30 November 2011

What, Me Pessimistic? Egyptian Election Outcome is Worse Than I Expected

.... The results are worse than expected for two reasons: First: the votes we now have come from the most urban areas of the country.

If there are Facebook sophisticates, they’re going to be in Cairo and Alexandria. If the moderates do that bad in the big cities, what’s going to happen in the villages up the Nile? If the fascist party came in first in some European countries’ Social Democratic districts, you know you are in trouble.

The Brotherhood came in first in Cairo and Alexandria. Think about that. Of course there are millions of migrants from rural areas in those places, but that’s also where the middle class, such as it is, lives.

Second: the moderate parties didn’t even come in second — they came in third, or close to it. The Salafists — people who are even more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood — came in second. That they did that well is a surprise. That they did that well without bumping the Brotherhood down a notch is really shocking. [Pajamas Media] Read more

Thousands of Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt, 2 Killed, Homes and Stores Torched

Thousands of Muslims attacked and besieged Copts in elGhorayzat village, population 80,000, killing two Copts and severely wounding others, as well as looting and torching homes and businesses.

A quarrel between a Copt, John Hosni, and Mahmoud Abdel-Nazeer, who later died in hospital, turned into collective punishment of all Copts in the majority Christian village of elGhorayzat, in the Maragha district of Sohag province.

Muslims vowed not to bury Abdel-Nazeer until John Hosni is punished. Mr. Hosni fled from the village with his family, "fearing a wholesale massacre of Copts," reported activist Mariam Ragy. [AINA] Read more [via Religious Watch]

School allowed to ban Muslim pupil's praying

.... However, the Leipzig-based federal administrative court found that the right to pray even at school was guaranteed by religious freedom under the constitution.

In the case of the 18-year-old pupil, who took his school to court, it justified the ban at his Berlin high school because the issue of praying had already sparked conflict among Muslim pupils.

The court said the school, in Berlin's ethnically diverse Wedding district, was right in stopping him from praying as "sometimes very severe conflicts" had broken out among Muslim pupils over the interpretation of the Koran.

Capping a more than two-year legal battle, it ruled that a pupil "is not entitled to perform prayer during school outside of class when this can disrupt the running of the school." [The Local] Read more

Appeasing Islamist radicals imperils Western freedoms

Disturbing trends in ostensibly democratic nations are currently threatening our fundamental liberties of free speech. Western nations, intimidated by threats of violence from Islamic radicals, are re-evaluating the rights of citizens to criticize the beliefs of others with whom they disagree.

Consider the case in Australia, where it took hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years of litigation before charges were dropped against two pastors who ran a seminar on the virtues of Islam vis-a-vis Christianity. Lower courts had convicted them of "hate speech." The two pastors were exonerated, but are now impoverished.

The source of this growing movement against free speech is the anti-blasphemy laws that are being passed in predominantly Muslim countries. [The Post and Courier] Read more [via National Secular Society]

'Excessively strict' discipline problem in UK madrassas

Several madrassas – religious schools often run by mosques – use “excessively strict approaches to discipline” to keep children in line, it was revealed.

Researchers said the imposition of hard-line rules on behaviour instilled a sense of “spiritual fear” in young people, marking them out from mainstream schools.

The study, by the Institute for Public Policy Research, found a number of examples of madrassas actually employing corporal punishment.

A ban on physical beatings, including the cane, was introduced in the 1980s.

But the legislation does not cover “supplementary schools”, including many madrassas, where lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

No right to pray for Muslim pupil at German school

Germany's top administrative court has ruled that a student does not have an automatic right to pray at school.

The case was brought by an 18-year-old Muslim pupil at a Berlin school after he was told by his head teacher that prayer was not allowed on the school grounds.

The teenager and several other pupils kneeled in a hallway during a break to pray.

The court found that the school could ban prayer if the act caused conflict. [BBC] Read more

Should animals be stunned before slaughter?

The slaughter of conscious animals was widely abandoned in the 20th Century and is now practised mainly in the Jewish and Muslim communities. Consumers increasingly expect animals to be stunned before death - but would banning other slaughter methods be an unacceptable violation of religious rights?

.... A study of the issue commissioned by the Dutch government in 2008 concluded that "ritual slaughter has a number of negative aspects for the animals when compared to conventional procedures where a stun is performed prior to slaughter".

Its findings were mirrored in a 2010 report by a consortium of scientists for an EU-funded project, which concluded that "it can be stated with the utmost probability that animals feel pain during the throat cut without prior stunning". [BBC] Read more

29 November 2011

Egyptian shaykh says it is forbidden for women to participate in the Olympics

Popular Egyptian Shaykh Muhammad al-'Arifi last week called on the Saudi government to ban women from participating in the Olympic games, because it is "forbidden."

Al-'Arifi explained that women are permitted in Islam to play sports, just not when they might mingle with men, or any men might be watching. He also described it as a slippery slope which could lead to women taking off their hijabs or tightening their clothes. [Translating Jihad] Read more

Tunisia’s secularist and radical Islamist students clash on campus

Hundreds of radical Islamists demanding segregated classes and the right for women to wear full-face veils at university clashed with secular students near Tunis on Tuesday in the latest flare-up between the two camps.

Since Tunisia ousted its leader in the first “Arab Spring” revolution this year, the country has seen mounting tensions between secularists who have traditionally held power and Islamists whose influence has been growing.

What began as a protest by Islamist students at Manouba University near Tunis soon degenerated into fighting, said witnesses. The clash came a day after Islamists besieged a building at the same university, holding students and professors hostage in a protest over the same issue. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

‘Relief and delight’ as mosque blocked

SOUTH Shore residents celebrated a “victory for democracy” as controversial plans for a mosque were refused by town hall chiefs.

An application for retrospective planning permission for the Noor-A-Madina Mosque on Waterloo Road – a former takeaway – was turned down on grounds of a lack of car parking at Blackpool Town Hall last night.

The plans had met with a storm of protest from more than 300 business owners and residents who had claimed the mosque was operating illegally. [The Gazette] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Agencies Question Need for Iran's Family Protection Bill

The Iranian government calls it the Family Protection Bill, but activists call it the “Anti-Family Protection Bill.”

It would give men the right to take a second wife without the permission of the first, and it would enshrine a man’s right to have an unlimited number of temporary marriages, which can last from 10 minutes to 99 years. Those arrangements come from Shariah law and have always existed in Iran, but the Family Protection Bill would make them official. [FoxNews.com] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

28 November 2011

World’s top Muslims list appears with Erdogan only #3. Who should be #1?

.... The Muslim 500: The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2011, the third list in this series started in 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, named Saudi Arabian King Abdullah as the #1 Muslim in the world and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI as #2.

It said the Arab Spring had had no impact on Abdullah’s influence, had boosted Mohammed’s and had no effect on Erdogan’s. Fourth and fifth places in the list went to Jordan’s King Abdullah and Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei.

The list is available here as a PDF download or a hard copy to order. Give us your view on the “most influential Muslim of 2011” in the poll at the bottom of this post. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Imperial Security to pay EEOC $50K to settle religious discrimination lawsuit

.... The EEOC said Julie Holloway-Russell had worn a khimar—a cloth that covers her hair, ears and neck, as required by her religious beliefs—when she interviewed for a job as a security guard at the Philadelphia-based firm in November 2009.

However, she was told to remove the khimar when she reported to her first work assignment. After she refused to do so, she was terminated, said EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence. [Business Insurance] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Hundreds Turn Out for Bogor Rally to Denounce Besieged Yasmin Church

Hundreds of hard-line Muslims rallied outside the Bogor City Hall on Sunday to decry the “arrogance” of a beleaguered church in the city that remains shuttered by authorities despite a Supreme Court order to open it.

The protesters, from Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami), said they wanted to show that all Muslims were united in opposition to the presence of the GKI Yasmin Church in the city. [Jakarta Globe] Read more

Number of Islamic schools growing fast to meet demand

.... There's no doubting that the Manara academy is a most unusual educational institution. But it's also part of a national trend. Although the number of Islamic schools is still small – around 140 at the latest count, just 12 of them state-funded – it is growing fast.

About 60 of these schools have opened in the last 10 years; several in the last couple of months. And the demand from parents seems to be huge – one school in Birmingham recently attracted 1,500 applications for just 60 places. At least five Islamic schools have recently applied to be free schools, although so far only one has been approved.

