30 June 2011

Muslim weightlifter fights to compete, hijabi-style

.... At present, the rules require arms and legs to be bare so judges can see when elbows and knees are “locked” to determine if a lift is successful. Most competitors wear a form-fitting body suit with short sleeves and short pants called a singlet.

Abdullah argues that there are clothing alternatives — close-fitting sports gear with long sleeves and leggings — that could meet the requirements for modesty and fairness. [msnbc.com] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Ritual slaughter ban reflects fights over food and faith in the Netherlands

.... First of all, the animosity towards ritual slaughter is clearly related to the animosity about Islam. When the proposal for the bill was mentioned for the first time, the debate was about Islam and not about Jews.

Second, the proposal and parliamentary vote signal a change in the relation between the religious and the secular. With the current compromise, the burden of proof is not on the state but on religous communities that ritual slaughter does not lead to greater pain than stunning.

Given the evidence on that issue right now, and the fact they have to show that something ‘is not’ (i.e. prove a negative), this will be an almost impossible endeavour.

.... For some, this is the victory of modernity and secular society over ancient or even backward religion, for the other it is attacking the freedom of religion in society. Not all Muslims and Jews prefer the old way of slaughter, but it appears that all of them are against the new law. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Dutch interior minister argues for burqa ban

"You can't walk down the street naked either. That is the result of our norms about decent behaviour. The Netherlands also has norms which make it advisable to ban clothing which covers your face."

Interior Minister Piet-Hein Donner was speaking during a debate about his integration bill, which would introduce a ban on burqas. Not for security reasons but because "in our society you have to be able to see each other". [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

New Name, Same Old Focus for Islamic Bloc

.... Also receiving much attention at the meeting in Astana was the issue that has dominated OIC activism at the U.N. in recent years – “Islamophobia” and the associated campaign to outlaw religious “defamation.”

Ihsanoglu in his speech reaffirmed that it was “a matter of extreme priority for the OIC.”

“Islamophobia represents a contemporary manifestation of racism and the phenomenon must be addressed in that context,” he added, alluding to the OIC’s drive to amend an existing, binding anti-racism treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, so that it also covers religion.[CNSNews.com] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

What a surprise! Now hate preacher cites his human rights to fight deportation

A banned extremist who made a mockery of Britain’s border controls is now using human rights law to fight deportation. Sheikh Raed Salah managed to walk through immigration checks at Heathrow airport at the weekend despite being barred from the UK by the Home Secretary.

On the direct orders of Theresa May, he was finally detained late on Tuesday evening – shortly after addressing a packed meeting of Islamic activists in Leicester.

She ordered that Salah, described in the House of Commons as ‘virulently anti-Semitic’, be removed on the grounds his presence is not ‘conducive to the public good’. [MailOnline] Read more

Islamists and the Problem of Double Discourse

.... Many secular intellectuals and politicians in Tunisia fear that Al-Ghannoushi and his movement may use the democratic process to transform Tunisia into an Islamic State and undermine the civil and political liberties of those who do not share their Islamist vision.

Tunisia has made considerable strides in terms of granting women equal rights and there is a genuine fear among young women that Al-Nahda may seek to convert Tunisia into another Iran.

Needless to say, Al-Nahda and its leadership denies these allegations as fear mongering, and insist that they are just another party, albeit one that places a greater emphasis on the fact that Tunisia is a Muslim country and believes that Islamic values can contribute much wisdom to political governance. [The Huffington Post] Read more

29 June 2011

A note on prejudice

The prejudice – the pre-judgment – comes in the elision from "some Muslims … ", "some gays … ", "some Catholics … ", "some Irish … " or whatever to the noun on its own: "Muslims are"; "Irish do"; "Catholics are".

I think this is simply a result of the way that nouns work. When we attach meaning to new words, it is rather like filling out a long form in which there are default entries for all the fields that we filled in last time. Whatever we do not consciously change is carried over from the most similar previous idea.

.... Still, I don't think it's an unworkably pious suggestion to follow the lead of our style book and check, every time you say "Muslim" (or "Christian", or "atheist") whether the sentence works just as well if you change the noun to an adjective – "Muslim people" – and only say "Muslim" if you can't hear any difference. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Driving Ms. Manal

Is Manal Al Sharif the Rosa Parks of the Saudi Arabia? Ms Parks, a courageous black woman during the civil right movement in the US, refused to vacate her seat on a full bus when asked by the bus driver for a boarding white-man passenger. She contributed to the end of the segregation laws in the US.

Ms Manal was arrested on May 21, 2011, and jailed for nine days for a YouTube posting of her driving a car in Al-Khobar, eastern province, Saudi Arabia. [altmuslim] Read more

Netherlands set to outlaw halal and kosher slaughter

.... The bill was brought forward by the Party for Animals, which holds just two seats in the Dutch House of Representatives, but received cross-party support, with proponents arguing that ritual methods lead to increased suffering for animals. The legislation must now pass a vote in the Dutch Senate later in the year.

If the bill becomes law, Holland would join Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland as the fifth European country to legislate against religious slaughter, something which has prompted Britain's chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks to warn of a "domino effect". [New Humanist] Read more

The difference between secularism and secularisation

.... Paradoxically, for the world beyond Europe the policy prescriptive has been the opposite. Since the late colonial period – and particularly for predominantly Muslim societies today – the policy dogma has been that the adoption of secularism as a state project will lead to the process of secularisation.

But secularism as a separation of church (religion) and state does not make ready sense in societies where there was no hierarchical, structured church that had inherited an empire's state apparatus as the Roman Catholic church had in Europe.

In the various versions of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc there has been no one clerical figure vested with the kind of power and authority that the pope excersised over domains now assumed within the modern state. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Saudi arrests women for driving: reports

Saudi Arabia has arrested five women for getting behind the wheel in defiance of a ban on female drivers in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, media outlets and activists said Wednesday.

"A girl who was driving, accompanied by her brother in Jeddah's southern neighbourhood of Al-Suleymania, was arrested," Saudi news website Sabq.org reported.

"The two were surrounded by four police patrols who asked for their identities then took them to a police station, where they were interrogated," said the website. [AFP] Read more

Saudi Arabian charity in Pakistan offers education - or is it extremism?

Saudi money has been flowing into Pakistan since the 1980s, when state and private donors funded an explosion of madrasas. Many come from the Ahle Hadith school of Islam, a strict version of the faith that is close to the Salafist faith taught in Saudi Arabia.

The amount or nature of donations is shrouded in secrecy, as most come through the undocumented hawala traders, although a western official estimated it at "tens of millions of dollars".

.... Secular critics say Saudi money and influence have had a corrosive influence on Pakistani society, encouraging a tide of conservatism: more veiled women, Islamist televangelists, and public shows of piety than ever before. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

New poll shows that the multicultural Utopia is finally within reach. Or not

.... Yet multiculturalism itself was a form of liberal orientalism, based on an idea of a society where people brought along and kept their own languages, religions, cuisines and fashions, but underneath it all thought and behaved like nice white English liberals.

Unfortunately it just doesn’t work like that, and the “colourful community”, as Norway’s liberals call their new citizens, have minds of their own. Ever since 9/11 British liberals have been trying to find an opinion poll that contradicted this; they’re still looking, unless they count 47 people answering an ambiguous question as proof. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamic school vision for Teesside

PROPOSALS have been put forward to open the North-East's first Islamic school on Teesside.

An application has been made to the Department for Education to open the Emaan Academy under the Free School process.

The secondary school would have an Islamic ethos and 50% of the student intake would be from the Muslim faith. The remainder would be from other or no faiths.

It would be aimed at pupils living in disadvantaged parts of Middlesbrough, such as the town centre. The school is the idea of Sulaiman Ahmed, 26, Rouf Ditta, 28, and Moneeb Minhas, 23, all from Middlesbrough, who all have backgrounds in education. [Gazette] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Kosher and halal meat could soon disappear from UK shops

Yesterday’s vote in the Dutch parliament to ban the no-stun slaughter of livestock could halt production of kosher and halal meat in the Netherlands, and is likely to inspire similar campaigns in other European countries.

The argument seems straightforward: if we have scientifically proven standards for animal welfare that we believe in, we should stick to those standards. And indeed, it would be a simple argument if the people affected by the ban were a random mix of a wide variety of the population. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

28 June 2011

"Obedient wives club", pretext for legalizing polygamy in Indonesia

.... What is certain is that the birth in Indonesia - after Malaysia – of the Obedient Wives Club (OWC), an organization in which women are completely subject to their husbands, even regarding their sexual demands, has not passed unobserved.

