31 July 2012

King Fahad Academy Wins Libel Case Against Daily Express Over Islam Fanatic Claims

A west London school and its director have accepted libel damages over a newspaper claim that it had been infiltrated by Islamic fanatics.

The King Fahad Academy and Dr Sumaya Alyusuf brought High Court proceedings over a June 2011 story in the Sunday Express.

Their counsel, Clare Kissin, told Mr Justice Tugendhat in London that it wrongly stated that the Acton day school, which has more than 500 pupils aged from three to 18, taught an extremist form of Islam, and some readers may have understood it to suggest it had been infiltrated by dangerous fanatics. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Egypt: Coptic teacher arrested for 'insulting' Facebook cartoons

.... The lawyers claimed the cartoons offended Islam but Sawiris said they were just a joke and had no religious dimensions.

Coptic Christians make up around 10 percent of Muslim-majority Egypt's population and have frequently been targeted by Islamic extremists. They also claim they are discriminated against by the state.

In January 2011, a suicide bomber killed more than 20 Christians outside a church in the northern port city of Alexandria, amid accusations by Islamists that the Coptic Church had detained a woman who converted to Islam. [AKI] Read more

30 July 2012

The Ramadan Olympics and Islam's "Law of Necessity"

.... There is a powerful principle in Islamic jurisprudence, the "Law of Necessity," that permits what is forbidden -- the end justifying the means. If a goal is obligatory, then the means can also be obligatory, even if otherwise they might be forbidden.

In Islam the universe of possible human deeds is divided into what is obligatory, permitted neutral, disliked, or forbidden. Then there is the need to balance the pros and cons of every act. This is a world of choice which can embrace a necessary evil, or take a pass on a good deed for the sake of a greater good.

Some "Law of Necessity" exceptions go back to Muhammad; they are hard-wired into Islamic law. A case in point is the exemption for travelers during Ramadan, which some athletes rely on. Another exemption for travelers, which also comes straight from Muhammad, allows Muslims to catch up on prayer times later than the correct hour. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Austrian Justice Ministry gives OK for circumcisions

Doctors in Austria's westernmost province have been cleared to resume circumcisions after the Justice Ministry reassured them that they can perform the religious practice without risking criminal charges, officials said on Monday.

Spooked by a regional court ruling in neighbouring Germany that the practice supported by Muslims and Jews amounted to physical abuse, the governor of Austria's Vorarlberg province last week advised doctors to suspend it, triggering a heated debate. [Reuters] Read more

Immigrants with multiple wives will get more benefits, officials admit

Officials have admitted that polygamous households, of which there are an estimated 1,000 in Britain, could be handed more money under reforms to the welfare system.

Currently the state effectively recognises polygamous marriages by paying extra wives smaller amounts of income support in addition to the normal sum received by the husband and their first spouse.

When the streamlined Universal Credit regime is introduced next year, this policy will be scrapped.

But a House of Commons library paper admits that as an unintended consequence of this, any second or third wives in a household would be able to claim a full single person’s benefits in addition to the standard amount claimed by the husband and their first wife. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Mali unwed couple stoned to death by Islamists

A couple who had sex outside marriage have been stoned to death by Islamists in the town of Aguelhok in northern Mali, officials say.

The man and woman were buried up to their necks, then pelted with stones until they died.

The northern half of Mali has been overrun by rebels - Tuareg and Islamist - following a coup in Mali's capital. [BBC] Read more

27 July 2012

Judge’s matrimonial ruling is bound to horrify sharia law proponents

A MUSLIM doctor learned this week that shariah law relating to matrimonial affairs has no standing in the UK.

After Dr Zaid Al-Saffar, a consultant rheumatologist at Scarborough Hospital and head of the town’s Islamic society, was ordered by the Appeal Court to pay his ex-wife £60,000 maintenance, he declared: “Family law in this county is biased against Muslim people.”

Al-Saffar’s clash with the law began when he and his wife, academic Hanan Al-Saffer, split in 2008. According to this report, in traditional Muslim societies there is often no expectation that the ex-husband will pay maintenance to the divorced wife and that she has to look to her extended family for support. [The Freethinker] Read more

26 July 2012

Anti-Semitism, Islamism and Islam

.... Not to understate it at all: this is a tragedy. It is a tragedy for Muslims first, for the Jews next and for all the rest of us after that. The best way to ensure that no equivalent of Nostra Aetate ever emerges from the Islamic faith is help to deny — rather than face up to — very uncomfortable facts and instead join in the popular pretence.

My personal hunch, and hope, is that the Islamic faith will one day go through a similar transformative process to that of the Catholic Church. It will not be easy and it will not be painless. But whether honest inquiry or pleasant lies prevail will mark the difference over whether this process takes years or centuries. [The Spectator] Read more

Landmark case: Government argues that Islam is political

What began as a clear first amendment issue has exploded into a landmark case regarding the the status of Islam as a political entity.

Today the Detroit Transit Authority (SMART), a government entity, argued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that our "Leaving Islam" ad was political because Islam is political. At least two of the three judges seemed to go along.

If the Court rules against us, it will be ruling that Islam is political and that Sharia is a political program -- something that other government agencies have strenuously denied. If that happens, will Islam and Sharia deserve the protection of a religion? [Jihad Watch] Read more

Sri Lankan at Risk of Being Beheaded for Praying to Buddha

A Sri Lankan youth employed as a domestic aid has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for praying to a statue of Lord Buddha, which is considered an offence according to Islamic Sharia law.

According to the Bodu Bala Sena, the youth bearing passport no. 2353715 identified as Premanath Pereralage Thungasiri has been arrested by Umulmahami Police, which is a grave situation. While the youth is a Buddhist, the charge levelled against him is that he paid obeisance to the Buddha at the house where he was employed. [The Chakra News] Read more

Accused DHS Advisors Say Claims Of Muslim Brotherhood Ties Are Unfounded

.... Elibiary, along with Mohamed Magid and Dalia Mogahed, are mentioned in one of the letters sent to various government agencies earlier this month by Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Gohmert.

The representatives are all calling for investigations into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government. Magid is also mentioned in a letter to the Justice Department.

All three say they are in no way affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. But it's difficult for them to clear their names, Elibiary said, when members of Congress seem intent on dragging them through the mud. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Muslim Persecution of Christians: June, 2012

.... Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, "tolerated" citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Mohammed Amin: Islamophobia – a trap for unwary Muslims

.... Muslims need to keep it concrete. What is wrong is Muslims being denied their rights as citizens, as listed at the beginning, and that is all that Muslims should ever complain about.

I do not want other people to slag off Islam, any more than I want to see them slagging off Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or any other religion.

However, if they wish to do so, they have every right in a free society to be as trenchant as they wish about Islam. What people are not free to do is deny me the rights listed above. That distinction needs to be understood by every Muslim (and indeed non-Muslim) citizen.

It would help if we stopped using term Islamophobia. “Anti-Muslim violence” and “anti-Muslim hatred” are much clearer, and focus the issue properly on the rights of individual citizens.

[A COMMENT] When I feel free to openly criticise Islam without fear of violence to my person, perhaps I will no longer be an Islamophobes. As a woman I would describe my Islamophobia as a dread of Islam, rather than a hatred.

I know some rather nice Muslims in the same way that I know some rather nice Christians. However, I feel freer to criticise the belief system of the Christian religion and some of its practices than the Muslims religion and some of its practices. [Conservative Home] Read more

Churches Should Not Be Built In Islamic Countries, Say Preachers

.... Furthermore, Sheikh Sayed A-Rifae Al-Husseini expressed displeasure towards Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, and the Municipality for approving the construction of a new church in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, stressing that it is not permissible as per the Sharia.

He added that giving excuses such as it is a matter of human rights and international norms to build it, is not acceptable, as Islam comes first, and people should respect religion first before serving humanity or anything else. [Arab Times Kuwait] Read more

Swiss legal experts divided over circumcision

Moves by two Swiss hospitals to suspend the practice of circumcising boys in the wake of an adverse court ruling about the procedure in Germany have sparked heated debate amongst legal experts in Switzerland.

The children’s hospitals of Zurich and St Gallen announced they had suspended the practice after the Cologne district court ruled last month that circumcision for religious purposes amounted to willful bodily harm which could be punishable under criminal law. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Muslim hospital consultant told to pay ex-wife maintenance despite claims he owes her nothing under Islamic rules

A Muslim hospital consultant was told yesterday that he must pay his ex-wife maintenance even though under Islamic rules he believes he owes her nothing.

A judge told Dr Zaid Al-Saffar that he must follow ‘the rule in this country’ and share his money.

The Appeal Court decision means Dr Al-Saffar must pay £60,000 to his former wife, academic Hanan Al-Saffar.