[A COMMENT] As a Muslim living in Britain, I think this is a very VERY VERY bad idea! I mean c'mon let your children decide on their own ! there is nothing wrong with the mainstream. Unfortunately This makes me sound like the fascist, racist, populist and above all backwards tabloids that chastises me everyday with a daily anti-Muslim article .... [guardian.co.uk] Read more

27 November 2011

Muslim medical students walk out of lectures on evolution because it goes against the Koran

Muslim students, including trainee doctors on one of Britain's leading medical courses, are walking out of lectures on evolution claiming it conflicts with creationist ideas established in the Koran.

Professors at University College London have expressed concern over the increasing number of biology students boycotting lectures on Darwinist theory, which form an important part of the syllabus, citing their religion. [MailOnline] Read more

Sweden Democrats adds opposition to Islam to party program

The Sweden Democrats are singling out Islam as the religion which clashes most with Swedish culture. This is the first time the party states its opposition to Islam in its party program.

The new program says as follows: "Islam and particularly its strong political and fundamentalist branch is, according to the view of the Sweden Democrats, a religious ideology which has proven itself to have the most difficulty to harmoniously coexist with Swedish and Western culture. [Islam in Europe] Read more

‘We will rule as a political party, not religious one’: head of Morocco’s Justice and Development party

The victory of the Justice and Development Party in Morocco’s first legislative elections after the new constitution was quite expected, yet euphoric celebrations in the party’s headquarters and all over the country still denote the element of surprise to Islamists who, observers say, would never have dreamed of reaching such glory.

It remains to be seen how the new government will chart the coming stage of Morocco’s political scene and this what Al Arabiya was out to know in the first interview by Justice and Development head Abdel Ilah Bin Kiran after the victory. [Al Arabiya News] Read more

Christian worker at airport loses her job after "bullying and intimidation" by Muslims

Nohad Halawi, who worked at Heathrow Airport, is suing her former employers for unfair dismissal, claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion.

She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.

Mrs Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, worked in the duty-free section as a perfume saleswoman of the airport for 13 years but was dismissed in July. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Islamic Minister, MPs, PPM and religious groups condemn UN Human Rights Commissioner

Statements by visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for fornication and criticising the Muslim-only clause for citizenship in the Maldivian constitution have been widely condemned by religious NGOs, public officials and political parties.

In an address delivered in parliament last Thursday, Pillay said the practice of flogging women found guilty of extra-marital sex “constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country.” [MINIVAN NEWS] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Democrats must welcome the rise of political Islam

.... The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere.

Undoubtedly, Islamists' participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces.

Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight.

[A COMMENT] This is a bit like saying in the 1930s that the nazis were going to be amajor force in Germany so we should all learn to "work with them".

Political Islam has form - Minorities get oppressed, women are forcibly relegated to second class status and attitudes to the political world become beligerent in the extreme. Islamism will bring nothing but grief to the middle east and increased conflict to the rest of the world. [Guardian Cif] Read more

26 November 2011

Rafiq Tagi: Azerbaijani critic of Islam and Iran dies after stabbing

.... in 2007 was sentenced to three years in prison following the publication of ‘Europe and Us’, an article which asserted that religion was holding back progress in Muslim countries. This article was perceived to be critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, a charge Tagi himself denied.

As PEN reports, the controversy split public opinion in Azerbaijan, with conservative groups expressing outrage, and other Muslims demonstrating in support of Tagi. The article led to a fatwa being placed on him by an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, calling for his death. Tagi was pardoned and released later in 2007. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Arab Spring turning into a winter of Islamic jihad

The Arab Spring is rapidly turning into a winter of chaos and oppression.

As protests grip the Egyptian capital of Cairo, and Islamic fundamentalists gain in confidence there and elsewhere across the region, the hopes of Western leaders for a new era of democracy across the Middle East have been exposed as hopelessly naïve.

For far from paving the way for freedom and pluralism, the uprisings have led only to more intolerance, authoritarianism and division.

The sense of darkening crisis in Egypt this week is a disturbing example of this trend. [MailOnline] Read more

25 November 2011

Man avoids jail after religiously aggravated attack on sister’s non-Muslim boyfriend

.... Judge Benson told Ali that he had acted in an irresponsible and wicked fashion, but he was persuaded to suspend his 12-month jail term for two years. Ali will also have to do 240 hours unpaid work for the community. [Huddersfield Daily Examiner] Read more [via The Iconclast]

Halal meat converting Aussies

“By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing,” Mr Simpkins told Parliament.

“What is happening is wrong. Too often the minorities in this country are looked after without regard to the majority.”

Mr Simpkins said he had carried out an unofficial survey in his northern-suburbs electorate of Cowan and had discovered that most meat at major chains such as Coles or Woolworths had been killed under Halal conditions, but had not been labelled as such. [The West Australian] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood will fail without a popular mandate

.... Without making basic and meaningful changes to its structure and without undertaking a major revision of its discourse, the Brotherhood may well be on a slow road to nothingness. It will also need to remember that Mubarak's National Democratic party won elections and secured seats in parliament. But winning seats without a real popular mandate will only alienate the Brotherhood further from the people it claims to represent.

[A COMMENT] I heard the Muslim Brotherhood in Radio 4 this morning advocating large families, because 94% of Egyptian land was unpopulated. It is also uninhabitable. Egypt's population is set to double again in the next 40 years. They will starve first. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Ruthless men hide behind veil of religion

.... The prophet of Islam had not even passed away when the struggle for power broke out in Medina, and this struggle for power within a few decades turned into a bloody massacre of the prophet’s family at the hands of ruthless men.

Arabs and Muslims have lived for 14 centuries in denial of their own blood-soaked history that became the template of their political culture.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the hard, ruthless, power-hungry face of men who disguise their politics behind the veil of a religion.

The Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the cold and calculating terrorists of al-Qaida, the bearded thugs of the fundamentalist Muslim parties in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere are the siblings of the Muslim Brotherhood with their faces unmasked. [Toronto Sun] Read more [via National Secular Society]

24 November 2011

Co-opting Dissent: The Muslim Leadership Council & The Relaunched All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia

.... The government and it’s zionist cadre, always need a Muslim partner to act as a yes man and rubber stamp it’s actions.

Ostensibly this was the MCB (Muslim Council of Britain’s) job for many years, until Daud Abdullah decided he could no longer tolerate British political support for Israel after 2010s ‘Cast Lead’ attack on Gaza.

He was savagedly attacked in the media for saying what the majority of the muslims in the UK think.

Since then, the MCB & MINAB and a whole bunch of Muslim Acronym groups have been given the cold shoulder. [Hotter Than a Pile of Curry] Read more

Muslim handbook is divisive

.... The booklet lists Islamic banking and financial institutions, Muslim publications, women's groups and schools. It also lists Muslim medical and dental practitioners, which splits up doctors into male and female groups.

There is also a halal food guide and a list of halal grocers and butchers. Much of the information seems useful and, having had a young Muslim house guest recently, I know just how tricky it can be to find halal food.

But there is no similar handbook for other religious or ethnic groups, not for Buddhists, Taoists, Germans, Greeks, Sikhs, Mormons or vegans. Why encourage one group of people to maintain an identity separate from other Australians? [Herald Sun] Read more

Islamophobia group relaunched

The newly reformed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia was set up last week and will begin work immediately on an inquiry into the extent of anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain today.

The APPG will be co-chaired by Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes; Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, Birmingham; and Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, Leeds.

MPs voted by 60-2 in July to drop the organisation iEngage from providing administrative support to the group. The Community Security Trust has described the group as having a "troubling attitude to antisemitism. [TheJC.com] Read more

23 November 2011

Saudi School Fire

There was a fire on Saturday at a girls school in Jeddah. Exits were found to be blocked - possibly because the girls remove their abayas once in the building, and must therefore be locked in and isolated from the eyes of the world - so some of those trapped inside the building had to jump from a third-floor window to escape. Two teachers died and a number of girls were treated in hospital.

The fire was covered by Arab News - mainly in relation to the onlookers. The crowds of spectators got in the way of the emergency services, apparently. Also, controversially, someone filmed the incident, and the resultant YouTube went viral. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Critique of Pure Islam

.... The fact that exponents of pure Islam will not tolerate criticism of Islam is one of the main criticisms of Islam. The fact that the Quran itself is adamant about disallowing any criticism of the Quran (and calls for a death sentence for doing so) is one of the most legitimate things to criticize about the Quran.

