31 December 2012

Extremism unchecked in schools, secret briefing reveals

Michael Gove, the education secretary, was one of the key voices calling for a ban on support for non-violent extremism when it published its Prevent strategy to fight radicalisation last year.

But behind closed doors there are concerns about 118 “socially conservative” independent faith schools - the vast majority of them Muslim - where pupils may be encouraged to cut themselves off from mainstream society. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

30 December 2012

Women shy about lifting the niqab

For Mouna, lifting the veil that covers most of her face is akin to taking off some of her clothes in public. She has been wearing it, by her own choice, for the past 20 years and she says it has become part of her.

''It is a little like feeling naked in public,'' she told Fairfax Media about having to show her face in public for identification.

''When you wear it [niqab] for a long time it becomes a part of you.''

But Mouna, like dozens of other Muslim women who attended a recent forum with the NSW Ombudsman to discuss the issue, has no problem with the legislation that requires her to lift her face covering to be identified. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

29 December 2012

In the name of morals and Sharia, media freedoms may contract

.... In a mass protest at the beginning of December, newspapers protested media violations and four satellite channels went black the next day. Several of Egypt’s independent dailies published the same full-page image on their front pages in protest at restrictions on press freedoms in the draft constitution.

Ibrahim Nawar, head of the Egyptian Organization for Freedom of the Press, suggests that the media war is a reflection of the division between Islamists and secular currents that will continue as long as polarization in the Egyptian street continues.

The danger of this split, Nawar says, is illustrated by the inflammatory tone adopted by many religious satellite channels, which “incites audiences whose political awareness is weak.” [Egypt Independent] Read more

Muslim mob attacked Christian worshipers on Christmas Day in Islamabad

.... It was 12:00 noon, in Iqbal Town in Islamabad, on December 25, 2012, when Christian worshipers were coming out of different Churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.

Ashraf Masih, when running to save his life was hit with bullet in his leg, Iqbal Masih received bullet injuries in his leg and arm, Shahzad Masih was injured fell on ground and was beaten with sticks mercilessly by mob, Yousaf Masih was seriously injured while more than one dozen Christian women, men and children received injuries. [Pakistan Christian Post] Read more

Harsh Sharia punishments meted in Mali

Authorities in northern Mali are ordering severe punishments, including cutting off limbs and public whippings, under Sharia law, human rights activists say.

At least 14 people suspected of thievery have had hands, and sometimes their feet, lopped off, Human Rights Watch and other independent observers say. Dozens of other people have been flogged with whips or tree branches for minor infractions such as smoking or listening to music on the radio, they say. [UPI] Read more

28 December 2012

Egyptian Cleric Threatens Egypt's Copts with Genocide

.... Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, "A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt," a reference to the nation's Copts, which he began by saying, "You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts]."

The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, "and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves."

The heart of Ghoneim's message was genocidal: "The day Egyptians — and I don't even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I'm warning you now: do not play with fire!" [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Iran bans flights during Islamic call to prayer: report

Iran’s parliament has banned airplanes from flying in the country during the Azan call to Islamic prayer, the semi-official Mehr news agency has reported.

“According to the new directive, airplanes are banned from flying during Azan, especially during the call to morning prayers,” Mehr quoted the spokesman for parliament’s cultural committee Ali Taheri as saying.

The head of the Aviation Organization, Hamid Reza Pahlevani, said aircraft will be allowed to take off 30 minutes after the call to the morning prayer so that passengers have the time “to carry out their religious duties”, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported on Wednesday. [Reuters] Read more

Stop demanding religious equality, says ex-Fatwa Council chief

Non-Muslims should drop their demand to use “Allah” for their gods as the Arabic word is fundamental to Islamic belief and therefore exclusive to Muslims, National Fatwa Council former chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim was reported saying in a Malay daily.

Ismail was weighing in on the latest debate over the Arabic word for god, in a row between Islamist opposition party PAS and its secular ally, DAP, which appears to be a hot-button topic in the run-up to national polls due soon. [The Malaysian Insider] Read more

A press conference in Oslo with Haitham al-Haddad

.... Haitham al-Haddad complains (about 17:50) that it has been implied that he supports hudud punishments in the West, right now. Of course there is some difference between calling for such punishments in the UK and saying they should be practiced in an Islamic state – but it still means that Haddad’s ideal is a horrific theocracy.

There was a strange moment around 30.00 when he seems to claim that his support for very young girls marrying is only a semantic quibble – he asserts that Muslims ‘call this marriage, you call it something else’. [Harry’s Place] Read more

27 December 2012

Muslim sues over ‘bus boot’

A Muslim woman claims she’s being booted off city buses because of the way she dresses.

Maria Louis, of Hollis, Queens, says she has twice been kicked off buses by MTA and NYPD personnel — the agencies she’s suing in Brookyn federal court — after people berated her for her religious garb.

Her clothing, which she calls a “bolka,” is a “long, flowing black garment that covers her completely — including a mesh section over her eyes that allows her to see,” the suit says. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

A Look Back at Media Coverage of Islam and Islamic Law in 2012

This has been a big year for Islam and Islamic law in American media. As politicians vied for local and national office, anti-sharia messages -- and sometimes overtly anti-Islam messages -- were broadcast across the media, at times functioning to normalize anti-Islam discourse.

Turmoil in places like Egypt and Mali ensured that there were plenty of stories with "sharia" in the forefront, but little contextualization for the average reader to give a sense of what Islamic law means in those places.

As we look back at media coverage in 2012, a number of trends emerge, ranging from regional and national hotspots like Tennessee and Egypt; in specific areas, such as gender and Islamophobia; and in wider issues of how Islamic law was covered and who was cited by the media as an authority.

[A COMMENT] Editing the Koran is unnecessary. The Koranic teachings that accepted slavery are now widely ignored. Teachings on the goal of political supremacy for Muslims through jihad against the unbeliever can also be interpreted away. But they haven't been. That's the problem, not Spencer and Geller. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Youcef Nadarkhani re-arrested on Christmas Day

.... the Pastor was re-arrested on Christmas Day and returned to Lakan Prison in Rasht, where he spent almost three years on death row. According to Fox News, the charge is 'that he must complete the remainder of his sentence', which is no charge at all: it is a summary sentence meted out in pure spite (reinforced by the timing of the arrest to cause maximum pain to his wife and young children).

For some reason, the court's prior decision that Pastor Nadarkhani's remaining 45 days could be served on probation has been overruled, and that time must now be served back in prison.

It is worth mentioning that his attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has also been imprisoned and remains in Iran's notoriously brutal Evin Prison where his health is rapidly deteriorating. He has been incarcerated for advocating Youcef Nadarkhani's case and other human rights cases. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Saudi detains dozens for "plotting to celebrate Christmas"

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.

The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code.

The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be “severely intoxicated.” [Al-Akhbar English] Read more

Islamists’ Harsh Justice Is on the Rise in North Mali

Moctar Touré was strapped to a chair, blindfolded, his right hand bound tight to the armrest with a rubber tube. A doctor came and administered a shot. Then Mr. Touré’s own brother wielded a knife, the kind used to slaughter sheep, and methodically carried out the sentence.

“I myself cut off my brother’s hand,” said Aliou Touré, a police chief in the Islamist-held north of this divided nation. “We had no choice but to practice the justice of God.” [The New York Times] Read more

26 December 2012

Will Egypt become a totalitarian state?

.... As the Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan once said, “democracy is just the train we board to reach our destination.” Displaying this kind of flexibility, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, suggested that Islamic law, sharia, should be implemented gradually in Egypt: “I think that in the first five years, there should be no chopping off of hands.” One must prepare the ground first.

However, the final destination has been clear from the beginning. Brotherhood founder al-Banna announced: “it is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations and extend its power to the entire planet.”

Stop the train: I want to get off. [MercatorNet.com] Read more

25 December 2012

Saudi writer Turki al-Hamad arrested over tweets

Turki al-Hamad, one of Saudi Arabia's most famous writers, was arrested yesterday after posting remarks on Twitter that angered religious elements. .... On Saturday, al-Hamad posted a dozen tweets in Arabic, several which appeared to complain about misuse of religion.

One said: "The Prophet came with a humanitarian religion but some changed it into anti-human religion". Another said: "All religions call for love ... practices and rituals do not mean what is going on in the heart."

Al-Hamad also likened Islamism to neo-Nazism, but the tweet that seems to have caused the biggest furore said:

"Our Holy Prophet came to rectify the faith of Abraham, and the time has [now] come when we need someone to rectify the faith of Muhammad." [www.al-bab.com] Read more

Is Evolution Less Problematic For Muslims Than For Christians?

