31 May 2010

EU: Muslims go to mosque less often

.... The number of church-goers has dropped steadily for decades, but now there also a lot of space in mosques around Europe. Recent data from the extensive European Social Survey (ESS) show that the number of Muslim immigrants who regularly go to the mosque drops significantly after they've lived in their new homeland for some time.

The ESS figures, which are being published for the first time in Europe in Aftenposten, show that 60.5% of Muslims immigrants who have lived less than a year in Europe regularly go to the mosque. But after they've lived more than a year in their new homeland, the figure drops to 48.8%. More than half rarely or never go to the mosque to pray. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Nazi Sheikhs

In 2006, Paul Berman attended a seminar in Sweden which featured the Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, just-resigned Dutch Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Bassam Tibi, the critic of Islamism. Berman was meeting both Ramadan and Hirsi Ali for the first time, and their fame preceded them.

“He and I sat together, talking,” Berman says of the former, “then he made his presentation. I listened to Ramadan speak, and had a very strong reaction to his presentation. I felt that it was manipulative and a little demagogic and very unpleasant. On the other hand, I was impressed by Hirsi Ali.” [Guernica Magazine] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

30 May 2010

Dialogue on Islam in Switzerland gathers pace

Switzerland is promoting dialogue with the Muslim world as it comes to terms with the electorate’s decision six months ago to ban the construction of new minarets.

For many people, November 29, 2009 came as a shock, when a majority of voters accepted the new legislation, and the vote has been seen as a “wake-up” call. “People are beginning to speak about Islam in Switzerland, which wasn’t really the case before,” said Saïda Keller-Messahli, president of the Forum for a Progressive Islam. [swissinfo.ch] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

"Every Muslim Should Be A Terrorist”

Zakir Naik, the Indian-born tele-evangelist for Peace TV, whose inflammatory remarks include extolling Muslims to “terrorise terrorist America” and who states western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing, has been allowed into the country.

Naik will be appearing at Wembley Arena in London and in Sheffield on his British tour. David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, who described him as a “hate-monger”, the last time this Naik was allowed Britain in 2006. [The Spittoon] Read more

Ban on burqa draws line in the sand

FOR obviously superficial reasons, I've always associated Belgium with expensive chocolates, rather than political acts of bravery. That changed with its decision to ban the burqa.

....It is true that only a tiny number of Australian-based women would don the burqa but volume is really irrelevant. Like Belgium, it is the message that a ban sends that is most important. Sometimes a line in the sand has to be drawn and the burqa is one such time.

In an open society that prides itself on egalitarianism, the endorsement of faceless oppression is not something that should be promoted. And, just like Belgium, neither should we feel guilty about actively discouraging it. [The Sunday Telegraph] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Italy: Imam's consent needed for health-care

The coordinator for immigrant health in Tuscany is promoting this dynamic, explaining that without the religious leaders, he can't get Muslim women to come to the hospitals.

Rather than drawing women closer to the Italian health care system, the generosity of some of its basic services, such as disease prevention especially for those affecting the elderly, instead of helping them be like other Italian women, independent and without religious distinction, favoring integration, he recognizes the legitimacy of the imams and strengthens their veto power. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Has beens and wanabees

There is an air of desperation about the announcement of a conference at The Camden Centre next Saturday the 5th of June. Announcements in the Morning Star and on Socialist Unity meant that the omens were not good and the line up of those speaking confirms that.

Islamophobia has, it seems, become the new Anti Semitism and anyone who criticises the more extreme elements of Islam who want to impose a caliphate, reduce women to the status of second class citizens and murder gays and apostates is routinely regarded as the modern day equivalent of a member of the Waffen SS, at least as far as the assortment of Trots, Stalinists and Islamofascists who will be gathering at Kings Cross next weekend are concerned.

There is the full range of the usual suspects all of whom have plenty of form for defending anyone and any group that wants to attack democratic institutions and I won’t look at them all. Of the Muslim groups there are several that warrant attention. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Intolerant religion must be checked

These local battles over mosque construction underscore the need for a national debate on the impact Islam is having on America, including Muslim immigration rates and the building of mosques in particular.

For their part, Muslims seem to view Judeo-Christian values and culture as a threat to Islam, which is why there are no Jews, much less synagogues, remain­ing in places like Saudi Arabia. Christians are not allowed to take up permanent residency there, much less to build churches or to worship freely. The oppres­sion of the Copts in Egypt and Christians and Jews in Iran is well known. [Tennessean.com] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

A Moderate Muslim Writes Comments on my brief Tennessean op-ed continue to come in. Most are supportive and all have been cordial with one notable exception by Amin Salman at the Tennessean website. This one is interesting.

Your article in the 28 May Tennessean would be more accurate if you replaced “Islam” with “Saudi Arabia”. Some of the examples you cite are not limited to Islam. You have built a narrative. Similar narratives can be built for other groups, and I suggest trying on some examples below. [The Iconoclast] Read more

29 May 2010

Young. British. Female. Muslim

And yet, while less than 2 per cent of the population now attends a Church of England service every week, the number of female converts to Islam is on the rise. At the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, women account for roughly two thirds of the “New Muslims” who make their official declarations of faith there – and most of them are under the age of 30.

[COMMENT] Britain is an amazing country where people like these young women have the right and privelege and FREEDOM to share these stories. In my country were a Muslim to convert and find comfort in Christianity, there would be no way they would live to tell the tale quite literally.

[COMMENT] Good luck to these women. Sometime we have to travel a long to find happiness. But I wonder if any of them actually read the Koran before converting? Are they happy with the fact that their new religion says that they are property of their husbands and should be beaten if disobedient? [Times Online] Read more

Muslims who support football world cup are deviants and hypocrites

LEBANON-based Islamist militant leader Omar Bakri Mohammed has urged British Muslims to snub England’s bid for World Cup glory, saying that the tournament is evil as it “inflames nationalism”.

Mohammed even condemned Muslims who support England as “deviant and hypocrites”. "Islam is against the World Cup because it inflames nationalism. That is why we get so much hooliganism with supporters of different countries fighting each other. I am sure there will be some Muslims supporting England, but they are deviant and hypocrites." [The Freethinker] Read more

28 May 2010

Europe’s moves to ban veils hand ammo to extremists

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has pushed the idea for months. He wants to create a new crime, “inciting to hide the face” in public, punishable by a fine of $185. Next door in Belgium, similar legislation has passed one house of Parliament.

Bans are under discussion, with uncertain outcome, in Switzerland and the Netherlands as well. In another measure of growing European angst about Islam, Switzerland has banned the construction of minarets, the prayer towers on mosques. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Facebook rival launched in Pakistan after 'blasphemous' Prophet images published

Six young IT experts in the city of Lahore have set up MillatFacebook – using the Urdu word for nation – which they hope will become a hub for Muslims around the world.

Omar Zaheer Meer, one of the founders, said the site was launched on Wednesday and had already attracted 8,000 users. The aim, he said, was to register their disapproval of the images of the Muslim prophet and to offer an alternative to a site that has also been criticised for its lax and confusing privacy controls. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

The Spanish town of Lerida has become the first in the country to ban the Burka in municipal buildings

The town council voted to prohibit the "use of the veil and other clothes and accessories which cover the face and prevent identification in buildings and installations of the town hall."

The vote, by 23 to one with two abstentions, is the first of its kind in Spain, a country where Islamic veils and the body-covering burqas are little in evidence despite a large Muslim population. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Court rules company can fire woman for wearing headscarf

According to the Antwerp (Belgium) labor court, the wearing of religious clothing or symbols at work is not part of the protected 'faith' criteria in the anti-discrimination law.

G4S, a company offering security and reception services, can impose the unwritten company neutrality principle on a Muslim woman who wanted to wear a headscarf. The verdict was reported in the De Juristenkrant legal journal. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Spain/Norway/Switzerland: Veil stories

.... Zeina spoke to Swiss newspaper Blick. The woman was married to a fundamentalist Muslims. He forced her to put on a niqab. For the young woman it was torture.

