31 January 2012

Muslim group hits out at Qur’an exhibition organisers

A ROW has broken out over an exhibition about the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an.

A Muslim group has accused the exhibition’s organisers of ‘hijacking the Muslim identity’.

The event organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association is being held at Dewsbury Town Hall tomorrow.

But members of Kirklees Muslim Action Committee said the group had no right to put on an exhibition about the Qur’an, saying they were non-Muslims.

Committee member Dr Abid Hussain said: “We object strongly to the fact that a small minority are telling people about the Holy Qur’an when they are not even Muslims.” [Mirfield Reporter] Read more [via Butterflies and Wheels]

Asia football boss urges lifting of hijab ban

.... FIFA banned the hijab, or headscarf, in 2007 and has extended the safety rule to include neck warmers.

Several new designs of headscarves are now available, Zhang said.

"I have personally seen the new designs with a velcro joined at the neck which releases if the headscarf is pulled, ensuring the player's safety."[AFP] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Study says U.S. Muslims don’t want Shariah, either

North American Muslims are more than satisfied with the secular legal system and do not want a set of parallel courts for Islamic law, according to a new study of U.S. and Canadian Muslims by a Washington-based think tank.

The study, by University of Windsor law professor Judy Macfarlane for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, would seem to refute critics’ claims that American Muslims want to impose Shariah, or Islamic law.

In fact, the study indicates that Muslims are just as unwilling to accept Islamic law as non-Muslims.

Macfarlane interviewed 212 Muslim Americans, including 41 imams and 70 community leaders who used aspects of Shariah in their daily lives. The other 101 interviewees were divorced Muslim men and women. About a quarter of the interviewees were from Canada, and the rest from the United States. [The Washington Post] Read more

Secular liberals the tip of the Islamist spear

I have long been on the record as a skeptic of the of the proposition that democratization in the Arab world will usher in liberalism. To a great extent I think that my skepticism has been vindicated, though these are early times yet. But looking at the events as they are playing out in Egypt and Tunisia reminds me of the rock-paper-scissors games.

.... People will focus on Syria because of the violence. Egypt because of the size. But Tunisia is the really informative case. If Tunisia can’t make liberal democracy work, there’s little hope for other Arab nations. [Discover magazine] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Muslim teenagers must not mix with non-Muslims

.... This is about honour-based domestic violence. Shamima is the sister of the three defendants. Her family has very strong and traditional Islamic beliefs and they live their lives as a family in accordance with those beliefs.

"Shamima was not allowed to smoke or consume alcohol. Importantly, she must not have any contact with males of a different culture.

"Shamima considers herself western and she did not want to live her life that way." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Sharia creep at the LSE

.... Check it out here: “The London School of Economics [LSE] Student Union has passed a motion effectively making it impossible for students on campus to criticize Islam.”

Ouch. Remember the Danish cartoon saga? Cartoonists lampoon Muhammed, Islamists go wild, burn embassies, kill a few score infidels, and generally exhibit the extreme anti-social behavior that has made Islam synonymous with insanity wherever reason prevails. [PJMedia] Read more

30 January 2012

Hague: Muslim party denies dog ban proposal

Hasan Küçük, fraction head of the Islam Democrats in the Hague, denies the party wants to ban dog ownership in the city. He says his words were taken out of context.

During a debate last week about the municipal policy regarding animals, Küçük said that he thinks it's pitiful that dogs are sometimes shut in an apartment for 23 hours a day. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Danish People's Party wants full stop to Muslim immigration

The Danish People's Party (DPP) wants to put a stop to immigration from Muslim countries, according to a new press release by the party. The party says Muslims don't integrate and cause big problems with shariah zones, parallel societies and social control.

The announcement followed the release of marriage figures for immigrant groups. According to the new figures, just 20% of non-Western 2nd generation immigrants marry Danes. Among Pakistanis and Turks the figures are less than 10%. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The Shafia Case Raises Questions about Canada’s Muslim Immigration Policies

.... The honor killing decision in Ontario raises serious questions of how Canada’s immigration policies might have facilitated this horrific honor killing and whether there is potentially more in the offing.

Moreover, there is an underlying question of how Mohammed Shafia acquired and deployed his wealth that enabled the family’s move from Afghanistan in 1997, first to Dubai, hence to Australia and finally receiving permanent resident status in Canada in 2007. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Canadian jury finds Afghan family guilty of 'honour killings'

A jury in Canada has found three members of an Afghan family guilty of drowning three teenage sisters and another woman in what the judge described as "cold-blooded, shameful murders" resulting from a "twisted concept of honour". The verdicts concludes a case that shocked Canadians.

Prosecutors said the defendants killed the three teenage sisters because they felt they had dishonoured the family by defying its strict rules on dress, dating, socialising and using the internet. [Associated Press] Read more

Tunisia Faces a Balancing Act of Democracy and Religion

The insults were furious. “Infidel!” and “Apostate!” the religious protesters shouted at the two men who had come to the courthouse to show their support for a television director on trial on charges of blasphemy. Fists, then a head butt followed.

.... “We’re surrendering our right to think and speak differently,” said Hamadi Redissi, one of the two men, still bearing a scab on his forehead from the attack last week. [NYTimes.com] Read more

Indonesian atheist might embrace Islam after arrest, police say

Jakarta - An Indonesian atheist who was detained after declaring God did not exist on Facebook was considering abandoning his lack of religious faith and embracing Islam, police said Monday.

Officers arrested Alexander Aan, a 31-year-old civil servant in Dharmasraya district in West Sumatra province, this month and charged him with blasphemy after he declared on his Facebook page that 'God does not exist.' [Monsters and Critics] Read more [via National Secular Society]

To Conway Hall For The CFI Blasphemy Conference

I attended an excellent blasphemy conference on 28 January 2012, organised by the Centre For Inquiry.

I didn’t take any notes and in any case this post isn’t intended to be a formal record of the event, so apologies if my recollections are different to those of other attendees (or indeed the speakers). My intention is just to highlight some of the themes. [The Blog of The Re-Enlightenment] Read more

What I Really Think About Islam

.... I also don't believe that they should have more rights than anyone else: I don't believe they should have any special legal protection from being criticized or offended, or that they should be able to censor the speech of non-Muslims, or that it should be a crime to do things, like drawing Mohammed, that Islam considers impermissible for purely religious reasons.

I don't believe they should have special courts that issue binding rulings in civil cases based on Islamic law, or special communities where their law governs and not the civil law. I don't believe Islam should receive any preferential treatment by the government. [Big Think] Read more

Muslim leader in India defends freedom of expression

.... As I read this, I was reminded of a commenter on my recent post on Islamophobia who was grumbling that Muslims fail to speak out against terrorism and extremism. So I thought s/he might find it gratifying to read about another example of Muslims in India combatting these unwelcome forces. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Saudi Arabia: Christians Arrested at Private Prayer

Thirty five Ethiopian Christians are awaiting deportation from Saudi Arabia for “illicit mingling,” after police arrested them when they raided a private prayer gathering in Jeddah in mid-December, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today.

Of those arrested, 29 were women. They were subjected to arbitrary body cavity searches in custody, three of the Ethiopians told Human Rights Watch. [Human Rights Watch] Read more

29 January 2012

Europe: a Christian continent?

I think the biggest challenge for the future of Europe is to develop ways and forms of coexistence among the culturally and religiously diverse populations living on the continent. Instead of declaring multiculturalism dead, Europeans have to reinvent it.

For a start, they should stop imagining Europe as a historically and culturally Christian continent. Such an endeavor will open up cultural space to accommodate a non-Christian social presence in Europe. [Today's Zaman] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Saudi Arabia to allow women into sports stadiums

Women in Saudi Arabia will have the chance to watch football matches an other sport events directly for the first time in the conservative Moslem Gulf Kingdom when a decision allowing them in is enforced within two years.

Officials in charge of the King Abdullah Sports City in the western Red Sea town of Jeddah said they had received instructions to equip the stadium so it will be prepared to receive families in 2014. [Emirates247.com] Read more [via London Muslim]

Islamophobia and the press

.... Ultimately, we need to try to get to the point where our press apply the same standards to Muslims as to any other faith group or any other minority group community.

Currently, no other faith group is treated with this barrage of inaccurate and often downright malicious misrepresentation in the national press. It is, of course, understandable that in view of the al-Qaeda terror threat we have seen in recent years that newspapers will often touch on the issue of Muslims and Islam in their reporting. That is, however, absolutely no excuse for their lies and incitement.

