30 September 2012

Bangladesh Muslim protesters torch Buddhist temples over Facebook photo

Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.

Members of the Buddhist minority in the Cox’s Bazar area in the southeast of the country said unidentified people were bent on upsetting peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists.

Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam. [Reuters] Read more

We don’t have too much free speech in Britain; we have too little

This is a good time to revisit that incident. Earlier this month some hardline Egyptian clerics, stumbling across a crude piece of Islamophobic agitprop on YouTube, decided, curiously, that the best way to show their outrage was to broadcast it on their television station.

As riots unfolded Salman Rushdie — no stranger to manufactured controversies — released his memoirs, warning that the only proper response from the West was to declare starkly, “We live like this.” But do we really? [Mick Hartley] Read more

29 September 2012

Court rules Muslim girl must take swim class

A German court on Friday refused to allow a Muslim student to skip swimming lessons after she said she was uncomfortable being so close to bare-chested boys.

The 12-year-old, originally from Morocco, is going to school in Frankfurt. She had refused to take part in swimming lessons and had been marked down.

She filed to be given the right to skip the classes, her lawyer arguing that according to the Koran, she was not only forbidden from showing herself to boys but also from seeing boys topless.

An administrative court in Kassel, near Frankfurt, rejected her application. It said in its ruling that she could wear the full-body swimsuit, known as the "burkini" already used by several girls at her school, which would be enough to guarantee her religious freedom. [The Local] Read more

Treatment of female Nigerian pilgrims embarrasses Saudis at the start of hajj

For the past five days, 1,000 female Nigerian pilgrims have been detained at an airport and various detention facilities in Saudi Arabia. They arrived in the country to conduct the annual pilgrimage, the hajj, a duty that every Muslim must fulfil once in their lifetime if they can afford to do so.

Despite the fact that they had valid hajj visas, Saudi authorities would not allow them into the country as they were unaccompanied by male guardians (mahrams). [A COMMENT] So why do these women stay members of this appalling misogynist cult? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Egypt sheikh says girls should be married, have children starting at 14-years-old

An Egyptian cleric and member of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution has said that girls 14-years-old are permitted to have sexual relations under Islam and has proposed reducing the marriage age limit as a result.

“It is permissible for the girl at the age of 9 or 10 to marry,” Yassir Barhami said in discussing a woman’s sexual reproduction and his interpretation of Islam. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Attempted honor murder in Montreal

Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right."

However, "not subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Freedom Of Speech, Like Freedom Of Conscience, Is Incomprehensible To Muslims Who Take Islam To Heart

"Egypt respects freedom of expression, freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone," he said. [such a law would lead to prohbition of the Qur'an and Hadith, with their repeated calls for violence against, and even murder of, non-Muslims]

"We expect from others, as they expect from us, that they respect our cultural specifics and religious references, and not impose concepts or cultures that are unacceptable to us."

[nonsense -- we're not interested in Muslim "respect" but in Muslims simply leaving us alone, not burdening us, not settling amongst us, not demanding -- or otherwise inveigling or wheedling -- money, out of terminally-hopeful-and-naive Western governments. We want only to let Muslim states stew in their own Islam, and face the consequences, without non-Muslim aid, of that Islam]. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Mohammed Amin: Blasphemy should remain decriminalised

.... This produced a situation which I regarded as grossly unfair, since Tim Montgomerie’s religion was protected against blasphemy while mine wasn’t. Accordingly, either blasphemy protection needed extending to other religions, or it needed to be removed from Christianity.

Parliament made the correct choice when the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s.79 abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel, and also dropped references to blasphemous libel in the Criminal Libel Act 1819 and the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888. [ConservativeHome] Read more

28 September 2012

The Great Persian Firewall - Should we care that Iran just turned off Google?

.... Iran announced earlier in the year that it considered Google a tool of Western espionage and that it was developing a domestic alternative dubbed "Yahaq," or "Oh Lord" in Farsi. Such a tool is likely only to bring up search results palatable to the regime.

The announcement that Google was now cut off did not say that Yahaq was now active (an intentional omission?), but since the earlier regime announcement specifically said Yahaq was being developed as an alternative to Google, it is reasonable to infer that Iran's regime has or soon will have Yahaq up and running. [Foreign Policy] Read more

Many Muslim countries complaining about "blasphemy" and "hurt feelings,' are themselves are rife with the vilest caricatures, programs, films and books

.... Egyptian television has never had any problem staging the fraudulent ninteenth-century book -- taken in much of the Arab and Muslim world as irrefutable fact - The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in various productions.

Al-Manar television has never had a problem, anymore than have various Palestinian television channels, in pumping out the most straightforward hate-speech and incitement on a daily basis. Nor has the print press (which in these cases, unlike in the West, actually is government controlled) been any better.

.... they are not only cartoons from state-run media in Iran, naturally, but also from Oman, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. In other words, not only in states that are stated enemies, but in those we tend to think of – in our soppy old way – as "friends." But as the Gross piece demonstrates, this is not "one-off" extremism': it is the norm – a perfectly acceptable mainstay of the mainstream papers in some of our most mainstream allies across the region. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Swiss parliamentarians reject burqa ban

Swiss parliamentarians narrowly voted Friday against a ban on wearing the Muslim burqa and other face coverings in public places, including public transport.

The lower house of the Swiss parliament rejected the motion pushed by the canton of Aargau in a vote of 93 to 87.

Representing the majority, Hugues Hiltpold of the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland insisted that the burqa was not a problem in the country.

“The wearing of these kinds of garments for religious reasons does not pose real problems in daily life, since the practice is not very common in the Swiss Muslim community,” he told the National Council. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

Insult, injure and vilify Muslims and Islam – it’s freedom of expression

Muslims are told to be docile when they are inundated with insult, vilification and abuse. Their Prophet is mocked, made fun of, accused of paedophilia and demeaned in every way. If they respond in any way, even in a measured way, they are told they have victimhood mentality.

They are accused of not sharing values with the rest of humanity. They are against freedom of expression, rationality, are irresponsible, violent, intolerant, extremists and terrorists. It is always them against us. [The Muslim News] Read more

Egypt: Christians flee homes, town after militant threats

Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday.

Father Youssef Sobhi said that Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in the city of Rafah near the border with Gaza and Israel, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so. [Associated Press] Read more

27 September 2012

Merkel: stop worrying about Muslims

Merkel was clear about her thoughts towards the three million Muslims living in Germany. Islam, she said, “is a part of us.”

In the wake of a turbulent year for the German Muslim community, Merkel urged her country against generalising, news magazine Der Spiegel said on Thursday.

“We absolutely have to make sure that we do not tar everyone with the same brush,” she said. “(Radical) Islamism is not Islam in Germany and the majority of Muslims here clearly distance themselves from violence.”

Merkel, who leads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), suggested to viewers that as Christians, her party members should spend a little more time thinking and talking about Christianity “than being afraid of Islam,” Die Welt reported. [The Local] Read more

Pope must apologize for Catholics freeing Spain from Islamic invaders

The Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI) released yesterday a translation of a communiqué from the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The IUMS, headed by Egyptian Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, best known for his al Jazeera program, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat (Sharia and Life), which has an estimated audience of 60 million plus worldwide.

The gist of the communiqué demanded the following;

"While the [International] Union [of Muslim Scholars] is working to calm the rage of Muslims worldwide, [which was aroused] by non-Muslims insulting the honorable Messenger [i.e. the Prophet Muhammad], [so that the]Y confine themselves to peaceful protests and not attack any embassy or Christian site – it [also] calls on the pope to apologize to Muslims for his lecture [in 2006 in Regensburg, Germany], his apostolic exhortation, and the slaughters committed by the Crusaders [against Muslims] in Andalusia, just as he apologized to the Jews." [Examiner.com] Read more

Oslo Muslim prayer room veto censured

Muslim leaders and politicians are stating their disappointment and displeasure at education officials' decision not to allow prayer rooms in the Norwegian capital’s schools.

The criticism comes following Conservative (H) city education councillor Torger Ødegaard’s about face in the matter, Thursday.

“I have related via the education directorate that establishing a separate prayer room in Oslo schools is out of the question. The school is an institution of knowledge, not a religious one,” he said, contradicting his earlier claim he is unable to micro-manage them. [The Foreigner] Read more

26 September 2012

Muslim-Americans call for ‘deterrent legal measures’ over anti-Islam video

Muslim-Americans in Michigan called for “deterrent legal measures” to fight Islamophobia in the wake of videos such as the movie trailer that contributed to protests in the Middle East.

