31 March 2011

Pulitzer Prize Winner Andrea Elliot Speaks on Rising anti-Muslim Sentiment

.... “Just last year we’ve seen the fight over the Islamic center near ground zero, the spread of grass-roots opposition to the use of Shariah [Islamic law] and the buildings of mosques elsewhere in the country and the recent congressional hearings focused on Muslims,” Elliott said.

The media has largely been blamed for this resurgence in negative sentiment, with critics asserting that too much of the media’s coverage has focused on terrorism, she said.

But people who solely blame the media are ignoring other factors at work such as “the tone set by the Bush administration” and the immediate reaction to the 9/11 attacks, which gave Americans a “frenzied crash course” on the religion, Elliot added. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Britons need to see themselves as a single nation, says Security Minister

The minister said there needed to be a new approach in which people did not simply “rub along together and as long as people obey the law that’s quite sufficient.”

“I think it’s a common experience now that we know less about each other than we used to and I think there’s a very strong feeling that we need to understand each other and we need to be working together as a nation,” Lady Neville-Jones added.

“[We are] trying to convince minorities in this country that they actually do have a long term future here and that it’s their country as much as anybody else’s,” she said in an interview.

It is also important to “convince the majority population we are a single nation,” she added. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

30 March 2011

Fresh attempt launched to introduce anti-burqa law in Belgium

A committee in Belgium's lower chamber of parliament approved Wednesday a law outlawing burqas and other kinds of Islamic face veils - relaunching efforts to introduce the ban nearly one year after they were thwarted by a government crisis.

The law seeks to punish anyone caught in public places with their face completely or partly covered - thus preventing their identification - with fines between 15 to 20 euros (21 to 35 dollars) and/or up to seven days' imprisonment.

The draft law still needs to be approved by the full Chamber of Deputies and by the Senate, Belgium's upper house. [The Earth Times] Read more

Al-Azhar scholar criticizes Saudi edict banning protests

Sheikh Gamal Qotb, former head of the Al-Azhar fatwa committee, said peaceful protests help promote virtue and prevent evil.

Al-Azhar is the highest religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world. Qotb's criticism of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars edict comes as the Saudi government seeks to keep protests at bay.

Qotb described the Saudi edict as a "big mistake," saying protesters warn officials of their mistakes before those mistakes grow larger. He said Muslim governments should allocate channels for citizens to express their opinions and give feedback to officials. A Saudi mufti on Tuesday permitted a number of public and private institutions to print more than 1.5 million copies of the edict. [Al-Masry Al-Youm] Read more

Liberal MP says debate being stifled over 'racism' fears

THE Liberal senator widely attacked for describing Islam as a totalitarian ideology has warned that Australians at odds with the "politically correct" orthodoxy are being forced to whisper their views for fear of being labelled racists.

South Australian senator Cory Bernardi has also demanded migrants observe Australian customs and core values, urging the nation to reject a path of "isolation and separatism" by tolerating breaches of the nation's "social covenant" by newcomers.

.... Last month Senator Bernardi said in a radio interview: "Islam itself is the problem, it's not Muslims. Muslims are individuals that practise their faith in their own way, but Islam is a totalitarian, political and religious ideology." [The Australian] Read more

Geert Wilders: Time to Unmask Muhammad

To know why Islam is a mortal danger one must not only consider the Koran but also the character of Muhammad, who conceived the Koran and the entirety of Islam.

The Koran is not just a book. Muslims believe that Allah himself wrote it and that it was dictated to Muhammad in the original version, the Umm al-Kitab, which is kept on a table in heaven. Consequently one cannot argue with the contents.

Who would dare to disagree with what Allah himself has written? This explains much of Muhammadan behaviour, from the violence of jihad to the hatred and persecution of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims and apostates. What we in the West regard as abnormal, is perfectly normal for Islam. [Jihad Watch] Read more

French religious leaders warn against divisive Islam debate

.... The planned debate at a Paris hotel next Tuesday is supposed to draw up a list of proposals that could be applied quickly to counter what the UMP sees as violations of the secular system.

.... A lay Muslim politician caused a stir this week by suggesting Muslims wear a five-pointed green star to protest against what he called persecution recalling that of wartime Jews forced by the Nazis to wear a yellow Star of David.

Abderrahmane Dahmane, who was fired as Sarkozy's advisor for diversity issues this month after criticising the UMP debate, also criticised Cope for suggesting Muslims should no longer pray in Arabic -- the language of the Koran -- in their mosques.

"This fascist climate evokes the sombre history of the Occupation in France, which sent thousands of Jews by train to the death camps," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Richard Prasquier, head of the Jewish umbrella group CRIF, called the green star idea "totally grotesque." [Reuters.com] Read more

Saudis print fatwa against protests

Saudi Arabia is printing 1.5 million copies of an edict by religious scholars outlawing protests as "un-Islamic".

Saudi managed to stifle an attempt to stage a mass protest on 11 March with a large security presence on the streets. The fatwa is to be printed at the request of the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh, who heads the clerics council. [Scotsman] Read more [via National Secular Society]

29 March 2011

Muslim model defends Miss Universe contest bid

.... If Shanna wins the UK final on 1 May, she'll be the first ever Muslim to represent Britain in the grand final in Brazil later this year.

"People are attacking me, using religion as a tool, but is it really religion? "Or are you really jealous of a girl coming forward and not allowing anyone to dictate to her? "There are people out there who want to control women," Shanna said.

Meanwhile, other young Muslims have told Newsbeat that being allowed to live a Western lifestyle in the UK is a big issue. Rayan Jawad, 27, said: "This is a discussion that goes on all the time. "She's doing pretty much what any girl would love to do who's been brought up here." Rumena Begum, 18 said: "It goes against our morals and our religion. [BBC] Read more

Muslims bitter at German government crackdown demand

Muslim leaders in Germany on Tuesday protested the new interior minister's demand that they should help root out extremists by coming forward with information shared in mosques.

The demand by Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich at the long- scheduled talks chilled five years of efforts to overcome suspicions between Berlin and the Islamic community, who make up 5 per cent of Germany's population. [Monsters and Critics.com] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Senate hearing focuses on U.S. Muslims' rights, not radical ties

.... But the most striking change was the second hearing's focus: Crimes committed against American Muslims, not by them.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he convened Tuesday's hearing because of rising Islamophobia, manifested by Quran burnings, hate speech and restrictions on mosque construction.

And though he did not mention him by name, Durbin twice criticized House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., who convened the earlier hearing on the "radicalization" of American Muslims.

The premise of King's hearing was that American Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement probes into violent members of their community. [USA TODAY] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

28 March 2011

Egyptian clerics protest at graft in Islamic religious bodies

Egyptian clerics and employees of state Islamic religious bodies are demanding an end to what they say is rampant corruption by senior officials who manage religious endowments. No official figures exist for the sums donated to Egypt’s top Islamic institutions to help manage and build mosques and pay imams, but independent estimates suggest they run to the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bodies have been under state control for more than three decades and their reputation among many Egyptians has declined as part of broader discontent at the failings of government. Last month’s popular revolt that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule was the cue for an anti-corruption drive targeting senior officials in the former regime. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

France: Green star to oppose Islam debate

Abderahmane Dahmane, Sarkozy's former diversity adviser, called on Muslims today to wear a green star (FR) to protest the debate on secularism proposed by the UMP.

A statement issued by Dahmane and Hassan Ben M'Barek, spokesperson for Banlieues Respect, which presents itself as a union of associations but who influence seems limited, said that the green star on their clothing will show that Muslims in France have decided to demand the cancellation of the debate on Islam and the end of UMP Islamophobia. [Islam in Europe] Read more

27 March 2011

Afghan women are still at risk

Sima is 15 but looks younger. I met her in Kabul, in the female juveniles section of the Badam Bagh prison. She talks very little, but her eyes are full of grief. A defence lawyer told me it was likely she had been raped.

What is Sima's crime? She is serving her sentence for running away from domestic violence. About half of all women in Afghan prisons are there for the same "crime". Some of them are in prison with their babies. The youngest ones are no older than 12. Having spent time in jail, they will rarely be accepted back by their families and communities. [Guardian Cif] Read more

26 March 2011

Sharia Law for Libya protest closes Oxford Street

.... There was a march yesterday, too. The cause was 'Sharia Law for Libya' (and everywhere else). Sure, there were not quite the 250,000 estimated at today's march, but this one still caused the closure of Oxford Street.

