31 May 2011

’No contradiction between Islam and democracy,’ say EU political and religious leaders, urging stronger ties with Muslim world

Declaring that there was “no contradiction between Islam and democracy,” political and religious leaders of the European Union have called for more religious tolerance in Europe and its neighboring countries.

European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, European Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek, European Commission President Manuel Barroso and representatives from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim communities gathered at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday for an annual meeting at which freedom of religion and religious tolerance were the main topics.

.... Christian minorities in the Middle East are facing political and security challenges. They have been targeted in Iraq and forced to flee from Baghdad to Syria, Kurdistan and Europe. The Coptic Christian minority in Egypt is also being targeted by Islamist groups.

[COMMENT] "No contradiction between Islam and democracy"? Really. Muslim countries, nearly without exception, are devoid of Western, liberal values. To declare otherwise is wishful thinking. Time will tell what will become of the Arab Spring. The price of PC is its blatant disregard for truthfullness. [Al Arabiya News] Read more

Saudi woman driver freed after agreeing to quit campaign

A Saudi Arabian woman who was jailed for driving a car has been released after nine days, having pledged to take no further part in a campaign to persuade the Saudi authorities to allow women to drive.

Manal al-Sharif, 32, was freed from the women's prison in Dammam on Monday. She was arrested after posting a video of herself driving around the eastern city of Khobar as part of the Women2Drive campaign of which she was a key organiser. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Churches are closed in Algeria

It appears Christians in Algeria may be seeing more oppression. Mustapha Krim, president of the EPA (Protestant Church of Algeria), was requested to come to the police station in Bejaia.

At the police station he was informed about the decision of the governor of the wilaya (province) of Bejaia that "all buildings designated for the practice of religious worship -- other than Muslim -- will be permanently closed down." This notification was totally unexpected. [Mission Network News] Read more [via Religious Watch]

30 May 2011

Ugandan legislation pits Muslims vs. Christians over power of courts

The Muslim Personal Law bill - which would give more power to Islamic Kadhi courts for Muslims on matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance - is straining relations between Uganda’s two largest religious groups.

.... Muslims, who make up roughly 12 percent of Uganda’s 32 million people, point to Article 129 of the constitution, which explicitly allows for the creation of Kadhi civil courts. Under current law, Kadhi court decisions are not legally binding.

Christians argue that Article 129 conflicts with another section of the constitution, Article 21, which states that all people are equal under the law in all spheres of life. Institutionalizing the Islamic courts would give the country two parallel legal systems that would undermine the secular nature of the Ugandan Constitution, Christian leaders say. [The Washington Times] Read more

Antwerp: 45% of elementary school students are Muslim

Almost half of the students in the Antwerp municipal elementary school system are Muslim, an increase of 12% compared with the 2007-2008 school-year. The figures are based on how many students ask to take Islam classes. The data was provided by request of Vlaams Belang from the Antwerp alderman of education, Robert Voorhamme (sp.a)

Parents in Antwerp can choose which class their children go to: Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox, Anglicanism, Judaism, Islam or secular ethics.

Of the 10,743 elementary school students, 4,890 (45.5%) took Islam class this year. Alderman Voorhamme says that the figures mirror the evolution of the composition of the population. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslim Mistrust Bred Of Islam Leads To Cousin Marriage, Leads To Colossal Expenses For British Taxpayers

The unremarkable observation, by one British doctor, that there is a very high degree of congenital defects among Muslim children, as compared with non-Muslim children, in the United Kingdom has led, unremarkably, to Musilm outrage.

It is not the unremarkable remarking by the British doctor, nor the unremarkable fury by the Muslims (some no doubt with British citizenship) that need be re-discussed here. What is of note is the question why such cousin-mariage is so widely practiced, not only among Pakistanis, but also among those who remain Pakistani in every important way, even if they have been born, and raised, Great Britain and speak some native form of English, thus providing the illusion that their British citizenship is more than a matter of mere paperwork. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Bishop calls Islamic billboards offensive

A Catholic bishop has slammed controversial Islamic billboards for being "provocative and offensive" and he's calling for them to be removed from prominent locations across Sydney.

The billboards carrying the slogan `Jesus: a prophet of Islam' were erected late last week in Darlinghurst, Rozelle and Rosehill.

They have been paid for by Islamic group MyPeace, which wants to encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground by raising awareness that Islam believed in Jesus Christ. [AAP] Read more

Billboards display posters declaring: JESUS: A PROPHET OF ISLAM

There’s a little spat going on down under about a few billboards which are carrying posters with the slogan: ‘Jesus: a prophet of Islam’. They form part of a campaign by the Islamic group MyPeace, which seeks to propagate the 'common ground' (as they see it) between Christianity and Islam.

Future posters are planned, with slogans such as `Holy Quran: the final testament' and `Muhammad: mercy to mankind'. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

29 May 2011

OIC Fatwa on Domestic Violence and the Rights of Women in Islam

.... The fatwa upholds the right of a husband to beat his wife: wife-beating is specifically excluded from its definition of 'domestic violence', as long as the beating conforms to sharia requirements.

The memorable phrase 'non-violent beating' is coined to express this perspective. Note also the implied threat which warns against 'slander' in the context of resolving marital disputes (implying that a woman must not criticize her husband). Here are some hadiths of Muhammad on wife-beating from Sunan Abu Dawud: [markdurie.com] Read more

Amnesty International calls on Indonesia to end illegal caning

The Indonesian government must end the use of caning as a form of punishment and repeal the laws that allow it in Aceh province, Amnesty International said today after at least 21 people were publicly caned since 12 May.

All 21 were found to have violated an Aceh bylaw (qanun) prohibiting gambling and were given six lashes each as hundreds of people looked on. [Religious Watch] Read more

The Moral Machine

You can tell a lot about a culture from the way it utilises the latest technology. Here in the godless west we have ATMs on the street to give us money whenever we want. They do things differently in Saudi Arabia:

The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) has adopted a high-tech method to improve the moral standards of the general public.

The method — Tawasul (interaction) — involves installing a number of electronic devices that deliver audio and video messages containing advice and moral lessons. [Mick Hartley] Read more

28 May 2011

Germans quit Saudi travel fair over woman's clothes

A German tour operator pulled out of a Riyadh travel fair in protest at dress restrictions imposed on one of its female representatives, Saudi newspapers reported on Thursday.

Religious police demanded the German visitor change her abaya -- an all-encompassing black cloak worn by women in the ultraconservative Muslim power house -- because it was decorated with red embroidery, Al-Riyadh said.

It was the first time the German, herself a Muslim, visited Saudi Arabia.

Religious police, who escorted her to a taxi so that she would go and get changed, warned her not to speak of the incident but she burst out of the car "in tears," newspapers said. [AFP] Read more

27 May 2011

The East End villains who thrive behind a veil of multiculturalism

A few weeks ago, I crossed the road outside Sainsbury's in Whitechapel. Glued to the lamp-post was a rainbow poster, with a cross through it, decorated with the words "Gay Free Zone" and "Fear Allah". I felt sick. And, yes, resigned. Unconsciously, I mimicked the behaviour of Jacobson's Jewish Londoners: I tried not to think about the implication of what I had seen.

