30 November 2010

Muslim group aims to reverse Swiss minaret ban

A Swiss Islamic group has said it was launching a popular initiative to reverse a ban on building new minarets in the Alpine state, saying voters would decide differently if the matter came up for referendum again.

Last year, 57.5 percent of Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of new minarets, drawing international condemnation. The government had rejected the initiative as violating the constitution.

The plan to reverse the minaret ban comes a day after a majority of Swiss voted to back expulsion of foreigners convicted of serious crimes, the latest sign of growing hostility to immigration. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Leading rabbi says Europe risks being 'overrun' by Islam

.... Speaking to journalists .... Rabbi Rosen, the director of inter-religious affairs at the Washington-based American Jewish Congress, said that a predominantly secular and liberal Western European society is under threat from the rapid growth of Islamic communities which do not want to integrate with their neighbours.

"I am against building walls. My humanity is my most important component. But Western society very clearly doesn't have a strong identity. I would like Christians in Europe to become more Christian ... those who do not have a strong identity are easily overrun by those who do," the rabbi warned.

"I think there is a pretty good chance that your grandchildren, if they are not Muslim, then they will be very strong Roman Catholics," he told one Italian reporter. "I don't think a tepid identity can stand up to the challenge." [EUobserver.com] Read more [via loonwatch.com]

David Cameron on radicalised Muslims: 'We let in some crazies'

.... Cameron went on to criticise Labour's dealing with groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Council of Britain. "On the radicalisation of British Pakistanis, Cameron said the UK had 'gotten it wrong domestically'

… He argued that PM [Gordon] Brown's policy had been too willing to engage with radicalised but non-violent Muslim groups … 'We let in some crazies,' Cameron said, 'and didn't wake up soon enough.' [guardian.co.uk] Read more

The Islamists’ Last Throw Of The Dice: Lambert and Githens-Mazer’s New Report

.... the Islamist political organisations are utterly blameless and credible community organisations, fully committed to common civic values, which just happen to keep getting caught up in scandals involving hate preaching and terrorism. So we are told, it is actually the fault of the “Neocons” that people react badly to these revelations, which shouldn’t really be reported at all.

This is a desperate argument. Vilifying Muslim liberals, while promoting organisations with very clear links to extremist and sometimes terrorist politics? Funded by the very institutions with links to the Islamist political parties that are being defended? I really don’t think many will buy that.

This is the Islamists’ last throw of the dice. Over the next few days, we will be publishing some of the more jaw-dropping passages from Lambert and Githens Mazer’s report. You will be astounded by what you read. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Hot off the press: unlocked copy of Lambert’s Islamophobia report

.... Unfortunately, those of you wanting to read Bob Lambert and Githens-Mazer’s latest exercise in intellectual onanism would find it rather difficult. You see, someone deliberately set the security settings so high on the document that it couldn’t be printed. The text couldn’t be cut and paste.

In fact, just about every security setting possible was applied. Which is kind of strange – you’d think the authors would want us all to read their sterling work. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The new Government needs to take urgent steps to counter sharia-based radicalisation - Part 3

In the previous two articles ... I have outlined how attitudes to sharia are the most important touchstone in defining radicalisation. Sharia is the boundary line that defines most clearly the difference between on the one hand, ordinary British Muslims who follow a traditional, devotional form of their faith and who contribute much to our British way of life and on the other hand, extremists who pose a serious threat to our historic British values and the freedoms they give us.

In 2007 research conducted by Policy Exchange revealed that 37% of British Muslims aged 16-24 said they would prefer to live under sharia than under British law, while a similar number of Muslims under 35 said they agreed with the sharia stipulation that anyone who converted from Islam to another faith should be executed. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Sharia is the touchstone for recognising and combatting radical Islam - Part 2 .... Today I want to address another related issue which the previous government entirely failed to get to grips with – how to identify radicalisation among British Muslims. In particular. I want to suggest that each individual Muslim's attitude to sharia is the touchstone for identifying radicalisation.

One of the major problems any government faces in identifying and combating radicalisation is separating ordinary British Muslims from radicals. The thorny issue here is that ordinary British Muslims, who are deeply peace-loving, have a primarily devotional faith.

However, they are largely unaware that the Islamic theological schools (madrassas) that train imans follow a theological curriculum that has remained largely unchanged for 400 years and has very similar teaching to radical Islamism concerning the imposition of Islamic law and government on non-Muslims. [ConservativeHome] Read more

29 November 2010

Three tests for a new All-Party Group on Islamophobia

…. To have enough authority to support such an inquiry, the secretariat concerned must be representative of British Muslims (in so far as this is possible); certainly trusted by the various political, ethnic, national interests concerned; expert, and dispassionate.

Whatever one thinks of Engage's views, it doesn't fit this bill. It's essentially a monitoring website or an attack website (depending on one's point of view) which targets non-Islamist Muslims in particular .... It's unclear who staffs it.

Over the last two weeks, its 37 posts have prompted a mere 47 comments. Its Newsletter section contains only two items: the last one is dated October 2009. This doesn't suggest that it has a large readership, or is representative of any significant interest.

.... Any conclusions must be practical. A diatribe against Fleet Street would be futile. Suggestions of new religious hatred laws would be both wrong and counter-productive. A new state monitoring apparatus, or anything like it, would be wasteful.

Instead, any recommendations must concentrate on establishing facts; refining data; improving reporting; protecting mosques, worshippers, schools, pupils, events and citizens; working with the police; exchanging ideas with other religious groups. [conservativehome] Read more

Radical Muslims given Channel 4 slot

Anjem Choudary, who was also involved with the banned group Islam4UK which planned a protest march through Wootton Bassett, will have free reign to give his views during an edition of the channel's daily opinion slot, known as 4thought.tv.

The counter-terrorism think-tank Quilliam has written to David Abraham, the Channel 4 chief executive, to complain about airtime already given to radical Muslims during the series.

It claimed that 4thought.tv had failed to properly identify the ideological allegiances of presenters and that a disproportionate amount of time had been given to extremists. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Algerian Christians face jail for opening church

Prosecutors asked a court on Sunday to sentence four Algerian converts to Christianity to one year in jail each for opening a place of worship without permission, their lawyer said. The verdict was expected on December 12, lawyer Mohamed BenBelkacem said.

"The trial was conducted in good conditions. The prosecutor asked for one year in prison for each of the accused, which is the minimum sentence provided by the law," he said.

The defendants, aged between 35 and 45 years, are accused of opening a Protestant church close to the town of Larbaa Nath Irathen, 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of the capital Algiers, without permission from the authorities. [AFP] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Our money must not go on religious segregation

MY concern is about faith schools, specifically Muslim faith schools in Derbyshire (I also understand being an ex-Muslim atheist makes my situation rare).

I imagine I am not the only one who feels deeply insulted by the proposal to open a taxpayer-funded Islamic school in Derby.

Instead of educating children from different backgrounds together, so they can learn from one another, we are now going to spend our taxpayers' money on separating children along religious lines.

Don't we see enough on the news every night about what happens when you separate communities along religious lines? [Derby Telegraph] Read more

German Protestant Head Says A European Islam Needed For Dialogue

A European form of Islam needs to develop before a meaningful interfaith dialogue can take place on the continent, the new leader of Germany's 24 million Protestants has said.

"We are only at the beginning of a serious inter-religious discussion on a theologically high level and that is because there are problems with finding counterparts," the Rev. Nikolaus Schneider told ENInews in a 17 November interview in Trier. [Eurasia Review] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Minaret debate flares up

A year after Swiss voters approved a ban on the building of minarets, both pro and contra groups are launching new campaigns to put the issue back on the political agenda. An anti-minaret movement led by Ulrich Schlüer of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party presented a manifesto on Monday against the Islamisation of Switzerland.

The document underlines Switzerland’s Christian foundations and aims to prevent the creation of a parallel society inspired by Islamic sharia law.

Schlüer said the group had waited a year in vain for the government to implement the minaret ban. A sign of the lack of progress was the green light canton Bern gave in September to the building of a minaret in the town of Langenthal, the politician said.

The Bern authorities argued at the time that planning permission was originally granted months before the controversial vote. [swissinfo] Read More [via Islamophobia Watch]

28 November 2010

Athens mosque plan faces new hurdles

A controversial bid to build a mosque in Athens has assumed new, more dramatic proportions amid threats by the far-right to stop its construction and a denial by the renowned Anglo-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, that she is involved in its design.

Tensions have soared in the only EU capital where Muslims are still forced to pray in underground basement flats and garages in the absence of a proper place of worship.

