30 November 2012

Anti-Shiite violence rises in Pakistan as Islam’s sectarian divide moves beyond the Middle East

More members of Pakistan’s Shiite Muslim religious minority were killed by Sunni Muslim extremists this year than in any previous year, a development that could further destabilize this key U.S. ally and draw it into the widening Shiite-Sunni conflict that up to now has been manifest primarily in Middle Eastern countries. [McClatchy Newspapers] Read more

Muslims Pressing for Blasphemy Laws in Europe

.... In Austria, where the government of Saudi Arabia has officially opened the King Abdullah International Center for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue (KAICIID) to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict," critics say that KAICIID's work will parallel long-standing efforts by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries, to pressure Western countries into making it an international crime to criticize Islam or Mohammed -- all in the name of "religious tolerance."

This was effectively confirmed by the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who spoke at the inauguration ceremony of KAICIID in downtown Vienna on November 26. Ihsanoglu declared: "Islamophobia leads to hate crimes and as such, it generates fear, feelings of stigmatization, marginalization, alienation and rejection.

The West must define hate crimes broadly and address the information deficit as well as enact adequate legislation and implement this legislation effectively. In conjunction with national legislation, they should also implement international commitments and agreed norms." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Still fighting? for their freedom: ‘No concrete evidence’ that women? are better off because of ?the Arab Spring, researcher says

.... With three Arab Spring countries slated to revamp their constitutions wholesale, the future of women in North Africa and the Middle East is teetering on the precipice — at a crossroads like no other time since the uprisings erupted in 2010.

“Women still have to fight for their rights because for them, the revolution is not over yet,” said Heide Gottner, who works with Amica, a Germany-based women’s organization with field workers in Libya and the West Bank.

“Women fought for and demanded their rights. Now we see that they’re sort of the losers of the revolution.”

Nowhere is that more true than in Egypt, at least so far. [National Post] Read more

Egypt’s revolution at a ‘crossroads’ with secularist anger at what Egyptians regard as an Islamist power grab

.... The problem with references such as “the true nature” of Egyptian society is that they underline the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative Islamic philosophy and bring to the surface longstanding cultural and religious fissures in the most populous Arab country.

Egypt is a country where, for example, many women cover themselves in black garb from their heads to their toes while many others dress as women in Europe or North America do.

Although both the old and new constitutions state that Egypt must be governed by “Islamist principles,” this means one thing to Islamic fundamentalists and something else to secularists. Another clause that is open to interpretation states that women, but not men, must balance their duties between home and work. A third declares that clerics at a respected Sunni mosque in Cairo must be consulted on legislation concerning Islamic sharia. [Postmedia News] Read more

In mosques and pubs, people are more worried by the cuts than ethnic tension

Those who paint Tower Hamlets as a balkanised community fail to notice the social solidarity that exists in the community.

[A COMMENT] Thing is you aren't offering much evidence for cohesion, just a spokesman blaming the state which is the same amongst any community, that doesn't mean they are mixing together.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] I live in Luton too. Taking a walk down George Street actually means not hearing a single conversation in English. At least on George Street you are usually allowed to pass unmolested. Try walking through Bury Park while being a white woman in a skirt. If you're lucky, the "social solidarity" will only be verbal and nobody will spit at you. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Saudi cleric under fire for labelling waitresses as ‘prostitutes’

.... The burger chain had recently allowed women – for the first time – to work as waitresses at their branches across the coastal city of Jeddah.

“At the beginning of her shift she’s a waitress. When her shift ends she becomes a prostitute. The more she’s around men the easier it becomes to get closer to her”, tweeted Al-Mutairi, whose twitter account boasts more than 5,000 followers.

Despite this cleric’s views reflecting an existing frustration amongst some conservative segments in Saudi Arabia which oppose women’s right to work and fear that allowing females to mix with men may lead to unwanted social behaviours, Mutari’s rather controversial tweet was deemed too extreme to many Saudis on Twitter. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

29 November 2012

Muslims who said Muslims free to choose religion must repent – Chief Imam

Muslims who said that Muslims are free to choose their religion are misguided and need to repent and ask for forgiveness from Allah, said Chief Imam of Istiqlal Mosque here, Prof Dr Ali Mustafa Yaqub.

“They (Muslims) who said this admitted the truth of other religions and had gone astray. Those who said that all religions are equal, can join and leave as they please, can become infidels,” he told reporters here.

Ali Mustafa, a famous Indonesian scholar and hadith expert was commenting on remarks by Lembah Pantai Member of Parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar who quoted a verse form the Quran which means “There is no compulsion in religion” and linked to views on religious freedom for the Malays in Malaysia. [BorneoPost] Read more

Disputed Articles in Egypt's Draft Constitution

An Islamist-dominated panel is voting on Egypt's draft constitution, the country's first charter after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The draft largely reflects the conservative vision of the Islamists, with articles that rights activists, liberals and Christians fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities and civil liberties in general.

Omissions of certain articles, such as bans on slavery or promises to adhere to international rights treaties, were equally worrying to critics of the new draft, who pulled out from the panel before the vote.

Here are some of the disputed articles: [AP] Read more

Protesters scent victory in fight to halt Newham mega-mosque

.... The mosque, which could take 12,000 people — four times as many as St Paul’s Cathedral — would be as big as Battersea power station and become the HQ of Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat. However, officers for Newham council recommend the plan is refused.

The sect, to which the July 7 bombers and shoe bomber Richard Reid have been linked, could now be forced to leave the Abbey Mills site altogether in Canning Road, near the Olympic Park, after a 13-year battle.

Alan Craig, campaign director of MegaMosque No Thanks and a former Newham councillor, said: “Now it’s up to the planning committee to follow the recommendation to reject. The building would be ugly, it would add nothing to the area and we have huge concerns about the group behind it.” [Evening Standard] Read more

Norway hospital dons new Hijab

The Norwegian medical institution says it has introduced a new redesigned Hijab in cooperation with designers that both adheres to Muslim rules and at the same time is more comfortable to wear.

OUH has long had Hijabs suited to staff uniforms, it says, but explains the new type has softer fabric that is better.

“We can’t refrain from hiring an employee because the individual wears religious headgear, Hege Linnestad, head of section for equal opportunities health services, says in a statement.

“This is why we are facilitating for the use of Hijabs. We want to be an attractive place of work that is set up for the employees’ religious beliefs,” she adds. [The Foreigner] Read more

The Problem With Multiculturalism

Most conservative observers are of the opinion that multiculturalism as it has been understood and practiced is nothing short of a social and economic disaster. And it must be said they are largely, if not entirely, correct.

The multicultural project in its contemporary form suffers from two grievous flaws: the filter is too wide, allowing into the country unskilled people who are poorly equipped to participate in a modern, technologically oriented economy and who consequently become a financial burden to the nation, disproportionately swelling the welfare rolls; and, no less critical, many of these immigrant groups import the hatreds, prejudices and conflicts of their countries of origin, sequester themselves with official approval into closed or aggressive enclaves, and often cause violence and disruption in the public life of their new home. [FrontPage Mag] Read more

Tunisia's Ghannouchi - Islamists to dominate Arab world

The leader of the Tunisian Islamist party that rose to power after the first Arab Spring uprising last year said this week that Islamist movements would eventually emerge triumphant throughout the Arab world after a difficult transition period.

Rached al-Ghannouchi, whose Ennahda party governs with two junior leftist partners, said secular groups should join forces with Islamists to manage the first phase after autocratic rulers were removed. [Reuters] Read more

Netherlands ready to get rid of blasphemy law

A never-used law in the Netherlands designed to punish blasphemers is expected to be repealed, the BBC reported Thursday.

In recent years, many nations – including the United Kingdom – have repealed blasphemy laws as an infringement of free speech.

In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed state blasphemy laws when it ruled that a movie titled “The Miracle” could not be censored on grounds it is sacrilegious. [Examiner.com] Read more

Sharia status unchanged in Egypt draft constitution

The assembly drafting Egypt’s new constitution voted on Thursday to keep “principles of sharia” - Islamic law - as the main source of legislation, language unchanged from the previous constitution in force under former president Hosni Mubarak.

The issue was the subject of a long dispute between hardline Salafi Islamists and liberals in the assembly which will vote on each of 234 articles in the draft constitution before it is sent to President Mohamed Morsi for approval. [Reuters] Read more

28 November 2012

Turkish president Abdullah Gul on Syria and Islamophobia

“It reminds us that while the West has high levels of education and income, it has diseases that are not easily curable. The diseases of the East, mainly illiteracy and poverty, are easier to fix than the diseases of the West, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia poses particular risks in today’s globalized world. It can be costly as well as a menace to world peace, increase risks to the lives of ordinary people and complicate the world political situation.