The ruling sounded a warning to Muslim couples who believe their marriages are ordered according to sharia law and agree to be bound by Islamic courts. [MailOnline] Read more

Mob 'attacks’ police during Islamic veil ID check

In the restive port city of Marseille, police fear that the release of four people arrested for allegedly attacking officers during an ID check on a woman wearing an Islamic veil will undermine their fight against violent crime in the city.

Marseille police say three of its officers were injured in the early hours of July 25 when a mob of some 50 people tried to prevent them from checking the identity of a woman who was wearing a full Islamic veil. [FRANCE 24] Read more

25 July 2012

Council of Europe slams govts for anti-Muslim laws

Muslims living in Europe regularly face violence and prejudice and are the subject of several discriminatory European laws that bolster their social exclusion, a top human rights official said Tuesday.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, called on governments to do more to combat anti-Muslim discrimination and said lawmakers should stop targeting the religious group through legislation or policy.

“It is time to accept Muslims as an integral part of European societies, entitled to equality and dignity,” he said in a statement. “Prejudice, discrimination and violence only hinder integration.” [AFP] Read more

Where is the Evidence?

.... Although all the illegal measures taken by the Egyptian authorities against the Muslim Brothers from 1948 up to the present day are truly deplorable, at the same time, what proof do we have that the faction of Hassan el-Banna, who advocated accession to power by peaceful means, is today the only faction within the Society of the Muslim Brothers?

And what proof is there that the faction which opted for forceful reform, through the use of violence and bloodshed, has disappeared?

Or, for that matter, what proof is there that the accession to power of the peaceful faction of the Muslim Brotherhood will not be followed by a takeover by the non-peaceful faction, which will refuse to step down, as Hamas has done in Gaza, on the pretext that only they are qualified to apply God's law? [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Huma Abedin: Assistant Editor of Islamist Journal

.... The ridicule and outright dismissal of the letters’ overall concern about the Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups and individuals working with the U.S. government is more unsettling than the attacks on the specific Huma Abedin issue.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents state that it seeks to influence U.S. government proxy via front groups. Brotherhood operatives have claimed success in infiltrating the government as far back as 1988.

The letters’ concern about Brotherhood influence operations may sound like a fantasy, but such operations are to be expected. Foreign governments, companies, special interest groups, lobbyists and activists all try to influence the government. Why should we expect the Brotherhood to act any differently?

Huma Abedin isn’t being accused of being a terrorist or Brotherhood operative. She may very well be an anti-Islamist Muslim that has rejected the views of her family. If that is the case, she should tell her story and educate Americans about what she has learned about Islamism from her family members’ activities. [radicalislam.org] Read more

Veiled women are face of new channel

Maria TV is run primarily by women. They operate cameras, present shows and interview female guests ranging from doctors to students of Islamic theology. But they cannot show their faces during the broadcasts, and no men are allowed on air during the female programming, not even for phone-ins.

Shrouded in long flowing black robes and scarves known as niqabs, with black gloves to match - the women are distinguishable only by their voices and the slits for their eyes.

The channel, which was launched on Saturday to coincide with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is the brainchild of Ahmed Abdallah as part of a broader effort to expand his religious pan-Arab satellite station Ummah TV. [AP] Read more

Muslim world in crisis

.... The Muslim world today is indeed in a crisis. Representing one-fifth of humanity as well as of the global land mass spreading over 57 countries and possessing 70 percent of the world’s energy resources and nearly 50 percent of the world’s natural resources, the Muslim world should have been a global giant, economically as well as politically.

Rich in everything but weak in all respects, it represents only five percent of the world’s GDP and is totally a non-consequential entity with no role in global decision-making, or even in addressing its own problems. [The News International] Read more

The History and Ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood

.... The first pamphlet al-Banna wrote has not been included in any collection of his works. It is an undated pamphlet, but internal evidence suggests it was written in May 1929, and published not much later, probably in June 1929.

The pamphlet is an attack on the Egyptian educational system, which is interesting, but even more interesting is that the pamphlet contains long paragraphs full of praise for the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. If there ever was any doubt that European fascism played the role of midwife at the birth of modern Muslim radicalism, this pamphlet will take all your doubts away. [RightSideNews] Read more

Circumcision Debate Has Berlin Searching for Answers

.... The justice minister has appointed a task force of senior legal experts to address the complexities of the issue. The group, which includes the directors of the departments of civil law, criminal law and constitutional law at the Justice Ministry, will spend the summer brooding over how a law could neutralize the Cologne court's decision.

"The matter is more complicated than just inserting a simple little sentence somewhere, as some people envision," says the minister. "After this emotional debate, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the law will come before the Federal Constitutional Court. The judges there will have to determine whether they share the balancing of fundamental rights that we intend to make." This could take years.

Dr. Ulus from Cologne, the man who likes to listen to Bach, has been given a respite for a while -- because of Ramadan, not the debate. Things won't be busy at his practice again for another four weeks. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] Read more

24 July 2012

Bad language, racism and dodgy votes at the Guardian

Guardian Cif had a field day the other week running several articles highlighting the BTL abuse thrown at Muslim writers and journalists. The first was by Mehdi Hasan who asked “who will stand with me” against this unwarranted hatred.

He was quickly answered by Jonathan Freedland in his article “I stand with Mehdi Hasan against the torrent of Islamophobic abuse” and added “By all means disagree with me below the line. But no one should have to put up with vile racism and bigotry”

Freedland’s view can be summarised by this passage:

... it is racism, of the crudest kind. That last quotation is the easiest example [Hasan was told "Get out of my country, goatfucker"], but the subtler ones are not much better. They can be confusing, because they often dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb – slamming Islam as oppressive of gay and women's rights, for example – but the thick layer of bigotry is visible all the same. Call it progressives' prejudice.

His article attracted 885 reader comments (this is a high number even for Cif) and the one with the greatest number of reader recommends (a massive 4407) fully supports him. It has even been awarded the accolade “Guardian pick”. It says:

“The attraction of Islamophobia to bigots is that it provides them with 'plausible deniability', i.e. despite the fact that most Muslims are non-White, bigots can still claim that their hatred has nothing to do with racism, because Islam is a religion and not a race.

Whenever someone scratches the surface when it comes to groups like the EDL and BNP, beneath the Islamophobic exterior, there is often a racist motivation. If most Muslims were Anglo-Saxon, I doubt that Islamophobia would hold much appeal for the likes of the EDL and the BNP”. [islamophobiasucks (4407 votes) 10 July 2012 1:33PM]

No doubt some White people can pursue their hatred of non-Whites by attacking some other characteristic not to do with colour. But who are they, these bigots?

How did Freedland himself fare in his robust defence of Muslim fellow writers? Did he, in fact, attract comments from these bigots and was he in his turn subjected to this rampant BTL abuse? He must have stood out in their eyes as just as bad.

The comment critical of Freedland with the highest number of recommends (a lowly 1590 compared with the Guardian pick quoted above), says:

“I feel what you've written is very patronising. You seem to find it unacceptable that people can have strong views about Islam which in my opinion are understandable. For instance you state that critics of Hasan and Islam use language that ' they often dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb'. But perhaps these people really are progressive but do not find Islam to be, probably because it isn't.

I found very little of the 'language and imagery so vile' that you spoke and I read them all, the moderator removes most such things and others which are not offensive anyway so not sure what you're referring to as they weren't there.

I don't know Jonathon I really don't know why you're so obsessed with calling anyone a racist who objects to the obvious unpleasantness of this religion. Also you may accept Hasan's explanation of his deeply offensive comments but that doesn't mean everyone else has to.

Let me add my own brief explanation of myself so as not to be labelled racist/fascist or whatever term is being used at present. My Grandfather came to UK from Germany (guess why?). My Grandmother is from a family of Irish Gypsys (usually referred to as Pikeys). My wife is the daughter of immigrants from Bangalore. I could go on …” [Stowlawn (1590 votes) 1st 10 July 2012 1:41PM]

The man who wrote this is not a bigot. He is not a racist. In fact, it is very hard to find any measure of bigotry or racism in the comments critical of Freedland (and indeed in the critical comments on the Mehdi Hasan article which set this ball rolling).

There are a good number that might have been better worded but then we don’t all possess the literary skills of a Guardian journalist such as Freedland who can produce brilliant non-bigoted phrases such as “.... the thick layer of bigotry is visible all the same. Call it progressives' prejudice.“

The fact is, despite the “Guardian pick” comment quoted above with its massive 4407 recommends, the great majority of Guardian Cif readers are critical of Islam and those that try to promote it, and they are not bigots or racists, and they show their disapproval without resort to abuse. The table below shows the numbers for Freedland’s article.