But, curiously, not a whisper from the BBC. And no mention by other sections of the MSM. In fact, one has to go to the Africa Press to find out that it took place at all. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

25 March 2011

The Failure of Multiculturalism and How to Turn the Tide

.... I am here today to talk about multiculturalism. This term has a number of different meanings. I use the term to refer to a specific political ideology. It advocates that all cultures are equal. If they are equal it follows that the state is not allowed to promote any specific cultural values as central and dominant. In other words: multiculturalism holds that the state should not promote a leitkultur, which immigrants have to accept if they want to live in our midst.

It is this ideology of cultural relativism which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to when she said that multiculturalism has proved “an absolute failure.”

My friends, I dare say that we have known this all along. Indeed, the premise of the multiculturalist ideology is wrong. Cultures are not equal. They are different, because their roots are different. That is why the multiculturalists try to destroy our roots. [Partij voor de Vrijheid] Read more

Defamation of Religion resolution finally dropped at the United Nations

.... A study conducted in 2009 showed that majorities in 13 of 20 nations polled around the world supported the right to criticise a religion.

Support for the right to criticise religion was strongest in the United States, at 89 percent. Chile was next with 82 percent support, followed by Mexico (81 percent), Britain (81 percent), Germany (76 percent), Poland (68 percent), Azerbaijan (67 percent), France (66 percent), Russia (61 percent), South Korea (59 percent), Turkey (54 percent), Kenya (54 percent), and Ukraine (53 percent).

In addition, 68 percent of Taiwanese and 81 percent in Hong Kong believed that criticism of religion should be a right. [The Freethinker] Read more

Muslim violence a fact, not prejudice

.... Even in Australia, many ethnic and religious groups have been subjected to disadvantage and exclusion, but none have produced the level of terrorist convictions of our own home-grown Islamic radicals.

It is a bitter pill for the vast majority of Australian Muslims to swallow that their faith has been linked, globally and locally, to religious violence.

Unfortunately, this link cannot be dismissed as the product of media prejudice or ''Islamophobic'' propaganda. It is in part an issue of some Muslims behaving very badly, and their often strident claim is that they do this in the name of religion.

Taking such claims seriously and debating them publicly must not be equated with stigmatising law-abiding and peaceable Australian Muslims. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

Islam emerges as campaign issue in French local polls

.... "Everybody is obsessed with the National Front's rise and thinks they can win some extremist voters by using its issues," he said. "But the opposite will happen if they continue this."

The debate has alienated many Muslims, even such moderate figures as Grand Mosque of Paris Rector Dalil Boubakeur, who announced Wednesday he would not take part in a public debate on secularism that the UMP plans to hold on April 5.

He said the debate about Islam "has greatly upset and worried Muslims who feel stigmatised because of their faith." [Reuters] Read more

Intolerance in Muslim societies is rising

.... Sadly, progressive Muslim scholars have not been able to match the flurry of misinformation on Islam that is being unleashed through some private television channels. One reason for this could be the paucity of funds as the progressives do not have the benefit of petro-dollars.But the real fear perhaps is that of being ostracised from society, and in the worst case, killed.

Therefore, the only way to remedy this situation is for the moderate majority of the Muslims to support progressive reformers and help them intellectually counter religious chauvinism through the rational teachings of the Koran as done by the Prophet himself. [Daily News & Analysis] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Islamic countries set aside their 12-year campaign to have religions protected from "defamation"

Western countries and their Latin American allies, strong opponents of the defamation concept, joined Muslim and African states in backing without vote the new approach that switches focus from protecting beliefs to protecting believers.

Since 1998, the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had won majority approval in the council and at the United Nations General Assembly for a series of resolutions on "combating defamation of religion".

Critics said the concept ran against international law and free speech, and left the way open for tough "blasphemy" laws like those in Pakistan which have been invoked this year by the killers of two moderate politicians in Pakistan. [Reuters] Read more

Is religious law dangerous? Consider Jewish law

.... Such is also the case, I would argue, with Sharia. A Conservative Jew is not anti-democratic for keeping kosher, just as a Muslim may follow halal dietary laws without threatening the republic.

The key question is NOT do they follow their religious law; it’s WHAT INTERPRETATION of religious law do they follow, and what is its relationship to secular law? The more their vision accepts a democratic, pluralistic society, the better.

If these proposed laws acted equally to restrict the influence of all religious law on government, I might agree – then I wouldn’t have to grapple with a government-promoted National Day of Prayer every May. But I suspect that most Sharia ban proponents would not accept that friendly amendment.

[COMMENT] .... Back in 2004, Muslims in the province of Ontario also used the existence of long-standing provincial Catholic and Jewish arbitration tribunals to campaign for the establishment of Sharia courts.

When some expressed concern, Sharia supporters accused their critics of “Islamophobia” and paranoia. Undaunted, one intrepid reporter took the time to visit the website of the pro-Sharia Canadian Society of Muslims. What he found there was chilling. [Chicago Tribune] Read more [via National Secular Society]

24 March 2011

Thank Allah for Veena Malik

It's quite easy to suffix this with 'As the actress said to the bishop...', but that would be to trivialise one of the most formidable clashes of the Islam of love with what Jesus might have termed the Islam of 'whited sepulchres', except this mullah isn't even beautiful on the outside. Plea to the BBC: put her on Question Time. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Dozy bint Rachel Woodlock, Aussie convert to Islam, attempts a hatchet job on apostate Patrick Sookhdeo

.... she's taking up the hatchet against all those evil, money-grubbing 'far-right' Islamophobes who supposedly cause Jihad by being mean and nasty to the poor little Muslims - and her primary target is prominent apostate from Islam, now Christian, UK Anglican Canon Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, who will be visiting Australia in early April to continue instructing and warning interested Aussies on the dangers of Islam and Islamisation. [The Iconoclast] Read more

The Most Islamic Community in Europe

Leicester, an industrial city in central England, is home to the most conservative Islamic population anywhere in Europe, according to American diplomatic cables that were obtained and recently released by the website, Wikileaks. Leicester is also on track to become the first majority non-white city in British history.

The politically incorrect observation was made by a senior US State Department official who visited the city as part of an effort to engage Muslim communities in Europe. It reflects how Leicester's long-ballyhooed experiment with multiculturalism is being challenged by Muslim separatism and assertiveness. [Hudson New York] Read more

23 March 2011

'Islam is part of Germany', sort of

Supposedly this quote makes Schäuble the official spokesperson for multiculturalism. But Schäuble didn't actually say Islam is part of Germany.

He said Germany has an interest in saying so. In a recent interview he said it was a mistake for Germany to bring in so many Turkish workers since they did not integrate as expected, and the problems have increased with the third generation. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Five Christians to face trial for blasphemy in Iran

.... Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, members of the Church of Iran denomination, were arrested in June 2010 on charges of apostasy, political meetings, blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order. They spent eight months in jail before being released on bail in February. Their lawyer has appealed the one-year prison sentence for crimes against the Islamic Order and a decision is pending.

It was initially assumed that the other charges against the five men had been dropped. However, a source close to the detainees has revealed that they will now face charges of blasphemy in a lower court, possibly due to the fact that lower courts are generally more disposed to hand down guilty verdicts. [Christian Solidarity Worldwide] Read more [via National Secular Society]

22 March 2011

Senate to hold hearings on Muslims' rights

Just weeks after House Republicans held a hearing looking at the dangers of radical Muslims in the U.S., Senate Democrats are countering with a hearing of their own, scheduled for after Congress returns from a 10-day vacation, to examine Muslims' civil rights.

.... In 2009, the latest FBi statistics available, anti-Islamic hate crimes accounted for 9.3 percent of the 1,376 religiously motivated hate crimes recorded. That's far less than the 70.1 percent that were anti-Jewish. [Washington Times] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Extremists target second memorial

CHURCH and community leaders have issued a plea for calm after a village war memorial was defaced with Islamist extremist graffiti.

Stretton ward councillor Frank Bather at the vandalised war memorialResidents in Stretton woke up yesterday to discover the memorial, in Church Road, had been spray-painted with the slogan ‘Support Taliban’. It is the second such incident to happen in the Burton area in little more than a year.

