29 February 2012

The state of anti-sharia bills

.... Virginia is just one of two dozen states with bans on foreign laws moving in their legislature. Last week, a similar bill made its way out of Florida’s House Judiciary Committee, amid protests from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Florida Bar’s Family Association, and the ACLU. A third measure preventing the use of foreign law in U.S. courtrooms headed toward a vote in the Georgia House of Representatives.

But as the debate in Virginia shows, the tide could be changing. Lawmakers have had to revamp their approach since an Appeals court struck down Oklahoma’s earlier version as discriminatory for specifically mentioning sharia law.

In order to pass constitutional muster, the new bills are written with broad-strokes prohibitions, which have had the unintended effect of drawing other religious groups and business interests into the fray. [The Washington Post] Read more

Saudi women seek right to play sports despite Muslim clerics’ veto

The image of 24-year-old Nour Fitiany resting courtside as the pounding of basketballs and thumping of feet reverberated around her wouldn’t merit a second glance in most countries.

But in Saudi Arabia, where girls are banned from sports in state schools, powerful clerics castigate women for exercising and female gyms must adhere to strict regulations, Fitiany’s ambition to play basketball – let alone represent her country in international tournaments – is a bold political statement.

.... Female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue in the conservative Islamic kingdom, which on February 15 was lambasted by Human Rights Watch for never having sent a woman athlete to the Olympics. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Muslim Brotherhood founder’s brother questions the movement’s ideas

Gamal al-Banna’s vision for Egypt would have set him at odds with his elder brother Hassan, the teacher who founded the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamist movement in 1928 and was assassinated in 1949. Gamal, Hassan’s last surviving sibling, argues that Egypt today would be best served by a secular leader, and believes that the current mix of politics and religion will eventually fail.

Sitting in his Cairo office surrounded by shelves bulging with books from floor to ceiling, the 91-year-old Islamic scholar said Hassan would hardly recognise the Brotherhood as it is now, poised to enter government.

“There is a very big difference between the Muslim Brotherhood of the 1940s, the time of Hassan al-Banna, and now,” he told Reuters in an interview. “(Hassan) had aspirations but they were not political …(He espoused) Islam as a way of life.” [Reuters] Read more

Blasphemy and Free Speech

A growing threat to our freedom of speech is the attempt to stifle religious discussion in the name of preventing “defamation of” or “insults to” religion, especially Islam. Resulting restrictions represent, in effect, a revival of blasphemy laws.

Few in the West were concerned with such laws 20 years ago. Even if still on some statute books, they were only of historical interest. That began to change in 1989, when the late Ayatollah Khomeini, then Iran’s Supreme Leader, declared it the duty of every Muslim to kill British-based writer Salman Rushdie on the grounds that his novel, The Satanic Verses, was blasphemous.

Rushdie has survived by living his life in hiding. Others connected with the book were not so fortunate: its Japanese translator was assassinated, its Italian translator was stabbed, its Norwegian publisher was shot, and 35 guests at a hotel hosting its Turkish publisher were burned to death in an arson attack. [Hillsdale College] Read more

Cartoon insult’ case is thrown out by judge

AN EGYPTIAN court has thrown out a case brought against Christian telecoms tycoon and liberal politician Naguib Sawiris by a group of ultra-conservative Muslim lawyers who accused him of showing contempt for religion, saying the plaintiffs had no legal standing in the case.

The lawyers had brought the case against Mr Sawiris, a prominent figure in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, over a cartoon he posted online that they considered an insult to Islam.

Last June, Mr Sawiris, founder and chairman of the mobile phone operator Mobinil, tweeted a cartoon of Mickey Mouse with a long beard and Minnie Mouse veiled in black. [Scotsman.com] Read more

28 February 2012

We must be crazy to want for Turkey to enter EU – Dutch MP

In an interview with Hurriyet daily of Turkey, Dutch MP Barry Madlener, who attended an international conference in Istanbul, yet again stressed that Turkey has no place in the European Union.

He noted that Turkey is a Muslim country, and many Dutch do not feel safe because of the thousands of Muslims living in the Netherlands. He added that the immigrants have contributed to the escalation of crime in the country. [NEWS.am] Read more

Birmingham launch of new anti-Muslim attack reporting service

“TELL MAMA” (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) is a national project that provides support and assistance to those who have suffered Islamophobic or anti-Muslim attacks. Those contacting the new service will not only have their incident recorded, they will also receive support in the form of a a signposting and guidance service run through Faith Matters.

As well as supporting victims, the project will also map, measure and analyse areas or hotspots where Islamophobic and anti-Muslim attacks are taking place with the intention of publishing an annual report outlining the types of attacks, areas and possibly reasons why the attacks have taken place.

In many ways, TELL MAMA seeks to mirror the work of the Community Security Trust (CST) which monitors anti-Semitic hate crimes against Jewish communities across England. [Bigmouth Strikes Again] Read more

Tattoo photo puts Malaysia newspaper on defensive

The publishing of a photo that included an American singer tattooed with the Arabic word “Allah” has forced Malaysia’s the Star newspaper to apologize after anger fomented in the country.

The photograph of singer Erykah Badu, who was scheduled to hold a concert in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, was published in Monday’s edition of the newspaper, but it led to a backlash among readers who were offended by the tattoo. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Blasphemy: Burning Quran is a form of international terrorism, says petitioner

Following a blasphemy case being registered against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Cultural Editor of Danish Newspaper Fleming Rose, another blasphemy case has been registered at the Kotwali police station in Jhang against websites and Florida Pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp.

.... Due to such mischief, I along with all Muslims felt great anger and it also trespasses against the Muslim world. Try to create war among Muslims and non-Muslims. Moreover, it is a kind of international terrorism,” the advocate asserted. The petitioner claimed that the accused can be persecuted through Cameron Munter, the Ambassador of US based in Islamabad. [Express Tribune] Read more

Sudan: Islamists Warn Bashir Over Shariah Constitution

A coalition of radical Islamic groups in Sudan has threatened to unseat the country's President Omer Al-Bashir if he failed to heed demands for a constitution based on Shariah laws.

Sudan's far-right and Islamist groups have been lobbying to have the country's 2005 Transitional Constitution replaced with an Islamic one after the mainly-Christian South Sudan seceded in July last year.

To that end, they formed the Islamic Constitution Front (ICF) and proposed the Draft Constitution of Sudan, which is based entirely on Shariah law and, according to a report earlier this month, prohibits the appointment of women in the judiciary. [AllAfrica] Read more

27 February 2012

More from Judge Mark Martin (of the Zombie Mohammed Incident), on CNN

.... Judge Martin: No, I don’t think so. Here’s the thing: It’s a right, it’s not a privilege, it’s a right. With rights come responsibilities. The more that people abuse our rights, the more likely that we’re going to lose them.

But I don’t quite see how this is “the thing,” at least in the sense of an explanation of the judge’s actions at the trial. I don’t think that we’re in danger of losing our free speech rights because some people say things that are offensive to Muslims.

I do think that free speech rights are in danger when judges berate alleged crime victims for their anti-Islam speech, and thus convey the message that the legal system may be biased against those who engage in such speech and may fail to protect those people because of such speech. [The Volokh Conspiracy] Read more

Father tries to set 23-year-old daughter alight

A man was being held by police on Monday after allegedly trying to set fire to his grown-up daughter in central Paris. Le Parisien newspaper reported that the man sprayed teargas in the young woman's face and then covered her in petrol on Saturday evening.

The father was apparently annoyed that the woman planned to go out with a group of friends that evening and considered her "too emancipated". The newspaper quoted a source describing him as a "Muslim fundamentalist." [The Local] Read more

Christianity gets less sensitive treatment than other religions admits BBC chief

.... At least 45,000 people contacted the BBC to complain about swearing and its irreverent treatment of Christian themes.

Many said that no one would have dreamed of making such a show about the Prophet Mohammed and Islam.

Mr Thompson has now appeared belatedly to accept their argument. In an interview, he said Islam was ‘almost entirely’ practised by people who already may feel in other ways ‘isolated’, ‘prejudiced against’ and who may regard an attack on their religion as ‘racism by other means’

But he said that Christianity was ‘an established part of our cultural-built landscape’ which meant it was ‘a pretty broad- shouldered religion’.

He conceded that the broadcaster would never have aired a similar show about Mohammed because it could have had the same impact as a piece of ‘grotesque child pornography’. [MailOnline] Read more

Alhamdillullah [Praise allah], “All-American Muslim” CANCELED!