“Just like the world tackled anti-Semitism, we need to take measures to contain anti-Islamism.”

Gul mentioned the recent short anti-Muhammad film made in the U.S. by a member of the radicalized Egyptian Coptic Christian diaspora and funded by a fundamentalist Christian. [Toronto Star] Read more

Newham council officers recommend socalled West Ham mega mosque is rejected

The plans to erect the Riverine Centre, also known as Abbey Mills Mosque put forward by trustees following the Tabilighi Jamaat movement, are due to be heard by the Strategic Development Committee at Newham Council on Wednesday (December 5) of next week.

At 29,227 square metres the complex is more than three times the floorspace of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The development includes a segregated space for nearly 2,000 women, a library, dining hall, visitors’ centre, eight flats for imams and guests, along with tennis courts, a garden, and a riverside walk along Abbey Creek.

The former industrial land at the end of Canning Road is one of 10 sites listed for strategic development by Newham Council. Officers are arguing that the mosque plans are not in line with the council’s core strategy to create a new town centre for mixed use around West Ham Station. [Newham Recorder] Read more

France and the veil – the dark side of the law

In 2004, France introduced the law on “secularity and conspicious religious symbols in schools” which banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in French public primary and secondary schools.

Its supporters argued that this was keeping with the long-established principle of laïcité – the separation of Church and State – but it was clear to all that Muslim girls were the principal target of the law. How did this happen and what does it tell us about contemporary France? A story in five parts.

[A COMMENT] I totally disagree with much of this article, as a Muslim woman raised in a European country but by liberal parents. The enemy of Muslim women is fundamentalist Islam, pure and simple.

I never wear a headscarf nor does anyone in my family, except as respect when we go to certain homes or I visit certain countries. I am broadly in favour of the French ban, and I believe the ban on face veils should be extended to the UK where I live, since I find it backward and offensive, and mostly the uniform of over-zealous converts or salafists. It disturbs me that the veil is seen as a badge of being a good Muslim these days - and I am talking about inside the Muslim community. [openDemocracy] Read more

Egyptian Christians sentenced to death for Islam film

A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

"The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet," Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said.

The low-budget video, produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Mohammad and triggered anti-U.S. protests and attacks on Western embassies around the Muslim world. [Reuters] Read more

What’s wrong with multiculturalism

Kenan Malik has yet another brilliant essay on multiculturalism.

He says: Part of the problem in discussions about multiculturalism is that the term has, in recent years, come to have two meanings that are all too rarely distinguished. The first is what I call the lived experience of diversity.

The second is multiculturalism as a political process, the aim of which is to manage that diversity. The experience of living in a society that is less insular, more vibrant and more cosmopolitan is something to welcome and cherish. It is a case for cultural diversity, mass immigration, open borders and open minds. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Lancashire Muslims Halal school dinner boycott call

The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) said the latest school suppliers do not meet their Halal "criteria" for meat killed in line with Islamic tenets.

Hanif Dudhwala, of the council of mosques, said its own criteria were acceptable to all Lancashire Muslims.

But county council leader Geoff Driver said its supplier was approved by the same Muslim body used for the Olympics.

Mr Dudhwala said: "The county council should pick suppliers who are accredited to the Lancashire Council of Mosques and until they can find those suppliers there is no reason why they cannot give Muslim children vegetarian options or fish options until they find a supplier we can endorse from the council of mosques." [BBC] Read more

Polish ritual slaughter illegal, court rules

Poland's top court has ruled that the religious slaughter of animals is illegal, weeks before an EU law allowing the practice takes effect.

The Constitutional Tribunal said it was against Polish law to allow animals to have their throats cut and bleed to death without first being stunned. [BBC] Read more

27 November 2012

Saudi King Opens Religious Tolerance Center in Europe to 'Spread the Message of Islam'

A new Saudi-funded, Europe-based center for interreligious dialogue will be “a good medium to spread the message of Islam,” says the government-appointed imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque – a man who has stoked controversy in the past by calling Jews “monkeys and pigs” and Christians “cross worshippers.”

“The formation of this center in the West with King Abdullah’s support gives a strong message that Islam is a religion of dialogue and understanding and not a religion of enmity, fanaticism and violence,” the International Islamic News Agency quoted Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais as saying. [Cybercast News Service] Read more

'Homophobia' and 'Islamophobia' are the right words for the job

[A COMMENT] "Anti-gay" is fine just as "anti-Muslim" is, but "homophobia" and "Islamophobia" don't only offer exact synonyms, but deeper, richer ones."

No. Anti-gay may equate to homophobia, but anti-Muslim absolutely does not equate to "Islamophobia". Islam is an ideology and as such is open to attack. Being anti-Muslim implies that a person hates all Muslims, which Islamophobia does not - so it's far from a deeper, richer term - it's inaccurate.

The term "Islamophobia" should not exist, unless we would also like to coin the terms "Christianityphobia", "fascismphobia" etc. [Guardian Cif] Read more

26 November 2012

"Obey The Prophet, Even If He Tells You To Kill"

Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi — the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who is now helping Egypt draft its new constitution, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and author of over 100 books on Muslim doctrine — maintains that Muslims must obey the commands of Islam's prophet, even to murder. This is the same Dr. Qaradawi that American academics such as Georgetown professor John Esposito praise for engaging in a "reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism, and human rights."

Qaradawi made this declaration, missed in the West, two years ago on his popular Arabic program, Al-Sharia wa Al-Haya ("Sharia and Life"), broadcast worldwide by al-Jazeera to an estimated audience of 60 million. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Court rules against headscarf ban in Swiss school

NZZ am Sonntag reports that the Administrative Court in the Swiss canton of Thurgau recently lifted a headscarf ban imposed by a school in Bürglen.

In the spring of 2011 the school issued written reprimands to two 14-year-old Muslim students of Albanian heritage and threatened to exclude them from attending classes because they wore headscarves, which it was claimed breached the school's dress code.

Later that year the students' appeal against the decision was rejected by the Thurgau department of education, on the grounds that the headscarf was the kind of clothing that was likely to cause unrest in a group. [independent.co.uk] Read more

'Radical' Muslim Cleric Abu Usamah's Brunel University Speech Prompts Student Protest

....Usamah was dubbed "radical" after appearing in the Channel 4 Dispatches report, Undercover Mosque, which was broadcast in 2007. The cleric was apparently filmed saying: "Whoever changes his religion from al-Islam to anything else kill him in the Islamic state.

"Do you practise homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.

"Allah has created the woman, even if she gets a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal one witness of the man."

In an interview, uploaded on YouTube, Usamah responded to the programme, saying there were statements broadcast which had been taken out of context. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Extremists threaten mutilation and death for seized ‘homosexuals’

Extremists say they will execute a dozen men alleged to be homosexuals, following their arrest last Thursday at a private party in Tripoli’s Ain Zara district.

A body calling itself the ‘Private Deterrent Force’, which is believed to be part of the extremist Nawasi brigade, one of Tripoli’s largest militias, has posted images of the men on their Facebook page. One picture (above) shows them, heads covered, standing with their hands against a wall. [Libya Herald] Read more

25 November 2012

How Christians and Muslims can marry – the official guide

.... Although I was in my 30s and well educated, I was treated as though I was a silly little girl who had got herself into an irresponsible situation which could only be solved by my fiancé converting.

It was also assumed that although my fiancé was Catholic, his religion was less important and that he likely did not believe in it to the same degree Muslims believed in their religion. We were not asked what drew us together, how we met, how we managed differences. Instead we were judged harshly and told off. We had discussed the option of one of us converting but decided this was not for us.

We were shocked by how divisive and underhanded some Muslim clerics were. Ultimately, we found a Muslim cleric who saw things the way we did. The counsel he gave us was excellent, focusing as we did on what made us similar. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Crowd of 300 sexually assaults three women in Tahrir Square

A crowd of 300 young people on Sunday sexually assaulted three women near Tahrir Square, according to a report on the website of Egypt’s flagship paper Al-Ahram.

After the assault, which took place near the Qasr al-Dobara Church that is used as a field hospital in the current protests, the women ran to the nearby Mugamma administrative building in Tahrir Square, the Al-Ahram journalist present wrote about the incident. [Egypt Independent] Read more

Former Conservative Peer Shreela Flather: Muslims Are All On Benefits And Vote Labour

.... Lynton is right to say it is pointless for the Conservatives to chase Muslim votes. They are all on benefits and all vote Labour.’

