30 September 2010

Lady Warsi accuses Asian community of electoral fraud

.... She said "At least three seats where we lost, where we didn't gain the seat, based on electoral fraud. Now, could we have planned for that in the campaign? Absolutely not. I think it would be wrong to start identifying them . . .

It is predominantly within the Asian community. I have to look back and say we didn't do well in those communities, but was there something over and above that we could have done? Well, actually not, if there is going to be voter fraud." [The Iconoclast] Read more

Most Germans see Muslims as a 'burden': poll

A majority of Germans believe the country's roughly four million Muslims are an economic burden, a poll showed Thursday, adding further fire to a raging immigration debate in Europe's top economy.

The survey, by the Allensbach Institute for the Financial Times Deutschland, showed that 55 percent of Germans thought Muslims "cost considerably more socially and financially than they produce economically."

Only one fifth of those polled believed the opposite. Anti-Muslim feeling was strongest in economically depressed East Germany, where 74 percent had a negative view. [Expatica] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

29 September 2010

Gay film festival attacked by masked Islamic protesters

An international film festival celebrating gay cinema was yesterday targeted by masked Islamic hardliners in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

The protesters, members of the Islamic Defenders Front, chanted homophobic slogans and accused organisers of the Q! film festival, now in its ninth year, of blasphemy, threatening to burn down a venue if screenings did not halt. The event, which is being held at foreign cultural centres in Jakarta, opened last week and was scheduled to run until Wednesday night. It aims to raise awareness of gay issues. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

US cartoon strip rejected for even mentioning Muhammad

.... Via the MediaWatchWatch blog, we learn of a bizarre case of self-censorship in the US, in which "upwards of 20" newspapers rejected an edition of Wiley Miller's popular Non Sequitur cartoon strip on the grounds that it depicted "a lazy, sunny park scene with the caption, “Picture book title voted least likely to ever find a publisher… ‘Where’s Muhammad?’"

An amusing satire on the widespread fear of publishing anything that comes close to depicting the Prophet Muhammad, don't you think? Sadly, satire appears to be dying, as editors go one step further by displaying a fear of publishing anything that comes close to satirising the widespread fear of publishing anything that comes close to depicting the Prophet Muhammad. [New Humanist] Read more

Against its wishes, Europe’s political class is deep in immigration debates

.... The magazine Der Spiegel mentioned “the danger of an emotional and irrational debate that would give a new impetus to the rightmost fringe.” True, the right has got some impetus out of the Sarrazin affair.

But the taboo that is being broken is not the one the German mainstream press thinks. Until now the debate over immigration has been platitudinous, based on moral uplift, lecturing, and exhortations to fellow feeling.

Sarrazin’s book merely asks Germany’s political leadership to look at the numbers. The threat to them is not of an irrational debate but a rational one. [The Weekly Standard] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

28 September 2010

Salafis pose threat to Muslim women, says alderman

.... Though orthodox Muslims might not be a danger to society, they're a threat to the personal freedom of Muslim girls and women, Amsterdam diversity alderman, Andrée van Es (GroenLinks), said in response to a recent study on Salafism.

The report concluded that strictly orthodox Muslims are not a threat to Dutch society. This is also due to the enormous social control in Salafist communities: the faithful consistently check each other, and continuously speak of what is allowed and what isn't. [Islam in Europe] Read more

27 September 2010

Modern, moderate Malaysian government warns that "stern action" will be taken against those who "insult Islam"

They want to "avoid any untoward incidence" -- i.e., Muslims going mad and murdering innocent people because of something this priest said. And so we see once again that terrorism and violent intimidation work, which will only ensure that we will see much more of both.

.... The Malaysian government will not keep quiet to any form of insult against Islam in the country to avoid any untoward incidence. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Disneyland OKs headscarf for Muslim employee

A Muslim woman who said Disneyland wouldn't let her wear a religious headscarf on her job as a vacation planner or ticket seller - the second such complaint in recent weeks - has reached an agreement with the Southern California theme park and is now wearing a Disney-provided blue scarf and beret-style hat to work.

The 22-year-old Chicago woman, Noor Abdallah, was hired this summer as an intern after a phone interview. But when she arrived for her orientation in mid-August, Disney representatives asked why she had not mentioned her headscarf, says Munira Syeda, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. [USA TODAY] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Means Diddly Squat... Daily Star censured by PCC over Rochdale squat loo story

Adam Sheppard complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined Muslim-only public loos, published in the Daily Star on 15 July 2010, was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice. The complaint was upheld.

The front-page article reported that a Rochdale shopping centre had installed Muslim-only squat-hole loos, and that the local council had wasted YOUR money on them. [Religious Watch] Read more

26 September 2010

Netherlands: Radicalism level higher among Moroccans

According to a study by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (University of Amsterdam) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 8% of the Dutch Muslims see themselves as very religious: 12% of Moroccans and 5% of Turks. This comes out to 24,000 very orthodox Moroccan Muslims and 12,000 very orthodox Turkish Muslims.

These people do not shake hands with people of the opposite sex, don't listen to non-religious music and prefer not to go to places where both men and women are present. They support a theocracy and distinguish themselves by accepting violence. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Prominent German feminist weighs in loudly on headscarf debate

.... Germany's best known and most outspoken feminist has called for a ban on headscarves for girls in German schools. Her new book, a plea for integration over Islamism, is likely to stir controversy.

The headscarf is more than just a piece of fabric, more than just another article of clothing, and definitely not some hip lifestyle accessory that heavily made-up girls should use to add a little color to their wardrobe.

No, the head scarf is a "flag and symbol of Islamists" which "followed a crusade all the way to the heart of Europe by the 1980s." Or so says iconic German feminist Alice Schwarzer in her new book, "The Great Cover Up: For Integration, against Islamism". [Deutsche Welle] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

25 September 2010

Did the media stand up in support of a threatened Seattle cartoonist? Not really

... Norris was indignant at this use of threats of violence to stifle free speech. In protest, she drew a lighthearted cartoon of a poster announcing "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Tongue firmly in cheek, she named the day's sponsor as a nonexistent group: "Citizens against Citizens against Humor."

Today, Norris fears for her own life. On the FBI's advice, she's "gone ghost" -- changed her name and identity and abandoned her livelihood. The reason: A radical Muslim imam has called for her assassination on grounds that she blasphemed against Islam. [Star Tribune] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Extremists in Sweden ride immigration wave

In a seismic upheaval in Swedish politics, an extreme-right movement accused of being Islamophobic has won seats in the country's Parliament, observers say.

Election victories by the Sweden Democrats, a party widely denounced as "racist and neo-Nazi," have probably saddled the country with a fragile minority government, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.

Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson, 31, celebrated his party winning nearly 6 percent of the vote by declaring: "We're in." [UPI] Read more

Is Sharia Law Creeping Into American Lives?

.... “You can see the tell tale signs of creeping Sharia Law (Islamic law) through lawsuits and demands made by Muslims in America on an almost daily basis.

Whether it’s the Somali Muslim cabdrivers (Mpls.,MN) who refuse to pick up fares who have been consuming alcohol to disabled people with a service canine or it could be something like Muslims demanding foot baths in a public building, it’s the incremental creep of imposing Sharia Law in the US.” [Canada Free Press] Read more

Top supermarkets secretly sell halal: Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, and M&S don't tell us meat is ritually slaughtered

Britain's biggest supermarket chains are selling halal lamb and chicken without telling unsuspecting shoppers.

Those stocking meat slaughtered according to Islamic law include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op. And a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that fast-food chains including Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC, ­Nando’s and Subway are also using halal meat without ­telling customers.

But the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, Asda, has refused to confirm or deny whether it sells halal meat. [MailOnline] Read more

Police fear protesters plan to attack Leicester mosque

Police fear protesters plan to attack a city mosque before marching into the heart of Leicester's Muslim community. Concerns were voiced by Chief Constable Simon Cole in a report to Leicester City Council about the planned march by the English Defence League on October 9.

