31 October 2010

Bavarian conservatives take tough line on integration

The Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) voted to take a tough stance against immigrants who fail to integrate into German society at a party conference in Munich on Saturday.

Included in a new seven-point plan were proposals for "unspecified sanctions for parents who hinder their children from integrating into the German way of life or who themselves decline to integrate by learning German."

The plan, which stipulates that permanent residents must accept a "leading" role for German culture in society, was approved unanimously. Also contained were proposals to tackle skills shortages by training existing immigrants, who would also be required to learn better German, rather than allowing new migrants to enter the country. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

29 October 2010

Denmark: Battle of values against Islamic culture, says DPP

.... When today we have neighborhoods in Denmark where Hizb ut-Tahrir, in an unsightly association with local immigrant gangs, sets the agenda, there are basically two reasons for it.

First, 25 years of failed immigration policy led by the Social Democrats and the Social-Liberal Party (SR coalition), but unfortunately at first for many years accompanied by both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Second, because for years we've neglected to inoculate the immigrants who came here with Danish and Western values. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim woman says man cursed, spat at her in Walmart

A 66-year-old man is facing ethnic intimidation charges after he allegedly verbally abused a female Muslim-American customer at an Oxford Walmart on Tuesday. The woman is speaking out and says she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

The 31-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified for safety purposes, said she went to Walmart to buy a carton of milk. Instead, she says, James Currin Jr., 66, confronted her and asked: “Hey, are you Muslim?”

When she said yes, Currin began swearing, spitting at her and told her to go back “wherever you came from,” she said. [WRAL.com] Read more

Muslim man told Skype divorce joke stands

The ruling, made in an online fatwa by the Darul Uloom Deobandi seminary in northern India, regarded as one of Islam's leading authorities on religious law said that the woman would have to first marry another man before she could remarry her first husband. The man, from Qatar, wrote to the seminary following his Skype joke to seek clarification.

Jokingly typed 'talak, talak, talak' (I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee) to my wife on Skype chat. I don't understand Islam very much and did not know about how talaq works.

We love each other very much and want to be together but right now [we are] caught in this thing. Want to know a way out," he wrote. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Politics of the hijab

.... There are socio-political factors at play here behind the extremism and Hijab phenomenon in the Arabic world mainly the incompetence of the educational system which relied primarily on indoctrination and dogmatic thinking, the utter failure of successive corrupt politicians to improve the living conditions of people and the emergence of a racist Jewish state amidst the Arab Muslim world by means of deception and coercion which helped the sprouting of fundamentalism in Islam.

All of those factors caused the revival of Islam movement to flourish and sweep across the Arab world in a clear and serious message that heralds the demise of liberalism and the arrival of Islamists to power in the Arab world.

A grave future awaits those with myopia who think that Hijab or Niqab or even Burqa is all about obeying God’s orders.

Hijab is not about covering up the hair; rather it’s about drawing the veil on our minds. Hijab is merely a socio-political sign that tells us that theocracy in Arabic and Muslim countries is just around the corner. [Daily Press] Read more [via National Secular Society]

28 October 2010

The slow death of multiculturalism in Europe

Has multiculturalism run its course in Europe? If one takes a picture of certain European countries today and freezes it, that would be the logical conclusion.

The European right is thriving on anti-immigrant attitudes and is likely to continue to reap the benefits in the short term. But there are forces that are sure to keep multiculturalism alive whether we like it or not.

Take Germany as an example. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said bluntly that Germany has failed to integrate large immigrant communities.

The complaint is that most Turks and Muslims who came to Germany in the 1960s to jumpstart the German economy after World War II have not integrated into German society. They kept their language, religion and most of their cultural habits. Instead of blending in, they created their own parallel societies. [Today's Zaman] Read more

Islamic Fundamentalist Mass Media Targets Egyptian Coptic Church

The majority of Coptic Christians and liberal Muslims in Egypt believe that Fundamentalist sheikhs and their mass media have played a vital role in the latest wave of incitement against the Coptic Church, orchestrated by Egyptian State Security.

The Salafi (one who follows the ways of the first Muslims) television channels, airing their programs from Egypt, supported by their affiliated fundamentalist journalists and mosque imams, have engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against the Coptic Church and its Pope, designed to terrorize the Copts. [AINA] Read more

Religious leaders should not be the only Muslims allowed to speak

MULTICULTURALISM is under severe strain. Not from detractors such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel who confuse having an ethnically mixed society with a policy of social integration designed to cope with and cherish ethnic diversity.

No, multiculturalism is undermined because religious groups, more specifically Muslim groups, have come to supplant ethnic ones. This has been a slow, almost inevitable process.

The problematisation of Muslim identity in the wake of terrorist attacks have presented Muslims in the West with difficult questions. In the pre-September 11 era, issues of socioeconomic integration dominated, often focusing on the experience of distinct ethnic groups rather than the community of faith. Unemployment, wealth disparity and educational achievements were the issues of concern. [The Australian] Read more

Baroness Warsi was 'pressured' to skip France veil ban debate

Baroness Warsi had been booked to appear in front of a global television audience of around 350 million people, as part of a two-person debating team opposing the motion that France is right to seek a ban on wearing the Islamic full-face veil in public.

But the Conservative Party chairman cancelled her appearance at the "eleventh hour", in what has been viewed as an illustration of the Coalition Government's determination to distance itself from any possible links or suspicions of sympathies with radical Islam.

Her decision not to take part in the debate follows allegations that David Cameron banned Lady Warsi from attending a prominent Muslim conference in London last weekend. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

'Mohammed' is the top boys' name because Muslims are becoming more religious, not because there are more Muslims

.... This is a complex phenomenon: Muslims throughout the world are adopting a “purer”, Salafi-influenced form of Islam, thanks to gargantuan Saudi investment in fundamentalist mosques and community schemes.

But, under New Labour, the British taxpayer helped fund the imposition of stricter norms on this country’s Pakistini and Bangladeshi immigrants, by handing over large sums to “community leaders” who used religious law to consolidate their power base.

With every passing year, primary school children – Muslim and non-Muslim – eat more local authority-funded Halal food and hear more about the original Mohammed. The fact that so many of the boys now have the same name must make life difficult for their teachers; and in the long run I don’t doubt that it will make life difficult for the rest of us. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

New Muslim school planned in fight against extremism

MUSLIM leaders have announced plans to open a secondary school in Derby which would be at the vanguard of the fight against extremism. The faith school could open by 2012. It would ensure children can pray facing Mecca and teach a GCSE in Islamic Studies.

A leader of Normanton's Islamic community involved with the scheme said that, by stressing the peaceful nature of Islam, he believed the school could turn children away from extremism.

Community leader Shahban Rehmat said: "If you are teaching people the ways of Islam and the true cause of Islam, then it stops negativity and it stops people saying the wrong thing."

He stressed that non-Muslim teenagers would be able to attend the school and would not have to pray if they did not want to. [Derby Evening Telegraph] Read more

On their heads be it - The return of the row over Islamic headwear

GERMANY’S president, Christian Wulff, paid his first official visit to Turkey last week, accompanied by his lissom wife, Bettina. Hayrunnisa, the wife of the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, took part in the official welcoming ceremony, saluting Turkish soldiers as she walked down the red carpet with her German guests.

Nothing out of the ordinary, it seemed. But in 2007 the generals had threatened to step in to prevent Mr Gul from becoming president because of his wife’s Islamic-style headscarf. It didn’t work, but until last week Mrs Gul had chosen to shun official events where the generals were present for fear of provoking their ire. [The Economist] Read more

27 October 2010

Saudi woman freed after months in jail for disobeying father

A Saudi woman jailed for disobeying her father has been freed after more than six months in prison, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Samar Badawi, who was thrown in prison without formal charge or trial by a Jeddah judge, was released on Monday after a 12-day concerted media and Internet campaign on her behalf by human-rights activists both inside and outside Saudi Arabia, said lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair.

The activists had petitioned for King Abdullah to intervene in the case, which they said was an example of the abuses of the country's very rigid guardian system for women.

"The release came after judges saw the 12-day campaign, which made a lot of people pay attention to the case," Alkhair said. Saudi woman freed after months in jail for disobeying father. [Agence France-Presse] Read more

Germany moves to outlaw forced marriages

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government moved on Wednesday to outlaw forced marriages against a backdrop of a growing debate about immigration and integration in the country that is home to some four million Muslims.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said forced marriages would be treated as a criminal offence with a jail term of up to five years if the law is passed by parliament. Forced marriages are currently treated as a form of coercion.

