31 December 2010

NY sees a surge in hate Crimes jump 14%

Hate crimes across New York state jumped 14 percent in 2009, led by an increase in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, state records released yesterday show.

There were 683 hate crimes reported to police authorities across the state in 2009 compared with 599 in 2008, according to a report released by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. ...

Anti-Semitic incidents, which made up 37 percent of the reported hate crimes, were up 15 percent in one year, from 219 in 2008 to 251 in 2009. ...

Crimes motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment rose from eight to 11.... [NEW YORK POST] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Two killed and eight injured in bomb attacks on Baghdad Christians

Two people were killed yesterday and at least eight injured in a series of bomb attacks on Christian homes in Baghdad.

The grenade and bomb attacks came a week after Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida threatened a wave of violence against Iraq's beleaguered Christian community.

In an attack in the south-west of the city, two grenades were thrown into the home of a Christian family, killing two people and injuring five, Iraqi police said. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

30 December 2010

Mohammed was a Liberal Democrat

Is that blasphemous? Or a compliment? What if the title had read ‘Mohammed was a Nazi’? Or a member of the BNP? Does anachronistic politicising serve any purpose?

Mehdi Hasan, the New Statesman’s Senior Editor (politics), certainly thinks so: to him, Jesus was ‘much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe’.

.... In Christ (that is, in the Jesus of the New Testament, which Mr Hasan believes to be corrupt), there is neither political left nor right, but the consistent exhortation to all to recognise the rule of God in their lives and exalt righteousness in the nation.

That, Mr Hasan, may be the honest, sincere and noble pursuit of all believers, however they cast their vote. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Denmark holds 'Muhammad cartoon plotters'

Five suspected Islamist militants have been arrested for planning a gun attack at the Copenhagen offices of a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, police say.

The men intended to burst into the Jyllands-Posten office and kill as many people as possible, officials said. Denmark's justice minister said the attack would have been "outrageous".

Police later evacuated a building where one of the men was held after finding what were thought to be explosives. Four of the suspects were held in Denmark and the fifth was detained in Sweden. [BBC] Read more

Spain: Salafists organized 10 conferences in 2010

There were ten Salafist congresses in Spain during 2010, compared with only one in 2008.

Experts warn that 10% of the nearly 1,000 mosques in Spain preach Jihad during Friday sermons, with about 70-80 imams from Morocco and Algeria used for this radical discourse.

Salafists have spread from Catalonia to other areas in Spain: to the Ebro Valley in Basque Country and the Henares Corridor in the south, between Madrid and Guadalajara. Their main means of spreading their doctrine is through their congresses.

In 2008 there was only one, in Reus (Catalonia). This year there were ten: eight all across Catalonia (three in Girona, two in Tarragona, two in Barcelona and one in Lleida), one in Basque Country (Biscay), and one in Castile-La Mancha (Guadalajara). [Islam in Europe] Read more

Spain Goes on Mosque-Building Spree - Churches Forced to Close

The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers.

The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

.... At the same time, Noureddine Ziani, the Moroccan imam, says it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also says that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization. [Hudson New York] Read more

29 December 2010

Non-storm over Jeremy Clarkson's 'burka' stunt

The pathetic decision by Jeremy Clarkson and his co-host Richard Hammond to dress in niqabs during a Top Gear programme from Syria (this is what passes for humour in such circles) has provoked an outbreak of mass Muslim outrage, if the right-wing populist press is to be believed.

Yesterday's Daily Mail featured a lengthy article headlined "Top Gear stars cause religious row after dressing up in burkas on Boxing Day special" and the Daily Star went with "Clarkson in Burka gear storm", while the Daily Express warned of "Protest fears over Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear stars in burkhas".

.... This is of course all part of a right-wing narrative about intolerant Muslims reacting with "fury" to any slight against their faith. In reality, it seems clear that the Muslim community, like the writer of this post, find it difficult to work themselves up into a state of indignation over the puerile antics of a man widely dismissed as a reactionary sexist bore. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

The Salafi exploitation of young British Muslim Women

In the year 2001 I contacted the ‘Salafi’ communities at their main headquarters in the UK as I was searching for a good Islamic community and sincere Muslims who would help me learn about Islam and take my studies further.

In 2004, disgusted by their behaviour, attitudes and bigotry, I left them for good. In this article I want to share my first hand experiences to raise awareness about the way ‘Salafis’ use Islam to prey on young and vulnerable women.

Some people may find some of the contents of this article disturbing but I feel it is essential to bring them out if we are ever to recognise the damage being done by the so called Salafis. [The Spittoon] Read more

David Cameron must face the challenge of Islamisation

.... the Government needs to start dismantling an Islamisation that threatens the freedoms of ordinary Britons – including Muslims who are confined to ghettos that can be difficult to leave, especially for women.

In the long run, halting this erosion of freedom may prove just as important a challenge for the Coalition as easing the pain of cuts. Few subjects are more difficult to discuss without causing offence. Even so, this particular conversation is long overdue. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Clamp down on imaginary Islamisation, says Torygraph .... I do not think that those who circulate these stories in the British media really hate Muslims, unlike those right-wing bloggers; I think they are simply amoral, motivated only by money.

They have enormous power — consider how the government leapt after they shouted “jump” over undeported foreign convicts a few years ago — and show no desire to use it responsibly. There is nothing to appease by clamping down on Muslims on the basis of these manufactured stories; the papers will simply choose another target. The only thing for it is to clamp down on the profiteers who peddle these stories. [Indigo Jo Blogs] Read more

28 December 2010

Germans Seek Ban on Islamic Radicals

Germany's stepped-up efforts to ban some Islamic groups for promoting radical views have sparked a national debate over whether the government is violating the free-speech protections of the constitution it says it is aiming to protect.

The German government's latest move to crack down on groups that promote extremist Muslim teaching came earlier this month, as dozens of police raided homes, offices and religious schools in the western German cities of Bremen, Braunschweig and Mönchengladbach. The security forces were seeking evidence that could lead to the banning of two organizations that officials say are calling for imposing Islamic law in place of German law. [Wall Street Journal] Read more

27 December 2010

Why Does Dr Rowan Williams Never Stand Up for Christianity?

The narrative of victimhood comes easily to followers of Islam. They constantly bemoan the prejudice they have to endure and the oppression they suffer in the bigoted western world, where Islamophobia is supposedly rampant. Every terrorist atrocity, every blood-soaked massacre is justified by reference to imagined grievances.

But by far the greatest persecutors of other faiths are Muslim hardliners themselves. The great Caribbean writer VS Naipaul once described Islam as “sanctified rage”. The proof of those words has been graphically illustrated by a growing catalogue of barbarities committed by Islamic militants against Christians, none of them more shocking than the mass murder committed in a Catholic Church in Baghdad at the end of October, when 58 people were gunned down during an act of worship. “All of you are infidels,” said one of the killers before opening fire on the congregation. [Daily Express] Read more [via ENGAGE]

Islamophobia Explained: A Conversation With Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Alejandro J. Beutel

Not since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has the fear and loathing of Muslims been as virulent, as widespread among Americans, and as close to morphing from hateful rhetoric into life-threatening violence.

It was against that background that TPR correspondent William Fisher sat down to discuss these key issues with Alejandro J. Beutel, government liaison for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). MPAC is one of the principal organizations for Muslim-Americans and for Muslims who are being persecuted all over the world.

But much of MPAC’s focus is Washington and the U.S. Government, where the organization appears top be as sophisticated and well informed as any DC lobbying outfit. [The Public Record] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

26 December 2010

Hyperbole rules in Muslim debate

WITHOUT serious debate or examination, the Los Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution that opposes "Islamophobia" and "repudiates" random acts of violence against Muslims.

This admittedly ceremonial resolution apparently accepts the premise that residents of the city commit acts of hate against Muslims so often that it warrants an official resolution from city leaders condemning and repudiating these acts. Is this really the case?

According to the latest hate crime report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, 88 percent of all religiously based hate crimes in 2009 were against Jews. Hate crimes that targeted Muslims (3 percent) ranked slightly above those directed at Scientologists (1 percent). In fact, the commission found that attacks against Christians (8 percent) outnumbered attacks against Muslims. [Daily News Los Angeles] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Religious Devotion: The claims vs. the reality

Those who present an alarmist vision of Europe being taken over by hordes of religiously obsessed Muslims often use polling data to back up their claims.

