31 March 2013

Nathan Lean on Islamophobia and the New Atheism

I was interested to read this article – and to see some of the mixed reactions it has attracted. Nathan Lean is the author of a book called The Islamophobia Industry. Here his particular target is Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins seems to treat all religions with contempt and dislike, but it is Lean’s contention that Islam holds a special place in Dawkins’ spleen, with 9/11 providing the trigger for making that religion his particular focus.

This is presented as part of a wider slippery slope picture, whereby dispassionate analysis of the logical basis for theism mutates into racism and bigotry: [Harry’s Place] Read more

The racist menace? Muslims declare victory in fight over ‘anti-Islamic’ Lego

Austria’s Turkish community claimed a victory in its fight against Danish toy giant Lego yesterday after the firm agreed to withdraw a Star Wars toy set featuring a mosque-like building inhabited by an obese, hookah–smoking alien, following complaints that it was anti-Muslim. However,

Lego said the criticism of the product had had no impact on the withdrawal of the product.

Lego added the “Jabba’s Palace” playset to its Star Wars collection in 2012. But in January this year the set started to provoke outrage in Austria’s Islamic community after a Muslim father found that his sister had given one to his son as a present. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Saudi Arabia 'may end' Twitter user anonymity

Saudi Arabia may try to end anonymity for Twitter users in the country by limiting access to the site to people who register their identification documents, the Arab News daily reported.

Last week, local media reported the government had asked telecom companies to look at ways they could monitor, or block, free internet phone services such as Skype.

Twitter is highly popular with Saudis and has stirred broad debate on subjects ranging from religion to politics in a country where such public discussion had been considered at best unseemly and sometimes illegal. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

30 March 2013

Amputation for theft added to draft penal code

The draft penal code bill has been amended to include punishments as prescribed in the Quran, such as amputation for theft.

The new article added during a parliamentary committee meeting Thursday (March 28) states that if someone convicted of a crime requires legal punishment, as specified in the penal code, that person will face punishment as stated in the Quran. [Minivan News] Read more

How Egypt's radical rulers crush the lives and hopes of women

.... So go most Fridays in Cairo over the past few weeks as liberal Egyptians have shown their virulent opposition to the president, Mohamed Morsi, as he has awarded himself new powers and pushed through a deeply contentious new constitution.

Several buildings of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group behind Morsi, have been burned. In post-Arab spring Egypt the revolution continues. But it's women of all classes who have found themselves most alienated – written out of the jostling for power and subjected to a skyrocketing number of sex assaults, rapes and harassment. [The Observer] Read more

Egypt issues arrest warrant for TV satarist

Egypt's state prosecutors ordered the arrest Saturday of a popular television satirist for allegedly insulting Islam and the country's leader, in a move that government opponents say is aimed at silencing critics of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The arrest warrant for against Bassem Youssef, who has come to be known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, followed an order earlier this week by the country's top prosecutor to arrest five prominent pro-democracy activists in what the opposition has characterized as a widening campaign against dissent. [AP] Read more

29 March 2013

NY1 'The Call' Viewer Calls For Gays To Be Beheaded

A Staten Island resident stunned the host of New York 1 program "The Call" by suggesting that gays should be beheaded in accordance with Sharia law.

Identifying himself as Chris from Willowbrook, N.Y., the caller noted, "I'm Muslim and I believe 110 percent in Sharia law. Sharia law needs to be implemented in the United States because that's the only way this deviant lifestyle will be corrected."

The discussion got increasingly heated after Chris added, "You know what happens in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries to the gay people, correct? They are beheaded, and I'm going to fight as hard as I can with all of my brothers and sisters to make Sharia law in the United States. This is a sin!" [The Huffington Post] Read more

British teacher faces a year in jail for having lunch with married man in Abu Dhabi

A British woman could be locked up for a year in an Abu Dhabi jail for having a glass of wine with a married man.

The ex-pat teacher, whose first name is believed to be Lisa, says she was introduced to the Syrian man by a male colleague.

He is understood to have eaten with the pair but then left them alone at the man’s house – where the woman was arrested. [MailOnline] Read more

Muslim headwear stirs complaint at Northwest Indiana charter school

The parents of a Muslim student say their daughter was discriminated against when a teacher sent her to the office for wearing traditional Muslim headwear called a hijab, but officials at her Hammond, Ind., school say the teacher was only following school policy regarding hats and head coverings. [Sun-Times Media] Read more

'Arrest the atheists who insulted Islam!' Tens of thousands of Muslim activists hold prayers on streets of Bangladesh capital to call for new blasphemy laws against bloggers

Tens of thousands of Islamic activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of 'atheist bloggers who insulted Islam' and to pass laws punishing those who 'insulted Islam in the parliament'.

They have announced plans to 'lay siege' to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met. [MailOnline] Read more

28 March 2013

Learning to live together, or separately

IT IS not easy to plan or regulate the education of children in an area where culture and demographics are shifting rapidly. There can be few places in Europe where that dilemma is felt so acutely as it is in Bradford, a declining industrial city in the north of England.

Very nearly a quarter of the 523,000 people living within its municipal boundaries are Muslim, according to the 2011 census. That is a rise of eight percentage points over the past decade, while the self-declared Christian share of the population has fallen over the same period from 60% to 46%. [The Economist] Read more

Halal Easter eggs and cat food: where big money meets religion

Cadbury will sell a mountain of chocolates this Easter, as it does every Easter. It has been careful to make sure that its products are certified as halal, even though it is not necessary. Hundreds of companies in Australia do the same. Halal certification has become a big business.

The essence of halal is that any food is forbidden to Muslims if it includes blood, pork, alcohol, the flesh of carnivores or carrion, or comes from an animal which has not been slaughtered in the correct manner, which includes having its throat slit.

Food labelled as halal invariably involves the payment of a fee. It does not extend to chocolate but Cadbury lists 71 products which are halal, ranging from Dairy Milk to Freddo frogs to Red Tulip chocolates. The website also states: ''We do not have any kosher-certified products.'' [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Mosque's planned minaret 'out of place', say planners

PLANS for a minaret over a mosque in a Rotherham street have been thrown out.

