30 April 2013

Eye Gouging and Paralyzing: Saudi Arabia's Tribal Justice

A Saudi court ordered Ali al-Khawahir, a 24-year-old Saudi citizen, to be surgically paralyzed as punishment for a crime he committed as a 14-year-old, that had left his victim paralyzed. The Western media has described the court's ruling as an "eye for an eye punishment."

According to reports in the Saudi Gazette, Khawahir stabbed a childhood friend in the spine during an argument ten years ago. The punishment, as decided by the Sharia courts, is similar to other methods used to administer justice, including beheading, flogging, stoning to death and eye gouging.

This arrangement is the product of the religious and tribal structure upon which Saudi Arabia's system of justice and law enforcement is based. Although Saudi Arabia is a theocracy in which the ruler is responsible for applying Islamic law, the actual system of justice revolves around a nexus of power and money, a structure that protects the tribal and religious values that keep Saudi Arabia firmly in the control of the House of Saud. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

U.S. Muslims more moderate than Muslims worldwide

Muslims in America are much less inclined to support suicide bombing than other Muslims abroad, and are more likely to believe that people of other faiths can attain eternal life in heaven, according to a new report released Tuesday (April 30) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

“The World’s Muslims” report looks at Muslim views across seven categories: Islamic law; religion and politics; morality; women; relations among Muslims; interfaith relations; and religion, science, and pop culture. There is also a special section on U.S. Muslims.

Of the countries surveyed, only a majority of Muslims in America — 56 percent — believe people of other faiths can go to heaven; by contrast, that figure among U.S. Christians is about 64 percent. U.S. Muslims are also less likely than Muslims abroad to believe in evolution, sharing views that are closer to those of U.S. Christians. [The Washington Post] Read more

Stoning Returns as Punishment

The controversial “Islamic Punishment” law that was rejected by the Guardians Council returned and eventually was passed last week. To the disappointment of human rights activists and the promises of some Majlis representatives, not only stoning is not negated in the law, it is in fact emphasized.

Hamid-Reza Tabatabai, the vice-chairman of Majlis’s judiciary committee told the press, “Stoning is not negated in the new “Islamic Punishment” law. Its execution has been modified.

This was requested by the Guardians Council. According to the law stones do not have to be used to implement the law and hanging, or other innovative methods by the judiciary, can be used to accomplish the same goal.” [Rooz online] Read more

The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society

This report examines the social and political views of Muslims around the world. It is based on public opinion surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center between 2008 and 2012 in a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.

Together, the surveys involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims except for a handful (including China, India, Saudi Arabia and Syria) where political sensitivities or security concerns prevented opinion research among Muslims. [The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life] Read more

Many in Muslim world want sharia as law of land

Large majorities in the Muslim world want the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia as the official law in their countries, but they disagree on what it includes and who should be subject to it, an extensive new survey says.

Over three-quarters of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia want sharia courts to decide family law issues such as divorce and property disputes, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said on Tuesday. [Reuters] Read more

Mosques are the battleground of the war between Islam and the West

"We don't debate unprofessional councillors, unprincipled journalists, and self-righteous community organizers; we turn the tables on them": this is how British planning lawyer Gavin Boby, also known as the "mosque buster", describes the activity of his organization, the Law And Freedom Foundation.

He uses the law to stop the building of mosques in the UK by demonstrating to local councils that the building of a mosque or an Islamic centre is actually in violation of British law. And he succeeds: the count so far is 16 victories out of 17 cases. [Jihad Watch] Read more

29 April 2013

A Case Study Analyzing the Claims of Islamophobia Made in the Context of the Proposed ‘Super-Mosque’ in Dudley, England

Research highlights how usage and claims of Islamophobia tend to be simplistic and without nuance. Using a case study approach, this article considers the claims of Islamophobia made in relation to the proposed Dudley ‘super-mosque’.

Setting out a narrative of the ‘super-mosque’, this article draws upon primary and secondary research to consider the claims and discourses of the major actors in the Dudley setting: the Dudley Muslim Association, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, the far-right especially the British National Party and the English Defence League, as well as individual political figures.

Considering each in detail, this article seeks to evaluate the extent to which each of the actors and the claims of Islamophobia made against them might be valid. [MDPI] Read more

Burma proposes family planning regime to control Muslims

.... The report said concerns expressed by Buddhists in Rakhine state over the rising population of Muslims they see as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had "undermined peaceful coexistence" between the two groups. It said the introduction of family planning education "would go some way to mitigating" the crisis.

Committee members emphasized that all family planning initiatives should be voluntary and would focus on educating women about their choices.

Committee members emphasized that all family planning initiatives should be voluntary and would focus on educating women about their choices.

“I interviewed those women myself,” said Yin Yin New, a former UNICEF official on the committee. “I said why do you have so many children because it makes you poor. She said yes, but we are afraid we’ll be penalized by God. The religious leaders have told us we cannot take any contraception.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Libyan Religious Leader Calls For Gender Segregation

Libya’s top religious authority, the grand mufti, is stirring up controversy with a call for strict gender segregation in all workplaces, classrooms and government offices.

The nation’s human rights groups are warning the mufti’s call, if heeded, will likely encourage Islamic vigilantes who have been pressing for gender segregation and who patrol the streets looking for women they say are immodestly clothed or unaccompanied by a male relative.

In an open letter last week addressed to the country’s leaders, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani warned that unless gender segregation was imposed, Libya risked incurring the wrath of Allah. [VOAnews.com] Read more

Fear and fundamentalism as the 'modesty police' patrol Gaza

.... It was only after the beating that police officers set to work trying to shave off the one-inch fin of gelled hair that was the cause of his arrest.

"At no point did they tell me why they had arrested me. I found out from neighbours when I got home that it was because of my hair," Mr Halou explains, running a hand over the fuzzy regrowth on his head. He could not walk for three days after his release.

Police in Gaza, a Palestinian coastal enclave run by Islamist faction Hamas, have arrested at least 41 men on charges of immodesty this April. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Germans see Islam as a threat

A major study of attitudes towards religion says Germans approve of openness towards other religions. But many are still suspicious of Islam.

Former German President Christian Wulff earned much praise but also much criticism when said in a speech during his tenure, "Islam is also a part of Germany."

The criticism can be partly explained by the "Religion Monitor," a survey put together for the Bertelsmann Foundation. The findings have been published, and among them is the fact that half of all Germans believe that Islam does not fit into the Western world. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

28 April 2013

Morocco’s Islamist prime minister warns criticism of Prophet Muhammad ‘not acceptable’

Morocco’s Islamist prime minister says it’s unacceptable to criticize the Prophet Muhammad, entering a war of words between a secular activist and hardline Salafists that has strained the balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivities.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane took a not-so-veiled swipe at secular activist Ahmed Assid at a party rally late Saturday in Rabat. While not mentioning Assid by name, Benkirane said respect must be given to the overwhelmingly Muslim country’s values. [Associated Press] Read more

Half of Germans See Islam as a Threat

One in two Germans considers Islam to be a thread. 50 per cent of Germans are also convinced that Islam does not fit in in Germany. 18 per cent of Muslims in Germany and 25 per cent of those polled in Turkey also share this opinion. This is the result of the new "Religionsmonitor" from the Bertelsmann Institute, whose numbers are present exclusively in the "Welt am Sonntag".

It shows: Half of the population do not share the view of former federal president Christian Wulff, that Islam is part of Germany. Also internationally Islam is seen as a threat: 76 per cent of Israelis, 60 per cent of Spanish, 50 per cent of Swiss and 42 per cent of US Americans judge it to be dangerous. But also Judaism is seen by 19 per cent of East and West Germans as a threat. [Islam versus Europe] Read more

27 April 2013

Sharia in action in Iran: 850,000 female children are married

"The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with 'Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)." -- Bukhari 7.62.88

Muslims take this seriously and imitate Muhammad in this. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: "Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed." [Jihad Watch] Read more

Baroness Warsi and the demons of hate

Baroness Warsi, the minister for faith and communities, addressed an event staged by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) last month to attack the “demonisation” of Muslim students by the media.

FOSIS has hosted numerous extremist and terrorist speakers at its annual conference and other events, including Azzam Tamimi, who supports suicide bombing, Haitham al-Haddad, who believes that music is a “prohibited and fake message of love and peace”, and Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda recruiter described as a key inspiration for three of the 9/11 hijackers and numerous later attacks.