"Suddenly I wasn't more than a kind of shadow without name or identity. I also lost my face," says Zeina. When her husband gave her the garment as a 'gift', she refused to put it on. "Because I knew that there was no way back. If you wear the veil once, than you have no choice any more." [Islam in Europe] Read more

'Rethinking Islamic reform' in Oxford

.... Hamza Yusuf stated at the very end of his talk that Islam is a peaceful faith, and that Muhammad disdained war. No doubt he has thought-through responses on how this fits with the rapid spread of Islam through conquest in the hundred years after the death of Muhammad.

It just would have been good to hear them. Likewise Tariq Ramadan mentioned that the word "jihad" has nothing to do with holy war. So what are we to do with the more military interpretations of jihad, both classical and modern? Were they always a mistake, or have they just been overtaken by changing circumstances, and become irrelevant?

.... As the Oxford don might say, in summary of one of those essays to which those eager-eyed students will now be returning: "Some interesting ideas, but more examples and explanation needed." [Guardian Cif] Read more

Tory Muslim Forum Objects To Term “Islamist”

Pickled Politics has published a particularly idiotic article by Mohammad Amin, of the Conservative Muslim Forum, who I believe is also a contender for the leadership of the Muslim Council of Britain.

....It is very clear that “Islamism” is a term that is used extensively by Islamists to describe themselves. It would be very odd were we to stop using that term, while the Islamists continued to do so. The problem with Islamism isn’t the nature of the word. It is the nature of the ideology. I am not sure whether Mohammed Amin “gets” that. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Why we need to stop using the word “Islamism” .... It is quite possible that from the perspective of a political science academic, the word “Islamism” might still retain some valid semantic content. However, what academics say to each other in ivory tower university campuses is irrelevant in this context. What matters is politicians using language which multiplies our enemies and which increases the real dangers and threats which we face as a nation.

[Comment] .... Interesting isn’t it that there is no Conservative Christian Forum or Conservative Hindu Forum or Conservative Sikh Forum – but there is a Conservative Muslim Forum. So does that mean all these other groups have been so well integrated in society that these don’t need groups or is it because Muslims need special handling. If the latter is the case why do they need special handling? [Pickled Politics] Read more

“Islamism”: Offended By Terminology .... Amin is apparently opposed to the use of term “Islamism” because he believes it conflates violent jihadi extremism with the peaceful mobilisation of democratic political parties composed of “devout” muslims. Presumably he is opposed to violent jihad as a means to take over political institutions but supports the second methodology which advocates the organisation of muslims using peaceful democratic means. [The Spittoon] Read more

27 May 2010

The balance of freedom

.... Professor Roger Trigg, kicked off last night's discussion by pointing out that Article 9 of the European convention on human rights guarantees that "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to ... manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance." However, Professor Trigg argued that, in reality, a number of recent cases showed that this religious freedom was being trumped by other human rights. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Berlin Court Rules Against Muslim Student Prayers

Last year a Berlin court ruled that the 16-year-old Muslim could pray in a private room at his school. Now a higher Berlin court has overturned that judgement, saying the prayers could disturb school peace.

A Muslim high school student will no longer be allowed to pray on school property, following a ruling by the higher administrative court of Berlin. The judgement is the latest step on a legal odyssey that began when the 16-year-old was asked to stop praying in the school hallways in 2007. He was the first student in Germany to demand the right to conduct his prayers at school. [Speigel On line] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Symposium: The World’s Most Wanted: A “Moderate Islam”

.... I also agree with Mr. Spencer that the current situation of Islam is not very promising. Removing the obstacles to reformation such as lack of the separation of mosque and state, inequality of rights of women with men, religiously based suppression on the freedom of speech, lack of the equality of rights of unbelievers with believers may mean for some the end of Islam.

Despite this I still see hope that Non Literal teaching of Islam can make a real reformation within Islam. The efforts of Dr. Jasser in American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) to promote a liberty movement by devotional Muslims within Islam against Islamism must be saluted.

.... Asking Muslims to separate between Mosque and Church and adopt secularism while traditional Islamic text teaches the opposite is a major obstacle to the progress of these secular views. Giving a theological base for secularism within Islam is needed. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Authorities distribute 20,000 long skirts to enforce tight pants ban in Indonesia's West Aceh

Authorities in a devoutly Islamic district of Indonesia's Aceh province have distributed 20,000 long skirts and prohibited shops from selling tight dresses as a regulation banning Muslim women from wearing revealing clothing took effect Thursday.

The long skirts are to be given to Muslim women caught violating the dress code during a two-month campaign to enforce the regulation, said Ramli Mansur, head of West Aceh district. Islamic police will determine whether a woman's clothing violates the dress code, he said. [The Associated Press] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

26 May 2010

The Goat That Ate Islamic Science Etc.

.... It seems that the stone-the-adulterers commandment has long been the subject of theological controversy because although mandated by traditional religious law, or shari’a, it does not appear in the Quran. Instead, the Quran mentions the much less severe punishments of flogging or perhaps confinement.

Some fornicators actually get into such things, maybe even in combination. Presumably a death sentence would have been important enough to merit inclusion in the revelation. Why didn’t Allah mention it before? According to another hadith, He did.

Muhammad had written down the revealed verse on a piece of paper and placed it under his bed for safekeeping. One day while Muhammad had taken ill and the household was preoccupied with nursing him, a goat wandered in and ate it. [Committee for Skeptical Inquiry] Read more

Found Footage: Apple pulls iSlam Muhammad app

iSlam Muhammad apparently depicted images of the prophet Muhammad (forbidden by Islam) and outlined disturbing passages from the Qur'an. It's surprisingly similar to BibleThumper, a Christian-bashing app that remains in the App Store. [The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)] Read more [via Talk Islam]

The security minister and the Islamist-linked TV station

Guess who Pauline Neville-Jones, the new security minister, chose for her first post-election interview? The BBC? The Telegraph? The Guardian? No: bizarrely, it was the Islam Channel, the Islamist-linked satellite broadcaster whose chief executive, Mohammed Ali Harrath, is the subject of an Interpol “red notice” for terrorist offences. Only eighteen months ago, Neville-Jones was demanding that Harrath be sacked. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Pamela Geller's 'Leaving Islam?' Bus Ads Cause Controversy

The questions on the ads aren't subtle: Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you? A conservative activist and the organizations she leads have paid several thousand dollars for the ads to run on at least 30 city buses for a month. The ads point to a website called RefugefromIslam.com, which offers information to those wishing to leave Islam, but some Muslims are calling the ads a smoke screen for an anti-Muslim agenda. [Huffington Post] Read more

50% support forced integration

This according to a study conducted by TNS NIPO for De Volkskrant. The research agency cut the research group into two in many questions, in which both groups were asked the same question with slightly different wording.

The provided substantial differences. When the question was about 'ethnic Dutch and immigrants' 50% of the respondents supported forced integration. Just 19% favored the multicultural model: it's better to live apart peacefully. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim children and the British school system

.... At an NUT conference in 2008, a resolution was passed declaring that state schools have the flexibility and the adaptability to accommodate the faith-based needs of parents and children. In state schools, young people from all cultures – who hold religious and non-religious beliefs – come together, representing the environment these young people will have to face in real life.

It is important that they not only understand the diversity that exists, but also respect that diversity. Conversely, faith schools present children with markedly fewer opportunities to bond with children from different backgrounds. [The Samosa] Read more

25 May 2010

How Islamists Came to Dominate European Islam

The 7/7 bombings in London, in which Islamists killed 52 and injured 700, prompted British authorities to work with Muslims to avoid future violence.

However, rather than turn to anti-Islamist Muslims who reject the triumphalist goal of applying Islamic law in Europe, they promoted non-violent Islamists, hoping these would persuade coreligionists to express their hatred of the West in lawful ways.

This effort featured Tariq Ramadan (b. 1962), a prominent Islamist intellectual. For example, London’s Metropolitan Police partially funded a conference that Ramadan addressed, and Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed him to an official “working group on tackling extremism.” [National Review Online] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Banning the burqa: a bad move

This week the French cabinet approved legislation to ban the wearing of full-face veils, including the burqa, in public and this will go into law in September. Amongst my circle there are plenty who are delighted with this news and only wish the UK government would have the guts to follow suit and ban what they see as oppressive, uncivilised and extremist clothing.