Looking at such data, we will often find that Muslims seem far more religious than their non-Muslim counterparts, such as in this poll, which apparently reveals that 86% of British Muslims feel that religion is ‘the most important thing in their life’. [Harry’s Place] Read more

New EU labels for halal and kosher foods spark anger

Muslim and Jewish groups are preparing to challenge animal-rights campaigners next year over a European Union measure that would require halal and kosher meat products to carry a label saying the animals were not stunned before slaughter.

Animal-welfare legislation in Europe requires that abattoirs stun all animals prior to slaughter unless they are being ritually killed according to the practices of a non-Christian religion.

The move to require halal and kosher meat producers to provide consumers with more information on the packaging of their products has enraged Jewish and Muslim organisations, with the latter claiming that the move has little to do with animal welfare but, rather, reflects a pan-European bias against Islam. [The National] Read more

25 December 2010

Sky News Muslim Weather Girl Nazaneen Ghaffar's tight dress brings unsettled conditions to the UK

Sister Lauren said... Assalam alaikam, i usually like your blog but i don't like the way you highlight these women. Who cares if she has a tight dress?

She is not a role for a muslim women if she dresses like that so why give her your blog space. If you and other brothers want a good old look then start a blog called 'muslim women with hardly any clothes on' because us sisters don't want to see it. Fear Allah. [London Muslim] Read more

24 December 2010

Christmas at the East London Mosque: 'Season's Rantings' from your favourite Islamic extremists

In his richly-entertaining, car-crash interview with the BBC’s Stephen Sackur which I covered yesterday, Muhammad Abdul Bari, the chairman of the East London Mosque, was heavily pressed on his mosque’s unfortunate predilection for hate and extremist speakers, specifically the al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Dr Bari told Sackur that, while mistakes might have been made in the past, it was all quite different now at this renowned centre of tolerance and harmony.

In one of the many hurt letters he has written to the media lately (the climate for Islamism seems to be turning rather chillier) he further insisted: “The controversial speakers who were able, in the past, to speak via third-party bookings of our facilities (circumventing our procedures) have now all been banned. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Haia men ready to block New Year festivities

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) has directed all its branch offices to be on the lookout for any year-end celebration ....

"The Haia will immediately dismantle any form of preparations for the celebrations but if these preparations are out of its jurisdiction, it will take up the matter with the authorities concerned," he said, pointing out such prohibitions apply to the celebration of the Hijra new year or the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Sheikh Al-Ghamdi asked the parents to consolidate the Islamic identity of their children and said Saudi citizens and Muslim expatriates should stick to the calls of their Islamic identity. [ARAB NEWS] Read more

Indonesian Muslim cleric warns against over-the-top Christmas

Opulent Christmas decorations at shopping malls in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, could incite anger among non-Christians, the country’s highest Islamic authority said on Thursday.

Although 90 percent of the country’s 240 million people are Muslim, the capital’s myriad glitzy malls have been decorated with Christmas lights and bunting — including faux snow, Santas and nativity scenes.

“Christmas describes a certain religion, and if the religion advertises it too overtly — even though they have only a small number of followers — it will cause jealousy and anger from other groups,” said Ma’ruf Amin, of Indonesia’s Ulema Council. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Will Germany be a Divided Nation Again?

.... We argue that integration is not about Germany having to go through great pains to make immigrants feel at ease here with their traditions.

Integration should instead take place on the grounds of the opportunities granted by a treasure that Germans share with the immigrants: our constitution, our democracy, the gift of freedom. By insisting on this, we have turned the debate round.

It was high time. We missed so many chances. We have already lost at least three generations since 1961, the moment when Germany began to invite Turkish Gastarbeiter [guest workers]. [Standpoint] Read more

23 December 2010

Malaysian Islamic Institute: "Islam rejects religious pluralism"

Of course, few if any serious religious believers of any tradition would agree that "all religions are equally true and equally good." The problem here is that while this Malaysian government entity says that "national unity should be nurtured by encouraging the uniqueness of each religious tradition and simultaneously encouraging the attitude of mutual goodwill, mutual empathy and mutual love as fellow neighbours and fellow human beings," on the ground the situation is not so rosy.

Muslims have special legal rights that non-Muslims do not have, which indicates yet again that all too often, when Islamic spokesmen speak about harmony and mutual respect among religions, they do not mean that all religious believers should enjoy equal legal rights. [Jihad Watch] Read more

East London Mosque: No Extremists Here!

.... Banned? Really? Earlier this month the mosque’s London Muslim Centre hosted the Cageprisoners crowd, including Cageprisoners patron Yvonne Ridley and Asim “it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad” Qureshi.

The purpose of the meeting was anti-American agitation on behalf of Aafia Siddiqui, the crudely antisemitic woman convicted earlier this year of attempting to murder US soldiers and officials in Afghanistan. [Harry’s Place] Read more

'Christmas is evil': Muslim group launches poster campaign against festive period

Fanatics from a banned Islamic hate group have launched a nationwide poster campaign denouncing Christmas as evil.

Organisers plan to put up thousands of placards around the UK claiming the season of goodwill is responsible for rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, promiscuity, crime and paedophilia. They hope the campaign will help 'destroy Christmas' in this country and lead to Britons converting to Islam instead.

[COMMENT] I bet if I put posters up saying "The Evils of Islam", I would be arrested for inciting racial hatred. John, UK, Rating 5956 votes. [MailOnline] Read more

Muslim scholar Sheiykh Allama Moalana Shahid Raza Naeemi OBE answers your questions

.... Do you feel some Muslim communities segregate themselves from the rest of society?

“Some of my colleagues may not agree but I certainly feel that maybe there’s a very small part of the community which feels comfortable living segregated.

“It could be language that might push them away, a lack of understanding of the British culture and society, a lack of citizenship knowledge, but also fear.

“It’s not a major issue but definitely Islamaphobia is there. There’s a fear within a certain section of the community who maybe don’t feel comfortable travelling on public transport or who don’t feel comfortable mixing because they are afraid of something. [Dewsbury Reporter] Read more

22 December 2010

There’s something about Islam

The contentious debate over Park 51 has some asking “How far is far enough?” It has many others asking, in regard to its imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, “How moderate is moderate enough?” This of course raises the larger question, “What constitutes moderate Islam?”

In the view of some the term “moderate Islam” is an oxymoron. It doesn’t exist. In the view of others the term is redundant. All faithful Muslims are moderate. Islam is “the middle way”. Defining what makes a Muslim moderate is probably a fool’s errand. Undaunted, here’s a fallen Catholic’s take. [altmuslim] Read more

No Christmas festivities for some Iraqi Christians

Some church leaders in Iraq have told Christians not to celebrate Christmas except with prayer after lethal attacks and continuing threats by militants against the Iraqi Christian community.

“No Santa Claus, no celebrations, no gifts this year,” Archbishop Louis Sako, chairman of the Chaldean archbishops in Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya, said on Wednesday. “We don’t have the right to jeopardize others’ lives.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

21 December 2010

Mohamed sign in Dakota City stirs controversy

Dakota City councilman Bob Lane whipped up a controversy when he placed a sign on his property reading "Never Trust a Man Named Mohamed."

Lane, well-known in Dakota City for his strong opinions primarily on local and county government, placed the sign near a multiplex rental unit he owns in the 300 block of North 14th Street, a high-traffic route into the Dakota County town of 1,827. The sign led several residents to lodge complaints at City Hall. [Sioux City Journal] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Human Rights First Condemns Passage of U.N. Resolution “Combating Defamation of Religions”

Human Rights First condemns today’s passage of the controversial United Nations (U.N.) resolution entitled “Combating defamation of religions” and warns that such measures prohibiting the “defamation of religions” violate fundamental freedom of expression norms and are counterproductive to efforts to confront the problems of bias-motivated violence, discrimination and other forms of intolerance.

