30 June 2012

Is “Moderate Muslim” an Oxymoron?

As applied to individuals, absolutely not. Those of us who know individual Muslims will testify to that all day long. Our Muslim friends and colleagues are no different than our other associates, and we find it difficult to hear blanket statements categorizing all Muslims as open or closet jihadis. Condemn all Muslims that way, and you do more to condemn yourself.

And that’s one of the reasons for all the distortions we encounter: our values make us uncomfortable condemning any religion or large group of people because of their adherence to it. But our existential struggle is not about individuals.

The disingenuous and politically-motivated use of the phrase “moderate Muslim” without regard to reality leads us to make deadly decisions; deadly not just for jihad’s immediate victims but ultimately for us as well. Case in point: Bangladesh. [New English Review] Read more

Muslim parents bid to set up private Islamic school

The school, based in the former Holmlea Primary building in Cathcart, would have separate entrances and facilities for boys and girls if a fundraising appeal is successful.

.... Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA), which is behind the project, claims attending mainstream schools is resulting in "unsocial behaviour" among Muslim youngsters and that the lack of Islamic schools is forcing Muslim families out of Glasgow.

... Some previous attempts to establish Muslim schools in Scotland have been unsuccessful. Both the Iqra Academy in Glasgow and the Imam Muhammad Zakariya School for girls in Dundee closed after receiving negative inspection reports.

The Iqra Academy, which shut in 2003, was criticised by inspectors for giving pupils no opportunity to mix with the local community and for its treatment of girls at the school. [Herald & Times] Read more

29 June 2012

German verdict to delay circumcision, not ban it, jurist says

A widely criticized German court verdict on religious circumcision this week aims only to delay the act, not ban it, and is not directed against any faith, a jurist with a leading role in the legal debate said on Friday.

The operation does serious bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it, said Holm Putzke, law professor at Passau University in southern Germany.

Using arguments Putzke has published in recent years, a court in the western city of Cologne ruled on Tuesday that the circumcision there of a Muslim boy who suffered post-operative bleeding had violated a German law against causing bodily harm. [Reuters] Read more

Amsterdam Gets a Harsh Lesson in Islam 101

.... By the end of the evening, al-Haddad had made it absolutely clear that he supported the gradual implementation of sharia law in the West – starting with relatively innocuous-seeming stuff like divorce tribunals and Islamic finance, then moving bit by bit into ever more serious territory.

One particularly depressing development was that after an hour or so of listening to al-Haddad, Dibi admitted that he had caught himself feeling that al-Haddad, being a scholar, must be right about Islam after all.

I’ve often felt that a major reason why less observant, essentially secularized Muslims like Dibi are so hesitant to speak out against the likes of al-Haddad (aside from sheer terror) is that some small voice deep inside whispers to them that he’s the real thing – the good Muslim, a man whose pious certitude, and unwavering devotion to the Prophet shame their own co-optation by infidel decadence. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

FIFA medical chief withdraws opposition to headscarves

A campaign to allow Muslim women football players to wear headscarves was boosted on Friday when the chairman of FIFA’s medical committee said he has withdrawn his opposition.

The change of medical opinion from Michel D’Hooghe was a key step before FIFA’s law-making body could approve two scarf designs when it meets in Zurich next week.

“The problems I had (with scarves) were medical, and I don’t have those problems anymore,” D’Hooghe told The Associated Press. [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS] Read more

Fatwa the video game – extremism for the idle Islamist

When Salman Rushdie was whiling away the hours in hiding after his fatwa was issued, he could scarcely have imagined that 23 years later a) he would be alive and b) the Iranians would release a video game called The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and the Implementation of his Verdict, in which players set about acting on Ayatollah Khomeini’s death warrant.

Rushdie is presumably chased from literary party to catwalk after-party with an attractive woman on his arm (in a fetching head-to-toe number, of course, for this is Iran) ducking to avoid YOU, the Islamist, hellbent on destroying him. [New Humanist] Read more

The Rape Law

In conservative Muslim societies like Jordan, rapists can walk free thanks to penal code Article 308, known as the "rape-law".

In April, the unidentified girl was shopping in the northern city of Zarqa when a 19-year-old man kidnapped her, took her to the desert where he had a pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.

.... Israa Tawalbeh, the country's first woman coroner, sees "nothing wrong in Article 308 as such"....

"Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives," she said. Well yes, there is that. [Mick Hartley] Read more

28 June 2012

The Anti-Islamist Texts the Free World Needs to Use

.... One major problem is the treatment of Muslims as a single entity, an obstacle Dr. Jasser partially attributes to the influence of Arab tribal culture. Muslims who speak out against those within the ummah often become outcasts, much like would happen in a tribe. Dr. Jasser and other anti-Islamist Muslims know this all too well.

This has negative effects when it comes to security. The Fort Dix terror plot was foiled with the help of a Muslim informant working for the FBI. Instead of being celebrated, he was out-casted because, as he describes it, "For Muslims, we are all brothers, and I betrayed a brother."

This leads to double-standards where Muslims rage against real or imagined transgressions against their own but rarely speak a negative word about the co-religionists like Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a hugely influential cleric whose extremism is plain for all to see. [Family Security Matters] Read more

Why are American Muslims Critical of CAIR?

.... Polling a group of my young, professional Muslim friends who had no ties to activism or advocacy, I found that almost none had ever heard of the FBI issue, the Islamophobe campaigns, or any other related CAIR controversy.

In other words, their ignorance (and that of most other American Muslims) is CAIR’s bliss. And, coupled with rising anti-Muslim sentiment, American Muslims are finding CAIR to be the best-equipped organization to defend the community. [altmuslim] Read more

Racism in Arab Lands

.... In his unjustly neglected book, Race and Slavery in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis recounts that many of the stories in the Arabian Nights portray Blacks as slaves, and as second-class citizens, while Arabs are "white."

The Egyptian story is not a pleasant one for a variety of reasons. Egyptian Copts, about 10 to 12 million, are treated as second-class citizens and denied senior jobs. Now that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis have won the election with 70% of the seats in new parliament, the Copts' situation is likely only to worsen.

Individual Copts and their churches have already been attacked. The Virgin Church in Assiut in Upper Egypt was burned. Copts have been sentenced to prison for allegedly insulting the Prophet. About 200,000 Egyptian Christians have tried to get visas to come to the US. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Women asked to remove headscarves at some French airports

Some French airports have begun to ask headscarf-wearing women to take off their scarves for security reasons, which has spurred criticism from Muslims in the country, who find the practice a discriminatory one.

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) has announced that Nantes Atlantique Airport has made it obligatory for headscarf-wearing women to take off their scarves and place them in the X-ray machine along with their other belongings. [Today's Zaman] Read more

Grand Connaught Rooms Jihadist Conference: Event cancelled

.... Whilst many will be celebrating, I note with a degree of dejection, that far-right groups, including the English Defence League, had attempted to hijack this campaign. However, this was a victory for ordinary people, who stood firm against hatred and bigotry of all types. Professionals, students, mums, dads all rallied around our call to action, and expressed their concerns to the GCR by email and phone.

Finally, here is my concern. Prominent centre-left organisations must treat the Islamist far-right in precisely the same way that we do the neo Nazi far-right. Silence encourages bigots who hate Muslims to try and hijack such campaigns. “A plague on both of their houses”. [Harry’s Place] Read more

27 June 2012

Iranian women are oppressed by the systematic, gender-apartheid policies of the Islamist dictatorship

.... Again and again the Islamist rulers have ordered stricter enforcement measures, often resulting in mass arrests. According to Iranian police Chief Ismael Ahmadi Moqadam, Iran now wants to ratchet up its fight against women who it believes dress in an un-Islamic way.

Moqadam says that his forces require the assistance of Iran’s "moral capital and pious people,” and that the regime “must not allow the virus to spread by badly worn headscarves."

On June 19th, Iranian news agency Fars News quoted the police chief as saying: "We are keen to fulfill our legal and religious duty and we will behave in this way very carefully, so that no one protests." The regime is again displaying its intolerance for dissent. [The Commentator] Read more

Art show riot reflects religious divide in new Tunisia

The artist agreed to be interviewed but asked not to be named. Picking up a piece of work vandalised by Islamist zealots at a recent arts fair in a suburb of Tunis, she said: "Don't describe it or people will know who I am."

Tunisian artists have gone to ground since Salafi Islamists broke into Abdeliya Palace on June 10 and destroyed a handful of works at the Printemps des Arts fair to protest against art they deemed insulting to Islam, then ran riot for days. [Reuters] Read more

Jewish and Muslim groups condemn German circumcision ruling

In what has been described as a landmark decision, a court in the city of Cologne said circumcision violated a child's "fundamental right to bodily integrity" and that this right outweighed the rights of the parents.

"The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised," the court added.