“There is a need for deterrent legal measures against those individuals or groups that want to damage relations between people, spread hate and incite violence,” Osama Siblani, Publisher of The Arab American News said in a statement. “It is a need that Americans should seriously consider.”

[A COMMENT] If they don't want to live in a country in which free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, I suggest these people return to the hellhole from which they came. Muslims are always looking for special treatment. [Washington Examiner] Read more

Most Republicans think west and Islam are in fundamental conflict, poll finds

An overwhelming majority of Republican voters in the United States regard the west and Islam as being embroiled in "a fundamental conflict which only one side can win", according to new YouGov-Cambridge polling seen exclusively by the Guardian.

.... Opinion was reasonably evenly split on both sides of the Atlantic, and indeed somewhat more tolerant in the United States. Overall, Americans rejected the view of a fundamental clash of cultures that can only have one winner – only 39% adopted this view, against 47% who believe that "it is possible for the west and Muslims to coexist in peace".

In Britain, by contrast, the respective figures were 43% and 41%, suggesting that British opinion towards Islam is somewhat more hostile overall. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

No males? No Mecca for you, ladies!

A DIPLOMATIC row has erupted between Nigeria and Saudia Arabia after hundreds of female pilgrims were detained when they arrived in the Islamic kingdom unaccompanied by men.

Now, according to this report, Nigeria has suspended flights to Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage.

Saudi authorities deported more than 600 Nigerian females and detained hundreds more for trying to visit the “holy” city of Mecca because they lacked a mahram (a lawful male guardian). [The Freethinker] Read more

Stop calling criticism of Islam ‘Islamophobia’

The English language needs a moratorium on the word Islamophobia, a term often used to describe bigotry against Muslims. Unfortunately, it is also used reflexively to denounce critics of Islam, who contribute to a valuable and ongoing debate concerning the relationship between the West and the worldwide Islamic community.

This subject is important because several Western countries, such as Denmark, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, are being forced to reconsider their approaches to immigration and culture in light of deep clashes between the Muslim immigrants and the native population. These tensions have captured much attention in recent weeks with the series of violent protests that have spread to over twenty countries, emanating from the controversial Innocence of Muslims film. [National Post] Read more

Do not overestimate the rise of Muslim radicals

.... The Independent disclosed that what happened was not a spontaneous outpouring of anger but a deliberate and organized assault by an armed group with links to al-Qa’ida. This was subsequently supported by other news organisations and it is now, after three changes of posture over the issue, the accepted position of the US administration.

Indeed it transpires that there was not even a demonstration taking place when the assault with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades started and that the consulate may have been targeted because it was being used as a base by the CIA, monitoring extremist Islamist groups. [independent.co.uk] Read more

No Compulsion in Religion: an Islamic Case against Blasphemy Laws

.... Quilliam’s latest concept paper, ‘No Compulsion in Religion: an Islamic Case against Blasphemy Laws’, seeks to denounce the recent violence through highlighting non-violent principles and passages from the Qur’an, examples of virtuous teachings from the Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad), and sharing expert knowledge about a peaceful Islam from within Quilliam. [Harry’s Place] Read more

25 September 2012

Religious slaughter concern over welfare reforms

A halal group has expressed concern over introduction of new welfare regulations, claiming a lack of time to contribute to the consultation process and calling it a “threat to religious slaughter”.

The Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) claimed Defra’s publication of its consultation on the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) was six months late and “is now being pushed through to be effective in statute in a few months’ time”.

According to HMC, the delayed publication now only leaves the Muslim and Jewish authorities six weeks to defend religious slaughter before the EU regulation comes into effect. In a statement, it said: “The Muslim and Jewish communities has already called the consultation exercise a monologue, holding deep reservations and fears that its aim are to further curtail religious freedoms of expression, but this is disguised with bias, unproven science and often unfounded animal welfare concerns. [meatinfo.co.uk] Read more

World Muslim group demands laws against "Islamophobia"

The world's largest Islamic body called on Tuesday for expressions of "Islamophobia" to be curbed by law, just as some countries restrict anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the 56 countries that form the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned a video made in the United States that defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, igniting Muslim protests around the world this month.

"Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the urgent need on the part of states to introduce adequate protection against acts of hate crimes, hate speech, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation and negative stereotyping of religions, and incitement to religious hatred, as well as denigration of venerated personalities," Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council. [Reuters] Read more

Free speech and hate speech: one rule for Muslims and another rule for others?

In light of the recent controversy courted by the Youtube video ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and the subsequent caricatures printed in the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, the Scottish paper, The Herald recently published an article by Abdel Bari Atwan exposing the inconsistency with which legislation on hate speech and the principle of free speech is applied.

Atwan writes: “Many Muslims are deeply concerned by a rising tide of "Islamophobia" – a prejudice which focuses on our religion. The world's 1.6 billion Muslims frame themselves in terms of their religion first and race or nationality second; this is why any insult to the Prophet is considered an insult to each individual in the Muslim nation, or umma. [ENGAGE] Read more

Mali Islamists 'increasingly repressive

The Islamists' efforts to impose Sharia law has also extended to banning ring tones on mobile phones that are not Koranic verse readings, as well as prohibiting cigarettes and alcohol.

Women who wear jewellery or perfume, or fail to cover their heads can also face punishment, Human Rights Watch said in its report Tuesday.

"The Islamist armed groups have become increasingly repressive as they have tightened their grip over northern Mali," said Corinne Dufka, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Stonings, amputations and floggings have become the order of the day in an apparent attempt to force the local population to accept their world view." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Blasphemy: an indispensable human right

Blasphemy is an indispensable human right. Without the right to engage in blasphemy, there can be no freedom of inquiry, expression, conscience or religion.

As I predicted last week, the Organization of Islamic Conference has seized on the controversies regarding an anti-Islam video clip on YouTube and satirical cartoons about Mohammed in a French magazine to renew its call for a global ban on "blasphemy."

The OIC is, in effect, not only announcing that Muslim states in general have no intention of allowing real freedom of conscience and speech, but they want to bully the West into eliminating those freedoms as well. [NOW Lebanon] Read more

EU joins with Islamic states to declare ‘the importance of respecting all prophets’

The problem with respecting all prophets, of course, as that they tend to disagree: one religion’s divine revelation is another’s false prophecy. While Muslims respect the prophethood of Jesus, they reject unequivocally that he is also priest and king, fully man and fully God.

And Christians do not hold the prophet Mohammed to be any kind of prophet at all, any more than they ‘respect’ the revelations of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, or Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A cult is cult.

.... The decision of an increasingly anti-Christian EU to embrace the Islamic agenda to outlaw the defamation of religion is a negation of religious liberty and an affront to human rights. Of course we must all work for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, but these will not come by supplanting the principles of the Enlightenment with the precepts of Islamophobia. For the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, ‘full respect of religion’ means only one thing. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

24 September 2012

Islam and Mohammed should not be protected from mockery

If you produce a Bible pickled in urine, you might be a candidate for the Turner Prize. If you used to be a Catholic but left the church claiming to have been maltreated, and publicly burn a Bible whilst yelling "I hate Jesus", you might get on the local TV.

If you make a movie depicting Jesus having an affair with Mary Magdalene, in full frontal nudity, you might have a hit movie. But if you burn a Koran, you'll be arrested.

If you depict Mohammed having an affair or naked, you might be arrested, and you'll certainly be condemned by politicians. No-one will say you are bravely standing up against bullies and oppressors - as they might well say about the ex-Catholic. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Out with colour: Islamists force Timbuktu women to wear black veils

To avoid being whipped, mutilated, and jailed, women in Timbuktu now have to wear black veils and loose-fitting clothing. Radical Islamists, who took control of the city months ago, are laying down their law – Sharia law – and for the first time since they’ve arrived, they’re specifically targeting women.

.... Four days ago, in the markets and at the hospital, Islamists began to ask women to cover their heads entirely [Editor’s Note: many women wore light veils that showed some of their hair]. In a message broadcast on the radio on Thursday, they also announced that women were no longer allowed outside after 11 p.m. Since then, the Islamist fighters that patrol the streets have been monitoring the women, and they hit women who don’t obey this new rule with their sticks. [France24] Read more

Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy

.... That is why Western democracy — real democracy, the culture of liberty, not mere procedures like voting — cannot mesh with their construction of sharia. Our fundamental premise is that the governed have a right to make law for themselves, irrespective of any belief system.

Islamic supremacists deny the right to make law that contradicts sharia in any way. That divide cannot be bridged; it’s too basic. [National Review Online] Read more

Rights groups condemn detention of atheist on blasphemy charges

Human rights organizations have criticized the arrest of atheist activist Alber Saber.