Critics point out that the foundation of the club is only a "pretext" to legitimize polygamy in the country, opposed by the majority of the population and outlawed by former President Suharto, in power from 1967 to 1998. [AsiaNews] Read more

The real face of Hizbul Tehrir

.... Islamic groups and parties have been striving since the inception of Pakistan to Islamize the country in accordance with the Objective Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, which stated that Muslims living in Pakistan would be enabled to mould their lives in line with the teachings of Islam.

HuT is one such Islamic group and presents itself as a global revolutionary movement with branches in over 50 countries across the globe, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

HuT claims to be a political party with Islam as its ideology. It was actually established in Jerusalem in 1953 by Shaikh Taqiul Deen al-Nabahani (1909-1977), a cleric and a judge in the sharia court. The stated goal of the HuT at that time was to establish an expansionist super-state called the Khilafah, initially consisting of Muslim-majority states and finally expanding to the rest of the world. [Asia Times Online] Read more

US Muslim woman sues Abercrombie over hijab

A US Muslim woman sued Abercrombie & Fitch, accusing the clothing retailer of firing her for refusing to remove her religious head scarf, a Muslim advocacy group said.

Hani Khan of San Mateo, California, alleged that store managers had told her to remove her hijab as part of the clothing chain's "Look Policy," the Council of American-Islamic Relation (CAIR) said in a statement.

Khan was fired from her job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in California in February 2010, after working there for four months, when she refused to comply with the managers' request, according to CAIR. [AFP] Read more

East London Mosque: the lies go on

Salman Farsi, the East London Mosque’s less than silver-tongued PR, has been in action after my story yesterday about the mosque’s meeting tomorrow with the homophobe Yusuf Patel of SREIslamic (the mosque’s own director will share the platform.) “Many other faith groups also hold similar views, but are not singled out in the same manner or with the same vituperative response,” he pleads.

This isn’t about a faith. It’s about a mosque. No doubt some Christians do hold homophobic views – but I am quite certain that you would never find them being openly and repeatedly expressed, with official approval, from the pulpit of, say, Southwark Cathedral, or for that matter the smallest parish church in this country.

Still less would you find active hatred being incited against people on the grounds of their sexuality. The East London Mosque, Britain’s largest, is British Islam’s equivalent of Southwark Cathedral. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Bearded Mickey Mouse 'a mockery of Islam'

An Egyptian Christian telecoms mogul has angered Islamic hard-liners by posting an online cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a beard and Minnie in a face veil.

The ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis, called the cartoon posted by Naguib Sawiris on Twitter a mockery of Islam.

They launched an online campaign calling on Muslims in Egypt to boycott Mr Sawiris’s mobile phone company, Mobinil. Shares of Mobinil and Orascom Telecom, which Mr Sawiris founded, both fell on the Egyptian stock exchange yesterday. [WalesOnline] Read more

Iran attacks BBC for documentary series on life of prophet Muhammad

.... Speaking to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, he said: "The BBC's decision to make a documentary on the life of [the] prophet Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action."

Hosseini added: "What the enemy is trying to do in ruining the Muslims' sanctity is definitely much more than causing us to react and unfortunately, some Islamic countries are not taking this issue seriously. One way to show objections is to express condemnation of the West over their despicable actions." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Pakistan: Campaign against blasphemy abuse goes on

Another person has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, renewing the debate over the country’s laws. Twenty-nine-year old Abdul Sattar was sentenced to death on 21 June.

The blasphemy issue gained international and national media attention last November when Asia Bibi became the first woman in Pakistan sentenced to death for blasphemy. The verdict attracted condemnation from human rights campaigners and from Pakistan’s Christian minority.

Then, earlier this year, Governor of Pakistan’s province Punjab Salmaan Taseer and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated, in separate incidents. They both supported Asia Bibi and made efforts to secure her release. [Index on Censorship] Read more

Dutch approve ban on kosher and halal animal slaughter

The Dutch parliament voted on Tuesday to ban ritual slaughter of animals, a move strongly opposed by the country's Muslim and Jewish minorities, but left a loophole that could let traditional butchery continue.

The bill by the small Animal Rights Party, the first such group in Europe to win seats in a national parliament, passed the lower house of parliament and must be approved by the upper house before becoming law.

It stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws that require animals to be fully conscious. [Reuters] Read more

Christians not vilified by Islamic billboard

PROCLAIMING Jesus to be ''a prophet of Islam'' on billboards is a statement of belief and does not discriminate against or vilify Christians, the Advertising Standards Bureau has found.

The billboard, one of several in an awareness campaign by Islamic group MyPeace, was the subject of a series of complaints to the bureau on the grounds that the statement was insulting to those who believed Jesus to be the son of God.

Other complaints included the charge that Jesus ''must not be associated with such [an] aggressive religion'' and another claiming the advertisement was upsetting to children. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

27 June 2011

The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism

The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.

A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: “The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people.

In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society.” [EU Times] Read more

Protesters burn church, destroy bar in Senegal

HUNDREDS of Muslim protesters descended on a Jehovah's Witness temple and a bar in a conservative Muslim neighbourhood of the Senegalese capital, setting the buildings on fire.

It was a rare instance of religious extremism in this normally moderate Islamic republic.

Thierno Mbeugne, spokesman for the local imam association, said the head imam in the conservative Yoff district of Dakar had asked the youth to march on Sunday against what they considered as "acts of aggression against their faith".

They were targeting the temple because they claim its members were proselytising, and the bar because it was selling alcohol. [AP - The Herald Sun] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

The Wedding of the Year?

.... It was the public marriage of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami movement. A major event in international Islamism. It’s also going to have a major affect on international relations and security in the future.

It is safe to say that the Egyptian event would have certainly been one of Sayid Qutb’s milestones. Islamist watchers around the world wouldn’t have been surprised; since the 1950s the Muslim Brothers and Jamaat have maintained close relations. They’ve played and flirted with each other for years. [The Spittoon] Read more

British Muslims are being misrepresented by a leadership that is more extreme and less tolerant than the vast majority of their number

.... The only people who need to fear British Muslims are their leaders. Time is running out for the extremist posers who have long got away with declaring themselves representatives of the Muslim community and made a living from misrepresenting their views.

It was not bravery or leadership that led the East London Mosque to ban homophobic speakers last week, but rather a recognition of two inescapable truths – that their congregation are far more liberal than we imagine and that its leaders now know that they’re dealing with a Government that isn’t scared to stand up for tolerance.

As our polling shows, not only will the Government be right to sever its ties with so-called ‘non-violent extremists’ but they’ll be fulfilling the wishes of most British Muslims too. [ConservativeHome] Read more

26 June 2011

Preaching good sex, Muslim-inspired Obedient Wives Club spreads in Asia

.... Indonesian Gina Puspita traded a career in aircraft engineering for a mission to preach Islam and help young women build happy marriages through good sex.

The French-educated mother of three hosts religious programmes through the Obedient Wives Club which is based on the belief that a fulfilling sex life is the cure for “Western-style” social problems such as divorce and abuse.

“Wives must obey the husbands in all aspect of life, such as serving food and drinks, giving calm and support for the husband, as well as in sex relations,” Pusipita, who shares her spouse with three other women, told Reuters. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Antwerp: Sharia police patrols against gays, girls in short skirts

On Sunday night, June 12th, a gay guy was attacked by North African youth in Brussels. The youth beat him and tried to choke him.

According to Bruno De Lille (Greens), Secretary of State for equal opportunities in the Brussels Region, most homophobic attackers come from the Muslim community, and that those acts are not linked to religion, but rather to a macho culture. He said there are also East-European homophobic attackers, and that those who express sentiments against women, often do the same towards gays. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The deep, submissive eyes...

So what's the appeal of radical Islam to these young relatively wealthy Western recruits? Why does the Yemeni-American jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki attract so many disciples?

According to Theo Padnos, in an excerpt from new book Undercover Muslim: A Journey into Yemen in the Sunday Times (£), a major factor is....women:

Many of the young westerners who’ve been turning up in Yemen to study the Koran over the past 10 years have left behind a history of troubled, in some cases anguished, relations with women. Many have visions of a local bride — the deep, submissive eyes, the black clothing — dancing in their heads. [Mick Hartley] Read more

25 June 2011

Indonesian maid saved from execution

The Indonesian government has paid SR2 million in blood money to save the life of an Indonesian maid on death row in Riyadh for killing her Yemeni employer in 2009.

