30 April 2012

Britain's Divisive Dog-Whistle Politics

.... Inspired by George Galloway's victory in Bradford West, Livingstone told worshippers at a mosque in north London that he wanted to make the city a shining beacon for Islam. Londoners must now decide if they want to drag one of the world's great capitals back into an age of sectarian and confessional "realities" by supporting Livingstone, or whether they want to support progressive candidates who engage their citizens as citizens.

With the election of Galloway to Britain's parliament last month, sectarian politics has returned with a vengeance. Few parliamentary candidates have ever campaigned in such bald confessional terms as Galloway -- marking ominous developments in the political alignment of some constituencies in England. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Whitewash of Sharia Climbs the Bestseller Lists

.... Who is Kadri? I have never heard of him before. (But he’s heard of me: I was surprised to discover a half-page or so of mendacious invective directed at me toward the end of his book.)

.... He is also a believing Muslim who presents the tale of Allah’s revelations to Muhammed as if it were historical fact. In his prologue, he provides the assurance (directed, presumably, at any violence-prone coreligionists of his who might happen to be on the lookout for heterodoxy) that he “does not intend at any point to challenge the sacred stature of the Prophet Muhammad, the self-evident appeal of Islam, or the almightiness of God.” [FrontPage Magazine] Read more

Ex-Brotherhood Islamist Abol Fotouh stakes claim to Egypt’s middle ground

Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh was jailed by Hosni Mubarak but has emerged as a front-runner for his old job as president of Egypt, staking claim to the political centre in this nascent democracy with a moderate Islamist platform that has found broad appeal.

A senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood until he parted ways with the group last year, he is part of the generation of Islamist activists that spawned al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both doctors, they spent time in adjoining jail cells in 1981. For the most part, that’s where the similarities end.

Abol Fotouh presents himself as a champion of moderate Islam, yet he has been able to win the backing of hardliners thanks partly to a political brain which many say sets him apart from the Brotherhood. Even some liberals, impressed by his reformist zeal, say they could vote for the bespectacled 60-year old. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Saudi girls school defies clerics with basketball

A girls' school in Saudi Arabia has defied a religious ban on female sports by erecting basketball hoops and letting pupils play at break-time, the daily al-Watan reported on Wednesday.

Powerful clerics in the conservative Islamic kingdom have long spoken against allowing girls to play sports, with one senior figure saying in 2009 it might lead them to lose their virginity by tearing their hymens.

Saudi Arabia's austere interpretation of Islamic law prevents women from working, opening bank accounts or having some elective surgery without the permission of a male relative. They are not allowed to drive. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim students condemn 'divisive and irresponsible' university alcohol ban

The students at London Metropolitan University said the prospective alcohol ban was “ill-advised and misleading”, demonising them and exacerbating “Islamophobia” at the university and in wider society.

They warned the proposals had created such ill-feeling amongst students that it is "only a matter of time" before a Muslim student is assaulted.

They accused Vice Chancellor Professor Malcolm Gillies of “immorally” using them as “scapegoats” in order to justify a decision not to renew a costly lease for the student bar. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

29 April 2012

Muslim voters reject Tories

The Conservative peer and party financier Lord Ashcroft has published a study titled Degrees of Separation: Ethnic minority voters and the Conservative Party. It can be consulted here, and has some interesting statistics concerning the attitudes of British Muslims towards the Tory Party.

In the last general election 37% of Muslim respondents voted Labour and only 12% Conservative. 35% said they would never under any circumstances vote for the Tories, whereas only 7% said they would never vote Labour. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

'Cheat genital mutilation ban by going abroad': British Muslim leader caught on camera advocating female circumcision

British Muslim leader has been caught on camera advocating female genital mutilation.

Mohammed Abdul, the Imam of a Bristol mosque, was filmed urging a follower to take women and girls abroad so they can be circumcised legally.

The practise was banned by law in 2003, and it's illegal to help or encourage anyone to carry out the barbaric procedure overseas. [MailOnline] Read more

Divorce, Saudi style: Man splits with ‘disobedient’ wife during live broadcast

A Saudi man broke up with his wife because she “disobeyed” him by going on a business trip without his consent. The man phoned a radio program dealing with marital problems to complain about his wife to host Sheikh Ghazi al-Shammari, a prominent Islamic scholar.

The unnamed man said his wife “offended his manhood” by traveling from the Saudi port city of Jeddah to the capital Riyadh for a business conference, alone and without his approval.

Al-Shammari concluded that the man had to divorce his wife.

“Such a wife is suspicious because she insisted to travel alone to Riyadh and without ample reason,” Al-Shammari later said, as quoted by Al-Arabiya. “I did not rush with the advice because I saw that the issue was dangerous and that we should not remain silent more about it.” [RT TV] Read more

28 April 2012

Female British Muslims are at last finding their voice

Anyone who has worked in British Muslim communities will tell you the very notion of women's rights is still considered a taboo subject. Like many women who have spent years challenging gender-based discrimination, I know how much resistance there is to equality.

Recently, there has been talk about an explosion of grassroots feminist organisations – and there is also a new generation of confident, articulate Muslim women who are at the forefront of fighting inequality, which has become part and parcel of everyday life for many British Muslim women.

[A COMMENT] Muslim men who live in the West wear Western clothes, hoodies, trainers, jeans and the whole caboodle, whilst they prefer - and sometimes even go as far as to threaten - their women (sometimes girls as young as 8 or 10) to wear a hijab .... It's about time Muslim women see their religion and cultural norms as well as the general Islamic male attitudes towards women for what they are - deeply regressive, misogynistic and discriminatory. [Guardian Cif] Read more

The real war on women is in the Middle East

.... Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet's rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women.

Neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance, might be eons apart when it comes to GDP, but only four places separate them on the index, with the kingdom at 131 and Yemen coming in at 135 out of 135 countries. Morocco, often touted for its "progressive" family law (a 2005 report by Western "experts" called it "an example for Muslim countries aiming to integrate into modern society"), ranks 129; according to Morocco's Ministry of Justice, 41,098 girls under age 18 were married there in 2010. [FOREIGN POLICY] Read more

The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets)

.... The underlying problem, says Islamic scholar Mehdi Khalaji, a former seminary student in the Shiite epicenter of Qom, is not that such issues were addressed, but the fact that "Islamic jurisprudence hasn't yet been modernized. It's totally disconnected from the issues that modern, urban people have to deal with."

Indeed, Khomeini's religious prescriptions are often the butt of jokes among Iran's post-revolutionary generations. "I've never even seen a camel in Tehran," prominent Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar told me, "let alone been tempted to have sex with one." [FOREIGN POLICY] Read more

Norway Muslims question focus on Breivik's sanity

Muslim leaders in Norway say they are concerned that the anti-Islamic ideology of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right fanatic now on trial for killing 77 people, is being overshadowed by questions about his mental state.

.... "I'm not a psychiatrist, but what is important is what he has done. That should be the focus, not how crazy he is," said Mehtab Afsar, head of the Islamic Council in Norway, an umbrella organization of Muslim groups in the country.

"He wants to get rid of Muslims and Islam from Europe. That is his main message. So I don't see the point of using so much energy on is he normal, is he insane?" [Associated Press] Read more

27 April 2012

Why French politicians avoid Tariq Ramadan's 'vote'

.... Ramadan’s run-ins with Sarkozy date back to a nasty exchange on French television in 2003, when the current president was France's interior minister.

Sarkozy accused Ramadan of supporting the stoning of adulterers, and the Islamic scholar replied that he favoured “a moratorium” on such practices, refusing to condemn it outright. Sarkozy, like many French commentators, expressed outrage over Ramadan’s response.

For his part, Ramadan has maintained that he has never supported the stoning of women. “I have always opposed [stoning] by calling for a moratorium to stop this practice. My position is consistent with Amnesty International, which goes through a moratorium to prohibit certain practices, such as the death penalty,” he said. [FRANCE 24] Read more

Haddad invited to speak to sixth formers

If you found out that your child’s school was inviting a prominent BNP member, someone who had been targeted by a Hope not Hate campaign perhaps, to come and give a talk about community relations or the science of race you’d probably worry. There would certainly be outraged articles about such an appalling event in the Guardian.