Planners said the proposal for the mosque on Milton Road, Eastwood, would be inappropriate in the traditional terraced street.

The minaret would have been slightly taller than surrounding chimneys and applicant Mohammed NajiB said it would define the function of the building and allow more light into the upstairs prayer hall. [Rotherham Advertiser] Read more

27 March 2013

A mega mosque in a suburb that was 90 per cent white 30 years ago and the polite apartheid dividing Britain

Large-scale immigration has created an England that is increasingly full of mysterious and unfamiliar worlds — as I discovered one day sitting in an enormous minareted mosque in a sedate London suburb among thousands of men in Pashtun dress listening to the words of an elderly man.

Mirza Masroor Ahmad is not any old preacher. To a couple of million Muslims of one particular sect, the Ahmadiyans, he is the holiest man on the planet. [MailOnline] Read more

Bangladesh widens crackdown on atheist bloggers

Bangladesh has widened a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by Islamic groups to march to the capital demanding the prosecution of atheist bloggers, an official said Wednesday.

The telecommunications regulator ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan.

“These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The two sites have removed most of the posts,” Khan told AFP. [AFP] Read more

26 March 2013

Islamic veils still a source of conflict in France

Last week we reported on the case of a Muslim woman in France who won a court ruling that she had been unfairly dismissed from her job in a private nursery school after she refused to remove a headscarf.

The case seems to have sparked a backlash according to a poll in Le Parisien newspaper on Monday.

More than 80% of respondents favour toughening up the country's 2004 law, which bans religious dress and insignia in schools, nurseries, and anywhere that involves the care and education of children. Another 83% are in favour of extending the ban to the private sector, with 16% against. [National Secular Society] Read more

Rise in Sexual Assaults in Egypt Sets Off Clash Over Blame

The sheer number of women sexually abused and gang raped in a single public square had become too big to ignore. Conservative Islamists in Egypt's new political elite were outraged — at the women.

"Sometimes," said Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi, a police general, lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist, "a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions."

The increase in sexual assaults over the last two years has set off a new battle over who is to blame, and the debate has become a stark and painful illustration of the convulsions racking Egypt as it tries to reinvent itself. [New York Times] Read more

Poll shows French back veil ban in private sector

The debate over the Islamic veil in France is back, but this time it’s taken on a new twist. Instead of only banning religious signs in public institutions, a new study has found that the vast majority of French people support the idea of a law that applies to the private sector as well.

The survey, which was conducted by French marketing and opinion centre BVA and published in the daily “Le Parisien” on Monday, found that 86 percent of French people back introducing legislation that would ban “all signs of religious or political affiliation” in private schools and nurseries. According to the same poll, 83 percent support imposing a law making it illegal in all privately-owned businesses. [FRANCE 24] Read more

25 March 2013

French back a ban on religious symbols at work

In recent days a new front has been opened up in the age-old debate about secularism in France - namely the wearing of the Islamic veil and other religious symbols in the workplace.

Two opinion polls published in recent days reveal the French are very much in favour of introducing a ban.

A whopping majority - 84% - of the French people now oppose the wearing of the Islamic veil or headscarf in private workplaces frequented by members of the public, according to a poll published on Sunday by regional daily Ouest-France.

Furthermore, 86% would support a law banning all religious symbols from any workplace centred on children, such as a school or crèche, according to a survey published on Monday by the Parisien. [The Local Europe] Read more

Russian Student Reportedly Expelled Over Hijab

.... The debate over hijabs in Russian schools ignited last October in the southern region of Stavropol, where a local school barred several Muslim girls from attending school wearing headscarves.

The region’s authorities went on to impose a blanket ban on headscarves at local educational facilities. Last week a Stavropol court ruled against overturning the ban, which had been appealed by four residents of the region.

An estimated 7 percent of Russians are adherents of Islam, and the country’s North Caucasus region is predominantly Muslim. [RIA Novosti] Read more

Two-thirds of humanity suffers from ‘Islamophobia disease’: Turkey’s religious head

Fear of Islam has spread into the hearts of nearly two-thirds of humanity through global political actors, Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez said today.

"Islamophobia has become an illness in the hearts of two-thirds of humanity. We are facing different kinds of challenges against Islam,” Görmez said in a meeting with religious officials in the western province of Izmir. [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more

Islam: 80% of French public favor tougher anti-veil laws

The Islamic veil is still very much a national controversy, data from a front-page BVA survey in Le Parisien newspaper showed on Monday.

More than 80% of respondents favor toughening the country's 2004 law, which bans religious dress and insignia in schools, nurseries, and anywhere that involves the care and education of children. Another 83% is in favor of extending the ban to the private sector, and 16% is against.

Socialists, intellectuals, politicians and humanitarian NGOs signed an online petition launched by Marianne weekly, calling on the government to enact a new, tougher law in defense of secularism, one that will explain with ''pedagogy and clarity'' where and when the principle of secularism is to be applied. [ANSAmed] Read more

Muslim convert quits Catholic Church, says it’s too weak against Islam

A high-profile Italian Muslim who converted to Catholicism and was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday (March 25) that he will leave the church to protest its soft stance against Islam.

.... “Europe will end up being subjugated to Islam,” he warned in Il Giornale, unless it “finds the courage to denounce Islam as incompatible with our civilization and fundamental human rights,” and to “banish the Quran for inciting hatred, violence and death towards non-Muslims.”

Europeans also need to “condemn Sharia as a crime against humanity” and to “stop the spread of mosques.” [The Washington Post] Read more

Dwindling Support for the Muslim Brotherhood Within Egyptian Universities

Results from student’s union elections at universities throughout Egypt this week have shown a significant decrease in support for the Muslim Brotherhood from last year. The elections took place at 21 of Egypt’s 22 public universities, with the University of Port Said unable to take part due to deadly clashes within the city.