Several convicted terrorists have been officers of university Islamic societies affiliated to FOSIS and have attended its event. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

26 April 2013

52% Of Canadians Distrust Muslims, According To Latest Poll

A new poll shows that more than half of all Canadians distrust Muslims.

The nationwide survey indicates that as many as 52 percent of Canadians feel Muslims can be trusted "a little" or "not trusted at all." The poll showed that 48 percent of respondents said Muslims can be trusted "a lot" or "somewhat."

What's more, 42 percent of Canadians said discrimination against Muslims is "mainly their fault."

Muslims registered the lowest levels of trustworthiness of the religious groups asked about in the survey. [TheHuffingtonPost.com] Read more

Muslim-Christian romance fuels Egypt sectarian row

An Egyptian security official and a priest say police fired tear gas and clashed with a stone-throwing mob of Muslims who had surrounded a Coptic Church in anger over an inter-faith romance.

The Muslim protesters accuse the church of helping to secret away 21-year-old Rana el-Shazli, believed to have converted to Christianity before fleeing her small town with a Coptic Christian man to Turkey.

The alleged romance ignited sectarian tension in Wasta, a rural town in Beni Suef province, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Cairo. Clashes flared anew on Friday after weekly Muslim prayers. [Associated Press] Read more

Panorama's exposé of sharia councils didn't tell the full story

The recent BBC Panorama investigation on sharia councils raised important questions about fairness and openness in Britain's sharia councils, but was intended more as an exposé than a balanced account.

Such is their prerogative, but quite a different picture emerges from the several academic studies of the councils and their clients: imperfect institutions responding to a demand for a religious (not a legal) service.

[A COMMENT] Sharia councils are two fingers in the face of UK law and our way of life, they should be strongly discouraged from operating in the UK. Sharia is against our values of our nation, if you want to live under such systems of religious laws you should move to a Islamic theocracy. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Historic prayer call heard at Stockholm mosque

.... Friday's prayer call came following a decision earlier this month by local police who ruled that it wouldn't violate local noise ordinances. The ruling allowed the prayer call for between three to five minutes on Fridays between midday and 1pm.

Back in September, local government officials had approved the move in principle, voting in favour of scrapping a 1994 prohibition on allowing prayer calls, which dated back from before the construction of the mosque.

The mosque was built in 2007 in the municipality's Fittja district and has over 1,500 members. [The Local] Read more

Tunisia: upholding of blogger's seven-year jail sentence for 'insulting Islam' condemned

The upholding of a seven-and-half-year sentence against a Tunisian blogger jailed for “insulting Islam” is yet another blow to freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said this afternoon.

The blogger - Jabeur Mejri - was given the prison sentence last month along with a fine of 1,200 Tunisian Dinars (approximately £500) - after a court in Mahdia, eastern Tunisia, deemed that posts he had made online were insulting to Islam and Muslims. [Amnesty international] Read more

Violence in Islam: The heart of the matter

.... Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists. But the willing chorus of Muslim apologists should devote their time, energy and resources to fight the heart of the matter rather than to minimize the PR effects of what the heart of the matter causes. And the heart of the matter is not necessarily terror.

I would expect the apologists to intellectually fight, for instance, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia who insists that girls are fit for marriage by the age of 10-12, or the Saudi court which declines to nullify a marriage between a six-year-old girl and a 58-year-old man.

They should intellectually fight the same Mufti for saying that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed. The courts which sentenced the Turkish pianist who tweeted and retweeted atheist contents. The Muslims who burn and destroy anything that comes handy because they feel offended by someone or something they think had offended their faith. [Hurriyet Daily News] Read more

Secrets of Britain's Sharia Councils

Panorama goes undercover to investigate what is really happening in Britain's Sharia Councils - Islamic religious courts. Some women reveal they have suffered domestic violence ignored by these councils as campaigners say it is time to tackle the parallel legal system which can run counter to British law. [BBC] Read more

25 April 2013

Putin: nothing good about wearing hijabs to school

The wearing of hijabs to school is not traditional even in ethnic regions of Russia, President Vladimir Putin said, answering a question in the Direct Line on Thursday.

"There is nothing good about it. True, there are peculiarities in ethnic republics but what you speak about is not an ethnic peculiarity but a demonstration of the known attitude to religion," Putin said.

"There has never been such a tradition in our country, in Islamic regions," he said. [Interfax] Read more

Saudi Arabia Reaffirms Ban on the Building of Non-Muslim Places of Worship

Bishops from several European countries are criticizing Saudi Minister of Justice, Mohamed el-Eissi, after he insisted that "the cradle of the Muslim sanctities will not allow the establishment of any other places of worship."

The statement has reflected the Saudi government's intention to resume its ban on the building of non-Muslim places of worship within Saudi territories, or even the observance of non-Islamic religious rituals.

The minister reaffirmed the commitment to the exclusion of other religions in the Arabian country during a meeting with a number of European parliamentarians and members of the Foreign Relations Committee this week. [MidEast Christian News] Read more

Mixed Keighley reaction to Sharia law debate

Kris Hopkins spoke out during Tuesday’s debate, asking for a government assurance Sharia councils would not secure legal jurisdiction in the UK.

Mujeeb Rahman, of the Keighley Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said his community was completely in favour of having one system of secular law treating all equally.

But Abid Hussain, senior vice-president of the Keighley Muslim Association, said he agreed with the Bradford Council of Mosques’ view Sharia councils should be formalised. He added British Muslims deserved the same legal protection as all other UK faiths. [Keighley News] Read more

Hamid Karzai orders ban on 'un-Islamic' shows on Afghan TV

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has heeded a call from a conservative clerical group to halt the broadcast of "un-Islamic" films and serials, issuing a vague decree that some see as a move to stifle debate before presidential elections next year or even to placate the Taliban.

The Ulema Council complained to Karzai that there were "many TV stations that turn to vulgarisms and broadcast immoral programmes, which are counter to national interests and Islamic values". [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Islamophobia is a government priority. What about Islamism?

.... Certainly this is not a good week for the ‘nothing to see here’ crowd. To select only a few cases, two Muslim Canadians are on trial for trying to blow up a Canadian passenger train to New York.

Three Muslim men – including a convert – are on trial at the Old Bailey for plotting to blow up a number of UK targets including the town of Wooton Basset.

And at Woolwich Crown Court a cell of radical Muslims from Birmingham are being sentenced for attempting to detonate a set of rucksack bombs and carry out ‘Mumbai-style’ attacks in the UK at targets including synagogues. [The Spectator] Read more

Eighty Lashes for Drinking? Egyptian Court Ruling Puts Sharia in the Spotlight

On April 19, 30-year-old Mohamed Ragab spent the day at a friend’s wedding and then took a bus home. When he disembarked in his small village of Matay, in Upper Egypt’s conservative countryside, he was stopped by officers from the local police.

.... Ragab’s case is an anomaly: it is the only well-known example of a Sharia-based punishment doled out in court, and sentencing is normally handled by a judge, suggesting that the prosecutor in question operated well outside the system.

But Ragab’s lawyer, Ahmed Shabib, blames the case on Egypt’s political climate nonetheless. The prosecutor, he says, “felt that we now live in a religious country, and every single person should obey Islamic rules.”

Ragab, meanwhile, says he’s still reeling from the ordeal. “I’m very worried, and confused,” he says. [The Daily Beast] Read more

24 April 2013

Toronto court rules woman must remove niqab to testify

An Ontario judge has ruled a woman must remove her niqab to testify in a Toronto sexual assault case.

Justice Norris Weisman announced his decision after applying a new test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with witnesses wearing a veil. The woman at the centre of the case is known only as N.S.

"I conclude that to permit N.S. to testify at the preliminary inquiry with her face obscured by the niqab will impair defence counsels' ability to assess her demeanour, as well as the [judge's] ability to assess her credibility," Weisman said. [CBC] Read more

Is Jemima Khan using relativism to defend polygamy?

.... In other words, polygamy is not intrinsically bad. It is bad because, by being illegal, it fosters discrimination against women who are in illegal polygamous relations and it foments victimization among a community who fails to understand why polygamy is wrong and interprets opposition to it as further proof of anti-Islamic sentiment.

Thus, Ms Khan has found a way to justify polygamy in the name of multicultural integration and, yes, the right of women to equal protection under the law.