Saber was originally arrested over claims that he published the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” on Facebook, but when it emerged that there was no evidence to support the claim, he was later charged on the basis of an atheist video that he had made.

Two days after protests and clashes between security forces and protesters broke out over the film near the US Embassy on 11 September, neighbors of Saber claimed that he shared the anti-Islam YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” on his Facebook account, which led an angry mob to storm Saber’s house in Marg district, kicking out Saber and his mother. [Egypt Independent] Read more

23 September 2012

29-year-old Muslim woman named culture minister of Norway

On Sunday, with no precedent in Norwegian history, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appointed Hadia Tajik, a 29-year-old Muslim woman, as minister of culture, making Tajik the youngest minister in the Norwegian Cabinet and the first ever Muslim in the Norwegian government.

Tajik, of Pakistani origin, anounced that her programme will focus on cultural diversity as part of the Norwegian people's daily lives and how this reflects on Norweigan society as a whole. The programme will delve into the protection of minority rights, whether cultural or racial, including the right of Muslims to wear the veil in public places, among other issues.

The new focus, however, will not be unopposed. Most right wing groups are against these policy changes, considering the increase in diversity in society a challenge to European culture. [Al-Ahram] Read more

Islam must embrace reason and responsibility

.... The point is that while Muslim spokesmen demand respect for their faith they are not often prepared to give it to others, and in the west this inconsistency is a significant obstacle to a better understanding of the offence taken from the film and cartoons.

Free speech is at the heart of this issue, but western governments should not be bamboozled into imposing restrictions that exceed present laws.

On the contrary, we should proclaim its value, because the kind of free debate the young people in the Arab Spring yearned for will bring about transformation in states where torture, discrimination against women and religious minorities and the failure to build modern civil societies all go unchallenged. [Guardian Cif] Read more

22 September 2012

Outlaw inciting religious hatred: Grand Mosque Imam

Sheikh Saleh Bin Mohammed Aal Taleb, Imam and Khateeb of the Grand Mosque, Friday urged that laws be passed to prevent incitement of religious hatred.

“We call on the world... to enact a code of honor and binding law to prohibit and criminalize any violation of monotheistic religions and prophets,” Sheikh Saleh said in his Friday sermon.

“Let the politicians and policy makers know that the people express uncontrolled reactions when sacred symbols are humiliated,” he said, urging “the wise” in the West to “prevent those who ignite fires.” [Saudi Gazette] Read more

Lift restrictions on women's education, rights group tells Iran

Human Rights Watch urged Iran on Saturday to lift restrictions on women attending university and enrolling in certain academic fields.

Thirty-six universities across Iran have banned women from 77 different majors, including accounting, counseling, and engineering, for the school year that begins on Saturday, Iran's Mehr news agency reported in August.

There was no official reason given for the move, but Iranian officials have expressed alarm in recent months about the country's declining birth and marriage rates, seen as partially caused by women's rising educational attainment in the last two decades. [Reuters] Read more

Anti-Islam film: Pakistan minister offers bounty

A Pakistani government minister has offered a $100,000 (£61,616) reward for the death of the maker of an anti-Islam film produced in the US.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour told reporters that he would pay the reward for the "sacred duty" out of his own pocket.

He suggested the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be eligible for the reward.

His comments came a day after at least 20 people died in clashes between anti-film protesters and police.

"I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000," the minister said. [BBC] Read more

Federal minister announces $100,000 bounty on anti-Islam filmmaker

Federal Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour announced that $100,000 will be awarded to the person who kills the maker of the anti-Islam blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims”.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Bilour said that there was no other way to lodge a protest and instill fear among the blasphemers other than murder of the filmmaker. “I request all the rich people to bring out all their money so that the killer can be loaded with dollars and gold.”

The minister admitted of knowing that he was committing a crime by instigating people for murder, but said that he was ready to be a criminal for this cause. [The Express Tribune] Read more

Why Muslim leaders and the West are worlds apart

.... Ordinary Muslims understand these manoeuvres very well. Last week, a friend in Tunisia told me that his country's rabble-rousers had started an ''auction'' where ''everyone wants to show that they are a better Muslim than anyone else''. He then added words that should be carved in marble: ''My Prophet would not worry about a video. He wouldn't care about that. My Prophet would care about the state of our societies. He would want us to be developed, he would want us to be successful.''

Is the true face of Islam represented by the Cairo mob, or by the quiet wisdom of my friend in Tunis?

If his words prevail, the Muslim world will grow to understand that Western countries can never abandon freedom of expression, and that coexistence cannot be based on intimidation.

So the battles being fought outside Western embassies are also signals of a wider struggle within Islam itself. The outcome hangs in the balance. [Brisbane Times] Read more

The laughing stock of nations

.... Writing in the London-based daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, Elias Khoury, a Lebanese novelist, was less circumspect. The “film”, he said, was in fact just a trailer. It is “us”, the Arabs, who are the spectacle.

Mr Khoury ended by quoting al-Mutanabbi, a medieval poet who ridiculed religious excess with a gibe against men of his time who, in supposed imitation of the prophet, sported full beards with bare upper lips: “Is it the point of faith to shave your moustaches/ O people whose ignorance is the laughing stock of nations?” [Economist.com] Read more

21 September 2012

The west and the Islamic world should leave one another to live and let live

.... Islamists need to stop attacking the west, and issuing fatwas against those outside the Islamic belief system. Likewise, the west needs to solve its own problems, rather than insisting on interfering in the affairs of Muslims, while failing to admit that previous interference might have provoked much of the "Muslim rage" that westerners find so "medieval".

In fact, the finger-wagging criticism from Islamaphobic zealots is just more of the "We know what's best; you do what you're told" attitude that has already caused such mayhem. It is time for both parties to get a grip.

[A COMMENT] Look I'm sorry, the relative behaviour of the two 'sides' is of such disparity, that this latest tactic of 'a pox on both your houses' is simply appeasement of the murderous and unreasonable over sensitivity demonstrated by one of the two parties under discussion. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Free Speech Isn’t the Problem

.... I absolutely agree that our devotion to free speech can cause headaches and challenges. But so can any number of non-negotiable facts of life.

.... There’s nothing wrong with exercising sound judgment, even caution, when it comes to offending another’s most cherished beliefs. But the First Amendment isn’t the problem here, the dysfunctions and inadequacies of the Arab and Muslim world are.

James Burnham famously said that when there is no alternative there is no problem. If free speech in America causes a comparative handful of zealots to want to murder Americans, the correct response is to protect Americans from those zealots (something the Obama administration abjectly failed to do in Libya) and relentlessly seek the punishment of anyone who succeeds. Because, as far as America is concerned, there is no alternative to the First Amendment. [National Review Online] Read more

Pakistan protests against anti-Islam film leave 17 dead

Pakistani officials say at least 17 people have been killed and more than 160 wounded in clashes between police and people protesting a film that denigrates Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Protests turned to violence in several cities on a holiday declared by Pakistan's government so people could rally against the video.

.... Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called on the international community Friday to pass laws to prevent people from insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

"If denying the Holocaust is a crime, then is it not fair and legitimate for a Muslim to demand that denigrating and demeaning Islam's holiest personality is no less than a crime?" Ashraf said during a speech to religious scholars and international diplomats in Islamabad.

Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, but not in the U.S [The Associated Press] Read more

20 September 2012

"We're supposed to show tolerance and respect for a religion that doesn't know the meaning of either word"

Pat Condell on the latest Muslim riots. [patcondel] Read more

Christians face arrest, persecution in Iran, U.N. experts say

More than 300 Christians have been arrested since mid-2010 in Iran where churches operate in a climate of fear and Muslims who convert to Christianity face persecution, United Nations human rights investigators said on Thursday.

They welcomed the release earlier this month of Yousof Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor who spent three years in prison before his death sentence for apostasy and evangelism was commuted, but voiced deep concerns for those still detained.

In a joint statement, the independent investigators called on authorities in the Islamic Republic to "ease the current climate of fear in which many churches operate, especially Protestant evangelical houses of worship". [Reuters] Read more

Afghanistan: 100 lashes for teen shows why climate of violence against women must be tackled

The flogging in public of a 16-year-old girl by a local mullah in the southern Ghazni province of Afghanistan for an “illicit relationship” with a boy is abhorrent and testifies to the precarious situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, said Amnesty International.

The girl was sentenced to 100 lashes on 16 September, which was carried out in a verdict issued by three Mullahs in Jaghori district of Ghazni province.