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry sent the money to its embassy in Riyadh to secure the release of Darsem binti Dawud.

“The compensation was paid by two officers of the Indonesian Embassy to a panel at the Riyadh governorate dealing with the case,” said Hendrar Pramutyo, an official of the embassy’s Citizen Protection Wing, on Saturday.

“The payment of blood money is an expression of the Indonesian government’s commitment to protect its overseas workers at any cost.” [Arab News] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

24 June 2011

FOSIS is the problem, not the solution

.... As a student, I have seen the effects hate-preachers have on young Muslims. Many times, preachers have been ushered from one Islamic society to another and FOSIS have enabled this to happen.

.... There will be those who say ‘What about freedom of speech?’ but this isn’t a freedom of speech issue. This is a decency issue. Is it decent that we allow such vitriolic and hateful speakers to stand on unchallenged platforms to poison the minds of students and use them for their religious and political means?

Would we tolerate a hard-line Christian preacher telling students that Christians should avoid Muslims for fear of being caught in a terrorist act? Very unlikely. [The Commentator] Read more

Teachers reluctant to discuss 9/11

Those in schools with high numbers of Muslim children are particularly concerned about talking about the atrocity - despite it being arguably the defining event of the 21st century so far.

Alison Kitson, faculty director at the Institute of Education at London University, which carried out the survey, said teachers should "grasp the nettle" and tackle the subject. They should credit children with more maturity, she said.

Four in five teachers (81 per cent) said that when teaching the topic, it was a challenge to break "students' stereotypes and prejudices about other cultures". [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslims Surround Church in Upper Egypt, Threaten to Kill Priest

Hundreds of Muslims surrounded the church of St George today in the village of Beni Ahmed West, 7 KM south of Minya, vowing to kill its priest Father George Thabet, who was serving the morning mass and was locked in the church with a number of parishioners.

Security forces arrived five hours later and escorted Father George in a police car to the Coptic Diocese in Minya. "Father George looked as if he was the criminal, leaving his church in a police car." said one of the eye-witnesses. The Coptic youth who were attending mass remained inside church to defend it from Muslim attacks. [AINA] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Lebanon Sunni clergy reject domestic abuse law

Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim authority on Friday rejected a bill aimed at protecting women against domestic violence and marital rape, saying it would lead to the demise "of the family as in the West."

"Islam is very aware of and concerned with... resolving problems of poor treatment... but this should not happen by cloning Western laws that encourage the breakdown of the family and do not suit our society," said the influential Dar al-Fatwa in a statement on its website.

Dar al-Fatwa also slammed as "heresy" a clause in the bill that criminalises marital rape, accusing those behind the draft law of "inventing new types of crimes."

"This will have a negative impact on Muslim children... who will see their mother threatening their father with prison, in defiance of patriarchal authority, which will in turn undermine the moral authority" of fathers, it said. [AFP] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Austria: Muslim leader resigns for saying sport unhealthy for women

The vice president of Austria's Islamic community says he is resigning after local media quoted him as saying too much sport is unhealthy for women.

Ahmet Hamidi says he has been misquoted, but is stepping down to deflect possible criticism of the Islamic community.

Hamidi, a doctor of internal medicine, was quoted last week as telling a Vienna daily that "too much sport is not good for the female organism, this has been clearly proven." [Associated Press] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Wilders Acquittal a 'Slap in the Face for Muslims'

…. In his verdict, leading judge Marcel van Oosten said that while Wilders' statements were indeed offensive to Muslims, they were also part of a legitimate political discussion. Wilders' claim that Islam is a violent religion and his demands for a ban on Muslim immigrants should be viewed in the context of the larger societal debate over immigration policies, the judge argued.

The verdict has sparked a re-examination of free speech in a multicultural Europe, with some asking just how far the basic democratic right to speak one's mind actually extends.

German commentators were deeply divided over the issue on Friday. While some argued Wilders should have been punished, others suggested that free speech trumps any discomfort with extreme opinions. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more

On the Acquittal of Geert Wilders

Dutch demagogue and anti-Muslim bigot Geert Wilders is hero-worshipped by those who cannot discern between Muslims and radical Islamic extremists or between Islam and political Islamism. He also sports a really ugly blonde bouffant but that’s just me being subjective.

Yesterday the blonde bigot was acquitted of inciting hatred of Muslims in a court ruling that will strengthen his political influence and exacerbate tensions in Europe.

On the issue of his acquittal and the question of freedom of speech, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has it just right: [The Spittoon] Read more

Geert Wilders cleared of hate charges by Dutch court

Amsterdam judge Marcel van Oosten accepted the Freedom Party leader's statements were directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers. They were, the judge ruled, "acceptable within the context of public debate".

It is believed the plaintiffs may attempt to make their case before a European court or the UN.

Their lawyer, Ties Prakken, was quoted by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf as saying they were "deeply disappointed" and believed the right of minorities to be protected against hate speech had been violated. [BBC] Read more

Politicians, not the law, must tackle Geert Wilders now

Today politician Geert Wilders was acquitted for incitement to hatred, discrimination and group insult, ending a legal soap opera that has preoccupied Dutch society for too long. It is up to politics, again, to deal with him now the law has spoken. For the court's judgment has not ended the tension between political responsibility and populism.

[A COMMENT] In a democracy it is exactly debate by politicians/people that should address these issues...it should not be courts imprisoning people/putting them on trial for having views that are claimed to be offensive...

I would have thought that free speech was one of the values that we are trying to defend in all this …. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Wilders: Liberty, if it means anything …

.... Wilders’ statements about Islam – comparing the Qur’an to Mein Kampf – are highly offensive, and it is hard to argue that Fitna might not (indirectly) incite violence and hatred against Muslims, not just hostility to Islam, particularly as Wilders promotes policies which clearly do discriminate against Muslims.

He wants to stop mosques being built, halt Muslim immigration and impose a tax on headscarves. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Geert Wilders fails to become a free speech martyr

.... The case was brought, not by the prosecutorial authorities but despite their best efforts. It was brought at the direction of an Amsterdam appeal court that, in an astonishing and chilling ruling back in 2008, not only overturned the decision not to prosecute but virtually directed the lower court to find him guilty.

The judgement declared that prosecuting Wilders was "obvious" and dismissed the contention of the public prosecutor that there was any distinction to be drawn between criticising Islam and inciting hatred against Muslims as a whole (a distinction that, mindful of the law, Wilders has always been careful to enunciate). [Heresy Corner] Read more

Did Geert Wilders deserve to be acquitted over ‘free speech’?

.... But its a fallacy that Geert Wilders is just a critic of Islam as a religious doctrine – he frequently makes a jump from criticising Islam to demanding discrimination against Muslims. The idea that Geert Wilders believes in free speech is also a fallacy.

Both myths keep getting perpetuated by a media that pays no attention to what Geert Wilders says nor make any attempt to pay proper attention to the issue.

In a completely under-reported speech by Geert Wilders a few years ago, he laid out a “ten point plan to save the west”. These were the ten points: [Pickled Politics] Read more

Geert Wilders verdict: INNOCENT

The implications will be seismic: the effects of this verdict will reverberate around the Netherlands, Benelux, the EU, Europe and all the world. Geert Wilders had never planted a bomb or fired a bullet: he is a democratically-elected politician who has written articles, delivered speeches and made a film (Fitna) which describes Islam as ‘fascist’ and compares the Qur’an to Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Since Hitler’s tome is banned in the Netherlands, Wilders called for consistency in the application of Dutch law and so the banning of Mohammed’s. Both, he argues, incite violence and propagate hatred, and so both should be treated equally.

He has always insisted that his remarks on Islam were part of a legitimate political debate about the very survival of Christian Europe in a context of mass Muslim immigration and the ascent of cultural relativism.

And the Courts have agreed: Geert Wilders may speak about such things openly, and so may we all. At last it is established that it is not a criminal offence to offend a group of people about their theology. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

23 June 2011

Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation After 9/11

.... In what Morey and Yaqin call "the merry-go-round of cultural approval", Muslims now tend to be represented in film, television and the media as a problem community, rather than the "model minority" of earlier generations.