Uncork the champagne bottle! “All-American Muslim,” the TLC propaganda show whitewashing several Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah supporters in Dearbornistan, has been canceled. I haven’t seen any local media stories.

But Shadia Amen, the calorically-gifted Muslima baby mama on the show (the one who got some Irish Catholic wuss to convert to Islam to marry her) has been telling people the halal gravy train is over. [Debbie Schlussel] Read more

Censorship persists: Egypt authorities ban screening of 'taboo' movie

Egyptian film-makers and critics denounced the authorities on Monday for blocking the screening of a "taboo" film about a love story between a Christian woman and a Muslim man.

"We denounce the fact that censorship authorities have prevented the screening of Hesham Issawi's 'Cairo Exit' at the Luxor African Film Festival," dozens of film-makers and critics said in a signed statement. [Middle East Online] Read more

26 February 2012

Fireman Sam creator detained at airport for veil comment at security gate

As David Jones arrived at the security gates at Gatwick airport, he was looking forward to getting through swiftly so he could enjoy lunch with his daughters before their flight.

Placing his belongings, including a scarf, into a tray to pass through the X-ray scanner he spotted a Muslim woman in hijab pass through the area without showing her face.

In a light-hearted aside to a security official who had been assisting him, he said: “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

24 February 2012

Nearly half of Europeans see Islam as a threat to their identity

French polling agency IFOP published the results of a survey on Europeans and Islam. The survey 'How Europeans see Islam' was conducted April 9-18, 2011 through online questionnaires in Germany, the Netherlands, France and the UK, with relatively low samples of 600-800 people in every country.

In those four countries, a plurality think that the presence of a Muslim community in their country represents a threat for their country's identity (47% in the UK, 44% in the Netherlands, 40% in Germany, 42% in France).

In France and more so in the UK, a higher proportion of youth under 35 tended to regard the presence of Muslims as a factor of cultural enrichment. In Germany the Netherlands the youth were more critical of Islam then those over 35. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Britain Launches War on Multiculturalism

"We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. ... I believe a genuinely liberal country... believes in certain values and actively promotes them." -- David Cameron

The British government has unveiled a new "integration strategy" designed to "champion a united British identity."

The new policy will require immigrants seeking admission to live in the United Kingdom to learn English and adhere to "mainstream" British culture and values such as democracy and the rule of law.

The measures represent a continuation of recent efforts by the government to reverse decades of state-sponsored multicultural policies that have allowed Muslim immigrants to avoid integration and establish a parallel society in Britain. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

The Sharia Court of Pennsylvania — the Transcript

.... one’s “attitude toward Muslims” is irrelevant to one’s right in America to walk the streets and express opinions people may find offensive without being physically attacked and intimidated.

And the fact that sharia governments kill people over such expressions of opinion means that they are barbaric, not that we should tolerate additional constraints on our (diminishing) liberties.

Contrary to Judge Martin’s view — a view that is becoming increasingly and disturbingly common among top administration officials, some members of Congress, and the military brass — sharia does not set the “bounds on First Amendment rights.” [National Review Online] Read more

Zombie Mohammed [with updates]

If reported correctly, this seems like a worrying story. Apparently Ernie Perce, while dressed as a ‘Zombie Mohammed’, was assaulted by Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, at a Halloween parade in Pennsylvania. Although the local police felt that this was an open-and-shut case, things did not go Mr Perce’s way. The Judge, Mark Martin, ruled in favour of the defendant, and expressed his disapproval of Perce:

.... Now, because this judge is, probably, Muslim, this case is being reported as an instance of a “Sharia Court”: which I suppose on one reading, is fair comment. But I’d compare it with the various instances of judges quoting from the Bible or agitating about displaying the Ten Commandments in court, and so on, that make the headlines from time to time. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The terror continues in Iran

In recent times, the security authorities of Iran have been taken action against the growth of Christianity and house church movement in Iran and have arrested many believers in different cities of Iran.

But now they have exceeded their own terrible record of harassment of believers in their country by arresting a 78-year-old Christian woman at her home in Esfahan which is 272 miles from Tehran, the Iranian capital.

According to the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Ms. Giti Hakimpour, a Christian minister, was arrested in her apartment by security authorities at earkt on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, and transferred to an unknown location. [ASSIST News Service] Read more [via Harry’s Place]

The Egyptian Bearded Police

.... The group of officers, however, decided to disobey, and ignored the Minister's order. Egypt Independent mentions that the "free the beards campaign" became a public opinion issue and will hence soon "blow up in the Interior Minister's face."

As reported by the media outlet BikyaMasr, during a recent Minister's trip to Assiut, he was confronted by "controversial calls for officers to be free to let their beards grow following the Islamic tradition." The Islamist movement, Gama'a Islamiya in Assiut, issued a statement condemning the minister and stating that the beard is at the core of the Islamic tradition. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Can the United States defuse the Koran burning uproar in Afghanistan?

After a third day of bloody protests over the burning of the Koran, there is a sense that America is lurching from one image crisis to the next in Afghanistan, with no clear path for U.S. officials to defuse the latest uproar.

President Barack Obama apologized on Thursday for the burning of copies of the Koran on a U.S. base in Afghanistan, an incident that has triggered far more outcry than another shocking incident: the emergence of a video last month showing Marines urinating on the corpses of what appear to be dead Taliban fighters.

Obama’s apology over the Koran burning has been accompanied by other steps by the U.S. military meant to show remorse over what it sees as a tragic blunder. The Pentagon detailed new outreach to Muslim leaders, and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has promised training on the proper handling of religious materials as well as a swift investigation. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Goldman Sachs sparks debate over Western banks’ role in Islamic finance

A controversial plan by Goldman Sachs to issue an Islamic bond has ignited a wider debate on whether conventional banks in the West should be allowed to engage in Islamic finance.

At a major conference of Islamic scholars and bankers in London this week, much of the public and private discussion was devoted to whether growing Western interest in Islamic finance could damage the industry by compromising its religious principles.

Some participants argued investment banks such as Goldman should be banned from issuing Islamic bonds, or sukuk, because the funds they raised could help to finance other parts of their business that did not comply with sharia or Islamic law. [Reuters] Read more

Marseillais: 'Muslim culture is definitively taking over the lower levels of society'

.... What worries some Marseillais is not the caricature of Talibanization invoked by right-wing extremists but what they see as the creeping Islamization of the city's largely working-class population—and not only those issus de l'immigration. "I think that Muslim culture is definitively taking over the lower levels of society," says Michèle Teboul, of CRIF. "There are many mixed marriages with Muslims." "That's real integration," I say.

"That depends," says Teboul. "It depends if there is a mixture of the two cultures and not one culture gaining the upper hand over another," she says. In France, as she sees it, the institutionalization of secularism and the prevalence of political correctness have weakened the value systems in society and left people without any strong sense of tradition. [National Geographic] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

23 February 2012

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to be hanged

Sources in Iran are reporting that the execution order for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been issued. An Iranian Court has convicted him of apostasy (despite never having been a Muslim: background here, here and here), and the execution is thought to be imminent.

The present heightened tensions with Iran lend credence to this development: a high-profile execution becomes retaliation as the country endures crippling sanctions and international pressure in response to its nuclear agenda and fundamentalist rhetoric. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

The Fight Against Islamophobia Steps up a Gear

.... While the reporting and monitoring of Islamophobic incidents is long overdue and can be a major leap forward, it must also be coupled with proactive efforts by people of all faiths to engage in dialogue to overcome the ignorance that unnecessarily pushes people apart.

Muslims therefore not only have an obligation to speak up and report Islamophobia, but also to be courageous in explaining what Islam actually means to them so that Islamophobic misconceptions cannot continue to circulate. [The Huffington Post] Read more

The White House condemns Iran over Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani death sentence

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith.

This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Is Sharia Law Compatible with Democracy?

In European and American communities the principle of a secular law equally applied to everyone is today being challenged, if not yet under assault, by Muslim communities wanting to insert decisions made in Islamic sharia courts and tribunals into the normal , common-law, legal system.

The question has arisen of whether legal decisions based on cultural values at odds with democratic principles be accepted and incorporated into laws of democratic countries in the name of religious freedom.

... It is not a manifestation of xenophobia or prejudice that the voters in Oklahoma acted on the belief that Muslim Sharia law is antithetical to democratic values. The courts and legislators in the United States must be conscious of a real and growing difficulty in our society. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

Religious minorities in the Muslim world today, constitutionally entitled in many countries to equality of citizenship and religious freedom, increasingly fear the erosion of those rights -- and with good reason.