[COMMENT] Inayat - I loathe the national media, their sheer brutality,lies, dishonesty, distortions, bribery, all round criminailty as exposed by the phone hacking and police corruption events..

.... Inayat, Muslim extremism is a fact- a significant % of your fellow UK Muslims tell opinion pollsters that they want sharia law in the UK, supprt jihad, want homosexuality tio be recriminalised and punished, want strict gender separation, want apostacy from islam to be punished, want freedom of expression NOT to apply to Islam or its prophet.. [New Statesman] Read more

New Fashion Magazine for Women in Hijabs

A magazine for the modern, fashion-conscious Muslim woman is proving that when it comes to Turkey, you don't need bikinis, breasts and legs to sell issues.

Outraged when he saw photos of transsexuals in a magazine, devout Muslim Ibrahim Burak Birer, 31 decided to create a magazine in Istanbul that would contest the ‘diktat of nudity’. [MailOnline] Read more [via London Muslim]

Religious laws in Pakistan

.... Once the issue disappears from the front pages of the news media, the whole thing is forgotten. But the fact is that these laws affect ordinary citizens on a daily basis.

I want to make the point that these laws, implemented without using common sense or taking the present day realities and the changing nature and circumstances of the crime, have become vehicles for promoting injustice, threats to the peace and harmony of the society, tools for political expediency, and suppression of critical thinking. [The Nation] Read more

Beyond the Sacred

.... In recent decades, faith has .... transformed itself into the religious wing of identity politics. Religion has, ironically, become secularised, driven less by a search for piety and holiness than for identity and belongingness.

The rise of identity politics has transformed the meaning not just of religion but of blasphemy too. Blasphemy used to be regarded as a sin against God. These days it is felt as a sin against the individual believer, an offence against the self and one’s identity.

That is why for Sardar, ‘Every word [of The Satanic Verses] was directed at me and I took everything personally’, why he imagined that Rushdie had ‘despoiled the inner sanctum of my identity’. [Kenan Malik] Read more

28 January 2012

Blasphemy Conference in London: Charges of offence and Islamophobia are secular fatwas

.... As Kenan Malik has said: ‘the giving of offence is not just inevitable, it is also important. Any kind of social change or social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. Or to put it another way: ‘You can’t say that!’ is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged.

To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged. Human beings, as Salman Rushdie has put it, ‘shape their futures by arguing and challenging and saying the unsayable; not by bowing their knee whether to gods or to men’. Clearly, if you are not angry, you’re not paying attention. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Minister wants Dutch burqa ban enforced

Once the burqa ban passed by the Dutch conservative coalition on Friday is approved by parliament, police will be obliged to enforce it, Security and Justice Minister Yvo Opstelten stresses.

“The minister expects police to enforce the ban in accordance with the law”, Mr Opstelten’s spokesperson emphasised. The statement comes in response to criticism voiced by the National Police Union and the central works council of the national police force that is currently being set up.

The chair of the police works council, Frank Giltay, had said there is no need for a burqa ban, which, he added, is unlikely to have any practical benefits. Burqas, he underlined, do not pose a threat to public security. He criticised the ban as a “symbolic policy”. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

Over 3000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes and Shops in Egypt, 3 Injured

A mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Copts in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya), Alexandria this afternoon. Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Two Copts and a Muslim were injured.

The violence started after a rumor was spread that a Coptic man had an allegedly intimate photo of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone. The Coptic man, Mourad Samy Guirgis, surrendered to the police this morning morning for his protection.

According to eyewitnesses, the perpetrators were bearded men in white gowns. "They were Salafists, and some of were from the Muslim Brotherhood," according to one witness. It was reported that terrorized women and children who lost their homes were in the streets without any place to go. [AINA] Read more

A form of anti-Islamic racism

The Student Union at the London School of Economics doesn't agree with me (previous post). It believes that "Islamophobia is a form of anti-Islamic racism." And further resolves:

1. To define Islamophobia as “a form of racism expressed through the hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture, and the stereotyping, demonisation or harassment of Muslims, including but not limited to portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”,

2. To take a firm stance against all Islamophobic incidents at LSE and conduct internal investigations if and when they occur. The list goes on (pdf). [Mick Hartley] Read more

Dutch gov't to ban Muslim face veils next year

The Dutch minority government plans to ban Muslim face veils such as burqas and other forms of clothing that cover the face from next year.

The ban would make the Netherlands, where 1 million out of 17 million people are Muslim, the second European Union country to ban the burqa after France, and would apply to face-covering veils if they were worn in public.

"People should be able to look at each other's faces and recognise each other when they meet," the interior affairs ministry said in a statement Friday. [Reuters] Read more

The Muslim Brotherhood - A giant awakes

.... The Brotherhood's original mission was to Islamise society through promotion of Islamic law, values and morals, the Council on Foreign Relations says, combining religion, political activism and social welfare. Its slogans have included ''Islam is the solution'' and ''Jihad [struggle] is our way''.

But getting beyond the vague religious doctrines and ancient mission statements, and into the specifics of what the Brotherhood is about - how it is financed, who its members are, how its decisions are made - is, for now, all but impossible. [The Age] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Thousands protest conservative Islam in Tunisia

.... Some in Tunisia are angry by the growing influence of radical Islamists, known as Salafists, who have dominated headlines in recent weeks.

Police on Tuesday ended a weeks-long sit-in by Salafists at the university in Manouba, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Tunis. The Salafists were angry the university had banned the full-face Muslim veil, or niqab, over security concerns if students were concealed from head to toe.

Journalists have also suffered attacks at Salafist protests. [AFP] Read more

27 January 2012

Islamophobia revisited

.... Well...it seems to me that the most important distinction here is altogether missing. The reason people object to the term Islamophobia is because it conflates two separate issues: prejudice against Muslims and criticism of Islam.

Prejudice against Muslims - that is, anti-Muslim bigotry - should be condemned. No one should be discriminated against (within reason) because of their beliefs.

Criticism of Islam, on the other hand, is entirely acceptable: indeed given Islam's record of misogyny homophobia and intolerance it should be just about obligatory for anyone who thinks of themselves as liberal. [Mick Hartley] Read more

LSESU passes its first blasphemy law

Breaking news – the LSE Student Union vote is in: 339 for, 179 against, 24 undecided.

As one of the ASH people said, they went up against a Union whose sole consistent voting bloc consisted of the far left and Islamic societies. It’s impressive that they got 179 votes against.

I would just add: it’s strange that it’s the “far left” that votes this way, because there is nothing far left about Islamism. It’s as if the far left were voting for fascism…rather as the Stalinist “left” did at the time of the Nazi-Soviet pact. [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

Death threats for singer of burqa song

Dutch satirist Johan Vlemmix has decided not to perform his latest hit Do the Burqa onstage following death threats.

The song, a carnival parody to the music of Van McCoy's Do the Hustle, is a huge success on YouTube, so much so that the video provider has switched off the comments facility. Too many people were posting angry reactions saying that they had been insulted.

The images show a woman wearing a T-shirt which can be instantly converted into a burqa, be it one that does not cover the breasts. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Misguided liberals are playing us all into the hands of the Islamist tyrants

.... People who consider themselves liberal and who feel it is their duty to protect Muslims from discrimination – such a Students Union leaders – haven't yet worked out that criticising Islam is not the same as persecuting Muslim people.

We would all stand against unfair treatment of individuals. Equally, we must all stand against the restrictions on free speech that these attacks represent.

The Guardian did not allow any response to the letter it printed. This is another indication that soon any public criticism of Islam as a theology will be completely impossible in this country.

And that is the ultimate aim of the violent and intimidatory activists who were so evident in British universities last week. [National Secular Society] Read more

Totalitarianism of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s Islamic utopia

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is being portrayed as an embracing democracy, moderate Muslim. However, his views on the ideal state are closer to other political systems. Recently, al-Qaradawi’s name has been appearing in the context of democracy.

It can be in the mainstream media news he supports democracy in Egypt or Tunisia, or in calls for democratic participation directed to European Muslims by leaders of their communities who follow al-Qaradawi’s spiritual leadership. [EuropeNews] Read more

Muslim car-pool service

Selim Reid (24) is the founder of MuslimTAXI, a Muslim ride-sharing service. The service is free, and is ad-supported. He says he thought of the idea because of complaints he heard that regular carpools don't implement gender discrimination.

.... His site allows people to choose the gender of the driver and passengers. He says until now it was difficult for Muslim women to use regular carpool services unaccompanied. He also says he's heard of many affairs that started in such cars and that destroyed marriages.