Two weeks after a neo-fascist party won its first-ever seat on Athens council in local elections – highlighting growing Greek hostility over the country's rising immigrant population –opposition to the decades-old project has grown. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Stopping the spread of sharia is central to countering radicalisation - Part 1

Fundamentally, the ultimate aim of Islamist terrorists is that Islamic law (sharia), which is the primary instrument of Islamic government, should be imposed across the entire world on Muslim and non Muslim alike.

However, even the most cursory look at the previous government’s policies for countering violent Islamism suggests that they lacked this basic understanding of Islamist aims. This ignorance, whether wilful or otherwise, not merely delayed effective advance against Islamism, but in some respects led to tactics that actually gave specific ground to Islamists in terms of achieving their long term aims in Britain and overseas.

In particular, the previous Labour government pursued a policy of partially appeasing non violent Islamist groups in the misguided belief that this would prevent radicalised Muslims moving onto violent Islamism. [Conservative Home] Read more

Blasphemy law not to be repealed

Pakistan will not repeal its controversial blasphemy law but may amend it to prevent abuse because scrapping the legislation could fuel militancy. Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti said here Tuesday.

“Repealing of calls is not being considered though we are considering changing it so that misuse of the law should be stopped”.

Bhatti said consultations with Islamic clerics and representatives of religious minorities on amending the law would soon be held. He said repealing it was not being considered because that could provoke religious parties and militants. [Pakistan Observer] Read more

Pakistani Christian Convicted of ‘Blasphemy’ Stoned in Prison

Muslim inmates at a prison in northwest Punjab Province on Oct. 29 stoned a Christian wrongly convicted of “blasphemy” nearly to death, according to his father.

Imran Masih, a 19-year-old member of the Protestant Church of Pakistan, is still recovering in District Hospital Hazro, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit the day of the assault.

“Imran Masih was brought to the hospital in a very serious condition,” Dr. Sultan Malik told Compass. “He had lost a lot of blood. He was shifted to the ICU and is still under treatment.”

Masih, a resident of Hazro near Attock, is expected to be released from the hospital next week. [Christian News Today] Read more [via National Secular Society]

27 November 2010

The Christian woman facing death over a work squabble

It started as nothing more than a petty squabble: a group of Muslim women refused to sup from a bucket of water fetched by a Christian co-worker as they picked berries on a farm.

But within days the spat had escalated into a deadly storm, as imams whipped up an angry crowd accusing Aasia Bibi of badmouthing the Prophet Muhammad.

Today the mother-of-five is on death row, the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to hang for blasphemy. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

European Muslim Research Centre study highlights anti-Muslim hate crimes

An alarming picture of the physical violence, intimidation and discrimination faced by many of Britain's two million Muslims on a daily basis, was portrayed yesterday in new academic research.

The 224-page report from the European Muslim Research Centre, based at the University of Exeter, said that the bulk of incidents went unreported by communities who had lost faith in the authorities to do anything about them.

Released at a conference yesterday at the London Muslim Centre, the report called for "urgent" government action to tackle the problem after years of neglect. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Yes, anti-Muslim bias is real

Conservative writer Jonathan Tobin argues that the small number of Muslim hate crimes indicates that those wringing their hands about American Islamophobia are making a big deal out of nothing:

Even more to the point, the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes dwarfed again the number of anti-Islamic attacks, as they have every year since such statistics were first kept: 931 anti-Semitic incidents, compared with 107 anti-Islamic incidents, a ratio of better than 8 to 1.

The same was true in 2008, when the figures were 1,013 anti-Jewish incidents to 105 anti-Muslim incidents. Indeed, even in 2001, the worst year for anti-Muslim hate crimes, there were still more than twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as those with anti-Islamic motivations. Throughout this period, the vast majority of hate crimes motivated by religion have been directed against Jews, not Muslims. [loonwatch.com] Read more

The Time That is Given Us

.... It has become obvious that to tell the truth about Islam is now considered “incitement to religious hatred”. It is now clear that non-Muslims who reveal the tenets of sharia law to the public are “denigrating religious teachings”.

If we meekly accept these rules, then we are acquiescing in the imposition of sharia law in our own nations. And I, for one, will not sit silently while this happens. I don’t want my daughter to live under sharia.

Our time is short. If you and I do not envision an Islamic future for ourselves, then we must speak out now. If we wish to preserve the right to speak and publish freely, then we must exercise it now. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

Anti-Allah outburst earns EDL supporter £200 fine after protest in Leicester

A man has been fined for making offensive comments about Allah during the English Defence League protest in Leicester. Lee Whitby was found guilty of using racially aggravated abusive words during the protest in the city centre on Saturday, October 9.

During a trial at Leicester Magistrates' Court yesterday, the 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to chanting "threatening, abusive or insulting" words that were likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress."

Although he admitted making comments, Whitby said he did not believe they would have been heard by anyone other than police officers or fellow EDL supporters. [This is Leicester] Read more [via National Secular Society]

26 November 2010

Iran Court: ‘Pastor To Be Executed By Hanging’

A detained pastor of a major network of Christian house churches in Iran will be executed by hanging for "apostasy", or abandoning Islam, according to translated court documents seen by Worthy News Wednesday, November 24.

The 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan said Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani had proved his "apostasy" by "organizing evangelistic meetings and inviting others to Christianity, establishing a house church, baptizing people, expressing his faith to others and, denying Islamic values."

Nadarkhani is "an apostate [and] will be executed by being hung ... Somehow his soul is taken from him," the court wrote.

The written verdict was "officially officially handed out" Tuesday, November 23, said a source of Nadarkhani's evangelical Church of Iran network speaking on condition of anonymity. [Worthy News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Islam and rational fear, and the throwing about of words

.... While I most definitely do not support the discrimination, legal or social, of any person on the basis of their ethnicity or race, or place of origin, the protective attitudes of many regarding Islam fall well short of the criteria for a phobia.

The argument that the practices of honor killing, death for apostasy, female genital mutilation, and the overall subjugation of women that occurs in Islamic nations and within Muslim enclaves is a matter of "cultural" tradition is meaningless. Religious customs help make up the culture. Holy writ that promotes hate will spawn hate in its followers.

.... Islam is an ideology. Rejection of an ideology is not, excecpt as ad hominem, classified as phobia. To call the opponents of an ideology phobic is a fallacy. All ideologies have their critics and opponents but we do not hear Christians calling the critics of Christianity Christianophobe, communists calling their critics communitophobe or Hindus calling theirs hinduphobe.

The term "Islamophobia" is both technically and logically incorrect and misleading. Nor do we refer to the Allies as Fasciphobes, Naziphobes, or Nippophobes. This is an attack on the source of criticism, resulting from a lack of ammunition to attack the critique itself. [Culture is a Weapon] Read more [via Metamagician and the Hell Fire Club]

Minister slams 'macho' Muslim culture

Family Minister Kristina Schröder slammed on Friday what she sees as a growing tendency to violence stemming from a “macho culture” among young Muslim men.

The minister told daily Wiesbadener Kurier that while discrimination and disadvantage were partly to blame, there were also religious and cultural roots to this propensity to violence, which was revealed in two studies commissioned by her ministry due to be released on Friday.

“We must not construct any false taboos here: there is a macho culture among young Muslim men that glorifies violence and which also has cultural roots,” she said. “The tendency towards violence among young, male Muslims is clearly higher than among non-Muslim, native youths,” she said. [The Local] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Muslim woman banned from roller-skating rink because she was wearing a headscarf

A Muslim woman was banned from entering a roller-skating rink because her headscarf breached the ‘no hoods’ rule. Marisol Rodriguez-Colon, 40, was ‘mortified’ when she turned up to the Ron-A-Roll rink in Vernon, Connecticut only to be refused entry.

When she asked why, security staff referred her to the venue’s rules which were posted at the entrance and read: ‘No Hats. No Headwear. No Exceptions.’ [MailOnline] Read more

Complaint lodged over burqa mural

IT HAS become a lightning rod in the public debate about the right of Muslim women to wear the burqa, attracting protests, the censure of a mayor and messages of support from talkback radio.

But now the Newtown mural of a woman in a full-face Muslim covering with a strike symbol over her face and the words ''Say No to the Burqa'' is the subject of an anti-discrimination complaint.

Cigdem Aydemir, 27, a Muslim, artist and high-school art teacher, said she felt ''completely offended and insulted'' when she saw the mural pop up in her neighbourhood. [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Pakistani Christian jailed for blasphemy is freed

A court in Pakistan has freed a Christian man who was wrongly sentenced to 25 years in jail for blasphemy after he allegedly defiled the Koran by touching it with unwashed hands.