The authors scrutinise eclectic images of Muslims from the US and the UK, including those found in the US television series 24, print-media representations of honour killing, the children's toy nicknamed "Muslim Barbie", and from Britain the spy series Spooks, Kenny Glenaan's 2004 film Yasmin and various BBC Radio 4 programmes centring on Muslims. [Times Higher Education] Read more [via ENGAGE]

Mideast Christians struggle to hope in Arab Spring, some see no spring at all

.... Since then, violent attacks on churches by Salafists — a radical Islamist movement once held in check by the region’s now weakened or toppled authoritarian regimes — have convinced Christians their lot has not really improved and could get worse.

“If things don’t change for the better, we’ll return to what was before, maybe even worse,” Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria Antonios Naguib said at a conference this week in Venice on the Arab Spring and Christian-Muslim relations. “But we hope that will not come about,” he told Reuters. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Lawmakers work out ritual slaughter ban compromise

Dutch lawmakers are set to ban centuries-old Jewish and Muslim traditions of slaughtering animals, but agreed Wednesday to a last-minute compromise offering religious groups exemptions, if they can prove their method of killing livestock does not cause additional suffering.

Centrist lawmakers from several parties — worried that their backing for the ban will cost them votes from Muslim and Jewish supporters — hammered out the compromise shortly before a final debate on the legislation. [Associated Press] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Row over prophet cartoon in Lucknow

The depiction of Prophet Mohammed in a cartoon in a school book has raised a storm in Lucknow. Muslim bodies are up in arms, demanding immediate withdrawal of the book and threatening to take to the streets if action was not taken within three days.

“This is blasphemy. No Muslim will accept this,” said All India Shahi Dargah Committee president Maulana Hashmi. He has demanded that Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal resign, taking moral responsibility for the error. [DNA] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Discrimination: Air France Dulles Worker Sent Home Over Hijab

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Air France to apologize to a Muslim worker at Washington Dulles International Airport who was allegedly sent home because she refused to remove her Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

The Muslim employee reported to CAIR that when she went to work as an Air France Passenger Service Agent at the airport earlier this month she was told she could not wear her scarf because of an alleged Air France dress code. The worker refused to violate her religious beliefs and practices by removing her hijab and was promptly sent home. [Mike Hitchen Online] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Religious extremism in Indonesia Under attack

.... Theophilus Bela, of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum, an NGO, says the abductors, who wore serban, a type of turban favoured by Muslims, were Islamic radicals. He tells the story as an illustration of the sort of religious violence that has become all too common in Indonesia.

This year has seen perhaps two dozen attacks on churches, mostly on Java, Indonesia’s most populous island. And Islamist attacks are not aimed solely at the Christian minority in a country with the largest Muslim population in the world.

In February an Islamist mob lynched some members of the small Ahmadiyah sect, regarded by some orthodox Muslims as apostates, killing four. Members of the Shia minority have also been victims of violence. [The Economist] Read more

Muslim States Must Support LGBT Rights

.... As a Muslim, it is my moral obligation to speak out and stand up whenever I see an injustice being carried out, and if I see any particular group that is especially vulnerable or marginalized, it is my moral duty to rush to that community's aid.

So, it's especially painful for me to see Muslim majority countries and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) voting against this historic U.N. resolution.

If it was, as I suspect, some alleged affinity for Islam that led Pakistan, Malaysia, Jordan, Senegal or other OIC countries to oppose this resolution, I have some words of caution and advice for the OIC. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Muslim Tory minister says Pakistan's treatment of women fails Islam

Pakistan is failing to live up to one of the tenets of Islam which guarantees rights to all women, according to Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative party co-chairman and minister without portfolio, who is the first Muslim to sit as a full member of the cabinet.

In a sign of Britain's impatience with Pakistan, Lady Warsi said the world's first Islamic republic is denying rights granted 1,400 years ago in the Qur'an. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Baroness Cox: 'If we ignore wrongs, we condone them'

.... "It does not interfere with freedom of religion," Baroness Cox quickly replies as I ask whether this is simply an attempt by the Christian right to bash Islam.

"If women are happy with the sharia principles and if there is a case made which discriminates against them and they are satisfied with it then that's that, they have the freedom to do that.

But if retrospectively they say, hey, I suddenly realised there's a legal system out there which doesn't discriminate against me and I would like the ruling to be reconsidered then – if it was based on sharia principles that discriminate against women – it could be reconsidered and overruled in a civil court." [independent.co.uk] Read more

What is Lady Cox's bill really about?

.... in some cases there might be an element of coercion, particularly where women are concerned. The justification that the resort to sharia tribunals is voluntary is not a convincing one when it comes to women's rights, for there are many ways in which women can be pressurised to keep dealings within the sharia court.

Having said that, and this may sound churlish, I am increasingly wary of politicians using isolated incidents and then extrapolating them into a phenomenon, particularly when the flag of women's rights is waved. [Guardian Cif] Read more

It’s time to lay the sharia bogeyman to rest

.... The archbishop's nuanced yet thought-provoking speech in 2008 referred to a "real debate among Muslim scholars" over the meaning and scope of sharia and argued that "there is no single code that can be identified as 'the' sharia".

Most non-Muslims in the west seem united with hardline Islamists in the misguided belief that there is one monolithic, unchanging sharia. But Williams was right: there isn't.

Sharia, which translates not as "Islamic law" or "religious code" but as "pathway to the water", extends beyond the realm of criminal and civil law and covers personal and ethical matters such as sexual relations, diet, hygiene, prayer, fasting and charity. [New Statesman] Read more

Sharia bill is based on a false premise

.... That women who come to this country with little or no English and are then discriminated against by their own husbands or relatives has nothing to do with sharia, but rather with traditions and culture. This should not be used as a stick with which to beat sharia councils.

.... The blanket claim that women's witness is worth half that of men totally misses the complexities of Islamic law. In some limited areas of Islamic law, two female witnesses are required where one male witness will suffice. However, there are other areas where one female witness is sufficient. This issue would not affect most of the issues and cases dealt with by the sharia courts.

These courts are totally based on voluntary participation and every man and woman has recourse to ordinary British law. Thus ask the question: does this bill do more harm than good? The answer surely must be yes.

[A COMMENT] Sometimes it befuddles me why the guardian allows itself to be a soapbox for disingenuous bigots. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Lady Cox's bill is not so controversial

.... This is a problem unique to Islam in this country and the bill does make some attempts to address it by giving public authorities the duty of informing parties in unregistered religious marriages or polygamous marriages that they do not have any legal rights and so encouraging them to register their marriage.

That is rather late in the day and frankly the problem needs to be dealt with by ensuring that religious marriages are registered and imams prosecuted for performing unregistered and illegal marriage ceremonies. [Guardian Cif] Read more

22 June 2011

Islam’s Persecution of Christians in Malaysia

.... Why is the world silent? .... The silence is, as I see it, a combination of many factors: a sincere misunderstanding of Islam, willful blindness, leftist slash Muslim misdirection (‘taqiyya‘), and a dash of NIMBY-ism (‘not in my back yard’) thrown in for good measure.

Who cares about Christians in Malaysia getting their Bibles seized or their churches bulldozed or blocked from construction? Certainly not the Europeans — they barely care when Jews and Christians in their own streets are terrorized by Muslim thugs, and Europeans (at least the non Muslim ones) are increasingly turning away from Christianity. [Front Page] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Saudi 'Suffragettes' Stifled by Religion and Politics

Saudi Arabian women ushered in a wave of new suffragettes when over 50 women risked arrest last Friday in defiance of the driving ban. Even riding a bicycle is forbidden to women in Saudi Arabia.

In 2008, the governing Shura Council recommended women be allowed to drive but no law to that effect has been approved. The seemingly innocuous problem of women's right to drive presents a dilemma for the Saudi monarchy and a threat capable of rocking its theological foundations. [The Huffington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

A burqa, large lie, and behold the pickle

All causes need a strong narrative, and anti-Muslim and anti-burqa sentiment just got one. Carnita Matthews, 47, had a conviction for a false accusation against a cop overturned because the court could not be sure it was indeed her that walked into a police station and made the complaint.