Independent candidates and candidates representing other political parties won 66% of the overall vote at the public universities, defeating the Muslim Brotherhood representatives who gained just 34% of the votes.

This is half of what they achieved in 2012, in which the party gained a majority and presidency in 12 of the 19 public universities. [International Political Forum] Read more

24 March 2013

Saudi Arabia ‘threatens to ban’ Skype, WhatsApp, other instant messaging apps

The Saudi Arabian government has threatened to ban the use of instant messaging applications because of failure to control them, Saudi media reveal. It comes a month after the minister for media and culture confirmed censorship of Twitter.

“The Communications and Information Technology Commission has requested companies operating the applications to meet the regulatory requirements to avoid their suspension in the kingdom,” sources told Saudi news site Sabq. [TV-Novosti] Read more

23 March 2013

Pakistan ‘Blasphemy’ Girl Facing Prison; Mother Death Sentence

Pakistani authorities have reopened the trial against a mentally challenged Christian girl on charges of "blasphemy" while a Christian mother faces a possible death sentence for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" about Islam's prophet Mohammed, lawyers told BosNewsLife. [BosNewsLife] Read more

The NHS imam who opposes organ transplants but has been employed in a hospital for three years

A hardliner imam who opposes organ transplants and abortions, and believes homosexuality is 'unnatural', is being employed by the NHS to work as a Muslim chaplain.

Sheikh Suliman Gani has been working as a Muslim chaplain at St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, for the past three years.

He offers spiritual and ethical advice to Muslim and non-Muslim patients and their families as one of seven paid chaplains employed by the hospital.

It is estimated that Imam Gani may have received as much as £50,000 in salary over the past three years. [MailOnline] Read more

Let’s Breast Them

The 19 year old Tunisian Amina who posted a topless photo of herself with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has disappeared. Most likely her family have kidnapped her and taken her to an unknown location, (earlier reports mentioned a psychiatric hospital). What’s clear is that they have removed all forms of communication from her so that she can no longer be reached.

Filmmaker Caroline Fourest says:

One of the people who kidnapped Amina has been boasting that they did it for “her own good”. It is unclear though whether she has been hospitalised or held somewhere else. Her phone has been taken from her and communication with her has stopped so we are no longer in contact with her. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

22 March 2013

Turks in Germany are a Time Bomb

.... Three million Turks live already in Germany already, while 2.5 million of them have German nationality, and the majority of them are conservative Muslims.

Are they integrated in the German society? Not really.

"They don't want to integrate in the German society," says Hartmut, who doesn't want to be identified for fear of reprisals by violent Turks. "They even hate to be called ‘migrants'. They feel very Turkish.

"They happen to be in Germany as the elderly generation in the 1960s had been recruited to work in the car and coal industries. Now, culturally the majority of Turks, even the young, here in Germany feel very Turkish." Adds Hartmut, who is a social scientist at a German university. [Family Security Matters] Read more

Murder in God's name

In Pakistan, it is illegal to make derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad or desecrate the Quran.

Anyone accused is usually arrested and jailed, sometimes for years, before their case is overturned or sentence reduced by the appeal courts.

Such is the strength of feeling about blasphemy that the mere rumour of an allegation is enough to set the neighbourhood or village against the accused, increasingly with fatal consequences. In some instances, it is not just the accused, but their entire community who are held responsible and threatened. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

Topless Tunisian Femen Protester 'Amina' Threatened With Death By Stoning

Campaigners including Richard Dawkins have called for a day of action to support a young Tunisian woman who appeared to post pictures of herself topless as part of a feminist movement in the country, and was subsequently threatened with death by stoning.

The 19-year-old activist, identified only as Amina, posted on the Femen-Tunisian Facebook page a topless picture of herself with the words "F**k your morals" written across her chest.

Another controversial image followed, of the woman smoking a cigarette, baring her breasts, with the Arabic written across her chest: "My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

21 March 2013

Topless Tunisian protestor deserves a stoning, says Islamist chief

After becoming an international internet sensation, the infamous topless Tunisian protestor is now facing the consequences of her actions back in her home country. While Tunisia has previously had some of most progressive laws for women in the Arab world, the conservatives of the country have been less than impressed with her semi-naked photos.

Mr. Adel Alami, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Tunisia, called this week for the unnamed girl to be whip-lashed one hundred times in punishment. Then, fearing that he might be going easy on the nude feminist, Alami changed his mind and decided on stoning instead.

The anonymous woman posted the pictures of herself on the internet to coincide with International Women's Day and wrote across her torso, "My body is mine, it is not the source of anyone's honor", in Arabic. [Al Bawaba] Read more

Saudi Arabia Attacked for Contradictory Statements

The delegate of Saudi Arabia appeared to be cracking under pressure from the council as it questioned her statements regarding the penalty for supposed acts of blasphemy. As the delegate opened the floor to points of inquiry, almost the entire council raised its placards.

.... Flailing under the volley of questions, the delegate struggled to clarify. "Islam is equivalent to the State. Leaving Islam is leaving Saudi Arabia. Seizing the chance, the delegate of USA addressed the issue of citizenship vís-a-vís religious identity.

"Renouncing a religion does not mean renouncing citizenship", he said to general approval. "By extension, you forbid anyone from leaving Saudi Arabia. Since the Saudi Arabian state punishes apostasy with death, the only way to leave Saudi Arabia will be when you're dead". [AOL Online India] Read more

19 March 2013

Islamophobia Hurts Aussie Multiculturalism

.... The report says many submissions asserted that multiculturalism was “laying the foundations for ethnic separatism under increased migration from Islamic countries”.

The parliamentary committee also heard accusations that Muslim imams were encouraging Muslim-only enclaves.

“References were made to Muslim 'enclaves' in Sydney and Melbourne, and the riots in Cronulla in 2005, to suggest a lack of willingness on the part of Muslims to embrace the Australian lifestyle, values and behaviors,” the report says.

The report, however, notes that most Australians are not racist and are comfortable with cultural diversity.

