30 September 2013

Islam conquering French corporate life

...In reality the conflict situations in corporate life are often caused by the "religious issue", a euphemistic expression used to designate claims made employees of the Muslim faith.

.... What are the specific cases discussed? "An employee refuses to shake hands with women because of his religious convictions"; "an employee asks to end work early because he is fasting"; "employees have prayer carpets in their lockers each day and without authorisation", etc.

.... "Undeniably, it's a problem that is growing," resumes Guy Trolliet, consultant on questions linked to religion in the enterprise and a specialist in the Arab-Muslim world.

"Although their scope is highly variable, the number of managers confronted with these questions is constantly increasing but the companies are very nervous about discussing the subject.

Some of them modify the figures, declare that everything is fine, a bit like the Observatoire de la laïcité [Observatory of Secularism] just did. Too many people don't want to admit the truth." [Islam versus Europe] Read more

Erdogan Moves to Scrap Turkey's Headscarf Ban

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has revealed that the country will lift the ban on the wearing of headscarves in public institutions.

Presenting the details of a much-anticipated “democratization” reform package, Erdogan said the government would remove the headscarf ban in public institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members.

Muslim but secular Turkey has long had tough restrictions on the garb worn by women working in state offices. [Novinite] Read more

Ministry warns students against mocking Islam

The Ministry of Education has warned that it would expel any student found mocking Islam or spreading illicit ideas at school. Penalties for violating the code of behavior include preventing a student from pursuing studies for one academic year. The ministry would notify all education departments of its decision without naming the accused.

The ministry called on school principals to inform their local education department of such cases so student committees could launch investigations. These committees should have sessions with students implicated in such behavior. [Arab News] Read more

Muslim Women Don't Care If You Feel Uncomfortable

And neither should anyone else who decides to dress in a way that is subjectively unnerving to another person. The ridiculous subjugation of the veil as a cloth of oppression and regression truly highlights that Muslim women are not taken seriously in contemporary society.

They are recognised with their veil as a commodity to men and their desires, not as independent and educated women. Boiling down the intellectual and spiritual thought process of wearing a niqab to oppression by men is wrong, and misleading.

[A COMMENT] "Muslim Women Don't Care If You Feel Uncomfortable" yeah thanks Shaheen, we know.

You don't care if we are uncomfortable but want to express your anger and frustration when "ignorant people" see the niqab as a tool of women's oppression (Pot/kettle). Well you won't like me then because that is exactly as I see it.

And I think the wife of "devout Muslim" Jubel Miah, who terrorised his wife into wearing the veil might agree with me.

There is no requirement in Islam to cover your face and in Britain people who cover their faces are distrusted. Every news item about Islam or Muslims seems to be negative, do you care about that? [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

CAIR’s Islamophobia Meltdown

Two days after the release of a CAIR report claiming to expose the network financing “Islamophobia”, Charles C. Johnson ran his own report documenting CAIR’s convoluted financing schemes.

While the CAIR report attempted to stigmatize terrorism research by reporting on the straightforward funding of organizations and individuals such as Robert Spencer; the Johnson report showed that CAIR, described by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in financing terrorism, had engaged in convoluted methods to conceal its financing sources while laundering money from abroad. [FRONTPAGEMAG.COM] Read more

Senseless Killings Leave Islam On The Edge

.... Such episodes are truly tragic and have no place in our society today, or ever. These acts, and others like them–the explosion in a church in Pakistan a few days ago by a suicide bomber for example–are being carried out in the name of Islam.

I fear this is taking us even more rapidly down a slippery slope that we have been on for some time, and if no one representing Islam can stand up and say, “This must stop” and also do something about it, it’s only going to get worse. [Forbes.com] Read more

Heard the one about the Saudi cleric who said driving damages ovaries?

.... So these restrictions should be shown up and ridiculed for what they are. If they are to treat women like children then the international community should humiliate authoritarian governments in return.

If social conservatives want to control their populations, and women in particular, then they are going to continue to look ridiculous. We can all play our part by pointing and laughing at them.

Because they are responsible for the severe human rights abuses within that country, and because the women of Saudi Arabia deserve, like all women in the world, to be subjected to hilarious jokes about how they can't parallel park. [Guardian Cif] Read more

29 September 2013

Muslim Professor of Islamic Theology Concludes After Research: Prophet Muhammed Never Existed

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany’s first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn’t like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.

