31 August 2010

Burger chain launches more halal outlets in France

A popular fast-food brand said Tuesday it would extend the number of halal only restaurants in its chain in France, after a controversial pilot project in February proved a success.

Some politicians reacted angrily to Quick's announcement earlier this year of its first halal-only branches, saying the chain had deprived non-Muslims of a right to standard burgers and promoted social divisions.

But the Belgian chain said Tuesday it would switch 14 more of its French branches to serve only halal meat, certified as slaughtered in accordance with Islamic practices, bringing the total in France to 22 of its restaurants.

"In view of the results of the experiment in February, we have decided to keep the halal service in the eight test restaurants and to extend it ... from September 1," said Quick chief executive Jacques-Edouard Charret. [AFP] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

IRAN: Courts confirm two more stoning sentences on adultery charges

Amid the controversy and international outcry sparked by the stoning sentence handed down to a 43-year-old Iranian mother of two, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, Iran's supreme court reportedly has sentenced two more people to stoning on charges of adultery.

The court's decision came just days after the Iranian judiciary revealed fresh details about Ashtiani's case.

According to Iran's Human Rights Activists News Agency, the court approved on Aug. 28 a verdict of stoning to death for Vali Janfeshani and Sariyeh Ebadi, convicted of having an extramarital affair. [Los Angeles Times] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Policeman's book alleges war on secular state in Turkey

A book written by a prominent police official that alleges a clandestine power grab by Islamists has created controversy by reflecting the ongoing power struggle between secularists and conservatives in Turkey.

Simons Living on the Golden Horn: A State Yesterday, A Religious Community Today, written by Hanefi Avci, sold 60,000 copies in the first six days after it was published, a huge number for a Turkish book. [The National] Read more

29 August 2010

Ban first cousin marriage?

.... Cousin marriage is risky, particularly for groups which have practised it for generations. Closely related first cousins face greater than normal risks of having babies with serious recessive genetic disorders.

To say that is not to criticise anyone for anything. It is not to attack any particular religion or ethnic group or culture. It is merely to state a painful fact, of which people used to be unaware. Did they? My grandmother, who had little education and would never have heard of recessive genes, knew that it wasn't a good idea. Stop making excuses.

In fact, having stated that no "particular religion or ethnic group or culture" is being "attacked", Ms Marrin goes on to make it clear, as did the Dispatches programme, that it is one particular religion and culture: Muslims of Pakistani origin (the programme also mentioned Arabs and Africans). This is not one ethnic group, however - British Hindus and Sikhs do not practise cousin marriage in any significant numbers. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Who're You Calling a 'Bigot'?

John Esposito, director of the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, having observed that a large majority of Americans oppose an Islamic center at Ground Zero, could not decide whether American society now more closely resembles that of Birmingham, Alabama circa 1963, or Nazi Germany on the eve of Kristallnacht:

.... Esposito seconded Zune's bizarre theme of America's exceptional intolerance in the eyes of the Islamic world, telling his American audience that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque "stunned ... the vast majority of Muslims."

Muslims living under the rule of Esposito's Saudi sponsors must be "stunned" by Americans' opposition to the construction of a thirteen-story Islamic center at Ground Zero, considering the erection of the most humble synagogue or church anywhere in Saudi Arabia is prohibited, and non-Muslims may not even enter the cities of Mecca or Medina. [American Thinker] Read more

John Esposito, Islamophobia, and the Ground Zero Mosque John L. Esposito .... is America's best-known apologist for Saudi Wahhabism, the Turkish fundamentalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Islamist ideologies in general. To many, he personifies all that's wrong with Middle East studies in America today.

.... Denunciation of crimes committed by Muslims, such as the 9/11 attacks, or the extremist affiliations of Muslims like Feisal Abdul Rauf, is not Islamophobia. Rather, such repudiation is urgently necessary for the health of American Islam as a faith community and should certainly come before any schemes for ambitious, overbearing mosques or Islamic cultural centers. Given his position in Middle East studies, Esposito should understand that. His apologetics guarantee that he won't. [American Thinker] Read more

27 August 2010

TV4 refuses to air Sweden Democrat ads

Swedish TV channel TV4 announced on Friday that it has refused to broadcast a campaign advert by the far-right Sweden Democrats because it claims it contains racial hatred.

The party wanted to pay the channel 1.5 million kronor ($201,240) to run the ad. The half-minute advert shows a race in which an elderly woman with a walker is chased by a group of burqa-clad women pushing prams with a slogan promising to safeguard pension funding at the expense of immigration.

As an alarm-like sound plays in the background, a voiceover says, "All politics are about priorities - now you have a choice." The clip promotes the Sweden Democrats' demand that, like other parties, pensioners' taxes be cut to the same levels of wage earners. However, they claim their plans would be funded by reducing immigration. [The Local] Read more

The New Religious Intolerance

Throughout the U.S. and Europe prejudice against Muslims is reaching a fever pitch. How might this poisonous trend be stopped?

We are witnessing an alarming resurgence of a type of religious intolerance we thought the nations of the U. S. and Europe had outgrown. Not since the anti-Catholic movement of the late 19th century has the U. S. known a religious panic such as the one that is now linking Muslims to terrorism, forbidding the building of mosques in many U. S. cities and towns, and poisoning the climate of community, school and workplace relations in communities across the nation. [Forbes.com] Read more

26 August 2010

Fears of new Mohammed crisis

A leading U.S. terrorism expert has warned of renewed tensions between the Muslim world and Denmark in connection with plans by Jyllands-Postens Culture Editor Flemming Rose to release a book in which caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed are reprinted.

In his ‘The tyranny of silence’ Rose studies the 12 controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, which were first published in Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

Since then, they have repeatedly been re-printed in media across the world and caused anti-Danish demonstrations, boycotts of Danish goods in Muslim countries, the burning of Danish flags and torching of Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut. [Politiken] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Building Churches in Egypt and the Ground Zero Mosque

.... Most Copts interviewed on the issue of the Ground Zero Mosque thought that even if Moslems had the right to build a mosque, it should be somewhere else, to save the victims families any pain. Others thought the Muslim attitude was typical "They go to a country and want to take it over, making the best of democratic rights to their advantage, but when it comes to Islamic countries, matters are different, and they forget about the rights of others," commented one young Coptic girl.

"Let Muslims experience the rage and frustration we have been going through for centuries, every time we want to build or repair a dilapidating church in our own country," commented Coptic activist Mina Hanna, in what sounded like Schadenfreude. "It would be interesting to see what happens if the West decided to treat Muslims like Christians in Egypt." [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Sharia for Dummies

Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf claims that the US constitution is Sharia compliant. Now let us examine below a few laws of Sharia to see if Imam Rauf is truthful or a fraud:

.... The above are clear cut laws in Islam decided by great Imams after years of examination and interpretation of the Quran, Hadith and Mohammed’s life. Now let the learned Imam Rauf tell us what part of the above is compliant with the US constitution? [bigpeace.com] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

For critics of Islam,'sharia' becomes shorthand for extremism

.... Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University and spokesman of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America, describes Muslims as being divided into two camps: "Those who see sharia mandating that we live as Muslims did 1,300 years ago, and those who say sharia doesn't have a specific format as to how you live your life, that Islam gives you paradigms."

This question of how to define sharia has become a more urgent issue for Muslims around the world in recent decades as, according to some estimates, one-third of them live outside Muslim-majority countries for the first time in history. Conferences are held where scholars debate what it means for a government or a person to be "sharia-compliant." [Washington Post] Read more

The Islamophobia myth

Michael Enright, a 21-year-old film student, drunkenly entered a cab Tuesday night. He asked the driver if he was Muslim, and when the answer came back in the affirmative, Enright attacked the driver with a knife. He's being charged with attempted murder and hate crimes.

It's unavoidable that many will cite this as proof of the national wave of "Islamophobia," touted by Time magazine and other media outlets. We'll have to wait for the facts, but even if the allegations prove true, one assault doesn't a national trend make.

Indeed, it would be outrageous for the same people who reflexively insist that confirmed and coordinated Islamic terrorist attacks are "isolated incidents" that don't reflect on Muslims generally to suddenly insist that this one lone, despicable act somehow reflects the views and attitudes of, say, the 70 percent of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero mosque. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Europe’s leaders are too weak to stand up for western values and rights

.... Instead, what we got was more book burning after a sacred western secular value – the freedom of speech – clashed with a sacred religious belief held by Europe’s Muslim immigrants. Protestors held up placards saying “Kill Rushdie”, yet not a single prosecution was brought, nor did Salman Rushdie even receive the backing of most intellectuals (nor the government or the newspapers) back in 1989.