He says the best thing about it is that it encourages Dawa. Since the Muslims who meet on his rides have only one thing in common - Islam. And this way other faiths get introduced to Islam. He goes on to say that Islam unites all religions and that there is only one true God. [Islam in Europe] Read more

LSE Student Union supports criticism of religion – just not Islam

.... But please don’t mention it to the LSE Student Union as they will soon be issuing resolutions against the people of Iran… They will do anything to defend Islam and Islamism, and I do mean anything.

They have just issued a resolution on Islamophobia most likely in order to try and silence and censor the LSE Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society for posting a Jesus and Mo cartoon on their Facebook page.

Of course the resolution states very clearly that the LSE Student Union supports free expression and criticism of religion – but only if the religion is not Islam… [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Saudis should be pleased with the Hajj exhibition

The Saudi embassy and their friends in Riyadh must be pleased with the considerable public interest in the Hajj exhibition, which opened at the British Museum this week. Beautiful relics, including historical and contemporary art, textiles and manuscripts, bring to life the profound significance of the Hajj, the pilgrimage that has remained unchanged since the prophet Muhammad's time in the seventh century.

[COMMENT] Do many european and/or christian exhibitions make their way to the King Abdulaziz Public Library or is it a one way street? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Liberal Islamic Reform And The Prospect For An Islamic Reformation

We seem to be witnessing, at the present time, the emergence of a Liberal Islamic Reform Movement that could eventually lead to an Islamic Reformation.

Liberal Islam stands in direct contrast to Islamism, and an Islamist propaganda effort is undoubtedly already underway to ensure that such a reformation never succeeds.

The main strategy to achieve that seems to be a general attack on the principle of freedom of expression that had traditionally been enjoyed across the Western world and which makes dissent against established dogma possible. [International Civil Liberties Alliance] Read more

A Conversation With: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

.... The protesters were completely wrong in doing what they did. Salman Rushdie has every right to come to this country. I heard his interview after the video conference was cancelled and agree with him when he said that all other freedoms rest on the freedom of expression. If you abolish the freedom of expression, all other freedoms will cease to exist. [THE NEW YORK TIMES] Read more

26 January 2012

More Scumbaggery at the LSE Student Union

.... So, they’re creating their own definition of Islamaphobia and stating that anything that has the ‘effect’ of being Islamophobic will not be tolerated.

So who gets to decide what does, and doesn’t have the ‘effect’ of being Islamophobic?

What’s the test that the Student Union will apply in such cases?

The use of word ‘effect’ rather seems to imply that they’re thinking in terms of purely subjective test based solely on whether something offends Muslim students, giving them a license to censor any and all criticism that might be directed toward Islam. It’s bullshit. [Ministry of Truth] Read more

Dutch Muslim Party Opposed Free Speech

The Dutch Muslim Party, an Islamist political party in the Netherlands, has announced its intention to compete for seats in the nation’s parliament.

Given the success of the party in several smaller political campaigns — securing offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other Dutch cities — it is possible that a party, which targets the approximately 6 percent of the nation’s population that identifies itself as Muslim, may find it has sufficient support to gain influence in the Dutch parliament. [The New American Magazine] Read more [via National Secular Society]

US, Western Nations 'Enabling' Islamism, Ex-Muslim Says

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of U.K.-based Barnabas Fund, said at a lecture hosted by Family Research Council that the "Arab Spring" is a good example of how the United States and other nations are enabling the spread of Islamism, especially in Libya and Egypt.

In Libya, he said, the support given by NATO and the U.S. to the rebel group, known as the NTC, is a matter of concern.

"We had to support the NTC, which was the rebel group," said Sookhdeo, who added that "they were a coalition of groups that included al-Qaida."

"We have removed one dictator and replaced that dictator with a political ideology rooted in a religion that wants our destruction." [The Christian Post] Read more

Egyptian writer: "Who offends the Prophet is not the West, but we Muslims, for making Islam terrorist"

It is certainly rare to see such blunt self-criticism coming from the Arab world, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Ahmad al-Aswani had received death threats for his outspoken criticism of Islam and Muslims.

He makes a lot of good points here, though the only thing I might add is that it may have been Muhammad himself who made Islam terrorist--current Muslims only follow his footsteps. [Translating Jihad] Read more

Why Salman Rushdie's voice was silenced in Jaipur

On Tuesday afternoon this week I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

It was the last afternoon of the Jaipur Literature Festival, of which I am co-director, and more than 10,000 people were milling around the grounds of Diggi Palace, the festival venue, eagerly waiting to hear Salman Rushdie speak by video link from London.

For three weeks we had waited anxiously for this moment, ever since Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani of the Deoband madrasa had called for the Indian Muslim community to oppose Rushdie's visit to our festival. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Anti-Muslim Bigotry vs. Islamophobia

.... Going back to the post’s title – essentially all the things I don’t like – the Daily Star etc – I don’t like because they seem designed to whip up dislike and bigotry.

I don’t mind rational discussion of real problems, but I don’t like hysterical and overblown coverage which lumps all Muslims together. So maybe ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ is an adequate term after all – it’s often not precisely the substance but the tone I object to. [Harry’s Place] Read more

25 January 2012

Posts concerning freedom of speech at UCL and Queen Mary U and LSE

I’ve done a lot of posts about all this shut-uppery at UCL and Queen Mary U and LSE. I thought it might be useful to collect them all in one place. [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

'Strict Muslim' raped four women at knifepoint to 'punish them for being on the streets at night'

.... Judge Lees said: 'You told her you were going to "teach her a lesson", and similar things were said to the other women. 'Those words are a chilling indictment of your very troubling attitude towards all of these victims. 'You seem to observe women out at night as not deserving respect or protection. [MailOnline] Read more [via London Muslim]

Female Circumcision in the Maldives, the Islamic Movement and Islamophobia

I was struck today by a comment from a Maldives women's rights activist about the direction her nation is taking. In a report published the Melbourne Age, which discussed female circumcision and the local practice of flogging female adulterers, Shadiya Ibrahim remarked:

"Being a woman is harder now. The religious Wahhabist scholars preach more forcefully than anyone else can. They have this backing of religion as a tool."

"No one can make the argument to have a more liberal, a more positive attitude towards women. Day by day, it is becoming harder for women to live in this country." [markdurie.com blog] Read more

The cold choice — jobs or jihad

.... whatever happens, the victory of the Islamists raises doubts about whether the process of democratisation in Egypt and elsewhere will continue. And for many in the west, the Arab "winter" has reaffirmed their conviction that Islam is incompatible with democracy.

Thus, it seems there are two entirely con­tradictory images of Arab society: on the one hand, the youth of the Arab spring, eager for freedom and democracy, individualist, tolerant and liberal, but inexperienced and in the minority; on the other hand, the Islamist electorate, conservative, traditionalist and anxious about the risk of disorder. [New Statesman] Read more

Tunisia’s Blasphemy Law Sparks Mob Violence

Yesterday, outside the Tunisian courthouse where TV executive Nabil Karoui was on trial for blasphemy, extremists attacked the people rallying in his support.

Karoui, the owner of a television station in Tunis, is charged with “violating sacred values” and “disturbing public order” for airing Persepolis, the award-winning animated film about the 1979 Iranian revolution that depicts God as a bearded old man. The attackers believe that the film violates Islamic values forbidding the depiction of God. [Human Rights First] Read more [via National Secular Society]

24 January 2012

How to Integrate Europe’s Muslims

.... European countries could use a period of benign neglect of the Islam issue — but only after they finish incorporating religion into the national fabric.

For too long, they have instead masked an absence of coherent integration policy under the cloak of “multiculturalism.” The state outsourced the hard work of integration to foreign diplomats and Islamist institutions — for example, some students in Germany read Saudi-supplied textbooks in Saudi-run institutions.

This neglect of integration helped an unregulated “underground Islam” to take hold in storefronts, basements and courtyards. It reflected wishful thinking about how long guest workers would stay and perpetuated a myth of eventual departure and repatriation. [The New York Times] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

LSE Students Union “being manipulated by determined activists” over Mohammed cartoon

The Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) at the London School of Economics has been told by the Students Union that unless it removes a Jesus and Mo cartoon from its Facebook page it could be expelled from the Union. ASH had posted the cartoon "in solidarity with University College of London Atheist and Secularist group" which had been told by its own Student Union to remove the image.