.... So this hysterical woman started it all when she verbally abused the policeman who was just doing his job. He asked her to remove her niqab (her face veil), which she did. Then she said: “You are racist… all cops are racist,” she said, and threatened to go to court. [The Punch] Read more

An update on London university's Saudi links

With the recent explosion of dissent in the Middle East one interesting side affect has been the unveiling of the numerous Western universities receiving funding from autocratic regimes in that region.

.... It has also been discovered that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim cleric who has endorsed suicide bombings and the murder of pregnant women, is on the advisory board of the Journal of Quranic Studies produced by the university.

The malignant presence of al-Qaradawi is horrifying and the fact that despite being banned from the UK and US he remains in this esteemed position shows how corroded the sense of morality at UK universities may have become. [The Commentator] Read more

21 June 2011

Burqas, lies and videotape

LATE last year, Australian Muslim and serial driving offender Carnita Matthews, 46, was sentenced to six months in prison for falsely claiming that a highway patrol officer was a racist who attempted to deburqa-ise her.

Matthews made a written complaint against the young officer, who had fined her for failing to properly display her provisional driver’s plates, but video footage exposed her allegations as a patently false.

Matthews, from Woodbine, in Sydney’s southwest, immediately appealed against the sentence, and this week walked free after a judge ruled that her identity could not be proven. [The Freethinker] Read more

Camberley mosque plans are rejected

A BID to build a traditional mosque in Camberley has been thrown out by a planning inspector.

Following a seven-day inquiry in April, inspector John Gray said he was dismissing the appeal by the Bengali Welfare Association to demolish a locally-listed school to make way for the new domed building.

In his decision, released on Tuesday (June 19), Mr Gray said he did not feel the benefits the new mosque would bring the town’s Islamic congregation outweighed the potential loss of the 140-year-old Victorian structure. [Get Surrey] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

It's time to end the Tory war on multiculturalism

.... the M-word has become a distraction, a diversion, a dissipation of energies better focused "like a laser beam" on the struggle against extremism and the ideology that underpins it.

Tell a group of a hundred people in a mixed-ethnicity marginal that you oppose both, and most will agree. Tell them you oppose multiculturalism - state or otherwise - and you'll begin an argument that will end on judgement day.

Don't be against multiculturalism - be for integration. Be for teaching English history in schools. Be for teaching migrants English (even at this time of tight budgets). Be for cutting immigration to the tens of thousands. Be for a national holiday to celebrate the Queen's Birthday.

I should have seen before the Munich speech that a single word in it would compromise the effectiveness of all the others. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Official: Radical Islamic hate preachers pose threat to Germany; should be deported

German security officials are increasingly concerned about the growing threat posed by radical Islamic clerics from the ultraconservative Salafi movement, and are calling for legal changes making it easier to deport hate preachers.

At a two-day meeting opening Tuesday, security ministers from Germany's 16 states and federal Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich are expected to address the threat of Islamic extremism, especially that posed by the increasingly popular Salafis.

Some would like to see residency laws altered to make it easier to deport hate-preachers. [The Associated Press - 680News] Read more

The ‘war on multiculturalism’ needs to be fought

.... Contrary to the kind of ‘melting pot’ ideal of those who embrace pluralism and a more globalised world, multiculturalism is instead – at least as is clearly meant by Cameron and some of its other prominent critics – an ideology which stands opposed to free mixing and hybridity and instead is based on the idea of cultures as fixed and sealed entities.

A multicultural country, then, is one in which many cultures exist side by side but not in and amongst each other, and a society without any shared underlying values.

In a multicultural country, it is considered ‘racist’ to suggest that everyone should mix together and integrate into a diverse whole. Instead, immigrant communities are encouraged to maintain their cultural identities within their host nation as though they had never actually left their countries of origin. [Harry’s Place] Read more

20 June 2011

Give us Sharia or Else

WITH an eye toward the 2012 elections, legislators in six states have been debating laws explicitly prohibiting courts from considering or using Sharia law, with 14 more looking at wider bans on “foreign law.”

They’re taking a clear cue from Oklahoma’s wildly popular Sharia ban, which voters approved as a state constitutional amendment last year by more than 70 percent.

Such laws are discriminatory and pointless. Civil liberties groups are fighting them in court and calling on state legislators to abandon such bills. But there is an additional reason everyone, including would-be proponents of the laws and the federal government, should oppose them: they pose a significant threat to national security. [The Iconoclast] Read more

The Central Role of Mosques in Islamic Political Doctrine

.... His specialty is planning law, and he is willing to work pro bono to help ordinary citizens demonstrate to their local councils that the building of a mosque or an Islamic center is actually in violation of British law.

Mosques play a central role in the propagation of Islamic political doctrine, which incites behavior that is illegal under British criminal law and human rights law.

Local councils are therefore legally exposed if they approve the building of a mosque, and Mosque Busters will help citizens make councilors aware of their vulnerability under the law. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

19 June 2011

How Islamic is “Islamic”?

A Malaysian political leader has asked political parties in his country to stop using the word “Islam” in their names so that, “nobody can make use of the religion for their political gains.”

This progressive thought is ironically closer to the classical understanding of Islam’s sacred texts. For in the early century of Islam, use of the word “Islamic” (Islamiyyah in Arabic) was limited in its scope.

When opining on the permissible (halal) and the impermissible (haram) the classical scholars eschewed the blanket usage of “Islamic” or “un-Islamic” often opting instead to using terms such as “valid”, “accepted”, and “allowable” or their antonyms. [altmuslim] Read more

Islamic reality TV show in Malaysia seeks best women preachers

A forthcoming Islamic reality television show in Malaysia aims to find the best women preachers and change conservative mindsets on the role of women in Muslim societies.

The 13-episode prime time program titled “Solehah,” an Arabic word meaning “pious female,” is a talent contest that will feature charismatic young Muslim women judged by clerics on their religious knowledge as well as their oratory skills and personality.

Although Islam allows both men and women to preach the religion to society, the field remains dominated by males in most Muslim countries, something the show’s producers in this mainly Muslim but multi-religious Southeast Asian country hope to change. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Brussels: Police claim they are forced to fast on Ramadan

Police agents in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek have to take part in the Ramadan: they may not eat or drink during the day and may not give tickets, internal police sources told Het Laatste Nieuws.

This was confirmed by the NSPV police union. A spokesperson for the municipality denies the claims.

Bart Velle, head of NSPV for the Brussels municipalities, says that he's gotten multiple complaints on this issue, for several years now. There is no official memo on the topic. "I get complaints from colleagues about it, and I believe those people. But there's nothing on paper. I have no proof," says Velle. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Netherlands: 74% support uni-culturalism

74% of the Dutch support the new government policy which says immigrants should conform to Dutch values, according to a Maurice de Hond poll.

18% support a policy which says everybody should keep their own culture. The breakdown by party: PVV (96%), VVD (91%) , CDA (87%), Socialists (65%), Labour (49%), D66(49%), Greens (44%)

Despite support for the policy, 47% said that it doesn't offer real solutions, compared with 31% who said it did. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Hizb ut Tahrir implodes

.... For years the group has boasted of inspiring a popular revolution on the Arab street and said it was in a position to ‘mould public opinion’ in favour of a Caliphate if only people would rise up against the regimes. Now that it’s finally happening, the party is nowhere to be seen in the Middle East.

Hizb ut Tahrir is failed and failing. But don’t just take my word for it. [The Spittoon] Read more

‘Democracy is evil, Parliament is evil’ says radical Muslim cleric in billboard debate

.... Mr Conlon blamed social problems such as alcoholism and prostitution on the failed Judaeo-Christian legal system and democracy.

Mr Madden rebuked Mr Conlon saying that while he agreed alcoholism and prostitution was a problem in the society, those problems would not be fixed with sharia law.

“This is not a religious debate because Islam is not a religion, it’s a political movement. Islam not only defies the Australian constitution, but is seditious to the Australian government,” he said. [Christian Today Australia] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Because they are blasphemers

A taste of life in Pakistan, via a couple of recent items from the (Catholic) AsiaNews.

In the summer of 2009 a Muslim mob, fired up by rumours of the desecration of a Koran, attacked Christians and set fire to their houses in the town of Gojra, in Pakistan's central Punjab. Ten people died, eight burnt alive. Four churches were destroyed.

.... Seventy people were subsequently put on trial for the massacre. All have now been acquitted: .... They are taught that Christians and people of other religions may be killed if they do not accept Islam. And the authorities turn a blind eye to this problem."