Analysis of first 250 published comments
Type of CommentReaders Comments% of commentsReaders Votes% of votes
Critical of Mr Freedland142563560866
Supportive of Mr Freedland53211397526

27, about one in ten, of all the commenters in the period examined had their comments removed. The only explanation given is “.... removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards”.

Typical published comments are:

“I agree that vile personal abuse is wrong, and has no place. It is a pity Mehdi Hasan has fled CIF. However, all Muslims must be able to take criticism of their belief and faith, and be prepared to uphold them intellectually, with reasoned arguments based on intelligence, detailed questioning and understanding.” [Existangst (1498 votes) 3rd 10 July 2012 1:33PM]

“.... Sorry, that sounds suspiciously like a means of dismissing any rationally argued point that happens to ask uncomfortable questions of the Islmaic faith.... “ [ToastandMarmite (1189 votes) 5th 10 July 2012 1:43PM]

And one commenter uses the f#### word!

“Muslims can quote insulting passages from their holy text which are rude about us, is apparently what you and he are saying, but we mustn't be rude about them back, is what this boils down to. I call that fooey. [southlondonerabroad (531 votes) 15th 10 July 2012 1:49PM]

“So is there a way that one can criticise the oppression of gay people or the inferior position of women in Muslim countries, or homophobic statements by high-profile Muslims in the UK, without being accused of merely "dressing up" bigotry?” [Heresiarch (167 votes) 63rd 10 July 2012 2:09PM]

I used to think I abhorred National Socialism. Now I realise I am just bigoted against Germans. [CruiskeenLawn (94 votes) 92nd 10 July 2012 2:47PM]

There is another dimension to all this. If you click rapidly enough on the recommend button you can rack up more than one recommend, even increasing the count by several votes. Anyone can fiddle the Cif readers’ recommends number.

The process is however time consuming and it takes a very dedicated hacker to increase recommends by “hundreds” on just one comment. There is also supposed to be a programme which the technically competent can use to increase recommends.

There is a question mark hanging over all the recommends both those criticising and those supporting Freedland.

The comments themselves are on firmer ground as coming up with and posting a large number of original sounding comments from different identities is a much bigger challenge.

Though that does not rule out someone sufficiently infuriated with or in admiration of Mr Freedland having a go. In the opinion of the present writer who has read the first 250 comments and scanned the rest the comments are all or very nearly all from different people.

In this particular case there is another factor.

If a line of comment is popular, many comments repeating that line will get high recommend scores, even if a few especially at the beginning of the comment period get very high scores.

Now, amazingly, the top three comments (out of 53) in support of Freedland with 4407, 2594, and 1715 recommends respectively account for 62% of all his supportive recommends. After these top three all you get are a few low 100s and lots of 10s.

In contrast, the top three comments criticising him (out of 142) with 1590, 1520, 1498, recommends respectively account for only 13% of the total recommends going against him.

Somebody or something has been getting at those top recommends in Freedland’s favour. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

It doesn’t help that the highest scoring pro-Freedland comment with 4407 recommends has been given the label “Guardian pick” and that the second highest scoring comment with 2594 recommends , published only five minutes after Freedland’s article itself and first in the stream, is by a Guardian Cif employee who comes up with this:

“Excellent point [Freedland’s remarks quoted at the top]- it's easy to spot and dismiss out and out racist comments, a few of which are highlighted above, but the subtle hate speech is just as damaging.

Has Guardian Cif finally lost the plot? [LibertyPhile]

British Logo Goes Islamic

.... currently UK regulation allows the term halal to be used to meat that has been pre-stunned before slaughter and to that which has not. Labeling requirements would need to take this into consideration.

We will be happy to discuss these issues with Government and, of course, to comply fully with industry labeling requirements that may be developed, Waitrose!

So like it or not Red Tractor meat is in fact Islamic meat and nothing British about the logo so many shoppers think is up to British standards of care for the animals and slaughter you find yourself asking yourself would Muslims eat meat blessed in the name of Christ or a Hindu God? [Asian Tribune] Read more

As long as the term "Islamophobia" is bandied about .... strategies like Prevent will struggle to make an impact

.... last Monday when the General Secretary of the London School of Economics (LSE) Student Union shared an update on Twitter stating “Big day with the new sabbs [sic] in office, lots of inductions, and preventing Prevent”.

In response to this, the Education Officer at Swansea University Student Union tweeted back “can you drop me some stuff about preventing Prevent”.

Since then, the LSE Student Union General Secretary has confirmed her view on the matter, tweeting that “Prevent IS Islamophobic” and that it is “a gvmt [sic] strategy to 'prevent extremism on campus' which consists of victimising Muslims”.

Intrigued by the suggestion that Prevent is a racist policy I spoke to a senior figure at the National Union of Students (NUS) about the issue and he told me that “the view that prevent in general is problematically Islamophobic, and that the way the police often handle issues locally is unhelpful, is relatively common”. [The Commentator] Read more

23 July 2012

Tony Blair: 'The West is asleep on the issue of Islamist extremism'

.... ''We must engage, but also challenge,’’ he warns. The Middle East ''won’t achieve democracy unless it understands that democracy is a way of thinking as well as voting. The key question is how the majority treats the minority.’’

The West, he says, has been too slow to help the people of Iran: ''It is a great civilisation. The people would undoubtedly boot their government out at the ballot box if they could. It is important they know we are prepared to help them. A Persian spring would be very welcome.’’

But have you considered, I ask, that you might be wrong about Islam? What if it is not, at root, a religion of peace? He has thought about this but doesn’t accept it. He makes a comparison with Christianity. ''At Mass, at the end of the Bible readings, we say 'This is the word of the Lord’.

We now take it as the spirit of Biblical teaching. We don’t take every element of it as literal. That process took us a long time.’’ Islam is wrestling with the same process today.[telegraph.co.uk] Read more

20 July 2012

I love Ramadan – it makes me feel connected

It's finally Ramadan. All year long, I've been waiting for this, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the month that all non-Muslims can name because of what we do during it – fasting. I love it. It is the one pillar of Islam that I excel at, every year, without fail. Ramadan is my time to shine.

[A COMMENT] I've been reading the Guardian online for about 3 years now, and y'know...every year you get these Ramadan pieces.... a lot of them.

Is there any particular reason why, have I missed the Easter, Xmas, Yom Kippur, Diwali etc etc articles?

There must have been I suppose, tucked away in the faith section somewhere, but certainly not in the volume that Ramadan gets. It get's pretty dull. [Guardian Cif] Read more

What does it mean to be LGBT and Muslim in the UK?

.... Stemming largely from their varied interpretations of the Koran, many Muslims and scholars remain vehemently opposed to homosexuality in the Islamic faith.

While there is no specific mention of the word "homosexual" or direct criticism of homosexuality in the religious text, its stories refer to and denounce certain sexual acts, which are themselves open to interpretation.

The story of Lot, for example, has been interpreted by some to be a direct condemnation of homosexuality, while others say it refers instead to acts of male rape and violence. [New Statesman] Read more

Saudi warns non-Muslims not to eat, drink, or smoke in public in Ramadan, or face expulsion

Saudi authorities warned non-Muslim expatriates on Friday, the first day of Ramadan, not to eat, drink, or smoke in public until the end of the Muslim holy month’s sunrise-to-sunset fast — or face expulsion.

The Interior Ministry of the oil-rich kingdom called on expatriates to “show consideration for feelings of Muslims” and “preserve the sacred Islamic rituals.” Otherwise, a ministry statement said, Saudi authorities will cancel violators’ work contracts and expel them.

Saudi Arabia’s population of 27 million includes some 8 million expatriates, including Asians, Arabs, and Westerners, according to government figures. [Associated Press] Read more

Mega-Mosques: "Building a French Islam"

Its towering minaret, which has purposely been designed to change to change the suburb's skyline by being taller than any church steeple in the neighborhood, is supposed to become the "new symbol of Islam in France."

The Socialist government in France has inaugurated a new mega-mosque in Paris as a first step towards "progressively building a French Islam."

The new mosque, located in the northern Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise, is not only vast in its dimensions (photo here), but is also highly visible and symbolic: its towering minaret, which has purposely been designed to change the suburb's skyline by being taller than any church steeple in the neighborhood, is supposed to become the "new symbol of Islam in France."

The blue-domed mega-mosque also has an important political dimension. French President François Hollande owes his May 6 electoral victory to the large turnout by Muslim voters, who cast the deciding votes that propelled Hollande into the Élysée Palace. It is now political payback time, and the mosque at Cergy is one of at least 150 new mosque projects that the Socialist government has pledged to support. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

19 July 2012

LGBTs, liberalism, pluralism are enemies of Islam

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community along with liberalism and pluralism were today branded as enemies of Islam by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in front of a crowd of over 11,000 imams and mosque committee members from across the nation.

“LGBTs, pluralism, liberalism ? all these ‘isms’ are against Islam and it is compulsory for us to fight these,” he said.