The resolution was introduced by Morocco on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It was adopted today by the U.N. General Assembly with 79 votes in favor, 67 votes against and 40 abstentions – a vote Human Rights First notes is the slimmest margin of support since the resolution was first introduced a decade ago. Last year, for example, 80 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 61 against and 42 abstained. [Human Rights First] Read more

Muslim Harry Potter star beaten

A Harry Potter star was beaten, called a "slag" and threatened with death after she met a young man who was not a Muslim.

Victim Afshan Azad, 22, played Padma Patil, a classmate of the teenage wizard, in the blockbuster Hollywood films based on the children's books by JK Rowling.

She was assaulted and branded a "prostitute" after meeting a young Hindu man, a relationship which brought anger from her father, Abul Azad, 53, and brother, Ashraf, 28, Manchester Crown Court heard. [ITN] Read more

Turkish Airlines clears way for headscarved personnel

The recently updated dress regulations of Turkish Airlines, or THY, have cleared the way for personnel wearing headscarves to be employed, daily Vatan reported Tuesday.

The regulations, updated on Nov. 26, no longer feature the clause reading: “Hair will always be worn uncovered,” the report said. [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Concern about two Iranian Christians charged with apostasy

Christian Solidarity Worldwide says it is deeply concerned by reports that two Iranian pastors have been charged with apostasy, with one currently facing a death sentence.

Their cases come at a time when religious minorities in the country are experiencing an increase in persecution, including detention and imprisonment.

Seven Baha'i leaders are among those incarcerated for their beliefs.

The Rev Yousef Nadarkhani, from Rasht in Northern Iran, is currently being held incommunicado in Lakan prison, reports CSW, a Christian human rights campaign. [Ekklesia] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Saudi Arabia girls' schools investigated over 'illegal' sports day

The Dec 8 event involving 200 females from six Jeddah private high schools broke ministry rules against girls' sports in schools, a ministry official said.

"We don't have any regulations that say that it's OK for girls' schools to hold sports classes or training," said Ahmed Al-Zahrani, director of girls' education in Jeddah.

"This tournament was held by these schools, something that has now led us to know about their illegal activities," he said. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

20 December 2010

Nicolas Sarkozy to target Muslim prayers

NICOLAS Sarkozy will take another lurch to the Right with a speech on New Year's Eve calling Muslim prayers in the street "unacceptable".

After his expulsions of gypsies and a crackdown on immigrant crime, the French President will warn that the overflow of Muslim faithful on to the streets at prayer time when mosques are packed to capacity risks undermining the French secular tradition separating state and religion.

He will doubtless be accused of pandering to the far Right: the issue of Muslim prayers in the street has been brought to the fore by Marine Le Pen, the charismatic new figurehead of the National Front, who compared it to the wartime occupation of France.

Her words provoked uproar on the Left, whose commentators took them as evidence that far from being the gentler face of the far Right, Ms Le Pen, 42, is no different from Jean-Marie, 82, her father, who has been accused of racism and Holocaust denial. [The Australian] Read more

The Great Islamophobic Crusade

Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits.

The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed).

This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith.

And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005. [Islamophobia Today] Read more [via loonwatch.com]

Bangladeshi 'stepson affair' woman dies after caning

A group of village elders and clerics sentenced Sufia Begum under Sharia law to 40 lashes for adultery.

The 40-year-old died of her injuries almost a month after the beating in Rajshahi district, her family says. Bangladesh banned such punishments in the name of religious edicts or fatwas by Muslim clergy earlier this year.

It is thought to be the first case of a fatality linked to a Sharia law punishment since the practice was outlawed. [BBC] Read more

Former Birmingham judge who called Muslim colleague 'tent head' fined £10,000

Stephen Jones also called legal assistant Saleca Faisal-Parkar “Mother Teresa” in emails to colleagues at their Warwickshire law firm, Shakespeare Putsnam.

And the mum-of-one was labelled ‘lazy’ by the high-flying solicitor, who was also a deputy district judge.

Mrs Faisal-Parker, from Great Barr, Birmingham, received a £75,000 payout two years ago following an employment tribunal. She had claimed discrimination on the grounds of her race and sex, religious beliefs and pregnancy. [Sunday Mercury] Read more [via National Secular Society]

19 December 2010

Iraqi Christians flee to Kurdish areas or abroad – U.N.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes to semi-autonomous Kurdish areas and neighbouring countries since a Catholic church in Baghdad was attacked six weeks ago, the U.N. refugee agency has said.

Some 1,000 Christian families, roughly 6,000 people, have arrived in the northern Kurdish areas from Baghdad, Mosul and Nineveh, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. Several thousand have crossed into Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Many spoke of receiving threats or leaving out of fear. Fifty-two hostages and police were killed when Iraqi forces tried to free more than 100 Catholics taken hostage during Sunday mass on October 31. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Netherlands: Pork-free police lunch-boxes

The Ijsseland regional police force supplies only pork-free lunches boxes, in order to take Muslims into consideration.

At first they offered both halal and regular lunch boxes. "But that didn't work," says a spokesperson. There weren't enough, or they didn't get to the right people. "We want to be a diverse force, therefore we take each other into consideration."

Lunch boxes are usually given out only during large-scale police operations. "More police forces do it this way." [Islam in Europe] Read more

Why did multiculturalism become a dirty word?

[COMMENT] The job of making a successfull society is not really interested in your childhood wishes to be white. In fact many whitesspend millions trying to be brown.

It's fine to celebrate eachothers diversity, I love eating the new foods that are in Britain thanks to a more openminded society, and meeting new people.

What we have done however is sack Asian post office owners for telling off other Asians for not bothering to learn English! We have spend millions and millions to print in a hundred languages instead of simply telling people to make an effort and learn ours.

We raped our culture by removing everything that might cause offence to some wingnut instead of saying "look mate in your old country they killed you for having a different opinion, develop some tolerence or go home"

Finally you ask where the evidence is that multiculturism has failed. Look around you. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Bashir plans Islamic law if Sudan splits, defends flogging woman

Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution if the south splits away in a referendum next month, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Sunday.

The vote on independence for south Sudan is scheduled to start in three weeks and was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the south, where most follow traditional beliefs and Christianity. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Muslim and Jewish groups object to labelling of ritually slaughtered meat

About 10 million turkeys are expected to be eaten in the UK over Christmas with most people unaware of how the bird on their plate was killed. All that could change under proposed EU legislation that would require the labelling of unstunned halal and kosher meat, to the chagrin of Muslim and Jewish groups.

All meat and meat products "derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter ie have been ritually slaughtered," would have to be specified as such under amendment 205 to the EU food information regulations.

The stated aim is to allow consumers to make an informed choice, consistent with their ethical concerns, but opponents argue it is discriminatory. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Paris conference targets 'Islamization' of Europe

About 150 people protested Saturday outside the site of a conference in Paris organized to criticize the "Islamization" of Europe.

Protesters held banners reading "United Against Islamophobia" and "Fascists, get out of our neighborhoods." Socialist Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe had asked police to ban the conference, but police allowed it to go forward under surveillance.

The conference was organized by several French groups, including nationalist political group Bloc Identitaire, that frequently complain about what they see as Islam's growing influence over traditional French values. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population. [AP] Read more

Time is Now: Stop the Islamification of Our Countries I am delighted to be here in Paris, the birthplace of modern European secular governance. And I am especially delighted to have been invited here by Gandalf, who founded the Alliance to Stop Sharia. Gandalf has been instrumental in shifting the focus of the European Counterjihad from Islam as a religion to the evils of sharia law.

When you discuss Islam and/or sharia law, have you been accused of being an Islamophobe? A nazi? A xenophobe? A bigot? A misunderstander of Islam (copyright R. Spencer)? Have you been verbally attacked by well-meaning friends who belong either to the Leftist/Liberal spectrum and believe in the Religion of Respect and Anything Goes, or who in principle agree with you, but are sooo very afraid for you and suggest that you stop what you're doing to stay alive. [The Iconoclast] Read more

18 December 2010

Muslims sue teacher for speaking about ham in class

According to the account of the facts, the teacher was explaining the different climates in a geography class and cited the village of Trevelez due to its cold and dry climate.