Such stickers soon appeared all over. Not to worry! We were reassured by civic leaders that it was wrong to link these manifestations of hatred with the increasing Islamisation of the borough.

Didn't we realise, warned our betters, that by reacting, we might be allowing ourselves to be duped? They could easily be the work of a far-Right group, trying to stir up division on streets that would otherwise hum with quiet multicultural harmony. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Algerian Christian Given Five Year Prison Sentence for Blasphemy

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an Algerian Christian was sentenced to five years imprisonment for blasphemy in Oran on Wednesday after sharing his Christian faith with a neighbor.

The verdict came days after authorities forced the permanent closure of seven Protestant churches in Algeria's Béjaia province.

Siagh Krimo was charged by the Criminal Court of the Djamel District in Oran, who based their decision on Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code which criminalizes acts that "insult the prophet and any of the messengers of God, or denigrate the creed and precepts of Islam, whether by writing, drawing, declaration, or any other means." Krimo has ten days to appeal the sentence. [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Saudi Arabia opens the world's largest university for women …… most of the women won't be able to work

.... The World Economic Forum global gender gap report in 2010 ranked Saudi Arabia 129 out of 134 countries, and the only country to score a zero for female political empowerment; in March, it was announced that the ban on Saudi women voting would continue.

Saudi women are forced to live under the control of a male guardian, usually a father or husband, without whose authority they cannot get a job, travel or open a bank account. They cannot leave the house alone or without wearing the niqab, and are banned from driving a car. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Where Islam is not so benign

In his lengthy attempt to convince his readers of the essentially peaceful and benign intentions of Islam, Suleman Nagdi (Mailbox, May 12) makes an astonishing claim.

He says that: "Contrary to what has been perceived, Islam is in many respects an egalitarian religion in its approach to each individual, never more so than placing the highest of values on all human life."

The truth is that in all Islamic states (both today and historically) non-Muslims are treated as kuffar (in Arabic, a term of gross insult), punitively taxed, and often have their lives circumscribed cruelly in many other ways.

If that is an example of "an egalitarian religion", then the word "egalitarian" has changed its meaning. [Leicester Mercury] Read more

UK Government condemns Bible burning in Iran

.... Mr Selous went on to explain the broader situation. He observed: “There has been an escalation in the persecution, indeed there have been 282 known arrests of Christians in 34 cities since June 2010, of which 41 have spent between one and eight months in prison, mainly in solitary confinement.

They have been subjected to hours of interrogation, facing verbal and physical torture, lack of medical treatment and they're called to renounce their faith. Prisoners are often expected to pay large amounts of money and the deeds to their properties in order to get out of prison.” [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

26 May 2011

A 21st Century Freedom Ride

.... One of the functions of the conference was to establish with clarity that Islamophobia is a form of racism. Suspicion of Muslims is justified in a host of ways; concern about terrorism, concern about ‘social cohesion’, concern about the spread of ‘non-western’ values, even apparent concern for women’s rights.

These recurring themes all betray ignorance and twisted thinking but they have allowed all sorts of people who should know better to climb aboard the anti-Muslim band wagon.

And taken together they have generated growing hostility to one of the most downtrodden and oppressed groups in society, the vast majority of whom are black and Asian. Islamophobia has become the last acceptable racism. [The Platform] Read more

25 May 2011

Taliban kill head of Afghan girls' school

Taliban gunmen have killed the headteacher of a girls' school near the Afghan capital after he ignored warnings to stop teaching girls, government officials have said.

Khan Mohammad, the head of the Porak girls' school in Logar province, was shot dead near his home on Tuesday, said Deen Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor.

"He was killed because he wanted to run the school," Darwish said.

Mateen Jafar, the education director in Logar, about an hour's drive from the capital, Kabul, said Mohammad had received several death threats from the Taliban warning him not to teach girls. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Moroccan man on trial for 'total control' of his wife

A MUSLIM woman has reported her husband for forcing her to wear a veil in public in a landmark case which could encourage more oppressed Arab women to fight back.

The Moroccan national, who lives in La Seu d'Urgell (Lleida) says her husband forced her to cover her face in public, and forbade her from speaking Spanish to anyone or looking them directly in the face.

She says she has also suffered violence and threats. [thinkSPAIN] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Lancashire mosques chair criticises 'impractical' equality call

OFFICIAL guidelines that women should have more influence in running mosques have been criticised by a Lancashire mosque leader.

The Mosque and Imams Advisory Board, MINAB, wants to reform and regulate Islamic places of worship and has also asked for sermons to be held in English.

Salim Mulla, the chair of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said the advice was ‘unhelpful, impractical and an interference’.

.... Coun Mulla said of more than 100 mosques LCM represents there was not a single woman on management committees — and that was ‘unlikely to change’.

And he said calls to complete prayers in English would not be adhered to. [The Lancashire Telegraph] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Mayor promises to probe Sofia mosque for noise emission

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova has said that she will launch an investigation to establish whether the loudspeakers at the mosque are too loud, and are causing obstruction to people who live or work in the area.

"Bulgaria is a legal state with laws and regulations, and my commitment is to do everything possible for them to be upheld," Fandukova told the bTV

"Regarding the noise levels, there are regulations which stipulate what the acceptable norms are, standards which are set up by the regional health Inspectorate. The mayor has the authority to take action to act on the issue if violations are observed," she said. [The Sofia Echo] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

24 May 2011

Getting It Right About Islam and American Muslims

.... Efforts to build Islamic centers and mosques in New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Tennessee have been equated with building monuments to terrorism. Prominent American public figures and politicians -- including Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Rep. Peter King and Newt Gingrich -- openly spoke against Muslims and encouraged unfounded social suspicion of them.

The net result is an increase in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bashing, witnessed in the hysteria that has led to a movement across some 20 states in America to ban sharia.

.... According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, large minorities said they could not think of anything positive to say about Islam. In one study, 38 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, compared to 30 percent who reported a positive view.

Another study conducted by The Washington Post found Islam's unfavorable image creeping up to 49 percent among Americans. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Muslim gang launched horrific attack on religious studies teacher they did not want teaching girls

A gang of four Muslim men launched a horrific attack on an RE teacher because they did not approve of him teaching religious studies to Muslim girls, a court heard yesterday.

Gary Smith, 28, was left with facial scarring, both long and short-term memory loss, and now has no sense of smell.

He became depressed after his face was slashed and he suffered a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull and broken jaw following the attack.

The men were said to have attempted the assault several times, ‘lying in wait’ for Mr Smith before successfully ambushing him on his way to work on July 12 last year. [MailOnline] Read more

'Muslims participate the least in the labor market'

Per-Willy Amundsen, the Progress Party's (Frp) immigration spokesperson, says that Muslim immigrants participate the least in the labor market. His statement was harshly criticized by the Labour (Ap) and Christian Democratic (KrF) parties.