Najib also said the government supports human rights, but within the boundaries of Islam.

“We do support human rights, but we must do so within the boundaries set by Islam,” he said. [The Malaysian Insider] Read more

BNP members clash with anti-fascist protestors in Sunderland halal meat protest

BNP members have met with an angry backlash in Sunderland as they gathered to protest against the use of halal meat in Subway sandwich shops.

Party members and their anti-fascist opponents faced each other across the road as they gathered on either side of St Luke’s Terrace.

The Echo reported yesterday how BNP leader Nick Griffin planned a protest outside the Pallion Subway branch today against the company’s use of halal meat in its sandwiches.

Mr Griffin, who failed to turn up to the protest, said the use of such meat was cruel. [Sunderland Echo] Read more

Germans evenly split over circumcision law

Germans are almost evenly split over the prospect of a law allowing ritual circumcision of boys, a new poll suggests – as the country’s major parties unite to call for such a law.

The survey published on Thursday shows 45 percent supported a ban on circumcision, in line with a recent court ruling which said the conducting the operation was inflicting bodily harm.

But 42 percent said they disagreed, telling pollsters from the YouGov firm they thought the ritual carried out by Muslims and Jews on young boys and babies, should be allowed.

Parliament is set to vote for a resolution on Thursday which would call on the government to lay out a law which would explicitly legalise circumcision. It is expected to be supported by all the major parties. [Local Europe] Read more

Suit against security company who fired Philadelphia woman for wearing headscarf

Tahira B. El, a practicing Muslim, faced religious discrimination when she was fired by her employer, a security company providing guards to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, because she refused to remove a head scarf she wore for religious reasons, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia on her behalf Wednesday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The suit said that El, of Philadelphia, was hired by ABM Security Services, of California, to work at the center on Feb. 21, 2011. She was fired the next day, the suit said, when she showed up in uniform, wearing the khimar, which covers her hair and ears, but not her face. [Philly.com] Read more

18 July 2012

“We are Birmingham”: throwing the spotlight on the realities of religious discrimination

.... focuses on the impact my research into Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of discrimination has had and hopefully, will continue to do so.This is of course extremely flattering and something that is a great honour for me.

As well as being featured collectively on the University’s website – view here – the campaign is also being promoted via a series of individually focused advertisements on the London Underground, mainline train services and across a range of different locations in London and the South East as well as in Birmingham and the West Midlands. My advertisements – currently on Great Western trains – is being promoted by the strapline: [Bigmouth Strikes Again] Read more

Muslim men in Egypt demand to wear beards

.... All over the country, Muslim men are demanding to wear beards - and Muslim women the hijab hair covering - in police stations, banks, airliners, television news programs and other places where they have long been banned by law or custom.

For many, it's a blooming of self-expression that was dangerous under a regime that equated Islamic piety with terrorism, when having a beard was enough reason to be pulled over by state security officers or to draw extra attention at the airport.

For others, it's part of the rise of Islamist governments in the wake of the Arab Spring and a disconcerting intrusion of religious identity into the public sphere. [Washington Post] Read more

17 July 2012

Timbuktu man gets 40 lashes for drinking

A Timbuktu man accused of drinking alcohol was given 40 lashes Monday by members of an Islamist group that has seized the north Malian city and imposed Islamic law there, witnesses said.

"A young man has just been lashed 40 times for drinking alcohol. The whipping took place in the Timbuktu market," a resident told AFP by phone.

"He is injured and was taken to hospital," the resident added, asking not to be identified.

Other witnesses confirmed the incident. [AFP] Read more

Anti-Muslim reporting fuelling hate crimes

‘Anti-Muslim reporting’ has led to an increase in hate crimes against Muslims a report says.

Journalists and media experts have submitted recommendations to Leveson Inquiry to address racist media portrayal of Muslims and it’s wider social impact.

The report ‘Race and Reform: Islam and Muslims in the British Media’ draws on first-hand interviews with 16 journalists, media experts, community representatives and politicians and aims to address inaccurate anti-Muslim narratives in British media and their social impact, from the 1990s to 2011. [Asian Image] Read more

Freedom... You say that word a lot

Ms. Ayesha Nusrat, self-described as a 23-year-old Muslim Indian from New Delhi, recently wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times, titling it "The Freedom of Hijab". In this essay, Ms. Nusrat described her transition to wearing a hijab following the tenets of her religion, Islam. According to Ms. Nusrat, this was her [I quote]"most liberating experience ever" [End quote].

Ms. Nusrat made a choice to exercise her prerogative to dress as she pleases. This is not, I repeat, NOT, a comment on that prerogative. However, the essay indicates that she intended to make a statement through this specific choice of hers. Since that statement is in the public domain via the Op-Ed, I would like to call the statement (and the judgement behind it) into question.

.... Islam, especially fundamentalist Islam, actively denies them the power, and would rather beat the women into submission than relinquish control - and that is not a misconception, judging by the experience of many, many women in the world. If Ms. Nusrat continues to dismiss their experience because of her beliefs, she is being dishonest. [Personal Reflexions] Read more

Why is Saudi Arabia beefing up its blasphemy laws?

Some Saudi Arabian officials evidently feel that their country's blasphemy laws -- which treat transgressions as hudud or "limits," punishable by death in some cases -- are too lax. To rectify the situation, Reuters reports, the government is considering regulations that would criminalize insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, or elements of Sharia:

What is puzzling about the proposed legislation is what exactly it would fix. Saudi officials do not appear to be hamstrung by the existing legal apparatus, which metes out justice to dozens of blasphemers every year.

In fact, Saudi Arabia does not have a written penal code, meaning that judges already issue rulings based on their own interpretation of the Quran. According to Human Rights Watch, this means that blasphemy convictions are often handed down without citing any legal basis. As a result, anything from insulting the Prophet's companions, to mocking religion, to using "un-Islamic terminology" can get you convicted of blasphemy. [FOREIGN POLICY] Read more

16 July 2012

Muslim Congressman: Islam in America Must Not Retreat

"America will never tap into educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that we have in our madrassas, in our schools, where innovation is encouraged, where the foundation is the Koran. And that model that we are pushing in some of our schools meets the multiple needs of students… America must understand that she needs Muslims".

.... It’s unclear how the rote memorization of the Koran constitutes “educational innovation and ingenuity,” or how madrassas are “meeting the needs” of Muslim students abroad; in places like Pakistan where they abound, they don’t seem to be producing a wealth of world-class scholars or highly-trained professionals, but they do seem to produce a virulent hatred of things un-Islamic. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

Saudi Arabia considers law against insulting Islam, including in social media

Saudi Arabia is studying new regulations to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday.

The potential regulations come five months after a Saudi blogger and columnist Hamza Kashgari, 23, was arrested for tweeting comments deemed as insulting the Prophet Mohammad. Kashgari said there were things he liked and disliked about him.

"Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic sharia," unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told al-Watan, adding that there could be "severe punishments" for violators. [The Vancouver Sun] Read more

Many Islamist men don't understand imperative of consent

Women are "raw meat" waiting to be devoured by men because of their dress, declared an Australian imam in 2006.

Six years later, and in our own backyard, a young convert to Islam, Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana is proposing new laws in Canada that would require women to cover up "like Muslim women," concealing all but their eyes and hands.

He contends that the high incidence of rape in North America is because of how women dress in Western countries. The new laws would make it "illegal for women to dress provocatively in the streets," and would thereby take away the freedoms Western women enjoy. [TORONTO SUN] Read more

How Political Correctness Is Transforming British Education

In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class.

In Scotland, 30 non-Muslim children from the Parkview Primary School recently were required to visit the Bait ur Rehman Ahmadiyya mosque in the Yorkhill district of Glasgow.

At the mosque, the children were instructed to recite the shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith which states: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger." Muslims are also demanding that Islamic preachers be sent to every school in Scotland to teach children about Islam, ostensibly in an effort to end negative attitudes about Muslims.

British schools are increasingly dropping the Jewish Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, according to a report entitled, Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

15 July 2012

Iranian police shut down dozens of restaurants and coffee shops

.... Regular officers and members of the “morality police” raided 87 cafes and restaurants in a single district of the capital Tehran on Saturday and arrested women for flouting the Islamic dress code, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“These places were shut for not following Islamic values, providing hookah to women, and lacking proper licenses,” said Tehran police official Alireza Mehrabi, according to ISNA. Women are not allowed to smoke hookah, water pipes, in public. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim cab drivers allowed to refuse riders with dogs

.... What I realized is that this occurs quite often not only at the airport but in Toronto proper and is happening due to religious reasons — that is, because dogs are considered unclean in certain religions.