Munir Masih had consistently denied the allegations against him, arguing that they were false and made maliciously by a Muslim neighbour whose child had been involved in a quarrel with his 10-year-old son.

He has been freed on bail but his wife, Ruqqiya Bibbi, who was also given a 25-year sentence for the offence, is still in jail awaiting the outcome of her application for bail. [Catholic Herald] Read more [via National Secular Society]

This medieval Saudi education system must be reformed

.... In my years of work dedicated to promoting modernity and reform in my homeland, I have always given special attention to education as it is the foundation of social values and a major predictor of the direction in which a country is headed.

Unfortunately, the Saudi government realised the same thing and has used the education system to shape societal attitudes towards the country's government and the world at large.

The primary goal of Saudi education is to maintain the rule of absolute monarchy by casting it as the ordained protector of the faith, and that Islam is at war with other faiths and cultures. That's what the Saudi monarchy calls "intellectual security," maintained yet further by a ban on liberal arts education, philosophy, drama, and music. [Guardian Cif] Read more

25 November 2010

Girl, 15, arrested for 'burning Koran at school and posting footage on Facebook'

A teenage girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after allegedly burning an English language version of the Koran - and then posting it on Facebook.

The 15-year-old, who lives in the Sandwell area of Birmingham, West Mids, was filmed two weeks ago on her school premises burning the Islamic religious book. [MailOnline] Read more

Girl, 15, arrested over 'Facebook Koran burning video' Muslims revere the Koran as the word of God. A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after allegedly burning an English language version of the Koran.

The 15-year-old, who lives in the West Midlands, allegedly posted the video, filmed two weeks ago on her school premises, on Facebook. The video was reported to the school and subsequently removed, police said.

A 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of making threats. Both have been released on police bail. It is thought the girl, who lives in the Sandwell Council area, was allegedly filmed setting the booklet alight while other pupils watched. [BBC] Read more

On burning the Qur'an and desecrating the Bible .... there is an emerging state coercion here which is moving perilously close to the need for an 'I am Spartacus' moment: not, in any sense, to cause offence to Muslims; but to stick two fingers up to the ubiquitous, illiberal totalitarianism which denies freedom of expression by negating the right to offend against the supposed sensibilities of minorities.

The doctrine of the state is compelling respect and enforcing reverence for that which the majority may consider profane. That is not only an offence against democracy: it is an offence against the conscience and a negation of the religious liberties for which (inter alia) His Grace laid down his life. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Blind couple’s anger as taxi refuses guide dog

A BLIND couple were “disgusted” to be turned away by a Stafford taxi driver because of their award-winning guide dog. Doreen and Ernest Dix were refused entry to a cab parked at the pick-up point behind Stafford market last week.

The Great Haywood pensioners claim the driver did not want Blake, the current West Midlands guide dog of the year, in his cab. [Staffordshire Newspapers] Read more [via Europe News]

German doctor sanctioned for anti-Muslim sign

A German public health agency disciplined a doctor Thursday for hanging a sign in his surgery that demanded Muslim women remove their headscarves.

The sign made headlines in September, at the same time as a bestselling book was attacking German Muslims for their alleged unwillingness to adopt German ways and learn to speak German. [Monsters and Critics.com] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Without free speech writers can have very little impact on culture

.... I believe that the right to freedom of speech trumps any right to protection from offense, and that it underlies all the other issues I’ve been speaking about. Without freedom of speech, we, as writers, can have very little impact on culture.

In saying this, I’m aware that this is a prime example of a concept which has been degraded by the war on terror — that many European Muslims misidentify it as a tool of Anglo-Saxon interests, a license to insult them, rather than the sole guarantee of their right to be heard.

It is in this context that we must deal with the absence of VS Naipaul from this meeting, which I find regrettable. I feel we would be stronger and more credible if we were to deal wih divergent views within this meeting rather than a priori excluding someone because of fear that offence might be given. [Index on Censorship] Read more [via Pickled Politics]

UN again votes to condemn vilification of religion, but support is shrinking

A UN General Assembly committee has once again voted to condemn the “vilification of religion”, but support narrowed for a measure that Western powers say is a threat to freedom of expression.

The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and opposed by Western countries, passed by only 12 votes in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, 76-64 with 42 abstentions.

Opponents noted that support had fallen and opposition increased since last year, when the Third Committee vote was 81-55 with 43 abstentions. The 192-nation General Assembly is expected to formally adopt the measure next month. [The Freethinker] Read more

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff's Vienna Trial Begins

.... Sabaditsch -Wolff, like Alice in Wonderland, is being tried for her criticism of Islam in a contrived matter brought by a literal pack of cards, the leftist Austrian publication NEWS and members of the SPO who view her as a threat to their mantra of diversity given her 'intolerance' of an official religion under Austrian law that hardly tolerates any infidel including non-Muslim Austrians.

Having interviewed Sabaditsch-Wolff she has already show her mettle on the field of combat in the world of ideas. She is doing it for the future of her daughter Ella and her fellow Austrian citizens, as she knows the threat of Shariah Islamic law to hers and our free speech. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Islamists and Islamophobia

It seems that entryist Islamist groups like the MCB and MAB are focusing all their energies on exposing incidents of ‘Islamophobia’ nowadays.

They have helped to fund an outfit called the EMRC (European Muslim Research Centre) which masquerades as a research centre but in truth does little more than political advocacy for Islamist groups and individuals.

Together they are working on a 10 year (that’s right 10 year) project called ‘Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies’. MAB is arranging seminars up and down the country to expose the rise of ‘Islamophobia’ in the UK. So what is this all about? [Harry’s Place] Read more

‘Burkha’ man in shop raid gang

A GANG led by a man dressed in traditional Islamic clothing stole thousands of pounds worth of jewellery in a raid. The robbers struck at the Jadee Jewellers store in Rochdale Road, Bury, at about 4.30pm on Monday.

The man approached the shop dressed in a burkha and hijab and, believing he was a legitimate customer, the owner opened the shop door.

At this point, four other members of the gang burst through the open door brandishing a silver metal hammer and a baseball bat, while the man in the Islamic clothing wielded a machete. [Bolton News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Islamists establish a bridgehead in Parliament

.... There may well be a place for a parliamentary group set up to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment – which is still poisonous in parts of the tabloid press. But there is no place at all for a parliamentary group serviced by Islamist sympathisers.

Because too often, the charge of “Islamophobia” has been used by Islamists to stifle and deter examination of their own actions. They deliberately conflate Islamism (followed by a tiny minority of British Muslims) with the entire faith of Islam, and accuse anyone who scrutinises or attacks their minority brand of fundamentalism of being “anti-Muslim.” That is basically iEngage’s entire purpose.

It is a deeply dangerous game and not one, I’m sure, which any MP would want to be involved in. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

24 November 2010

BBC and rightwing thinktank work together on Muslim school documentary

My wish here is not to whitewash the state of Muslim education. There were serious as well as superfluous issues raised by Ware. Textbooks shouldn’t contain details about amputations and speak in derogatory and discriminatory terms about other faiths.

It is scarcely believable that this is happening, that so many parents aren’t bothered about it, and that even after so many years of scathing public scrutiny there are still people running Muslim institutions that haven’t got their house in order. It is high time that they joined the real world.

.... It wasn’t mentioned by Ware, but young Muslims are more likely to leave school without qualifications, more likely to be unemployed, less likely to go onto higher education, more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be in prison than the general population.

Educationalists say that the stress of additional evening and weekend Islamic schools does not help and may make things worse. After coming home from school, attending the mosque for hours in an often repetitive and uninspiring environment adds stress and leaves little time for homework or play. [Rolled-up Trousers] Read more

Turin official appeals to school board to ban burqa-wearing mothers

A government official in industrial northern Italian city of Turin has asked the local school board to stop fully-veiled women from picking up their children at school because it makes it difficult to identify them as the students' true parents.

The request by Maurizio Marrone - a member of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative People of Liberty party - was prompted after Marrone and other mothers had seen some women dressed in full burqas picking up their children from an elementary school in Turin's Barriera di Milano working class neighbourhood. [AKI] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Afghan convert's trial faces delays

.... Under the Afghan constitution, there is no law that bans religious conversion. As a result, officers are currently deciding if Musa should be tried under sharia law. Sharia or Islamic law says a convert from Islam can be punished by death.

Musa was arrested and detained in May after a nationally televised broadcast by Noorin TV station showed images of Afghan Christians being baptised and worshipping. He was seen in several of the televised videos.