What will follow then, a defense of female genital mutilation and domestic slavery – both widely practiced in the Muslim world – or a piece extolling the qualities of monogamous partnerships? [The Commentator] Read more

On BBC Panorama Programme on Sharia Courts: It is enough now

This week’s BBC Panorama programme “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” confirms why One Law for All has been campaigning against the discriminatory parallel legal system running counter to British law for nearly five years.

As has been repeatedly stated, including in “Sharia Courts in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights”, women are being held to ransom, told to remain in violent situations, blamed for the violence they face, refused divorces over many years, and placed under undue pressure including with regards child access and welfare.

The programme confirms this. The undercover reporter is told not to contact police when she asks a senior cleric Suhaib Hasan (who has advocated stoning and amputation) whether she should report the violence she has suffered at the hands of her husband. [One Law for All] Read more

Don't celebrate Anzac Day: Muslim group

Muslims should not celebrate Anzac day because it is a "superficial, jingoistic" date that marks Australian colonial aggression against the Muslim world, according to radical Muslim group Hizb ut Tahrir.

Mainstream Muslim groups rejected the group's stance, saying Anzac day had nothing to do with religion.

Hizb ut Tahrir, banned in many countries but not Australia, says government requests for Islamic schools to note Anzac day is an unacceptable imposition of foreign values and history.

Australia, both in the past and now, "supports an international framework of deceit, exploitation and destruction led by the US and European powers". [The Age] Read more

'Sharia councils must be penalised'

Sharia councils must be penalised if they do not operate within the law of the land in order to allay fear and distrust among Britons, an MP said today.

Tory MP Kris Hopkins (Keighley and Ilkley) called on the Government to to spell out what penalties it would apply to sharia councils breaking the law.

Islamic sharia councils need to "operate within the law and should not form a concurrent legal system in the UK", he said.

He asked the Government to confirm that they "only have one law" and the sharia councils must comply with it, including anti-discrimination, equality and family measures. [Asian Image] Read more

Why Jews Win So Many Nobel Prizes and Muslims Do Not

.... Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, is one Muslim who did not make excuses for Muslim backwardness and lack of Nobel Prizes; he repeatedly pointed out in his speeches that the few Muslims who had won the Nobel Prize only did so because they were working at non-Muslim institutions. He realized that it is Islam that is holding back the Muslim people.

If those who are Muslim now would simply renounce their religion and become more like Jews, I have no doubt that there would be a renaissance among the people currently under the yoke of Islam. [PLANCK'S CONSTANT] Read more

23 April 2013

Thousands rally in UK to demand end to anti-Islam speeches

Up to 25,000 British Pakistani men, women and children from across the UK gathered in Aston Park here to express their love for Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) and to call on the British government to introduce legislation that bars Islamophobes from insulting Islam under the garb of the freedom of speech.

The participants, who also travelled from several parts of European cities, were led in a peaceful and colourful mile-long march by Hazrat Peer Alauddin Siddiqui. This is the fourth consecutive gathering for the biggest Melaad-un-Nabi (PBUH) of British Pakistanis in Britain but this year it was dedicated to “protect the honour and legacy of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH)”. [The News International] Read more

Britain's Sharia Courts: "You Cannot Go Against What Islam Says"

On its website, the Leyton Sharia Council writes: "Though the Council is not yet legally recognized by the authorities in the UK, the fact that it is already established, and is gradually gaining ground among the Muslim community, and the satisfaction attained by those who seek its ruling, are all preparatory steps towards the final goal of gaining the confidence of the host community in the soundness of the Islamic legal system and the help and insight they could gain from it.

The experience gained by the scholars taking part in its procedures make them more prepared for the eventuality of recognition for Islamic law." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Greece pulls nude Olympic statutes after Qatar wanted to cover ‘members’ with black cloth

Greece has pulled two ancient statues from an ongoing Olympic Games exhibition in Qatar in a dispute over nudity, a culture ministry source said on Tuesday.

“The statues have already returned to Greece,” a culture ministry source told AFP, adding: “Organisers in Qatar wanted to cover up the statues’ members with black cloth. So they were never put on display, they went back into storage and returned on April 19.”

The statues — an archaic-era Greek youth and a Roman-era copy of a Classical athlete — are both nude, the manner in which Olympic athletes competed in antiquity. [Agence France-Presse] Read more

Leaving Islam is not a crime

Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas (the highest government religious institution headed by the King) has issued a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans who leave Islam. Currently, under Morocco’s penal code, those who impede or prevent worship face imprisonment and fines.

An attack on apostates is clearly a response to the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain reminds the government of Morocco that the right to religion has a corresponding right to be free from religion. [Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain] Read more

22 April 2013

Boston and the future of Islam in America

.... Americans of all stripes are abandoning organized religion at a brisk pace. While less than a 10th of Americans born from 1928 to 1945 are religiously unaffiliated, the same is true of one-third of Americans born from 1990 to 1994, according to a Pew Research Center survey released late last year.

This dynamic seems to apply to U.S. Muslims as much as it applies to U.S. Christians. Part of the reason could be that the hold of religious communities on our lives has grown more tenuous. Peter Skerry, a political scientist at Boston College who has been studying the cultural and political integration of U.S. Muslims and Arabs for more than a decade, has observed that only one-third of U.S.

Muslims report going to a mosque for social or religious activities apart from regular services. It doesn’t appear that mosques have become the kernels of tight-knit communities, as the churches that were so central to immigrant life a century ago did. [Reuters] Read more

Egypt Persecutes Christians and Americans Pay the Bill

.... It is, to be sure, a most confused and confusing situation in Egypt. But this much should be clear: American taxpayers are underwriting a regime that has little concern for fundamental human rights. We are shoveling billions to Egypt in the naïve belief that they are moving toward democracy.

Is Egyptmoving towards democracy? Pew polls and other opinion surveys regularly report that as many as 84% of Egyptians today say anyone who leaves Islam should be killed. Believing that,how can they have a democracy?

The Obama administration has never explained how it makes sense for Americans to borrow billions from China to give it to a government in Egypt that is rolling over its own citizens and turning a blind eye to those of its backers who are burning Coptic churches, shooting them down, and setting them on fire. [Townhall.com] Read more

'Kurd men for equality' - Men wear women's clothes to send a message to local government

Kurdish men in Iran have launched a Facebook campaign to send a message: being a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. The "Kurd Men for Equality" campaign was started in response to a judge's ruling that forced a man convicted of domestic abuse to wear women's clothing as a form of public humiliation.

According to Global Voices, a local court in a Kurdish province of Iran ordered the man be escorted through the streets while wearing a red dress and hijab. Since then, Kurdish Iranians have organised on Facebook to speak out against the ruling, which they say is demeaning to women. [Al Jazeera] Read more

Panorama: Inside Britain’s Sharia Courts, BBC One, review

The clash between our country’s values and those of Islam was highlighted in a disturbing edition of Panorama – Inside Britain’s Sharia Courts (BBC One). Reporter Jane Corbin investigated the plight of women who have gone to Islamic religious councils to seek a sharia divorce, and focused on cases which have involved domestic abuse.

She found evidence of women being asked to return to violent marriages, or give up their children to abusive partners. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Panorama: Britain’s Sharia Councils

According to this report, Sharia Councils are acting against UK law on issues such as child access, and advising women to stay in abusive relationships.

A woman whose husband had hit both her and her son was told that she would have to give her children up to her husband, even though UK courts had earlier severely restricted his access to them.

It is alleged that she was told by the Leyton Sharia Council that ‘you can’t go against what Islam says’. When challenged, Leyton apparently said ‘safety is paramount and any UK court order must be followed’. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Beware of LGBT and freedom of religion movements, Muhyiddin tells Muslims

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin warned Malaysian Muslims of two challenges facing them today — the alleged spread of the lesbian, gay, trans-sexual and bisexual (LGBT) movement, and demands for freedom of religion among the Malays.

According to the Barisan Nasional (BN) deputy chairman, these were efforts by foreign influences who are trying to divide the Muslims in the country, backed by masterminds from among Malaysian Muslims themselves.

.... “There are parties who are becoming more strident in demanding freedom of religion without limits, including the right for Muslims to become apostates,” he said. [THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER] Read more

21 April 2013

Islam Is More Dangerous Than Other Religions, Radicals Aren’t Just Fringe Element

.... “You know what — that’s liberal [expletive] right there … they’re not as dangerous,” he said. “I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the Prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So you know, I’m just saying, let’s keep it real.”