According to the newspaper account, "as a story, the teacher told his students that such a climate was conducive to making hams (this refers to the procedure that it’s necessary between the pig is killed and the ham is actually ready to be eaten).

Then the student asked the teacher not to speak of hams since it offended him, because he was a Muslim". [Islam in Europe] Read more

Anti-immigrant tract is German Christmas best-seller

An anti-immigrant polemic written by a former central banker is among the Christmas best-sellers in Germany and its author has become a millionaire, according to media reports on Saturday.

About 1.25 million copies of Thilo Sarrazin's "Germany Does Itself In" have been sold since its release in August, and sales show no sign of slowing, publisher DVA said.

"At the moment we are selling around 10,000 copies per day," said DVA spokesman Markus Desaga in Focus weekly. [Expatica Communications] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

17 December 2010

France: 39% agree Muslim prayer in the streets is like Nazi occupation

Almost 40% of the French agree with Marine Len Pen's statements on Muslim prayer in the streets, according to a survey by Ifop for France Soir.

The vice-president of the Front National compared it to occupation. Among voters of Sarkozy's UMP, 54% agree with Le Pen.

In total, 61% of the French disagree with Len Pen: 82% of left-wing voters and 46% of UMP voters. [Islam in Europe] Read more

World Almanac of Islamism

The United Kingdom is arguably the European hub for numerous forms of Islamist activity, ranging from violent jihadist terrorist cells to “soft power” Islamists.

Although the threat from jihadist terrorists is widely recognized and accepted by both government and civil society in Britain, there remains relatively little interest in the wide variety of ostensibly non-violent Islamists who wield significant power and influence.

Senior politicians from across the mainstream political spectrum are largely in agreement about the threat faced by terrorism, but they are far from reaching any consensus on how to deal with Islamists and what role, if any, they should play in countering extremism and terrorism. [American Foreign Policy Council] Read more

Quilliam Cuts: Not (Entirely) Farr’s Fault

Following on from this post, I have now had an opportunity to talk to some of those with an insight into the process by which the Quilliam funding decision was made.

Paul Goodman had pointed the finger at “the role of Charles Farr, Director-General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism”

Charles Farr did, in fact, argue for retention of Quilliam funding for quite some time. However, in the end, the decision to make the cut – along with Prevent projects generally – was made by Ministers. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Quilliam: Not Closing But Cut To The Bone .... In many important ways, Quilliam has won the battle. There is now a broader understanding of the work of Islamist political parties active in the United Kingdom.

The opposition to these groups, in the future, will increasingly be led by anti-fascist campaigners like Searchlight, and by progressives within the Labour Party, and in particular around Searchlight. Engage has lost its gig as the secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Quilliam to close .... However, Quilliam is still receiving some Foreign Office funding, which raises the question of why it isn't to be supported by the Home Office when other organisations are. Quilliam's work has a unique perspective on Islamism, since it was gained from inside experience. And its range was highlighted, albeit unwittingly, by the Prime Minister himself yesterday, in the words I quoted above. [ConservativeHome] Read more

16 December 2010

Life on Hold for Egyptian Christian Arrested for his Faith

An Egyptian who left Islam to become a Christian and consequently lost his wife, children and business is waiting to see if the government will now take away his freedom for “defaming” Islam.

Ashraf Thabet, 45, is charged with defaming a revealed religion, Article 98f of the Egyptian Penal Code. The charges stem from Thabet’s six-year search for spiritual meaning that eventually led him to become a Christian. During his search, he shared his doubts about Islam and told others what he was learning about Jesus Christ. [CDN] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Is Focus of Planned Inquiry

The Republican who will head the House committee that oversees domestic security is planning to open a Congressional inquiry into what he calls “the radicalization” of the Muslim community when his party takes over the House next year.

Representative Peter T. King of New York, who will become the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was responding to what he has described as frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations. [New York Times] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Dutch may introduce burqa ban as early as 2011

The Netherlands could ban the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women, as soon as next year, Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders told Reuters in an interview Thursday.

Wilders' populist Freedom Party is the third largest in parliament and provides crucial support to the minority ruling coalition in exchange for the government taking a tougher line on Islam and immigration from non-Western countries.

His party has grown in popularity largely because of his outspoken criticism of Islam, which he describes as "a violent ideology."

"There are not too many people who are willing to fight for this cause. It's a big responsibility. It's not only a Dutch problem, it's a problem of the West," said Wilders. [Reuters] Read more

Is Veena Malik a threat to Islam?

.... She certainly did not enter the show as a Muslim contender. She was chosen for the show as a Pakistani celebrity (if you may) who became popular recently for playing an active role in making the cricket scandal further scandalous.

I suppose it is okay for Veena to show her body in scanty silky saris and dance provocatively on local screens but the minute she starts showing that ‘immoral’ behviour in India, oh no, Islam is in danger!! [The Samosa] Read more

Bad Faith Award 2010 - who took the crown?

Almost 7,000 of you voted in our poll to choose this year's winner of our annual Bad Faith Award, which goes to the person deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to the cause of unreason in the past 12 months.

It was a tight poll - the top two were separated by only a handful of votes, but we can now announce who won. Step forward Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, head of the UK Islamic Sharia Council, for suggesting in an interview with the Samosa blog that rape cannot be committed within marriage. [New Humanist] Read more

Austrian man convicted for yodelling while Muslim neighbours prayed

Helmut Griese, 63, was found guilty of "ridiculing" their religious beliefs and fined nearly £700 by a court in Graz. Rather than face a protracted court case, with all its attendant legal costs, Mr Griese agreed to pay.

The court heard how the Muslim family regarded Mr Griese as a "grumpy old man" whose open-air Alpine chanting was intended as a taunt aimed at their religion. The retiree was accused trying to "mock and imitate" the call of the Muezzin, who calls the faithful for prayer in mosques. They alleged that he always began his yodelling just as they knelt down to pray. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

15 December 2010

Not Empowering Islamists

.... The circumstances surrounding the London Muslim Center's airing of a pre-recorded lecture by Anwar al-Awlaki involved a third-party organizer (Noor Pro Media), and have now been clearly addressed.

The East London Mosque Trust last month released a statement clarifying our position on the matter. Any prior lapses in our events-booking procedures have also been addressed and our standards are now strictly enforced.

I would like to restate for the record that our mosque is not dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami, nor does it aspire to establishing an "Islamist theocracy." Extremism in any form must be challenged. Our mosque is working constantly with its partners to meet these ends.

Mr. Maher should be keen to scrutinize his own hypocrisy at labeling others extremists, as he further provides legitimate backing for bigotry and Islamophobia. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

UN resolution on religious defamation still controversial

Its supporters say it would protect Islam from ridicule. Detractors say it would curb free speech and provide a cover for hard-line governments to clamp down on religious minorities.

The UN General Assembly will soon vote on the controversial resolution, called "combating defamation of religions" which, while expected to pass once again, is likely to succeed with the slimmest margin of support in its 11-year history

Outlawing attacks on religion was popular in 2005, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, but support has waned since then. [The National] Read more

A picture of Islamofascism: A Sudanese policeman whipping a defenceless woman

You may want to brace yourself before clicking on this video. It’s not for the faint-hearted. It depicts a defenceless women being brutally whipped by a laughing, Sudanese policeman.

When a second policeman realises his colleague is being filmed, he decides to join in. The woman’s crime? She was wearing trousers, a breach of Sudan’s Islamic Legal Code.

This video is just the latest example in the litany of crimes against women committed in the name of Sharia, the so-called sacred law of Islam. In Iran, we have the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman condemned by a Sharia court to death by stoning for committing adultery; in Afghanistan, Bibi Aisha, the beautiful, 18-year-old who was tried by a Taliban court, found guilty of abandoning her husband and brutally disfigured. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

We hypocritical Muslims

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator?

Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics. [Daily Times] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Sharia Isn't Creeping Anymore. It's Galloping!

How did Muslim prayer in French streets go from a well-kept secret to a cause célèbre in less than a week? Maxime Lepante has posted some 40 videos of outdoor Muslim prayers in France.