Inter-religious and inter-communal tensions and conflicts from Nigeria and Egypt and Sudan, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries.

Conflicts have varied, from acts of discrimination, to forms of violence escalating to murder, and the destruction of villages, churches and mosques. [The Huffington Post] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

U.S. response to Koran burning could fan flames, analysts warn

.... The backlash began after Korans were burned with garbage at a military base in Afghanistan. Officials said they were removed from the detention center library because the detainees were using them to pass secret and what were described as "extremist" messages to one another. Afghans stepped in to rescue the books, though some were already burned. One official said it was a "breakdown in judgment, not a breakdown in our respect for Islam."

Meanwhile, nearly a dozen people have died in the aftermath, including two U.S. troops. And some analysts are criticizing the U.S. response.

"It just feeds the sense of grievance," Nina Shea, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, said of the "constant round of apologies." [FoxNews.com] Read more

22 February 2012

Higher Judicial Council OKs right to wear veil [hijab? Ed.] in court

The Higher Judicial Council (CSM) has ruled that the veil may be worn on religious grounds in Italian courts. In their plenary session this morning, the majority approved a resolution establishing that "full respect must be assured to to those behaviours which, without causing disturbance to the regular and correct court proceedings, constitute a legitimate exercise of the right to profess one's own religion, including those precepts that relate to clothing and other outward signs."

The ruling has come in response to a query from the head of the Turin tribunal, after the president of the first criminal division bench had asked an interpreter appointed by the prosecuting magistrate to remove her veil, despite the fact that her face was clearly visible, on the grounds that her behaviour flew in the face of the legal obligation to attend courts bare-headed. [AGI] Read more [via Islam in Europe]

Iran court convicts Christian pastor convert to death

A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.

Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years. [FoxNews.com] Read more

Tunisia, Egypt Islamists signal bigger religion role

After months of reassuring secularist critics, Islamist politicians in Tunisia and Egypt have begun to lay down markers about how Muslim their states should be -- and first signs show they want more religion than previously admitted.

.... With political deadlines looming, the Tunisian coalition led by the reformist Islamist Ennahda party and the head of Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood both made statements this week revealing a stronger emphasis on Islam in government.

Popular List, an Ennahda coalition member tasked with writing Tunisia's new constitution, announced on Monday its draft called Islam "the principle source of legislation" -- a phrase denoting laws based on the sharia moral and legal code. [Reuters] Read more

The London-based campaign to hang a Pakistani Christian

Choudhry is a former Ahmadi, who left the movement in order to become a counter-Ahmadi spokesperson, working with Khatam-e-Nabuwwat, based in Forest Gate in East London.

Choudhry’s Khatm-e-Nabuwwat organisation has played a major role in the persecution of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who faces the death penalty for drinking from a well designated for Muslims only, in Pakistan.

Late last month, the Express Tribune reported that Bibi’s accuser, Qari Salam, was feeling guilty about her, but was “convinced” not to drop charges, by Khatm-e-Nabuwat: [Harry’s Place] Read more

How "Islamic" government works in London

Rabina Khan, Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet member for housing, penned a sharp attack today on the Evening Standard’s recent series of articles about the electoral roll shenanigans in Tower Hamlets, the Sharia-tinged administration of which she is part.

Ms Khan claimed that linking Lutfur with Islamic extremism was “simply risible.” Perhaps she's forgotten that Lutfur lost a complaint on this precise subject against me and this newspaper at the Press Complaints Commission recently.

The PCC ruled that it was "not misleading" to describe Rahman as “closely linked” to the extremist Islamic group, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), who control the East London Mosque. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

A growing immigrant population determined to avoid assimilation

Leading Islamic groups in Switzerland are seeking to establish a single national representative body that will enable all of the country's Muslims to "speak with one voice."

The organizers say their new "parliament" will be called "Umma Schweiz" and be based on the principles of Islamic Sharia law. The headquarters of the organization will be located in Basel with "representatives" in all 26 cantons (or "states") of Switzerland. The first "test vote" of Umma Schweiz will be held in the fall of 2012; the group will be fully functional in 2013.

.... Swiss analysts say the initiative is an effort to establish a "parallel" legislative body in Switzerland that will be a mouthpiece for Islamic fundamentalists who are seeking to impose Sharia law on the country, according to an exposé published by the newspaper Basler Zeitung. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Are They Really Religious?

Last summer a friend of mine was driving his elderly mother from the north coast to Cairo and on the way his mother, a diabetic, suddenly felt ill. He looked for a pharmacy and when he found one he went in and found a bearded pharmacist.

My friend asked him if he would give his mother an insulin injection. Amazingly, the pharmacist answered, "Sorry, but I don't give injections to women because that's against sharia. Go find your mother a female doctor."

My friend tried his best to persuade the pharmacist, telling him they were in a remote area and it would be hard to find a female doctor, and that his mother, more than seventy years old, surely would not represent a sexual temptation to the pharmacist. Still, he refused to administer the insulin. [The Huffington Post] Read more

21 February 2012

Muslim hate crime phone line aims to help victims

A first UK helpline for victims of Islamophobia is being set up amid concerns that incidents are not being reported or properly categorised.

Last year 2,000 hate crimes were recorded against different faiths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Police say it is unclear how many were against Muslims as separate figures were not recorded.

Faith Matters, a non-profit group, hopes to show the scale of the problem and provide support for victims.

"Many people think that Islamophobic crime does not exist. They say: 'Where is the data?'" said the director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal. [BBC] Read more

Le Pen's halal meat claims attacked

.... Le Pen was repeating claims made in a TV documentary in which François Hallepée, the head of Ile-de-France cattle breeders, said all abattoirs in the region were slaughtering according to Muslim ritual.

President Sarkozy made an unscheduled early morning visit to the Rungis food market outside Paris on Tuesday morning where he said Le Pen's claims were "groundless."

"We eat 200,000 tonnes of meat every year in the Ile-de-France and only 2.5 percent is halal," he said. [The Local] Read more

Aligarh Muslim University's library out of bounds for undergraduate girls

Students of the Women's College in Aligarh Muslim University are waging a bitter struggle for a facility their counterparts in other institutions would take for granted-access to the university's central library.

Now, in a concession to these undergraduate women students, AMU has decided provided them online access to the catalogue of books. The varsity says the girls can choose the books which would then be issued and delivered to them. [THE TIMES OF INDIA] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Poisoned spring: revolution brings Tunisia more fear than freedom

The hopes vested in last year's uprising have ended in continued censorship, growing intolerance and unemployment, says Robert Fisk in Tunis

.... "So why do we bring here these Salafists, these Islamists, these Wahabis, these Afghanists, these preachers (sexually obsessed and probably paedophiles), who speak of the mutilation (of women), who make fatwas ... who have nothing to do with our civilisation, our idea of religion, our values which have developed over thousands of years?

Sorry – but their beards, their niqabs, their robes, their blackness, their "Middle Ages" are not ours." Even if they were born Tunisian, "they are not Tunisians". [independent.co.uk] Read more

Halal slaughter becomes political issue in France

A TV documentary's revelation that slaughterhouses around Paris have switched meat production entirely to halal methods has stirred a political storm in France, where attitudes to Europe's largest Muslim minority are a subtext in a presidential election campaign.

The France 2 documentary last week said all of the abattoirs in the greater Paris region were producing only halal-style meat, selling some without labelling it as such to avoid the cost of running separate lines for halal and non-halal customers.

.... "All the abattoirs of the Paris region have succumbed to the rules of a minority. We have reason to be disgusted," Le Pen told a rally in Lille on Saturday, pledging to file a legal complaint. [Reuters] Read more

20 February 2012

Steps of the devil

Human Rights Watch have a new report on the denial of women's and girls' right to sport in Saudi Arabia: The full report is here. From the Q&A - Why is HRW focusing on discrimination against women in sports?

.... There've been reports that Saudi Arabia is reneging on its earlier agreement to allow women to participate in London 2012. It may seem an academic point, but the Kingdom does in fact have a potential female Olympic athlete in showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas. According to an HRW update, some kind of compromise seems on the cards: [Mick Hartley] Read more

France: 'Suburbs becoming Muslim land', says journalist

French suburbs are becoming 'Muslim land', French journalist and historian Alexandre Adler told France Info. Adler also said that many French Muslims want this, and that he's concerned about the self-administration against the State in those neighborhoods.