Last week the Brochmann committee published a report on the future of the welfare state in light of increased immigration. On Monday investor Jens Ulltveit-Moe told VG that non-Western immigrants erode the welfare state.

Per-Willy Amundsen continues on the same line, and adds religion as an argument.

"It's the immigrants from the Muslim world who score the worst in these studies," Amundsen told Dagsavisen. [Islam in Europe] Read more

23 May 2011

Iran arrests Bahais for 'online university'

Iran has arrested a "number" of Bahais for running an "online Bahai university" aimed at propagating their faith, the government-run Iran newspaper reported on Monday.

"The security forces were able to arrest those responsible for running the online Bahai university, the so-called BIHE, and dismantling the network," the report said without elaborating when and how many people were arrested.

According to the Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) website, it "was founded in 1987 in response to the Iranian government's continuing campaign to deny Iranian Bahais access to higher education."

The Iran newspaper report added that, "this so-called online university was in fact a disguise for spreading the (faith) of the misled Bahai group and setting a trap for the citizens... A large number of books, CDs and computers were seized from them." [AFP] Read more [via Harry’s Place]

Bradford gets UK's first Muslim woman lord mayor

Naveeda Ikram, a Labour councillor for Little Horton since 2004, will be officially installed at a ceremony in Bradford City Hall on Tuesday.

Mrs Ikram and her husband Saqib Salam Shah succeed Peter Hill and his wife Gillian as lord mayor and consort.

A psychology and sociology graduate, Mrs Ikram has served as deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford since 2009.

Mrs Ikram was also the first woman of Pakistani origin to become councillor in Bradford. [BBC] Read more

Wary of wider defiance, Saudis arrest woman driver

A Saudi woman was arrested for a second time for driving her car in what women's activists said Monday was a move by the rulers of the ultraconservative kingdom to suppress an Internet campaign encouraging women to defy a ban on female driving.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," urging authorities to lift the ban and posted a video clip last week of al-Sherif behind the wheel in the eastern city of Khobar.

The page was removed after more than 12,000 people indicated their support for its call for women drivers to take to the streets in a mass drive on June 17. The campaign's Twitter account also was deactivated. [Associated Press] Read more

The Islamists' Enablers: The Western Sellout to Sharia Law

There is no doubt that free speech, the bedrock of democracy and civilization, is under dangerous assault in many Western countries, by a variety of leading organizations and individuals who align themselves with Muslim institutions.

They all promote the fantasy of Muslim victimhood, and force the West to overprotect Muslims, to ignore their atrocities, and to surrender to their escalating demands.

Around the world, Muslims enforce non Muslims compliance and deliberate air-brushing of the extent and magnitude of the Islamic threat -- from holy war, or Jihad, to the treatment of women under Islam. As approved by Sharia dictates, Muslims also try to forbid non-Muslims from speaking critically about Islam. [Hudson New York] Read more

Female Saudi doctor appeals to top court for right to choose a husband

Samia is a surgeon who, as she says, is "supposed to be a grandma by now."But she's not even married yet. As with many women in Saudi Arabia, choosing a husband was not solely up to her.

Her father and brothers demanded that she marry a cousin, and, she says, beat her when she refused. For the past five years, she has lived in a shelter for battered women.

"I'm a surgeon. I'm responsible for people's lives," says Samia, now in her 40s. "I want to be responsible for my own life." [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more

Islamic leaders question non-Muslim rights

Several Islamic leaders have questioned the loyalty of non-Muslims in the country, declaring today the community’s rights must be re-evaluated if Malaysia is to call itself an Islamic state.

Former president of Islamic Da’wah Foundation Malaysia (Yadim), Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad, said treatment of non-Muslims must be based on the social contract agreed and pointed out that the government has been too gracious to the community. [The Malaysian Insider] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Aceh Clerics Hit Back at Amnesty International’s Statement

.... “People criticize because they don't understand. The rules in Aceh are clear,” Muslim said. “The Koran says that those who believe in Allah and Rasulullah Muhammad Sallalaahu Alaihi Wassalam must not abide by laws other than the ones determined by their God."

.... the head of the Aceh chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said those who criticized caning in Aceh tended to "dislike" Islam.

“Why didn't they criticize caning in Singapore? Why didn't they protest the banning of the head scarf in France? Why didn't they protest Israel, which keeps on violating the UN resolutions?” said Faisal, who is also the secretary of Aceh's Dayah Ulama Association (Huda), an organization comprised of the province's traditional ulema. [Jakarta Globe] Read more

Wilders' trial to continue, judges throw out unfair trial claim

Amsterdam district court has rejected a call by Geert Wilders’ legal team that the inciting hatred and discrimination case against him be dropped.

Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz said at the beginning of this month that his client would not get a fair trial and urged the court to abandon the case.

Moszkowicz’ argument centres on a senior court official who was influential in ensuring Wilders was taken to court even though the public prosecution department was unwilling to pursue the case. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

$100m donated to Islamic schools

Donors in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sending an estimated $100 million (£61m) annually to radical Islamic schools in Pakistan that back militancy, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The donations, to schools in the province of Punjab, come from Islamic charities and missionary organisations and are made "ostensibly with the direct support" of the Saudi and Emirati governments, said the cable, which was written in November 2008 and published by Pakistan's Dawn newspaper. [Associated Press] Read more

22 May 2011

Denmark: Gov't campaign to change immigrant attitudes towards women

.... Let by Integration Minister Søren Pind (V) and with support from several ministers, the government will attack the attitude towards women that - they say - is prevalent among some immigrants of Muslim culture.

The "national strategy against forced marriages and oppression' will combat such things as reeducation trips, and have teachers, educators and campaigns to convince immigrants that their attitude towards women is outdated. This will prevent forced marriages and other types of oppression. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Muslims replacing Jews as Europe's scapegoat, says academic

Muslims in Europe have replaced the continent’s Jews of yesteryear as the largest target of discrimination and prejudice, according to a prominent Swiss academic and Islamic expert.

“There are new alliances in Europe against the Muslim presence, and people who were against Judaism are now against the Muslim presence in Europe,” Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford professor and grandson of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, said Friday at a seminar at Istanbul Bilgi University. [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Saudi woman detained for driving

A woman in Saudi Arabia was detained after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the Kingdom and posted a video of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube.

Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said Manal al-Sherif was detained on Saturday by the country's religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom's rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.

Al-Sherif was released hours later, according to the campaign's Twitter account. The terms of her release were not immediately clear.

Al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,'' which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. [Al Jazeera] Read more

21 May 2011

Sweden: Hundreds demonstrate for and against building of a mosque in Sweden

Hundreds of proponents and opponents held rallies in Sweden's second-largest city Goteborg on Saturday to voice their opinions over the building of a mosque there.