However, in passing this law the French are setting a dangerous precedent, sacrificing individual freedom of choice and religious expression for the sake of apparent community cohesion. [Adam Smith Institute] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Islamic fundamentalism in London: the threat is not over

Rather humblingly, some of the local Bengalis who have campaigned against the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe in Tower Hamlets gave me a thankyou lunch today. As I said to them, and not in any kind of faux-modest way, it is we who should be thanking them for putting their heads above the parapet in the Telegraph and my recent Channel 4 Dispatches film about the IFE. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Sharia court now in session

Sharia courts in the Netherlands are a nightmare for many Dutch. Meanwhile, they're already popping up in the UK and Canada. Is it possible that Sharia would be introduced in the Netherlands? And are Sharia courts really so undesirable or do they deserve a place next to our existing justice system? [Islam in Europe] Read more

24 May 2010

The Veil: Human right or violation of women

.... To many the aesthetics of a Muslim Woman wearing a veil are not welcome, her face his hidden, all facial expressions that are a vital part to conversation are hidden away. It may be to no surprise that such a move banning the veil was coming.

.... Wrong or right, living in Europe means we follow its rules, if we are not satissfied we have a chance to appeal and get our voice heard. We have a right to our freedom and liberties but sometimes along the way there is always a price to pay. [The Revival] Read more [via MPACUK]


.... A fundamental principle of Western thought is the separation between a person and their beliefs. This is not a fundamental principle of Islamic thought. Quite the contrary: born a Muslim, you die a Muslim. The notion that you might change your mind is so alien that the punishment for apostasy - in theory, if not necessarily in practice - is death.

The charge of Islamophobia deliberately obscures that separation between a person and their beliefs. It accepts the Islamic vision of an immutable union of person and religion. We should refuse to accept those terms. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Plans for a 13-storey mosque at Ground Zero provoke anti-Muslim backlash

Plans to build a 13-storey mosque and Islamic centre two city blocks from Ground Zero in New York are provoking an anti-Muslim backlash in America.

Muslim organisations picked the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory shop damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks. The building at 45 Park Place has been vacant since it was hit by the fuselage of one of the jets flown into the World Trade Centre by Islamic terrorists. [Times Online] Read more

Proposed Muslim Community Center Near Ground Zero: 'A Slap in the Face' or 'Repairing the Breach?' Two blocks from Ground Zero -- around the corner from the Glad Tidings Tabernacle and up the street from the Christian Science Reading Room -- stands a former Burlington Coat Factory outlet damaged on September 11th . If all goes as planned, it will soon house Cordoba House, a community center and mosque open to people of all faiths. [Huffington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

A Mosque at Ground Zero Equals Victory .... Here in the U.S., we are not learning a single lesson from the Islamization of Europe: as of now, we are moving in the same direction by the same "Stealth" tactics being used all over Europe -- infiltration into the highest levels of government; indoctrination of the public through misinformation; double standards provided by media outlets; intimidation, and threats, both veiled and public.

Thomas Mann, a German writer once said: "Tolerance is a crime when applied to evil." At the time, Mr. Mann was referring to the rise of Nazism in Germany. His statement is a wake-up call to us today, it speaks the truth. We must have the courage and commitment to act against these encroachments if freedom is to survive. [Hudson New York] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

23 May 2010

Laïcité and the French veil debate

.... France, by contrast, is largely pursuing its own burqa and niqab debate within the context of the country's commitment to the secular society, or laïcité, as it is referred to on the other side of the Channel.

When the country imposed a ban on religious symbols, including the Islamic headscarf, in state schools in 2004, it was not because they weren't French enough, but because they were not secular. A burqa and niqab ban can, according to this reasoning, be imposed outside any nationalistic debate. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Dutch Parliament Concerned About Muslim Brotherhood In The Netherlands

Dutch media is reporting that the Parliament is concerned about the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Netherlands including a conference scheduled for later this month. According to a translated report in the Telegraaf newspaper:

THE HAGUE – The House is very concerned about the activities of the orthodox Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations. This emerged during a meeting Thursday following reports that the Federation of Islamic Organisations Netherlands (Fion) later this month in the Netherlands Conference Islam in Holland would like to organize. The Fion is affiliated with the FIOE, which in turn is the European representative of the Muslim Brotherhood. [The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report] Read more

Lifting the veil on Europe

.... I am no religious scholar, but it is clear from my reading that the absolute majority of Muslim scholars and citizens consider the face veil a matter of personal choice not religious duty.

Instead of concentrating their energies on defending the right to wear the face veil - which is hardly defensible in Europe - Muslims and non-Muslim Europeans alike need to prioritise and realign their energies and activities towards the bigger questions affecting their common future on the continent. [Al Jazeera] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Muslim leader: find wives in Britain not Pakistan and India

Muslim men have been told to marry women born in Scotland rather than import wives from Pakistan and India. Shaykh Amer Jamil, a Glasgow-born Islamic scholar, warned that Asian women who have grown up in Scotland are being left on the shelf in favour of wives from outside the country.

Parents often prefer their sons to have arranged marriages with women who grew up in the Indian sub-continent, as they are seen as better partners. But this means there are increasing numbers of British women unable to find a husband. [HeraldScotland] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Poll: 57 per cent of Swiss favour banning the burqa

A majority of Swiss citizens are in favour of banning the wearing of the burqa, a poll released Sunday found. According to Swiss television, 57.6 per cent of those interviewed for the survey favoured outlawing the Islamic garb for women which covers the entire body.

Last year, a nationwide Swiss referendum prompted criticism across Europe as nearly 58 per cent of Swiss citizens had voted in favour of a law to ban building new minarets across the country. [The Earth Times] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Blockers at the Ready...

.... The cartoon depicts the Prophet on a psychiatrist's couch bemoaning the fact that all the other prophets have followers who have a sense of humour. It is drawn by award-winning satirist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) in the M&G on Friday as part of a Facebook page campaign called everybody draw Muhammad day. Zapiro has been receiving death threats while the newspaper has been flooded with angry calls. [Religious Watch] Read more

Crybaby Muslims issue death threats over Zapiro’s Mohammed cartoon DISPLAYING all the insecurities of a pre-pubescent brat, some South African Muslims – deeply upset that their efforts to quash the publication of a “gentle” Motoon failed miserably earlier this week – are now issuing death threats.

The cartoon by Zapiro was published in the Mail & Guardian after a court ruled against the South African Muslim Judicial Council. The humourphobic Council then called on its followers to express their condemnation and disapproval of it. [The Freethinker] Read more

‘Spineless’ Muslim leaders blamed for assaults on the ‘Prophet’ Mohammed THE reluctance of Muslim leaders to protect the honour of the “prophet” Mo by waging “total jihad” against blasphemy committed by the “Jewish-Christian West” was blamed yesterday for persistent assaults on the character of the character who concocted Islam.

Pakistani protesters want a global jihad against 'blasphemers' At angry rallies that took place across Pakistan against Facebook’s “Draw Mohammed” initiative, various Islamic clerics, according to this report, demanded that Muslim rulers either: [The Freethinker] Read more

22 May 2010

I Cannot Cheer for you Sister Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010: Too Much is at Stake

The following guest post by Hena Zuberi caused great debate and discussion among the MM staffers as to whether to ignore the subject or let Sr. Hena’s voice be heard. There were concerns about being too reactive as well as piling on a “non-practicing sister” (who later declared herself free from Islam).

However, some of us felt that what was at stake was above and beyond the Miss USA competition. Rather, it was about role-models and the type of role-models that Muslims have become so desperate to cheer on. It was about our own dignity and integrity. It was about being sandwiched between terror and bikinis. Here’s to highlight the diversity among us! [MuslimMatters.org] Read more

Do Muslims want to reimpose dhimmitude or live as equals?

.... I would also point out to Spencer that the best way to undermine ultraconservative interpretations is to support reformist ones. But Spencer wants to deny this option to Muslims, because it would mean that the entire faith of Islam could not be vilified.