Adler said the violence in the banlieues can't be explained only as social problems, and that it's due to the Muslim doctrine that wherever Islam spreads is Muslim land. The banlieues can be compared to the Muslim areas of India, which eventually seceded and became Pakistan and Bangladesh. [Islam in Europe] Read more

The Mega Mosque - Tablighi Jamaat casts on a new application

Regular readers may recall earlier posts on Tablighi Jama’at’s desire to build their European Headquarters on the site they own, which they call the Riverine Centre, or Abbeymills Mosque or London Markaz, or Markaz Ilyas, on the banks of the River Lea, or more accurately those channels of the River Lea system in East London known as the Bow Back Rivers.

.... Lapido also spoke to Imam Dr Taj Hargey of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford who is a very good man who has received death threats from other Muslims for his modern views and efforts at integration. He describes the proposal as a ‘towering edifice’ and a symbol of triumphialism.

“If this goes ahead, it will give Muslims in this country the idea that only this ultra-conservative, puritanical Islam works because they would have succeeded where others haven’t; and it will encourage others to follow this Neanderthal version of Islam. [The Iconoclast] Read more

19 February 2012

Kuwaiti MPs call for ban on construction of churches

A Kuwaiti parliamentarian is set to submit a draft law banning the construction of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state, it was reported at the weekend.

Kuwaiti Member of Parliament (MP) Osama Al-Munawer announced on Twitter he plans to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. However, he later clarified that existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned. [Arabian Business] Read more

Egypt’s Baha’is face more attacks from Salafists

.... “We will prosecute the Bahai’s on charge of treason,” said Shahat VIA telephone on Dream 2's al-Haqiqa TV program. “We as Salafists refuse to deal with Baha’is, because they do not exist by virtue of their faith.”

According to Shahat, Bahai’s are not entitled to rights under Islam because they are not recognized by the religion, and any new constitution should not include an amendment protecting their rights.

He cited previous Al-Azhar – the Sunni Islamic world’s most prestigious institution – rulings that said Baha’is are blasphemous. [Bikya Masr] Read more

18 February 2012

The moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood look far from comfortable in power

.... Besides, for all the Brotherhood’s shortcomings, the region could have many worse governments. In spite of Hamas’s record of terror tactics in Gaza, it has unquestionably managed the unruly Palestinian coastal strip far better than its secular predecessor Fatah.

Its forces are more disciplined, the streets safer and the bureaucrats more efficient and less nepotistic. What corruption there is runs along institutional rather than blood lines. The Brotherhood’s members are largely lay professionals, not clergymen, and instinctively shrink from handing clerics too much power.

As for imposing sharia law, it is telling that Yousef Qaradawi, the Al Jazeera channel pundit who is the Brotherhood’s preferred religious authority, recently opined that the application of God’s law in Egypt needed a five year reprieve.

Alas five years after taking control of Gaza, Hamas has mostly preserved existing structures and laws, with minor tweaks. [The Economist] Read more [via National Secular Society]

British cleric in heated debate, tells Muslim apostate he should be killed

British Muslim cleric Haitham al-Haddad participated in a debate in Amsterdam this past Friday. Asked by a member of the audience who left Islam what the cleric thought of him, al-Haddad told him apostates should be killed in an Islamic country.

In a previous discussion on stoning adulterers, Al-Haddad claimed that he had been approached by European women who had committed adultery and wanted to go to a Muslim country to be stoned for their bad deeds.

Iranian-Dutch (former) politician Ehsan Jami said he will lodge a police complaint against al-Haddad for these statements.

The full debate is available online. The discussion on stoning adulterers is at ~34:00 and and killing apostates at about ~37:30. [Islam in Europe] Read more

First the Ahmadi, Then Everybody Else

They are killed in Muslim Pakistan. They are killed in Muslim Bangladesh. They are killed in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country and, putatively, its most moderate. It was there, in a village in West Java last year, that hundreds of Muslims wielding machetes, sharpened sticks, and stones set upon on an Ahmadi home, brutally murdering three men and maiming several others.

.... Spoken truth is an increasingly rare commodity. But truth is plain to see. Radical Islam is not very radical — it is Islamic doctrine strictly applied. Where Muslims are a tiny minority, and where countervailing cultural forces are robust enough and unapologetic enough to hem in Islam’s supremacist ambitions, Islam can be moderate and its adherents solid citizens.

Where sharia is permitted to spread its wings, liberty is strangled. And where Muslims are a majority turned loose to enforce sharia, it is, as The Third Jihad puts it, a “human-rights disaster.” [National Review Online] Read more

17 February 2012

Muslims more successful at enforcing their religion from generation to generation

An academic study by Cardiff University shows that the proportion of adult Muslims actively practising the faith they were brought up in as children was 77%. That compares with 29% of Christians and 65% of other religions.

The study also found that 98% of Muslim children surveyed said they had the religion their parents were brought up in, compared with 62% of Christians and 89% of other religions.

.... "Unfortunately for them," he said, "our society is free and able to explore other avenues and be open to other influences. Muslim societies are very conservative and can deal very severely with anyone who dissents from the central message. When alternatives are assiduously suppressed, there is no wonder that one world view predominates so strongly among Muslims." [National Secular Society] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

Saboteurs for the Islamic Movement?

.... American elites are being cowed into silence. If anything, they seem less capable of critiquing radical Islam than they were a decade ago. An Orwellian veil of silence through control of public discourse is being pulled over eyes of many in the Land of the Free.

To put it bluntly, the government of the United States has become an ally of the radical Islamic Movement, under the careful guidance of Muslim Brotherhood agents in the US.

The first victims of this alliance are secular and liberal activists all across the Middle East, whose bodies are being broken and voices silenced because of official American engagement with and support for the cause of radical Islam. [markdurie.com blog] Read more

First Islamic Version of Facebook Aims to Create 'Halal' Field for Muslims

"Salamworld," a pioneering global Islamic social network that aims to create a "halal" environment for Muslims on the Internet, recently held its first global summit in Istanbul with the participation of 250 people from 40 countries.

"The content that is being used on other social networks is not very secure and full of haram. We don't want our young people to absorb all these ideas that are not familiar to them," one of the owners of Salamworld, Abdulvahed Niyazov, a Muslim businessman from Siberia, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

A group of Russian and Turkish investors have put tens of millions of dollars into the development of the site, which aims to become an Islamic version of Facebook. [AK Group] Read more

16 February 2012

Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders

Islamic apologists in the West continue to try to convince gullible Westerners (of which there are so very many) that honor killing really has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, and that all evidence to the contrary is just "Islamophobia."

91% of all honor killings occur among Muslims? Coincidence! Bad study! (Not that any good studies are offered in its place, mind you.) Jordan and Syria -- and now the Palestinian Authority -- have relaxed penalties for honor killings?

Well, yes, but a lot of important people have spoken out against this -- well, yes, no one is listening to them, but...still! [Jihad Watch] Read more

Toronto’s million-dollar ‘radical mosque’

On a recent Friday at the Salaheddin mosque, Imam Aly Hindy spoke to his followers about how homosexuality was “invented,” calling it “nonsense” and “garbage” to believe anyone could be born that way.

He went on to talk about “illegal sexual acts” but added a qualifier: “Illegal means illegal in Islam, not illegal in the Canadian law, because everything is legal in the Canadian law, except children. Other than that, they allow everything.”

.... Almost a quarter of the centre’s revenues came from outside Canada in 2010, figures posted on the Canada Revenue Agency website show. Three unnamed foreign donors provided $931,000 of the centre’s almost $4-million in revenues that year. [National Post] Read more

Algerian secularist icon rejects Islamist comeback

.... The government is likely to use celebrations this year marking the 50th anniversary of independence from France - commonly known as "the revolution" - to re-focus attention on the secularist values on which Algeria was founded.

"The problem in Algeria is not a problem of religion," said Malek. "We've been Muslims already for 14 centuries. The problem is about running urban neighbourhoods well, about good governance, good management, a modern education system." "It wasn't the men with beards who achieved the Algerian revolution," he said. "It was modern people." [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

New proposals for West Ham ‘mega-mosque’ unveiled

A public exhibition was held by Tablighi Jamaat in Stratford in a bid to gather support for the Riverine Centre in Canning Road – dubbed a “mega-mosque.”

The plan includes a 9,500 capacity mosque with 40m high minarets, library, visitors centre, and a 300-space car park for worshippers.

A temporary facility, ­consisting of demountable buildings, is currently on site. It survived an attempt last year by Newham Council to remove it on the basis of ­increased traffic and land contamination.