.... From my own encounters with Muslims, too many of them appear to reject human evolution in a knee-jerk response. Over a thousand years ago, Islamic civilisation was at its most creative and innovative.

Now look at us today. How far Muslims have fallen! How sad! Today, the overwhelming majority of Muslim nations are not trailblazers in the sciences, but simply dumb consumers. [Inayat's Corner] Read more

Iran pays Russian women technicians at Bushehr nuclear plant to wear hijab

An Iranian lawmaker has complained that female Russian technicians working at the Bushehr nuclear power plant are not respecting the country’s dress code despite that they are being paid to wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab.

Bushehr’s Russian women technicians receive a “hijab payment” but “do not properly observe” what is required by their contracts, said Seyyed Mehdi Mousavi Nejad, a member of parliament from Dashtestan in southern Bushehr Province, told Sepas News Agency. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

24 December 2012

Female circumcision is a right, says imam

A MUSLIM leader and outspoken opponent of female genital mutilation says female circumcision, which he defines as the partial removal of the clitoral hood, is not only an utterly distinct practice, but the "divinely ordained right of a woman" under Islam.

Sydney-based Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development founder and president, Imam Afroz Ali, appeared on the ABC's 7:30 program in October, condemning female genital mutilation and saying he had been told by community members of its occurrence in Australia. [The Australian] Read more

23 December 2012

Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East

The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.

And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.

It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

No merriness here: mosque puts fatwa on Christmas

THE Lakemba Mosque has issued a fatwa against Christmas, warning followers it is a ''sin'' to even wish people a Merry Christmas.

The religious ruling, which followed a similar lecture during Friday prayers at Australia's biggest mosque, was posted on its Facebook site on Saturday morning.

The head imam at Lakemba, Sheikh Yahya Safi, had told the congregation during prayers that they should not take part in anything to do with Christmas. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

22 December 2012

Authorities plan exit scheme for Salafists

.... His office estimates that the number of extremist Salafists in North Rhine-Westphalia has doubled this year to 1,000. The effort with local Muslim groups comes after attempts at using hotlines to get people to either not join or quit such groups were less than successful.

Militant Salafist groups have been in the news a lot lately. On Thursday such a group released a video calling on followers to take German hostages to free an Islamist now serving a six-year sentence for stabbing two policemen in Bonn in May.

[A COMMENT] Would the better exit scheme not be deportation? If they don't like the Western Culture then there is always their own culture to move to elsewhere. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan mob burns man accused of desecrating Koran

A mob broke into a Pakistani police station and burnt a man accused of desecrating the Koran alive, police said Saturday, in the latest violence focusing attention on the country's blasphemy laws.

The man was a traveller and had spent Thursday night at the mosque, said Maulvi Memon, the imam in the southern village of Seeta in Sindh province. [Reuters] Read more

Saudi Arabia: Website Editor Facing Death Penalty

.... the Jeddah District Court, which had been hearing the case against the editor, Raif Badawi, referred it to a higher court on a charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty.

The charges against him, based solely to Badawi’s involvement in setting up a website for peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures, violate his right to freedom of expression. [Human Rights Watch] Read more

Koran-ripping case jury discharged at Leicester Crown Court

The jury in the trial of a man who staged an anti-religion protest by ripping out pages from the Koran in front of Muslims has been discharged.

The eight women and four men on the jury at Leicester Crown Court failed to agree on a verdict.

They sent a note to the judge saying there was no prospect of them reaching either a unanimous or a majority verdict on which at least 10 of them agreed.

The Crown Prosecution Service has 14 days to decide whether or not to proceed with a retrial. [Leicester Mercury] Read more

Mob justice: Alleged blasphemer lynched in front of police

In an appalling incident of mob justice, a man was lynched for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran in a village in Dadu district of Sindh on Friday. More alarming is the fact that the unidentified man was burnt to death right in front of the police inside the local police station.

The man was accused of burning copies of the Holy Quran at Memon mosque in Seeta village. According to the prayer leader of the mosque, Usman Memon, the man appeared to be a traveller who stayed at the mosque for a night. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more

Some questions for iERA

.... in the video below Abdurraheem makes a point of saying that it is not sex, drugs or alcohol that is the ‘evil’ but the festivals of Christians; he berates Muslims for acknowledging the importance of these to their Christian friends:

.... “What is the benefit for that brothers and sisters for us living here in the West? We are surrounded with evil. We are surround by people who are indulging in the worst type of evil. I don’t mean they’re drinking alcohol, they’re taking drugs, they’re fornicating. The worst type of evil is shirk. The worst type of evil is kufr. The worst type of evil is making partners with Allah, and denying Allah and turning away from their lord and their religion. This is the worst type of evil. [Harry’s Place] Read more

21 December 2012

House to Mull Bill Banning Alcoholic Beverages in Indonesia

Indonesia would introduce stiff penalties for the consumption of all alcoholic beverages under a controversial bill drafted by the country’s oldest Islamic party, which is seeking an effective ban on the sale, production and consumption of alcohol in the Muslim-majority nation.

Hard alcohol is already heavily regulated in Indonesia, where hefty taxes contribute to some of the highest prices in the region and local bylaws limit the open sale of liquor in some regions. [JakartaGlobe] Read more

Wahhabi Islam: The Royal puppet masters

Many in the West, and especially in America, are still holding to the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate, largely secular, and peace-loving organization.

The leaders in the U.S. who are chanting this mantra are either incredibly naïve and uninformed, simply not understanding the Islamic Eastern mind; or are more likely, they are outright liars. The long hidden goals of the Brotherhood have been revealed and should move every freedom lover to action. [Newswithviews] Read more

It's Official: Muslim Population of Britain Doubles

The national census for England and Wales has come out, and, as usual, this once-a-decade event has had all of its most significant points overlooked.

By any measure, what it reveals is a country undergoing seismic change. Over the course of a decade up to four million more people have entered the country to live. In the capital, London, people identifying themselves as "white British" have for the first time become a minority. Perhaps most strikingly, the national Muslim population has doubled.

This last fact is perhaps one of the least considered of the census so far. Doubled? Surely not. This has to be the claim of Mark Steyn or some other demographics-obsessed nut. Well no, it isn't, and it is now official: between 2001 and 2011 the Muslim population of the UK rose from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. Otherwise put, that is an increase from 3 percent to 4.8 percent of the overall population. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

New study of perceptions of Islamophobia among Muslims in France, Germany and the UK

.... A cross-cultural study was conducted in three different European countries (France, Germany and the UK) among four different Muslim minority groups (277 French-Maghrebis, 446 German-Turks, 167 German-Arabs and 454 British-Pakistanis).

The aim of the study was to develop an instrument to measure perceptions of Islamophobia and to investigate how these perceptions relate to Muslim minorities' well-being and the experience of discrimination.

In all countries, participants perceived the highest degrees of Islamophobia in the media. Nevertheless, they also experienced high degrees in other areas of the society. A cross-cultural comparison showed that French Muslims perceived the highest degree of Islamophobia. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Here we go again. The media causes islamophobia!

No it doesn’t: the great majority of articles and reports about Islam and Muslims are from reputable news sources; the great majority of articles and reports about Islam and Muslims are fair and accurate.

The uncomfortable truth is Islam and Muslims do and say many things that non-Muslims find obnoxious or objectionable. [Islam Surveyed] Read more

Man on trial for ripping pages from Qur’an at Islam stall

[A COMMENT] Oh FFS we should get rid of this ridiculous law, brought in by Labour solely to pander to whining Muslims in key marginals. If ripping up your own copy of a book is a crime, then we really have entered la-la land.

Muslims really do need to learn to suck it up - not everyone shares their religious sensitivities, not everyone thinks their precious book is God's final word, and not everyone should be expected to tiptoe around them as if they were a swarm of angry bees. Christians seem to have got this message a long time ago.

Vandalising a mosque is one thing; tearing up your own copy of a paperback is quite another. The boohooing stallholders should've been patted on the head with a sympathetic "never mind eh" and that should've been it. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The British workplace must become more accommodating to Muslim women

A recent report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community revealed that Muslim women are encountering discrimination at work from the application stage, through interviews, at recruitment agencies, and in the workplace itself.

Some individuals were even compromising their religious beliefs by removing their hijabs and changing their names to English sounding names in order to obtain employment.

[A COMMENT] There are so many things wrong with this article, I don't have time to talk about them, but what I will suggest Reyhana is that if the British culture is so offensive to you that you cannot work in it, why not go to a nice Muslim theocracy like Iran, and see how well they utilise ambitious and intelligent women. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Ripping Koran was 'freedom of speech, accused Peter Crawford tells Leicester court

An atheist who ripped out pages from the Koran in front of Muslims at a stall promoting Islam was simply exercising freedom of speech, a court heard.