AsiaNews may not be the most impartial source here. but no one else seems to covering the fate of the beleaguered Christian minority in Pakistan. And they're not making this stuff up. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Muslims to Break Away from Scottish Education System

Sunday Express has learned parents are angry their children are not being given schooling according to their religious beliefs and claim teachers are even promoting “unIslamic principles and behaviours”.

Some have even threatened legal action to force councils to open state-funded faith schools at taxpayers’ expense.

Others want the “relatively affluent” Muslim community to take matters into its own hands, starting with Scotland’s first Islamic high school.

Parents and supporters are being rallied on an Internet chat room called glasgowmuslims.com. One father explains the plan is to “form a steering group of individuals who wish to contribute towards the creation of an Islamic Secondary School for Girls in Glasgow”. [Express.co.uk] Read more

Political Activist .... Calls for a Law Permitting the Purchase of POWs in Order to Turn Them into Slave Girls

"Here in Kuwait too, I asked religious scholars and experts about this, and they said that for the average, good religious man, the only way to avoid forbidden relations with women is to purchase slave girls.

.... "I very much hope that such a law is legislated. Just like they allow servants, they should allow slave girls and legislate a proper law in this regard. We don't want our children to fall into the abyss of fornication and similar filth, God forbid. Allah willing, things will work out.

"There are countries like Chechnya, which are at war with another country. In such a case, there must be POWs, so why not go and buy those prisoners? Is it better for them to be slaughtered over there? Go and buy them, and sell them to traders here in Kuwait." [MEMRI] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

18 June 2011

Slain Pakistani's daughter takes up his cause

A day after her father was gunned down by an Islamist extremist, a grieving Shehrbano Taseer wrote on Twitter, "A light has gone out in our home today." It wasn't long before the 22-year-old realized something else: Her father's death had lit a fire in her.

In the months since, the daughter of the late Punjab province Gov. Salmaan Taseer has emerged as one of Pakistan's most outspoken voices for tolerance. Through her writing and speaking, she warns any audience who will listen of the threat of Islamist extremism, and impatiently waits for her father's killer to be brought to justice. [AP] Read more

U.N. rights forum proclaims equal gay rights, Muslims states object

The top U.N. human rights body declared Friday there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation, a vote Western countries called historic but Islamic states firmly rejected.

The controversial resolution marked the first time that the Human Rights Council recognized the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, diplomats said.

The text, presented by South Africa, was adopted by 23 countries in favour, 19 against with 3 abstentions and one delegation absent during voting. Libya’s membership in the 47-member Geneva forum was suspended in March. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Prevent-ing Muslim Engagement

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how it looked as if the government was going to adopt a hardline rejectionist position towards mainstream UK Muslim organisations with it’s Prevent strategy. And so it came to be. It wasn’t really a huge surprise.

Influential voices opposed to ‘political Islam’ had long been advocating a stance that would seek to isolate not just supporters of terrorism but supporters of ‘extremism’.

‘Extremism’ is, of course, a very vague term that can be used and abused to malign and smear just about every UK Muslim organisation. How convenient. [Inayats Corner] Read more

Soccer referee sidelined for wearing hijab

A former Lac St. Louis soccer referee is blowing the whistle on rules she said prevent her from practising her religion.

Sarah Benkirane, 15, was told after two years of refereeing for the soccer association that she was out of a job, after a complaint surfaced over her wearing her hijab while calling games.

"For me it's not really an option to take it off," she explained of her traditional Muslim head scarf. "It's part of my religion. It's part of who i am. It's the way I express myself, so I think I should be allowed to wear it as long as I'm not causing any harm to anybody else and I'm not." [CTV News] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

An-Na’im on Islam and Secularism

Professor Abdullahi An-Na’im of Emory University on Islam and the secular state and how the two must co-exist to preserve values such as equality for men and women, freedom of speech and religion.

This is increasingly valid in the light of the Arab spring and the role of Islamists in the political future of Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and others. [The Spittoon] Read more

Women driven to confusion in Saudi Arabia

.... I wonder what will happen as the women's driving campaign continues and more Saudi women get behind the wheel. Will the government ignore us until we become a common sight and society gets accustomed to the idea? Will there be a crackdown, with the women who drove arrested and imprisoned? Will the government implement a system that gradually allows women on Saudi roads?

Your guess is as good as mine. All I know as a Saudi woman is that the current situation of gender discrimination against who can and cannot drive their own cars is unsustainable economically, socially and legally.

[COMMENT] There is something deeply disturbing about a society organised around the premise that women are chattels, who cannot be trusted to indulge in social contact with a male without having sex. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Australian RSPCA renews its challenge to halal slaughter

.... in the wake of those unpleasant revelations, the RSPCA in Australia is setting its sights on halal slaughter of non-stunned animals within Australia. They also disapprove of kosher slaughter, but I suspect they will find it easier to persuade Jews to acquiesce to the laws of the land, than to persuade the Muslims.

And the halal trade is a far, far bigger component of ritually slaughtered meat in Australia, than kosher, our Jewish community being only about 80 000 strong and not all of those strictly observant, as opposed to some hundreds of thousands of aggressive, domineering, constantly whingeing Muslims. [The Iconoclast] Read more

17 June 2011

Saudi Arabia women drive cars in protest at ban

The direct action has been organised on social network sites, where women have been posting images and videos of themselves behind the wheel.

The Women2Drive Facebook page said the direct action would continue until a royal decree reversed the ban.

Last month, a woman was arrested after uploading a video of herself driving.

Manal al-Sherif was accused of "besmirching the kingdom's reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion", but was released after 10 days having promised not to drive again. [BBC] Read more

I never thought I'd agree with David Cameron, but segregation is an issue .... that must be addressed

.... Far from being a post-racial society, the UK is still struggling with the complexity of inter-cultural and inter-ethnic issues present in our schools, workplaces and social gatherings. We need to recognise these issues – for instance, black and Asian community groups could come together with the government to hold forums on intercultural issues.

Perhaps the government could also make more use of civil society groups like the UN-funded Intercultural Communication Leadership School, dedicated to the development of intercultural communication skills, and extend techniques taught by charities like Leap Confronting Conflict UK that specialise in peer mediation skills and conflict prevention in diverse communities.

Government and wider society need to be in tune with the struggles of my generation and our experience of "multicultural" Britain, before we allow something dramatic to happen to shake us out of our complacency.

[COMMENT] With respect, what we need to do is recognise that mass immigration has been a disaster for the UK and put an immediate end to immigration and asylum save in the most exceptional cases - a few hundred a year at most. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Where are Britain's modern mosques?

.... I was taught Urdu at home but my younger brother and I were dispatched to a draughty mosque to learn Arabic so we could read the Qur'an as we should. It was terrifying anyway but then we were ordered to stand in a line with our hands outstretched. I watched in horror as the maulvi sahib came round with a cane, thwacking everyone.

I didn't understand why – nobody had done anything wrong. I lasted a week even though my dad had told the mosque leaders not to hit us. A girl who lived on our street told me she had her bum pinched by a young imam.

Another imam beat a boy so badly his leg was broken. I spent another few weeks in a damp cellar with other girls rocking back and forth, while upstairs the boys also learned parrot fashion, then another mosque in a house and finally at the home of a kindly Pakistani woman.

.... I thought by now we'd have modern mosques where the third generation of British Muslims would learn about compassion and how to be fine, upstanding citizens, incorporating the best of British and Islamic values.

But five decades on, the choice is between a mosque where the imam doesn't speak English and hits the children or one where they speak English but insist seven-year-old girls cover their faces. And frankly, that's no choice at all. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Losers all around in French Muslim council election

.... The curious voting method used, which allocates electoral college delegates to each federation according to the total floor space of its mosques around the country, was the reason Moussaoui’s rivals gave for the boycott.

The broader reason for the boycott is that French Muslims of Moroccan origin, although fewer than those with an .... Algerian background, are generally more devout and — with encouragement from Rabat and Moussaoui’s RMF — are building more mosques.

That extra floor space means more voting delegates for the RMF and an automatic majority for the Moroccans — something Algiers wants to avoid. The UOIF, with no single sponsor abroad, has long opposed what it calls this foreign interference. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

What is Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect Boko Haram?

Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is suspected to be behind almost daily attacks in the remote northeast and claimed a series of bomb blasts further afield last month. Following are questions and answers on who the group are, what they want, and whether their ideology is widely followed.