If someone doesn't hire a Muslim simply because the applicant is a Muslim, that is discrimination, and that's a different issue. If someone beats up a Muslim because he's a Muslim, that is a hate crime and is illegal, immoral, and should be punished. [Citizen Warrior] Read more

Male nurse sues after firing for treating Muslim women

Detroit— A male nurse filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city of Dearborn on Wednesday, claiming he was fired for treating conservative Muslim women wearing head scarves.

John Benitez Jr. is suing for unspecified damages and to reclaim his job, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Benitez, 63, of Madison Heights, worked at the city's taxpayer-funded health clinic. He alleges he was ordered by a female supervisor not to treat conservative Muslim women, specifically those wearing head scarves, according to the lawsuit. He was told the clinic's male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients. [The Detroit News] Read more [via EuropeNews]

Petition to ban sharia law

The British National Party is promoting an e-petition calling on the government to ban sharia law in the UK. BNP leader Nick Griffin is quoted as saying:

"The Muslim community are pushing ahead with setting up sharia law in parts of Britain and are banking on little opposition because of people's fears of being branded 'racists' if they dare to voice their objections. It is important that the Government know that the British people will not allow Sharia Law to be established in Britain through the back door." [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Muslims proud to be British? There's something to learn from the surprise

The finding in Demos's report A Place for Pride that 83% of Muslims said they were proud to be a British citizen, compared with the national average of 79%, has been met with surprise in some parts of the press. Clearly many British citizens have both a strong religious identity and a strong national identity. Yet it also seems clear that many people see these identities as mutually exclusive. Why is this the case?

[A COMMENT] Since Demos is a left-wing organisation, I rather think they got the politically correct result they were looking for. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

22 November 2011

Islamism, tolerance, freedom of speech and so-called 'honour culture'

.... And yet today, we view people throughout the Arab world who clamour for liberties, like freedom of speech,without necessarily believing that those liberties be extended to those they don’t like.

Thus the freedom of Islamists to protest their (too) secular government (like Mubarak’s, which supported women’s rights), does not translate into a concern for protecting the rights of those who would criticise Islam. The honor of Islam demands (at least for Islamists) the repression of freedom of speech. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Media report on Proud British Muslims

.... The choice of headline in the respective media outlets’ coverage of the poll commissioned by Demos is interesting for its reflection of what qualifies as newsworthy and how news reports are presented by the different outlets.

Contrast the BBC’s coverage of the list of institutions, individuals and symbols that evoke pride among Britons to the Daily Mail and Daily Star’s choice of headline – that British Muslims are more patriotic than the average Briton.

But then, the Daily Star chose to cover the Gallup poll results of 2009 under an article headlined ‘Muslims aren’t loyal to UK say 66% of Brits’. Is it any wonder that readers should disbelieve British Muslims’ patriotism given the frequent negative and alarmist reporting by sections of the British press? [ENGAGE] Read more

Egyptian mufti plays down bias against Christians, Islamists’ vote strength

Egypt’s highest Islamic legal official denied on Tuesday that minority Christians faced sectarian discrimination and said Islamists would win no more than 20 percent of votes in next week’s election.

Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said Egypt had done its best to abolish discrimination against Copts, who make up 10 percent of Egypt’s roughly 80 million population, but a small minority of radical salafist Islamists were causing trouble.

.... Gomaa said no more than 250,000 Egyptians were salafists, or radical Islamists, and they and the non-violent Islamist Muslim Brotherhood would win less than one-fifth of the vote. “In the elections, the Islamists will not get more than 20 percent,” Gomaa said through an interpreter. “I’m sure the majority of Egyptians are with the moderate voice of Islam.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Brussels: The New Capital of Eurabia

Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a new book published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top French-language university in Belgium.

In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels -- where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live --- has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled "Capital of Europe" is now the most Islamic city in Europe.

In practical terms, Islam mobilizes more people in Brussels than do the Roman Catholic Church, political parties or even trade unions, according to "The Iris and the Crescent," a book that is the product of more than one year of field research and was released to the public on November 18.

The book's author, the sociologist Felice Dassetto, predicts that Muslims will comprise the majority of the population of Brussels by 2030. [Hudson New York] Read more

‘Jesus Christ’ among words banned in text messages

Pakistan’s bishops are protesting a decision by the nation’s telecommunications authority to include “Jesus Christ” in a list of 160 words banned in text messages.

“The Catholic Church of Pakistan will make all necessary pressures on the government to eliminate the name of Christ from the prohibited list,” said Father John Shakir Nadeem, secretary of the bishops’ commission for social communications. “We understand the desire to protect the minds of young people, indicating a list of obscene words. But why include the name of Christ?” [CatholicCulture.org] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Religious training is a family’s job, not a school’s

On Monday night at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto, a few dozen interested parties attended a discussion on religious accommodation within the Toronto District School Board.

This may have the perverse effect of reigniting a debate that had died down since the summer, when a tiny group of angry Hindus objected to Muslim prayer services being conducted on Friday afternoons in the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School, just across the street from Garneau C.I. [National Post] Read more

Afghan woman's choice: 12 years in jail or marry her rapist and risk death

The ordeal of Gulnaz did not simply begin and end with the physical attack of her rape. The rape began a years-long nightmare of further pain, culminating in an awful choice she must now make.

Even two years later, Gulnaz remembers the smell and state of her rapist's clothes when he came into the house when her mother left for a brief visit to the hospital. [CNN] Read more

21 November 2011

Erdogan calls for self-questioning, unity in Muslim world

.... During his speech, Erdogan referred to many verses of Quran and the hadiths -- the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad -- calling for unity and brotherhood among Muslims.

Noting that the Muslim world today unfortunately cannot represent these messages, Erdogan was worried to see that predominantly Muslim regions today are unfortunately facing poverty, violence, bloodshed, exploitation and oppression.

Stating that it was not Islamic civilization that fell behind other civilizations but members of Islamic civilization who fell behind, Erdogan said today’s negative perception of Muslims was not created by Islam, but by those who misinterpreted Islam and who do not practice Islam. [TODAY'S ZAMAN] Read more

Even among men?

Shi'ite cleric Sheik Hassan Ghandour, on Lebanese TV, sets us straight on the subject of Islam and singing:

Hassan Ghandour: In general, singing is completely prohibited. Islamic law prohibits singing because it constitutes falsehood. Singing includes all kinds of lyrics that attribute false things to the other…

Interviewer: Singing is forbidden?! Hassan Ghandour: Yes. The kind of singing prevalent in our Arab region and even in Europe... Interviewer: Even among men? [Mick Hartley] Read more

Nine recommendations to the APPG on Islamophobia

Following on from the news last week that I was invited to present evidence to the AGM of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, I thought that I would share the nine initial recommendations I made.

These are very basic but I think that the enquiry into Islamophobia is still at a very basic stage: there is still no real consensus about what it is, where it is, what it does or looks like, and how much of it exists out there in today’s society. [Bigmouth Strikes Again] Read more

Kashmir pastor arrested for baptising seven Muslims

Police in Kashmir arrested Rev Chander Mani Khanna of the All Saints Church after the head of the Kashmir Shariat Court accused the Christian clergyman of converting Muslims in exchange of money. The case began on 8 November when Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-Din summoned him to appear before the court to explain the alleged conversions.

To back his accusation, the Grand Mufti used a video that appeared on YouTube that shows Rev Khanna baptising seven young Muslim men and women. The same video was then linked by other online platforms provoking an avalanche of verbal attacks against the clergyman. [AsiaNews] Read more

Accused of blasphemy, woman freed thanks to help from Christians and Muslims

Christians are grateful to the Muslim community for conducting an “in-depth investigation” before they would condemn someone for blasphemy, a crime punishable with death or life in prison in Pakistan.

Thus, they have prevented an “untoward incident over a sensitive issue,” said Fr Naveed Arif, a priest at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Faisalabad. Speaking to AsiaNews, he could not hide his satisfaction over the outcome of the case, which he describes as “an example in inter-confessional harmony” with Islam. [AsiaNews] Read more

The Muslim Leadership Council

The Tories along with their Lib Dem sidekicks have apparently come up with a new approach to dealing with Muslims called the Muslim Leadership Council (MLC) which will form the centerpiece of a new Coalition Integration Policy.

LM can here the concerted groan amongst Muslims as yet another patronising self serving body established by racist Tories begins its work of dividing Muslims by employing the usual array of publicity seekers and sell outs. [London Muslim] Read more

Pakistan Postpones Texting Censorship

Pakistani officials are denying they ordered the country's mobile phone operators to block certain text messages sent by customers.

