30 April 2010

Cut Off from Humanity...

A sharia court in Mogadishu run by Al-Shabaab Islamist group sentenced a man to amputation of the right hand. The man, Shine Abubakar Hassan, was reportedly found guilty by the court on Monday of stealing mattresses and other domestic items. The court also ordered Hassan to compensate for the value of the stolen items. [Religious Watch] Read more

Muslim-phobia is so entrenched that it's gone beyond a joke

.... The executives at Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, may have wondered whether to take such blogospheric fantasies seriously. Normally, a warning coming from 12 bloggers claiming to represent 1.3 billion people worldwide would be treated as ridiculous. Unless, of course, we're talking about Muslims.

My guess is that most Americans, Muslim or otherwise, have never heard of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker murdered by a lone psychotic Dutch-Moroccan man. And even fewer will have heard of Revolution Muslim. But that didn't stop Comedy Central taking precautions and censoring the depiction of Muhammad in the broadcast episode.

[Comment] .... I'm amazed that the Herald would publish something like this. This piece is anything but funny. The 'imbecilic threats' that your author refers to ought to be taken seriously because others have died after ignoring similarly imbecilic threats. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more [via EuropeNews]

Muslims in India: Taking Back Islam from the Wahhabis

.... Muslims living in democratic states like India, Britain, and the U.S. have special opportunities to expose the expansion of petrol-financed fundamentalism and to assist those who have pledged to resist it among Muslim communities around the world.

The battle for Islamic pluralism is not limited to the West, or to controversy over Western principles; it strikes to the heart of Muslim spiritual life, whether in America, Britain, India, or Pakistan. [Hudson New York] Read more

29 April 2010

What I learned from Boobquake

When I heard an Iranian cleric claim that immodest dress caused earthquakes, I had to test it out, as scientifically as possible. .... To be honest, global discussion and awareness were not my original goal – that wasn't even feasible in my mind.

Though I'm glad it happened, I also want to stress the original message behind Boobquake. As a scientist and a sceptic, I firmly believe that we should test claims people make, especially when they're ridiculous. And as an atheist, I don't think supernatural beliefs are exempt from this questioning. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Response to City University Islamic Society

I was thinking of not bothering to reply to the City University Islamic Society’s riposte to me and Rosie Waterhouse (see below) because I thought I’d already made all the substantive points I wanted to make about the ISoc – and its diatribe was beyond parody.

Private Eye’s Dave Spart couldn’t have managed a more contorted statement of evidence-free denunciation than this (mangled spelling, grammar and punctuation retained): [GAUCHE] Read more [via Harry’s Place]

CRS police refuse halal canteen food

.... A group of CRS officers in Rouen have written a tract voicing their anger after learning that they had frequently been served halal turkey and sausages at meal times for two years without knowing. The letter, written by local representatives of the SGP-Force Ouvrière union, said the "foreign ritual" did not "correspond with our values". [The Connexion] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

28 April 2010

Bail denied to jailed Christian mother accused of blasphemy

A court judge in Gujranwala has refused to grant bail to a Christian mother-of-three who stands accused of blasphemy. Rubina Bibi was charged after a dispute with her neighbour, named only as Samina. Rubina had bought a food item from Samina but when she found that it was damaged, had sought a refund. Samina refused to refund her because she was a Christian and had touched the item already.

The incident turned into a row and Samina and her relative, a local imam, later brought the charge against Rubina that she had made derogatory comments against the Islamic Prophet Mohammad. [Pakistan Christian Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Ellesmere Port mother’s anger after daughter told trip to mosque is ‘compulsory’

A MOTHER is keeping her daughter off school after refusing to give her permission to take part in a trip to a Liverpool mosque.

Michelle Davis, of Bodiam Court, Ellesmere Port, claims she was left with no choice but to keep 14-year-old daughter Amy Owen at home after Ellesmere Port Catholic High School’s headteacher Peter Lee tried to encourage the pupil into participating.

Miss Davies said: “I objected to Amy being made to dress like a Muslim girl, the original letter from the school gave a dress code for the visit, including long skirts, leggings or tights and covering up her head. [Ellesmere Port Pioneer] Read more

Netherlands: 20% of teachers avoid teaching about the Holocaust

A fifth of history teachers in the four major Dutch cities have had to deal with not being able to or rarely bringing up the Holocaust because Muslim students in particular have difficulties with it.

This according to a survey among history teachers in secondary education by the Elsevier weekly and research agency ResearchNed. Teachers in VMBO schools in particular encounter resistance, elsevier.nl reported. The teachers said that in the VMBO schools four major cities, in particular, immigrant students were less interested than ethnic Dutch. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Half of Europeans opposed to Islamic veil in schools

Just over half of Europeans surveyed opposed allowing Islamic headscarves in schools but backed the presence of crucifixes in classrooms, according to a Spanish study obtained by AFP Wednesday.A total 52.6 per cent of those polled in 12 European Union member states along were "opposed" or "totally opposed" to the use of the garment in schools, according to the study carried out by the research department of BBVA, Spain's second-largest bank.

Opposition to the veil was highest in Bulgaria with 84.3 per cent against and France with 68.7 per cent opposed and it was lowest in Poland with only 25.6 per cent against followed by Denmark with 28.1 per cent opposed. [Agence France-Presse] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Egyptian law gives fanatics free rein

One Thousand and One Nights is a classic collection of Arab folk tales. First compiled in written form in 10th-century Iraq, it derived some of its stories from an earlier Persian collection, which in turn made use of even older tales from India. Though some of the content is a bit earthy, it's part of the world's literary heritage. Or so you might think.

But now a group, Lawyers Without Restrictions, is trying to ban it by launching an obscenity case against officials in the general culture authority, which publishes the work in Egypt. [Guardian Cif] Read more

26 April 2010

Muslim row Labour candidate, John Cowan, suspended

A Labour candidate has been suspended after allegedly saying on an internet forum that he would not want any children of his to marry a Muslim.

John Cowan, who is said to have admitted paying cash to a cleaner claiming benefits, called the row a "storm in a tea cup". His suspension comes too late for him to be replaced on the ballot paper for South East Cambridgeshire. A party spokesman said he hoped voters may "hold their noses" but vote Labour. [BBC] Read more

Battle against the Burka is not based on bigotry

FRANCE'S move to extend its ban on the Islamic headscarf and outlaw the full-face veil appears to be catching on. Belgian MPs will vote on whether to prohibit it and similar laws have been drafted in Italy. Europe's rising Muslim population, which exceeds 20 per cent in some cities, has ensured a groundswell of support for these moves.

The debate in Europe has stirred interest in Australia too. Some commentators have seized on calls to ban the burka, which they judge to be "un-Australian". Others, including this writer, saw the French move as a xenophobic overreaction, more likely to inflame social tensions than ease them.

However, this glib interpretation does not withstand an hour's conversation with a key architect of the hijab ban, French scholar Gilles Kepel, who visited Australia recently. [The Australian] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Headscarves banned in public schools

The young Kosovo Republic, with an overwhelming Muslim majority but a tradition of moderate Islam and a secular constitution, has joined Tunisia and France in prohibiting girls attending public schools from wearing the headscarf (hijab).

As in Turkey, where the ban on headscarves, instituted in the 1920s, has become a matter for judicial controversy, decisions against the headscarf by local and school authorities have produced a legal case and complaints of discrimination. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Jack Straw apologises for his anti-niqab comments at ENGAGE hustings in Blackburn

The former Justice Minister, Jack Straw, made a public apology last night over comments he made in October 2006 that have since sparked controversy on the wearing of niqab in the UK and across Europe. Participating in an election hustings event organized by the local ENGAGE unit in Blackburn Mr Straw said:

“To be blunt, if I had realised the scale of publicity that they (his comments) received in October 2006, I wouldn’t have made them and I am sorry that it has caused problems and I offer that apology. [ENGAGE] Read more

Seattle cartoonist launches "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"

After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

Norris told KIRO Radio's Dave Ross that cartoonists are meant to challenge the lines of political correctness. "That's a cartoonist's job, to be non-PC." [MyNorthwest.com] Read more

Creators of “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” Appalled by hate The recent firestorm over South Park not drawing Muhammad caused some cartoonists to create a campaign called “Everybody Draw Muhammad day.”