Peter James Crawford told police his decision to then throw the holy book on to the pavement at the Clock Tower, in Leicester city centre, was part of his protest against religion.

The 52-year-old is on trial at Leicester Crown Court accused of causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, by demonstrating hostility based on membership of a particular religious group, Islam. [Leicester Mercury] Read more

Muslim family taking Thornton Heath Greek Orthodox school to High Court over hijab ban

A GREEK Orthodox school is being taken to the High Court for banning a Muslim pupil from wearing a headscarf.

The nine-year-old girl's parents were so incensed at the decision they have pulled her out of St Cyprian's Greek Orthodox Primary Academy, in Thornton Heath.

Now they have applied to the High Court in an attempt to force the school – the only one of its kind in the country – to reverse its ban on their daughter wearing a hijab.

The parents believe it would be a sin for her head to be uncovered because she has reached puberty and is in the presence of male teachers.

Head teacher Kate Magliocco said the uniform policy was made clear to the parents when the girl arrived in Year 3. [This is Croydon] Read more

20 December 2012

Avoid wishing ‘Merry Xmas,’ insist Indonesian conservative Muslims

If the world is ready for Christmas with just five days to go before the 25th, Indonesia is yet to decide if they will be a part of the celebration.

Until now, Islamic conservatives are indecisive over whether or not celebrating Christmas the country is “Haram” or “Halal” (whether it’s prohibited or permitted by Islam), reported an Indonesian news site.

Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body said on Wednesday that it is best for Muslims to avoid saying greetings such as “Merry Christmas” to others. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

New Halal counter at Tesco Store

The National Halal Centre now have a halal counter in a major store in Lancashire.

Their counter is based at the Tesco Store Blackburn. They also have a halal counter at the Tesco Cheetham Hill Store in Manchester.

The halal counter offers a range of produce packaged under the National Halal Centre brand. The counter has Muslim staff and a separate storage area.

The National Halal Centre state on their website, “The National Halal Food Group is committed to providing the highest quality of service to its customers. Our Halal products and services are in strict accordance with Islamic Shariah requirements stun free. [Asian Image] Read more

Putin Opposes Headscarves in Russian Schools

President Vladimir Putin spoke against the wearing of hijabs at Russian schools Thursday saying that the practice runs counter to Russian traditions.

“Why should we adopt outside traditions?” Putin said during a marathon question-and-answer session with Russian and foreign reporters on Thursday.

A test case of Russia’s hijab policy emerged in October, when Muslim parents in a village in Russia’s southern Stavropol Region complained to prosecutors over a ban on headscarves at their daughters’ school. The parents said the ban violated their daughters’ constitutional rights to receive an education and practice their religion. [RIA Novosti] Read more

Plan for mosque draws anti-Islam sentiment

ANGER at plans for a mosque and evangelical church to be built side-by-side in Melbourne's east has spilled over amid claims Islam ''directly contravenes our freedom values''.

It was standing room only at the City of Casey chambers in Narre Warren on Tuesday night at one of the last meetings before the council debates a proposal to build a mosque and community centre on a vacant industrial lot in Green Street, Doveton.

The mosque would be next to the church and headquarters of Catch the Fire Ministries, run by controversial anti-Islam Pastor Danny Nalliah who was acquitted of a racial vilification charge brought by the Islamic Council of Victoria in 2006. The church has already been approved by council and construction is expected to begin within weeks. [The Age] Read more

Turkey, the end of Islamism with a human face

.... That this is happening at the same time as the Muslim Brotherhood's grip on Egypt seems to be slipping, and unrest is mounting in Tunisia, might offer some hints about the future of this ideology.

Olivier Roy’s repeated insistence that Islamism is nearing its end might still be unfounded. The Turkish experience, however, suggests that its neo-liberal, pro-American version cannot provide credible or sustainable answers to the needs of complex modern societies, and certainly not to the demands for social justice and inclusive governance. [openDemocracy] Read more

Theocracy in the UK…

.... It is a temptation of people who criticise Muslim demagogues to attempt to separate them from authentic Islam. I am not going to do this. It would be monstrously arrogant of me to claim that I have a more sophisticated understanding of Haitham al-Haddad’s faith than he does.

These men are neither idiots nor conscious scoundrels. (Though it would not surprise me if they included the odd spook.) Their ideas are rooted in age-old traditions of Islam, and, in many cases, are shared by millions of Muslims abroad and in the U.K.

It is simply true that Islam has remained far more open to totalistic interpretations than other faiths, and I do not think Muslims would dispute this. [Back Towards the Locus] Read more

Top court rules judges may order witnesses to remove niqab

A Muslim woman who is the complainant in a sexual assault trial in Toronto has lost her bid before Canada's top court to have an unimpeded right to wear her niqab while testifying.

In a split Supreme Court of Canada decision released Thursday, the seven judges largely upheld a lower court's ruling that the woman, known only as N.S. to protect her identity under a court-ordered publication ban, may have to remove her niqab.

The woman has accused her uncle and cousin of sexually assaulting her when she was between six and 10 years old, during the 1980s. Twenty-five years later, the woman told her story to police and her two male relatives were charged, but the case has not yet gone to trial. [CBC] Read more

Supreme Court niqab ruling: Veil can be worn to testify in some cases

.... It set out a new test for how judges should balance a female witness’s right to freely practice her religion against an accused person’s Charter right to put forward a defence and cross-examine an accuser.

Dissenting justices Louis LeBel and Marshall Rothstein said the appeal “illustrates the tension and changes caused by the rapid evolution of contemporary society and by the growing presence in Canada of new cultures, religions, traditions and social practices.”

But they would have reconciled that tension by never allowing the niqab to override the rights of the accused, concluding a veiled accuser doesn’t square with the “constitutional values of openness and religious neutrality in contemporary democratic, but diverse, Canada.” [Toronto Star] Read more

19 December 2012

France: Santa's School Visit Cancelled Because of Boycott Threats From Muslim Families

It's a story that has a nursery school in Montargis, in Loiret, boiling. Now that the end of year celebrations are approaching, the headmistress of the school has decided to deschedule the traditional visit of Father Christmas to the classes. Officially, it's because of financial problems. The parents, stunned, denounce religious motives.

For some parents of the nursery school in Grand-Clos, there is no doubt: the reason for the cancellation of the visit of the gentleman in red with the white beard is "religious".

One mother said, this Wednesday, in "Le Parisien - Aujourd'hui en France" : "The headmistress explained to me that she didn't want to get her knuckles rapped by certain Muslim families", she says. [Islam versus Europe] Read more

Egypt's Christians: Caught in the Middle

.... Moderate Muslims are still capable of offering the requisite lip service to Islam -- saying "prayers and peace upon Muhammad" and all the other Muslim blessings -- even as they reject the full application of Sharia.

This makes it more difficult for their radical brethren to portray them as infidel enemies. Moderate Muslims can resist Sharia, but in subtle ways, arguing over Islamic exegesis, calling for ijtihad [modern interpretations, questioning], and so forth.

But when Egypt's Christian Copts resist Sharia -- as dhimmis [religious minorities who are second-class, "tolerated," members of societ]Y -- pro-Sharia Muslims retaliate with a vengeance, portraying them as infidels who reject the law of Allah. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Coptic priests held for converting Muslim

Two priests from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Sudan have been arrested after the religious conversion of a Muslim in the Islamist-run state, church sources said.

“I understand there was someone from the Arab origin that accepted Christ and was baptised by them,” leading to their arrest within the past few days, one religious leader told AFP.

Other religious sources confirmed the incident but Khartoum's Coptic Bishop Anba Elia was not immediately able to comment. [Independent Online] Read more

Fear keeps Egypt's Christians away from polls

A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week's referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians' worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century. [Associated Press] Read more

18 December 2012

Noor TV up for Ofcom sanctions after presenter preaches that those showing disrespect to Mohammed should be killed

Ofcom asked the translator of the transcript to summarise the content of the whole programme, review the word for word translation of relevant sections, and revise it as necessary.

A copy of the second, revised transcript was then sent to the Licensee, whose solicitor replied, “Our clients have reported they see no problem with your transcript.

”At approximately one hour and 18 minutes into the programme Mr Nazimi answered a question from a caller, who was identified as “brother Yasir Nahif” (“Mr Nahif”), who asked:

“What is the punishment for the individual who shows disrespect for Prophet Muhammad?”