“Suppose that a wild Christian fundamentalist cleric had called for the death of an author who had suggested that Christ was a homosexual,” writes Dalrymple, “does anyone think that Trevor-Roper et al would have sailed forth to support, or at least to ‘understand’, the cleric?” [Catholic Herald] Read more

Iran issues fatwa against pets

The decision by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance comes after the fatwa was issued by powerful cleric Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi.

While keeping dogs as pets has become increasingly fashionable in Iran in recent years, the fatwa cited Islamic tradition, which dictates that dogs are unclean. In June, Ayatollah Shirazi declared dogs unclean, saying that dog owners were “blindly imitating the West” and that their devotion to the animals would result in “evil outcomes”.

“Many people in the West love their dogs more than their wives and children,” he said. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamophobia: the new antisemitism

The New York Times is reporting that a pastor in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida is planning to "commemorate" 11 September 2001 by publicly burning the Qur'an. The photograph that accompanies the story showed the pastor, Terry Jones, standing in a field of grass behind signs that read "Islam is of the devil."

The tall pines of my childhood tower behind him and I was shocked to see those two images together. From my apartment in Tel Aviv, I searched the edges of the photo for something else familiar, something that would soothe me. [Guardian Cif] Read more

A Muslim Reformer on the Mosque

.... That means setting aside bombast and asking the imam questions born of the highest American ideals: individual dignity and pluralism of ideas.

• Will the swimming pool at Park51 be segregated between men and women at any time of the day or night? • May women lead congregational prayers any day of the week? • Will Jews and Christians, fellow People of the Book, be able to use the prayer sanctuary for their services just as Muslims share prayer space with Christians and Jews in the Pentagon?

.... • What will be taught about homosexuals? About agnostics? About atheists? About apostasy? • Where does one sign up for advance tickets to Salman Rushdie's lecture at Park51? [The Wall Street Journal] Read more

Islamic cleric behind Ground Zero mosque says U.S. has killed more innocent civilians than Al Qaeda The Islamic cleric behind plans for a mosque at Ground Zero in New York has claimed that the U.S. is worse than Al Qaeda. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said that America was more culpable than the terrorist organisation because U.S.-led sanctions were responsible for the death of half a million Iraqi children.

'We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims,' he said. [MailOnline] Read more

Is 'Ground Zero mosque' debate fanning the flames? Some opponents of the Cordoba House project, the Islamic cultural centre and mosque planned near to the World Trade Center site, have coined jarring juxtapositions to press their point.

"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington," former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. "We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."

Radio presenter Rush Limbaugh compared the mosque with the idea of putting a Hindu shrine at the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor, later correcting himself to make clear he meant a Shinto shrine.

Those behind the Cordoba House project, such as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, say they want to build something which would assist inter-faith understanding. But some are worried about knock on effects of the debate over the mosque on relations. [BBC] Read more

Opposition to mosque swells: poll More and more Americans are paying attention to the Ground Zero mosque plans -- and they don't like them, a new poll shows.

About 85 percent of US voters say they are following news stories about the mosque -- a 34-point jump from a month ago, according to a Rasmussen survey released yesterday.

The increased interest coincided with opposition nationwide spiking to 62 percent, compared to 54 percent opposition in July.

"Since the July survey, the local New York City zoning debate over the planned 13-story Cordoba mosque has escalated into a national controversy," the pollsters concluded. [nypost.com] Read more

Sam Harris: Obama doesn’t realise that Islam is not like other religions .... There is no such thing as Islamophobia. Bigotry and racism exist, of course—and they are evils that all well-intentioned people must oppose. And prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, purely because of the accident of their birth, is despicable.

But like all religions, Islam is a system of ideas and practices. And it is not a form of bigotry or racism to observe that the specific tenets of the faith pose a special threat to civil society. Nor is it a sign of intolerance to notice when people are simply not being honest about what they and their co-religionists believe. [The Daily Beast] Read more

Still More About Feisal Abdul Rauf, And Misplaced Hopes And Dreams .... Writing in Slate, Christopher Hitchens made precisely the same point. “The more one reads through his statements,” Hitchens writes, “the more alarming it gets.” Like Ledeen, he quotes the same passage written by Rauf in The Huffington Post back in June 2009. Explaining the so called “rule of law” espoused by Rauf, Vilayet-i-faquih, Hitchens writes:

Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, “the will of the people” is a meaningless expression, because “the people” are the wards and children of the clergy. [The Iconoclast] Read more

25 August 2010

Newsnight Looks At Why UK Muslim Women Adopt the Niqab

Why are more British Muslim women, without coercion from their fathers or husbands, choosing to wear the face veil (niqab)? On Monday 23rd August, Newsnight aired an interview with four women to ascertain why they adopted the niqab when their mothers did not.

.... The Newsnight piece then interviews Houla (sp.), a sister who wears the hijab and formerly wore the niqab. One of her reason for choosing to wear the veil was her experience of being influenced by scholars coming from the Arab world. She notes,

“One of the main topics of discussion by the scholars was that Muslim women, especially, and Muslim men need to be as different from non-Muslims as possible… and that the woman must be completely covered from head to toe, even the hands and the feet”. “I started feeling guilty about the fact that I didn’t cover my face, my hands and my feet and so I started to”. [ENGAGE] Read more

Opinion: Do moderate Muslims exist?

.... I think the term 'moderate Muslim' is misleading. People who use this term usually mean to say "liberal Muslim" or "Western Muslim".

According to Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim needs just three things in order to be "European": be law-abiding, speak the language, be loyal to the country and its values (critically and constructively). But, in fact, you can be the most radical Muslim and still be law-abiding, speak the language and be loyal to all the values you're not critical of. A good example of such a Muslim is Tariq Ramadan himself.

I don't think that's enough. Integration is not about being law-abiding, or about accepting those values you think don't conflict with your religion. It's about integrating those values into your outlook and religion. [Islam in Europe] Read more

'Injurious, Defamatory and Polemical' New Book Plunges Germany into Immigration Debate

Are Muslim immigrants a drag on German prosperity? A new book by provocateur Thilo Sarrazin, a board member of the German central bank, argues that they are. His over-the-top comments have triggered yet another debate on immigration in the country.

Thilo Sarrazin has never been one to mince words. The German central bank board member and former senior city official in Berlin has long been a strident critic of German immigration policies, even going so far as to say in an interview last autumn that immigrants sponge off the state, are incapable of integrating themselves into German society and "constantly produce little girls in headscarves." [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more

Strache says 'hunted' Sarrazin would deserve asylum Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache has vehemently defended controversial Deutsche Bundesbank executive board member Thilo Sarrazin.

The German caused global outcry with various statements regarding immigration and the intelligence quotient of ethnic groups made in his new book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany Abolishes Itself) which was published last week.

The German Social Democrats (SPD) are now thinking of expelling Sarrazin over his claims, while most political movements in his home country have already strongly disassociated themselves from his points of view. [Austrian Independent] Read more

Germans split over fate of race row banker .... A survey by pollster Emnid for N24 television showed 51 percent of respondents saw no need for the Bundesbank to fire board member Sarrazin, with 32 percent taking the opposite view.

But another poll by YouGov for Bild newspaper said 42 percent considered Sarrazin no longer acceptable for the job, with 34 percent seeing him as still acceptable and 25 percent undecided. Both surveys polled around 1,000 Germans.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble added to pressure on the bank to act, saying Sarrazin had failed in his duties. "He has quite obviously failed to meet his obligations: restraint," Schaeuble said. "This kind of breaking taboos does not bring our country forwards, it only does the opposite." [Reuters] Read more

What Did Thilo Sarrazin Really Say? Thilo Sarrazin’s rhetoric may be divisive and (perceived as) racist but he has made some important points about the lack of integration of many Muslim immigrants, German media commentators say. Many in Germany agree with him and believe it’s high time the government started tackling the issue, they add.

.... The hot water he found himself in as a result of all this has neared the boiling point in the last couple of weeks with the publication of his new book, Deutschland schafft sich ab — Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen (“Abolishing Germany — How we’re putting our country in jeopardy”). An interview with a cultural magazine prior to the book’s release brought the scalding water down on his head from both ends of the political spectrum. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Turkish leader calls on Berlin to sack central bank official over racism Chairman of Germany's Turkish Federation, Kenan Kolat, called for central bank board member Thilo Sarrazin to be removed from his post after fresh comments criticizing Muslims in Germany.