Although the government is trying to locate other Christians in the video, Musa is the only known Christian connected to the broadcast that is facing a court hearing for his conversion. The broadcast sparked protests throughout the country, including those in the country’s parliament, and calls for the execution of Christians. [Christian Post] Read more

Muslims vs. French School System

The secular nature of France's public education system is being increasingly undermined by religious demands from Muslim pupils and parents, according to a new report drafted by the French government.

The report, which describes the failure of French efforts to promote multicultural values, says that teachers in schools with a high proportion of Muslim children are being threatened on an almost daily basis by Muslims who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, and who demand halal meals and "reject French culture and its values."

The136-page draft report is titled "Taking up the Challenges of Integration in Schools," and has been drawn up by a French government agency called the High Council for Integration (HCI). [Hudson New York] Read more

VS Naipaul withdraws from Turkish event after row over Islam comments

The Nobel laureate VS Naipaul has pulled out of a literary event opening in Istanbul tomorrow, after Turkish writers threatened a boycott because of deeply critical comments he has made on Islam.

The row erupted after Naipaul was invited to give the opening speech at the European Writers' Parliament (EWP), the brainchild of novelists Orhan Pamuk and José Saramago, which aims to bring together authors from across Europe to debate key issues of the contemporary literary scene and opens today. But several Turkish writers expressed outrage at the invitation, citing hostile comments Naipaul made about Islam nearly a decade ago.

[COMMENT] This is the Turkey that wants to join the EU? No thanks, we have enough 'outraged' muslims of our own without importing eighty million more. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

23 November 2010

Employers discriminate against Muslims, study finds

Muslims face "massive discrimination" when applying for jobs, according to the first scientifically validated study of anti-Muslim bias among employers in France.

Researchers now want to study whether there is a similar bias in Britain, where unemployment among Muslims is higher than in any other religious group.

The French study found that a fictional job applicant with a traditionally Christian first name was more than two-and-a-half times more likely to receive a response from a potential French employer than an identical applicant with a Muslim name.

The scientists who carried out the research believe the highly significant difference in response rates was entirely due to the perceived religious affiliations of the job applicant rather than any prejudice connected with differences in race, age or gender. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Christian Copts, Egyptian Security Standoff Over Church Construction

.... More than one million Copts live in the Talbiya area, without a single church to serve them, having to travel for miles every Sunday with their children to the nearest church. Until now the building of the new church came to more than 7 million Egyptian pounds, all collected from donations of the local Copts.

Samira Ibrahim Shehata a volunteer worker at the church, who had been keeping guard at the Church premises since November 11, said, "I want to know why a hundred mosques can be built, and not one church can be built. I believe that State Security is the root of all evil."

It was also reported that the Governor of Giza is going to the church premises to negotiate with the thousands of Copts from Talbiya and Giza who are still continuing their sit-in in front of the church. [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more [via Religious Watch]

This trend of young Muslim girls wearing the hijab is disturbing

Anyone walking on the streets of Egypt will notice a phenomenon that wasn't so evident only a year ago: the increasing numbers of little girls (and by "little", I mean as young as eight years old in some cases) wearing headscarves and abayas. While this sight was previously confined to third-class trains and rural areas, it has now become increasingly common in cities and among well-to-do families.

[COMMENT] I thought that the point of the hijab was that men would not be tempted or sexually aroused by the sight of women from the age of puberty until death. The fact they are now having to cover up girl children tells us more about the men in these countries/religion/culture than it does about the women.

[COMMENT] I just find the philosophy behind the hijab - women must cover up or they will inflame men - equally insulting to both genders. It casts women as the eternal harlots who are constantly asking for it, and men as slaves to their baser instincts who can't even see a woman's face without losing control. Call me crazy, but I give men more credit than that.

That even very young girls are now being viewed as sexual temptresses... it's worrying, to say the least. [Guardian Cif] Read more

The UK is going backwards on dealing with Islamic extremism

Muslim-run weekend schools in Britain are teaching that Jews descended from pigs and monkeys, while their textbooks demonstrate with the aid of diagrams how to amputate the limbs of a thief. Welcome to the United Kingdom in 2010, as uncovered by a new Policy Exchange report.

It would be easy, but mistaken, to accuse the Saudis of funding this fanaticism, as the teaching is based on their old textbooks. But the Saudis have moved on, albeit very slowly, in a positive direction, ditching those textbooks on the way. Meanwhile, Britain creeps slowly backwards. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Petition Against Halal Meat

In the UK there has been an increasing use of halal meat in retail outlets and restaurants. It is often served without consumers being warned or sold without clear labelling.

At Christian Concern we believe that halal meat should not be imposed on the British public. Non-Muslims should have the freedom to avoid meat that has been ritually slaughtered. We believe that halal meat should always be clearly labelled and that non-halal alternatives should always be available. [Christian Concern] Read more

22 November 2010

BBC's Panorama claims Islamic schools teach antisemitism and homophobia

Children in Islamic schools are being taught antisemitic and homophobic views from textbooks, the BBC's Panorama will claim tonight.

A textbook used in some weekend schools reportedly asks children to list the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews, according to the programme.

It claims to have found 5,000 Muslim schoolchildren being taught that some Jews are transformed into pigs and apes and that the penalty for gay sex is execution. Some textbooks are said to teach the correct way to chop off the hands and feet of thieves.

A spokesman for the programme said the pupils, aged six to 18, attend a network of more than 40 weekend schools across the country which teach the Saudi national curriculum to Muslim children.

One book for children as young as six is said to ask them what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam – the correct answer is "hellfire". [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Saudi Backed Schools Teach Extremism, Antisemitism John Ware, reporting for Panorama, has uncovered a network of Saudi-funded weekend schools which are promoting sectarianism, extremism and racism against Jews:

BBC Panorama found that more than 40 Saudi Students’ Schools and Clubs are teaching the official Saudi national curriculum to about 5,000 pupils. One text book shows how the hands and feet of thieves are chopped off.

The Saudi government said it had no official ties to the part-time schools and clubs and did not endorse them.

One of the text books asks children to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jewish people. A text for younger children asks what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam – the answer given in the text book is “hellfire”.

Another text describes the punishment for gay sex as death and states a difference of opinion about whether it should be carried out by stoning, burning with fire or throwing the person over a cliff. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Islamists in Pakistan Kill 'Blasphemy' Accused, Four Others

Police suspect two Muslim extremists shot a Christian to death yesterday in Punjab Province shortly after the victim was granted bail in a "blasphemy" case - and less than a week after Islamist militants killed four members of a Christian family for their faith in the same province.

.... Latif Masih died after two men with pistols shot him to death near his home. Inspector Rafique Ahmed said that Masih's murder was likely linked to the case against him for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

"No Muslim tolerates a man who commits blasphemous acts," he said. [Crosswalk] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Overtime pay at Christmas axed: It discriminates against the other religions, say care home bosses

A chain of care homes is refusing to pay its staff overtime this Christmas – claiming that it would discriminate against other religions.

The firm said it had an ‘ethical belief in equality’ which means it cannot favour Christmas over ‘other religious festivals’.

Staff were told that it would only pay bonuses for bank holidays, which rules out Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year because they fall at the weekend. [MailOnline] Read more

Let’s not waste the blasphemy law, please!

…. Clearly, the NCSW wants to save Aasia Bibi and is relying on the appeal process. But in reality it is only depriving the faithful of the blessings and comforts of afterlife. Not only that, but also Aasia Bibi, because if she is hanged to death at this point, she would be deemed cleansed on the other side of this life which can only be good for her.

Already, we have a very poor record of killing alleged blasphemers. We try hard to nail them in the lower courts only to see them released by the higher courts. This is shameful, an honest day’s work of a bunch of faithful making shipwreck on the rocks of modern sensibility and legal technicalities.

We have just seen and suffered the floods for our collective sins. We need to wake up and stop preventing people from doing the right thing. This is what we have the blasphemy law for. Let’s make use of it and not waste it. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more


.... The point here is that in order to accept large numbers of immigrants, and maintain any social cohesion, acceptance by the receiving population is not the only requirement: immigrants must be willing and able to change, to merge with the receiving population.

The new place isn't the old place; the new customs aren't the old customs. "Acceptance" is a multi-directional communications grid. Groups that self-isolate, that determinedly distinguish themselves by location, by language, by dress, will not be accepted as readily as those that plunge into the mainstream.