"The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision. This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

The Islamists can be democratic

Western discourse often views Sharia as incompatible with constitutional principles. What about the compatibility of Sharia and human rights in Arab nations currently undergoing upheaval?

One must bear in mind that Sharia was developed over the course of history by legal scholars taking local social and economic conditions at the time into consideration. There's a difference between that which is viewed as a principle and as an eternal truth in Islamic law, and the sections of the Sharia code that are currently undergoing reappraisal. Polygamy was abolished in Tunisia in 1956, but at the time no one claimed that this represented a break with Sharia. Quite on the contrary: lawmakers invoked the principles of Islamic law with the intention of acting in the interests of progress. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Women’s rights not blocked by religion in Arab world, claims survey

Religious views do not stand in opposition to women’s rights in the Arab world, says a survey of men and women from across the Middle East. The survey, conducted by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, shows that no correlation exists between people’s attitudes towards Shariah law and their level of support for women’s rights.

.... “The biggest challenge facing women wasn’t so much the rise of Islamist parties but the rise of a sense of insecurity and the plummeting economy,” said Dalia Mogahed, a senior analyst who oversaw the study.

The study asked questions that broadly defined women’s rights, such as: “Do women and men have the same right to education and employment?” and “Do women have the right to initiate divorce?” In fact, survey participants who advocated for Shariah law were more inclined to support a woman’s right to initiate a divorce. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

26 June 2012

YMCA Offers Women-Only Swim Hours For Muslim Women

Each Saturday, staff at the Copley YMCA in City Heights begin clearing out the pool and locker rooms early. They send their male lifeguards home and a female lifeguard and swim instructor clock on for a special after-hours lesson.

About 15 East African women and girls then file through the back doors for a women-only swim class. The YMCA began offering it this spring after moms and daughters in a group called City Heights Hope told the directors they can’t swim in front of men because they’re Muslim. [KPBS] Read more

Salman Rushdie fatwa turned into Iranian video game

Salman Rushdie was the target of a notorious fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic of Iran, 23 years ago. Now, the author of The Satanic Verses is the subject of an Iranian computer game aimed at spreading to the next generation the message about his "sin".

The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Boys circumcised for religious reasons are victims of assault, says German court

This groundbreaking ruling effectively criminalises ritual mutilations performed by Jews and Muslims. Foreskin removal should be considered a crime of bodily harm, the court said.

The Cologne decision came after a Muslim doctor performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy. Two days later the mother brought the child to the emergency room because he was bleeding.

The prosecutor’s office learned of the situation and filed charges against the doctor. The doctor was found not guilty in the first instance, but the prosecutor appealed. [The Freethinker] Read more

Two Iranians face death for use of alcohol

TWO IRANIANS have been sentenced to death under the country’s Islamic Sharia law for persistent consumption of alcohol.

Sharia forbids the use, manufacture or trade of all types of alcoholic drinks.

The two, who have not been named by the authorities, have each previously been lashed 160 times after twice being arrested for consuming alcohol. Being convicted for the third time makes them liable for the death penalty.

The head of the judiciary, Seyed Hasan Shariati, based in Iran’s northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi, told the semi-official Isna news agency the supreme court had upheld their death sentences and officials were preparing for their execution. [The Irish Times] Read more

The Fear Factor

.... It is incumbent on the Muslim Brotherhood to now authentically reach out to the other 50 percent of Egypt — the secular, liberal, Salafist and Christian elements — and assure them that not only will they not be harmed, but that their views and aspirations will be balanced alongside the Brotherhood’s.

That is going to require, over time, a revolution in thinking by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership and rank-and-file to actually embrace religious and political pluralism as they move from opposition to governance. It will not happen overnight, but if it doesn’t happen at all, the Egyptian democracy experiment will fail and a terrible precedent will be set for the region. [The New York Times] Read more

Haddad uncut

Here is the full version of Haddad’s Q and A in which he gives his dubious advice about when girls should marry, as reported here. That particular gem can be found at 13.00 in. There’s some queasy advice about how fathers, uncles and brothers can help girls from looking outside the family for affection at 3.30, and a stern warning about the dangers of a university education for girls at 10.00. [Harry’s Place] Read more

25 June 2012

Tunisian loses appeal over cartoons of Prophet

A Tunisian court on Monday upheld a seven year sentence against a young Tunisian who posted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook, in a case that has fuelled allegations that the country's new Islamist leaders are gagging free speech.

Jabeur Mejri was convicted of upsetting public order and morals in a country where Muslim values have taken on a greater significance since a revolt last year ousted secular strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ushering the Islamist Ennahda party into power. [Reuters] Read more

Reddit Will Destroy Islam With Dumb Memes

.... Instead, anti-Islam memes are flooding the front page of Reddit; Lolcats for people who sleep with a copy of God Is Not Great under their pillow. There's a "Scumbag Muslim" meme, and a "Most Interesting Mohammed" meme, and this cartoon about how Islam has been "raping children for 1400 years" that is like something your 75 year-old racist great uncle would forward to you in an email.

In fact a lot of the memes that Reddit users have been voting to the front page in their supposedly witty "war" on Islam are predicated on the same gross stereotypes of Muslims as rampaging terrorist-rapists favored by the likes of the shithead Pastor Terry Jones. There's even a similar obsession with burning the Quran. (That last picture also happens to use a Hindu to represent a Muslim. But what the hell, they've all got turbans.) [Gawker] Read more

An unnecessary provocation?

People often ask why ex-Muslim? Is it not an unnecessary provocation?

Provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us this all the time. Don’t say you are an apostate, don’t invite others to apostasy and there need be no killings.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know Islamism – this far-Right regressive movement… [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Muslim student body bans book over Prophet's picture

A Manipuri Muslim student body has banned a children's general knowledge book as it contained a picture of Prophet Mohammad. Stating that there is not a single record of the Prophet's picture in the entire world, the Pangal Students' Organization (PSO) said the writer should apologize within three days, failing which stern action would be taken.

PSO president Md Burhanuddin said the picture of the Prophet published in the book that is being taught in nursery classes is against Islam and a means to mislead the Muslim community of the state as well as the students. Hence, the PSO has resolved to ban the book, Burhanuddin said at a media conference in Imphal on Friday. [THE TIMES OF INDIA] Read more

Arab Women and Men See Eye to Eye on Religion's Role in Law

Many observers of the Arab uprisings are growing concerned about women's rights as Islamist parties that generally favor a more assertive role for religion in public life gain influence across North Africa. Gallup surveys in five Arab countries found Arab women are as likely as Arab men in their countries to favor Sharia as a source of legislation.

.... The majority of women and men across countries experiencing political upheaval do want some level of religious influence in law, though people's views of the specific role for Sharia vary widely from one country to another. Those who want no legislative role at all for Sharia are in a small minority in every country. [Gallup] Read more

Tunisia court upholds cartoon blasphemy conviction

A Tunisian appeals court upheld Monday the 7-year sentence for a man convicted of blasphemy for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

Jaber Majeri was convicted March 28 for posting images of the prophet purportedly being intimate with one of his wives. He was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison and fined $800.

A friend of his, Ghazi Beji, was also wanted in the same case, but he fled the country and was later convicted and sentenced in absentia.

The stiff sentence shocked many Tunisians and was seen as a sign of the new importance of Islam in Tunisia after the North African country's secular dictatorship was overthrown last year. [Associated Press] Read more

24 June 2012

Desecration of Holy Quran: Accused shop owner blames ‘blasphemous voices’

.... “Please, don’t kill me,” he cries, when someone enters the room. For 34-year-old blasphemy accused Saleem Suleman, life, as he knew it, has completely changed.

He was taken to the police by his neighbours after being accused of desecrating the Holy Quran in his apartment in North Nazimabad, Karachi.

A case was lodged against him – the second blasphemy case in Karachi this year.

Suleman, who is from a moderately religious family, lives in Karachi, while his family resides in the United States. [The Express Tribune] Read more

Mother is turned away from parents’ evening because she refused to remove full-face veil

A mother was turned away from a parents’ evening because she was wearing a full-face veil.

Maroon Rafique, 40, was told that for the security and safety of children and teachers at the college there was a ban on any type of face coverings.

She was warned that unless she removed her full-face covering, known as the niqab, she would not be allowed into the college to attend.

.... She added: ‘I do get abuse every now and again in the street, which I just have to deal with. However, I was very surprised when I was treated this way by the college.’

Business student Awais, 18, who hopes to take an accountancy course at Manchester University, said: ‘It was really embarrassing when they told her she couldn’t come in. We’ve never, ever been told about any rule about what parents can wear.’ [MailOnline] Read more

Haitham al-Haddad: ‘the younger the better’

…. it seemed to show Haitham Al Haddad recommending, in a slippery, ‘plausible deniability’ way, underage marriage/sex. The original has now been removed, but it showed Haddad at a meeting answering questions.