“Nevertheless, a small but vocal number in the community hold racist views and are exacting a high toll both on emerging communities and on social cohesion.” [OnIslam.net] Read more

18 March 2013

Local Russian Hijab Ban Puts Muslims in a Squeeze

The girls of the Salikhov family live in frontier country. Their road is dirt, punctuated by puddles and sheep, and their house does not have plumbing or running water. They had been hoping this would be the year the local authorities got around to hooking up natural gas.

Instead, they found themselves at the center of an emerging debate over religion in Russia.

When local school officials in the sparsely populated far east of the Stavropol region announced that girls in hijabs, the Islamic head covering, would no longer be allowed in government schools, the Salikhovs had to make changes. [The New York Times] Read more

The Muslim Brotherhood has shown its contempt for Egypt's women

Last week, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood issued a strongly-worded statement unabashedly rejecting the draft UN declaration calling for an end to all forms of violence against women. It claims that the declaration contravenes Egypt's "cultural specificity" and would lead to "the complete disintegration of society" if ratified. Needless to say, the statement has fuelled the anger of Egyptians, especially women.

But why has the Brotherhood decided to embark on this confrontational course through the release of such a belligerent statement at such a critical moment? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Blasphemy Laws and Pakistan: Whose Islam Is It Anyway?

Three decades and more than 1,000 blasphemy cases later, the poor and uneducated Christians are under constant religious persecution in Pakistan. On March 9, a mob of more than 3,000 people vandalized Joseph Colony -- a dilapidated Christian neighborhood in my birthplace of Lahore, Pakistan -- when a Christian man was accused of blaspheming Prophet Muhammad. More than 150 houses were ransacked; two churches and many Bibles were set ablaze.

Don't blame me. Harassing minorities in the pretense of blasphemy accusations is not my version of Islam. Maybe that's why Pakistan's constitution does not consider Ahmadi Muslims to be "real" Muslims. But Scripture tells us that it's not Prophet Muhammad's version of Islam either. So the question becomes: whose Islam is it anyway? [The Huffington Post] Read more

17 March 2013

Why do we cosy up to these Wahhabi tyrants?

OMG, what was she thinking? Camilla, wife of our future king, wore a flimsy, unsecured headscarf on her trip to Saudi Arabia. It rebelliously slipped off and almost uncovered all her hair! According to the strict, conservative Saudi Wahhabi practice of Islam, uncovered hidden female tresses, old and young, are as licentious as exposed pubic hair. (I was told this in earnest by a Saudi trained British imam.)

.... Iran, led by the abhorrent President Ahmadinejad, also executes and tortures its people, but its women can drive, work, go to university, initiate divorce and get custody of their children. Saudi women are denied all those choices and rights. Yet western observers incessantly slam Iran (rightly) but say much less about Saudi Arabia. [The Independent] Read more

16 March 2013

Thousands of Tunisians call for Islamist government to quit

Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets of the capital Tunis on Saturday to call for an end to an Islamist government they blame for the assassination of a leading secular politician 40 days earlier.

It was the biggest demonstration since Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside his house on Feb. 6, igniting the worst unrest since the Jasmine Revolution that toppled strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and started the Arab Spring. [The Daily Star] Read more

15 March 2013

Cutting human rights down to size

.... In English, the standard work on the subject is Ann Elizabeth Mayer's book, Islam and Human Rights. Mayer explains:

"One of the most striking and consistent features in all the Islamic human rights schemes is the use of Islamic criteria to restrict human rights. Provisions in the Islamic human rights schemes reflect the thesis that the rights afforded in international law are too generous and that these only become acceptable when Islamic restrictions are placed on human rights to cut them down to size."

These "Islamic" limitations are not clearly defined though they often refer vaguely to the principles of sharia law – which itself is not formally codified and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. In practice, this amounts to cherry-picking with regard to which rights are accepted or rejected. [www.al-bab.com] Read more

Benghazi church set ablaze

Arsonists set ablaze Benghazi’s Coptic Church Thursday. No one was hurt in the attack. The attackers whose identity is unknown are said to have told members of the church to get out of the building. The pries was taken to the residence of Egyptian consul for safety.

It is reported in Cairo that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has condemned the attack and said it would pursue the matter with the Libyan government.

It is the second attack in a fortnight on the church. On Feb. 28, assailants assaulted the priest and an assistant. In that instance, the attackers were said to be hardline Islamists.

The incident, which was subsequently condemned by the government, followed the arrest of a number of Copts in Benghazi accused of proselytizing. The allegations turned out to be unfounded and were dropped although the Egyptians were then deported; it was reported that they were in Libya illegally. [Saudi Gazette] Read more

14 March 2013

Bangladesh to snoop online in ‘blasphemy’ crackdown

Bangladesh announced plans Thursday to monitor social media networks such as Facebook in a bid to identify bloggers who have been accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

A special panel is being set up, including leaders of the main intelligence agencies and the telecoms regulator, to exchange information and track down the people behind recent posts that have caused outrage among Islamic groups.

“We will try our best to dig out what’s actually happening and find out the people who’re making blasphemous comments against Islam and the Prophet,” said Mainuddin Khandaker, a senior home ministry official who will head the panel. [AFP] Read more

Wilders in Australia and the "Islamic Problem" - Part I

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders’ recent speaking tour in Australia brought him to my home town of Melbourne. I have been pondering his message since his visit, and this is the first of a series of blog posts which engage with it.

Wilders came to warn Australians about Islam: “I am here to tell you how Islam is changing the Netherlands and Western Europe beyond recognition. I am … here to warn Australia about the true nature of Islam.” (See the text of his speech here).

Wilders turns on its head the Islamic supremacist claim that the Islamic system is superior and Islam the solution to all humankind’s problems. For Wilders, “Islam is the problem, and we should not be afraid to say so.” [Mark Durie] Read more

Egypt's Islamists warn giving women some rights could destroy society

.... The Muslim Brotherhood warned the declaration would give girls sexual freedom, legalize abortion, provide teenagers with contraceptives, give equality to women in marriage and require men and women to share duties such as child care and chores.