The only option that should be given to Muslims, according to Spencer’s philosophy, is to leave Islam, and of course it would be ideal to convert to Christianity. At the end of the day, Spencer is a Catholic polemicist who is waging a crusade against Islam.

The very first words in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) are “Deus Vult!” (God wills it!), which was “the rallying cry of the First Crusade”; and the very last sentence of his book explicitly calls for a crusade against Islam. [LOONWATCH] Read more

Pakistan blasphemy laws used to justify 'murder': EU parliament

The EU parliament on Thursday called on Pakistan to guarantee minority rights, claiming that its blasphemy laws could be used to murder members of political, racial and religious minorities.

In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, the assembled Euro MPs expressed "deep concern" at the Pakistani blasphemy laws, calling for a "thoroughgoing review" of the legislation which is "open to misuse."

The laws can carry the death sentence and are "often used to justify censorship, criminalisation, persecution and, in certain cases, the murder of members of political, racial and religious minorities," the parliament said in a strongly-worded statement. [AFP] Read more [via Religiuos Watch]

Muslims are shifting stones in Europe, says Nilüfer Göle

Islam, and the existence of Islam in Europe, is one of the most complicated issues of the contemporary world, with scholars, journalists and politicians debating the issue more and more every day.

A wide range of scholars at the Istanbul Seminars 2010 at Istanbul Bilgi University are considering the issue of Islam in Europe, including one of the most prominent Turkish scholars studying the issue, Nilüfer Göle, professor of sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes (EHESS) in Paris, who calls attention to the fact that Europe is passing through an experience relatively new for itself. [Today's Zaman] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

A POSTER of a sexy bikini-clad model has been painted over by a mystery protester

The woman's body in the Marks & Spencer advert was covered in blue paint. One resident living near the poster site in Luton, Bedfordshire, said: "There is a large Muslim population in the town. Maybe someone took offence at this." [The Sun] Read more

Beyond parody

This post, by Iowahawk, on "Draw Mohammed Day" was satire, but readers could be forgiven for thinking it wasn't, especially as it is not so different from hand-wringing dozy bint Amira Nowaira in The Guardian: [The Iconoclast] Read more

Why I Won't Be Participating in 'Draw M******* Day' (PBUH) One of the most frustrating things that comes with being one of Eastern Iowa's top 500 political satire bloggers is dealing with readers who presume to know where I stand on the issues. Worse yet, some even seem to think they can dictate the content of my posts. Like this recent disturbing email from a reader in Crown Point, IN: [Iowahawk] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

A predictable furore over Vilks .... The Muslim reaction in these situations is often excessive, irrational and highly unacceptable. It is also frustratingly predictable. If Muslims are offended, they should take their case to court and sue "offenders" on account of instigating racial and religious hatred. This is a matter for the law to decide. Using violence or threatening to use it is as unlawful as it is self-defeating.

It will only reinforce the stereotype rather than counter it. Better than anything, Muslims would be well advised to ignore these instances of "free expression" and just withdraw peacefully from any gathering or event in dignified protest. If they do that, they will stop the Vilkses of this world becoming undeserving heroes. [Guardian Cif] Read more

21 May 2010

Morocco expelled Christians 'to prevent conflict'

Morocco has expelled foreign Christians who tried to convert Muslims because, as a moderate Islamic state, it wants to foster "order and calm" and avoid a clash between faiths, its Islamic affairs minister said.

The government has expelled around 100 foreign Christians since March, many of them aid workers, in what Western diplomats have called an unprecedented crackdown on undercover preaching.

"These incidents (expulsions) were prompted by the activism of some foreigners who undermined public order," Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday. "There are some who hide their proselytism and religious activism under the guise of other activities," he said.

... Converting Muslims is a crime in Morocco, punishable by up to six months in jail, but the authorities generally expel foreigners accused of proselytising rather than take them to court to avoid publicity and criticism from abroad. [af.reuters.com] Read more

Nigeria: three churches an a vicarage demolished in Kano state

Two churches belonging to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a Baptist Church, and a pastor’s house have been demolished by Fulani youths in Kano State, northern Nigeria, after a few members of the Muslim community objected to their existence.

The old ECWA church building in Kwasam, Kiru Local Government Area (LGA) was burnt to the ground at around 11am on 19 May. At the same time, a newly completed church structure was demolished and the pastor’s home was set ablaze, destroying all of his property. [Christian Today Australia] Read more [via National Secular Society]

20 May 2010

Secularists perceive a threat

Quebecers fought hard to free themselves from the Roman Catholic Church's control during the Quiet Revolution and they must prevent newcomers from imposing religious values here again, speakers said last night at the start of a three-day conference on secularism.

"We must not let other religious groups bring back religious practices," said conference organizer Djemila Benhabib, co-founder of the Collectif citoyen pour l'égalité et la laïcité (CCIEL).

"The rights of women, children and homosexuals are threatened by the demands of reasonable accommodation," Benhabib told an audience of about 225 at the Bibliothèque Nationale. The journalist is the author of Ma vie à contre-Coran, a critique of Islamic fundamentalism. She fled Algeria in the 1990s under a death threat. [The Gazette] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Facebook and Islam: Culture Clash Is Just Beginning

Is the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" campaign on Facebook a celebration of freedom of speech, or a thinly-veiled attempt to offend Muslims? Whatever your take, the latest Facebook fracas certainly has generated a firestorm of controversy and quickly grown into an international incident.

... As more people worldwide incorporate cell phones, laptops, and (eventually) tablet devices into their daily lives, the free exchange of information will grow exponentially. Religious and government leaders will likely step up efforts to block Internet-based content they deem threatening or offensive--and ultimately they'll fail.

A society can't embrace the benefits of technology without accepting the free flow of information--even potentially offensive speech--that's along for the ride. What's that old saying about letting the genie out of the bottle? [PC World] Read more [via EuropeNews]

19 May 2010

Brussels Increasingly Looks Like Any Great Middle East City; 'In Years to Come, Muslims in Europe Could Only Grow In Numbers, Coming... In Droves'

In a column titled "The Muslims Are Coming!" in the Saudi Arab News daily, Aijaz Zaka Syed, a Dubai-based journalist and commentator, wrote that "no matter what Europeans think of Muslims and other recent arrivals, the continent badly needs new blood and ideas."

.... "During a visit to the European Union headquarters a couple of years back, one was pleasantly surprised to see all those restaurants offering 'halal' food, and elderly Arab and Turkish gentlemen enjoying their cuppa of heady Turkish coffee and even an occasional shisha by the roadside cafe.

"This is the heart of Europe, the seat of the European Parliament, and perhaps the capital of the coming United States of Europe. With Arabs and Muslims living and working in this quintessentially European city, Brussels increasingly looks like Beirut, Istanbul, or any other great city of the Middle East. [MEMRI] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

18 May 2010

France has first 'burka rage' incident

The astonishing scene unfolded during a weekend shopping trip after the woman lawyer took offence at the attire of a fellow shopper resulting in argument during which the pair came to blows before being arrested.

.... A 26-year-old Muslim convert was walking through the store in Trignac, near Nantes, in the western Loire-Atlantique region, when she overhead the woman lawyer making "snide remarks about her black burka". A police officer close to the case said: "The lawyer said she was not happy seeing a fellow shopper wearing a veil and wanted the ban introduced as soon as possible." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Lars Vilks attacked during lecture

Artist Lars Vilks, who caused controversy by drawing cartoons that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a dog, has been attacked while giving a lecture at Uppsala University. Vilks, who has been the subject of numerous death threats, was attacked while speaking at the university’s philosophy faculty on Tuesday afternoon. He was not badly hurt. [The Local] Read more

Free speech and hate in Sweden Something strange and nasty is happening in Sweden, where the struggle over free speech and blasphemy is moving into physical violence. Last week, Lars Vilks, the artist who had a price put on his head by al-Qaida after he drew a sketch of Muhammad as a comic dog on a roundabout, was lecturing at Uppsala university on free speech. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Imam conference calls for better understanding of Islam

The Third Conference for European Imams and Religious Advisers concluded Monday with a call for a better of understanding of Islam in order to defuse Islamophobia.