The Labour party launched a stinging attack on the baroness, who has made several past controversial statements on large Muslim families and benefit claims.

Michael Dugher MP, Labour Party Vice Chair, said in response: "These shocking comments are totally unacceptable, there can be no place in politics for this kind of language or for such grossly offensive and ignorant attitudes. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Police detain two after threat against mosque

Two suspected Muslim extremists have been arrested at a mosque in Sydney’s south after threats were allegedly made against worshippers.

.... ‘‘We have information that two men were arrested when they attempted attacking masses of Shia Muslims remembering the Ashura in Arncliffe,’’ Mr Daoud said.

He said the action came after calls for violence against Shia were made on Facebook on Saturday.

Mr Daoud said worshippers at the mosque called police when they became suspicious of attempts by the two men to use their mobile phones. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

24 November 2012

Mass protests erupt in Egypt against Mursi’s antidemocratic decrees

Mass protests erupted throughout Egypt on Friday against the country’s president, Mohamed Mursi, and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The day before, Mursi had issued a new Constitutional Declaration expanding his dictatorial powers, which he initially claimed by taking over the powers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) junta in August.

In scenes reminiscent of the early days of the Egyptian Revolution, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Angry youth chanted slogans against Mursi and the MB and for the continuation of the revolution. Common chants were: “Down with the regime of the Brotherhood Supreme Guide”, “The people want to topple the Brothers” and “The people still want the downfall of the regime.” [World Socialist Web Site] Read more

Muslims threaten churches in W. Sumatra

Although the dust from the persecution of minority Shiite Muslims in Sampang, Madura, has not settled, another religious controversy has emerged, this time in West Pasaman, West Sumatra.

A mob numbering in the hundreds and grouped under the banner of the Islamic Organizations Communication Forum (FKOI) descended on two churches on Tuesday: Stasi Mahakarya and GPSI (Gereja Pentakosta Sion Indonesia).

Those in the crowd threatened to use force to stop the congregations from building additional structures in their compounds, nailing wooden boards outside the churches. [The Jakarta Post] Read more

Islamophobia - Myth or reality?

.... What many people fail to recognise, he says, is the difference between disagreeing with Muslim beliefs and promoting hatred.

“Islamophobia is not about disagreeing, criticising or condemning,” he explains. “But as a rule of thumb, when that disagreement, criticism or condemnation – including promoting stereotypes and mistruths – is used to intentionally promote, encourage or justify discrimination, hatred, bigotry or even violence, it is likely that this will be motivated and driven by Islamophobia or manifested and expressed as Islamophobia.”

One of the main problems, Dr Allen says, is while other forms of discrimination have precedents in law, there is still no legal definition of what Islamophobia is. [Lancashire Evening Post] Read more

No God, not even Allah

A MOB attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”.

His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished.

In a handful of majority-Muslim countries atheists can live safely, if quietly; Turkey is one example, Lebanon another. None makes atheism a specific crime. But none gives atheists legal protection or recognition.

Indonesia, for example, demands that people declare themselves as one of six religions; atheism and agnosticism do not count. Egypt’s draft constitution makes room for only three faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. [The Economist] Read more

Egypt’s new pharaoh much like the old one, but on an Islamic mission

.... His ukase is a familiar power grab. It is supposedly “balanced” by announcements of new trials for his predecessor Hosni Mubarak and other old-regime figures after the courts failed to come to the “correct” verdict and sentence: guilty as hell and death.

“Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel peace laureate who now heads an opposition party, wrote on his Twitter account.” [National Post] Read more

23 November 2012

Nigeria: Four Killed in Kano 'Blasphemy' Riot

At least four people were feared killed in a religious riot that broke out in Bichi town of Kano State, after a non-Muslim was accused of blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad in the town located about 30 kilometres from Kano.

Several other people were reported injured, while a church and shops were set ablaze by rampaging youths who staged a violent protest over the alleged blasphemy.

The crisis erupted around 9am after a non-Muslim tailor 'wrongly' pronounced the Hausa name for a popular outfit (Na Annabi ya zo kasuwa), which some youths misrepresented as casting deliberate aspersion on the Prophet of Islam. [AllAfrica] Read more

Muslim radio station fined for saying gay people should be tortured

Ofcom upheld two complaints from listeners about Leeds based Radio Asian Fever after presenter Rubina Nasir hit out at homosexuality and mixed faith marriages.

She said that homosexuals should be 'beaten up' and that a Muslim marrying a non-Mulslim was on 'the straight path to hellfire'. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Egyptians storm Muslim Brotherhood HQ in Alexandria

President Morsi's decree puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, which has caused fury amongst his opponents who have accused him of being the new Hosni Mubarak and hijacking the revolution. [Reuters] Read more

22 November 2012

'Islam is like Nazism': top Sweden Democrat

.... Jomshof has previously likened Islamism to Nazism in the publication, a view he showed no signs of abandoning on Thursday.

“I’ve also compared Islamism with National Socialism and Communism. I stand by that. I think it’s a completely reasonable comparison,” he told TT.

Jomshof was then asked whether he equates Islamism to the religion Islam.

“Islam is an ideology. That doesn't mean there is only one direction within Islam or that all Muslims think the same. There are different directions in all ideologies.” [The Local Europe] Read more

Sweden Democrats send members anti-Islam mag

“Dispatch International is a paper that plays an important role in the societal debate,” MP and editor in chief for the Sweden Democrat paper SD–Kuriren, Richard Jomshof, told local paper Sydsvenskan.

The publication, which is connected to the Swedish anti-Islam group "Freedom of the Press Society" (Tryckfrihetssällskapet), recently featured an article where a professor argues that the Muslim call to prayer should not only be seen as that but also as a threat. [The Local Europe] Read more

Iraq’s unveiled women face rising crackdown

Iraqi women who do not wear the Islamic headscarf, commonly known as the hijab, are increasingly coming under crackdown as conservative Islam gradually permeates the Iraqi political scene.

“Day after day, I am seeing more indicators that there is discrimination against women who choose not to wear hijab in Iraq,” Hanaa Edwar, General Secretary of the non-government organization, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, told Al Arabiya.

Edwar, also founder of Iraqi Women’s Network, sounded the alarm about attempts to force women to wear the hijab, especially in government offices. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

It happens at night: Genital mutilation in Egypt

Despite being legally banned, female genital mutilation in Egypt is on the rise, causing lifelong pains, health problems and even death for the women who undergo it. Islamists are pushing to legalize the procedure again.

Umm Mohamed lives in a part of Cairo where others dump their garbage. The 47-year-old Muslim woman has experienced many hardships in her life. Putting on a brave face, she says she is used to being daily surrounded by dirt and misery. But what really hurts, she admits, is the pain she personally had to endure 35 years ago. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Lunatic Islamist group vows to issue a fatwa against teenager who survived a Taliban shooting

SERIOUSLY deranged British Muslim playboy-turned-preacher, Anjem Choudary, is reportedly involved with a new British-based Islamist group – Shariah4Pakistan – that plans to meet in Islamabad to issue a religious decree against Malala Yousufzai , the 15-year-old a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban.

In the days following her shooting in October, she became an international icon and world leaders pledged to support her campaign for girls’ education. She is currently recovering from her wounds in the UK. [The Freethinker] Read more

Electronic tracking: new constraint for Saudi women

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple. [AFP] Read more

Pair jailed for alleged Dubai taxi romp

A Dubai court has sentenced an Irish man and British woman to three months in jail for an intimate tryst in the back of a taxi.

The sentence Thursday is the latest case of Westerners running afoul of the social codes in the United Arab Emirates, which maintains strict laws on sex-related issues although it often turns a blind eye.

Prosecutors accused the pair of removing some clothing and fondling each other in a cab in May. They denied the charges and accused the taxi driver of fabricating the story after a fare dispute. [The Associated Press] Read more

Blasphemy victim's life still at risk

Rimsha Masih may have gained victory in her blasphemy case but the Christian teenager's life is still in danger, Release International has warned.

The group, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide, said it was delighted that the Pakistan high court judge had thrown her case out this week but added that her life was still at risk from extremists.

In the past, there have been reports of blasphemy cases being overturned only for the accused to be released and face "mob justice" at the hands of radicals. [Christian Today] Read more

Nigeria riot over 'blasphemy' against Islam's prophet

A rumour that a Christian man blasphemed against Islam has sparked a riot in the northern Nigeria town of Bichi, police have said.

Residents said four people were killed and shops were looted.