He was asked whether there was a particular teaching in Islam about the right age to marry. Haddad said no, but went on to note that girls, in particular, should marry young. Here is a transcription I made of one section of the clip: [Harry’s Place] Read more

Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi declared Egypt president

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi has been declared the winner of Egypt's presidential election run-off.

He won 51.73% of the vote, beating former PM Ahmed Shafiq, the Higher Presidential Election Commission said.

The head of the panel of judges, Farouq Sultan, said it had upheld some of the 466 complaints by the candidates, but that the election result still stood.

The announcement prompted scenes of jubilation in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where Mr Mursi's supporters gathered. [BBC] Read more

London 2012 Olympics: Saudis allow women to compete

The decision will end recent speculation as to whether the entire Saudi team could have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination.

The public participation of women in sport is still fiercely opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives.

There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in the country.

Saudi officials say that with the Games now just a few weeks away, the only female competitor at Olympic standard is showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas.

But they added that there may be scope for others to compete and that if successful they would be dressed "to preserve their dignity". [BBC] Read more

23 June 2012

Mysterious Money and Motive Behind Monster Mosque in Murfreesboro

Let’s start with a little math. Murfreesboro, TN is located in Rutherford County which has just over 100,000 residents. According to estimates provided by the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, there are 200 to 300 Muslim families living in the area.

When they announced their plans to build a 53,000 square foot mega mosque, a lot of questions came up. One subject of concern was why they needed such a huge compound for so few families. What is particularly disconcerting is that, according to their own documents (attached 2009 annual report) the ICM only has 45 active paying member families. Naturally this begs another question – who is paying for this massive compound?

And, what will it really cost to build something that looks like this, per square foot, at 53,000 square feet, when the project is completed? How many millions of dollars will these “45 active members” be coming up with – and where is all this money coming from? [Global Infidel TV] Read more

Amsterdam’s newcomers thrive even as immigration gets tougher

.... Surveys show, meanwhile, that the Dutch people have become less tolerant overall of immigrants.

How has this affected Abou Zayd? Not much, actually. When he wants to pray at the supermarket where he works as a stock boy, he can. He does it on the loading dock. Nor is he forced to stock the shelves with alcohol, or non-Halal meat.

Amsterdam is an example of how cities can play a critical role in integration. As policies at the national level harden, Amsterdam continues to exert an openness reflected in its diverse inhabitants.

“In Holland, which went through radical change at the national level away from multiculturalism to something else — I call it civic integration — at the local level, that reorientation didn’t happen,” said Christian Joppke, an immigration expert at the University of Bern. [Toronto Star] Read more

22 June 2012

Mali: Students Flee Sharia in Northern Schools

Strict Sharia, or Islamic religious laws, imposed by the Islamist rebels controlling vast swathes of northern Mali are driving thousands of students out of schools. Dress codes have been imposed, boys and girls are forced to learn separately, and subjects deemed to promote "infidelity" have been struck off the curriculum.

Outraged parents are transferring their children and some students are opting to miss examinations rather than learn under these conditions. [AllAfrica] Read more

GOP Congressman: Police Should Target Muslims Because They’re Responsible For 90 Percent Of Terrorism

Rep. Peter King has a long history of demonizing American Muslims. So it’s no great surprise that his hearing earlier this week on the radicalization of Muslims fell under attack as both a waste of time and yet another example of King congratulating himself for his previous hearings attacking Muslims. But appearing on Fox News yesterday, King continued his factually challenged attack on Muslim Americans:

What I am very concerned about is that while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are good people, the fact is even though Muslims are 1 percent of the population, almost 90 percent of the terrorist crimes are carried out by the Muslim community. And there are not enough people in the community willing to step forward and speak out against this and cooperate with law enforcement. [ThinkProgress] Read more

No racial hatred charges for British Sharia law expert

The public prosecution department has no plans to bring charges against a British-Palestinian expert in Sharia law for allegedly making comments which incited hatred and discrimination in Amsterdam earlier this year, news agency ANP reports.

.... Anti-Islam campaigner Ehsan Jami had called for legal action against al-Haddad after he told the debate ex Muslims deserve the death penalty, as outlined in Sharia law.

However, the public prosecution department said al-Haddad had not committed any offences because he had outlined a number of conditions for applying the death penalty which made it clear this could not happen in the Netherlands. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

21 June 2012

‘Work, don’t worship,’ Toyota tells pious employees

A former employee at Toyota’s Turkey factory has said his pious co-workers were told that working is also worshipping God when they asked to rearrange their lunch break so that they could attend the Friday prayer.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman in Sakarya, 43-year-old N.E. said he had always been pressured by the Japanese car manufacturer’s management in the factory because of his religious views, but the latest incident took place some two months after he was laid off.

According to his allegations, management met with the employees of the painting section on May 24 and told them to continue working at noon -- a time when all Muslim men should attend the Friday prayer.

He also accused factory management of trying to make it harder for pious employees to perform ablutions by putting “Don’t wash your feet here” signs in the restrooms. “But there are no special sinks where we can wash our feet as we are required when performing an ablution. So what they are actually doing is barring their employee from practicing their religious beliefs,” he said. [Today's Zaman] Read more

Industrial cities for women

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is currently studying a proposal to set up four industrial cities in Riyadh exclusively for women.

The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) has conducted feasibility studies on the projects and submitted them to the ministry for final approval. The cities will be fully devoted to manufacturing consumer goods.

Saad Al-Mogil, chairman of the National Committee for Industries at the Saudi Council of Chambers and RCCI’s deputy chairman, said the four cities, to be located on western, eastern, southern and northern fringes of the capital city, would cover many industries. [Saudi Gazette] Read more

The Trouble with Multiculturalism

.... a book probably not featured at your local book store: Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism, by Salim Mansur, a professor of political science at the University of Ontario.

Mansur recounts that back in the 1970s, Canada became the first Western nation to embrace multiculturalism on an official level, “sponsored by the state, supported by taxpayers, and monitored and enforced by thought-police (human rights commissions).”

He makes a compelling case that adoption of this ideology has damaged Canada, and not only Canada: Multiculturalism, he writes, has been “destructive of the West’s liberal democratic heritage, tradition, and values based on individual rights and freedoms.” [National Review Online] Read more

20 June 2012

Islamic Mediators and Germany's 'Two Legal Systems'

.... imams and arbitrators in Berlin, the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein apply Sharia law on a daily basis, even though it is sometimes incompatible with the German constitution and German family law.

In particular, Islamic law discriminates against women in the following ways:They are not permitted to marry non-Muslims;In an arbitration, family unity takes precedence over the woman's right of self-determination, even in cases involving violence; In a divorce, the man receives sole custody of the children; Polygamy and marriages with minors are allowed; under German law, 16-year-old girls can only marry with the permission of a family court.

.... There are no official figures, but Berlin family consultant Chaaban estimates that about 30 percent of all Arab-born men in the German capital have two wives. Attorneys specializing in family law are also familiar with these cases.

The men rarely live with several wives under one roof. They usually keep their second wife, to whom they are only married under Islamic law, a secret. Thanks to the social welfare state, the men often have no obligations under the second marriage. Under German law, the women are treated as single mothers and, if they are unable to support themselves, they receive benefits under the Hartz IV welfare reform program. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more

DM’s Kelvin MacKenzie advocates UK veil ban

Saturday’s Daily Mail carried a short piece by columnist Kelvin MacKenzie in which he described the veil ban in France as a ‘great success’, framing the garment as a choice tool for criminals, and suggests that a 2015 Conservative manifesto clause in support of a UK ban on the face veil would be a vote winner.

From the Daily Mail: “With time on his hands, perhaps former French President Sarkozy might pop over the Channel and explain to the beleaguered David Cameron how he managed to get a law passed that banned the wearing of burkas. [ENGAGE] Read more

19 June 2012

Assessing the state of Islamophobia in Canada

.... Contrary to what some pundits argue, I do believe Islamophobia is a real phenomenon. Which is to say: I do believe there are some Canadians out there who have an irrational fear of Islam.

For these purposes, I define “irrational fear” as a fear that goes beyond (a) the very real, legitimate and widely shared fear of Islamist terrorism; and (b) the very real, legitimate and widely shared concern about retrograde Islamist attitudes toward women being imported into Canadian society. [National Post] Read more

Germany: "Radical Salafism is Like a Hard Drug"

.... German authorities believe the Salafists, who trace their roots to Saudi Arabia, want to create a Sunni Islamic Caliphate (Islamic Empire) opposed to Western democracy; and that some within the group support martyrdom and the use of violence, and are also fuelling militancy among German's socially alienated Muslim youth.