In his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany does away with itself"), Sarrazin claims that members of Germany's Muslim community pose a danger to German society.

Sarrazin, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Berlin's former finance chief, was reported in June as saying that members of the Turkish and Arab community were making Germany "more stupid." With his book, Kolat said, Sarrazin had overstepped a boundary. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

24 August 2010

Reconciling Islamic values and democracy

Writing on Cif recently, Brian Whitaker argued that the main problem with Islamic political movements in the Muslim world was their belief in the "sovereignty of God" (hakimiyyah) and that this has brought them into conflict with democratic ideas of the sovereignty of the people.

The facts are undeniable. Wherever modern Islamic movements have come to power, whether through a popular revolution (Iran), military coup (Sudan) or civil war (Taliban in Afghanistan), they have invariably sought to drastically restrict personal freedoms and civil rights in the name of upholding the rule of God. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Norway: Mosque wants restaurant to stop serving beer

The restaurant in the Norwegian town of Moss is being pressured by the building owner and neighbor, a mosque run by the Turkish Muslim community, to stop serving alcohol, reports Moss Avis.

"I was told of the complaint on Friday, and was very surprised. But Norway is a democratic country. People can think what they want," says Norwegian-Turkish Karagøz.

The restaurant is in the first floor of the same building as the mosque, and was given the license to serve alcohol before New Year's. The mosque has its premises on the second floor, but uses that same entrance as the restaurant. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam

The public continues to express conflicted views of Islam. Favorable opinions of Islam have declined since 2005, but there has been virtually no change over the past year in the proportion of Americans saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. As was the case a year ago, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does not encourage violence more than other religions (42%) than say that it does (35%). [Pew Research Center] Read more

Is Time a Muslim Magazine?

Time magazine has an August 30 cover story titled “Is America Islamophobic?” Within, the article is titled: “Islam in America: It’s part of the fabric of life, but protests reveal a growing hostility to the religion of Muslims.”

President Obama’s rather strange assertions that “seven million” Muslims live in America (only 2.5-3 million actually do), and that “Islam has always played a role in America,” actually contradict the point of this piece, but no matter.

One might wonder why any “hostility” to a productive, historically significant Muslim presence in America exists. Time magazine does not tell us. [Pajamas Media] Read more

Fundamentalists in London politics: new links emerge

In March, we reported how a Muslim fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, had infiltrated Tower Hamlets council. One of the key allegations from many councillors was that the then leader, Lutfur Rahman, was helped into his position by a senior official of the IFE, who canvassed councillors on his behalf. In an interview with me, Mr Rahman refused to deny this charge – you can read the full transcript here. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslim veil is political, not religious - Restricting extreme practices is not infringement on freedom of religion

If France's Senate votes to approve a full ban on the burqa next month, debate over Muslim dress will only intensify around the world. Concern centers around how a liberal democracy can create legislation determining religious practice without compromising its core democratic principles. Surprisingly, support for a European ban on Islamic dress comes from an unlikely source: Syria.

In July, Ghiath Barakat, Syria's minister of higher education, banned students and teachers wearing head and face veils from registering for classes or even stepping on university campuses, saying head coverings were against academic principles.

Previously, Mr. Barakat transferred approximately 1,200 female teachers in full head coverings to administrative jobs. Of course, in an authoritarian dictatorship like Syria, the minister of higher education alone does not have the authority to pass such a radical policy. To be sure, such a decision must have been made at the highest levels of the Syrian political and security apparatus. [The Washington Times] Read more

23 August 2010

Denmark: Islam's power, Europe's new reality

One day Karen Jespersen and Ralf Pittelkow drove from their home in Dragør, over the Øresund bridge, to the Rosengård district in Malmö. They drove around and felt that they've arrived in a different world. Shops had signs in Arabic. Only a few spoke Swedish on the street. Veiled women were everywhere. There were satellite dishes on the balconies.

"We thought of a young headscarf-wearing woman who appeared on Swedish TV," remembers Karen Jespersen. "She said: 'it feels like Iraq or another Arab country. I feel excellent in Malmö'. Rosengård is a Muslim parallel society where people live their own lives. This provides fertile ground for radical Muslims to have growing influence. All over Europe we see the same trend in many major cities." [Islam in Europe] Read more

22 August 2010

Islamophobia in America: Where Do We Go From Here?

"It is a matter of principle and not the personalities involved. They may be doing it for all the wrong reasons, but we are being attacked simply and only for 'not knowing our place', not being sufficiently sorry for a crime we didn't commit. Its like we need to assume some collective guilt for 9/11 and act accordingly."

These words of an American citizen, who also happens to be a successful Muslim professional, aptly summarizes the frustrations of many Muslims and the concerns of many Americans of all faiths and no faith. [HuffingtonPost.com] Read more

Bangladesh bans enforced Islamic dress code

A Bangladesh court has ruled that people cannot be forced to wear skull caps, veils or other religious clothing in workplaces, schools and colleges. The ruling came after reports that a college in the north had forced students to wear veils. The high court also ruled that women cannot be prevented from taking part in sports or cultural activities. The court said that wearing any form of religious clothing, for students and employees, should be a personal choice. [BBC] Read more

Muslim world turns to Turkish model of education

Children crowd into a large, open room an hour drive from Peshawar, Pakistan, their young bodies packed together despite the lingering heat. A small boy with a serious face sits in the back, a copy of the Quran on the cement floor beside him.

Madrasas like this have come to dominate much of rural education in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the state has forgotten its children and the mullahs have room to step in.

But with the Taliban insurgency going strong and a rising Islamic militancy in Pakistan, experts worry that such schools -- which often push a more fundamentalist brand of Islam than is traditional in these countries -- have become fertile recruiting grounds for the Taliban. [Post Gazette] Read more

21 August 2010

Crime (Sex) and Punishment (Stoning)

.... Between 2006 and 2008 at least six stonings took place, all of them in secret, said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Currently at least 10 people are in Iranian jails under stoning sentences, seven women and three men, he added.

There is a vigorous domestic campaign against stoning in Iran, largely led by women. The former head of Iran’s judiciary made several recommendations to judges not to impose or implement stoning sentences, but all have been ignored.

A parliamentary committee recommended last year that stoning be deleted from the penal code, but the measure has not been taken to a vote. In Afghanistan, by contrast, stoning seems to be on the rise, despite its unpopularity. [The New York Times] Read more

20 August 2010

Next Update

LibertyPhile and Crew are on holiday. The next update will be on or about Wednesday 8th September.

This is Why

Polls and surveys of British non-Muslims consistently show a high level of dislike or suspicion of Islam and Muslims. Why is this so?

Some Muslims put this down to ignorance. All would be well if only the British knew more about Islam, if they had read the Koran (in the original Arabic, some say), had things explained to them in the right way.

There is another and better explanation. It is the effects that Islam and Muslims have on the world around us. The religion is judged by what comes out of it, not by what experts and clerics claim it is about (often contradicting one another). [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

Stockholm: Tougher rules against skipping swimming, sex-ed classes

.... "We know that about 12-13% of all children in the schools of Stockholm are not allowed to take part in certain lessons, especially when it comes to learning how to swim and in some religious subjects, and also when it comes to knowing about sex and that sort of things"

.... "They are due to religious and cultural reasons. The same kinds of reasons that maybe, for instance, girls are not being allowed to marry whoever they like, or girls not being permitted to hang around with their friends and so on.

Some families are very strict when it comes to those matters, and this is one of the grounds for that kind of repression." Muslims aren't mentioned even once in either the article or the radio interview, but does anybody even have to? [Islam in Europe] Read more

German-Turkish politician calls for burqa ban

The liberal parliamentarian Serkan Toeren has demanded a ban on the burqa in Germany. Toeren, who represents the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the Bundestag, says it was time to have an open debate on the issue.