Streets are blocked, often with the help of law enforcement, prayer rugs are stretched out, and the prostration begins. Lepante traces the swift expansion of these open air mosques that encroach on the rights of citizens to walk or drive down a public street, enter and leave their buildings, hear themselves think in their own homes or, we might add, feel like they are living in Paris, France! [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more [via National Secular Society]

From discrimination to death – being gay in Iran

It is now more than three years since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his famous claim during a visit to New York: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like you do in your country. This does not exist in our country."

His words caused laughter among the audience at Columbia University but – unintentionally on Ahmadinejad's part – they have probably done more than anything else to raise awareness in the west of the problems faced by sexual minorities in Iran. [Guardian Cif] Read more

I've got a great idea – why doesn't the Government just leave the 'Muslim community' alone?

.... Rather than simply winding up Prevent, the Government then changed course, instead putting money into kosher (so to speak) Muslim organisations that did not oppose western democracy.

But according to the Communities and Local Government select committee report earlier this year, this has only led to increasing paranoia among some Muslims, who felt they were being spied on.

It concluded: “There is a sense that Government has sought to engineer a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, promoting and funding only those groups which conform to this model. We do not think it is the job of Government to intervene in theological matters…” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

14 December 2010

Much ado about nothing: fine for niqab-wearing French driver dropped

A French police tribunal has annulled a 22 euro ($29.50) fine against a woman found wearing a niqab while driving in the western city of Nantes last April.

The case fuelled not just one but two separate debates in France, one on banning the “burqa” and another on polygamy among immigrants. Full veils have been legally banned, the polygamy debate has temporarily fizzled out and Sandrine Mouleres, the Muslim convert who challenged the fine, seems to have come out a winner. For now, at least…

The tribunal annulled the traffic ticket issued by officers who argued that Mouleres could not see properly while wearing her niqab, which covered her face but left an opening for her eyes.

As her lawyer Jean-Michel Pollono put it: “This means one can drive today with a niqab. There is no danger as long as whatever the driver wears doesn’t block her vision. A niqab moves with the head.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Modern Dutch Muslim women can't find suitable partners

The current generation of young Dutch Muslim women are often quite well-educated and open-minded compared to most of their potential spouses, many of whom do not want a 'modern' wife.

In addition, arranged marriages are going out of fashion. Nermin Altintas, the Turkish-Dutch director of the Yasmin foundation in The Hague, says: "Men and women are increasingly left to their own devices to find potential partners.

This can be really difficult when you are not in the habit of going to discos and bars. It is increasingly rare for parents to find you a husband. One of the few possibilities of meeting men is at weddings." [RNW] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

US Sues School for Denying Teacher Leave for Muslim Pilgrimage

The U.S. government is suing a suburban Chicago school district for refusing to grant a Muslim teacher unpaid leave to go on a Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Attending the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca once in a lifetime is one of the five central tenets of the Islamic faith. Safoorah Khan, a middle school teacher in the Berkeley school district, about 15 miles west of Chicago, applied for an unpaid leave of absence in 2008 to go on the Hajj, but her request was denied. [AOL News] Read more

Woman arrested for wearing hijab sues Georgia city

A Muslim woman who was arrested after she refused to remove her headscarf in a west Georgia courthouse filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Douglasville and the officers who arrested her, contending they violated her constitutional rights.

Lisa Valentine said authorities trampled on her First Amendment rights in December 2008 when she was ordered to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court after she refused to remove her hijab at a courtroom. She was released in less than a day, but her arrest infuriated Muslim rights activists and prompted changes in Georgia's courtroom policy.

[COMMENT] She is not above our law here in the United States. If we are required to turn off cell phones. No shorts. No hats. No flip flops. No gum and NO children are allowed inside the court room. This is the judges house and what he says goes and if he orders her to remove her scarf over her head then she needs to remove the scarf on her head. [Associated Press] Read more

Doctor arrested for blasphemy over discarded business card

A doctor has been arrested on suspicion of violating Pakistan's contentious blasphemy law by discarding a business card of a man who shared the name of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, police say.

Naushad Valiyani, a Muslim doctor in the southern city of Hyderabad, was arrested on Friday after a complaint was lodged with police alleging his actions had insulted the Prophet Muhammad, said the regional police chief, Mushtaq Shah.

The case began when Muhammad Faizan, a pharmaceutical company representative, visited Dr Valiyani's clinic and handed out his business card. He said when the doctor threw the card away, he went to police and filed a complaint that noted his name was the same as the prophet's. Mr Shah said police were investigating whether the doctor should be charged with blasphemy. [Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Baluchistan: Islamists slaughtering teachers

Islamic extremists are systematically targeting teachers in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Their crime is to teach children of both sexes in violation of Sharia.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch (MRW) on the issue, at least 22 teachers were killed in the province between January 2008 and October 2010.

Despite its vast mineral resources, Baluchistan remains Pakistan's most impoverished province. It is also the stage of an insurgency by local nationalists seeking independence as well as the home of religious extremists. Both groups are involved in the attacks on teachers, Human Rights Watch said. [AsiaNews] Read more

13 December 2010

French court rules against hijab wearer

A French court has ruled against a woman who sued a private child-care centre that fired her for wearing an Islamic headscarf and cloak to work.

The case has become a symbol of the debate over religious freedom in France.

The Babyloup nursery, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is located in a poor housing project in the town of Chanteloup-les-Vignes, northwest of Paris.

.... "Our statutes require us to observe religious neutrality," said Baleato. "People who work with children here all wear a uniform, a smock. Her clothing made it impossible for her to wear the uniform." [Associated Press] Read more

We're all one family

As new research suggests that Muslims find it easier to integrate in Scotland than south of the Border, Martyn McLaughlin visits Glasgow's multi-racial Pollokshields area to see what the two communities think of each other

.... "I came to Scotland as a young boy, and folk here are great," he says in a strong Glaswegian accent. "In the past, I think a lot of the older Asian generation came and set up businesses but didn't integrate into the community. The younger folk now, they're Scottish, Asian, Muslim, whatever.

"That's the attitude we should all have, right? I don't care if you're Hindu, Christian, or Jew, it doesn't matter. We're all one family." [The Scotsman] Read more

Balancing freedom of speech with the need to prevent incitement of hatred

He has promised not to break English law, although I don't know if he's aware how different it is to American law, particularly with regard to inciting religious hatred. If he said the things he has said in the United States then he would fall foul of English law and the fact he has been invited to speak by the English Defence League doesn't inspire much confidence," he says.

"British people can't say the things he has, so why should someone from outside the country be allowed to come here and say such things? No-one has the right to come to this country outside the EU. It is a privilege, not a right." And he believes the Government would have a strong case for refusing to allow him in.

"It is important that we have vigorous criticism of established religions and hold up their doctrines to scrutiny and under the law there are ways of doing this. But a speech designed to stir up hatred is where the line is drawn and that seems reasonable to me." [Yorkshire Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

12 December 2010

"Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire"

In the world today many Muslims, especially those residing in Western countries are exposed to the evil celebration, Christmas.

Many take part in the festive celebrations by exchanging cards, gifts, decorating homes, having Christmas turkey dinners & congratulating one another for the coming of season etc. For many the practice is viewed as harmless amusement & pleasure for young & old. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Eye for an eye: Iranian man sentenced to have drops of acid poured onto his face for blinding his lover's husband

An Iranian man who blinded his lover's husband is to suffer a similar fate in a tit-for-tat sentencing - by having acid poured into his eye.

Iran’s Islamic code allows for ‘an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth’ retribution - known as 'qisas' - in cases of violent crime.

The convict, named only as Mojtaba, threw acid in the face of his rival Alireza, a taxi driver, after an illicit affair with the victim’s wife, Mojdeh. [MailOnline] Read more

Theresa May pressed to halt visit by anti-Muslim US preacher

Home secretary Theresa May is under intense pressure to ban controversial anti-Muslim preacher Terry Jones from Britain after far-right activists said he had agreed to address them at a demonstration about "the evils of Islam".

The English Defence League (EDL) said it was "proud to announce" that the US pastor, who caused outrage with plans to burn the Qur'an on this year's anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be attending the event in Luton in early February. Jones confirmed that he would be arriving in the UK.