Based in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, it was initially led by self-proclaimed Islamic scholar, Mohammed Yusuf, who was radically opposed to Western education and wanted strict sharia Islamic law adopted across Nigeria. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Dutch government says goodbye to multicultural society

"The government shares the social discontent that exists on the multicultural society," read the letter published Friday. "In the new integration, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society."

The new government wants more demands on immigrants. They should be responsible themselves for ensuring that they learn the Dutch language.

"A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens," the letter continued.

"It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands. The integration will not be tailored to different groups." [Xinhua News Agency] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Belgium: Teacher suspended for headscarf comments

An Islam teacher at the Royal Atheneum in Verviers was given a four month suspension for saying that girl who do not wear a headscarf live in sin.

The teacher made his comments during an RTBF broadcast on the place of Islam in school. After consulting the Muslim Executive, the French Community decided to suspend the teacher. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Dutch Jews, Muslims appeal ritual slaughter plan

Jewish and Muslim representatives Thursday appealed to Dutch lawmakers not to enforce plans requiring animals to be stunned before halaal and kosher slaughtering rituals.

"We are against any form of stunning because it's against our religion," Yusuf Altuntas, president of the CMO -- an organisation that links the Muslim community with the Dutch government -- told a parliamentary commission.

"One of the first measures taken during the Occupation (during World War II) was the closing of kosher abattoirs," Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs added during the debate in The Hague.

Dutch law required animals to be stunned before being slaughtered but made an exception for ritual halaal and kosher slaughters. [AFP] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Statement by the Islamic Sharia Council on Baroness Cox's bill

.... It is indeed a crime that Lady Cox has made no attempt to understand the workings of the shariah councils. She repeats the modern mantra that shariah law "is an inherent discrimination system which is causing real suffering to women". Perhaps she could then explain why 90% of clients of these councils are women.

It is totally incorrect to suggest that shariah councils consider their judgements to be superior to the English Legal System. At the Islamic Shariah Council, we are concerned only with the religious aspects of divorce, such as the settlement of the dower.

.... In many cases Muslim couples do not register their marriages and in the event of divorce, the wife is then left in an incredibly vulnerable position with no recourse to the law. Shariah councils are in the position to dissolve this marriage. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Multiculturalism must go

Dutch society and its values must take precedence and integration policy should go, home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner told parliament on Thursday evening during the presentation of his integration bill.

Donner spoke of a 'change of direction' in which the government 'will distance itself from the relativism contained in the model of a multicultural society'. Society changes, he said, but must not be 'interchangeable with any other form of society', according to press reports.

It is not the government's job to integrate immigrants, he said. General policy on schooling, jobs and housing gives them ample opportunity for integration. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

16 June 2011

Britain Creating Parallel Islamic Financial System

Pointon York, an independent financial services company based in Leicestershire in central England, announced on June 6 that it will begin offering four Sharia-compliant Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) products that do not bear interest nor invest in companies that trade in alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco or weapons, in conformity with Islamic law.

Pointon York is the first specialist SIPP provider to receive Sharia-compliant accreditation by the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has pioneered Islamic retail banking in the United Kingdom. The IBB will supervise the entire lifecycle of Pointon York's pension funds to ensure full compliance with Sharia legal principles. [Hudson New York] Read more

Women face French court for wearing Muslim niqab

The two women were summned under France's new law forbidding the wearing of face covering in public places, which came into effect in April. Although not specifically stated in the law, critics say it targets Muslim women who wear the niqab or burka face coverings for religious reasons.

The public prosecutor said they would seek 150-euro fines and so-called "citizenship training" for each of the women.

But the women's lawyer said the law is inapplicable and pleaded for the fine to be dropped. The court will announce its decision in September. [RFI] Read more

Saudi Women Taking A Stand?

Although no specific traffic laws exist to make it illegal for Saudi women to drive in Saudi Arabia, their religion interprets that women should not drive. However, some Saudi women are planning to protest and stand up for themselves and their rights on Friday.

The “Women2Drive” campaign plans for Saudi women to get behind the wheel on Friday and has been publicized on Facebook, Twitter and further social media outlets. The idea is to have as many female drivers out and about as they can on the same day to show they have the right to be treated as equals.

At the current time, not only do they not drive, women cannot travel or take public transportation without a male. Oftentimes they must hire drivers or taxis just to get around. [EpostMedia] Read more [via National Secular Society]

15 June 2011

East London Mosque promises to turn over a new leaf. Again

A couple of days ago, I covered the open letter from East London gay activists criticising the “platform for hate” provided by the fundamentalist East London Mosque/ London Muslim Centre, which regularly hosts “viciously ” homophobic and extremist preachers. Now the mosque has responded by claiming it will ban homophobic speakers from its premises.

“Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises, whether that is us organising an event or someone else,” soothes the mosque’s PR, Salman Farsi. “We have done as much as we possibly can. The LGBT [ga]Y community need to take that in good faith.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Afghanistan worst place in the world for women

Targeted violence against female public officials, dismal healthcare and desperate poverty make Afghanistan the world's most dangerous country in which to be born a woman, according to a global survey released on Wednesday.

.... Informed about her country's inclusion, Somalia's women's minister, Maryan Qasim, responded: "I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth."

The survey has been compiled by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to mark the launch of a website, TrustLaw Woman, aimed at providing free legal advice for women's groups around the world. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Pakistan’s booming female madrassas feed rising intolerance

.... But, like Varda, many students at the 2,000 or so registered madrassas are university students or graduates looking for greater understanding of Islam, as well as housewives who, like others in Pakistani society, feel pressured to deepen their faith.

Asked about the killing of a governor earlier this year because he opposed the country’s controversial blasphemy law, Varda, without hesitation, said Salman Taseer’s murder by his own bodyguard was the right thing to do. “If people … call themselves Muslims and they are members of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, then they should not be criticizing this law,” she said. “I am sorry to say this, but this is what he deserved.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

King Holds 2nd Hearing on Muslim Radicalization

.... Going into Wednesday’s second hearing concerning radicalization in the prison system before the HomeSecurity Committee, which King chairs, the tone has died down considerably. But there is still concern in the Muslim community and other religious groups that these hearings are disenfranchising Muslim-Americans.

“The congressman’s focus on the whole community, singling out one community for this hearing is not right,” Dr. Faroque Khan, a member of the board of trustees for the Islamic Center of Long Island, told the Press. “It sends the wrong message, it’s counterproductive, it’s not going to accomplish anything, and it basically violates the first amendment; that he’s attacking the religion. “

Back in March, King’s four and 1/2 hour hearing was emotionally charged as both Democrats and Republicans listened to testimony from four speakers, including a father and an uncle who told stories of their loved ones becoming radicalized. [Long Island Press] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

The Myth of Sharia Law in America

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. "We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used," Gingrich announced at last fall's Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich's call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It's worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign. [The Huffington Post] Read more [via National Secular Society]

New halal meat group formed

Members of the halal meat industry have formed a new association non-stun Abattoir owners. Mohammed Akram Gill (Director of Pak Mecca Meats Birmingham) and the chairman of Association of Non-Stun Abattoirs Ltd, said “This was long overdue the non-stun halal industry was without a voice.

"The lack of industry leadership and cooperation, especially given the state of the current economy the association aims to create and raise awareness of the halal industry according to the teaching of the Quran and the prophetic tradition. [Asian Image] Read more [via National Secular Society]

14 June 2011

Pakistan’s Bible Ban

Pakistan’s Islamist party, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami (JUI), has petitioned to have the Bible banned from Pakistan because it violates the nation’s notorious blasphemy laws. The move by the JUI is just the latest episode in the ongoing and increasingly deadly persecution of Christians in that Islamic nation.

According to JUI leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, the Bible contains passages that show biblical figures whom Muslims regard as prophets (such as Abraham and Solomon) to be engaging in “a variety of moral crimes.” As such, the JUI has called on Pakistan’s supreme court to have the entire Book banned from the country if the offending passages are not removed. [Front Page] Read more

Egypt’s Sufis see post-Mubarak Islamist threat, consider launching own movement

.... The men are followers of the centuries-old Azaimiya Sufi order who seek to come closer to God through mystical rites. Some of the country’s estimated 15 million Sufis say their traditions are now threatened by various groups of Islamists elbowing for influence after the overthrow of Egypt’s veteran leader Hosni Mubarak.