Toeren, whose constituency is in Lower Saxony, said the full body covering worn by some Muslim women, obscuring the face, posed a threat to public security, and undermined the individuals. .... Serkan Toeren is a liberal politician of Turkish origin. "Wearing a full-body veil like the burqa is a breach of human dignity." Toeren told the German daily Leipziger Volkszeitung. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Muslim scholar offers lies about Muhammad to counter Spencer's Truth About Muhammad

.... Of course! The real problem Muslims have is not rampant jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism, but "Islamophobia"! Pay no attention to all the jihad attacks committed in the name of Islam around the world, and the triumphalist actions and declarations of imminent Islamic conquest -- the real problem is not with them, but with people like me who report on them and show their root causes in the Qur'an and Muhammad's example (both copiously invoked by those same jihadists and Islamic supremacists)!

And so now to counter my bestselling 2006 book The Truth About Muhammad comes Moustafa Zayed's The Lies About Muhammad -- and I'm sure that that's exactly what his book is full of. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Norwegian court rules hijab ban illegal

A Norwegian administrative court on Friday said a ban on police women wearing the Islamic headscarf was illegal, in response to a government refusal in 2009 to allow officers to don the hijab.

The Norwegian Equality Tribunal said in a non-binding opinion that the ban ran counter to the country's freedom of religion and anti-discrimination laws by depriving a whole category of women from access to the police profession.

"The official objective is for the police to mirror Norwegian society as a whole," the tribunal wrote in its ruling. "The society is multi-cultural and diverse, and the police should also illustrate this diversity, precisely to allow it to maintain trust at large" among the population, it added. [AFP] Read more

Women without headscarves targeted in Muslim Chechnya

Many women in Russia's volatile Chechnya region said on Friday they had been harassed and some physically harmed by bands of men for not wearing headscarves during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Against the backdrop of a spreading Islamist insurgency, many fear that growing interest in radical Islam could fuel separatism in the volatile North Caucasus, where the Kremlin watches uneasily as sharia law eclipses Russian. [Reuters] Read more

19 August 2010

Judge orders Muslim woman to remove burqa

A Perth judge has ruled that a Muslim woman must remove her burqa while giving evidence in a fraud trial.

Judge Shauna Deane delivered her decision in the District Court today, saying it only applied to the case in question and did not set a precedent. Prosecution witness Tasneem, 36, who does not wish her surname to be published, has worn the burqa since the age of 17 and wanted to wear it while giving evidence. [AAP] Read more

Muslim employee sues US Disneyland over headscarf ban

A Muslim woman is suing Disneyland, accusing the company's California theme park of discrimination for telling her she could not serve customers if she chose to wear a headscarf.

Imane Boudal, 26, asked her employers at Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel several months ago whether they would permit her to wear a headcovering while working as a hostess, a spokeswoman for a worker's union said.

But when no reply was forthcoming, she decided to don the headscarf anyway, timing her decision with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Leigh Shelton, a spokesman for the UNITE HERE Local 11 union said. [AFP] Read more

Saudi Arabian judge asks hospitals to paralyse man

A Saudi judge has asked several hospitals whether they would punitively damage a man's spinal cord after he was convicted of attacking another man with a cleaver and paralysing him, local newspapers reported today.

Saudi Arabia enforces strict sharia law and occasionally metes out punishments based on the ancient code of an eye for an eye. Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, 22, was left paralysed after a fight more than two years ago, and asked a judge to impose an equivalent punishment on his attacker under sharia law, reports said.

The newspaper Okaz said the judge in northwestern Tabuk province, identified as Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef, asked at least two hospitals for a medical opinion on whether surgeons could. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

17 August 2010

Denmark: 55% say Islam bad for social cohesion

49.7% of the Danes think that the immigration of the past four decades has been positive for Danish society and 42.4% see immigration as a negative phenomenon, according to an opinion poll conducted by Rambøll/Analyse Danmark for Jyllands-Posten.

While a small majority welcomes immigration, many Danes don't like the presence of Islam in Denmark. 54.9% of the respondents see the presence of Islam as a problem for the cohesion of Danish society. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Afghan couple stoned to death by Taliban after their families turned them in when they tried to elope

A man and a woman have been stoned to death in Afghanistan over an alleged love affair. Their families asked the Taliban to arrest the two, who were each engaged to other people, after they tried to elope. Their deaths come a week after it was revealed Islamic militants in the country had flogged and executed a woman accused of adultery. [MailOnline] Read more

What Obama Got Wrong About the Mosque

.... In his speech supporting the mosque, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “We would betray our values—and play into our enemies' hands—if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.” This statement has the virtue of being almost true.

But it is also true that honest, freedom-loving Muslims should be the first to view their fellow Muslims somewhat differently. At this point in human history, Islam simply is different from other faiths. The challenge we all face, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is to find the most benign and practical ways of mitigating these differences and of changing this religion for the better. [The Daily Beast!] Read more

16 August 2010

Conflicting fatwas are good for Muslims

Last week, the king of Saudi Arabia issued a royal order decreeing that the only Islamic scholars allowed to issue fatwas will be those approved by himself.

The move has been welcomed by some as an attempt to impose discipline on the chaotic business of fatwa-issuing and also put a stop to "strange" fatwas, like the recent one on breast-feeding adult men in order to overcome the kingdom's strict rules on gender segregation.

In a sermon on Friday, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca praised the king's decree, saying it would protect sharia law "from infringements of unqualified people who deviate from the path of the Prophet", adding: "The king is determined to stop any transgression against approved religious establishments." [Guardian Cif] Read more

Domino's Pizza scraps halal menu

The chain enraged customers 18 months ago by completely removing pork from its pizzas in favour of halal-only meat at its branch in Hall Green, Birmingham. But the pizza firm have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn back to their original menu due to poor sales.

.... Domino's Pizza have also reverted to conventional menus at the other two branches where they trialled halal-only menus for Muslim customers in Bradford and Blackburn. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

15 August 2010

A Revolt Over Halal & Kosher Food in Harrow

.... So, what do we have here? We have a situation that the current standards of humanity and avoidance of senseless pain and cruelty is considered to be at variance with religious practise.

And not just that, here in Harrow, because of somebody wanting to follow THEIR religion which leads to senseless pain and cruelty to animals, gets my daughter involved who doesnt even belong to that religion.

Freedom of religion to freedom from cruelty to animals to freedom of choice, etc. etc. seem to have gotten into a right little tangle. [Desicritics.org] Read more via [National Secular Society]

Taqiyya: The Ultimate Intellectual Cop-out

.... As is quite clear, deception during times of warfare is not only standard procedure, but is a laudable and necessary tactic. Our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan use deception every single day to try to defeat the enemy.

They would be blameworthy if they did not do so. Why doesn’t Robert Spencer condemn Sun Tzu, or the Greeks, or Allied Forces in WW II, or the U.S. Air Force for advocating deception in warfare? After all, all of these people also believe, as the Prophet Muhammad did, that “war is deceit.” [loonwatch.com] Read more

Finland: Sound Islamic advice hard to find

Finland’s Muslims often have to seek advice on religious questions from imams living abroad owing to the lack of qualified clerics at home.

.... Finnish Muslim, Pia Jardi is fully conversant with problems facing Muslims residing in Finland: sound advice is hard to find. Many devout Muslims get in contact with internet clerics, for instance in Saudi Arabia, to seek guidance on issues such as marriage, divorce, funerals and, for example, matters relating to children. Jardi says that often the advice given is of no help.

“Their advice doesn’t always fit in with Finnish society. In some cases, their guidance can even be in opposition to Finland’s laws,” Jardi adds. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Christian-themed TV shows spark complaints in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

Television shows with Christian themes have sparked complaints in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon in recent days, but from different groups and for different reasons.

In Saudi Arabia, a popular sitcom has drawn the ire of conservative clerics over an episode portraying Arab Christians in a positive light after the kingdom sought to sell itself as a leader of dialogue between faiths. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Obama supports 'the right' for ground zero mosque

President Barack Obama says Muslims have the right to build a mosque near ground zero in New York, but he's not saying whether he thinks it's a good idea to do so.

Obama's comment Saturday during a trip to Florida expanded on a statement he made at a White House dinner on Friday. At that event, he said Muslims have the same right to freedom of religion as everyone else in America.

Obama said Saturday that he didn't comment on the wisdom of putting a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks -- but rather was commenting on the right to build a mosque there. [AP] Read more

Islam in Two Americas The first America is correct to insist on Muslims’ absolute right to build and worship where they wish. But the second America is right to press for something more from Muslim Americans — particularly from figures like Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the mosque — than simple protestations of good faith.