"Forced marriage is a problem in Germany and we must take it seriously," de Maiziere said. He added it would be wrong to tolerate forced marriage and merely consider it a tradition belonging to other cultures.

The law would give affected parties more time to annul forced marriages. There have been several high profile cases in Germany of forced marriages in Germany's Turkish community. But the government said the problem is not limited to Islamic circles. [Reuters] Read more

When blasphemy is a crime

The United Nations General Assembly may soon vote — not for the first time — in favor of a resolution opposing the "defamation of religions." The idea, which may sound appealing at first blush, is particularly championed by Islamic countries, which would like to go even further and have the condemnation enshrined in international law.

But a new report by Freedom House, a Washington-based human rights organization, demonstrates how such policies have too often been used by countries to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of religion, leading to serious human rights abuses. [Los Angeles Times] Read more

26 October 2010

From Israel to Iraq, a Christian flight of Biblical proportions has begun

.... Nor can the church ignore Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned as a religion just as much as the building of churches. Christians cannot visit the Islamic holy cities of Mecca or Medina – the doors of the Vatican and Canterbury Cathedral are at least open to Muslims – and 12 Filipinos and a priest were arrested in Saudi Arabia only this month for "proselytism" for holding a secret mass.

.... Needless to say, it is violence against Christians that occupies the West, a phenomenon nowhere better, or more bloodily, illustrated than by al-Qa'ida's kidnapping of Archbishop Faraj Rahho in Mosul – an incident recorded in the US military archives revealed on Saturday – and his subsequent murder.

When the Iraqi authorities later passed death sentences on two men for the killing, the church asked for them to be reprieved. In Egypt, there has been a gloomy increase in Christian-Muslim violence, especially in ancient villages in the far south of the country; in Cairo, Christian churches are now cordoned off by day-and-night police checkpoints. [independent.co.uk] Read more

25 October 2010

Religious demands rise in French state schools - study

Teachers often faced objections when they taught courses about world religions, the Holocaust or France's war in Algeria, or discussed events related to Israel and the Palestinians or American military actions in Muslim countries, the study said.

"Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity," it said. "Some think it amounts to evangelisation."

"Anti-Semitism ... surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films" about Nazi concentration camps, it said. "Tensions often come from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims."[Reuters] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

24 October 2010

A school that forces women to wear the niqab is attacking tolerance

.... it is disingenuous for niqab advocates to use the language of choice and empowerment when advocating their religious freedoms, then to deny these same concepts to young girls in the same breath. It is one thing for a mature adult to make a decision about covering her face in public, but quite another to impose a face-covering onto girls as young as eleven.

It entirely obliterates their physical identity from the public sphere at a crucial stage in the development of their personalities and self-esteem; imparts an unnaturally and unnecessarily strong awareness of sexual politics; and creates an exaggerated hierarchy of piety between different girls. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Burkha debate continues

CATALUNYA'S regional government is considering banning the burkha in schools, but allowing Muslim girls to continue to wear a hiyab if they wish.

Whilst the burkha covers the entire face – leaving just a thin strip for the eyes – a hiyab only covers wearer's hair and leaves her face on display.

The Generalitat says this is the best possible solution to allow pupils to continue to follow their religious beliefs, but without 'impeding intercommunication between students'. [thinkSPAIN] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Now it’s halal hairdressing: a snip for Scottish Muslims

With its frosted windows, CCTV cameras, and tightly monitored security entrance, it is going to be one of Aberdeen’s most secretive business enterprises. So, you could be forgiven for wondering if the shop has something to hide.

Well, it does – its customers. Or rather it is the customers who want to remain hidden. For this is Scotland’s first ‘halal hairdressers’ – a beauty salon which conforms to the strict rules of Islam; a place were Muslim women who wear the veil or headscarf can be seen uncovered without the risk of the gaze of men.

Discreet Creative Hairdressing, scheduled to open in three weeks, is the brainchild of 21-year-old Mahida Iqbal and her husband of nine months, Fueb Mieh. The salon will be a ‘man-free zone’. [The Herald] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Baroness Warsi told by David Cameron not to appear at Islamic conference

The Conservative party chair, Baroness Warsi, has been banned by David Cameron from attending a major Islamic conference today, igniting a bitter internal row over how the government tackles Islamist extremism.

Warsi, Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister, was told by the prime minister to cancel her appearance at the Global Peace and Unity Event, which is being billed as the largest multicultural gathering in Europe.

The London-based conference is aimed at improving community relations, yet critics have pointed out that a number of speakers who are due to appear have justified suicide attacks and promoted al-Qaida, homophobia and terrorism. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

No Government Minister should go to this weekend's Global Peace and Unity event .... I linked to Dominic Grieve's speech to the last GPU, in which he read the organisers the riot act (politely, but firmly). As you'll see from clicking on the link, the video of his remarks has been removed by the organisers from YouTube.

However, the copy of his text that I have in front of me confirms that he referred to two extremist speakers, made clear his concerns - "such people have nothing to contribute and I don't want to share any platform with them anywhere" - and concluded: "The future participation of mainstream politicians including myself who wish to support the stated aims of this event will be impossible if this issue is not addressed." [ConservativeHome] Read more

23 October 2010

The Moderate Muslim Contribution and Solution to Islamophobia in America

.... As an American of Muslim background, I don't feel Williams' candor merited a dismissal, and I don't think NPR helped either its brand or the cause of religious tolerance.

Islamophobia, in one sense, is much like bigotry aimed in the past at Irish and Italians and countless other groups who eventually were integrated nicely into American society, with one key difference: None of those groups had a visible subgroup that claimed to speak for the larger group and which threatened to destroy America and the larger West.

None of those groups had a Faisal Shahzad, threatening to destroy the United States, or a Nidal Malik Hasan, turning on America's own soldiers at Ft. Hood. [HuffingtonPost.com] Read more

22 October 2010

The ‘Islamic Republic’ of Minaret Hamlets

.... And please do not complain if he finances Islamic academies, imposes burqas in schools, demands halal meat at the local McDonalds or promotes a borough-wide holiday for Eid.

The turnout was a meagre 25.6 per cent. Mayor Rahman's 23,283 votes represent just 13 per cent of the electorate. And that is no-one’s fault but the apathetic voters of Tower Hamlets. Local politics demands local engagement.

If the good people of Tower Hamlets are content to do nothing, they should not be surprised when evil triumphs. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Cafe fan banned in case smell of bacon offends Muslims

Planning officials acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next door neighbour's Muslim friends had felt ''physically sick'' due to the ''foul odour.''

The fan has been in Beverley's Snack Shack takeaway in the Shaw Heath area of the town for the past three years. And the mother-of-seven whose husband Cetin, 50, is himself a Turkish Muslim work more than fifty hours a week buying, preparing and cooking hot and cold sandwiches and hot-pots for their customers. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Scholar Of Islam, And A Witness For The Defense In The Wilders Trial, Describes A Curious Dinner Party

At the website of Hans Jansen you can find, in Dutch, the following text which has been rendered -- not quite perfectly -- into English by a samaritan.

But there's plenty there for the Hague and the world -- publish it urbi et orbi -- to get not only the drift, but many of the piquant details. It's about an encounter at a dinner party, at the house of Bertus Hendriks, on May 3, 2010. You will be horrified but not surprised. [The Iconoclast] Read more

In Stopping Saudi Money, Norway Sets An Example - Religious Reciprocity Norwegian Style

The official and only officially tolerated religion in Saudi Arabia is Islam, and the fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam at that. No other public religious practices are allowed and any such attempts are severely punished by the state.

There are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslim clergy are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Non-Islamic religious texts and religious items such as rosary beads and crucifixes are similarly not allowed and are confiscated if found.

Saudi Arabia is consistently determined by the U.S. State Department to be a "country of particular concern" for violating international standards of religious freedom. Consistently, if inexplicably, the Secretary of State has granted Saudi Arabia a waiver of sanctions under the International Religious Freedom Act. [The Investigative Project] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

London borough becomes 'Islamic republic'

Outside the Wellington Way polling station in Tower Hamlets yesterday, as at many other polling stations in the borough, people had to run a gauntlet of Lutfur Rahman supporters to reach the ballot box. As one Bengali woman voter went past them, we heard one of the Rahman army scolding her for her “immodest dress.”

That incident is perhaps a tiny taste of the future for Britain’s poorest borough now it has elected Mr Rahman as its first executive mayor, with almost total power over its £1 billion budget. At the count last night, one very senior figure in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party said: “It really is Britain’s Islamic republic now.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

New Freedom House Study Shows Blasphemy Laws a Serious Threat to Human Rights

Domestic blasphemy laws, far beyond their clear violation of freedom of expression, are responsible for broad violations of human rights, particularly when applied in weak democracies and authoritarian systems, according toa study released by Freedom House today.