Meanwhile, a bus shelter in nearby Britannia Drive was emblazoned with the words ‘Jihad 4 Iraq’ while a building in Casey Lane, Shobnall, was targeted with a similar slogan. [Burton Mail] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Justice Department sues on behalf of Muslim teacher, triggering debate

Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the critical end-of-semester marking period, said no. Khan, a devout Muslim, resigned and made the trip anyway.

Justice Department lawyers examined the same set of facts and reached a different conclusion: that the school district’s decision amounted to outright discrimination against Khan. They filed an unusual lawsuit, accusing the district of violating her civil rights by forcing her to choose between her job and her faith. [The Washington Post] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Fears raised over controversial speakers at Muslim Centre

.... Saudi cleric Shaykh Al Barrak, who has a reputation for issuing hardline fatwas including ones on strict gender segregation, was one figure who raised concern.

He was one of the clerics who ruled against praying behind Dr Usama Hasan, vice-chairman at Leyton mosque, after he discussed his views on evolution and women’s right to refuse to wear the veil. The Tayyibun Institute said Al Barrak did not speak – not because he was banned from doing so but because there was not enough time. [East London Advertiser] Read more

Why Multiculture Will Always Fail

.... Muslim culture and religion have demonstrated some inherent self-protective mechanisms which makes Muslim immigrants resistant to external influences from the host culture.

What we are dealing with here is a culture that in the most important areas — including true democracy, free speech, equality of women, and tolerance towards other faiths — has changed very little or not at all since it first appeared in a medieval clan society 1,400 years ago.

It is almost unbelievable, given how much the rest of the world has changed during that time. The unfortunate combination of excessive Western tolerance and a lack of flexibility from the Muslim culture’s side has resulted in a kind of cultural osmosis, where Western values have not yet been able to penetrate the Islamic world while Islamization diffuses from the Muslim community into non-Muslim societies. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

21 March 2011

Shirin Ebadi: who defines Islam?

Shirin Ebadi: Yes, certainly in Iran. I had some male clients who came to women’s demonstrations, got arrested and went to prison. The fight for women’s rights and democracy are parallel. They are two sides of the same coin. And women who fight for equal rights are part of the fabric of democracy. Iranian men have understood that. They know that the victory of women’s rights is the beginning of democracy.

Deniz Kandiyoti: Women were mobilized during the protests in the Arab streets. They were out there in Bourgiba Avenue in Tunis and Tahrir Square in Cairo. But this has happened before. What guarantee is there that they will not be invited back into their homes after regime change?

Shirin Ebadi: There is no guarantee. This has been the experience of Iranian women who have been fighting for their rights for a century now. The only guarantee is the will of the people in their search for freedom. [openDemocracy.net] Read more [via The Samosa]

British Universities funded by Islamic sources

Between 1995 and 2008, Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College of London, Exeter, Dundee the London School of Economics (LSE) and City accepted more than £233.5 million from Muslim rulers and those closely connected to them. Islamic donations are now the largest source of external funding for universities in the UK.

The report comes after Sir Howard Davies, director of the LSE resigned from the university’s governing council after it received £300,000 of the £1.5m it was due from Gaddafi’s Libya. [Barnabas Fund] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Indonesia no longer secular

Indonesia is the largest Muslim county in the world and until very recently it projected the image of a moderate Islamic country, wedded to secular ideals. When Indonesia proclaimed its independence in August 1945 and debated the nature of the state in the constituent assembly, the Indonesian nationalist triumvirate — Sukarno, Hatta and Sjahrir — rejected the demand that Islam should be the basis of the new nation.

Like the Indian nationalist leaders, they opted to make Indonesia a secular state. What is more, when the Muslim fanatics under Darul Islam unleashed a violent revolt soon after independence it was put down with a heavy hand.

Unfortunately the secular image of Indonesia as a tolerant country, wedded to religious pluralism, has suffered serious damage due to violent attacks on minority religious groups. In early February this year, there were attacks on Christian churches. It was followed by attacks on followers of Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect, perceived by sections of majority Sunni population to be a heretical sect. [Expressbuzz] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Anti-Muslim current in Australia: study

A year-long study of religious freedom in Australia has revealed widespread distrust of Muslims and discrimination against pagans and homosexuals.

The report released Monday by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that acceptance of religious difference had not become easier as the population became more diverse.

After taking more than 2,000 public submissions and consulting with more than 200 religious, secular and community groups, the report found there was a "pressing need" for education about religions to reduce ignorance and fear.

"There is a current of anti-Muslim discourse that suggests an entrenched hostility often related to overseas events," the report said in its conclusion. "Significant distrust of Muslims and Islam was expressed by some," it added, saying there were reports of discrimination against Muslims and other religious minorities. [AFP] Read more

Call to reduce fear of religions THERE'S a pressing need to use education to reduce ignorance and fear about religions in Australia, a new report says. It said there is a current anti-Muslim discourse that suggests entrenched hostility which is often related to overseas events.

The report, entitled Freedom of Religion in the 21st Century, was prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The researchers said some Christians fear the introduction of sharia law in Australia and believe that governments appease Muslim communities by giving Islam preferential treatment. [News.com.au] Read more [via National Secular Society]

20 March 2011

Ethiopian Christians flee after church burnings

Evangelical churches and homes have been burnt down by mobs of Muslims in the southwestern Jimma region of Ethiopia. The attacks have left at least one person dead and 7,000 displaced. “This is a strategically planned attack by an extremist Islamic group.”

“It is a miracle that we are standing here talking,” says Wolde Giorgis, a primary school teacher and devout Christian, standing in front of the burnt remainders of what used to be the largest Pentecostal church of Asendabo, a town in the southwest of Ethiopia that is predominantly Muslim. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

Blasphemy suspect’s trial to start on 29th

A judicial magistrate on Saturday treated an interim charge-sheet filed against a teenage blasphemy suspect as the final one and sent it to the district and sessions court (east) for trial, which will commence on March 29.

.... The suspect, Syed Samiullah, has been booked in a case pertaining to allegedly making some blasphemous remarks in answer sheets of his intermediate examination in April last year. [DAWN.COM] Read more [via National Secular Society]

British Muslim who entered Miss Universe contest receives death threat

When Shanna Bukhari decided she wanted to be the first Muslim to represent Britain in a global beauty pageant, she suspected the road ahead might not be smooth, but nothing could have prepared her for the abuse she received.

"I have felt in fear for my life," said the 24-year-old Miss Universe contestant. The attacks escalated last week when Bukhari received her first death threat. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Honesty: The Muslim World’s Scarcest Resource?

In the aftermath of the House hearing on American Muslims, Representative Keith Ellison appeared on HBO’s Real Time to further testify to the benign nature of Islam. Attempting to bring some glint of reality to the conversation, Bill Maher posed the following question:

Have you read Sam Harris’s book, The End of Faith?… [Harris] says, “On almost every page, the Qur’an instructs observant Muslims to despise non-believers.”

The Congressmen rejected this description of the Qur’an as “absurd, ridiculous and untrue”—the result of taking certain passages “out of context.” When Maher asked how jihadists can justify their actions by reading these same passages in context, Ellison claimed that jihadists do nothing of the sort. Rather, they think in terms of “political grievances,” not religious doctrine, and those who oppose them have the true doctrine of Islam on their side.

It is not my purpose to defend the House hearing on American Muslims (which I did not get a chance to watch). But it is growing increasingly disconcerting to see moderate Muslims reflexively lie about the tenets of their faith. [Sam Harris] Read more [via The View from Number 80]

18 March 2011

Muslim mum convicted of assault loses appeal

A WOMAN convicted of assaulting young children has failed to persuade top judges her trial was unfair because too few Muslims were on the jury.

Ruba Talib, aged 42, of Briarwood, Runcorn, Cheshire, claimed it was wrong for her to go before a jury at Chester Crown Court as there were not enough Muslims in the area and on her panel.

The judge at Chester rejected her complaints, and Talib was convicted of four counts of common assault, one of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment, and one of criminal damage on January 28 this year. [Runcorn and Widnes World] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

The rise and fall of Muslim Dynasties

.... There is no evidence that the Saudi royal family will democratize to avoid this likely meltdown. As the late King Fahd once said, "A system based on elections is not within our Islamic creed." Ibn Khaldun could have predicted this more than six centuries ago. Corrupt Islamic regimes, he saw, did not bend. They broke.