The final communique, read by head of the Authority of Muslim communities in Austria Anas Al-Shaqfa, called for addressing that problems that were really posing as a threat to Europe, pointing out that Europeans should not be fearing Islam and should concentrate on finding solutions for current economic problems which were sweeping Europe. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamic group blasts imams’ conference in Vienna The Initiative of Liberal Austrian Muslims (ILMÖ) has harshly criticised the upcoming Third Conference of European Imams and Pastors in Vienna. ILMÖ said 120 Muslims from 40 countries would attend the 14-15 May conference at the invitation of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ).

ILMÖ claimed that none of the attendees from abroad knew anything about Muslim life in Austria and explained that, since there was no religious hierarchy in Islam, any Muslim could be his own imam. It also noted there were no pastors in Islam. [Austrian Times] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Muslim rocker wields guitar in rock’n’roll jihad

“I have seen at first hand young Muslims being radicalised by the distorted message of Islam,” said Ahmad, 46, a practising Muslim who was born in Lahore but spends most of his time in New York where he is a part-time lecturer in Islamic music and poetry. “They’re fed this guilt narrative that in order to be a good Muslim you have to give up the electric guitar, or you can’t wear jeans, or you have to cut your hair.”

.... Ahmad, who has faced death threats from hardliners accusing him of being “un-Islamic”, said young Muslims who rail against perceived injustices in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine need an alternative outlet to channel their frustrations: “Talking about Islam through arts and culture [could fulfil that role] and open up minds to another point of view.” [The Sunday Times] Read more

Central Council of Muslims in Germany Pulls Out Of Government Sponsored Integration Effort

.... The German Islamic Conference between the federal government and Muslim groups is intended to set policies about Islam in Germany for the next three years, with an emphasis on improving religious and social integration of the country’s sizeable Muslim population.

Köhler had hailed the first conference, held in 2006, .... a great success. Köhler stressed the council had come to its difficult decision only after weeks of consideration. But the council was upset that half the 2,500 Mosque-centred communities were not going to be represented at the conference and that the ministry had “gone over the heads of Muslims,” in deciding the themes and constitution of the conference, he said.

The council felt it was “a conference decreed by the federal government” that would be neither binding nor authoritative and therefore amounted to a “debating club.” The key issues for Muslims were discrimination and Islamophobia. [The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report] Read more

17 May 2010

Saudi editor Jamal Khashoggi resigns from of al-Watan

A leading Saudi Arabian journalist has resigned from his post as editor-in-chief of one of the country's more progressive newspapers. Jamal Khashoggi was editor of al-Watan which published an opinion piece questioning Salafism, a form of Islam at the heart of the Saudi state.

There is speculation that Mr Khashoggi had been forced to resign. Mr Khashoggi had clashed with the authorities before with articles on the religious police and women's rights. [BBC] Read more

Saudi woman beats up virtue cop

It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years. When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.

But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping.

A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix. [The Jerusalem Post] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Stand up against the burka

.... And reformist Muslims too should speak up more frankly without fear or favour. A traditional Pakistani friend of mine – who always wears the shalwar kameez – recently refused service from a burka-ed librarian in one of our big libraries.

The next time she went in, the face was no longer hidden. Maybe our new government should consult her. She could teach them how resistance, not acquiescence, gave us our past freedoms and will preserve our present ones. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Rima Fakih is first Muslim winner of Miss USA

A new Miss USA was crowned last night, the first American Muslim woman believed to have held the title in a pageant of beauty that has caused some divided loyalties in the Islamic community.

Rima Fakih, 24, took the prize ahead of 50 other finalists at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. She moved to the US as an infant, first to New York and then in 2003 to Dearborn, Michigan, where she now lives.

The nature of the competition, with its swimsuit, evening gown and interview segments, has caused some controversy among Muslims in the US and the Arab world. There have been incidents of Islamic scholars issuing fatwas instructing women not to participate. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Hizb-ut-Tahrir: Jihad, Caliphate and the Tories

Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) is an anti-Semitic, separatist and divisive group which justifies the use of violence. Ideologically it has the same goals as al-Qaeda (i.e. the creation of a super expansionist Islamist state) only the methods differ. HT is not a terrorist group, but it does believe in orchestrating offensive bloody wars once its version of an Islamist state is established. In their manifesto they give the following interpretation of jihad (holy war): [The Spittoon] Read more

16 May 2010

Apparent Selective Application Of The Law In The United Kingdom

Some Muslims appear to think that they can do just about anything in the name of their so-called god, and the British authorities seem all too willing to go along with them. The following video outlines an incident that illustrates this point rather well. The video relates to a group of Muslims going round an area putting stickers on people’s houses. The video is entitled ‘You can’t scare me into silence’: [Liberties Alliance] Read more [via EuropeNews]

Why Dubai's Islamic austerity is a sham – sex is for sale in every bar

The bosomy blonde in a tight, low-cut evening dress slid on to a barstool next to me and began the chat: Where are you from? How long are you here? Where are you staying? I asked her what she did for a living. "You know what I do," she replied. "I'm a whore."

As I looked around the designer bar on the second floor of the glitzy five-star hotel, it was obvious that every woman in the place was a prostitute. And the men were all potential punters, or at least window-shoppers. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Two Comments – The Purpose of the Burka

Here is an interesting comment I received about two months ago from a Muslim reader, on the purpose of the Burka, the full body covering for women. The article he was commenting on dealt with the notion that the burka was a sign of the failure of the West to maintain decency in its women and girls, hence the inevitability of the appearance of a totally opposing custom, one that proclaimed not only modesty, but near-anonymity of the female face and figure: [GalliaWatch] Read more

The Revenge of Islam

.... Today, borne on one of those immense deep waves that periodically lift it high, Islam is enjoying a renewal born from the depths of its being. But there is more; in our time, it is fed by the resentments of proletarian peoples. Thus, religious aspirations and material dissatisfaction are closely mixed, and often connect to a concern for the future.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Morocco to Indonesia; from North to South, from the Islamic Republics of the USSR to black Africa, Islam is awakening. Islam is imposing itself through its numbers (a thousand million faithful) and even more so through the simplicity of its doctrine: "Obey the will of God and force the infidels to obey." Young Islam, young through the composition of its growing population, while the West that "snuffed out its sons in its bed" is aging and not renewing itself. [GalliaWatch] Read more

15 May 2010

Looking for loopholes in the Qur'an, or, In the Muslim world, will Jesuitical casuistry improve the condition of women?

.... And they seemed to think, in slightly different ways, that to identify Islam as the problem is itself a problem. Or perhaps we should avoid the word "problem" altogether, because such a word, to many Americans, implies that there exists a solution.

But in this case there is no solution to the mistreatment of women in Islam, only here and there some amelioration, with the permanent threat of backsliding into the full-fledged Holy Law of Islam, or Shari'a, which is never good for women. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Woman in burkha held after MP is stabbed in stomach

A POPULAR Labour MP was stabbed twice in the stomach yesterday by a young woman wearing a burkha during one of his regular public advice surgeries.

Former Cabinet Minister Stephen Timms was said to be in “good spirits” as he recovered in hospital after the incident at a community facility in Beckton, East London. A 21-year-old woman was arrested after the attack and was being questioned by police. [Daily Express] Read more

The relevance of the burqa to stabbing of Stephen Timms MP? A woman has today appeared in court accused of attempting to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms in east London. Twenty-one year old Roshanara Choudhary of East Ham is accused of stabbing Mr Timms at one of his surgeries last Friday.