.... When an Islamic group decided to build a memorial center at/near the site of the 9/11 attack, they should have been able to predict that this would upset a lot of people. Not only were the attackers Islamic--and not only did the Islamic world in general show indecent glee about the attack, but this was only the last of many attacks on citizens and installations of this country which Islamic groups proudly claimed credit for. [e_moon60] Read more [via Skepticlawyer]

21 November 2010

Afghan Christian faces trial for alleged conversion from Islam

An Afghan Christian, detained for months for allegedly converting to Christianity from Islam, could face trial as early as next week - and could face a potential death penalty, officials said Sunday.

Said Musa was arrested by Afghan Interior Ministry intelligence authorities near the German Embassy in Kabul because of the allegations, said Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone. The exact date of his arrest is not known.

The case against Musa has not yet been finalized, said Mohammad Najim Hamidi, director of public security at Zone 3 of the Kabul courts. He could face trial next week if the case is prepared by then, Hamidi said. It was earlier thought Musa's trial would begin on Sunday.

The Afghan Constitution does not mention converting from one religion to another, so the judge will take Islamic law into account, officials said. [CNN] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

U.N. Anti-Blasphemy Proposal Meets Firm Resistance

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Open Doors are just some of the people and groups that have publicly denounced the proposed U.N. anti-blasphemy resolution that is expected to be voted on next week.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which sponsored the draft resolution, recently changed the term from “defamation of religions” to “vilification of religions.” But USCIRF chair Leonard Leo said the change is minor and “a distinction without a difference.”

“Having lost support on this issue over the past few years, the OIC is now trying to fool delegations into believing that the resolution has improved when it has not,” said Leo in a statement Thursday. “It … still erroneously conflates blasphemy or criticism of religious ideas with incitement to acts of discrimination or violence against individuals.” [The Christian Post] Read more

Pope criticises French burqa ban

Pope Benedict XVI has criticised a French law banning Muslim women from wearing the Islamic full-face veils in public, saying women should be able to wear them voluntarily, according to a book due out on Tuesday.

"As far as the burqa is concerned, I do not see a reason for a general ban," Benedict said in a series of interviews in his native German to be published as a book.

"Some women do not wear the burqa entirely voluntarily and it is correct to talk of a violation against that woman. Of course one cannot agree with that," he said. "But if they want to wear it voluntarily, I don't know why one must ban them," he said, according to a copy of the German text obtained by AFP. [AFP] Read more

Antwerp: Syrian refused to follow instructions from female traffic cop

A 40 year old man from the Antwerp suburb of Sint Niklaas caused a traffic jam Thursday afternoon when he refused to follow the orders of a traffic cop because she was female.

The Syrian Mahmoud D. was supposed to yield to another car at a busy intersection. He didn't like that, and instead drove into the intersection and stopped there. The city center was soon complete blocked up.

Police sent agents to clear up the traffic jam, but the Syrian refused to follow the instructions of a female police agent because she was a women, says prosecution spokesperson Renzo Ottoy. Nobody could continue driving, but he wouldn't budge a millimeter and instead sat cross-armed in his car. [Islam in Europe] Read more

20 November 2010

Blasphemy law may be amended to prevent misuse

Islamabad: The government is considering amending the country's blasphemy law to prevent its misuse by unscrupulous elements, Minister for Minorities Shabbaz Bhatti said on Friday.

He told a foreign broadcasting network that consultations were under way with the opposition parties and religious groups with a view to formulating necessary legislative proposals. The minister hoped that proposed legislation would be enacted during the next year.

Bhatti said at present anyone can lodge a complaint under the law and police registers a blasphemy case on its basis. [Gulf News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

19 November 2010

Is there room for Islam in European pluralism?

.... As troubling as this literature may seem—and I make light of it largely because mockery seems one effective riposte—it is also inflected by a deep and seemingly unwitting irony. These commentators tend to proclaim their embrace of liberal European values, even as they either explicitly or implicitly advance an agenda of exclusion, marginalization, and state-sanctioned discrimination with respect to European Muslims.

To these commentators, those who argue that liberal values protect both the Christian and the Muslim are written off as dupes: Islam, that monolith that admits of no refracting gaze, simply cannot be assimilated to the liberal domain.

Never mind that the chief attraction of liberalism (at least in the strand best exemplified by the British philosopher John Stuart Mill) is its universalism and its refusal to install arbitrary moral distinctions between human beings. To protect liberalism from itself, for these commentators, means to gut liberalism of the touchstone of its enduring appeal for the marginalized, the despised, and the forlorn. [altmuslim] Read more

Swedish doctor assaulted 'for being a man'

A doctor at Örebro University Hospital in central Sweden was attacked and kicked recently by the relatives of a critical ill woman who had just given birth, because they objected to him being a male.

"He was attacked by the husband and received a kick to the groin," said René Bangshöj at the hospital to the local Nerikes Allehanda (NA) daily.

The incident occurred on November 6th when the doctor entered the delivery room at the maternity ward at the hospital responding to a call from the woman's attendant midwife. She had recently given birth and was bleeding heavily.

The woman's husband screamed at the doctor that he should leave the room at once, but he refused and approached the patient to examine her. At this point he was attacked by the man. [The Local] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Hijab woman jailed for six months for false complaint about police

A Muslim woman sentenced to six months' jail for falsely accusing a police officer of removing her veil has lodged an appeal and been released on bail.

Carnita Matthews, 46, of Woodbine in Sydney's south, was found guilty today of knowingly making a false complaint relating to events in June.

The mother of seven was stopped in June by a police officer at Woodbine for a random breath test. She later filed a police complaint alleging the officer who pulled her over had tried to pull off her hijab, which concealed her entire face except for her eyes. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Zardari stays execution of Christian woman

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday stayed the execution of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. The woman, Aasia Bibi, was given the death sentence by an additional sessions judge in Nankana Sahib district a week ago on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code.

A religious leader of the local mosque, Qari Saleem, had lodged an FIR against Aasia Bibi for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against the last prophet of Muslims. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 300,000 on her. [Indo-Asian News Service] Read more

Enforcement of Islamic Dress Code for Women in Chechnya

In the past few years the situation of women's rights in Chechnya has deteriorated significantly, requiring immediate attention from the Russian government and Russia's international partners.

Chechen women have essentially become the target of a quasi-official "virtue" campaign. For several years, the Chechen authorities have discriminated against women who refuse to wear headscarves, prohibiting them from working in the public sector. Female students are also required to wear headscarves in schools and universities.

Though these measures have not been codified into law, they are strictly enforced and vocally supported by the republic's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is directly appointed by the Kremlin. This paper describes violence and threats against women to intimidate them into adhering to Islamic dress codes. The documented incidents took place from June through September 2010 in Grozny, Chechnya's capital. [Human Rights Watch] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Man jailed for ripping off Muslim woman's veil loses appeal

A man who was jailed for two years for ripping off a Muslim woman's veil in Glasgow city centre has lost his appeal.

William Baikie, 28, had claimed that the prison term he was given after admitting the assault at Glasgow Central Station was excessive.

But judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that a sheriff was entitled to impose the punishment he selected. [stv.tv] Read more

The religious excuse for barbarity

If you are engaged in an act of cruelty, there is an easy, effective way to silence your critics and snatch some space to carry on. Tell us all that your religion requires you to do it, and you are "offended" by any critical response. Erect an electric wire fence around your nastiest actions and call it "respect".

There's a good example of this religious modus operandi playing out on a dinner table near you – and this week, we found out it is becoming more and more common. In Britain, it is a crime to kill a conscious cow or sheep or chicken for meat by slashing its throat without numbing it first.

The reasons are obvious. If you don't numb an animal, it screams as you hack through its skin, muscle, trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and major nerve trunks, and then it remains conscious as it slowly drowns in its own blood – a process that can take up to six minutes. [independent.co.uk] Read more

PCC clears Mail (and Telegraph) for publishing prejudicial anti-Muslim story

A month ago the Daily Mail ran a story that began: "A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan - because the smell of her frying bacon 'offends' Muslims."

.... The stories, at first glance, struck me as being highly unlikely. Reading through the Mail and Telegraph versions, however, proved instructive, showing that the headlines and intros were wholly misleading.

There had been a complaint about the smells emerging from Beverley Akciecek's Stockport cafe from a non-Muslim neighbour, Graham Webb-Lee, who claimed that his Muslim friends were refusing to visit him because, according to him, they couldn't stand the smell of bacon. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

18 November 2010

Muslims protest in Athens over Koran rumour

Hundreds of Muslims living in Athens protested outside the city hall on Thursday over a rumour that Greek police had torn up a Koranic text after arresting an Egyptian street vendor, officials said.