The riot came on the day the incoming head of the Anglican Church, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, launched an initiative to promote religious tolerance in Nigeria. [BBC] Read more

21 November 2012

Converting Denmark into a Muslim Country

Muslim immigrants in a town near Copenhagen have forced the cancellation of traditional Christmas displays this year even while spending lavishly on the Islamic Eid celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

The controversy has escalated into an angry nationwide debate over the role of Islam in post-Christian Denmark, where a burgeoning Muslim population is becoming increasingly assertive in imposing its will on a wide range of social and civic issues.

The latest dust-up involves the Egedalsvænget housing complex in Kokkedal, a town situated some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Copenhagen where Arab and Turkish immigrants now comprise more than half the total population. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Butterball no longer halal

Butterball’s Thanksgiving turkeys won’t be served with a side dish of Islamic dogma this year.

The company has announced that its turkeys are not slaughtered according to Islam’s halal dietary principles, which say that animals should be killed while conscious and amid the sound of Islamic prayers.

The theological turkey turnabout came after an online protest on the topic last year threatened to sour the public’s taste for Butterball-branded products. [THE DAILY CALLER] Read more

Saudi reforms detour through Vienna faith center

.... Austrian media have given the centre a frosty welcome, some going so far as to portray it as a front to spread radical Islam in the Alpine republic, and several opposition politicians have repeatedly criticized the government for supporting it.

Alev Korun, a Green Party deputy in the Austrian parliament, said Riyadh's ban on practicing other religions beside Islam in Saudi Arabia "stands in amazingly crass contradiction to the dialogue the king wants to have here".

She said the centre would give undue prominence to Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi tradition, a minority sect that had already undermined a more moderate interpretation of Islam in Bosnia, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. [Reuters] Read more

France sees 'alarming' rise in Islamophobia

.... The number of racist acts against Muslims in France is increasing “alarmingly”, according to the country’s National Observatory of Islamophobia, whose president has called for overt Islamophobia to be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism, which is a criminal offence in France.

According to a report by the Observatory, which claims to fight “all forms of racism and xenophobia”, “in 2011 the number [of anti-Muslim attacks] was up 34% on the previous year ... but what is happening in 2012 is alarming. Between January and the end of October there were 175 reported Islamophobic acts, a 42% increase compared with the same period in 2011.” [FRANCE 24] Read more

Calling for Killing on Peace TV...

.... In Item 1, a scholar on Islam, Dr Naik, expressed his views on two interpretations of Qur'anic texts on how apostates from Islam should be treated.

…. he tended to agree more with the interpretation of Qur'anic texts which states that a Muslim who converts to another religion and who then propagates that religion should be put to death, as opposed to being put to death simply for becoming a non-Muslim.

In Ofcom's view, it is potentially offensive for any service to broadcast comments suggesting that it is acceptable to apply a penalty and kill any individual for renouncing their faith. [Religious Watch] Read more

India's madrassa schools refuse to teach math, science

.... India's Ministry of Minority Affairs counts more than 1 million children who study solely at madrassas. The schools are partially funded by the Indian government but they don't offer education in math, science, English or other standard subjects. This exacerbates already high unemployment rates among Muslims throughout India.

A report prepared by the ministry stated that 25 percent of Muslim children between the ages of 6-14 have either never attended school or drop out. Many Muslim children who do attend school go to madrassas instead of mainstream schools.

The Indian government wants to modernize madrassas and has asked them to include core curriculums of reading, writing, arithmetic and science, along with technical skills to help Muslim children compete in the job market. [United Press International] Read more

20 November 2012

Wacky Saudi preacher sparks Swiss dispute

.... The sheikh is alleged by critics to have made anti-Semitic remarks, insulted homosexuals and the Danish people and offered advice on wife-beating.

He is also known for declaring in a television interview that in the Muslim religion there is no minimum age for the marriage of a young girl, according to a spokesman for the Bern-based Swiss association of former Muslims.

Kacem El Ghazzali, the association’s president, told Le Matin he believed in freedom of expression but Al Arifi was a Salafist who preached violence and hatred. [The Local Europe] Read more

Doing the Taliban proud

The bad news is that a Pakistani court has sentenced 25 year old Hazrat Ali Shah to death for blaspheming against Mohammed and the Koran during a quarrel in his village in northern Pakistan in March 2011.

Mother of five Asia Bibi also remains in prison whilst appealing her death sentence for ‘derogatory’ comments about Mohammad [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Pakistan acquits girl of blasphemy charges

Pakistan court has thrown out charges against a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that drew international condemnation, lawyers said.

Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in an adult jail after she was arrested on August 16 for allegedly burning pages from the Quran.

She was released on bail in September and police have since told the courts that she was not guilty and that a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead. [Al Jazeera] Read more

Opposing Sharia Law Is a Defence of the Rights of Muslims

.... So, how can we be multicultural if we do not accommodate sharia? The first point to make is that sharia law does not tolerate multiculturalism. It does not tolerate dissent or difference or individual rights.

Take for example Saudi Arabia, a country with a declared sharia-based constitution, and a country where apostasy, blasphemy, and 'witchcraft' carry the death penalty.

Under Pakistan's sharia laws the same applies - death for blasphemy. It is widespread across the sharia-controlled world; as is the brutal treatment of women. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Muslim-baiting right winger wins control of France conservative opposition

.... In his Manifesto for an Uninhibited Right, published last month, Cope argued that France's immigrant suburbs were brimming with ‘anti-white racism’.

He then shocked moderates by complaining about a boy who had his chocolate pastry snatched from him by Muslim ‘thugs’ during Ramadan.

‘I am the tenant of a right which does not have hang-ups, which tells the truth and is comfortable with itself,’ said Cope. [MailOnline] Read more

19 November 2012

Possession, Jinn and Britain's backstreet exorcists

UK health and social workers and those in the criminal justice system are increasingly having to understand belief in spiritual possession among ethnic minorities, with new research highlighting a particular issue with some sections of the British Asian community blaming mental health problems on the supernatural.

The exorcist Abou Mohammed sits cross-legged on the floor of a back-room in his home in Ilford, East London. He is surrounded by copies of the Koran, containers of olive oil and a spray-bottle of water which he uses on the Jinn, the supernatural spirits, that he says possess many of his clients. [BBC] Read more

18 November 2012

Egypt liberals quit assembly drafting constitution

A number of liberal politicians withdrew on Sunday from the Islamist-dominated assembly drafting Egypt's new constitution, saying they were not given the opportunity to discuss articles and their suggestions were being ignored.

The departure of at least 12 liberals from the 100 member assembly follows the resignation of five Christian delegates - as well eight out of 10 members of a advisory committee providing technical assistance - over similar complaints. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim leaders must re-brand religion for 21st Century Britain

.... Far from merging with local communities, many seem to have decided as an act of defiance to live and dress as if still in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia or the Middle East.

Some say that, in a generation or two, they will assimilate, as other immigrant communities have in the past. But, increasingly, the reverse seems true.

If such self-imposed separation is tolerated or even encouraged, it becomes hard not to arouse suspicion and even anger.

The good name of Islam is far from enhanced by almost daily authentic reports of honour killings, forced marriages and Pakistani child sex gangs. Nor are we likely to feel at ease with the Muslim enclaves described by Clarissa when they harbour thousands who would and could do this country harm. [The Sun] Read more

Family jailed, to be lashed for abusing cops

.... Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had tried to rebuke the two daughters at a shopping centre in the capital Riyadh for making indecent acts, seen by shoppers as seductive.

“One of the two girls then took off her gown and head cover and spat at the Commission members. Her sister also spat at them. Their mother later came and threw her shoe at them,” the Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq said. [Emirates247.com] Read more

PM's new fixer in racist rant at Muslims: Foul-mouthed abuse by campaign chief revealed as he lands top Tory post

The man David Cameron has picked to head his Election campaign once launched a foul-mouthed rant against Muslims.

Outspoken Australian ‘fixer’ Lynton Crosby used the phrase ‘f****** Muslims’ in a diatribe while working for London Mayor Boris Johnson.

But No. 10 officials said the Prime Minister has no intention of changing his mind about appointing the strategist, despite the new revelations. [MailOnline] Read more

17 November 2012

Muslim N.J. judge accused of imposing Sharia law on Family Court

The legal battle over alimony payments in New Jersey has turned into a clash of civilizations with an activist group accusing an Arab Muslim judge of imposing Sharia, or Islamic law, on Family Court cases.

Family Court Judge Hany Mawla first made headlines in 2010 when then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine made him the first Muslim-American appointed to state Superior Court.

.... In an interview, Eden said Mawla, whose parents moved to Egypt when he was a boy, is following the Sharia practice of throwing debtors in jail.