When the story first broke on Friday, there was no mention in the initial reports of the attacker’s religious affiliation. However the following day, most accounts of the incident drew attention to the young woman's Muslim identity and dress. [ENGAGE] Read more

14 May 2010

Why Boobquake failed: God's relationship with mankind is passive aggressive and abusive

Kazem Sedighi apparently got wind that people around the world were laughing at his ridiculous claims that immodestly dressed women cause Earthquakes. Apparently we misunderstood what he really meant, so during this Friday's prayer sermon, he offered further explanation: [Blag Hag] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Switzerland: Should Islam be banned

.... Yesterday the minaret ban. Today the burka ban. And tomorrow? The media and politicians stumble from Islam debate to Islam debate. Which Muslim symbol would be on the agenda next? The beard of the prophet? His water-pipe? Or should the wearing of a "takke" be banned, those white prayer caps which the representative of the Central Islamic Council (IZRS) particularly likes to wear. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Belgium: 30% foreign population in ten years

... This of course does not mean that Muslims would be 30% of the population, but it does meant that Europe is facing very large minorities. Muslims are the biggest non-European group and the most visible, and as such, the discussion about Islam in Europe is actually part of a much larger discussion about immigration. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Oslo: Muslims differ on Muslim schools

.... Kornmo belong to the liberal Muslim network LIM (Equality, Integration and Diversity). There are 95 Christian schools in Norway today. LIM emphasizes they don't want a ban against religious schools and that Muslim schools should naturally get equal treatment as Christian schools.

"But who go to Christian schools are integrated in Norwegian society, while a Muslim elementary school will probably make the job of integration even harder," says Kornmo. [Islam in Europe] Read more

13 May 2010

From Muslim to Pagan

"Mum, Dad, I'm not a Muslim any more." My mother looks up sharply, bristling with annoyance. "Don't be ridiculous, of course you are." My father doesn't look up, assuming this is just the latest in a long line of pronouncements about religion that began with me age 10 spending a whole summer with a black scarf on my head to demonstrate my desire to become a Catholic nun.

It was a phase that he was convinced would pass, like the Baha'i boyfriend or Bhangra-based Punjabi militancy. "You're still culturally Muslim," he said. I know the subtext of that: believe what you like in your heart but socially don't run around telling family and friends that you've renounced the faith. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Running for cover

STRIKING a balance between personal and religious freedom, and the ideals of common citizenship, is proving to be an enormous test for all European countries with large Muslim populations—especially when some seem determined to assert, or even caricature, the practices of their homelands.

Certain things are easily settled: virtually everybody in Europe agrees in abhorring female genital mutilation, as practised in bits of Africa; or the harsh punishment of children in Koranic schools, which has occurred in Britain. But in recent months a third controversy has shown up contrasts between European countries and within them. This is over female headgear—and in particular, forms of dress in which all, or virtually all, the face is hidden. [The Economist] Read more [via National Secular Society]

A war between the pious and the less pious

.... Sadly, both camps view each other as “the enemy” although they belong to the same faith. But same-faith wars, in any of the monotheistic religions, have never been too few throughout the history. We have seen wars between religions, wars between different sects of the same religion, and today what we see in Turkey is a war between different understandings of practicing the same religion.

A piercing question remains: How could those who are at a savage war with less or more pious people of their own faith be at peace with other faiths, or with agnostics or atheists? [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Shari’ah court sentences man to death

A Shari’ah court in Alkaleri, Bauchi State, on Tuesday, sentenced a 35-year-old man, Sani Sallau, to death by stoning for having sexual intercourse with a minor. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the accused was arraigned before the court by hisba officials (Shari’ah enforcers) in Alkaleri Local Government Area. [234next.com] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Catholic school girl who refused headscarf for mosque trip labelled a truant

A Roman Catholic schoolgirl has been labelled a truant after she refused to wear a headscarf during a compulsory trip to a mosque. Amy Owen, 14, and fellow girl pupils at a Catholic secondary school were told to cover their heads and wear trousers or leggings out of respect for their Muslim hosts.

But when her mother objected, saying she did not want her daughter to 'dress as a Muslim', she received a sternly worded warning letter from the headmaster saying she had no choice. [MailOnline] Read more

12 May 2010

'Islam or Islamism?'

Here is video of my talk last Saturday at the Vienna Forum in Austria, sponsored by the Hudson Institute, the Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe, and Kairos Journal.

The Forum topic was "The Future of Europe and the Challenge of Islam." I spoke as part of a panel, "Historical Background and Thorny Issues," with Bat Ye'or, Douglas Murray and Paul Marshall. My topic was "Islam or Islamism?" [Jihad Watch] Read more

Restricting free religious expression

Last month, as I stood in the Indonesian Constitutional Court, the Court released its eight-to-one decision to uphold the Law on the Prevention of Blasphemy and Abuse of Religion, also known as the Blasphemy Act.

My colleagues and I at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty had submitted an amicus brief in the case, urging the Court to repeal the Act, which has been used in the past to persecute devout members of a variety of religions. The Court's decision was deeply disappointing for us and our human rights colleagues in Indonesia and across the world, as it not only failed to repeal a problematic law but also legitimated, if not encouraged, future government incursions into matters of conscience. [altmuslim] Read more

Muslim clerics in India issue a fatwa forbidding women to work for their living

A NUTTY Muslim organisation in India – Darul Uloom Deoband – has issued a fatwa forbidding female members the Religion of Peace to work for a living. The fatwa, issued this week by a trio of Sunni clerics, declared:

It is unlawful [under the sharia law] for Muslim women to work in the government or private sector where men and women work together and women have to talk with men frankly and without a veil.

According to this report, even the most conservative Islamic countries, which restrict activities of women, including preventing them from driving, do not bar women from working. [The Freethinker] Read more

Baroness Warsi becomes new Conservative Party chairman

Baroness Warsi has been named as chairman of the Conservative Party, as party leader David Cameron continues to choose members of his new government. She replaces Eric Pickles, who becomes communities secretary. Baroness Warsi, who was shadow minister for community cohesion when the Tories were in opposition, is the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet. [BBC] Read more

Turks found worst integrated group amid widespread bigotry

More than 50 years after the first Turkish “guest worker” was invited to West Germany to fill a labour shortage during its post-war economic boom, the Turkish community remains the worst integrated, according to new research conducted by Institut Info.

Cited on Wednesday by daily Die Welt, the report surveyed 2,000 Germans and immigrants from 86 countries about their values and attitudes about life. Raising concerns about their failed integration, 40 percent of the country’s more than 2.7 million Turks said they felt unwanted in Germany. [The Local] Read more [via Islam In Europe]

City of Helsinki Pool Sponsoring Muslim Girls' Only Swimming Classes.......

This is wrong on so many levels. At the minimum, it should be billed as female swimming classes, but as a rule, anything even remotely resembling gender apartheid should be avoided at all costs. Islamic teachings provide the youth with a warped view and understanding of the sexes from an early age.

This actually goes against discrimination laws already on the books in Finland, the TT is waiting to see if any of the humanist groups and civil liberty organizations take up the challenge of defending individual rights for all Finnish citizens and residents. [Tundroid Tabloids] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

11 May 2010

The Iranian Regime's Efforts to Enforce the Wearing of the Hijab

Recently, the Iranian regime has expressed its concern over the rising trend among Iranian women of appearing in public without a hijab or with their hijab worn carelessly. Senior officials and regime propagandists have said that such immodest dress is to blame for moral decay and corruption, disease, and even earthquakes, claiming it threatens the regime's very existence.

It was reported that Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei himself issued an order to address the problem. Soon afterwards, Interior Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar announced the launching of the "Modesty and Hijab Campaign," to be implemented by Iran's various government ministries.

Maryam Mojtahed-Zadeh, who heads the Center for Women and Family Affairs in the President's Office, said that enforcement of the new campaign might call for the use of force and the renewal of the so-called "information patrols. [MEMRI] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Taxi refuses to take woman home with alcohol

Shopper Helen Russell, who was laden with bags of groceries, was left waiting until another car arrived. The 49-year-old had been shopping in Sainsbury's in Oxford city centre and had asked to be dropped off at a friend's house. However, when the Royal Cars driver arrived he refused to take her. "He said, 'I'm sorry, I can't take you because it's against my religion'. He was looking at the alcohol," she said. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

French parliament lays groundwork for veil ban

French lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday asserting that face-covering Muslim veils are contrary to the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity on which France is founded.