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy on Human Rights examines how governments use these laws to legitimize crackdowns on minority groups, dissidents and other divergent views under the pretext of maintaining 'social harmony.'

While Policing Belief uses cases studies of seven countries -Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland-the findings are indicative of the danger blasphemy laws pose more broadly, particularly in countries lacking strong democratic safeguards. [News Blaze] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Dutch retrial ordered for Wilders hate speech case

A Dutch court ordered a retrial Friday for anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, sending the closely-watched hate speech case back to square one before a whole new panel of judges.

The far-right politician faces charges of inciting hatred against Muslims for many remarks, including some equating Islam with fascism and violence and others calling for a ban on the Quran and a tax on Muslim headscarves.

Wilders accused judges at the Amsterdam District Court of bias and called for their dismissal after they refused to recall a defense witness who wrote on a weblog that a member of an appeals panel directly involved in the case had improperly contacted him.

A hastily convened substitute panel ruled Friday that Wilders' objections were valid, which means the trial that began in January must restart from the beginning with new judges. Wilders welcomed the decision. [AP] Read more

Geert Wilders hate speech trial collapses in Netherlands The hate speech trial of the controversial far-right Dutch leader, Geert Wilders, collapsed in disarray at the last minute today when the panel of judges in the case were deemed to be biased. A retrial was ordered.

Wilders, who is enjoying soaring support at home and propping up a new minority anti-immigration government established last week, has been in the dock since earlier this month on five charges of inciting racial and religious hatred for his robust denunciations of Islam as fascist and demanding the Qur'an be banned. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

21 October 2010

THE ghosts of multiculturalism are haunting a country that has failed with the concept

LAST weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the unlikely gravedigger for multiculturalism when she rejected the idea of cultural pluralism, surprising even her own party members. Merkel is hardly known for her outspokenness.

The delegates at a gathering of young conservatives in Potsdam must have been shocked. "The approach of multiculturalism, to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other, has failed, utterly failed," the chancellor explained in a fit of unexpected clarity to rousing applause of the party faithful.

International commentators are divided about what to make of her remarks. Was Merkel stoking xenophobia? Was she using the issue to combat bad polling data? Or was she stating the obvious? [The Australian] Read more

Activist angry at ‘defiled’ Koran

An Islamic activist has been sent pages of the Koran with graffiti scrawled on them. Mohammed Salim, of Letchworth Avenue, Rochdale, received three pages of the Muslim holy book graffitied with the words ‘c**p’, ‘paper’ and ‘toilet’.

The abusive mail was posted anonymously from Canada, addressed to ‘Allah Hoo Hoo Salim’ and arrived at Mr Salim’s family home on Monday. The father of 11 said: "I am absolutely furious. Unfortunately, this just seems to be the world we live in now.

"People have no respect for anything any more. "Obviously, whoever has sent this simply wants to upset me and it is extremely disrespectful to defile the Holy Koran in this way. It is just sickening. [Rochdale Observer] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Islam is a Social, Political, Legal and Ideological System

.... Islam is the duck-billed platypus of belief systems, neither politics nor religion, but rather politics and religion, wedded indissolubly. It is easy, and comforting, for those who do not want to study the texts and tenets of Islam, nor to consider carefully what the large-scale presence of Muslims has meant all over the Western world, in societal disruption, in expense, and in worry to continue to view Islam as a religion only.

One can continue, blandly and blithely, to simply call it a “religion” and leave it at that. Or one can begin to study, and to think, and recognize Islam for what it is: a social, political, legal and ideological system. Is this what the Framers, had they ever considered what to them would have seemed an utterly fantastic possibility, would have wanted the First Amendment to protect? [The Iconoclast] Read more

Turkey fails to resolve dispute over head scarves

Turkey's governing party failed to win key opposition support on Wednesday for plans to lift a ban on the wearing of Islamic head scarves at universities, a deeply divisive issue in a country with secular laws and a Muslim population.

The conflict over the head scarf reflects a struggle over Turkey's direction between the Islamic-oriented government, which argues for more religious freedom, and critics who believe the country's secular principles are in peril.

In Turkey, women are free to wear Islamic head scarves, but students, teachers and state-employed officials are not. [AP] Read more

Common values trump religion, Nenshi tells prayer breakfast - 'Faith is but one part of the contribution'

The subject of faith was rarely raised during the municipal election campaign. But mayor-elect Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday at a Christian prayer breakfast that much has been made of his Muslim faith in the past few days since his election.

"I think I've spoken more about faith in the last 24 hours than I did in the last 24 months," said Nenshi at the annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast, also known as the mayor's prayer breakfast.

"But I've seized that opportunity to tell a story about Calgary. It tells the story about the kind of place we are -- a place where faith, while central to community life, is also a place where faith is but one part of the contribution we make to the community." [Calgary Herald] Read more [via National Secular Society]

A mildly Islamist government fights it out with the generals

TURKEY’S politics used to be as quirky and colourful as the country itself. Parties would be formed and as quickly disappear, politicians would suddenly be banned, coalitions of all shapes and sizes would be tried—and every so often the army would kick out an errant government. But all this changed after Turkey’s economic crisis of 2001.

In the election of November 2002 just two parties were returned to Turkey’s grand assembly, or parliament; all others failed to reach the 10% threshold below which they win no seats. Mr Erdogan’s mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) party got 34% of the vote and Ataturk’s old Republican People’s Party (CHP), led by Deniz Baykal, took 19%. It was enough for AK to form a single-party government that has been in power ever since. [Economist] Read more

The Stoning of Soraya M – review

No reasonable person can doubt that the sharia practice of stoning a woman to death for supposed "adultery" is utterly grotesque – as is the cringing reluctance of some on the western left to condemn it, for fear of being branded Islamophobic. But this issue deserved something more substantial than this well-intentioned, but laboured and woodenly acted film, based on a true story. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

20 October 2010

Islamophobia is stupid

.... What I am asserting is that Islamophobia is already defined in the public mind as a lame version of "racist" or “anti-Semite.” The shock value of the term as an undesirable label is now lost. Many opinion leaders view it as a technique to not deal with criticism or a dodge the issues that they are concerned with. In other words the term is ineffective and politicized.

The civil rights movement, Jewish activism and other minority groups’ successes have a lot to teach us. However as Muslims in the west with all our unique attributes including our multicultural, multi-ethnic and our various internal religious groupings it is clear that we need custom tailored approaches that focus on listening to and getting to know the “other,” dissipating hate, discrediting at a substantive level misinformation and allowing non-Muslims to easily recognize fear-mongering. [altmuslim] Read more

Netherlands: Christian asylum seekers threatened, abused by Muslims

Christian asylum seekers living temporarily in Dutch refugee centres are often threatened or physically abused by fellow refugees who are Muslims, according to a support group. The Christian group, the Gift Foundation (Stichting Gave) presented its findings on Dutch public TV on Tuesday.

Christian Union MP Joël Voordewind said he was "shocked" by the reported incidents, particularly given the vulnerability of Muslim converts to Christianity who left Islamic countries for religious reasons. "They fled to the Netherlands because of their beliefs and should be safe here. It's terrible that they are being oppressed," Mr Voordewind said. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim girl 'pulls down bully's pants'

A six-year-old Muslim girl has been banned from a Darwin school bus after she pulled a boy's pants down after he repeatedly teased her about her hijab.

Iran Ghavami was given a five day ban from Buslink after she sought revenge on the seven-year-old boy, who had been allegedly bullying her and telling her to take off the headscarf, the NT News reported. The teasing made her "sad and angry at the same time", motivating the Year One girl to take revenge. [ninemsn] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

CNN Has Three "Experts" Tell Us What To Think Before We Read The Story

A court in the United Arab Emirates says a man is permitted under Islamic law to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he leaves no marks and has tried other methods of punishment, the country's top court ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a man who slapped his wife and slapped and kicked his 23-year-old daughter, the document said. The daughter had bruises on her right hand and right knee and the wife had injuries to her lower lip and teeth, the ruling said.

The court ruled that a man has the right to punish his wife and children. That includes beating them, after he has tried other options, such as admonition and then abstaining from sleeping with his wife. [CNN] Read more

Disapproval of Islam Is No Indication of Bigotry

Those who warn of a raging frenzy of American “Islamophobia” base their case on the assumption that anything less than enthusiastic approval of The Religion of Peace automatically qualifies as hate-mongering and ignorance.