In fact, Gail Beck-Souter, general manager of Beck Taxi that operates about 900 cars in Toronto, confirms that if certain Muslims take a dog in their vehicle, they are required to go home and shower afterwards (before they pray).

.... Last I looked this is Canada. Seeing as they’ve chosen to move here for presumably a better life, the least we can expect is that they assimilate. If these drivers have issues with dogs, maybe they should find another job so they don’t have to deal with the public — and don’t leave a woman stranded at 1:30 a.m. [TORONTO SUN] Read more

Conflating criticism of Islam with racism

.... A fundamental principle of Western thought is the separation between a person and their beliefs. This is not a fundamental principle of Islamic thought. Quite the contrary: born a Muslim, you die a Muslim. The notion that you might change your mind is so alien that the punishment for apostasy - in theory, if not necessarily in practice - is death.

The charge of Islamophobia deliberately obscures that separation between a person and their beliefs. It accepts the Islamic vision of an immutable union of person and religion. We should refuse to accept those terms.... [Mick Hartley] Read more

14 July 2012

An extreme Islamist group is becoming ever more lethally effective

VIOLENCE in Nigeria’s north and centre is worsening. Increasingly deadly attacks on churches by Boko Haram, an extreme Islamist group, are straining fragile relations between Christians and Muslims.

Attacking churches is not new for Boko Haram but it has turned its attention to targets in Nigeria’s “middle belt” where the two religions mix, often stoking ferocious retaliation. Christian leaders have been warning that the patience of their flocks “will wear out”. [The Economist] Read more

13 July 2012

It has to stop

I have just been informed that a Dutch MP of the Socialist Party, Harry van Bommel, has successfully submitted a resolution in the Dutch parliament calling for the Dutch government to instigate an initiative during the 67th UN General Assembly with the goal of an international condemnation and prohibition of stoning. The resolution has been accepted.

Clearly, we need other parliaments doing the same as we need to end stoning now.

The lives of tens of women and men depend on it.

In Iran, at least 22 people await death by stoning sentences. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

The evil, sexist, racist internet trolls have finally got to me. Something must be done

.... But it’s the racial abuse that’s the worst. I can just about handle being called a muppet, a twat, and a “poisonous spitting toad” – but a “dumb Paddy” who was raised in a “verminous cult controlled by sex pests” (the Catholic Church) and who should “f**k off back to Ireland”?

Sorry, but that’s too much mocking for my self-esteem to be able to shoulder. I’m not even from Ireland. I’m from Burnt Oak at the top of the Northern Line. People just assume I’m from Ireland because I have an Irish name, which, by the way, is O’NEILL, not O’Tool, O’Twatface, O’No, O’God-He’s-Writing-Bulls**t-Again, or any of the other racially tinged reinventions of my moniker by the army of thoughtless trolls. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Son: Iranian dad arrested for my Facebook posts

.... a 25-year-old Iranian says his Facebook activity has led to his father's detention in a notorious prison in Tehran. And now he's struggling to find a way to free him.

"I want my family to forgive me," Yashar Khameneh said. "But I believe what I believe in."

A year ago, while studying at a college in Holland, Khameneh joined a Facebook page that made fun of a top Shiite Muslim imam, Ali al-Naqi al-Hadi. Naqi is one of 12 imams considered successors to the Prophet Mohammed. Called "Infallibles," the imams are protected by law in Iran from ridicule or even frivolous comments. One can be arrested for insulting them. [CNN] Read more

Thoughts on the Muslim Mind

.... The conservatives in Islamic history were selective in what they presented to seekers of knowledge. Thanks to them, many Muslims today believe that the greatest Islamic thinkers always believed in predetermination. Many other great Islamic thinkers, however -- for instance, the Kadarites -- rejected the doctrine of predetermination.

There are countless further examples of the subjective way the conservative elements in the world of Islam distorted historical facts to suit their purpose; the result of which distortion was to produce among Muslims a pattern of passivity at odds with the realm of knowledge, culture and science.

One of the most famous examples is the conservatives' concealment of Abu Hanifa's opinion on the punishment for apostasy – death. Although he did not totally reject the punishment, the great jurist effectively invalidated it by holding that an apostate can repent, and that the period of repentance is "the length of the apostate's life." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Female Afghan politician Hanifa Safi killed

A prominent female Afghan politician has been killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.

Hanifa Safi died after a bomb attached to her car exploded as she left her home in Laghman province. Her husband and daughter were injured.

As the provincial head of the Afghan ministry of women's affairs, Mrs Safi had for years been a leading advocate of fair treatment for women.

She had been known locally for going out without her head covered. [BBC] Read more

Saudi Arabia finally allows TWO female athletes to compete in London 2012 for first time in Olympic history

The Gulf kingdom will also include female officials in their Olympic delegation for the first time, one of the officials said.

While in previous Games, men have been able to wear shorts and singlets, the women will almost certainly have to compete with their heads, legs and arms covered - and most likely in leggings.

.... Saudi sportswomen may only take part if they do so 'wearing suitable clothing that complies with sharia' (Islamic law) and 'the athlete's guardian agrees and attends with her', he said. 'There must also be no mixing with men during the Games,' he added. [MailOnline] Read more

12 July 2012

'They wanted to hang me... they thought it would be an insult to Islam if I lived'

A 26-year-old woman horrifically burned in an acid attack has spoken out about her trauma as she re-builds her life in Houston, Texas.

Julie Aftab was 16 and working in an office in Pakistan when a man walked in and asked her if she was Christian, spotting a small cross she wore around her neck.

She replied that yes, she was and the man became abusive, shouting at her that she was living in the gutter and would go to hell for shunning Islam. [MailOnline] Read more

Who Will Speak for the Ahmadi Muslims?

Rejected by many in the Islamic world as heretics and routinely persecuted because their more moderate beliefs do not accord with mainstream Islamic interpretations of the Quran, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is arguably one of the most persecuted Muslim communities in the world. However, beyond some faint pleas for better treatment from the U.S. State Department and human rights groups, the Ahmadi Muslims plight has largely gone unnoticed.

The Ahmadi Muslims trace their roots to the late nineteenth century, when the movement was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in the Punjabi village of Qadian, now modern day India. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

The Death Throes of Free Speech in Europe

.... Today, in 21st century Western Europe, our right to free speech is being shut down quietly and systematically with an effectiveness that the commissars in the old Soviet Union could only dream of.

These legal provisions making all of this possible are detailed in the EU’s public documents, and they enjoy the full force of law in all EU member states as of midnight tonight. The nations of Western Europe have obediently complied with the EU’s “Framework Decision”, and have enacted laws criminalizing speech that offends Muslims. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

Shiite Cleric Jailed for Blasphemy in Indonesia

An Indonesian court sentenced a Shiite cleric Thursday to two years in prison for blasphemy, saying his teachings deviated from mainstream Islam and had caused “public anxiety.”

Tajul Muluk was arrested in April by police on the island of Madura off eastern Java amid anti-Shiite attacks that rights groups say were led by Sunni Muslims.

“Based on witness accounts and evidence presented, the defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of blasphemy causing public anxiety,” chief judge Purnomo Amin Tjahjo told the Sampang district court.

During his teachings, Muluk said the Koran was not an authentic text, that Muslims should pray only three times a day, and that the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was not obligatory, witnesses had told the court. [JakartaGlobe] Read more

The Islamist Ascendancy

Post-revolutionary Libya appears to have elected a relatively moderate pro-Western government. Good news, but tentative, because Libya is less a country than an oil well with a long beach and myriad tribes. Popular allegiance to a central national authority is weak. Even if the government of Mahmoud Jibril is able to rein in the militias and establish a functioning democracy, it will be the Arab Spring exception. Consider:

Tunisia and Morocco, the most Westernized of all Arab countries, elected Islamist governments. Moderate, to be sure, but Islamist still. Egypt, the largest and most influential, has experienced an Islamist sweep.

The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t just win the presidency. It won nearly half the seats in parliament, while more openly radical Islamists won 25 percent. Combined, they command more than 70 percent of parliament — enough to control the writing of a constitution (which is why the generals hastily dissolved parliament). [National Review Online] Read more

11 July 2012

The liberal media’s war on 'trolling' is becoming increasingly intolerant and censorious

Jonathan Freedland has written an article for the Guardian about Islamophobic trolling on the internet. It contains an extraordinary line. Freedland says Muslim journalists are frequently subjected to vile racist abuse by some of the crankier commenters who lurk on the world wide web, including being branded "goatf**kers".

But there are also "subtler" forms of racism, he says, such as when trolls "dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb… slamming Islam as oppressive of gay and women's rights, for example". "Call it progressives' prejudice", says Freedland. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Revolutionary Guards Close Church Properties

Both the Central Assembly of God Church in Tehran and its summer campsite have been closed by the Islamic authorities, according to the Farsi Christian News Network.

