It's a strange article on IslamOnline.net that does not mention al Qawadari, a key spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who founded the site." [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

15 March 2010

Jihad Jane and the Muhammad cartoons

The recent arrest of American Colleen LaRose (who reportedly called herself Jihad Jane online) and seven individuals for allegedly plotting the murder of Swedish Cartoonist Lar Vilks, could be a teachable moment.

.... As a Muslim-American writer, I know firsthand that creating thought-provoking art about Islam and Muslims can be a thankless task. If one’s fictional Muslim characters are not avatars of perfection or they happen to speak critically about certain Islamic customs, then the Muslim artist risks being convicted as a godless instigator by a vocal minority. [altmuslim] Read more

CFI-India Representative Arrested for “Hurting the Sentiments of Muslims”

Last month Dr. Innaiah Narisetti, CFI's Representative in India, was arrested for "hurting the sentiments of Muslims." His alleged crime? Distribution of a book titled "Crescent Over the World," a collection of works by Salman Rushdie, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, and a cartoon of Mohammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Dr. Narisetti was reportedly taken into custody at his home on February 26 after Muslim legislators raised questions in the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh State and Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah promised to take action. Dr. Narisetti was among several individuals arrested in connection with the book. [Center for Inquiry] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Against multiculturalism

The policy of multiculturalism is built on two theories.

Firstly, there is the idea that human beings need, at a very primal level, some sort of attachment to cultural heritage. Without such attachment, the argument goes, people are likely to be less fulfilled and lack personal foundation. Without our cultural reference points, we are but leaves blowing in the wind.

Secondly, multiculturalism demands that all cultures have equal value. Indeed, it says that the value of a culture cannot be empirically measured because there is no fair starting point. The person making the comparison and value judgment will necessarily do so from a position that is informed by their own culture. [Liberal Conspiracy] Read more

14 March 2010

Morocco continues mass deportation of Christian aid workers over "proselytizing"

The propagation of non-Islamic faiths is forbidden under Islamic law, and "moderate" Morocco seems to be taking the opportunity to purge Christian aid workers in general. "Christian aid worker purge? Morocco orders dozens in five cities to be deported," by Eric German for the Christian Science Monitor, March 11: [Jihad Watch] Read more

Irish could get to vote in a referendum on Ireland’s new blasphemy law

DERMOT Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, is proposing a referendum this autumn to remove the newly-introduced offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution, along with two other referenda that the government is already committed to.

Atheist Ireland, which tirelessly campaigned against a law that made Ireland the laughing stock of the Western world, revealed today that the Minister told the Sunday Times: [The Freethinker] Read more

Hirsi Ali: How to beat Wilders

Hirsi Ali does give the established political parties advice on how to beat Wilders, but that advice amounts to forcing all immigrants to assimilate. I'm not sure Wilders would mind. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The Organization of the Islamic Conference Publishes Pig-Mohamed On Its Own Website.......

The Tundra Tabloids could hardly believe its own eyes while surfing through the OIC's webpage on "Islamophobia". Apparently it's ok for everyone to republish the dreaded pics of Islam's prophet, Mohamed, even the one as a pig! The text to the OIC's report on the Norwegian publication of the Pig-Mohamed reads as following: [Tundra Tabloids] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Fears over non-Muslim's use of Islamic law to resolve disputes

Campaigners have voiced concerns over a growing number of non-Muslims using Islamic law to resolve legal disputes in Britain despite controversy over the role of sharia law.

A spokesman for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that there had been a 15% rise in the number of non-Muslims using sharia arbitrations in commercial cases this year.

Last year, more than 20 non-Muslims chose to arbitrate cases at the network of tribunals, which operate in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Nuneaton and Luton. "We are offering a cheap and effective service for Muslim and non-Muslims," said MAT spokesperson Fareed Chedie. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

New Labour: Funding religious groups with public money – yet again

The real scandal – aside from Labour’s typical lavishing of funding on specifically ‘Islamic’ projects – is that a single penny of taxpayers’ money is being given to what are quite clearly factional and divisive religious groups which have absolutely no place in the context of public service. [Edmund Standing] Read more

Islam's Black Dog

.... Whatever is being said about the peculiarity of these episodes, Major Hasan and the Underwear Bomber (a horrible enough fate to be seared on your soul for eternity) are not unusual.

