31 July 2010

Domestic abuse rampant in modern, moderate Turkey

Qur'an 4:34, the verse in which Allah green-lights beating one's wife, has far-reaching consequences in letter and spirit. It makes the Muslim family a microcosm of the Qur'anic deity's ordering of the universe and society, where submission is paramount, and the one who feels entitled to be in charge -- whether Muhammad's deity or the man of the house -- can do as he pleases, and is free to resort to brutality to ensure submission... while demanding to be called compassionate and merciful, of course. To do otherwise might hurt his feelings, and the rage that ensues would be your fault, naturally. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Secret Quilliam Foundation Memo to the government about UK Muslims is leaked!

A shocking secret 65-page document that the Quilliam Foundation sent to senior Government Ministers and their special advisers in mid-June 2010 claiming to offer advice to the new Coalition government about the Prevent programme and which UK Muslim organisations the government should (and should not) be speaking with has been leaked and published on the Scribd.com website. [inayatscorner] Read more

Muslim Groups Attack FMU with Double-Speak

Some Muslim leaders in America deny that there are any threats to the lives and safety of Muslims who decide to leave Islam. It is as though they have no role to play in changing the status quo of tyranny of Islam.

Muslim groups who call themselves ‘moderate’ are strangely silent about the persecution, torture, killing and imprisonment of apostates, women and non-Muslims all over the Muslim world. All they seem to care about is to pacify the American public and convince them that Islam is a religion of peace, while hiding from view the fact that 1.2 billion Muslims are living in the tyranny of Sharia Islamic law, and how that tyranny is creeping into the West. [The Iconoclast] Read more

30 July 2010

Debate Heats Up About Mosque Near Ground Zero

An influential Jewish organization on Friday announced its opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, intensifying a fierce national debate about the limits of religious freedom and the meaning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The decision by the group, the Anti-Defamation League, touched off angry reactions from a range of religious groups, which argued that the country would show its tolerance and values by welcoming the center near the site where radical Muslims killed about 2,750 people. [NYTimes.com] Read more

How soft jihad worms its way here

.... Rather, he concentrates on a nonviolent but pervasive and insidious form of jihad worming its way into American society. It is the "soft" jihad inspired and led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the "godfather" of most jihadist organizations operating in the Western world.

.... Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's intellectual leader, has expounded on the differences between Islamists and Islamist terrorists, but the author makes it clear these are really distinctions without a difference. The goal is the same: "Islam applicable at all times and at all places." [The Washington Times] Read more

Europe's response to hardline Islam is like a man burning down his house to get rid of an unwanted visitor

.... This is perhaps the first time I’ve read this argument openly and honestly suggested by someone from the Left-liberal, who says, in effect: yes, church schools are a good thing, but diversity means we must have state-enforced uniformity, and greater state control. Sorry about no one mentioning that when mass immigration was first discussed years ago.

Was this the plan all along, or is just sheer coincidence that the same people who get to enjoy the culinary delights of multiculturalism (but safely too wealthy to suffer the downsides) now get to run the huge state apparatus required to police diversity? [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Fundamentalists one step closer to power

Lutfur Rahman, the politician who was three times barred by the Labour Party from its shortlist for the powerful elected mayoralty of Tower Hamlets, is today back on the list after a legal challenge.

Lutfur had been kept off the list amid deep concerns over four things: * His links with the Islamic Forum of Europe, a group which wants to replace secular democratic government with Islamic government under sharia law. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

29 July 2010

Stop preaching or get out

EVANGELICAL Christians in the poor world are rarely accused of undermining public order. All the more surprising, then, that in recent months around a hundred have been deported from Morocco for just that. The Christians, mostly from the United States and Europe, have been accused of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, a crime punishable by imprisonment under Moroccan law, which protects the freedom to practise one’s faith but forbids any attempt to convert others.

Rules against proselytising are quite common in Muslim countries but Morocco has long enjoyed a reputation as a bastion of religious tolerance in the region. Almost all the country’s 32m citizens are Sunni Muslims but churches and synagogues exist, alongside mosques, to cater for the 1% of the people who are Christian or Jewish. [The Economist] Read more

A teacher says no to burqa in a West Bengal Muslim university, isn’t allowed to teach

For the past three months, 24-year-old Sirin Middya has not been able to hold her classes at West Bengal’s first Muslim university. While the guidelines at Aliah University in Kolkata don’t stipulate the same, the students’ union has demanded that Middya can teach but only in burqa.

Middya was appointed a guest lecturer at the university in March this year and got the union “diktat” in the second week of April. [The Indian Express] Read more

Parents in hot water over missed swimming lessons

…. Several Muslim families have been fined for keeping their children out of mandatory school swimming lessons, the first time such a punishment has been handed down. Education authorities in canton Basel-City said on Thursday that seven children from five families had missed the lessons. Five of the children were removed on religious grounds. All of the students were girls under the age of ten.

.... Christoph Eymann, director of the canton’s education department, said it is important for schools to avoid creating parallel societies. There are a total of 1,033 Muslim boys and girls registered in the canton’s primary schools. [swissinfo.ch] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Pew Survey: Pakistanis overwhelmingly favor killing apostates

Note these results from a sample survey of opinion taken from 2000 Pakistanis over the period from April 13-April 28, 2010. More than four-in-ten Pakistanis see a struggle taking place between Islamic fundamentalists and groups that want to modernize the country; and the vast majority of those who do see a struggle identify with the modernizers.

Nonetheless, many Pakistanis endorse extreme views about law, religion and society. More than eight-in-ten support segregating men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers, and whipping and cutting off the hands of thieves. Roughly three-in-four endorse the death penalty for those who leave Islam. [The Iconoclast] Read more

28 July 2010

Sonorous black Saudi cleric rescinds objection to fatwa against singing

An imam whose voice helped him become the first black Saudi to lead prayers at Mecca’s Grand Mosque said he was wrong to speak against a fatwa prohibiting singing, in the latest spat between reformist and conservative clerics in the kingdom.

King Abdullah’s push for reform has fostered divisions among senior Saudi clerics, and Adil Kalbani shocked conservative clerics in June by speaking in favor of singing, saying neither the Koran nor Prophet Mohammad’s sayings prohibited it. [Reuters FaithWorld] Read more

Hamas bans lingerie displays in Gaza Strip

Scantily-clad mannequins and pictures of underwear models are to disappear from clothes shops in the Gaza Strip after officials announced new rules.

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, said that the new rules were to protect "public morality". The ruling comes two weeks after the organisation banned women from smoking water pipes. Hamas has repeatedly denied it intends to impose Islamic Sharia law in Gaza. [BBC] Read more

Claim of 'Islamic veil bus ban' thrown out

A bus driver accused by two students of banning them because of their Islamic dress has been cleared after CCTV showed he had actually barred them for their abusive behaviour.

An investigation by Metroline - which operates the No7 bus - found the driver, who could have faced the sack over the allegation, was justified in not allowing the women on his vehicle.

The 22-year-olds, Yasmin and Atoofa, from Slough, told the BBC that they had been refused access to the bus at Russell Square because of their dress. Yasmin was wearing a hijab and her face was uncovered while Atoofa was wearing a niqab, which covers the face. [London Evening Standard] Read more

London bus operator refutes "veil row" The bus company at the centre of a row over claims that it denied two Muslim women entry to a bus because one of them was wearing a face veil has rejected allegations of discrimination.

Metroline said the two women were prevented from boarding the bus because they were abusive towards the driver and other passengers, not because of their dress.

CCTV footage of the incident shows the two women trying to board the No. 7 bus and banging on the door when it was not in service, Metroline said. The driver turned them away after they became argumentative and shouted at him, it added.[Reuters] Read more

27 July 2010

Sharia creeps into New Jersey courtroom – but gets short shrift on appeal

A NEW Jersey judge’s decision to refuse a restraining order sought by a young Muslim woman who had been raped and abused by her husband has been overturned on appeal.

While recognizing that the husband had engaged in sexual relations with his teenage bride against her expressed wishes in November 2008 and on the night of January 15 to 16, 2009, the judge at the original hearing did not find sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct to have been proven.

The judge ruled that the husband, who had come from Morocco to the US with his arranged-marriage bride of 17, had been acting on his Islamic beliefs: [The Freethinker] Read more

26 July 2010

Muslims party on despite religious crackdown

Dusk has fallen and the party is just beginning for 29-year-old Asyikin, one of the many young Malay Muslims who hang out in Kuala Lumpur's vibrant Bukit Bintang nightlife district.