Heavy police presence kept the two groups appart and a spokesman for the force said only one person had been arrested for violent behaviour toward an officer.

It was the biggest police effort in the city since the EU Summit in 2001, when several thousand people gathered to protest against U.S. President George W. Bush, the EU and globalization. [Associated Press] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Bulgarians fight back. A great moment

.... Wherever there are massive street prayers by Muslims laws are broken. People cannot access public property and even indeed their own till the Muslims are good and finished with their demonstration of strength.

And that is what these are. Prayer in any sense we are familiar with can be done in the privacy of one’s own home or in a temple of some kind.

It does not need to happen ‘en masse’ and at the expense of all other peoples and activities in the area. This is why it is a demonstration of Islamic power, and not a religious service. [Vlad Tepes] Read more

Presbyterian wants Sharia law banned in South Australia

.... "We have no problems with things like halal food and those practices but the main problems with Sharia are the subjugation of women, the wearing of total coverings for women, the repression of women in terms of Christian principles," Mr Slucki said. "We are also opposed to the totalitarian view of the state (governance).

"This is an issue that will not go away, just as it has not gone away in the UK and in Canada and other places. [The Advertiser] Read more

Avoid the hysteria but reject sharia

.... Given that we tolerate and even celebrate multiculturalism in its various practical forms, should we not also extend pluralism to the law?

This is the proposition put forward by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

In its widely reported submission to a parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism, AFIC has called for Australians to consider accommodating sharia, or Islamic law, as part of a model of legal pluralism. Since Islamic law is part of a Muslim's culture, denying its recognition involves an injustice that goes against "modern standards of citizenship and rights" and "any profession of multiculturalism".

I believe these claims should be rejected. But before I come to my reasons, a preliminary point: we should maintain a sense of proportion and avoid hysteria.

.... These are the obvious and grave risks of recognising sharia as part of our law. I would imagine most Australian Muslims would agree with this view. Legal pluralism would exacerbate the danger of them becoming second-class citizens. [The Australian] Read more [via National Secular Society]

20 May 2011

An incisive history of the hijab reveals surprising shifts

.... Over the next decades, the veil gathered a range of new meanings: from an expression of personal faith, solidarity with Palestine, Chechnya or Iraq or allegiance to the ummah, to a safeguard against sexual harassment, a fashion statement, a critique of western "sexism", a call for minority rights, an evangelical tool.

Ahmed does not romanticise these rationales – she is clear about the growing pressure on women from both Islamist organisations and preachers and from families, peers and the media.

But A Quiet Revolution is a timely reminder that the veil today is a symptom less of an alien fanaticism than of a long political and cultural entanglement with the unveiled west. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Swiss canton voters could ban the burqa

A local committee in Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region, said it has collected 11,316 signatures, over a thousand more the required number to launch a referendum. Canton authorities will check the signatures over the next few days, reports say and could then call for a referendum.

According to local newspaper Corriere del Ticino, as well as banning burqas, niqabs and other Islamic headresses, the initiative also aims to ban the use of balaclavas and other headgear that disguise people's faces. These are sometimes worn by people attending football matches in Switzerland. [The Local] Read more

State-sponsored imams contradict Turkish secularism, Sudanese professor says

Turkey is damaging its claim to being a secular state by providing state employment to imams, according to a leading Sudanese law professor and expert on Islamic studies.

“My definition of secular state is one that is neutral to religion. And by that definition, I am critical of Turkey because here the state controls religion rather than being neutral on religion,” Abdullahi An-Na’im told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview Thursday. “Turkey can do better than this.”

In Turkey, the Religious Affairs Directorate administers a vast network of imams throughout the country. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more [via National Secular Society]

19 May 2011

Far-right Catalans making waves across crisis-hit Spain

IT'S a blunt campaign message - a video shows three attractive young women in miniskirts skipping with a rope in the Spanish city of Igualada, to the accompaniment of a traditional Catalan folk song. Suddenly, the image changes to "Igualada 2015" and shows three women dressed in burkas skipping to the rhythm of an Arab song.

"You can avoid this nightmare becoming reality. In Igualada, vote Plataforma per Catalunya," the video concludes.

Plataforma per Catalunya is a far-right party created nine years ago by former supporters of General Francisco Franco in the north-eastern industrial province of Catalonia, and running in Sunday's regional elections in Spain. [news.scotsman.com] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Muslim-Christian clashes erupt over reopening of church in Egyptian capital

Muslims and Christians pelted each with stones in a Cairo suburb Thursday over the reopening of a church the former regime closed years ago.

The church is one of three to be reopened as part of the Egyptian authorities’ plan to try to defuse recent religious tensions. They have promised to reopen nearly 50 churches across Egypt in an attempt to appease Christian protesters who have been holding a sit-in for more than a week along the Nile. [Associated Press] Read more

18 May 2011

Brussels: Vlaams Belang wants action against Muslim drivers who refuse to take dogs

Muslim taxi drivers in Brussels are increasingly refusing to take dogs, even assistance dogs, says Vlaams Belang. The party says that many of the taxi drivers in Brussels are Muslim.

The taxi drivers refuse dogs saying it's freedom of religion, but the law says that assistance dogs should be allowed in all public places, including taxis. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Three out of four cattle killed without pain relief

A new report by the European Commission indicates that up to 75 percent of all cattle in the EU are killed without pain relief, causing unnecessary suffering, reports Swedish Radio News.

Previous estimates put the figure at just five to ten percent, and Green Party MEP Carl Schlyter says he is shocked at the numbers.

Many of the animals are first drained of their blood before dying, and a growing share of the 75 percent are made up of animals killed according to the rules for kosher and halal meat, but Schlyter says much is also due to cost-cutting measures at slaughterhouses. [Radio Sweden] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Terror prophet’ Brit faces prison

A BRITON could be jailed for ten years in Dubai after being accused of calling the prophet Mohammed a "terrorist".

Businessman Andrew Graham, 40, had an argument with a Pakistani shopkeeper, who told police he had abused the Muslim faith's most revered figure.

Mr Graham insists he had merely been discussing the Taliban with the trader and fiercely denies his allegations.

But yesterday he appeared at Dubai's Misdemeanours Court to be accused of insulting Islam. It is a serious charge in the strict Islamic state, carrying a maximum penalty of ten years' jail. [The Sun] Read more

Premier rules out funding for halal businesses

PREMIER Ted Baillieu has quashed a Muslim organisation's call for taxpayers to pay for the expansion of Islamic schools and halal food outlets into mainstream suburbs.

In a submission to a federal inquiry into multiculturalism, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said Muslims were forced to live in enclaves near Islamic schools, mosques and halal food outlets.

"The Government should invest in expanding services like halal and kosher meat and food outlets as well as faith-based schools," it said. [Herald Sun] Read more

Hailing the Lies, Punishing the Truth

.... Taube says he was “completely floored,” when he heard Wilders say, “Please forget about the concept of radical Islam. There is only one Islam, and that cannot be taught to young children that we want to have a full and a respected life in our societies," and that made him write his venomous article against Wilders.