On ABC News, Christiane Amanpour pointed to recent survey figures on public uneasiness with Islam to prove that Muslim Americans faced an unprecedented tsunami of hostility and discrimination. Actually, the Washington Post/ABC poll she repeatedly cited hardly indicated seething, volcanic anti-Muslim sentiment: less than half the public (49%) held generally “unfavorable” views of Islam, while fully 37% felt favorably disposed toward Koranic values.

Far from reflecting an alarming new surge of groundless hatred, these figures remain virtually unchanged from results of an identical Washington Post/ABC survey from four-and-a-half years ago (March, 2006), which showed 46% unfavorably inclined toward the Muslim faith. [Town Hall] Read more

Sharia Advancing in the West Like a Snake in the Sleeve

While most people are still ignorant of the tremendous growth of Sharia Banking in the West, a recent report by International Financial Services London reveals that Britain's Islamic banking sector is now bigger than that of Pakistan.

What is important to grasp is that Islam recognises no authority superior to Sharia law. When trillions of pounds and dollars are locked into them, Sharia banks will not recognize the superior authority of the law of the land.

One thing possibly many of the Westerners are yet to realize is, by simply opening an account with any of the Sharia compliance banks, they in other words are giving endorsement to -- and enabling -- the advance of Sharia law, which endorses, among other tenets, stoning for adultery; hanging for homosexuality, and an offically inferior status for non-believers and women. [Hudson New York] Read more

In its rows about Islam, the US must avoid catching a European disease

.... there is a lot of evidence that American Muslims are generally better integrated, and more supportive of the state in which they live than most of their European counterparts. There are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest is the First Amendment tradition of free speech and freedom of religion, which is now at issue in those blocks just up the road from, but not at, Ground Zero.

That great tradition, which Scott, the doorman at "New York Dolls", seems to have understood better than Foxman, Gingrich or Reid, says: this is America, where Geller can rant, strippers can grind, Christians, Jews and Muslims can pray – and Stewart can make fun of them all. This is America, where no one has the right not to be offended. For God's sake, America, don't catch our European disease. [Guardian Cif] Read more

19 October 2010

Men ordered from courtroom for Muslim witness

Men were ordered out of a Perth court yesterday after a judge set down conditions to accommodate a woman giving evidence without her nikab.

But while male journalists and men from the public gallery were banned, 19 males involved in the trial --including 12 jurors -- were allowed to stay in the District Court room. The woman, known only as Tasneem, took off part of her head-to-toe nikab so that her face was revealed as she gave evidence via video link from a nearby room in the court complex.

Media organisations had applied to judge Shauna Deane for male journalists to be allowed to remain in court but their application was refused and the judge ruled that only men associated with the trial were allowed to stay. [The Australian] Read more

Abuse Of Temporary Marriages Flourishes In Iraq

The practice of temporary marriage has long been common in Shiite Muslim communities, especially in Iran. The idea is that rather than having an affair, a man who wants to be sexually involved with a woman should marry her — for a few months, or even, hours — so the relationship will be legitimate.

In Iraq, the practice was banned under Saddam Hussein but then flourished after the American invasion. Now, though, some men are using the system to take advantage of poor women, and many of Iraq's Shiites say the very religious institutions that sanction such marriages are to blame. .... A religious figure in her neighborhood promised to help. He brought her to his home, locked the door and had sex with her. He offered her $15. [NPR] Read more

Faith schools are at the heart of our problems

.... Sadly, people in Northern Ireland like to divide children by religion to educate them. Catholic heads, Sinn Fein and Reg Empey all say the same thing - don't threaten the status quo.

Faith schools are not primarily about faith. It is easy for churchmen to say that children can come together in society after school or as young adults. By then the damage has been done. [Belfast Telegraph] Read more

No Saudi mosques, as long as there's no freedom of religion in Saudi-Arabia

The Saudi Arabian government and wealthy Saudi individuals want to build mosques in Norway for tens of millions. They are legally entitled to do so, according to Norwegian law for financially supporting religious communities, but the large sum means that the government will have to approve the financial support.

The foreign office is not only refusing to approve the funding. In a response to the Tawfiiq Islamic Center, the ministry wrote that it would be 'a paradox and unnatural to approve funding from sources in a country which is not open to religious freedom." [Islam in Europe] Read more

18 October 2010

Is Islam a Threat?

.... For now, I’ll try to summarize in three quarters of an hour the argument that prevailed when we, Switzerland, decided to give a strong signal to Islam by banning the construction of minarets.

Is Islam a threat? If yes, in which areas and in which ways? These are questions I will try to answer without any animosity toward Muslims as individuals, because they are often the first victims of a pitiless dogma leaving them little choice in managing their lives. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

Grovelling alone

Angela Merkel has got the point. Multiculturalism has failed, she states flatly, as she surveys western Europe going down under the tide of radical Islam.

Rather than liberal society creating the utopia of harmonious cultural pluralism, it is being swallowed whole by the giant predator whose voracious mouth it encourages, in the spirit of tolerance, to open ever wider in the unshakeable belief of western liberals that the jaws about to snap shut around their necks are actually stretched wide in a smile. [The Spectator] Read more

Bari on Cohen

Muhammad Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque and former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has written an indignant letter to the Observer about Nick Cohen’s piece on extremism in universities.

"Through the usual tactic of guilt by tenuous association, Nick Cohen brands me, in all but name, an extremist, a label I utterly reject. I abhor extremism of any kind and continue to work tirelessly to bring communities together. "

Oh really? This is hilarious coming from a man whose mosque has hosted hate preachers for years and years. Even one of the worst, al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al Awlaki, was not considered beyond the pale. Recall that Bari’s response to a query about Awlaki in January 2009 from Conservative MP Paul Goodman was this: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Contrary to reports, Geert Wilders has not been acquitted

The bizarre trial of Geert Wilders for his outspoken criticism of Islam continues its merry way, despite the best efforts of the prosecuting authorities to stop it. At the end of last week, after exhaustively listing the evidence against the Dutch MP, the prosecution submitted that he had no case to answer. All three charges should be removed from the indictment.

However much one disagreed with his views, lawyers argued, he had a right to freedom of speech. Presumably the defence agrees. The bench is now hearing evidence from Muslims who still want him to be convicted, including a trainee lawyer who begged the court to "protect me as a Muslim and a Moroccan against Mr Wilders". Wilders, who for years has lived in fear of his life, must have smiled ruefully at that line. [Heresy Corner] Read more

Dutch Muslims want anti-Islam lawmaker convicted

Muslim witnesses said Monday that a Dutch lawmaker's anti-Islamic comments had led to attacks and intimidation, and they pleaded with judges to convict him and give him a symbolic fine of one euro.

Geert Wilders is facing charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims for statements that include comparing Islam with Nazism and calling for banning the Quran and taxing Muslim scarves, which he calls "head rags." His trial has been seen as testing the limits of free speech.

Prosecutors last week acknowledged they have failed to prove the case against him and called for his acquittal. But the judges may disagree, and their verdict is expected Nov. 5. [Associated Press] Read more

France: Hamburger Chains Decision Sparking Tensions Over Islam

But those awkward times are over. In a telling measure of the growing Muslim presence in France, Quick, a homegrown hamburger chain trying to compete with McDonald’s, began serving halal hamburgers last month in 22 of its 367 restaurants, including the busy establishment frequented by Desadjri and his friends in this heavily Muslim suburb just north of Paris.

“It’s really important for me,” said Desadjri, a bright-eyed 16-year-old with wavy black hair who was gulping a hamburger and fries the other day alongside a non-Muslim pal, Darren de Lemos, 17. “I used to come here before, but I could never eat what I wanted. Now, we can all eat the same thing.” [loonwatch.com] Read more

Critics of Islam have a right to misguided speech

There is a difference between making remarks that are anti-Muslim and making remarks that are anti-Islam.

Muslims are people: The Arabic word for Muslim means “one who submits” –– to God, that is. Islam, by contrast, means “submission” and is an ideology –– that is to say, a set of truth-claims and prescriptions, like communism, Catholicism or conservatism.

It is one thing to say “Muslims are terrorists” and something different to say “Islam is incompatible with Western values” or even “Islam is wrong.”

Take Martin Peretz’s infamous commentary in The New Republic: “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.” To begin with –– because it is not clear to me that this is universally accepted in Western Europe –– Peretz ought to have the right to say this. He does have the right to say this, under American law. [The Rocky Mountain Collegian] Read more [via National Secular Society]

OIC ministers condemn rising Islamophobia trend

.... The 9th Session of the COMIAC in particular, condemned and deplored the recent publication of the book entitled “Tyranny of Silence” by the cultural editor of the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper that included a compilation of denigrating caricatures and cartoons of Prophet Muhammad which were published by the same newspaper in 2005, arousing worldwide condemnation and denunciation, and causing hurt and insult to the sentiments of Muslims around the world.