.... Other advocates for alimony reform, including N.J. Alimony Reform, see the issue as more of a legal problem than a religious one, calling alimony laws outdated and biased against men. [MyCentralJersey.com] Read more

Islamophobia Awareness Month launch event at the London School of Economics

With Islamophobia entering the mainstream of politics across Europe and with increasing concerns over the penetration of Islamophobia in universities, the LSE Students' Union is providing a forum for discussion on the nature and extent of the problem and what can be done to challenge it.

Speakers: • Myriam Francois-Cerrah: Journalist and Academic • Dr Leon Moosavi: University of Liverpool • Aaron Kiely: National Union of Students

There will also be an exhibition on Islamophobia in the Quad from Monday 19th November until Friday 23rd November. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

16 November 2012

Iran Deputies To Mull Draft Law Restricting Women's Right To Travel

Lawmakers in Iran are preparing to consider legislation that may drastically alter an adult woman's ability to obtain a passport and travel outside the country.

The draft law, set to go before the 290-seat Majlis, stipulates that single women up to the age of 40 must receive official permission from their father or male guardian in order to obtain travel documents.

Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age -- both male and female -- must receive paternal permission before receiving a passport. Married women must receive their husband's approval to receive the documents.

The proposal is expected to find support in the conservative Majlis. [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] Read more

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?

.... Bostom concludes one section of the book by quoting Whittaker Chambers’ famed autobiography about the Red Menace, and highlighting its relevance to the challenge facing us today from Islam:

“It is part of the failure of the West,” Chambers begins, "to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and hence their conflict is irrepressible."

After which Bostom asks, “Does twenty-first century America possess Chambers’s moral compass and fortitude to combat the modern scourge of ancient Islamic totalitarianism?” [Front Page] Read more

"Islam Needs a Fair Chance in Germany"

.... critics say the agreement, the first of its kind in Germany, will boost the growing influence of Islam in Hamburg and will encourage the perpetuation of a Muslim parallel society in the city.

The most controversial part of the accord involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg public school system.

The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies.

Moreover, Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and who will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools. In practice, this means that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam and that pupils will not be exposed to any critical perspectives about the religious, social and political ideology of Islam. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Fury at TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright's comments about Muslims in Leicester

She describes coming off the ring road to escape a traffic jam and becoming lost.

"I found myself in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas and walking slightly behind them," she wrote.

She said the men would not talk to her "because I was an English female and they don't talk to females they don't know".

She said: "Here I was, in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah.

"If multiculturalism works, which I have always been rather dubious of, surely it must be multicultural and not monocultural.

"I can only hope that in generations to come there will be a merging of the cultures and not the exclusion zone that is the ghetto." [Leicester Mercury] Read more

Get ready for Coptic Christian refugees

There is a refugee crisis taking place inside Egypt. This became apparent on October 5th, when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi met with a group of Coptic Christians who had been driven from their homes by Muslim extremists in Rafah, a city located on Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip.

Morsi met with the families in El Arish, a town approximately 30 miles from Rafah in an attempt to reassure them that the threats and violence they endured before fleeing their homes would never happen to them again.

.... Morsi intimated to his Coptic audience that he would work to find new homes and livelihoods for them elsewhere in Egypt. This prompted an angry response from the Coptic families who complained that they had already established their lives in Rafah – the city where they had just been driven from and where Christians had been living for close to two millennia. [The Commentator] Read more

Erdogan Fights Ataturk Secularism With Islam Fervor Once Denied

When an earthquake toppled a school in eastern Turkey last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government opened a new one at the same site, with one difference.

It was no longer named after Turkey’s founder and secular hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. A smiling Erdogan cut a red ribbon and posed for pictures in front of the elementary school, now named after his late mother, Tenzile.

A week later on Oct. 29, police used tear gas and water cannons against opposition supporters marching to Ataturk’s mausoleum in Ankara to celebrate the republic’s 89th anniversary. [Bloomberg] Read more

15 November 2012

Christmas Lights Go Out in Europe

.... The tidings from Kokkedal were unpleasant enough. But then came the news that the traditional Christmas tree in the Grote Markt (Market Square) in Brussels has now also become a thing of the past.

In interviews with the media, Brussels councilwoman Bianca Debaets expressed her suspicions that municipal authorities had put the kibosh on the tree for religious reasons. (Brussels, it should be noted, is at present 25% Muslim. And climbing.)

At first, Brussels city officials vehemently denied that the decision to banish the Christmas tree in the Grote Markt had any religious basis. Perish the thought! Instead, they sought to convey the message that Christmas trees are old-fashioned – yesterday’s news. [FRONTPAGEMAG.COM] Read more

Islamic Sharia Law Comes to Great Britain

.... Muslim women in Great Britain often face intimidation within their communities to settle things the Sharia way. According to Craig, some wrongly believe Islamic courts are their only option.

"What we're trying to do is say, Muslim women, especially in this country, need to be informed," he explained. "They actually have other rights and our view, better rights, under English law."

Sharia courts operate outside of British common law. Their defenders say the courts are legal under a 1996 Arbitration Act that allows people to settle differences through methods of their own choosing. [The Christian Broadcasting Network] Read more

Metro Adds Disclaimers to Political Ads With Pamela Geller's Newest Anti-Muslim Banners

.... Geller, an anti-Muslim blogger based in New York, is continuing the ad campaign waged by her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The banners mounted today feature a quote seemingly targeted at non-Muslims: "Soon will we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers."

The newest banners were mounted November 5 and will remain in place through December 2, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says. But the bottom strip of the ad features a new disclaimer:

"This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Advertising space is a designated public forum and does not imply WMATA's endorsement of any views expressed." [DCist] Read more

Blasphemy charges: Man gets death sentence in Chitral

A man accused of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was declared guilty and awarded a death sentence along with a fine worth Rs100,000 by Additional Sessions Judge Azhar Ali Khan in Chitral.

According to prosecutors, Hazrat Ali Shah uttered something blasphemous against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in March 2011 in his village of Barenis, which was testified by many villagers. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more

Customer sues Muslim barber for refusing to cut her hair

In case of competing rights, a Toronto woman has lodged a complaint against a barber who refused to cut her hair because he’s Muslim.

In June, Faith McGregor requested a man’s haircut at the Terminal Barber Shop in downtown Toronto. Co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her that his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers in the shop said the same thing.

“For me it was just a haircut and started out about me being a woman,” McGregor, 35, told the Toronto Star. “Now we’re talking about religion versus gender versus human rights and businesses in Ontario.” [The Washington Post] Read more

14 November 2012

Montgomery County declines to close schools on Islamic holidays

Montgomery County’s school board effectively turned down a request Tuesday from leaders of the county’s growing Muslim community to recognize an Islamic holy day next school year with an official day off.

Saying they could not simply add a school closing for a religious occasion, board members asked that student and staff attendance be monitored closely on future Muslim holidays to determine whether there is sufficient absenteeism to warrant such a move.

“I think it’s important to recognize this is not a ‘no’ forever,” said John Mannes, the board’s student member. [The Washington Post] Read more

Anti-Islamophobia ad banned on Metro

AN anti-Islamophobia campaign has been banned from Paris public transport because of its political and religious connotations.

The publicity section of buses and Metro authority RATP, Médiatransport, has banned three posters by the Collectif Contre l'islamophobie en France (CCIF).

The CCIF has made public a letter explaining RATP’s conclusion that the appearance of symbols like the veil, payots (side curls worn by Orthodox Jews) and crucifixes alongside the phrase “We (too) are the nation” plus the French flag was politically charged. [The Connexion] Read more

Muslims call for change in UK blasphemy laws

Muslims in Britain have urged the government to take seriously the threats they face as anti-Muslim hatred is reaching worrying heights in Britain and across Europe.

ENGAGE launched a unique exhibition and a month long campaign “Islamophobia Awareness Month”, highlighting the spread of Islamophobia in the British parliament where speakers included MPs Simon Hughes, Jack Straw, Peter Bottomley and Sadiq Khan.

Azad Ali of the ENGAGE said the exhibition in the parliament was aimed at showing to the parliamentarians that Muslims were ordinary people like any other community who were in sports, business, public and social life.

He said racists and fascists groups like the English Defence League are pushing the thesis of hatred and creating a climate of fear and suspicion against Muslims. [The News International] Read more

Radical Clerics Seek to Legalise Child Brides

An ultraconservative Salafi cleric recently sparked outrage among Egypt’s liberal circles when he attempted to justify his opposition to a proposed constitutional article that would outlaw the trafficking of women for sex.