Why pick on Wilders? Why not attack Turkey’s Prime Minister who also says the same thing? Erdogan is offended when westerners categorize Islam as “moderate Islam” and “radical Islam.”

The Turkish newspaper Milliyet quoted him say, “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more

Australian Government gives short shrift to sharia–lite appeal from Muslims

.... McClelland is keen to assert Australia’s position as a “stable democracy” where “rule of law” underpins society.

People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact that we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and woman are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background.

But the AFIC argues that Muslims should enjoy “legal pluralism”.

The organisation’s President, Ikebal Adam Patel, who wrote the submission, nominated family law and specifically divorce as an area where moderate interpretations of sharia could co-exist within the Australian legal system. [The Freethinker] Read more

17 May 2011

UN ‘Disturbed’ by Indonesia’s Religious Violence

The United Nations has written to the Indonesian government expressing “concern” about the increasing number of reports about violence committed against religious minorities.

.... “I have been particularly disturbed by the widespread violence and discrimination reported against the [Ahmadiyah] community, which has included the state-sanctioned closing of Ahmadi mosques, the burning of homes and places of worship, and even physical violence and murder.” [Jakarta Globe] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

New Study Finds Shariah Law Involved in Court Cases in 23 States

The Center for Security Policy today released an in-depth study-- Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases.

The study evaluates 50 appellate court cases from 23 states that involve conflicts between Shariah (Islamic law) and American state law.

The analysis finds that Shariah has been applied or formally recognized in state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.

Some commentators have tried to minimize this problem, claiming, as an editorial in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times put it that, “…There is scant evidence that American judges are resolving cases on the basis of shariah.” To the contrary, our study identified 50 significant cases just from the small sample of appellate court published cases. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Australia Gets It Right on Sharia Implementation

.... Arguments used by the Federation of Islamic Councils for accommodating sharia law include:

• Islam itself advocates legal pluralism, with each religious community following its own laws.

• Islam allows a place for customs or cultural practices, provided that they do not conflict with fundamental requirements of Islam.

• The dhimmi system under the Ottomans allowed non-Muslims to be governed by their own law, giving them power and dignity in their own right.

• Although modern scholars reject the dhimmi system as unjust, Muslims in the West are worse off than dhimmis, because they are compelled to live under Western law and are not granted their own 'Millet' or officially recognized ethno-religious community.

• Islamic law is part of Muslims' culture, so multiculturalism should provide a place for Islamic law.

• The Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chief Justice of England have both endorsed religious pluralism through accommodating sharia law. [markdurie.com blog] Read more

Iran stoning woman's lawyer jailed, allegedly tortured

THE former lawyer of an Iranian woman facing death by stoning was beginning an 11-year prison sentence today for his efforts to publicise her case.

Javid Houtan Kian, who represented Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was jailed for endangering Iran's national security and spreading propaganda against the regime, with a further charge of spying still under review by the prosecutor.

Since his arrest in October he has been burned with cigarettes on his legs, feet and testicles, and has had 12 of his teeth knocked out during bouts of torture, according to a letter written by Kian that was reportedly smuggled out of the jail earlier this year. [news.com.au] Read more

Australia denies Muslim request for sharia law

The Australian government has rejected a call from a leading Muslim group for the introduction of a non-extremist version of sharia law.

.... In its submission, the Federation said while some Muslims saw sharia law as immutable, others argued it could be amended to respond to social change.

But McClelland says people who migrate to Australia do so because it is a free, open and tolerant society where men and woman are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background. [Radio Australia] Read more

16 May 2011

Does the BBC have a problem with Muslims?

.... The panel was scarcely an improvement. The only representative Muslim figure was Salma Yaqoob. Alongside her we had right-wing journalist Ann Leslie, who took the opportunity to refer to veiled women as wearing "bin bags", Quilliam's Maajid Nawaz and Taj Hargey of MECO.

If the BBC had set out to find two of the least representative and most widely despised individuals within the British Muslim community they couldn't have come up with anyone much better than Nawaz and Hargey, with the possible exception of Anjem Choudary. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Muslim creationists tour France denouncing Darwin

Followers of Harun Yahya, a well-financed Turkish publisher of popular Islamic books, held four conferences at Muslim centers in the Paris area at the weekend with more scheduled in six other cities.

At a Muslim junior high school in this north Paris suburb, about 100 pupils -- boys seated on the right, girls on the left -- listened as two Turks from Harun Yahya's headquarters in Istanbul denounced evolution as a theory Muslims should shun.

"We didn't descend from the apes," lecturer Ali Sadun told the giggling youngsters. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, he said, was "the scientific basis to defend atheism."

.... Harun Yahya is the pseudonym of Adnan Oktar, 55, a preacher who keeps secret the sources of the ample funds that allow him and a group of followers to produce hundreds of thousands of slick and simple books on Islam under his pen name. [International Business Times] Read more

15 May 2011

Freedom in the Face of Resurgent Islam

.... While some forms of resurgent Islam can genuinely be progressively reformist — the names of Anwar Ibrahim and Chandra Muzaffar in Malaysia, Nahdat-Alc-Ulem in Indonesia and Asghar Ali Engineer in India come readily to mind — for the most part resurgent Islam is generally backward-looking.

That is to say, it is looking back, not just with nostalgia but with political, social and economic programmes in mind, to the origins of the particular tradition to which it belongs.

It is usually suspicious of religious plurality and is prepared to countenance the existence of other faiths in only the most restricted circumstances. [Standpoint] Read more

Islamic fundamentalism: separating the good from the bad

.... I invite anyone to use the Internet to browse these texts, and to see how they spell out punishment for non-believers. The text, in similar fashion to the Bible, is dripping with inclination toward violence, despite distinctly valuable prose that may lay beside it.

This would seem to require a revolution in religion that separates the pluralistic and just from supernatural and barbarous fundamental texts.

To quote author Sam Harris: “The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.’’ [Boston Globe] Read more [via National Secular Society]

14 May 2011

Iran postpones blinding man in retribution punishment

Iran has postponed blinding a convicted man in retribution for throwing acid in the face of a woman in 2004, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

A court sentenced Majid Mohavedi in 2008 to be blinded in both eyes for taking away the sight of Ameneh Bahrami by pouring acid in her face after she spurned his offers of marriage.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, qesas (retribution) is permitted in cases where bodily injuries are inflicted. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

13 May 2011

Iran to blind criminal with acid in 'eye for an eye' justice

In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Iran is ready for the first time to blind a man with acid, after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.

Majid Movahedi, 30, is scheduled to be rendered unconscious in Tehran's judiciary hospital at noon on Saturday while Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, drops acid in both his eyes, her lawyer said.