In response to the question from Mr Nahif, we noted the following remarks made by Mr Nazimi:

“There is no disagreement about this [the punishment]; there is absolutely no doubt about it that the punishment for the person who shows disrespect for the Prophet is death. No one [among the Islamic scholars] disagrees about this. No one disagrees about this. See p18 of pdf. [Ofcom] Read more

Why Has the Number of Muslims in the UK Risen So Much? - What Huffington Post Readers Think

In a recent Huffington Post article Dr Leon Moosavi, expert on Muslims in Britain, Islamophobia and conversion to Islam, asks the question “Why Has the Number of Muslims in the UK Risen So Much?”

He gives several answers:

Muslims have a higher birth rate than people of other faiths.

Many Muslim societies are dominated by conflict which has led to a significant number of Muslims seeking more secure prospects in the UK.

The presence of an existing Muslim population has played a role in encouraging Muslims to come to the UK. Prospective migrants know they will find relatives, friends or a prospective community well established here. [Islam Surveyed] Read more

'MyJihad' campaign hits Chicago buses, along with opposition

Chicago buses have become a battleground for two groups promoting different definitions of jihad.

This past weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations launched "MyJihad," a national ad campaign featuring individuals' testimonies about what the central tenet of Islam means to them.

But on Monday, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, or AFDI, asked the CTA to accept another batch of ads, featuring mock testimonies from high-profile Muslim extremists, including Osama bin Laden.

The campaign is the second one launched by the initiative, which rolled out a controversial series of bus posters last month urging passengers to "Defeat jihad." [Chicago Tribune] Read more

Left parties strike for ban on sharia Islamists

Left parties shut down schools, shops and roads across Bangladesh today as they enforced a dawn-to-dusk general strike against Islamist parties.

More than two dozen Islamic parties want Bangladesh to be governed by sharia law, but the leftists say they should be banned under a constitutional provision that law must be secular.

More than 10,000 police were deployed in Dhaka as protesters blocked roads and traffic.

But Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir commended the Communist Party of Bangladesh, which led the protests, for the peacefulness of the action. [Morning Star] Read more

17 December 2012

Sharia enforcers attack Egyptian cafes

Members of the Hazemoun and Ahrar movements attacked people at cafes in Cairo, chanting "Sharia is lifestyle," witnesses said.

Several people were injured during Saturday's attack, including political activists known for frequenting the cafes, witnesses told al-Shorouk newspaper. They said the attackers fired birdshot and launched fireworks.

Hazemoun is comprised of former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail's supporters, and Ahrar is a self-styled vigilante youth group that promotes public virtue, Egypt Independent reported. [UPI] Read more

Philly security firm sued over Muslim head scarf

The EEOC is suing ABM Security Services, which provides guards for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, for religious discrimination after an employee claimed she was forced to choose between keeping her job and wearing her traditional Muslim head covering.

ABM hired Tahira, a devout Mus­lim, and she reported for training wearing a khimar, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. Her trainer told her to take off the scarf, but she refused, explaining that her religion required it. An ABM representative told her that she could not work at the convention center while wearing the khimar and sent her home. [Islamophobia Today] Read more

The Islamization of Copenhagen

.... Lyngvild never gets heckled by ethnic Danes. Or by immigrant-group members who are walking along by themselves. But he says that when a bunch of “second-generation immigrants” pass by him on the street – and this happens, he says, pretty much on a daily basis – “I can be sure that they’ll yell at me.”

(Nowhere in Lyngvild’s article, incidentally, does the word Muslim or Islam appear; instead he follows what is now pretty much standard practice in the European media, which prefer terms like “second-generation immigrant” and “people with another ethnic background.”) [Front Page] Read more

Turkey to Make Islam Part of University Entry Exams

.... The head of the Turkish body which oversees placement tests and university admissions has announced that it will soon include religious questions in its placement tests.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has previously reconfigured the exam formula to benefit those who had attended Imam Hatip schools—Turkey’s equivalent of a madrassa—over those who had had a traditional, liberal arts education.

While religion is in the state curriculum, there has been recent controversy over forcing non-Sunnis (20 percent of Turkey’s Muslims are Alevis, not Sunnis) into religious classes which indoctrinated Sunnism. [COMMENTARY MAGAZINE] Read more

‘Activist’ Facing Apostasy Charge

A Saudi court on Monday referred a rights activist to a higher court for alleged apostasy, a charge that could lead to the death penalty in the ultra-conservative kingdom, activists said.

A judge at a lower court referred Raef Badawi to a higher court, declaring that he “could not give a verdict in a case of apostasy,” a rights activist told AFP.

Badawi, who was arrested a June in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for unknown reasons, is a co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network with female rights activist Suad al-Shammari and others.

The network had announced May 7 a “day of liberalism” in the Muslim kingdom, calling for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia. [AFP] Read more

16 December 2012

Egypt: "The judges have a burning desire to instate shari’a laws regarding Islamic hudud punishments" -- stonings, amputations, lashings

…. Ahmad Al-Zind: The judges have a burning desire to instate shari’a laws regarding Islamic hudud punishments and the diya indemnity.

The UAE has resolved this issue without problems and in a simple way – the first article of its penal code states that shari’a law will be implemented with regard to the hudud and diya. When shari’a laws are implemented, they leave no room for bargaining.

Any country that refrains from implementing these punishments is lacking in many ways. People should not fear the implementation of the hudud punishments, because this could be more lenient to the accused then ta’zir punishment [in which the judge has discretion].

…. There is no backwardness in Islam, and people who claim otherwise are backward themselves. Allah’s mercy towards His servants is evident in the fact that the person administering lashings places a notebook in his armpit, preventing him from inflicting pain by raising his arm too high, lest the notebook should fall. [Jihad Watch] Read more

France: Muslim Bus Drivers Refuse to Use Bus After it Has Been Driven by a Woman

.... It features a group of female employees of the transport company RATP (which, according to its website, is the 5th largest public transport company in the world) speaking about working with Muslim colleagues. To avoid reprisals, their faces are hidden.

The revelations here are:

The company practises a policy of positive discrimination towards North African Muslims as regards recruitment and promotion, discriminating against indigenous French people.

Muslim drivers are aggressive and impolite towards passengers.

Muslim drivers refuse to shake hands with their female colleagues.

Management refuses to intervene to support staff attacked by Muslim colleagues, in order to maintain "social peace".

Some Muslim drivers refuse to drive a bus if a woman has driven it before them

Muslims pray in their place of work, even on the bus, during work time. [Islam versus Europe] Read more

15 December 2012

Hate preacher Abu Qatada's new £450,000 four bedroom home - paid for by you

The owner of his new rented home said she will try to evict him. Government confirm Qatada has so far received more than £500,000 in legal aid.

Radical preacher Abu Qatada has moved into a new taxpayer-funded house worth £450,000 near to a church – and the furious owner wants him out.

The fanatical Muslim, who preached hate sermons towards the West – arrived in the leafy suburb of North-West London last week.

He had left his previous £400,000 four-bedroom rented home near Wembley Stadium after apparently complaining it was too small for him and his family. [MailOnline] Read more

US Muslims to reclaim 'jihad' with ad campaign

US Muslims launched an advertising and social media campaign Friday in the hopes of reclaiming the word jihad from extremists who insist on equating the spiritual quest with terrorism.

The campaign features Muslims describing their personal struggles -- the meaning of jihad -- on bus ads, Twitter, Facebook and a dedicated website: myjihad.org.

.... It was sparked by a series of hateful ads calling Muslims "savages" and urging people to "defeat jihad" that were plastered on buses and trains in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. [AFP] Read more

Blasphemy and Islam

In Cairo on Wednesday, a Coptic Christian blogger named Alber Saber was convicted of blasphemy and “contempt of religion.” There’s a tragic irony: As any of the country’s Christians can tell you, contempt of religion is not merely permitted but encouraged in the new, post-Mubarak Egypt. What is criminal, what has become increasingly perilous, is any criticism of Islam.

Nor is truth a defense. Another Egyptian court recently upheld the blasphemy conviction of Makarem Diab, also a Coptic Christian. Diab had gotten into a discussion with a Muslim acquaintance, Abd al-Hameed, who, in the course of mocking Diab’s faith, insisted that Jesus was a serial fornicator. Diab countered Hameed’s baseless taunt with an assertion most Islamic scholars regard as accurate: namely, that Mohammed had more than four wives.

Yet, because the context of Diab’s assertion evinced an intention to cast Islam’s prophet in an unfavorable light, Diab was prosecuted for “insulting the prophet” and “provoking students.” He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. [National Review Online] Read more

14 December 2012

The Freedom of Thought 2012 report: the non-religious are still being persecuted

.... I ran a blog in Arabic called Nour Alakl. I was also active on Facebook, running a satirical page under the pseudonym of Allah. In October 2010 I was arrested in the street near an internet cafe. I had believed that I had a right to the freedom of speech and to the freedom of belief.