The creators of the campaign were shocked when they were deluged with offensive and hateful portrayals of Muhammad (what did they expect?) and dropped their gag. [Loonwatch] Read more

25 April 2010

Muslim women seek to surgically "restore" virginity for their own safety -- in Paris

This story makes extensive use of the "culture" canard -- that is, don't blame Islam, blame "cultural" influences. Here's the problem: Cultural influences do count, and in a big way. Why?

Islam, despite its claims of being eternal, unchanged, and handed down in perfect form from on high, did not come up in a vacuum. It is utterly suffused with the baggage of Muhammad's culture, place, and time -- seventh-century Arabia -- not to mention his personal biases and hangups. All of this baggage is made sacrosanct via Qur'an 33:21, which calls Muhammad a "beautiful pattern of conduct" for believers. [Jihad Watch] Read more

After official report that Sheikh Ghamdi was replaced

A decision to replace a senior Saudi religious police officer on Sunday has been retracted hours after reports that he was sacked following comments about easing the rules for prayer in mosques, and allowing men and women to mix freely.

An official report earlier said Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi was replaced as general manager for the Mecca branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in an announcement from the organisation's president, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain. [AlArabiya.net] Read more

Lebanese march in Beirut to demand secularism

Hundreds of civil society activists have marched on the Lebanese parliament in an unprecedented rally in Beirut. The protesters are calling on all Lebanese to help bring an end to the country's divisive sectarian system and replace it with a secular system. The organisers say it is time to redefine what it means to be Lebanese. [BBC] Read more

Sweden: University cancels Vilks lecture

Artist Lars Vilks was invited by Jönköping University to speak about freedom of speech. But the seminar was canceled for security reasons. "I've understood that Muslim students protested," says Lars Vilks. [Islam in Europe] Read more

24 April 2010

The hypocrisy of child abuse in many Muslim countries

Some Muslims are fond of condemning western morality – alcoholism, nudity, premarital sex and homosexuality often being cited as examples. But Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality. In the west, child marriages and sex with children are illegal. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Muslim countries.

I recently saw the documentary on the Dancing Boys of Afghanistan. It exposed an ancient custom called "bacha bazi" (boy for play), where rich men buy boys as young as 11 from impoverished families for sexual slavery. The boys are dressed in women's clothes and made to dance and sing at parties, before being carted away by the men for sex. [Guardian Cif] Read more

How not to liberate women

Muslim veiling is once again at the top of the news in Europe. Bans on full-face veils being considered or already in place, whether nationwide, at the municipal level, or applied in public buildings and transportation, undermine Muslim women's autonomy and religious freedom. Arguments put forward to support these bans fall into four categories, none of which stand up to serious scrutiny. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Most French want burqa law, but not total ban

Two-thirds of French people want a law limiting the use of face-covering Islamic veils such as the niqab and the burqa, with only a minority backing the government's plan for a complete ban, a poll showed Saturday.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is expected to present a bill in May on banning full veils from the public sphere, against the advice of legal experts who recommend a milder rule focussing on state institutions. [Reuters] Read more

Woman charged in France for driving in full burka

A French Muslim woman has been fined for wearing a burka at the wheel of her car – weeks before the proposed introduction of a total ban on the full-body veil.

The 31-year-old was stopped by two policemen in Nantes in western France earlier this month as she drove wearing a burka, or niqab, covering all but her eyes. She was given a €22 (£19) fine for "driving in uncomfortable conditions", because her vision was allegedly reduced. Her lawyer lodged an appeal this week, claiming that her human rights had been infringed. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Hortefeux Wants Arab Polygamist -- Four Wives, Twelve Children On The Dole -- To Be Stripped Of His Citizenship The niqabbed woman driver who received a fine the other day in France turns out to be one of four wives of a man who arrived from Algeria in 1999, obtained French citizenship through marriage, and now has four wives, and twelve children by them. All four of those wives have claimed to be "single" and all have, as a consequence, been receiving support, along with those twelve children, from the French state.

Meanwhile, the polyphiloprogentivie father is a member of that sinister spreader of Islam the Tablighi al-Jamaat. The French Minister of the Interior, Brice Hortefeux, has asked the Minister of Immigration, Eric Besson, to look into the legality of stripping this Algerian pseudo-Frenchman of his French citizenship. [The Iconoclast] Read more

French muslims feel stigmatised in veil row Muslims in the French city where a woman was fined for driving in an Islamic veil complained of being stigmatised by the affair as the political repercussions rumbled on.

.... 'The muslims of Nantes... are worried by this systematic stigmatisation which goes against the values of the Republic,' the collective of Nantes mosques said in a statement. The association 'considers that the stopping of a driver is a judicial procedure and is angry at how such an event has been turned into being all about Islam.' [RTÉ] Read more

Controversial anti-Muslim ads to be reinstalled on Miami-Dade buses

Ten controversial advertisements by an anti-Muslim group that were removed from Miami-Dade Transit buses after the department received complaints will go back up. The ads, which a transit official said were pulled last week because they ``may be offensive,' have the message "Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!'" and direct Muslims to a website urging them to leave the "falsity of Islam." [The Iconoclast] Read more

Activists Claim Free Speech Victory As ‘Leaving Islam’ Ads Return to Buses SIOA says the “Leaving Islam” ads .... were launched partly in response to a campaign supported by CAIR, which ran banner ads ... inviting non-Muslims to embrace Islam. A public transit authority in Florida has reversed a decision to take down banner advertisements on buses that offer help to Muslims wanting to leave their faith. Activists are hailing the move as a victory for free speech and religious freedom. [CNSNews.com] Read more

MAJOR VICTORY FOR FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: SIOA BUS ADS ARE GOING BACK UP ...."It is ironic," Mr. Yerushalmi noted, "that the media allows CAIR to claim the mantle of a civil rights organization when it embraces censorship by the government all in the service of the 'anti-blasphemy' platform of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which calls for international legislation providing for criminal penalties against anyone who 'insults Islam and its prophet Mohammed.' Free speech is apparently not one of the freedoms in CAIR's version of the U.S. Constitution--at least not for critics of Islam."... [Jihad Watch] Read more

Atheist sentencing creates a new and dangerous blasphemy law

An atheist who left leaflets mocking Jesus Christ, Islam and the Pope in Liverpool airport's prayer room has been sentenced to six months in jail suspended for two years, ordered to perform 100 hours' of unpaid work, pay £250 costs and given an Asbo.

The sentencing of Harry Taylor has been condemned by the National Secular Society as “creating a new blasphemy law that will open the way for every religious extremist to persecute and prosecute their critics.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society said: “Regardless of the fact that this six month sentence has been suspended, it is still totally out of proportion for what Mr Taylor did. Nobody can deny that he was being deliberately provocative in leaving these rather mild cartoons, cut from Private Eye, in the prayer room, but in the end he didn’t harm anybody and was simply making a point about the existence of such a facility. The chaplain could quite easily have simply thrown the papers in the bin. [National Secular Society] Read more

Atheist given Asbo for leaflets mocking Jesus Harry Taylor, 59, left home made posters at Liverpool John Lennon Airport three times in November and December 2008. The self-styled philosopher denied three counts of causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress but was convicted in less than an hour by a unanimous jury. Among the posters, one image showed a smiling crucified Christ next to an advert for a brand of ''no nails'' glue. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

John Lennon Airport sexual image atheist gets Asbo A "militant atheist" who left explicit images in a prayer room at Liverpool John Lennon Airport has been given a six-month suspended sentence.