The pastor's website said he intended to visit the EDL's "biggest demonstration to date" in February. The website stated: "During the protest, Dr Terry Jones will speak against the evils and destructiveness of Islam in support of the continued fight against the Islamification of England and Europe." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

'HOPE not hate' - the campaign to prevent Pastor Terry Jones from entering the UK His Grace has been asked to lend his support to the 'HOPE not hate' campaign to prevent Pastor Terry Jones - the US 'Preacher of Hate' who was intent on burning the Qur'an - from entering the UK next year.

His Grace is delighted to say that he will do no such thing.

And, yes, he is fully aware that this would-be quranic incendiarist is some sort of 'swivel-eyed fundamentalist' who is almost certainly not going to be bringing us a message of peace and goodwill to all mankind.

And His Grace also knows that Pastor Jones has been invited to address a meeting of the English Defence League (a sort of devolved branch of the BNP) in a Muslim area of Luton. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Pastor Jones should not be banned. But I expect he probably will be Today we learned two things: that the would-be Koran-burning Florida pastor has been invited to Britain by the anti-Islam English Defence League; and that the Home Secretary is being urged to ban him. So far, so predictable.

My strong suspicion is that he will indeed be banned. The change of government has not fundamentally altered the UK establishment's suspicion of free speech. Or, to be more accurate, its conviction that when freedom of speech threatens to conflict with administrative, political or police convenience, free speech must give way.

There's no First Amendment in Britain (the ECHR equivalent, Article 8, is hamstrung by caveats). And there is now a well-established procedure for banning people from these shores whose views are deemed undesirable. [Heresy Corner] Read more

11 December 2010

Man sentenced to be blinded with acid by Iranian court

IRAN'S supreme court has upheld a sentence of blinding with acid for a man who blinded his lover's husband, under the Islamic "eye-for-an-eye" justice code, a government daily said.

The convict, named only as Mojtaba, 25, threw acid in the face of Alireza, 25, a taxi driver in Iran's clerical hub city of Qom, after an "illicit affair" with the victim's wife, Mojdeh, also 25, said the newspaper Iran.

The supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling that Mojtaba be blinded with drops of acid, in line with Islamic justice, which allows for "qisas," or eye-for-an-eye retribution, in cases of violent crime, it said. Qom prosecutor Mostafa Barzegar Ganji said the victim had used his right to qisas.

"We have asked for forensic specialists to oversee the blinding of the convict," he said, quoted in Iran. [The Herald and Weekly Times] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Le Pen daughter compares public Muslim prayers to German occupation

The daughter of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who hopes to succeed her father as head of his Front National party, on Friday compared Muslims praying in the street to the German occupation during World War II.

Claiming that Islamic prayers are held in the streets in 10-15 locations in France, Marine Le Pen told a meeting of about 300 party faithful in Lyon that “… neighbourhoods where religious law applies, that’s an occupation”. [RFI English] Read more

The search for Muslim identity

Many British Muslims, like my patient, fervently erase their ethnicity with ritualistic religiosity, choosing distinction from their parents in a desperate search of politicised Muslim identity, with little understanding of Islam or politics.

[COMMENT] Moslems first have to decide whether they belong to a religion or a doctrine. The notion that Islamic laws prevail above all else makes it virtually impossible for many Moslems to live in a western society and abide by the laws of the State.

Regardless of religion there has to be an overriding principal that those who choose to live in a country or society with a different way of life have to integrate fully into that society and abide by its rules customs and laws. [Guardian Cif] Read more

More states enter debate on sharia law

.... At issue is an amendment to Oklahoma's constitution passed overwhelmingly on Election Day that bars judges from considering Islamic or international law in Oklahoma state courts. Awad sued, and last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while she determines whether it violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits establishment of a state religion.

Although Oklahoma's law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances. [USA TODAY] Read more [via National Secular Society]

10 December 2010

75% of Czechs oppose building mosques

75.2% of the Czechs side with President Vaclav Klaus and oppose building mosques in the Czech Republic, according to a poll by research agency SANEP. The survey shows this is mostly due to concerns about rising crime and terrorism.

Czechs are the most atheistic in Europe, but 76.2% believe their country should be based on Christian values and culture. [Islam in Europe] Read more

'Integration a fiasco': Gothenburg official

.... He sent the embassy a series of articles from newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP) published in 2007 about the integration challenges in and isolation experienced by the city's Somali community. He wrote in a memo that the situation in Gothenburg reminded him of the phrase, "Houston, we have a problem."

.... "The discontent immigrant community leaders expressed at the discrimination faced by Muslim job seekers was matched by the frustration of city officials who, in the words of one official, feel that 30 years of programmes aimed at integrating Muslim immigrants 'have not worked,'" the leaked cable stated. [The Local] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

"Halal food movement can lead Muslims to rule world economy"

Halal food movement has the strength to lead Muslims to rule the global economy as the food is the basic need of every human being, said Dr. Mustufa Ceric Grand Mufti Bosnia and Herzegovina while addressing the delegates of global Halal Congress at Islamic Chambers of Commerce and Industry here today.

Global Halal Congress scheduled on December 4 in Karachi which is being attended by delegates from 17 countries can be a break through for Pakistani exporters as the congress has the agenda of institutionalize the Halal certification and standardization of Halal products in Pakistan. [Pakistan Observer] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

A decade on from Taleban, horrific abuse of Afghan women continues

Hundreds of Afghan women have suffered horrific mutilations at the hands of their own families while half of all Afghan girls get married aged 15 or younger, the United Nations and human rights activists have said.

At the launch of a shocking report on women's rights the UN said at least half of the female prison population had been jailed for so-called moral crimes, such as running away from abusive husbands, despite there being no basis in Afghan law for their imprisonment. [Scotsman] Read more [via National Secular Society]

EU quietly scraps plans for compulsory labelling of meat slaughtered without stunning

Today’s press release from the European Council looks bland and uncontroversial: “Council agrees on new labelling rules for food”. It doesn’t contain any startling news; it’s what’s absent that’s so disappointing.

Back in June, the European Parliament voted on new food labelling rules, including new country of origin labelling and a requirement to label meat from animals slaughtered without stunning (according to certain religious traditions).

In a spirit of religious tolerance, it was agreed not to insist on an outright ban of no-stun slaughter, despite the fact that it contravenes standards of animal welfare that are aspired to in European slaughter houses. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

09 December 2010

Efforts To Ban Sharia Law in Courts Spreading

.... Supporters of sharia bans, including Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, say Islamic law is creeping into U.S. courts.

He worries about jihadists trying to establish sharia courts to weaken democracies around the world. “I think you’re seeing people coalesce around legislation of the kind that was passed in Oklahoma,” Gaffney says.

But Muneer Awad, the chair of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, says the Oklahoma law, if upheld, could have real-world effects on Islamic citizens.

It could prohibit a judge from probating his will, written in compliance with Islamic principles, or adjudicating other domestic matters, like divorces. [Wall Street Journal] Read more

Netherlands: 73% support a burqa ban

73% of the Dutch people support a general ban on burqas. This according to a Maurice de Hond poll for the KRO program 'De Wandeling'. Among Catholic and Protestants, support for a ban is 10 percentage points higher. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Spanish town becomes first to ban face-covering veils

A northern Spanish town brought into force Thursday a ban on Islamic face-covering veils in municipal buildings, the first such decree in the country.

The town of Lleida, population 120,000, approved in July a municipal ban on body-covering burqas or face-covering niqab garments at about 130 locations, ranging from civic centres to swimming pools.

The law, implemented Thursday, was the first of its kind in Spain, where face-covering Islamic garments are seldom seen despite a sharp rise in immigration from Muslim countries over the past decade. [Expatica] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Iraqi Kurdish cleric says female circumcision recommended by Islam

The Imam of Hajji Osman Alaf Mosque in Iraqi Kurdistan’s second largest city, Sulaimaniyah, has told his followers that anyone who believes female circumcision is not a recommendation from the prophet Mohammed is “ignorant.”