Speaking on privately-owned Al-Nas satellite channel, Sheikh Mohamed Saad El-Azhary said he feared the proposed article could conflict with the local practice of child marriage. He explained that in Egypt, particularly in rural areas, there is a culture of marrying off girls as soon as they hit puberty.

“The important thing is that the girl is ready and can tolerate marriage,” El-Azhary declared.

He went on to protest proposed laws protecting women from violence, warning that if allowed to pass husbands could be prosecuted for beating their child brides or forcing themselves upon them. [IPS-Inter Press Service] Read more

13 November 2012

Germany: Muslims Impose Pork Bans in State Nurseries and in Rental Contracts

.... The Sternschnuppe nursery in Gaarden opposite the HDW shipyards is also a pork-free zone, as is the Evangelical nursery Michaelis in Hassee.

Before, when the proportion of Muslim children was not as high, there were “two meals”, recalls Ulrike Krauel from the Office for Schools, Nurseries and Youth Institutions.

“But because the chicken and pork sausages were of different sizes, we had problems explaining that to the children”. Then pork was axed, especially in districts like Gaarden and Mettenhof. [Islam versus Europe] Read more

Hamburg reaches out to its Muslim communities

.... The agreements recognizes Muslim and Alevi religious holidays and include provisions for the construction of mosques, upkeep of cultural facilties, rites of burial without coffins and the counseling of patients and prison inmates by Muslem clerics.

Hamburg's Muslims and Alevis will be granted unpaid leave by their employers for three religious holidays per year, just as their Christian counterparts can. On such holidays, school students can also be exempted from lessons.

Hamburg's Muslims will help further develop Hamburg's model of religious tuition in schools which already includes Buddhist and Jewish viewpoints. Hamburg's protestant church has traditionally overseen religious studies lessons in the city-state. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Hamburg's deal with Muslims sparks concerns

Hamburg has become the first German state to strike an historic agreement with Muslim community groups, but the deal has riled some members of the political establishment, who claim it undermines the separation of religion and state.

.... Religious instruction in schools and state recognition of Muslim holidays are among the cornerstones of the deal, which ties into existing agreements with Christian churches and Jewish communities.

In future, Muslim teachers will join Protestant pedagogues at the front of the classroom, the paper said. Moreover, Muslim holidays would be given equal status with other religious holidays, such as the Day of Prayer and Repentance celebrated by Christians. [The Local] Read more

Watford Labour councillor, Asif Khan, was a member of radical Islamic group, Hizb ut-Tahrir

A Watford councillor was previously a senior member of the radical Islamist movement, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and called for the establishment of an Islamic state, the Watford Observer can reveal.

Articles written by Asif Khan, a Labour representative for Leggatts Ward, argue Muslims should not take part in Western politics and that they should work to establish Islam in non-Islamic states. [Watford Observer] Read more

‘Canada will burn praise Allah’: Vandals deface Toronto war memorial on Remembrance Day

Police are investigating after a war memorial was vandalized on Remembrance Day in Toronto.

The Victory Peace memorial in Coronation Park was defaced with the words “Canada will burn praise Allah” written in what appeared to be black marker.

City workers were called in to clean the bronze memorial, built in the 1990s.

Someone walking through the park on Sunday noticed the vandalism and reported it to authorities. [National Post] Read more

12 November 2012

Muslims should celebrate a traditional Christmas: UK minister

Muslims and other ethnic minorities residing in Britain should become conditioned to the lifestyle of Christians and include Christmas in their list of celebrated traditional holidays, a Britain Cabinet Minister has said.

Baroness Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet minister, told The Mail on Sunday that it was time to deal with ‘politically correct’ attitudes.

The Minister of Faith and Communities said immigrants and their families need to become integrated with the British lifestyle and to forcefully interact in English.

Furthermore, Warsi added the importance of immigrants to celebrate Christmas by including the full scenery with Nativity plans and Christmas cards. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

Immigration Fears Feed Sweden Rightists

Opinion polls have shown that the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) is growing in popularity in the Scandinavian country.

.... Immediately after their electoral win in 2010, the SD started working on imposing a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.

The party, whose manifesto describes Muslims as “seriously jeopardizing the Swedish nation”, has also sought a ban on face-veil and halting immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

It opposes a panel recommendation that all major religions should be given equal time in lesson plans, saying Christianity should maintain a special status.

Muslims make up some 200,000 of the country's 9.5 million population, according to semi-official estimates.

But leaders of the Muslim minority put the number at 400,000. [OnIslam.net] Read more

Cancelling Egyptian women’s rights in constitution “planned aggression”

The leading Egyptian women’s rights organization, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) has condemned the constituent assembly in the country tasked with writing the first post-uprising constitution.

.... Egyptian society was shocked due to the announcement, on behalf of some members of the committee, on the cancellation of article 68 from what is known as the draft of constitution,” ECWR said in their statement.

Article 68 had guaranteed the rights and equality of women and men in all sectors of society, including political, cultural, economic and social life “and all other fields without prejudice to the provisions of Islamic Shari’a. [ Bikya Masr] Read more

EgyptAir stewardesses begin wearing hijab

EgyptAir stewardesses who campaigned to wear the Muslim headscarf have begun donning the hijab for the first time since the national carrier was founded in 1932, a company official says.

The first flight attendants dressed in the hijab, which mainstream clerics say is mandatory, worked on flights to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

‘Destroy the idols,’ Egyptian jihadist calls for removal of Sphinx, Pyramids

An Egyptian jihad leader, with self-professed links to the Taliban, called for the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt,” drawing ties between the Egyptian relics and Buddha statues, local media reported this week.

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”

“All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

11 November 2012

Tunisia Battles Over Pulpits, and Revolt’s Legacy

.... To this day, Salafi clerics like Dr. Khelif, who espouse the most puritanical, most orthodox interpretation of Islam, hammer on favorite themes that include putting Islamic law into effect immediately, veiling women, outlawing alcohol, shunning the West and joining the jihad in Syria. Democracy, they insist, is not compatible with Islam.

“If the majority is ignorant of religious instruction, then they are against God,” said Sheik Khatib al-Idrissi, 60, considered the spiritual guide of all Tunisian Salafis. “If the majority is corrupt, how can we accept them? Truth is in the governance of God.” [The New York Times] Read more

40 Islamists file lawsuit accusing ElBaradei of 'insulting sharia'

A complaint was filed with the prosecutor general on Sunday by forty Egyptian lawyers, accusing renowned reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei of offending Islamists, of being against Islamic sharia law and of having insulted prominent Islamist preachers.

According to Ahram Arabic news website, the complaint was based on statements made by the founder of the Constitution Party against last Friday's protest, which called for the implementation of Islamic sharia law in Egypt.

.... The complaint claims that ElBaradei, during a press conference held on Friday in Aswan, Upper Egypt, described some religious preachers as "clowns" and "merchants of religion". [Ahram Online] Read more

Women assault, cut hair of Christian woman on metro

Two niqab-wearing women assaulted and forcefully cut the hair of a Christian woman on the metro Sunday, the third such reported incident in two months, raising fears of a growing vigilante movement to punish Egyptian women for not wearing the veil in public.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said in a statement that the assaulters called the Christian woman, who is 28 years old, an “infidel" and pushed her off the train, breaking her arm.

The Christian woman reported the incident to the police and filed a medical report to confirm the assault. [Egypt Independent] Read more

10 November 2012

Le Point courts controversy with ‘Shameless Islam’ cover

.... There is nothing wrong in saying you think halal meat should be labeled – although I think claiming it was ‘the issue which most preoccupies the French’ was both eccentric and divisive. However it seems that Giesbert was incorrect to claim Christmas had been replaced by Winter in the name of a festival in Amiens in order to pander to Muslims.

The writer ends by bemoaning the fact the silent majority of Muslims don’t do more to differentiate themselves from the radicals. But this kind of tendentious piece is probably going to alienate many reform-minded Muslims – make them feel their priority should be standing up for their co-religionists rather than speaking out against the extremists. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Facebook silencing a women’s uprising?

The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, a women’s rights group that launched during the Arab Spring and advocates women’s rights, freedoms and independence in the Levant, is accusing Facebook of attempting to silence it.

The group recently released a statement saying that the accounts of five administrators of the group were blocked on November 7 after they each received the message: “You have posted a content that violates Facebook Community Rules, the post says: Follow us on Twitter @UprisingOFWomen. Support Dana with hashtag #WindToDana” [NOW Lebanon] Read more

French nationalists protest in Paris against radical Islam, allege Muslims won't integrate

Hundreds of French nationalists have demonstrated in Paris against Islamist extremism, chanting the French anthem and saying the religion has no place in the country.