Their so-called radicalism is not based on attitudes unusual among the majority of Muslims, despite what is being said by vast numbers of religious people who have been appalled at this outbreak but still hold that violence is always an aberration of “religious” values, whatever their source and whatever the doctrine.

Whether people actually believe that most Muslims are “soft,” moderate souls, I have no idea. What true is that many Muslims are genial, intelligent people. Until it comes to religion. [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

Halal dispute over Kentucky Fried Chicken

A trial involving the sale of halal poultry at dozens of outlets of a fast-food chain across Britain has left groups of Christians and Muslims embroiled in two very different controversies.

On one hand, non-Muslim groups are setting up internet petitions against KFC’s move to sell halal-only products in the trial at 74 of its outlets across the country. On the other, Muslims themselves are questioning whether, in fact, the poultry being sold is truly halal. [The National] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Culture clash: European art provokes Muslims

.... Behind the scenes is something bigger: a rising European unease with a rapidly growing Muslim minority, and the spreading sense that the continent has become a front in a clash of civilizations.

Recent events — including surprising electoral success by an anti-Islamic Dutch party, moves to ban veils in France and minarets in Switzerland, and arrests in Ireland and the U.S. this week in an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist — are signs of the rising tensions. [Associated Press] Read more

Associated Press laments "provocation" of Muslims in Europe .... Liberal democracies depend on the premise that there are unalienable human rights that a government cannot violate and retain a legitimate right to rule. To want to defend that concept is far from the extreme, rabid, reactionary position that it is portrayed as here -- even (horrors!) at the risk of being impolite. You don't defend your values by... not defending them. [Jihad Watch] Read more

13 March 2010

Backlash at the mosque

In the two weeks since the Islamic Forum of Europe were exposed by The Sunday Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches as hardline fundamentalists secretly infiltrating the political system, they have been furiously protesting their “proven track record of community cohesion”. Last week, however, the organisation showed its true face.

.... Mr Ali’s words sit strangely with his role as an official advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, and to the police, but perhaps his annoyance is understandable. The undercover reporters filmed him saying: “Democracy, if it means not implementing the sharia, no one’s going to agree with that.”

The reporters found that, far from its protestations of being merely a “social welfare organisation”, the IFE is an organised political movement dedicated to creating an “Islamic social and political order” through “entryism” into mainstream democratic institutions. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Ian McEwan: Criticising Islam is not racist

The Booker Prize winner said those who claimed judging Muslims was "de facto" racism were playing a "poisonous argument".

McEwan, 61, the best-selling author of novels including Amsterdam, Atonement and Saturday, thought many in the left wrongly took this position because they had an anti-Americanism shared with Islamists.

In an interview with today's Telegraph Magazine, McEwan said: "Chunks of left-of-centre opinion have tried to close down the debate by saying that if you were to criticise Islam as a thought system you are a de facto racist. That is a poisonous argument. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

I kissed tourist but only on the cheek, says Briton jailed in Dubai

A British businessman facing jail in Dubai after he was accused of kissing a woman in public has vowed to fight the charges and clear his name. Marketing executive Ayman Najafi, 24, and British tourist Charlotte Lewis, 25, were accused of kissing on the lips and drinking alcohol after a fellow diner reported them to the authorities.

The pair pleaded guilty to drinking alcohol - and were fined £180 - but said they only kissed on the cheek and are appealing against breaking the country's morality laws. [MailOnline] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 8: Political Rules Are For Other People

THE fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe is fond of telling us that it is merely a bunch of “democratic Muslims” seeking to take part in the political process – a line faithfully echoed by apologists like Inayat Bunglawala.

Here is the IFE’s real and rather more cynical approach to political participation and democracy, from the ever-gabby Azad Ali, its community affairs co-ordinator, on the group’s official blog on 5 November 2008:

“I am still convinced that participation is correct, but my contention is that it should be on our terms… Why allow ourselves to be boxed in by ‘rules’ that are clearly designed to destroy us in this world and the hereafter? [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 7: Sweep Out Of Power Those Who Question Us The fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe have spent the last several days furiously denying claims by – among others – the Labour minister Jim Fitzpatrick that they bring electoral influence to bear, or organise against politicians.