The meeting emphasized that the publication of the book constituted a flagrant violation of the stipulation of Article 20 of the 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Danish Criminal Code, Section 140, stipulating the protection of religious feelings against mockery and scorn, and Section 266b, stipulating the protection of groups of persons against scorn and degradation on account of their religion. [Today's Zaman] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Islamic students at top university 'are preaching hard-line extremism,' terror experts warn

Radical Islamic extremism is being openly practised at a leading university campus, a report today claimed. Think tank Quilliam said they had evidence of hard-line Islamist ideology being promoted through the leadership of the university's student Islamic Society at City University in central London. The group had intimidated and harassed staff, students and members of minority groups, it was claimed.

The counter-extremism think tank said they had evidence of the president of City University's Islamic Society, (ISoc) openly preaching extremism during prayers held on the campus during the 2009/10 academic year.

They said the president - Saleh Patel, was recorded saying: 'When they say to us 'the Islamic state teaches to cut the hand of the thief', yes it does! 'And it also teaches us to stone the adulterer. [MailOnline] Read more

17 October 2010

Segregated gym and swimming classes for one Muslim student

A school of 300 students in the Norwegian town of Tromsø introduced segregated gym and swimming class because of one Muslim student.

The parents of the Muslim students asked the Borgtun school to exempt the girl from gym and swimming due to the family's religious beliefs. In response the school decided to segregate boys and girls for these two classes in that specific grade level, reports Nordlys.

Knut Johansen, gym and swimming head teacher at the school, says this wasn't a demand from the parents. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Iranian chocolate thief 'to have hand chopped off'

An Iranian court has condemned a man convicted of robbing chocolates and cocoa from a Tehran pastry shop to have a hand chopped off, Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

Judge Mohammad Reza Giyuki, quoted in the report, also sentenced the 21-year-old man, whose identity was not revealed, to six months in prison for damaging the shop and another six months for "disobeying police."

Fars said police arrested him on May 29 and found in his possession 900 dollars worth of cash, three pair of gloves, chocolate and cocoa. [AFP] Read more

Some Context on the Wilders Case

Geert Wilders is the latest in a lengthening roster of Europeans who have been criminally prosecuted for criticizing Islam.

Under the slogans of stopping “Islamophobia” and banning “defamation” or “insult” of Islam, for two decades a concerted demand has been made for the West to enforce Islamic blasphemy rules, as is customary in certain member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The Netherlands has been among the many EU states struggling to comply. In the name of liberalism, it has enacted laws criminalizing “hate speech,” with grossly illiberal results. A sample of the Dutch cases shows that the desire to protect minorities is a self-deluding piety in these circumstances. What really lies at the root of these vaguely defined and arbitrarily adjudicated cases is fear of Muslim violence. [National Review Online] Read more

Merkel says German multiculturalism has failed

Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society has "utterly failed," Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp. Skip related content

Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims. "This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed," Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don't show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics.

She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labour market. [Reuters] Read more

Why German Chancellor Merkel Said That Multi-Culturalism is a Failure When German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to an audience Saturday of young Christian Democratic leaders that "the approach (to build) a (multicultural) society and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other ... has failed, utterly failed" that was with specific reference to Germany’s Muslim population.

That remark wasn’t plucked out of thin air. Rather it came from several years of social science research by the Federal Ministry of Interior and more recently surveys conducted of German youths including Muslims. [The Iconoclast] Read more

16 October 2010

Why the Integration of Muslims has Failed

Nicolai Sennels, who wrote "Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological Differences" for NER in May, sends us the following:

The integration of Muslims into Western society has failed, and will never occur to the extent necessary for them to function successfully in Western society. The reason is that a vast majority of them have not fulfilled all three of the criteria that are necessary for becoming members of, and feeling at home in, our non-Islamic societies: wanting to integrate; being allowed to integrate; and being able to integrate. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Islamic face-veil part of 'British way of life'

.... But in a new report from think-tank Civitas, Alveena Malik, a former faith adviser to the last Labour government, said the test of whether religious symbols are appropriate should be based on whether they are practical

.... Mrs Malik said: “We in Britain need to take a different direction from others in Europe and to accept the veil as part of a modern British way of life.”

She continued: “The wearing of religious symbols, including the full veil, should be a fundamental human right of an individual in both the public and private sphere.

“The real test for religious symbols in the public sphere should always be: ‘Does the wearing of a symbol (such as the kirpan, turban, yarmulke, crucifix and the veil) hinder a citizen’s ability to perform their public civic duties?’” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

15 October 2010

Christian exodus hurts Middle East: Muslim official

Christian emigration from the Middle East is impoverishing Arab culture and Muslims have a duty to encourage the presence of Christian minorities, a Lebanese government adviser has told a Vatican summit.

Mohammad Sammak, a Sunni Muslim who is secretary general of Lebanon’s Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, told a synod of bishops on Thursday the declining number of Christians in the region was a concern for all Muslims. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

German universities to train Muslim imams, teachers

Germany has announced it will fund Islamic studies at three state universities to train prayer leaders and religion teachers more in tune with Western society than the foreign imams preaching at most mosques here.

Two universities, Tübingen and Münster, are famous for their faculties of Christian theology and count German-born Pope Benedict among their former professors. The third, Osnabrück, opened a course for imams this week with 30 students. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Radical Islamists aim to infiltrate Hamburg mosques

Radical Islamists from a shut down Hamburg mosque linked to the September 11 attacks on the United States are now trying to infiltrate other mosques in and around the German city, according to officials and Muslim leaders.

Small groups of radicals have turned up at several mosques trying to establish a new meeting place since the Taiba Mosque, where the 9/11 leader Mohammad Atta once prayed, was raided and closed by police in August, they told Reuters.

With radicals no longer grouped around one mosque near the city’s main train station, security services have stepped up their observation of Islamists around the city and Muslim associations are on the lookout for suspicious newcomers. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Female genital mutilation cannot be defended as part of Islam

Should a man who supports female genital mutilation (FGM) really be considered a "leading progressive in the Muslim world"?

When I recently asked this question, I thought that the only people to answer "yes" would be far-right bigots who, choosing to ignore the many mainstream Muslims opposed to FGM, believe that Islam is inherently backwards and violent.

I shouldn't have been so naive. My expression of concern at Ken Livingstone's continued endorsement of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian televangelist who supports FGM, as a "progressive" swiftly led to me being denounced on one prominent leftwing blog as writing a "dishonest hatchet-job against a leading Muslim figure". [Guardian Cif] Read more

Speech ban exposes Islamic Congress rift

Defence Minister Peter MacKay's banning of a leading imam from the military's Islamic History Month event has exposed an executive-level rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress between forces of progress and orthodoxy.

In a letter to the National Post today, CIC president Wahida Valiante openly disavows her reform-minded executive director, Zijad Delic, and rejects his criticisms about the Muslim group's many public controversies, especially the failed hate speech cases against Maclean's magazine.

Ms. Valiante writes that Mr. Delic's plan to "purify" and "Canadianize" the CIC, and his desire to avoid lawsuits in favour of dialogue, "in no way reflect the views of CIC board." [National Post] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali debates whether Islam is a religion of peace, wins in a rout

Intelligence Squared hosted some intellectual heavyweights on Oct. 6 to debate the motion: "Is Islam a religion of peace." Those who took part included Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, who argued in favor of the resolution, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch MP and critic of Islam, who argued against it.

The result? Hirsi Ali won in a landslide. Intelligence Squared polled the audience before and after the debate, and she prevailed over almost all of the undecided audience members and even a segment of those who had previously disagreed with her. Here's the hard data: [Foreign Policy] Read more

Is Islam a religion of Peace? The NYU I-Squared US Debates .... “I wish that Zeba and Maajid were the spokespeople of Islam. It would be lovely. But we are where we are…But you've got the largest Sunni state of Saudi Arabia, the most important Sunni state in the world, the most extraordinary closed prison of a society... The Shiite republic of Iran is what it is, led by the people it's led by.

That is not an accident. It's not a detail. The thing that worries me is that although tonight we hear from the panelists here about how Islam is a religion of peace, the fact is that the people who are making the decisions in the religion, the people who are preaching the religion, the heads of that religion, people like Sheikh Qaradawi who broadcasts anti-Semitic -- the most appalling filth every week on the main network, that is the faith that is speaking for you guys. I wish that Zeba, you were on every week on Al Jazeera, but you are not. Qaradawi is. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Is Geert Wilders "Free at last?"