But in jail I was told that my online statements about religion and Islam were illegal. I was told that society didn’t accept such criticisms. I was beaten by prison guards who demanded to know who had made me write against Islam. In their minds, I could only say these things as the result of some plot, some conspiracy. That I might simply want to express my independent thoughts was alien to them. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Immigration: 'If someone asks, I’m British, end of story’

.... While Newham pays for recent immigrants to learn English, Tower Hamlets, incredibly, pays enormous sums for British-born children, who have grown up speaking English, to learn Bengali.

Since his election two years ago, Mr Rahman has sought to “Islamicise” Tower Hamlets, clamping down on strip clubs and a gay pub. And he has just launched a “community faith buildings support scheme” to pour further millions into religious organisations – substantially, though not exclusively, mosques.

Robin Wales, like many other Labour people, will not deal with Rahman and admits that what he sees across the border has helped spur his policy in Newham. “You look at the community faith buildings grants and you ask yourself, what’s going on?” he says. “Lutfur is following policies that will not benefit anyone in the future. I’m extremely worried that you create an enclave, and whenever you have segregation it is an unmitigated disaster.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Swedish Christian Worker Dies from Pakistan Shooting - The Murder of Birgitta Almby

.... what stands out most of all is the media silence around the killing of Birgitta Almby. Outside of Swedish press outlets like Aftonbladet, which published a heart-rending photograph of Almby with one of her young charges, no media organization of any significance has yet picked up the story.

There is no need, here, for a detailed reprisal of the arguments as to why the slightest offense against the Quran garners world headlines. Nor is it necessary to ask why those Western commentators who hang on every syllable of Muslim anger continue to ignore the plight of Christians in the same part of the world. However, as someone who follows this issue closely, I have to ask whether atrocities like the Almby murder are no longer considered newsworthy. [COMMENTARY MAGAZINE] Read more

"Whoever Fights Us, Fights Islam"

Their more radical brethren will always say, "True Muslims support Sharia: if you reject this, you are no Muslim. You are an apostate, an infidel, an enemy."

In the ongoing conflict between those Egyptians who strongly oppose a Sharia-based constitution — moderates, secularists, non-Muslim minorities — and those who are strongly pushing for it -- the "Islamists" -- are currently evoking the one argument that has always, from the very beginnings of Islam, empowered Islamists over moderates in the Muslim world: that anyone who disagrees with them disagrees with Islam.

Examples are many. According to a December 1 report from El Fagr, for example, Gamal Sabr, the former campaign coordinator for the anti-freedom Salafi presidential candidate Abu Ismail, made the division clear during an Al Jazeera interview, where he said:

"Whoever disagrees with him, disagrees with Islam itself;" and that many Egyptians "are fighting Islam in the picture of President Muhammad Morsi and in the picture of the Islamists." He was clearly implying that they are one with Islam, and to fight them is to fight Islam. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Hatred Sounds Sweeter in Arabic?

.... In other words, one shouldn’t be so concerned that the Imam of Mecca has called for annihilation of the Jews, referring to them as ‘the scum of the human race, rats of the world, violators of pacts and agreements, murderers of the prophets, and grandsons of apes and pigs’ …. because if and when this eminent personage comes to Melbourne to be part of the ‘best-ever’ Islamic event held in Australia, Al-Sudais will only be speaking Arabic and reading the Koran in Arabic.

The thing is, several of the libels made collectively by Al-Sudais against the Jews can be derived from passages in the Koran. Will these passages be the ones he will be reciting here in Melbourne?

Will the ears of visiting dignitaries from other faiths – whom Mr Razvi reports will be invited – be regaled by Al-Sudais with these very same verses? [Mark Durie] Read more

Debate on Islam and evolution postponed after revolt by student societies

Organisers behind a British conference on Islam and evolution say they nearly had to cancel the event after receiving a torrent of opposition from Muslim students at one of the country’s top scientific universities, The Independent has learned.

The Deen Institute, a Muslim debating forum which promotes critical thinking, had hoped to hold a conference entitled “Have Muslims misunderstood evolution?” early next year.

Among the speakers invited to attend included Muslim scientists, imams who have promoted the compatibility of Islam and evolution as well as those who preach a form of Islamic creationism. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Spain supports Pakistani woman convicted of blasphemy

The Spanish government expressed support Thursday to the family of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death under the South Asian country's controversial blasphemy law.

Spain's deputy foreign minister, Gonzalo de Benito, met here Thursday with the husband of Asia Bibi, Asiq Mashi, who traveled to Madrid with one of the couple's children to accept an award on his wife's behalf.

De Benito asked about Bibi's situation and voiced solidarity with her family, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The deputy minister also reiterated Spain's support for Bibi's battle against her blasphemy conviction. [Indo-Asian News Service] Read more

13 December 2012

Constitutional highway to theocracy

Egypt's constitutional draft should be rejected, the draft contains many dangers regarding private property, the separation of powers and judicial independence for instance. It is important to understand the actual hazards of the constitutional draft and its possible consequences.

It is no secret that the Egyptian Islamists (most importantly represented in the Constitional Assembly by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Da'awa Salafiya) who, together with clear sympathizers, took more than half the seats in the Constitutional Assembly, all want a religious state, a theocracy of sorts, a system where purely religious rules are enforced using state power. [openDemocracy] Read more

When the Music’s Over: Egypt TV bans ‘romantic’ songs amid unrest

The broadcasting of any “romantic” songs or music videos on Egyptian state television channels has been banned, a state-run newspaper announced on Thursday, adding that only “patriotic” tunes will be allowed to be aired.

Nationalistic tunes “that are worth broadcasting” will be allowed on the country’s 23 state-owned channels, the al-Ahram news website reported.

Meanwhile, sarcastic songs mocking public figures will be also banned because of the “sensitiveness of the political situation,” it said. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

Turkish broadcaster fined for insulting Prophet Muhammad

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) has fined private broadcaster CNN Türk for "insulting the Prophet Muhammad" in a TV show presented by Enver Aysever, daily Radikal has reported.

RTÜK ruled that the Prophet Muhammad was insulted during the show broadcast on Oct. 15, during which journalist Sevan Nisanyan was a guest. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

FBI: Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Remain Relatively High

[A COMMENT] Now to blow through all the smoke here. First of all, the Southern Poverty Law Center (QUOTE):

"Anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by 50% in 2010, skyrocketing over 2009 levels in a year marked by the incendiary rhetoric of Islam-bashing politicians and activists, especially over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] Soared? Sky-rocketed? This is absurd language given the small numbers involved. 2,8 million US Muslims and 157 anti-Muslim recorded hate crimes in 2011..... Get a grip!

We have 157 recorded crimes for 2011, which compared to the high point of 2001 (481) is not exactly soaring to the stratosphere...and lags behind e.g. anti-Jewish incidents pretty obviously....

I take seriously anti-Muslim bigotry, but I can't take seriously melodramatic over-egging of rather tiny stats. [loonwatch.com] Read more

Muslims call for 'denazification' of state

.... In recognition of the seriousness of the crimes, Germany should hold annual memorials for the victims of the NSU, said the council, and teach children about the murders in school history lessons as "a problem arising out of the Nazi past."

Spokesman Erol Pürlü told the press, "Those who murder Muslims today, will murder those who don't comply with them tomorrow."

Further demands laid out in the dossier included creating a special category for anti-Islamic attacks in crime statistics, and for officials to stop using the words "Islamist" and "Islamism" to refer to radical Islam. [The Local Europe] Read more

Why Has the Number of Muslims in the UK Risen So Much?

.... it is widely known that Muslims have a higher birth rate than people of other faiths meaning younger generations are made up of higher proportions of Muslims. It is also apparent that many Muslim societies are dominated by conflict which has led to a significant number of Muslims seeking more secure prospects in the UK from Muslim nations like Somalia and Afghanistan.

The presence of an existing Muslim population has also played a role in encouraging Muslims to come to the UK. Prospective migrants know they will find relatives, friends or a prospective community well established here.

.... One of the little understood reasons for the growth in the number of Muslims in the UK relates to the growing number of Britons who are choosing to convert to Islam. There are estimations that hundreds of Britons convert to Islam every month which certainly contributes to the steadily increasing number of Muslims.

These conversions are triggered by a combination of increasing missionary activity by Muslims but also by a seemingly widened disaffection with Christianity. [The Huffington Post] Read more

George Galloway speaks out on niqab ban in UK

Popular British MP George Galloway has lashed out at the new banning of the niqab, the full-face covering veil worn rarely by Muslim women, at the country’s parliament.