It has been reported that the Afghan Parliament’s lower house – the Wolesi Jirga – has initiated an investigation into the brutal and unlawful assault on the teenager. [Amnesty International USA] Read more

The word 'behead' went over Muslim mother's head

.... The woman was photographed encouraging her four-year-old son to hold up a sign which read "Behead all those who insult the prophet".

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the image of the child calling for beheading of another person was "incomprehensible", while Premier Barry O'Farrell called for the woman to be investigated by child protection services.

But the woman, who has only been in Australia for two years, told detectives from strike force McAllister she did not know what the sign meant. [The Daily Telegraph] Read more

Rushdie: Unrest a product of the outrage machine

.... “At the time of the attack on The Satanic Verses, what we saw was not so much a spontaneous outpouring of rage as a very carefully manufactured outpouring,” Rushdie told Zakaria.

“There was no doubt that it was highly controlled. You know, there were missives sent out from mosques to all sorts of people and they were all identical to make sure everybody was singing from the same song sheet...making the same attacks on the book in the same words.”

.... “And I think certainly, if we look at what’s happening now, this is very much a product of the outrage machine," Rushdie said. “Yes, there’s this stupid film...and the correct response to a stupid film on YouTube is to say it’s a stupid film on YouTube, and you get on with the rest of your life.

“So to take that and to deliberately use it to inflame your troops, you know, is a political act,” Rushdie added. “That’s not about religion, that’s about power.” [CNN World] Read more

Germany postpones posters aimed at countering radical Islam

Germany's Interior Ministry has postponed at the last minute a poster campaign advertising a hotline aimed at countering radical Islam because of fears it could have incited violence by extremists.

Western governments are keen to avoid exacerbating Muslim anger after a film made in California ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad surfaced on the Internet and ignited violent protests around the world, some of them deadly.

The posters had been due to go up in German cities with large immigrant populations from Friday. They were aimed at those who suspected that a friend or family member might be drifting towards radical Islam. [Reuters] Read more

Mosque-go! Muscovites rally against Muslim center project

Up to 2,000 people rallied in a Moscow neighborhood after local authorities announced the building of a Muslim cultural center and mosque in the area. The protest ended with officials being forced to cancel the planned construction.

The impromptu demonstration on Wednesday evening was gathered through social networks. Residents of the Mitino district came to voice their fears over the plans to build a Muslim cultural center and mosque in the neighborhood, which would be able to accommodate up to 60,000 believers during a service. [TV-Novosti] Read more

Petition in support of imprisoned Egyptian atheist Alber Saber

On Monday we carried a report from a Cairo-based journalist, Austin Mackell, on the worrying case of an Egyptian atheist facing a three-year prison sentence for "insulting religion".

Alber Saber was arrested in Cairo on 12 September after a Muslim friend discovered that he had been participating in atheist groups on the internet, including an Egyptian Atheists Facebook page of which he is the administrator. After an argument broke out and an angry crowd gathered outside Saber's home, police arrived to arrest Saber, and later informed other inmates at the police station of the reason for his arrest, leading to a physical assault involving a razor blade. [New Humanist] Read more

This isn’t a case of ‘good’ Islam vs ‘bad’ Islam

.... The last thing the West should be doing at this moment is talking of “good Islam” against “bad Islam” or making this into a religious conflict. It isn’t. It’s the reflection of a feeling among Muslims, here as in the Middle East, that the past has failed them, and that they need to recover their self-belief, without provocations from a West which has does so much to damage them in the past.

[A COMMENT] Oh please, spare us this apologia. Islam has always been and always will be a conservative, reactionary religion. And as long as the majority of Muslims stay silent and do not shout from the rooftops their condemnation of - for example - the fact that in Islington alone, in Britain, in 2010, 30 under-age Muslim girls were forced into paedophile marriages against their will with the blessing and sanction of self-styled imams, nothing is going to change.

If there is a "good Islam" - and I'd say the jury is most definitely out on that question - it's a strangely cowed, muted, fearful Islam. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Danish Mohammad cartoonist rejects censorship

The Danish cartoonist who outraged Muslims with a drawing of the Prophet Mohammad seven years ago has said the West cannot let itself be muzzled by fear of offending Islamic sensibilities.

.... Westergaard, 77, said he still lives in constant fear of another attempt on his life. His home has become a "fortress" with a police station in the back yard and bodyguards who ferry him and his wife around in the back seat of an armored car.

"I can't even go shopping or sit in a cafe," the cartoonist said in the interview published on Thursday. [Reuters] Read more

Egypt's mufti urges Muslims to endure insults peacefully

.... Condemning the publication of the cartoons in France as an act verging on incitement, Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said it showed how polarized the West and the Muslim world had become.

Gomaa said Mohammad and his companions had endured "the worst insults from the non-believers of his time. Not only was his message routinely rejected, but he was often chased out of town, cursed and physically assaulted on numerous occasions.

"But his example was always to endure all personal insults and attacks without retaliation of any sort. There is no doubt that, since the Prophet is our greatest example in this life, this should also be the reaction of all Muslims."

His statement echoed one by Al Azhar, Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni learning, which condemned the caricatures showing the Prophet naked but said any protest should be peaceful. [Reuters] Read more

Global Adolescence

The week that Salman Rushdie’s memoir of the events leading up to the threats on his life and his years “on the run” is published seems a good time to ask whether we can really carry on like this. According to many, we cannot discuss Islam, depict it or write about it except in certain very circumscribed ways without causing mortal offence.

This is despite the fact that it plays a far bigger role in our lives in countries such as Britain than it did 30 years ago. And worse, in a world where the mobility of communication outstrips the mobility of understanding, we are now at hazard of “global Muslim anger” every time a bongo-brain in a Moosejaw shed uploads an idiocy involving something Islamic. [Times (£)] Read more

Mohammed in the 18th century

Given sexually explicit character of the cartoon published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, apparently borne of a selfless desire to take some of the heat off the Americans by spreading the outrage, I thought I'd share with you one of Gibbon's footnotes - translated from the learned Latin in which the ever-cautious historian veiled it.

.... By "the incontinence of Mahomet", Gibbon is referring not to any urinary problems but to his sexual appetites. Like many before and since, Gibbon was fascinated by the soap-opera character of the prophet's private life as recorded in the Hadith and other early sources. [Heresy Corner] Read more

19 September 2012

Tunisian artists cry for help against religious extremists

.... As the new Tunisia struggles to find its way within the conflicting visions of the future, some artists have found themselves in trouble with the law.

Painter Nadia Jelassi is facing charges of harming public order after her depictions of veiled women went on display at a gallery. The artist could face a sentence of up to five years in prison, lawyers say.

.... "Time and again, prosecutors are using criminal legislation to stifle critical or artistic expression," Human Rights Watch said in early August.

Some artists have said they fear a repeat of the situation in 1990's Algeria, where radical militant Islamists killed artists and journalists during the height of its 'black years' on the grounds that art is forbidden in Islam. [Reuters] Read more

Inquiry into multiculturalism has been swamped with anonymous Islamophobic and racist submissions

The draft report is due out soon and will be released as tensions run high from recent protests in Sydney and around the world.

Of 513 submissions many are anonymous and contain lines such as:

"I do object to the current policy on immigration allowing predominately (sic) Muslim so called refugees into this country they are the biggest manipulative group around, are lying deceitful and dangerous."

Many of them have very similar themes; that multiculturalism has failed, that Muslims are to blame, that they threaten democracy in Australia and refuse to assimilate. [Herald Sun] Read more

On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God

.... Our panic and moral confusion were at first sublimated in attacks upon the hapless Governor Romney. I am no fan of Romney’s, and I would find the prospect of his presidency risible if it were not so depressing, but he did accurately detect the first bleats of fear in the Obama administration’s reaction to this crisis.

Romney got the timing of events wrong—confusing, as many did, a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for an official government response to the murder of Americans in Libya. But the truth is that the White House struck the same note of apology, disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip. [Sam Harris] Read more

Charlie Hebdo – more anti-Islamic than anti-clerical

.... Charlie Hebdo has tried to recapture a sense of irreverence that seemed lost. The new director, Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, wants to move on and reposition the weekly's editorial line firmly on the left. It is doubtful that he can manage to restore the publication's past glory.

Of course people should be entitled to mock Islam and any other religion. However, in the current climate of racial and religious prejudice in Europe, how can these cartoons be helpful? Charlie Hebdo is waging a rearguard battle.