It said the declaration would allow "equal rights to homosexuals, and provide protection and respect for prostitutes" and "equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships."

A coalition of Arab human rights groups - from Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Tunisia - called on countries at the Commission on the Status of Women on Thursday to stop using religion, culture, and tradition to justify abuse of women. [Reuters] Read more

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says UN document on violence against women violates Islamic rules

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood sharply criticized an anticipated U.N. document on combatting violence against women, saying on Wednesday that it was “deceitful,” clashed with Islamic principles and undermined family values.

The text of the document has not been published because negotiations are continuing, regarding how to address sexual violence and rights of women to control their sexuality as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights. [Associated Press] Read more

13 March 2013

Sex and the Arab Spring

.... The common thread here is patriarchy. Arab regimes adopted the paternalistic style of authoritarianism found in the most traditional of Arab families and applied it on a national scale. Similarly with religion ... and sex is the point where all three meet.

In Arab societies, as Shereen El Feki points out in her new book, Sex and the Citadel, "the only widely accepted, socially acknowledged context for sex is state-registered, family-approved, religiously sanctioned matrimony". [www.al-bab.com] Read more

Islamic Council defends planned Muslim peace conference

VICTORIA'S peak Islamic body has defended a controversial Muslim conference to be held in Melbourne this weekend.

The Islamic Council of Victoria is disappointed with the reaction of politicians and other commentators to the Australian Islamic Peace Conference to be staged at Melbourne Showgrounds.

Last week, state Multicultural Affairs Minister Nick Kotsiras warned organisers they could face prosecution if racial and religious vilification laws were broken.

This followed reports a keynote speaker would be the so-called imam of Mecca, Dr Abdul Rahman al-Sudais who has reportedly made anti-Semitic comments including describing Jews as "scum" and "pigs and monkeys".

But a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has confirmed Dr al-Sudais has not lodged a visa application. [Herald Sun] Read more

Germany bans three 'anti-democratic' Islamist groups

DawaFFM, Islamische Audios and An-Nussrah all adhere to ultra-conservative Salafist doctrine.

Police mounted raids against the groups on Wednesday, but no arrests were made.

German officials have said videos produced by DawaFFM partly inspired the man who shot dead two US airmen at Frankfurt airport in 2011.

An-Nussrah was judged to be part of the Millatu Ibrahim organisation, which had been banned in June last year.

"Salafism, as represented by the groups banned today, is incompatible with our peaceful, democratic system," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in a statement. [BBC] Read more

12 March 2013

Bill would stop Sharia Law

In what has become a regular ritual here, a state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would prevent Sharia Law from taking over Missouri.

The Senate General Laws committee also discussed a measure that would outlaw any federal attempts to regulate firearms in Missouri.

The committee hasn't acted on either measure, and both appear unlikely to have much chance at becoming law. But they both touch on some of the hottest ideological issues in the nation right now. [stltoday.com] Read more

Islamic Extremism on Campus - Is the Tide Turning?

The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) has been banned from the premises of University College London (UCL). The iERA held an event at UCL on March 9th entitled "Islam or Atheism: What makes more sense?" and in a scenario lifted straight out of Saudi Arabia, enforced segregated seating by gender (with women sitting at the back of course).

And that's not all, separate entrances to the venue allowed for women to enter through one door, and men through another. In a breach of UCL policy, people who refused to comply were asked to leave the auditorium. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Aceh Government Removes Stoning Sentence From Draft Bylaw

The Aceh government has removed a provision for the stoning to death of adulterers from its draft of the Qanun Jinayat, a set of bylaws that replaces elements of the Criminal Code with Shariah provisions for Muslims, which was endorsed by the Aceh Legislative Council in 2009.

Syahrizal Abbas, head of the Aceh Islamic Shariah Agency, said on Tuesday that the government would discuss the Qanun Jinayat and the Qanun Acara Jinayat, the criminal code procedure bylaw, with ulema, academics and other related stakeholders to perfect the bylaw of which they had all agreed to revoke the stoning sentence. [JakartaGlobe] Read more

11 March 2013

Five Christian Converts to Stand Trial in Iran

Muslim organizations like CAIR and ISNA assure us that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, and that Westerners should have absolutely no concerns about the spread of Islam. Yet, wherever we see Muslim majorities holding power over non-Muslim minorities, we see a never-ending stream of violence, oppression, and cruelty. Isn't it amazing that Muslims from so many different countries (Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc.) all seem to misunderstand Islam in exactly the same way? [Answering Muslims] Read more

Belgium proposes limiting influence of Islamic political party

The Belgium Parliament has received a proposal to limit the influence of extremist parties amid complaints that the attitudes of the Islam party are not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Alain Destexche of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels has submitted the proposal which would allow parliament to limit the influence of extremist parties and impeach party members.

The proposal was prompted by the attitudes of two members of the Islam party in Belgium, Lhoucine Aït Jeddig and Redouane Ahrouch, who won seats on local councils in Brussels last year. Ahrouch favours the eventual implementation of sharia law in Belgium, which politicians argue is not compatible with the European "Conventions' laws against xenophobia, Holocaust denial and racism." [digitaljournal.com] Read more

UCL adopts sharia law for public debate, separating women from men

.... So it is all the more surprising that a public debate was held on 9th March at which the audience was segregated by gender (ie women in the cheap seats at the back). It was hosted by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), and the topic was: ‘Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?’

It pitched atheist Professor Lawrence Krauss against Hamza Andreas Tzortzis (described variously as ‘a lecturer on Islam’ or an ‘Islamist extremist’). He agitates for a global caliphate and isn’t particularly disposed to Jews, gays, adulterous women or democracy. He has publicly denounced liberty: [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

UCL gender segregation

A debate, 'Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?' took place this Saturday night at UCL, hosted by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA). Lawrence Krauss, for the atheists, was lined up to debate against Islamic lecturer Hamza Andreas Tzortzis. Richard Dawkins takes up the story:

A few days ago, I had received a tip-off from somebody who had made an inquiry about tickets: ‘We contacted the organizers today and learnt that "as for seating, it is according to when the ticket was booked and gender”.’