Protester Romain Cyiril says, "France was always a welcoming country, but for the first time we have to deal with a religion which can't and doesn't want to integrate itself." [The Associated Press] Read more

09 November 2012

Died under torture

This, in the Times (£), needs more publicity: The family of an Iranian blogger who was taken into custody last week confirmed yesterday that he had died under torture.

After three days of torment, during which prison officials refused to confirm whether he was alive or dead, relatives of Sattar Beheshti, 35, were given only an hour’s notice yesterday to assemble at his graveside before he was buried. [Mick Hartley] Read more

"Belgium Will Become an Islamic State"

Two Muslim politicians, who just won municipal elections in Belgium's capital, Brussels, on October 14, have vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

.... Elsewhere in the video, Aït Jeddig, 50, commends Islam as having paved the way for "the emergence of European civilization." (He makes no mention of Europe's Judeo-Christian or Greek-Roman roots.) He also insists that Islam is compatible with freedom and democracy.

The video ends with an interview of a third Islam Party candidate, Abdelhay Bakkali Tahar, 51, who did not garner enough votes to secure a seat in the district of Bruxelles Ville.

The Islam Party, which plans to field candidates in European-level elections in 2014, campaigned on three core issues: ensuring that halal meals are served in public school cafeterias, securing the official recognition of Muslim religious holidays, and pushing for a law that would legalize the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public spaces. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Blasphemy laws are darkening Pakistan's skies

.... With the charged emotions around blasphemy, once accused, it is virtually impossible to ever be safe afterwards, even if the court clears your name. Like the era of European witch trials, Pakistan is going through its darkest phase.

If she is lucky, the accused teacher will be able to find asylum out of Pakistan. Asim's father, now sleeping on the floor of a jail cell, will have to cope with the fact that all the effort that he and his wife poured in for those past 34 years is gone.

And Asim – one of Pakistan's brightest gems – must be wondering if he will ever feel safe in a country where he shared his love for astronomy with so many people.

[A COMMENT] When you get a school burned to the ground for the sake of a typographical error you know the place is in big trouble. This has nothing to do with the USA, foreign intervention, or anything else.

There is something deeply, deeply, wrong with the culture of Pakistan and the wider culture of islam. It is as plain as the nose on your face, yet many western "liberals" will bend over backwards to "understand" behaviour they would never tolerate at home.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] "The burning of the school is probably about a clash between the upwardly mobile, educated middle class and the frustrated, poor and uneducated lower class. "

Yes, and there are similar class conflicts in other countries. The shooting children in the head, killing them with acid, arresting disabled children and arson is an exclusively Islamic response. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Muslims divided on genital mutilation, magistrate says

SYDNEY'S close-knit Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community is starkly divided over allegations of female genital mutilation made against some of its members, a court has heard, with debate raging in the community's online chat forums.

The revelations came during a failed attempt by a sheikh and a retired nurse from the community, who have been charged over the genital mutilation of two young girls, to have their names kept from the public. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

French Muslims call on Hollande to speak out on Islamophobia

Leaders of the Muslim umbrella body, the CFCM, which was set up by former president Nicolas Sarkozy when he was interior minister, met Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Thursday to call for action against what they claim is a rise in Islamophobia.

They called on Hollande to condemn it in a “solemn declaration”, similar to his call for the fight against anti-Semitism to become a “national cause”.

Islamophobic incidents rose 34 per cent in 2011 and 14 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, according to Abdellah Zekri of the CFCM’s Observatory of Islamophobia. [AFP] Read more

Muslim Brotherhood women try to assuage concerns of women’s rights activists

Fear and controversy concerning the inclusion and protection of women’s rights continue to surround the drafting of a new Egyptian constitution, which is due to be completed in early December.

Women’s rights activists fear that Islamists, currently in the political majority, will seek to undermine and restrict rights for women in the draft constitution.

Great controversy arose over Article 68, formerly known as Article 36, which states: "The state is committed to taking all constitutional and executive measures to ensure equality of women with men in all walks of political, cultural, economic and social life, without contradicting the precepts of Islamic Law." [TrustLaw] Read more

Daughters of Pakistan take to the streets for an education

A week ago, a mob besieged Lahore's Farooqi Girls' School and set the classrooms ablaze after a young female teacher was accused of blasphemy. The teacher, who is Muslim, has gone into hiding – and the school's 77-year-old principal and founder has been arrested by police and charged with the same offence, a crime that in Pakistan carries the death penalty.

But the school, which offers an affordable, modern education to the daughters of ordinary families, is fighting back. And its female pupils, supported by their parents, have been at the forefront of the battle. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Salafists vow more protests for Sharia-based constitution

Tens of thousands of protesters crowded Cairo's Tahrir square on 'Sharia Friday' to demand Islamic law to be the primary source of legislation in the coming constitution.

"We demand that Islamic law becomes the source of legislation and warn against any foreign intervention in the writing of the constitution," Tarek El-Zomor, Al-Gamaa Islamiya Leader and founder of its Building and Development Party, told Ahram Online.

He stressed that the constitutional draft currently being written by Egypt's Constituent Assembly must be completed soon.

A strong antagonism against pro-democracy forces or "the Liberals and secularists," as commonly called by Islamists, was evident in the protest. [Ahram Online] Read more

08 November 2012

Toronto Islamic school will not face charges over anti-Jewish curriculum: police

.... A Toronto Islamic school whose teaching materials disparaged Jews and encouraged boys to keep fit for jihad will not face criminal charges but police said their investigation had identified passages of syllabus books they found concerning.

A York Regional Police report outlining the hate crimes investigation of the East End Madrassah said a review of 30 school syllabus books found portions that “challenged some of Canada’s core values” and “suggested intolerance,” even if they were not criminal. [National Post] Read more

British-Muslim family law and citizenship

Since the lecture by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, on ‘Civil and Religious Law in England’ in 2008, questions of Muslim law in the UK have attracted considerable public and academic attention.

In the resulting ‘Sharia debate’, traces of orientalism became especially visible in the portrayal of Sharia as the ‘other’ and in an essentialist understanding of ‘Sharia’ as being in opposition to ‘the West’.

This perception is not limited to public debate but has found its way into what can be called legal orientalism and into English court rooms where mention has been made of ‘the gulf between our statute law and Sharia law ...’. [openDemocracy] Read more

Baroness Warsi calls on Mosques to encourage hate crime reporting

The Senior Minister for Faith at the Department for Communities and Local Government is to write to all Imams to urge them to do more to tackle the problem in their areas.

New figures show there have been nearly 500 recorded incidents of anti-Muslim attacks in England since a new Government-funded helpline was established in February this year to monitor them.

But Baroness Warsi, who argued last year that Islamophobia had "passed the dinner table test", believes that the real figure may be much higher, with victims feeling unsupported to come forward or believing that reporting will not be taken seriously.

And the Minister will say that Mosques can play a crucial part in helping victims have confidence that attacks will be treated seriously. [Dept of Communities] Read more

07 November 2012

Iraqis spared jail time in Arizona for abusing female relative

.... This is the latest high-profile violence case in Arizona involving an Iraqi immigrant. In April 2011, Faleh Hassan Almaleki received 34 1/2 years in prison for running down his 20-year-old daughter in a Phoenix parking lot in what was described as an “honor killing.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., has said such cases are isolated instances that occur sporadically and are widely chastised by the American Muslim community. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

In Egypt streets, Islamists throw weight around

Mohamed Talaat didn't like the fact Christian music was being played at a party to promote interfaith harmony in the Egyptian town of Minya south of Cairo, so together with a group of like-minded Islamist hardliners, he showed up to put a stop to it.

It was simply un-Islamic to broadcast Christian songs, Talaat explained.

"Egypt is Islamic and so we all have to accept Islamic rules to halt any strife," he said by telephone.

Four months since Egypt elected veteran Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed Mursi as president, human rights activists say hardliners are trying to impose Islamist ways on society. [Reuters] Read more

When did Islamophobic attacks become the norm for the French media?

When last week's cover of normally stern French magazine Le Point appeared online, the consensus on social networks said it was a hoax. Le Point is no tabloid. It is a serious and well respected conservative magazine.

Running the headline: "Brazen Islam...in school cafeterias, hospitals, and swimming pools" the cover featured a niqab-clad woman arguing with a French policewoman. It had to be a joke, but sadly it wasn't.