Bahrami who had asked for an eye for an eye retribution in the court, was disfigured and blinded by Movahedi in 2004 when he threw a jar of acid in her face while she was returning home from work. "He was holding a red container in his hand. He looked into my eyes for a second and threw the contents of the red container into my face," she told the court in 2008. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Tower Hamlets Taliban: Death threats to women who don't wear veils. Gays attacked in the streets. .... at the heart of Britain's capital

.... Those familiar with life in Tower Hamlets are not surprised. They say that such attitudes are commonplace. Residents have grown used to the fact that the council-run libraries are stocked with books and DVDs containing the extremist rantings of banned Islamist preachers.

There is a Muslim faith school where girls as young as 11 have to wear face-covering veils. There are plans to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of municipal money to build a set of Islamic arches — the so-called ‘hijab gates’, which would look like a veil — at either end of Brick Lane, which is packed with Indian restaurants and clothes shops.

And there have been allegations of corruption during council elections, with the names of hundreds of Bangladeshi ‘ghost voters’ suddenly appearing on the electoral register.

But what many struggle to understand is how mainstream politicians are ignoring the corruption that is going on in the heart of our capital. [MailOnline] Read more [via ENGAGE]

Dutch politician brings anti-Islam views to TN

.... Wilders’ visit comes as the Tennessee legislature moves toward a vote on what was once known as the anti-Shariah law bill. After a storm of protests, lawmakers stripped any reference to Shariah — the religious law of Islam — from the bill.

Instead, it now grants the Tennessee governor and the state attorney general the power to declare organizations to be terrorist groups. It is expected to pass overwhelmingly. [www.tennessean.com] Read more

Geert Wilders: A Warning to America

.... Do you know why America is in a better state than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom than Europeans.

And do you know why Americans enjoy more freedom than Europeans? Because you are still allowed to tell the truth.

In Europe and Canada people are dragged to court for telling the truth about islam.

I, too, have been dragged to court. I am an elected member of the house of representatives in the Netherlands. I am currently standing in court like a common criminal for saying that islam is a dangerous totalitarian ideology rather than a religion. The court case is still pending, but I risk a jail sentence of 16 months. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Censored! Bikini advert blacked out with spray paint by 'Muslim extremists who object to women in swimsuits'

She is supposed to be advertising a sexy bikini. But instead the model on this poster, in Birmingham, has been defaced in an act of vandalism blamed on militant Muslims who were offended by her flesh.

Similar acts of vandalism have been carried out in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Police there also believe extremists are responsible.

The advert, which promotes a £3.99 bikini top from high-street fashion retailer H&M, a scantily-dressed model stands on a sun-kissed, white sand beach. [MailOnline] Read more

Muslims for Burqa Bans

.... These are not the first Western Muslims to back legal restrictions on burqas and niqabs. Previous examples include the Muslim Canadian Congress, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, Danish MP Naser Khader, British television personality Saira Khan, and Irfan al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the U.S.-based Center for Islamic Pluralism.

Wearing burqas and niqabs is not about modesty; the garments are symbols of female subjugation and cultural separatism that need to be shown the exit.

Reform-minded Muslims — both those who promote bans and those who prefer gentler means of persuasion — play a crucial role in this fight and should be bolstered however possible, before the "asphyxiating veil of ignorance" envelops us all. [Islamist Watch] Read more

12 May 2011

Muslims, Not Islam, Need Reform

In her recent Wall Street Journal opinion-editorial, Irshad Manji claims that not just Muslims, but the Quran and Islam itself needs reformation. In conflating the two, Manji ignores the possibility that the owner's manual might be fine, while the issues lie with the owner. Manji concludes by assuming, again incorrectly, that Muslims are not addressing the Muslim-on-Muslim violence or extremist's "violent ideology." [TheHuffingtonPost.com] Read more

Islam Needs Reformists, Not 'Moderates' .... Islam is being manipulated. That is why Muslims should acknowledge the awkward passages of our own holy book and reinterpret them—publicly. The Quran, I believe, encourages this: It contains three times as many verses promoting critical thought as opposed to blind submission.

How can we reinterpret the Quranic passage that allows Muslims to kill "as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land"? For starters, we must stress that more Muslims are being slaughtered by other Muslims than by anyone else. To fight "villainy in the land," then, we have to repel the violent ideology of some of our fellow Muslims. [WSJ.com] Read more

11 May 2011

This is Why - Part 4

This post continues the series showing why British people (and Europeans) have such a poor opinion of Islam and Muslims. Read more

The Dumbing-Down of Due Diligence at Canada's Huron College

For various reasons, some quite innocent, many Western universities are keen to establish Islamic Studies programs on their campuses. And for various other reasons, some quite pernicious, Islamist organizations are keen to see Islamic Studies programs established at Western universities.

To this end, allegedly to foster "understanding" of Islam, the latter are eager to establish Islamic Studies programs with boodle of such heft and shininess that salivating committees tasked with the decision of whether to accept or refuse the gift throw caution to the winds.

But closer inspection of certain controversial donor groups might suggest that their real agenda is twofold: Islamist colonization of the institution, and image-laundering. [Campus Watch] Read more

Islam is Misunderstood

Everybody just relax. Islam is badly misunderstood. The negative stereotype of Islam is the usual evil-doings of Zionists in America and their foolish fellow travelers, fundamentalist Christians.

Please don’t listen to what these hatemongers say about Islam and hear us out. So implies the nationally-launched campaign of Muslim organizations in the United States.

Ads are popping up in newspapers and magazines proclaiming the magnificence of Islam and aiming to refute the “false allegations” of Islam’s ill-wishers. [Family Security Matters] Read more

Politician warns of Canadian culture disaster

Canadians will see the erosion of their cultural values, including freedom of speech, if they continue to follow multicultural policies that are allowing the Islamization of the country, says Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

"Multiculturalism, I'm afraid, has been a disaster, but only because it is being used as a tool to promote Islam," he said Tuesday evening in a private reception at the National Arts Centre.

The reception, which saw more than 200 people pack the Fountain Room at the NAC, was jointly sponsored by the International Free Press Society and Ottawa-based Free Thinking Film Society.

It was part of Wilders' three-city tour of Canada that also included stops in London and Toronto. Maverick political activist and media commentator Ezra Levant introduced Wilders as "the bravest man in Europe." [Ottawa Citizen] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

10 May 2011

Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British Media

Edited by Julian Petley and Robin Richardson. Published by Oneworld Publications 2011.

This book is a rehash of research done between May 2006 and April 2007 for the GLA and the then Mayor of London (Ken Livingstone) and in early 2008 by the Cardiff School of Journalism (Note 1).

There is no new information even though the marketing blurb calls it “ …. a critical analysis of recent media coverage …”.

I was angry at first realising I had spent £20 on a book the contents of which I knew already (and had indirectly paid for as a London tax payer) and which were freely available.

However the book is useful. It illustrates the warped and irrelevant thinking of western apologists for Islam and shows how little they have to contribute to the discussions on Islamophobia and Muslim integration. [Read more]

Can French Muslims be funny? And can they get on TV?