At least 300 Muslims from various countries gathered at a square outside the city hall before authorities dispelled the rumour and released the vendor, police said.

The protest follows an incident late on Tuesday when unknown assailants attempted to lock up and burn 40 Bangladeshi migrants inside a makeshift mosque, a Muslim leader said. [DAWN.COM] Read more

Belgium: 6% Muslims, growth static

Sociologist Jan Hertogen estimates that Belgium has 623,780 Muslims (NL), or 5.8% of the population. This is much higher than the official figure of 400,000, but slightly less than Hertogen's estimate for 2008 (NL): 628,751.

Hertogen's projects are used by the American Pew Forum, which specialize in religious demographics. The Muslim community is Belgium is very urban. Muslims make up 22% of the residents of Brussels (compared with 25.5% in 2008). In Antwerp there are 81,933 Muslims, in Liège 28,341 and in Charleroi 25,962. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Do Muslims in Canada want to build a "parallel society"

I'm always slightly amused if a report published about Muslims is called an "intelligence report" when in reality the one thing it lacks is intelligence in every form of that word, eg sexed up dodgy documents.

In Canada a report published by - wait for it the "Integrated Threat Assessment Center" claims Muslims want to build a "parallel society". The report could frankly have been written by a kinder garden pupil or Quilliam because it regurgitates standard Neo Con words like "hard-line Islamic groups", "violence", "self imposed isolation", "extremism", "Islamist" etc, in other words the usual narrative and a cobbled together conclusion that contains no evidence. [London Muslim] Read more

Europe Coming To Its Senses About Islam; American State Department Doesn't Approve

.... Let contempt for America lead to contempt for American statecraft, beginning with the waste in Iraq and Afghanistan (based on a refusal to grasp the meaning, and menace, of Islam), and let the resentment felt at the American arrogance in presuming to lecture Europeans about how they should deal with this most serious threat to their continued existence -- and that invoking of an irrelevant "religious freedom" when Islam is not only, not even mainly, a "religion" in the Western understanding -- make it possible for Europeans of an anti-American bent now to express a well-justified fear of, and hostility towards, Islam, Islam, Islam. [The Iconoclast] Read more

17 November 2010

Belgium: Half of Muslims don't reject stunning before slaughter

Half of Belgian Muslims either support or are neutral regarding stunning animals before slaughter, a third think it's unacceptable, according to a survey by Insites for the animal-rights organization Gaia. The survey was conducted among 261 Belgian Muslims before the Muslim Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice).

Belgium allows animals to be slaughtered without stunning only for religious slaughter.

The official standpoint of the Muslim Executive and imams in Belgium rejects stunning, in contrast to countries like Saudi-Arabia and Indonesia.

The survey shows that 21% of the Muslims support stunning and 30% are neutral. 36% say stunning is unacceptable, even among the most practicing Muslims, only half reject stunning. 38% think that the Koran expressly forbids stunning animals before slaughter. [Islam in Europe] Read more

MP demands changes after halal meat turns up in the Commons

A YORKSHIRE MP has called for clearer food labelling after discovering that halal meat was unknowingly sold in the House of Commons' canteens.

The Commons catering service is currently looking for new food suppliers who can tell them how the meat they sell is killed after admitting it had "unknowingly received" poultry slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.

MPs and staff who eat at the Commons' canteens and restaurants were "not made aware" of how the animals were killed, Sir Stuart Bell, representing the House of Commons Commission, added. [Yorkshire Post] Read more

Egypt Muslims set fire to Christian homes

Muslims set fire to homes owned by the family of a Christian man after he was rumoured to have flirted with a Muslim girl in a southern village, Egyptian security officials said on Tuesday.

Police surrounded Al-Nawahid village in Qena province and arrested several Muslims after the overnight torching of five homes, a store and a storage place owned by the Coptic Christian family, officials said. [Middle East Online] Read more

The Left's delusion over Islam is baffling to Middle Eastern Christians

Two more Christians murdered in Iraq on Monday night and another three yesterday, as the community is driven to extinction.

And on the Today programme earlier this week there was yet another segment about this persecuted minority, perhaps suggesting that the media are waking up to what many Iraqis themselves call “genocide” ....

However the Left largely remains in denial about the situation faced by Middle Eastern Christians, despite widespread evidence by various human rights organisation. The Guardian had a piece on Friday in which the writer argued that this was part of a ‘clash of civilisations myth’: [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Saudi Arabia Has Zero Religious Freedom

Saudi Arabia has no religious freedom in theory or practice, according to a report released today by the U.S. State Department. The report also slammed other countries, including Iran and China, for their lack of tolerance of diverse faiths.

"The public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited" and Saudi government officials "continued to raid private non-Muslim religious gatherings," the report said.

A body called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia "sometimes confiscated the personal religious materials of non-Muslims," according to the report, which also highlighted the "obstacles in speaking out against the religious establishment." [AOL News] Read more

16 November 2010

Family leads outcry at blasphemy death penalty

Campaigners in Pakistan say the case of Asia Bibi – the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy – highlights the need for urgent reform of laws that are routinely used to persecute minorities and settle grudges.

The 45-year-old Christian, who has at least two children, was sentenced to death by a court in Sheikhupura, near Lahore, after prosecutors accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohamed and promoting her own faith.

Her family have rejected the allegations and launched an appeal. "We have never ever insulted the Prophet or Islamic scripture, and we will contest the charges," said her husband Ashiq Masih. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Islamist sympathisers admit they are losing ground in government

Over the last few months, I and others monitoring Islamism’s influence inside the British state have started to believe that the tide is turning. Last week one of British Islamism’s most important fellow-travellers, a man called Bob Lambert, appeared to confirm my view.

When Lambert was head of the Metropolitan Police’s Muslim Contact Unit, he exemplified a view shared by some others in the security establishment: that we can anoint “good Islamists” and use them as a bulwark against the “bad Islamists.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Mob in Athens abuses Muslims as they celebrate Eid

Dozens of far-right activists and local residents threw eggs and taunted hundreds of Muslim immigrants as they gathered to pray in a central square for Eid al-Adha surrounded by a protective cordon of riot police.

Greece, which has become the main immigrant gateway to the European Union, has a growing Muslim community and tensions between locals and incomers have run high in some Athens areas such as Attiki square, the scene of Tuesday’s incident.

.... While the Muslims prayed, some locals shouted obscenities from their balconies and waved Greek flags. Leaflets that depicted pigs — an animal Muslims consider unclean — were scattered across the square. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Woman sentenced to death by stoning confesses 'sin of adultery' to Iran TV

Iranian state TV broadcast a statement last night by the woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, in which she described herself as a "sinner".

Appearing on TV for the third time since her case caught the world's attention, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, also accused Mina Ahadi, an activist of the German-based International Committee Against Stoning (Icas), of spreading her story around the world.

The report also broadcast purported statements by two men whose faces were blurred. State TV identified them as Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, 22, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, both of whom were arrested last month. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

An Interview with Austrian Free Speech Advocate Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

.... Gordon: You are the second Austrian who has been charged with hate speech for criticism of the Qur’an and Islam.

Minister of Parliament Dr. Susanne Winter was convicted by a Graz court in January 2009 of hate speech against Islam, received a suspended sentence of three months and was fined the equivalent of $30,000 in Euros. Dutch M.P. Geert Wilders’ trial on similar charges in the Netherlands has been halted because of witness tampering by one of the judges in the Amsterdam tribunal.

Now you, an Austrian housewife and leader of the Act for America Chapter in Austria, are the subject of an unprecedented legal action. My question for you is why is your hate speech trial different from that of M.P. Winter and extremely dangerous?

Sabaditsch-Wolff: My trial is different from the simple point of view that I am a housewife and I am not a member of parliament or a politician. That’s basically all there is to it. I’m a private citizen who is concerned about Islam and the contents of the Qur’an, the Sunnah and Hadith. That is the main difference between Geert Wilders, Susanne Winter and me. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Toy pig removed from farm set to avoid offending Muslim and Jewish parents

.... Another mother named Safiyyah said: "I'm Muslim and it doesn't bother me. It's just another animal. "What are the store going to do next? Ban the Peppa Pig cartoon? Stop selling books with pigs in? This is a multi-cultural country."

ELC said: "The decision to remove the pig was taken in reaction to customer feedback in some parts of the world." However, after The Sun contacted the firm, it said: "We have taken the decision to reinstate the pig and to no longer sell the set in international markets where it might create an issue.