But no one (much) seems too bothered about the fact that Haitham al-Haddad spoke last night as part of a Discover Islaam Week at Leyton sixth form college on the topic ‘Does Islam oppress women?’. Here is a taste of Haddad’s views on this topic: [Harry’s Place] Read more

German Islam Conference Ends in Failure

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich opened the one-day conference by declaring that Islamic extremism has no place in Germany. "We all agree that Salafist extremism is not acceptable and does not work in a free society, as we have in Germany," he insisted. "Religion must not be abused in an ideological bid for power."

He was referring to the mass proselytization campaign -- called Project "READ!" -- being organized by dozens of Islamic Salafist groups located in cities and towns throughout Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland. The bid to convert non-Muslims has provoked uproar in Germany.

Salafism is a branch of radical Islam that seeks to establish an Islamic empire [Caliphate] across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe -- and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Muslims question militant's speech

A radical Muslim preacher was allowed to speak at a Cambridge mosque, sparking outrage.

Moderate Muslims are appalled that Dr Haitham al-Haddad, who is a judge on a Sharia law court in London, was allowed a platform at the Mawson Road prayer centre.

He spoke to students from Cambridge University’s Islamic Society in a packed room, and has previously told Muslims “to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world”. [Cambridge Newspapers] Read more

French socialist presidential candidate says he’d maintain ban on face-covering Muslim veils

France’s socialist presidential candidate says that, if elected, he won’t seek to overturn a law banning face-covering Muslim veils enacted by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives.

Francois Hollande, who leads Sarkozy in all polls, and most other Socialists abstained from the 2010 vote in the National Assembly to ban mesh-screen burqas and niqabs — which have slits for the eyes. [The Washington Post] Read more

Female Genital Mutilation Is 'an Honor' per Islam

.... The ruling on circumcision: Scholars have differed on the ruling on circumcision. They have agreed on its legitimacy for both sexes, but beyond that they have differed.

Some--most famously the Shafi’ites--believe that it is obligatory for both sexes. Some believe it is obligatory for men only, and some believe it is recommended for both. At the very least it can be said that for women it is an honor, and for men it is sunnah [i.e. it is in accord with the tradition of Muhammad] [Translating Jihad] Read more

26 April 2012

Did Muhammad Exist?

Did Muhammad exist? It is a question that few have thought to ask, or dared to ask.

For most of the fourteen hundred years since the prophet of Islam is thought to have walked the earth, almost everyone has taken his existence for granted. After all, his imprint on human history is enormous.

The Encyclopedia Britannica dubbed him “the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities.” In his 1978 book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, historian Michael H. Hart put Muhammad in the top spot, explaining: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.”

.... But the more I examined the evidence gathered by scholars who had bothered to apply the historical-critical method to Islam’s origins, the more I recognized how little there was to confirm the canonical story. [Crisis Magazine] Read more

Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins

A careful investigation makes at least one thing clear: The details of Muhammad's life that have been handed down as canonical – that he unified Arabs by the force of arms, concluded alliances, married wives, legislated for his community, and did so much else – are a creation of political ferments dating from long after the time he is supposed to have lived.

Similarly, the records strongly indicate that the Qur'an did not exist until long after it was supposed to have been delivered to the prophet of Islam. [The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism] Read more

French Mosques accused of backing Hollande

The rightwing UMP party has accused Socialists of courting the Muslim vote and alleges that mosques are calling for the faithful to vote for leftwing candidate Francois Hollande.

"I want to condemn the conniving and irresponsible attitude of the Socialist Party and its candidate after religious leaders belonging to a network of 700 mosques called on followers to vote for Francois Hollande," writes UMP lawmaker Eric Ciotti in a press release on Wednesday.

.... Muslim religious authorities in France however deny they have called on voters to support Hollande. In an interview with the newswire AFP, Abdallah Zekri, a leader of the French Council of Muslim Faith, says imams have called on followers to vote but have not given them instructions as to who they should vote for. [The Local] Read more

Why Do They Hate Us? They Don’t

.... There is no way to deny the basic premise that the status of women’s rights in the Arab world is abysmal. Why then did Mona Eltahawy evoke such a hostile reaction from even the Arab women whose rights she seeks to protect? The easy answer, one that Eltahawy and her supporters might argue, is that these women are simply brainwashed. Too much “Islamism” in their little brains. The problem with this argument is that it’s sexist. It’s basically saying Arab women are too stupid to think for themselves.

The real reason that Arab women recoil after reading Eltahawy’s article is that, while she tries to connect to them based on their gender, she attacks other aspects of their core identity: their race, nationality, religion, and culture. In fact, her racist (and somewhat babbling) screed is nothing short of a vicious attack on their entire civilization. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Court rejects suit accusing Egyptian star of insulting Islam

.... Imam's lawyers, Nabil Moawad and Safwat Hussein, told Reuters he remained a free man pending the outcome of an appeal against that conviction, the result of a case filed by the same plaintiff.

The two lawsuits against Imam, whose presence in any movie or theatre cast virtually guarantees a box-office hit, were brought by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups.

Mansour accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including beards and the galabiya, a loose-fitting garment often worn by hardline Islamists. [Reuters] Read more

Judge rules enforcing Muslim law on everyone not establishment of religion

A federal judge says an Ohio prison that forces all inmates to adhere to a strict Islamic diet is not an establishment of religion because everyone eats the same food.

A federal judge recently threw out prisoner James Rivers' lawsuit against Ohio Prison director Gary Mohr's decision to ban pork from kitchens in all prisons under control of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Mohr made the decision to stop serving pork products after a Muslim on death row filed a lawsuit against the prison system. [Greeley Gazette] Read more

25 April 2012

Egypt’s ON TV receives kidnap threats from Jihadist Group

Egypt’s liberal satellite channel ON TV received a threatening letter from an unknown group calling itself “The Jihadist Group to Cleanse the Country” warning they would kidnap some of the news presenters and inflict harm on companies that advertise with channel, if the channel “does not change its media policies.”

The group threatened to kidnap popular program hosts Reem Maged and Yousri Fouda and ask for 20 million Egypt pound ransom ($3.2 million), in addition to destroying the channel’s facilities and studios. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Do Arab men hate women?

.... Yes, in Saudi Arabia women cannot drive, but men cannot elect their government, instead they are ruled over by a religiously opportunistic dynasty. In Egypt, it's true that women were subjected to virginity tests, but men were sodomised.

In Sudan women are lashed for wearing trousers, but ethnic minorities are also marginalised and under assault. We must not belittle the issues women face, or relegate them to second place, but we must place them in a wider context where wholesale reform is needed. One cannot reduce a much more universal and complicated problem merely to gender. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Amnesty says veil bans rob European Muslim women of jobs, education

Bans on full-face veils in France and Belgium and a failure by other European countries to stop employers from enforcing informal dress codes means Muslim women are being denied jobs and education, Amnesty International has said.

In a wide-ranging report highlighting examples of discrimination against Muslims across Europe, Amnesty said on Tuesday that governments were pandering to prejudices by stopping Muslim women from wearing full-face veils and urged France and Belgium to repeal their own bans on such veils.

“Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress,” said Amnesty researcher Marco Perolini. “Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes.” [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Libya bans religious, tribal or ethnic parties before June elections

Libya, preparing for elections in June, has banned parties based on religion, tribe or ethnicity, the government said on Wednesday, and a new Islamist party viewed as a leading contender signalled it would challenge the decision.

National Transitional Council spokesman Mohammed al-Harizy said the council passed the law governing the formation of political parties on Tuesday evening. “Parties are not allowed to be based on religion or ethnicity or tribe,” he told Reuters.

He did not make clear how this would affect a political party formed in March by Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. The new party was expected to make a strong showing in the election, the first since last year’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed popular uprising. [Reuters] Read more

Muslims in Europe face discrimination: Amnesty

European countries are discriminating against Muslims for demonstrating their faith, especially in the fields of education and employment, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

In a report focusing on Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, Amnesty urged European governments to do more to challenge negative stereotypes and prejudices against Islam.

The report was particularly critical of countries that have brought in outright bans on face-covering veils or on the wearing of religious symbols in schools. “Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination. [The Gulf Today] Read more

Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood PM refuses to talk with female Belgian minister

.... Abdelilah Benkiran does not seem to conceive that a foreign government could send a female representative to talk with him. During the whole meeting, he talked strictly with Didier Reynders. Worse, the Moroccan PM explained to his visitor that he speaks French very well and that it was “useless to bring an interpreter with him”.