Who says Muslims can’t be funny? That’s the tagline for a project by a French team that has produced 18 short movies in the last two years that take a humourous look at being a Muslim in France. With 14 million hits on its website, the project has attracted attention, but it has had trouble moving into mainstream television.

.... But it stays in the realm of the human. For Zahi, a practicing Muslim, there is a difference between poking fun at religion and laughing at the humans trying to practice the religion. [RFI] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

French far-right MP stripped of EU parliamentary immunity

The European Parliament stripped parliamentary immunity from French far-right MEP Bruno Gollnisch on Tuesday, to enable a complaint of "incitement to racial hatred" to be investigated.

French authorities will now interview Gollnisch after asking for the move, following a complaint over an October 2008 press release issued by Rhone-Alpes regional authorities near Lyon, which Gollnisch led, that cited "the invasion of our land and the destruction of our culture and values" by Islam. [AFP] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

French court acquits blogger who was 'only having some fun' when burning and urinating on Qur'an

A French court on Monday acquitted a blogger of a charge of provoking discrimination related to burning a copy of the Qur'an in an internet broadcast and urinating on the book.

The court in the north-eastern city of Strasbourg found that Ernesto Rojas Abbate had been acting within the boundaries of freedom of expression when he used the Qur'an as a prop in a simulation of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on New York.

Filming himself with a webcam on October 2, Abbate made a paper aircraft with pages from the Qur'an and launched it at two glasses representing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. He then burnt the aircraft and the book and urinated on them, to "quench the flames". [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Egyptian Christians say they are 'under organised attack'

Armed troops and riot police guarded the streets around St Mena's church and nearby burned-out shops and apartment blocks in the impoverished, crumbling Cairo suburb of Imbaba.

Inside, Father Cherubim Awad said a conspiracy was the only possible explanation for the violence that had engulfed relations between Christians and Muslims in recent weeks.

"Five churches were attacked on the same night," he said. "From the beginning of this year we have had all these attacks in a short space of time.

"There is some hidden hand behind this, whether from inside the country or outside it." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Dutch anti-Islam speech in Ottawa angers Muslims

Members of Canada's Muslim community say the government is guilty of hypocrisy in allowing a prominent critic of Islam to enter Canada on a speaking tour.

Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a prominent critic of Islam, is scheduled to speak at the National Arts centre in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Wilders, who heads the Netherlands' third-biggest political party, is being prosecuted in Holland for hate speech, after he compared the Qur'an, Islam's holiest text, to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. [CBC.ca] Read more

09 May 2011

Geert Wilders’ problem with Islam

…. He notes that while other religions draw a distinction between God and Caesar, between the secular and the spiritual, Islam demands submission in every aspect of human existence, both through the wording of the Koran itself and the Shariah law that has developed in its shadow.

The faith also supplies a justification for aggressive war; vilifies non-believers; and pronounces death upon its enemies. In short, Mr. Wilders argues, it has all the ingredients of what students of 20th century history would recognize as a fully formed totalitarian ideology.

“I see Islam as 95% ideology, 5% religion — the 5% being the temples and the imams,” he tells me. “If you would strip the Koran of all the negative, hateful, anti-Semitic material, you would wind up with a tiny [booklet].” [National Post] Read more

08 May 2011

Social Democrat ditches Muslim holiday plan

Social Democrat party secretary Carin Jämtin has backtracked on the idea of giving Swedes a day off work to celebrate a Muslim holiday after her controversial proposal provoked a storm of criticism.

The newly appointed party secretary kick-started the debate when suggesting in a interview earlier this week that any review of Sweden's public holidays should consider making room for the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

Jämtin said the addition of the holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan for Muslims, would help reflect the multicultural nature of Swedish society. [The Local] Read more

Egypt Muslim-Christian clashes: 190 face military trial

.... At least 10 people have died and 186 were wounded during the overnight clashes in Cairo's Imbaba district.

It started after several hundred conservative Salafist Muslims gathered outside the Coptic Saint Mena Church.

They were reportedly protesting over allegations that a Christian woman was being held there against her will because she had married a Muslim man and wanted to convert to Islam.

Rival groups threw firebombs and stones, and gunfire was heard.

The church and one other, as well as some nearby homes, were set alight, and it took some hours for the emergency services and the military to bring the situation under control. [BBC] Read more

At least 6 dead in Egyptian sectarian violence

At least six people were killed and 120 injured in sectarian clashes outside a church in Cairo on Saturday, officials said.

A group of Muslim Salafists attacked the Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church. Gunfire rang out as people sprinted for cover.

"With my own eyes I saw three people killed and dozens injured," said Mina Adel, a Christian resident. "There's no security here. There's a big problem. People attacked us, and we have to protect ourselves."

Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman Alla Mahmoud said in a statement that six people were killed and 120 injured.

He said the clashes were sparked by reports of a Christian woman who married a Muslim man and was allegedly being held inside the church. [CNN] Read more

Warning sounded over polygamous Muslim marriages

The government has been told that it may be risking causing offence to Muslims living in Ireland who wish to engage in polygamous marriages.

Senior department officials at the Department of Social Protection said procedures where children born to second or concurrent wives were recorded as illegitimate could cause offence. In a special briefing note prepared for the minister, Joan Burton, the officials warned that Muslim men here may believe that Irish procedures were ‘‘disrespectful’’ to their religion.

The move follows concerns by the High Court over the acceptance of certain marriages as valid when celebrated in certain countries under so-called ‘native law and custom’.

The High Court’s concern follows a case brought by a Lebanese man last year, in which he sought to obtain recognition for a second concurrent marriage, both of which he had entered into while living in Lebanon. [Sunday Business Post] Read more

06 May 2011

2 Muslims are taken off plane

Two Muslim religious leaders on their way to a Charlotte conference on "Islamophobia" said they were removed from a commercial flight Friday because the pilot refused to fly with them on board.

Imams Masudur Rahman, an adjunct professor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, and Mohamed Zaghloul said they and their bags were checked twice by security agents at the Memphis airport before boarding the 8:40 a.m. Delta connection Flight 5452 to Charlotte. Rahman said the plane left the gate and was taxiing to the runway when the pilot came over the intercom. "The pilot said: 'There is an issue. We need to return to the gate,'" Rahman said.

"They were screened and cleared to fly," said TSA spokesman Jon Allen in Atlanta. "The decision to deny boarding was made by the airline, not TSA." [The Herald] Read more

Iran to make university courses more Islamic

Iran plans sweeping changes to university courses to make them more compatible with Islam, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday.

.... The report did not name the subjects that would be changed, but officials said last year Iran would review 12 disciplines in the social sciences, including law, women’s studies, human rights, management, sociology, philosophy, psychology and political sciences, as their contents were too closely based on Western culture.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for modification of these studies in August, saying that many humanities subjects are based on principles founded in materialism rather than divine Islamic teachings. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Blasphemy case on Facebook adjourned

.... The petitioner Muhammad Azhar Siddieque arguing before the court said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Communication completely has failed to detect the blasphemy on internet and especially on facebook.