Le Point’s cover was widely condemned on social networks, and parodies of it quickly appeared. “Brazen Judaism and its garlic humus", “Brazen gays and their trimmed eyebrows,” “The brazenly disabled and their parking spaces," illustrated how French Muslims probably felt when they passed the newsagent last week. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Concerns of ethnic bullying after housing board axes Christmas tree

A housing complex in the town of Kokkedal, north of Copenhagen, won’t have its annual Christmas tree this year after its residents’ association voted not to pay the 5,000 to 7,000 kroner the tree costs to buy and light during December.

The decision has become a nationwide scandal after it was revealed the board of Egedalsvænge has a Muslim majority that had three days previously spent 60,000 kroner on a party celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Hardline judges hit out at Saudi reformers

Saudi Arabian judges who enforce sharia law have condemned “the stench of Western ideas” in sweeping legal reforms pushed by King Abdullah, underscoring friction between government modernisers and religious hardliners.

In a letter to justice minister Mohammed al-Issa, eight judges complained about foreign judicial trainers who shave their beards, the minister’s meetings with diplomats of “infidel” states and plans to let women practise as lawyers. [The Scotsman] Read more

No exceptions: one law for all

.... in reality the gap between theory and practice is treacherous. The longstanding critique of multi-culturalism and, since Blair and New Labour, multi-faithism, by feminist organisations like Southall Black Sisters (SBS), where undue power was vested in the hands of religious and community leaders by the state, is seen at its sharpest in the work of religious courts.

The idea of it being ‘voluntary’ is laughable as many women are not aware of their rights and feel pressurised to go to the sharia council, which functions as an extension of the pressure to reconcile exerted by the extended family and community elders even when the relationship has been violent. [openDemocracy] Read more

06 November 2012

This is Why - Part 8

According to the British Social Attitudes survey, the largest of its kind, at least a third (34%) of the British public are negative about Muslims, not much more are neutral, and barely a quarter have positive feelings.

This continuous survey of causes of “Islamophobia” shows why this is so. Read more

Dutch Muslims are becoming more religious

An increasing number of second generation Dutch Muslims are visiting the mosque at least once a week, according to research published by the goverment's socio-cultural policy unit SCP.

The new survey among Dutch Muslims is an update on one carried out in 2004 which concluded Muslims were becoming less religious. That is no longer the case, particularly among people of Moroccan origin, says the SCP.

Between 1998 and 2011, the number of mosque-attending Moroccans rose from 9% to 33% while the number of Turks increased from 23% to 35%. Of the Turkish Netherlanders between the ages of 15 and 24 10% pray five times a day. For young Moroccan Netherlanders the percentage is 61%.

The Moroccan-Dutch are more likely to fast during ramadan and eat halal every day. The women are also more likely to wear a headscarf, says the SCP. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

Egyptian teacher sentenced in headscarf case

A teacher in southern Egypt was convicted of child abuse Tuesday and given a six-month suspended sentence, after she cut the hair of two schoolgirls for not wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf.

The incident last month in the village of Qurna drew criticism from rights groups and local officials. The case is part of a larger debate in Egypt — the state of personal and religious freedoms following the rise of Islamist political movements. [Associated Press] Read more

05 November 2012

Liberals fume as leading dargahs in Mumbai bar women from sanctum

.... Sunni and Deobandi clerics support the seven dargahs' decision. "The sharia does not allow intermingling of men and women at any place. The visit of women to graves is forbidden.

It is welcome that the dargahs are following this rule," said Maulana Athar Ali, a Sunni cleric. Senior Deobandi cleric Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi echoes this. "They should have done it much earlier. I am glad they are now following a rule sanctioned by the sharia," he said.

But liberal Muslims are outraged. "This is shocking and shameful. This is a regressive step that will further fuel Islamophobia and encourage the detractors of Islam to allege that the religion practices discrimination against women," said Javed Anand of Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD). [THE TIMES OF INDIA] Read more

Father fails in court bid to bring children up as Muslims

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is originally from Egypt but moved to Scotland in 2002 after marrying a Scots woman.

They moved to Fife, had three children – a daughter and twin boys – but split up in 2010.

The man sought an order from Dunfermline Sheriff Court to force the children to be brought up as Muslims. However, Sheriff Ian Dunbar ruled no order should be made, given that the children's mother is Christian and they attend a non-denominational school which celebrates Christian festivals.

In a written judgment on the case, Mr Dunbar said: "The day-to-day circumstances of the children should dictate what is in their best interests.

"I have therefore reached the conclusion that it is not in the best interests of the children that a specific issue order be made that they be brought up in the Muslim faith. [HeraldScotland.com] Read more

The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress

.... Back in 2001 the Iranian sisters Ladan and Roya Boroumand wrote a seminal article, "Terror, Islam and Democracy". They warned that Islamist political movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, confront the West with "Leninism in Islamist dress".

Once again we confront "a power that saw itself as God on earth, organised as an all-powerful state, denying the right to individual belief, and reserving the right to define truth about and for the individual".

It is time to see the Brotherhood plain. And to start playing hard ball on behalf of our true friends in that part of the world. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

04 November 2012

Singapore’s Muslim marriage courses under fire

Singapore’s leading association for Muslim converts, Darul Arqam, has begun an internal investigation into lecturer misconduct after several attendees of the organization’s pre-marriage courses voiced concerns over violent and sexist content in the lectures and course materials.

Specifically, attendees allege that male students are encouraged to beat wives who refuse to submit to sex, while female students are taught that if they refuse sex with their husbands angels of Allah would curse them. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Mega Mosque for 10,000 - Plans for the mosque in Newham, East London

PLANS for a super mosque close to the Olympic stadium reveal that it could hold almost 10,000 people.

Architects’ drawings show that the vast mosque will be about the same size as Battersea Power Station.

By comparison, Britain’s largest cathedral, in Liverpool, can hold 3,000 worshippers.

Newham Council in east London is due to decide whether it will grant planning permission for the structure next month.

Former councillor Alan Craig has launched a campaign to stop the project. He has produced 100,000 leaflets, which were being distributed throughout the borough yesterday. Mr Craig said: “The mega-mosque is proposed and planned by a particularly disturbing Islamic sect called Tablighi Jamaat.” [Daily Express] Read more

03 November 2012

Pakistani Taliban target female students with acid attack

It's the latest cruel tactic in the Pakistani Taliban's battle to stop girls and women from getting an education: acid thrown in their faces to scar them for life and deter others from following in their footsteps.

A doctor who treated the victims of an acid attack on a college van in the city of Parachinar in northern Pakistan last month told CNN that two girls had been left with severe burns to their faces. [CNN] Read more

UK government told anti-Islam film incites terrorism

.... The Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat UK, which claims to represent the majority of Muslims in Britain, has approached the home secretary and police forces around the country requesting that the movie be removed from YouTube on the grounds that it incites racial and religious hate crimes and openly encourages violence in the name of faith.

The group didn’t request that the film, which caused outrage among Muslims across the world, be banned for being offensive, nor that it will incite hatred against the Muslims but rather that it would encourage violence by Muslims to non-believers. [The News International] Read more

The death of Arab secularism

.... That world can be glimpsed in old newsreels from the Arab cities of the 1950s and 1960s.

The cities of the post-war period - Cairo, Beirut and Damascus, Baghdad and Aden - look much the same as many developing countries of the time: American-built cars, European-style suits, a certain easy mingling of men and women.

Unseen is something difficult to describe, but immediately apparent to anyone familiar with the Egypt or Yemen of today: the thick beards of men and the tightly wrapped headscarves of women - symbols of religious devotion, but also symbols of a public expression of Islam - were almost entirely absent from the new urban world then being created. [The National] Read more

02 November 2012

No end in sight to Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Pakistani activists say they have lost hope in the government to reform the Islamic country's controversial laws in the wake of an attack on a girls' school over alleged blasphemy.

A mob of more than 200 people set fire to a girls' school in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Wednesday on accusations that one of the teachers of the school distributed "blasphemous" material to her sixth grade students.

Pakistani police are trying to trace the teacher of the Farooqi High School who has apparently gone into hiding.

Police officer Azam Manhais told the media that the 76-year-old Asim Farooqi, owner of the school, had been arrested on blasphemy charges. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Islam Overtaking Catholicism as Dominant Religion in France

.... France, which is home to an estimated six million Muslims, has the largest Muslim population in the European Union. There are now, in fact, more practicing Muslims in France than there are practicing Roman Catholics.

Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France's 65 million inhabitants) identify themselves as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of these actually are practicing Catholics, according to a separate survey on Catholicism in France published by Ifop in July 2009.

By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million), of the estimated six million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France, identify themselves as "believers;" and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are "practicing" Muslims, according to an in-depth research report on Islam in France published by Ifop in July 2011. [Gatestone Institute] Read more