"Any customers who have bought Goosefeather Farm in the last few months will be able to order a pig free of charge via our website." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

In Sharia Law Ban, Oklahoma Juggles Dynamite

.... State Question No. 755 boldly guarantees that no matter what happens, Oklahomans will be in no danger of being dragged before the Grand Mufti of Muskogee to stand trial on charges of defaming the Prophet Muhammad.

But it forestalls this unlikely danger at a cost. The costs include, in ascending order of importance, (1) subjecting the state to an expensive lawsuit it deserves to and almost certainly will lose; (2) deforming the Oklahoma Constitution by silently repealing the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution; and (3) loosing what James Madison once called "that diabolical hell conceived principle of persecution." [The Atlantic] Read more [via National Secular Society]

15 November 2010

How race, religion and ethnicity continue to affect Westminster politics

Skin-Deep Democracy, a new report by Quilliam, has found that all three of the UK’s political parties could do more to foster integration of all British citizens through involvement in Westminster politics.

The report welcomes the steps that have already been taken by the parties towards this goal but warns that more could, and should, be done to guarantee equality of treatment and opportunity for all aspiring politicians, whatever their background.

The report emphasises that, in addition to helping to promote integration, a healthy democratic culture within the UK will help to undermine extremist (Islamist, far-right and other) narratives. As the Home Secretary recently said, ’stopping radicalisation depends on an integrated society’. [Harry’s Place] Read more

UK: Leading Conservative blog says Islam should become state religion

This is, of course, just one man's opinion: "CentreRight.com is a hub for the British conservative movement. Like the National Review's Corner in the US, it is essentially a high quality, multiple-authored blog written by some of the best conservative thinkers and commentators around.

.... It goes without saying that ConservativeHome doesn't necessarily endorse what the authors write, the authors don't necessarily endorse what ConservativeHome writes, and the authors don't necessarily endorse what the other authors write!"

Nonetheless, it is a manifestation of Britain's abject and wholesale cultural collapse. "Islam should become our state religion," by Melanchthon at Conservative Home at CentreRight. [Jihad Watch] Read more

ConservativeHome: ‘Islam should become our state religion’ .... When Locke published The Reasonableness of Christianity, he made observations on basic human equality reasoned from the Bible which are quite antithetical to those of the Qur'an.

The love of one’s neighbour is central to Christianity, yet the few ayats in the Qur’an that mention love are a world apart in meaning from those of the New Testament. Allah’s love is conditional upon obedience to his precepts, and so we read: ‘Allah loveth not the impious and the guilty’ (4:107).

Love is something Allah offers conditionally, while YHWH is love (1Jn 4:8), incarnate in Christ, and the command to believers is to love their neighbours unconditionally. This is antithetical to qur’anic teachings on love, justice and mercy, which exhort Muslims to love their co-religionists above the kuffar: ‘Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends’ (5:59); ‘Fight those who believe not in Allah or his Apostle, even if they are the People of the Book until they submit’ (9:29). [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Illicit lovers sentenced to 100 lashes each

A housemaid and her boyfriend will be lashed 100 times each, jailed and deported for committing adultery, according to a court ruling. The Sharjah Sharia Court ordered the lashing of N.M., a Filipina housemaid, 100 times and her deportation for unlawful sex.

The court also sentenced her Bangladeshi boyfriend, S.M., to be lashed 100 times for adultery and jailed one year for entering the house of the sponsor without permission. S.M. will be deported after serving his sentence.

.... N.M. brought her boyfriend to her sponsor's house each time the family was not at home, but according to police N.M.'s sponsor saw M.M. while leaving the house. [Gulf News] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Pakistan: persecution in the name of Islam

Earlier this year the European Parliament passed a resolution highlighting the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan. For the European Union, and in particular for MEPs, the right to freedom of worship is fundamental, universal and non-negotiable. In Pakistan, however, the free practice of religion - at least for non-Muslims - is difficult, hazardous and rare.

Part of the problem of religious persecution in Pakistan stems from the establishment of the country itself in 1947 and the promulgation of its constitution in 1956. It is officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which, in effect, makes the state indivisible from Islam. Pakistan placed religion at the heart of its raison d'être in order to distinguish itself from its rival India, from which it had been separated. [New Europe] Read more

U.S. Activists Lobby Against U.N. Religious Defamation Resolution

.... The OIC's blasphemy proposal is part of a wider initiative of its 57 member states to counter what they consider "systemic defamation of Islam." An OIC news release said OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu "underscored the dangerous consequences of the growing trend of Islamophobia on global peace and security."

The U.S. State Department has previously criticized the OIC's U.N. resolutions.

"While the United States deplores actions that exhibit disrespect for particular religious traditions, including Islam, we do not agree with the 'defamation of religions' concept because it is inconsistent with the freedoms of religion and expression," it said in its 2009 report on international religious freedom. [Huffington Post] Read more

'Moderate' Indian Sharia in Action

Indian Islam is often touted as a paragon of liberal, enlightened Islamic modernism. Pace this trope, Indian journalist par excellence Arun Shourie observed in his brilliant 1995 analysis, The World of Fatwas or the Shariah in Action, the stultifying and dangerous living legacy of the Islamic doctrine being imparted by the orthodox Muslim religious establishment of his native India, and repeated throughout the Muslim world.

Shourie catalogued and summarized the endless outpouring of absurd, discriminatory, and belligerent fatwas -- formal Islamic legal rulings compatible with the Muslim creed's totalitarian "divine" law, or Sharia -- issued by India's most respected Islamic teaching institutions, and covering the gamut of an individual Muslim's, and the Muslim community's, daily life. [American Thinker] Read more

14 November 2010

Blind student saves for three years to buy a guide HORSE because her strict Muslim parents consider dogs unclean

As a blind Muslim woman, Mona Ramouni has had to make do without a guide dog her whole life. The 28-year-old's strictly religious parents would not allow a dog in the house, considering the animal unclean.

But then Miss Ramouni stumbled across a website article about miniature guide horses in April 2008. 'It was something that I never thought about for myself,' she said. [MailOnline] Read more [via London Muslim]

Changes made to controversial book criticizing Muslims

Former central banker Thilo Sarrazin, who caused a storm in Germany in August with a controversial book on immigrant integration, has toned down the rhetoric in his treatise.

German weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that a key line in Sarrazin's book, titled "Germany is doing away with itself," has been removed from the 14th edition. The sentence claimed that migrants from the Middle East were a "genetic minus" for Germany.

Also, the modifier "in the long term" was added to the sentence, "In demographic terms, the enormous fertility of Muslim immigrants poses a threat to the equilibrium of culture and civilization in an ageing Europe." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Poll shows majority of Oklahomans have unfavorable view of Islam

The survey, taken before voters overwhelmingly approved a state question banning Islamic Shariah law from state courts, revealed that fewer than one-quarter of Oklahomans have a favorable opinion of the Muslim religion.

Fifty-eight percent said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, and 61 percent said Muslims don't worship the same God as Christians.

More than half agreed that Muslims should have the same rights as others to build houses of worship in local communities. However, 36 percent said local communities should have the right to prevent construction of houses of worship if they do not want them.

"I'm leery of any group that wants to kill Americans," said poll respondent Janie Lloyd of Fort Gibson.

"Do I believe all Muslims want to kill Americans? Of course not," said Lloyd. "But you've got to be vigilant on certain things. When someone says they want to kill you, you have to listen. Timothy McVeigh was an American citizen, and look what he did." [Tulsa World] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

13 November 2010

In Afghanistan, a 16-year-old girl dares to learn

An Afghan girl must be strong to reach for a book instead of a broom. She will suffer for wanting to learn.

Dare to walk to school here in the Taliban heartland and a girl must endure the cruel taunts of neighbours. Not wild-eyed terrorists, just ordinary folk who think a young lady's proper place is hidden in the home. They question her morals, call her venomous names, do all they can to make life difficult for the whole family.

When the Talibs punish aspiring females, the pain is much worse. Sometimes insurgents throw acid to burn schoolgirls' faces. They poison classes with noxious gas. Gunmen shoot students and their teachers in cold blood. [Toronto Star] Read more

Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

It took years to make the United Nations' newest agency, UN Women, a reality, and then just one day to effectively kill it.

Death was effected by allowing onto its board a kingdom where women are not just infamously prohibited from driving but are also virtual minors who need a male guardian's permission to travel and to have surgery — and must be covered from head to toe in public.

As one of two countries guaranteed seats as emerging donor nations, Saudi Arabia essentially bought its way onto the board of UN Women, which is dedicated to gender equality around the world.