The non-binding resolution, passed 434 to 0, lays the groundwork for a planned law forbidding face-covering veils in public, including in the streets. One lawmaker compared women who fully cover themselves to "phantoms" and "walking coffins." The bill calling for a global ban on such garments goes before parliament in July. [The Associated Press] Read more

Parliament to declare the full veil 'contrary' to national values

France is on course to become the second European country after Belgium to declare the face-covering veil illegal in public places, reviving the debate on Islam's place in Europe. "All of France will say 'non' to the full veil and will ask that this practice be prohibited on the territory of the republic," speaker Bernard Accoyer told reporters.

Debate on the burqa ban has prompted warnings that it could provoke community tension in a country that is home to biggest Muslim minority, which estimated at between five and six million. Supporters of the ban argue they are not attacking religious freedoms but rather upholding women's rights, with one prominent group saying the new law will liberate young Muslim girls growing up in France. [AFP] Read more

10 May 2010

South Park the last bastion of free thought

.... Since South Parks’ inception, it has pushed the boundaries on topics varying from the debacle of the 2000 election, to stem cell research and now in dealing with the most extreme levels of censorship. Since South Park’s humble beginnings as a shock-value, foul-mouth show, it has become a mouthpiece of social commentary. It has won not only Emmy’s for certain episodes and for the series overall but it has also been banned in Russia ....

South Park recently experienced its 200th and 201st episodes in which all the celebrities South Park has made jokes on over the years were trying to sue the town. Through this, the celebrities’ true intention becomes clear: to discover the power that the prophet Muhammad has to avoid people from making fun of him. [Delphos Herald] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Fribourg cuts benefits for veil-wearers

Muslim women in Switzerland who refuse to work without wearing the veil will have their social benefits reduced. The head of Social Services in Fribourg defended the decision to reduce welfare benefits by 15 percent over three months.

Marie Therese Maradan told Sunday papers it was inconceivable the women who don’t find work because of their veils should live off the state for years. [World Radio Switzerland] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

When Islamic atheism thrived

Freethinking is perhaps not one of the strongest suits of modern Islam. For one thing, the list of books that have been banned for challenging prevalent religious orthodoxies and sensibilities during the past hundred years is disconcertingly long.

Modern Islamic clerics and scholars in various Muslim countries are often highly selective of which part of the Islamic heritage to emphasise and bring to light. Out of the countless and varied sources from centuries of vigorous debates, commentaries and controversies, they seem to dig out, and revel in, interpretations that are hopelessly conservative or frustratingly and grotesquely at odds with the life of modern Muslims. [Guardian Cif] Read more

09 May 2010

Jailed woman criticises 'hypocrisy' of Dubai laws

A British woman jailed for kissing a man in public in Dubai has spoken of the "hypocrisy" of the Emirate's strict decency laws. Charlotte Adams from Essex was arrested with Ayman Najafi last November after a local woman complained they had been seen kissing on the mouth in a restaurant. [Guardian] Read more

Adulterer to be lashed, jailed in Sharjah

The Sharjah Sharia Court of First Instance sentenced an Arab man to 100 lashes, one year in jail and deportation while his partner will be jailed for six months for adultery and one month for staying illegally in the country, followed by deportation.

The Syrian man, identified as B.M., was accused of committing adultery with a Filipino woman, identified as R.S. Both of them were also accused of having a child outside wedlock. [Gulf News] Read more [via Religious Watch]

08 May 2010

'Why are Muslims so hypersensitive?'

She says Islam is backward and the Qur'an is terrible. But Ayaan Hirsi Ali – whose provocative new book is extracted here – is not about to let a fatwa intimidate her. It was after fleeing an arranged .... marriage and settling as an asylum-seeker in Holland that Hirsi Ali converted from Islam to atheism with the kind of zeal that usually powers journeys going the other way.

She can, she has said, make statements that a white person simply could not: on the "dangers" posed to the west not just by radical, but by regular Islam; on the "backward" nature of the religion; on how "terrible" the Qur'an is; and, in the most startling argument of her new book, Nomad (a follow-up to her bestselling memoir Infidel), how Muslims would do well to learn from Christianity. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Islam Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

.... In general, modern extremist Islam doesn’t hold with psychological explanations for behavior. A culture based on submission doesn’t leave a lot of room for emotional nuance. Thus, when “youths” become entangled with the criminal justice system in the West (be it juvenile or adult), that clanging you hear is the sound of dissonance in the extreme.

Dr. Sennels’ experience, both within the system in which he worked and with individual delinquents, is instructive — sadly so. However, it is inherent in academic pioneering to experience social isolation and even enmity from colleagues who have no desire to risk looking at the truth of the situation. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

07 May 2010

Italy: Third council to fine burqa wearers

The northern city of Cossato on Friday became the third local authority in Italy to impose fines on women who cover their faces in public. The head-to-toe Islamic burqa and the niqab, which leaves the eyes visible are not specifically named in the by-law but are understood to be its target.

The fines will range from 25 to 100 euros. Elsewhere in northern Italy, Varallo and Novara city councils have already imposed fines on burqa and niqab wearers. [AKI] Read more

Is there a "liberal" or "radical" Islam?

In Switzerland, a majority voted for a ban on minarets; in France and in Belgium, the Islamic headscarf is being heavily debated; in Italy the crucifix is coming under fire. And also here in Germany the debate surrounding Muslims is often hysterical. Why do Europeans fear religious symbols or "foreign" religions so much? [Globalia Magazine] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Iran detains 80 youths for illegal "pleasure seeking"

Iranian police detained 80 young men and women for "lustful pleasure-seeking" activities at an illegal concert, Tehran's chief prosecutor was quoted as saying on Friday.

The socially conservative Islamic Republic launched a crackdown two years ago on "indecent Western-inspired movements", such as rappers and satanists, as part of a widening clampdown on conduct the authorities deem immoral. [Reuters - Iran Focus] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

06 May 2010

Robber dons burka in Bury jeweller's shop raid

A robber posed as a woman in a burka to get past staff at a jeweller's in Greater Manchester. The man used the disguise to get into Capri Jewellers on Benson Street, Bury, on Wednesday afternoon.

As soon as he was buzzed in he let in three other men, one armed with a gun, and they stole a large amount of jewellery before escaping. Detectives said the robbery showed "detailed planning" and are appealing for information. [BBC] Read more

Taliban cut off hands of three Pakistan tribesmen

Pakistani Taliban facing a fierce government military operation in a tribal area severed the right hands of three alleged thieves after a Taliban Islamic court found them guilty.

The amputees, who were brought to a hospital in the northeastern city of Kohat for excessive bleeding, accused the Taliban of victimizing them for belonging to the area of a former Taliban commander who broke away from the group, according to media reports. [AlArabiya.net] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Migrant contracts show first fruit

Integration contracts for migrants, introduced two years ago, have had some success in Switzerland - but there is still room for improvement, a study has found. Some cantons have taken a harder tack than others. Meanwhile, critics have warned that migrants should not be forced to integrate.

.... It defines the migrant’s aims, such as attaining a language fluency level or attending an integration course. If these goals are not reached, sanctions may be imposed. People from around 45 nations have been involved so far. Study leader .... said that while all five cantons wanted better integration, they had chosen different paths. [SwissInfo] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

The German Connection

.... As a practical philosophy, Islamism can be traced back to an Egyptian schoolteacher named Hasan al-Banna. In 1928 he founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a group devoted to restoring a fundamentalist idea of Islam to government and society alike.

At the time, thinkers in the Muslim world were obsessed by the West's colonial dominance and by their own civilization's decline. Banna was a populist who aimed his idea of Islamic revival at a wide audience by putting his thoughts—and his rigid interpretation of the Koran—into plain words.

The movement tried to broaden its appeal still further by emphasizing social justice and providing welfare services. The Muslim Brotherhood's methods have inspired Islamists ever since, including, today, the members of al Qaeda and Hamas. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Saudi king's photo brings women's rights into focus

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is not normally associated with radical moves but the 85-year-old monarch is making waves with signals encouraging greater tolerance of women's rights.

In recent days Abdullah's appearance in an unusual group photograph has become a talking point across his realm and the wider Arab world. The king and his brother Crown Prince Sultan were flanked by 40 women dressed in modest abayas but mostly with their faces bare, a novelty that is seen as evidence of rare liberalism at the top. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa

The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n'er do wells.