Announcing the crackdown, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he had banned a Salafist group called Millatu Ibrahim, based in the western city of Solingen. "The Millatu Ibrahim group works against our constitutional order," he said, "and against understanding between peoples." Among other things, Millatu Ibrahim teaches its followers to reject German law and to follow Islamic Sharia law, and that "the unbelievers are the enemy." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

"Allah, Liberty And Love": Malaysian Charged With Selling Canadian Author Irshad Manji's Banned Book

A Borders bookstore manager in Malaysia has been charged with distributing a Canadian writer's book that was banned as being against Islam.

The government in the Muslim-majority country regularly bans books it considers threats to religious stability. "Allah, Liberty and Love" was banned in late May. [The Associated Press] Read more

Turkish Prime Minister Assaults Women's Rights

.... "It's becoming increasingly difficult to think and live the way one wishes in Turkey," says the world-famous pianist Fazil Say. "Turkey is getting more and more religious," says author Nedim Gürsel.

"This policy is leading the country toward totalitarianism," says sculptor Mehmet Aksoy, whose sculpture "The Statue of Humanity," dedicated to peace among Turks and Armenians, was torn down because the premier didn't like it.

The government is also settling a score with pianist Say. An avowed atheist, he had quoted a verse from a poem by the medieval Persian poet Omar Khayyam in a tweet: "You say wine will flow from its rivers. Is heaven a pub? You say two women per believer. Is heaven a brothel?" [Spiegel Online] Read more

Marseille mega-mosque gets go-ahead

A French appeals court granted permission Tuesday for the building of a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that has been touted as a symbol of Islam's growing place in France.

The court overturned an October ruling by Marseille's administrative tribunal that cancelled the project's construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements.

A community association led by a local butcher had filed a complaint against the building permit, saying the mosque project did not fit with the surrounding urban environment.

The project was granted a permit in September 2009 but construction was suspended following complaints from local residents and businesses. [AFP] Read more

Dutch upper house rejects ban on ritual slaughter

The Dutch upper house, the Senate, on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have banned the ritual slaughter of animals and had been criticised by both Muslim and Jewish groups.

The bill, proposed by the small Party for the Animals, stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws, which require animals to be conscious. [Reuters] Read more

What's Al-Sharia, and What's Wrong With Sharia Law?

.... The simple truth is, to most Muslims, for everything other than what we consider the "5 pillar items" like our declaration of faith, our charity, our prayers, our pilgrimage and our fasting in Ramadan, rather than a rigidly fixed set of laws, al-Sharia, "the path to the water hole" is a set of principles (principles like equality, justice, and the importance of linking rights to responsibilities and risks to rewards) promoting a set of simple practices (like living humbly, serving God and minding your own business) that Muslims believe are divinely ordained and therefore perfect. And so we also believe that if they were followed perfectly that would give us a perfect world.

[COMMENT] Shariah has very many specific 'laws' that are mentioned in Quran and are hence directly divine eg inheritance, marriage/divorce, adultery, dietary requirements, zakat, contracts, etc

So Shariah in Quran is not simply a set of principles like justice and equality. In fact I would argue the principle of equality is not even mentioned in Quran as much as the differentiations that are mentioned. Namely between people of different faiths, unbelievers, hypocrites, men vs women and even among believers. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Saudi man executed for 'witchcraft and sorcery'

A Saudi man has been beheaded on charges of sorcery and witchcraft, the state news agency SPA says.

The man, Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri, was found in possession of books and talismans, SPA said. He had also admitted adultery with two women, it said.

The execution took place in the southern Najran province, SPA reported.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned executions for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. [BBC] Read more

18 June 2012

Conservatives for Shariah - Willful blindness on the right reinforces Islamic apologetics

.... Mr. Schmitz went further, wrongly describing Shariah as “not one rigid legal system but rather an immensely varied set of legal, cultural and ethical understandings.” In fact, Shariah as practiced by mainstream Islam is, indeed, one very rigid legal system that simply has been enforced to varying degrees around the Muslim world.

Its Brotherhood adherents and others are aggressively seeking to impose conformity with all of its tenets in Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia and, in due course, here. Mr. Schmitz even went so far as to describe those determined to resist that last prospect as “anti-Muslim bigots” who are “undermin[ing] our national security.” [The Washington Times] Read more

Most Victims of Islamic Terrorism are Muslims… And Why America is to Blame For It

.... Not only do Muslims inflict zero civilian deaths in America and Europe, they bear the brunt of terrorism in the Middle East and South Asia. The 2011 NCTC report found that the vast majority of deaths from religious terrorism were in fact Muslims. The report reads:

In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.

Muslim majority countries bore the greatest number of attacks involving 10 or more deaths, with Afghanistan sustaining the highest number (47), followed by Iraq (44), Pakistan (37), Somalia (28), and Nigeria (12). [loonwatch.com] Read more

Esposito speaks on new book Islamophobia

.... Looking at religious traditions of reform in other religions, reformers start 100 years before we see any results, and keep moving backward and foreward, until there’s a widespread effect.

Today, there’s a global cosmopolitan movement developing. Reformists are a vanguard but they’re up against a large majority of religious leaders and populations that are conservative. However, Roman Catholics were the majority who criticised Protestants in reform; eventually momentum developed and there was a leap.

The same is happening within Islam, in countries with more education and critical thinking. One can be a modern person, in whatever way one defines it, and also be a believer! [Ahram Online] Read more

Al-Muntada brings another set of hate preachers to London

An arm of London’s Al-Muntada mosque is staging a conference in the capital in July. It provides another clear illustration that Al-Muntada is in the business of promoting some of the world’s worst Islamist extremists. Repeatedly, relentlessly, and with no compunctions whatsoever.

Take a look at one of the speakers, Saudi scholar Abd Al-Aziz Fawzan Al-Fawzan. Christians? Let’s “positively hate” them! [Harry’s Place] Read more

17 June 2012

Bangers ban in hundreds of schools

Pork is being banned from school dinners even where the majority of parents have no religious objection to it.

Head teachers are deciding for “cultural” and “religious” reasons to drop traditional sausages and ham from children’s lunches.

One council has issued "best practice" advice to all schools in its area to “ban all pork products in order to cater for the needs of staff and pupils who are not permitted contact with these for religious reasons”.

The guidance, issued in Haringey, north London, does not specify what proportion of a school’s intake should object to the meat - which is not eaten by devout Muslims or Jews - before it is dropped. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

16 June 2012

Why Islamism cannot be pluralistic

The shortcut answer is that Muslims can defend pluralism but political Islam will not -- unless, of course, for deception. Pluralistic thought has an avenue to survive in Islam the religion, but it does not have a space to breathe in Islam the political ideology.

That is the heart of the matter in the political war between secular and non-secular Muslims; between Muslims who peacefully practice their faith and Islamists who violently and non-violently enforce their practices on others.

A Muslim is a Muslim. An Islamist is a Muslim who directly/indirectly/by free vote/by monarchical power would force others to observe Islam precisely as he (not necessarily “she”) would deem appropriate. It is the unbearable allure of commanding good and forbidding evil that makes a peaceful Muslim a not-so-peaceful Islamist. [Daily News] Read more

Rampant Islamophobia in Canada (or Not)

.... In 2010, the most common type of religiously motivated hate crime targeted the Jewish faith, a finding that is consistent with previous years. With 204 incidents in 2010, hate crimes against the Jewish faith represented nearly 6 in 10 (55%) religiously motivated incidents (Chart 7).

Although hate crimes against the Jewish faith accounted for the largest number of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2010, the proportion of hate crimes against this religious group was at its lowest point since data collection began in 2006.

Other religiously motivated hate crimes were committed against the Muslim faith (Islam) with 52 incidents (14%), and the Catholic faith with 50 incidents (14%). The remaining 17% of hate crimes were committed against other religions (such as Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist). [Statistics Canada] Read more

15 June 2012

Islam in Germany: "Germany Does Away With Itself"

German President Joachim Gauck recently said in a newspaper interview that Muslims living in Germany are a part of the country, but that Islam is not.

The comments -- Gauck is the ninth prominent German politician to voice an opinion about Islam -- have sparked a new round in the on-going debate over the role of Islam and Muslim immigrants in Germany.

During a May 31 interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck was asked about a quote from the previous German president, Christian Wulff, who during a keynote speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification in October 2010, proclaimed that "Islam belongs in Germany" because of the four million Muslims who now live there. Germany has Western Europe's second-biggest Islamic population after France, with Turks the single biggest minority. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Can Muslims Reopen the Gates of Ijtihad?

The exercise of critical thinking and independent judgment – or Ijtihad --was an important way to address questions in the early centuries of Islam. After approximately 400 years, however, the leaders of the Sunni Muslim world closed the "Gates of Ijtihad;" Muslims were no longer allowed use itjihad to solve problems.