The message is clear: I do not speak with a woman. Annemie Turtelboom could not believe it. All the dossiers she is responsible of (and they are not light ones: equality between men and women, forced marriages, return of convicted prisoners in their home country) were eventually tackled by Didier Reynders. Facing them, the Moroccan held to his prayer beads during the whole meeting. [Point de Bascule] Read more

24 April 2012

Saudi Arabian Mufti, Says Girls Ready For Marriage At 10 Years Old

Those who call for raising the age of marriage to 25 are absolutely mistaken."

That's what Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh said when asked about marrying minor girls without their consent, according to The World Observer.

He also insisted that girls are ready for marriage by age 10 or 12.

"Our mothers and grandmothers got married when they were barely 12," he said, according to the Observer. "Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age." [TheHuffingtonPost.com] Read more

23 April 2012

New Statesman on putting 'mainstream Islamophobia' on trial

.... Wilby begins by recounting the wholly misleading, ‘Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan in case smell of frying bacon offends passing Muslims’ story, which was published in the Daily Mail in October 2010.

The complainant was a British non-Muslim, whose daughter’s health was affected by the extractor fan, and who allegedly had Muslim and non-Muslim friends who avoided his house because of the smell. The only Muslim mentioned in the story was the café-owner’s Turkish-Muslim husband (the story was shockingly cleared by the PCC). [ENGAGE] Read more

Turkey's war on atheism

.... It's still harder for someone of Islamic extraction to "come out" as an atheist than it is for most people of Christian background. And this is in Britain, where (thankfully) we have no ludicrous blasphemy laws any more. Turkey is officially be a secular country – set up as such by Kemal Ataturk, who was so powerfully set against the nation's traditions that he banned the wearing of fezzes and turned the Ayia Sofia from a mosque into a museum.

But nowadays the ruling party, which has been in power since 2002, is strongly connected to Islamic conservatism, and is drawing Turkey towards the sort of radical Islam to which the country has never previously been inclined.

As the Fazil Say case shows, the state is quick to take action against perceived attacks on Islam, which it apparently believes includes statements of disbelief. (Regular readers might remember that the Turkish government recently tried to censor online mentions of Darwin, as well. Clearly there is a frightened-of-reality streak in the country's ruling classes.) [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

22 April 2012

Islamic teacher under fire for calling on Welsh muslims to support fight for sharia law abroad

An Islamic teacher whose group was at the centre of an anti-terror raid on a Cardiff community hall has come under fire for calling on Welsh muslims to “physically” support the fight for sharia law abroad.

Abu Hajar, of Grangetown, Cardiff, is one of the leaders of the Islamic group Supporters of Tawheed, which on its website says its core belief is the “domination of the world by Islam”.

The group – which according to its website also rejects democracy and freedom, describing them as “false deities” – hit the headlines in January when one man arrested during a raid on a meeting in the city’s Canton Community Hall told an officer “I will chop your head off” before shouting “I’m going to shoot you with a machine gun”. Mohammed Abdin, 21, was subsequently jailed for eight months for the threats. [WalesOnline] Read more

21 April 2012

The Danish Supreme Court Acquittal of Hedegaard Still Denies Free Speech

When we posted on the dismissal of the conviction of Danish Free Press Society President Lars Hedegaard, we were hoping that the seven Justices of the Danish Supreme Court would also remand to the Danish national parliament the issue of “tightening “the language of Article 266B of the Penal Code to promote free speech.

The hope was that the Court ruling might have provided a basis for the Danish national parliament to address the standard that we hold precious in the US, truth as fact is a defense. Such was not the case. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Bundling bearded windbags on to jets won't solve anything

Millions reasonably worry about this. But they are dismissed as extremists by a liberal establishment which views robust defence of Britain’s culture as bigotry.

In Labour’s case this comes from a genuine loathing of Britain as it was. For the Tories, as in so many other matters, it is cowardice, combined with total lack of principle.

They recoil like salted snails from the simple idea that immigrants should be expected to accept the customs, morals, language and traditions of their host country. They cannot explain why this idea is wrong, because it is not wrong. [MailOnline] Read more

Why Arab women still 'have no voice'

Is the Arab Spring a movement leading to more freedom and equal rights?

Not for women, according to Amal al-Malki, a Qatari author who is very concerned about the rights of women in the Arab world.

She is largely skeptical of recent developments and says, if anything, the Arab Spring has only highlighted the continuing “second-class citizenship" of women in the region.

She argues that despite some progress made Arab women are still largely absent in the public arena.

“We have no voice. We have no visibility... And I am telling you, this is why women’s rights should be institutionalised, it should not be held hostage at the hand of political leaderships who can change in a second, right? Governments should be held responsible for treating men and women equally.” [Al Jazeera] Read more

Salafis call for death of Tunisian TV boss after "Persepolis" airing

Secularists have accused Salafi radicals of attacking free speech in Tunisia, as a court said it will issue on May 3 its verdict in a blasphemy trial against Nessma TV over its broadcast of the award-winning film "Persepolis."

The broadcast prompted calls by Salafi Islamists for the station chief to be put to death.

The trial of Nabil Karoui, who faces charges of violating sacred values and disturbing public order by showing the animated movie, resumed amid tight security on Thursday. [Muslim News] Read more

Geert Wilders, Marked For Death

.... Wilders paints a grim picture of daily life under constant death threat from radical Muslims and illustrates the craven responses from major contemporary political and cultural figures in the Netherlands, and more broadly in the West, to islamofascism.

His claims about Islam as a violent intolerant ideology are well documented in this book through appropriate references to numerous Koranic verses, the Hadith, speeches, etc... He also contrasts the responses of contemporary Western politicians with quotations from major American historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and the like. [The Brussels Journal] Read more

20 April 2012

Tunisia's Religious Persecution

After two Tunisian citizens were condemned to a seven-year prison term for publishing writings perceived as offensive to Islam on March 28, Tunisian journalist Najoua Jo wrote, "In today's Tunisia, has anyone the right to be an atheist and to publicly avow it? The answer is clear: it is no." It was published by the Tunisian media outlet, Webdo.tn.

One of the two men, Ghazi Ben Mohamed Beji, was convicted for publishing an essay in July 2011 entitled, "The Illusion of Islam," in which he depicted in a satiric way Prophet Mohammed's life with particular reference to his sexual habits. The other jailed man, Jaber Ben Abdallah Majri, simply published photos on his Facebook page containing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed drawn from Beji's book. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Lars Hedegaard acquitted (again)

.... You don’t have to see eye to eye with Hedegaard to think it is probably right that he has now been acquitted, or agree that he has a point in feeling aggrieved that Bilal Philips, who has made a series of decidedly offensive pronouncements, has been given a platform in Copenhagen without facing any legal consequences.

Making unfair generalisations about people – eg Muslims – even just framing fair points in a lurid way – may encourage discrimination and intolerance, and might conceivably act as an indirect incitement to violence.

But Bilal Phillips seems to condone (or not acknowledge) marital rape, and another cleric in Copenhagen, Shahid Mehdi, apparently claimed that women who weren’t wearing hijab were inviting rape. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Jeff Kennett decries prayer rooms at footy

.... Many football fans took to websites to condemn the move. "What next, the Adhan over the loudspeakers instead of the final siren?" posted one Richmond fan. "Or . . . half-time breaks to coincide with mid-afternoon prayer? Or designated women-only areas at the ground on the top deck completely out of sight and earshot of any men? Actually, that one's not a bad idea.

"Seriously though, I don't like this decision at all and it's just another example of how this country is changing."

Others posted: "This is OUR game and I'm sick of all this multicultural crap that is dividing our country"; "The last bastion of Australian culture to be stripped away from us in the name of Islam"; and "Football should be football. It's a religion in itself. Let it be." [The Australian] Read more

Human rights have no place in Islam

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s religious advisor (like he needs one) and member of the regime’s Assembly of Experts said in a speech: ‘human rights and the rights of citizenship have no place in Islam.’

He added that there is no room for freedom of speech and thought in Islam; Muslims and those who convert to Islam must only adhere to the opinions of the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and that ‘until a person has converted to Islam, he is free — but democracy and human rights have no meaning within Islam.

Everything must be under the surveillance of the government, even the way people dress. And if some people say otherwise, they don’t know Islam.’ [Maryam Namazie] Read more

If CAIR’s Attacking You, You Must Be Good

Where are all the moderate Muslims?” It’s a question often posed by Americans who watch with disgust as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other apologists for radical Islam hog all of the attention.