Officers of the Revolutionary Guards closed the Jennat-Abad Church along with its campsite, the "Garden of Sharon," once a popular site for Christian gatherings and conferences; eye witnesses' reported a large notice posted on the gates warning of severe consequences should anyone try to enter the premises.

These latest closures follow the official termination of Friday Persian (Farsi) language services and the compulsory cancellation of all Bible classes as well as any distribution of Christian literature. [Worthy News] Read more

Moderate American Muslim tries to navigate a deeply divided community

.... Suwaij spritzed on Christian Dior perfume and a saffron-scented Arabic fragrance that she had mixed at a souk in Kuwait — an assertion, she said, of her Muslim-Western identity. A tall, raven-haired woman who favors designer head scarves, Suwaij, 41, is co-founder and director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC), a nonprofit civil rights group that is headquartered in Washington and has bureaus in Boston; Basra, Iraq; Baghdad; Tunis; and Cairo.

The organization has a mission that is inherently vexing: serving as a voice for moderate Muslims. There’s a diversity of sects, native languages and tribal histories from Serbia to South Africa that makes it nearly impossible for a unified Muslim voice to emerge. [The Washington Post] Read more

Concerns over mosque leader's polygamy post

A vulnerable Melbourne Muslim woman who was desperately seeking advice about her marriage has been told polygamy is better than divorce, it has been claimed.

The controversial Facebook post by a Preston mosque leader, which has since been pulled, has sparked controversy and calls for the woman to come forward. But there are fears she will not be found.

Joumah El Matrah, executive director for Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, said she and a number of other people wanted to provide the woman with alternative advice because "Muslim marriage is a partnership, it is not a woman serving a man".

‘‘We are deeply concerned by the advice provided by Preston Mosque; it reflects a poor understanding of marital discord in Muslim families,’’ Ms El Matrah said. [theage.com.au] Read more

Tunisia: Fewer bikinis, more veils on public beaches

Fewer women go to the beach wearing bikinis now than during the previous regime, because they are increasingly being harassed by salafists.

"Ben Ali was a tyrant, he fleeced the country," 22-year-old Halim told ANSAMed. ''But at least back then we could be ourselves, like European people our age.'' Women who go to the beach wearing bikinis are being increasing insulted, beaten or otherwise harassed, reportedly by Islamic fundamentalist men. [ANSAmed] Read more

Islamophobia: Orwellian 'Doublespeak'?

Islamophobia is only unclear to those who seek to obfuscate its meaning. It is the tendency to reify Islam - that is to assume the behaviour of given individuals (typically extremists) reflects an accurate concretisation of the principles of the faith itself, and it is the tendency to view its practitioners, Muslims, as a monolithic block, whose every behaviour is a consequence of that essentialised identity.

Rather than investigating and investing in countering rape culture, we claim the 'muslimhood' of particular rapists is to blame, absolving popular culture when the men themselves refer to the victims using the popular playground put down "slags". We regularly see 'Islam' used as a catch-all phrase to explain complex phenomena, distracting us from the real issues.

[A COMMENT] Perhaps "Islamophobia" will disappear when what some call "Moderate" Muslims start protesting at atrocities committed in the name of their religion? I saw no protests after the 7/7 attacks in London; there was LOTS of comment when the "Mohammed" cartoons were published. Priorities? [The Huffington Post] Read more

10 July 2012

Letter to Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission

.... 1) There are currently two major bodies carrying out sharia based arbitration and mediation in the UK – these are the Islamic Sharia Council (a registered charity) and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (operating as an independent tribunal under the powers of the Arbitration Act 1996).

2) Both bodies acknowledge that the bulk of their work is in family matters such as child custody, divorce, domestic violence (both a family law and a criminal law matter). The Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve in 2008 said arbitration in the UK was not intended for family matters. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

09 July 2012

Taliban commanders in love triangle with executed Afghan woman, 22, have also been 'put to death'

The two Taliban commanders who executed a helpless 22-year-old Afghan woman because 'they could not decide who could have her' have themselves been put to death, it has emerged.

Footage posted online yesterday purported to show a burqa-clad woman being gunned down with an AK47 as baying villagers cheered in delight.

The woman, named only as Najiba, was reportedly part of a Taliban love triangle - married to a member of the hardline militant group - and accused of adultery with a commander.

The horrific pictures, showing a crowd of bearded men gathering to watch a rifle-wielding gunman shoot her in the head and back - have sparked worldwide revulsion. [MailOnline] Read more

08 July 2012

We mustn't allow Muslims in public life to be silenced

Have you ever been called an Islamist? How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Welcome to my world. It's pretty depressing. Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction. Whether it's tweets, blogposts or comment threads, the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious.

You might think I'd have become used to it by now. Well, I haven't. When I started writing for a living, I never imagined I'd be the victim of such personal, such Islamophobic, attacks, on a near-daily basis.

[A COMMENT] You must be joking. How dare you equate my distaste for a nonsensical religion with racism. My partner is Indian. I'm extremely anti-racist - I just think faith is ridiculous.

I don't dislike Islam any more than I dislike Christianity. They both peddle nonsense. They both hold us back. No, on second thoughts, maybe Islam has the edge because of its apostasy laws. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Higgs boson physicist shunned in Pakistan

In what is perhaps a sign of the growing Islamic extremism in the country, Pakistan's only Nobel laureate, who helped develop the theoretical framework that led to the apparent discovery of the subatomic "God particle" last week, is being largely scorned in his homeland because of his religious affiliation.

Adbus Salam, who died in 1996, was once hailed as a national hero for his pioneering work in physics and his contribution to Pakistan's nuclear programme. Now his name is stricken from school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants, who view them as heretics. [Associated Press] Read more

The Home Office still funding the wrong people

It is now a well known fact that some of the people responsible for delivering the government’s Prevent programme are actually opposed to its core objectives. These people can be best described as ‘anti-Prevent Prevent leads’.

One such individual is Shaban Siddik. He was recently appointed by OSCT (Home Office) as the Prevent Manager for Ealing Council. He previously worked at Harrow Council as a Prevent Coordinator. Here are the highlights of his Prevent career so far: [The Spittoon] Read more

07 July 2012

Sheila Musaji on Robert Spencer

.... She writes eloquently about how she resents being held responsible for problems associated with other Muslims, or Muslim countries, and asserts her own full support for secularism. (Here she quotes from one of her own earlier posts):

[A COMMENT] Sorry Sarah – you are just publishing this crap because this character Sheila Musaji “writes eloquently” and hey – she is attacking your favourite bugbears – Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer – so she can do no wrong. YOu seem to apply no critical thinking in assessing her biased polemic. [Harry’s Place] Read more

HuffPo: U.S. fueling "radicalization of Muslims"

In the mainstream media narrative, Muslims are always victims, never responsible for what they do, and "radicalized" by forces external to them, never by their own belief system or on their own volition.

The Qur'an teaches violence and supremacism, and that was enough to "radicalize" one would-be jihad murderer, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, and there are certainly many others like them. But this is never considered. To consider it would be "Islamophobic." [Jihad Watch] Read more

06 July 2012

In Pakistan, Blasphemy Laws Often Enforced by Mob

In many countries, a person talking to himself and ranting against God might well be offered mental health services; in Pakistan, he is handed a death sentence.

In the latest example of vigilante justice that has outraged human rights activists both here and abroad, an unidentified man accused of blasphemy was forcibly dragged from a police station in Punjab Province earlier this week, in an attack that left his beaten and burned body smoldering in a heap on a public street, according to local police.

The man, reported to be mentally ill and homeless, was picked up by police following allegations that he had burned a copy of the Quran. Pakistan's blasphemy laws make it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam or the Prophet Mohammad or to defile the Quran. [NorthJersey.com] Read more

France football to outlaw hijab despite green light

The French Football Federation (FFF) said Friday that it would "not authorise players to wear a veil" while playing for France or in organised competitions, a day after world footballing authorities said the hijab could be worn on the pitch.

"Regarding the participation of female French national team players in international competitions on one hand, and the organisation of national competitions on the other, the French Football Federation reiterates its duty to respect the constitutional and legislative principles of secularism that prevails in our country and features in its statutes," declared a statement from the FFF. [AFP] Read more

Ban on headscarves lifted

Football chiefs have agreed to lift a ban on women wearing headscarves during games, clearing the way for the participation of many Muslim nations in top-flight competition.

Until the vote by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich on Thursday, players were prevented from wearing a headscarf, or hijab, at the sport's highest level for safety reasons and on religious grounds.

Critics said the ban promoted inequality at the highest level of the world's most popular game.