A morality crackdown has seen Malaysian Islamic authorities hand out caning and jail sentences for illicit drinking and sex, and launch raids on homes and clubs in the glare of media flashlights. [The Sydney Morning Herald - AFP] Read more

Saudis say Muslim women exempted from wearing face veils in France

Two Saudi clerics have declared Muslim women are exempt from wearing full veils in France, which is planning to ban them, but added they should avoid visiting it as tourists.

The comments, by Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, come two weeks after French lawmakers passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed. [Reuters FaithWorld] Read more

25 July 2010

Tory warned of legal action for discrimination

A Tory MP has been warned he could face legal action if he follows through on a threat to refuse to meet constituents wearing the veil.

Lawyers for Liberty have written to Philip Hollobone insisting that his stance is unlawful and that they "will be happy to represent any of your constituents that you refuse to meet because they are veiled".

The group warns him that the UK's Equality Act and the European convention on human rights (ECHR) oblige him to avoid discrimination. Because his ban would only affect Muslim women, it would also amount to indirect sex discrimination, the letter says. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Hizb ut Tahrir is not a gateway to terrorism, claims Whitehall report

The Government has opened the way for official links with Muslim extremists after civil servants said radical groups could be a "safety valve" for those tempted by terrorism. The groups specifically named - in documents leaked to The Sunday Telegraph - include al-Muhajiroun, which has praised 9/11 as “magnificent” and Hizb ut Tahrir, which wants to turn Britain into an Islamic dictatorship under sharia law.

In the classified papers, presented last week to Coalition ministers on the Cabinet’s home affairs committee, officials say a “clear assessment” has been made that individuals “do not progress” to violence through such groups. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Violent” and “Non Violent” Islamists

So, it is almost that Global Peace and Unity time of year again. Regular readers of Harry’s Place will remember that, every year, the Islam Channel invites some of the most extreme and nasty Islamists – supporters of attacks on our troops, of terrorism (outside the UK, of course), Holocaust denial, wife beating, and so on – to bunfight. Each year, leading politicians from all three parties are invited. Sometimes, they attend. [Harry’s Place] Read more

If Britain decides to ban the burqa I might just start wearing one

.... Nothing good has come out of the tiresome burqa-banning debate, other than a timely reminder that the French aren't really to be trusted. Most of the time they're OK – quite like us, relatively affluent, but not so as to make us feel bitter, the kind of people you'd happily share a school run with.

But, every so often, they'll do something a bit mental – have a revolution, nearly elect Le Pen, capitulate in the face of an evil empire whose armies they outnumber, ban the burqa from public places. It's always a bit of a shock, an undermining of confidence, like noticing that your accountant has a tattoo.

[COMMENT] Burqas are the ultimate in oppressive, primitive stupidity. By standing up for them, you're just saying 'we must defend people's right to be oppressed' or rather 'we must defend people's rights to oppress the women in their community'. Burqas are intimidating, a huge security threat, and they have no place in our society. [Guardian Cif] Read more

24 July 2010

Teacher victim of an 'horrific and evil' attack

.... A teacher who was almost killed in a gang knife attack near his east London school vowed today to be back in his classroom in September despite suffering horrific injuries. Gary Smith's face was slashed from his mouth to his neck and he was stabbed and beaten repeatedly by a group of five Asian youths — all wearing black bandanas — as he walked to work in Mile End.

The 37-year-old, a religious studies teacher at Central Foundation School for Girls in Bow, told the Standard he was lucky to be alive after being ambushed at 8.20am on July 12. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Police Muslim forum headed by Islamic extremist

Scotland Yard will now face pressure to renounce Azad Ali, the new chair of the Muslim Safety Forum, which is recognised by the Met under a formal written agreement as "the principal body in relation to Muslim community safety and security".

The deal says that the Met will "use the MSF as a consultation body to help formulate policy or practice". Mr Ali was the founding chair of the MSF in 2006, but left that job in 2008 and resigned entirely from the group last year after publicity over his extremist comments. Last week, he was quietly reappointed as its chairman. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

23 July 2010

Reported abuse against Muslims in Leicestershire rises

Muslims in Leicestershire are facing increasing abuse, according to figures from the police. Between April 2008 and March 2009, officers recorded 25 offences against Muslims but in the following 12 months, the figure rose to 42.

Most incidents involved verbal abuse but there was a small number of cases in which veils were pulled off. Police said they treated all types of hate crime as a priority and urged victims to report any problems. [BBC] Read more

Netherlands: Muslims upset pig picture was removed

About a month ago, a Muslim local councilor in the city of Venray got upset at a sculpture depicting a pig, and demanded that the feelings of Muslims be taken into account in the future.

Is it that preposterous, then, to assume that Muslims would be insulted by a picture of a pig? It's a no-win situation for non-Muslims. It would be interesting to see how the SMN responds next time a Muslim will complain about pig depictions. Unless I missed it, last time they did not say a word. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Christians support abolishing halal slaughter ban

Sweden is the only country in Europe banning kosher and halal slaughter. The Swedish Christian community should show tolerance to Jews and Muslims and demand to abolish the ban, say four representatives of Christian Sweden.

The four - Sven-Bernard Fast, Caroline Krook, Peter Weiderud and Karin Wiborn - write in an opinion piece in Dagens Nyheter (SE), that the Swedish parliament introduced a ban of religious slaughter in 1938 to complicate life for the Jews. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Spanish mayor closes 'too popular' mosque

Angel Ros, the socialist mayor of Lleida, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, complained that the mosque was too full and closed it on Wednesday until further notice.

The building, a former garage used to service trucks, was often filled with crowds exceeding a thousand people, the council said, when the authorised limit for the venue is 240.

A new mosque is under construction on the outskirts of the town but work had been stalled because of a lack of financing during the economic crisis. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Indonesian police tears down house church: Muslim organisation gets the authorities to tear down the building

Police demolished a residential building in Bogor (West Java) that regularly hosted a house church. Police also detained, interrogated and released ten people, Compass Direct News (CDN) reported.

Last Monday, police raided a house used for worship by Narogong Pentecostal Church in the village of Limusnunggal, Cileungsi sub-district. The action was followed by clashes between agents and worshippers. The building was eventually torn down and ten people arrested. [AsiaNews] Read more

Cultural Defense Accepted as to Nonconsensual Sex in New Jersey Trial Court, Rejected on Appeal

The record reflects that plaintiff, S.D., and defendant, M.J.R., are citizens of Morocco and adherents to the Muslim faith. They were wed in Morocco in an arranged marriage on July 31, 2008, when plaintiff was seventeen years old. [FN1] The parties did not know each other prior to the marriage. On August 29, 2008, they came to New Jersey as the result of defendant’s employment in this country as an accountant....

.... Upon their return to the apartment, defendant forced plaintiff to have sex with him while she cried. Plaintiff testified that defendant always told her " this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you. The woman, she should submit and do anything I ask her to do". [Volokh Conspiracy] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Behind the mosque: Extremism at Ground Zero?

Imam Feisal Rauf, the central figure in the coterie planning a huge mosque just off Ground Zero, is a full-throated champion of the very same Muslim theologians and jurists identified in a landmark NYPD report as central to promoting the Islamic religious bigotry that fuels modern jihad terrorism.

This fact alone should compel Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg to withdraw their support for the proposed mosque.

In August 2007, the NYPD released "Radicalization in the West -- The Homegrown Threat." This landmark 90-page report looked at the threat that had become apparent since 9/11, analyzing the roots of recent terror plots in the United States, from Lackawanna, NY, to Portland, Ore., to Fort Dix, NJ. [NEW YORK POST] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

“We want to build Park51 so it has something for everyone” When the Park51 project in lower Manhattan was first conceived, the developers could not have imagined that they would find themselves in the firestorm they are in today. The purchase of the property, the initial planning, and even the first community vote all passed uneventfully.

But not long after the developers received their first community board approval (not a requirement, but done in order to show a commitment to the lower Manhattan community), the $100 million project has become the focus of intense debate.

While national and state politicians (mostly Republicans) have been vocally coming out against the what has come to be known in the media as the "Ground Zero mosque", most local officials remain strongly in support and most observers agree that there is no legal impediment to the project moving forward. [altmuslim] Read more

Newt Gingrich Statement on the Proposed “Cordoba House” Mosque near Ground Zero There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.