Too often, American Muslim institutions have turned out to be entangled with ideas and groups that most Americans rightly consider beyond the pale. Too often, American Muslim leaders strike ambiguous notes when asked to disassociate themselves completely from illiberal causes. [NYTimes.com] Read more

Ground Zero mosque plans "fuelling anti-Muslim protests across US" The battle over plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York is fuelling a surge in anti-Muslim protests across the US, including opposition to new Islamic centres from California to Georgia.

Religious leaders and civil rights activists warn that a tide of Islamophobia that has swept the country since the destruction of the twin towers is being heightened by political exploitation of the New York dispute before nationwide elections and is increasingly bound up with hostility to immigrants and other forms of racism. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

The dispute over the "Ground Zero mosque" is an object lesson in how not to resist intolerance .... I don't like anything much about the Cordoba Initiative or the people who run it. The supposed imam of the place, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is on record as saying various shady and creepy things about the original atrocity.

Shortly after 9/11, he told 60 Minutes, "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened." He added, "In the most direct sense, Osama Bin Laden is made in the USA." [Slate] Read more via [Butterflies and Wheels]

13 August 2010

Exclusive: Tower Hamlets communities unanimously reject IFE!

.... All progressive forces must realize that the gut reaction to EDL is to defend everybody including IFE because they might be accused of being Islamophobic. But we boldly proclaim that it is not Islamophobic to have no trucks with the heirs of Fascist Jaamat?

It is not Islamophobic to denounce the anti democratic credentials of IFE and their Saudi patrons? It is not Islamophobic to show solidarity with the Muslims of Tower Hamlets and their diverse representative organizations without marching under the leadership of IFE?

We cannot be consistent in fighting the fascist EDL if we elect the “fascist” IFE as our Imam. In line with the best in the Islamic and Bengali tradition we reject the siren calls of IFE as we prepare to organise against EDL. [The Spittoon] Read more

Clinton: U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' with Religious Persecution in Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “deep concern” on Thursday over the continued persecution of religious minority communities in Iran by the national government.

“Freedom of religion is the birthright of people of all faiths and beliefs in all places,” Clinton stated following the sentencing of seven Baha’i leaders earlier this week. “The United States is committed to defending religious freedom around the world," she added, "and we have not forgotten the Baha’i community in Iran.”

On Sunday, Iran sentenced seven leading members of the Baha'i community, the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority, to 20-year-jail terms. [The Christian Post] Read more via [Religious Watch]

Islamophobia is on the Rise, Exhibit B: Bryan Fischer

Even those who used to debate whether Islamophobia exits or not probably have no leg to stand on, as it is evident with all the rhetoric and flashpoints across America, Islamophobia is on the rise.

Bryan Fischer a leader in the conservative American Family Association echoes Euro-supremacist Geert Wilders statements that Islam isn’t a religion. This line of attack is becoming more and more common. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Christians and Muslims from Algeria to Italy in the footsteps of Saint Augustine

.... Among the expressed intentions of the pilgrimage is that "Muslims who have heard the call of the Lord Jesus should not be prohibited from entering the Church."

The idea refers to some episodes that have occurred in France and Algeria, where many Muslims who wanted to be baptized, have been impeded by priests and bishops, fearful of the consequences and overly precautious. [AsiaNews] Read more

Mob Threats Lead to Closure of Church Building in Indonesia

Police and local government officials joined forces with a Muslim mob to close a church in North Sumatra Province on July 30, with church leaders forced to promise never to hold services at the site. The Rev. Leritio Panjaitan of the Binanga HKBP (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant) Church .... said government officials and mobs threatened to burn the facility if worship continued there. [CDN] Read more

Malaysia men guilty in 'Allah' row church attack

Two Malaysian men have been found guilty of setting fire to a church in January in a row over non-Muslim use of the word "Allah". The two had claimed their burn injuries were sustained at a barbecue. But a judge in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, said this was a fabrication and jailed them for five years.

The attack on the Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur was the first of a series of attacks on houses of worship following the "Allah" row. [BBC] Read more

12 August 2010

The Taboo of the Intellectuals

.... A note on the Muslim Brotherhood: It is not a college fraternity. Its founder, Hasan al-Banna, famously said: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."

In 1991, the Muslim Brotherhood’s American leadership prepared an internal memorandum describing its mission as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. [Townhall.com] Read more

Afghan clerics seek return to strict Islamic law

Afghanistan's largest gathering of clerics, who met to discuss reconciliation with the Taliban, has called for the revival of strict Islamic law as the country seeks ways to win militants away from a growing insurgency.

About 350 of the Islamic clerics, or ulema, met for three days this week, the meeting ending with a declaration calling on President Hamid Karzai to enact sharia, or Islamic law, including punishments such as stonings, lashing, amputation and execution. [Reuters] Read more

Rotterdam court rejects Muslim scholar's lawsuit

A Dutch court has rejected a wrongful dismissal lawsuit brought by prominent Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, saying the city of Rotterdam had good reasons for ending his contract.

The Swiss-born Ramadan was dismissed from positions at Erasmus University and the city in August 2009 after he hosted a program on Iranian state television. [AP] Read more

Hardline Islam steps out of the shadows in Algeria

.... In a bookshop in an eastern suburb of the Algerian capital, visitors can stroll in off the street and pick up titles such as “Our fight against the West,” and “Jihad according to Salafist principles.”

After years of keeping a low public profile, Algerian Salafists — followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam — are becoming bolder, laying down a challenge to a state that is firmly secular and fighting a lingering Islamist insurgency. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Islamism, in any form, is a threat

.... There is plenty of evidence to link Islamism in all its forms to terrorism, but we can never hope to find absolute and definitive proof of this theory.

Critics claim that this is a huge logical flaw in the argument, but not only are they ignoring crucial evidence, their own theories have the exact same flaws as well. They have no problem using this line of argument to address far-right fascism and its resulting terrorism, so why apply different standards to Islamism? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Britain’s increasingly vocal pro-Islamist lobby

.... is a good example of the clique within the civil service and elsewhere that Tim Montgomerie recently warned about. This clique argues that non-violent Islamists should be empowered so long as they oppose terrorism on British soil. Their key rhetorical argument is that, although all terrorists may be extremists, this does not mean that terrorism should be addressed by combating extremism.

For example, Githens-Mazer suggested on Sky that there is “no evidence base” for the argument that Islamist terrorism can be addressed by tackling Islamist ideology in all its forms. This is a bizarre position for many reasons, not least because the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre based at Thames House has warned that increased spread of non-violent Islamism facilitates recruitment to Islamist terrorism. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Another story of government advisers undermining government ministers (this time in the battle against extremism) .... Farr, in common with John Denham and Ken Livingstone, believes that anti-Western fanatics like Zakir Naik and Yusuf al-Qaradawi have the credibility to persuade young British Muslims not to blow themselves up on tube trains.

David Cameron came into office with a clear and oft-stated desire to reverse this approach. The Prime Minister believes that we should have learned from 7/7 that ideology matters – and that those who preach 'non-violent' extremism sow the seeds for future jihadism by fomenting division and legitimising hatred. Not every non-violent extremist becomes a jihadist – but if you are a non-violent extremist, your chances of becoming violent are infinitely greater. [ConservativeHome] Read more

11 August 2010

On the Illusion of a Moderate Islam

.... In this discussion I take as my starting point the fact that the traditional Islamic religious texts -- the Koran supplemented by secondary sources such as the hadith literature -- through a straightforward reading encourage perpetual violence against non-Muslims around the world until the global supremacy of Islam and its followers has been firmly established.

There are plenty of studies available confirming this. Muslim scholars themselves, including prominent ones such as al-Ghazali and Ibn Khaldun, have supported this view for well over one thousand years and continue to do so in the twenty-first century. [Jihad Watch] Read more

JI crown prince Abdul Rohim sees violent jihad as inevitable

The youngest son of firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, Abdul Rohim, 31, is tipped by many to become the future leader of the jihadist movement in Indonesia. The young and energetic father of three daughters talked with The Jakarta Post’s Hasyim Widhiarto several days before the police arrested Ba’asyir, the spiritual leader of the Jamaah Islamiyah. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

.... For us, the implementation of sharia is our final goal. It’s because once you declare your syahadat creed, you must apply Islamic teachings entirely and not partially. Of course, we cannot ask Osama (bin Laden) to come to Indonesia and implement sharia here. It is our obligation to do that and Allah will ask your responsibility in the afterlife. [The Jakarta Post] Read more via [Jihad Watch]

Let's not mistake oppression for fashion choices

.... Every school day in Malaysia, which is a moderate Islamic country, little Muslim girls stand around on school playgrounds at recess. They don't skip. They don't run much. They can't.