Public changes in the governing body's thinking were clear last year when it was decided that the hijab was a cultural rather than a religious symbol. [AFP] Read more

05 July 2012

A progressive voice for tribal women silenced in targeted attack

Farida, belonging to the Afridi subtribe Kokikhel, was targeted on Wednesday morning at 6.30am when she left her house in Tehsil Jamrud Ghundi Kali for her office in Hayatabad.

“She was cornered by motorcyclists who shot her and she died on the way to Jamrud hospital,” said witness Abid Ali. Farida was 25.

Along with her sister Noor Zia, Farida was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of a welfare organisation called the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA). Both women were among the founding members of the NGO and had a Masters degree in Gender Studies. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more

Pakistan Lynching a 'Chilling Reminder' of Dangers of Blasphemy Laws

Amnesty International today demanded that members of a baying mob who lynched a man accused of breaching Pakistan's blasphemy laws be brought to justice as a matter of urgency.

On Wednesday, July 4, residents in the town of Channigoth in Bahawalpur, Punjab province accused a homeless man of burning a Quran, an offense punishable by life imprisonment. Local police detained the man, whose identity remains unknown, but before they could investigate the claim, a group numbering more than a thousand gathered outside the station demanding that police kill the suspect.

When police attempts to calm the crowd failed, the group attacked and eventually dragged the man out of the station and beat him to death. Witnesses said people poured gasoline on his dead body and set it alight. [Amnesty International USA] Read more

Appreciating Islam's Contribution to Civilization

.... PBS airing yet another documentary about Islam suggests that a small but critical mass of Americans remain open minded about better understanding other cultures and religions. Critics of public radio and television, I am sure, will accuse PBS of a pro-Islam bias. And many Muslims may hastily conclude that the negative attitude of Fox News viewers is representative of the general unawareness of Islam in America.

[A COMMENT] The truth of the matter - as can be seen in MANY blogs and comments here - both from Muslims and PROGRESSIVE non-Muslims alike, is that there really is much to fear in the rapid rise and spread of global Islam in the world today.

Make no mistake - the ESSENTIAL ideas of Muslim Orthodoxy are directly in conflict with the ESSENTIAL ideas of western democracy.

At best, Muslim nations and western nations co-exist uncomfortably, for transactional reasons only: We love their oil, and they love our money - while we hate their religious fascism, and they hate our non-religious democracy. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Lankan facing death for worshipping Buddha statue

Bodu Bala Sena says a Sri Lankan youth is facing death for having worshipped a Buddha statue in Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of the organization Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera said 33-year-old Premanath from Ampara is now in prison and is to be beheaded under sharia law.

The monk said measures were being taken to seek the youth’s freedom by taking the matter to the UN, human rights groups and others. [Srilankamirror] Read more

Fear as student murdered in Egypt

Three bearded men approached a university student and his girlfriend during a romantic rendezvous in a park and ordered them to separate because they weren't married, according to security officials. An argument broke out, ending with one of the men fatally stabbing the student.

The 25 June attack has alarmed Egyptians concerned that with an Islamist president in office, vigilante groups are feeling emboldened to enforce strict Islamic mores on the streets.[AP - 24.com] Read more

It’s time to stop using the term ‘Islamophobia’

.... The correct definition for the bigotry of the far-right (although I’m open to snappier alternatives) is anti-Muslim bigotry. This will not of course be satisfactory to those who wish to introduce blasphemy laws by the back door, but trying to please such people should never be a major concern for those who value free enquiry anyway.

What a change in the terminology would do, however, is provide a clearer distinction between legitimate criticism of so-called revealed truths and the crude prejudices of the far-right.

No idea should be off limits when it comes to criticism, and real prejudice should not be confused with the perfectly legitimate examination of doctrine. It would be far better, I think, to leave the abuse of language to big capital and its political representatives. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Tunisia university dean in court in veil standoff

A dean at a Tunisian university appeared before a court Thursday on charges of assaulting a veiled student, a case that is part of a long-running dispute between secularists and religious conservatives at the school.

Students at Manouba University known as Salafis who follow an ultraconservative strand of Islam have been pushing for greater piety on the campus just outside Tunis, the capital, as well as for prayer rooms and allowing female students to sit exams wearing the religious face veil. [Associated Press] Read more

Germany: Main complaint of Muslim women - husbands beating them

There are many things women should have as a main concern in their lives.

Being beaten by their husband or father shouldn't be one of them.

But that's exactly what the main concern is for Muslim women in Germany, according to a report from Germany's Spiegel Online. [Examiner.com] Read more

Loss of sanity

As a nation, we seem to have collectively lost our sanity. Incidents that highlight our society’s extreme intolerance take place on a regular basis and yet, we do nothing to reform this state of affairs.

The latest such tragedy took place at Chanighot in Bahawalpur, where an enraged mob beat up and set alight a deranged man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more

'Killing of blasphemy accused shocking'

President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday expressed profound grief and shock over the harrowing incident of burning of a man alive in Bahawalpur district after pulling him out of a police station.

Expressing shock, the President directed the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Interior to conduct an inquiry into this unfortunate incident and submit the report to the Presidency immediately.

The President said that no one should be allowed to take law into in his own hands no matter what the crime is. The President also directed the concerned to dispense justice according to the law in this case.

The man, who was burnt alive, was reported to be mentally unstable and was accused of blasphemy. [The News International] Read more

04 July 2012

Mosque struggles to shrug off extremist label

Accused of preaching a fundamentalist line of Islam, the Errhamen Mosque of Biel is once again in the firing line for having welcomed amongst its worshippers young men who have travelled abroad to fight jihad.

In an upstairs office of the mosque, an old building in the throes of renovation, Imam Khalid ben Mohamed, an affable political refugee from Algeria who has lived in Switzerland for 17 years, welcomes swissinfo.ch with a smile.

In this interview, ben Mohamed discusses the reasons behind the mosque’s decision to restrict media access to prayer areas, and the rumours damaging its reputation. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Advancing radical Islamists lay waste to religious heritage

The grim sacking of Sufi shrines in Timbuktu is the latest chapter in an assault on prized religious heritage across the Muslim world that has picked up over the past decade with the spread of radical Islamism.

The world got a first taste of this iconoclasm in 2001, when Afghanistan's ruling Taliban blew up two huge 6th-century statues of Buddha despite an international outcry.

Since then, radical Islamists have also struck holy sites of other faiths, especially Christian churches. But their most frequent targets have been mosques and shrines of other Muslims loyal to a version of Islam less puritanical than their own. [Reuters] Read more

Pakistan mob burns man to death for 'blasphemy'

The man was being held for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran in public. The incident took place on the outskirts of Bahawalpur, in Punjab province.

Witnesses said hundreds of people looked on as he screamed for help.

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law imposes the death penalty for insulting Islam, but it is rarely carried out.

The area where the lynching took place is home to hundreds of madrassas - religious schools - run by radical Islamist or sectarian groups. [BBC] Read more

Tunisia’s Media Reform Committee Suspends Its Activities in Protest

On Wednesday, the National Authority for the Reform of Media and Communications (INRIC) – an independent commission charged with reforming Tunisia’s media sector – decided to suspend its activities, accusing the government of attempting to censor and exert control over the media.

“The committee refuses to be just a decoration. The government is trying to control the media sector,” said Hichem Senoussi, a member of INRIC. [Tunisia Live] Read more

Is this the time of the Islamists?

.... I do not imagine that the Egyptians who toppled a totalitarian military rule will succumb to a religious rule that will impose one system of rule on them. It is not true that people will accept everyone who raises the slogan of Islam and bow to him sacredly. The Al-Qaeda organization has used the motto of Islam and failed.

The rulers in Sudan used the banner of Islam and also failed. Iran is the largest example of those who used the cover of Islam and failed. The Iranian rule is using the name of Islam while in fact it has all the shortcomings of the rules of Mubarak in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya, and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen.

The Tehran rule has nothing to offer but repression, persecution and management failure. We should not forget that what is happening in Egypt is a liberal democratic change, not a system of Islamic caliphate. [Arab News] Read more

Tunisian official convicted over 'un-Islamic art' riots

A Tunisian court on Wednesday sentenced to two months in jail a court official on charges of inciting a wave of riots by condemning an art exhibit as offensive to Islam, his lawyers told AFP.

But Mohamed Ali Bouaziz could avoid jail if he agrees to pay a 1,000-euro ($1,250) fine, his attorney Fathi Layouni said.

Bouaziz was arrested in mid-June and accused of triggering riots that engulfed several parts of Tunisia on June 11 and 12, which left one dead and more than 100 wounded, by calling for a protest against an exhibit at a gallery in Tunis. [AFP] Read more

What will the Muslim Brotherhood's election mean for Egypt's women and minorities?

The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's presidential elections last week has raised serious questions about future political and economic relations between Cairo and the West. Concerns have been raised about the Brotherhood’s commitment to civil and minority rights.