The announcement from The Public Prosecutor office in the Netherlands will be sweet music to all those rooting for Geert Wilders undergoing the equivalent of a show trial in the Amsterdam District Court. Perhaps soon we may hear the refrain from the negro spiritual frequently invoked by the late Martin Luther King: "“Free at last; free at last; thank God Almighty we are free at last. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Dutch prosecutors seek acquittal of anti-Islam MP Dutch prosecutors sought anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders's acquittal on five hate speech charges Friday, saying his criticism of the Muslim religion, though hurtful to some, was not criminal.

"Criticism (of religion) is allowed," prosecutor Birgit van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court as she and a colleague took turns to tell the court: "We ask for his acquittal" on each of five charges on the indictment. It would be hurtful to many Muslims when Wilders calls for a ban on the Koran," she said. "But the feelings of this group can play no role in determining the facts of the case.” [The Iconoclast] Read more

14 October 2010

Germany: Teacher suspended for serving pork to Muslim students

Urusla E. (59), a math and drama teacher for 18 years, was fired for accidentally giving a Muslim student pork.

The incident happened in the Christophorus school in Betzdorf (Rheinland-Pfalz). The teacher says that that there were two unlabeled dishes of schnitzels, one containing four pieces and one with eleven, which she gave to the children. She did not know that some were made of chicken while others were made with pork.

Then one student, Ünal (9), asked what kind of meat it was. She answered she didn't know. The boy didn't touch the meat, and a Turkish student gave her schnitzel to a German girl. The teacher thought the case was settled, but the next day the boy's mother called her up, very angry. A few days later 15 Turkish parents showed up at the school and demanded the teacher be fired. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Christian Groups Intensify Efforts Against U.N. Defamation Resolution

A U.N. resolution that seeks to criminalize words and actions perceived as attacks against religion – particularly Islam – will be up for vote again this year. This time, however, the U.N. Defamation of Religions resolution is picking up more opposition than in previous years and might not pass as it has in the past.

“The resolution lost support in the U.N. General Assembly vote during the last couple of years and we think this year may be the tipping point,” reported Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors, which has launched a campaign to rally concerned individuals against the resolution. “We need to encourage key countries to change their vote on this resolution, supporting the efforts of our State Department,” it added.

Annually sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) since 1999, the anti-defamation resolution – which has been presented in various forms and under various titles – seeks to make the "defamation of religions" a human rights violation. [The Christian Post] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Muslim prisoner sues over pork

A NEBRASKA prison inmate is suing Lancaster county for a quarter of a million dollars. The devout Muslim alleges he was served pork while in custody – violating the rules of his religion.

Court records said that 48-year-old Dario Scott follows dietary restrictions that bar Muslims from eating pork and that in March while awaiting trial, he was assured that pork was not served in the Lancaster County jail. [The Freethinker] Read more

Pamela Geller and the bloggers of hate

.... Since the days when Pamela Geller commented frequently at LGF, I've made a serious effort to develop tools for effectively moderating blog discussions, so that LGF will no longer become an inadvertent breeding ground for Geller's brand of hatred.

The web's inherent anonymity makes it far too easy for extremists and trolls of all kinds to hijack a blog's comments; only by taking more control of the tone of the discussion can sane bloggers start to pull things back toward the centre, away from hate-fuelled internet extremists such as Pamela Geller and her cronies. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Canada court rules on Muslim veil

The right of a Muslim woman to wear a niqab while testifying in a criminal trial may be determined by judges on a "case-by-case assessment", Ontario's highest court has ruled. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruling upheld a Superior Court decision.

The court also set up a framework for lower courts to apply in balancing a defendant's rights with a veiled woman's religious freedoms. A lower court had ordered a woman to remove her veil, prompting the appeal. The case involved a 32-year-old Muslim woman who alleged that her cousin and uncle had repeatedly sexually abused her when she was a child. [BBC] Read more

French woman faces fine for tearing niqab from tourist's face

Prosecutors have called for a 63-year-old French woman to be given a two-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of €750 (£659) after she admitted tearing a full Islamic veil from the face of a tourist from the United Arab Emirates.

The woman, a retired English teacher identified only as Marlène Ruby, said she was "irritated" by the sight of two women shopping in Paris in their niqabs. She said that, not realising the pair were foreigners, she initially pulled one of their veils while chastising them in French for covering their faces. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Denmark denies apologising for Mohammad cartoons

Middle East media, including the English-language Egyptian Gazette and Arabic television network Al-Arabiya, said Lene Espersen had apologised for the cartoons during her visit to Cairo Wednesday.

But Espersen said on Danish TV 2 News Thursday she had not issued any apology for the drawings. "I can clearly deny that I have given an apology," Espersen said. "But I can confirm that I have said that freedom of expression is not so extensive that it would not have any limits."

The cartoons published first by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, especially one showing the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, sparked violent protests in Muslim countries and the torching of Danish embassies in 2006. Most Muslims consider pictures of the founder of Islam offensive. [Reuters] Read more

Sharia in the West - Whose law counts most?

.... Where sharia poses genuine dilemmas for secular countries with big Muslim minorities is not in the realm of retribution but in its application to family matters such as divorce, inheritance and custody. English-speaking countries boast a strong tradition of settling disputes (commercial or personal) by legally binding arbitration.

This already includes non-secular institutions such as longstanding rabbinical tribunals in Britain and many other countries, or Christian mediation services in North America. Now Islam-based outfits are entering the market.

Perhaps inevitably, the procedures and general ethos of Muslim mediation are very different from those of a secular court. Many of Britain’s 2m or so Muslims come from socially conservative parts of South Asia, such as rural Kashmir. The practice of sharia-based family law both reflects and to an extent mitigates that conservatism. A network of sharia councils—whose two main founders come from purist schools of Islam, the Deobandis and the Salafis—has offered rulings to thousands of troubled families since the 1980s. [Economist] Read more

13 October 2010

Xenophobia takes root in German mainstream

.... Anti-Islam views were particularly strong in the FES poll, which surveyed 2,400 Germans aged between 14 and 90. Just over 58 percent said that “religious practice for Muslims in Germany should be seriously limited,” and that number rose to 75.7 percent for people from former East Germany.

Leipzig-based study authors Oliver Decker and Elmar Brähler called their findings an “alarm signal for politics and society,” saying the right-wing extremist views had multiplied during the financial crisis. People who promote such views could use the situation to “gain political capital,” they warned. [The Local] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Swedes cite integration issues as a 'problem'

"Xenophobia and democracy issues have come into focus with the Sweden Democrats' (SD) entry into Sweden's Riksdag," wrote Camilla Modéer, secretary-general of Public & Science .... in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Tuesday.

"Some commentators argue that SD's success is a result of journalists and politicians concealing facts and problems with immigration. Others argue that a perceived 'taboo' in the immigration debate is little but a cherished myth."

According to the study highlighted in the article, 73 percent of Swedes see integration and immigration as a problem in the country. [The Local] Read more

'Freedom of speech has limits' say prosecutors in hate speech trial

Populist politician Geert Wilders's negative views of Islam - he has called it "retarded" and "inherently violent" - are his opinions, not irrefutable facts, Dutch prosecutors argued yesterday at his criminal trial for inciting hatred.

Wilders has argued that his views of Islam are supported by expert and academic analysis, and that speaking the truth cannot be a crime. He says the charges against him are an attack on freedom of speech.

But at the second hearing of his closely watched trial, prosecutors countered that there is no general agreement about the nature of Islam, and Wilders's statements are opinions that cross the legal threshold. However, prosecutors have dropped one charge against him, of insulting a group on the basis of its religion, noting that his statements have been mostly directed toward Islam as an ideology, rather than Muslims. [The Scotsman] Read more

Fears of Sharia Law in America Grow Among Conservatives

The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in America has brought with it a wave of largely-unsubstantiated suggestions from conservative media commentators and politicians that America is at risk of falling under the sway of Sharia law.

....On November 2nd, voters in Oklahoma - a state not exactly awash in Islamic activity - are expected to vote in favor of a "Save Our State" constitutional amendment forbidding the state's courts to consider Sharia or international law in making rulings.

Backers of the law say they don't want the United States to go the way of the United Kingdom, where the archbishop of Canterbury generated an uproar more than two years ago by suggesting that British law make room for Sharia. British newspapers reported later that year that "the government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence."[CBSNews.com] Read more

Whitechapel - a gay free zone

My daughter and I went on a history walk today from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry (very interesting and one day we must get booked on the full tour) to St Pauls.