If a seemingly new problem arose, they were supposed to find an analogy from earlier scholars and apply that ruling to the problem that arose. From the 10th century onwards, Sunni Muslim leaders began to see questioning as politically dangerous to their ability to rule. Regrettably, Sunni Muslim leaders reject the use of itjihad to this day. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Prison term for Indonesian atheist who posted views on religion online

.... In passing the sentence, the presiding judge Eka Prasetya Budi Dharma told the the Muaro Sijunjung district court in western Sumatra that Aan had "caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam".

Prosecutors had sought a lengthier jail sentence for Aan, but in finding him guilty of inciting religious hatred, the court dropped two additional, less serious charges of blasphemy and persuading others to embrace atheism. [New Humanist] Read more

Muslim woman who subjected girl, 10, to 45-minute beating with steel ladle for not reading enough of the Koran is jailed

A Muslim woman who repeatedly beat a ten-year-old girl with a steel ladle for not reading enough verses of the Koran was jailed yesterday.

Asia Parveen, who was five months pregnant at the time, left the child with 57 injuries and later claimed her violent outburst was prompted by her hormones.

.... She accused the girl of lying about how many verses of the Koran she had read while praying.

She then hit the girl with the ten- inch ladle for 45 minutes and forced her to stand with her arms outstretched for four hours. [MailOnline] Read more

Amnesty Calls for Release of Jailed Indonesian Atheist

Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of an Indonesian man detained for professing atheism, calling his imprisonment a serious setback for freedom of expression in Indonesia.

.... A court in the Muaro district of West Sumatra on Thursday sentenced 30-year-old Alexander Aan, a civil servant from Pulau Punjung subdistrict, to 30 months in jail and a fine of Rp 100 million ($10,600) for violating the Electronic Information and Transaction Law. He was charged with “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility” under that law and also of religious blasphemy under the Criminal Code.

Alexander was reportedly an active member of the Minang atheist Facebook group. He allegedly posted statements and pictures that some construed as insulting to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. [Jakarta Globe] Read more

Is Atatürk’s dream of a secular Turkey lost?

.... “For a decade now the Justice and Development Party has been in power, marching toward Islamism with far greater patience than the Muslim Brotherhood could ever muster. It has now crossed the point of no return.

“I could provide scores of other examples. Here’s one: a liberal Turk who was extolling the ruling party not long ago explained that his family’s babysitter wears “Islamic” garb, even though she isn’t a believer. Why? Because if she didn’t wear those clothes in her Istanbul neighborhood when she’s walking to work at his house, she’d be beaten,” writes Rubin. [Beliefnet] Read more

14 June 2012

Labour and Extremism: Jeremy Corbyn and Abdur Raheem Green

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the hate preacher Abdur Raheem Green and the repeated promotion of extremists by his “iERA” group, which includes his sidekick Yusuf Chambers.

What they may not have seen is this extraordinary video. It is a spiteful and sickening salute to a society where Muslims can treat non-Muslims like filth.

.... So it is impossible for a Muslim to believe in the unity of religions. Indeed whoever claims that the Jew and the Christian are our brethren in faith has without doubt made a statement of clear kufr [disbelief], of clear rejection of the most basic verses of the Quran. [Harry’s Place] Read more

UK: Radical Megamosque Opposed by Muslims

In 1996, British adherents of Tabligh i Jamaat [TJ], the Muslim preaching movement that reflects the fundamentalist Deobandi ideology of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, purchased a large tract of land in an industrial area of West Ham, in the London Borough of Newham.

The property was formerly a chemical factory, but TJ proposed to erect a "mega-mosque" there, serving tens of thousands of worshippers, with extensive visitors' and conference centres, guest hostelries, a religious school, and parking space. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

UK: Automated poultry slaughter rejected by Islamic scholars

Leading Islamic scholars in the UK have unanimously rejected the automated slaughter of halal poultry, insisting each bird must be killed with a hand held knife.

Although all 35 scholars attending a recent debate on religious slaughter rejected the mechanisation of the procedure under halal law, the issue remains controversial, with some halal organisations reported to take a more pragmatic view and apparently agreeing to automated slaughter under certain conditions. [World Poultry] Read more

Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic

The Nation has a special issue entitled "Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic" with articles examining different aspects of Islamophobia in the US. These include Moustafa Bayoumi, "Fear and Loathing of Islam" ....

[COMMENT] As an American Muslim I feel very uncomfortable in many mosques who have an absolutist view of salvation and literalist interpretation of scripture. There are genuine reasons for pushing back against absolutist theologies whether it is in Islam, Judaism, Christianity or any religion. Being overprotective about theological "rights" hinders reform under the guise of "respect." [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Indonesian man jailed for two-and-a-half years for writing ‘God doesn’t exist’ on his Facebook page

An Indonesian man was jailed for 30 months after writing "God doesn't exist" on his Facebook page.

Alexander Aan, 30, was imprisoned on Thursday for sharing explicit material about the Prophet Mohammed online.

He started an atheist group on Facebook on which he shared comic strips of the prophet having sex with his servant, a court in western Sumatra heard today. [MailOnline] Read more

Germany bans Salafist groups as police launch raids

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Thursday that the government has banned one Islamist Salafist group and launched investigations against two others.

Friedrich told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that the Millatu Ibrahim group, based in Solingen in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia had been banned for opposing Germany's constitutional order and endangering the public peace.

He said investigations had been launched into two other groups. One of them recently drew attention by distributing free copies of the Koran in numerous German cities. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

Egypt's largest Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood, has lost its grip on legislative power after the country's highest court declared parliament invalid Thursday.

The Brotherhood dominated parliamentary elections in December, winning about half the seats. But Egypt's interim military rulers -- who have long been at odds with the Brotherhood -- declared full legislative authority in the aftermath of the ruling.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious and political group founded on the belief that Islam is not simply a religion, but a way of life. It advocates a move away from secularism, and a return to the rules of the Quran as a basis for healthy families, communities, and states. [CNN] Read more

13 June 2012

It’s time to shut the Conservative Muslim Forum down

.... The Conservative Muslim Forum is rotten. Far from bringing Muslims closer to the Conservative Party, it is a vanity-vehicle for a few at the price of genuine Muslim advocacy within the party. Key individuals in the organisation have compromised important cornerstones of this government’s integration strategy.

There is a place for Muslims in today’s Tory party – but why should it be such a disastrous front group? It’s time to shut it down. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Islamic conference won't be in Rolling Meadows

An Islamic conference scheduled for this weekend in Rolling Meadows is searching for a new venue, after The Meadows Club was flooded with calls and emails from conservatives demanding the event be canceled.

Organizers of the Khilafah Conference 2012, titled “Revolution: Liberation by Revelation — Muslims Marching Toward Victory,” have not yet found an alternate place to host it in the Chicago area, said a Hizb ut-Tahrir America spokesman.

.... Hizb ut-Tahrir America is part of a worldwide political movement advocating Muslims to return to the Islamic way of life and for the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate governed by Shariah or Islamic law in predominantly Muslim countries.

“The call is not to bring that here to this country or anything of that sort,” said Reza Iman, a Chicago area spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir America. “The message is for Muslim countries to return to Islamic values. [Daily Herald] Read more

Fears of ‘Creeping Sharia’

On May 7, the Kansas House voted unanimously in favor of a bill barring judges and government agencies from basing decisions on sharia or other “foreign” legal systems. Four days later, the Senate voted 33 to 3 in favor of the measure, which was then carried through the capitol building, past John Steuart Curry’s famous painting of John Brown, to the office of Governor Sam Brownback, who signed it into law.

This bill is only the latest manifestation of the growing anti-sharia movement in this country, which endangers our national security by alienating loyal Muslim citizens and assaults religious liberty by putting contracts with a religious motivation on an unequal footing with contracts that have no religious motivation. [National Review Online] Read more

Islamophobia and Its Discontents

.... None of this is to suggest that ideas should not be debated, still less ideas about Islam. But if you are opposed to specific religious edicts—retrograde blasphemy laws, say, or unfair divorce laws—then why not say you oppose them?

Folding distinct issues under the banner term “Islam”—a term that covers an entire religion, a geographical region and countless individual cultures—is imprecise and maybe even useless. By all means, denounce fatwas on free speech, speak out against misogyny, criticize hateful practices.

But don’t deny that Muslims, too, defend free speech; that they, too, fight for equality; and that they, too, can be victims of hate. Muslims are just like you. Incredible? No, just true. [The Nation] Read more

Cleric declares jihad against polio campaign

.... According to details, the local polio team entered Muzaffargarh’s rural Khan Pur Bagga Sher area and asked local families to cooperate with the campaign.

When the local cleric, Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti found out about the campaign, he immediately went to the biggest mosque in the area and declared that polio drops are ‘poison’ and against Islam. He added that if the polio team forced anybody to partake in the vaccination campaign, then Jihad was ‘the only option’. [Express Tribune] Read more

'Insulting' art show prompts riots in Tunisia

Protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs at police stations, a court house and the offices of secular parties in some of the worst clashes since last year's revolt ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and launched uprisings across the Arab world.