[A COMMENT] Define "helpful". Certainly, publishing these cartoons will not "help" the cause of those in the west who are eager to appease the violent and intolerant voices in the Middle East that seek to destroy our hard-won liberties. But it will "help" the cause of those of us who wish to convey that we will not be intimidated and we will not give up our liberties. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Iran Cleric, Claims He Was Beaten Up By 'Badly Veiled' Woman

.... A cleric in the northern province of Semnan claims he received the beating of his lifetime last month after advising two women passing by a mosque to cover up.

In an interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency on Monday, Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti, a top religious figure in the city of Shahrmirzad, said he thought the women's attire defied social codes and Islamic values.

One of the women, apparently, did not appreciate his advice.

"Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she also insulted me. I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me," the cleric said, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. [The Huffington Post] Read more

18 September 2012

CAIR Rep: Violence Shows It's America That Needs to Change

Anti-American violence throughout the Muslim world, ostensibly over a cheap Internet film denigrating the Muslim prophet Muhammad, may be misguided, but it's a result of "the lack of dignity, the lack of respect that they're being shown." And it's up to America to change policies to calm things.

.... The recent violence, including the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, might have be seen as "the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of Muslims' patience with American and Western intervention," McGoldrick said. [IPT News] Read more

Is Islamic Ideology Totalitarian?

.... Both are expressions of political Islam in the Muslim world: the aims are the same, but the means of the Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups is political infiltration, often through the use of social welfare programs; the Salafi seem to favor more direct imposition of their views.

Future events will decide if Muslim states will become or remain tyrannical or whether political systems based on some limited form of government more accountable to the people will prevail.

The key problem for the world is the degree to which Islamic control in Arab countries will continue to be an obstacle to reform and will prevent the emergence of secular democratic changes. As the Dutch MP, Geert Wilders states: Any religion that invites you in but then will not let you out is no longer a religion; it is a totalitarian political movement. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Girls are not free to speak out in Islamic countries

I AM so disheartened to read that an eight-year-old Muslim girl living in Australia has such a strong desire for jihad and to live under sharia law.

I wonder if she understands that her right to speak to men, or to be educated, or to live in the freedom she experiences here in Australia, would not exist under extremist Muslim laws. If she lived in certain Middle East countries and was unfortunate enough to be raped, she could be stoned to death.

What have we done, in our compassionate embrace of multiculturalism, to deserve this lack of respect for our own culture? [The Australian] Read more

A broader Orientalist depiction of Muhammad

Strange goings-on at the Guardian's CiF. A rather silly piece by Myriam Francois-Cerrah, The truth about Muhammad and Aisha, argues that the charge of paedophilia levelled at Muhammad due to Aisha's age - six at the time of betrothal, nine at the time of consummation - is really not quite as clear-cut as critics claim. Or, since she's studying for a D.Phil. at Oxford:

"The Islamophobic depiction of Muhammad's marriage to Aisha as motivated by misplaced desire fits within a broader Orientalist depiction of Muhammad as a philanderer."

It turns out that there are in fact doubts among Muslim scholars about Aisha's real age and she may well have been, ooh, a lot older. Happily, though, this is the only point where there's any room for doubt about her. Otherwise all is clear: [Mick Hartley] Read more

17 September 2012

Senator links violence to multiculturalism

SOUTH Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has linked violent scenes between Muslim protesters and police in Sydney to multiculturalism, just days ahead of a major speech by businessman and migrant Frank Lowy.

Mr Lowy is to deliver the inaugural Australian Multicultural Society lecture on the benefits of a multicultural society at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

"The naive cling to the romantic idealisation of the generations of migrants who have successfully settled in Australia, thinking things will continue just as they have in the past," Senator Bernardi said in a post on his website on Monday.

"They proclaim multiculturalism as a triumph of tolerance when in fact it undermines the cultural values and cohesiveness that brings a nation together." [AAP] Read more

Shocking video shows girl, aged EIGHT, speaking of her love for Jihad during Muslim conference in Australia

Shocking footage has emerged of a girl as young as eight speaking of her love for Jihad and the Syrian uprising during a video filmed at a Muslim conference in Sydney.

The little girl made the controversial comments as she addressed a crowd at an Islamic gathering, while the Australian city continued to deal with the fallout from violent riots at the weekend.

The girl - named only as eight-year-old Ruqaya - was filmed speaking during a 'Muslims Rise' conference held by the Australian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Bankstown, west Sydney. [MailOnline] Read more

The truth about Muhammad and Aisha

.... Critics allege that Aisha was just six years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad, himself in his 50s, and only nine when the marriage was consummated. They base this on a saying attributed to Aisha herself (Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, number 234), and the debate on this issue is further complicated by the fact that some Muslims believe this to be a historically accurate account.

[A COMMENT] .... See the problem? Either Mohammed married a girl at 6/9 or the Islamic holy texts are partially wrong. Given that some Muslims place more credence and importance on the Bukhari texts than the Koran (just as some Jews place more credence on the Talmud over than Torah), it becomes rather difficult to arbitrarily dictate what is "Islamicly correct" simply because the author wants it to be that way due to the subject nature. [Guardian Cif] Read more

16 September 2012

PM Erdogan: Islamophobia should be recognized as crime against humanity

.... He further noted, “Freedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others start. You can say anything about your thoughts and beliefs, but you will have to stop when you are at the border of others’ freedoms. I was able to include Islamophobia as a hate crime in the final statement of an international meeting in Warsaw.”

Erdogan said the government will immediately start working on legislation against blasphemous and offensive remarks. “Turkey could be a leading example for the rest of the world on this.”

[A COMMENT] Erdogan the wolf in sheeps clothing. Islamophobia is just word for the attempt to curb free speech. What is Islamophobia? Do I have the right to critizice Islam once laws against Islamophobia are implemented? It's already forbidden to criticise Turkey and now a whole religion and at the end of the day ... [Today's Zaman] Read more

Inayat Bunglawala ‘Shows His True Colours’ re: Satanic Verses Affair

.... This so called leader of British Muslims again shows his true colours. Many innocent Muslims lost their lives campaigning against Rushdie’s book, we in the UK spent valuable time, money and put huge effort into mobilising the Muslims of the UK into acting against slander of the Prophet SAW and his companions.

One of our lasting achievements from the Rushdie affair was the establishment of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, through this we eventually established the MCB.

When we read Bunglawala’s views about our campaign, the most depressing point is that it was this very MCB that promoted Mr Bunglawala, gave him a platform and made him famous by appointing him as the MCB spokesman. Now that very same person calls our work, “…totally over the top and very embarrassing.” [inayatscorner] Read more

Voters more likely to back an anti-Muslim party than reject it – poll

.... In addition, 37% admitted that they would be more likely to support a political party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in Britain and the presence of Islam in society, compared with 23% who said it would make them less likely.

Matthew Goodwin of the Extremis Project, an independent group monitoring extremism and terrorism that commissioned the research, said that, although Britain lacked a successful extremist political party, much of the public was susceptible to far-right ideology.

He said: "The results clearly point towards enduring public anxieties over the performance of mainstream political and business elites, immigration and also the role of Muslims and Islam in society." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

The roots of hate: Was multiculturalism really to blame?

.... In response Nawaz conceded western foreign policy may have inflamed grievances that were “perceived” or “real”, but argued this was just one of many factors; according to Nawaz, “grievances, identity crises, charismatic recruiters and ideological narratives” have contributed to the problem.

And taking the opposite view to Hasan, Nawaz agreed the government’s focus on ‘non-violent extremism’ was correct. While acknowledging the ‘conveyor belt theory’ is empirically flawed, he suggested the evidence to the contrary is inconclusive.

Although the debate was published in a mainstream left-wing publication and provided an illuminating ‘insider’ perspective, readers were left to make up their own minds. So, between Nawaz and Hasan, whose argument is closest to the truth? And which carries the most currency among policymakers? [Left Foot Forward] Read more

Islam and secular democracy

This promises to be a fascinating event – a presentation about the relationship between Islam and secular democracy from JIMAS’s Manwar Ali. JIMAS is a Muslim charitable and outreach organisation You can read more about them here.

The contact for the event is Tehmina Kazi from British Muslims for Secular Democracy – ‘a group of Muslim democrats of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, who support a clear separation between religion and the State.’

I hope it goes very well – and discombobulates extremists on both sides in equal measure. [Harry’s Place] Read more

15 September 2012

Did Mohammed have a sense of humour?