A free speech advocacy group plans to sue the government over a list containing hundreds of so-called obscene words and phrases, which has since been widely mocked by ordinary Pakistanis on social media.

According to a letter signed by the chief of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority dated November 14, the order to block text messages containing prohibited words was ordered to go into effect on Monday. [VOANews] Read more

The spread of female Islamic leadership

Visible growth of conservative female Islamic movements in both Muslim-majority countries and western Muslim-minority communities in the West has brought the apparent tension between women’s rights and Islam to the fore.

There has been outright rejection of certain Islamic practices and symbols in particular communities, as shown by the banning of the niqab in France and inside Syrian government schools.

Furthermore, the high participation of youth, and especially young women, in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ led some to argue for a post-Islamist turn. Still, many of those protesting actively argue for future democracies to take inspiration from Islam rather than the secular norms. [openDemocracy] Read more

The Many Shades of Islamists

.... Islamist movements seeking power VIA democracy will behave differently based on the country's historic experiences with Islamism and secularism. What this means is that democratization in each country will lead to a particular hue along the political shades of Islamist movements.

Thus, while Turkey's AKP might be a model that many desire for Islamists in the Arab world, we should not expect Islamists in the Arab world, or for that matter across the Muslim world, to start behaving like their Turkish counterparts. [The Huffington Post] Read more

20 November 2011

“Don’t Vote for Those Who Don't Accept Allah as their God, Islam as Their Religion and Mohamed as Their Prophet”- Qaradawi

.... Qaradawi considered voting "a religious obligation" and "a mundane prerequisite." He urged Egyptians to look for the parties that adhere to piety and "eschew infidelity and the forbidden.”

Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood around the world, drawing an analogy between casting votes in elections and the provisions of giving testimony in Islam, said: "vouch for those who acclaim piety, truth, and Islam; don't vouch for a secularist, an agnostic, or those who don't accept Allah as their God, Islam as their religion and Mohamed as their prophet." [Coptic Solidarity] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Contentions FBI Statistics Belie Islamophobia Hysteria

It has become an accepted trope of contemporary journalism that American Muslims are under siege and beset by hatred and prejudice. But the evidence for this conventional wisdom is lacking.

The story line of Muslim persecution in the United States has always been a matter of anecdotes and perception, not facts. That truth was confirmed this week when the FBI released their annual crime statistics report which showed once again that hate crimes against Muslims remain rare and are far outnumbered by attacks on Jews. [Commentary Magazine] Read more

19 November 2011

Uproar in Tunisian court after film aired

A trial in Tunisia over the broadcasting of the animated Iranian film Persepolis has been cut short after an uproar in the courtroom. Lawyers for the two sides exchanged insults inside the courtroom on Thursday, prompting the judge to adjourn the trial to January 23.

Controversy surrounding the film illustrates how Tunisia, the country that started the wave of uprisings that have swept through the Arab world, is struggling to work out the role of Islam in society after years of enforced secularism. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

.... bigotry in Scotland on the rise; all religious hate crimes up 10%

Religious hate crimes in Scotland have surged 10 per cent in the last year, according to research released today by the Scottish government.

The report, ‘Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2010/11’, found there were 693 charges aggravated by religious prejudice last year – the highest in four years.

Of these, a staggering 58 per cent were against Catholics while 37 per cent were against Protestants; 2.3 per cent related to Judaism and 2.1 per cent to Islam. [Left Foot Forward] Read more

Saudi Islam and the abrogation of personal responsibility

.... What this illustrates is that, as a belief system that is supposed to lead followers to lead pious and moral lives, Islam (at least of this variety) is an utter failure.

If the belief that you possess a direct line of communication with the creator of the universe, that the creator watches all you do, and that the creator will grant you eternal bliss or eternal torment after death depending on your behaviour in this life is not enough to lead men to control themselves, then of what use is this belief system?

Where clerics demand the covering of women’s eyes – their eyes – because this is supposedly the only way to stop men from committing sin, they have effectively admitted that the entire belief system they promote is utterly ineffective. [Harry’s Place] Read more

18 November 2011

Very Little to Debate at ‘Human Rights in Islam’ Discussion

It is impossible for me to provide a complete account of the debate on “Human Rights in Islam: Just or Unjust?” that was held under the auspices of IslamNet, Norway’s largest Islamic organization, on November 7, 2011.

The “ideas” that were presented were utterly lacking in logic or intelligence, and the whole thing raced by very fast. It was almost impossible to keep up with it all: claims were made at a tempo out of another world, and were absolutely without substance. It was far more a revival meeting than a debate.

They delightedly applauded the chopping off of hands and feet. And they didn’t raise an eyebrow when executions committed by family agreement were defended as a reasonable ”human right in Islam.” [Pajamas Media] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

‘Antagonism towards icons of Islam spreading in Europe’

European women see the Hijab as a threat to their emancipation and the icons of Islam are equated with terrorism in Europe.

These views were expressed by Anwar Shaheen, Assistant Professor at the Pakistan Studies Centre, University of Karachi (KU), on the final day of the two-day seminar, “Islam in Europe” ....

Both cultures, she said, were colliding and what was even more undesirable was that they were donning a religious garb. Actually, she said, the matter was more cultural than religious. She said that it was generally felt in those European countries where there were large Muslim populations that the Muslims were enforcing their “fundamentalism” on Europe.

Muslims in Europe, she said, may be multicultural but only to the extent that they were accepting of other cultures. “They could never think of taking up aspects of the host culture. They shy away from assimilation which creates misgivings among the host populations.” [The News International] Read more

"Women Are Deficient in Intelligence and Religion, and It Is Not Permissible for Them to Be in Authority"

.... A female salafi candidate for Egyptian Parliament, Muna Salah, said to al-Sharq al-Awsat that women are deficient in intelligence and religion, and it is not permissible for them to be in authority or to occupy the office of the presidency.

She defended her candidacy for the People's Council, saying that acting as a representative in the Council only partial authority and not complete authority, such as the presidency of the republic.

She added that she seeks to apply the Islamic shari'a, including cutting off the hands of thieves, preventing the mingling of men and women, and specifying black clothes for women and white clothes for men. [Translating Jihad] Read more

Islamists vs. Military: Turkey`s Recent History and Egypt`s Near Future

The long over-due confrontation between the political Islamic forces and the military has just started. The events Turkey has seen since its 1980 military coup seem to have reemerged in Egypt today.

Turkey`s 1980 constitution written by the military and Egypt`s much debated constitutional principles proposed by the SCAF; the role of Turkey`s army as the `guardian of the Turkish Constitution` and Egypt`s army defining itself as the `defender of constitutional legitimacy` as mentioned in article 9 in its suggested principles; Turkey`s military-dominated `National Security Council` and Egypt`s `National Defense Council` mentioned in article 10 of the draft principles; the Islamist roots of Erdogan`s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Muslim Brothers` Freedom and Justice Party. The similarities are endless. [Egypt Daily News] Read more

Muslim students denied high school prayer slot

High school student Ibrahim El Kadi asked if he could pray while at school. “No,” said his principal.

“No one has the legal right to religious practice during working hours, neither employees nor students.”

The denial compelled El Kadi and some 40 other students in “multicultural” Ulsrud High School to protest in mock prayer outside the school’s library. Now they pray in the bitter cold of a nearby parking lot. [The Local] Read more

‘Muslims need to assimilate into Europe’ II

.... Mr Bakare said there was a need for a “cosmopolitan mazhab” for European Muslims as the community could no longer depend on fatwas originating from Muslim countries. He said the elements defining western, European democratic values were secularism, pluralism, political freedom, liberty, equality, rule of law and freedom of speech.

Referring to secularism, he said western society recognises religion but insists it should be confined to the individual level. He observed there was a history of secularism is Islam, for in both the Umayyad and Abbasid empires there was a clear balance between the state and the mazhabs, which sprang from society. [DAWN.COM] Read more

Netherlands: National Headscarf Survey

60% of Dutch Muslim women aged 15-35 (around 80,000 women) wear a headscarf. Not due to oppression, but as part of their identity.

This according to a national survey conducted for 'Hoofdboek', a large-scale project to give Dutch a peek into the world of women who wear a headscarf. The project consists of a book, survey, traveling exhibition and a social media platform on headscarves.