During his Friday sermon on December 3rd, Imam Mala Yassin Hakim Piskandi said female circumcision was a “Sunnah," a term used to refer to the practices carried out or recommended by Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

He said, the Sunni Shafeyi, a school of jurisprudence which most Kurds follow, took a tougher stance regarding female circumcision, considering it an “obligation," but that the other three Sunni schools of jurisprudence regarded it merely as a Sunnah, meaning it was recommended, but not compulsory. [Kurd Net] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Underage marriages are allowed in Islam, says Nazri

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs has shot down calls to ban underage marriage, despite an uproar over the recent wedding of a 14-year-old Muslim school girl.

Siti Maryam Mahmod wed 23-year-old teacher Abdul Manan Othman last weekend in a mass wedding at a major mosque, after being given permission in an Islamic Sharia court. Malaysian Muslims below the age of 16 are allowed to marry as long as they obtain the permission of the religious courts.

Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in the multi-ethnic country. However, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the Government has no plan to review laws allowing for underage marriages because the practice is permitted under Islam. [Daily Express - Sabah Publishing House] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Religious lobby is running riot in Pakistan

.... The blasphemy laws – a set of provisions inserted into Pakistan's criminal laws under the Islamist dictator General Ziaul Haq – made it a crime punishable by death for anyone charged with defiling the Qur'an or defaming the prophet Muhammad.

The Lahore high court has taken the unprecedented step of barring the president of Pakistan from pardoning Bibi, a step decried as unconstitutional by legal experts. The blasphemy law "turns them [minorities] into second-class citizens, deprived of freedom of expression or belief," says Human Rights Watch's Ali Dayan Hasan. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Church cuts bishops where Muslims outnumber Christians by seven to one

In some parishes in the Diocese of Bradford, more than 70% of residents are Muslims, while just 10% are Anglicans.

A Church of England commission has now recommended that Bradford should be merged with the dioceses of Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield to form one larger organisation.

If approved by the General Synod of the Church of England, the “radical and realistic” move would ultimately save the church money in salaries by cutting back on the number of full diocesan bishops in the area. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

A Golden Age in Science, Full of Light and Shadow

.... Some assertions go well beyond the evidence. Hovering above the show is a glider grasped by a ninth-century inventor from Cordoba, Abbas ibn Firnas, “the first person to have actually tried” to fly.

But that notion is based on a source that relied on ibn Firnas’s mention in a ninth-century poem. It also ignores the historian Joseph Needham’s description of Chinese attempts as early as the first century. The model of the flying machine is pure speculation.

And some claims are simply incorrect: catgut was used in surgical sutures by Galen in the second century, long before al-Zahrawi (named here as its pioneer). [The New York Times] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

08 December 2010

Great news: Islamists lose their Parliamentary foothold

Two weeks ago I reported how Islamists had established a bridgehead in Parliament. A group called Engage (or iEngage) got itself appointed as the secretariat of a new all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is rapidly emerging as the Islamists’ favoured new front – they have taken to conflating themselves with the entire Muslim community and damning any attacks on their tiny minority reading of Islam as an “Islamophobic” assault on the whole faith. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Federal committee recommends burqa ban in schools, offices

A government-appointed committee has supported a partial ban on the traditional Islamic burqa and the niqab.

The Federal Commission on Women’s Issues calls for traditional full-face veils to be banned in government offices and in public schools. It is a move, the group says, to prevent gender discrimination. But the burqa is not alone in what the commission wants banned. [WRS] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

The 'Islamophobia' myth

When that provocative question appeared on the cover of Time in August, the accompanying story strained to suggest, on the basis of some anecdotal evidence, that the answer might be yes. The FBI's latest compendium of US hate-crimes data suggests far more plausibly that the answer is no.

"Where ordinary Americans meet Islam, there is evidence that suspicion and hostility are growing," Time told its readers last summer. "To be a Muslim in America now is to endure slings and arrows against your faith -- not just in the schoolyard and the office but also outside your place of worship and in the public square, where some of the country's most powerful mainstream religious and political leaders unthinkingly (or worse, deliberately) conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery." [The Boston Globe] Read more

WikiLeaks: Desperate Housewives stifles Islamic extremism

In a message sent back to Washington DC, officials at the US Embassy in Jeddah said the shows, starring Jennifer Aniston and Eva Longoria, were successfully undermining the spread of jihadist ideas among the country's youth.

Such programmes, broadcast with Arabic subtitles on several Saudi satellite channels, were part of a push by the kingdom to foster openness and counter extremists, according to the cable.

The officials said the policy was succeeding in a way that Al-Hurra, a television news station funded by the US, never could. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

07 December 2010

Muslim School Anger

TEACHERS have attacked plans to build five new state-funded Muslim schools, warning it will “segregate” Britain’s education system.

They say the move will take millions of pounds from other schools.

Three Islamic groups have applied to set up the academies in Blackburn, where a quarter of the town are Muslims. Two further bids are in the pipeline.

The free schools will cost taxpayers £4,000 per pupil per year but won’t have to follow the National Curriculum.

Simon Jones, of the National Union of Teachers, warned: “These schools, if given the go-ahead, could just segregate the education system.” [Daily Star] Read more [via ENGAGE]

Rabbi David Rosen Clarifies His Comments on “Islam and Europe”

.... The article that you reproduced from EUobserver.com grossly misrepresented me. The headline and the first paragraph are entirely the reporter’s tendentious fabrication.

The quotes are correct, but connecting mine with the others in the piece even distorts the quotes. I was addressing a group of journalists on the subject of Religion and Identity in the M.E. In question time they asked me about Europe and the prognosis of an eventual Muslim majority. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Malaysian sharia laws sees first women caned for sex outside of marriage

Malaysian religious authorities have confirmed the caning of three women convicted of having sex outside of marriage.

This marks the first time the Sharia Law sentence was meted out to women in Malaysia. The punishments were carried out earlier this year and each woman was caned six times.

The Sharia laws apply only to native Malays and not the Chinese and Indian minorities who live in the pacific nation. [Religious Watch] Read more

The Government must amend the Public Order Act in order to guarantee free speech in this country

Please don’t be insulted and distressed by the opinions expressed in this article, I don’t want to be arrested by the police. It’s no joke. There have been a number of troubling cases where police officers have unjustly arrested people for using “insulting” words likely to cause “distress” contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

.... In December last year, Christian couple Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang stood trial for “insulting” a Muslim lady during a discussion about religion. During the discussion the couple said Jesus is the Son of God not a prophet of Islam, and they expressed concern that Islamic dress code for women could be oppressive.

The comments are hardly extreme, but astonishingly the couple were arrested and charged with breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act. After a two-day trial at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court the criminal case against them was, quite rightly, dismissed by the judge who also criticised the way the case was handled. [ConservativeHome] Read more

06 December 2010

Majority of Muslims want Islam in politics, poll says

A majority of Muslims around the world welcome a significant role for Islam in their countries' political life, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, but have mixed feelings toward militant religious groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to the survey, majorities in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria would favor changing current laws to allow stoning as a punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft and death for those who convert from Islam to another religion. About 85% of Pakistani Muslims said they would support a law segregating men and women in the workplace. [Los Angeles Times] Read more

Pakistani court blocks government drive to relax blasphemy laws

A Pakistani court on Monday temporarily blocked government-proposed amendments to relax blasphemy laws, amid renewed protests from rights activists and religious minorities.

Islamabad has been trying pass a bill to ease the country's controversial, but seldom fully enforced, blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty for derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed or Koran. [Monsters and Critics.com] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Muslims perceive lack of respect

About half of Muslims surveyed worldwide believe the West does not respect them, according to a new Gallup report, and many say that refraining from desecrating the Quran and portraying more "accurate" Muslim movie characters could improve a strained relationship.

The findings are part of a report on "Measuring the State of Muslim-West Relations," released last week at Gallup's Washington headquarters.

"We also found that this concept of respect … now includes perceptions of fairness in policies, not just culturally sensitive language," said Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.

Fifty-four percent of Muslims said being treated fairly in policies that directly affect them would be a very meaningful demonstration of respect.

Mogahed said the "policies" were not defined in the new report, but past Gallup studies have found that respondents were particularly concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [www.STLtoday.com] Read more

Gallup Poll: Respect Key to Better Relations with Muslim World About half of Muslims surveyed worldwide believe the West does not respect them, according to a new Gallup report, and many say not desecrating the Quran and portraying more “accurate” Muslim movie characters could improve a strained relationship.