The proposed "Cordoba House" overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks - is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites.

For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term. It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex. [NEWT.ORG] Read more

Muslim woman wearing veil 'refused bus ride' in London

The women claim the driver said they were a "threat to him and his passengers" Two Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil. The students, both 22 and from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London.

But they said when they presented their tickets on Tuesday, the driver told them they were a "threat" to passengers and ordered them off the bus. The firm has started an "urgent" investigation. The Muslim Council of Britain said it was "deeply concerned". [BBC] Read more

Muslim students 'banned from London bus for wearing a veil’ An investigation has been launched after two students said they were banned from boarding a London bus because one was wearing a Muslim veil that covered her face.

The 22-year-old women said they were told by the driver they were a “threat” and were ordered from the Number 7 after trying to get on at Bloomsbury.

The incident on Tuesday came after immigration minister Damien Green dismissed a call from Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone for a ban on Muslim face-coverings. [London Evening Standard] Read more

22 July 2010

Iran cuts off hands from five thieves

Iran amputated the hands of five convicted thieves inside a prison in the western city of Hamedan on Thursday, the semi-official ILNA news agency said.

“The average age of the five thieves on whom the hand amputation verdict was carried out was over 25 and they had committed major thefts,” the agency quoted local judiciary official Akbar Biglari as saying.

Biglari said the amputation verdict is not automatic for all those who commit a theft and some 14 criteria should be met before the punishment is carried out. [Reuters - Toronto Sun] Read more

Two Muslim women thrown out of pool for wearing 'burkinis'

The women had plunged into the pool at le Port Leucate wearing full body swimsuits, including a head-covering hijab veil, but were immediately told to get out of the water. The incident occurred less than two weeks after French MPs voted to ban body and face-covering garments, including the full Islamic veil, from public places including the street.

.... "Access to the swimming pool is reserved for ordinary swimsuit wearers. Even long shorts are forbidden." Last year a Muslim woman was banned from wearing a "burkini" at a public pool in a Paris suburb, also for hygiene reasons. She later tried and failed to sue the council for discrimination. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslim women who wear veils suffer rise in hostility and abuse

Muslim women who wear face veils say they are seeing a rising tide of hostility and abuse because of the way they dress. Women spoke out as police reported a sharp rise in crimes, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks, against Muslims in the past year.

Two women who wear the niqab, a veil which leaves only the eyes showing, said Leicester had become more "hostile" since the French Government said it planned to ban the garment and the burka, which covers the entire body.

The women also believe publicity surrounding Conservative MP Philip Hollobone's decision to refuse to meet constituents wearing veils had deepened public hostility. [Leicester Mercury] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Watford Muslim school debated by councillors

Plans for a Muslim primary school in Watford were again discussed by councillors last night. Campaigners have been fighting to build the school, on a council-owned site in Tolpits Lane, for more than five years.

The Watford Muslim School Trust, set up to plan, fund and deliver the project, has now cleared most administrative hurdles, having secured planning permission, county council support and a land agreement with Watford Borough Council. [Watford Observer] Read more [via EuropeNews]

Malaysian first wives and children oppose polygamy

.... Malaysian children and first wives in polygamous families overwhelmingly oppose the practice because the men seem too stretched to devote enough time and money to them, according to the country's largest study on the effects of polygamy.

Though sanctioned by Islam, polygamy is a hot-button issue for Malaysia's Muslims, who make up nearly two-thirds of the country's 28 million people. Statements made by about 1600 members of polygamous households to university researchers appear to bolster claims by women's rights activists, who have long said the practice undermines the well-being of wives and children. [Stuff.co.nz] Read more [via London Muslim]

The Burkha Ban According to Saudiwoman

.... Covering the face has been a highly emotional and politicized issue in the Muslim community for the past two decades. I have written about it before and called it the sixth pillar of Islam. It has become a false banner for Islamic piety. Islam is now reduced to a dress code. It does not matter if you lie, steal or slander your friends and neighbors, if you cover your face you are perceived by society as an untouchable religious God fearing person.

When I read that the ban has gone through the French parliament with an overwhelming majority, I was unexpectedly ecstatic about it. I don’t live in France and I don’t even to plan to visit anytime soon and yet it made me happy that women there don’t have a choice. Yes this is one area where I’m anti-choice. Covering the face is the very essence of objectifying women. [The Spittoon] Read more

Religion of peace vs people of peace

.... As I travel the world, once people realise that I am of Pakistani origin, I am often asked questions such as why I do not wear the hijab; why I dress, speak and act ‘normally’; what I think about the niqab; why I was not ‘married off’ at a younger age; how I feel about women’s rights issues (or lack thereof) within Islam; and how I feel about extremism. Muslim’ and ‘Pakistani’ have indeed become one and the same in the minds of many.

.... So, do we have our priorities in order? Just because we are not blowing up buildings like the extremists and just because we may eat halal, wear the hijab, stay away from the opposite sex, pray five times a day, live in utter ‘fear of the hell fire’, and without invitation preach these rules to ensure others too are fearful of the hell fire, are we living the real Islam? Is this as far as our faith has taught us? Is this as deep as it gets?

In the oft-quoted words of a famous non-Muslim humanitarian: “Be the change you want to see”. [The Samosa] Read more

21 July 2010

Islam in Europe now has strong local leadership

There are major changes underway for Muslims in Europe. They go beyond threats to ban the burqa in France or plans to build the largest mosque on the continent in Marseille. They go beyond the Dutch elections last month, which doubled the number of parliamentarians from the anti-Islam Freedom Party.

What is more momentous is the birth of a homegrown form of Islam, an indigenous approach to practising the religion in today’s Europe.

.... Although controversial, the Polder Mosque is not alone in this school of thought. One of the most prominent scholars today, and a major influence on Imam Cheppih, is the Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University who emphasises the need for a “Western Islam”. [The National] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Muslim schoolgirls show that faith and fashion are not incompatible

.... The girls are taking part in an initiative called Faith and Fashion that is using the widespread fixation of Muslim women's dress as a starting point for a discussion on how to create fashion that reflects a British Muslim sensibility.

Sophia Tillie, the 28-year-old white, British woman who runs the scheme, converted to Islam while at university. She is now engaged in trying to examine how the concept of modesty – so essential to Islamic thinking – can be interpreted differently depending on the context of time and place.

"The Saudi tradition of wearing the niqab is very literalist," she explains, "and it is part of a puritanical movement that is reductionist in its doctrine. But reading more widely I was struck by the flexibility of Islamic thinking and that was what this initiative seeks to encourage." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

BBC defends Qur'an incident in EastEnders

The BBC today defended an episode of EastEnders following complaints from viewers who said they were upset by a scene in which a Muslim character slammed down a copy of the Qur'an. The gay character of Syed Masood, played by Marc Elliott had been struggling with his love for Christian Clarke (John Partridge) in the face of disapproval from his devout family. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Spain parliament rejects burqa ban - for now

Spain's Parliament on Tuesday rejected a proposal to ban women from wearing in public places Islamic veils that reveal only the eyes.

However, the Socialist government has said it favors including a ban on people wearing burqas in government buildings in an upcoming bill on religious issues to be debated after parliament's summer vacation break. Following a lower chamber debate, 183 lawmakers opposed the ban, 162 voted for it and two abstained. [AP] Read more

The burka empowering women? You must be mad, minister

These British apologists for the burka make me see red, whatever side of the political spectrum they come from. They can be Left-wingers who'll countenance no criticism, however valid, of hardline Muslims. They can be Right-wing libertarians who insist any woman has the right to wear whatever she chooses.

And, as we discovered this week, they can be members of the British Cabinet who ludicrously claim the burka actually empowers women. [MailOnline] Read more

When Tariq Met Mona

Take a look at the video of the fascinating discussion on the banning of the niqab which saw the Mona Eltahawy, British-Egyptian feminist take on Tariq Ramadan’s dishonest dissembling.

The debate was electric, not least because this is probably one of the only times you will ever hear the “Muslim right wing” as a stakeholder in the niqab debate identified on British TV. .... "I detest the political right wing but I equally detest the Muslim right wing and I will not sacrifice women. Integration has largely failed across Europe even in the UK, with multiculturalism. But we’re not going to sacrifice women for it." [The Spittoon] Read more

Saudi disillusionment with the Religious Establishment

I love Saudiwoman. She runs a blog which works as a Heat Magazine alternative for Celebrity Saudi Imam watchers.