According to the survey, the headscarf is increasingly a fashion item, and is adapted to the outfit. 41% said that the headscarf increasingly reflects the identity of the wearer, but 88% of the headscarf-wearers say that you can also look attractive with it. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Brussels: One of Europe's largest Muslim cities

25% of the residents of Brussels are of Muslim origin, which makes Brussels one of the European cities with the largest Muslim presence, comparable to Birmingham in the UK. This according to a sociological study ('L'Iris et le Croissant' - the Iris and the Crescent) by UCL. The study was conducted by Sociologist Felice Dassetto, who has been researching Muslims, radicalization and intercultural ism for more than 30 years.

In total there are 250,000 to 300,000 Muslims in Brussels, about half the Muslim population of Belgium. 10-15% of the Muslims are practicing and active within religious associations.

Islam is also increasingly visible: there are more moques and minarets, more veiled owmen and more Muslim organizations. [Islam in Europe] Read more

'Muslims need to assimilate into Europe'

European culture and Islamic culture have different ethos and both are bound to collide unless there is assimilation and compromise.

.... Ms Shaheen, who had conducted a survey of Muslim women living in Europe as well as Pakistani scholars to back up her research, said European society was justified in its reaction to Muslim women wearing hijab. She said proponents of the veil considered it a divine commandment while other women faced patriarchal pressure to observe the veil. However, she said many women also wore hijab out of free will.

.... “If Muslims don’t feel comfortable with European laws they should come back” to their countries of origin, she said, while adding that “European governments should not frame discriminatory laws”. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamist parties take to the street against the military, threaten violence

Thousands of supporters of Islamist parties rallied today in Tahrir Square to protest against excessive power wielded by the military. Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the demonstration saw pro-democracy parties stay away. Although they too are against the military, they also oppose Islamist parties’ strong-arm tactics.

The latter object to plans that would make the military the guardian of ‘constitutional legitimacy’, and thus give them a final say on the 28 November elections. Unless the proposed constitutional change is not shelved, Islamists say they would escalate their campaign. [AsiaNews] Read more

Nude photo of Egyptian blogger is a scream against Islamism

Student, atheist and blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20, posted naked pictures of herself on her blog to show her “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”.

Showing her body particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt are trying to secure power is the ultimate act of rebellion. Don’t forget Islamists despise nothing more than a woman’s body. In case you didn’t know, women are the source of corruption and chaos and must be covered up at all times and not seen and not heard. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

17 November 2011

Egypt’s “nude photo revolutionary” just that, revolutionary

.... Women are objects in many conservatives’ views. Things that can be owned and used for a man’s pleasure when he desires and when he wants. This is why we have seen the growth of polygamy, the shoving aside of a woman’s ability to choose her life’s goals, and the unending “debate” over the causes of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Whether we agree that one’s body should be a form of protest – which so many of Egypt’s liberals disagree with – is irrelevant. The reality is that Mahdy has been able, with her body, debunk all myths of Egyptian liberalism. Her naked image, which has seen over one million hits, has shown that Egypt is not ready for free expression. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Netherlands Sliding into the Abyss

In a new interview in the Dutch magazine Panorama, Geert Wilders talks about a variety of things, including his forthcoming book about Islam, which will be published in the U.S. in April.

In it, he says, he’ll document the fact that “Islam is a dangerous ideology” and that “Muhammed really is one of the big bad guys” of history, whose negative influence continues to be felt today. Yes, Wilders acknowledges, there are genuinely moderate people who call themselves Muslims, and if they want to call themselves Muslims that’s fine with him – but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam. [Front Page] Read more

"Islam in Europe a reality despite challenges"

Islam in Europe today is a reality the world would have to contend with despite the immense challenges it faces there.

This was the majority opinion among speakers at the two-day seminar, “Islam in Europe”, held at a local hotel, under the aegis of the Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi (KU), and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad on Wednesday.

The keynote speaker, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, EU ambassador to Pakistan, could not turn up on account of the inordinate delay in the PIA flight that he was supposed to come by. [The News International] Read more

All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia Relaunched at Westmister

.... The All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia was relaunched this week [Monday 14 November] in the Palace of Westminster when it had its Annual General Meeting.

The meeting was addressed by leading academic and expert on Islamophobia Dr.Chris Allen of The University of Birmingham, who spoke to the group about the importance of keeping Islamophobia on the national agenda so that the UK can continue to improve its efforts at countering prejudice against Muslims.

The group elected Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrat), Khalid Mahmood MP (Labour) and Stuart Andrew MP (Conservative) as co-chairs. The group also agreed to start work immediately and commission new research to uncover the scope of the problem of anti-Muslim hate crime across the UK. [Bigmouth Strikes Again] Read more

Academic presents expert evidence on Islamophobia

.... Drawing upon his research at the University since 2001, Chris presented the Group with nine recommendations that his research over the past decade had highlighted as being necessary.

These included the APPG pulling together a working definition of Islamophobia which they, policymakers and indeed others could begin to use and have meaningful engagement with; establishing a knowledge and evidence of Islamophobia in the UK; undertaking a consultation on the issue of Islamophobia to better understand people's views and attitudes towards the phenomenon; commissioning a report from the Crime Prosecution Service about anti-Muslim hate crime; and commissioning a report into workplace and educational anti-Muslim discrimination from the Equality and Human Rights Commission amongst others. [University of Birmingham] Read more

Has the OSCE Succumbed to Shariah? An Interview with Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

As 2011 draws to a close, a constellation of events, in the Middle East, Europe and the US have thrust certain doctrinal precepts of Islam which endanger basic Western values such as freedom of speech, into public debate. Terms like Shariah, blasphemy and Islamophobia have entered the mainstream largely at the insistence of the Saudi-based 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

.... In addition, a State Department Official, according to Fox News, said that the meeting is meant to combat intolerance while being fully consistent with freedom of expression. I don't think that this will be possible. I think the State Department is trying to square a circle. Shariah law can never be consistent with freedom of expression. [New English Review] Read more

Muslim Brotherhood goes public with Libya summit

.... As Libya emerges from a bloody civil war, many observers believe the next elections could pit religious political groups against secular parties, with better-organized Islamists such as the Brotherhood having a tactical advantage.

Speaking nine months to the day after the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi that eventually ended his 42-year rule, Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Suleiman Abdelkader praised the rebellion and called on Libya's factions to unite.

"Rebuilding Libya is not a task for one group or one party but for everyone, based on their ability," Abdelkader told the meeting of about 700 people at a wedding hall in Benghazi, the eastern city where the revolt against Gaddafi began. [Reuters] Read more

Luxembourg: Ministry proposes allowing separate gym classes, prayer rooms

.... Education Minister Mady Delvaux says the draft proposal is the result of requests by school principals, who asked for more detailed directives on how to respond in such cases.

They increasingly have to deal with cases where students wear clothing for religious reasons, refuse to participate in various lessons, or sue for the right to practice their religion in school.

Jean-Luc Karleskind, vice-president of the Shura, the Muslim community of Luxembourg, told Tageblatt that these requests did not come from the Muslim community, and that they were not contacted on the topic. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Reactions to the 'All-American Muslim' reality TV show

.... Within days of the show's premiere, the fear-mongering Islamphobia network complained the show is actually propaganda that promotes a "submission to Islam through the hijab" and "tries to make a religion which believes in world domination and the inferiority of women, seem normal".

The author of this article, posted on David Horowitz's inflammatory Front Page Magazine, also goes on to compare Muslims to Nazis: "Muslims are like us [Americans]; that's the problem. The Nazis were like us too. So were the Communists."

[A COMMENT] However, what would be truly revolutionary might be to show a muslim converting to something else. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Tunisian Islamists, Women's Rights: Watch and Wait

.... the recent victory of the Islamist party in the first elections in the post-Zine El Abidine Ben Ali era unsettles those feelings and raises questions about the fate of Tunisia's 1956 Code of Personal Status.

That law was enacted in the newly-independent Tunisia under President Habib Bourguiba and has long served as the most progressive piece of women's rights legislation in the Arab world. It abolished polygamy. It allowed women to purse a divorce and an amended version established a minimum age for marriage with the consent of both spouses. [Women's eNews Inc] Read more

16 November 2011

Saudi moral committee threatens to cover “tempting” women’s eyes

Women with sexy eyes in Saudi Arabia may be forced to cover them up, according to the spokesperson of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) in the conservative Gulf kingdom.