The Chief Constable said that an intelligence and threat assessment indicated a "major threat" to public order. His report said: "Intelligence dated September 8, 2010, indicated that the EDL intend to come to Leicester and attack a mosque before marching into the Highfields area, which represents the highest resident population of the Muslim community. [Leicester Mercury] Read more

New Zealand - Islamic community demand apology

Prime Minister John Key has been asked to reprimand building minister Maurice Williamson for recent jokes he made about Muslims. Williamson last month made jokes about Muslims at a building awards ceremony in Auckland. He also teased the MC Oscar Kightley, the Samoan star of Sione's Wedding, asking if his "papers were in order".

The rest of his routine included jokes such as: "What is the difference between Muslims and Kiwis? Muslims get to commit adultery and get stoned, Kiwis get stoned and commit adultery." [The Iconoclast] Read more

How 70% of New Zealand lamb imports to Britain are halal... but this is NOT put on the label

More than 70 per cent of the New Zealand lamb sold in Britain comes from halal slaughterhouses without the fact being declared on the label.

All the slaughtermen in these establishments must be Muslim and say a prayer when making the cut across the animal’s throat which kills it.

The New Zealand meat industry has taken the step to ensure its lamb can be sold in Muslim markets round the world. [MailOnline] Read more

24 September 2010

Belgium: Protest against headscarf ban more radical than reported

....The playground was crowded that evening. About 50 people gathered in the inner courtyard. It wasn't clear who belonged to the school, who was a parent and who came to the school to start a row.

During my speech I said that I visited the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and there, out of respect for Islam, removed my shoes and put on a veil. Then the playground exploded. I apparently stepped on some very sensitive toes. I wanted to talk of reciprocity, but I couldn't finish my sentence. There was calling, screaming..

I was later able to finish my story in order give the floor to imam Taouil. To my complete surprise, he didn't keep our agreement of several hours before that, but began to incite the children in the playground. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Italy: Muslims appeal to president over 'discrimination' in north

Muslims in Italy have written to the country's president Giorgio Napolitano claiming their constitutional rights are being violated by the anti-immigrant policies of the Northern League party.

A lack of mosques and halal food outlets in the north were especially serious problems, said the letter to Napolitano (photo), written by the union of Islamic communities in Italy (UCOII). Adnkronos International received a copy of the letter.

"I write to you as the custodian and guarantor of the Italian constitution the Italian's Republic's highest judge, to draw to your attention the day-to-day difficulties faced by Muslims in a large area of the country," said the letter signed by UCOII's president Ezzeddin Elzir. [AKI] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Call to cover up burqa mural

Newtown, a Sydney suburb better known for its mural celebrating US civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, has a new piece of street art with what appears to be a very different message.

It is a large painting of a woman wearing a burqa. She is within a red circle with a slash through it. The mural on Station Street has provoked strong reactions from passers-by; some see it as anti-Muslim. Marrickville Council, acting on complaints, is investigating legal avenues to have it removed. [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Catholic school 'could be run by mosque'

Sacred Heart primary in Blackburn could become the first Catholic school in Britain to be converted into an Islamic faith school following a dramatic change in the pupil population.

More than nine-in-10 of the school's pupils were Catholic a decade ago but that number plummeted to just three per cent this year. The local diocese admitted the school – which must have a Catholic head teacher and devote 10 per cent of the timetable to Christian-based religious education – was no longer “serving the needs” of the community. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

In old Istanbul quarter, Islamic and secular Turks grope toward coexistence

.... The two sisters wear Islamic head scarves and say they have no problem with their secular friends and classmates, who don't. Yet on the streets, in classrooms and along the hallways of apartment buildings in the cramped Fatih district of Istanbul, Deniz and Daria Ker remind them every now and then that they'll stew in a fiery hell if they don't cover up.

"We say, 'If a single strand of hair comes out and a man sees it, you'll be damned for 40 years,'" says Daria, an 18-year-old high school student, a white head scarf covering her head as she helps her 20-year-old sister work the cash register of a children's clothing store. "It's a must in our religion." [Los Angeles Times] Read more

Muslim veil ban on students and visitors sparks row at top college

Staff posted a notice in the reception area advising anyone coming on site to ‘remove items of clothing which cover their face’. But the move has angered Muslim groups who say people should be allowed to wear what they like.

The ban is ‘an essential element for a safe environment’ said Burnley College in Lancashire. However, the University of Central Lancashire, which operates out of the same campus, permits veils.

‘There are human rights issues at stake here. People have the right and freedom to wear what they want,’ said Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques. [Metro] Read more

Islam and Homosexuality: The Problem Isn't Religion But Those Who Lead It

Of the 76 countries that persecute people for their sexual orientation, Iran will let an Islamic judge put them to death; Mauritania and Yemen will kill by public stoning; Saudi Arabia and parts of Nigeria and Somalia will do it based on their interpretation of Sharia law; Sudan will kill their citizens; and Iraq will sit passively as rogue militias hunt, torture and kill LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons. [The Huffington Post] Read more

23 September 2010

Is burning the Qur'an a crime?

.... It's a breathtaking display of moronic behaviour and intolerance, and I'd be lying if I said I felt any real sympathy for the culprits, but the fact of some men getting arrested for burning a book does pose some difficult questions.

If they'd done it outside a mosque, I'd personally have no problem with them being arrested for incitement, but it seems they have been arrested for the straightforward "crime" of burning a copy of the Qur'an, with the location and audience not being relevant – writing over at Index on Censorship, Padraig Reidy suggests that the arrests aren't even based on the video being posted online, but rather the simple fact of a Qur'an being set on fire.

[COMMENT] I agree that Qur’an burners are mindless idiots. I disagree that it would have been OK for them to have been arrested for ‘incitement’, even had they done it front of a mosque. There are two notions of incitement that all too often get conflated.

The first is incitement in the sense of directly persuading others to commit violence. The second is incitement in the sense of causing offence that provokes others to be violent. Incitement in the first sense should be illegal. Incitement in the second sense should not. [New Humanist] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Muslims Report Rising Discrimination at Work

At a time of growing tensions involving Muslims in the United States, a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination, from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.

Such complaints were increasing even before frictions erupted over the planned Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, with Muslim workers filing a record 803 such claims in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. That was up 20 percent from the previous year and up nearly 60 percent from 2005, according to federal data.

The number of complaints filed since then will not be announced until January, but Islamic groups say they have received a surge in complaints recently, suggesting that 2010’s figure will set another record. [The New York Times] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Feminists should see through a garment that crudely defines women

.... As Fautmeh Ardati told a Lakemba rally, burqa-wearers reject "the Western secular way of life, which robs a woman of her dignity, honour and respect, where she is considered little more than a commodity to be bought and sold".

Never mind the "go home then" response that such sentiments invite. That's childish, I expect, and - worse - predictable. More interesting is to unpick the garment's all-important symbology.

Is the burqa dignified? Does it show respect and sexual modesty? Is that what's really going on? Or is it the opposite? Does the burqa reduce a woman to concentrated essence of sex. [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Increasing violence against Christians in Indonesia

Thirty Christian churches have been attacked in Indonesia this year, according to a statement issued September 23 by Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The organization, which draws attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, noted: Churches in Indonesia, particularly West Java, are facing an increasing campaign of intimidation and harassment by extremist Islamist groups. [Catholic Culture] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Qaradawi, Quilliam and Bob Pitt

Bob Pitt, who runs the Islamophobia Watch blog, has attacked the Quilliam Foundation for their criticism of Islamist ideologue, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Pitt is a big fan of Qaradawi's, and has rigorously defended him in the past. Now, I could bore readers with yet another analysis and explanation of Qaradawi's extreme positions regarding suicide bombing, femal genital mutilation, homosexuality and Jews, but that's not necessary because this video says it all really: [Standpoint] Read more

A reply to George Readings on Qaradawi The Quilliam Foundation claims to be a think-tank combating extremism, particularly within the Muslim community. However, as the recently leaked briefing document “Preventing terrorism: where next for Britain?” has demonstrated, Quilliam’s real objective is to misrepresent and smear those mainstream Muslim organisations and individuals who are the leading forces in countering extremist interpretations of their faith. [Socialist Unity] Read more

Why Ken Livingstone Is Pamela Geller There is an excellent piece by George Readings at Left Foot Forward. It is a response to a recent interview with Ken Livingstone, in which he states: I think the fact that Sheikh Qaradawi has been banned is a disgrace; he is one of the leading progressive voices in the Muslim world

Livingstone also says: Although there’s a huge smear campaign organized by Zionists. When I met this man …. he’s a progressive, humble person who is looking at how Islam can engage with the rest of the world and we should support him. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Livingstone: Al-Qaradawi is a “leading progressive voice” in Muslim world Should a man who supports wife-beating, FGM, and either lashing or killing homosexuals, really be considered a “progressive”?