The school uniform for girls from more conservative families is a long blue abaya. Many wear white hijabs and are constantly checking to ensure that every strand of hair is kept hidden.

The little girls can't go to public swimming pools. To learn to swim, the only possibilities are to find a female-only facility or to wear a loose-fitting body suit, complete with head covering, called a "burkini." [Vancouver Sun] Read more via [Butterflies and Wheels]

10 August 2010

More Misleading and Pointless Islamist Propaganda

The Islamic Education and Research Agency (iERA) misreport one of the main findings of their study “Perceptions of Islam & Muslims” published last week. They say “75% (of the British non-Muslims surveyed) believed Islam and Muslims had provided a negative contribution to society”.

The iERA are an international organisation committed to educating and informing humanity about the truth and noble message of Islam. [see Annex 1]. The finding was seized on by the Guardian who entitled their news report: [LibertyPhile Research] Read more

Why would Muslims play up Islamophobia? ....Either the reporter agreed with this Academy’s agenda or went along with the press release without checking. Either way it’s very dishonest.

I’m actually surprised that the number of people who are neutral about Sharia is so high. It comes as no shock that a HuT sympathiser would spin such a line – their aim is to increase bunker mentality among Muslims. But it’s more annoying the Guardian’s Haroon Siddique fell for their line.

Yes there is plenty of Islamophobia in the press. But trying to exaggerate it, especially to serve the cause of such groups, doesn’t do the Guardian or ordinary British Muslims any credit. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?

It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block.

We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation. But is it really true? [Pajamas Media] Read more

Fury over Richard Dawkins's burka jibe as atheist tells of his 'visceral revulsion' at Muslim dress

The outspoken atheist Professor Richard Dawkins has re-ignited the furore over the burka, describing it as a ‘full bin-liner thing’.

The 69-year-old author and scientist told of his ‘visceral revulsion’ when he sees women wearing the controversial Islamic clothing.

But he stopped short of calling for the UK to follow the French in banning them, insisting such legislation would not be in Britain’s liberal tradition. [MailOnline] Read more

09 August 2010

Public persuade shopping centre to remove Muslim loos

PROTESTS from the public have persuaded shopping centre bosses to remove Muslim-style toilets based on a “squat” design like the loos in a local mosque.

The Exchange Shopping Centre in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, installed two “Nile” pans recessed into the floor alongside the traditional seat WCs. Managers wanted to appeal to Muslims. [EXPRESS.CO.UK] Read more

Veiled Values

The idea that the entire weight of the Enlightenment tradition should rest on banning a piece of cloth worn by a few hundred women shows how absurd has become the debate about the burqa. Certainly, it is important to defend liberal social values, the secular society and the heritage of the Enlightenment.

But we cannot do so by promoting illiberal policies, stigmatizing immigrants, or banning symbols of ‘otherness’. The very values that Lévy believes are undermined by the burqa demand that we oppose any attempt by the state to ban it. [The Spittoon] Read more

Can Muslims be loyal citizens of non-Muslim countries?

Ummah is not a simplistic Muslim political bloc in the Qur’an & Hadith. It is used at times to mean the faithful, as in the verse, “You are the best nation” (Al-Imran or the Family of Imran), although even Umar was said to have held the view that this referred primarily to the Companions.

Sometimes in the political sense it does not imply folk of one religion only, but rather society as a whole, composed of different religions – as in the Sunnah description of the Jews and Muslims of Madinah as one Ummah (nation), separate from all other nations (ref: the Mithaq or Covenant of Madinah). [The Spittoon] Read more

MTA approves bus ads opposing Ground Zero mosque

Ads opposing a planned mosque near Ground Zero should soon be seen on city buses after the MTA signed off on their controversial design today.

A lawyer for the New Hampshire group behind the campaign called the decision "a victory not just for free speech but against political correctness and Mayor Bloomberg's bullying." Lawyer David Yerushalmi said the ads would be printed up and posted on city buses within the next 10 days.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative sued the MTA in Manhattan federal court last week to force it to accept the ads. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

08 August 2010

The MCB and ‘help’ we can do without

.... Now, I’ve got little time for the way the previous government decided the best way to combat Islamic extremism is to throw taxpayers’ money at various groups and ‘initiatives’, and the way it also managed to give the impression it viewed every Muslim as a potential terrorist (see The British Labour Government’s Ruinous Approach to Combating Islamic Extremism), but Bunglawala’s whining about ‘credible’ Muslim organisations being ’smeared’ smacks of sour grapes over the fact that his favourite organisation, the Muslim Council of Britain, has fallen out of favour in Westminster. [Harry’s Place] Read more

France's interior minister targets immigrants who practise polygamy

Mr Hortefeux said there were "possibilities to have nationality withdrawn in the case of polygamy, genital mutilation and serious wrongdoing." In all cases the radical punishment would not just apply to immigrants, but also to those who have a foreign background, even if they were born in France.

It follows President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for all foreigners who attack police in the kind of riots which blighted Muslim housing estates earlier this month to also lose their nationality. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Mosque nanny

It’s one thing for Mayor Bloomberg to play nanny and hector New Yorkers about smoking and trans fats, as he never stops doing. But it’s quite another for him to grab the flag and start scolding foes of that planned mosque near Ground Zero, as he did Friday.

The mayor was way, way out of line.“A handful of people ought to be ashamed of themselves,” he huffed. Well, we know one person who should be ashamed: him. Bloomberg got downright apocalyptic, calling the controversy “[as] important [a] test of the separation of church and state . . . as we may see in our lifetimes.”

He bashed those who wanted to use the city’s landmarking process to stop the mosque and insisted government has no business prying into its finances. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

The jihad of the word erupts in Denmark yet again

A chilling development in Denmark illustrates just how ‘hate speech’ laws, which were introduced by deluded western liberals, are being used to stifle and criminalise the expression of legitimate opinion and essential debate -- the prerequisite of a liberal society.

Lars Hedegaard is president of Denmark’s International Free Press Society, which is devoted to fighting to preserve freedom of expression -- particularly against the threat from radical Islam to shut it down on the spurious grounds of ‘Islamophobia’. [The Spectator] Read more

Denmark: Prosecution of Free Speech Advocate May Prompt Changes to Racism Laws On August 4, 2010, the Public Prosecutor for Copenhagen charged International Free Press Society (IFPS) president Lars Hedegaard with racism. The IFPS describes itself as an organization "exclusively devoted to defending the right of free expression."

The basis for Hedegaard's prosecution was an interview from December 2009 in which he made controversial statements about Islam. These assertions included critiques of what Hedegaard saw as Islam's permissiveness regarding child abuse and bearing false witness, as well as Islam's general intolerance concerning apostacism and critical speech. Snaphanen, a Danish blog, published the original interview, and Hedegaard has since clarified some of his remarks. [The Legal Project] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

07 August 2010

Beyond the veil

AISHA CHUCKLES as she tells the story of the child that stopped in the middle of a busy Dublin street and stared in astonishment as she walked past, her features obscured by the full-face veil known as the niqab.

“He turned to his mother and asked: ‘Why is that lady dressed up as if it is Halloween?’” she recalls. Aisha (not her real name) moved to Ireland 13 years ago with her husband, an imam at one of Dublin’s smaller mosques. Both adhere to Deobandism, a school of thought which originated in south Asia and hinges on a rigid interpretation of Islam.

Aisha has grown accustomed to the curious glances, the startled double takes and the infrequent scowls her appearance can prompt when she is out shopping or, more recently, taking driving lessons. [The Irish Times] Read more

This isn't the America I love

I remember vividly my first visit to Ground Zero. It was August 2002 and flags, wreaths, cards and floral bouquets still adorned the streets around the 16-acre hole in the ground. One particular image lingers: a navy blue T-shirt, emblazoned with the logo of the New York City Fire Department, on which a mourner had written: "We will never forget the brave firefighters who were killed by terrorists on September 11".

Someone had crossed out the word "terrorists" and replaced it with "Muslims". As a Muslim, I could only despair at the repugnant notion that all Muslims, and indeed Islam itself, shared responsibility for 9/11. But time, I reassured myself, would be a great healer. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

The Paradox of Tolerance

The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. [The Spittoon] Read more

Armed men hiding behind Muslim veils make off with cash at Marseille supermarket

MARSEILLE, France - Police say that armed men hiding behind Muslim veils have emptied the coffers of a French supermarket.