The pampered and softened Saudi elites will be overwhelmed by new puritans who come from within or outside of their own borders. That day may be closer than we imagine. Perhaps Barack Obama should buy his own copy of Ibn Khaldun's works to understand what will come next. [National Post] Read more

The Sharia Catechism

I must admit that when I first began studying Islam and its political manifestations, I found myself puzzled and put off by the sheer foreignness and apparent complexity of the issues—in much the same way that patriotic Americans who supported the free market and a free society felt when confronted (during the 1930s) with the growth and influence of the global Communist movement.

Did one really need to learn German—and the science of economics—in order to read Karl Marx, then Russian to master the subtleties of Leninist and Trotskyite theory? [Jihad Watch]Read more

The ancient loathing between Sunnis and Shi'ites is threatening to tear apart the Muslim world

About 70 per cent of Bahrain is Shi'ite, though the Sunnis rule the nation

The bitter, bloody feud between the two branches of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, has gone on for centuries and now this vicious sectarian strife is exploding again in Bahrain, threatening to cause an even greater conflict in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The implications of the worsening hostility for the world are nightmarish, for the entire region could soon be gripped by turmoil, bloodshed and economic meltdown. What was naively seen a few weeks ago as a fight between freedom and autocracy could descend into an epic clash between two Muslim ideologies, the savagery made all the worse by their long history of enmity. [MailOnline] Read more

17 March 2011

No victory in bible release

Thousands of impounded Al-Kitab bibles may have been released in the Kuching port but the Kuching Ministers Fellowship is far from calling it a victory.

The release of the 30,000 Malay bibles has come with two attached conditions: that the books bear a stamp demarcating “For Christians Only” and marked with serial numbers.

The chairman of the fellowship, Daron Tan, has called these conditions “insensitive” and a “gross violation of the Christian’s holy book”. [Free Malaysia Today] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Malaysian Christian lawyer barred from Shariah courts

.... An increasing number of cases heard in the Islamic courts involve both Muslims and non-Muslims. Malaysia runs two parallel legal systems. The civil courts cater to its non-Muslim citizens while the Islamic system decides issues affecting the fate of the country's Muslim majority.

A judge in Kuala Lumpur dismissed her challenge to the decision of a religious council that all lawyers in Islamic courts must be Muslim. [BBC] Read more

Muslim removed from flight wants crew disciplined

Irum Abbasi, 31, told reporters at a news conference outside San Diego's airport that she was forced off a San Jose-bound flight in San Diego on Sunday because a flight attendant found her to be suspicious.

Abbasi said she was told that a flight attendant overheard her say on her cell phone words to the effect of: "It's a go."

The mother of three, who is originally from Pakistan, told reporters that she said, "I've got to go," before hanging up because the flight was about to depart. She believes the flight attendant made the assumption about her comment because she was wearing an Islamic head scarf. [Associated Press] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Former Muslims Excluded From King Hearings

.... At least one former Muslims should have been there to tell America of our plight. To tell them why we left Islam right here in America. How we had to choose between Islam and loving America.

How radicals and jihadists followed us right here after we immigrated to the US to try to force us back into the same old culture of jihad, hatred and anti-Semitism — that we had escaped from in the first place. How radicals who want to deny us our freedom of religion under the US constitution threaten our lives and civil rights daily. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Bahrain's uprising is about power not religion

.... To put the Bahraini demonstrations in Muslim terms is simply a diversion from the real problem, which is that a major part of the population has had it up to the neck with a corrupt and self-serving regime which has garnered the wealth of the island to a small group of royal rich and left the majority excluded.

As Ibrahim Shareef, leader of the largest non-religious party in the country, the opposition Waad, put it succinctly this week: "This is not about the Shia versus Sunni; it is about conserving the status quo."

It is the same as in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the difference being that Bahrain – or rather the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa, the King's uncle – is beholden to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has its own problems with minorities and has every fear of the same thing happening there. [independent.co.uk] Read more

We must not stand by as Muslim democrats battle the extremists

In the mid-Nineties, when I was recruited into the radical Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir, my recruiters urged me to look around. In the Balkans, they said, Muslims were being massacred while the West looked on.

In Iraq, millions of children were being starved to death by United Nations sanctions. From Morocco, the most westerly point of the “Muslim world”, to Indonesia, the most easterly, despots and tyrants backed by the West were keeping Muslims from fulfilling their full potential. Israel, they said, was massacring Palestinians with Western arms and political backing.

Such arguments convinced my 16-year-old self that the West was implacably opposed to Islam, that Muslims and non-Muslims would always be enemies and that the solution was jihad. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

The Lewisham Islamic Centre: Promoting Hatred

.... Is there an Islamic Centre anywhere in Britain that doesn’t spread hate from time-to-time?

The problem is that among observant and religious Muslims, most of the world’s most prominent and widely respected Islamic scholars have interpreted a rather hateful and intolerant version of Islam and this can be seen from their sermons and particularly their fatwas (religious edicts).

It may be that it’s unfair to generalise about Muslims when discussing extremism, although I regularly provide reputable evidence that suggests that a much higher proportion Muslims in Britain and throughout hold views that would be considered to be ‘extreme’ in Western cultures. [Harry’s Place] Read more

16 March 2011

Sharia threat bandwagon just keeps rolling on

.... A cottage industry of self-styled national security experts, pundits, ardent Christian Zionists, Republican operatives, thinktanks, and advocacy groups have spent years laying the groundwork for portraying American Muslims as part of worldwide plot to "Islamicise" America.

This cottage industry has fuelled rising anti-Muslim bigotry in the US, including growing efforts to thwart the building of mosques and community centres, an increasing number of states taking up bills that would ban sharia law, and now, King's highly publicised hearings. All of this is the result of a relentless campaign years in the making.

[COMMENT] Could that be because some muslims say that's what they want? Just a thought... [Guardian Cif] Read more

February was Hate Speech Month in Europe

.... since that time, a number of international agreements have called for a restriction in citizen speech rights to protect religious and ethnic minorities, prompting the nations' of Europe to implement speech (criminal) codes.

As Geert Wilders has written, because of these codes "in Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam's adherents." Let's remove these codes now, before "the lights really do go out across Europe." [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more

France: 2.1 million Muslims (aged 18-50)

There are 2.1 million 'declared Muslims' aged 18-50 in France, far less than certain estimates advanced in the public debate, according to a new study by the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).

The joint study on the diversity of populations in France, was published in October under the title "Trajectories and Origins". In France, a country which bans religious or ethnic statistics, it's usually estimated that there are 5-6 million Muslims. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Swedish court: naked Muhammad pics legal

Malmö district court has ruled that the poster does not fall foul of press freedom legislation and confirmed a not guilty ruling from March 3rd in favour of Carl P Herslow, leader of the Skåne Party (Skånepartiet) who faced charges of agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrupp).

The poster included the text: 'He is 53 and she is nine. Is this the kind of wedding we want to see in Skåne?'.

Herslow admitted producing the poster but contested the charges and argued to the court that the poster was intended to stimulate a debate about Islam, which he argued was incompatible with democracy and equality. [The Local] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Headscarf row re-surfaces - Hema employee refused contract for wearing hijab

.... When her contract reached its end and was not renewed, she was told there had been customer complaints about her headscarf. According to a spokesman for Randstad, wearing a headscarf was “not in conformity with Hema’s company dress code”. Her contract was not renewed, he said, because she had declined to comply.

At the beginning of her employment, Van op den Bosch had asked if wearing a headscarf was acceptable, and she was told it was. She was even provided with a Hema headscarf, as worn by staff in the Netherlands.

That went on for two months, then came “many negative reactions” from customers, according to Hema spokesperson Inge Van Baarsen. The company declined to say how many complaints were received. [Flanders Today] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

"School network may decide on headscarf ban"

Belgium's Constitutional Court has ruled that the official Flemish Community schools network has the right to decide for itself whether the Moslem headscarf or other religious symbols may be worn in their schools.

However, it is another body, the Council of State, which will have the final say. The matter came to a head after a school in Antwerp banned the wearing of the headscarf on its premises two years ago. [flandersnews.be] Read more

48-page fatwa against democracy - Muslims told to ignore calls for change because 'democracy goes against Islam'

.... "As long as the commander of the nation is a Muslim, you must obey and listen to him. Those who are against him are just seeking to replace him, and this is not licit," Ramdani wrote in the fatwa obtained by Reuters.