.... The bizarre thing is that this film was made in America by someone obscure living in LA, but the rampaging Islamist hordes are attacking not only US embassies, but British and German ones, too. Any excuse, it seems, to tear into 'the West'. So flags are torn down, buildings torched, and an ambassador brutally murdered along with his staff, all in the name of the 'Religion of Peace'.

.... But protests over the Danish cartoons which satirised Mohammad, combined with images of Muslims criticising frivolous aspects of Western culture, leave the distinct impression Islam and comedy are incompatible – it is haram.

The most concerning thing for Muslims is that those who dare to express humour or satirise aspects of their religion are invariably derided by their co-religionists who hold to the Ayatollah Khomeini rather trenchant school of Islam. He once said: "An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humour in Islam. There is no fun in Islam." [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

DC Comics Mainstreaming ‘Islamophobia’ - And don't you dare call Batman "the Caped Crusader."

DC Comics has introduced a new Muslim superhero: a Lebanese American from Dearborn, Michigan, named Simon Baz. However, material released about the character so far portrays him more as a victim than a hero. And that seems to be the point.

Central to Simon Baz’s story is that for years now, he has been a victim of “Islamophobia.” According to the Religion News Service, “a young Baz and his family, the mother in an Islamic headscarf, watch in horror as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold on their television. The next panels show men wiping ‘Go home’ and other graffiti from the wall of an ‘Islamic Center of America,’ bullies ripping a headscarf off Baz’s sister Sira, and Baz going through a security check.” [Pajamas Media] Read more

As it happened: Violence erupts in Sydney over anti-Islam film

Violence erupted in central Sydney as hundreds of Muslims protest against a controversial film about the Prophet Mohammed.

It is the latest in a series of demonstrations that have killed at least six people in the Middle East. Protestors have also marched through London.

The wave of protests spread to Sydney's CBD yesterday afternoon, beginning outside the United States Consulate and spreading through the city's streets to Hyde Park.

The ABC understands the protest was sparked by a mass text message saying: "We must defend the honour of our prophet, we must act now. [ABC News] Read more

Islam blasphemy riots now self-fulfilling prophecy

.... We are now treated to the strange spectacle of Western progressives aligning with Islamic religious reactionaries, both arguing that freedom of speech can go too far (of course, it is only speech that offends Muslims which comes under progressive suspicion; the same liberals who insist that the tender sensitivities of Muslims be respected have no problem with speech that maligns religious Christians and Jews).

Those arguing that the YouTube clips that allegedly “incited” this mess should be banned – like the Guardian’s Andrew Brown – would do well to pause and consider the implications of what they are arguing. Does Brown think that Mitt Romney, a practicing Mormon, would be justified in demanding that the New York City authorities shut down The Book of Mormon?

I am frequently outraged by what I read on the website of Brown’s newspaper (as one wag put it to me; “With Comment is Free, you get what you pay for”); would I be justified in expressing that anger through violence towards various and sundry Guardian writers? [Index on Censorship] Read more

Multiculturalism 'past its sell-by date' warns race expert

Prof Ted Cantle said that the idea of multiculturalism in Britain is now “well past its sell-by date” and is often doing more harm than good.

He accused the Government of fuelling separation in communities rather than bringing people together by allowing small groups to claim “special status” – and with it funding – amounting to a form of state-sponsored segregation.

Councils and police are also giving undue legitimacy to “self-appointed leaders” in some areas by inviting them to endless meetings and consulting them on their views and allowing them to become “gatekeepers to their communities”, he warned. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

14 September 2012

Looking back at Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses

.... There was absolute outrage in the Channel 4 newsroom when the Ayatollah Khomeini declared his fatwa: we had a very motivated group of journalists, who couldn't believe that someone could effectively be sentenced to death for something he'd written. I was dispatched to do an interview with the Iranian chargé d'affaires, Mr Akhondzadeh Basti, at the embassy in Kensington.

I was as shocked as anyone by the reaction of the ayatollah and I did let my feelings show in the interview. I think the question that really got to the regime was, "Do you understand that we don't regard it as civilised to kill people for their opinions? Do you understand that people in this country fought a world war to protect themselves and others from being murdered for their beliefs and what they believe to be right?" [guardian.co.uk] Read more

On ‘child brides’ and irrelevant imams

.... Still, the article is right in that some imams do need to address the needs of the youth better and stop hiding under the sand on matters of politics.

They may well be thinking that mosques are houses of Allah and are meant for quiet prayer and contemplation, not political arguing, and certainly spaces need to be set aside for the former (and they may also be keen to stop HT- and Muhajiroun-type agitation), but historically, the imam was also the political leader who gave sermons on Friday in which politics were mentioned prominently.

The mosque is also, often, the only community centre, and to entirely ban discussion about politics is to deprive the community of a much needed space to talk about the issues that affect it, including their relations with the police and wider society. [Indigo Jo] Read more

Why is the Muslim world so easily offended?

.... Even as Arabs insist that their defects were inflicted on them by outsiders, they know their weaknesses. Younger Arabs today can be brittle and proud about their culture, yet deeply ashamed of what they see around them. They know that more than 300 million Arabs have fallen to economic stagnation and cultural decline.

They know that the standing of Arab states along the measures that matter — political freedom, status of women, economic growth — is low. In the privacy of their own language, in daily chatter on the street, on blogs and in the media, and in works of art and fiction, they probe endlessly what befell them. [The Washington Post] Read more

Google Has No Plans to Rethink Video Status

Google said on Friday that it would not comply with a White House request to reconsider the anti-Islam video that has set off violent protests in the Arab world in light of its rules banning hate speech on YouTube, which it owns.

Google said it had already determined that the video did not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech, because it was against the Muslim religion but not Muslim people.

The company also said Friday that it had blocked access to the video in India and Indonesia because it violated local laws. [The New York Times] Read more

Dog protest planned for Scarborough mosque

The fur will be flying at an east-Toronto Mosque Friday afternoon, when a group of dog owners plan to walk their canines outside the building during prayer sessions.

It was toward the end of August that two groups — the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and Canadians United Against Terror - set up a Facebook page inviting people to walk their dogs in front the Salahuddin mosque in Scarborough. [TORONTO SUN] Read more

Seven dead as anti-Islam film protests widen

At least seven people were killed on Friday in demonstrations over a film made in the US that mocks Islam - as protests spread around the world.

Three people were killed when the US embassy in Khartoum was attacked, Sudanese state radio said.

In Tunisia, two people were killed after crowds breached the US embassy compound in Tunis. There was one death in Egypt and one in Lebanon.

Protests began on Tuesday against the film, Innocence of Muslims.

The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a womaniser and leader of a group of men who enjoy killing. Clips were distributed online with an Arabic voice-over. [BBC] Read more

Islam must be scrutinised

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public its support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’.

We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The ugly truth about Islam and homosexuality

.... Today, I learn from The Guardian that in the Malaysian government’s efforts to cure the “problem”, teachers and parents are being trained to spot signs of homosexuality in children.

The Teachers' Foundation of Malaysia has explained that their seminars are “multi-religious and multicultural. After all, all religions are basically against that type of behaviour." The give-away in boys, apparently, is apparently a liking for tight, light-coloured clothes and large handbags. For girls, the clues are having no affection for men.

What they intend when they’ve identified their targets is not yet clear. Last year saw the experiment of a camp for "effeminate" boys but we don’t know if there was the hoped-for result or if they just sneakily changed their clothing preferences and held on to their inclinations. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Parents taught to spot 'signs of homosexuality'

The Malaysian government has begun holding seminars aiming to help teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children, underscoring a rise in religious conservatism in the Muslim majority nation.

So far, the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia has organised 10 seminars across the nation.

Attendance at the last event on Wednesday reached 1,500 people, a spokesman for the organisation told Reuters. [Reuters] Read more

From a distinguished peer fighting to protect women... Sharia marriages for girls of 12 and the religious courts subverting British law

The protection of children is one of the essential principles of civilised society. Yet the duty to safeguard the vulnerable seems in danger of being undermined out of sensitivity towards some minorities.

This disturbing trend has been highlighted this week by revelations that, during an undercover investigation, two imams from Islamic centres, one based in Peterborough, the other in East London, expressed their willingness to marry an under-age Muslim girl — aged just 12 — to a man in his 20s under the aegis of Sharia law.

It is right, of course, that we respect freedom of religion, but surely not when basic laws and morality are being flouted in this way. It is reported that one of the imams, in trying to justify his actions, said that he would not have married the girl unless she had given her consent. [MailOnline] Read more

13 September 2012

Nearly 44,000 hate crimes took place in England and Wales in 2011-12 - 4% were religion hate crimes

How tolerant is England and Wales? New figures from the Home Office show that hate crime is rare - equivalent to 11 out of every 1,000 crimes in 2011-12.