The LSE Students Union (LSESU) said in a statement that the cartoon had been brought to their attention VIA a complaint by students - the number complaining varied from two to forty. [National Secular Society] Read more

My testimony to the Leveson Inquiry on anti-Muslim prejudice in the UK press

I went along to the Leveson Inquiry today at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, to give testimony on behalf of ENGAGE about anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK press and the current failings of the Press Complaints Commission. You can read a full transcript of my testimony here.

ENGAGE will be uploading a video of the testimony shortly, insha’ Allah, so I will post a link to it when it is ready. The testimony was based on the submission that ENGAGE made to the Leveson Inquiry. [inayatscorner] Read more

Islamophobia is used to scaremonger people into silence

.... Just in case they didn’t know, let me repeat. Criticism, mockery, opposition to and even hatred of a belief Is. Not. Racism.

Now if the signatories bothered to think rather than parrot Islamist propaganda, they would see that this is the case. In their own letter they refer to a poll commissioned by the ‘moderate’ Ahmadiyya Muslim community, in order to ‘inform its plans to counter the tide of prejudice against Islam and highlight strategies to promote better community relations.’

That’s what the term is there for – to protect Islam – from prejudice, not Muslims. Given the havoc Islamism (and its banner, Islam) are wreaking worldwide, a criticism is not just a right but a historical task and duty. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Jesus & Mo cartoon censorship controversy reaches LSE

Following the recent controversy surrounding the use of a frame from the satirical cartoon strip Jesus & Mo by the atheist student society at University College London, it has now emerged that the cartoons are at the centre of a similar dispute at the London School of Economics. [New Humanist] Read more

23 January 2012

Norway: Two Iranian converts attacked, called 'kuffar'

Two Iranians who converted from Islam to Christianity were stabbed by masked me in Haugesund last week. The attacker shouted 'Kuffar' (Arabic for non-believer) during the attack.

The attack happened Tuesday evening, when both Christian Iranians were out walking in Haugesund. They were suddenly attacked by three masked men armed with knives, who shouted 'kuffar' while they stabbed the two. [Islam in Europe] Read more

It has come to our attention that you are wicked

The LSE Students’ Union has put out a statement on its quarrel with the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. It’s a horrible little document.

....Why? Why did they bother to collect “evidence”? (Meaning they looked at the Facebook page and nodded solemnly - yep, there it is – ?) Why on earth was an emergency meeting called (and who called it?)? An emergency? Because of a cartoon of Jesus and Mohammed having a beer? Why did they call an emergency meeting to discuss how to deal with the issue? What issue? [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

Islamophobia - it’s all the fault of the press

.... Over the past decade, a number of academic studies have indicated a worrying and disproportionate trend towards negative, distorted and even fabricated reports in media coverage of the Muslim community.

Recent research at Cambridge University concludes that "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." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

22 January 2012

Hajj exhibition will shake prejudices about Islam [It says here]

.... Alas, all traditions lose their primal purity and we all fail our founders. But the British Museum's beautiful presentation of the hajj can help us understand how the vast majority of the world's Muslims understand their faith.

Socrates, founder of the western rational tradition, insisted that the exercise of reason required us constantly and stringently to question received ideas and entrenched certainties. The new exhibition can indeed become a journey to the heart of Islam and also, perhaps, to a more authentic and respectful western rational identity.

[COMMENT] ".... respect for other faiths is central to Muslim tradition". Except, historically, that's never been the case, regardless of what the Qu'ran says. …. to pretend that Islam is benevolent and respectful towards other religions is delusional and dangerous. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Expand burka ban, says Muslim group

A Muslim group is urging Canada’s immigration minister to extend his recent burka ban beyond the citizenship courts.

The Muslim Canadian Congress honoured Jason Kenney at a hotel in Toronto’s west end Sunday for his decision to ban burkas during swearing-in ceremonies.

But then the group asked the minister to go a step further and introduce legislation requiring any face coverings be removed to work in the public sector or do business with government officials. [Toronto Sun ] Read more

Strong religious belief is no excuse for intimidation

.... Most people in the UK don't condone violence, but a worrying number think we should be careful around individuals with strong religious beliefs. This argument is mistaken, because it suggests that believers aren't as capable of exercising, or under the same obligation to exercise, judgement and restraint as the rest of us.

It's also based on fear, tacitly acknowledging a link between demands for censorship and threats of violence. One often leads to the other, and it isn't just atheists and secularists who should be very worried indeed about that. [independent.co.uk] Read more

21 January 2012

For the Muslim world, it's not a safe and easy path to modernity

.... Where the “post-Islamism” scholars do have a point is in their reading of the trends that led people to vote for the Islamist parties. These, paradoxically enough, are driven by a shift to secularization of private life. .... Religion has become a badge of identity, not a way of life.

This shift has made Islamists desperate to seize influence, because social influence can now only be won through politics. And it has put them in a unique position to gain it. Former Ottoman states such as Egypt never bothered to replace the religious obligation to give alms with a secular obligation to pay taxes.

So the imams and mullahs became not only the leading voice of dissent but also the leading source of welfare. That, more than the Koran, wins them votes. [Globe and Mail] Read more

Indonesian atheist attacked, charged with blasphemy after denying God’s existence on Facebook

Indonesian police say a civil servant who posted “God does not exist” on Facebook faces a maximum penalty of five years behind bars for blasphemy.

Thirty-one-year-old Alexander Aan was taken into police custody Friday after his remarks triggered public outcry in West Sumatra province. He was attacked by a mob on his way to work.

Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million, recognizes the right to practice five other religions. But atheism is illegal. [Associated Press] Read more

What’s wrong with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

.... Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan rejected the protesters' demand that Scaf steps down: if Scaf leaves, chaos will prevail, he said.

Even more shockingly, on 3 January Ghozlan said his group might agree to granting members of Scaf immunity from prosecution in return for the peaceful transition of power, and families of martyrs could be compensated financially instead of seeing their sons' murderers being brought to justice. Widespread uproar at this caused him to pull back his statements later.

Having seen the Brotherhood make a series of compromising stances over the past year, I can't trust it to be capable of achieving the revolution's objectives. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Asia Bibi: a UK connection

As most HP readers will know, Asia Bibi, a Christian, is facing the death sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan. The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated because he expressed support for her. It now seems as though the prosecution of Bibi is being urged on (and funded) by UK based individuals: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Rushdie pulls out of Indian literary festival

British novelist Salman Rushdie pulled out of India's largest literary festival Friday, saying he feared assassination after his participation was opposed by senior Muslim clerics.

"I have now been informed by intelligence sources... that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to eliminate me," the Indian-born writer said in a statement read by the producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Sanjoy Roy.

Rushdie had been scheduled to speak on the festival's opening day on Friday, but the event kicked off without him. [AFP] Read more

20 January 2012

OIC concerned about the rise of Islamophobia in western politics

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday expressed alarm over the anti-Islam rhetoric coming out as the US presidential elections race heats up as well as over the recent results of parliamentary elections in some European countries.

“The rise in Islamophobia in Western politics is a great concern for the OIC,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC.

The radical right-wing parties have won significant political weight in the parliaments in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and France as well as the European Parliament; in addition, such groups as the English Defense League in Britain and CasaPound in Italy are also gaining ground.

They all share an anti-Islam agenda that threatens the welfare of the Muslim community there in practicing their religion and increases their chances of being discriminated against. [ARAB NEWS] Read more

Libyan Islamists rally to demand sharia-based law

Hundreds of Islamists rallied on Friday to demand that Libya be governed by Muslim sharia law in what organisers called a response to the emergence of secular political parties after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship last year.

Organised by Islamist political and religious groups, the mostly young and bearded men holding up copies of the Koran demonstrated at squares in the capital Tripoli, the eastern city of Benghazi and in Sabha in the southern desert. [Reuters] Read more

Norway: Lawyer calls to stop 'Islam's incursion into Europe'

.... The lawyer is a former judge in the Hålogaland court of appeals and is on the board of the Hålogaland theater.

On Thursday he posted the following on his Facebook profile: "I've said it before and I'll say it again: Islam's incursion into Europe must be stopped - NOW! The talk and half-blind naivety must stop: we must think LONG TERM, or else the civilization that has taken 2000 years to build in Europe will be destroyed. WHEN did our government get the mandate from the people to throw away our culture, our home and our future?

I know such a mandate was never given. (Just so it's clear: you can't really distinguish between Islam and Islamism - one follows the other)" [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamophobia harms Poland

Almost 55 percent of all Poles have a negative attitude to Islam, 30 percent more than four years ago according to a survey by the marketing research company TNS Obop.