When his guest tried to interject, Maher kept on going.

“All religious are not alike. As many people have pointed out — ‘The Book of Mormon,’ did you see the show? … OK, can you imagine if they did ‘The Book of Islam’? Could they do that? There’s only one religion that threatens violence and carries it out for things like that. Could they do “The Book of Islam” on Broadway?” [ OpposingViews.com] Read more

Christianity and Islam: Cooperation or Conflict?

Robert Spencer has written a dozen books on Islam, as well as thousands of pages of commentary on Islamic law, scripture, and tradition, but this may be his most significant book yet because of its potential to alert Christians to a dangerous gap in their knowledge of Islam.

Christian leaders are badly in need of a wake-up call about Islam and this is a wake-up call that is hard to ignore. Not Peace but a Sword asks questions about the relationship between Christianity and Islam that few others are asking, even though they are questions that beg for answers.

The main question is whether the differences between Christianity and Islam can be worked out or whether there is an unbridgeable chasm between the two faiths. Spencer is not saying that individual Muslims must necessarily be at odds with individual Christians but he is asking whether Islam’s doctrinal hostility toward Christianity can be overcome, or whether it is of the essence of Islam. [Catholic World Report] Read more

Atheist Richard Dawkins Attacks Muslim Journalist Mehdi Hasan For Belief In Winged Horse

Atheist professor Richard Dawkins has sparked a storm of controversy online for suggesting a Muslim journalist should not have had an opinion piece published, claiming his Islamic beliefs in a winged horse mean he is not "a serious journalist".

The comment was directed at Mehdi Hasan, political director of The Huffington Post UK, who was challenged by Dawkins in an interview last year to admit he believed the Prophet Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

20 April 2013

A secularist’s lament - A blasphemy case raises new worries about freedom of speech in Turkey

“I AM not sure if you have noticed, but where there is a louse, a nonentity, a low life, thief or fool, they are all Islamists. Is this a paradox?”

So wrote Fazil Say, a renowned Turkish pianist, in one of a series of irreverent tweets poking fun at Islam. Now Mr Say, who has an international career, has been given a ten-month suspended prison sentence under Article 216 of the penal code for hate speech.

Prosecutors argued that Mr Say, a self-avowed atheist, had “denigrated the values of a section of the population” through his comments on Twitter. Should he repeat the offence within five years, he faces jail. [The Economist] Read more

19 April 2013

The violent Quran

The Quran does not have a single verse encouraging love towards those outside of Islam. But there are 493 passages that either endorse violence or talk about the hatred of Allah for the infidels, meaning all non-Muslims.

The Quran is a book mainly concerned with how Muslims are to think and act towards those outside of Islam; that is, either kill them or force them to live as second-class citizens and pay taxes (Jizya). More than half the contents of the Quran are texts despising or inciting against non-Muslims. This is what turns Islam into a religion of hate and violence, for which history carries much evidence. [Dispatch International] Read more

Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas’s Death Sentence Fatwa on Apostates Sparks Controversy

Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas (religious scholars) has issued a controversial Fawta decreeing the death penalty for Moroccan Muslims who left Islam.

The ruling, which came on page 285 in a book written by the High Council of Ulemas under the title “Fatwas of the years 2004-2012, was requested by and sent to the interministerial Delegation for Human Rights of Morocco which sought an explanation of Islam’s view on freedom of belief in the framework of the preparation of the sixth periodic report for the implementation of the International Covenant on civil and political rights.

The High Council of Ulemas backed up their opinion with the Koranic verse “And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally,

” Surat Al-Baqarah [verse 217].

And the prophet’s Hadith “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.‘ [Morocco News Tribune]

Read more

Muslims urge Waltham Forest schools to "take responsibility" after Halal meat scandal

.... Members of the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM) said they felt sympathy for parents after the Guardian’s revelation that three-quarters of schools under local authority control only serve the Muslim-approved meat.

Parents have taken issue with the fact that many of them have not been informed by their children’s school that it orders just Halal food from the council’s supplier, Waltham Forest Catering. [Waltham Forest Guardian] Read more

UN takes Germany to task for 'racist' Sarrazin

Four years after the former central banker sparked public outrage with his book Deutschland schafft sich ab - Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen “Germany does away with itself - How we’re putting our country at jeopardy,” Sarrazin's views have been officially recognised as racist by the United Nations.

The UN says Germany broke an international anti-racism accord by shrugging off Sarrazin's anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim statements, wrote the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Thursday. At the time, many had defended Sarrazin's right to express his views. [The Local] Read more

Women to blame for earthquakes, says Iran cleric

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

.... "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair. "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" [Associated Press] Read more

Muslims guard against backlash

The Council on American Islamic Relations again offered sympathy to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Friday, but added a plea for Americans not to generalize and conclude that Muslim teachings influenced the suspect in any way.

"Our focus is primarily on the victims," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter at a press conference Friday afternoon. "We don't want to be drawn into defending ourselves." [Chicago Tribune] Read more

18 April 2013

Scott praises 'anti-Sharia' bill

Gov. Rick Scott today praised the Florida House’s passage of a bill aimed at limiting the influence of foreign law on legal decisions in Florida.

Critics have questioned whether the law is necessary _ saying there are few examples where foreign law has trumped state law.

Others call it the “anti-Sharia” bill (HB 351) and say it discriminates against Muslims who come from Islamic countries that follow a Koran-based legal code. Islamic groups, Jewish organizations and the ACLU have opposed the measure. [Herald-Tribune] Read more

Egyptian bride ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to groom because she had secret surgery to restore her virginity

An Egyptian woman has been ordered to pay her former husband £5240 in compensation after he discovered she had lied to him about her virginity.

The man accused his wife of deceiving him into believing she had never been married before - and therefore a virgin - and of having surgery to fake her virginity, during a bitter divorce battle which went to the court of appeal in Abu Dhabi.

The court upheld a previous ruling that found she had deceived her husband and increased the compensation she must now pay for the emotional damage she caused him. [MailOnline] Read more

MEP speaks out against spread of Sharia courts

An MEP has spoken out in support of a Bill aimed at tackling controversial Sharia courts in Britain.

Paul Nuttall, says he supports Baroness Cox’s Private Members’ Bill to curb the courts that back polygamy and discrimination against women.

He said: “Baroness Cox is very concerned about the growth in influence of the 85 Sharia courts in the UK and I think she is a very brave lady to put her head above the parapet on this controversial subject.” [The Christian Institute] Read more

Fatwa to kill apostates sparks fierce controversy in Morocco

A fatwa published this week by Morocco's Higher Council of Religious Scholars (CSO) calling for the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith has sparked fierce controversy in the country.

The scholars, who represent official Islam in Morocco, said in their edict, published in Tuesday's edition of Arabic-language daily Akhbar al-Youm, that Muslims who reject their faith "should be condemned to death." [Middle East Online] Read more

Tunisian Salafists Storm Female Student Hostel to Stop Dancing

Hardline Islamists threw stones and bottles at young women in a student hostel in Tunis to stop them staging a performance of dance and music, witnesses said on Thursday, in another blow to secular freedoms in the country that spawned the Arab Spring.

.... Female university students housed at the Bardo district hostel in the capital were just starting a weekly show of dance and music on Wednesday evening when dozens of hardline Salafists broke into the premises after scaling its walls, witnesses said. [Reuters] Read more

16 April 2013

Judge proposes closed-circuit TV testimony for veiled sex-assault accuser

After lawyers finished making their final arguments on the “veil issue,” Ontario Court Justice Norris Weisman gave them some homework over Tuesday’s lunch break.

He asked them to report on whether the issue could be resolved if the complainant, known in court as N.S., testified without her niqab via closed-circuit TV.

Defence lawyer Douglas Usher, who represents one of the two men accused of sexually abusing the woman when she was a child, told the judge he could live with that as long as he could clearly see her on a TV monitor.

“I’d be hard-pressed to assert infringement of fair trial rights,” he said. [Toronto Star] Read more

Norway employer regrets hijab gaffe

The incident was sparked off after Upper Secondary School pupil Ebru Akinci was called into the manager’s office at a Shell petrol station in Stavanger last week.