CAIR, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-financing Holy Land Foundation case, and which regularly denounces any effort to combat radical Islam as anti-Muslim prejudice, is routinely described in the press as a Muslim “civil rights” group. [National Review Online] Read more

19 April 2012

Kuwait to impose death sentence for insulting Islam, God or the Prophet Mohamed

.... This law pulls freedom of opinion and expression a hundred steps back in Kuwait, as it will restrict freedom of expression significantly, and will make all citizens threatened with death, based on their opinions and what they write, as on the other hand the law can be used by authorities to get rid of opponents, as it’s a vague expansion of the use of the words, such as daring or abuse,” said the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) on Thursday.

The Egypt-based network confirmed that a number of Kuwaiti citizens are currently on trial for “insulting the Prophet” and feared that they could be facing the death penalty if the law is implemented. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Sensitive Muslims in the Religion of Peace

.... after Jumma prayer, thousands of Muslims in Bangladesh came out of the different masques in three towns and rushed to loot houses, then burn them down. Witness said several thousand people took part in the attacks, most of them students in Madrassahs.

The apparent cause was a satiric play, "Huzur Kebla" ("Sacred Lord"), allegedly criticizing Mullahs, Imams and Pirs (religious sages), that had been presented by a group of high school students a few days before.

According to the leading English daily, The Daily Star, and the leading Bengali news daily, Prothom Alo, a massive number of men protested against the drama, accusing it of being humiliating to the prophet Mohammed. They demanded rigorous punishments, including death sentences, against the high school students who has performed it and the teachers who had put it on. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

‘Fed up’ French Muslims mobilize to unseat Sarkozy

“[French] Muslims can’t stand it anymore. They are fed up with these debates about national identity, halal meat, the veil or fundamentalism all over the place,” said Francoise Lorcerie, a sociologist with the Institute of Studies on the Arab and Muslim World near Marseille.

“The terms [Islam, immigration and fundamentalism] are being used interchangeably, without care, with people being targeted, denigrated and used for [votes].”

The debates and rhetoric aren’t new and have been at the heart of French political campaigns for the past decade. [The Washington Times] Read more

Don’t ban alcohol — we'll get blame, say Muslim students

Muslim students at a university considering banning alcohol from parts of its campus have hit out at the plan — fearing they will be blamed for the move.

Students at London Metropolitan University said banning alcohol in the name of Muslims will cause tension on campus, divide the community, and could be exploited by far-Right groups such as the English Defence League. [Evening Standard] Read more

Sri Lankan woman faces beheading on witchcraft charge

A Sri Lankan woman could face the death penalty by beheading after she was arrested on suspicion of casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a family shopping trip, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

The daily Okaz reported that a Saudi man had complained his daughter had "suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman" in a shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah. [Reuters] Read more

Merkel ally says Islam not part of Germany

A leading conservative politician said on Thursday that Islam did not belong in Germany, fuelling tension at a conference on integrating Muslims that also debated a controversial Salafist campaign to hand out copies of the Koran across the country.

"Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong in Germany," Volker Kauder, head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse. "But Muslims do belong in Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights," he added. [Reuters] Read more

18 April 2012

Anti-Islamic pamphlets an 'unlikely' breach of the law

The people who anonymously distributed anti-Islamic pamphlets to Canberra and Queanbeyan homes over the Christmas holidays are unlikely to have breached ACT law, the Human Rights Commissioner has found.

The Canberra Times revealed in January that the small, cartoon-style leaflets were hand-delivered to letterboxes in Queanbeyan, Kingston, Braddon, Lyneham and Civic, and included titles such as Is Allah Like You? and Allah Has No Son. [Canberra Times] Read more

The destruction of free speech: Europe's auto-immune disease

In decadent Europe, freedom of speech is dying. Loudly trumpeted as a ‘human right’ for any attacks on America, Israel, Christians or on the core values of the west, it is swiftly transformed into ‘hate speech’ and the shutters are slammed down on the speaker whenever Islam is in the frame.

Lars Hedegaard is President of the Danish Free Press Society, which is devoted to defending freedom of expression - particularly against the threat from radical Islam to extinguish it on the spurious grounds of ‘Islamophobia’. With no sense of irony, Denmark is trying its damnedest to shut Hedegaard up on precisely those grounds. [MailOnline] Read more

In Breivik, troubling echoes of West's view of Islam

.... Nevertheless, there's no denying the political context to what Breivik did. Since 9/11, fringe and mainstream politicians in Europe and America have spoken of Islam as incompatible with Western values. Breivik quoted many of them in his manifesto.

This is not to say that he took direct inspiration from those public figures, or that they bear personal responsibility for his crimes. But Breivik's paranoia does conform to a popular -- wholly negative -- view of the twin problems of Islam and multiculturalism. Tragically, it is a view that few mainstream politicians have been willing to challenge. [CNN] Read more

Tariq Ramadan: Shariah Law and U.S. Constitution Go Hand-In-Hand

.... The two-year-long anti-Shariah battle has prompted Muslim organizations like CAIR and MPAC to decry the proposed bans as anti-religious freedom. In his lecture, Dr. Ramadan said there is room for Shariah to operate within the United States' common legal framework, just like there is room for Canon law and Judaic law.

"Everything which is good in this country is our Shariah," he said to a crowd of more than 400 community members. "It's an integrative system. It's not a closed system coming to colonize others." [OC Weekly] Read more

An atheist on trial for religious defamation in Padang, West Sumatra

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arrest and trial of Alexander Aan, a 31-year-old civil servant in Padang, West Sumatra, who was arrested for posting a status on Facebook questioning the existence of god and administering a Facebook group called Ateis Minang (Minang Atheists).

He is also being charged for uploading a note and comic depicting and insulting Prophet Muhammad. He has been indicted with three charges, including for disseminating religious hatred on the internet, which might lead to six-years imprisonment. [Asian Human Rights Commission] Read more

Homosexuals are inferior to dogs and pigs, says Iranian cleric

An influential Iranian cleric who is entitled to issue juristic rulings according to the Sharia law, has condemned western lawmakers involved in the decriminalisation of homosexuality, saying those politicians are lower than animals.

Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, an Islamic scholar based in Iran's holy city of Qom, said in a speech among his followers that homosexuals are inferior to dogs and pigs, according to the news website Khabaronline.

"If a society commits a new sin, it will face a new punishment," he said while interpreting Qur'anic verses about prophet Lot whose tribe Isalmic scholars say was punished by God for sodomy. "Problems like Aids did not exist before." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Norwich City Council bans Norwich Reformed Church for preaching ‘hate’

.... some may take issue with Dr Clifford’s rather robust message. His Grace happens to believe that talking about Muslims en masse as a uniform and cohesive religio-political group is not only unhelpful; it is theologically ignorant and politically naïve.

Much better to talk about certain schools of Islam, for centuries of scholarship bears testimony to the mutability and multiplicity of the Islamic faith, which is as diverse and disparate as the myriad of Christian denominations.

The specific contemporary problem is the ascendancy and dominance of a particular interpretation of Islam – the Wahhabi strain – which seeks to agitate, occupy, subjugate, inculcate and deny liberty and justice to all, Muslim or not. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Breivik: a monster made by multiculturalism

.... Breivik is not an implacable foe of multiculturalism; he is a product of it. He is multiculturalism’s monster, where his true aim is to win recognition of his identity alongside all those other identities that are fawned over in modern Europe.

In essence, his barbarous act last year was not about dismantling multiculturalism but about expanding it, to make sure it afforded respect to his own petty cultural feelings as well as everyone else’s. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

17 April 2012

Police hunt man who ripped off Muslim woman's face veil in Solihull

The thug approached the 26-year-old from behind in Solihull’s Touchwood shopping centre on Saturday, March 3 at 2pm. As she walked past the Disney Store he grabbed her head and ripped the veil from her face, throwing it on the floor before walking off. Police yesterday released CCTV of the man they believe is responsible in an effort to track the thug down. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

America’s Quiet Muslims

.... The stage is now set for all freedom-supporting Muslims to step up and counter the Islamic Circle of North America as it rolls out its $3 million campaign to convince Americans that the goals of sharia law and the objectives of the United States Constitution are one and the same.

As enunciated in a fatwa by the Islamic Fiqh Council of North America, which interprets Islamic law for this continent, Muslim authorities claim there is “no inherent conflict between the "normative" values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights” (emphasis added).