Public Security police say the four or five thieves armed with knives wore niqabs — veils normally worn by women that cover the head and face except for the eyes. They held up a supermarket in a working-class neighbourhood in the northern section of the city Marseille. [The Associated Press] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

06 August 2010

Abu Abdissalam and “War On Islam”

.... It is a list that is typical for iERA, the event organiser, and the LMC too. iERA has a whole set of extremists for advisors, including two men who have been banned from the UK (Bilal Philips and Zakir Naik), while the LMC has welcomed hate preachers for years on end. Several names on the list will be familiar to readers of this blog. Abu Abdissalam, a Saudi-trained British preacher, may not be. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Man at centre of burka controversy 'stabbed'

His lawyers have said that the attack was linked to the debate over whether a prosecution witness should be allowed to testify in the full veil.

The 36-year-old woman had applied to the judge, saying that she would feel uncomfortable and exposed without the veil. However, the move was opposed by defence lawyers who argued that the jury would not be able to read her facial expressions.

The judge is expected to hand down her decision next week, but in the meantime the prime minister Julia Gillard has weighed in, saying that the veil should be removed in court. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Shariah Police in Aceh Cane 5 for Adultery, Gambling

Banda Aceh. More than 1,000 people gathered on Friday in Pidie Jaya to watch the district’s first public canings for violations of Islamic law.

Kuswandi bin Yunus, 35, and Zuraida binti Bagindo Ilyas, 30, each received eight lashes for carrying on an extramarital affair, as a crowd of 1,500 watched outside Pante Geulima Mosque in Meureudu, the district capital.

“Both are married but they still chose to cheat,” said Syamsuddin, from the Wilayatul Hisbah, or Shariah Police. [Jakarta Globe] Read more [via Jidah Watch]

Lower Saxony: Concerns about controversial Islamic school

Security agencies are watching with concern as a controversial Islamic school attempts to move to another location in Germany. They say the school threatens the German constitution and democracy.

The town council of Moenchengladbach has put a temporary stop to the renovation of a building intended as the new location of a controversial Islamic school. A spokesman for the city of Moenchengladbach said that the school, which is attempting to relocate from Braunschweig, did not request the necessary building permit.

The school is affiliated with Salafi Islam and has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Marin Brandenburger, the press officer of Lower Saxony's Office for the Protection of the Constitution - the state's internal security agency, says her organization has been monitoring the school for some time.

"This strain of Islam denies the equality of men and women and considers democracy to be harmful to the religion; it mandates that all un-Islamic elements must be kept out of the religion and out of society," says Brandenburger. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Our dangerous dalliance with radical Islam

Over the past 10 days, like a submarine just below the surface, the outline has become visible of a massive Whitehall row, the outcome of which could be almost as important to our country as fixing the deficit.

The argument is about the influence that Islamism should have in the British state. Islamism should never, by the way, be confused with Islam. Islam is a religion, practised by millions of British citizens who have never sought to overthrow anything in their lives.

Islamism is a revolutionary political doctrine, supported by a small minority of Muslims, whose aim is to overthrow secular democratic government and replace it with Islamic government. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Victory in Ohio for Rifqa Bary Just Days Before She Reaches her Majority

Within five days of reaching her majority, an Ohio juvenile court has granted Christian Convert Rifqa Bary her freedom. It is, as Phyllis Chesler has commented in a Pajamas Media article, like “Christmas came early” for this brilliant plucky young woman who has defied the odds.

With the assistance of her talented pro-bono legal team, Bary has overcome abuse, estrangement from her Muslim parents, ‘lawfare’ by CAIR-backed attorneys and daunting treatment for cancer to finish at the top of her high school class. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Parents' outrage over halal-only school dinners planned for primary schools

A council has triggered a backlash among parents and animal welfare groups after introducing halal-only menus at state schools.

Only meat from animals killed in line with Islamic teaching will be offered at 52 primary schools in Harrow, following a switch by ten secondaries to halal menus.

But parents have voiced concern over the methods used to slaughter animals in this way and say they haven't been properly consulted over the changes. [MailOnline] Read more

Harrow primary schools offer 'halal-only' meat option A north London council is offering its primary schools the chance to serve only halal meat on its menus. Nine Harrow secondary schools already provide pupils with meat prepared according to Islamic law in a scheme that has been running for two years.

Harrow Council said it had received "no complaints" about serving halal-only meat, with vegetarian and fish options. Now 52 primary schools in the area will have the option of taking part in the same programme. [BBC] Read more

Anger over halal-only menus in schools RESIDENTS across Harrow have vented their anger about proposals to have halal-only menus in primary schools in the borough – following the revelation in the Observer last month.

The newspaper revealed exclusively how Harrow Council has employed a catering company to only prepare Halal meat – to serve youngsters in Harrow.

Primary schools are free to opt in to the programme or look elsewhere for their meals but readers are angry that the council has even put the scheme forward. [Harrow Observer] Read more

05 August 2010

U.S. Muslims underestimate 9/11 effect, Muslim thinker warns

There's been plenty of opposition to the plan to build an Islamic center near the site of ground zero in New York, but so far it has overwhelmingly come from outside the Muslim community.

Now a prominent Muslim thinker is warning that the idea is potentially dangerously misguided, and that American Muslims have failed to grasp how deeply the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, affected the country.

"I don't think the Muslim leadership has fully appreciated the impact of 9/11 on America. They assume Americans have forgotten 9/11 and even, in a profound way, forgiven 9/11, and that has not happened. The wounds remain largely open," said Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University in Washington, D.C. [CNN] Read more

Ground Zero Mosque: Another Moment of Truth for the Open Society

.... There's a cultural war wrapped inside a psychodrama here. Or perhaps it's the other way round. This sense that, somehow, the United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of what we term the western world are under assault and that, more's the pity, defeat is imminent.

The responsibility for this catastrophe will be shared by the malevolent forces of evil and their willing, it witless, useful idiots in the liberal west. The latter may even be more responsible, thanks to their supine, craven "dhimmitude" that threatens us all. [The Spectator] Read more

Muslim women 'targeted by extremists' at UK universities

Women are targets as "they arouse less suspicion than men", the Muslim Women's Network says. A growing number of young Muslim women are being radicalised by extremists while studying at UK universities, according to a Muslim women's group.

As one Islamic student group denies it is a problem, BBC News examines how widespread on-campus radicalisation is and why young women in particular are targets.

''I didn't have a plan and I didn't know how I was going to do it. But I had so much anger inside me. I wanted to be heard. [BBC] Read more

The Talibanisation of British childhood by hardline parents

Last November, on the steps of Tate Britain, I witnessed a scene that troubles me still. A furious Asian father was shaking his young son and tearing up the picture his child had drawn.

The boy kicked and cried. Recognising my face from TV appearances I had made as a commentator on current affairs, the father came across to say 'hello'.

So I asked him what his child had done that had made him so angry. He explained that according to his Islamic mentors, drawing pictures of people was forbidden. [MailOnline] Read more

Mainstream Islamic organisations 'share al-Qaeda ideology'

The report, sent to the government’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), was not intended for publication but has now been leaked on the internet. Entitled "Preventing terrorism, where next for Britain?" it says the ideology of non-violent Islamists is “broadly the same as that of violent Islamists” adding “they disagree only on tactics.”

It produces a list of those it believes are “non-violent Islamists” and adds: "These are a selection of the various groups and institutions active in the UK which are broadly sympathetic to Islamism. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

List sent to terror chief aligns peaceful Muslim groups with terrorist ideology A secret list prepared for a top British security official accuses peaceful Muslim groups, politicians, a television channel and a Scotland Yard unit of sharing the ideology of terrorists.

The list was drawn up for Charles Farr, the director general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a directorate of the Home Office. Farr is a former senior intelligence officer. It was sent to him in June by the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism thinktank which has received about £1m in government funding. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Quilliam Foundation respond to the Guardian’s accusations Breaking news! Quilliam dispatched a paper to ministers advising them that the ideology of Islamism is not the same as Islam the diverse faith. Rather, Islamism is the politicisation of Islam.

And finally, that though non-violent Islamists have a legal right to exist, they should not be endorsed or facilitated by Government. We then proceeded to identify those groups most influenced by the ideology of Islamism.