Harry Taylor, 59, of Salford, left images of religious figures in sexual poses on three occasions in 2008. Jurors found him guilty of causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress in March. [BBC] Read more

Criminal Conviction in England for Leaving Anti-Religious Leaflets in Airport Prayer Room Harry Taylor was convicted of “causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress,” and sentenced to six months in jail (suspended for two years), 100 hours of community service, and 250 pounds in costs; he was also barred from “carrying religiously offensive material in a public place.” A few details on the leaflets, from Asian News International/DailyIndia.com, which has the most comprehensive coverage I’ve found …. [Volokh Conspiracy] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

23 April 2010

Leicester Muslims 'feel right at home'

…. Why the hell should I and everyone else for that matter pay for "state funded Muslim schools"? Why don't you send your kids to a Muslim country if you're that bothered by our state education (and I'm not racist, I am Asian myself. I just respect England as a Christian country).

Your view is exactly why people have began to have a grudge against Muslim people. The attitude is take take take. You don't hear Jewish or Hindu people demanding for religious schools or a million synagogues/ temples- it would be a step backward as then there would be no integration and everyone would be in their own little bubble. [Leicester Mercury] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Netherlands: No Sharia courts

There are no Sharia courts.. in the narrow sense of the word. But the big brouhaha about Sharia courts in the UK, for example, concerned using Sharia law in the process of arbitration. As this study shows, such arbitration councils exist in the Netherlands. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Brussels: The visibility of Islam

In certain neighborhoods of Brussels, new cultural and religious codes are enforced. Religious demands enter uninvited into public life, work, school, hospitals. Islam, faith or collection of customs, is becoming more and more visible in Brussels. [Islam in Europe] Read more

BNP call for end to immigration from Muslim nations

The British National Party (BNP) are calling for an end to immigration from Muslim nations, saying this presents a "deadly threat" to the UK.

The pledge is contained in the party's election manifesto, launched by party leader Nick Griffin in Stoke. The BNP also plan to give grants to encourage some UK residents to return to "their lands of ethnic origin". [BBC] Read more

Nicolas Sarkozy ally 'received death threats' over Muslim veil ban

Jean-François Copé, who leads the parliamentary group of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, has had a security officer accompanying him since January, it emerged on Friday.

Mr Copé submitted a proposed bill on banning the veil in public in January, on grounds of security and women's equality. On Wednesday, the government announced its intention to push through a full ban as early as this summer. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

A ban to celebrate

Belgium is on the verge of becoming the first country in the world to pass a law which would punish people who, in public, partially or fully cover their faces in such a way that they are no longer recognisable.

Despite the broadness of the law, it has been dubbed the "burqa ban" because anyone caught wearing a burqa, which covers the entire body from head to toe, or a niqab, a face veil which leaves the eyes exposed, could face up to seven days imprisonment. [Guardian Cif] Read more

A Belgian face-veil ban would be senseless Belgium appears to be the leading contender in the race to become Europe's first country to ban the face-veil, on the grounds that it is "not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society". France, Italy and the Netherlands, meanwhile, are also contemplating their own laws on the issue. [Guardian Cif] Read more

22 April 2010

Dutch court acquits Arab group over cartoon

The Arab European League said Geert Wilders was treated more leniently. A Dutch court has acquitted an Arab cultural group of hate crime for publishing a cartoon on its website questioning the Holocaust. The Dutch arm of the Arab European League said it had wanted to highlight what it said was double standards. [BBC] Read more

12-year-old bride’s divorce prompts marriage age review in Saudi Arabia

A girl aged 12 has won a divorce from her 80-year-old husband in Saudi Arabia in a case that may help to introduce a minimum age of marriage in the kingdom for the first time. The girl’s unusual legal challenge to the arrangement generated international media attention and scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s record of child marriages. [Times Online] Read more

Minister supports school's 'headscarf' decision

The president of the Comunidad de Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, stated yesterday that the government "would under no circumstances" question the freedom of schools to implement their own rules, provided they "respected and supported" the regional executive's norms.

Aguirre was referring to yesterday's a vote by the school council at the Instituto Camilo José Cela de Pozuelo in Alarcón, which ratified the school's earlier decision not to allow pupils to wear headgear, including, in this case, the moslem veil. [ThinkSpain] Read more

Film Review: The Infidel

.... The Infidel seeks to question the commonly accepted and widely portrayed notion of a singular, often religious, identity defining individuals. Mahmud’s various roles from Muslim father, husband and co-worker to Jewish son and friend portray a plural, multilayered identity where religion may well be one factor, but not necessarily the most dominant, overriding one.

The Infidel is funny, cleverly written and a rare interethnic experience. Where else would you find an Imran Khan number providing the musical backdrop for a shaadi and a barmitzvah? [The Samosa] Read more

Now, Islamic terror strikes Pakistan’s top university

The professor was working in his office here on the campus of Pakistan’s largest university this month when members of an Islamic student group battered open the door, beat him with metal rods and bashed him over the head with a giant flower pot. [THE TIMES OF INDIA] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Muslim group warns 'South Park' creators of death

These Muslims were just trying to be helpful, doing their civic duty by pointing out danger, much like a Mafioso might kindly remind the owner of a shop of the dangers of a late-night fire, or the dangers of falling down stairs. Repeatedly, night after night. By David Bauder for AP:

NEW YORK – A radical Muslim group has warned the creators of "South Park" that they could face violent retribution for depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit during last week's episode. [The Iconoclast] Read more

No freak-out over South Park .... And yet, all of this is beside the point. This crisis is being manufactured by two Muslim converts who have been reduced to sidewalk rants because they are not welcome in any mosque in New York City. By taking a page out of the Islam4UK media-agitation book, they have gained the attention of mainstream media, particularly CNN, who dutifully treat them as representative of Muslim opinion.

.... Despite heavy censoring, episode 201 of South Park, which aired on Wednesday in the US, showed what first was thought to be Muhammad in a teddy bear costume. The person in that bear turned out to be Santa Claus. The joke is not only on Revolution Muslim. The joke is on all of us. [Guardian Cif] Read more

South Park and the freedom to blaspheme .... I don't watch South Park, and likely never will. But I much prefer their attempt at depiction of the Prophet, which is rooted in a simple need to assert their creative freedom, rather than any genuine intent to defame or insult Islam - quite unlike the Danish newspaper cartoons, which were created with only malice in mind. To understand this, compare and contrast the images of the Prophet as a super hero or a bear, versus a dark figure with a bomb in his turban. The real insult to the Prophet is in refusing to make a distinction at all. [altmuslim] Read more

21 April 2010

Netherlands: Parliament wants debate on Islamic conference

The Dutch parliament wants a debate with minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Justice) about a conference in Amsterdam at the end of May about the future of Islam in the Netherlands. PVV parliament member Raymond de Roon, who initiated the debate, wants to know in what way is the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood involved in the conference. [Islam in Europe] Read more

French to ban Muslim women from wearing veil

The new law will stop the niqab and the burka from being worn in the streets, shops and markets and not just in public buildings. Nicolas Sarkozy is to press ahead with the bill claiming that the veil is an "assault on women's dignity".

"We're legislating for the future. Wearing a full veil is a sign of a community closing in on itself and of a rejection of our values," Luc Chatel, a spokesman for Mr Sarkozy, on leaving a cabinet meeting led by the President. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

20 April 2010

Appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood

.... As an American of Egyptian origin myself, I can tell who is a reformist and who is a radical Muslim sympathizer, and I do not think that Ms. Mogahed’s views are in any way supportive of a reformation in Islam or of its concept of jihad.