Some in the UK have argued that the Muslim Brotherhood is moving towards the European Christian Democrats mode – socially conservative, with religious roots, but ultimately respectful of other rights. This sounds like wishful thinking. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

03 July 2012

Radical Islam Spreading in Spain

.... A recent survey conducted by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior provides additional insights into the beliefs of Muslims in Spain. Entitled "Values, Attitudes and Opinions of Muslim Immigrants," the report shows that more than half the Muslims in Spain consider themselves to be "very religious." Only 12% say they are non-practicing.

More than 80% are opposed to banning the burka and only 39% say they are opposed to establishment of Islamic Sharia law courts in Spain. More than 60% of those surveyed say they obey instructions from the imams at their local mosques.

In March, Spanish authorities arrested a radical Islamic preacher for calling on Muslims to use physical and psychological violence to "discipline" errant wives who refuse to submit to Islamic Sharia law or obey their husbands. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

200 people regularly cram into this bungalow...used as illegal mosque

AN Islamic group has been told to clear out of an illegal mosque in a small bungalow after residents complained it is regularly crammed with as many as 200 people.

Southend Council has received 150 complaints from angry residents in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, since September 2010.

The Jaafriya Islamic Welfare Centre did not apply for change of use when it took over the two-bedroom chalet bungalow and began holding regular meetings. [Echo] Read more

Timbuktu tomb destroyers pulverise the history of Islam in Africa

The al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters who have used pick-axes, shovels and hammers to shatter earthen tombs and shrines of local saints in Mali’s fabled desert city of Timbuktu say they are defending the purity of their faith against idol worship.

But historians say their campaign of destruction in the UNESCO-listed city is pulverising part of the history of Islam in Africa, which includes a centuries-old message of tolerance.

“They are striking at the heart of what Timbuktu stands for … Mali and the world are losing a lot,” Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a professor at New York’s Columbia University and an expert on Islamic philosophy in Africa, told Reuters. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Suez knifing stirs fears of 'moral' policing in Egypt

Twenty-year-old engineering student Ahmed Said was stabbed to death on Sunday in the Egyptian canal city of Suez – allegedly by bearded men – while walking with his fiancée.

According to eyewitnesses, Said was attacked by three men with long beards and dressed in galabiyas – attire generally associated with religious Muslims – while walking with his fiancée near the centrally-located Arbeen Square.

"They shouted at him, demanding to know his relationship with the woman he was with," Said's father said in video testimony currently circulating on social-media networks. "And Said replied that it was none of their business. [Ahram Online] Read more

Austria celebrates 'model' law on Islam

Austria has had a checkered history when it comes to relations with Muslims, but its 100-year-old Law on Islam is seen as a symbol of tolerance.

The law gives Muslims the same rights as other officially recognised religions in Austria, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, Judaism and Buddhism.

At the weekend senior members of the Austrian government and the country's Islamic Community attended ceremonies to mark the centenary.

So Islam has been an officially recognised religion in Austria for 100 years.

Yet another historical event is probably more familiar to most people - the 1683 Siege of Vienna, when the Muslim Ottoman army's advance on Christian-controlled Europe was halted. [BBC] Read more

Muslims are well-integrated in Britain – but no one seems to believe it

In Britain today there is a mismatch between how non-Muslims often perceive Muslims and how Muslims typically perceive themselves.

This disconnect is down to a tendency by non-Muslims to assume that Muslims struggle with their British identity and divided loyalties. These concerns were challenged a few days ago,in a report by the University of Essex that found Muslims actually identify with Britishness more than any other Britons.

This study is just one of several recent studies that have consistently found that Muslims in Britain express a stronger sense of belonging in Britain than their compatriots. Consider the following examples:

[A COMMENT] What do you mean "strong sense". Enough to not marry someone "back home" and of a different racial and religious group without pressure to "convert"

Problem is this loyalty to Britain appears to be a Britain of their own creation and not necessarily one others would recognize.

As for fewer white people feeling a strong sense of belonging, could that be the result of decades of Guardian lectures on how rubbish we are and how all the worlds ills started here? [Guardian Cif] Read more

02 July 2012

Burka-wearing thief raids Manchester jewellers

A thief in Manchester has robbed a jewellers disguised in a burka.

The person dressed in the full body cloak and walking with a pushchair stood outside Choice Jewellers on Wilmslow Road at 11:35 BST on Sunday.

A police spokesman said staff had opened the locked door because they thought the person was a customer.

The person then blocked the door open with the pushchair, allowing armed accomplices to enter and steal "a large quantity of jewellery" before escaping. [BBC] Read more

Fox's Bolling Can't Get Enough Of Guest's Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Comments

.... Bolling's guest was Eric Bell, a filmmaker who produced a documentary on a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Bell claimed he originally saw "the Muslim community as victims" and that he had an "inclination to stick up for them." Bell further claimed that after doing "some serious research about Islam" he found that Islam is "a radical, savage religion" and "the worst, most deadliest idea in the history of the world."

According to the Huffington Post, Bell said in a different interview that "the biggest threat to human rights is Islam." Not only did Bolling not push back on Bell's inflammatory rhetoric, he responded to Bell by saying he would "[l]ove to have you back and maybe expand on it a little bit more." [Media Matters for America] Read more

Murfreesboro Judge Won't Let New Mosque Open

.... County attorneys on Monday told Corlew he should stay his injunction on the certificate of occupancy while the appeal is pending.

Corlew declined to do so, saying that a stay would gut his decision that voided construction approval.

Construction of the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been ongoing throughout the dispute and is nearly complete. [Associated Press] Read more

Not my president

.... Lest we forgot, the rising sectarianism was not, as many misleadingly continue to report, an independent product of the Mubarak regime. The real beginning of the Coptic malaise commenced the day Sadat declared himself the Muslim president of an Islamic state.

Prejudice was a fact of life long before Mubarak and Sadat, but the real fracture in the country’s social fabric did not occur until the latter decided to impose the religious identity on the nation’s social mosaic.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which was given the freedom to emerge from the dark by Sadat in the 1970s, is seen by many Christians as the group responsible for the Islamization of Egypt and the growing radicalism. Mubarak was, without a doubt, an enemy for many Christians, but the MB were the bigger enemy; a vigilante group that altered Egypt’s societal DNA. [The Egypt Monocle] Read more

Numbers Count: Why Religious Population Growth Underpins the Islamist Surge

.... The Arab Spring has created a situation in which mass sentiment counts as never before. Public opinion in many Arab states combines illiberal social attitudes with a democratic political stance. In Egypt, the UN's 2009 Arab Human Development report revealed that 96% of Egyptian women aged 15 to 49 had undergone genital mutilation. In a 2005 ARDA youth survey, 94% of young Saudis favoured a system of government where 'religious authorities have absolute power.'

Roughly 90% of Muslim respondents who support shari'a as the exclusive law of the land in the 2000 World Values Survey also preferred democracy over other systems of government. In effect, a mood of illiberal democracy prevails in much of the Arab Middle East. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Parallel justice? Germany says No to sharia law

.... In other words: "the state doesn’t have the monopoly on justice," says Imam Fadai.

But that monopoly is precisely what Bavaria’s Minister of Justice, Beate Merk, wishes to ensure: no, sharia courts should not be tolerated. "A parallel justice system that circumvents our system is not acceptable," she says.

Merk asked state prosecutors, lawyers, integration officials, and others familiar with immigrant communities for their input, and was alarmed by the feedback: judges and imams promulgating their own laws are very common, but it’s also very hard to prove.

However, whenever cases of “parallel justice” have come to light, they were shown to be in serious violation of prevailing legislation.

The Justice Ministry received reports of court cases in which judges exercised behind-the-scenes influence on both parties so that both the defendant and the accused -- who had already given accounts of events to police – suddenly refused to talk in court, or gave false testimony. [DIE WELT/Worldcrunch] Read more

'We're going to destroy everything before we apply Sharia in this city'

Islamist rebels say they will continue to destroy historic sites in Timbuktu before they implement strict Sharia law, as Mali's government compared the destruction to "war crimes".

Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Abu Mohamed said that Islamists will continue the destruction they started on Saturday.

"We're going to destroy everything before we apply Sharia in this city," he said. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Empowered or Radicalised? At the 2012 Federation of Student Islamic Societies Conference

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the umbrella organisation for student UK Islamic Societies, has been singled out on a number of occassions as an organisation which "are training the violent extremists of tomorrow."

I have previously argued that groups like FOSIS play a major role in fighting extremism through its engagement and empowerment of Muslim students.

So what exactly happens at an annual FOSIS conference? Does it involve a line-up of events and activities which promote extremism and radicalise British Muslim youths? Or is it merely a platform for Muslim students to unite and discuss issues affecting them? [The Huffington Post] Read more