This Islamophobia is difficult to explain and above all harms Poland's reputation abroad, writes political scientist Klaus Bachmann in the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza: "And this in a country that didn't have a single conflict with Islam in the last century, and where Muslims were even a much-appreciated religious minority. [euro|topics] Read more

Rushdie cancels India visit after death threat warning

Salman Rushdie will not attend a literature festival in India after authorities warned the controversial author he was a potential target of assassins at the event, following threats of protests from Muslim groups at his planned appearance.

Opposition from some Indian Muslim groups erupted this month after Rushdie was invited to attend Asia's largest literature festival, and senior Muslim leaders called on the government to prevent the 65-year-old author from entering the country. [Reuters] Read more

‘Evidence’ that ‘the Quran is supernatural’ - only after I review evidence for Santa

I recently got this email asking to look at ‘evidence’ that ‘the Quran is supernatural’. I’ll do that after I review ‘evidence’ from my 6 year old that Santa Claus really exists but in case any of you are bored out of your minds, you might want to have a go. If not – gasp, horror – he will note on his website that the ‘ex-muslims declined’. Please, please don’t let it get to that point. Here’s his email:

The reason why I am contacting this exmuslim council is because I would like to get your opinion on our claim that the Quran is supernatural due to the scientific, prophetical and archaeological evidence… which proves that a mere man could not have written it. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Jesus & Mo: Stand up for free speech!

.... Wunderkind Rhys Morgan, 17, who received the James Randi Award for Grassroots Skepticism for outing a scam drug, got himself into hot water after he posted the J&M cartoon in solidarity with the University College London’s Atheist, Secular, and Humanist Society.

Rhys MorganBecause that image from the comic Jesus and Mo was his Facebook photo for a week, he has been harassed and threatened at school by his classmates. The sixth-former was then summoned by his head of year and told to remove the cartoon. When he said no, he was threatened with expulsion. Rhys details the saga, under the head Intolerant Islam on his blog. [The Freethinker] Read more

Dozy bint of the week

The Guardian reports on a new course at the now not-so-new University of East Anglia on Women, Islam and the Media. The course is run by this week's dozy bint, Elyem Akatav. Since The Guardian approves, one can imagine the line that this course will take -- violence against women isn't happening, but even if it is, the West is just as bad or worse. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Islamist hatemongers face jail for saying gays should be killed

Muslim extremists who handed out leaflets calling for homosexuals to be hanged, stoned and burned to death were facing up to seven years in prison last night.

The group handed out the material in the street as well as posting it through letterboxes in a hate-filled campaign calling for the execution of gay people who they claimed were at the root of society’s problems.

Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed are the first to be prosecuted under new laws against inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. [Daily Mail] Read more

Indonesian atheist faces jail for his comments on Facebook

An Indonesian civil servant who declared himself an atheist on Facebook was arrested and is now facing jail for blasphemy after being attacked by an angry mob, police said Friday.

Alexander An, 30, who wrote "God doesn't exist" on his Facebook page, was beaten by a mob of dozens on Wednesday in his hometown in Pulau Punjung, West Sumatra province. [AFP] Read more

19 January 2012

Denmark: Schools drop Christmas traditions out of consideration for Muslim students

Schools are increasingly changing Christmas tradition in order to take into account a growing number of bilingual children.

At the Klostervænget school in Copenhagen, the school administration changed a few verses in the 'A Child is Born in Bethlehem' hymn sung by the children because they thought it would be preaching too much to the bilingual children.

At Møllevang school in Aarhus the school administration asked a music teacher to choose hymns that took into account the Muslim students, after students in a 3rd grade class and their parents protested that the children were expected to sing "Here come your little ones, Jesus". [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islam's OIC: The World's Thought Police

On December 19, 2011, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the negative stereotyping and stigmatization of people based on their religion, and urged member states to take effective measures towards addressing and combating "such incidents."

This resolution, based on an initiative from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was supported by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who hosted a closed-door three-day meeting – apparently one of many in a series called the "Istanbul Process"-- in Washington D.C. with OIC representatives to discuss ways to implement the resolution.

What might sound like a step toward "tolerance," however, is in reality an assault on freedom of speech: a UN-endorsed violation of human rights, co-sponsored by the US, and prompted by the OIC, an organization of 57 Muslim nations, most of which hold the world's worst records on freedom of speech. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Gingrich Is Right on Shariah

.... Newt is absolutely right in making such a distinction. The danger we currently face from the so-called Muslim world arises not from the fact that people are Muslim, but from the extent to which they adhere to the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine of Shariah.

Gingrich also repeated his earlier call for federal legislation to ensure that Shariah is not practiced in U.S. courts. An appellate-court ruling last week in connection with an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution would seem to preclude such an initiative. [Newsmax.com] Read more

Jesus & Mo: a disturbing development

“STRESS” lies behind the resignation of the President of University College London Union’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, Robbie Yellon, following the row that broke out over the use of a Jesus & Mo cartoon on the society’s Facebook page.

The society, according to the BBC, said Yellon was stepping down to be replaced by former Vice President Michael Thor.

Michael Paynter, secretary for the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, said: [The Freethinker] Read more

Christian persecution – the top 50 countries

.... While His Grace doesn’t wish to cause offence, he’d very much like to know what is to be made of the appalling statistic that 76 per cent of the world’s fiercest oppressors and persecutors of Christians are culturally, politically and religiously Islamic?

Have they all misunderstood the Religion of Peace? Are they torturing and murdering their cousins – the People of the Book – in error and in contravention of quranic precepts? How could so many be so wrong in their interpretation of the sharia? Or misapplication of sharias?

What does Allah think of it? Would Mohammed approve of the systematic persecution, imprisonment, torture and slaughter of those who follow the prophet Isa? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

The broader principle

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is continuing with its protest against the image, saying it has wider implications.

Adam Walker, the association's national spokesperson, said the two student groups had worked well together in the past and said the offence was unnecessary.

"The principle is more important than who is being attacked - this time it is Muslims and Christians but in the future it could be atheists themselves."

.... What a fatuous comment. For a start, no, it isn't Muslims and Christians. No Christians complained. And no one was "attacked". Certain Muslims chose to be offended by logging on to an atheist society's Facebook page. That is all. And the idea that atheists would be horrified if they were offended in turn is simply laughable. What does this idiot think? - that a rude cartoon of Richard Dawkins would be met with howls of outrage? [Mick Hartley] Read more

Defend Freedom of Expression on 11 Feb

Robbie Yellon, the President of the UCL’s atheist and secular society has resigned – apparently due to stress following the controversy over the use of a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon to advertise a social event on Facebook.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is continuing to protest against the use of the cartoon.

“The principle is more important than who is being attacked – this time it is Muslims and Christians but in the future it could be atheists themselves.”

There is something surreal about this statement in the light of the very real threats made against atheists at Queen Mary on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of a peaceful event. ‘Jesus and Mo’ may be offensive to some, but it is NOT an attack. Yet UCL’s atheists have been pressured by the Student Union to watch their step in future: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Militant Islamism, Islamism, Islam

.... To charge that “all Islam is evil,” he says, is a mistake. For many Muslims, Islam is “a source of values that guide conduct rather than a system that offers solutions to all problems.”

It is no less incorrect, he adds — with more intellectual honesty than many other analysts have demonstrated — to “insist that all Islam is peaceful.” Islamic scripture provides ample justification for hating, oppressing, and killing non-Muslims.

But it is neither accurate nor productive, argues Aboul-Enein, to confirm the militants’ claim that theirs is the only authentic interpretation of Islam — that Muslims not waging a “jihad” against “infidels” are, at best, misguided; at worst, traitors to their faith. [National Review Online] Read more

18 January 2012

Islam and the West

.... The reformist Iranian scholar Mohsen Kadivar, in an article contributed to The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking politics and modernity .... asserts that “most available interpretations of Islam do not welcome the freedom of religion and belief”, before going on to argue that a more correct interpretation of Scripture and valid traditions accepts the principle of “no compulsion in religion” (see 2:256 in the Qur’an).

But Kadivar has been punished by eighteen months in an Iranian prison for his exegesis of Scripture, and many other reformists, in Iran and elsewhere, have suffered worse. rs in Islam. [The Times Literary Supplement] Read more [via Bigmouth Strikes Again]

Far-Right rally for European Anti-Islamic groups

More than 10 anti-Islamic groups, led by the English Defence League, are expected to send representatives.