The proclamation also asserts that “secular legal systems in Western democracies "generally" share the same supreme objectives, and are "generally" compatible with Islamic Shari’ah. [National Review Online] Read more

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country's north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul. [Reuters] Read more

16 April 2012

Response to Charges of Hate Speech

.... Islam is not a race and therefore criticism of Islam cannot be racism.

Islam, which lurks behind this entire case, has been described from a variety of viewpoints. Some say that it is a religion, others that is an all-encompassing ideology that contains a religion, still others emphasise its cultural norms, its culturally transmitted customs and practices. Some even maintain that Islam is so multifaceted that it is impossible to describe it.

But regardless of one's approach, it must be clear that Islam is not a hereditary human attribute.

If our Western freedom means anything at all, we must insist that every grown-up person is responsible for his or her beliefs, opinions, culture, habits and actions. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

British group creates international halal certification program

A group of scholars in the UK has created what they say is a halal certification program that has the potential to become the international standard for the global food industry and make life easier for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim consumers.

The Halal Authority Board (HAB) in the UK has designed what they say is a “realistic and practical” certification scheme that regulates the production of halal products in accordance with Islamic law and modern food processing. [AFP Relax] Read more

Koran Giveaway in Germany Has Some Officials Worried

A drive by a fundamentalist Muslim group to give a copy of the Koran to every German, Swiss and Austrian household has tapped into the widespread anti-Islamic feeling in Germany and created an uproar among politicians and security officials concerned that the group handing out the holy books is using the campaign as a cover to recruit radicals.

There is nothing illegal about distributing religious works in Germany — it is a frequent practice of Scientologists and Hare Krishnas, not to mention Christians — but officials are worried about who is doing the distributing. [The New York Times] Read more

Polygamy, Too

Islam sanctions polygamy — more specifically, polygyny — allowing Muslim men to keep up to four wives at once. Though marrying a second woman while remaining married to the first is prohibited across the Western world, including all 50 U.S. states, a Muslim can circumvent the law by wedding one woman in a government-recognized marriage and joining with others in unlicensed religious unions devoid of legal standing.

As Muslims have grown more numerous in the West, so too have Muslim polygamists. France, home to the largest Islamic population in Western Europe, was estimated in 2006 to host 16,000 to 20,000 polygamous families — almost all Muslim — containing 180,000 total people, including children.

In the United States, such Muslims may have already reached numerical parity with their fundamentalist-Mormon counterparts; as many as 100,000 Muslims reside in multi-wife families, and the phenomenon has gained particular traction among black Muslims. [National Review Online] Read more

A brave telling of the Koran’s human stories

Most of the attention given to this book so far has, rightly, been favourable. But it has skirted round the key point. Tom Holland is attempting to show that much of what Muslims believe about the Koran is incorrect.

Since their belief is rigorously literal – they hold that the Koran is the uncreated word of God recited (the word Koran means “recitation”) directly through the mouth of Mohammed – any Muslim who accepted Holland’s evidence would have to reconsider many aspects of his faith. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

15 April 2012

Muslims Caught Between Islam, Wall Street

Making inroads into America’s financial hub of Wall Street, Muslims are caught in practices that run counter with their religious teachings.

“Wall Street is basically blind to religion,” Rushdi Siddiqui, global head of Islamic finance at Thomson Reuters, told The New York Times on Sunday, April 15.

“What it’s concerned about is deal flow, assets under management and transactions.”

Rushdi is one of many Muslims taking executive positions in banks on Wall Street, who are facing many hurdles to abide by their religious teachings.

For instance, they do not have dedicated prayer rooms at work to perform prayers. They also have to deal with interest (Riba), which is banned under Islam. [OnIslam.net] Read more

Islamism in Africa

Islamist factions have taken advantage of a chaotic situation in Mali to seize power and declare Sharia law in northern regions of the country, including the city of Timbuktu. It has been decreed that women must wear the veil, that thieves’ hands will be amputated and that adulterers will be stoned to death.

Apparently more than 90% of Timbuktu’s Christians have fled the area. It’s not just Christians who are horrified by these developments. The mayor of Timbuktu has spoken out against the Islamist faction: [Harry’s Place] Read more

14 April 2012

Muslim censorship or just plain decency?

In Kanaleneiland, a predominantly Muslim area of Utrecht, a poster advertising the open museum weekend has been covered by a black bag. The poster shows a woman in a short pink strapless dress. A message reading 'La ilahe il Allah – No Sexually Tinted Advertising In Our Suburbs. Stand Up And Fight Against This Case To Protect Our Children!' is plastered across the bag.

Another poster showing a woman in a bikini in the distance walking on a beach has also been covered up. The next day the cover had been taken off, but angry reactions had already started appearing on the internet. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders even asked questions in parliament about this 'Islamic censorship'. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

Norwich church banned from using market stall after complaints about ‘hate-related’ leaflets

The Norwich Reformed Church held a weekly outreach bookstall from the Norwich City Council-owned site on Hay Hill, but has been informed it is no longer allowed to use the stall after the council received a complaint about literature on it.

The complaint prompted a review of the materials produced by Reverend Alan Clifford, pastor of the church, and the council contacted police as materials, particularly the leaflet entitled Why not Islam, were considered to be hate-motivated.[Norwich Evening News] Read more

Muslim taxi driver dumps family out of his cab after spotting an unopened bottle of wine saying it was against his religion

A Muslim cab driver has been fired after he threw out a family carrying an unopened bottle of wine because he said 'it's against my religion.'

Adrian Cartwright, 46, had hired the taxi to take his family out for dinner at an Indian restaurant near Oldham, Greater Manchester.

But before they could make the five-minute journey the driver, in his 20s, spotted the bottle of white wine and promptly refused to take them.

The family was turfed out onto the pavement and he drove off. [MailOnline] Read more

13 April 2012

Halal secularism

.... I have been trying to analyze if and to what extent an Islamic secularism or “halal secularism,” as it were, is possible. The issue does not, of course, concern Turkey, and given the fact that the Middle Eastern Islamic nations are hopefully entering a phase of democracy, it is crucial to understand how Islam will accommodate different ethnicities and, more importantly, religions.

.... With regards to state-society-religion issues, he has argued, unlike the Islamists, that passive Anglo-Saxon secularism -- which guarantees human rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion -- could provide a wider framework for Muslims to practice their religion comfortably and for other religious minorities to also benefit from human rights. [TODAY'S ZAMAN] Read more

Cameron urges Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamists to learn from Indonesia

Indonesia’s respect for democracy and minority religious groups should serve as an example for other Muslim nations, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech in Jakarta, capital of the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Cameron called on groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has a conservative vision of Islam, to look to Indonesia’s for tips on nation building following the Arab Spring that toppled long-time Middle Eastern autocrats. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

'I've become dependent on my husband'

The French government introduced a ban on wearing a full veil in public a year ago this week. DW looks at how life has changed for Muslim women in France, and the challenges they face on the road to integration.

Mabrouka is playing with her two-year-old daughter in her apartment in the northern suburbs of Paris. This is a familiar playground for little Asma, as the pair no longer get to go out very often: Mabrouka is one of an estimated 2,000 women in France who wear a niqab - a full veil, covering everything but her eyes. And for a year now, she's been banned from wearing it in public. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Indonesian in prison for ‘insulting’ Islam

.... It is no secret that I am no longer a Muslim. That is not my fault. I have done nothing wrong. I just couldn’t believe in it any more. I have made many friends through Facebook and through sharing thoughts and ideas.

If this case goes against Alex we will no longer have that freedom. We will be forever listening out for the police knocking on the door in the early hours of the morning and wanting to check our computer files. That is not the Indonesia I love. We must all be free to be ourselves. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika! [The Local] Read more

12 April 2012

A monster created by Islam’s illness

.... Bidar recalls that in Islam there is a "degeneration" that takes multiple forms: "ritualism, formalism, dogmatism, sexism, antisemitism, intolerance, religious illiteracy or 'subculture' are ills which afflict it".

These diseases are prevalent, but there are also "Muslims morally, socially, spiritually enlightened by their faith." One can not say therefore that "Islam is essentially intolerant." You can however say that Islam contains - beside certain moral demands - elements of intolerance that at times reappear in different circumstances. He adds: "All of these ills I have enumerated alter the health of the Islamic culture in France and elsewhere." [AsiaNews] Read more

Tom Holland’s book is neither original nor should it be considered controversial

.... The study of early Islam is fraught with just these methodological difficulties, arising out of the problematic nature of the sources.