"During unrest, men and women are mixed, and this is illicit in our religion," said Ramdani, who claims several hundred thousand followers in Algiers. Algeria has been shaken since January by a wave of protest sparked by a spike in food prices. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim defendant can sue over hijab removal

.... When they went to court to ask for an extension of the community service deadline, a judge revoked their probation and put them in holding cells, where deputies ordered Khatib to remove her hijab.

She stayed in the cell most of the day, trying to cover her head with her vest. When she was brought into court, the judge extended the deadline and restored her probation.

Khatib says her religion forbids her to expose her head or neck to men outside her immediate family. She sued the county for damages. [San Francisco Chronicle] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Canada's Multicultural Trap: A Country Under Siege

.... The Multicultural Act, enshrined under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has empowered courts with sweeping interpretive powers at the highest levels of decision making.

The court's mandate becomes balancing individual rights with that of multicultural rights -- a task which has increasing lead to socio-political upheavals. For example, what constitutes hate speech and so-called propaganda is left to Judges to decide.

These Judges are heavily under the influence of political correctness to appease special interest groups that not only drive their own agendas, but which are often quick to levy accusations of racism and intolerance -- the curse words of this era.

The absolute right to free speech—a prized tenet of democracy—is in effect dissolved; this erosion bears direct significance in the face of growing Islamism. [Hudson New York] Read more

The King Hearings were Taboo-Busters

.... And here is a question that future hearings of the Homeland Security Committee should address: Why hasn't the Council on American Islamic relations been prosecuted for being tied to Hamas, for working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and specifically for fostering the efforts to bring shariah to America?

After all, shariah is a seditious ideology and totalitarian program explicitly designed to hollow out, and ultimately to destroy, representative government and the civil liberties that are enshrined in our Constitution. There is every reason for such a prosecution to go forward, and we need to know why has not it happened to date. [Townhall.com] Read more [via Political Correctness Watch]

MPs queue up to support Quilliam

.... Quilliam sources continue to insist that they've incurred the wrath of Charles Farr, the Director of Security and Counter-Terrorism. (Whatever the truth of this, they've certainly been subject to negative briefing from within government.)

The Home Office, meanwhile, sticks to its last by arguing that taxpayers shouldn't fund think-tanks. My view is simple. I agree with Maher that Quilliam should be weaned off the taxpayer. But there's an important difference between withdrawing funding and collapsing it.

Closing Quilliam, in effect, doesn't fit with the Prime Minister's Munich speech. Downing Street should be banging some heads together. [ConservativeHome] Read more

15 March 2011

Iran Christians Jailed, Bibles “Burned”

Five Iranian house church Christians were behind bars Wednesday, March 15, after being sentenced to one year imprisonment on charges of "crimes against the Islamic order" and there were reports that Iranian authorities have been burning Bibles.

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, who are members of the Church of Iran house church movement, were found guilty by the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, according to trial observers. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an advocacy group closely monitoring the case, said the have 20 days to appeal the sentence.

The five men were detained last June, but released in February after posting high bail payments. They had spent nearly eight months in prison in Shiraz on charges of apostasy, political meetings, blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order, accusations rights activists have linked to their Christian activities. [BosNewsLife] Read more

Ban Muslim headscarf, says Dutch MP

.... Dutch MP Jeanine Hennis - from the right-wing liberal party VVD, the largest party in the current government - is calling for a ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves by public servants who work at town halls. The politician says all religions are equal in her eyes and that the ban should cover all religious symbols.

Ms Hennis made her comments during an interview with free newspaper De Pers. “When do you wear the headscarf? I’d like to instigate a debate on the matter - an open discussion on the separation between church and state,” she said. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

In defence of Quilliam

Their work is not done yet, and Quilliam's continued presence in the debate will remain necessary particularly at a time when the contours of British Islam are being so dramatically redefined.

In return Quilliam will need to adapt. It will need to redefine its aims much more sharply and work within clearer parameters. It will need to run a more streamlined operation and work with others in the field more effectively than it has in the past. Much more transparency is also needed.

There is much to suggest this reform can be achieved under Maajid Nawaz's stewardship. In 2008 Quilliam embarked on a most necessary mission, what it needs now is a chance to see it through. [Standpoint] Read more

Pakistan Christian's death 'not due to natural causes'

Qamar David was serving a life sentence in Karachi's central jail for insulting the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad.

Officials say he died of a heart attack but his family say that as a fit and healthy man, this is unlikely be true. Pakistan's penal code prescribes punishments up to death for blasphemy against Islam and the Prophet.

The law has elicited strong criticism - although recently liberals are more nervous about speaking out against it. [BBC] Read more

Islamophobia report: Exeter University apologises

Last November, I expressed astonishment about the level of factual inaccuracy contained within what its authors hoped would be major academic report on Islamophobia.

The report, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies, was written by Dr Robert Lambert and Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer of the European Muslim Research Centre at Exeter University. It was part funded by the questionable Cordoba Foundation, more about which you can read in my original.

.... The first version of this report published on 29 November 2010 contained a section ‘Barbarians at the Gates of the City’ that has now been removed from the report and the University of Exeter has issued this apology: [Trial by Jeory] Read more [via Harry’s Place]

14 March 2011

Half of Europeans say Islam is a religion of intolerance

.... In most of the countries a majority believe Islam to be a religion of intolerance, with agreement just below 50 percent only in Great Britain and the Netherlands.

In almost all the countries more than half of respondents said that Muslims make too many demands; Portugal was the only exception with about one third. The statement that there are too many Muslims in the country is affirmed by just over one quarter in Portugal and by about one third in France.

In Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands more than 40 percent of respondents complain that there are too many Muslims in their country, in Hungary about 60 percent. [Islam in Europe]Read more

Europe must stand up to Islamism

.... A quick look at my own country, Norway, reveals how far radical Islamism has advanced. One year ago, about 3,000 men, many of them in long coats, ankle-high baggy pants and full beards gathered in Oslo’s University Square to condemn Western civilization and explicitly threaten a new 9/11 on Norwegian soil.

.... We need tougher rules on immigration and asylum. We need to be clear that there is one set of laws and norms that apply to all. Our governments must no longer support organizations that preach and foster hate. As the Norwegian poet Inger Hagerup wrote in a poem penned two years after the Second World War: It is urgent, it is urgent. It can all go wrong again. What are we waiting for? [National Post] Read more

The multiculturalism the European right fears so much is a fiction – it never existed

.... Moreover, these multicultural facts have nothing to do with race, religion or immigration. The Bretons in France, Basques in Spain, Bavarians in Germany and Sicilians in Italy are a few examples of cultural affiliations that thrive independently of the nations they inhabit.

This is the multiculturalism many of us on the left, including Sivanandan, are defending. The right to assert autonomy and cultural difference underpinned by an understanding that national identity is just one among many identities and may well not be the primary one: an affirmation of plurality against calls for assimilation that attempt to first invent and then enforce "British values" and other national orthodoxies.

[COMMENT] As for your ridiculous claim that people immigrating into a country cannot change the cultural fabric of a country, I would suggest that you look around Europe. Living in mainland europe I can point you to many countries / cities where your claim can easily be shown to be as false.

Do you really believe that segregation is a myth?, have you managed to get out if Islington and take a trip across England?, if you had you would know how untruthful your statement is. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Eric Pickles ceases ‘sponsorship’ of the Muslim Council of Britain and its associated bodies

.... These figures refer to spending under Labour. Please don’t ask about the £2,500 of taxpayers’ money for one table at the MCB’s leadership dinner: it must have been halal caviar.

The Department for Communities and Local Government was doubtless happy to answer Andrew Griffiths’ question in the new spirit of transparency. Under Eric Pickles, the DCLG does not meet with the MCB at all and the department has stopped the sponsorship of such awards/dinner events across the board. There is some legacy spend on MINAB in 2010-11, but that was unavoidable as it was one of Labour’s blank cheques (signed in April 2010!). [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Bras, booze and how Islamic chauvinists have made satire redundant

.... Here’s the original Islamic fundamentalist contribution, though: turning barbarism into an unapologetic aesthetic. Zakir Naik, an Indian televangelist whose broadcasts are watched by millions across the world, and who was denied entry to the UK for his pro-jihadist views, put his case for polygamy thus:

“New York alone has 1 million females more than males. Out of the population of New York, the statistics tell us, one-third are gays… There are more than 25 million gays, sodomites, in America, in USA. Now the only option remaining for my sister is that she marries a man who already has a wife or she becomes public property.” Tom Lehrer was right. Evil has made satire redundant. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

13 March 2011

The interesting friends of the Quilliam Foundation

.... Recent days have seen a number of Quilliam’s biggest supporters coming out to urge the government to continue funding it. And who are they?