Crossing the road outside the Churchyard of St Mary Matfelon (currently called Altab Ali Park) where the Museum of London are conducting a dig into the remains of the original White Chapel my daughter spotted this sticker on the pedestrian guard rail. It was upside down but the intolerant message is clear at any angle. [The Iconoclast] Read more

You can't commit rape within marriage, says head of UK Islamic Sharia Council

Of course, one interpretation of the above headline would leave you wondering why someone had bothered to state the obvious. Of course you can't commit rape within marriage – it's illegal.

Sadly, this isn't what Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the London-based Islamic Sharia Council, means – speaking in an interview with Chaminda Jayanetti of the Samosa blog, which I found via Pickled Politics, he outlined his, well, interesting views on sexual assault: [New Humanist] Read more

Sheikh's primitive view The views of Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed about rape in marriage show why sharia law must never be allowed to take a grip in Britain. This senior Muslim cleric, in charge of a large network of sharia courts, insists that men who force themselves upon their wives should have immunity from prosecution for rape.

Perhaps this outburst will destroy once and for all the foolish notion that opposition to the creeping islamification of Britain can only be motivated by bigotry and prejudice. [Express] Read more

12 October 2010

Halal fast-food chain expanding

Halal fast-food chain Tonton Chami already has two branches in Anderlecht and Brussels, and in 2011 will open a third in Molenbeek.

Owner Saïd El Mourabit says he plans to open another five branches in Brussels, and by 2013 he wants to have at least 25 branches all over the country. El Mourabit told La Capitale that his success is due ot the fact that nobody else offers halal food. But, he says, his chain doesn't attract only Muslims. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Arab property owner bans banks, pork and porn from Berlin office building

.... "Companies seeking to rent office space here are not allowed to operate business that involves selling pork", said Simone Krziwanek, a lawyer representing a small communications firm on the groundfloor of the building.

What is also banned, she said, are businesses offering "interest-paying financial products, as well as sex shops, gambling halls and liquor stores". "We, as a communications firm, don't have any problem with that," she added, "after all, it is entirely up to the owner to decide to whom they want to rent out the offices." [DW-WORLD.DE] Read more

11 October 2010

In Holland, Free Speech on Trial - Ayaan Hirsi Ali On The Trial Of Geert Wilders

Imagine if a leader within the tea party movement were able to persuade its members to establish a third political party. Imagine he succeeded—overwhelmingly—and that as their leader he stood a real chance of winning the presidency. Then imagine that in anticipation of his electoral victory, the Democrats and Republicans quickly modified an existing antidiscrimination law so that he could be convicted for statements he made on the campaign trail.

All of this seems impossible in a 21st-century liberal democracy. But it is exactly what is happening in Holland to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Mr. Wilders came onto the political scene in September 2004 when he broke from the Liberal Party to found the Freedom Party. He did this partly as a response to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, and also in reaction to the rise of political Islam in the Netherlands. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more

Germany's Integration Debate Takes a Turn for the Worse

Efforts by German President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel to calm the heated debate over Muslim immigration that has been raging in Germany for weeks appear to have been undermined by the governor of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, who made some incendiary comments about Muslim immigrants over the weekend.

"It's clear that immigrants from other cultures such as Turkey and Arabic countries have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don't need additional immigration from other cultures," Seehofer, who is leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Focus magazine in an interview published on Monday.

"I don't agree with demands for increased immigration from foreign cultures," Seehofer added. "We have to deal with the people who already live here. Eighty to 90 percent of them are well integrated. But we must get tougher on those who refuse to integrate." [Spiegal Online] Read more

City closes schools for extra day a year so Muslims can celebrate religious holiday

Schools in the city of Cambridge, in Massachusetts, will close for one Muslim holiday a year, local officials have announced. Authorities in the U.S. city said the new scheme, which will be introduced from 2011-2012, is the first of its kind in the state.

The schools will close for either Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, depending on which falls within the school year. [MailOnline] Read more

Islam in Europe Destroyed by Radicalism?

The “virus” of Saudi-financed Wahhabi radicalism has “destroyed every chance” for the development of European Islam, according to a leading Muslim theologian from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Professor Resid Hafizovic of the Sarajevo Faculty of Islamic Studies, in an interview with the Bosnian secularist daily Oslobodjenje (Liberation), condemns Wahhabism as “a new plague,” promoted by “Muslim puritans and perpetual world fixers.”

He chastises the radicals as “unschooled, uneducated, confused people, who forbid their own children, for example, to study biology in school.” He describes the followers of the Saudi state sect as “a movement unsatisfied with and intolerant of everything which does not fit its ideological views, and which therefore is often predisposed to the methods of murderous ideologies that use any means to achieve their goals.” [Weekly Standard] Read more

10 October 2010

How radical Islam seduced the academics

....He described how a friend of his, "an eminent scientist", strolled in to take a look at an art exhibition organised by the UCL Islamic Society. "'Was he a believer?' asked an obviously Muslim student. 'No,' replied my friend, 'he didn't believe in any god, as it happened.'

'Then,' the young man confidently informed him, 'we shall have to execute you.' My friend laughed it off after lodging a mild complaint. It could, of course, have been Abdulmutallab who made the threat."

I am willing to bet that the laughter of the eminent scientist was of the tinny and nervous variety. I will wager further that equally tinny and nervous laughs are being heard on campuses across Britain. [Guardian Cif] Read more

09 October 2010

Muslim father unhappy over daughter's school swimming sessions

A FATHER is considering taking his daughter out of a school because of an argument over her being taken swimming with classmates.

Rehan Mirza says he told teachers at William Booth Primary School, Sneinton, that it was against his Muslim beliefs for Zainab Hussain, five, to swim in mixed gender groups and with male staff present.

He has made a complaint to Nottingham City Council's children's services department because she was still taken to the pool at the John Carroll Leisure Centre, in Radford, despite his request. [This is Nottingham] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Tariq Ramadan: Propagandist in Scholar’s Robes

.... The Quest For Meaning: Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism would indicate by its title and Ramadan’s reputation as an “Islamic reformer” that it would address the almost total lack of pluralism in the Muslim world.

Not so. In fact, the ills of the Muslim world do not come up except in one minor aside about the passion of crowds aimed mainly at criticizing Western democracy. The entire book is one long condescending criticism of Western philosophy, politics and social structure.

Of course Ramadan has a lot to draw from with regard to Western criticism of Western culture because the history and development of the West involves copious criticism from all sides – this is, in fact, the secret of Western advancement - and yet the thought seems never to occur to Ramadan as to why no such tradition exists in the Islamic world. [New English Review] Read more

08 October 2010

Sakineh’s case & beyond

.... The presence of stoning punishments for sexual crimes in the law books of Muslim countries and the lack of challenges posed to them from within Islam are a cause for urgent concern for all Muslims.

Not only do existing discussions promote misperceptions about religious law to dupe the ignorant but also use this as a basis for political theatre rather than as a tool of justice. Movements like Musawah and the work of emerging Muslims scholars can provide Muslims with the tools to distinguish between faith and propaganda. [altmuslim] Read more

Christians in Arab Gulf face hurdles to worship

Every Friday in the Muslim Gulf Arab state of Kuwait, 2,000 worshippers cram into a 600-seat church or listen outside to the mass relayed on loudspeakers, prompting their Roman Catholic bishop to worry about a stampede. “If a panic happens, it will be a catastrophe … it is a miracle that nothing has happened,” said Bishop Camillo Ballin.

These churchgoers represent only the tip of the iceberg. Ballin reckons his flock in Kuwait numbers around 350,000 out of a total of half a million Christians in the country. [Reuters] Read more

Should Muslims Be Treated on an Equal Footing?'

The recent statement by German President Christian Wulff that "Islam belongs in Germany" has provoked something of a conservative backlash. The German press is divided on whether the presence of Muslims in Germany is self-evident or cause for concern.

When German President Christian Wulff said that "Islam also belongs in Germany" during his speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification on Sunday, he was initially showered with praise for recognizing the reality that around 4 million Muslims now live in Germany. Yet just a few days later, it is clear than many on the conservative side of German politics and society are still deeply uncomfortable with such a statement.

The ongoing unease in some quarters about the country's Muslim population was revealed by a poll published by the influential mass circulation newspaper Bild on Tuesday which showed that 66 percent of those polled disagreed with Wulff's assertion and only 24 percent agreed with it. [Spiegal Online] Read more

Mohammed Abdul Aziz's advice on Islam has cost Britain quite enough

Which public servants should be paid more than the Prime Minister? Some might argue for an outstanding police chief or NHS executive. But not even the most devout defender of the status quo would nominate someone whose work is at best pointless and whose advice apparently given to the Government is potentially dangerous.