“Gender”? Seating at a public event in UCL organized by gender? [Mick Hartley] Read more

10 March 2013

Brussels: European Capital or Islamic Center?

.... The Islam Party intends to continue running candidates in future Belgian and European-wide elections. It is likely to gain further successes because of demographic changes in the country. Calculations suggest that Muslims in Belgium now number 625,000, more than six percent of the total population.

Brussels contains 300,000 Muslims -- more than a quarter of its population. It is now the largest Islamic city in Europe; by 2030 it will, according to the sociologist Felice Dassetto in her book The Iris and the Crescent, probably have a Muslim majority. [American Thinker] Read more

09 March 2013

Mosque for 3,000 gets go-ahead in capital

It was approved by planners and will cost a staggering €40m, which is believed to be coming from a backer in the United Arab Emirates.

Clongriffin is a new town on the northern fringe of Dublin city.

It was slated for widescale development at the end of the Celtic Tiger era and while many homes and apartments were built in the area, there are large stretches of wasteland and some ghost estates.

[A COMMENT] Sharia law, Muslim patrols, misogyny, burqas, homophobia, this is the 'vibrancy' we should look forward to.Seriously the liberal idiots in Dublin city council should take a look at Tower Hamlets in London and see how well 'integration' is going there. Islam is simply not compatible with Western culture. [independent.ie] Read more

Alleged blasphemy: Mob burns scores of Christian homes in Lahore

A highly-charged mob of thousands burnt more than 40 Christian houses in Badami Bagh area of Lahore on Saturday to “take revenge of the blasphemy” allegedly committed by a Christian two days earlier.

Express News had earlier reported that around 100 houses were burnt by the mob.

Eyewitnesses said that the mob broke into the houses, looted them and burnt the remaining belongings on the roads. [The Express Tribune News Network] Read more

08 March 2013

Who should care about stoning?

In 2013, men and women are still being stoned to death. Stoning is a heinous form of torture, condemned by the international community and rejected by peace and justice-loving people around the world.

And yet when Women Living Under Muslim Laws first began to campaign against stoning on an international level, many people questioned the relevance of this campaign in their own context. As deplorable as stoning is, what justifies the time, resources, and energy spent towards an entire campaign to eradicate it?

Why not focus those same energies on issues that affect more people, such as poverty, militarism, food inequality or war? Why should we care about stoning? [openDemocracy] Read more

After Sealing of Bekasi Church, Another Comes Under Threat of Closure

The Banua Niha Keriso Protestan (BNKP) in Bandung, West Java, was bracing for a confrontation on Friday after a group of local leaders demanded the church cease operations, a religious tolerance group said.

The church was told to take down all Christian icons and vacate the building by a small group led by a local neighborhood chief, according to a statement by the Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace (ICRP).

When church leaders refused to comply, the men promised to return with a larger group, the statement read. [Jakarta Globe] Read more

Kabul debates women's law 'violating Sharia'

A draft law that would end violence against women is being debated in the Afghan Parliament. But it is finding little support among MPs, who feel that it violates traditional values.

It has been three years since Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a decree to end violence against women. The draft law, which is supposed to allow women more freedom and protect them from violence, has yet to be adopted in parliament. But courts can use it as a basis for their work.

Opponents of the decree say it contradicts Sharia - the moral code and religious law of Islam. Most of the proponents, however, are among the 68 women in parliament, for whom a quarter of the seats are reserved. They are trying to reconcile a modern interpretation of Islam with the law. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

07 March 2013

Libya women face and fear the rise of Islamists since Gadhafi's fall

The rise of Shariah law and the growing Islamist political power since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled 2 years ago leaves Libyan women fearful for their basic human rights.

On her way back from her job as a lecturer at a university near Tripoli, Libyan poet Aicha Almagrabi was stopped by a group of bearded militiamen. They kicked her car, beat up her driver and threatened to do the same to her. Her offense: being alone in a car with men without a male relative as a guardian.

"You have violated the law of God," the militiamen told her, Almagrabi said. [AP] Read more

Belgian Man Sentenced to 4 Months in Jail for Tearing Koran

Arne S., originally from Blankenberge, was sentenced on Wednesday, by the criminal court of Bruges, to four months in prison for having torn a copy of the Koran in front of a group of Muslims, in June 2012, in Ostende.

On 8 June last year, in the early evening, the accused participated in a demonstration in Ostende. After the demonstration, he went into a café where he exchanged words with around a dozen Muslims. In front of their eyes, Arne S. tore a copy of the Koran.

.... But racism or the specter of hate crimes is being used to ram through Islamic blasphemy law by another means. Blasphemy law is still unacceptable in the West, so those being charged with it have to be charged with other offenses. [FRONTPAGEMAG.COM] Read more

Managers and skilled workers make up bulk of far right supporters

The study found the image of young unemployed people alienated by tough economic times and turning to the anti-Muslim and anti-immigration group was a myth.

In fact half of sympathizers are in full time work, almost one in five is university educated and more than two thirds own their own home.

The report, by the think tank Chatham House, warns ministers and those combating extremism need to reassess who they target.

.... More than 1,666 people were polled for the study, of which 298 identified themselves as EDL supporters.

The report, The Roots of Extremism, found 53 per cent of sympathisers were in professional, management or non-manual jobs and another quarter were in skilled work. [Telegraph Media Group] Read more

Muslims embracing unbelief often face a lonely journey

.... Muslims who have become atheists are beginning to speak out. In 2007, the Council of Ex-Muslims was established in England to support those leaving Islam. It encourages ex-Muslims to go public to lessen the stigma of unbelief, and works to educate local police and social welfare workers about the threats they face. There are similar groups in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Muslim-ish is growing beyond its New York birthplace. A new group was recently established in Dearborn, Mich. — home to the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. — and other groups are forming in Chicago and Washington, D.C. An online version now meets via Google+ and is drawing people from Alabama, Florida and overseas. [The Washington Post] Read more

06 March 2013

Lifting the veil on London's stylish hijab wearers

Leopardprint with attitude, covered in flowers and bows, or sleek black with gold chains. Sara Shamsavari's street-style portraits capture young women in veils of a dizzying array of colours and fashions.