To the contrary, she denies the existence of any problem with Islamic ideology and she acts in total harmony with the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Her excuses are the same old excuses we Egyptians learned day in and day out in defense of Islamic jihad and in blaming others for misunderstanding of Islam. [Front Page] Read more

Court stops Muslim girls ‘being sent abroad for marriage’

Two Muslim girls have been stopped from travelling abroad in what is thought to be the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland, after a judge feared they were being sent for forced marriages. High Court judge Mr Justice Stephens, sitting in Belfast, imposed a forced marriage protection order for the girls aged 12 and 14. [belfasttelegraph.co.uk] Read more

19 April 2010

Women to blame for earthquakes, says Iran cleric

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes. Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," .... [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Quote: I'm not anti-Muslim, I'm anti-Islam

[Caller accuses Griffin of not liking Muslims and Asians] Griffin: It's not a matter of not liking Muslim people. I look at Islam realistically, I've read the Koran, and what I see there isn't fundamentally a religious book.

It's a manual for conquering other people's countries, and wherever Islam has gone it has, what's been called by historians 'bloody borders', it rubs up against other cultures. You can't have Islam and democracy, you can't have Islam and women's rights. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Revealed: Council secretly gives another half-million to Islamic fundamentalists

As readers of the paper, this blog and viewers of Channel 4’s Dispatches will know, very disturbing things are going on at Tower Hamlets, the east London council which has fallen under the influence of an Islamic supremacist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, based at the hardline East London Mosque.

The Labour council leader, Lutfur Rahman, squirmingly refuses to deny that he was elected to his job with the IFE’s help. Several key officials and councillors are closely linked to the IFE. Various organisations controlled by the IFE, including a youth group called the Osmani Trust, have been given enormous amounts of council money. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Voices in the Making

.... So I admit my fear of assimilation was rather naive, I didn’t realise that it had already happened and what I needed to concentrate on was finding my own voice and way of communicating that voice.

For me, that means who I am as a Muslim, a woman, a filmmaker and a Brit. My hope for the next decade is that the new generation of Muslims are confident enough to listen to their own voice and stop hiding behind labels that others create. Whether it’s your parents trying to define you or the wider society, the Islamic way forward is to take responsibility for yourself, seek out knowledge and work on who you are and what you have to say. [The Platform] Read more

Voices in the Making

.... So I admit my fear of assimilation was rather naive, I didn’t realise that it had already happened and what I needed to concentrate on was finding my own voice and way of communicating that voice.

For me, that means who I am as a Muslim, a woman, a filmmaker and a Brit. My hope for the next decade is that the new generation of Muslims are confident enough to listen to their own voice and stop hiding behind labels that others create. Whether it’s your parents trying to define you or the wider society, the Islamic way forward is to take responsibility for yourself, seek out knowledge and work on who you are and what you have to say. [The Platform] Read more

Brussels: A Muslim majority in 20 years?

French-language Belgian weekly Le Vif/L'Express takes a look at demographics: With a rapidly growing population, the capital of Belgium is already one of the most multicultural in Europe. Muslims are already a majority in some neighborhoods. And this could gather strength in the next twenty years. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Demos report: The Edge of Violence

I have been reading Demos’ recently published report, The Edge of Violence: a radical approach to extremism. The report focused on radicalism and terrorism in Muslim communities in Europe and Canada, and examined the relationship and difference between non-violent radicals and radicals who are terrorists.

The reports shows the difference between non-violent radicals (who, for example, might call for a Caliphate but don’t advocate a violent revolution) and radicals who become terrorists or support terrorism in the West. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Demos publish new report on 'The edge of violence: a radical approach to extremism' Demos publish a report today on the importance of understanding the distinct differences between radicalism and violent radicalization, and how policies on engaging Muslims should differentiate between legitimate radical thought and illegal violent radicalization to prevent unnecessarily obstructive interference in expressions of non-violent radical ideas. [ENGAGE] Read more

Is an Anti-Islam Wave Hitting Europe?

.... The rise of Wilders has alarmed many political observers, and has been cited as yet another point of evidence of a new tide of European anti-Islamism. (Though Wilders specifically rejects comparisons to far-right politicians Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider.)

.... But is pure Islamophobia (e.g., the number of people who fear or dislike Islam) the driving factor in the PVV’s rise in support? And why are anti-Islam/anti-immigration parties such a force in the Netherlands, but not in countries like Spain? Is it simply a matter of integration of a new immigrant group, rather than cultural or political characteristics specific to Muslims? [FiveThirtyEight.com] Read more [via Islam In Europe]

18 April 2010

Dutch Muslims Taking Geert Wilders’ Abuse?

Sheila Kamerman and Dirk Vlasblom have an interesting article about how Dutch Muslims are dealing with the ascendancy and rhetoric of Geert Wilders. Some are choosing to ignore him while others see what he is calling for as impossible and unactionable. While they are concerned, some Dutch Muslims also think that the best thing might be for Wilders’ PVV to actually win elections and lead the country because the PVV would then be forced to confront and offer more than just anti-Muslim rhetoric. What are your thoughts? [Loonwatch] Read more

Apostate’ pair appeal to President Mubarak to allow them to leave Egypt

A 15-year-old convert to Christianity has appealed to Egypt’s President Mubarak to allow her and her father to leave the country following a string of attacks against them by Muslim fanatics. In the latest attack three weeks ago, Dina el-Gowhary had acid thrown at her. [The Freethinker] Read more

British Muslims and the ballot box

Certain British Muslim community leaders and organisations have issued various edicts on how Muslims should vote in the general election. Personally, my instinct is anybody claiming to be a community leader should automatically be disqualified from being so, but that can unfairly denigrate the valuable work of some committed individuals who deserve such a title.

However, I have an issue with decrees on how Muslims should vote coming from organisations such as MPAC, an outfit that frequently labels those not sharing its myopic worldview as ‘Zionist scum’ or ‘coconut sell-outs’. [The Samosa] Read more

Packer and Ramadan

.... It struck me that, in an event sponsored by groups whose whole purpose is a commitment to freedom of thought and expression (PEN, the A.C.L.U., and others), no one had said a word about the many threats to it in countries where Muslims constitute the majority, or where some Muslims who are in the minority refuse to accept it. And yet every day the news brings us such stories, so that they’ve become numbingly familiar. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Tariq Ramadan at Cooper Union: Too Much Hype, Too Little Substance Tariq Ramadan is a big draw wherever he speaks, whatever the topic. It’s not surprising, then, that his first ever speaking engagement on U.S. soil drew wide media attention and packed the Great Hall at The Cooper Union. In hindsight, too, it’s no surprise that the event simply didn’t live up to its billing. [MuslimMatters.org] Read more

An Islamist in Professor's Garb: Tariq Ramadan Returns to America .... Ramadan, the first speaker of the four-member panel, opened the evening with a speech that was as vague as it was disorganized. He offered countless platitudes such as, "We may disagree, but our future is common"; "to take [from a culture] means to listen"; and "humility means respect and consistency."

Ramadan also provided trite slogans that were warmly received by his liberal audience, including "not to support the rights of the Palestinians is wrong" and "the American invasion [of Iraq] is illegal."

He spent much of his time discussing Western Muslim identity, saying, "We [Muslims] are at home in the West, and Islam is a Western religion." Ramadan demanded that Westerners recognize the "reality of the contributions" of Muslims to Western civilization. [American Thinker] Read more [via Campus Watch]

17 April 2010

You can promote Islam on the side of US buses, but you can’t oppose it

AN American group established to help Muslims escape the tyranny of Islam have been told that ads they put on Miami buses are to be pulled as they may be “offensive” to members of the Religion of Peace.

The ads, placed by the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) group asks: Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? The suggested answer is a visit to a website called “Leave Islam.” [The Freethinker] Read more

Miami-Dade Transit bows to Sharia, pulls religious liberty bus ads as "offensive to Islam" Submission. The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations can run bus ads all over the country calling Abraham, Moses and Jesus Muslim prophets, an assertion offensive to any Jew or Christian, but a human rights group cannot run bus ads defending religious liberty.