In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of "Middle Eastern appearance". [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

05 May 2010

'I have to keep her indoors now': Muslim husband's shocking response as wife is first to be fined £430 for wearing a burka

A husband has vowed to keep his wife indoors after she became the first woman in Italy to be fined for wearing a burka in public.

Amel Marmouri, 26, was handed the 500 euro (£430) penalty after she was spotted queuing inside a post office by police with her body and face fully covered by the garment. She was warned she would receive another fine if she were spotted again in her burka. [MailOnline] Read more

Imam tells Italy that wearing of veil is in tradition of the Madonna Veiled Muslim women have become the true upholders of western traditions of female dress, says Italy's top imam, who angrily condemned the decision to fine a woman in Italy for wearing a veil that completely covered her features.

The incident, which took place in the northern Italian town of Novara, was the first of its kind in Europe. Izzedin Elzir, the president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII) and a former fashion designer, said: "If we go and see the beautiful artistic representations of the Madonna, we see her with the veil. We don't see her semi-naked, I think. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Muslim husband confirms what we already knew: burqa-wearers are mere chattels LAME-BRAINED apologists who argue that Islamic face coverings ought to be tolerated in Western societies because they are a symbol of piety, or of modesty, periodically even go so far as to insist that women aren’t compelled to wear sinister abominations like the burqa. Some even claim that such garments are “empowering”.

This, of course, is utter bullshit – and was exposed as such when a Muslim living in Novara, Italy, declared that he would have no option but to place his wife under house arrest if the law prevented her from venturing out looking like a perambulating black pillar-box. [The Freethinker] Read more

04 May 2010

All parties must stand up to Islamophobia

The intolerance towards Muslims must not be tolerated, but the main political parties have not pledged to take sufficient action to combat anti-Muslim prejudice. Legitimate criticism of Muslims who spew extremist rhetoric and commit criminal acts is acceptable.

However, the ugly trend of bigotry against law-abiding Muslims sweeping Europe should not be ignored by whoever comes into power as it is influencing debate here in the UK. …. Recently traffic police in France fined a Muslim woman for wearing a face veil while driving based on her not having sufficient field of vision. She was able to see as well as motorcyclists wearing helmets – but they are not being fined.

[Comment] .... the accusation, so beloved by certain types of commentators, of 'Islamophobia', you've used it too often, it doesn't have any sting anymore, except to mark you out as unable to engage in reasonable discussion with the majority community. So what are you offering to do to adapt yourselves to the majority? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Saudi liberals see hope as clerics argue over gender segregation

Divisions among senior Saudi clerics over the legality of gender segregation could mark a new drive by reformers allied to King Abdullah to push social reforms in the puritanical Islamic state.

The divisions came to the open when the kingdom’s morals police, or the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, reversed a decision to sack Ahmad al-Ghamdi, its regional head for the Mecca region. [Reuters Faith World] Read more

Aceh Drafts Regional Ban on Non-Islamic Broadcasts

Provincial office of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission said it has proposed a draft regulation to ban non-islamic contents of broadcasting the province, to the provincial house which draw partial or total rejection from scholars and journalists.

.... a member of the Provincial Broadcasting .... said the specific law or Qanun will authorize the regional authorities to impose further censorship on “all film or television and radio production despite having past the National Censorship Body.” [TEMPO INTERAKTIF.COM] Read more [via Censor Watch]

Banning hijab no rights violation, court says

Sheriff's deputies did not violate a Muslim woman's rights by forcing her to remove her hijab, a religiously mandated headscarf, in a courthouse holding cell, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Monday.

Souhair Khatib sued Orange County for damages under a federal law that prohibits government agencies from imposing a "substantial burden" on the right to practice one's religion in a prison, jail or pretrial detention facility. She said her religion forbids her to expose her head or neck to men outside her immediate family. [The San Francisco Chronicle] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

An £18 million “mega-mosque” at the centre of a far-right protest has been scrapped

Members of the English Defence League blasted out recordings of an Islamic call to prayer after scaling a disused building. Masked extremists ignored threats of arrest for inciting religious and racial hatred and unveiled banners saying “No to the burka” and “No mosque”. [Daily Star] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Dudley mosque plan scrapped Plans to build an £18 million mosque in Dudley town centre have been scrapped, the Express & Star can reveal today. The scheme to build a mosque with 65ft minaret on derelict land in Hall Street attracted huge protests, but has now been ditched by the Dudley Muslim Association.

Deputy council leader, Les Jones, told the Express & Star today the DMA had agreed instead to redevelop the existing mosque in Castle Hill, after months of delicate negotiations. [Express & Star] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Tan ban in Iran

YOU can always rely on the mad, mad word of Islam to produce the wackiest stories in the world – but for sheer lunacy this month Iran beats all competition.

.... Tehran police chief Brig Gen Hossien Sajedinia – head of what some are now calling the Taniban – has warned that all women sporting a tan will be arrested and imprisoned because the look violates the “spirit of Islamic law.” Thus, any woman that looked like a “walking mannequin” will be punished.

.... And what about this statement, Sue? "We are not going to tolerate this situation, and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them." How the bloody hell can you “warn” someone who has a tan? What are they supposed to do – go home and take it off immediately? [The Freethinker] Read more

A Swiss canton on Tuesday passed legislation preparing the groundwork for a possible ban on the Islamic burqa

The local council in Aargau, a canton (state) in the north of Switzerland along the German border, voted overwhelmingly to work on a state initiative to make wearing the burqa in public places illegal. Most major parties backed the move.

Pushing the motion forward, the centrist and right wing parties in favour said the garment was a "symbol of male dominance over women," according to the Swiss news agency SDA. The parties also said the full body veil prevents the integration of migrants into Swiss society. [The Earth Times] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Controversial Muslim group kept out of dialogue

The controversial Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS) will not be invited to take part in talks between the justice minister and Swiss Muslim groups. The head of the Migration Office, Alard du Bois-Reymond, met a delegation of the ICCS on Tuesday and said it was “unthinkable in present circumstances” for them to take part in the planned dialogue.

He said the organisation must distance itself explicitly from the stoning of women and give up its demand to create a fatwa council. The ICCS says such a council is needed as a theological authority for dealing with Islamic issues. [SwissInfo] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

'South Park' and the Informal Fatwa

.... Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the "South Park" episode in question there were no threats from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

…. In "South Park," this tyrannical rule is cleverly needled when Tom Cruise asks the question: How come Muhammad is the only celebrity protected from ridicule? Now we know why. [The Wall Street Journal Europe] Read more [via National Secular Society]

No-name radicals vs. ‘South Park’ just a distraction .... This is what I mean by saying the best way to counter free speech is with more free speech, not censorship.

…. Sadly, instead of dealing with the real cases of racism, bigotry and xenophobia regularly injected into our public airwaves by some of our political leaders and opinion makers, we have instead allowed ourselves to get sucked into a faux controversy involving two no-name idiots with a radical website taking on four pre-pubescent, fictitious cartoon characters from South Park, Colorado. [loonwatch.com] Read more

03 May 2010

Danish law should take Sharia into account, say researchers

Some Muslims in Denmark marry, divorce and live their lives by special religious, cultural and tradition-regulated laws called Sharia. The Danish law system should take that more into consideration, say three professors of law and Islam, who contributed to a new English-language book on the perceptions of Sharia in Europe - a book which argues for that solution.

"It's a question of basic justice. If flexibility is not practiced from case to case, where people's culture, religion and traditions - including elements from Sharia - are also taken into account, some people are excluded in society from equal access to the justice system," says Jørgen S. Nielsen, professor of Islam at Copenhagen University. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Saudi eases ban on unrelated couples in cars

Unrelated couples caught together in the same vehicle will not automatically face prosecution in Saudi Arabia as the conservative Muslim kingdom relaxes strict rules prohibiting mixing of the sexes, the Saudi Gazette reported.

Under the new rules, unrelated men and women caught in the same vehicle could be pardoned if the circumstances in which they are found do not suggest immoral activities and neither has previous convictions, the local newspaper said on Monday. [Maktoob.com] Read more [via Religious Watch]