He said the new regulations are an infringement on Muslim rights in the UK.

“Everyone understands the need to have proper security,” Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, told The Daily Mail on Sunday, December 9.

“But these rules seem a little heavy handed and confusing to me.” [Bikya Masr] Read more

12 December 2012

What Egyptians Are Afraid to Know

.... So why are Egyptians now unhappy with Morsi? They wanted Sharia, and Morsi is giving them Sharia. By Western standards, Morsi has a mandate to rule by Sharia, so why are Cairo's streets full of rebels chanting for freedom and democracy? Is this Morsi's fault or the fault of a confused Egyptian public who do not seem to know what they really want?

Why can't they recognize Sharia law as the "elephant in the room," name it, reject it and vote accordingly? Why are they not aware that Sharia forbids any man-made government, such as democracy, which is considered an abomination and must be eliminated? And how can they be so ignorant about a legal system under which they demanded to live?

The problem with Egypt and many other Islamic nations is they are ignorant of what they are demanding, and are left ignorant by their own media and educational system. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Netherlands 'halal homes' ignite religious row

.... About 180 apartments in Amsterdam have been given special makeovers which suit the wishes of Muslim residents. Features include individual taps that can be used for ritual cleansing before prayers and sliding doors to keep men and women apart.

Some right-wing politicians have been stirring up public opposition, warning that anyone asking for such modifications should "leave for Mecca".

From the outside, the apartments look no different from other social housing blocks in the residential area of Bos and Lommer, in the less opulent western reaches of the capital. [BBC] Read more

Fiery imam invited to speak here

.... But Dr Mark Durie, an Anglican priest, believes Dr al-Sudais should be refused a visa because he has called for the annihilation of the Jews, whom he called the ''scum of humanity'', ''rats of the world'', ''prophet killers'' and ''pigs and monkeys''.

Dr Durie, who was an expert witness on the Christian side in the Islamic Council of Victoria case against Catch the Fire Ministries, said that Dr al-Sudais was famous in the Muslim world for his recitations, ''the Pavarotti of the Koran''. [theage.com] Read more

When will the west pay the price for its support of political Islam in the Arab world?

.... As the Arabic saying goes, “if someone wants to eat shit, get him a spoon”. All the evidence points to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood would never have been able to stay in power without the continued support of the US and other European countries.

The west’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood (particularly in recent years) has shocked many middle and upper class Egyptians who see a contradiction in the west’s purported advocacy for democracy and human rights, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s borderline fascist religious rhetoric.

Questions surrounding the west’s disposition towards the Muslim Brotherhood became more pronounced after the White House released statements saying that issues regarding the legality of President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration were an internal, Egyptian matter, and would not elicit any direct criticism from the US. [Daily News Egypt] Read more

Kuwait introduces death penalty for ‘cursing God and prophets’

Kuwaiti MPs this week approved a law with a death penalty for Muslims who curse God, the Koran, all prophets and the wives of Islam's Prophet Mohammed. Non-Muslims who commit the same offence face a jail term of not less than 10 years, according to the bill.

Defendants who repent in court will be spared capital punishment but will get a jail sentence for five years and a fine of $36,000 or one of them, while repentance by those who repeat the crime is not acceptable, the bill says. [National Secular Society] Read more

Egyptian Copt Alber Saber jailed for blasphemy

An Egyptian Copt arrested on suspicion of posting online an anti-Islam film that ignited Muslim protests around the world was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison, a court source said

Computer science graduate Alber Saber, 27, was arrested at his Cairo home on Sept. 13 after neighbours accused him of uploading sections of the film “Innocence of Muslims” and making another movie mocking all religions.

Saber can appeal the ruling issued by a Cairo court after paying bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($160).

The case has raised concerns over freedom of expression under Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who came to power in free elections earlier this year after the popular uprising in 2011 that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. [AL ARABIYA NEWS] Read more

Rema Begum became distressed after her lifestyle was exposed to her Muslim parents

A former British Library manager who jumped to her death from a rooftop City restaurant was the victim of a Facebook stalker who exposed her westernised lifestyle to her strict Muslim parents, an inquest heard today.

Rema Begum, 29, was diagnosed with depression after losing her job following a row with library bosses last Christmas. Her health deteriorated and the once “bubbly life and soul of the party” was unable to leave the house because an internet stalker launched a hate campaign exposing her liberal lifestyle. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Muslim woman jumped 80ft to her death from exclusive restaurant after her Western lifestyle was revealed on Facebook and exposed to strict Muslim parents

A woman leapt to her death from a City rooftop restaurant after a Facebook stalker exposed her westernised lifestyle to her Muslim parents.

Rema Begum, 29, plunged 80ft from the terrace of Coq d’Argent after sipping a glass of wine and climbing on to a ledge.

She landed in front of horrified workers outside Bank Tube station and died instantly. Once the ‘life and soul of the party’, she had been plagued by an internet stalker who used information from her Facebook profile to send poison pen letters to her and her parents. [MailOnline] Read more

Christians - The forgotten victims of the Arab Spring

The world is increasingly realising that the Arab Spring also has a dark under-belly. As well as ushering in nascent and fragile democracies, popular uprisings in the MENA (Middle East, Europe, North Africa) region have unleashed previously suppressed reactionary forces.

This has resulted in more jihadist intimidation, sectarian strife, and political in-fighting. It has also resulted in the systematic persecution of one of the region's oldest minority communities. [The Commentator] Read more

11 December 2012

Hate Crimes and Instant Spin

Reported hate crimes in the United States fell by 6 percent in 2011 from the previous year, newly released FBI statistics show.

Attacks based on a person's religion fell 3.4 percent from 2010 levels, including a 13 percent drop in crimes targeting Jews. Anti-Muslim crimes dropped less than 1 percent. Even with that improvement, Jews still attract the lion's share – 62 percent – of crimes targeting religious groups.

Hate crimes can include acts of violence like assault, rape and murder in addition to property crimes like vandalism. In many cases, then, the report reflects a status quo when it comes to crime motivated by bigotry, with some slight improvements. [IPT] Read more

We have nothing to fear from our Muslim citizens

.... Now it is the turn of Muslims. Debate over their place in modern Britain has been thrown into sharp relief this week with the release of the latest tranche of data from last year’s census. Already we have the top-line numbers, which reveal the biggest rise in our population in two centuries due to immigration, increasing fertility and longer life expectancy.

[A COMMENT] The whole premise of this article is that Islam is a benign and peaceful faith or ideology. If the author had taken the time to read the Koran or study Islamic ideology he would have agreed with the sentiments of Gladstone. There will be no peace while the Koran exists.

.... The main objection and hostility to Islam is due to the fact that it is intolerant of other faiths, Islam must dominate any society it gains a foothold in. Once it achieves supremacy it then relegates other faiths. They are forced to convert, pay the jizra or in many cases die. [London Evening Standard] Read more

Libyans Say Sharia Will Be Law of the Land

.... During the campaign for the country’s elections last July, party leaders—even those from moderate parties, such as Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Forces Alliance—acknowledged that sharia would significantly influence any Constitution.

New laws should have a “reference to sharia,” Jibril told The Daily Beast, arguing, “Sharia law, when it was understood in the proper way, managed to create one of the great civilizations in human history. The problem is not with sharia or Islam; the problem is with the interpretation of sharia.”

Even among women agitating for a greater role in public and political life here, there’s agreement that sharia law should be at the heart of the country’s new Constitution. [Daily Beast] Read more

10 December 2012

To hijab or not to hijab - a Muslim businesswoman's view

.... In essence my hijab and I are in a long term relationship, which is about love rather than convenience. Although my relationship with God is not summed up by a piece of cloth on my head, neither as a person am I. Removing the hijab, I feel, would be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Having been so very close to it myself, I can understand and sympathise with the women who have made the decision to remove their hijabs – because there but for the grace of God. I certainly cannot say, hand on heart, that if the economics of my situation became too pressing, I would never do the same. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist

.... There are not many, but the states that forbid non-religiousness – typically as part of “anti-blasphemy” legislation – include seven nations where atheism is punishable by death. All seven establish Islam as the state religion.

Though that list includes some dictatorships, the country that appears to most frequently condemn atheists to death for their beliefs is actually a democracy, if a frail one: Pakistan. Others include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, the West African state of Mauritania, and the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. These countries are colored red on the above map. [The Washington Post] Read more

Gunmen kill senior women’s activist in Afghanistan

A senior advocate for women in Afghanistan was shot dead by unknown gunmen Monday, officials said, the latest assassination of a women’s rights activist in the country.