She had just started her new part-time job that day following a short period of training when general manager Sigve Grønnestad posed the question.

“I asked if it was okay for her if she did wear her hijab during her working hours here. She answered me that she would think about it,” he tells regional paper Stavanger Aftenblad.

Mr Grønnestad adds he discovered his actions were at fault after he had consulted company policy more closely.

“I apologise for having done this. We have uniform rules here, and both I and the company are careful to ensure that employees follow it. However, I checked this afterwards, and [found] there is nothing that indicates that she cannot wear hijab. [The Foreigner] Read more

Violent Islamist agitation against bloggers fuels unrest in Bangladesh

One night in February, Rajib Haider was set upon near his Dhaka home by five knife-wielding youths. His face was so lacerated that a relative who found the body wasn’t sure it was him until he called Haider’s cellphone and heard it ring inside a pocket.

Haider was a blogger, one of hundreds in Bangladesh demanding the death penalty for Islamist leaders accused of wartime atrocities, whose grisly murder swelled the crowds at student-led rallies many hailed as a “Bangladesh Spring”.

But now, a radical pro-Islam movement has emerged to counter the students it sneers at as “atheist bloggers”.

Known as Hefajat-e-Islam, it has given the government until May 5 to introduce a new blasphemy law, reinstate pledges to Allah in the constitution, ban women from mixing freely with men and make Islamic education mandatory – an agenda critics say would amount to the ‘Talibanisation’ of Bangladesh. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Challenging Worldview Clichés

Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to speak to thousands of people about Islam across five continents. At question time, the same issues keep coming up. The questions which have stayed in my mind are all about world view assumptions. These are key ideas which control the thinking of Western people when they are engaging with Islam.

.... Consider for example the notion that all religions are the same. This is widely held, but it is easily falsifiable. Different religions project conflicting ethical standards, and produce very different societies. What people believe makes a difference to how they choose to live. Examples abound and are easily identified. India’s caste system is a product of a belief in reincarnation.

Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory treatment of non-Muslims and women is a product of Islamic theology. The United States’ historic commitment to human equality and freedom have been significantly shaped by Christian theology. [markdurie.com blog] Read more

Inquiry launched after Islamic group holds segregated lecture

The University of Leicester has launched an investigation into gender segregation at a public lecture held by its student Islamic society.

The talk, entitled Does God Exist?, featured a guest speaker Hamza Tzortzis as part of an Islamic Awareness week. Seating at the event was segregated, with different entrances into the lecture theatre for men and women.

It follows news that a London university, UCL, has banned an Islamic organisation from campus after concluding that it attempted to impose segregation at a debate which also featured Tzortzis. [guardian.co.uk] Read more

500 backing plans for a free school in Blackburn

ALMOST 500 people have backed the bid to build the new Tauheedul Islam Boys’ School on the site of the former YMCA building, at Edinburgh House, in Clarence Street, Shear Brow, Blackburn.

A petition signed by 499 supporters of the proposal will be submitted to Thursday’s meeting of Blackburn with Darwen Council planning committe.

It follows the councillors receiving four similar documents, with a total of 88 signatures, opposing the scheme at their meeting last month. [LANCASHIRE TELEGRAPH] Read more

The intolerance of Islamist politics

A new publication from the Cordoba Foundation, a UK-based think tank that is generally supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, lays bare the sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that currently divide the Middle East, and the associated intolerance at the heart of Islamist politics.

It also shows how Iran’s reputation has been transformed, via the Syrian crisis, from an ally of Sunni Islamists to a mistrusted adversary. [Harry’s Place] Read more

15 April 2013

Veil fury as students forced to show faces

Young women arriving to take their final exams at a women's college in Islamabad last week were shocked when they were confronted by male proctors demanding they remove their face veils for identification before being allowed to enter the examination room.

Students and teachers at Islamabad Model Postgraduate College for Girls decried the demands as shameful mistreatment and a violation of human rights.

In many secularised parts of the world, female covering is regarded as discriminatory, oppressive and contrary to women's rights. But in Pakistan, as in many Muslim countries, the opposite is true: veiling is regarded as a woman's fundamental right and a private choice of religious observance. [The Age] Read more

Turkey fears of Islamic challenge to secular state

Turkish pianist Fazil Say received a suspended 10-month jail term on Monday for mocking Islam on Twitter. Secular Turks have become increasingly concerned over what they see as the creeping Islamization of society.

"Honestly, we were not expecting this ruling, and all I can say is, both legally and for the country, it's a sad decision," Say's lawyer Meltem Akyol told Reuters.

The blasphemy charges were brought against Say in June last year. In their suit, prosecutors cited several sarcastic messages about believers and Islamic concepts of Heaven. The musician, who has served as a cultural ambassador to the European Union, denied the accusations. [TV-Novosti] Read more

India’s ‘One-Month Marriage’ Racket

There’s a new sex-trafficking scheme hitting India, and this one involves marriage.

Men from around the Islamic world have been traveling to Hyderabad, India, to purchase marriage contracts lasting four weeks.

These “one-month marriages” provide men with young Indian wives, generally from poor families, who must consummate the short-term arrangements. Essentially, men—often already married—come to India with the intent of having religiously sanctioned sex with women other than their wives.

Since Islam forbids prostitution, a short-term "marriage" is arranged instead, often with girls from impoverished families. [Daily Beast] Read more

Turkish pianist Fazil Say convicted of insulting Islam

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say has been given a suspended 10-month jail sentence for insulting Muslim values.

An Istanbul court found Say guilty over a series of posts on the social networking site Twitter.

Say was not in court for the sentencing. But he denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

The case renewed concern about the influence of religion on politics in Turkey.

Pointing to the prosecution of several artists and intellectuals for voicing their views, critics have accused the governing AK Party of undermining Turkey's secular values and pandering to Islamists. [BBC] Read more

14 April 2013

Muslim Council attacks Gove's proposed history curriculum

.... Muslim Council of Britain attacks new plans for teaching history in British schools, for omitting reference to Islam's trade, cultural and military achievements. One of the UK's leading Islamic organisations has warned that plans to revise the school history curriculum risk ignoring the Muslim contribution to western civilisation – an omission that will only foster alienation.

.... other historians have defended education secretary Michael Gove's proposals, saying they will allow pupils to understand history's "connected narrative" and put the subject back at the centre of the educational syllabus.

It would be a very good idea if children were taught about Islam's 'military achievments'. They should know that Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq were once Christian countries, cultured and prosperous. That those countries were invaded, conquered, oppressed and dhimmified by the sword. They should know about Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours. [New English Review] Read more

Atheist defends critical focus on Islam

Sam Harris, the prominent atheist, has hit back at charges of Islamophobia levelled by fellow non-believers – insisting that some faiths are more "mistaken" than others.

In a lengthy riposte posted on his website, Harris maintains that some religions, including Islam, deserve closer scrutiny because they pose a greater threat.

.... Harris says in his response: "Not all religious doctrines are mistaken to the same degree, intellectually or ethically, and it would be dishonest and ultimately dangerous to pretend otherwise.

For instance, a dogmatic belief in the spiritual and ethical necessity of complete nonviolence lies at the very core of Jainism, whereas an equally dogmatic commitment to using violence to defend one's faith, both from within and without, is similarly central to the doctrine of Islam."faiths. [independent.co.uk] Read more

13 April 2013

Oklahoma governor urged to sign revised Sharia law measure

The founder of a group that has voiced concern about the growing influence of radical Islam within the U.S. asked Oklahoma's governor on Friday to sign a bill that would prohibit foreign laws from being enforced in state courtrooms.

“It is not to say that all Muslims are a threat,” said Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy. “It is the case, however, that those who embrace and submit to Sharia and insist on, according to its doctrine, making the rest of us submit to it, are a danger.” [NewsOK.com] Read more

Ilkley MP speaks out against Mosques’ Sharia law bid

Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins has written to the Justice Secretary stating his opposition to the establishment of Sharia courts.

He was speaking after Bradford Council for Mosques issued a statement calling on the Government to “recognise” the work of Sharia courts, and for them to be “better resourced with an agreed framework”.