In an interview with Ahmed Versi of The Muslim News, Labour Mayoral candidate and former London mayor, Ken Livingstone, appeared to suggest that he should. [Left Foot Forward] Read more

Muslim inmates suing Pierce County Jail

Two Muslim inmates from the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma are suing, claiming they are banned from practicing their religion. The lawsuit was filed this week in federal court in Tacoma with the help of the ACLU and Public Interest Law Group, The News Tribune reported Thursday. The lawsuit also names the sheriff's department, which runs the jail, and eight jail officials.

Raymond Wesley Garland and Larry Edward Tarrer say the jail prohibits Muslims from group prayer, bans certain religious clothing and refuses to accommodate their diet. A deputy prosecutor who represents the jail, Craig Adams, disputes the claims. He says the jail offers Muslims meals without pork and allows them to pray together and perform ritual cleansing. [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS] Read more

Islamic accommodations in Washington state jails: Power plays and priorities Regarding uniforms, and Muslim inmates' complains about bans on "certain religious clothing": Of all places, the social equalizer that uniforms provide is essential to attempting to keep the peace in a jail. The last thing one ought to want in a place where no one wants to be, but they all got there for a reason, is the emergence of a visibly privileged class to stir the pot.

One must wonder what the specific grievance is: no skullcaps? When did they become a pillar of Islam? Or, are the pants too long, trailing on the ground in a most un-Sunnah way? Either way, one returns to the fundamental purpose of having uniforms in the first place. [Jihad Watch] Read more

22 September 2010

U.S. monitoring 11 sites for possible discrimination against Muslims

The U.S. Justice Department has said it is monitoring 11 cases of potential land-use discrimination against Muslims, a sharp increase in cases under a federal law designed to protect religious minorities in zoning disputes.

In a report on discrimination against mosques, synagogues, churches and other religious sites, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said on Tuesday it has monitored 18 cases of possible bias against Muslims over the past 10 years. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Cover up for pool event during next year's Ramadan

A PLAN to force families to cover up to avoid offending Muslims at a public event has triggered furious debate. An overwhelming 94 per cent of heraldsun.com.au readers disagree with the legal ruling approving the contentious ban during next year's Ramadan.

So far the Premier John Brumby has refused to weigh into the debate about the event, saying he will wait to see the VCAT ruling before making any comment.

VCAT has approved a ban on uncovered shoulders and thighs for a community event to be held at the Dandenong Oasis, a municipal pool. [Herald Sun] Read more

Moves to outlaw full Muslim veil in Catholic schools

MUSLIM girls should not wear a full veil in Catholic secondary schools, new guidelines have recommended. While no pupil or staff member should be prevented from wearing a religious symbol or garment, such as a turban for Sikh boys or a hijab for Muslim girls, there should be a distinction between the hijab and the niqab.

The niqab (left) is a full veil worn over a Muslim girl's face. The guidelines says that although the wearing of a niqab is a rare occurrence, it would be unsatisfactory for a teacher not to be able to see and engage properly with a pupil whose face is covered. [Herald.ie] Read more

21 September 2010

SPD Boss Calls for Tougher Integration Measures

Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party, is calling for tougher integration policies in his country.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE on Monday, he said that immigrants who refuse to participate in programs offered by the government to help foreigners integrate are as unwelcome as hate preachers who have found homes in some of the country's mosques and receive their funding from abroad. [Spiegal Online] Read more

Lutfur Rahman Suspended From The Labour Party

I have just been told that Labour’s NEC has suspended Lutfur Rahman, the IFE-supported candidate for Mayor. Readers of this blog will be aware of the detailed and serious allegations of vote banking that have been made in relation to this candidate.

Suspension from the Labour Party will mean that Lutfur Rahman cannot run as the Labour candidate for Mayor. That will mean that the IFE/ELM clique will not get their hands on the £1 billion budget that Tower Hamlets will command. Perhaps RESPECT will take him on as their candidate. [Harry’s Place] Read more

20 September 2010

New Report: Debunking the ‘Islamisation’ Myth

.... I seek to counter the arguments of the proponents of the notion of ‘Islamisation’ by comparing these messages of doom with the reality of the situation in Britain today. I argue that the ‘Islamisation’ myth is a myth precisely because it is simply isn’t based on credible evidence.

In Britain, militant anti-Muslim bigotry has now reared its head in the form of the English Defence League, an organisation founded with the explicit aim of combating ‘Islamisation’. The EDL is an organisation that has been set up to fight a mythical enemy and, in failing to find this enemy, it seems inevitable that the next phase of the campaign will be to target Muslims as a whole, and there are strong indications that this is already happening.

[COMMENT] No right minded person wants progroms against muslim people in the UK. However there is nothing wrong in holding the view that Islam is a pernicious belief system which seeks to promote itself at the expence of others or that it has an imperial mission.

Falling back on stale post modernist arguments about ‘fear of the other’ and past ‘decline of the west’ fear mongering about the jews or the yellow peril in the C19th changes this at all. [Harry’s Place] Read more

No male prison guards for women who have to remove their headscarves

Muslim women who are arrested and have to give up their headscarf in jail, should not be confronted with male guards, according to a recent decision by the national ombudsman. The ombudsman responded to a complaint by a woman held in custody who had to hand her headscarf to two female guards while two male colleagues looked on.

The woman saw this as a serious breach of her integrity and beliefs. The ombudsman ruled that the police indeed failed to respect the freedom of religion, and said the conduct was improper. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Majority approve debate following Sarrazin's claims

A majority of Austrians regard Thilo Sarrazin’s controversial ideas a "justified approach" to re-discuss integration issues, a poll has shown.

Viennese researchers Karmasin found 51 per cent of Austrians said the outgoing Deutsche Bundesbank executive board member’s statements were a good starting point to kick off a discussion about Austrian immigration and integration issues. Only 39 per cent said they did not agree, magazine profil reports today (Mon).

German pollsters said recently six in 10 Germans consider the German Social Democrat’s (SPD) remarks – made in his new book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany Abolishes Itself) – a justified bid to start a fresh debate about immigration and integration of Muslims and other ethnic groups. [Austrian Independent] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Can’t speak without asking my husband first, says ‘liberated’ Muslim woman

At a rally in Australia in support of the veil – where one speaker after another sang the praises of Islam, and the “liberation” it bestows on its females – one burqa’d woman, approached for a comment by the Sydney Morning Herald, said she would have to ask her husband before speaking to the paper. When asked if she needed her husband’s permission to speak, she said: We are allowed but we choose not to. [The Freethinker] Read more

It's un-Australian ... rally condemns push to ban burqa

Islamic values are superior to ''flawed'' Western secular values and non-Muslims are in no position to lecture Muslims about the oppression of women, a speaker said yesterday at a Sydney rally against proposals to ban the burqa.

''Despite the intense negative propaganda against Islam and in particular the lies about its treatment of women, the number of Western women embracing Islam continues to rise at a rapid rate,'' said Fautmeh Ardati, a member of the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. ''By turning their backs on this flawed way of life, it is testament of the superiority of Islamic values over Western values.'' [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Hirsi Ali takes on right-wing party

.... She spoke about the importance of integrating non-Western immigrants in Europe and teaching boys about women's rights and sexual morality in the West from an early age.

After building up the party faithful by suggesting that immigrants should enter into a contract to respect the conditions in Danish society, Ali stoked the fire further by saying in English: ‘I do not understand Danish, but I've heard rumours that your party will stop all immigration from non-western countries?’