She has recently been blogging on how Saudis are thoroughly disillusioned with their religious establishment. Given the spate of public fatwas, counter-fatwas, showdowns and cockups, it is small wonder that Saudis are collectively experiencing acute imam fatigue. [The Spittoon] Read more

Anti-mosque protests on the rise, say Muslim advocates

.... Public protests against three planned mosques have made news in the past week: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined others in opposing the building of a mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Hundreds demonstrated against a proposed mosque in a small town in Tennessee (pictured above). And some residents of Temecula, California, are opposing the local Muslim community's plan to build a bigger mosque, saying it could become a hotbed of radical Islam.

Professor Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University's School of International Service, is not surprised by the recent spate of public protests. He spent last year traveling to more than 100 mosques in 75 U.S. cities with a team of researchers, and concluded that opposition to mosques, including some attacks on them, is on the rise. [The Upshot - Yahoo] Read more

20 July 2010

Muslims ban Manchester United shirts over red devil image

The Johor Religious Council adviser and the Mufti of Perak both state that images of crosses, liquor brands and devils on football shirts are an insult to Allah and should not be worn by Muslims.

Manchester United is a hugely popular brand in the Muslim-majority country. The club's summer tour last year included two games against a Malaysia XI played in front of capacity 40,000 crowds.

Other football shirts deemed unacceptable by the religious leaders include Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway because their crests all carry images of a cross. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Sharia Law: Not in America

.... We can retain the private Sharia and let go of the public Sharia; the civil laws of our nation provide ample justice, and we don't need a duplicate system. Sharia law was never considered divine to begin with. Hence, there is no need to even dream about it.

American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose Sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have Sharia law here in America. [Huffington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

More mosque madness

.... Now that there's no conservative president, and there is in fact a president who some unhinged people think is in the White House to serve the larger Muslim agenda, all bets are off. And so we have actually gone backwards on this front, and now, across the country, we have a range of excited local reactions to proposals to build mosques, from ground zero (as discussed yesterday) to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Riverside, California. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Reading, Writing and Ramadan

Time was when traditional pious Muslims ‘not so very long ago’ would observe the Ramadan fast by going about their normal worldly business without extracting special privileges, importuning for concessions or paying heed to “information from the Muslim Council of Great Britain” to relieve the burden of the fast.

And if school children cannot cope with lessons because they cannot observe the fast, they should not be fasting at all. It is as simple as that.

But if Muslim pupils must observe the fast, they should be taken out of classes which they do not wish to participate in. Rearranging the entire school day for everyone else, simply to satisfy the needs of a few pupils who are Muslim and who observe Ramadan, is an exaggerated over-reaction and completely unorthodox. [The Spittoon] Read more

19 July 2010

Syria's niqab ban is part of a clash within Islam itself

Quietly, away from the fanfare that accompanied the French vote on banning the niqab in public, and calls by Philip Hollobone to impose a ban in Britain, the Syrian government has instituted its own, more limited, ban, removing teachers who wear the full face veil from teaching in public schools.

At first glance, such a move might seem puzzling: Syria, with dozens of religious sects and a nominally secular government, has managed for decades to use a light touch, at least when it comes to personal faith. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Modernity And the Muslims

.... Islam, like any other religious tradition, comprises a variety of strands. Understanding Islam is made all the more difficult because Islam does not distinguish between a ritual law in the Western sense, ethics, and good manners.

I hope that we will distinguish a bit of that now. But, painting in broad strokes, it’s fair to say that tension between the Arab Islamic world and the liberal versions of modernity is one of the central issues, if not the central issue, of our era. [The Iconoclast] Read more

The coming crusade: African Christians vs. Islamists

The Islamists have it wrong: Islam isn't the world's fastest-growing religion. By birth numbers and convert tallies, it's Christianity. And Africa's at the forefront -- a fact that's going to body-slam Muslim extremists sooner or later.

The bombings that recently butchered World Cup fans in Uganda were just the latest in a long line of crazed attacks on African Christians by Islamist fanatics. In the central states of Nigeria -- Africa's most-populous country -- religious pogroms and counter-pogroms between Muslims and Christians have become routine. [NEW YORK POST] Read more [via National Secular Society]

White Christian Britons being unfairly targeted for hate crimes by CPS, Civitas claims

The study from think-tank Civitas argues that new hate crime legislation is restricting freedom of speech, and has effectively introduced a new blasphemy law into Britain by the back door.

A foreword attached to the main report, “A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today”, argues that prosecutors and police are unfairly singling out alleged crimes by white Christians, while ignoring other similar offences by minority groups. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Iranian prosecutor urges Islamic dress checks

Iran's prosecutor called on Sunday for tighter checks on women who fail to observe Islamic dress code in public, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

Under Iran's Sharia law, imposed after the 1979 Islamic revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Violators can receive lashes, fines or imprisonment.

"Unfortunately the law ... which considers violation of the Islamic dress code as a punishable crime, has not been implemented in the country in the past 15 years," said general prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei. "Under the law, violators of public chastity should be punished by being sentenced to up to two months in jail or 74 lashes." [Reuters] Read more

Muslim bus drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board

Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their 'unclean' guide dogs.

One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.

The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog. [MailOnline] Read more

Islamophobia and the Muslim center at Ground Zero

.... But here are the facts:The center is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away, and the Cordoba Initiative seeks to build a center, not a mosque. The center is not designed as a local mosque for a Muslim community but rather to serve the wider community.

It is meant to improve interfaith and Muslim-West relations and promote tolerance -- not just to provide services to Muslims. The proposed 15-story community center will include a prayer room, offices, meeting rooms, gym, swimming pool and performing arts center.

The controversy over Cordoba House is not an isolated event. It is part of a much more far-reaching pattern and problem.

[COMMENT] "It is meant to improve interfaith and Muslim-West relations and promote tolerance..."

Let's be honest John... it's meant to promote American tolerance of Islam, not Islamic tolerance of America. Tolerance is a two way street, and having an Islam "center" in the middle of New York city doesn't achieve this. Build the center for all I care, but call it what it is... "We want American to understand Muslims, and we acknowledge that Muslims across the globe will forever hate America, what it stands for, and it's government." less. [CNN] Read more

Gaza water pipe smoke ban for women

Women have been banned from smoking water pipes in cafes in Gaza because it "leads to divorce". Hamas leaders said it was "inappropriate" for females to sit cross-legged and puff on the traditional pipes.

A spokesman said: "Many women who smoke in public were divorced when their husbands saw them." The ban is the Islamist group's latest attempt to impose Muslim rules in Gaza. But for many of the 1.5million people penned into the tiny strip by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, smoking is one of the few pleasures. [Mirror.co.uk] Read more

Hizb ut Tahrir’s Campaign Continues to Crumble

Keen to revive its fading fortunes, the paper tiger global Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir (HT), organised a series of events across the world in order to accelerate the call for ‘Khilafah’ (a caliphate). They arranged events in Australia, the US, the UK and Lebanon, promising to bring together thousands of activists and shake up the world order. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Burkas empower women: Female Cabinet minister insists freedom to wear Muslim veil is a right

A cabinet minister has delivered a staunch defence of a woman's right to wear a burka. As debate intensified across Europe on banning the controversial Muslim garment from public places, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said women were 'empowered' by the freedom to wear the face coverings.

Her comments came after her colleague, Immigration Minister Damian Green, resisted demands from within the Tory party to ban the burka, which critics claim is a symbol of the oppression of women. [MailOnline] Read more

18 July 2010

What do a White House appointee and a Fort Myers Imam have in common?

.... The Mogahed-Esposito film has been criticized for not portraying what Muslims truly think and fiddling with polling data to present a predominately peaceful Islam that disavows terrorism. As we shall see, other polling data indicate the opposite.

Hence, we consider the film presentation a dangerous form of taqiyyah – religious sanctioned dissimilitude –aimed at proselytizing unwary unbelievers. Ironically, Muslims in the south west (SW) Florida ummah are at loggerheads disagreeing over the films showing. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Fundamentalist-linked councillor stuffed again

Lutfur Rahman, the fundamentalist-linked Labour councillor, has again been barred by the Labour Party from the shortlist for the Tower Hamlets mayoralty – even though it was his threat of legal action which prompted them to re-run the shortlisting process in the first place.