However, in his letter to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Mr Hopkins said he was “absolutely opposed to any proposal for the establishment of a state-sponsored, alternative judicial process in any part of the United Kingdom”. [Wharfedale Observer] Read more

Christian airport worker vows to take Muslim bullying case to Luxembourg after being granted right to appeal against sacking

She also claims 'extremist' colleagues brought the Koran to work to try and convert people to Islam and even handed out leaflets promoting terrorism, as well as declaring that it was 'a shame' the failed July 21 London bombings did not go off.

Having taken her tribunal case to the courts in 2011, Halawi lost after it was ruled that as a part time and commissioned-based freelance she was not a staff employee.

Today, however, she won the right to appeal.

Speaking outside court, the mum-of-two from Weybridge, Surrey, told how the abuse started after she stuck up for a Christian colleague who was left in tears after Muslim staff made fun of her for wearing a cross necklace.

She said: 'At first, because I am from Lebanon, they assumed I was Muslim but when they found out I wasn't they started bullying me.' [MailOnline] Read more

Doordarshan Urdu channel's series in soup for showing pork dish

Doordarshan's popular Urdu channel has landed in the soup with many Muslim viewers by airing a cooking show featuring a pork dish.

In its April 9 episode, DD Urdu's series 'Taste Ki Baat Hai' (Talk of Taste) presented a recipe with pork and went on to speak of its deliciousness.

The programming was criticized by some for being "in poor taste". A section of community leaders and scholars said since the majority of DD Urdu's viewers were Muslims, the channel had displayed a lack of "sensitivity" by showing a dish of pork, which is "haram" (forbidden) in Islam. [The Times of India] Read more

12 April 2013

The Crisis of Islam

In 2010 the Egyptian-born German academic Hamed Abdel-Samad wrote a book called Der Untergang der islamischen Welt (The Fall of the Islamic World), in which he predicted the collapse of the Islamic world within 30 years.

This groundbreaking book was written by a man of courage whose real intention was to improve the ranks of Islam and take us forward. As past experience has shown, publishing such a book is liable to cost Abdel-Samad his life, because the extremists among us, those still intent on murdering Salman Rushdie and who cannot bear the thought of pluralism, certainly will not stand for what they regard as more criticism of the prophet Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him). [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Egypt's Coptic Christians live in fear of Islamic extremists

.... "They set a Christian man on fire the other day," Samir added. "They threw a gasoline bomb at him and no one did anything."

Seven Copts and one Muslim have died in clashes in recent days. The latest violence began after Coptic youths in a village north of Cairo drew offensive images, including a swastika that was mistaken for a cross, on the wall of a Muslim institute.

Gun battles broke out and a church was set aflame, a sign that President Mohamed Morsi's Islamist-led government has failed to defuse religious enmity. [Los Angeles Times] Read more

Atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris face Islamophobia backlash

They are often described as “The Unholy Trinity” – a trio of ferociously bright and pugilistic academics who use science to decimate what they believe to be the world’s greatest folly: religion.

But now Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are on the receiving end of stinging criticism from fellow liberal non-believers who say their particular brand of atheism has swung from being a scientifically rigorous attack on all religions to a populist and crude hatred of Islam. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Florida and Oklahoma Vote for Freedom

Florida and Oklahoma just passed legislation restricting the use of foreign law in state courtrooms, and many other states are considering similar laws. These laws are designed to halt the use of Islamic law, Sharia, by American judges – a measure that many see as necessary, since Sharia has already been involved in cases in twenty-three states.

Yet many such initiatives, including an earlier one approved in Oklahoma by seventy percent of the voters, have already been stopped by activist judges who see them as encroachments upon First Amendment protection of religion; however, anti-Sharia laws do not actually infringe upon religious freedom at all, and become more urgently needed by the day. [FRONTPAGEMAG.COM] Read more

Trouble in paradise: The darker side of the Maldives

.... In a rare interview at his home this week, President Mohammed Waheed told The Independent that he strongly opposes the court ruling. "This case should not have come to the courts at all. We see this girl as a victim," he said, adding that he has set up a committee to "understand what went wrong".

But that sits awkwardly with his recent decision to enter into a coalition with the religious Adhaalath party with elections to be held in September.

In a recent statement, Adhaalath backed the flogging, saying: "The purpose of penalties like these in Islamic shariah is to maintain order in society and to save it from sinful acts. We must turn a deaf ear to the international organisations which are calling to abolish these penalties." [independent.co.uk] Read more

Muslim History Should Be Included In School Syllabus, Urge Campaigners Curriculum For Cohesion

Faith campaigners have called on the government to include more Muslim history in the national curriculum, as a way of engaging young Muslim pupils, and educating non-Muslims about the contributions of the Islamic world to science and philosophy.

.... But campaign group Curriculum for Cohesion, backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, claims the draft curriculum " excludes all reference to Muslims and Islam" and are urging teachers and members of the public to appeal to the government before the consultation ends next week.

[A COMMENT] The early Arab world made a number of significant contributions to algebra, science, astronomy etc. Then Islam came along .... and religious superstition took over from rational thought.

That probably explains why Muslims only won 2 of the 549 Nobel Prizes awarded in the three science categories between 1901 and 2011. That is a third of one percent despite making up 20% of the world's population...

Rather than more religious nonsense being taught in schools, the teaching of religion should be banned by law, full stop. Faith schools are totally divisive and greatly reduce flexibility in the allocation of places in the education system. Teach it at home if you must. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

11 April 2013

Germany: Islam Becomes Campaign Issue

Germany's opposition Social Democrats are courting disgruntled Muslim voters in a desperate bid to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in federal elections set for September 22.

Peer Steinbrück, the 66-year-old chancellor candidate for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), said at a campaign stop in Berlin on April 3 that he supported the idea of physical education classes in German schools being divided by gender as a courtesy to Muslims.

Responding to a question from the audience, Steinbrück said: "If schools are able to do it, then they should." After his comment was greeted with silence, Steinbrück added that the measure should be taken "out of consideration for [Muslim] religious convictions." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Police allow prayer calls at Stockholm mosque

The Stockholm police removed the final hurdle for prayer calls, ruling that the call to prayer would be allowed for between three to five minutes on Fridays between midday and 1pm. Local councillors had already approved the move in principle.

"I'm happy, very happy," Ismail Okur, chair of the Botkyrka Islamic Association (Islamiska föreningen i Botkyrka), told Sveriges Radio (SR).

"It means a great deal for our association and above all for our religion, and for the prayer," he added. [The Local] Read more

After cathedral clash, Copts doubt their future in Egypt

When Egyptian Christian Kerollos Maher watched on television as petrol bombs and rocks rained on Cairo’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral he had only one thought – emigration.

“Egypt is no longer my country,” said the 24-year-old construction worker, standing in the courtyard of the country’s largest cathedral where one Copt and one Muslim died in sectarian clashes this week.

“The situation of Christians is worsening from day to day. I’ve given up hope that things will improve,” he said. [Reuters] Read more

Florida, Oklahoma poised to pass anti-Sharia bills

As anti-Muslim bigotry creeps into state legislatures around the country, Florida and Oklahoma law makers are poised to pass the so-called anti-Sharia bills

On April 8 Oklahoma legislature moved one step closer to passing anti-Sharia bill when the state Senate approved on a 40-3 vote the bill HB 1060 prohibiting the use of foreign or religious laws in state courts.

On the same day a committee of Florida Senate passed an anti-Sharia bill. [OpEdNews] Read more

10 April 2013

Islamists storm Tunisian school after it bars veiled student

Radical Muslims burst into a Tunisian school on Wednesday and assaulted its chief after he barred entry to a teenage girl wearing a face veil, or niqab, teachers said, an incident that underlined rising Islamist-secularist tensions.

Since secular dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in the first "Arab Spring" uprising two years ago, Tunisia has seen mounting strife between secularists who long held power and Islamists whose influence is increasing. [Reuters] Read more

09 April 2013

Cleric defends medieval punishments and decrees opposing Khamenei is 'evil'

Opposing the views of Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is 'blasphemous and evil' a high-ranking regime cleric has decreed.

Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi - a member of powerful Assembly of Experts - also defended medieval punishment including being hurled off a cliff, stoning, public hanging, mutilation, taking out eyes, juvenile execution and torture. [National Council of Resistance of Iran] Read more

Bradford Council for Mosques in talks over Shariah court

Muslim leaders in Bradford want to set up a “robust and transparent” Islamic court in the city to set a good example for other towns and cities in the UK to follow.