After meeting applause again from the crowd, Ali turned on them with the rebuke, ‘I too am from a non-Western country,’ and that ‘it is wrong to say that all non-Westerners can’t be integrated into Denmark’. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

19 September 2010

No pork served in half of Dutch speaking schools

Vlaams Belang checked how many school kitchens have adapted to 'the multicultural context' in the Dutch-language educational system in Brussels. Slightly more than half of the 61 schools they've surveyed do not serve pork, so as not to disgust the Muslim community. 12% of the schools serve halal exclusively.

"Appaling," says Brussels fraction chairman Dominiek Lootens, who calls halal slaughter 'barbaric". Vlaams Belang says it's unprecedented that non-Muslim children are forced to eat halal meat, often without their or their parents' knowledge. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Britain goes halal... but no-one tells the public: How famous institutions serve ritually slaughtered meat with no warning

A Mail on Sunday investigation - which will alarm anyone concerned about animal cruelty - has revealed that schools, hospitals, pubs and famous sporting venues such as Ascot and Twickenham are controversially serving up meat slaughtered in accordance with strict Islamic law to unwitting members of the public.

All the beef, chicken and lamb sold to fans at Wembley has secretly been prepared in accordance with sharia law, while Cheltenham College, which boasts of its ‘strong Christian ethos’, is one of several top public schools which also serves halal chicken to pupils without informing them. [MailOnline] Read more

Diners 'unknowingly eating Halal' at Wembley Halal meat is prepared in accordance with Sharia law Sporting venues across London routinely serve Halal meat to customers without informing them, it has emerged.

Many Muslims only eat Halal meat, which is from animals whose throats have been cut to drain them of blood while they are still alive and conscious. But the RSPCA said the form of slaughter was cruel if the animals were not stunned.

Twickenham and Wembley Stadiums and Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital admitted they served it without telling diners. A spokesman for Twickenham Stadium in south London said: "We do use Halal on match days. [BBC] Read more

18 September 2010

Anti-burqa bill tabled in Italian parliament

Italy's anti-immigrant North League party has introduced a bill in the lower house of parliament seeking ban on burqa, the full body veil worn by Muslim women.

According to the legislation, wearing burqa will be punishable by a year in prison, fines of 150 to 300 euros for the wearer and 30,000 euros for anyone forcing a woman to don the face-covering Islamic garment. Anyone coercing a minor or a disabled woman into wearing a burqa will be eligible for a 60,000-euro fine. [IANS/AKI] Read more

Gingrich blasts Democratic establishment at annual summit

.... Perhaps the former House Speaker's loudest applause came when he weighed in on the controversial Islamic center and mosque proposed to be built near ground zero, declaring, "We as Americans don't have to tolerate people who are supportive of violence against us, building something at the sight of the violence."

"This is not about religious liberty, they want to build that mosque in the South Bronx, frankly they need the jobs," he said. "But I am totally opposed to any effort to impose Sharia on the United States, and we should have a federal law that says under no circumstance, in any jurisdiction in the United States, will Sharia be used in any court to apply to any judgment made about American law." [CNN] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

17 September 2010

Islamophobia and a German central banker

.... Sarrazin’s arguments are part of a European backlash against multiculturalism, the notion that all cultures are equal and society is enriched by encouraging separate cultures to exist side by side rather than blending into one.

The first serious critique of the concept came from the left, with an essay in 2000 by the Dutch author Paul Scheffer who said multiculturalism had blinded politicians to the fact that ethnic minorities, mainly Muslims, had higher rates of unemployment, poverty, school drop-outs and crime and that they failed to integrate. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Berlin issues guidelines on integrating Muslim pupils in schools

If you’re a teacher in Germany and are unsure whether to allow your Muslim pupils to pray at school, to skip swimming lessons or wear the veil, you may want to consult a new handbook aimed at dealing with the sometimes tricky task of reconciling Muslim practices with German schooling.

Berlin’s Ministry for Education, Science and Research has just published a guide called “Islam and School” giving practical advice on how to resolve these issues and encourage “people to live together respectfully and peacefully”, which you can find in German here. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Belgium: Apartheid in school

An elementary school in Lokeren has several immigrant-only classes, reports East Flanders broadcaster TV OOST. The school, whose student body is 70% immigrants, wants to fight the decrease in the number of Flemish children. Some parents say this is pure discrimination.

Principal Luc Audenaert says that this was by request of the parents, who prefer their children sit in class with friends they also see after school.

Flemish Education Minister Pascal Smet wants to first investigate the issue, but says that it seems evident that children should be in mixed classes.

Some Flemish parents think the division is shameful and the mother of one immigrant girl asks how can the children learn Flemish this way. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Sweden Democrats fear Islamic revolution

... The Iranian revolution came up as Söder was explaining statements made by Sweden Democrat international secretary Kent Ekeroth, who could also find himself with a seat in the Riksdag following Sunday’s vote.

Ekeroth said previously that “Sweden and western countries are at risk of going out with a whimper” because of the influence of Islam, drawing a connection to 1400 years of Muslim aggression.

Nor did Ekeroth see any real distinction between ordinary Muslims and militant Islamists. “I think that he brings up a very timely problem and as I see it, Islamification is a question of destiny for the entire western wold,” Söder told TT. According to Söder, all Muslims are “bearers of an ideology”. [The Local] Read more

Bomb suspect 'targeted' Danish paper Jyllands-Posten

The suspect received facial injuries Danish police think a man hurt in a blast was making a letter bomb to use against a newspaper which published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The man was arrested in a park in Copenhagen on 10 September after a small explosion at a nearby hotel. Police spokesman Svend Foldager said the device would have had the explosive force of a hand grenade.

He was "reasonably confident" Jyllands-Posten had been targeted by the suspect, who denies any crime. [BBC] Read more

Cartoonist behind 'Draw Mohammed' Facebook page goes into hiding

Molly Norris, of Seattle, Washington, has moved and changed her name following a call for her assassination by US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. The Seattle weekly newspaper said: "You may have noticed that Molly Norris's comic is not in the paper this week.

That's because there is no more Molly. "The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI she is, as they put it, 'going ghost' - moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Top Conservatives Support anti-Muslim Inquisition

I wrote earlier for IPS about the new Center for Security Policy report “Shariah: The Threat to America,” authored by a team billing itself as “Team B II” (in reference to the 1970s Team B notorious for its alarmist and now-discredited estimates of Soviet military capabilities).

.... The central problem with the report is that the authors identify “sharia” with the most literalistic and brutal versions of sharia, and therefore fail to understand what the term might actually mean to the bulk of Muslims worldwide. ... As a result their prescriptions would amount in practice to a criminalization of virtually any form of Islam. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Forget 'Ground Zero Mosque', It's the Great Sharia Conspiracy A new report denouncing the threat to the U.S. from sharia, or Islamic law, marks the latest development in a summer filled with intensifying attacks on Islam in the United States.

Several Republican members of Congress endorsed the new Center for Security Policy (CSP) report, "Shariah: The Threat to America", at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

The report proposes the alarming conclusion that many apparently-lawful U.S. Muslims are waging a "stealth jihad" to impose sharia on the U.S. through peaceful means, and that virtually all major Muslim-American organisations are affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni fundamentalist organisation. [IPS] Read more

16 September 2010

Let’s get married—for an hour

The penalty for having sex outside of marriage in Iran is 100 lashes. So men wanting a dalliance or young unmarried couples craving a getaway turn to the legal loophole of “temporary marriages”: contracts of a specific duration—anywhere from 60 minutes to 99 years—and for a specified amount of money.