.... “But they want to put their Western world headquarters there. It’s going to be isolationist and will simply create a large custom built Islamic ghetto. “It will be Newham’s first Sharia-controlled zone.” [Newham Recorder] Read more

After surviving sectarian mob, Egyptian Christians expelled from village

.... Sharbat is a small village near the western edge of the fertile Nile delta. Along potholed streets, hand-painted signs for the salafi Nour Party cover the cement shelters of bus stops, fences, shops, and the walls of homes.

Samir Rashad, Romany’s father, says the recent violence in Sharbat was not the first case of tension between Christians and what he calls radical Muslims there. But it was the worst.

It started with rumors that a local Christian man had photos or videos showing him in a sexual relationship with a local Muslim woman. [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more

Purifying girls

According to a 2008 survey, over 90% of women in Egypt have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - the highest rate anywhere in the world. The practice was outlawed five years ago, but this Newsnight report shows how little effect the ban is actually having in the face of religious and cultural opposition:

.... Or, in the words of Sheikh Ashraf, "The Prophet has ruled that this thing must be done". [Mick Hartley] Read more

Norway: Family control bigger problem than forced marriage

.... Researcher Inger Lise Lien of the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) says that constant role changes is one of the strategies multicultural youth use to deal with culture conflicts.

"Some are careful and try to balance the two cultures. One adapt to the situation, depending on who they're with at the moment. Some go home with a scarf and change clothing when they're out. Youth have different strategies to deal with this," says Lien.

She thinks minority youth often face difficult decisions, which, strictly speaking, don't need to be so problematic. [Islam in Europe] Read more

15 February 2012

Why We Need Words Like 'Islamist II

.... consider these recent news headlines: “Egypt’s Islamists secure 75 percent of parliament"; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Islamists”; and “Islamist Named Speaker of Egypt House.”

Think of how meaningless it would be to use the word “Muslim” in these headlines, and how it would lead precisely to what those who staunchly oppose using words like "Islamist” claim to be combating: a completely misinformed Western public.

In 90% Muslim Egypt, what's the point of saying that parliament is 75% "Muslim," or that the house-speaker is a "Muslim," etc? Where's the news? But by using "Islamist," readers quickly understand that these are new developments of concern. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Why We Don't Need Words Like 'Islamist'

.... Raymond thus quite rightly goes on to point out that "Islam proper" is not "trouble-free." I agree with those whose views he characterizes this way: "one might argue that use of words like 'Islamist,' while valid, are ultimately academic and have the potential further to confuse the layman."

He then goes on to argue for the need for a term for the adherents of political Islam -- and there again, I propose the term "Islamic supremacist," which does not have the baggage of "Islamist," and leads no one to believe that Islam itself is "trouble-free."

Raymond concludes: "why insist on a language that is easily misunderstood and even has the potential to backfire?". Indeed. And that's why I reject the term "Islamist." [Jihad Watch] Read more

Religious police swoop on Valentine's Day lovers

The Organisation for Promoting Virtue and Discouraging Evil says officers have punished those caught so far, and that its campaign of arrests is continuing.

In a six-page statement, the religious police said they were saving women from "deceiving men", who used the day to give the fake impression that they loved a woman while pretending to be a "harmless lamb".

The religious authorities say Muslims who take part in Valentine's Day are in fact weak, lacking imagination, and far removed from the "sublime and virtuous" objectives of their religion. [ABC News] Read more

The bloodlust faced by the 'blaspheming' Saudi journalist

.... But the really chilling fact about this story is that his persecutors are the online commenters in Saudi. Some 30,000 tweets, mostly condemning him, came within 24 hours. A Facebook group has been set up to demand Kashgari's punishment (and Facebook has not taken it down). There are 20,000 members already. Some bloggers, it's true, have defended him; but they too have been threatened by the more orthodox contingent.

[COMMENT] The Religion of Peace restates its credentials once again. [COMMENT] I wonder what Baroness Warsi has to say about this? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Forgiveness, Not Death, for Hamza Kashgari

On the Prophet’s birthday (which fell on Feb. 12), Kashgari tweeted these statements, in 140 character increments, of course:

On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you. On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

.... Because of those tweets, conservative clerics are clamoring for his death. I, and many others, spoke out against his execution, citing the fact that there is no evidence in the Qu’ran that calls for the death penalty for apostasy. But what’s more sorrowful is that in the heated rhetoric surrounding this young man’s tweets, lost is the substance of what he wrote. [altmuslim] Read more

How the West Is Fanning Islamic Extremism

.... I asked for explanation. This person responded, "You've been making deliberately inflammatory comments. If you continue we will have to remove your account."

The truth is that for Muslims, anything that is not complimentary of Islam is inflammatory. Take the example of Kashgari's tweets. They are not irreverent or inflammatory at all, and yet thousands of Muslims were inflamed by them and want him dead.

In her speech, Sheikha Al Mayassa spoke about the "wisdom" of the Arab rulers. A quick search revealed that she is the 14th daughter of Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the current Emir of Qatar. This explains why TED could not tolerate my comments.

.... Muslims are cocooned in a web of deception. What they perceive as real is unreal. As long as their belief is not challenged they will continue believing in those absurdities and will behave in the way they do. To them, this is how things have been forever. The media, the governments. [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more

Ireland faces institutional racism against Muslims

Ireland’s failure to gather statistics on hate crime and discrimination against Muslims amounts to institutional racism, according to a pioneering research project which will be unveiled at University College Cork on Saturday.

The failure, in particular, by the gardaí to use its Pulse electronic system to monitor crimes against ethic and religious minorities facilitates Islamophobia in Ireland, argues James Carr of University of Limerick.

.... He describes the phenomenon as a form of racism specific to members of Muslim communities and reinforced by stereotypical negative images of Muslims. [The Irish Examiner] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

14 February 2012

After revolution in Egypt, women's taste of equality fades

.... Women want their rights respected on divorce, maternity issues and custody of children," says Ibrahim, a daughter of means who has taken up a video camera to record her country's poverty and social injustices. Ibrahim, who is known as Gigi, is unveiled and unblinkingly brash; she relishes the clamor of street rallies. "I believe in the right to abortion. Women must be able to have that choice. We want a civil, secular state."

About 3,000 women marched in solidarity after the blue bra incident, a remarkable gathering that focused enormous international pressure on the generals. But it had no momentum, and revealed the disparate interests and beliefs that have long stifled Egypt's feminist movement. [Los Angeles Times] Read more

13 February 2012

Why We Need Words Like ‘Islamist’

The greatest obstacle on the road to consensus is what such words imply; namely, that Islamism and Islamists are “bad,” and Islam and Muslims are good (or simply neutral). Some observations in this regard:

Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam. The staunch literalness of today’s Islamists is so artificial and anachronistic that, if only in this way, it contradicts the practices of medieval Muslims, which often came natural and better fit their historical context.

More to the point, for all their talk that they are out to enact the literal example of the early Muslims, today’s Islamists often permit and forbid things that their forbears did not, simply because, like it or not, they are influenced by Westernization. As Daniel Pipes observes: [Pajamas Media] Read more

Pay for our trips home - the Islamic Women's Welfare Association

The Islamic Women's Welfare Association also says Muslims prefer to live close to their own people and Australia should consider how to "facilitate the purchase of homes for new migrants".

In a submission to a federal multicultural inquiry, the association has urged the Government to give tax deductions to newly arrived migrants so they can visit relatives in their homelands.

"Migrants face a lot of sacrifices such as having to travel long distances to visit relatives, spending on communication costs, missing out on some events occurring in native countries etc," the submission said.

"This loss should be compensated by the Government in one way or the other to retain migrants in their country of adoption." [Herald Sun] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

Top Muslim scholar says any one who insults Prophet should be killed

A senior Saudi Muslim cleric indicated on Monday that a local young man who offended Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and fled the Gulf kingdom would be executed after his repatriation from Malaysia.

Sheikh Saleh bin Fowzan Al Fowzan, a member of the 7-man supreme committee of scholars in Saudi Arabia, said it has been established in Islam that any one who insults God or the Prophet should be killed.

“Repenting will not work…any man who insults God or our Prophet (PBUH) should be killed,” he said, quoted by Saudi newspapers. [Emirates247.com] Read more

Lawyers for Liberty are pissed

.... The truth is Hamza had sent a few tweets on the Prophet Muhammad which he has since deleted and apologized. It must be noted a similar poem on the prophet was published on his blog a year ago but did not receive any negative reaction from anybody.