.... Cllr Rahman achieved the leadership of Tower Hamlets council in 2008 with the help of a fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which lobbied and pressured councillors on his part. Under his leadership, the council showed clear signs of coming under Islamic fundamentalist influence.

My exposure of this in the Telegraph and a Channel 4 documentary appears to have been fatal to Cllr Rahman’s political career. The last straw was probably his using a solicitor linked to the pro-terrorist group al-Muhajiroun to make his legal threat! [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Denmark: Immigrants moving their children to Danish-majority schools

Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten reports that immigrant families are moving their children away from schools which have many bilingual children and to places where Danes are in the majority.

According to the Kolding municipality, 39% of the city's immigrant children will start the school year in a school outside their own district. This is three times as many as by Danish children and an increase from last year's 34%.

Ib Hansen, the city's children and education director says he's happy that the bilinguals are spreading themselves out voluntarily. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Americans must not be cowed by Muslim objections to cartoons

When H.L. Mencken said that Puritanism was "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," he was barely grazing the iceberg of the titanic fundamentalism to come.

Yes, those pesky, humor-challenged jihadists are at it again. A group of radical Muslims, whose promises to sacrifice their souls can't be kept soon enough, apparently won't be satisfied until happy people everywhere are dead. In yet another sequel in the series, another cartoonist fatwa has been issued. [The Washington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Pakistani couple face death by stoning threat after conviction for adultery

A couple have been sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery by a tribal court in north-west Pakistan, with the woman's life now considered in grave danger.

The man involved, Zarkat Khan, has run away while the woman is in the custody of the court, according to residents in Kala Dhaka, a remote area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The death sentence, handed down in Manjakot village last month, will be carried out once the man is found, a member of the tribal court said. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

By refusing to ban the burka, Damian Green is supporting the humiliation of millions of British women

Most liberal-minded people will welcome Damian Green’s declaration that the coalition has no plans to follow France’s lead and ban the burka. “I stand personally on the feeling that telling people what they can and can’t wear, if they’re just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do,” he says in today’s Telegraph. “We’re a tolerant and mutually respectful society.”

However, there’s a very good reason why liberals should favour a ban, namely, that the burka is both a symbol and a source of the oppression of Muslim women. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

17 July 2010

Burka ban ruled out by immigration minister

Damian Green said such a move would be “rather un-British” and run contrary to the conventions of a “tolerant and mutually respectful society”.

He said it would be “undesirable” for Parliament to vote on a burka ban in Britain and that there was no prospect of the Coalition proposing it. His comments will dismay the growing number of supporters of a ban. A YouGov survey last week found that 67 per cent of voters wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be made illegal.

Mr Green used a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Telegraph, his first since taking up his post at the Home Office in May, to issue a “message around the world that Britain is no longer a soft touch on immigration”. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

It is wrong to ban the good, the bad and Maududi

.... The BBC report’s description of Abul Ala Maududi as a “controversial Islamic scholar” is an amusing piece of journalistic understatement. Maududi was unashamedly ”controversial”; the party he created, the Jamaat-e-Islam (JI) was and continues to be a far-right religious supremacist party.

He used both the pulpit and the political platform to become the foremost South Asian Islamist ideologue whose ideas were quickly absorbed into the “mainstream” of Islamist discourse spanning the Middle East and Far East Asia. You could say he is Pakistan’s first cross-over Islamist icon. And of course, he was a rabble rouser par excellence. [The Spittoon] Read more

Banning veil undermines secular democracy

Rather than enhancing secular democracy, a ban on the veil, or niqab, diminishes it. Instead of curbing “Islamic fundamentalism,” it fans it. Far from advancing the integration of veil wearers into the mainstream, it marginalizes them even more. We end up with the opposite of what we want. That’s what overkill does.

We’ve learned that lesson in the war on terrorism, but we have yet to in the cultural war on Muslims, which is what niqab banning is all about, notwithstanding the phony rationalizations in France and, sadly, Quebec as well.

The decision by the French parliament to proscribe the niqab/burqa from all public spaces, even streets and markets, goes farther than the Quebec law introduced in March. [Toronto Star] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Champion of UK burka ban declares war on veil-wearing constituents

A Conservative MP says he will refuse to hold meetings with Muslim women wearing full Islamic dress at his constituency surgery unless they lift their face veil.

.... He said the vast majority of Muslim women wore dress allowing people to see their face and claimed no Islamic scholars or clerics said wearing the burka or niqab was a religious requirement. "It is not a necessity," he said.

"I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily, interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other's face. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Majority of British adults want Burqa ban

The majority of British adults believe that the burqa, a loose garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female’s body and face when out in public, should be completely banned in Britain, a recent poll on behalf of Channel 5 news has found. 67% of respondents agree that the burqa should be completely banned in Britain, with 42% of those in agreement feeling strongly.

The results come after MPs in France voted last week to ban the wearing of the full face veil in public places, and Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced a private members’ bill proposing a similar ban in the UK. This led Immigration Minister Damian Green to label any ban on the burqa as ‘un-British’. [YouGov] Read more

16 July 2010

Why the obsession with hijabs and burqas?

No, I am not referring to our silly tabloids but some of our own Imams. Today’s Khutbah was so depressing. The Imam got himself worked up because he said he saw Muslim families out in public and – shock, horror – their grown-up daughters were not covered up. ‘Neither Burqa, niqab or even a hijab’ were his exact words. ‘They are promoting Zina (fornication or adultery),’ he shrieked. [inayatscorner] Read more

Netherlands: Bus driver refuses service to woman in niqab

A bus driver in the Dutch city of Uden prevented a 19 year old woman from getting on his bus because she was wearing a nikab. The Connexxion bus company does not approve of the driver's behavior and apologized to the woman's husband.

The woman had a ticket and therefore Connexxion says she should have been able to get on the bus of their daughter-company Hermes. The driver might possibly be punished, reports Omroep Brabant. [Islam in Europe] Read more

More than 2.5m Muslims threaten to leave Facebook after four Islamic pages are taken down

.... The letter demands not only that the pages are reinstated but that new rules are introduced which make it a violation of Facebook’s terms to post anti-Islamic comments.

And Facebook is given notice that unless the changes are introduced then 2.5 million Muslim users will leave to join madina.com, a social networking site for Muslims.

The letter reads: ‘Although you have attended the world’s best communication skills courses you have been most successful in growing great hatred and hostility between you and Muslims around the world, but seriously this time you have caused an almost unrepairable [sic] damage.’ [MailOnline] Read more

Geert Wilders to spread his anti-Muslim movement west

An anti-Muslim populist in the Netherlands is forming an international alliance to spread his message across the west in an attempt to ban immigration from Islamic countries, among other goals.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom party, told the Associated Press that he would launch the movement late this year, initially in five countries: the US, Canada, Britain, France and Germany.

"The message, 'stop Islam, defend freedom', is a message that's not only important for the Netherlands but for the whole free Western world," Wilders said at the Dutch parliament. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

So, will Geert Wilders be banned from the UK? .... I bet Geert Wilders will not be banned from coming to the UK. And he shouldn’t be, because we must believe in free speech and the right for fascists to say inflammatory things.

But I also predict that the sorry shower of idiots who were vociferously calling for the Islamic hate-preacher Zakir Naik to be banned from the UK will be quiet on Geert Wilders. It’s one rule for Muslims and another one for non-Muslims isn’t it? Just the way Wilders would like it, in fact.

Relatedly, you may recall that Douglas Murray from the Centre for Social Cohesion has repeatedly written defending Wilders. In an article for ConservativeHome he said Wilders attacked Islam, not Muslims. Does he still believe that, I wonder? [Pickled Politics] Read more

15 July 2010

The burkha is an affront to women and a free Society

.... But, apart from political pusillanimity, there is another, more insidious obstacle to a burkha ban, as is becoming clear from events in France. Despite popular support, the new French law may never be implemented because of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Absurdly, unelected European judges, acting in league with France’s highest court, are likely to say that the ban contradictse “freedom of expression”, though in reality Muslim women’s freedom would be immeasurably enhanced.

This goes to the heart of why Europe is in the depths of a political crisis. We no longer live in a democracy. Instead we are ruled by an unaccountable, politically correct elite which despises both the will of the people and the very concept of our nationhood. [The Daily Express] Read more

A political culture gone bad

.... Britain, says Murray, has made a terrible mistake in the direction it has taken with its Muslim minority since the Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses affair.