Spokesman of the Ha’eal district, Sheikh Motlab al-Nabet said the committee has the right to stop a women whose eyes seem “tempting” and order her to cover them immediately. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Sayeeda Warsi on "extremists" not being Muslim

.... her latest outburst concerning the Munafiq Andy Choudary and his merry band of cutthroats not being Muslims is in my opinion a step too far. Allah (swt) decides ultimately who is or is not a Muslim not an unelected Baroness.

Warsi needs to be careful about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater because some of her comments have no validity in Islam particularly when she like me is no scholar.

Warsi is correct to criticise and where appropriate dismiss the actions of the freaks at MAC as being contrary to the teachings of Islam and provide evidence as well as examples however, no mere mortal has the right to finger point and claim she or he is any more a Muslim than the next person. [London Muslim] Read more

South African Muslims furious at 'halal pork' scandal

South African Muslims have reacted with outrage to allegations that a leading meat importer labelled pork as halal.

The head of Cape Town-based Orion Cold Storage said he had received death threats since the allegation surfaced. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign by rival businesses.

Muslim companies have obtained a court order banning Orion from using the halal label, which means food has been prepared according to Islamic law. [BBC] Read more

Yob spat in face of poppies girl Beth

A YOUNG yob spat in a girl Army cadet's face as she sold Remembrance Day poppies in a city shopping centre, it was revealed yesterday.

One of the three Asian hoodies — all said to be aged about 12 — took a poppy from a box held by Bethany Holmes and spat on it before spitting into her face three times.

In a separate incident, two teenage girl Army Cadets faced a barrage of verbal abuse for selling poppies — because they were Asian. [The Sun] Read more

What does ‘moderate Islamist’ mean?

In the run-up to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly elections and the aftermath that saw a plurality of seats won by the al-Nahda (Renaissance) party, you may have noticed frequent references in the media to this political organization as a “moderate Islamist” party.

This is of course not the first time such terms have been used to denote Islamist political factions: recall, for example, how the ruling AKP party in Turkey is often called “mildly Islamist” (to borrow The Economist’s phrasing).

Unfortunately, however, such terminology can only be characterized as part of what Hussein Ibish, director of the American Task Force on Palestine, calls an “intellectually and politically indefensible rush” to portray Islamist parties as “more moderate or pluralistic than they actually are.” [The Jerusalem Post] Read more

15 November 2011

U.N. Third Committee Makes Decisive Break from “Defamation of Religion”

Human Rights First applauds the United Nations’ Third Committee’s adoption of a text on combating religious intolerance that does not include the harmful concept of “defamation of religion,” an historic step that brings the text closer to final passage in the full General Assembly in coming weeks.

“If this text is adopted by the full General Assembly, it would mark a decisive break from the polarizing focus in the past on defamation of religions.” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “Governments should now focus on concrete measures to fight religiously-motivated violence, discrimination, and other forms of intolerance, while recognizing the importance of freedom of expression.” [Human Rights First] Read more [via Religious Watch]

The Libyan Revolution: Democracy or ‘Purity of Islam’?

.... The text, of which an English translation is available here, amounts to an indictment of Qaddafi for a long list of alleged crimes against Islamic orthodoxy. It ends with a rhetorical question: “Have you heard of any tyrant who has done to Islam and its people what the criminal Qaddafi has done?”

The list of charges includes Qaddafi’s discouraging women from wearing the traditional Islamic “veil,” his suggestion that Jews and Christians should be allowed to visit Mecca, and, perhaps most importantly, his rejection of the sunna. [National Review Online] Read more

New research on 'Representation of Muslims in the British press'

Academics at Lancaster University have completed an ESRC financed research project on ‘The representation of Muslims in the British press 1998-2009'. The researchers analysed over 200,000 media articles written on Islam and Muslim over the eleven year period.

.... when newspapers write about a minority group like Muslims, if they focus on a violent subset of that group, there is the danger that the majority suffer guilt by association. In a climate where the UK can spawn a group like the English Defence League, a wider set of representations of Islam would signify a welcome change to reporting practices. Muslims deserve a better press than they have been given in the past decade.” [ENGAGE] Read more

Turkey: many violations of freedom of expression

The European Court of Human Rights is currently examining one thousand presumed violations of freedom of expression in Turkey, a huge amount, according to the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, who has been speaking in Ankara today.

Jagland repeated the European Council's concern at the constriction of freedom of the press in the country but also focussed on the commitment with which the Turkish government wants to bring the country's legal standards up to European levels. [ANSAmed] Read more

'All-American Muslim' Misleads on Islam

TLC’s much-ballyhooed All-American Muslim reality show makes its agenda clear in its opening sequences: shots of a hijabbed girl roller-skating, Muslims dancing at a wedding, an American flag waving proudly in the breeze, and newspaper clippings proclaiming “4 in 10 Americans ‘suspicious’ of Muslims,” “Outrage at Ground Zero ‘Mosque,’” and “Muslims Brace for Backlash.”

The point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion. [HUMAN EVENTS] Read more

Baroness Warsi: Anjem Choudary and co are not Muslims

.... These comments are worth analysing further, as they relate to the argument that there is somehow a "proper" form of Islam that can be contrasted with extremist forms (similar arguments are made regarding Christian extremism), but it was Warsi's next statement that prompted me to write this post:

.... With this bizarre statement, Warsi provides a useful example of the way in which concepts such as "religion", "race", "ethnicity" and "nationality" are conflated and confused in debates over multiculturalism and identity. [New Humanist] Read more

Sharia warning

.... advocates of sharia law in Australia will continue with their quest for sharia-creep by demanding concessions, we cannot afford to indulge in even the most innocuous aspects of sharia law.

...The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that sharia law is not compatible with democracy. In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights stated: "It is difficult to declare one's respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverges from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts." [The Australian] Read more

Tunisia Islamist causes outcry with "caliphate" talk

Tunisia's secularists said their fears about an Islamist takeover were being realized on Tuesday after a senior official in the moderate Islamist party which won last month's election invoked the revival of a caliphate, or Islamic state.

Footage posted on the Internet showed Hamadi Jbeli, the secretary-general of the Ennahda party, telling supporters that "We are in the sixth caliphate, God willing." [Reuters] Read more

Women-only swim beginning of Sharia law in America

And so it begins. Sharia law making its way into our culture, nibble by nibble, bite by bite until one day we wake up and realize that our American way of life has been destroyed and overtaken by another culture.

Shehlla Khan, a Muslim Howard County resident, complained that she was concerned about people watching her swim in the conservative, cover-all dress required by Islamic dress codes, and thinking: "What's wrong? Why can't you take it off?" First of all, how does Ms. Khan know what others are thinking? [The Baltimore Sun] Read more [via National Secular Society]

14 November 2011

Lady Warsi says extremists are no longer Muslim

"From the Islam that I have been taught, and grown up with … and most people have been bought up with, it has to be rationed, reasoned, contextualised. Now if you detach reason from religion, then you are no longer a follower of that faith. If you are a follower of a religion that is so clear in its support of humanity [and you behave the way they do] then you are no longer part of that faith."

Asked by Harris whether Anjem Choudury had "forfeited" being able to call himself a Muslim, Warsi replied: "Well, they follow a religion, and the prophet who bought religion to earth, and yet nothing about the way they conduct themselves is in accordance with the teachings. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Saudi woman to be flogged for driving car

A Saudi court has ordered the flogging of a local woman 10 times for driving a car in defiance of a long-standing ban in the Kingdom, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Shaima Jastaniya said the court in the western Red Sea port of Jeddah had issued what she described as a “Sharia sentence” ordering her lashing for violating the ban on female driving.

“I received a copy of this sentence on Saturday. I now need to consult my lawyer after what happened to me,” she said, quoted by the London-based Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat. [Emirates247.com] Read more [via Religious Watch]

Arab Women Face an Uphill Struggle for Equality

.... The Middle East and North African region's economy, society and politics continue to be monopolised by men (of all ages and social backgrounds), who look down on female leadership and participation disdainfully.

From society's building block (the family home) upwards, women face an uphill struggle to feel safe and respected as equal citizens in their own nations.

Conservative Arab elites should face reality sooner or later: their societies will never be able to move forward so long as women continue to be treated as second-hand citizens under the tutelage of men. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Women with “seditious” eyes must cover up

Women unveiling their eyes in public in Saudi Arabia will be forced to fully cover up their faces if their eyes are found to be seditious, according to the Gulf Kingdom’s most feared Islamic law-enforcement group. [Emirates247.com] Read more

FBI Reports Dramatic Spike in Anti-Muslim Hate Violence

Anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by an astounding 50% last year, skyrocketing over 2009 levels in a year marked by the vicious rhetoric of Islam-bashing politicians and activists, especially over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" in New York City.