The Iranian-born photographer was inspired to create the pictures, being exhibited to coincide with International Women's Day, to celebrate how the head coverings had led to an outpouring of creativity and originality in the way they are worn.

[A COMMENT] .... I have to say, that for people who are trying to not show physical beauty, they're all very tarted up! [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Using Billboards to Stake Claim Over ‘Jihad’

There is an advertising war being fought here — not over soda or car brands but over the true meaning of the word “jihad.” Backing a continuing effort that has featured billboards on the sides of Chicago buses, the local chapter of a national Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been promoting a nonviolent meaning of the word — “to struggle” — that applies to everyday life.

.... Mimicking the My Jihad ads, they feature photos and quotations from figures like Osama bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010. “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” says one ad, attributing the quotation to a Hamas television station. They end with the statement: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?” [The New York Times] Read more

Burkinis to help Muslim Swedes take the plunge

The small Swedish town of Emmaboda has vetoed a petition to introduce women-only hours at the municipal swimming pool, and instead wants to start selling burkinis to its observant Muslim female bathers.

The municipal leisure committee had received a citizens petition asking if the swimming pool could have a separate time slot for women, in order to facilitate for residents who chose for religious reasons to not show their bodies to members of the opposite sex.

The local politicians, however, decided to decline the petition, reports regional newspaper Östran.

Instead, they want to buy in burkinis - swimsuits that cover all parts of a woman's body - which their observant Muslim swimmers could buy before taking the plunge. [The Local Europe] Read more

Egyptian Muslim Scholar Says Christian Copts Will Pay Jizya

During a recent interview, Dr. Mahmoud Shu'ban, a professor at Al Azhar University, made clear that the Copts, Egypt's Christian minority, will pay the jizya--what is often referred to in the West as an Islamic "poll tax."

According to the Al Azhar professor, "If non-Muslims were to learn the meaning of 'jizya,' they would ask for it to be applied--and we will apply it, just like Islam commands us to." His logic is that, if Christians pay the jizya, they would buy for themselves "protection," hence why they themselves should want to pay it. [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more

Anti-Sharia' law is back

A renewed attempt to pass a controversial "foreign law" bill proposed by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yahala, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, after more than an hour of sometimes emotional public testimony.

The bill, SB 58, bans courts or other legal authorities from using religious or foreign law as a part of a legal decision or contract relating to family law. Florida law would supercede foreign law regarding divorce, alimony, the division of marital assets, child support and child custody.

The bill is ready to be heard on the House floor but it has more committee stops in the Senate. Last year, the bill passed the House but died in the Senate. [The Miami Herald] Read more

Teacher “distraught” after eating non-Halal meal from supermarket in Manor Park

A primary school teacher whose religious observance forbids her eating non-halal meat says she felt distraught after tucking into what she believed was a fish pie ready meal – only to discover that it contained unblessed meat.

Muslim Runa Begum bought the meal, which she says was labelled as a fish pie from Tesco Express in Romford Road, only to discover that it was a non-halal meat lasagne.

But after investigating her complaint Tesco says their fish pie and lasagne products are made in different factories and that they are confident the products could not have been swapped around before reaching the store. [Newham Recorder] Read more

End blasphemy laws threatening minorities: U.N. faith expert

Countries should repeal all laws punishing blasphemy and people who leave a faith, the United Nations' top expert on freedom of religion said on Wednesday, thrusting himself into a debate between many in the Muslim world and the West.

Legislation outlawing apostasy - the act of changing religious affiliation - and insults against religious figures could be used to violate the rights of minorities, Heiner Bielefeld said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. [Reuters] Read more

05 March 2013

Psychological Consequences of Islam's Views on Women

The constant threat of being disowned by their family, having their few privileges revoked, being locked up, beaten or even killed, prevents these Muslim girls and women from challenging the limitations set by Islamic Sharia Law and its male proponents.

The condescending verses in the Islamic scriptures function the same way, as negative psychological propaganda about the enemy that is indoctrinated into a country's soldiers during war: it demonizes the opponent and removes empathy that would otherwise stop one from harming it. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Egypt book blasts Brotherhood, becomes best-seller

An Egyptian lawyer whose dissenting voice got him thrown out of the Muslim Brotherhood examines what he calls the group's hidden radicalism in a book that has become a best-seller in Cairo.

Tharwat al-Khirbawy's "Secret of the Temple" has been dismissed by Brotherhood leaders as part of a smear campaign.

.... He was disciplined in 2001 at a "Brotherhood court" for publishing three articles that criticised the group for not engaging with other opposition parties - a criticism still levelled at the Brotherhood today. "The Brotherhood does not know the virtue of differences of opinion," he said.

.... Khirbawy's arguments resonate among those Egyptians who believe the Brotherhood aims to subvert new freedoms for their own ends to set up a new Islamist autocracy - a view hardened late last year when Mursi unilaterally expanded his powers. [Reuters] Read more

Thousands of Christians flee religious persecution in Egypt

Life for Christians under the government of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt has become difficult. Reports are emerging that up to 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some of those have arrived in Moscow. VoR’s Brendan Cole went there to investigate.

This week Cairo saw the launch of a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice designed to protect 'Islamic morality'. Many Christians fear that Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood may further limit their ability to live and worship freely. [Voice of Russia] Read more

Gaza marathon: UN cancels race over Hamas ban on women

The UN agency which organises Gaza's marathon has cancelled the event, blaming the refusal of the territory's governing Islamist Hamas movement to allow women to run.

The marathon was scheduled for Sunday and would have been Gaza's third.

Hamas said the marathon could go ahead if "local traditions" were respected.