Some groups that are "offended" get contempt and mockery if they express their feelings of offense. Others get immediate results, perhaps due to the thuggish nature of their coreligionists. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Stop Islamization of America has their ad campaign derailed .... This ad was apparently designed for the purpose of promoting freedom of religion. Obviously, the purpose is a bit more sinister once you start to dig deeper into what Spencer and Geller are promoting here.

The ad includes an address to a website: refugefromislam.com. Go ahead and check out that web site. What do you find there? A web site dedicated to slandering Islam and promoting the views of Spencer and Geller. [Omer Subhani] Read more [via Loonwatch]

16 April 2010

New mosque approved for Copenhagen

Copenhagen City Council has approved the planning permission for the city’s first mosque, which will feature traditional minarets.

The council approved the Shia Muslim mosque which will be built in the city’s North West district on Vibevej Street. According to the local plans, the building will contain a prayer room, amphitheatre, conference room, library and accommodation for visiting imams. The mosque will also feature two 32m-tall minarets and a blue dome. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Islam and Apostasy: Classical and Contemporary Opinions

.... Secondly, if we look at what the Prophet actually said on the issue, we'll see that apostasy is NOT punishable by death on its own. Rather, it must be accompanied by rebellion against the Muslim state.

“The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that there is no God but God and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In penalty for murder, a married person who commits adultery and the one who reverts from Islam (apostates) and leaves the community.” This hadith is reported in Bukhari.

Notice that apostasy is attached to leaving the Muslim community, i.e. high treason. Apostasy itself is not punishable by death, based upon the words of the Prophet Muhammad himself. [Omer Subhani] Read more

Quebec legislation would cover more than the face

Across Europe, discussions are taking place about what local Muslim women wear – specifically the niqab (face veil), burqa (a garment that covers the body, head and face) and the hijab (headscarf). More recently the debate has been taken up in the Canadian province of Quebec.

And, as in Europe, the discussion tends to disregard the diversity within Muslim societies, as well as the strides Muslims have taken to integrate and participate actively in their local communities.

Proposed legislation in Quebec may force some Muslim women to choose between the niqab and access to public services. This proposal, commonly known as Bill 94, reflects a narrow-minded view of integration of religious minorities driven by stereotypes. [altmuslim] Read more

Europe struggles with Muslim dress code

Chances of seeing a burqa in Belgium are only a little better than spotting a liquor shop in Saudi Arabia. Yet Belgium soon may be the first European nation to outlaw the burqa and other Islamic garb that completely hides a woman's body and face.

Neighboring France and the Netherlands may also outlaw attire that is viewed by many in western European societies as demeaning to women. It also is considered a gateway to radical Islam, a fear that is stoking rightwing sentiment across the continent. [Washington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

European push to ban burqas appalls Afghan women

A firm believer in women's rights, the only thing Afghan lawmaker Shinkai Karokhail finds as appalling as being forced to wear a burqa is a law banning it.

Karokhail is one of many Afghan women who see a double standard in efforts by some European nations to outlaw face veils and burqas -- a move they say restricts a Muslim woman's choice in countries that otherwise make a fuss about personal rights.

"Democratic countries should not become dictatorships and Muslim women should not be deprived from all kinds of opportunities. It should be their choice," said Karokhail. [Reuters] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

'The Role of Imam is Different in Germany'

.... SPIEGEL: In your new book you talk about meeting an imam in Germany who admits to "sympathizing with Bin Laden" because he believes Bin Laden is "fighting western terrorism." Is this man a classic preacher of hatred?

Ceylan: Yes, he is indeed one of those who preach hatred. He and others like him represent an extreme type of Islam. They are generally relatively young, very eloquent, able to express themselves in German, and usually form groups separate from organized Islam, in other words outside the mosque associations. They have not trained in theology, and they radically simplify Islam, which makes them attractive to young people in particular. [Spiegal Online] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Girl, 16, banned from school for wearing hijab in Spain

Najwa Malha, who was born is Spain to Moroccan immigrants, has been excluded from classes at the state-run Camilo Jose Cela School in the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo after being told that her hijab was in violation of school dress code.

The decision has sparked debate in Spain where there are no clear guidelines over the wearing of Islamic headdress in state schools. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Times to be reported to PCC over shoe-throwing story

.... The group says that “rather than ‘bow[ing] to Islamic sensitivities’, the Metropolitan police have done precisely the opposite: targeting for arrest almost exclusively Muslim protesters from amongst the very diverse group who protested outside the Israeli Embassy last year”.

However, returning to the most startling aspect of The Sunday Times’ story, how did the newspaper come to claim that “Scotland Yard” has accepted “Muslims” can throw shoes as a form of protest? There is no doubting the emphasis of the piece. The headline talked of ‘Islamic protestors’, while the article was clear that the “concession” (a term used twice) was to “Muslims” and “Muslim demonstrators”. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Did Sunday Times mislead over Muslim shoe-throwing case? Last week a front-page story appeared in The Sunday Times, reporting that apparently the Metropolitan Police had “bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest”.

The incredible claim being made was that police had specifically given the members of one faith group, Muslims, special permission to throw shoes as some kind of “concession”. A little bit of digging however soon showed the article had some major problems. [Liberal Conspiracy] Read more

15 April 2010

Controversy shrouds Muslim women's head coverings

.... The policy instructs employees on clothing, hairstyles, makeup and accessories they may wear to work. When supervisors told Khan she had to remove the scarf, known as a hijab, to work at the store, she refused on religious grounds. A week later, she says, she was fired. [USA Today] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Somalia's al-Shabab bans 'Christian' school bells

Handclaps are being used instead of school bells. slamist militants al-Shabab have banned teachers using bells to signal the end of class in the town of Jowhar, 90km (56 miles) north of Mogadishu. Al-Shabab said the bells sounded too much like Christian church bells. [BBC] Read more

The Rise of The Muslim Voting Bloc

.... Channel 4’s program was met with a furious response from the IFE and its supporters. Over thirty politicians and activists wrote an open letter to the Guardian condemning the "inflammatory documentary" and blaming it for increased racial tensions in the area. Earlier, the IFE had also organized a "timely seminar" on "confronting anti-Muslim hatred in contemporary Britain."

They claim, incorrectly, that Channel 4 and those who supported its investigation, do not want to see Muslims active in public life. This is a crass charge. Consider, for example, that the majority of interviewees in the Channel 4 program were Muslims complaining about the IFE’s hardline approach.

Their problem is with the IFE’s reactionary and sectarian message, and its lack of openness about what it stands for when taking its message to the public. [Hudson New York] Read more

14 April 2010

Apology to young Muslim woman instructed to remove headscarf for driver's licence photo

Getting her driver's license should have been an exciting rite of passage for a Sussex County teenager, her mother said.

But when Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles workers told the 16-year-old girl to remove her Muslim headscarf – despite an agency policy allowing her to wear it in her license picture – the experience ended in tears and embarrassment. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Switzerland: Canton guidelines allow burkini in school

Devout Muslim women can't swim in tight swimsuits. The Aargau canton already responded: Now female students can go to the pool in a burkini.

"The Burkini is allowed in swimming lessons," Aargau SVP (Swiss People's Party) Director of Education Alex Hürzeler told Sonntag. The guidelines of Hürzeler's department state: Male and female students should be given the option of covering their bodies. [Islam in Europe] Read more

13 April 2010

The Question of Atheism and Rationality

Living in the West, particularly Europe, one comes across the da’wah of the atheists. And one notes that the more aggressive of their du’aat like to advance the claim that true rational thinking, in light of known scientific facts, necessarily leads to atheism.