Unfortunately, a man named Abdullah Hasan doesn’t seem to have got the PR memo. “How should Muslims respond [to the allegations]?” he says. “Simply by getting rid of Fitzpatrick… If Muslims in the constituency organise against him, they can either sweep him out of power or erode his majority… Muslims should… show malcontents such as Fitzpatrick the door.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 6: We Are All Working Our Socks Off for an Islamic Superstate Here’s Azad Ali, the Islamic Forum of Europe’s community affairs co-ordinator (and adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, confidant of police chiefs, former head of the Civil Service Islamic Society, etc) talking about the IFE’s ambition to create a global Islamic superstate, the caliphate or Khilafah. And look who he wants to run it! [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 5: 'Little Miss Jewess Being a Good British Citizen' .... But there’s more: according to Bint Khan, a “hidden war of [pro-Jewish] propaganda” is going on in the British media. Her examples? The BBC dramatisation of the Anne Frank Diaries, and the release of the film The Reader (which is about difficulties of comprehending the magnitude of the Holocaust.)

How lucky we are to have the moderates of the IFE and the East London Mosque to remind us about the obligations of being good British citizens. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 4: Suicide bombings are not terrorism I proudly present today’s post from the official blog of the Islamic Forum of Europe, the “moderates” who control the East London Mosque. The mosque has received at least £10 million of public money – some of it under government funds designed to “prevent violent extremism.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamist Blogpost of the Day 3: Hate the disbelieving actions of the non-Muslims .... “Some may argue that the word infidel is a bit offensive… so what?…This reminds me of some apologetic Muslims who go round telling anyone who will listen that Islam has no concept of war, they would go to the extreme and deny Jihad, all due to their inferiority complex…We should in general ‘hate’ the disbelieving actions of the non-Muslims but not them as a person… Love the sinner, hate the sin.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

12 March 2010

India: Muslim clerics oppose women in parliament, where they could "brush shoulders with men"

.... Leading Shia cleric and scholar Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, however, believed in the line adopted by the Nadwa principal. Asked how an Islamic state like Iran allowed women to participate in various political activities, he replied: "Well, Iran does have women members of parliament, who go through the process of elections, but they strictly follow the `purdah` system."

"Even when they sit in their parliament, they observe complete seclusion," he said, adding this could not be possible in Indian parliament. "Any woman entering the electoral fray would have to go into lanes and bylanes, stand on dais and brush shoulders with men. How can Islam permit all that?" he asked. [Jihad Watch] Read more

A pluralistic prescription

John Esposito's new book The Future of Islam is an examination of the current prospects for Muslim reformers around the globe to produce new legal and social models that better meet the challenges of a globalized Muslim community.

.... Finally, to counteract the viral spread of Islamophobia, Esposito emphasizes that Americans and Europeans must acknowledge a missing link in what Jews and Christians have come to regard as a shared heritage.

Only when Muslims are no longer viewed as the “other,” but as integral elements of a rich Judeo-Christian-Islamic history, can serious headway be made against the forces of extremism. A nice thought – but with the status quo always being the easier and more marketable route, it’s hard to see this notion transitioning into reality. [altmuslim] Read more

Niqab Gazette cartoon steps up debate

Montreal Gazette editorial cartoonist Aislin has sparked controversy over a provocative cartoon of a woman wearing a Niqab. An editorial cartoon in Friday's Montreal Gazette is highlighting a controversial incident in which a Muslim woman was asked to leave a French language school for refusing to remove her niqab.

The cartoon, by Terry Mosher, who draws under the name Aislin, shows the face of a woman in a niqab. In the space where her eyes would normally be seen, the cartoonist has shown prison bars and a lock. [CBC] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Muslim groups consider boycott of German-Islam conference

Germany's four largest Muslim associations debated a potential boycott of the German-Islam Conference in Cologne on Friday after the Interior Ministry excluded one of the groups from attendance.

The four groups were unable to reach a collective decision after nearly eight hours of discussion. Talks could though resume next Friday. .... Only 20 percent of Germany's four million Muslims are actually represented by the four groups that participate, while the vast majority remains unaffiliated with any group.