In the Islamic tradition there are two main bodies of literature: on the one hand the documents of early Islamic history and on the other the Hadith literature, which are collections of the sayings and anecdotes about and attributed to the Prophet.

The Qur’an itself is very problematic because it does not provide a narrative (as the Old and New Testaments do in their own ways) but rather show us inside Muhammad’s mind (or God’s, depending on your point of view). [The New Journalist] Read more

One year of France's burka ban yields 20 fines and no men prosecuted

The French ministry of the interior says police stopped and checked some 354 women since the law was passed. With 299 reports filed, about 20 people were given fines of up to 150 euros each.

While the interior ministry said the law had been applied with care, those on the receiving end – eseentially Muslim women wearing the all-covering niqab - have a very different story.

“My nightmare has become a reality,” says one young woman in the documentary Outlawed burka. “When you go outside, you're stomach's in knots. You're always looking over your shoulder to see if there's a police car nearby , always worried about being insulted. [RFI English] Read more

American Muslim Group Warns Muslims Against Working in Law Enforcement, Becoming "Pleased with a Legal System That Does Not Come from Allah"

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) cautioned American Muslims in a 22-page Arabic-language paper in 2008 against working in law enforcement in countries which do not rule by Allah's dictates. One of their main concerns was that such work might cause Muslims to gain love and respect for secular laws:

...there are many evils which result from working in law enforcement, the greatest of which is compelling people to obey rulings which do not come from Allah. It could also cause reverence and love for these rulings to enter the heart of the police officer, and perhaps spread to the hearts of his family members and other Muslims who see him at the mosque or even Muslims in general. They could lose conviction of governance by Allah, and become pleased with a legal system that does not come from Allah. (italics added) [Translating Jihad] Read more

Islamophobia - Questions and challenges for a liberal society, and for a Skeptics in the Pub

.... Don’t for one instance think that Chris is an apologist for Islam or for the kind of implementation of that religion by some that many of us find repulsive, but it isn’t all so simple.

He explicitly acknowledges that there are aspects of Islam that for many are abhorrent and contribute to the culture of fear and suspicion that then goes on to feed the rise in intolerance.

This part of the talk was the most thought provoking for me as I think he verbalised my own discomfort in this field perfectly by clarifying the paradox that had been floating at the edge of my mind. [Birmingham Skeptics] Read more

Salafists in the City - Free Koran Distributions Have Germany Concerned

Salafist Muslims have been handing out free Korans across Germany in recent weeks. But the group's radicalism has many politicians concerned -- as does a recent video posted on YouTube that allegedly threatened journalists who wrote critical reports on the religious offensive.

At first glance, the project appears relatively harmless. A Muslim group in Germany has set as its goal the distribution of millions of free Korans, so that the holy book of Islam finds its place in "every household in Germany, Austria and Switzerland," as the project website (German language only) states. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more

Brussels: Imam speaks against Women's Day

An imam in Anderlecht (Brussels) preached against women and Jews in his Friday sermon, as revealed by the RTBF actuality program "Questions à la Une". The imam of the Al-Amal mosque was filmed as he spoke in his sermon about International Women's Day.

The imam spoke out against the unthankful, coarse people who created Women's Day, which is not part of Muslim culture. "Only the ignorants celebrate this day, or political activists who want to confuse the people of God's way. Fear God, follow the Sunnah (Muslim law) and avoid innovative cultures which are not part of Islam" [Islam in Europe] Read more

'Islam-lite' Kosovars determined to stay secular

.... Two years ago residents of a village in northern Kosovo raised a petition against Kastriot Duka, a self-declared imam from Albania whose views, including advocating the veiling of pre-adolescent girls, alarmed locals. Duka was associated with a British-based Islamic charity named Rahma, whose website boasts of rescuing the Muslims of Kosovo and Albania from “a state of ignorance”. He was later deported.

Tensions between those who cleave to recently arrived, more austere readings of Islam and those who adhere to the more familiar sort rooted in the country’s history have emerged when it comes to control of mosques and other religious institutions. [irishtimes.com] Read more

Kuwait MPs okay death penalty for cursing God

Kuwait's parliament on Thursday provisionally passed amendments to the Gulf state's penal code stipulating the death penalty for those who curse God, Islam's Prophet Mohammed or his wives.

Forty-six MPs, including cabinet ministers, voted for the key amendments that will come into effect only after another round of voting and government approval. The second and final vote will take place in two weeks.

Four Shiite MPs voted against the law, a pro-Shiite Sunni lawmaker abstained, while two MPs refused to vote. [AFP] Read more

Tunisian jailed for desecrating the Koran

A Tunisian court has sentenced a man to four years in prison for desecrating the Koran. Respect for religious symbols has become a matter of furious debate in Tunisia since the 2011 democratic revolution, which led to the election of an Islamist-led government that opponents fear is bent on gradually suppressing secular ways of life.

Prosecutors in the court case said the man, Ramzi Absha, had thrown copies of the Muslim holy book into lavatories at several mosques in the southern city of Ben Guerdane, according to the official news agency TAP. [Reuters] Read more

University to have alcohol-free areas for Muslims

Prof Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan University said he wants to create alcohol free areas on campus out of “cultural sensitivity”.

About a fifth of students at the university come from Muslim families – many of them young women from traditional homes.

For many of them, the drinking culture among students marred rather than heightened their student experience, he said.

Prof Gillies, an eminent Australian music scholar, said that he was consulting with staff and students about creating alcohol-free areas on the universty’s two campuses as part of a major redesign. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

11 April 2012

12 Christians in Iran await verdicts after Easter Sunday apostasy trial

Twelve Christians stood trial Easter Sunday in Iran, where they were called “apostates” in a courtroom and tried on multiple charges, according to sources close to Iran’s Christian community.

The Christians had been acquitted on the same charges, including “crimes against the order,” a year ago in Bandar Anzali, a city on the Caspian Sea. The group was first arrested when authorities found them drinking wine while taking communion, according to sources.

“It ultimately illustrates that being a Christian is illegal in Iran. No matter how clear or how open a pastor and a church may be, Christians are being brought to trial just for being Christian,” said Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries advocacy group who is in daily contact with the Evangelical Christian community in Iran. [FoxNews.com] Read more

299 women fined under veil ban law says French interior ministry

One year after France introduced a law banning women from wearing full-face veils in public, officials report that around 300 have been fined.

The ban on wearing the niqab in any public place was introduced on April 11th 2011. It is illegal for any woman to wear the veil except when they are at home, worshipping in a religious place or travelling as a passenger in a private car. Wearing the veil can lead to a fine of €150 ($200) and forced attendance at a citizenship class.

Interior ministry officials reported that “in one year there have been 354 police checks and 299 fines issued,” reported Le Parisien newspaper. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Muslim lawyer loses religious discrimination case

He claimed at the time that he was “fighting for the rights of orthodox Muslims and that he was “a victim of political persecution”.

A Rotterdam court last year ruled in favour of Enait, arguing that an exception could be made on the basis of deep religious conviction. But the judge was later overruled by the council for the judiciary, which said all lawyers must demonstrate their respect for the rule of law and exceptions are not acceptable.

The first ruling was heavily criticised by members of the Dutch parliament at the time. Christian democrat Sybrand van Haersma Buma said: It is unacceptable that one individual with extreme beliefs can challenge [our] general rules of conduct. [The Freethinker] Read more

'A Koran in every home' project makes waves

A project by Salafist Muslims to give away 25 million German-language Korans across the country – by post and in town centres, has been slammed by a conservative politician calling it a disturbance of the religious peace.

“Although there is in principle nothing against the distribution of religious texts,” he said, Die Welt reported he added that the radical Salafists were disturbing the religious peace with their aggressive methods.

The newspaper said that German intelligence services rated the campaign’s initiator Ibrahim Abou Nagie as a dangerous Salafist preacher. [The Local] Read more

Mosque in gay-hate row opens a new fee-paying school where pupils will memorise the Koran and speak Arabic

A mosque where clerics were filmed allegedly preaching hate against homosexuals and non-Muslims is opening a fee-paying school.

Pupils will be expected to memorise the Koran and wear traditional Pakistani uniforms when it opens in Birmingham this September, with fees of £3,500 a year.

Arabic will be the ‘key language’ taught to the annual intake of 20 students, aged 11 to 16, at Green Lane Masjid Independent Boys School. [MailOnline] Read more

Leave room for the unbelievers

Even in Tunisia—the Arab society furthest along in transforming from dictatorship to a constitutional system, and which has a large secular constituency and tradition—severe attacks on religious dissidents are being carried out by the new government.