As a Muslim, I not only reject that claim; I in fact question the universality of the rationality on which the atheist bases his conclusions. What the atheist calls rational thinking or reason is in fact a peculiarly Western “version” of rationality/reason, and as such it doesn’t pose any challenge whatsoever to the Muslim belief in God unless the Muslim (perhaps due to an inferiority complex) feels compelled to embrace everything Western. [MuslimMatters.org] Read more

Gita Sahgal, who criticised Amnesty’s ‘pro-jihadi’ links, leaves

.... Ms Sahgal, 53, said yesterday that she felt that her seven years’ campaigning for women’s rights had been a waste of time because of the charity’s continuing work with the former prison-camp detainee and his group.

“Their continued link to Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners undermines Amnesty’s claims to stand against gender-based violence and religious discrimination,” she said. “He supports Islamic states where women are second- class citizens.” [Times Online] Read more

Over-sensitive BBC gets cold feet, withdraws funding for ‘Infidel’ comedy

LAST week a comedy called The Infidel opened in UK cinemas. It tells the story of Muslim family man Mahmud Nasir, played by comedian Omid Djalili, who discovers he was in fact born a Jew called Solly Shimsillewitz.

In a light-hearted, low-budget movie written by David Baddiel, Mahmud strives to learn more about his real roots from an alcoholic Jewish cabbie called Lenny while at the same time trying to impress his son’s prospective father-in-law who is a firebrand Muslim preacher. [The Freethinker] Read more

McDonald's Accused Of Discrimination

The Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is accusing McDonald's of religious and ethnic discrimination. CAIR has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against a McDonald's Restaurant in Rochester Hills. The complaint was filed on behalf of a Muslim woman who applied for a job at the restaurant.

During the interview, she says that one of the restaurant managers informed her that wearing an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, would be a problem. [WWJ Newsradio 950] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

New passport picture rules upset Muslim fundies in Algeria – and beyond

SAUDI Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh, has stuck in nose into a row over passport pictures in Algeria. The dotty old goat – regarded as a moral authority for many Algerian Islamists – has issued a fatwa following a controversy that arose when Algeria’s government ruled that women should pose for passport photographs without headscarves. [The Freethinker] Read more

12 April 2010

Woman mosque leader seeks new Muslim in Europe

AMSTERDAM — Yassmine el Ksaihi doesn't see herself as a feminist rebel. She covers her head and wears modest clothing. .... At age 24 she is the administrator of a large mosque, an unusual position of authority for a young woman in the world of Islam, even in Europe.

In a first for the Netherlands, men and women pray together in the Polder Mosque — albeit segregated, with the women praying in the back of the red-carpeted prayer hall. Sermons are in Dutch rather than Arabic. Non-Muslims are welcome. [AP] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Tariq Ramadan's talk

I summarize the points brought up in the talk below. Tariq Ramadan: Tariq Ramadan first gave an introductory talk, where he listed how he sees Muslim in the West:

Islam is a Western religion because there are Muslims who are citizens. Muslims already do the 3Ls: I abide by the law, I speak the language, I am loyal to my country and to our values (critically and constructively). We're past talking about integration, we're now talking about contributing to society. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Once-Banned Muslim Scholar Tariq Ramadan on His First Visit to US in Six Years, President Obama and Why Muslims Should Make Their Voices Heard .... I am used to speak about Western Muslims. And as much as you are talking about security here, we talk about new visibility there. You don’t have a problem with visibility in the States, for example, but you may have a problem with this presence and mistrust.

In Europe, we have—we are facing exactly the same problems with new populist parties, old populist parties, far-right parties, using the Muslim presence and pushing us toward something which is emotional politics, using fears and very old racist attitudes and, you know, logic, just to target the Muslims: “They are threatening the very homogeneity of our culture.” [Democracy Now!] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Should Tariq Ramadan have been allowed to enter the U.S.? Chicago Tribune reporter Manya Brachear has kindly written to me to alert me to this article. In her email to me she invited Jihad Watch readers to comment at her Tribune blog on this story, so have at it.

Note her identification of Tariq Ramadan as a "religious scholar" in her parting question below. "Chicago welcomes once-banned Muslim scholar," by Manya Brachear in the Chicago Tribune's Seeker blog, April 5: [Jihad Watch] Read more

Fingers were not lickin' good for KFC in their bid to sell fried chicken to Islamic customers in Britain

The fast food chain was being threatened with a boycott by both Muslims and non-Muslims. It hoped to woo the Islamic market by opening 86 trial outlets selling halal-only meat, slaughtered under strict religious guidelines.

But KFC's target diners insisted the chickens were not being killed in the right way and said they would stay away. And furious non-Muslim customers have set up Facebook groups protesting that the trial branches, which also ban pork, have dropped their favorite bacon-topped Big Daddy burger from menus.

Groups with names such as "Against the KFC Halal Trial" and "No Halal at Colne KFC" -- referring to a branch in the Lancashire, northern England, town -- were rapidly attracting members. [Fox News] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Halal comedy? You might as well ask for halal bacon

In all the countries that I have travelled to to perform standup comedy – the United States being a regular destination – I have never been held up or interrogated at customs.

Or I hadn't, until I arrived in Pakistan last week. I spent six hours at Lahore customs, as I did not have a visa in my British passport to enter the country. The people who organised my gig had mistakenly assumed that because my parents were born in Pakistan and I too am brown, they would automatically let me in. [Guardian Cif] Read more

11 April 2010

Book Review: “A God Who Hates”

.... In her writing, Wafa Sultan draws extensively on her own personal experiences as well as those of friends and others in her society, especially the women, who suffer from an appalling level of brutality and repression.

She manages in a very convincing manner to tie many of these problems directly to Islamic teachings, all the way back to Muhammad, his wives and companions. Far from representing a “perversion” of Islam, she shows us that the repression and violence that is endemic in Islamic societies represent the true essence of Islam. [New English Review] Read more

Muslim staff escape NHS hygiene rule

.... Some Muslim staff and those from other groups may be allowed to use disposable plastic over-sleeves which cover their clothes below the elbow and allow the skin to remain covered up.

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, said: "My worry is that allowing some medics to use disposable sleeves you compromise patient safety because unless you change the sleeves between each patient, you spread bacteria. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

NHS relax superbug safeguards for Muslim staff... just days after Christian nurse is banned from wearing crucifix for health and safety reasons Muslim doctors and nurses are to be allowed for religious reasons to opt out of strict NHS dress codes introduced to prevent the spread of deadly hospital superbugs.

The Department of Health has announced that female Muslim staff will be permitted to cover their arms on hospital wards to preserve their modesty. This is despite earlier guidance that all staff should be ‘bare below the elbow’ after long sleeves were blamed for spreading bacteria, leading to superbug deaths. [MailOnline] Read more

Met allows Islamic protesters to throw shoes

SCOTLAND YARD has bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest — which could have the unintended consequence of politicians or the police being hit.

News of the concession by the Metropolitan police has come to light amid a series of trials of more than 70 mostly Muslim demonstrators who were charged with violent disorder after last year’s Gaza protests outside the Israeli embassy in London. [Times Online] Read more

Religious tolerance has put a fatwa on our moral nerve

Religious freedom has turned out to be a mixed blessing. The idea was once an article of faith with me, irreligious though I am. But my faith is beginning to weaken.

Religion has turned out to be different from what tolerant people of my monocultural childhood understood by it — a system of private belief and devotion that did not intrude into the public space except through charity and uncontroversial good works. [Times Online] Read more

10 April 2010

The Islamist Ghost Haunting Europe

The Islamist ghost haunting Europe today is not accidental, nor is its timing due to some plot hatched by a clique of terrorists from a Pakistani or North African hideout. To the contrary, it is largely the result of cultural and economic developments long in the making both in Europe and in the Muslim world.

These trends are heading in opposite directions, and it is this fact that makes the threat so serious—far more than legal and intelligence errors or misguided social policies. [Foreign Policy Research Institute] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Muslim children help faith study

.... They were also looking to see whether there is any evidence of increasing secular influence on Islamic beliefs and practices in Muslim families. Sameh Otri from Cardiff University's School of Social Science is one of the researchers working on the project, which is due to end in October.