These controversial marriages, traditional in the Shia form of Islam, are promoted by the ayatollahs as a way financially troubled women can make money or, as one delicately explained earlier this year, a way for a young widow to “answer her needs, because if she doesn’t, she will have psychological problems.” [Maclean’s] Read more [via Butterflies & Wheels]

Historic 9/11 Stop the Mosque at Ground Zero Rally: Massive Media Distortion of Massive Rally in New York City

.... Exhibit A, in the "media reality distortion case #2478697," is the photo scene below. This photo shows the 9/11 Remembrance/Stop the Ground Zero Mosque Rally hosted by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

According to The New York Times, what is seen here is a crowd of 2,000 persons. According to the New York Daily News, the crowd below contained "hundreds," despite the fact that it stretched jam packed as seen below for three city blocks. Local NYC News Channel 10 reported live that there were 30,000 people at this rally. Channel 10 should be applauded for doing their job, and the rest of the media stands exposed. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Islamism, Unveiled

In "Veiled Truths" (July/August 2010), Marc Lynch's suggestion that clever U.S. diplomats ought to play rival factions of the Islamist movement against one another has a ring of common sense, which I applaud, even if the idea is not exactly novel.

But I worry that Lynch's one intelligent remark may lull readers into supposing that his other comments are equally sensible -- for example, his judgment that Hamas is a "moderate" movement, useful as "a firewall against radicalization."

But mostly, I worry that this one comment may lull readers into believing anything that Lynch writes about me or my book The Flight of the Intellectuals. [Council on Foreign Relations] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

15 September 2010

Radical Islamism challenges notions of freedom

IT is often thought the main threat of radical Islamism to the West and, indeed, the world, is terrorism. It is also said to be the isolation of Muslim communities, which allows extremists to recruit people to their cause.

Such views are not mistaken but they confuse effects with causes. What the world has to recognise is that we are not simply dealing with faith, but with a political, social and economic ideology. Radical Islamism is a worldview. Its nearest parallel, despite many differences, is Marxism.

Radical Islamists claim their all-encompassing program for society is rooted in fundamental Islamic sources. They reject the interpretations of Koran and sharia law offered by reformist or moderate Muslims. We must, of course, respect the faith of ordinary Muslims, but the ideology has to be met in a different way. [The Australian] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe

Over the past two decades, the number of Muslims living in Western Europe has steadily grown, rising from less than 10 million in 1990 to approximately 17 million in 2010. The continuing growth in Europe’s Muslim population is raising a host of political and social questions.

Tensions have arisen over such issues as the place of religion in European societies, the role of women, the obligations and rights of immigrants, and support for terrorism. These controversies are complicated by the ties that some European Muslims have to religious networks and movements outside of Europe.

Fairly or unfairly, these groups are often accused of dissuading Muslims from integrating into European society and, in some cases, of supporting radicalism. [The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life] Read more

Low support for radicalism among European Muslims

Support for radical Islamist groups is low among European Muslims and some leading groups with overseas roots are now cooperating with local governments and encouraging Muslims to vote, according to a new report.

European groups linked to wider Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami now focus more on conditions for Muslims in Europe than their original ideologies from Egypt and Pakistan, according to the report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report also cited tensions between "jihadists" and peaceful Islamists in Europe, saying some groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood were working with police to counter militants.

"By most accounts, support for radical extremist groups is relatively low among Muslims in Europe," it said. "Nevertheless, such groups have been central to the public discussion of Islam in Europe, especially in recent years." [Reuters] Read more

France's Senate backs National Assembly and bans women from wearing the burka in public

Wearing a burka in public is set to become illegal across France after senators passed a nationwide ban. The country’s upper house voted by 246 votes to one in favour of the measure, although there were a number of abstentions.

This means that a measure banning full face Islamic veils, also including the niqab, taken by the National Assembly, the lower house, in July was ratified. [MailOnline] Read more

14 September 2010

Anti-immigrant wave spreads across Europe

A little-known Berlin politician named Rene Stadtkewitz, who wants headscarves banned, mosques shuttered and state welfare payments to Muslims cut, is the newest face of a powerful anti-immigrant strain in European politics that is winning over voters and throwing mainstream politicians onto the defensive.

Experts say public concerns about immigration have grown in the wake of the economic crisis and politicians across Europe are scrambling like never before to exploit these fears, breaking unwritten post-war taboos along the way.

“What we are witnessing is not a new trend, but a deepening and acceleration of something that was in place,” said Dominique Moisi of the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri) in Paris. “These politicians are playing with fire, because feelings on this issue run very deep and may not disappear when the economy recovers.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

British Airways caterer GateGourmet dishes up plans to make most of its meals halal

The world’s largest independent airline caterer is considering the possibility of making the majority of its meals halal.

GateGourmet, which provides meals for all long-haul British Airways flights from Heathrow, wants to standardise production to drive down costs and boost profits. The caterer has been tempted into the switch by lucrative business available from Middle Eastern and Asian airlines. [MailOnline] Read more

Indonesian president glosses over violence against Christians denied the right to worship even in an open field

Christians in Bekasi, as in other parts of Indonesia, have been unable to secure a place of worship due to a permit system in the country that stacks the deck against non-Muslims.

Lacking a building, they went to worship in a field, and that site has been attacked as well, with jihadists even punching female members of the congregation. It has been soiled with human feces, and worshipers there have been constantly harassed with shouts of "Infidel," and told they deserve to be stabbed to death. On this past Sunday, one worshiper was stabbed in the stomach, and the pastor was beaten over the head with a wooden plank. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Royal Mail staff in Ramadan holiday row

Postal workers who were refused time off to celebrate a religious holiday are considering legal action against Royal Mail.

Muslim staff at the regional distribution centre in Stourton, Leeds, say they are usually allowed to take the day off to mark Eid-ul-Fitr – the end of the holy month of Ramadan. But around 50 workers who wanted leave to mark the festival last Friday were told they could not have the day off this year "for operational reasons". [Yorkshire Evening Post] Read more

Islam and the Media in the age of Islamophobia

.... More egregiously however has been the silencing of Muslim voices in the face of the perpetuation of stereotypes resulting in the witting and unwitting explosion of prejudice directed at Muslims.

Muslims are only brought on TV to respond to crises, sometimes these crises are wholly manufactured by an uncritical media. A case study on this is needed but let us take the example of the threat against the South Park creators by Revolution Muslim and the International Burn the Koran Day by Pastor Terry Jones and his Dove Outreach Church. .... [loonwatch.com] Read more

French Senate passes ban of full Muslim veils

The French Senate has voted overwhelmingly for a bill banning the burqa-style Islamic veil everywhere from post offices to streets, in a final step toward a making it law.

The Senate voted 246 to 1 Tuesday in favor of the bill, which has already passed in the lower chamber, the National Assembly.

Any dissenters have 10 days to challenge the measure in the Constitutional Council watchdog, but that is considered unlikely. [AP] Read more

The problems of being called a 'Muslim intellectual'

In my latest book, The Quest for Meaning, my objective was to develop a philosophy of pluralism, one that allows us to step back from the narrow window of our own limited viewpoint and plunge into notions, concepts and questions, to open ourselves to the deep study of what the world's philosophies, spiritual traditions and religions have told us down through history.

The underlying intuition is that our relationship with pluralism, with diversity and with the Other in our midst can not be decreed by laws or the best of humanist intentions; it requires instead a personal commitment, an effort that is focused on ourselves, encourages us to infuse our sense of empathy with conscience, intelligence and heart. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Tariq Ramadan: Holding his “piece”? Tariq Ramadan’s latest book, the modestly titled ‘The Quest for Meaning’, has been slammed in the UK for being ‘dated’, ‘philosophically facile’, full of ‘pseudo-intellectualism and faux-mysticism’ – as well as marred by ‘bad poetry’ and ‘wooliness’. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The Quest for Meaning: Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism .... There is not a mention of the contemporary disputes over abortion, divorce, adultery, the veil, or female genital mutilation, that often pit religious norms against secular ones, and are central to current debates about pluralism, It is an extraordinary silence, but typical of Ramadan's refusal to tackle the difficult questions.

The Quest for Meaning reveals Ramadan as neither a bridge-builder nor a dangerous bigot, but as a shallow thinker taken far too seriously by both supporters and critics. His real strength is his ability to trade in that mixture of pseudo-intellectualism and faux-mysticism that has today become so fashionable. At the end of the book, Ramadan informs us that the "architecture of the text" reflects his spiritual journey. .... [independent.co.uk] Read more

The Two Faces of Feisal Rauf

.... Rauf and his fellow Islamists, having learned from similar ploys at the United Nations by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, then hope to implement elements of sharia in the West. No need for alarm, Rauf reassures Westerners, “we are not trying to replace universal standards, we’re complementing them.” Simultaneously, he advises Muslims to obey Western laws — for now. Rauf is preying upon the unthinking, pathological niceness of the Western multiculturalist.