"There will be speeches from every defence league in Europe," said Isak Nygren, the spokesman for the Swedish Defence League. "I hope we can show that there's resistance against Islamisation of Europe, that we can inspire each other." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Sharia ‘a force for good not a reason for fear’ [It says here]

.... Aina has been attacked by those who oppose Sharia law and those who want to see its use extended. But what about those who worry about the impact of Sharia law on Muslim women such as her? There’s an impression it can be used to deny women equal rights.

"It’s not an impression, it’s a reality," she says. "In many Muslim countries women are subjugated – not by Sharia law – but by male systems enforcing Sharia law.

"Sharia law itself is inherently positive towards women and protects them. The way it’s applied in many Islamic countries is misogynist."

Aina also describes the Burqa as ‘divisive and dangerous’ and says Muslims should ‘be British and enjoy being British’. [Asian News] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Why British Muslim women can’t find a Muslim marriage partner

At the event, there were around five women to every man. Well-turned-out women sat around dejected, twiddling their thumbs, waiting to speak to the select few.

Sadly, it's not an isolated example. Up and down the country, hundreds of women in their 30s and 40s within the Asian Muslim community are struggling to find a marriage partner.

[A COMMENT] As a white male, if my essential criteria for marrying someone was that they be white and of the same religion then the Guardian would consider me something of a bigot would it not?

When people from the Indian subcontinent consider that only a partner from the same part of the sub-continent with the same religion is appropriate, they get a sympathetic article like this one. Why? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Iranian actress told not to return home after posing naked for magazine

The nude photo of Golshifteh Farahani has been published by Madame Le Figaro magazine. The publication has attracted a wave of visitors to her Facebook page from Iran and the Middle East.

The Paris-based actress left Iran last year in protest against restrictive Islamic codes that the Iranian cinema industry has to follow under Ahmadinejad's conservative cultural policies.

Now she said the government has sent a communication telling her not to travel back to her homeland. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Group blasts Gingrich for limiting hires to Muslims who renounce Shariah law

.... Gingrich had a different interpretation of Shariah law, pointing to the, "rising Islamization of Turkey has been accompanied by a 1,400 percent increase in women being killed."

"When you look at the application of Shariah in places like Iran, when you look at churches being burned in Nigeria and Egypt, and that the decline of Christians in Iraq from a million, 200 thousand when the Americans arrived to about 500,000 today, I think it depends entirely on the person," he said.

"If they are a modern person integrated in the modern world and they are prepared to recognize all religions, that's one thing. On the other hand, if they're Saudis, who demand that we respect them while they refuse to allow Christians to worship in Saudi Arabia, that's something different," he continued. [FoxNews.com] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Dangerous tightrope that Saudi women walk

When Shroog Talal Radain sought employment as a teacher’s assistant at King Abdulaziz University, her husband signed the necessary guardianship forms granting her permission to take the job.

It’s the law of the land. A woman must carry around a permission slip from a man to function in Saudi society.

“To me getting permission wasn’t a big deal because it felt like a piece of paper and that’s all,” Radain said in a recent interview. “But unfortunately to others it’s a big deal, especially to those who do not have a close guardianship like a father, brother, husband or son.” [Mideast Posts] Read more

Nobody can hold them accountable

Saudi journalist Nadin Al-Badir speaking on Egyptian TV about the Saudi Religious Police:

Her criticism is timely, given that Egyptian Salafists have recently formed their own religious police, based on the Saudi model.

Though it's not all gone entirely according to plan: A group of ultra-conservative Salafis seeking to impose their own stringent version of Shari'a Law in Egypt took a royal drubbing in the town of Benha when they burst uninvited into a beauty salon. [Mick Hartley] Read more

How Islam supresses Muslim women’s rights in the United Kingdom

.... In seeking justice for Muslim women whose human rights have been eroded through hyper-conservative interpretations of Islam, the NMS turn to British Law.

But in affording marginalised Muslim women their rights the NMS are perceived by extremist Muslims as “feminists”, a term loaded in the Muslim world with connotations of modernity, resistance and westernisation, and perhaps more importantly a term which challenges the patriarchal underpinning of Islam dictated by extremist Muslims. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Iran: Death sentence for 'porn site' web programmer

Iran's supreme court has upheld the death sentence for a web programmer who faces imminent execution after being found guilty of developing and promoting porn websites.

Saeed Malekpour was picked up by plainclothes officers in October 2008 and taken to Evin prison in Tehran, where he spent a year in solitary confinement without access to lawyers and without charge.

A year after his arrest, the 35-year-old appeared in a state television programme confessing to a series of crimes in connection with a porn website. On the basis of his TV confessions, he was convicted of designing and moderating adult materials online by a court in Tehran, which handed down death penalty. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

17 January 2012

Haitham Al Haddad’s Sharia “Court” in the News

.... The problem with Kadri’s argument is that, organisationally at least, it is the hand loppers and women abusers in the Sharia Court world who rule the roost.

.... The problem is this. While Kadri may well be right, he is “no theologian”. By contrast, the institutions which run Sharia “courts” are run by theologians: and very very politically extreme ones to boot.

For example, the senior cleric of Britain’s main Islamic sharia court, Abu Sayeed considers it “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape and prosecute offenders. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Islamists Threaten Humanists at Queen Mary, University of London

.... You will therefore be completely unsurprised to hear that a meeting of Queen Mary’s Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society was cancelled last night after threats of violence from an Islamist fanatic.

The talk, entitled “Sharia Law and Human Rights” was to have been delivered by Anne Marie Waters of the One Law For All campaign. This is what happened: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Islamist stops university debate with threats of violence

A talk on sharia and human rights by NSS Council Member Anne Marie Waters' at Queen Mary University of London was cancelled at the last moment because of an Islamist who made serious threats against everyone there.

Ms Waters was due to give a talk on behalf of the One Law for All campaign on 16 January but before it started, a man entered the lecture theatre, stood at the front with a camera and filmed the audience. He then said that he knew who everyone was, where they lived and if he heard anything negative about the Prophet, he would track them down.

The man also filmed students in the foyer and threatened to murder them and their families. On leaving the building, he joined a large group of men, apparently there to support him. Students were told by security to stay in the lecture theatre for their own safety. [National Secular Society] Read more

Freedom of expression under threat by violent extremists

.... Take the Danish cartoon affair for example. Look at the pathetic response of the British Government at the time; "There is freedom of speech, we all respect that ... But there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory. I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary. It has been insensitive. It has been disrespectful and it has been wrong."

Even the UN said it would investigate whether the cartoonists were racists. How can we expect people in a university lecture hall to stand up to violent threats when this is the reaction of our leaders?

The message is very clear – don't insult religion. And if you do, and you get in to trouble for it, you have only yourself to blame (or "don't come crying to us"?)

Freedom of speech needs to be defended from above. We need prosecution and punishment of those intent on frightening people into staying silent.

Until the state speaks out and makes it clear to the likes of this guy that this behaviour is not acceptable – no excuses, no apologies – these things will continue to happen and more and more people will be frightened in to shutting up. We can then say goodbye to freedom for good." [National Secular Society] Read more

16 January 2012

The Guardian’s at it again

The Guardian is at it again. It has published yet another article by David Shariatmadari on how a ‘leading barrister’ says ‘Sharia is compatible with human rights’. If you read the article though, it hard to find much evidence on how it is compatible other than that this is the barrister’s ‘interpretation’.

So we’re back to the ‘interpretation’ argument and also of course the bogus ‘not in the Koran’ argument.

Listen up Guardian: Sharia law is based on the Koran but also the Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence so whilst ‘not in the Koran’ might be a helpful PR exercise, it’s not very upstanding journalism, now is it? [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Ex-Muslim Sister paints an unflattering picture of the Muslim Brotherhood

As the Muslim Brotherhood strives to project the image of a moderate and democratic political organization, a book featuring the angry account of a former member has hit the market.

"The Memoirs of a Former Sister: My Story with the Muslim Brotherhood" is the testimony of Intissar Abdel Moneim, an Alexandria-based novelist and author. With a compelling style and sharp language, the book takes the reader on a journey exploring the internal politics of the 83-year-old organization, placing special emphasis on discrimination against female members.

Throughout her work, Abdel Moneim decries the sisters’ internalization of oppression as women are socialized in a way that compels them to accept male dominance within the organization — and the household. [Egypt Independent] Read more

Allah and the Big Questions

.... more off-putting was the arrogant and smug manner in which certain individuals presented their arguments, especially the Middle Eastern sounding Muslim chap and Adam Deen. Both of these individuals touched upon the oft-repeated fallacy that the Quran must be the word of God since it contains no errors.