Salafis, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam, blocked streets and set tyres alight in the working class Ettadamen and Sidi Hussein districts of the capital overnight

.... Stone-throwing youths stopped trams from passing through the capital's Intilaqa district, where demonstrators entered mosques and used the loudspeakers to call on Tunisians to defend Islam.

The clashes came a day after the Spring of Arts exhibition in the upscale La Marsa suburb provoked an outcry from some Tunisians who say it insulted Islam. [ABC News] Read more

12 June 2012

Tunisian Salafists Firebomb Union Offices Across the Country

Regional offices of the national union centre UGTT in three locations have been burned down by Salafists under the slogan "There is only God and the UGTT is the enemy of God". UGTT regional offices were main organising points for the revolution to depose former President Ben Ali.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said "Democracy is under attack in Tunisia today, and the Salafists have the union movement as a primary target. There are grave concerns for the safety of trade union leaders, and others who stand for people’s democratic rights and the rule of law." [The ITUC] Read more

Anti-gay Muslim cries bias

The NYPD wouldn’t hire him — because he is anti-gay, a Police Academy reject complains in a startling new discrimination lawsuit.

The would-be cop from Brooklyn — identified only as “Farhan Doe” — is a Muslim-American who believes homosexuality is a sin as a matter of religious principal, according to the suit.

Doe deserves to be in the NYPD, despite checking the “yes” box next to the question, “Do you believe that homosexuals should be locked up,” in 2009, when he applied, said his lawyer, Jerold Levine. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Turkey: fundamentalists forbid girl in shorts to board bus

A new incident of religious intolerance has taken place in Istanbul where a girl accused she was prohibited from boarding a bus by a group of fundamentalist Islamists because she was dressed with shorts and a t-shirt and did not have her head covered by a veil.

Evrensel newspaper reports that Yagmur Yilmaz, 21 years old, said that just as every day she had wanted to get the bus for Fatih, in the centre of Istanbul, at the Edirnekapi stop, but that she had been blocked by about fifteen fundamentalists, men and women, dressed with turbans and burqas. [ANSAmed] Read more

Ultra-conservative Islamists vandalise artworks at Tunis art fair

.... One of the artworks in question illustrates a naked woman, whose intimate parts are covered by a Couscous plate (a popular Tunisian dish). The woman is surrounded by dark, bearded men. The second work illustrates a bearded superman carrying another bearded man in his arms.

“They said that they would come back at 6 pm, and that they would rather not find the paintings,” said Aicha Gorgi, a gallery owner and artist. “They did come back at 6pm, their number grew, and they gathered in front of Palais El-Abdelia,” she added. [uncut.indexoncensorship.org] Read more

Police bar 3 veiled women from entering France

A police union says three Saudi women who refused to remove their face veils at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport have been barred entry to France. [Associated Press] Read more

Euro 2012: I want to be an England fan and a Muslim. Why's that so hard?

.... For a start, as a British Muslim, I am unsettled by the sight of England supporters dressed as Christian knights and jovially waving Crusader shields at the European championships in Poland and Ukraine. Footage of last night's cagey opener with France was interspersed with close-ups of young men dressed in the armour of Knights Templar hordes.

[COMMENT] They are dressed as St George, England's patron saint. If the image of St George unsettles you, then you will have to avoid art galleries and ancient churches as well as England games. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Saudi Arabia's Got Talent... so long as you're NOT a woman and don't sing or dance (but religious chanting is allowed)

A Saudi Arabian city's talent show contest is unlikely to produce the Middle East's answer to Susan Boyle - seeing as women and children have been banned from entering.

Contestants in Buraydah's Got Talent, based in the oasis conservative hub for the austere Wahhabism branch of Islam, are also prohibited from singing or dancing.

Millions across the region already follow Arabs Got Talent, the official spin-off of Simon Cowell's popular format, which airs on Dubai-based satellite channel MBC4. [MailOnline] Read more

20 churches in Aceh face threat of demolition

.... Worse still, Eva said, was a local edict that forbade Muslims from approving the construction of houses of worship other than mosques, which made it impossible for the churches to fulfill the requirements.

Not only have new churches been forced to close but also the Pakpak Dairi Protestant Church, which was established in 1932. It too is likely to be demolished, she said.

“Guidance from the home minister is needed so that the local consultative forum and the police can be fair and neutral for all citizens and not bow down to intolerant groups,” she said. [The Jakarta Post] Read more

11 June 2012

The devil's index finger

London-based Shiite cleric Yasser Al-Habib doesn't like Sunnis. And he doesn't like homosexuals.

[The Omar Ibn Al-Khattab referred to here is a Sunni hero, a companion of Mohammed, and one of the most powerful and influential Muslim rulers in history. In Shi'a literature, however, he's regarded as a traitor to The Prophet.]

.... "One of the devils is present at the birth of every human being. If Allah knows that the newborn is one of our Shiites, He fends off that devil, who cannot harm the newborn. But if the newborn is not one of our Shiites, the devil inserts his index finger into the anus of the newborn, who thus becomes a passive homosexual. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Saudi 'Got Talent,' but no women or music

A Saudi city known for its ultra-conservatism has created its own version of the "Arabs Got Talent" television reality show, but with no music and women banned from taking part.

Instead, competitors will be permitted to perform religious chants, recite poems and engage in sports events.

The contest is being held north of the capital in the city of Buraydah, known as a centre for Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam that is followed in the desert kingdom, Al-Hayat daily reported on Sunday. [AFP] Read more

Kemalism replaced by Gülenism in Turkey

Today Kemalism is dead, and his secular system has been thrown into the dustbin. What is happening now is a substitution of Gülenist tyranny for the former secularist or Kemalist tyranny, and that shift does not make Turkey any more democratic.

Kemalism was a phenomenon beyond party politics; it was a way of life, and even some secularists treated Kemalism as a religion and the founder Ataturk as an extraordinary person.

Nevertheless, based on the military’s stronghold, a powerful central role for the state, and the Kemalist ideology, today this system is being replaced by another ideology or ism called “Gülenism.”

Gülenists think of and see Gülen as an extraordinary person and his ideology as a way of life; some of his followers even see him and think of him as the Mehdi, the savior of Islam and humanity, believing that they are the chosen ones, that they are the ones who know best in all matters, and that they can never speak against Gülen. They want to have one man, one party, and one hegemony with no room for competition. In a strong central hierarchy, as most of human history has been telling us, a craving for power drives men. [Kurd Net] Read more

10 June 2012

Iran bans women from Euro 2012 screenings

Women in Iran are being banned from watching live public screenings of Euro 2012 football games because of an "inappropriate" environment where men could become rowdy, a deputy police commander said Sunday.

"It is an inappropriate situation when men and women watch football in (movie) theatres together," said Bahman Kargar, Iran's deputy police commander in charge of social affairs, according to the ISNA news agency.

"Men, while watching football, get excited and sometimes utter vulgar curses or tell dirty jokes," he said. "It is not within the dignity of women to watch football with men. Women should thank the police" for the ban. [AFP] Read more

In Turkey the right to free speech is being lost

Which country in the world currently imprisons more journalists than any other? The People's Republic of China? Nope. Iran? Wrong again. The rather depressing answer is the Republic of Turkey, where nearly 100 journalists are behind bars, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Yes, that's right: modern, secular, western-oriented Turkey, with its democratically elected government, has locked away more members of the press than China and Iran combined. But this isn't just about the press – students, academics, artists and opposition MPs have all recently been targeted for daring to speak out against the government of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mildly Islamist Justice and Development Party, or AKP. [Pro Europa] Read more

Turkish Islamist zeal worries Europe

European Union diplomats are expressing growing concern at what they see as the increasingly militant stance taken by Turkey's ruling Islamists.

They accuse Ankara of using probes into alleged plots against the government as a tool to jail and silence opponents and compromise the country's secular credentials by introducing Koran studies in public schools.

Other measures include lowering the age at which parents can send their children to Islamic religious schools, increasing pressure on those criticising Islam and restricting abortion. [Sapa-AFP] Read more

09 June 2012

Nation's future depends on Malay unity

"Therefore I'm of the opinion that efforts to strengthen the race is something very important in ensuring stability, peace and harmony in our country," he said in a speech to launch the "Upholding of Islam and Strengthening of the Race" Convention, here today.

.... Muhyiddin said the Muslims of today faced various challenges, especially with confusing Islamic teachings stemming from the indiscriminate acceptance of liberal Western thinking and culture by a handful of Muslims themselves.

.... The Islamic race should immediately carry out a jihad of knowledge and thoughts to understand and appreciate Islamic teachings in depth and make the religion the axis of life, he added. [The Star] Read more

08 June 2012

Why Islam Is an Integral Part of Germany

In recent days, two prominent German Christians offered up their thoughts to the country's Muslims on their search for identity. Markus Söder, the finance minister of the state of Bavaria, surprised an audience of Turkish immigrants by saying that Islam is an "integral part of Bavaria."