Although the national statistics compiled by the FBI each year are known to dramatically understate the real level of reported and unreported hate crimes, they do offer telling indications of some trends.

The latest statistics, showing a jump from 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2009 to 160 in 2010, seem to reflect a clear rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric from groups like Stop Islamization of America. Much of that rhetoric was aimed at stopping an Islamic center in lower Manhattan. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Egyptian women fret as 'modesty' becomes election issue

Marwa and Heba are polar opposites, at least outwardly. Both 23 years old, Marwa, a recent university graduate and unemployed, is veiled, while Heba displays her hair in a pony-tail uncovered. Both take drags from their shisha (water pipe) at a local café.

Yet, in spite of their appearance, both are frustrated at the campaign promises being touted by leading politicians over how women should dress and act. A lengthy elections season has begun in Egypt, with legislative polling starting November 28 and continuing in stages until March, followed by a presidential vote in 2013. And, freed from the strictures of the Mubarak era, politicians are pushing forward on an Islamic agenda. [The Jerusalem Post] Read more

Judge rejects Sharia push

A mother's request to have her son returned to the United Arab Emirates to have a custody battle over the child fought out under Sharia Law has been rejected by an Australian judge.

Judge Michael Kent ruled the custody battle between the British mother and the eight-year-old's Australian father should be played out in the Australian court system because Sharia Law would not take into account what Australian family law regards as "the child's best interests". [Brisbane Times] Read more

12 November 2011

Islamists exposed to reality

Early excitement induced by the arrival of the Arab spring has recently been dampened by the emergence of Islamist parties as key beneficiaries. With Ennahda taking the lion's share of the votes in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood expected to do the same in Egypt, many are beginning to ask questions about the direction in which the region is heading.

However, success for traditional and well organised Islamist parties does not necessarily translate into success for Islamism. What we are really witnessing is the emergence of post-Islamism in the Arab world. Post-Islamism is the position that an increasing number of the more moderate Islamist parties are arriving at after being exposed to the reality of politics.

[A COMMENT] Islamism is the most reactionary force on the planet today. It is a rigid and vicious ideology that has supremaicsm built into its DNA. It oppresses women, preaches hatred of non-Muslims, and shows no mercy towards Muslims who dare to speak against it. It is a recipe for human misery, subjugation and social stagnation, and the sooner it is consigned to the dustbin of history the better. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Anger, fear, determination permeate anti-Shariah conference at Madison church

The U.S. Constitution is under attack. Say no to Shariah.

Those two phrases — found on a bumper sticker in the parking lot — captured the mix of anger and determination coming from speakers and the audience at Friday’s Constitution or Sharia conference at Cornerstone Church in Madison.

They say Islam is a threat to their way of life. And they want to take action to limit the influence of Shariah, the legal code that guides Muslim ethical, religious and moral practice.

Brigitte Gabriel, president of ACT for America, a leading anti-Shariah group, started her talk by saying she was not worried about moderate Muslims. [www.tennessean.com] Read more

An Islamist Egypt?

.... The military like the taste of power and don’t want to abandon their privileges. Their average salaries are a third higher than civil servants’. They run more than 4,000 companies that pay no taxes. The military import virtually whatever they like duty-free. They have their gated residential compounds, exclusive hospitals, supermarkets and resorts.

.... Flush with foreign (mostly Saudi) money, Islamists are spending on a no-tomorrow basis -- offering interest-free loans, free doctors and hospitals, free food and clothing and cash handouts to persuade poverty-stricken Egyptians to help them dominate the parliament.

The good news is that 2011 is not 1953. There is a new factor in Egyptian politics: people power. This election is far from lost for democracy. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Free Speech Concerns Ahead of Meeting With Muslim Nations on Religious Tolerance

A looming meeting with Islamic leaders hosted by the State Department has religious scholars and advocacy groups warning that the United States may “play into” the push by some Islamic nations to create new laws to stifle religious criticism and debate.

.... Critics describe the get-together — the first in a series — as a Trojan horse for the long-running OIC push for restrictions on speech. They note the track record of nations that want the dialogue, including Egypt, where recent military action against Coptic Christians raised grave concerns about intolerance against religious minorities. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

Combating Islamic Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes

.... The traditional formulation of Islam calls for punishment by death for blasphemy and apostasy. These offenses are actually not defined and there is a mixing of the terminology, blending together blasphemy, apostasy, insulting Islam, defaming Islam and heresy. All of these terms are used interchangeably. They are applied differently from country to country and from place to place.

They change over time and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they expand and contract. What is prevailing Islamic doctrine on both blasphemy and apostasy is extremely subjective depending on who is doing the interpreting.

Paul Marshall and I have surveyed several leading Muslim countries in our new book Silenced, which shows this. Silenced is a survey on the human rights impact of contemporary blasphemy and apostasy codes in leading Muslim counties today; it is not a theological study. [The Iconoclast] Read more

11 November 2011

Cairo Islamists protest French paper's prophet cartoon

Hundreds of hardline Islamists protested outside France's embassy in Cairo on Friday against a French satirical newspaper that published pictures of the Muslim prophet, the state MENA news agency reported.

The news agency quoted Khaled Said, the spokesman of the Salafi group that organised the protest, as warning of "an escalation in peaceful measures against French interests," including a boycott of French goods. [AFP] Read more

Malaysian states with Islamic law eye harsher punishments for Muslim gays

Two Malaysian states are set to change their Islamic laws to punish Muslims who engage in homosexuality, raising the prospect of gay Muslims being punished twice and stoking concerns about rising intolerance toward same-gender relationships.

Homosexuality is punishable by law in Malaysia by caning and up to 20 years in jail, but the legal amendments planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give the state governments additional ammunition. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Islamists Take Over Egypt - Library of Alexandria to Be Burned Again

The Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt, the largest and most significant library of the ancient world, is now being targeted by radical Muslims who seek to replace it with a mosque.

Radical Islamic groups claim that the library's art programs, which include music and ballet dancing, spread "depravity" in Egyptian society.

The Islamist campaign against the library is taking place under the looking eyes of Egypt's military dictators, who are burying their heads in the sand and refusing to see the danger, noted columnist Mohammed al-Hamamsi. [Hudson New York] Read more

"Muslims Have the Same Desires We All Have"

.... By ignoring evidence of Islamist groups in the Muslim community, Holder is “denying the [FBI’s] agents — and, derivatively, the public — the tools necessary to distinguish authentic Islamic moderates from the Islamists who pose as moderates,” Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, told TheDC in a separate interview. McCarthy successfully tried Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other Islamist terrorists in 1995.

“Most rank-and-file Muslims in the United States are, in fact, patriotic Americans … [but] the only way we will ever empower real moderates is by drawing that distinction and marginalizing the sharia supremacists,” McCarthy said to The Daily Caller. [The Iconoclast] Read more

10 November 2011

The Multicultural Lie

.... “The world is naturally diverse,” Mansur observes. “But the moral strength of liberalism comes from its refusal to make a fetish of this diversity.

The liberal vision sees above and beyond diversity in respecting individual rights, and by defending liberty on the basis of securing individual rights liberalism acknowledges that the naturally given diversity finds its best unfettered expression through the lives of individuals as free agents in history.”

Delectable Lie is the testimony of a man who has seen the world from both sides – the free and the unfree – and who, after doing some very serious and responsible thinking about liberty and identity, has come to understand exactly why Western freedom and multiculturalism are mutually incompatible.

It would behoove those of us who have been fortunate enough to live our entire lives in the free West to heed his wisdom, and defend our liberties as zealously as he does in the pages of this invaluable book. [Front Page] Read more

Female Salafist candidate is using her husband’s photo on campaign posters

A female candidate in Egypt from the conservative Salafist party al-Nour is campaigning in an interesting manner: instead of putting her face on her campaign posters, she is using the likeness of her husband.

Marwa Ibrahim al-Qamash, who is running in the ad-Adaqahliyah province, initially used a flower as her campaign photo, but after sarcastic remarks about the campaign appeared on Twitter the flower picture was removed from her posters and her husband’s photos appeared.

However, replacing the flower photo with her husband’s picture did not stop Egyptians from deriding and ridiculing the woman and her campaign, again, on twitter. The woman is said to have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies. [Al Arabiya News] Read more

Police Detain, Beat Converts from Islam in India

Police in India’s Kashmir Valley detained and beat converts from Islam and were expected to arrest Christian workers after Muslim leaders alleged that Muslim youth were being “lured” to Christianity.