That's probably no compensation if you've been a victim, however, and the data gives a detailed breakdown of hate crimes across the two countries for the latest financial year. Its the first time the Home Office has published this data - it was previously collected by the Association of Chief Police Officers, (ACPO) which has also published data today - and that data covers Northern Ireland too. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Inside the strange Hollywood scam that spread chaos across the Middle East

.... Produced and promoted by a strange collection of rightwing Christian evangelicals and exiled Egyptian Copts, the trailer was created with the intention of both destabilizing post-Mubarak Egypt and roiling the US presidential election. As a consultant for the film named Steve Klein said: "We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen."

[A COMMENT] Who cares who created it? Isn't free speech part of the First Amendment? And if you're going to condemn this as 'anti-islamic', please condemn Piss Christ at the same time? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Sydney sheikh in court over 'female genital mutilation'

A Sydney sheikh has appeared in court in relation to the alleged genital mutilation of two children.

Sheikh Shabbir Vaziri, 56, who police sources say is part of a lesser-known branch of Islam, has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of female genital mutilation and hindering investigation of a serious indictable offence.

Police will allege the two girls had the procedure, which is also known as female circumcision, performed on them in NSW when they were aged six and seven within the past 18 months. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Egyptian actor wins appeal in anti–Islam case

An Egyptian appeals court has quashed the conviction of the Arab world’s most famous comic actor, Adel Imam, on a charge of insulting Islam in his films and plays, rejecting a case brought by a lawyer with Islamist affiliations.

Imam, 72, has frequently poked fun at figures of authority and politicians of all stripes, making him the target of several court actions during a four-decade career. His more serious films dealt with the rise of Islamist militancy. [Scotsman] Read more

Dunnes Stores told Muslim worker she couldn't wear her hijab

A former sales assistant at Dunnes Stores has claimed she was unable to go to work because she was not permitted to wear a religious headdress there.

Loreta Tavoraite (35), who is originally from Lithuania, began working in a Dunnes Stores in Ballincollig in Cork in July 2007.

.... Ms Tavoraite, of Parknamore in Ballincollig, is suing Dunnes, of 46-50 South Great George's Street, Dublin, for unfair dismissal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Cork was told yesterday that staff at Dunnes wear a standard uniform.

Her solicitor Patrick Horan said his client was told she "couldn't come to work wearing a hijab".

"As far as she was concerned, being a devout Muslim, you must wear a hijab. It's an obligation," said Mr Horan. [Belfast Telegraph] Read more

12 September 2012

Unrecorded Muslim Marriages, Bigamy, and Polygamy

.... The few cases which do make it to the courts are representative of a much larger problem. Adherents of strict sharia law often perform verbal divorces, with the result that many cases are not submitted to a judge.

The wife rarely has access to the resources required to contest the terms of the divorce or to appeal an erroneous determination. In this case, there were multiple proceedings as the intermediate court rationalized the terms of the marriage to pass muster, but found that the verbal divorce did not meet legal standards and so concluded that the second marriage was indeed bigamous. The cumulative costs at the end of three trials had to be staggering. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

German Welfare System Supports Muslim Polygamy

The SPD [Socialist Part]Y Neukölln is kicking up a fuss again: it has information that second and third wives (married in accordance with Islamic law) are dealing with the social welfare office as if they were single mothers. And although they are living in a household with the father, are collecting money as a Hartz IV [Welfare for long-term unemployed] "independent needs community".

The welfare state should not provide economic incentives for polygamy. Fritz Felgentreu, the head of Neukölln SPD, said to the KURIER: "We only have information from employees of the agency, and I don't have a magic solution. But that a special variety of Islam wants to establish itself here at the expense of the welfare state." [Islam versus Europe] Read more

BBC is full of liberals afraid to mock Islam (says veteran of the BBC)

.... He added: ‘I believe it is no coincidence that the last three BBC heads of religious broadcasting left their jobs to various degrees disillusioned with the corporation’s treatment of religion and ethics

But Mr Bolton also said: ‘What I do now think is that Muslims in particular ought to be mature enough in this country to take that humour and that Christians do have a right on their side when they say the satire applied to them ought to be applied to others.’

The BBC’s head of religion and ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim, said it was a ‘complicated’ situation, adding that things ‘took time to evolve’ and newer communities had not had their religion ‘ridiculed’ for as long as others had been. [MailOnline] Read more

Egypt’s constitutional reform talks stumble over the role of Islam in the law

A proposal by ultraconservative Salafis to give Egypt’s main Islamic institution the final say on whether the law of the land adheres to Islamic laws threatens to bring the already painfully slow process of drafting the new constitution to a grinding halt.

The proposal would give the revered Al-Azhar power similar to a supreme court by making it the arbiter of whether a law conforms with the principles of sharia, already cited in the constitution of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak as Egypt’s “main source” of legislation.

Opponents say the move would only exacerbate Egypt’s volatile politics and make it harder to heal social tensions in a country where one tenth of the population is Christian. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Planning application submitted for so-called 'mega-mosque' in Newham

The Architects Journal reports that NRAP Architects have submitted an outline planning application for a 9,500-capacity mosque at the Riverine Centre in Newham and provides "exclusive images" of the plan. Unfortunately, to subscribers only.

.... It would obviously be too much to ask that the right-wing press should cease referrring to the development as a "mega-mosque", but perhaps they could bring themselves to stop publishing references to and illustrations of the old Mangera Yvars design for a 12,000-capacity mosque that was scrapped five years ago. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Libya: there is good reason to ban the hateful anti-Muhammad YouTube clips

.... It is – obviously – blasphemous to Muslims. Less obviously, it offends against the central values of liberal democracy. The justification of free speech put forward by John Stuart Mill is that the remedy for bad speech is better speech. But this presupposes an interest in truth, and perhaps some agreed means of deciding on it. It's a system that breaks down when confronted with determined and malevolent liars.

[A COMMENT] The suggestion that some ideas or fantasies should be beyond criticism or mockery is very odd indeed, and is in my opinion a depressing sign of the betrayal of free speech. And it’s obvious to all that if this film were about Christianity you wouldn’t be advocating censorship. [Guardian Cif] Read more

From Rushdie to Stevens: This Madness Must Stop

Here we go again. From books and films to cartoons, teddy bears and desecration of copies of the Qur'an by a handful of American fundamentalists and soldiers, the story is the same: instead of ignoring material insulting and offensive to Islam, or forgiving their authors as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have done, some immature Muslims resort to violence that ends up killing people who had done more than most to actually help Muslims or Muslim-majority countries.

Furthermore, the poor-quality "offending" material receives far more publicity than it deserved, and the image of Islam is dragged through the mud yet again, to the exasperation of the vast majority of ordinary, decent Muslims. [The Huffington Post] Read more

11 September 2012

Tom Holland: In the shadow of a sword?

.... The commonest charge against Holland from Muslim critics was not blasphemy but "orientalism" - the idea, popularised by the late Edward Said, that any discussion by Western academics of Islamic history or culture is by its very nature presumptuous and imperialist. In other words, the criticism was political.

While accusations of orientalism are, in some ways, only a more sophisticated version of the "How dare you!" favoured by angry mobs stirred by religious passions and feelings of offence, and the attempt to close down debate scarcely more disguised (or less pernicious), they do not amount to a security risk.

Holland himself has been almost painfully concerned to stress his respectful attitude and good intentions. He has agonised in public, though robustly defending his conclusions, and on Twitter has politely, and repeatedly, responded to many of his critics. [Heresy Corner] Read more

Channel 4 cancels Islam documentary screening after presenter threatened

Historian Tom Holland's Channel 4 film Islam: The Untold Story sparked more than 1,000 complaints when it was broadcast.

Holland was threatened online with a torrent of abusive messages on Twitter.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD." [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

World Community Takes On ‘Islamophobia’

Want to see just how far our lords and masters are willing to go in appeasing Islam? Take a gander at a recent report entitled Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education.

A joint product of the Council of Europe, UNESCO, and something called the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (otherwise known as OSCE/ODIHR), this document was put together in consultation with “education experts, teachers, civil society representatives and governmental officials” around the world. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

10 September 2012

Islamization of Europe: The Numbers Don’t Lie

.... any number of supposedly intelligent and well-informed critics have vehemently dismissed such prognostications as alarmist nonsense, noting that in this or that European country the Muslim percentage of the population is still quite modest, and suggesting that there is no reason to expect the current numbers to climb very drastically in the years to come.