You may be thinking…hold on, is that not what Quilliam has been consistently advising since its inception through both the Labour and coalition Governments? So what’s new? [Pickled Politics] Read more

04 August 2010

Witnesses should remove burqa

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett believes Muslim witnesses giving evidence in court should remove their burqa so the "true nature" of their evidence can be seen.

A Perth judge will decide this week whether she will allow a Muslim woman to wear her full burqa while giving evidence before a jury in a fraud case. District Court Judge Shauna Deane was to hear submissions on Thursday from lawyers on a witness who wishes to wear the burqa. [AAP] Read more

John Esposito: Do Muslims Have Equal Rights?

In recent weeks, Republican politics and attempts across America to block the building of mosques have underscored the impact of Islamophobia in American society.

Republican candidates have jumped on a bandwagon, appealing to racist attitudes towards Islam and Muslims as a political wedge to gain electoral votes in the coming November elections. Bogus charges in 2008 that Barack Obama was a Muslim, as if that should discredit him, is an example of an Islamophobia which is still being used as a political strategy today. This form of political hate speech was addressed by Colin Powell in his endorsement of Obama when he asked: [loonwatch.com] Read more

Germany: "We want to live here with our culture"

I recently translated an article about a school in the German town of Essen where 70% of the students are Muslims and the Germans are a discriminated minority. The entire show is now online with English subtitles: parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The entire show is interesting, with some very frank discussions between the students. During a discussion on sexual mores in German and Muslim cultures (AKA 'why German girls are sluts'), one of the Muslim students explained why Muslim boys won't have sex with Muslim girls. Later, he explains why he feels discriminated.

The school was closed down at the end of this past school year and the students reassigned to other schools. [Islam in Europe] Read more

03 August 2010

Voltaire on Islam

For many Muslims the name Voltaire is one held in anathema. His rationalism is not the issue, but he is forever scarred as the author of a play in which Mahomet is the icon of fanaticism.

While it is obvious that the real target of the play was Catholicism and not Islam, the mere fact that Muhammad becomes the scapegoat is a difficult trope to accept for quite a few Muslims. But Voltaire often praised Islam in contrast to the blood-crazed Christianity of his day. Consider the following comment:

The legislator of the Muslims, a powerful and terrible man, established his dogmas with his arms and courage; however his religion became indulgent and tolerant. The divine institutor of Christianity, living in peace and humility, preached pardon, and his holy, sweet religion became, through our fury, the most intolerant and barbaric of all. Or the following, preferring Islam over ancient Judaism: [Tabsir] Read more

Tory MPs say Home Office officials who disagree with Zakir Naik ban should quit

The Daily Telegraph disclosed in June that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, had barred Zakir Naik, a 44-year-old Indian television preacher who once claimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”, from a lecture tour in the UK.

It emerged at the weekend that Sabin Khan, an adviser in the Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), had been suspended after allegedly criticising Mrs May in private. It was also alleged that Miss Khan had said she and Charles Farr, the office’s director-general, were “gutted and mortified” by the ban. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

"Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic"

Whenever I have pointed out that Islam views music negatively and that some schools of Islamic law even ban it outright, I get called an "Islamophobe" -- so I guess Khameni is an "Islamophobe" as well.

There Is No Fun In Islam* Update from the Islamic Republic: "Music fails to chime with Islamic values, says Iran's supreme leader," by Saeed Kamali Dehghan in The Guardian, August 2 (thanks to all who sent this in): [Jihad Watch] Read more

Is fear of Islam the new McCarthyism?

Religious freedom and the right of free expression are the strongest source of power Americans have for combating radicals who use Islam as the excuse for their violent extremism. The struggle with such extremists will not, indeed cannot, be won with military force, but through the power of our values.

If there is a "narrative" abroad in the world that justifies violence against the West because the West "hates Islam," the way to correct that narrative is with the practice of our cherished ideals of religious freedom and tolerance for diversity of opinion.

[COMMENT] The writer fails to look at the other side. There is one argument used, that says any criticism of Islam means that you 'hate all Muslims' Which of course is oppressive as well ~ to make any criticism of Islam ~ the 1000 year-old philosophy ~ first you have to stoop to this sentiment and explain that you don't 'hate' a billion Muslims. We are already in a new McCarthyism ~ but one coming from the political correct Left [but not always]. [The Washington Post] Read more

Newt Gingrich speaks on Islam and the danger America faces today Yes I know lots of you do not have time to watch all the videos I post on this site and to be fair, it would take up a large part of one’s day to do so. But please, watch this one. Newt is fantastic and calls it like it is. He makes me want to make a T shirt saying: “2+2=4? RACIST! My little objection to the dialectic scam. In any case please do watch this superb video of Newt G. Really, it is worth your time. [Vlad Tepes] Read more

Spencer: Gingrich Sounds the Alarm about the Stealth Jihad In Human Events this morning I discuss Newt Gingrich's recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute:

Newt Gingrich has become the first major politician to acknowledge that the problem America faces today from Islamic jihadists is not simply one of terrorism, but of a larger attempt to insinuate elements of Islamic law (sharia) into American society, and to assert the principle that where sharia and American law conflict, it is American law that must give way. [Jihad Watch] Read more

02 August 2010

Criticism of First Turkish-German Minister Grows

.... And last week, she caused an outcry when she called on journalists to sign a so-called "media charter for Lower Saxony," in which they were supposed to agree to common standards for reporting about integration efforts in the state.

Those who signed the charter would be obligated to report on the facts and challenges of integration and to "support the integration process in Lower Saxony in the long term" as well as to "initiate and attend to projects" that further that goal. She also demanded that journalists use "culturally sensitive language."

The move drew criticism not only from journalists, but also from members of the political opposition as well as her own party. [Spiegal Online] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Tory party chairman says Muslim women SHOULD be allowed to wear the Burka

Wearing a burka does not prevent Muslim women ‘engaging in everyday life’ in Britain, the Conservative Party chairman Sayeeda Warsi claimed yesterday.

Lady Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet, defended the right of women to choose to wear the burka in comments that will reignite the row about the full face veil. [MailOnline] Read more

Losing Turkey to the Islamists

.... Instead, we deluded ourselves with two clichés, an old one and a new one. The old cliché is that the AKP isn’t really an Islamist party; it’s a moderate Islamist party, sort of the Muslim equivalent of Europe’s Christian Democrats. The new cliché is that the AKP isn’t really an Islamist party; it’s a neo-Ottoman party.

The truth is that the AKP is, and always has been, an Islamist party, and there is nothing moderate or Ottoman-like about it. I’ve written before about why a “moderate Islamist party” is a Western fantasy, a contradiction in terms, concocted by people who are blind to the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity. [National Review Online] Read more

Three-quarters of non-Muslims believe Islam negative for Britain

Muslim organisation calls for efforts to improve awareness as four-fifths of those polled admit to little knowledge of the faith. Three-quarters of non-Muslims believe Islam has provided a negative contribution to British society, according to a new poll, which has prompted calls for Muslims to help improve the perception of their faith.

The study for the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) also found that 63% of people surveyed did not disagree with the statement "Muslims are terrorists" and 94% agreed that "Islam oppresses women". It included qualitative as well as quantitative data. One respondent said: ""If I had my way I'd kick them all [Muslims] out of here."

The results follow an online YouGov poll, published in June, that found 58% linked Islam with extremism and 69% believed it encouraged the repression of women. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

New poll reveals 3/4 of UK population believe Islam is negative for Britain .... This latter result is baffling if one is to understand the results comprehensively. Where 76% claim not to have spoken to a Muslim about Islam and when knowledge of Islam from primary sources (Qur’an, or from Muslims directly) is so weak among those interviewed, and yet opinions towards Muslims so negative, it begs the question of what informs this negative disposition? [ENGAGE] Read more

01 August 2010

Geert Wilders Message to Muslims

Muslims Debate asked Mr. Geert Wilders why he became anti-Islam and what is his message to the Muslims? Geert Wilders: I first visited an Islamic country in 1982. I was 18 years old and had traveled with a Dutch friend from Eilat in Israel to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.

We were two almost penniless backpacking students. We slept on the beaches and found hospitality with Egyptians, who spontaneously invited us to tea. I clearly recall my very first impression of Egypt: I was overwhelmed by the kindness, friendliness and helpfulness of its people. I also remember my second strong impression of Egypt: It struck me how frightened these friendly and kind people were. [TheOPINIONATOR] Read more [via EuropeNews]