“The problem is,” he explains, “that the British government has pushed young Muslims into becoming young Muslims when it should have pushed them into becoming young Brits. In other words, the direction of travel it sent them in has been deeply backward.” MURRAY DESCRIBES himself as a long-standing critic of multiculturalism.

“Pluralism or multiracial societies seem to me to be good and desirable things,” he says. “Multicultural societies, where you encourage group differences, seem to me to be a very bad thing.” For Murray, multiculturalism is a moral vacuum, and “into a moral vacuum always bad things creep.” [Jerusalem Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

What happens when Islamic totalitarianism meets Christian freedom?

In 1980, Egypt amended its constitution to elevate Sharia (Islamic law) as “the principal source of legislation”. This provision — which is now common in Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq — renders constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law illusory.

For Sharia’s principal aim concerning religious liberty, is to eradicate apostasy (rejection of Islam) through the elimination of fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to reject Islam) and the establishment of dhimmitude (the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens; crippling systematic discrimination; violent religious apartheid).

There is no religious liberty in Islam, for Islam survives as religious totalitarianism that refuses rejection. [Continental News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Azad Ali, report thyself

The last time you saw Azad Ali he was probably on Channel 4’s Dispatches saying “Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that”. Well, you’ll be glad to know that he’s back.

The civil servant who first came to prominence for using his (Islamic Forum Europe) blog to praise Abdullah Azzam and justify killing British troops, before attempting to sue the Daily Mail for reporting these facts (only to be told by Justice Eady that his case had about it “an absence of reality”) has now been elected the Chair of the Muslim Safety Forum (MSF). [Harry’s Place] Read more

The fundamentalist-linked Labour politician and the extremist solicitor

Lutfur Rahman, the fundamentalist-linked politician blocked by Labour for the mayoralty of Tower Hamlets, is using a solicitor closely connected to the banned pro-terrorist group, al-Muhajiroun, to threaten the party with legal action.

Cllr Rahman lost his job as council leader, and was kept off the shortlist to be Labour’s candidate for the powerful directly-elected mayor position, amid widespread and deep concerns about his links with a group called the Islamic Forum of Europe – which wants, in its own words, to create a sharia state in Europe. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Questions for Lutfur Rahman and Other Tower Hamlets Mayoral Hopefuls Once again a Labour Party selection process in Tower Hamlets has ground to a judicious halt. Some will remember that in 1996 the battle to succeed Peter Shore (eventually won by Oona King) was less than straightforward.

In 2002 selections in various wards were – through the interventions of m’learned friends – held up (and eventually imposed) in a number of wards. In others wards they had to be re-run due to, ahem, “membership irregularities”.

The East London Advertiser now informs us that the selection battle to become Labour directly elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets is to be rerun. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Muslim Public Loo Fury

FURY has erupted after a shopping centre became the first in Britain to introduce Muslim-only toilets. The Middle Eastern-style squat holes, just a hole in the ground, are common in Asia.

Two of the £200 “Nile pan” units have been put into the Exchange shopping centre in Rochdale, where one in five people is Asian.

But locals have blasted them as a waste of cash. One angry resident, Ellen Dean, 49, fumed: “I work in a bookies here and everyone who comes in is up in arms about them. [Daily Star] Read more

Cultural sensitivities spawn squat toilets in Rochdale shopping centre ROCHDALE’s Metropolitan Borough Council – clowncil may be a better word for it – has, for some time, been less than happy with the town’s reputation for being a total shithole.

Google “Rochdale is a shithole” and you’ll get 14,100 results – including a link to a Facebook page entitled “Rochdale might be a shithole but WE STILL LOVE IT!!!!!”

So last year they appointed Pam Smith as the authority’s new Executive Director for Transformation, who, according to this report, would: Strategically lead its cross-cutting transformation programme ‘Stepping Up’, and will oversee the council’s corporate services including finance, communications, customer services, policy, performance and organisational development. [The Freethinker] Read more

Wilders announces International Anti-Islam Freedom Alliance

Geert Wilders', PVV (Freedom Party) had been virtually 'pushed out' of a so-called 'purple' coalition being brokered for a new Hague parliament coalition by a councillor for Dutch Queen Beatrix. This despite the PVV copping tallies of 24 seats in the new Hague Parliament. Recent post election polls have shown his popularity rising, in one case taking more than 33 seats in a hypothetical snap election.

Further, unlike Pim Fortuyn, Wilders does not want to compromise the PVV platform. So, like Winston Churchill in his wilderness years, Wilders has opted to do something dramatic: to assist other nations combating the problem he has been fighting at home.

Wilders has just announced a new international anti-Islam Freedom Alliance. This AP report issued today indicates the proposed Freedom alliance would target the US, Canada, Britain, France, and Germany. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Watch this Der Telegraaf Interview with Geert Wilders about the launch of IFA .... The Dutch publication, Der Telegraaf interviewed him about the scope and objectives of the IFA. We are pleased to present the video interview that Geert Wilders sent us translated into English and sub-titled.

In it Wilders explains why he launched the IFA and what his hopes are for it as an international anti-Islamic front. In the days and weeks ahead, we doubtless will see more revealed by Wilders about plans for creating and building alliance partners in the target countries: the US, Canada, the UK, France and Germany. We have received expressions of interests in joining such an endeavor from many Americans who read our post about the IAF launch. [The Iconoclast] Read more

14 July 2010

Victims and victimisers

If the attacks on Ahmadis in Lahore, Pakistan in May were not horrifying enough, the ensuing debate on Pakistani talk shows and television programmes was even more chilling. While condemning the attack, it seems Pakistanis were unwilling to deal with the underlying bigotry that permits such hatred.

Across the globe in the United States, on the same day as the attack in Lahore, the Manhattan Community Board in New York City voted to allow the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero despite opposition from several groups. This curious juxtaposition presents a timely illustration of ideas of American pluralism and Muslim identity brought into proximity by globalisation and migration. [altmuslim] Read more

Racism veiled as liberation: Whose 'way of life' is France's lower house protecting? Not the women who wear niqabs

It sends a shiver down the spine. France's lower house has passed a law banning the wearing of the full Islamic veil – covering the face – in public places. The hope has to be that this extraordinary decision never actually reaches the statute book given that France's highest constitutional body, the council of state, warned some months ago that a ban would infringe constitutional rights and the measure could be challenged in the European court of human rights.

Belgium and Spain are also considering bans on the veil. What makes the decision in France so disturbing is that it fits into a pattern emerging across Europe of a particular paranoia, as an open letter published today on Comment is Free and signed by more than 30 academics and commentators warns.

[COMMENT] Let's be honest. This debate is NOT about women. It is about not wanting extreme Islam existing on Western streets.

Why can't Guardian writers see this? Why do they keep on defending something so alien to Western culture? Why is a woman defending a culture which is deeply misogynist? Why all the pretence? It's pathetic. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Rage unmosqued

A city hearing yesterday on the historical significance of the downtown Manhattan site of a proposed mosque quickly turned into a raucous -- and at times ugly -- debate about whether an Islamic center should be located so close to Ground Zero.

About 150 people crowded into the Hunter College Auditorium in Manhattan for the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, held to see if the 152-year-old building at 45-47 Park Place in lower Manhattan had the cultural or architectural consequence worthy of being landmarked.

Those who opposed the construction of the 13-story mosque and community center, called the Cordoba House, accused their opponents of being unpatriotic and insensitive to the thousands who died on 9/11. [NEW YORK POST] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Who will cast the first stone?

First, the good news: the Bangladesh High Court has abolished all physical punishments based on the scriptures. Thus, people will no longer be sentenced to lashing, chopping off their hands, or stoning to death.

Unfortunately, Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is an Iranian widow, and was sentenced to be stoned to death in her country for alleged adultery before her husband was murdered. She has already been lashed 99 times in 2006 for “illicit sex”. The Iranian penal code is very explicit about how the sentence is to be carried out: the stones should not be so large as to kill the victim immediately, and yet large enough to fit the definition of a stone.

While an international outcry has prevented this barbaric punishment from being carried out, Mrs Ashtiani might yet be hanged for the alleged offence. Although Islamic law requires four witnesses to establish that adultery has taken place, in this case the judge has based his sentence on ‘personal knowledge’.