The petitioner said some people who had their agenda to disgrace the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and struggling to defame the dignity of Islam.

He prayed before the court to issue notice to the concerned authorities on the negligence on their part. He also prayed that PTA and Ministry for communication be directed to ban facebook on permanent basis. [thefrontierpost.com] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Will Muslim Brotherhood succeed where Osama bin Laden failed?

.... Bin Laden was many things, but he was not original. He was himself introduced to the doctrine of jihad by the late Palestinian theologian Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Significantly, before Azzam begun teaching bin Laden and others in Saudi Arabia, he was a member of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.

Unlike Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood has evolved and learned the hard way that the use of violence will be met with superior violence by state actors.

The clever thing to do, it now turns out, was to be patient and invest in a bottom-up movement rather than a commando structure that risked being wiped out by stronger forces. Besides, the gradualist approach is far more likely to win the prize of state power. [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

05 May 2011

Burqa ban sees 27 offences recorded

FRANCE'S burqa ban has seen 27 offences recorded since it was brought into force. The law bans people from covering their faces in public spaces, effectively outlawing the burqa and niqab Islamic dresses.

A report from the Interior Ministry says on average one or two women a day have been given verbal cautions since the ban began on April 11.

Minister Claude Guéant said: "A lot of people were worried about this. They said the law was inapplicable.

"In fact, the people stopped have complied and have generally been given a verbal warning," he said.

The most recent fine he said, went to an American at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Having returned from Saudi-Arabia she initially complied with the request to remove the veil, but was fined after putting it back on in the airport. [The Connexion] Read more

Denmark: Failed integration of Blågård church Palestinians

In 1992, a group of Lebanese-Palestinians (stateless) sought asylum in Blågård church (in Nørrebro, Copenhagen) and were finally given residence permits. A new report by Integration Minister Søren Pind (V) shows that their integration failed, and that most are on welfare.

Of the 321 stateless Palestinians, 218 received some form of welfare in 2009. According to the study, 26 of the remaining 80 people were born before 1945 and could therefore be getting a pension, which is not statistically considered welfare.

The study also shows that 63 people were sentenced to a prison sentence (conditional or unconditional) and 114 were fined in the period 1992-2009. [Islam in Europe] Read more

UN could move to target criticism of Islam as 'hate speech'

Muslim countries may seek a United Nations resolution that would brand criticism of Islam and other religions as “hate speech,” a top U.S. religious freedom official is warning.

Earlier this year, Islamic nations lost their most recent bid to pass a resolution against “defamation” of “vilification” of religions in the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Now they appear to be pursing a new tactic, said Leonard Leo, a presidential appointee who chairs the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. [Catholic News Agency] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Norway Imam children’s school applicant advocates decapitation

.... Omitting this information from his application to the Directorate for Education and Training, the Ministry of Education and Research’s executive body, he says in a YouTube video that, “A person who eats and drinks in public during Ramadan ridicules Islam”, reports NRK.

“Authorities shall decapitate the individual if he/she is within the jurisdiction of a Muslim society or state,” proclaims the Imam, believing jail or the same punishment applies to people who do not exercise their prayer obligation. [The Foreigner] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

04 May 2011

'Saudi Women Revolution' makes a stand for equal rights

As election centers across Saudi Arabia opened on April 23 for voters to register for forthcoming municipal elections, groups of women turned up asking to take part.

As expected, they were turned away -- women will not be able to stand or vote in September's municipal elections -- but just by showing up they had made their point.

This was one of the first public acts of the newly-formed "Saudi Women Revolution," a movement set up to campaign for the end of Saudi Arabia's discriminatory laws.

Their chief aim is ending male guardianship, which means Saudi women often need permission from their husband, father, brother or even son to work, travel, study, marry, or access health care, according to Human Rights Watch. [CNN] Read more

Turkish Internet filtering plan 'unconstitutional,' experts say

A plan to require Internet users in Turkey to choose one of four content-filtering packages is unconstitutional and violates the right to freedom of expression, legal experts and civil-society groups have said.

“[Turkish authorities] look at how they can impose regulations that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet, rather than promoting this freedom,” Orhan Erinç, the chairman of the Turkish Journalists Community, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview Wednesday.

He said that mentality had not changed for more than three decades, since the beginnings of radio and television broadcasting in the country. [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more

Man kills his family for not converting to Islam

A man who was angry that his family would not go along with his conversion to Islam was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in the slayings of his mother, pregnant wife, infant son and two nieces in a rampage last year on the South Side.

James A. Larry, 33, of Madison, Wis., pleaded guilty last month to multiple counts of murder, attempted murder and the intentional homicide of an unborn child. [Chicago Tribune] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Man kills stepdaughter for not honoring Muslim religion

A Michigan man shot and killed his stepdaughter because he felt she was not honoring her Muslim religion, according to police.

Rahim Alfetlawi told investigators that he shot Jessica Mokdad in the head Saturday, because he was upset about her new lifestyle.

"He indicated he wanted her back in Minnesota, so she could [practice] a more conservative lifestyle," said Det. Cpl. Stephen Mills, with the Warren Police Department.

Alfetlawi allegedly left his home in Minnesota on Friday and stopped in Grand Blanc, MI, where Mokdad had been living with her biological father. But he was not able to find her. [WDAM] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Free speech dies in Denmark

Another bad blow against freedom in the west. Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Press Society and The International Free Press Society, was yesterday found guilty of hate speech under the Danish penal code.

His crime – as I wrote previously here, here and here – was to draw attention to child abuse and violence against women in Muslim culture. The day after the interview, he stressed that his opinions were about Islam and not intended to refer to all Muslims. [The Spectator] Read more

02 May 2011

Final remarks by Geert Wilders at his Trial in Amsterdam, May 2nd, 2011

.... Mr. President, members of the court, I end with a quote of George Washington, who said: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Mr. President, members of the court, do not let this warning become reality.

Stop this charade, this political trial where I have already been convicted by the court even before I was a suspect. Stop it now. If you do so, and I passionately hope you will, this will benefit freedom of speech as well as the respectability of the judicial power and the rule of law. [The Iconoclast] Read more

01 May 2011

Pakistan: Hundreds of Muslims attack Christians; police arrest Christians for counter-protest

At least 20 people, including police officials, were wounded as 500Muslim demonstrators attacked the Christian community in Gujranwala city on April 29, Minorities Concern of Pakistan has learnt.

The attackers, who accused certain members of the Christian community of committing blasphemy, entered a Christian missionary school and broke the furniture there and also attempted to attack a church in Gulzar Colony.

Police broke up the mob of people armed with sticks tried to attack a local Church. Bruce Bhatti, a Christian social worker, told Minorities Concern of Pakistan that situation is very tense in the city and Christians are very scared. [Spero News] Read more [via Religious Watch]