Then, German President Joachim Gauck told the influential weekly Die Zeit that he shares the intentions of his predecessor, former President Christian Wulff. Gauck slightly re-formulated Wulff's most famous sentence by saying: "The Muslims who live here belong to Germany."

That now makes five such prominent voices weighing in on the ongoing debate. Wulff, from whom Gauck has now distanced himself, was first. He said: "By now, Islam also belongs to Germany." [Spiegal Online] Read more

It's time to stop using the word 'Asians'

.... Judge Gerald Clifton, who sentenced the men in Rochdale, indicated they thought the victims were “worthless” and “beyond any respect”. He asserted that one of the motivations behind this was “they were not part of your community or religion”.

This is not the first time that this has been suggested: at a Hindu Forum conference in 2007, the then Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, revealed how the police were working to clamp down on “aggressive conversions” of vulnerable girls.

The following year, a blog site called "Sikh4aweek" which called on Muslim "soldiers" to "hunt" down Sikh university students during freshers week was forced to close following complaints to the police and Google. The common denominator: targeting of non-Muslim girls. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslim Stowaways on the European Titanic: “Eurabian” Alarmism 2.0

Already, the Eurozone’s crisis has overturned Serbia’s government, bringing to power a new leader who wasted no time denying that genocide took place in Srebrenica in 1995 (Apparently, accession to the EU isn’t what it used to be). In Greece, elected members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn refused to stand when Muslim parliamentarians took the oath of office on the Qur’an.

Yet read Christopher Caldwell on Europe, and you will find that Muslims are the continent’s “most significant chronic problem.” In “Europe’s Other Crisis,” his most recent contribution to The New Republic, Caldwell presents what may seem at first like typical Eurabian alarmism: Islam and the West are incompatible. Europe with Muslims will cease being Europe. [Religion Dispatches] Read more

Saudi regime protester Manal al-Sharif cancels US trip over death threats

A Saudi woman who publicly defied the country's ban on female drivers has been forced to cancel a planned trip to the United States after receiving multiple death threats and learning that she is the subject of a fatwa issued by a fundamentalist Muslim cleric.

Manal al-Sharif became a global symbol of the struggle for gender equality in the Middle East after a video of her driving through the streets of Khobar was uploaded to YouTube last April, at the height of the Arab Spring. She was later arrested and imprisoned for nine days. [independent.co.uk] Read more

07 June 2012

Inclusion missing at Calgary Muslim event

A man who has repeatedly said homosexuals should be executed is the top speaker at a Calgary conference taking place on the Canada Day long weekend.

The ironically named conference - The Power of Unity: Islam in a MultiCultural Canada - is headlining Bilal Philips, who goes far beyond saying what many religious leaders believe about homosexuality being a sin. Philips, who has been barred from travelling to Germany, is on the record as saying all male homosexuals should face the "punishment for deviant behaviour . . . which is death." [Calgary Herald] Read more

Belgium arrests Islamist for hate video after riot over face veil arrest

The leader of a Belgian Islamist group, Sharia4Belgium, was arrested on Thursday for posting an Internet video urging attacks on non-Muslims after a woman was detained in Brussels for wearing a face veil. Fouad Belkacem, also known as Abu Imran, was detained at his home in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp and remanded in custody on suspicion of breaking anti-discrimination laws and inciting violence.

“He posted a video message on YouTube in which he called on his brothers and sisters to fight against non-believers,” said a spokesman for the Antwerp prosecutor.

Last week protesters threw metal barriers and bins at a police station following the arrest of a Muslim woman for refusing to remove her face veil. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Egypt female rights official battles Islamists

The head of Egypt's state council for women has accused resurgent Islamists of seeking to roll back female rights on such issues as divorce and custody and undermine the council as a discredited remnant of the Hosni Mubarak era.

"They are trying to take away rights that women attained in compliance with Islamic sharia," said Mervat Tallawy, head of the National Council for Women, adding that criticism of the council was an attempt to erode female rights. [Reuters] Read more

Somali workers walk out of Minnesota bakery in protest of new dress code

More than 30 Somali employees at a bakery walked out in protest Monday after the owner ordered female workers to wear mid-calf skirts after a woman’s long dress recently got caught in a boot washer, MyFoxTwinCities.com reported.

Mike Knowles, the owner of Dianne’s Fine Desserts, told the Faribault Daily News that the new guidelines were installed for safety concerns. Somali workers, however, call the new rules an attack on their Muslim religion.

The women reportedly showed up to work in their full-length attire and were given the option to adjust their skirts or leave. About a dozen women left and they were joined by 20 men who say the dress code goes against teachings in the Koran. [FoxNews.com] Read more

Islam’s place in Europe

.... A number of the social, cultural and political adjustments that will characterize Europe in coming generations are now under way, although often the results are not visible to the naked eye.

Yet the most serious threats to integration — violent extremism among Muslims and right-wing nativism within “host societies” — are slowly being weakened by a confluence of old-fashioned integration processes in society and demographic trends.

The population of Muslim background in Europe will go from 16 million to around 27 million in the next 20 years, increasing the number of Muslims in European countries to more 7–8 percent (from 3.7 percent in 2008) — and to as high as 15–16 percent in France and Germany. [CNN] Read more

Pastor accused of blasphemy, threatened with death in Pakistan

In the Punjab district of Sialkot, a Christian pastor has been accused of blasphemy and threatened with death after quoting from the Qur’an during a sermon.

Pastor Joshua was arrested on May 24 after a large crowd led by Muslim clerics gathered around the church to complain about his quoting from Islamic scriptures. Pastor Joshua was raised as a Muslim, which is believed to be one of the reasons for the accusations made against him. [Release International] Read more

06 June 2012

Loon Victory: Muslim Doctor Ousted for FGM Thought Crime

.... The successful campaign was spearheaded, according to loons, by a lone Jihad Watcher, who garnered hundreds of signatures on a petition submitted to the Mayo Clinic alleging the doctor endorsed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and therefore posed a potential danger to his patients.

The “smoking gun” and centerpiece of the campaign against Dr. al-Haj is a paper he wrote seven years ago as part of his doctoral thesis. The paper was translated from Arabic into English by a notorious translator already exposed as incompetent by Loonwatch here. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Dutch compromise on ritual slaughter

.... That a majority in the Senate are against the ban was met with great relief in the Muslim and Jewish communities. But it did not solve the issue.

Since the law had passed the lower house by such a wide margin, the Senate’s imminent rejection is seen as obstructionist, an uncommon interference by a body of the government which is not directly elected. It would have thwarted the public will.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture promised to find a compromise which would satisfy the objections of the Senate (that the ban infringed on the right to religious freedom) while meeting the will of the lower house to limit the suffering of animals. [Radio Netherlands Worldwide] Read more

Sudan's haphazard sharia legal system has claimed too many victims

Once again, Sudan's arbitrary sharia laws are causing controversy. Last month Intisar Sharif Abdullah, a young mother, was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning in Khartoum. She had given birth to a child that was allegedly not her husband's, and both she and her five-month-old baby are now in Omdurman prison.

.... This is the latest instalment in a random application of an Islamic law that governs the country in principle, but very rarely in practice. Like many Arab countries, Sudan has a constitution that is not purely based on sharia law, but has some language to indicate that religious law is the basis and guiding spirit. In effect, this is a way of paying lip service to religion for the government to gain legitimacy, while avoiding accusations of secularism in a conservative society. [Harry’s Place] Read more

In Turkey, Abortion Law Sparks New Battle Over Mosque Versus State

.... On Sunday, roughly 3,000 women marched alongside their sons and husbands through Istanbul’s Kadikoy district carrying banners that implored the government to “Keep your hands off me” and singing a famous Turkish protest song called: “I was born free, I shall live free.”

Since 1983, abortion has been legal in Turkey until 10 weeks after conception. Yet last week, with a speech in Istanbul, the country’s deeply religious prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched his government’s plan to prohibit all abortions four weeks after a child is conceived. “Every abortion is a murder,” Erdogan said. [The Daily Beast] Read more

Conway and the anti-Islam posters: FOI request refused

.... when I first wrote about this topic I did not know that the poster included the slogan ‘Muslims are the most hateful of them all’ or that pictures of mutilated bodies were involved. (These were initially described as pictures of ‘mutilated Muslims’ although it seems more likely that they were being presented as victims of Islamist violence.)