Two assailants riding a motorbike gunned down Najia Seddiqi as she was heading to her office in eastern Laghman province, said Helai Nekzad, the chief of information at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul. [The Washington Post] Read more

09 December 2012

Egypt crisis: President Morsi annuls decree

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has annulled a decree he issued last month that hugely expanded his powers and sparked angry protests, officials say.

However, a news conference in Cairo was told that a controversial referendum on a draft constitution would still go ahead as planned on 15 December.

Mr Morsi's critics have accused him of acting like a dictator, but he says he is safeguarding the revolution.

He said the extra powers were needed to force through reforms. [BBC] Read more

Turkish pianist Say slams lawsuit

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say has slammed the ongoing lawsuit against him on his Facebook page, hinting that he could leave Turkey if he is given a jail sentence.

"If I go to jail they would be victorious. They don't want to create something but all they want is to destroy," Say said, referring to those who criticize him for his comments that Turkish "Arabesque" music is akin to "treason" because of its poor quality. [Daily News] Read more

08 December 2012

Islamic honor killing in India: Muslim beheads his sister for affair

.... The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now.

Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but "the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour 'provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.'"

And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that "Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values." [Jihad Watch] Read more

Prophet’s wife Aisha was 19-years-old when married, not 9, says scholar

One of the most often criticisms and attacks on Islam is that the Prophet Mohamed married Aisha and began sexual relations with her when she was only 9-years-old.

However, a Pakistani Islamic scholar has apparently debunked the myth, arguing that the evidence points to the fact that Aisha was in fact 19-years-old when she was married to the Prophet.

In his book “Truth about the Age of Aisha the Truthful”, Hakim Niyaz Ahmed looked at all the reports and mentions of Aisha in Hadith – sayings and deeds of the Prophet – as well as Islamic historical texts to determine the revised age of the girl. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Raped but drunk in the UAE means women fined

A British woman found out the reality of women’s rights and the country’s archaic and discriminatory judicial system first-hand after she was handed a fine for drinking even after she said she was gang raped by three men in Dubai.

The case of the woman – who cannot be named due to legal reasons – has again highlighted what women in the UAE call an abhorrent disregard for women and their safety. [Bikya Masr] Read more

Egypt crisis: Opposition maintains Cairo protests

Tens of thousands gathered near the palace after rejecting a call for dialogue by President Mohammed Morsi.

Opposition leaders say Mr Morsi has offered no concession on his decisions to expand his powers and to put a new draft constitution to a referendum.

A top official later said the president could conditionally postpone the vote.

Under Egyptian law, referendums must be held two weeks after being formally presented to the president. [BBC] Read more

Signs of Islamist fascism in Egypt?

.... In the most recent protests launched by the Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday 2nd December 2012, the rhetoric used was largely ideological. “the People want the application of the Shariah”. Slogans of the revolution such as “Bread, freedom and social justice” were changed to “bread, freedom and the Islamic Shariah”.

.... The third element of the fascist form of governance that we witness today is the role of “cleansing” and the use of the language of purity. In Hitler’s Germany, it was not only the racially different populations that were the subject of cleansing: the disabled, gays and gypsies were also subjects of cleansing policies. In Egypt, we say the beginnings of a process of religious cleansing through the expulsion of Coptic Christians from their homes in villages and towns. [openDemocracy] Read more

Egypt’s Predictable Unraveling

.... it is neither Islamophobic nor isolationist to observe that Islamic supremacism is derived from literal Muslim scripture; that it is a mainstream interpretation of Islam whose adherents, far from being limited to a “violent extremist” fringe, number in the hundreds of millions and include many of Islam’s most influential thinkers and institutions.

These are simply facts. Nor is it Islamophobic or isolationist to contend that any sensible engagement with Islamic supremacists — very much including the Muslim Brotherhood — ought to be aimed at their marginalization and defeat, not their cultivation and empowerment. [National Review Online] Read more

07 December 2012

New Anti-Islam Ads to Debut This Month, Now With 25% More MTA Disclaimer

.... “A cost of opening our ad space to a variety of viewpoints on matters of public concern is that we cannot readily close that space to certain advertisements on account of their expression of divisive or even venomous messages,” the MTA’s statement at the time read. “The answer to distasteful and uncivil speech is more, and more civilized, speech.”

Following the September incident, Ms. Geller has been busy crafting new advertisements for her campaign beginning December 17. The new ads will be plastered across at least 50 different locations, the MTA confirmed, the result of an ad buy worth more than $10,000. [The New York Observer] Read more

Blasphemy case creates turmoil in "moderate" Algeria - Ruling on jail term for Christian delayed again

.... Krimo was sentenced in 2011 to five years in jail and fined about $2,500 after being accused by a Muslim shopkeeper of handing a Christian CD to a man on the street.

In a press statement, Christian human rights group Open Doors says Krimo was charged with blasphemy for simply not “sounding like a Muslim” during a conversation with a shop keeper.

“Authorities arrested Siaghi in April 2011 after he purportedly gave a CD about Christianity to a Muslim. Siaghi had gone to a phone shop to buy airtime minutes for his mobile phone, and the merchant there initiated a conversation on religion,” Open Doors said. [WND.com] Read more

Muslim leader in Australia: "Reestablishing the Islamic state is eventually going to be a military matter"

"The answer is, as the Prophet said, to fight the infidels until the religion belongs to Allah." He said it.

He was quoting Qur'an 8:39. What "moderate" Muslim leader in the U.S. will go to Australia to explain to him how he is misunderstanding Islam? "Australian Islamist Musa Cerantonio: We Must Fight the Infidels by Physical Warfare Until the Caliphate Is Restored," from MEMRI, November 30:

Following are excerpts from a lecture by Australian Islamist Musa Cerantonio, which was posted on the Internet on November 30, 2012: [Jihad Watch] Read more

Muslim Persecution of Christians: October, 2012 "Why these acts? Why are we not safe?"

Despite promises to reform the school textbooks, the Saudi education system continues to indoctrinate children with hatred and incitement, especially against Christians and Jews.

The textbooks teach -- among a long list of hate-filled passages, all of which originate in the Qur'an or the Hadith -- that "Christians are the enemies of the Believers," and that "the Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians."

These reports of the persecution of Christians by Muslims around the world during the month of October include (but are not limited to) the following accounts, listed by form of persecution, and by country, in alphabetical order—not according to severity. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

French Muslim groups sue magazine over cartoons

Two Muslim groups are suing the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it published inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

In a law suit that will revive the debate between freedom of speech and dangerous provocation, the weekly magazine’s director along with two cartoonists are accused of inciting racial hatred and defamation.

The allegations concern cartoons that caricatured the Prophet, including two drawings which show him naked, published at a time, on September 19, when violent anti-Western protests were flaring across the Muslim world in response to an US anti-Islam amateur film. [FRANCE 24] Read more

America – Worse Than Europe on Islam?

.... I’ve long since come to understand that most of those quaint distinctions just don’t hold anymore. Saudi-funded American “experts” on the Middle East and their allies in the American media have spread pretty lies about Islam throughout American society.

Some of America’s most influential legal minds argue tirelessly for the acceptance of sharia in American jurisprudence and for the watering down of the First Amendment where speech about Islam is concerned.

The State Department is run by people who have been lying to themselves for years about Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, you name it, and who are eager to come to some accommodation with the Islamic world on the question of what Americans should and should not be allowed to say about the religion of peace. [FrontPage Magazine] Read more

Schools trash chocolate mousse tainted with pork

The desserts, destined for students at primary and elementary schools, were discarded last week because they contained pork gelatin, according to reports.

The measure was taken at the last minute due to concerns raised by kitchen staff about the use of pork products, which are proscribed by several religions, AFP said.

The desserts “can on occasion contain animal gelatin,” a spokesman from Le Havre’s city hall said.

Yves Bertrand, a municipal councillor and member of the Radical Party of the Left (PRG) said an investigation was needed to get at the bottom of what he called a “scandalous waste”. [The Local] Read more

Statement on adding ex-Muslim to the LSE Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society name

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) unequivocally supports the London School of Economics Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s decision to add ‘ex-Muslim’ to its name.

This is a positive move that will give heightened visibility and a sense of belonging to ex-Muslims who are often not seen and not heard.

Even if some (though not all) ex-Muslims at LSE identify as humanists, secularists and atheists, the public presence of ex-Muslims in a student society helps to acknowledge the dissent within a “Muslim community” that is in no way homogeneous.