More importantly, he belongs to a group of emerging young pro-democracy activists which among others had supported the Arab Spring. Just days before he fled Saudi Arabia, the police stopped him and his group of young activists from organizing a series of forums to show solidarity with the Syrian uprising. [Butterflies and Wheels] Read more

Saudi writer may face trial over Prophet Mohammad tweets

.... A graduate of the University of King Abdulaziz with a major in Islamic studies, Kashgari had left the Al Bilad newspaper five weeks before the incident due to disagreements over money and his writing.

"Hamza always liked being alone, he wasn't a social person," said a senior editor at Al Bilad. "He had a broken look in his eyes and I think that was a sign of sadness or depression. He's a poet and had a lot of philosophical ideas."

The editor said the young writer had learned the Koran by heart and always had good manners, noting that none of his columns had touched on controversial religious ideas.

Despite a tightening of media rules after the spread of popular revolts through the Arab world over the past year, Saudis are increasingly turning to online news, social networking and satellite television for information. [Reuters] Read more

French draft law aims to ban religious symbols for child minders

The controversy surrounding the Islamic headscarf in France is making headlines again as the French National Assembly studies a draft law that will ban religious symbols in all facilities catering for children, including nannies and childcare assistants looking after children at home.

The draft law was approved by the French Senate with a large majority on Jan. 17 and it was sent to the National Assembly to be ratified before being signed it into law by the president.

“Unless otherwise specified in a contract with the individual employer, a childcare assistant is subject to an obligation of neutrality in religious matters in the course of childcare activity,” reads the text of the draft law introduced by Françoise Laborde, a senator from the Radical Party of the Left. [Al Arabiya News] Read more [via Islamophobia Watch]

12 February 2012

The Corrections

Not as much red ink needed as on some occasions, but The Telegraph's Alasdair Palmer could do better, because he knows he means Muslims, and we know he knows he means Muslims, and the dogs in the street, haram as they are, know he means Muslims:

Immigration from non-EU countries has increased enormously in the last 30 years. It has been running at more than 100,000 a year for a decade. But by no means all of the new arrivals, many of whom come from what are categorised as ethnic minorities, Muslims have found it easy not to adopt British values. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Rashid Ghannouchi on Britain, Islam and liberal democracy

.... The struggle of those that came out on to the streets of Tunisia is for accountable government," Ms Azzam says. "Within that context, they still want respect for Islamic values, but I don't think that there is a desire for an Islamic system of government that throws away democracy."

Anas Altikriti says Mr Ghannouchi's theories are helping the Muslim Brotherhood to stop talking endlessly about ideology and instead address the tough questions - such as how to create jobs - that the electorate care about most.

"For the past 30 years the Muslim Brotherhood has been raising the slogan, 'Islam is the answer,'" he says. "Well now they really need to answer many, many tough questions." [BBC] Read more

Open Letter to Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch

.... Nor do you point to the one of the clearest threats to rights—particularly to women and religious and sexual minorities—the threat to introduce so-called “shari’a law.”

It is simply not good enough to say we do not know what kind of Islamic law, if any, will result, when it is already clear that freedom of expression and freedom of religion—not to mention the choice not to veil—are under threat.

And while it is true that the Muslim Brotherhood has not been in power for very long, we can get some idea of what to expect by looking at their track record.

In the UK, where they were in exile for decades, unfettered by political persecution, the exigencies of government, or the demands of popular pressure, the Muslim Brotherhood systematically promoted gender apartheid and parallel legal systems enshrining the most regressive version of “shari’a law”. [Centre for Secular Space] Read more

Trouble in paradise: Maldives and Islamic extremism

At the Maldives' National Museum, smashed Buddhist statues are testament to the rise of Islamic extremism and Taliban-style intolerance in a country famous as a laid-back holiday destination.

On Tuesday, as protesters backed by mutinous police toppled president Mohamed Nasheed, a handful of men stormed the Chinese-built museum and destroyed its display of priceless artefacts from the nation's pre-Islamic era.

"They have effectively erased all evidence of our Buddhist past," a senior museum official told AFP at the now shuttered building in the capital Male, asking not to be named out of fear for his own safety. [AFP] Read more

11 February 2012

The toxic legacy of British Multiculturalism

How are we going to integrate immigrants into British society, so that they participate fully in it, sharing and respecting its values? That question is even more pertinent today than it was in 1984, when Ray Honeyford, who died last week, first raised it publicly.

Immigration from non-EU countries has increased enormously in the last 30 years. It has been running at more than 100,000 a year for a decade. But by no means all of the new arrivals, many of whom come from what are categorised as ethnic minorities, have found it easy to adopt British values.

.... As we dither on this, multiculturalism continues its divisive work. And it will soon be too late to do anything about it: Britain will have permanently fractured into factions united by nothing except mutual incomprehension and antipathy. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Tunisian secular parties merge to face Islamists

Five secular Tunisian parties merged on Saturday in an attempt to create a rival to Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that swept to power in the first free elections last year.

Ennahda, which was banned under ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, won more than 40 percent of seats in a new constituent assembly last October and has gone on to form a government in coalition with two non-religious parties.

While a large number of secular parties split the liberal and leftist vote, Ennahda, as the only major religious party standing, scooped much of the conservative vote. [Reuters] Read more

Islamic prayers in council meetings?

.... Amidst all the assertions of the UK being a ‘Christian nation’, and Christian prayer having been ‘a part of council meetings for centuries’, and yesterday’s judgement constituting and ‘assault on Britain’s Christian heritage’, the Localism Act does nothing to strengthen the historic foundation of our liberties.

Indeed, there is a grave danger of this clause being (ab)used to undermine the very foundations which Mr Pickles believes it will underpin.

There have been numerous recent court judgements along the lines of Britain being multi-faith and the law not favouring one religion over another. Lord Justice Laws is of the opinion that Christianity deserves no protection in law above other faiths and to do so would be ‘irrational’, ‘divisive, capricious and arbitrary’.

He said: “The precepts of any one religion - any belief system - cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.” [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Today’s rally for free expression

I’ve just come back from the Rally for Free Expression in London, organised by One Law For All. It was a beautiful day, and there was a good turn out – about 200 gathered to hear a great line up of speakers including A. C. Grayling and Richard Dawkins. Many of the other speakers will be familiar names to HP readers – Faisal Gazi, Maryam Namazie and Hasan Afsal for example.

Another voice was heard in absentia – Maryam Namazie delivered a message of support from ‘Mohammed Jones’, creator of Jesus and Mo. He invited us to consider when we had last interrupted a religious service, because we were offended by its message, and compared those objecting to atheist societies posting Jesus and Mo cartoons on Facebook to someone rudely interrupting a private conversation. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Kuwait: MPs seek Shari'a amendment

The Islamists who swept the Kuwaiti parliamentary elections last week are already clamoring for a critical constitutional amendment that would make sharia the only source of law of the land.

Kuwait’s Islamist opposition and their allies won a major victory in the recent parliamentary elections that took place on February 2.

Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah once again asked Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to form a government. The latter began consultations on this matter immediately, while the Islamists began to make some very significant demands, including constitutional reforms in line with Islamic law. [Al-AKhbar] Read more

10 February 2012

Interpol accused after journalist arrested over Muhammad tweet

Interpol has been accused of abusing its powers after Saudi Arabia used the organisation's red notice system to get a journalist arrested in Malaysia for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained at the airport "following a request made to us by Interpol" the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Phoenix police say Iraqi mom beat daughter, padlocked her to bed

An Iraqi woman has been arrested in Arizona accused of beating her daughter and padlocking her to a bed in outrage after she spoke to a male student at school in violation of the family's traditional values, police said on Friday.

Yusra Farhan was taken into custody after a struggle with officers on Wednesday at a Phoenix hospital where her 19-year-old daughter was being treated for minor injuries, Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes said. [Reuters] Read more [via The Iconoclast]

The Problem of Sharia Law in Britain

British lawmakers are concerned about the pressure being exerted on women to accept the ruling of the Sharia courts. To this end Lady Cox in June 2011 introduced a bill in the House of Lords to acknowledge the primacy of British law; the bill will be discussed during the 2012 parliamentary year.

She and others have deep concerns about the discrimination Muslim women suffer in Sharia courts, particularly in cases involving child custody and domestic violence. The custody of children reverts to the father at a set time, usually the age of seven, regardless of what would be in the best interests of the children.