Just three days after securing an automatic seat, Saudi Arabia gave us a reminder of just how oxymoronic its place on UN Women is, when its team showed up at the Asian Games in China without a single woman among the 180-strong delegation. [Toronto Star] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

If Pakistan is serious about freedom of speech its blasphemy law must go

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five, is the first woman to have been convicted under Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law.

But numerous Christians like her and others have been victims of it, either because they have made a comment which has been construed as critical of the prophet of Islam or as a way of settling property and business disputes. Now she has become the first person to be sentenced to death under it.

Did she blaspheme Muhammad? It seems more likely that she angered her tormentors in a theological discussion about the relative merits of Christianity and Islam. Such debates take place all the time among adherents of different faiths.

Whichever it may have been, the law has created intolerable injustice for often powerless people and quite unacceptable restrictions on freedom of speech to which the state of Pakistan is committed. [Guardian Cif] Read more

12 November 2010

Boy's pork lunch sparks religious tensions in Malaysia

The controversy surrounding the case of a boy who was caned for taking pork to school for lunch has threatened to spark religious tensions in mainly-Muslim Malaysia.

Earlier this month, a school's assistant principal caned 10-year-old Basil Beginda from the eastern state of Sarawak for taking fried rice with pork to school for his lunch.

Consuming pork is not permissible for followers of Islam, which is Malaysia's official religion, but there are no laws that forbid non-Muslim students from eating it in schools or public places. [Monsters and Critics] Read more

Greek town becomes flash point in effort to halt Muslim immigrants

This little farming town on the edge of Europe, where the crosses of Greek Orthodox churches face Turkey's minarets scarcely a mile away, has become the latest battleground in the continent's war against a flood of unwanted immigrants from the strife-torn Muslim world.

.... The growing presence of immigrants, particularly Muslims who bring with them their own customs and religious practices, has become one of the main irritants in Western European societies.

Immigration has become a prominent and sometimes sour part of the political debate even in countries with long liberal traditions, including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and France. [Washington Post] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Halal meat is being served in schools, hospitals and pubs - even though vets say Islamic slaughter is cruel

.... The main difference here, though, is that this abattoir produces halal meat, in accordance with strict Islamic guidelines. Put simply, this means the animals killed here are not stunned with an electrical current — as they are at ­conventional slaughterhouses — to render them unconscious before they are dispatched.

Instead, they are fully conscious as their throats are slit by a slaughterman as he utters prayers to Allah to ‘bless’ the animal. The ­creature then bleeds to death in a process that can take more than 30 seconds.

Killing an animal by cutting its throat without stunning is, in fact, ­illegal in this country. ­However, there is a legal loophole allowing this if it is being done for religious reasons — in other words, for the production of halal or kosher meat. [MailOnline] Read more

11 November 2010

Pope asks Muslim world to reciprocate religious tolerance

Pope Benedict XVI called on Islamic countries to reciprocate the religious freedom Muslims usually enjoy in predominantly Christian countries in a document published Thursday.

Several Islamic states in the Middle East have laws limiting or prohibiting Christian minorities from openly practising their faith.

In the document, the pontiff stressed that the Catholic Church has ''esteem'' for Muslims, while stating that inter-faith dialogue will be fruitless unless it is based on ''the ability of all to freely practise their religion in private and in public''. [ANSA] Read more

The brilliantly honest Pat Condell about 'Free Speech' in Europe

While most readers know about the recent free-speech trial involving Geert Wilders, another such trial is coming up in Austria on November 23. Pat Condell speaks about it in his latest video, forcefully defending free speech in contemporary Europe.

.... Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian citizen who has lived in Iran, Iraq, Libya and Kuwait, will stand trial on November 23 in Vienna, the country's capital. Similar to Geert Wilders, Mrs Sabaditsch-Wolff is accused of 'incitement to religious hatred' during a seminar she gave in 2009.

The interesting fact about the seminar alleged to have been filled with hate-speech is that she mainly quoted verbatim from the Koran (Al Qur'an). However, it is not the text itself that is on trial, though it is filled with hate speech, misogyny and discrimination, but the woman who quoted the text in order to educate and enlighten her audience. [DigitalJournal.com] Read more

Take Your Integration and Shove It!

When discussing immigration in Western Europe these days, the big buzzword is “integration”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently convened an integration summit to discuss strategies to help Germany’s large Turkish minority to accommodate themselves to German society — and, coincidentally, to steal some of the thunder from Thilo Sarrazin, whose anti-immigration book has proved a huge popular success.

But what does “integration” mean for practical purposes? And the big question, which largely goes unasked: Is it really possible to integrate Europe’s huge Muslim population in any meaningful way?

An interview transcript from an October 29 program on Denmark Radio should give pause to anyone who still thinks “integration” is doable. The young woman interviewed for the program was born in Denmark, but she makes it quite clear that she has never integrated into Danish society, nor does she ever intend to do so. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

Allah’s tailors gaining profile in Turkey with chic headscarves

The headscarf remains one of Turkey’s most divisive issues. Everything from the way it is tied and accessorized, to the poise and demeanor of the wearer, is laden with meaning in this majority Muslim but officially secular country of 74 million.

From a simple headcovering, stigmatized in the early days of the Turkish Republic as backward and rural, it has become, in the last decades, a carefully crafted garment and highly marketable commodity, embodying the challenge of a new class of conservative Muslims to Turkey’s secularist elites.

“It was hard to find anything chic for the covered women 10 years ago, but fashion for pious women has made huge progress in the last 6-7 years,” said Alpaslan Akman, an executive in charge of production and marketing at Muslim fashion brand Armine. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Perceptions of Islam in Europe not always clear’

Malta’s Ambassador in Tunisia, Vicki Ann Cremona, implicitly expressed agreement with September’s French decision to ban the burka, the Muslim veil which covers women’s faces fully, when she addressed an international forum on ‘Islam, Modernity and Europe’.

The forum was organised by the Tunisian news weekly Réalités, with Dr Cremona taking part in a round-table discussion on the subject "Is a European Islam possible?" [Malta Indepdent] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Multikulturell? Wir? - How a fresh debate on multiculturalism in Germany clashes with the country’s need for more immigrants

HOW well does Halime Cengiz fit into Germany? A “typical guest worker’s child”, she wears a hijab and spends much time at the Mevlana mosque in Gröpelingen, a Bremen neighbourhood with many immigrants.

She has a German passport but “would never say I’m German” (or Turkish). She calls herself “a Bremer with Turkish roots”. Yet she also speaks flawless German. Neither her marriage nor her veil was forced on her.

Part of her mosque work is with churches, lowering barriers between Muslims and Christians. She urges parents to send their children to kindergarten to improve their German. The parents fret about their children becoming “too German”, but Mrs Cengiz allays such fears. She may be a model migrant after all. [Economist] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Palestinian held for Facebook criticism of Islam

.... Husayin faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for "insulting the divine essence." Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.

"He should be burned to death," said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqilya resident. The execution should take place in public "to be an example to others," he added.

Over several years, Husayin is suspected of posting arguments in favor of atheism on English and Arabic blogs, where he described the God of Islam as having the attributes of a "primitive Bedouin." He called Islam a "blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance." [Associated Press] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

The Codification Of Rape In A Supposedly Sacred Text

In common with many of you, I’m sure, I keep on asking myself why Western women convert to Islam. It has to be ignorance of the true tenets of that psuedo-faith, or stupidity or gullibility for no one, surely, could convert under any other circumstance.

For Heaven’s sake, surely nobody in their right mind would convert to a religion that still believes in the twenty-first century that rape of any kind is permissible and what God wants and will forgive. [The Iconoclast] Read more

The Higher Criticism

1. The Qu’ran and Hadiths have never been subjected to what we now know as ‘The Higher Criticism‘ (textual analysis designed to establish authorship and date), so when you read well-meaning Islamic websites assuring you that the Qu’ran and the Hadiths were handed down orally, then written out hundreds of years after Muhammad’s death with a high degree of accuracy, you are being sold the theological equivalent of the notion that it is possible to pick Tattslotto numbers in advance.

2. When Muslims tell you that the pagan civilisation that preceded Islam in Arabia was revoltingly sexist and that Islam represented an advance for women, then you need to avail yourself of a pantechnicon of salt.

No research has been done into the pagan civilisation that predated Islam; we only have Muslims’ say-so about it. The reason no research has been conducted into the earlier civilisation is because it is located in Saudi Arabia. It is incredibly difficult to research early Islam, let alone pre-Islamic paganism, thanks to the destructive tendencies of the Saudi government. [skepticlawyer] Read more