Two young bloggers, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji, were both sentenced to an astonishing seven years in prison “for violation of morality and disturbing public order.”

Their offense was to post images of a naked Prophet Mohamed on Facebook. Mejri is in jail, while Beji has reportedly fled the country. Meanwhile, the head of the Nessma television station is awaiting trial for “blasphemy” for airing the animated film “Persepolis,” which includes an image of God. [NOW Lebanon] Read more

10 April 2012

Handshake Muslim loses court case

Rotterdam council was right not to offer lawyer Mohammed Enait the job of client manager after he refused to shake hands with women, a court in The Hague said on Tuesday afternoon.

Enait had applied for the job at the social services department but said he would not shake hands with women on religious grounds. However, he would greet them in another respectful fashion, he said.

When he was refused the job, Enait brought a civil case against Rotterdam council, saying the rejection was religious discrimination. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

09 April 2012

Religious right in Egypt hoping for Islamic law

The men gathering outside the yellow mosque agreed: Adulterers should be stoned to death, the hands of thieves cut off.

"But not now," said Kareem Atta, waiting in a cool breeze for the sheik's car to roll up next to the Quran sellers. "Shariah law must be gradually put into place so it doesn't shock the system. You can't cut people's hands off if you first don't give them financial justice." [The Seattle Times] Read more

Egypt: Christian jailed for insulting Islam

An Egyptian Christian teenager has been sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Islam.

According to Compass Direct News (CDN) Gamal Abdou Massoud, 17, was sentenced last Wednesday.

The juvenile court claimed that he posted cartoons on his Facebook account last December mocking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The court also claimed that he distributed pictures to fellow students. [Christian Today] Read more

08 April 2012

Round Three in the Trial of Lars Hedegaard

.... I should have the right to prove my case. I could have called witnesses. I could have quoted holy books and statements, and I could have referred to facts. But you cannot do that in a court of law in Denmark if you are accused under this infamous Article 266(b).

Whether or not what you are saying is true is immaterial. If somebody feels offended or if the prosecutor thinks that somebody has a reason to feel offended, whether or not you speak the truth has no bearing on the case. That is what is surprising about Danish jurisprudence. [PJ Media] Read more

Hard-Line Sharia Law Province Aceh Heads to the Polls

Indonesia’s only province ruled by hard-line Sharia law elects its governor on Monday, in polls watched by militant Muslims pushing for an Islamic government nationwide.

Alcohol is freely sold in the rest of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, but it is banned in Aceh. In some of the province’s regions, women are forbidden to wear tight trousers.

Gamblers and imbibers are publicly caned. Debate still churns in Aceh over whether adulterers should continue to be publicly flogged, or stoned to death. Irwandi Yusuf, who was elected governor in December 2006 and is seeking a second five-year term, backs Sharia but has remained a bulwark against stricter enforcement, such as stoning, the harshest punishment for adultery. [JakartaGlobe] Read more

I wed aged FIVE... in the UK

The Islamic ceremony effectively ended her childhood and paved the way for years of abuse.

Just as shockingly, this was not happening in a remote Third World village — but in a large town in the north of England.

Samina has decided to speak out after Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit revealed that last year the 1,468 cases they investigated included another girl of five. There are thought to be another 6,500 cases that went unreported. [The Sun] Read more

07 April 2012

Arab Christians are being driven from places where they have lived peacefully for centuries

.... The old-style corrupt despots have metastasised into even older-style Islamist xenophobes. The Arab world, already judenrein, now seems determined to slough off its Christian minority.

A few weeks ago, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Amdullah, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, responded to a question posed by a visiting Kuwaiti delegation. Would sharia permit churches to exist in their emirate? The sheikh’s response was categorical. Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula, he said, and ‘therefore it is necessary to destroy all the churches of the region’. [The Spectator] Read more

06 April 2012

Turkey’s Top Muslim Cleric Slams Saudi Mufti Over His Call to Destroy Churches

.... The position of Saudi Grand Mufti is actually a political one, harking back to the alliance between the House of Saud and the House of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab in the 18th century.

The Saudi Grand Mufti received his position through inheritance, the suffix appended to his name, “Aal-Al-Shaykh” in fact means “family of the Shaikh,” i.e. indicating he is a descendant of the 18th century Muslim reformer and founder of the Saudi Salafi/Wahhabi trend, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab.

It is for these reasons that he is considered a lightweight when it comes to Islamic scholarship and is in fact derided by many Saudis from all walks of life. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Tunisians jailed for posting 'Naked Muhammad' cartoons

.... The sentences were passed on 28 March but only came to light after being discussed online. The men's lawyers say they will appeal.

"The sentences are very heavy and severe, even if these young people were at fault," one Tunisian blogger, Nebil Zagdoud, told Reuters.

"This decision is aimed at silencing freedom of expression even on the Internet. Prosecutions for offending morals are a proxy for this government to gag everyone," he said. [BBC] Read more

Leicestershire councillor facing probe over message criticising Muslims

Earlier this year, Graham Partner – who quit the BNP to sit as an independent – sent out a New Year message to voters in his Coalville division.

It featured part of an article from a national newspaper which said victimhood "comes easily" to followers of Islam.

The article added: "Every terrorist atrocity, every blood- soaked massacre is justified by reference to imagined grievances. But the greatest persecutors of other faiths are Muslim, themselves.

"The response from the Western church leaders is deafening silence, afraid to accept that their ideological paradise of multi-cultural, multi-faith, left-wing society is nothing more than a fantasy." [Leicester Mercury] Read more

05 April 2012

The failure of the ideology of multi-culturalism

.... The latest British Muslim woman seeking to contest Miss Universe for England also seems to be having a rough ride. Shanna Bukhari from Blackburn has been on the receiving end of derogatory slurs from women, veiled threats from Muslim extremists and racist abuse from white supremacists.

So much so that she has had to close down her Facebook fan page. According to the Guardian, one Facebook message called her a “dirty Muslim” and asked her why she was representing Britain “when you don’t even f**king belong here”. [The Commentator] Read more

Two Tunisian men sentenced to seven years in prison for blasphemy

A Tunisian court has sentenced two young men to seven years in prison for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, the justice ministry said Thursday.

“They were sentenced, one of them in absentia, to seven years in prison, for transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order,” ministry spokesman Chokri Nefti said, adding that the sentence was handed down late last month. [Al Arabiya News] Read more

British government moves to tackle Islamophobia

The News/Jang has learnt exclusively that the group is modeled on the hugely influential cross-government working group on anti-Semitism, set up by the previous Labour government for the Jewish community.

The Group is chaired by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and will have representatives from across government including the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

This scribe understands that the group will include leading UK academics, Dr Chris Allen from Birmingham University and Dr Matthew Goodwin from Nottingham University.

Imam Qari Asim from Leeds Makkah Masjid, Akeela Ahmed from Muslim Youth Helpline and Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters has also been chosen as key members of the group. [The News International] Read more

Shaima AlAwadi’s Murder Less Likely to Be a Hate Crime

New facts emerging in the Shaima AlAwadi murder case reveal a family in turmoil, and though we have not reached the end of the investigation, it seems the turmoil within the family has cast doubt on the likelihood that Alawadi’s murder was a hate crime.

.... Of course the hatemongerers, the same people who were quick to attribute the Oklahoma City bombings to Muslims, the terrorist shooting rampage by Anders Breivik to Muslims and many more such incidents are receiving the news with glee. Islamophobes are already jumping to the conclusion that the murder is an “honor killing” though there is no evidence for such a claim. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Islam Conquers European Football

The top-ranked football team in Spain, Real Madrid, has removed a Christian cross from its official logo as a way to strengthen its fan base among Muslims in Europe and the Middle East.

According to Spain's top sports newspaper, Marca, the change was made to "avoid any form of confusion or misinterpretation in a region where the majority of the population is Muslim."

Real Madrid says its decision to remove the cross from its logo .... is simply a cost of doing business in a globalized world. But critics say the move represents yet another erosion of European culture and tradition in the face of encroaching Islam.

The cross controversy comes as Real Madrid begins to build a $1 billion sports tourist resort in the United Arab Emirates. The foundation stone for the 50 hectare Real Madrid Resort Island was laid in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah on March 29; the complex is scheduled to open in January 2015. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Muslim Brotherhood candidate says introducing sharia in Egypt is his main goal

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the Egyptian presidency, Khairat al-Shater, declared that introducing sharia law would be his “first and final” objective if he wins elections in May and June.