.... Under Muslim Sharia law, a man can divorce his wife by repudiation: a woman must provide justifications. Female evidence is not permissible in a Sharia court in the case of rape. Women cannot become judges in those courts. The general principle is the concept that human rights laws should take precedence over religious law. The immediate point is that women should be free of coercion, intimidation, and unfairness. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari faces charge of blasphemy after tweets about Muhammad

Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari was detained in Malaysia on Wednesday night and is likely to be extradited soon to Saudi Arabia, where he will be tried for blaspheming religion. Kashgari, 23, had fled the kingdom Monday after he received thousands of death threats. His crime? He posted on Twitter a series of mock conversations between himself and the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

“On your birthday I find you in front of me wherever I go,” he wrote in one tweet. “I love many things about you and hate others, and there are many things about you I don’t understand.” Another reads: “No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice.” [The Washington Post] Read more [via Mick Hartley]

Morocco: Weeklies Censored for Depicting God, the Prophet Muhammad

Morocco should stop banning publications on the grounds that they “harm Islam,” Human Rights Watch said, in a letter today to Communication Minister Mustapha Khalfi.

Khalfi said on February 3, 2012, that he had banned the February 2 issue of the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur because it contains pictorial representations of God, which he said Moroccan law prohibits. Khalfi also banned a special issue of Le Pèlerin because it contained pictures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. [Human Rights Watch] Read more

Muslims jailed over gay-hate leaflet

Three men have been jailed after becoming the first to be convicted of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation for handing out a leaflet calling for gay people to be executed.

Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed gave out the pamphlet, entitled The Death Penalty?, which showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of homosexuality. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Hijab ban driving women away from soccer

Muslim women are being driven away from soccer by FIFA's ban of the hijab, with more likely to follow if rulemakers fail to reverse the decision at a meeting next month, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan told Reuters.

While physical Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition, soccer, the world's most popular sport, remains against its use, citing safety concerns.

Last year the Iranian women's soccer team were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kick-off. [Reuters] Read more

Taj Hargey renews attack on Tablighi Jamaat over Newham 'mega-mosque'

A Muslim scholar who has courted controversy in Islamic circles for his progressive views on women has stepped into the equally fiery territory of contemporary architecture.

Taj Hargey is an imam and the director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford who is best known for allowing men and women to pray together and for discouraging veils. He describes himself as a "thorn in the side of Muslim hierarchy".

Now he is risking a similar status in architecture after weighing into the long-running row over plans for a giant mosque on the Olympic fringes. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Muslims told Valentine’s Day can invoke wrath of God

An invitation “to be my Valentine” on February 14 is against Islamic beliefs and would incur the wrath of Allah, Muslims were told today in the official Friday sermon prepared by the federal government.

The sermon warned Muslims against celebrating Valentine’s Day, which the federal Islamic authorities claimed was in breach of the tenets of their religion. [The Malaysian Insider] Read more

Farewell to Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford - hounded for warning of the perils of multiculturalism

.... What is so galling,’ he wrote, ‘is that what Trevor Phillips has been saying this week is what I was saying 20 years ago as the headmaster of a predominantly Asian school in Yorkshire. Trevor Phillips calls for integration, the teaching of English and the inculcation of British values, precisely as I did in the mid-1980s.’

The passing of time has shown that Honeyford was equally justified in his warning about Muslim separatism, which has dramatically accelerated in the 28 years since his Salisbury Review article. That process is reflected in the growth of Muslim faith schools and the informal official acceptance of sharia courts.

The Department for Work and Pensions even turns a blind eye towards polygamy in its lax distribution of benefits.

We have also seen the rise of Islamic extremism and domestic terrorism, as well as disturbing cases of practices such as honour killings and ethnic gang warfare.

When Honeyford wrote his article, he was branded a heretic. His words had to be suppressed, his influence crushed. But that did not stop him being right. [MailOnline] Read more

Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Religious Edicts wants Kashghari tried for apostasy

In a new development in the case of Saudi writer Hamza Kashghari, who wrote a few tweets that were considered slanderous to Almighty Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Religious Edicts (Ifta) issued a strongly worded statement in which it said mocking Allah or His Prophet is a downright sacrilegious act, kufr (infidelity) and apostasy that should no go undetected, local daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported Thursday.

"Whoever dares make a mockery of Allah, the Prophet or the Holy Book undermines the religion and displays enmity toward it. It is the duty of the rulers to try such a criminal," the committee said, warning Muslims to stay away from such practices so as to avoid exasperating God. [ARAB NEWS] Read more

09 February 2012

Prison sentence for man who attacked Muslim girls for wearing bathing suits

32 year old Iraqi was sentenced yesterday in Leuven to four months in prison and a fine of 275 euro. The man had physically and verbally attacked four Moroccan girls in the Leuven pool on September 12, 2010.

The girls were wearing bathing suits, and the man told them that they shouldn't be wearing that according to Islam. One victim was slapped twice in the face and had to be taken to hospital. [Islam in Europe] Read more

Islamists in Egypt halt filming of TV series

The students had objected to the "indecent" clothing, it said, and "categorically refused" to let the filming continue unless the costumes were changed.

Islamists have become a potent force in Egypt's already conservative society in recent years, and won more than two-thirds of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections.

Earlier this month, the Arab world's most famous actor, Adel Imam, was sentenced to three months in jail for "defaming Islam" in several roles on stage and screen. Imam said he would appeal the sentence. [AFP] Read more

Islamophobia is the real problem in America

.... We are thrilled that an objective, comprehensive investigation has revealed that only a tiny percentage of American Muslims support violent acts. However, we remain concerned that the greater danger to America's civic union comes from an increasingly organised campaign that portrays all Muslims as potential terrorists and traitors.

Yes, there may be some Muslims who resort to violence; but it's clear that these individuals signify nothing more than a statistical aberration, and are no more representative of the Muslim community as a whole than Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, or Anders Behring Breivik represent Christianity.

[COMMENT] I think both the US and UK have been exemplary in their attitudes towards their fellow citizens who are muslim, and I find this article highly disengenous.

I can think of no other states in the history of the world who would have been more tolerant of a minority group in a time of ideological/religious conflict than the western nations have been in the treatment of their muslim citizens. Muslims go about their lives as they please and they are free to believe what they want and have the same rights as their fellow citizens, as they should. [Guardian Cif] Read more

08 February 2012

Islam and Free Speech: OIC vs. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

.... As a result of Islamic activity in recent years the question has arisen in Western countries whether tension or incompatibility exists between the two principles, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and whether restrictions should be imposed on speech critical of religions or religious beliefs.

Should those beliefs and belief systems be protected from adverse comment? Equally should not those who may be offended by such comment tolerate the legitimate exercise of free expression in democratic societies?

In the contemporary world two general problems have arisen on this issue: Islamic attempts to ban criticism of their religion and its Prophet by sponsoring resolutions in international forums condemning "defamation of religions," and the increase in laws on hate speech and blasphemy. [Stonegate Institute] Read more

Egyptian Presidential Candidate Says No Freedom in Islam

In a recent TV interview, Hazim Abu Ismail, a candidate for Egypt’s presidency with affiliations to both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, made clear that the hijab, or veil for women, would be enforced under his leadership. More importantly, along the way, he exposed his views more generally—that there is little freedom under Islam.

Especially telling is the military analogy he used: being a Muslim is like being a member of the military; you must obey all its dictates, including dress codes. He fails to add, however, that, whereas much military service is voluntary, in Islam, if you are simply born to Muslim parents, then you have joined Islam—whether you like it or not. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Saudi king orders arrest of sacrilegious writer

.... On Tuesday, Saudi Information minister Abdul Aziz Khowja was reported as telling all local newspapers and magazine not to carry any article by Kashgari for what he described as persistent offences against Islam.

“I have instructed all newspapers and magazines in the kingdom not to allow him to write any thing and we will take legal measures against him,” he said.

“When I read his articles, I wept and got very angry to have someone in the country of the two holy shrines address our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in this offending way,” he added without giving further details. [Emirates247.com] Read more

Journalist Flees Saudi After Tweet on Prophet

An apology by Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari over his controversial tweet about Prophet Muhammad failed to dampen a Salafi campaign against him prompting him to flee his home country.

The issue has turned from a spontaneous reaction into an organized campaign run by a group of disturbed Salafis, which has included death threats.

That’s how a series of attacks quickly escalated against Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari following his tweets on the Prophet Mohammad’s mawlid (birth), which was celebrated on Saturday. Kashgari fled in the wake of the campaign. There are conflicting reports about his current whereabouts. A new twitter account believed to be his claims he headed to Canada while other news reports say he is in Southeast Asia. [online@al-akhbar.com] Read more

07 February 2012

India: How to silence a nation

The Jaipur story has now taken a new turn, on Monday (6 February) two courts in the city began legal proceedings after complaints were filed by among others, members of an organisation that campaigned against Salman Rushdie’s participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival. They allege that the festival organisers and four authors who read from Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.