Currently, 15 more suspects are under the same sentence in East Azerbaijan alone. It seems these punishments have been revived under Ahmednijad’s presidency after lying dormant during his predecessor’s less benighted term. [DAWN.COM] Read more

French MPs vote to ban Islamic full veil in public

France's lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public. There were 335 votes for the bill and only one against in the 557-seat National Assembly. It must now be ratified by the Senate in September to become law.

The ban has strong public support but critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil. Many of the opposition Socialists, who originally wanted the ban limited only to public buildings, abstained from voting after coming under pressure from feminist supporters of the bill. [BBC] Read more

French back burka ban as only ONE MP votes against move to outlaw Islamic 'walking coffins' French MPs voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ban women from wearing burkas. Politicians from across the spectrum united in opposition to Islamic veils that cover a woman's face, which some described as 'walking coffins'.

Deputies in the country's 557-seat lower house, the National Assembly, voted in favour of the ban by 335 votes to one. Far-Left groups such as the Communists joined president Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party in voting for it, although Social ists and Greens abstained.

Communist MP Andre Gerin said yesterday: 'Talking about liberty to defend the wearing of the full veil is totally cynical - for me, the full veil is a walking coffin, a muzzle. 'The result follows months of heated debate during which immigration minister Eric Besson also described the burka as a 'walking coffin', while prime minister Francois Fillon accused wearers of 'hijacking Islam' and displaying a 'dark sectarian image'. [MailOnline] Read more

France forbids wearing of face-covering veils French lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban the wearing of face-covering veils in public spaces, as Europe toughens its approach to integrating Muslim immigrant communities.

On the eve of Bastille Day, when France celebrates the birth of what was to become a staunchly secular republic, the 577-seat National Assembly lower house voted by 335 votes to one for a total ban. The bill will now go to the Senate in September, but opponents of the ban in its proposed form worry that it will eventually be overturned by the judges of the Constitutional Council, France's highest legal body.

For, while President Nicolas Sarkozy's determination to ban the niqab and the burqa won enough political support to carry it, opponents argue that it breaches French and European human rights legislation. [AFP / The Swedish Wire] Read more

French parliament votes to ban the burqa and niqab .... The Daily Express’ front page headline read ‘France votes to ban burkha’ with the strap-line ‘Pressure mounts for Britain to follow suit.’ The Express proceeds to amplifying the views of fringe elements, including backbench Tory MP Phillip Hollobone, who has tabled a private members' bill to outlaw the burqa in Britain, and UKIP leader Lord Pearson – both of whom have made it their business to speak on behalf of Muslim women, without actually having consulted veil-wearing women. [ENGAGE] Read more

13 July 2010

Muslims seek to add Islamic holidays to New York school calendar

Muslim parents, students and civic groups are campaigning to add two of their religious holidays to the New York City public school calendar, pinning their hopes on state lawmakers after failing to win over Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the idea. Supporters say there are more than 100,000 Muslim students in the public schools, or about 12 percent of the enrollment.

Putting Eid Ul-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, and Eid Ul-Adha, celebrating the end of the haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, on the list of official school holidays will help ease suspicion and reduce anti-Muslim sentiment nearly a decade after the September 11 attacks, they say. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Town’s Muslim families ‘feel intimidated’

MUSLIM families no longer feel safe living in a North-East town, a community leader has claimed. Maszlee Malik, a Malaysian Muslim, said Muslim children in Bowburn, near Durham, face daily verbal insults, adults receive no respect and Muslim homes are targeted for anti-social behaviour.

The married father-of-four, who has lived in the town for three years, said racist incidents have increased since he first voiced concerns to The Northern Echo last year, and described the situation in Bowburn as deteriorating. [The Northern Echo] Read more [via London Muslim]

Egyptian Islamists attempt to draw a veil over 'salacious' masterpiece

How come the Muslim world – at its moments of greatest crisis – will invariably manage to deflect its energies into the most preposterous cultural, historical or religious questions?

Egyptian Islamists have said they want to censor "salacious" passages from the One Thousand and One Nights, one of the Muslim world's priceless literary works. This is the same country whose prelates once ordered a university professor to divorce his wife because he had dared to suggest a reinterpretation of the Koran. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Islamic radical threat must be named

The Obama administration’s recent move to drop references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire from counterterrorism experts who warn the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists.

In the report, due to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the threat from radical Islamic extremists has to be defined in order to fight it, and that it can be done “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” [Associated Press] Read more [via National Secular Society]

12 July 2010

The Muslim Civil War: ‘The Most Important Ideological Struggle in the World Today’

Barry Rubin: Zeyno, you begin your book with this sentence: “The most important ideological struggle in the world today is within Islam.” Can you explain the nature of this struggle and how it is going?

Zeyno Baran: This struggle is essentially a Muslim civil war over whose definition of Islam will be accepted as “mainstream.” Will it be the version of the Islamists (shared by all political-religious radicals, both non-violent and violent)? Or that of traditional Muslims (cultural, secular, and pious)? One will become accepted by a majority of Muslims, and by extension, of non-Muslims.

Since the 1970s Islamists have made tremendous headway in this struggle thanks to money from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region; they were thus able to establish institutes and networks all over the world to spread Islamism. Today, many Muslims don’t even realize what they believe to be authentic Islam is in fact a primarily political ideology of recent origin. [Pajamas Media] Read more [via The Spittoon]

Islamophobia: Is the rejection of radical Islam "anti-Muslim"?

Recently the producer of a radio program dedicated to hosting authors declined to feature my latest book, Radical State, on her show. Without reading more than a couple of random pages, she pronounced the work "anti-Muslim" and therefore "inappropriate" to her audience.

(Radical State, for the record, advocates democracy and freedom and is "anti-" any force--Islamic or otherwise--that seeks to suppress them. If she'd read it, she'd have known that.) And then, just last week, my column opposing the construction of a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero had one reader calling me a "Nazi." Privately, I've been called an Islamophobe and even worse. [Forbes.com] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Council tells schools to rearrange exams and cancel swimming for Ramadan

Council bosses issued a document to all primary and secondary schools on how to avoid offending Muslim pupils who may still be fasting when the new term starts in September.

The tips from Stoke-on-Trent City council include distributing free school meals as packed lunches to take home and cancelling social events when Muslim parents might not be able to attend. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Schools told 'no swimming in Ramadan' for Muslim pupils The swimming guidelines are aimed at "removing barriers to full participation" Swimming lessons in some Staffordshire schools should stop during Ramadan to ensure Muslim pupils "do not swallow water", a council has suggested.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has issued an 11-page Ramadan guide for schools to help pupils who may be fasting when the school year starts in September. It said swimming was acceptable to Muslims but posed a high risk of swallowing water that may break a fast. [BBC] Read more

11 July 2010

Muslim woman sues Somerset Medical Center for religious discrimination

Rona Mohammedi went to Somerset Medical Center the night of Feb. 11 with severe chest pains. After hearing she would need an electrocardiogram, she asked for a female to conduct the test.

A Muslim, Mohammedi wears traditional garb, including the hijab, or head scarf. The Basking Ridge woman believes it is her religious duty to maintain modesty before strange men, and an EKG calls for wires to be applied to the chest, shoulders and wrists. [New Jersey On-Line] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Part 2: NER Interview with Ibn Warraq - 72 Raisins, 1 Cold War, and 0 Virgins

Part 2 continues an interview with Warraq, a leading thinker of our time. Warraq discusses how Saudi Arabia with its 250 million dollars in grants and donations is controlling how Islam is taught and stifling Koranic research at prestigious universities in the U.K. and America.

Warraq proposes a Cold War era type independent research institute to translate criticism of Qur’anic literature by Western scholars into Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Turkish and Indonesian languages to stimulate self criticism of Islam. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Part 1: NER Interview with Ibn Warraq - The Albatross of Liberal Guilt

Watch this interview by New English Review (NER) Senior editors Jerry Gordon and Ibn Warraq at the recent NER Symposium, “Decline, Fall & Islam,” held in Nashville.

Part 1 presents an interview with Warraq, pne of the leading thinkers of our time. Warraq discusses how post-colonial Western liberal guilt and self-loathing combined with an Arab adolescent mindset, completely devoid of responsibility or self-criticism, has prevented any honest discussion of Islam. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Muslims Attempt to Behead Apostate in Egypt

The latest in a string of failed attempts by Muslim fanatics on the life of Egyptian Muslim-born Maher el-Gowhary who publicly converted to Christianity in 2008, took place on Sunday July 5, 2010.