In answer to Islamophobia Watch’s challenge, one might observe (as Edgar does) that such things are displayed or shouted at anti-Israel rallies fairly routinely. The offensiveness of the posters isn’t in doubt – they seemed pretty threatening too, at least implicitly – but those points are compatible with a) thinking the sentence seems, on the face of it, excessive and b) wanting to know a bit more about exactly what was on the posters. [Harry’s Place] Read more

05 June 2012

Denmark jails gang plotting attack on Prophet cartoons newspaper

Four men have been jailed for 12 years each for plotting a gun attack on a Danish newspaper over its cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, whose publication in 2005 sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world.

The men, a Tunisian and three Swedish citizens of Arab origin, were caught on police surveillance tapes discussing whether to behead or shoot their intended victims, the chief prosecutor told Reuters. The plot, regarded by security experts as the most serious in modern Danish history, was foiled in late 2010 by a joint operation by Danish and Swedish police, who had been monitoring the group for weeks. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Mayor of Nice accused of 'stigmatising' Muslim population

Since June 1, mayor Christian Estrosi, who belongs to the UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has outlawed "whistling", deploying "flags, notably foreign ones", the presence of "unauthorised" folk music groups, illegal parking around the town hall or holding up traffic to "dance" or "parade with banners or flags".

He said such behaviour was "liable to disturb the peace and solemnity of the moment" and could create "unfair delays in the proper running of weddings". Any wedding parties failing to abide by the new rules could see their ceremony delayed by up to 24 hours. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Norwegian far right says Breivik correct to fear Muslims

Norwegian far-right leaders told the court trying Anders Behring Breivik on Tuesday the mass killer was right to fear his nation's "planned annihilation" by Muslims, even if his method of combating it was wrong.

.... "Take a look at society in Pakistan, look at the 57 Islamic states. People there live in a regime of terror and slavery, that's what we had under national socialism and in the Soviet Union, people were trapped in a terror state," Arne Tumyr, the head of an anti-Islam group told court.

Tall, thin and with a full head of hair, Tumyr, 79, spoke softly and insisted on testifying top the court standing up.

"If nothing is done, Norway will be taken over my Muslims," he said. [Reuters] Read more

CAIR getting involved in Faribault Islamic workers' dispute

A day after a group of Somali women were told to leave their work site because they would not follow a new company dress code, an organization is getting involved.

On Monday morning, about 10 Somali women working at Dianne’s Fine Desserts in Le Center were asked to change out of their full-length, loose fitting dresses because of safety concerns.

It marked the first day of a new company dress code after a woman’s long dress got stuck in a boot washer machine.

The women chose to leave instead, and were then joined by the 20 or so Somali men also working the day shift at the facility, which employs about 250 people. [Faribault Daily News] Read more

Bangladesh arrest warrant over 'blasphemous' book

A Bangladeshi court has issued an arrest warrant for the writer of a 2003 novel that allegedly contains insulting remarks against the Prophet Mohammed, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The court in Dhaka issued the order in response to a petition from a Muslim activist accusing author Salam Azad of hurting religious sentiment in his banned book "Bhanga Math" ("Broken Temple").

"We told the court that the book contained slanderous remarks against the Prophet Mohammed and Islam. The judge accepted the petition and issued a warrant of arrest," the petitioner's lawyer Ekhlas Uddin told AFP. [AFP] Read more

Belgian right-wingers offer burqa bounty

Belgian right-wingers have offered to pay a $310 bounty to anyone who reports a veiled woman to police, they said on Tuesday, in the wake of face veil riots in Brussels.

Filip Dewinter, a senior figure within Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party, told Reuters the riots had made police apprehensive about enforcing the burqa ban and that the payment should put pressure on authorities to further enforce it.

“It’s a textile prison for the women who have to live under it,” he said.

It comes after protesters hurled bins and metal barriers at a Brussels police station last week after a Muslim woman was arrested for refusing to remove her face veil. [Reuters] Read more

04 June 2012

Can Islamist parties and democracy mix?

.... One revealing session featured the leader of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party, Rashid Ghannouchi. He described why, after his party’s victory, it chose not to seek revision of Article I of Tunisia’s constitution — a change that would have made sharia law the source of the country’s legal code.

Ennahda decided to accept the Article I language stating that Tunisia’s religion is Islam. Its leaders recognized that many Tunisians differ with Ennahda over referencing sharia and fear its misuse. So the party opted for consensus. Instead of pushing for Islamization, it agreed to implement Islamic values by developing a modern state. [Philly.com] Read more

The Arab Winter, continued

Back in November I wrote a cover story for The Spectator arguing that the trend in North Africa for those countries which had thrown off their dictators appeared to be more in the direction of Winter than that of Spring.

Since then there have been many developments, including the first round of the Egyptian Presidential elections where the field is led by the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. And now, in a new development reported by Raymond Ibrahim over at the Gatestone Institute, we learn about the first beheading of an ‘apostate’ convert to Christianity over in Tunisia. [The Spectator] Read more

Kuwaiti gets 10 years for Twitter blasphemy

A court sentenced a 26-year-old Kuwaiti to 10 years in prison on Monday after ruling that he had endangered state security by insulting the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media, his lawyer said.

Shi'ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi had pleaded innocent, saying he did not post the messages and that his Twitter account had been hacked. [Reuters] Read more

Egyptian women: 'They were doing better under Mubarak'

.... In Cairo today, there is no longer a sense of a traditionally patriarchal society yielding to the democratic spirit of the Arab Spring. Instead, the hundreds of thousands of women who contributed so much to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak find themselves marginalised, if not ignored.

Commentators have made much of the 40% of seats won by the Freedom and Justice party of the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections earlier this year. Some have suggested that Egypt has replaced a western-backed, secular dictatorship with an Islamic version, but for others the true headline figure was the paltry 12 seats for women out of a total of 498. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

03 June 2012

Bawer & Fjordman Removed From Breivik Circus

.... The Norwegian court had allowed Breivik to call these two as witnesses as part of his "defense that his atrocities were necessary to protect his society from multiculturalism, socialism and an Islamic takeover…(even though) none of this "testimony" has any real bearing on the question of Breivik's guilt or innocence."

This defense was initially approved by the court in order to "exploit his atrocities, and the horror they have inspired, to advance their own political agendas" which "seek to blame Breivik's atrocities on conservative politicians and bloggers." [Legal Project] Read more

Fantasy Islam vs. Islam

The interview starts off smoothly enough with Geert Wilders' basic story and goals for his book Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me.

Geert goes on to explain why Islam "should not be compared so much with other religions like Christianity or Judaism" but rather "to other totalitarian ideologies like Communism and Fascism. If we acknowledge that fact then you don’t have to treat it like a religion and a lot of problems can be solved far more –" [The Brussels Journal] Read more

Tunisia bans niqabs in exam centres

Tunisia has banned students wearing niqab, the full face veil, from sitting for the baccalaureate exams.

The end of high school tests are scheduled for next week, but the education ministry said that no girl wearing the niqab would be allowed to enter the examination centres or halls.

“One of the conditions to sit for the exams is not to cover the face,” the ministry said. “Those who do not comply will not be allowed in the exam centre.” [Gulf News] Read more

Islamic holy man and his wife are jailed for mutilating the genitals of their four daughters

An Islamic holy man and his wife have been jailed for the genital mutilation of their four daughters.

The case has shocked France and was branded by a female government minister as a 'grave crime' and an 'intolerable affront to women's dignity.'

All four of the victims, now aged between 11 and 20, were in court to hear the sentence and wept and cried out as their parents were led away from the dock.

The four victims of the genital mutilation wept in court as their parents were sent down

The unnamed father was sentenced to two years and his wife got 18 months for allowing a 'doctor' to remove parts of their vaginas. [MailOnline] Read more

02 June 2012

Christians are being ethnically-cleansed from the Middle East's hollow new democracies

....Yet for the nine million Egyptian Coptic Christians and the two million Syrian followers of Christ, whose lineage goes back to St Paul’s proselytising in the first century AD, these are desperate times. Religious minorities often find their most assured protection under dictatorships.

Forget all the talk about liberators fighting against the existing regime in Syria, or of democrats and progressives triumphantly taking the reins in Egypt.

The unspeakable truth is that the sizeable Christian communities in these trouble-torn states are at greater threat of ethnic cleansing from their ancestral homes than has been the case for generations – often at the hands of the self-styled freedom fighters so feted by the Western press. [ConservativeHome] Read more

I’m not being seen by that! Businessman's shocking rant at Muslim airport worker

A high-flying businessman was hauled before the court for a tirade of religious abuse at a Muslim immigration official waiting to check his passport.

Anthony Holt, 65, had become wound up after reading an article in the Daily Mail about the ‘victimisation of Christianity’ on a flight into Manchester.

When he landed, the retired consultant refused to go through a desk where Sayima Mohammed was on duty.

He astonished witnesses by pointing at her and saying: “I don’t want to be seen by that. I don’t want to be seen by any Muslim in a position of authority. I want to be seen by someone who’s English. This is England. This is my country. I’m not into all this Islam.” [Manchester Evening News] Read more