He said one of the themes which was emerging from the research was the necessity of working with mainstream schools to bring their attention to the needs of Muslim children. At present, some children have to go off-site to practice religious observance or learn Arabic. [BBC] Read more

09 April 2010

Race and Politics: Part IV

One of the most ominous developments of our time has been the multicultural dogma that all cultures are equal. It is one of the many unsubstantiated assertions that have become fashionable among self-congratulatory elites, with hard evidence being neither asked for nor offered. [Townhall.com] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Erdogan urges Turks in France to integrate, not assimilate

Integrate into a society by learning its language and becoming involved in its social life but never assimilate, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said while addressing the Turkish community in Paris. .... Met with great applause when he stepped onto the stage, Erdogan talked about the rise of Turkey and urged the French Turks to become better represented in the economic, political and social life of the country they are living in.

Stressing that assimilation is different from integration, Erdogan said no one can demand that a person assimilate. “The demand to assimilate is a crime against humanity,” he said. “No one can ask you to abandon your values, your culture.” [Today's Zaman] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Denmark: New 'Muhammad cartoon'

The Grenaa City Hall decided to remove a painting down from their Easter exhibition after complaints from visitors. The painting's motif is a veiled woman and a pig looking at a picture of Kurt Westergaard with a bomb in his turban - exactly like in his own controversial caricature of Muhammed. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim vote will play decisive role

The group behind Britain’s most popular Muslim website (MPACUK.org) are launching the biggest ever campaign to mobilise Muslim voters. The Muslim vote could prove decisive with 82 constituencies having a Muslim population large enough to determine the result*.

Friday marks the official launch of ‘Operation Muslim Vote’ as Muslims gather for weekly prayers, with tens of thousands of leaflets already being distributed by young volunteers across the country. [MPACUK] Read more

Women must not be forced to wear veils

The High Court yesterday in a ruling said none can force women, working at public and private educational institutions, to wear veils or cover their heads against their wills.

The court directed the education ministry to ensure the execution of its order. It is their personal choice if they wear scarves or cover their heads, the court said. The HC asked the education secretary to make sure that women are not harassed by their superiors at educational institutions. [thedailystar.net] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

08 April 2010

Tide turning against support for 'defamation of religions'

What happened last month in Geneva demonstrates that the UN is moving in the right direction with regard to abandoning the concept of "defamation of religions."

Turning away from this divisive debate that seeks to limit basic freedoms could provide more time for UN States to focus on a more pro-active agenda - one that can result in practical measures that can be implemented to confront widespread hatred and religious intolerance. [The Washington Post Company] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Malaysian man faces prison term and cane for drinking

A Malaysian man has been sentenced to a year in jail and six strokes of the cane for drinking alcohol in public. Mohamad Sabri Zulkepli, 24, pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol at a shopping mall in February.

Mr Zulkepli had asked to pay a fine and be given fewer lashes. He plans to appeal against his sentence, officials say. [BBC] Read more

What has Britain come to when it takes a Muslim like me to defend Christianity?

Christianity is under siege in this country. Britain's national religion has never been so marginalised and derided, especially by the public institutions that should be defending it.

The case of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who has been banned by Devon and Exeter NHS Trust from wearing her crucifix while caring for patients, is a graphic illustration of this insidious trend. [MailOnline] Read more

Founder quits Muslim women's group in protest

A Government body set up to empower Muslim women has been dismissed by one of its founders as a "tick box exercise" after she quit in protest at the slow progress it was making.

Shaista Gohir, a respected Muslim activist from Birmingham, was one of 19 prominent women who sat on the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG). But she left the group this week, accusing the body of being a "political fad" that had failed to help Muslim women in the way ministers promised. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Muslim women are not political pawns This week, I resigned from the government's National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG), which was launched by the prime minister more than two years ago. We were supposed to influence policies by advising on empowering Muslim women; on issues affecting them; and on their role in preventing violent extremism. We did very little of this and instead were side-tracked into overseeing the delivery of projects, which was not our job. [Guardian Cif] Read more

07 April 2010

The debate on Islam and secularism in Egypt

The intellectual crisis agitating muslim minds today centers on the relationship between modern Muslims and their past. For the last two centuries, Muslims have found themselves caught up between authenticity (attachment to their values and culture) and modernity.

They view most Western ideas, ideologies and institutions as a threat to Islamic law, values and culture. Among these foreign imports, secularism seems to represent the greatest danger. As separation of religion and state, secularism was first championed by Christian writers like Ya’qub Sarruf, Faris Nimr, Nicola Haddad, Salama Musa and others. [The Spittoon] Read more

Spain: Most Muslims tolerant, Western and liberal

A study by the Spanish Justice, Interior and Labor ministries concludes that the Spanish Muslim community - 767,784 people - is particularly tolerant, Western and liberal, and holds opinions that are not substantially different from those of Spanish citizens.

.... results from interviews of 2,000 foreign Muslims living in Spain. The vast majority of the respondents said they feel at home in Spain, believe it is perfectly possible to be good Muslims and good Spaniards and think that Islam is perfectly compatible with democracy and human rights. [Islam in Europe] Read more

06 April 2010

Belgium: Muslim associations distance themselves from call for Sharia law April

In response to the political storm caused by the Sharia4Belgium organization. Several Muslim associations published a joint press release expressly distancing themselves from the call to implement Sharia.

"Supporters of these provocative statements only represent themselves. Therefore, the representative and recognized representation of Muslims in Belgium firmly and vehemently distances itself from this statement," it says. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Secularism Is Not Islamophobia

.... The week before last, my good friend and City colleague Rosie Waterhouse had a piece published in the Independent in which she argued that Islamist extremism on university campuses is a growing and under-acknowledged threat to liberal academic values.

Contentiously, the article called for a ban on campus on the wearing of the niqab, the full-face veil that fundamentalist Muslims believe should be compulsory for women. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Nurse loses crucifix appeal

.... But Cranmer is in complete agreement with the Tribunal chairman: the wearing of a crucifix is not a requirement of the Christian faith.

But neither is the wearing of a hijab a requirement of the Muslim faith. There are many different interpretations of what quranic 'modesty' requires.

And neither is the wearing of a kara a requirement of the Sikh faith. There is no decalogue: there are many different interpretations of the Khalsa requirements.

But time and again Muslims and Sikhs win such cases of 'religious discrimination' in tribunals up and down the land. Their garments and symbols of religion are considered such important expressions of their religious adherence that deliberately to remove or hide them does indeed, in law, 'violate' their faith. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

05 April 2010

Danish Psychologist: ‘Integration of Muslims in Western Societies is Not Possible’

Danish integration problems with Muslims became public worldwide in 2006 when the newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Exactly two years later riots broke out again because of the reprint of the Mohammed cartoons by all major Danish newspapers.

Currently 70 percent of the prison population in the Copenhagen youth prison consists of young man of Muslim heritage. Is this recent violence and general violent tendency among Muslims solely coincidental, or is there a direct connection? [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Islam vs. Islamism: Is there such a thing as moderate Islam?

Charles Krauthammer caused grave unhappiness among some of his admirers last month when, speaking on Fox News, he attacked the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. At issue was Wilders’s campaign against the “Islamization” of Europe, particularly in the Netherlands. “What he says,” Dr. Krauthammer charged, “is extreme, radical, and wrong”: [The New Criterion] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Middle-class Muslims fuel French halal boom

Few things define the traditional good life in France better than champagne and foie gras, but few would have thought them symbols of social integration – until now.