This is all the more important given the family pressures and Islamist threats many face for renouncing Islam. As is well known, apostasy is still an offence punishable by death in a number of countries under Sharia law. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

The Islamization of universities in Iran is causing the fast erosion of freedom of education

Gender discrimination at universities. Meanwhile, the human rights organization Justice for Iran has stated that a number of subjects are now reserved only for men. Iranian women are not allowed to study at least 14 subjects with discrimination on the rise.

Baha'is are not allowed to study at the universities Baha'i academics are persecuted. The Islamist dictatorship punishes the Baha’is for their educational standards and their desire to serve Iranian society as academics. Baha’is in the "Islamic Republic of Iran" are excluded from higher education; informal initiatives for higher education for young Baha'is are systematically suppressed.

All in all, a depressing tale of the Islamization of universities and the fast erosion of freedom of education in Iran. [The Commentator] Read more

06 December 2012

ISNA Cosponsors International Conference on Citizenship and the Rights of Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries

.... Following a vibrant intellectual exchange, the conference produced a formal list of recommendations regarding the solutions discussed during the conference, including the following:

A.Create committees from this conference and previous conferences on citizenship and the rights of minorities to develop a suggested declaration for the upcoming conference in Morocco.

B.Expand upon the discussion and research findings of this conference, and conduct further research on key issues from a jurisprudential perspective (ijtihad al-fiqhi), using clear assessments of shari’a (Islamic law) in a contemporary context.

C.Conduct in-depth, critical studies of the Medina Charter as a frame of reference for our current discussion on citizenship and the rights of minorities. Examine the charter, analyze its meanings, extract rulings, and determine how to apply these rulings to the present-day realities of religious minorities in the Muslim world. [The American Muslim (TAM)] Read more

Britain's nationalized health service has been funding a television station whose presenters preach hatred

Ramadan TV, a platform for Islamist hate-preachers, refers to NHS North East London & The City as one of its sponsors.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, it has emerged that the NHS funded the television channel to the tune of £3,200. Contrary to the claims of the station, the NHS is quick to claim that it does "not sponsor Ramadan TV, but we work with them during this time to produce programmes with a health promotion message in an effective way to our target group". [Gatestone Institute] Read more

German poll indicates a widespread fear of Muslims and Islam

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has commissioned an opinion poll to find out what Germans think about Muslims. Generally, the results are regarded as "catastrophic".

Respondents to the poll were asked to choose which of 21 statements they were offered about Islam that most closely reflected their opinion. 83% of them think that Islam is associated with impairing women's rights, 77% thought Islam was a literalist religion; 70% said Islam is associated with religious fanaticism and radicalism.

A significant part of Germany's population also believes that Islam is ready for violence (64%), hatred (60%), active missionary activity (56%), and striving for political influence (56%). Only 13% of respondents associate Islam with love for neighbours; 12% - with charity; 7% - with openness and tolerance. [National Secular Society] Read more

Germans polled on views about Islam

.... Respondents were asked to select from 21 statements those which applied to their view of Islam. 83% thought that Islam is characterised by discrimination against women and 77% that adherence to fundamentalist beliefs is typical of the faith, while 70% associated it with fanaticism and radicalism.

Clear majorities believed that Islam is characterised by violence (64%), a tendency to revenge and retribution (60%), missionary zeal (56%) and the pursuit of political influence (56%). [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Tunisia Watch

.... Ghannouchi's writings, which are widely available in English and Arabic, quite clearly demonstrate that there is little difference between his global outlook and that of his fundamentalist Islamist brethren.

He has advocated the annihilation of the State of Israel, accused Jews of controlling Western media and manipulating Western governments, and written screeds against what he perceives as the "Crusader" assault on Islam. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Briton says she was raped in the UAE - but gets fined for drinking

A British woman who was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by three men in Dubai has been prosecuted for drinking without a licence, throwing a spotlight on the United Arab Emirates’ archaic legal system, which rights groups say does not do enough to protect victims of sexual assault. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Islamology 101

.... The unpleasant fact is that there is an ideology called Islamism and, as Yale professor Charles Hill recently noted, it “has been on the rise for generations.”

So we need to understand it. We need to understand how Islamism has unfolded from Islam, and how it differs from traditional Islam as practiced in places as far-flung and diverse as Kuala Lumpur, Erbil, and Timbuktu. This is what Bassam Tibi attempts in his most recent book, published this year, Islamism and Islam. It has received nowhere near the attention it deserves.

.... Chief among Islamist goals, Tibi writes, is al-hall al Islami, “the Islamic solution, a kind of magic answer for all of the problems — global and local, socio-economic or value-related — in the crisis-ridden world of Islam.” Islamists ignore the fact that such governance has been implemented, for example, in Iran for over more than 30 years, in Afghanistan under the Taliban, in Gaza under Hamas, and in Sudan.

It has never delivered development, freedom, human rights, or democracy. As for Turkey, Tibi sees it as “not yet an Islamist state” but heading in that direction. [National Review Online] Read more

05 December 2012

Global Media Conceals Fact that Football Players Who Beat Dutch Referee to Death were Moroccans

.... That the attackers who have been arrested were three Moroccans, according to the "Algemeen Dagblad", certainly does not make the case any easier.

According to an Interior Ministry report from November 2011, 40 per cent of all Moroccan immigrants aged between 12 and 24 were arrested, sentenced or charged within the last five years.

In city districts where people of Moroccan descent form a majority of the inhabitants, youth criminality already reaches 50 per cent. [Islam versus Europe] Read more

Merkel deputy criticizes Turkey over religious freedoms

A leading ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Turkey on Wednesday to show it was serious about defending religious freedoms if it wanted to join the EU, saying it should let Christians build churches without restrictions.

Volker Kauder, leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in parliament, told a party congress he expected a "clear signal" on the issue from the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan before membership talks could continue.

"A country that wants to be part of Europe must accept the basic principle of religious freedom," he said. [Reuters] Read more

New study of blasphemy law around the world

According to a Pew Forum study released last week, eight out of 45 European countries have blasphemy laws on their books while 35 of them have laws against the defamation of religion in general or hate speech against members of a faith.

The eight countries with blasphemy laws are Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Poland. A blasphemy law in England and Wales was scrapped in 2008.

The Netherlands and Ireland are actively considering abolition of their blasphemy laws, while Denmark's fifty year old law has never been used. [National Secular Society] Read more

Dutch blasphemy law to fall and Irish one may follow

Laws criminalising blasphemy are set to be struck down soon in the Netherlands and may disappear in Ireland, but rising tensions in economically battered Greece seem to be reviving pressure to prosecute offences against God.

Blasphemy appears more frequently in headlines from the Muslim world, where countries such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia readily punish perceived critics of Islam, but a lesser known trend is a general movement in Europe away from such laws.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and works of art seen as offensive to Islam have angered many Muslims in Europe and beyond in recent years, sometimes sparking violent protests. Yet attacks on religion no longer seem to shock most Europeans. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Biggest UK mosque: Newham Council rejects plans

All eight councillors on the committee voted against the plan at about 20:30 GMT.

Councillor Conor McAuley said it was rejected on the grounds that the land is designated for mixed commercial and residential use, there was not enough consideration for transport and it would not have led to more jobs and homes.

Community leader Ala Uddin Ahmed said: "There are 90,000 Muslims around the borough. "The Muslim community is growing and there is need for bigger worship. "We are extremely let down. We think it is unjust because of the demand of the local people and the Muslim community."

Campaigner Alan Craig of the Christian Peoples Alliance had criticised the proposal, saying it would create a "ghetto" or "Islamic enclave". [BBC] Read more

No Muslim woman as receptionist, says fatwa

Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has issued a fatwa against the appointment of Muslim women as receptionists, calling it illegal and against Sharia law.

The fatwa was issued after a query on November 29 from a Pakistan-based company asking if it could appoint a Muslim woman as a receptionist.

Darul Uloom said, “Muslim women working in offices as receptionist is un-Islamic because Muslim women are not allowed to appear before men without veil.” [Press Trust of India] Read more

Ahmadi Muslims targeted again in Pakistan

A few days ago over 100 Ahmadiyya graves were desecrated in Lahore by a gang of men who overpowered and beat up a security guard and undertaker before vandalizing the site. This is just the latest incident in a pattern of persecution in Pakistan, where the Ahmadi are the victims of systematic discrimination and demonisation. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Mother Sara Ege Guilty Of Murder Of Son Yaseen, 7, Beaten To Death For Not Learning Koran

A mother who beat her son to death for failing to learn the Koran by heart, murdered him and burned his body to hide the evidence, a jury has found.

Sara Ege, 33, treated son Yaseen like a "dog," brutally beating him with a stick for failing to memorise religious texts.

The bright seven-year-old died in July 2010 from internal injuries caused by three months of punishing beatings from his own mother. [The Huffington Post] Read more