This is a very popular argument used by Muslim preachers who generally rely on audience’s ignorance of the Quran to win the argument. They also have a natural advantage in that people are fearful of criticising Islam and are therefore often reluctant to enter into the debate. It is also an argument that I often made when I was a young Muslim and am therefore very familiar with it.

It is, however, deeply flawed. The Quran not only contains many scientific and historical errors, there is also strong evidence to suggest that it was been changed, altered and authored by more than one source. [The Spittoon] Read more

Leading barrister thinks Sharia law is compatible with human rights

.... "I'm not a theologian," said Kadri. "But this is my interpretation of Islamic history. There's a mistaken belief that Islamic law is a vast unchanging body of rules – 1,400 years of Muslim history shows that little could be further from the truth."

"It's really important that the Muslim community engage with its actual history, as well as idealised traditions. If that's to take root, critical engagement with the past among young Muslims will be crucially important." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Iran's morality police crack down on Barbie

.... Reuters' Mitra Amiri reports that the nation's morality police - citing the influence of Western culture it deems antithetical to Islamic values - is cracking down on the sale of Barbie dolls.

Despite a government ban in 1996 against the dress-up doll made by Mattel, Barbies have been sold, though stories have had their inventories confiscated from time to time.

But Reuters reports toy shop owners in recent weeks have been visited by representatives of the morality police, working under orders to clear shelves of the perky doll. [CBS Interactive] Read more

Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims

.... Several bodies like the Islamic Sharia Council have seen a large increase in their cases in the past five years.

''Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years," says Sheikh al-Haddad.

''On average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that.

''Muslims are becoming more aligned with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them,'' he explained.

.... ''We have spoken to many women and all of them tell us the same story; Sharia law is not providing them with the justice they seek. The councils are dominated by men, who are making judgements in favour of men,'' said Diana Nammi. [BBC] Read more

15 January 2012

Loonwatch.com and Radical Islam

.... The newly coined term “Islamophobia” describes an irrational fear of Islam. But for LoonWatch.com any criticism of the Koran or of violent Jihad - even those criticisms that might have some legitimacy to them - even of radical Islam, are branded as Islamophobia and anyone who dares to raise questions about the nearly constant acts of Jihad going on increasingly around the world today is labeled a “Loon” - thus the title of their blog, LoonWatch.com. [Daily Kos] Read more

14 January 2012

PM Cameron Silent about ‘Muscular Liberalism’ on Visit to Saudi Arabia

.... He said that his government would not work with Muslims who did not support democracy, failed to support equality for women etc. More recently, his government said it would look to see how foreign governments were treating their gay minorities when deciding whether or not to award foreign aid to them.

Yet, during his recent visit to the immensely corrupt Saudi Kingdom, which sent troops to crush the pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain last year, prohibits its female population from driving cars, and where the punishment for being gay is execution, Cameron appears to have raised not a single word about human rights. [inayatscorner] Read more

"After a while, Europe will become a single Islamic state, which will know nothing but 'There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.'"

.... Following are excerpts from a Friday sermon delivered by Egyptian cleric Ali Abu Al-Hasan, which aired on Al-Hekma TV on January 6, 2012:

Ali Abu Al-Hasan: With the [Muslim] emigration [to Europe], and the unwillingness to get married and have children [among the Europeans]… A hundred of people there are succeeded by eighty, and ten years later, those eighty will be succeeded by sixty, and those sixty will later be succeeded by forty, and those forty will become ten a decade later, and twenty years later, not a single one of them will be left! [Jihad Watch] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

Amil Imani: Islam Detoxification

.... Islam is habit-forming. Just like alcohol. How strongly habit forming? It depends on the person and his circumstances. Is Islam “beneficial” to the person? Apparently yes it is. For some, it is life itself, just like the skid-row alcoholic, to others it means something, and yet to others it is something to be avoided altogether.

.... The best, yet most difficult resolution of this conflict is to do what hundreds of thousands of former Muslims have already done. They have abandoned the slaveholder Islam: they broke loose from the yoke of the exploitive clergy, renounced Islamofascisim, purged the discriminatory and bizarre teachings in the Quran and the Hadith, and left the suffocating tent of dogmatic Islam for the life-giving expanse of liberty. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Tunisians fear Sharia-law state may be looming

.... Major protests erupted at the university when several female students came in wearing a niqab – a traditional Islamic headdress covering most of the face, leaving only the eyes visible.

The university authorities believed this to be unacceptable and prohibited such headdress from being worn on campus. The students went on a strike saying their freedom was being oppressed.

“It was a minority of students and they were on strike for three weeks. Two of those weeks the university was closed on the Provost and Education Council’s decision,” Dr. Leila Blibi, a professor of history at the Manouba University, explained. “The majority of students were against the strike, but they were threatened by those in the minority.

We held out on principle. We are against girls wearing a headdress in lecture halls and during the exams. It’s a question of security and of trust between professors and students. It’s unacceptable.” [RT] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Criminalizing Religious Criticism: UN Resolution Threatens Freedom of Speech

.... But in spite of the seemingly benign language, free speech advocates say there is still cause for concern.

According to Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, in some Islamic countries, particularly those with harsh penalties for apostasy and blasphemy, it often doesn't take much for religious minorities to incite extremist rage. "Just the building of churches ... having a cross outside your door can be inciting violence," Sekulow says.

"So if you let them define these definitions when there is no problem coming from the minority faiths, this is somehow going to 'green-light' their suppression," he explains. [Crosswalk.com] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Leading female figure in Muslim Brotherhood slams December's women march

A leading female figure in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has accused the women’s march to condemn military brutality against female protestors in December as being funded from abroad.

In December, Egypt witnessed its biggest women's march in history as 10,000 women marched through central Cairo to protest against soldiers who dragged women by the hair, stomped on them, and stripped one half-naked in the street during a fierce crackdown on activists.

.... Abul Hassan argued that "When a woman marches to defend her rights, this affronts her dignity." She added that "Does she [female protestor] not have a husband, a brother or a son to defend her?"

"This march was a sectarian one, because all the groups of Egyptian society should defend women. She should not defend herself on her own. The man should stand beside the woman because on her own she will not be able to get her rights," said Abul Hassan. [Al-Masry Al-Youm] Read more

Islamism and secularism in Tunisia

.... Many among the middle class and on the left complain that Ennahda, the Islamist party that won the first elections in October, speaks a double language, sounding moderate in public while secretly drawing up a radical programme that threatens Tunisia’s progressive achievements.

“Tunisia is not a country made for Islamism,” said Noura Borsali, a member of the transitional commission created after the revolution. “We have a relationship with Islam that’s very moderate. You have people who are believers, they believe in God, but the Tunisians are open, they are bons vivants. We don’t have intolerant people or terrorists or violence.” [openDemocracy] Read more

13 January 2012

Lombardy: Row over 'Italian Butcher' sign

Antonino Verduci, a butcher in Treviglio (Lombardy), has noticed that business has been getting worse in recent weeks. He says that this was because a rumor was spread in town that he was a Muslim butcher.

In order to reassure his customers, he put up a flag and a sign saying "Italian Butcher". Verduci was roundly condemned on the internet for being racist, but his store is now back in business, with many in town showing solidarity with him. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Iran Pastor Nadarkhani Rejects Release Offer- Pastor asked to acknowledge Muhammed as "God's messenger" in exchange for release

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has rejected an offer to be released from prison if he publicly acknowledges Islam's prophet Mohammed as "a messenger sent by God" well-informed Christians and rights activists said Friday, January 13.

Iranian authorities reportedly summoned lawyers for Pastor Nadarkhani to his home city of Rasht on December 30, to explain the deal.

Local officials indicated they would release the pastor if he agreed to make the statement about Mohammed, Christians with close knowledge about the situation explained. [BosNewsLife] Read more [via Jihad Watch]

British worker faces jail in Abu Dhabi for making comment “insulting Islam”

A British engineer is facing a month in jail after he told colleagues in a meeting, 'When will we finish with the damn mosques?'

The worker, who has not been named, told an appeals court yesterday that he did not mean to insult the Islamic religion.

The British engineer works at the parks and recreation section of Abu Dhabi Municipality, and is appealing against a one-month prison sentence imposed by the Court of Misdemeanours. [MailOnline] Read more

Exclusive: "FIFA has to give same opportunities to everyone" says Prince Ali in hijab row

FIFA's newest vice-president, Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan (pictured), has fiercely defended his controversial proposal to allow female Muslim footballers to wear the hijab during matches, claiming he has the support of many European experts.