Making his first reported statements since the Brotherhood’s surprise decision to field him in the elections, Shater also promised to reform the Interior Ministry which long played a leading role in suppressing dissent.

.... “Sharia was and will always be my first and final project and objective,” Shater was quoted on Wednesday as telling a meeting of the Religious Association for Rights and Reform – a group of which he is a member, along with figures who belong to the hard-line Salafi school of Islam. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

04 April 2012

Holy debate erupts on Toronto Transit

A Muslim advertisement stating “There is no god but Allah” has started a vigorous debate amongst TTC riders and sparked a review from the Toronto Transit Commission Advertising Commission Group.

After five complaints were made, a working group including Councillor Karen Stintz has decided to allow the advertisement to remain in the Kennedy subway station.

“The decision to reject or accept an ad isn’t decided by whether someone takes offence to it or not,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. “It doesn’t violate the Human Rights Code. We can’t reject an ad because it espouses one view on religion.” [Toronto Sun] Read more

Sarkozy's expulsion of radical preachers shows us how weak British politicians are

.... Sarkozy, unlike our politicians, understands that you cannot preserve toleration by protecting the intolerance of radical Islam.

Amongst those who may be expelled are Imams from Saudi Arabia and Turkey and other preachers who call for death for those who deviate from Islam.

Sarkozy’s bold move is a triumph for the protection of Western values by excluding those who not just disagree with them, but are actively working to destroy them.

This is all the while Britain has swimming pools in East London that will expel non-Muslim women for wearing bikinis and not covering themselves up.

In contrast to France the proliferation of 'foreign rules on British soil' is surprising. [MailOnline] Read more

Islamic Indoctrination in Textbooks

.... Slavery is usually a favorite topic for the liberals, but historical revisionism is particularly evident in the failure to mention the Islamic slave trade. It began nearly eight centuries before the European-operated Atlantic slave trade, and continues in some Muslim areas even today.

Other examples of historical revisionism in currently used textbooks include the omission of the doctrine of jihad or failure to accurately define it. Discussions of Muhammad's life and character are often contrary to accepted historical facts.

Muslim conquests and imperialism are usually omitted or downplayed, and a completely false narrative about the Crusades is given. The books often falsely claim that Islam is tolerant of Jews and Christians. [Right Side News] Read more

Egypt jails Christian student to three years in jail for insulting Islam

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.

Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

03 April 2012

Pro-Shariah Group Launches Disinformation Campaign

.... "The plan is to clear up common misconceptions about Shariah and the Islamic faith," ICNA says. It's responding to legislative efforts to ban judges from recognizing Shariah law in Kansas, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona and South Dakota.

"Muslim-Americans are asking for the same fundamental rights to observe Shariah" as other faiths enjoy observing their tenets, ICNA asserts.

Of course, Shariah involves far more than just worship. It commands a separate political system. Unlike other religions, it seeks to substitute the U.S. Constitution with its own commandments, which discriminate against women and non-Muslims, restrict free speech, and prescribe cruel and unusual punishment, among other things. [Investor's Business Daily] Read more

Think again on sharia

GEORGE Brandis oversimplifies by saying sharia wills are compatible with testamentary freedom ("Brandis defends sharia for wills", 31/3-1/4). They are not. Australian law prohibits gender discrimination while sharia law encourages it.

If Australian law is supreme, then all wills must comply. Of course, Australians have a degree of testamentary freedom, but always subject to Australian law.

Anyone can leave unequal shares without expressly stating the reason. But when Australian lawyers, who have ethical obligations, advertise and deliver sharia wills that are necessarily based on gender discrimination, and therefore unlike other wills, there are big future problems. [The Australian] Read more

02 April 2012

'Toulouse killer is one of us’

.... They also show a powerful sense of alienation from the rest of French society in Les Izards, a community of 5 000, mostly families who arrived from France's North African former colonies a generation or two ago. Merah spent much of his youth living there with his mother, two brothers and two sisters.

Officially labelled a “sensitive urban zone” due to high rates of poverty, joblessness and criminality, Les Izards offers a window into the urban enclaves where French academics say exclusion is deepening and more grandchildren of North African immigrants are turning to Islam as a form of social protest. [Reuters/Independent Online] Read more

Burqa-clad men prompt anger in Sydney

Ugly scenes erupted between a group of burqa-clad protesters and a Muslim man outside NSW State Parliament in Sydney today.

A group of men dressed in the veiled female garb as a publicity stunt to try and get the outfit banned.

Members of the group Faceless ventured into a Sydney CBD courthouse, pub and bank without drawing much reaction, but faced a stronger backlash later outside parliament.

"It's got no place in Australia — it's a front to a civilised country like Australia," Faceless member Nicholas Folkes said of the burqa. [ninemsn] Read more

British Muslims define themselves according to foreign policy

.... How can Muslims complain about our rights, our freedoms, our collective future, if we aren't engaged in the political process across the board as active British citizens? We have an obligation, as Britons and as Muslims, to fully participate in local and national debates and not to stand idly by.

We have allowed ourselves to be defined only by foreign policy and, in particular, by events in the Middle East for far too long. British Muslims can make a positive contribution to British society, but first we have to stop our navel-gazing and victim mentality. We must let the people, press and politicians of this country know that we are as British as we are Muslim, and we care about our shared future.

[A COMMENT] We see enormous rage over Israel/Palestine , yet not a peep of protest regarding, say, China's treatment of Tibetans - and the UK does far more business with China than it does with Israel. If these communities were "as British as we are Muslim", this wouldn't be the case.

[A COMMENT] .... it always worries me to read material that depend so much on such generalities as "The British Muslim Community". Is there really such an entity? There are many Muslims in the UK but do they form a "Community"? And when it comes to "their" stance in politics are "they" really so restricted? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Sex and Sharia: Muslim women punished for failed marriages

Today I received another telephone call from a young Muslim woman, Nasrin, who pleaded with me to help her obtain an Islamic divorce. After fleeing a forced marriage characterised by rape and physical violence, Nasrin applied for an Islamic divorce from a Sharia council; that was almost 10 years ago now.

Despite countless emails, letters and telephone calls to the Sharia council as well as joint mediation and reconciliation meetings, the Sharia council refuse to provide Nasrin with an Islamic divorce.

Why? Because of Nasrin’s sex. An Imam at the Sharia council told Nasrin that her gender prevents her from unilaterally divorcing her husband, instead the Imam told her to return to her husband, perform her wifely duties and maintain the abusive marriage that she was forced into. [independent.co.uk] Read more

01 April 2012

Muslim Brotherhood raises fears among liberals as it names Egypt presidential candidate

The nomination of Khairat el-Shater, a millionaire businessman, puts the Islamist movement within reach of taking power in an Arab country for the first time in its 84-year history.

While many Egyptians will welcome the announcement, it is almost certain to heighten fears among liberals and Coptic Christians that the Brotherhood is seeking a monopoly on power with the intention of creating an Islamic state.

Senior officials in the movement defended the move, saying they had been left with no choice after the transitional military leadership prevented them from forming a civilian government despite securing an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections earlier this year. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

A dangerous enemy of democracy who's being encouraged cynically by the Left

.... a British politician using the inflammatory rhetoric and professions of Islamic piety more commonly heard in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Just as such religious hucksterism inflames millions of followers in the Islamic world, so certain unscrupulous British politicians have now realised they too can tap into the same well of irrational hatred to deliver them electoral victory.

For sure, countless numbers of Muslims will be as horrified as anyone by this playing to the Islamist gallery. While radicalisation among young Muslims has reached terrifying levels, the vast majority of older British Muslims want nothing whatever to do with ideas which threaten their own liberties along with those of everyone else. [MailOnline] Read more

Two teachers arrested over blasphemy

Police in Bangladesh said yesterday they had arrested two school teachers on suspicion of staging a drama containing blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

.... He said the teachers had been accused of “hurting religious sentiment” for helping organise the drama at their school. At least 3,000 demonstrators barricaded a key road and held noisy protests in front of the school and in other towns in the district on Friday.

Violence also erupted yesterday as up to 7,000 Muslims shouted slogans and set ablaze the house of the drama’s director, who has fled the remote area, another senior police official Zaiadul Haq told AFP. [AFP] Read more