The revelation that talks were taking place for Bradford to have its own Shariah panel came hours before BBC One’s Panorama programme featuring an undercover investigation into Britain’s Shariah courts was screened last night. [Telegraph and Argus] Read more

08 April 2013

The AP Capitulates to the Muslim Brotherhood on Narrative

The AP's retreat is indicative of a crumbling of parts of the so-called "mainstream media" in its reporting about the Middle East, the Arab world and the Muslim world. By retreating from describing the Islamists as Islamists, the AP isolates itself from the rest of international media, which uses the term "Islamist" naturally and consistently with its Arabic translation and meaning.

More importantly, the AP is isolating itself from Arab media. For while media in the region uses the term Islamy or Islami (Islamist) to identify all movements that aim at the establishment of an "Islamist" state, regardless of these various movements' strategic agendas, from the more political Muslim Brotherhood to the radical Salafists and the extremist al-Qaeda, The AP will be entering the foggy zone established and encouraged by advisers of the U.S. administration, where definitions are twisted by "Islamist lobbies" backed by petrodollars' power. [New English Review] Read more

Gaza police shaving heads of long-haired youths

It is the latest sign that the Islamic militants are imposing their strict practices on the population.

Hamas has been slowly forcing its fundamentalist interpretation of the religion on already conservative Gaza since it overran the territory in 2007, but the new crackdown on long hair and tight or low-waist pants - in several cases accompanied by beatings - appears to be one of the most aggressive phases of the campaign so far. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

07 April 2013

Sharia courts putting women at risk, CPS warns

The courts, which issue rulings according to Islamic law, have been found to be giving Muslim women advice which experts warned may place them in danger.

Undercover filming in some of the 85 councils operating in mosques and houses across the country has revealed that the courts, which are run by sharia councils, are ruling in favour of men meeting estranged wives or having access to children when they have found to have been abusive. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Inside Britain's Sharia courts

.... Sharia councils in other parts of Britain have also meddled in legal issues that should be matters for the UK courts. In Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, an old pub, once the White Hart Inn, is now a Sharia council.

Ayesha, a thin and haunted-looking woman in traditional dress and a headscarf told me her husband, who hit her even when she was pregnant, had been imprisoned for his violent behaviour. She and her children had injunctions against him, and yet when she went to Dewsbury Sharia Council for a divorce, they still wanted the couple to meet for mediation.

“I said, I can’t do that as he isn’t even allowed near my house because I’m frightened and can’t face him,” says Ayesha, “but they didn’t take any notice.” [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Are Sharia councils failing vulnerable women?

BBC Panorama has uncovered fresh evidence of how some Sharia councils in Britain may be putting Muslim women "at risk" by pressuring them to stay in abusive marriages.

In a small terraced house in east London, a woman and her husband argue before an Islamic scholar who sits on a dais above them in a room that looks and feels like a court.

This is Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, and Dr Suhaib Hasan will decide if the woman can have a divorce. Her husband is refusing to grant her one and the couple have been coming here for a year. [BBC] Read more

Cairo mob attacks Christians in second day of clashes

A mob threw rocks and fired birdshot Sunday at several hundred Christians marching in a protest against Egypt’s Islamist government after the funeral of four Christians killed in sectarian clashes over the weekend.

The Christians were chanting slogans against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, just as several thousand did earlier during the funeral service nearby in the Coptic Orthodox cathedral in Cairo. [AP] Read more

06 April 2013

Toronto dad upset he's not allowed to watch daughter's swim class

.... Chris (who didn’t want his last name published) was shocked when he had the blinds to the viewing area of the Dennis R. Timbrell Recreation Centre pool in Flemingdon Park shut on him and then was told by staffers it was for “religious reasons.”

“I spoke to a staff member and she told me that it’s because of Muslim women, that we’re not allowed to look at them or whatever,” Chris, 38, told the Toronto Sun Friday. “I don’t think religion has a role to play in a public pool.” [TORONTO SUN] Read more

Islam, equality and inclusivity

.... So, instead of taking the Muslim Council of Britain as being the representative authoritative voice of Islam in the UK; instead of focusing on the separated and segregated mosques which perpetuate gender inequality (not to mention advocate the stoning of homosexuals or the flogging and beheading of adulterers), why not consider those groups of Muslims who campaign tirelessly for justice, mercy, equality and inclusivity in their local mosques?

If you can be bothered to have your prejudices challenged and stereotypes disturbed, you might start with consideration of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

05 April 2013

Pigs can't fly - Qantas bans pork on in-flight menu to respect Islam

QANTAS has removed pork from its in-flight menu on flights to and from Europe as a result of its partnership with Middle Eastern airline Emirates.

No food containing pork or pork products will be served on those flights - which now has a stopover in Dubai - because it is strictly forbidden in Islam and is considered "unholy".

All meals offered on the route in first, business and economy classes will also be prepared without alcohol in keeping with the Islamic religion. A note on the Qantas menus on flights in and out of Dubai states that the meals do not contain pork products or alcohol. The airline has also introduced a mezze plate offering traditional Middle Eastern fare in its upper classes and has Arabic translations after in-flight announcements. [The Daily Telegraph] Read more

Paralysis or blood money? Skewed justice in Saudi Arabia

A case in Saudi Arabia where a young man is facing medically induced paralysis for stabbing and paralysing another has caused international outrage.

It has even drawn condemnation from the Saudi royal establishment, prompting Princess Basma bint Saud of Saudi Arabia to condemn the judgment on the BBC on Thursday. This is the second time such a punishment has been proposed in the country.

Two years ago, the Saudi courts approached hospitals inquiring about the possibility of inducing spinal paralysis in a similar case.

The macabre nature of these sentences is highly unusual even for Saudi Arabia, reflecting a particularly technical, obsessively literalist and extrapolative interpretation of Islamic law. But behind these cases lies a more problematic tenet: that of diyya, blood money paid in compensation to the family of the victim, and which the young man in question failed to raise. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Europe: Mosque Building Shifts into High Gear

From Belgium to Greece and Spain to Germany, 2013 is shaping up to be another banner year for the construction of mosques in Europe.

In Belgium, work is about to begin on the construction of a mega-mosque in Liège, the third-largest city in the country. The largest mosque in Wallonia (the French-speaking region of Belgium) will be built on an 11,000 m² (118,000 ft²) plot and will consist of a main building with a capacity for 1,000 worshippers, a library, a cafeteria and several shops.

Plans to build two 30 m (98 ft) minarets were scrapped after opposition from local residents. The new plan involves one 18 m (60 ft) minaret which will be automatically illuminated during calls to prayer. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Topless Jihad Day: Femen's War On Islam Underway As Protestors Gather Outside Tunisian Embassies In Support Of Amina Tyler

Topless jihad day was in full swing on Thursday, with protestors active across the globe in their support of a Tunisian woman who was threatened with death for baring her breasts online.

Declared “a new Arab Spring” by Femen activists, it called for women to join topless rallies at worldwide Tunisian embassies.

In a statement published on Facebook, Femen touted the event as a cry against the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.” [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

04 April 2013

Muslim dad’s court threat over Keighley nursery meal

A Muslim father is threatening to take his child’s nursery to court after he claims it allowed the three-year-old to eat ham and other non-halal meat.

Abdul Shukoor is accusing Strong Close Day Nursery of “discrimination” after two incidents involving his son, Ayaan.

Mr Shukoor, of Paget Street in Keighley, alleges nursery staff failed to ensure Ayaan stuck to his religion’s strict dietary rules, and also regularly served vegetarian meat substitutes to Muslim pupils instead of halal food. [Keighley News] Read more

UK students given booklets claiming, "every Muslim should be a terrorist" authored by banned Islamic hate-preacher

Counter-extremism organisation Student Rights has reported that it has been contacted by students after material handed out at an event on a British university campus appeared to endorse terrorism and other discriminatory and offensive viewpoints.

At an event apparently organised by the Islamic Society at Keele University, students were shocked to receive a copy of a booklet called "Answers to Non-Muslims' Common Questions about Islam" which has been authored by the Indian cleric Dr Zakir Naik.

Naik was officially barred from the UK in 2010 due to a number of comments, including a claim that if Osama Bin Laden was “terrorising the terrorist, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist”. [The Commentator] Read more

Halal meat served in three-quarters of council-supported schools in Waltham Forest

Three-quarters of schools under Waltham Forest Council control serve only Halal meat, the Guardian can reveal.