Well, we have Nick Cohen writing in support of QF on his blog at the Spectator; the political editor of the Jewish Chronicle Martin ‘The Great Koran Con Trick’ Bright writing a piece entitled ‘Quilliam: a thinktank we must save’; Robert Halfon MP – a former political director of the Conservative Friends of Israel and whom I wrote about last month – has tabled an early day motion in parliament calling on continued funding for Quilliam. [inayatscorner] Read more

A second response to Matthew Goodwin

.... This question takes us to the heart of the matter. Both Goodwin and the Populus poll agree that most Muslims identify with Britain rather than any other state, and with their fellow citizens rather than their co-religionists abroad.

However, the key word here may be "most": according to Populus, the percentage who don't so identify is 31 per cent - nearly a third of respondents. Furthermore, identification with Britain tells us only a limited amount about integration and cohesion.

The tests to which Goodwin refers - whether Muslims trust institutions, feel that they belong to Britain, and feel they can influence decisions - reveal little, if anything, about their views on the relationship between sharia and law. [ConservativeHome] Read more

12 March 2011

American Muslim groups react to views presented in controversial hearing

.... If King's hearing was about anything, it was about trying to empower a different group of Muslim leaders, people King and other conservatives view as more patriotic, more cooperative and more focused on rooting out terrorists, rather than on Islamophobia.

The difference can be summed up by contrasting part of the mission statement of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - an advocacy group King and other GOP lawmakers bashed repeatedly Thursday - and that of a coalition of groups of which Jasser's is a part.

CAIR says it seeks to "monitor local, national and international media in part, to challenge negative stereotypes, but also to applaud and encourage positive representations of Islam and Muslims." The mission statement of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition is to "come together to defend the U.S. Constitution" and to "protect American security." [The Washington Post] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Christians protest: government blocks 30 thousand Bibles in Malay

The largest Christian organization in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, said it is "fed up" of the government's refusal to allow the distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles. It argues that it is an affront to religious freedom.

It is a rare protest by the Christian Federation of Malaysia. It 's also a sign of growing impatience among the religious minorities, over the dispute, now years old, on the government ban on the use of the word "Allah" as a translation of the word "God" in the Bible and Christian religious texts in the Malay language. [AsiaNews] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Muslims and their attitudes in Modern Britain

.... Analysing the attitudes of over 1,700 Muslim respondents to the Citizenship Survey (which employed more established and consistent measures than the temporal and often vague measures in polls), she paints a different picture.

Contrary to the popular view, most Muslims happily agreed Islam is the most important thing in their life, AND that their primary loyalty rests with the British state, and that they belong to Islam AND Britain. For most, belonging to Islam and belonging to Britain was not a mutually exclusive choice.

[COMMENT] Whether religious identity is "seen as" conflicting with national identity I think therefore is a bit of a red herring. One can support British sports teams AND Sharia law. [ConservativeHome] Read more

11 March 2011

Peter King’s subversive fantasy

.... As a Muslim American, and a member of America's most diverse religious group, I can testify that we are not a monolithic entity who share a collective consciousness and are automatically alerted to the perverse inclinations of all radicalised loners.

Furthermore, Muslim Americans do not have specialised knowledge or heightened awareness of extremist threats – just as Italian Americans do not have innate knowledge of the Mafia's criminal operations. Perhaps King should invite the cast of Jersey Shore and the Sopranos to field that inquiry. [altmuslim] Read more

France's Sarkozy sacks diversity head Dahmane

The UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) is planning to hold a public debate on 5 April on "Islam and secularism".

The debate will explore firstly how "the practice of religions may be compatible with the rules of the secular republic", and secondly "the question of Islam in France".

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Dahmane compared the situation of French Muslims to that of Jews during World War II and said the debate had been planned by a "handful of neo-Nazis".

France has the largest Muslim minority of any EU country and controversies have arisen over the state's attempts to impose secular values in public institutions such as schools. [BBC] Read more

Chechen women attacked with paintball guns for 'immodest' dress

.... Drawing on the testimonies of dozens of Chechen women, the report details coercive methods applied to enforce the dress code, including public shaming, threats, and even physical violence.

Kadyrov has publicly explained that Chechen women must be compelled to dress "modestly" in order to spare their menfolk the painful duty of killing them if they stray.

"A woman should know her place," he said during a televised interview last July. "[In Chechnya] man is the master. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brothers are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members are obliged to kill her.... As president, I cannot allow them to kill. Therefore, let women not dress indecently." [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more

States Move To Ban Islamic Sharia Law

More than a dozen states are now considering measures to ban Sharia, or Islamic law. One proposed bill in Tennessee has drawn criticism, with opponents saying it would infringe on religious freedoms for Muslims. Proponents of the bill say it's necessary to prevent "homegrown terror."

Host Michel Martin speaks with David Yerushalmi, who wrote the policy paper that sparked the legislation in Tennessee and other states. They are joined by associate professor of Islamic and American Law at Boston College, Intisar Rabb. [NPR] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Tunisia: Muslim Women Want Photos with Veil on Documents

An appeal lodged by Mariem Rezgui at the tribunal of Tunis asks Tunisian Muslim women to be allowed, if they want to, to use photographs in which they wear a veil on all their administrative documents (identity card, passport, driving licence), and the annulment of the Internal Ministry disposition that bans this option. [ANSAmed] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

.... Having thus expressed my general discomfort in writing these articles, I hope my readers can take into account context and intent. If, for example, a white supremacist site compiled a list of all criminals that are black, this would be a clear case of bigotry.

An effective and appropriate way to counter this list would be to produce an even longer list of white criminals. Even though the action is the same (producing lists of criminals of a particular race), it is the context and intent that are all important.

It is in a similar fashion that I am producing a “counter-list” of Biblical verses to counter the popular list of Quranic quotes that Islamophobes like to share. LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series will categorically answer the question that an alarmingly high number of Americans answered incorrectly: is Islam more likely than other religions to encourage violence?

I would nonetheless strongly caution overzealous Muslim readers from using these articles to stir hatred against Jews and Christians, noting that Islam has no shortage of “problematic” texts. [loonwatch.com] Read more

40% of Americans link Islam to violence: poll

Four in 10 Americans believe Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions, up sharply from March 2002, six months after the September 11 attacks, according to a new Pew poll.

The figure is lower than July 2004, when a post-9/11 high of 46 percent of respondents said the Muslim faith is more likely than others to foment attacks, but it marks a significant rise from the 25 percent recorded in March 2002 and 35 percent from just seven months ago.

In the latest national poll conducted February 22 to March 1 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 42 percent of respondents said Islam does not encourage violence more than other ideologies, down from 51 percent in March 2002. [AFP] Read more

The East London Mosque and the Tayyibun Institute

.... Why, then, has the Tayyibun Institute, an inveterate promoter of extremists based just around the corner from the mosque, apparently been allowed to book the mosque’s London Muslim Centre for this conference on 20 March?

One of the scheduled speakers (by video) is Saudi preacher Saad Al-Shithri. For him, gender mixing isn’t just wrong, it is evil. And evolution must not be taught at universities. This proved too much even for the Saudi establishment. So why should he be acceptable in the London Muslim Centre? [Harry’s Place] Read more

Just 17% Believe American Muslims Are Treated Unfairly

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 17% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that most Muslims in America are treated unfairly because of their religion and ethnicity. Sixty-three percent (63%) disagree and say they are not treated unfairly while 20% are not sure.

A plurality (49%) of liberal voters, however, says there is bias against Muslim Americans. Eighty-one percent (81%) of conservatives and 57% of moderates disagree. [Rasmussen Reports] Read more

10 March 2011

Senate promotes new integration policy

The (Swiss) Senate has passed a motion calling for the integration of foreigners to be standardised across the country. The move comes after the House of Representatives passed a similar motion. But unlike the House, the Senate would like some general rules for integration as opposed to a separate legal framework.

It also wants to give the cabinet the power to update the law on foreigners. Some areas being targeted include improving prospects for young people and providing professional training. [swissinfo.ch] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Asia Bibi fears she is next

.... The Christian mother is presently in an isolation cell in a Punjab jail for allegedly violating the country’s strict blasphemy law.