Some Muslim participants have also complained of the conference's agenda, which has not focused on racism and Islamophobia. Read more [via Islam in Europe]

From an ex-Muslim, true Islamophobia

.... As a Muslim, I learned very early in life to walk in my adversaries' shoes to feel their pain. This is why I have not shied away from calling a spade a spade and outing the segregationist hate mongers within my community, an effort that has paid dividends in the slow decline of overt anti-Semitism and Hinduhatred in the public religious discourse of Western Muslims.

But last week, it was not a Muslim cleric whose speech traumatized me; it was the words of an ex-Muslim. [National Post] Read more

Muslim gangs are taking over UK prisons, a BBC investigation reveals

THIS Sunday, BBC Radio 5 is airing a disturbing programme focusing on the growing problem of Muslim gangs in British prisons. According to the report, the Muslim prison population in England and Wales has sharply increased in recent years.

Muslims represent 12 percent (9,795) of the prison population in England and Wales, according to the latest available figures from 2008. This has risen by 50 percent over five years. In some high security prisons, the figures are well above average. [The Freethinker] Read more

Burqa Ban for UK?

So, who agrees with Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, who told the Commons yesterday: ''This is Britain. We are not a Muslim country. ''Covering your face in public is strange, and to many people both intimidating and offensive. ''I seriously think that a ban on wearing the burka in public should be considered.''

Wonder will David Cameron row in behind this one or will he distance himself from Hollobone in his electorally suicidal wish to be seen as "progressive" at all costs. [A Tangled Web] Read more

The British Labour Government's Ruinous Approach to Combating Islamic Extremism

In a document on its 'Preventing Violent Extremism' strategy, the British Government states, in a section entitled 'Strengthening the role of faith institutions and leaders', that 'It is not for Government to intervene in theological debates'.

However, the entire Labour Government strategy regarding Islam and Muslims since the 9/11 attacks invalidates this claim. Since 9/11, the British Government's line has been that Islam is a 'religion of peace' that has been 'hijacked by extremists'. [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

11 March 2010

Swedish newspapers unite to defend freedom of speech over Muhammad cartoons

Three leading Swedish newspapers and the national broadcaster carried a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body after an alleged plot to murder the artist who drew it was unveiled in the Republic of Ireland.

The threat to Lars Vilks was a threat against all Swedes, the country’s biggest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, proclaimed, adding that the new year axe attack on a Danish cartoonist for drawing the Prophet meant that Scandinavian values of openness were being assaulted. [Times Online] Read more

Law will have to change to keep up with changing ethnic population

CHANGING TIMES: 'Sharia for the UK' – John Abberley poses the question in The Sentinel on March 5. I make this reply neither as a critic, nor supporter, of that contention, merely as an observer. It is the proliferation of Muslim influence in every town and city of this country, that really carries the answer.

[Comment] .... I care not what religion people believe in, but on the question of law, it can be one law and one law alone which applies. Otherwise I may decide to have my own set of laws which suit me best. [The Sentinel] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Blasphemy policies are no laughing matter

From Ireland to Greece and from France to Poland, Europe’s lawmakers strike an uneasy and widely varying balance between protecting freedom of speech and protecting the Church. So when will Europe finally get its principles straight, asks a Swedish journalist.

Artists have been convicted of blasphemy in several European countries. Ireland has just passed an anti-blasphemy law, even as France staunchly defends her secular society. The European Union is far more divided over freedom of speech than it would let on to the outside world.

In the hullabaloo after the Mohammad caricatures were published in the Jyllands-Posten four years ago, one voice was missing: that of a united front of European leaders defending freedom of speech. [Svenska Dagbladet] Read more [via National Secular Society]

In Rifqa Bary Case, Dhimmi Media Cheers on Sharia Law in Ohio

An Ohio minister accused of driving a teenage runaway to a bus station last year has retained a lawyer as police say they’re investigating whether anyone broke the law in helping the Christian convert leave home for Florida.