Rauf is a Muslim, and his major premises are Islamic, and therefore his conclusions by inexorable logic must also be Islamic: “It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to make it superior over all religions even though the idolaters hate it.” [National Review Online] Read more

New York imam says moving mosque could incite Muslim backlash The imam behind the controversial plan to build an Islamic centre and mosque near New York's Ground Zero site has said he is "exploring all options" and "everything is on the table", in the face of a firestorm of politically driven protest against the project.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York today, Feisal Abdul Rauf expressed frustration that "radical extremists have hijacked our discourse", and warned that moving the mosque could prompt a violent backlash from some Muslims abroad. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Feisal Abdul Rauf Makes A Big Mistake The imam behind a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero cautioned Wednesday that moving the facility could cause a violent backlash from Muslim extremists and endanger national security.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN that the discourse surrounding the center has become so politicized that moving it could strengthen the ability of extremists abroad to recruit and wage attacks against Americans, including troops fighting in the Middle East.

"The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack," he said, but he added that he was open to the idea of moving the planned location of the center, currently two blocks north of the World Trade Center site.

"But if you don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world," he later said, predicting that the reaction could be more furious than the eruption of violence following the 2005 publication of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad..." [Jihad Watch] Read more

13 September 2010

Iran Ayatollahs Issue Fatwas Against Koran-Burners

Two Iranian grand ayatollahs issued fatwas calling for the killing of those who insult the Koran, including anyone who burns the Islamic holy book, the state-run Fars news agency reported.

No one was specified in the decrees, which were issued by Nasser Makarem-Shirazi and Hossein Nouri-Hamedani in response to questions asked by student groups from universities in Tehran, Fars said. Such an action against any individual could only be carried out with the authorization of an Islamic religious judge, they said. [Bloomberg] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

12 September 2010

Fears rise over growing anti-Muslim feeling in U.S.

Amid threats of Koran burning and a heated dispute over a planned Muslim cultural center in New York, Muslim leaders and rights activists warn of growing anti-Muslim feeling in America partly provoked for political reasons. “Many people now treat Muslims as ‘the other’ — as something to vilify and to discriminate against,” said Daniel Mach of the American Civil Liberties Union. And, he said, some people have exploited that fear in the media, “for political gain or cheap notoriety.”

.... Mistrust of Muslims has grown in recent years. A Pew poll released in August found the number of Americans with a favorable view of Islam was 30 percent, down from 41 percent in 2005. American feelings about Islam are partisan — 54 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Islam compared to 27 percent of Democrats. In November 2001 there was not the same partisan divide of opinions on Islam. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Burning the Qur'an: All faiths must fight against the forces of bigotry

Until a week or two ago, very few people had heard of Pastor Terry Jones outside his minuscule Florida congregation. That was before he raised his profile to the level of global notoriety with plans to burn copies of the Qur'an as a way of marking yesterday's ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

[COMMENT] I really wish Muslims worldwide could learn to react to the threatened burning of a Qu'ran with the same self control Buddhists showed when Muslims destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Get Over the Quran Burning .... I believe the Qurans are being burnt because we, as Muslims, haven't dealt sincerely and intellectually with very serious issues that certain Quranic passages raise, particularly in the West. These include verses—when literally read—that say that disobedient wives can be beaten “lightly,” that Muslims can't be friends with the Jews and the Christians, and that it's OK to kill converts from Islam.

We, as Muslims, need to tear a few pages out of the Quran—symbolically, at least, by rejecting literal adherence to certain problematic verses.

The Christian faith had to deal with problematic verses from the Book of Deuteronomy that sanctioned violence. Jews have had to confront rigid readings of the Old Testament that sanctioned stonings. Muslims, too, must re-interpret verses that aren't compatible with life in the 21st century. [The Daily Beast] Read more

11 September 2010

What Is Shariah and Why Does It Matter?

.... Third, the punishments for criminal behavior cannot be separated from the evidentiary rules -- equally shariah! -- that provide for their application (e.g., multiple eye-witnesses). In practical terms, in other words, short of confession, rules on such things as adultery or fornication function almost entirely as moral exhortations.

God-consciousness spawned by shariah, not fear of being punished, sustains these ideals. Of course, many Americans will object that such issues should not be subject to any rules or religious exhortations at all. But given some of our increasingly worrisome realities (out-of-wedlock births, etc.), perhaps this would make for fruitful conversation.

[COMMENT 1] You mention punishments are only "a small sliver" of shariah. How do all four fiqh view apostasy? My understanding is that all four view it as punishable by death. Could you shed some light on that?

[COMMENT 2] When advocates for Shari'ah in the US and the West make their case do they say - "we want to introduce shari'ah" and then qualify it with all the bad parts that they think should not be applied? No, they say that want to introduce Shari'ah, and without an added qualification, that means in it's entirety - with all the misogynist and bigoted discrimination and biased treatment of religious and sexual minorities, and draconian criminal punishments included. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Local Sweden Democrat: 'ban' practicing Muslims

A local politician from the far-right Sweden Democrats argued during an election debate on Thursday that Muslims shouldn't be allowed to practice their faith in Strömsund in northwestern Sweden. “I don’t think someone should be allowed to be a practicing Muslim in Strömsund,” Sweden Democrat Mikael Säbom said on Thursday during a live election debate broadcast on Sveriges Radio Jämtland.

Since 2006, the town of just over 4,000 residents has taken in scores of Muslims from Uzbekistan in the wake of a 2005 crackdown by Uzbek government troops in Andijan in which hundreds of protesters were killed, although the exact number of casualties remains in dispute.

At the time of the incident, known as the Andijan massacre, the Uzbek government claimed the demonstrations were organized by the Islamic radicals. Strömsund has seen a rise in hate crimes, from racist graffiti to the burning down of a mosque in the city two years ago. [The Local] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Geert Wilders Speech at Ground Zero on 9/11/10

.... New York stands for freedom, openness and tolerance. New York's Mayor recently said that New York is "rooted in Dutch tolerance". Those are true words. New York is not intolerant. How can it be? New York is open to the world.

Suppose New York were intolerant. Suppose it only allowed people of one persuasion within its walls. Then it would be like Mecca, a city without freedom. Whatever your religion, persuasion or gender is, in New York you will find a home. In Mecca, if your religion isn't Islam, you are not welcome. [New English Review] Read more

10 September 2010

Muslim secretary acquitted of inciting violence

The secretary of the Muslim Community of Basel has been acquitted of publicly inciting crime and violence.

The charges were pressed after the 33-year-old made comments in a Swiss television documentary in April saying that Sharia law should be introduced in Switzerland and that unruly wives should be beaten.

The judge said that the secretary of the Muslim organisation was protected by freedom of expression. The court ruled that the comments were merely the expression of a wish and were not asking anyone to take action. [WRS News] Read more

Muslims in Paris regularly illegally block public streets to pray

Every Friday, certain streets in Paris are blocked with barriers to accommodate an enormous crowd of Muslims, many of them from faraway parts of the city. They pray and worship on the public streets, protected by their own private security, CBN Paris said.

During the prayers those who live within the district cannot go outside of their homes, and those who are on their way home can’t pass through the streets during the Moslem prayer time. This is done with no authorization by the police. And although it is illegal, the local police are under orders not to interfere, according to CBN Paris.

One French citizen used a hidden camera to film the scene, which was uploaded on YouTube. As a result he has been receiving death threats, and now goes by the pseudonym, Maxime Lepante, CBN Paris reported. [The Underground] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Muslims in America increasingly alienated as hatred grows in Bible belt

Safaa Fathy was as surprised to discover that she is at the heart of a plot against America as she was to hear that her small Tennessee town is a focus of hate in the Muslim world.