She is still afraid that she could be the next target of violent Islamic groups. Posters have appeared inside the jail showing images of Taseer and Bhatti with a large question mark and the threatening phrase “Who will be next?”

“Asia says that part of her hope died with Bhatti, but there are other things that give her hope: the support of all Christians in Pakistan and around the world; the visit of her children,” which was recently made possible after bureaucratic problems, according to Bibi’s lawyer. [ucanews.com] Read more

Peter King and Keith Ellison: Hypocrisy and fake tears on Capitol Hill

I hold no brief for Representative Peter King, a proud IRA supporter despite the group’s deliberate murder of civilians (and the training and weapons its members received from Libya) who is now getting all indignant about another variant of terrorism.

His committee hearings on Islamic Radicalism are legitimate in their choice of subject, as Ruth Marcus, a liberal columnist, notes here. But they are flawed because of King’s own blatant hypocrisy and status as, in Alex Massie’s words, “America’s worst congressman”. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Tender, Loving CAIR - Islamist Bigots Lose One - And They're Outraged

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is furious. For the first time since the birth of Mohammed, it isn’t getting its way in Washington. In the past, whenever our government raised the possibility of doing the least little thing of which CAIR might not wholeheartedly approve, the soft-core jihadis shrieked, “Bigotry!”

And presidents, cabinet secretaries, senators, representatives and bureaucrats—even intelligence analysts and military officers--ran for cover (while, no doubt, suggesting that their spouses don head-scarves for a probationary period). [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more

Why did the MCB and MINAB take so long to support Usama Hasan?

.... lots of people knew about the campaign against Dr Hasan before I blogged about it. They knew a prominent imam was being threatened by fanatics, and yet they remained silent about it.

This isn’t just me saying it: a lot of Muslims are also privately saying this. So why didn’t the MCB and Minab act earlier? Their response has been far too late in this matter and seems to indicate they only act if the national media spotlight shines on particular incidents. [Pickled Politics] Read more

09 March 2011

New immigration minister: become like us or stay away

Either foreigners make an effort to become Danish or they can just stay away from Denmark, according to Søren Pind, the new immigration minister.

Only hours after taking over as immigration minister after Birthe Rønn Hornbech was fired yesterday, Pind declared himself ready to tighten up the immigration laws.

According to Pind, it should be set in stone that Denmark has room for foreigners that adopt and respect Danish values, norms and traditions; if they don’t, they shouldn’t be here at all.

“The way I see it, when you choose Denmark, you choose Denmark because you want to become Danish,” Pind told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Continuing Divide in Views of Islam and Violence

The public remains divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Currently, 40% say the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence while 42% say it is not.

These opinions have changed little in recent years. But in March 2002, just 25% saw Islam as more likely to encourage violence while twice as many (51%) disagreed. [Pew Research Center] Read more

Fury at Omani sultan's cash for Cambridge

Cambridge University is at the centre of a row over ethical funding of universities after accepting a new donation from the Oman government to promote religious understanding. The deal, signed only two weeks ago, is the second substantial donation the university has received from the Sultanate – bringing total funding to the university to well over £4m.

The university has also received £8m from the House of Saud to set up a new centre for Islamic studies.

Last night a newly created students' group, campaigning to promote "clean" funding of universities, called on the university to refuse to accept any more cash from either regime – on the grounds it could be compromised. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Muslim women 'should not travel more than 48 miles from home without male chaperone'

The ruling was made by the Darul Uloom Deoband, the leading Islamic university founded in northern India in 1866, which has millions of followers from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Muslim communities in Britain.

Its fatwa was issued after a female follower had asked: "Is a married woman permitted to travel to another country with her female sibling?"

In a reply on the Deoband website, she was told:"She cannot travel without a 'mehram' [male relative]. It's mentioned in the Hadees that a woman should not travel for more than 48 miles except in the company of a 'mehram' relative." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

The anti-Muslim fearmongering we can't see

.... We can expect a litany of ominous claims about Muslims during House homeland security Committee hearings on domestic Islamic radicalisation scheduled for this week. Representative King (Republican, New York) chairs that committee and has singled out Muslims as the source of potential terrorism on our shores. We were most recently exposed to a sustained public airing of wild-eyed Islamophobic storylines during the controversy over a proposed Islamic centre for lower Manhattan.

Seemingly moderate American Muslims were said to be secretly plotting to replace the US constitution with Sharia law. Civil rights organisations were portrayed as front organisations for violent foreign "jihadi" groups. Islam was revealed to be an inherently violent, even terroristic religion. Such slanders and conspiracy theories demonise Muslims and Islam. They would be laughable were they not so ubiquitous, and therefore dangerous.

[COMMENT] In my opinion, the way any criticism of Islam is labelled Islamophobia is a bigger problem than Islamophobia itself.

[COMMENT] Yes, anyone can see from the marvelous way in which non-Muslims are treated in Muslim-majority countries that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Incidently, is the Guardian bothering to report the latest church-burnings and deaths of Copts in Egypt. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Sarkozy's party divided over debate on Islam

.... The format of the debate .... has yet to be confirmed, but a government-led debate on national identity last year involved a series of nationwide town hall meetings and an online forum for input from the public. Among the topics expected to feature on the agenda are Muslim veils, halal food, minarets and state funding of religious organisations.

.... Mr Copé, who devised the national debate, insists it will proceed. He sought to calm nerves this week by declaring that the 1905 law would “not be touched” but said “solutions” would be found to a number of problems. Among the possibilities are a ban on preaching in Arabic, zero tolerance of women refusing to accept treatment by male medics and the training of imams in France.

The disquiet in the UMP is set to grow, however, after a second opinion poll in a week put Ms Le Pen in first place, at 24 per cent, among likely presidential candidates. Speaking before the poll findings – the best in the FN’s history – were announced, Ms Le Pen cautiously welcomed the debate on secularism. “A little more blah-blah [from the UMP] and I’ll be at 25 per cent in the opinion polls,” she predicted. [The Irish Times] Read more

US hearing on radical Islam: a waste of time, but not witch hunt

AS with many Congressional hearings, it is hard to see what the point is of Peter King’s session tomorrow, beyond buttressing the opinions of the congressman in the committee chair.

The hearing at the House homeland security committee is entitled “The Extent of Radicalisation in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”.

Muslim groups and civil rights activists have accused King of McCarthyism, of starting a witch hunt against Muslims. They argue it is prejudiced to single out Muslims rather than other extremists such as the Ku Klax Klan or Right-wing haters. [Pickled Politics] Read more

A growing campaign to defend Usama Hasan and free speech

A group of people, including Yahya Birt, have set up a group on Facebook to rally people in support of Usama Hasan

In the case of Dr Usama Hasan, an imam at Masjid Tawhid in Leyton, London, who has been persecuted and victimised, we call upon religious scholars, imams, mosque committees, Muslim community organisations and Muslim communities as a whole to reaffirm the following principles so that we may strengthen the basic conditions for civilised and principled Muslim community life: [Pickled Politics] Read more

Islam must engage with science, not deny it

.... Furthermore, opposition to Hasan has been building due to a number of other factors, too, not just his support for evolutionary theory. In particular, his role as an official adviser to the government-funded Quilliam Foundation – a body widely viewed with contempt by many British Muslims – and his recent trip to Afghanistan on a Foreign Office junket have unsettled many of his hitherto supporters who are deeply uncomfortable with the UK's continuing involvement in the war there.

In my view, though, the controversy at Masjid al-Tawhid does highlight a fundamental problem. Muslims are rightly taught to respect ulama ("people of knowledge"). In practice, however, those regarded and treated as ulama are only those who have spent years studying ancient books in Arabic in traditional Islamic seminaries.

[COMMENT] The year is 2011 and Inayat …. is having to write a piece like this which he must find embarrassing. Just incredible that grown adults would threaten the life of someone for pointing out the bleedin' obvious. You're doing well to keep your faith Inayat, You're wrong but given the amount of stupidity in your midst you're doing well all the same. [Guardian Cif] Read more

08 March 2011

Women's rights marchers in Cairo report sexual assaults by angry mob

Women hoping to extend their rights in post-revolutionary Egypt were faced with a harsh reality Tuesday when a mob of angry men beat and sexually assaulted marchers calling for political and social equality, witnesses said.