And why did she flee to Florida? Because, she says, when her devout Muslim father found out she had become a Christian, he said to her, “I will kill you.” And with Islam’s death penalty for apostates, she had to take that seriously. But her father is not in danger of being prosecuted. Brian Williams is. [Big Journalism] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Atheists and other animals

Mehdi Hasan, Senior Editor (Politics) of the supposedly ‘progressive’ New Statesman magazine, is a man who considers non-believers to be ‘cattle’ and ‘people “of no intelligence”‘. When this came to light, it caused something of a stir. However, Hasan was only actually confirming the Qur’anic worldview when he said this, for in the Qur’an non-believers are indeed described as such: [Edmund Standing] Read more

Camberley mosque plan rejected by council

The local Bengali Association's bid to build a mosque on the site of a listed former school building was rejected by Surrey Heath Borough Council. Local historians and residents had opposed the plans, saying the town's heritage needed to be protected. [BBC] Read more

The Camberley mosque should be stopped .... This new mosque will not be in the interests of all British Muslims as it will allocate less than a fifth of the space to female worshippers. But there is nothing in Islamic theology that legitimises a misogynistic apartheid in the house of God.

Nor does the history of Islamic architecture show that mosques must have towering minarets. Places of worship vary greatly throughout the world of Islam, reflecting local building traditions. From Timbuktu to East Timor, mosque buildings blend into their particular surroundings. [Times Online] Read more

10 March 2010

From Secularism to Sectarianism

One of the strange ironies of the Southasian immigration experience to Great Britain was how the near-universal levels of racism in the host community dissipated at the same time levels of religious identity politics and radicalisation became endemic.

White racism started to fall back but at the same time secular politicisation receded in the immigrant Muslim community. We are now living in times when the kind of visceral racism we Southasians experienced in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s is at an all time low, but Muslim immigrant communities have organised themselves into political structures which are emanations of reactionary political groups from “back home”, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islam. [The Spittoon] Read more

Call to Ban Kuwaiti Women from Sport...

Kuwait's female MPs have condemned a call to bar women from international sport competitions as an attempt by an Islamist-dominated parliamentary committee to suppress women's rights.

.... One of the committee's members, Jamaan al Harbash, said: We have sent out a clear message that such participation runs counter to Sharia provisions and we have called for their suspension. [Religious Watch] Read more

Who really wears a burka?

.... The most fascinating figure of all, though, came from the Danish researchers, who actually interviewed some of the covered women. Most were young, or at least under forty, and half of them were white converts.

I think this makes it entirely clear that in modern Europe the burka is not an atavistic hangover, but a very modern gesture of disaffection from and rejection of society, which appeals to a certain kind of extreme temperament. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Why does the BBC air Islamist propaganda?

.... Over the past 12 months, the East London Mosque has hosted at least 18 hate, fundamentalist and extremist speakers, many of them more than once. Over the past few years, there have been dozens — all approved, and many explicitly endorsed, by the mosque authorities themselves .... But perhaps the most bizarre event of all involved that notorious apostle of jihad, Jonathan Dimbleby, and the hated extremist propaganda network, BBC Radio 4. [The Spectator] Read more

Egypt's chilling conservatism

It's no secret that in Egypt religious conservatism is growing. The only people denying this fact are the conservatives themselves, who tell us that we are on a path to hell in blind imitation of the west.

This conservatism has taken many undesirable forms, all of which highlight the disturbed psychology of the Egyptian people in recent years. Perhaps the most obvious symptom of this conservatism is the abnormal preoccupation with women, and I don't mean women's rights.

The void left by lousy education and unemployment has been filled to overflowing with "religion". If that meant an emphasis on good behaviour, honesty, trust and hard work, we wouldn't have a problem. [Guardian Cif] Read more

09 March 2010

Marseille: Court authorizes Le Pen anti-Islamism posters

A court in Marseille authorized campaign posters of the political party of Jean Marie Le Pen, National Front (FN) in the south of France, which undermine Islam and Muslims and incites hatred of Algeria and the Algerians. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Malaysia - Government imposes censorship and self-censorship on religious issues

Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship and self-censorship which the home affairs ministry has imposed on Malaysia's leading English-language daily, The Star, by issuing it with a warning about an article criticising the caning of three Muslim women under Sharia law. [FromTheOld] Read more [via Religious Watch]

French Resistance to Sharia Restuarants Begins in Quick Hamburger Chain.......

The Tundra Tabloids reported a week ago on the French hamburger chain, Quick, that decided to strip pork products from its menu in order to serve the religious needs of the local population.