Police in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley picked up seven converts who were recently baptized in All Saints Church in Srinagar, a local Christian who spoke to the converts after their release on Nov. 2 told Compass. Srinagar is the summer capital of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and the main city of the Kashmir Valley. [CDN] Read more

EU censors own film on Afghan women prisoners

The European Union has blocked the release of a documentary on Afghan women who are in jail for so-called "moral crimes".

The EU says it decided to withdraw the film - which it commissioned and paid for - because of "very real concerns for the safety of the women portrayed".

However, human rights workers say the injustice in the Afghan judicial system should be exposed.

Half of Afghanistan's women prisoners are inmates for "zina" or moral crimes. [BBC] Read more

Meet Libya’s New Islamist Boss

.... The law that allowed a first wife to veto marriage to a second wife will be overturned. “The woman is not equal to the man in the body,” explained Sheikh Hamza. Thieves will have their hands chopped off: “If this happens it will only happen once because other people will not want it to happen again and will not commit theft,” said the good Sheikh.

Islamic banking will be the only kind of banking in Libya. “In the future, we hope all banks will be Islamic,” Sheikh Hamza said. “The Islamic bank is best for all people. All Europeans and Australian people will realize the best solution for banks is Islamic banks.” [Front Page] Read more

Libya's Islamist movement announces new party on lines of 'moderate' Islamic democracy

In an exclusive interview, the cleric seen as the figurehead of Libya's Islamist movement said a provisional manifesto had already won support from some of the country's most important political and religious leaders.

Ali al-Sallabi, who spent eight years in Col Gaddafi's most notorious prison Abu Salim, denied reports that he would stand for president himself but confirmed his long-predicted move into secular politics.

He said his movement supported basing Libya's constitution on Sharia law, but that it would be moderate and pursue democratic politics on the model of similar parties in Turkey and Tunisia. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Book outlines threat of Muslim blasphemy laws to free speech

A new book on blasphemy and apostasy laws shows the dangers that intolerant policies pose to freedom of speech in both Muslim countries and the Western world.

“The freedom to discuss religion, the freedom to discuss faith, even to disagree, to argue, to criticize—this is at the heart of a free democratic politics,” Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told CNA. [CNA] Read more

Muslims Against Crusades banned

The home secretary, Theresa May, has ordered Muslims Against Crusades, an Islamist group which is planning to disrupt Friday's Armistice Day ceremonies, be banned from midnight.

The organisation, which burned two large poppies near the Royal Albert Hall in London on Remembrance Day during the minute's silence last year, is a renamed successor to the already banned Islam4UK and other proscribed organisations. Anjem Choudary is a leading figure in both groups. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

09 November 2011

US Commission: Pakistan Schools Teach Hatred

The report specifically said Pakistani teachers view religious minorities, especially Hindus and to a lesser extent, Christians, as "enemies of Islam."

It said that it's likely that violent religious extremism will continue to grow in Pakistan.

"Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful," the report said. [CBNNews.com] Read more

Extremism is a problem and we need to get better at discussing it

.... There is an element of truth to the claim British Muslims have traditionally been reluctant to publicly condemn extremism unconditionally. But this isn’t out of sympathy to the extremist cause; rather a disconnection from the mainstream debate, poor leadership, lack of articulate voices and the ubiquity of conspiracy theory.

The media has also played a largely negative role here, preferring to amplify the voices of sensationalist fanatics on the fringes rather than balanced and moderate perspectives. [The Commentator] Read more

The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam - How Muslims View Each Other and How They View Non-Muslims

With the end of the Cold War, a new enemy emerged, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, made up of Islamic extremists, terrorists and the states that support them. If we are to counter them at all, we must help to understand them as they understand themselves.

In their worldview, they see themselves first as Muslims; as such, they are not loyal to any geographic entity. The world, in their eyes, is roughly divided into two groups: the "Abode of Islam" [Dar al-Islam], and the "Abode of War" [Dar al-Harb] -- or the world which is not yet Muslim but eventually, they believe, should and will be.

If they feel any sense of territorial loyalty, it is to the Abode of Islam, the places where Muslims live: "The "Nation of Islam" [Ummah]. In these two worlds, which do not have geographic borders, Islam is not only a religion, but the common political – almost familial -- bond that unites all Muslims. [Hudson New York] Read more

Americans Suddenly Discover That Pakistani Schools Inculcate Hatred Of Hindus (And Other Non-Muslims)

.... "Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security," ….

Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. The commission warned that any significant efforts to combat religious discrimination, especially in education, would "likely face strong opposition" from hardliners.

.... a majority expressed the opinion that religious minorities must not be allowed to hold positions of power, in order to protect Pakistan and Muslims. While many expressed the importance of respecting the practices of religious minorities, simultaneously 80 percent of teachers viewed non-Muslims, in some form or another, as "enemies of Islam." [The Iconoclast] Read more

Malacca to amend laws to prosecute homosexuals

Malacca will amend its state Islamic enactment to prosecute gays and lesbians by applying the same type of Syariah legal mechanism used against deviant Muslim sects.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said homosexuals and lesbians could be tried at the Syariah Court once the enactment was gazetted as Syariah law. [The Star] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Confessions of an Islamophobe

These days, lots of people improperly use the word Islamophobia to describe people who are critical, skeptical or fearful of the Muslim faith.

If that’s your definition, then I am an Islamophobe, but I don’t think your definition is accurate.

I think you are just trying to shut me up. I’m afraid of Islam for a number of reasons: First, I am afraid because of its teachings regarding non-Muslims, Christians and Jews especially. A number of sources that comprise the Muslim tradition about such things call for Jews to be subjugated and oppressed. [The Iconoclast] Read more

A French Lesson in Free Speech

.... But the right to blaspheme is not only under frontal assault. Writing about the attack on Charlie's offices, Bruce Crumley, Paris bureau chief for Time magazine, did nothing to hide his contempt—not for the attackers, but for the magazine itself.

.... Such reactions cause one to wonder whether the deeper threat to free speech comes not from its avowed enemies but from its supposed practitioners.

That itself is an old story in the West, something the American political thinker Paul Berman, writing about the pre-World War II indulgence of French Socialists for the Nazi regime, has called "the liberalism of denial." Others might simply call it cowardice. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more

08 November 2011

Populist parties are sweeping the continent -- and Facebook. It's time we took them seriously

In Europe, populist parties are defined by their opposition to immigration and concern for protecting national and European culture, especially against a perceived threat of Islam.

Over the last decade their growth has been remarkable. Once on the political fringes, these parties now command significant support in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and even (or especially) the socialist bastions of Scandinavia.

In some countries, they are the second- or third-largest party and are seen as necessary members of many conservative coalition governments.

.... Our results suggest there is a new generation of populists that are not the racist, xenophobic reactionaries they are sometimes portrayed as. They are young, angry, and disillusioned with the current crop of automaton political elites, who they do not think are responding to the concerns and worries they face in their lives. [FOREIGN POLICY] Read more

The Penalty for Apostasy Is Death; Only "Boozers and Druggies" Say Otherwise

.... "There is no compulsion in religion?" True. "Whoever will may believe, and whoever will may disbelieve?" True. However, this is on the condition that you do not enter the Islamic faith. You are free. No one is compelled to believe in, or convert to, Islam. You're Christian? Be a Christian. You're Jewish? Be a Jew. You're in any other religion? Be whatever you like.

But you should know that Islam is a religion that has limitations and rulings. One of its established rulings, upon which all scholars unanimously agree, is that whoever enters Islam voluntarily, not forcibly--it is not permissible for him to apostatize from Islam. If he does that, the ruling upon him is death. [Translating Jihad] Read more

The Future of Campus Extremism?

.... Wahid followed Shebani, and gave his usual arguments for the establishment of an Islamist theocracy in Libya and the wider Middle-East. .... this effectively became a show-down between the anti-Islamist Shebani and Abdul Wahid, making for captivating and, more importantly, intellectually stimulating viewing.

Wahid was, in my opinion, the weakest and least convincing member of the panel, and he struggled to deal with Shebani's raw passion for a progressive and democratic future for his country, born no doubt of his new found freedom.

As I watched this duel, I realised that this sort of robust debate and discussion was the best way to respond to the presence of extremists, and felt that I was witnessing the answer to dealing with extremism at British higher learning institutes. [The Huffington Post] Read more