The diminutive fifty-something physiotherapist, who has lived in Murfreesboro for most of her adult life, happens to be on the board of her town's Islamic centre. Now she finds herself accused of being a front for Islamic Jihad, of planning to impose sharia law on her neighbours, and of threatening the very existence of Christianity in Tennessee. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Islamic countries under pressure over stoning

In Pakistan stoning is in the law code for adultery, but rare sentences in recent years have either been overruled or not acted upon. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai's government opposes it, but the Taliban rebels who control significant swathes of the country are committed to sharia law and punishments.

In the Gulf, Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic regime maintains stoning as punishment for zina. But a stoning judgment has apparently not been delivered by a Saudi court, or carried out, for many years. Likewise, in the United Arab Emirates, stoning is a legal punishment but not used.

In parts of northern Africa official sharia law has gained strength in the past decade, but only in war-torn Somalia has that led to more stoning deaths. Stoning sentences in Sudan and northern Nigeria in the past decade have been stayed or overturned.

In Somalia, however, Al-Shebab appears committed to the practice. According to Human Rights Watch, the group has stoned to death at least three people since late 2008, all on adultery charges. One was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped. [AFP] Read more

09 September 2010

German Chancellor Merkel honours Mohammad cartoonist at press award

Honoured at the event was Kurt Westergaard, who drew the most controversial of 12 cartoons of Mohammad which angered Muslims worldwide after appearing in a Danish paper in 2005.

Most Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam to be offensive, and Westergaard’s cartoon portrayed Mohammad with a turban resembling a bomb. At least 50 people died in riots by enraged Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. [Reuters FaithWorld] Read more

Economist's views on Muslims spark controversy in Germany

.... Though most of his backers are publicly distancing themselves from his genetic arguments, they are lauding him as a straight-talker willing to address the problem of Muslim immigrants, who often eschew German language and culture. By throwing political correctness to the wind, they say, he has dared to speak the truth about higher immigrant unemployment, birthrates and welfare rates.

Among Germany's population of 82 million, about 5 percent are Muslims, most of Turkish descent. A poll published in the national magazine Focus this week showed 31 percent of respondents agreeing that Germany is "becoming dumber" because of immigrants, with 62 percent calling Sarrazin's comments "justified". [The Washington Post] Read more

Time for an Islamaphobia Beer Summit

With 70% of Americans standing in hardened opposition to a victory mosque being built on our national graveyard at Ground Zero, it would take a complete elitist ninny to sum this up as "Islamaphobia."

But since our elitists are indeed calling the 70% of us irrational, phobic nutcases, it would seem an awfully good time to have an Islamaphobia beer summit. Forget the beer; we need sober heads. Forget the president; he's out to lunch.

.... This philosophical war within Islam has been falsely defined by both Muslim apologists and Western liberals as a fight between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims. It is no such thing. And anyone -- even a Christian layperson, such as myself -- who has bothered to actually read the Koran and any non-apologetic biography of Mohamed knows this full well.

Herein lies the root of the problem for Islam. Earnest Muslims, who wish to modernize their faith and truly make it a "religion of peace," must virtually erase their Prophet to do so. [American Thinker] Read more

08 September 2010

Iran's barbarity that must be resisted

Tyrants and dictators are frequently more sensitive about bad publicity than you might expect. International campaigns to save individuals from torture and execution sometimes end happily, although some regimes – China, Burma and Iran come to mind – are more intransigent than most.

For two months now, the international community has been trying to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, with little evidence thus far of any second thoughts on the part of the Iranian authorities. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Burning Koran 'Will Put US Troops At Risk'

An evangelical priest's plans to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks will put soldiers' lives at risk, the US has warned.

Terry Jones, minister of the Dove World Outreach Centre in Florida, says the event will "remember those who were brutally murdered" and send a warning "to the radical element of Islam".

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the idea a "disrespectful, disgraceful act". Others in the Obama administration weighed in against the proposed burning, including attorney general Eric Holder, who called it idiotic and dangerous. [Sky News] Read more

Barnabas Fund on the Koran burning Yes, let's insult Islam, and mock Mohammed. But not this way. Some good points in an emailed statement from the Barnabas Fund:

A church in Gainsville, Florida, USA, the Dove World Outreach Centre, has announced that it will burn copies of the Qur’an on Saturday 11 September to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The stated purpose of this action is to raise awareness of the ideology and teaching of Islam and to warn against its dangers. Barnabas Fund condemns the proposed action, for the following reasons: [The Iconoclast] Read more

Far From Ground Zero, Obscure Pastor Is Ignored No Longer If building an Islamic center near ground zero amounts to the epitome of Muslim insensitivity, as critics of the project have claimed, what should the world make of Terry Jones, the evangelical pastor here who plans to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks with a bonfire of Korans? For local Muslims like Saeed Khan, the collective rejection of Mr. Jones represents the America they want to believe in.

Mr. Jones, 58, a former hotel manager with a red face and a white handlebar mustache, argues that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s sacred book because “it’s full of lies.” And in another era, he might have been easily ignored, as he was last year when he posted a sign at his church declaring “Islam is of the devil.” [The New York Times] Read more

07 September 2010

Neuchâtel: Muslim girls win beauty contest

Three Muslim girls won the Miss Neuchâtel competition in the Fête des Vendanges (wine Harvest) festival in Switzerland, August 28. Yvan Perrin of the SVP party says this is an expression of political correctness in the canton.

Raïssa Somai, originally of Tunisia, and her two runners-up, Gjeneta Hasanaj of Kosovo and Houda Sabro of Morocco. The three say they are religious Muslims, but not practicing.

Their victory has caused a controversy, which disappoints them. "Religion has nothing to do with a beauty contest," says Raïssa. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Shock as Dudley mosque scheme revived

The Dudley Muslim Association says it has “no choice” but to prepare a full planning application for a mosque and community centre on land in Hall Street. Chairman Khurshid Ahmed said members could not wait any longer.

They have decided to pursue the Hall Street proposal, which is expected to cost up to £1 2million and for which outline planning permission has already been secured. Detailed plans must be in by July next year.

The news is a hammer blow to Dudley Council. It has been involved in months of delicate negotiations with the DMA over Hall Street, which has attracted huge protests. [Express & Star] Read more

Muslims will become majority in Europe, senior Vatican official warns

Italian Father Piero Gheddo said that the low birth rate among indigenous Europeans combined with an unprecedented wave of Muslim immigrants with large families could see Europe becoming dominated by Islam in the space of a few generations.

"The challenge must be taken seriously," said Father Gheddo, of the Vatican's Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

"Certainly from a demographic point of view, as it is clear to everyone that Italians are decreasing by 120,000 or 130,000 persons a year because of abortion and broken families – while among the more than 200,000 legal immigrants a year in Italy, more than half are Muslims and Muslim families, which have a much higher level of growth." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

06 September 2010

Student wearing niqab begins teacher training

A student wearing the niqab has begun attending a teacher training course in Stockholm, more than one and a half years after another woman reported a school that would not allow her to wear the headscarf in class.

Employers and principals are still waiting for a guiding principle about the niqab in classrooms from the Equality Ombudsman (DO) following the woman's notification last year, Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported on Monday.

Another Stockholm woman reported an adult education college in Spånga northwest of Stockholm to the DO in January 2009 after being told that she could not wear an Islamic headscarf in class. [The Local] Read more

Free Exercise of Religion? No, Thanks. The taming and domestication of religious faith is one of the unceasing chores of civilization

.... Those who wish that there would be no mosques in America have already lost the argument: Globalization, no less than the promise of American liberty, mandates that the United States will have a Muslim population of some size. The only question, then, is what kind, or rather kinds, of Islam it will follow.

There's an excellent chance of a healthy pluralist outcome, but it's very unlikely that this can happen unless, as with their predecessors on these shores, Muslims are compelled to abandon certain presumptions that are exclusive to themselves.