They didn't even bother to offer two kinds of sandwiches, one halal and the other with pork, so now the people are (justifiably) up in arms and beginning to show their anger over being force fed with sharia nonsense in their secular state. [Tundra Tabloids] Read more

08 March 2010

Yamani or Your Life: A nasty attempt to coerce Danish newspapers into apologizing for the cartoons of Muhammad

I have just finished reading one of the most astoundingly stupid and nasty documents ever to have landed on my desk. It consists of a letter from a law firm in Saudi Arabia, run by a man named Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to a group of newspapers in Scandinavia.

I quote directly from its main paragraphs: "Over the past months my law firm has been contacted by several thousand descendants of the Prophet, who have learned about your newspaper's republication of the drawing, depicting their esteemed ancestor as a terrorist suicide bomber with a bomb in his turban." [Slate] Read more

Muslim leader wants elements of sharia in Australia

ELEMENTS of Islamic law - the sharia - should be legally recognised in Australia so that Muslims can live according their faith, a prominent Muslim leader says.

Addressing an open day at Lakemba Mosque on Saturday, the president of the Australian Islamic Mission, Zachariah Matthews, said parts of sharia could be recognised as a secondary legal system so that Muslims were not forced to act contrary to their beliefs. '

'Sharia law could function as a parallel system in the same way that some traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law was recognised in the Northern Territory,'' Dr Matthews told the Herald after the session. [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Petition on body scanners at UK airports

Following news last week that two Muslim women traveling to Islamabad were denied permission to board their flight for having declined to pass through body scanners at Manchester airport, a petition has been lodged urging the PM to ensure that those who object to passing through such scanners are offered alternative search procedures. [ENGAGE] Read more

EU: Human Rights Commissioner against burka ban

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe writes that he's against a burka or niqab ban. Prohibition of the burqa and the niqab would not liberate oppressed women, but might instead lead to their further alienation in European societies.

A general ban on such attires would constitute an ill-advised invasion of individual privacy. Depending on its precise terms, a prohibition also raises serious questions about whether such legislation would be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. [Islam in Europe] Read more

British Muslims are running out of friends

I am but Muslim lite, a non-conformist believer who will not be told what and how by sanctimonious religious sentinels for whom religion is a long list of rules to be obeyed by bovine followers.

Readers know I am often critical of Muslim people and nations. Bad things that happen to us cannot all be attributed to "Islamophobia", a nebulous and imprecise concept that, like anti-Semitism, can be used to besmirch and sully and silence criticism. [independent.co.uk] Read more

07 March 2010

A Scottish law firm has become the first in the country to offer clients “conventional” legal representation alongside advice on sharia law

Hamilton Burns, based in Glasgow’s south side, has teamed up with an eminent Muslim scholar who will counsel clients on the Islamic aspect of civil law cases, while solicitors give advice under Scots law.

.... Despite public fears over what is deemed “creeping” sharia law, the firm stressed that the sharia advice was not legally binding and would mainly focus on giving Islamic guidelines on divorce or child custody based on rigorous readings of the Koran.

.... Maryam Namazie, an ex-Muslim and spokesperson for One Law for All warned that Islamic law was not as innocuous as the firm claimed. .... She said: “Sharia law is discriminatory. It is antithetical to laws that have been fought for and hard won by progressive social movements, particularly in areas of family matters. [Herald Scotland] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Politiken staff rejects prophet drawing apology

Thirty-eight staff members of the Danish daily Politiken issued a letter on Saturday saying they are against the newspaper's apology for offending Muslims by reprinting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban.

In a letter published in the newspaper, the editorial staff said "Politiken has nothing to apologize for. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Women's organizations want burka ban

In Paris, sixty activists of Ni Putes ni Soumises made an early start on International Women's Dyy by marching with liberty caps in the place de la République, and then symbolically covering the statue there with a giant burka (picture here), later removed by the police. They were protesting what they see as a delay in enacting the law against wearing the burka in public places. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim Leader's Death Threat calls Over Dress

A SECULAR Muslim woman councillor has been forced to dress more conservatively after receiving death threats and sexually harassing phone calls from members of her own community.

Shiria Khatun, 38, has called in the police over the sinister calls in which threats were made not only against her, but also her four young children. In one they warned they would dig up parents’ graves and bury her there instead. [The Daily Express] Read more