A total of 46 schools and academies supported by the local authority order only Halal meat from Waltham Forest Catering, their supplier.

Just one school serves both Halal and non-Halal meat and 15 serve meat from animals slaughtered using ‘standard’ methods, a Guardian enquiry has discovered. [East London and West Essex Guardian Series] Read more

Topless feminists protest Islamist oppression

Bare-breasted activists staged rallies in front of mosques and Tunisian embassies in Berlin and across Europe Thursday against what they called an Islamist crackdown on Arab women's rights.

Protesters from the Ukrainian women's power group Femen held "International Topless Jihad Day" in capitals such as Berlin, Kiev and Paris and painted their torsos with slogans including "Bare breasts against Islamism."

"We're free, we're naked, it's our right, it's our body, it's our rules, and nobody can use religion, and some other holy things, to abuse women, to oppress them," Femen member Alexandra Shevchenko said at a small demonstration in front of a Berlin mosque amid temperatures near the freezing point. [The Local Europe] Read more

03 April 2013

Pakistan Anti-Christian Violence Injures 18

At least 18 people were injured Wednesday, April 3, when angry Muslims attacked a dozen Christian shops and churches in Pakistan's city of Gujranwala, Christians told BosNewsLife.

Among the seriously injured people was one man who was earlier reported to have died, but he survived, investigators said.

The violence in the city's Francis Colony area followed Muslim anger about Easter Sunday prayers in local churches and a dispute among Muslim and Christian youngsters over loud music, BosNewsLife established. [BosNewsLife] Read more

More face charges in Egypt’s escalating free speech and dissent crackdown

Today’s charges against yet another comedian for ‘defaming religion’ are part of an alarming new escalation of politically-motivated judicial harassment and arrests, Amnesty International has said.

In a mounting crackdown on freedom of expression, up to 33 people have been targeted within the last two weeks, with arrests and charges.

Some have been charged with what seem to be politically motivated or trumped-up criminal charges. Others are charged with ‘insulting the President’ or ‘defamation’ of religion for actions that should not be criminalized as they merely amount to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. [Amnesty International] Read more

Sam Harris vs. Glenn Greenwald: "There is no such thing as 'Islamophobia.' This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam."

Be sure to read this entire exchange between Sam Harris and Glenn Greenwald. It is extremely revealing of how the "Islamophobia" canard works: those who further this manipulative propaganda term tar anyone and everyone, no matter who he is or what else he has done or not done, with charges of "racism" and "bigotry" for making even the mildest observation about how the texts and teachings of Islam are used to justify violence and supremacism. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Pakistan youth prefer Sharia to democracy

A survey by a British organisation shows a larger number of young Pakistanis believe the country should be governed by Islamic law rather than democracy.

The report issued on Wednesday by the British Council found that 38 per cent of Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 29 thought Sharia law was the best political system for Pakistan. Thirty-two per cent chose military rule, and democracy came in last with 29 per cent. [South China Morning Post] Read more

Bangladesh arrests three atheist bloggers

Bangladesh police have arrested three atheist bloggers for allegedly defaming Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, police said Tuesday, amid calls from religious fundamentalists for an Internet crackdown.

The arrest of the three, who were paraded in handcuffs at a news conference, followed pressure from Islamists who have organised a march from all over the country to the capital to demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.

"They have hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders including the Prophet Mohammed," said deputy commissioner of Dhaka police, Molla Nazrul Islam. [AFP] Read more

Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus

.... Yesterday, I posted a tweet to Hussain's article without comment except to highlight what I called a "very revealing quote" flagged by Hussain, one in which Harris opined that "the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists."

Shortly after posting the tweet, I received an angry email from Harris, who claimed that Hussain's column was "garbage", and he eventually said the same thing about Lean's column in Salon.

[A COMMENT] You seem to have missed all the times that Harris, Dawkins & Co have bitterly denounced other religions, particularly Christianity, in similar terms.

.... Atheists treat all organised religions that use their power to persecute and kill with equal contempt. I know that doesn't suit your "Why are Muslims always the victims?" agenda, but it's a fact. [Guardian Cif] Read more

02 April 2013

Head scarf ban debate heats up

Because of her choice to wear a head scarf, Samia Kaddour, a Muslim, has all but abandoned trying to land a government job in France. Soon, some private sector jobs could be off limits, too.

French President Francois Hollande says he wants a new law that could extend restrictions on the wearing of prominent religious symbols in state jobs into the private sector. His new approach comes after a top French court ruled in March that a day care operator that gets some state funding unfairly fired a woman in a head scarf, sparking a political backlash. [The Associated Press] Read more

Who are the Muslim Brotherhood?

.... Where the fighting happened on Friday was as significant as how it did. Since the 2011 uprising that ousted former dictator Hosni Mubarak, protesters have usually focused their attention on institutions of the state, with Brotherhood offices generally attacked as part of wider violence.

But last month, protests exclusively targeted the headquarters of the Brotherhood. The implication was clear. For its opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood is now as much an enemy of the revolution's goals as the police, the army – even Mubarak. "Hosni is Morsi," summarised Maha Hatab, who had travelled to the protest from a town 10 miles west of Cairo. "It's the same revolution." [guardian.co.uk] Read more

Amnesty 'outrage' at Saudi paralysis sentence

The reported sentencing of paralysis for a Saudi man as punishment for paralysing another man has been described as "outrageous" by a leading human rights group.

Saudi reports say the 24-year-old man could be paralysed from the waist down if he cannot pay his victim one million riyals (£250,000) in compensation.

Amnesty International says the sentence is a form of torture. [BBC] Read more

Saudi man who paralysed his best friend in knife attack faces having his spinal cord severed in 'eye-for-an eye' punishment

A Saudi man convicted of paralysing his best friend in a knife attack is being threatened with having his spinal cord cut in a tit-for-tat punishment.

The ultra-conservative desert Kingdom enforces Islamic law and on rare occasions issues punishments based on the ancient code of an ‘eye-for-an-eye’.

Ali Al-Khawahir was 14 years old when he stabbed his friend in the backbone and has been imprisoned for 10 years. [MailOnline] Read more

Women in Saudi Arabia may ride bikes

SAUDI Arabia’s religious police are to allow women to ride motorbikes and bicycles – but only in restricted, recreational areas.

The Al-Yawm daily yesterday cited an official from the powerful religious police as saying women can ride bikes in parks and recreational areas, but they have to be accompanied by a male relative and be dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe dress known as the abaya. Bikes may not be used for transportation. [Scotsman.com] Read more

MP demands action over shocking contents of Islamic letter on Halifax schooling

A “COMPLETELY inappropriate” letter warning parents that a meeting was “more serious than death” has been sent out by an Islamic group with links to a free school which has been given the initial go-ahead by the Government.

The document was sent to homes in Halifax by the Sunniyy School which is run by a group with connections to the proposed Northern Lights Primary Free School being planned in the town.

It came to light after parents and staff at state schools gave it to Calderdale Council and MPs to raise concerns about the possible link between the free school group and the Sunniyy School. [Yorkshire Post] Read more

01 April 2013

Feminism Or Islamism: Which Side Are You On?

No group is better than liberal academics at illustrating how racist anti-racism has become. As liberals, they ought to respect individual rights and oppose reactionary attempts to corral and control. As academics, they ought to look for evidence that shakes comfortable opinions. As it is, they do neither.

In human rights organisations, leftish political parties, liberal newspapers and, above all, in the universities, committed and morally earnest people would rather die than admit that radical Islam is a murderous and oppressive movement.

The effect of their evasion is to promote the racism they say they oppose, while denying their supposed allies in "Muslim lands" and immigrant communities the same rights as they enjoy. Hypocrisy is too meagre a word to cover their behaviour. [Standpoint] Read more

Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef bailed after police questioning

The Middle East's most popular TV satirist was issued with an arrest warrant and questioned by Egypt's top prosecutor for allegedly insulting Islam and the Egyptian president.

Bassem Youssef, who is known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, turned himself in after the prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for him on Saturday. He was released on bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds (£1,500) after being questioned for three hours.

It is the latest in a series of arrests of opposition activists, lawyers and politicians this week – and according to Egypt's foremost human rights campaigner, it heralds the most serious affront to free speech since associates of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood assumed power last year. "This is the crackdown," said Heba Morayef, director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt. [The Guardian] Read more