Mohammed Abdul Aziz is a senior adviser within the Department for Communities and Local Government, working on, among other things, the "Prevent" strategy to curb home-grown extremism. He has visited several countries on our behalf, via such initiatives as "Projecting British Islam". [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Pregnant Muslim ordered to remove her veil in court because magistrates can't see her face

A pregnant Muslim woman was ordered by magistrates to remove her veil while she gave evidence against her violent ex-partner yesterday. Georgina Richards, 36, initially refused for religious reasons but reluctantly agreed when magistrates said they might not accept her evidence if they could not see her 'facial expressions'.

The case at Leicester Magistrates Court was held up for over an hour while magistrates agreed to hear her evidence from behind a screen. Chairman of the bench Lawrence Faulkner told her: 'We need to see a person’s facial expressions to assess the evidence they are giving. [MailOnline] Read more

France's highest legal authority removes last obstacle to ban on burka

Unexpected ruling prompts fears of reprisals by Islamic fundamentalists. A ban on the burka, and other full-face veils will take effect in France from next spring after an unexpected ruling by the country's highest legal authority last night.

In a decision that will divide the country, and may spark fears of Islamic fundamentalist reprisals, the Conseil Constitutionnel removed the final legal obstacle to the ban, by ruling that a so-called "anti-burka" law passed by both houses of the French parliament did not infringe fundamental liberties. [independent.co.uk] Read more

07 October 2010

Italy move to ban the burka

A group of MPs from the Northern League, part of Silvio Berlusconi's ruling right wing coalition, proposed the bill, which states that burkas should be banned in Italy, not for "religious reasons but for security reasons". The move comes a month after the French parliament approved a ban on wearing a full-face veil in public.

The proposal would amend a 1975 law, introduced amid fears of home-grown terrorism, which punishes with hefty fines and up to two years in jail people who cover their faces with anything preventing their identification by police. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Court hears Muslims' complaints against lawmaker

Muslims in the Netherlands say that remarks by politician Geert Wilders have poisoned attitudes toward them, making them feel unwelcome and at risk, according to complaints disclosed at his hate speech trial Wednesday.

"My family and I no longer feel safe in the Netherlands because Mr. Wilders is continually making hateful remarks about Islamic Dutch people," said one complaint read out by the judge. "It's getting scary. ... Soon the kids won't be able to say that they're Muslim or half-Moroccan," wrote the citizen, whose name was not released.

Dozens of similar complaints filed with public prosecutors eventually led them to file charges against Wilders, citing frequent statements he has made comparing Islam to Fascism, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration and for banning the Quran. [AP] Read more

PolitiFact: Most Muslim countries allow churches, synagogues

.... A 2007 Council on Foreign Relations “backgrounder” on religious conversion and sharia law said, “Conversion by Muslims to other faiths is forbidden under most interpretations of sharia and converts are considered apostates” sometimes regarded as treason and punishable by death. Experts told us there was an ongoing debate in Islam about this question.

In sum, we think Graham erred when he said that in most Muslim countries, “We can’t have a church. We’re not able to build synagogues. It’s forbidden.” That’s demonstrably false. The construction of churches is not forbidden in most Muslim countries, only Saudi Arabia. And so, on balance, we rate Graham’s comment False. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Banana Republic Britain

.... The Electoral Commission simply cannot keep up. Multicultural Britain is experiencing such a massive racial and demographic shift that to track and record individuals has become an utterly impossible task. Particularly so when each official form is printed and distributed in over 20 different languages before being processed by staff who among them speak only three.

This has led to dangerous levels of fraud. In 2004, Judge Richard Mawley QC presiding over an electoral vote-rigging case in Birmingham had this to say: “The (postal vote) system is wide open to massive, systematic and organised fraud that would disgrace a banana republic.”

Shortly before the 2010 election, the police were investigating upward of 50 cases of electoral fraud, principally in Labour-controlled areas. Since the election this number has climbed to 81 cases, but little has happened since, because the alleged fraudsters were invariably Muslim and the police are loath to prosecute for fear of appearing “racist.” [Gates of Vienna] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

06 October 2010

Why the trial against Geert Wilders is wrong

Equating the Quran with Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf, calling Islam a “retarded” religion, and demanding a “head rag tax” are just a few examples of how Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, has succeeded in catching the attention of many media headlines, as well as a Dutch court.

Wilders, whose trial is set to resume this week, is facing five counts of giving religious offence and inciting hatred against Muslims—particularly those immigrant to the Netherlands which are of Moroccan origin—through his comments to the public and media, as well as his short film, Fitna, which can be viewed on YouTube: [Pickled Politics] Read more

UK sharia chief – there is no such thing as rape within marriage

Chaminda Jayanetti speaks to the president of Britain’s main Islamic law court (sic) about rape within marriage.

.... But sitting in a small office at the al-Tawhid Mosque in East London, where the Council’s sessions had been relocated while its nearby headquarters were renovated (the Council has now moved back), I asked Sheikh Sayeed whether he considered non-consensual marital sex to be rape. “No,” he replied. “Clearly there cannot be any ‘rape’ within the marriage. Maybe ‘aggression’, maybe ‘indecent activity’.”

He said it was “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape and prosecute offenders, adding that “to make it exactly as the Western culture demands is as if we are compromising Islamic religion with secular non-Islamic values.”

The Islamic Sharia Council handles very few cases of alleged marital rape – Sheikh Sayeed said there had only been two or three such cases since the Council was founded in 1982. It is therefore unlikely that the Council’s views on this issue, or those of Sheikh Sayeed himself, directly impact upon a significant number of marital rape victims. [The Samosa] Read more

Tony Blair and the narrative of terror

I'm not Tony Blair's biggest fan, not by a long way, but he's not always wrong. Even when he's right, however, he invariably manages to draw the wrong conclusions.

His latest speech, delivered to a Washington foreign affairs think-tank that had just given him a prize as a "scholar-statesman" (like Gladstone, presumably, or the emperor Marcus Aurelius), concerned his favourite subject of what to do about the Terrorist Menace and the extreme Islamist politic-religious world-view which inspires many (but not all) of the terrorists. In some ways it was an impressive oration. He made some good points. Unfortunately, his fixation on "faith" as the answer to everything let him down yet again. [Heresy Corner] Read more

Mutliculturalism is not dead in the UK

....The Muslim equality agenda has got this far because of the liberal and pragmatic political culture of this country on matters of religion. Muslim groups have highlighted discrimination in educational and economic opportunities and in political representation and the media, as well as the "Muslim-blindness" in the provision of health, care, and social services.

By arguing for remedies that are in line with existing legislation and policies on equality, they have made it possible to become part of British political culture and UK multiculturalist politics.

[Comment] I am sorry but I think Multiculturalism is a fallacy. I can think of no country in the world where different cultures live together without strife. When you add religion to this volatile cocktail this looks to have been the pre-program for strife through out the world.

People in general no longer automatically assume that any of the organised religions have a higher moral stance or are more moral and ethical than the non religious or have greater standards of goodness and kindness. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

German Muslims must obey law, not sharia: Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Muslims must obey the constitution and not sharia law if they want to live in Germany, which is debating the integration of its 4 million-strong Muslim population.

In the furor following a German central banker's blunt comments about Muslims failing to integrate, moderate leaders including President Christian Wulff have urged Germans to accept that "Islam also belongs in Germany." [Reuters] Read more

Muslim activist asks if Sharia courts constitutional in Russia

A lawyer and head of the Al-Fatkh Muslim organization in St. Petersburg, Dzhamaliddin Makhmutov, has sent a letter to Russia’s Constitutional Court asking if the introduction of advisory Sharia courts is lawful.

“Makhmutov is asking the plenum of the Constitutional Court to convene and explain if the ban on the creation of the institute of Islamic justice in Russia is legal,” Trud daily said. In his letter, he stated that the current legislation “does not contain a direct ban on the existence of an advisory Sharia court that could look into and mediate on domestic and family arguments between Muslims,” the paper said. [RT.com] Read more

Man who burned and urinated on Koran faces religious hate trial

A man who posted an online video of himself burning pages from the Koran then urinating on it to put out the flames will face trial over incitement to religious hatred. The unidentified man, in his 30s, was tracked through his IP address and phone number to his flat near Strasbourg, France.

'He claims full responsibility. He says he's not a right-wing extremist but that in France he can burn the Koran, just as he can burn a Winnie the Pooh book, without worrying about the consequences,' said Strasbourg deputy prosecutor Gilles Delorme. In his online film, the blogger is seen sitting in his living room wearing a devil's mask as he tears pages from a copy of the Koran to make paper airplanes. [Metro] Read more