Prince Ali plans to put the proposal, endorsed by FIFA's Executive Committee last month, to the March meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game's lawmakers, despite strong opposition from European women's rights groups who have protested to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. [Inside the Games] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Jesus and Mo cartoon winds up the University College London Students' Union

University College London Union (UCLU) has ordered the Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society to stop using a Jesus & Mo cartoon on its Facebook page.

The group uses the cartoon to publicise its weekly pub social in London, but was told to remove it because it may cause offence to Muslim students.

The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies immediately launched a petition (now with 3697 signatures) against this brazen censorship by the UCLU. The petition reads: [Religious Watch] Read more

King Abdullah replaces head of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious police

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday replaced the head of the country’s morality police, which enforces compliance to Sharia law, at a time when some Saudis have complained that it is growing more aggressive. No reason was given for replacing Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain with Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh in the royal decree, which was announced on the state news agency.

The morality police force is known formally as the organisation for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice. Its officers patrol the country’s streets making sure shops are closed at prayer times, that people are modestly dressed, and strict gender segregation is observed. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

UCL students forcibly sensitised to sharia

His Grace has had his differences over the years with Dr Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society, but on this matter they are quite right.

Indeed, if this sinister and illiberal agenda isn’t nipped in the bud pretty quickly, the entire population will wake up one day to find new blasphemy laws in force.

And then they’ll be yearning for the long-gone days of the benign Anglican Settlement, when Rowan Atkinson was free to mock ministers of religion in raucous pulpit parody, and the spirit of Spitting Image enlightened closed minds with its biting satire. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

UCL atheists face down censorship

UCL's Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society seems to have won its tussle with the student union over its "right" to use an image taken from the popular "Jesus and Mo" cartoon strip.

.... Any strongly-held belief is likely to be offensive to someone. Avoiding of offence, either in words or images, is impossible in practice and undesirable in theory. People who complain about trivia, whether to the UCLU or to Ofcom or the Advertising Standards Authority, should be told to get over themselves. UCL's Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society deserves to be congratulated. They have proved, not merely that they had nothing to apologise for, but that if you stand up to bullies they tend to back down. [Heresy Corner] Read more

British Worker Faces Prison In Abu Dhabi For Saying 'Damn Mosques'

A British engineer faces prison in Abu Dhabi after cursing a Mosque project that was running late.

He was reported to the police by his colleagues after exclaiming during a meeting “When will we finish with the damn mosques?”

The engineer who has not been named, works at the parks and recreation section of Abu Dhabi municipality and was in charge of building gardens around the mosque,

He is now appealing against the month long prison sentence handed down by the Court of Misdemeanors. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Islam for the 21st century

.... This week I attended the launch of the Muslim Institute's new quarterly, Critical Muslim, which promises to usher in a new era of organised critical thought on issues relating to Islam and Muslims.

Crucially, this criticism is constructive rather than personal. It is underpinned by values such as truth, justice, compassion and wisdom – values that are both Qur'anic and secular.

[A COMMENT] Ideally, Islam would become just a personal belief system totally removed from the temporal sphere and unrelated to politics. Alas, Islam inherently is not that kind of religion. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Hundreds protest plan for new Sunderland mosque

The move by an Islamic centre to submit a planning application for the place of worship has prompted a flood of complaints.

Sunderland City Council has already agreed to sell the disused vehicle depot in St Mark’s Road, Millfield, which is hoped to provide a replacement for the “illegal” mosque operating further up the road.

Many residents are furious at the plans, with one claiming Millfield will “end up being Mosquefield” and the council has received 623 letters of objection and a petition bearing 1,462 signatures. [Sunderland Echo] Read more

"Freedom is still flowering in the Arab Spring"

"Some are already writing the obituary of the Arab awakening. They point to bloodshed in Syria, clashes in Egypt and attacks on religious minorities as evidence that the revolutions have lost their way.

Electoral success by parties rooted in Islam has led some to fear that change may be for the worse. But to say that Arab Spring has turned into cold winter is wrong.

Such pessimism misses the extraordinary opportunities that popular demand for freedom and dignity bring, and could lead us to disengage at a time when we need to redouble our diplomatic and long-term support to the region. [Our Embassy in Khartoum] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Progress in UCL atheist society's cartoon censorship dispute with student union

.... The story attracted an unexpected level of interest, generating nearly 300 comments on our own site and coverage by Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, the Guardian and numerous other busy websites. In addtion, a petition started by the ASHS saw 3,700+ people back the society's refusal to take down the Jesus & Mo image at the union's request. [New Humanist] Read more

Student atheist society claims victory in Muhammad cartoon row

A university atheist society which sparked a global debate over the publication of a cartoon depicting Jesus and Muhammad on a webpage has declared a victory for freedom of speech after its student union backed away from a demand that the cartoon be removed. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

12 January 2012

Scientific proof that women cannot talk and remember at the same time

Sharia law is the same everywhere. Iran, Britain, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia – that is if it’s Sharia.

And under Sharia law a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s so you always need two women for every man, not just in financial transactions – as its proponents deceptively say (as if that’s not bad enough) – but in any matter of importance. We are told it’s because women are too ‘emotional’, menstrual, or so that if one errs the other can remind her. It’s about the nature of women.

But for those ‘heretics, communists, and other atheists’ who ridicule this, finally here’s the scientific proof that women cannot talk and remember at the same time: [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Egyptian Islamists Demand "Morals Patrols"

.... The unexpected rise of Nour has left non-Muslim as well as Muslim commentators shocked and, in many cases, silent. But the Egyptian supporters of Wahhabism have wasted no time in demanding the importation of retrograde Saudi customs into Egypt. Egyptian Wahhabis have now called for the introduction of so-called "Morals Patrols" on the Saudi model.

As reported by writer Ramadan Abdul Qader in the Egyptian Gazette of January 2, a prominent local Wahhabi preacher, Youssef El-Badrai, called for the formation of a ministry to coordinate "morals patrols."

According to El-Badrai, "This ministry could operate by making the Imam of each mosque, backed up by a police officer, responsible for ensuring that the Sharia …. is applied in the streets." [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Victorian Man Punished in Saudi Arabia With 75 Lashes Arrives Home

The Victorian man punished in Saudi Arabia with lashing for insulting the companions of Prophet Mohammed, Islam's holiest figure, arrived home in Melbourne, Australia on Friday.

Mansour Almaribe, 45, from Shepparton was lashed 75 times but with his jacket on, as a gesture of leniency by Saudi authorities. He was originally sentenced to be lashed 500 times and jailed for one year.

A few hours after the lashing, he boarded a plane in Dubai bound for Australia.

The father of five was met by his family at the Melbourne airport. It was a reunion as the family had not spoken to him for two months since his arrest in November in Medina, Saudi Arabia's holy city open only to Muslims. [The International Business Times] Read more

Germany Attempts to Silence Criticism of Islam

.... The BfV's move marks a significant setback for the exercise of free speech in Germany and comes amid a months-long smear campaign led by a triple alliance of leftwing German multicultural elites, sundry Muslim groups and members of the mainstream media, who have been relentless in their efforts to discredit the so-called counter-jihad movement (also known as the "Islamophobes") in Germany.

Opinion polls show that growing numbers of ordinary German citizens are worried about the consequences of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged mass immigration from Muslim countries.

Germans are especially concerned about the refusal of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society, as well as the emergence of a parallel legal system in Germany based on Islamic Sharia law. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

11 January 2012

Deobandis demand Salman Rushdie is barred from visiting India

That Salman Rushdie is once again at the centre of a political storm in the land of his birth over a book he wrote nearly a quarter of a century ago tells us something's afoot in Indian Islam.

The vice-chancellor of Islam's second most important seat of learning, the Darul Uloom, or house of knowledge, at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, has demanded the author be stopped from attending the Jaipur literary festival at the end of this month. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Oklahoma Sharia Law Threatens Judicial Independence

Thanks to a federal court ruling, the controversial law passed by Oklahoma voters barring judicial consideration of international or Sharia law in court cases has been stayed.

The law would amend the state's constitution to explicitly require judges to only use state and federal law when deciding cases and expressly prohibits the use of Islamic Sharia law.

But the law is misleading in several respects and is based largely on public anxiety over an isolated incident in New Jersey. In passing the initiative, Oklahoma ingrained in the state constitution that Islam vis a vis Islamic law is to be publicly and legally stigmatized. [Technorati] Read more [via EuropeNews]