The findings are part of a report on “Measuring the State of Muslim-West Relations,” released Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, at Gallup’s Washington headquarters.

“We also found that this concept of respect … now includes perceptions of fairness in policies, not just culturally sensitive language,” said Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. [loonwatch.com] Read more

BBC still fails on East London Mosque: lets it claim hosting a terrorist preacher was 'administrative oversight'

As I’ve noted, the BBC has this year broadcast a couple of programmes that were essentially propaganda for the hardline East London Mosque.

The programmes faithfully followed the mosque’s PR script that it is a beacon of liberalism and tolerance; only mosque officials and supporters were interviewed.

The substantial evidence of the East London Mosque’s links with extremist and hate preachers was entirely ignored, and the mosque’s many critics, Muslim and non-Muslim, were nowhere to be heard. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Website Operator Sentenced to Death in Iran Over Porn Site

Iranian officials have sentenced a man to death for allegedly running a porn site in Canada. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Saeed Malekpour was sentenced Saturday after being convicted as “corrupt on Earth” and a “warrior against God.”

Malekpour is an Iranian-born Canadian resident and returned to Iran to visit his sick father in October of 2008, that’s when he was put in Tehran’s Evin Prison and where he was given the news of the verdict. [XBIZ] Read more [via Religious Watch]

05 December 2010

Sex abuse in Muslim families goes unreported

Four Dutch-Moroccan women, Rabea, Zohra, Ibtisam and Saïda, were all sexually abused by members of their families: their fathers, uncles, brothers or cousins.

After years of silence, they have decided to speak out because they know that many other Muslim women suffer the same fate. A care worker: “Taboos, secrecy, silence, shame and a closed community are almost a recipe for sexual abuse.”

The idea of ‘family honour’ meant that Rabea, Zohra, Ibtisam and Saïda kept their mouths shut. Now they are telling their stories to try and break the taboo surrounding sexual abuse in Muslim families. They no longer see themselves as victims. Their mission is to help other women who are in trouble now. [RNW] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Germany's angst about Islamists goes mainstream

The 200 robed and bearded men gathered at dusk on the market square, rolled out their prayer rugs and intoned Allah's praises as dismayed townspeople looked on.

It was Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and the group that calls itself "Invitation to Paradise" was mounting a defiant response to weeks of public protests against construction of a religious school to teach its austere, militant interpretation of Islam.

In Germany, where the racial crimes of the Nazis have bred extreme sensitivity toward the rights of minorities, such confrontations would until recently have been limited to the far-right margins. The weekly rallies in this city of 250,000 near the Dutch border these days look decidedly mainstream.

It's part of a trend seen across Europe: Spooked by what many see as a terrorism threat, ordinary people are becoming increasingly vocal in opposing radical Muslims. They are ditching traditions of tolerance and saying no to cultures that do not share their democratic values. Some lament the decline of multiculturalism — "Utterly failed," in the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — while others say Europe is defending its way of life against those who would destroy it [Associated Press] Read more [via The Freethinker]

04 December 2010

Teenagers arrested after Stoke mosque set on fire

Four teenagers were arrested yesterday after an arson attack on a Staffordshire mosque – described by police as a racially-motivated crime. The fire began at a newly-built mosque in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, at 6.30am.

Police detained three men and a woman in their late teens. Firefighters were called after smoke was seen coming from the mosque. Police said they were investigating a link between the attack and damage to a nearby gas main.

The mosque was not seriously damaged. Chief inspector Wayne Jones said: "We are treating this as a racist attack on a religious building."

He added: "I am sure the community are as appalled as we are at this behaviour. I would appeal for anyone with information to come forward. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

ENGAGE – the deluded, disingenuous and paranoid Muslim group advising Parliament on 'Islamophobia'

ENGAGE, a Muslim group that says it is dedicated to promoting the involvement of British Muslims in politics and the media, has been appointed as the secretariat of the recently formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia.

The chance of them bringing objectivity to this important task is zero and it undermines any hope of the APPG producing a useful result.

.... Why do I say this about ENGAGE? Well, I am a regular reader of their website and from time-to-time add my thoughts to the comments section. Despite what they say about their objectives, the site seems dedicated to slagging off the British Media (and promoting certain political views). [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

03 December 2010

Islamist hate books inquiry call

.... thinktanks call for inquiry into public library stocks after a Channel 4 News investigation finds hundreds of books written by radical Islamist preachers .... Among the authors was the first person to be banned from entering the country by the Coalition Government earlier this year.

Works by Zakir Naik as well as other banned Islamist leaders, such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Abdullah Al-Faisal and Bilal Philips, are available to borrow across London’s libraries.

Indian televangelist Naik was barred from entering the country in June, after Home Secretary Theresa May uncovered comments attributed to him, which she said represented "unacceptable behaviour". [Channel 4 News] Read more

The sight of women's breasts won't deter Islamists – they're obsessed with sex

Denmark’s government is being called upon to employ a lethal new weapon in the fight against Islamist extremism: bare breasts.

No, I’m not making this up – and also deny outrageous suggestions that I’m looking for an excuse to tear myself away from the world-changing Wikileaks exposé. Peter Skaarup, the foreign policy spokesman of the Danish People’s Party, wants footage of topless women at beaches to be included in a video shown to prospective immigrants, in order to deter religious fundamentalists.

“Topless bathing probably isn’t a common sight on Pakistani beaches, but in Denmark it is still considered quite normal. I honestly believe that by including a couple of bare breasts in the movie, extremists may have to think twice before deciding to come to Denmark,” he said. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Qatar's FIFA success proves we are winning the war on terror

... In the Middle East, on the other hand, soccer must compete with radical Islamism for the attentions of the young. Both have their pin-ups, their romantic warrior-heroes, their narrative of victimhood (the whole Israel-Palestine question boils down to little more than a prodigious case of "We woz robbed"), their irrational closed-minded team-loyalties, their hooliganism. Both are powerful vehicles for male bonding. The more football there is, the less terrorism there is likely to be.

The Qataris have done us all a huge favour. I suspect the principality's most famous resident, Ken Livingstone's old mate Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, won't like it one bit. [Heresy Corner] Read more

Sharia doesn't mean what Islamists claim it means

Martin Parsons published a three-part series ... this week about radicalisation towards extremism - and the ideology or theology that underpins violence. There was much in it that holds true. He's correct to argue that tackling violence without also tackling the ideas that create violent individuals and create a justification for violence missing the point.

He's also right to maintain that violence and ideology is partly a result of a very strident interpretation of the textual sources of Islam - the Quran and, for most orthodox Muslims, the Sunna (or Prophetic teachings and practice).

However, it's important to understand that the task of combating this ideology and violence requires a detailed understanding of the issues. For this reason, we'd like to raise a few clarifications. The distinctions we're about to make may seem unimportant or a nuance too far, but they're nevertheless essential to make if misunderstanding the problem is to be avoided. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Hardline Pakistan cleric offers reward to kill Christian woman

A hardline, pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam.

The sentence against Asia Bibi has renewed debate about Pakistan's blasphemy law which critics say is used to persecute religious minorities, fan religious extremism and settle personal scores. Non-Muslim minorities account roughly 4 percent of Pakistan's about 170 million population.

Maulana Yousef Qureshi, the imam of a major mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, offered a $5,800 (3,700 pounds) reward and warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law. [Reuters] Read more

02 December 2010

Iran authorities chop off man's hand

.... On 24 October, state radio reported that authorities amputated the hand of a 32-year-old man in front of other prisoners in the central city of Yazd.

On 16 October, the state-run Fars news agency reported that an Iranian court had condemned a 21-year-old man convicted of stealing chocolates and cocoa from a Tehran pastry shop to have a hand chopped off.

On 22 July, authorities amputated the hands of five men accused of stealing in the city of Hamedan, western Iran, the state-run news agency ILNA reported.

On 2 July, authorities amputated the hand of a man accused of stealing in the city of Malayer, western Iran, the semi-official daily Kayhan reported.

International human rights bodies have repeatedly called on the regime to halt inhumane and degrading punishments. [Iran Focus] Read more [via Religious Watch]