Some Islamists, such as the ultra-conservative Salafists, see Sufi practices such as the veneration of shrines as heresy.

So as Sufis seek to defend traditions dating back centuries, what began as a loose religious identity could be gelling, gradually, into a political movement. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Saudi Arabian lingerie law ends

Rules against "mingling" of the sexes at work in the kingdom, whose laws are based on a strict interpretation of Muslim Sharia, mean that most shops have male assistants only.

Until now that included lingerie shops, leading to complaints that assistants who tried to be helpful often tried to guess customers' bra sizes by staring hard at their abayas, the long all-enveloping gowns worn by Saudi women in public.

A group of professional women set up a Facebook campaign, "Enough Embarrassment" two years ago demanding a change to the practice and winning international attention. They pointed out that Labour Ministry guidelines had already demanded a shift to women-only lingerie stores in 2005, without result. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Necklace ban for men as Tehran's 'moral police' enforce dress code

Iranian men have been banned from wearing necklaces in the latest crackdown by the Islamic regime on "un-Islamic" clothing and haircuts.

Thousands of special forces have been deployed in Tehran's streets, participating in the regime's "moral security plan" in which loose-fitting headscarves, tight overcoats and shortened trousers that expose skin will not be tolerated for women, while men are warned against glamorous hairstyles and wearing a necklace.

The new plan comes shortly after the Iranian parliament proposed a bill to criminalise dog ownership, on the grounds that it "poses a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the west". [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Middle East Christians facing 'extremist atrocities'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that there are extreme forces at work that have turned the Arab Spring into a "very anxious time" for Christians.

Dr Rowan Williams told the BBC that the vacuum left by the end of autocratic regimes was being filled by extremists.

He claimed there had been more killings of Christians and burnings of churches in Egypt than people were aware of.

Life was unsustainable for Christians in northern Iraq, and tensions in Syria were nearing breaking point, he added. [BBC] Read more

Archbishop of Dhimmitude? A press release from Lambeth

.... It is precisely objection to fitna which is the basis in Islamic law for punishing apostates from Islam. This objection is also used by Muslim theologians to justify the worst features of the dhimma pact. Radical Muslims object to 'persecution' – i.e. to fitna – understanding it to be the evil which anti-blaspemy and anti-apostasy laws are designed to combat.

As the Qur'an says (twice!): 'fight them until there is no persecution (fitna)' and 'persecution (fitna) is worse than slaughter'. From this perspective of 'persecution', does the Archbishop of Canterbury really want to appear to be lending tacit support to the tradition of Islamic 'fighting' and 'killing' as measures to eliminate 'persecution'?

The phrase 'unjust persecution' is particularly regrettable Does this imply that 'just persecution' is supportable? [markdurie.com] Read more

Coming soon to a neighbourhood near you: a caliphate!

“As Western Governments including the Australian Government work hard to frustrate the uprising and maintain their stranglehold over the Muslim world, we must work even harder for the liberation and return to Islam”.

If you think the above words read like the raving of a religious fanatic in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, think again. Those words are from The Official Launch - Khilafah Conference 2011 - "Uprisings in the Muslim Word... on the road to Khilafah" being hosted in the first week of July this year.

.... So they manage to instill hardcore ideas without using hate speech. At this meeting the message was clear - it’s incumbent on every Muslim living in a non-Muslim land to impose the Sharia and to work towards an Islamic state.

This by the way is totally contrary to the teaching of the Quran that advises Muslims to follow the laws of the lands in which they live. [The Commentator] Read more

No, you cannot treat violent and non-violent extremism separately

.... Hasan attacks Prevent's lack of distinction between "non-violent" and "violent" extremism. But if one does not counter the basis of extremist ideology, isn't it then too late to stop it being translated into terrorist action?

Non-violent extremism encompasses those who condemn terrorist attacks in this country but are happy to justify suicide attacks against British troops in the Middle East.

These views poison the minds of young people for whom the next logical step is to translate their anger into violence. "Non-violent" and "violent" extremism are different sides of the same coin, and both have to be fought together. [Guardian Cif] Read more

13 June 2011

Faith schools fragment communities

.... In communities such as Oldham with several large ethno-religious groupings, it is inevitable that the different faith schools will attract the different communities – the Christian schools serving the white community and the Muslim schools serving the Asian community.

The only way to have schools shared by the whole community is to replace such divisive faith schools with inclusive ones that set out from the start to serve everyone equally, not a narrow, religiously segregated section of the local population. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Islamophobic crime fell in London last year – MCB spins the opposite

Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday had an alarming story claiming that “Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise.” It previewed a speech in which Farooq Murad, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, was due to say: “Islamophobic attacks, on persons and properties, are committed by a tiny minority, but the number of incidents is increasing. Robust action is necessary.”

.... If a total of 762 offences have been committed since April 2009, 57 of them since this April and 333 of them in 2010/11, that means the number committed in 2009/10 was 372. Between 09/10 and 10/11 there was therefore a drop of 39 offences – or more than 10 per cent.

I have to suspect, from the unusual way the paper presented the figures, that either it or the MCB was trying to conceal this inconvenient truth. Though the Sindy described the MCB as “Britain’s largest mainstream Muslim organisation,” it is in fact heavily influenced by a creed which is very far from mainstream in the British Muslim community – Islamism, the doctrine that Islam is a form of government not just a religion. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslims Say Bulgaria Plagued with Islamophobia, Vow to Defend Themselves

Part of the Bulgarian society is plagued with islamophobia, the Bulgarian Chief Mufti's Office has declared in a special statement urging the Bulgarian Muslims to take measures to defend themselves against attacks.

Monday's statement of the Chief Mufti's Office comes a day after on Sunday the warden of the main mosque in downtown Sofia suffered a brutal assault at the hands of unidentified attackers just minutes before the start of the morning prayer on Sunday.

In it, the Chief Mufti's Office refers to the incident of May 20, 2011, when extremists from the nationalist and far-right party Ataka assaulted praying Muslims outside the Sofiay Mosque Banya Bashi when an Ataka rally against the loudspeakers of the mosque got out of hand. [Novinite.com] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Top Muslim women’s advocate backs Cox’s Equality Bill

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill targets both those few sharia tribunals that were set up under the 1996 Arbitration Act, and the much more numerous and informal sharia councils (misleadingly called ‘courts’) of which there are about 85, without mentioning Islam.

Balchin told Lapido: ‘In my work with Muslim women, like many others I have anecdotal evidence of gender discriminatory arbitration being conducted under the 1996 Arbitration Act, including in family matters which ought to be beyond any arbitration tribunal’s jurisdiction.’

Balchin, a convert to Islam, is the editorial coordinator of the highly acclaimed survey Knowing our Rights: Women, Family, Laws and Customs in the Muslim World, a publication of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and a member of the International Advisory Group for Musawah. She has long claimed that Muslim women in Britain suffered from fewer rights than in many Muslim countries. [Lapido Media] Read more

12 June 2011

Police 'covered up' violent campaign to turn London area 'Islamic'

Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism.

.... The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.”

One victim, Mohammed Monzur Rahman, said he was left partially blind and with a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a mob in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, for smoking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year.

.... Teachers in several local schools have told The Sunday Telegraph that they feel “under pressure” from local Muslim extremists, who have mounted campaigns through both parents and pupils – and, in one case, through another teacher - to enforce the compulsory wearing of the veil for Muslim girls. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

UK Bill to Amend 1996 Arbitration Act

.... The 1996 Arbitration Act allows for private arbitration or private third-party arrangements in civil disputes; as has been widely reported, a number of Muslim groups have taken advantage of this provision to establish private shariah courts, leading to reports of inheritances doled out unequally between male and female relatives, and of women “persuaded” to drop complaints to the police about domestic violence. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The MCB, Prevent, and ‘neoconservatives’

The MCB dismisses this definition of mainstream values as nothing more than ‘arbitrary measures on who is, and who isn’t an extremist’ defined by ‘neoconservative think-tanks’.

In the very same statement, MCB Secretary General Farooq Murad is quoted as saying that we live in a period in which ‘Muslims in the Middle East resoundingly endorse the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law’.

So, which is it, then? Are human rights, democracy and the rule of law universal values, and therefore also mainstream British values – as the new Prevent strategy states – or are they in fact ‘arbitrary’ notions dreamed up by shadowy neoconservative think-tanks? [Harry’s Place] Read more