As 57-year-old Maher left his secret lodging, somewhere in metropolitan Cairo with his lawyer, two unknown men on a motorbike, attacked him with daggers. "They were aiming at my neck to behead me," said Maher in an interview with the newly launched US-based Hope Coptic TV Channel. "Something inspired me to turn and give them my shoulder, instead of facing them, which was lucky." [Copts United] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Peace be on you

.... Mr Duncan describes his proposed measure, which would also bar courts from considering any other forms of international law, as a “Save Our State” constitutional amendment.

He cites Britain, and the alleged readiness of its courts to consider sharia (though in fact it is only applied in some civil and family cases when both parties agree, and the primacy of the law of the land remains paramount in all cases) as an example of how prevalent Islamic law might become. Mr Duncan calls it a “cancer upon the survivability of the UK”, and declares that “this is a war for the survival of America.” [loonwatch.com] Read more

Finnish TV Interviews the Three Cartoonists who Drew Mohamed

This tv interview of the three artists who drew the picture of Mohamed is excellent, for it accurately portrays the mindset of the men who drew the pics, as well as the mindset of the imaam in Oulu who still fails to understand the rational reason behind the drawing of them.

It's also interesting to note that the Imaam doesn't speak Finnish, and has a big zebiba on his forehead, something of which is the result of repeated slamming of the forehead to the floor in fervent prayer.

The three men, Finland's Ville Ranta, with whom the TT has made contact earlier, the Swede, Lars Vilks, with whom the TT interviewed in 2008, and Denmark's Kurt Westergard, are interviewed by the YLE journalist and then asked to draw their response to the individual question posed to each of them from the imaam in Oulu Finland. It's an interesting segment. [Tundra Tabloids] Read more

Muslims protest in Cardiff against 'anti-Islam laws'

Muslims are to demonstrate in Cardiff to protest against laws across Europe which they say are anti-Islam. Saturday's protest is to highlight what they believe is an "ideological attack" on Islam.

Organiser Muhammad Abu Yaffir said: "Muslims feel very strongly about these laws being introduced across Europe." Last year Switzerland voted to ban the building of new minarets, while France is debating a ban on the Islamic veil. [BBC] Read more

30 people turn out for 'Islamic' protest A number of laws are being proposed across Europe, including Switzerland voting to ban the building of new minarets and France considering a ban on the veil. Belgium’s lower parliament has also voted to ban women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public earlier.

People at the rally yesterday were led in prayer before a number of Muslim speakers addressed onlookers through a PA system. Protesters held aloft flags and banners which bore the slogans “Shariah 4 Europe” and “Islam is the answer”. [Wales On Sunday] Read more

09 July 2010

Germany: A closer look at the demographics

A couple of days ago I published a news article about a recent comprehensive report on the immigrants in Germany. According to this report, immigrants (and their descendants) make up about a third of the population in the 0-5 age group. Does this mean that in 20 years Muslims will make up a third of the population? [Islam in Europe] Read more

France denies citizenship to Muslim man

A Moroccan man who refused to shake hands with a French female official and whose wife wears the full Islamic veil has been denied French citizenship, the immigration ministry said Friday.

The man, who has been living in France since 1999 and married a French woman in 2004, failed to "assimilate into French society" and displayed a "discriminatory attitude toward women," said the ministry. [Expatica] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Symposium: The Fear that Wilders is Right

Today we witness the blatant desperation in our culture and media for a “moderate Islam” — an Islam that many non-Muslims vehemently insist exists, but that mysteriously eludes them. This moderate Islam will make everything better, we are told, once the “extremists,” who are the “minority” in Islam, will be sedated.

This sedation will be most easily achieved, the argument continues, when the Islamophobes stop blaming Islam after Islamic terrorists point to Islamic scriptures in explaining what inspired them to perpetrate their terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, in terms of the planet that we happen to be occupying, a “moderate Islam” is nowhere to be found; no school of Islamic jurisprudence exists that counsels Muslims to renounce the Qur’an’s teachings on Islamic supremacism and the obligation of violent jihad. And yet, to suggest the truth of this reality in our culture gets one only the accusation of being a racist and an “Islamophobe.” [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro “overwhelmingly” silent on pledge to stop threats against former Muslims’ human rights

“Overwhelmingly, Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) Mosque leaders do not honor freedom to choose one’s beliefs as guaranteed under our First Amendment. That is the only conclusion we can draw from the overwhelming ‘silence’ and non-response to letters containing a Freedom Pledge sent to ICM Mosque leaders by our organization,” according to author and human rights activist Nonie Darwish. She is executive director of Former Muslims United (FMU).

FMU is a human and civil rights organization whose mission is to protect and defend those who have chosen to leave Islam and face threats to their lives and property under Fatwas or rulings from Muslim clerics and legal authorities both here in the United States and abroad. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Killer of Dutch Islam critic has no regrets

The Dutch Islamic extremist who killed film maker and Islam critic Theo van Gogh in 2004 has said he is not sorry about the killing. Popular Rotterdam daily AD is publishing a letter by the convicted murderer, Mohammed Bouyeri, in its print edition on Friday.

Bouyeri wrote to an unidentified Muslim group that he has "no regrets about the choices [he] made and the path [he] had chosen to follow. Not for one single second." Most of the letter is religious in nature, with statements like "How, brothers and sisters, could we possibly despair given the blessings we received from Him? We were on the brink of damnation and Allah saved us from a plunge into darkness. He took care of us and cleansed us from the dirt and the unbelief." [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman

Iran has imposed a media blackout over the case of a 43-year-old mother of two who was sentenced to be stoned to death and whose fate is still unclear despite an apparent "reprieve". Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is still facing execution by hanging after being convicted of adultery, her son told the Guardian today.

Newspapers, agencies and TV channels in Iran have been banned from reporting Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence, despite an international campaign launched by her children, which has been joined by politicians and celebrities from all over the world. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Stoning in Iran: Brutality pure and simple Stoning takes place in the darker recesses of life in Iran, in rural provinces where the population is more conservative and where there are no media. It is rarely practised in public and often the victim of this savage form of capital punishment is disowned by their children on the grounds that the offence – adultery or homosexuality – stains the family honour.

This newspaper revealed a week ago that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman convicted of conducting an "illicit relationship outside marriage", faced imminent death by stoning in Tabriz. Today we name 15 others facing the same fate. What made Sakineh's case unusual is that her son Sajad and daughter Farideh were courageous enough to speak up publicly against it. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Stoning is not just an Iranian thing Of course The Times is against stoning. Most of the civilised world is against stoning. Hell, even Amnesty International is against stoning, when on recent form you might expect it to support the "human rights" of the stoners. But The Times sees stoning as "political" and "Iranian" and, while acknowledging that it is carried out in Afghanistan, Iran, Northern Nigeria and Somalia, steadfastly refuses to call it Islamic:

An act of state-sponsored barbarism is about to be committed that should leave the world shaken and incredulous. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman who has already served five years in prison for adultery and survived 99 lashes, has been sentenced to death by stoning. This savage form of death is a political weapon in the hands of the Iranian theocracy. [The Iconoclast] Read more

08 July 2010

Iranian government bans new women's football kit

In May, the Iranian Football Federation said it had reached a compromise with FIFA whereby the under-15 team would play in caps at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on August 14-26.

On Wednesday, the women's youth team tried on the new kit during a demonstration match. But, according to Mehr news agency, the official in charge of women's affairs at Iran's Physical Education Organisation stormed off when she saw that the strip did not conform to what had been ordered. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Mega mosque

Calls were made today for developers to scale down plans for an imposing mosque in Preston. It has emerged that the Meenawala Charitable Foundation wants planning permission for this domed building on a one-acre site on the corner of Sharoe Green Lane and Kingsfold Avenue in Fulwood, with space for 600 prayer mats.

Towering up to 44 metres high, it would be less than half a mile away from a planned new mosque in Watling Street Road. It would also include a 14-metre high dome over the main prayer hall and a 21-metre high minaret tower.

Coun Bobby Cartwright, who represents the College ward, said people had been “absolutely stunned” by the proposed size of the building, which includes 100 parking spaces. She said: “I think it’s just the sheer size of it. I think if it was scaled down... “The biggest concern for everyone is the traffic. The area can’t sustain another bicycle, let alone hundreds of more cars coming. [LEP] Read more [via National Secular Society ]