"Everyone was chased. Some were beaten. They were touching us everywhere," said Dina Abou Elsoud, 35, a hostel owner and organizer of the ambitiously named Million Woman March. [Washington Post] Read more

Muslim families refuse swimming lessons despite fines

Five Muslim families in Basel who refused to send their daughters to mixed-sex swimming lessons have not changed their minds after being fined. A CHF 350 fine was given to each parent in August last year.

Pierre Felder, head of the Basel City elementary school told the Tages Anzeiger newspaper that the same families are now also refusing to send their younger daughters to the swimming lessons.

The families are being supported by a benefactor who has paid one of the fines already and promises that three other penalties will be paid. [WRS] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Ken Livingstone: suicide bombers and a suicide candidate

.... I don’t know about the Mail. But the good Sheikh did tell that well-known tool of the right-wing lie machine, the Guardian, that he supported a husband’s right to “lightly” beat his wife, and that homosexuality was “a clash between morality and immorality.”

In his own book , The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, not published by Associated Newspapers as far as I know, Qaradawi has reiterated his views on wife-beating and called for gay people to be killed. And Ken unfortunately forgot to mention that among Yusuf’s other statements on Newsnight was strong support for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

He has also defended rape, saying that “to be absolved from guilt, the raped woman must have shown some sort of good conduct.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Welcome to the Shari'ah Conspiracy Theory Industry

At last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a student from the group Youth for Western Civilization at Liberty University asked members of a panel titled “The Shari'ah Challenge to the West”:

“Are we going to see a rise of Islamic Europe, and America just sits there on its own... are we actually going to win?” Another audience member asked, “what recourse does America have as a country... to deal with that problem with a completely won Islamist population? What recourse do we have at home and abroad?” [Religion Dispatches] Read more

07 March 2011

Cameron is wrong to target the Quilliam Foundation

.... I was shocked to read today that cuts in Home Office funding may lead to the closure of the Quilliam Foundation.

Ever since Ed Hussain and Maajid Nawaz set it up Quilliam has been a beacon in London for clear-headed, moderate, balanced analysis and policy recommendations on the vexed problem of radical, extreme Islamist ideology and its nefarious impact on British Muslims.

Both men through the writing and work are an inspiration here and abroad. Only the other week I was taking an important American journalist to meet Mr Nawaz as he was the best guide to aspect of this problem in the UK. [The Spectator] Read more

Democracy Akbar! Coptic Church of St Mina and St George is torched by ‘thousands of Muslims’

There has been a Coptic church on this site for centuries. St Mina (or Menas) is one of the most well-known of Egypt's saints, and St George needs no introduction.

Yesterday, a church dedicated to their blessed memory was destroyed in a small town just outside Cairo. It was torched by 'thousands of Muslims' (or are they Islamists? Or, for Baroness Warsi, are these 'thousands' simply a minority-of-a-minority ‘extremists’?) chanting ‘Democracy Akhbar’ – Democracy is Great! [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Anti-Islamic groups go mainstream

Deep suspicions about Islam in America — about to take center stage in controversial congressional hearing — are also galvanizing an increasingly organized and professional set of political groups, organizations that may play a role in the looming presidential cycle.

The clearest sign of the new effort to transform anti-Islam crusading into a mainstream lobbying effort came when the group ACT! For America wooed away Rep. Sue Myrick’s (R-N.C.) chief of staff Hal Weatherman to run its communications shop in February.

The move helped complete the group’s transformation from a tiny, obscure organization into an ambitious nonprofit with a budget of $1.6 million in 2009, the last year for which figures are available. [POLITICO] Read more

06 March 2011

The Pakistan killings are not about blasphemy

After Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses, religious "scholars" doubted whether the Ayatollah Khomeini had the right to order his murder. They had no liberal qualms about executing a writer for subjecting religion to imaginative scrutiny.

They believed that blasphemers and apostates must die as their religion insisted. But only if they were citizens of an Islamic state. As Rushdie was living in London in 1989, a free man in a free country, the clerics concluded that religious law did not apply to him.

The Rushdie controversy was the Dreyfus affair of the late 20th century. It established today's dividing lines between the secular and the authoritarian, between those who were willing to defend freedom of thought and inquiry and those who wanted to censor and self-censor to keep fanatics happy. [Guardian Cif] Read more

London imam subjected to death threats for supporting evolution

.... "Some of the language being used by Dr Hasan's opponents smacks of fanaticism. The shame is that, if his congregation do reject him, then it may well deter other imams from undertaking a study of evolution and speaking about what they have learnt."

Islamic Awakening and other members of the mosque could not be reached for comment. Hasan said the dispute over his suspension would be taken to the charity commission if it was not resolved soon.

"I've been a Londoner all my life and I grew up in that mosque," Hasan said. "I'm very passionate about living our lives in a modern way but, as far as they [my opponents] are concerned, that makes me an extremist. I'm going to have to live with extra cautions for the rest of my life." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Mosque expels Imam for preaching evolution and moderation This is very worrying. Leyton Mosque in London has expelled its imam Dr Usama Hasan for holding a lecture titled ‘Islam & Evolution’ and saying the two were not incompatible.

He has also reported to have said in the past that Muslim women should be allowed to uncover their hair in public.

.... This is deeply troubling because it looks like we have Saudi nutjobs running McCarthyite campaigns against sensible and moderate Imams in the UK. I knew / know Dr Hasan from his time at City Circle. I’m glad he took a robust stance against these people and did not let them shout him down… but the actions of the mosque are utterly cowardly and worrying.

Update: It seems the letter was ‘premature’ in that the people who wanted him ousted lost the vote to oust him. This letter may be fake… Dr Hasan remains an imam at the mosque I’m told… but there was/is definitely a campaign to oust him. [Pickled Politics] Read more

Scientist Imam threatened over Darwinist views A prominent British imam has been forced to retract his claims that Islam is compatible with Darwin's theory of evolution after receiving death threats from fundamentalists.

Dr Usama Hasan, a physics lecturer at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was intending yesterday to return to Masjid al-Tawhid, a mosque in Leyton, East London, for the first time since he delivered a lecture there entitled "Islam and the theory of evolution".

But according to his sister, police advised him not to attend after becoming concerned for his safety. Instead his father, Suhaib, head of the mosque's committee of trustees, posted a notice on his behalf expressing regret over his comments. "I seek Allah's forgiveness for my mistakes and apologise for any offence caused," the statement read. [independent.co.uk] Read more

White Extremists and the Zealotry of the Converted The campaign to hound Dr Usama Hasan out of Masjid Tawhid in Leyton as well as to excommunicate him from the mosque and even going as far as to declare him a murtad (an apostate) and a kafir (unbeliever) has grown apace in the beardier parts of the British Islamic blogosphere. [The Spittoon] Read more

05 March 2011

Is Islam the Problem?

.... Many Arabs have an alternative theory about the reason for the region’s backwardness: Western colonialism. But that seems equally specious and has the sequencing wrong. “For all its discontents, the Middle East’s colonial period brought fundamental transformation, not stagnation; rising literacy and education, not spreading ignorance; and enrichment at unprecedented rates, not immiserization,” writes Timur Kuran, a Duke University economic historian, in a meticulously researched new book, “The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East.”

Professor Kuran’s book offers the best explanation yet for why the Middle East has lagged. After poring over ancient business records, Professor Kuran persuasively argues that what held the Middle East back wasn’t Islam as such, or colonialism, but rather various secondary Islamic legal practices that are no longer relevant today. [The New York Times] Read more

Sharia law in Australia already a reality

.... Critics note there is no regulation or monitoring of the courts, no control over appointment of ‘judges’, often no legal advice for clients, and no right of appeal. The chair of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain, Fariborz Pooya, says Britain is “outsourcing the legal system to Islamic groups”, which is “a betrayal of the rights of our most vulnerable citizens”. The One Law for All campaign is pushing to have the Islamic courts outlawed.

Australian advocates stress they are not pushing for formal sharia courts, but rather a recognised alternative dispute resolution system for Muslims who wish to resolve their affairs according to their religious beliefs.

They admit a lot of preparatory work would need to be done, chiefly professional training for those who would administer the system. “The imams need to be trained from an Australian legal point of view,” says Siddiq Buckley.

“They have come in with religious training but they don’t understand very well how Australian legal institutions operate and how the law works. So we’d need to run a lot of education courses to get the imams up to speed.” [MuslimVillage.com] Read more

Nearly 4000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes in Egypt, Torch Church

A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George.

There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.

Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now." A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village. [AINA] Read more