A boom in sales of halal products, including alcohol-free bubbly and goose liver paté approved by Islamic law, is being driven by the emergence of an affluent middle class of young Muslims. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

04 April 2010

Jailed Dubai kissing pair lose appeal over conviction

A British man and woman jailed in Dubai for kissing in public have lost their appeal against their conviction. Ayman Najafi, 24, and Charlotte Adams, 25, were sentenced to a month in prison with subsequent deportation and fined about £200 for drinking alcohol. [BBC] Read more

03 April 2010

Does Britain want to integrate with you?

ok, we have all heard the mantra. Its almost religious now, reaching feven pitch. You will even read it in The Revival Magazine, since our editor seems to be big on the idea. The mantra I am speaking of is one of integration - "Muslims, you gotta integrate, get with the times. "If you're not a part of the solution, your a part of the problem." seems to be the idea. [The Revival] Read more [via MPACUK]

FGM: 'traditional practice' in 32 countries, of which 29 are OIC States -- 3 million girls mutilated worldwide each year, 95% of Egyptians

.... We decided to speak out again on a "traditional practice", whose religious links are vociferously denied, despite irrefutable UNICEF facts and figures. FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is spreading in Europe with some migrant populations that practise it traditionally.

There are now over 1,500 cases in Geneva and nearly 10,000 in Switzerland, with hundreds of thousands in European Union countries. This won't cease until it is strongly penalized, backed by an unambiguous fatwa from the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar (Cairo) stating, unambiguously, that this 'cultural relativism' is forbidden by all legal traditions in Islam - unfortunately, this is unlikely. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Criticism does not exclude Muslims from the political process

.... the authors of the letter you published (Islamophobia is a threat to democracy, 25 March) are quite wrong to equate legitimate concerns about the leadership of the East London Mosque and the Islamic Forum of Europe with anti-Muslim bigotry.

To do so betrays those who have genuinely suffered discrimination. The East London Mosque has frequently allowed intemperate clerics to speak on its premises, some of whom have promoted values antithetical to those required in a tolerant and progressive society. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

FIFA ban Iranian women footballers from wearing hijab

FIFA banned the Iranian women’s football team wearing hijab from participating in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) which will be held from August 14 to 26 in Singapore. FIFA at first invited the Iranian team to take part in the games but unexpectedly decided to forbid wearing hijab (Islamic covering) in the games.

President of Iran Football Federation Ali Kafashian wrote a request to the world football governing body to reconsider their decision. [Mehr News Agency] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

2 held over Muslim prayer ban

The trouble broke out on Wednesday when six members of a group of 118 Muslim tourists who were visiting the cathedral in the south-western city of Cordoba knelt to pray and were promptly ordered to stop by security guards.

As they refused to stop praying, they were "invited to continue with their visit or leave the cathedral", the diocesan office said in a statement. [News24] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Two arrested as 100 Christians start praying inside the Hagia Sophia -- no, wait... Actually, it was 100 Muslims praying inside the Cordoba cathedral. When asked to stop, they attacked the security guards.

Of course the ban on Muslim prayer should remain inside the Cordoba cathedral -- at least until the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople becomes a cathedral again. [Jihad Watch] Read more

02 April 2010

Saudis 'give Lebanese sorcerer stay of execution'

A Lebanese man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for sorcery has been given a temporary reprieve, his lawyer says. Ali Sabat's execution was scheduled for Friday but his lawyer, May el-Khansa, told the BBC she had been assured by a Lebanese minister it would not happen. [BBC] Read more

Sharia Councils ‘undermine social cohesion’

Since the 1996 Arbitration Act, Government ministers have allowed Islamic tribunals around Britain to rule on a range of financial disputes, provided both parties agree to accept the court’s decision.

But in recent years, these tribunals have developed into fully fledged Sharia Councils – allowed to settle new disputes, such as divorce, family law, and faith issues. These powers go well beyond the letter and spirit of the original legislation and whilst they provide new ways of dispensing cheap justice they do not always dispense fair justice. [The Shropshire Star] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Closure of London university’s Muslim prayer room annoys Islamic students

A GROUP of disenchanted Muslim students at City University in London have taken to praying outside in the street following the university’s decision to close their prayer room. According to this report, it was replaced by a multi-faith room – which simply isn’t good enough for some of the some of the university’s pork-dodgers. [The Freethinker] Read more

Extra protection for Cultural Center after 'Islam cartoons' incident

Three immigrant youth were caught Thursday while trying to steal two cartoons from an exhibition in the De Bogaard cultural center in Sint Truiden (Limburg, Belgium), since they thought they offended Islam.

An employee managed to get the cartoons from them, after which the three threatened harsher measures. The De Bogaard center is getting extra protection since. [Islam in Europe] Read more

An Enthusiastic Defender of Freedom

.... Necla Kelek later admits that certainly not all Muslims pose a problem for democracy in Germany. In fact most of them certainly don't -- but there are still the few who do and they are the ones she has chosen to focus on. It's the problems she is concerned with, she says.

Kelek, 52, a German woman with Turkish roots, is sitting in the cultural center in Achim, a town near Bremen in northern Germany. She has just finished a reading from her new book, "Himmelsreise" ("Journey to Heaven"). [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Muslim Youth group cancels hate preacher

Sweden's biggest Muslim youth organization, Sweden's Young Muslims (SUM), decided to cancel the appearance of Abdullah Hakim Quick at their annual conference.

Quick has called Jews 'dirty' and preaches that the punishment for homosexuality, which he calls an unnatural disease, is death. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Belgium aims to tighten citizenship laws

The Belgian government on Friday endorsed a proposed law that would make it harder to obtain citizenship. The law states that people who want to obtain Belgian nationality would have to demonstrate their “willingness to integrate” into society. [RFI] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

01 April 2010

Malaysian woman escapes caning over drinking beer in public

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a mother of two, received a letter from the Pahang state Islamic department informing her that the state's sultan had decided to spare her the caning, her lawyer, Adham Jamalullail, said.

The order is likely to cool down a fiery debate over whether Islamic laws should intrude into people's private lives in the Muslim-majority country. Many people had condemned the punishment, saying it showed conservative Islamists were gaining influence over the justice system. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Belgium prepares to impose nationwide ban on face-covering veil

The face-covering veil is set to be banned within weeks in Belgium, making it the first country in Europe to make the wearing of Muslim clothing illegal. Women who flout the ban will face from one to seven days in jail or a fine of €15 to €25.

While President Sarkozy is encountering obstacles to his plans to outlaw the face-covering niqab in France, Belgium’s main parties are united behind the move and the influential home affairs committee voted for it unanimously yesterday.

A vote in the full Belgian parliament is expected on April 22 and a “yes” vote seems assured given the political consensus. [Times Online] Read more

Apostasy and the IFE

.... If we really want to know the IFE’s views on apostasy, we have to dispose of the bogus ’subtleties’ of Shaykh Abdullah Adhami and go straight to the real source of the IFE’s ideology, to Sayyid Abu Ala Mawdudi the godfather of Islamism. Mawdudi’s political ideology is the bedrock of Jamaat-e-Islam (which he founded), its politics and those of its British offshoot, Islamic Forum Europe.

Mawdudi’s views on apostasy were formulated in a treatise called The Punishment of the Apostate According to Islamic Law which has been translated into English from Urdu by Syed Silas Husain and Ernest Hahn. Mawdudi used this work to expound the penalty of apostates by death, which he defended as the “traditional” view and argued against religious freedom to protect the interests of Islam. [The Spittoon] Read more

The Islamic Forum of Europe and Political Participation

.... The IFE and its parent organisation the East London Mosque (ELM), have since been protesting against accusations of extremism. Despite this, senior IFE member, Azad Ali, wrote a blog yesterday in which he suggested an ideological affinity between his group and Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).

In his most recent article on the IFE's ‘Between the Lines' blog, Ali discusses the subject of Muslim political participation. He argues that it is a duty for Muslims to become politically active, which on its own it something to be applauded.

But what one must ask is, for what purpose do Azad Ali and the IFE promote political participation? Is it so that British Muslims can feel they have more of a stake in the running of their country? Or is it so as to eventually achieve something which is an anathema to liberal democracy? [Standpoint] Read more