The four authors — Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Ruchir Joshi, and Jeet Thayil — read from the novel to express solidarity with the absent Rushdie, and as a mark of protest. Rushdie did not go to Jaipur after he received plausible information that security forces had evidence of death threats against him. Now the festival’s organisers are also being charged under provisions of India’s criminal laws, which date back to the colonial era. [Index on Censorship] Read more

The High Price of Telling the Truth About Islam

.... We each have a responsibility to the other people on this planet, and especially to those whom we will leave this planet to after we are gone. And this sometimes means taking an unpopular stand in order to protect the rights of innocent people.

…. And by the way, I still believe that unless they break the law, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has a legal right to build their house of worship.

We don’t have to like it, but then again the First Amendment was designed not to protect popular ideas – as they don’t need protecting – but to protect unpopular ideas as well.

This is something you won’t find in any Islamic country and it is also something worth protecting – even when the so-called “religion of peace” tries to shut you down. [Front Page] Read more

The jihad industry

The Muslim crisis of identity is linked to their inability to redefine themselves in today’s world. Most Muslim nations lack both political and economic stability. Oil-rich Arab nations have economic stability — thanks to oil revenues — but are autocracies. Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, however, are steadily moving towards both economic and political stability but have not yet reached the stage where they could serve as role models for others.

In the 20th century, Muslim nationalists tried to create Western nation states in countries that have not one but many nations with distinct ethnic, linguistic and cultural features. The socialists — in trying to create model social states — clashed with religious groups that hurt both. [Dawn] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Erdogan fuels ‘secret agenda’ debate

.... it was Prime Minister Erdogan himself who has fueled the “secret agenda” debate now. He did this with a speech to party members in Parliament last week, where he indicated that as a conservative party they wanted to raise not just conservative but also religious generations in Turkey. His remarks received rapturous applause from AKP deputies, but the response from secular quarters was hardly surprising.

For them Erdogan had let the proverbial cat out of the bag with remarks that amounted to a “confession.” “What if I don’t want my kid to be conservative and religious?” decried well-known columnists like Hasan Cemal and Can Dundar. Undoubtedly Erdogan also provided fodder for the anti-Islamic European right wing with these remarks. [Daily News] Read more

Haitham Al Haddad Will Not Appear At LSE ISOC

This is the news from the London School of Economics: UJS and LSE Jewish Society today welcomed the cancellation of tomorrow’s event featuring Haitham Al Haddad at LSE.

Al Haddad is reported to have made inflammatory remarks branding Jews “the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs”, quoting the notorious antisemitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and citing the declaration that “Jews and Christians to be kuffur, and the necessity of hating them, and avoiding them”.

It is also said that he has justified capital punishment for apostates and stated that “Muslims should rule the entire planet with this Islamic law”. [Harry’s Place] Read more

06 February 2012

The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The portrayal of Muslims as victims or heroes is at best partially accurate. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania.

In some countries it is governments and their agents that have burned churches and imprisoned parishioners. In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries. [The Daily Beast] Read more [via National Secular Society]

The Mistreatment of Women in Muslim Countries

In examining the attitude of men towards women in Islamic culture it is important for readers to note that Islamic culture is derived from the Quran and codified into law by Sharia which is the civil code for the Quran.

It codifies into law every aspect and action of a practicing Muslim's life. Within Islam, there can be no other law that supercedes Quranic doctrine; thus man made laws such as our Constitution would not be recognized and have no standing.

It is difficult to separate the norms and mores of Islamic society from the underpinnings of those norms, and the underpinning for Islamic culture and norms is the Quran. When we read the actual passages pertaining to women, the following verses are just a few of the numerous verses that are at odds with the norms and mores of Western civilization. [FamilySecurityMatters.org] Read more [via National Secular Society]

Advocates of Sharia Can Learn From Catholics and Jews

Last week Emory University law professor John Witte, Jr. laid out a bold but reasoned approach on how to accommodate sharia (Islamic law) in the United States and other Western nations -- one that protects religious freedom and human rights.

.... States set the minimum standards of law for marriage, education, child rearing and other domestic and family practices. Religions can add to them -- but not subtract -- following the ceremonies, beliefs and practices of their communities, coexisting within a framework of democracy and human rights.

"In the process of adjusting to the legal and cultural realities of their new homes," said Witte, "Muslim religious minorities, much like their Catholic and Jewish counterparts, may eventually become legal and cultural leaders in succeeding generations of the West." [TheHuffingtonPost.com] Read more

Why Islamic Radicals Don't Last

A major problem with Islamic radicalism and terrorism is that it has been around for over a thousand years and is endemic to Moslem nations. This is because Islam is based on the belief that government, and the lives of all Moslems, should be ruled by Islamic law (sharia).

Yet through most of its history (since Islam arrived 1,500 years ago) Moslems have been ruled by secular laws (or a combination of sharia and secular, with non-clerics having the final say). In other words, the concept of sharia never caught on in a big way. Yet all Moslem religious education stresses that living according to sharia is the ideal lifestyle for a Moslem. [StrategyWorld.com] Read more [via National Secular Society]

British Muslims Try to Ban Negative Reporting of Islam

.... Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry on January 24, Muslim activist Inayat Bunglawala said the amount of negative stories about Muslims in Britain is "demonizing" Islam and fuelling a "false narrative." He called on the government to do all it can to "ensure a fairer portrayal, a more balanced portrayal of the faith of Islam" in the British media.

In a separate written submission, Bunglawala complained about the "enormous impact of coverage that is proven to be inaccurate, inflammatory, prejudicial and detrimental" to the representation of Islam in Britain. [Stonegate Institute] Read more [via National Secular Society]

05 February 2012

Dutch burqa ban legislation row heating up

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), which props up the minority government in parliament, has demanded that the Dutch police enforce the recently approved burqa ban. The PVV has the support of Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten on this issue.

PVV MP Joram van Klaveren was speaking on Sunday in response to remarks made by Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg on a national TV talk show.

Mr Aalbersberg said it should be left up to the police officer on duty to decide whether or not to write out a ticket for a Muslim wearing a burqa or niqab. The police chief added issuing a warning should also be an option. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

Twisted concept of honour shames any civilised society

You probably saw last week the terrible story of the Shafias. Mohammad Shafia was an Afghani, who -- after making money in property in Dubai -- emigrated to Canada.

With him he brought two wives. Rona Amir Mohammad, his first, had been unable to bear children and he had taken a second, Tooba (Muslims are permitted four), by whom he had seven children. Rona, who was passed off as a cousin, helped to rear the family.

In June 2009, Rona, 52, and her step-daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, were found drowned in a submerged car. Wiretaps later recorded Mohammad saying: "God curse their generation, they were filthy and rotten children." [Independent.ie] Read more

Debating ‘honour killing’: Geller vs Pitt

On the recent post about Al Haddad, there was a discussion about how (or whether) bloggers such as Geller and Spencer actually prevent people engaging with the problems posed by Islamism, because they frame their (sometimes fair) points in such an inflammatory way, and mix legitimate stories with more trivial or marginal ones.

This mixture seems quite likely to have the unintended effect of making liberal readers more, not less, sceptical about genuine concerns. [Harry’s Place] Read more

04 February 2012

Saudi activists sue government over driving ban

Two Saudi female activists have filed law suits against the government for refusing to issue them driver's licences and banning them from driving a car, they told AFP on Saturday.

.... There is no actual law that states woman can't drive" in Saudi Arabia and therefore "no justification for preventing them from issuing a licence," said Sherif, one of the activists behind a "My Right, My Dignity" campaign aimed at ending discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia. [AFP] Read more

Imperialist Islam Unveiled: A wide ranging interview with Dr. Mark Durie

.... The West appears to have little capacity for containing the rise of Shariah across the Muslim world. We are caught flat-footed without a clue about what is happening, and are standing confused by all the voices coming from the Muslim world, not knowing which way to turn. The issue is ultimately not our lack of influence. It is our lack of will, and widespread denial.

We do not know even how to recognize, let alone support the voices of moderation. We refuse to admit the real nature of the problem, namely its theological roots. We have shown little capacity for befriending those who are struggling for human rights in Islamic states.

Our elites are grotesquely relieved to partner with ideologues who sooth them with deceptive words, while all the time these ill-found partners oppose essential principles of universal human rights. [The Iconoclast] Read more