The taming and domestication of religion is one of the unceasing chores of civilization. Those who pretend that we can skip this stage in the present case are deluding themselves and asking for trouble not just in the future but in the immediate present. [Slate] Read more

05 September 2010

Qaradawi's jihad

Recently I posted two pieces -- an explanation of jihad and a critique of the separation of religion and state -- written by Muslims, and invited moderate Muslims who rejected them on Islamic theological grounds to explain why, so as to help distinguish themselves from the "extremists" and demonstrate the reality of the moderate Islam that everyone longs to see and believes in so fervently.

So let's make it a series. Every so often I will post explanations of various aspects of Islam, especially jihad, written by Muslims who use the Qur'an and Sunnah to argue for warfare against unbelievers, the subjugation of women, etc., and yet again invite those Muslims who say they don't believe in all that to explain why the posted material is wrong.

And we'll kick it off with a most interesting piece: a lengthy explanation from the Muslim Brotherhood's English website, IkhwanWeb, of the jihad theology of the internationally renowned and influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has endorsed suicide attacks, prayed for the genocide of the Jews, affirmed Islam's death penalty for apostates, and been hailed by John Esposito as a "reformist." [Jihad Watch] Read more

'Islamization' of Paris a Warning to the West

Friday in Paris. A hidden camera shows streets blocked by huge crowds of Muslim worshippers and enforced by a private security force.

This is all illegal in France: the public worship, the blocked streets, and the private security. But the police have been ordered not to intervene.

It shows that even though some in the French government want to get tough with Muslims and ban the burqa, other parts of the French government continue to give Islam a privileged status. [The Christian Broadcasting Network] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

04 September 2010

Separation Of Church And State

.... Secularists in the West will agree with this, then they will point out that under Islamic law, people are not all equal. No non-Muslim, for example, could become the president. Well, in response to that fact, in turn, secularism is no different.

No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism — which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word 'religion' does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviours, and details of living.

Secularism cannot be a solution for countries with a Muslim majority or even a sizeable minority, for it requires people to replace their God-given beliefs with an entirely different set of man-made beliefs. Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because is requires us to abandon Allah's decree for that of a man. [Islaam.com] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Breaking news: fundamentalist sympathiser 'wins Labour nomination'

Lutfur Rahman, a councillor with close links to Islamic fundamentalism, has won the nomination to be Labour’s candidate for the first directly-elected executive mayor of Tower Hamlets, according to three sources.

He was kept off the shortlist three times by the party amid deep concerns over his links with the Islamic supremacist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe. .... Turnout in the party selection contest today was extremely – perhaps suspiciously – high, at around 70 per cent, double the expected figure. It’s very bad news for Tower Hamlets, but it’ll certainly keep me in work. Watch this space. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

03 September 2010

Who's Afraid of Shariah?

Hasn't the whole notion of shariah in America gotten a bit out of control? No, it hasn't -- it's gotten hugely, obscenely, ignorantly out of control. How many of those anti-Islam protesters holding "NO SHARIA LAW" signs (as if anyone were advocating shariah law in the U.S.) actually know what the word means? I'd say, oh, none. Roughly.

Shariah (also spelled shari'ah or sharia or shari'a) is the Arabic word for "the road to the watering place." In a religious context, it means "the righteous path." Loosely, it can mean simply, "Islam."

There are six principles of shariah. They are derived from the Qur'an, which Muslims believe is the word of God. All Islamic religious rules must be in line with these six principles of shariah. [HuffingtonPost.com] Read more

02 September 2010

Mecca discotheque - Name of discotheque outraged Muslims

.... an old discotheque in the city of Aguilas in the southwestern province of Murcia opened its doors on June 18 under the name La Meca amid protests from Muslim individuals and organizations ....

"Muslims pray towards Mecca and it is there that the prophet received the holy Quran. Calling a place for dancing and drinking by that name shows disregard to the feelings of Muslims "

Head of Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities Mohamed AliA poll conducted after the inauguration of the discotheque revealed the indignation of Spanish Muslims who viewed the action as disrespectful and prejudiced. [Al Arabiya] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Is America anti-Islamic? 'Hostile atmosphere' goes beyond Ground Zero mosque, claim 50 Muslim groups

More than 50 leading Muslim groups have decried the hostile 'anti-Islamic' atmosphere they say is gripping America today. Tension in New York over plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero are rising, especially as the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches. But leaders of the Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York, an Islamic leadership council that represents a broad spectrum of Muslims in the city, said the sentiment is growing beyond the mosque plans. [MailOnline] Read more

When will those brave critics of Islam decry this mob hate? In the New York Times last week, writing about the eruption of hatred for Muslims in the US, Frank Rich asked what seems an increasingly pertinent question: "How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?"

Ameri cans who are shocked by what the columnist Maureen Dowd calls a "weird mass nervous breakdown" accuse the usual suspects – rightwingers whose "fear and disinformation" is "amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment". But anti-Muslim toxins were injected into the mainstream well before August 2010, and not by rightwingers alone. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Algerian Christians under trial for breaking Ramzan fast

Two Algerian Christians were tried on Tuesday for breaking Ramadan fasting rules, with hundreds of people protesting outside the courtroom against judicial authorities.

Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak were arrested on August 13 on the building site where they worked in the northern region of Kabylie after they were spotted eating lunch, which they admit to doing but insist happened in a discreet place. [AFP] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

01 September 2010

My lost Bangladeshi identity

.... As a child, I felt simultaneously English and Bangladeshi. I had a preference for indie music but liked going home to okra curry. At school I excelled in geography and art, and at home I made my parents proud when I recited passages aloud from the Qur'an.

There were aspects of both cultures that I liked and loathed, but overwhelmingly it was the exoticism of Englishness that captivated me the most – things I couldn't be part of. While I was watching Top of the Pops on TV, my friends were in the audience, and as they rolled their school uniform kilts above their knees, mine practically touched my ankles. I couldn't wait until I left home. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Incitement to Murder Muslims in Surrey

A local Surrey newspaper has reported that extremists are disseminating leaflets in the local area, urging Muslims to kill the Ahmadiyya. From the Surrey Comet:

A police investigation was launched last month, after police saw leaflets being handed out calling on Muslims to murder Qadiyanis, a derogatory term for Ahmadiyya Muslim... A teenage Ahmadiyya girl, who did not want to be named, said she was "shaken and scared" after being handed a leaflet written in Urdu saying: "kill a Qadiyani and doors to heaven will be open to you."

Surrey is home to a large Ahmadiyya community, and is also the location of the Baitul Futuh Mosque, the largest Ahmadiyya mosque in the country. It is no coincidence that extremists have targeted this area: they are attempting to sow distrust and sectarian hatred between the Ahmadiyya and other Muslim groups in the hope of creating a similar situation to that of Pakistan, where this small community is regularly persecuted.

The terrorist attacks on two of their mosques in Lahore, which killed 80 people, are perhaps the bloodiest examples of Islamist hatred for these people. [Standpoint] Read more

A Symposium: What Is Moderate Islam?

The controversy over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan has spurred a wider debate about the nature of Islam. We asked six leading thinkers—Anwar Ibrahim, Bernard Lewis, Ed Husain, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Tawfik Hamid and Akbar Ahmed—to weigh in.

.... From the start, Muslims have always had a strong sense of their identity and history. Thanks to modern communication, they have become painfully aware of their present state. Some speak of defeat, some of failure. It is the latter who offer the best hope for change.

For the moment, there does not seem to be much prospect of a moderate Islam in the Muslim world. This is partly because in the prevailing atmosphere the expression of moderate ideas can be dangerous—even life-threatening. Radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, the likes of which in earlier times were at most minor and marginal, have acquired a powerful and even a dominant position.

But for Muslims who seek it, the roots are there, both in the theory and practice of their faith and in their early sacred history. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more [via The Spittoon]

The BBC's propaganda for fundamentalist Islam

One of the main conclusions I drew from my Telegraph/Channel 4 Dispatches investigation of the East London Mosque was quite how gullible some parts of the white establishment were in the face of a persuasive PR machine telling them what they wanted to hear.

Since we exposed some of what actually goes on inside this mosque, there has been a welcome reduction in the number of politicians and suchlike prepared to visit. But one key part of liberal Britain, the BBC, retains a trusting faith in the mosque’s spin that no amount of contrary evidence appears able to shake. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more