Conservative elements in Gaza have sometimes complained about mixing between the sexes, especially in schools and at sporting events. [BBC] Read more

04 March 2013

Spain: Supreme Court Overturns Burqa Ban

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that a municipal ordinance banning the wearing of Islamic burqas in public spaces is unconstitutional.

In its 56-page ruling, made public on February 28, the Madrid-based Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) said the Catalan city of Lérida exceeded its authority when, in December 2010, it imposed a burqa ban.

The court said the ban on burqas, a traditional Islamic costume that covers women from head to toe, "constitutes a limitation to the fundamental right to the exercise of the freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution." The court said that the limitation of a fundamental right can only be achieved through laws at the national level, not through local ordinances. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Mosque must rethink its plan to get bigger

ONE of Oxford’s three mosques has been told to go back to the drawing board with its plans for expansion.

More than 30 neighbours of the Madina Mosque in Stanley Road, Iffley, wrote to Oxford City Council’s planning department opposing the application for an extension.

Currently, the popular mosque has to divide worshippers into two sittings for Friday prayers – the busiest service of the week – to make room for the 700 to 800 people who attend. [The Oxford Times] Read more

A Questionable Victory for Free Speech

.... at the recent opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 22nd session, two very different speeches demonstrated that the putative consensus around R 16/18 is a charade, and that the global battle over free speech has not ended in perpetual peace, but is merely suspended by an uneasy truce.

.... The American and the OIC interpretations of R 16/18 are evidently irreconcilable. Caught between these positions one finds the Europeans. On one hand, EU member states have consistently rejected the concept of “defamation of religion,” but on the other, the EU and all its member states have adopted laws against racial and religious hatred, which are often enforced.

To the extent that the OIC position on R 16/18 becomes the accepted one under human-rights law, there is therefore a risk that it could affect the interpretation of hate-speech laws in liberal democracies other than the U.S. [National Review Online] Read more

03 March 2013

Australia: No room for Sharia law in multicultural society

ISLAMIC law and polygamous marriages will be denounced as forever unacceptable in Australia in a bipartisan parliamentary report that will define what multiculturalism means for our nation, and state there must be only "one law for all".

The report -- the result of a two-year investigation into Australia's multicultural strategy -- is understood to be critical of the limited access migrants have to English language training and the lack of cultural awareness shown by employers and the federal employment recruitment agency. [The Australian] Read more

Islamophobia: 'A Crime against Humanity

At a recent UN Conference in Vienna, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the podium to address the 2,000 participants, including the UN Secretary-General, the Emir of Qatar, the presidents of Austria and Romania, foreign ministers from Iran and Spain, about crimes against humanity.

He boldly told the participants of the UN Alliance of Civilizations' forum that "As with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it is inevitable that Islamophobia be considered a crime against humanity." [American Thinker] Read more

02 March 2013

Reading University Colludes With Far-Right Extremist Muslim Society

Reading University and students union have praised the university's Muslim Society, despite its bid to host the "kill the gays" Islamist preacher, Abu Usamah at-Thahabi.

Thahabi had been invited to speak to the far right university Muslim Society as part of its Discover Islam Week.

He endorses the murder of gay people and of Muslims who give up their faith. He says women are intellectually deficient and he encourages the physical beating of young girls who refuse to wear the hijab. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Egypt Introduces Saudi-style Islamic Moral Police Force

Egypt has quietly introduced a Saudi-style Islamic religious police force in order to implement the moral principles of Islam using "non-violent methods".

The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, an informal group, made the announcement at a press conference in Cairo.

"We have absolutely no relationship with the 'morality' committees in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia or Nigeria. We will only offer advice to those who want to listen. We shall have no business with people who refuse to listen to us," said the committee's founder, Hisham el-Ashri. [International Business Times] Read more

01 March 2013

Census That Revealed a Troubling Future

.... To study the results of the latest census is to stare at one unalterable conclusion: mass immigration has altered our country completely. It has become a radically different place, and London has become a foreign country. In 23 of London's 33 boroughs "white Britons" are now in a minority. A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) hailed this as "diversity".

Of course there are numerous claims as to how it all occurred. One — made in 2009 by the former Labour adviser Andrew Neather — is that Tony Blair's government wilfully aimed to "rub the Right's nose in diversity" and create what it unwisely took to be a new client class. Another theory, not running entirely counter to this, is that the whole thing was a bureaucratic cock-up which ran out of control under successive governments, only doing so spectacularly under New Labour. [Standpoint] Read more

Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ramps Up 'Islamophobia' Campaign

.... At the Summit, OIC members also unanimously elected Iyad Madani to the post of OIC Secretary General. His term is to commence in 2014 when current Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's term expires. This is the first time that the OIC will be headed by a Saudi.

Though the current OIC regime is comprised of sticklers for Islamic blasphemy laws and staunch advocates for the obliteration of Israel, it is likely that the OIC will become even more extreme under Madani. Compared to the Wahabbis in Saudi Arabia, Ihsanoglu and gang can be considered reformers pushing "Islam lite."

The election of a former Saudi Minister to head the largest Islamic organization in the world and lead the UN's most powerful voting bloc is a bad omen of what's to come. Indeed, it would come as no surprise if under its new leadership, the OIC's old leadership would be labeled "Islamophobic." [Assyrian International News Agency] Read more

Moscow Mayor says no to more mosques in the city

The Mayor of Moscow says there are no plans to build a new mosque in the city, and says the 'excessive' number of economic migrants was a ‘harmful thing’.

“It has turned out that the praying Muslims are not at all Russian citizens and they are not Moscow residents. They are labor migrants. There are only 10 percent of Moscow residents among them and building mosques for everyone who wants it – I think this will be over the top,” Sergey Sobyanin said in an interview with Moscow's Echo radio.

The top city official went on to say that “Muscovites now get irritated by people who speak a different language, have different manners, with aggressive behavior. This is not purely ethnic, but this is connected with some ethnic traits,” Sobyanin said.[RT TV] Read more