The fact that these critics actually appear to buy their own arguments, and that they are able to persuade other reasonably intelligent people to believe them as well, only demonstrates the remarkable level of ignorance of basic math on the part of many individuals with pricey liberal educations. [FrontPageMagazine.com] Read more

Mali Islamists chop hands, feet off five suspected robbers

Islamist fighters in northern Mali cut the hands and feet off five suspected robbers in the northern city of Gao in what they said was the application of sharia or Islamic law, residents and a hospital official said on Monday.

Armed Islamist groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) have controlled the northern two-thirds of the vast arid nation since April, when they hijacked a rebellion launched by ethnic Tuareg separatists. [Reuters] Read more

09 September 2012

The British child brides: Muslim mosque leaders agree to marry girl of 12... so long as parents don't tell anyone

British Muslim clerics are willing to carry out sharia marriages involving child brides as young as 12, an investigation has found.

Two imams said they would be prepared to officiate at the wedding of an underage girl to a man in his twenties, despite fears the pair would later have sex.

The revelations have led the Home Office to confirm that such ceremonies will be examined in the Government’s forthcoming Bill to outlaw forced marriages. [MailOnline] Read more

08 September 2012

Christian pastor jailed in Iran for 3 years is freed, watchdog group says

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was originally sentenced to death in his native country for his Christian faith, was acquitted of apostasy charges and released from custody.

Nadarkhani, 32, was imprisoned for three years and waiting execution for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. His charges were lowered to evangelizing to Muslims, which carried a three-year sentence. He was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based watchdog group that had been campaigning for the pastor's release. [FoxNews.com] Read more

52 murdered in two decades over blasphemy

Ever since the introduction of stringent amendments in blasphemy laws under General Ziaul Haq’s rule, more people suffered from communal clashes than ever in the sub-continent. Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy.

The number of blasphemy-related incidents shot up during Zia’s rule, during which 80 cases were reported to the courts compared to only seven such cases reported during the British rule from 1851 to 1947.

This information was revealed in a report titled: ‘Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan; Historical Overview’ launched on Friday by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). [The Express Tribune] Read more

This is an ‘Islamic’ republic: You can’t sit next to your wife!

If you thought that of all the places to eat in Pakistan, McDonalds would be relatively safe from extreme behaviour, falsely made in the name of religion, sadly, you would be quite wrong. Unfortunately, I just found this out the hard way, and in an incident that left a worse taste in my mouth than the culinary abortions the burger joint had on offer.

.... Not a few minutes had passed when a McDonald’s employee came up to us and very politely asked us to move. Initially, I thought we were blocking other patrons from viewing the television, and quietly informed the missus that we were being asked to shift because we were obstructing the TV.

Confused, she moved to the booth adjacent, and as I tried to sit in beside her, the same McDonald’s employee told me that I wasn’t allowed to sit next to her, but rather, should sit on the chair opposite to her, across the table. [The Express Tribune] Read more

Stunning Arrogance

.... From ANSA’s mission statement, one could be excused for thinking that it is an organisation based in Pakistan, but sadly, this is not the case, for it is based here in the UK.

Many of us eat meat, and many do not, but even for those of us who do, it would seem perverse if anyone were to suggest that we should do anything other than minimise the suffering and distress of animals in the slaughter process; it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the most humane slaughter methods available are employed. [Musings of a Durotrigan] Read more

07 September 2012

Freed Pakistani Christian girl 'will need armoured vehicle to protect her'

A lawyer representing a Pakistani Christian girl accused of desecrating the Qur'an who was granted bail on Friday said he will not push for her to be released from jail until her security can be guaranteed.

He claimed that Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old accused by a neighbour of committing an act of blasphemy last month, will require an armoured vehicle and a substantial number of bodyguards to protect her.

"The prime concern of the defence team is her safety and her life," said Raja Ikram, one of the lead defence lawyers in a case that has put Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws under intense scrutiny. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

06 September 2012

The myth of how the hijab protects women against sexual assault

.... Continuing to perpetuate the myth of the magical hijab only makes the problem grow. It doesn't actually solve anything. For that, we need to be able to openly talk about this problem, raise awareness, educate people, draft laws against it, and have law enforcement agencies that actually act upon criminal complaints against men who carry out these crimes. If that had been in place in the 1980s, maybe Neelo—or the millions of other victims like her—wouldn't have had to endure the pain she lived with for years.

To wear or not to wear the hijab is a personal choice that must be protected. Many women who wear it choose to do so and take joy in their gesture of modesty and piety. This, however, is not about the hijab or women's choice. It's about pseudo-science and misogyny.

It's about the fact that women who wear the hijab are not any safer than women who don’t. It’s about the fact that there needs to be real protection for women in Islamic societies, at home, on the streets, and in the workplace—not just miracle garments. [Women Under Siege] Read more

Kabul attack on female actors leaves survivors facing more 'punishment'

Even after the taunts and threats for appearing on TV, and whispered criticism of "immodest" outfits, the attack on actor sisters Areza and Tamana, and their friend Benafsha, came as a surprise.

The trio were minutes from moving out of a neighbourhood in which conservative locals had made them feel unwelcome, walking to meet a minivan full of their possessions, when six men surrounded them in a lane, lined with high-walled compounds. They left Benafsha bleeding to death outside a mosque with stab wounds, and the injured sisters desperately seeking help. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Islam and Science – The Truth

Muslim apologists today like to talk a great deal about the ‘Golden Age of Islamic Science’ and the great contribution Islam and Muslims made to a number of important scientific fields. Some go so far as to suggest that it was the Muslims who gave Europe the Enlightenment.

It’s almost as though a glorious past is enough to compensate for an abject present and the mere mention of past achievements often helps to instil that much needed feel good factor.

So what is the truth about the relationship between Islam and scientific advancement? [Harry’s Place] Read more

05 September 2012

Why is Polygamy Allowed in Islam? How is it Best Practiced?

.... Polygamy is a loaded, often polarizing topic and the overwhelming response (73 comments to date) to Qayyum’s article testifies to just how strong an emotional trigger this subject is. While I commend Qayyum for challenging herself and her readers by going beyond the knee-jerk Orientalist reaction to polygamy, the piece fails to discuss the practice of polygamy within an Islamic framework.

As a Muslim woman, I have personally observed many polygamous unions in the community in which I was raised, but my aim here is not to deny any shortcomings or promote any benefits of this marital arrangement. What I would like to do is to address the historical context of the permissibility of polygamy in Islam and take a look at how it is practiced in modern day Muslim societies. [altmuslim] Read more

Non-Muslims "in terror" in Pakistan, world churches say

Minority religious communities in Pakistan are living in "fear and terror" of Islamic fundamentalists amid abductions and forced conversions that the government is helpless to stop, the World Council of Churches (WCC) said on Wednesday.

A statement from the WCC's ruling Central Committee declared that Pakistan's small Hindu and Christian communities were increasingly subject to "persecution and discrimination", with mounting Islamisation of a formerly more secular nation.

"Today a significant number of young women of religious minorities ... face violence, including sexual assault, rape, threats and persecution," said the WCC - an influential global organisation of all Christian faiths except Roman Catholics. [Reuters] Read more

How to commit blasphemy in Pakistan

Joseph had been pursuing another case, in which an 11-year-old, Salamat Masih, along with his father and uncle, was accused of scribbling something blasphemous on the wall of the mosque. We don't really know what he wrote, because reproducing it, here or in court, would constitute blasphemy.

The boy's uncle, Manzoor Masih, was shot dead during the trial. The Masih case went to the high court, where a judge, Arif Bhatti, applied common sense and released him. A year later the judge was murdered in his own chambers, and his killers claimed that the judge had committed blasphemy by freeing those accused in the blasphemy case. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Rimsha Masih and the march of unreason

.... This is a phenomenon that ought to worry us all – not so much the persistence of anti-Semitism, as the mainstreaming of unthinking bigotry. You can see it in Pakistan, where a Christian teenager, Rimsha Masih, is still rotting in jail as she faced trial for blasphemy – a capital crime.

She stands accused of burning pages from the Koran, despite the fact that she has learning difficulties and/or Down's Syndrome, and that the imam who provided the evidence has been arrested for attempting to frame her. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

04 September 2012

Maldives teenager faces lashing for pre-marital sex

The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained that she has had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.

The man was given 10 years in jail during a court hearing in the remote Raa atoll on Sunday.

A court official said the girl, whose identity was not revealed, could refuse the public flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest under local laws. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more