So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed. [The Muslim issue] Read more

Torpedoing “Islamophobia”

For the International Civil Liberties Alliance, the theme for this week’s OSCE in Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw was “Bad Definitions”. As readers have undoubtedly noticed, the most prominent bad definition is the word “Islamophobia”.

There are plenty of other words than can be targeted as ill-defined, and those have been discussed here in earlier posts, and in the ICLA paper “The Problematic Definition of ‘Islamophobia’”. However, to make matters simpler, the ICLA team concentrated this week on “Islamophobia”. [Gates of Vienna] Read more

The state school where girls are forced to wear hijabs in classrooms AND outside school

Pupils have to wear hijabs in and OUT of class for the first time at a state-backed school in Blackburn.

The cover-up was ordered at the 800-pupil Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School where students already have to dress in long purple tunics over black trousers to ensure flesh is not seen.

Under the rules, pupils must 'wear the hijab outside the school and home, recite the Koran at a least once a week' and not have stationery which shows 'unIslamic images' like pictures of pop stars. [MailOnline] Read more

How many people convert to Islam?

.... Calculating convert numbers is tricky. The census in England and Wales does not ask people about their past religions. British mosques do not keep a central record of conversions. Some new believers keep their conversions secret, worried about the reactions of friends and family.

But using census data on race and religion, and questionnaires issued to mosques, Kevin Brice, a researcher at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, calculated that around 5,200 Britons turn to Islam every year, and that the total number of converts is about 100,000. [The Economist] Read more

Unveil some clarity

.... The apparent contradictions in Mr Cameron’s remarks show how difficult the issue can be. He said that he supports the right of Muslim schools to permit the veil if that reflects their values, yet states that “it’s very difficult to teach unless you can look your pupils in the eye”.

He would be happy to consider “guidelines”, particularly in the case of courts. But what would such guidelines say and would they be backed up by law?

As The Daily Telegraph has argued recently, if the niqab prevents a public official from doing their job then we need a rational debate about the problem and clear leadership on what to do about it. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

David Cameron Backs Veil Ban At State Institutions

The state should back institutions such as schools, courthouses and immigration centres which require individuals to remove face-coverings such as the niqab veil worn by some Muslim women, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Mr Cameron said he did not believe there should be a ban on wearing the niqab - which conceals the whole face - in the streets.

But he made clear he was "happy" to look at the issue of whether the state needed to do more to back up institutions which choose to implement a ban. [The Huffington Post UK/ PA] Read more

Special report: The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone

.... Arifa Bibi's uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It's unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique.

Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Driving affects ovaries and pelvis, Saudi sheikh warns women

Saudi women seeking to challenge a de facto ban on driving should realize that this could affect their ovaries and pelvises, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Luhaydan, a judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, told Saudi news website sabq.org.

Driving “could have a reverse physiological impact. Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis.

This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees,” Sheikh al-Luhaydan said. [Al Arabiya] Read more

28 September 2013

School cancels Muslim proselytizing in class

.... Looking deeper into the curriculum, she found the video to which her son had been exposed. She asked the district to remove it and find one that was objective and relevant, “not one that taught children how to become a Muslim.”

Her requests were denied through the administration, superintendent and school board levels.

Eventually she reached out to the Thomas More Law Center, which reported, “The questionable video features a Christian (Dave) agreeing to embrace the religion of Islam and the Muslim culture by living with a Muslim family for 30 days in Dearborn, Michigan. Dave was required to live, dress and eat as a Muslim, study the Quran daily and participate in Muslim prayer. [WND] Read more

Surprising number of Post readers support Quebec’s Charter of Values

Quebec’s proposed secularist Charter of Values has not proven to be popular with pundits — but a surprising number of National Post readers like it. That became evident as readers answered this week’s Letters-page question: “Do you support Quebec’s proposed ban on religious symbols in the workplace?”

A full page of responses will fill Monday’s Letters page, with the notes falling into three main groups. The largest is from readers who feel religion has no place in a public workspace. Here are a few examples: [National Post] Read more

I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism

.... Time and again, one reads about Islamist attacks that seem to defy not only the most basic of humanity’s moral strictures but also political and even guerrilla logic. Consider the hundreds of suicide attacks that have taken place in Iraq in recent years, a great number of them against ordinary Iraqis, often children.

Western apologists for this wave of weird violence, which they call “resistance”, claim it is about fighting against the Western forces which were occupying Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion.

If so, it’s the first “resistance” in history whose prime targets have been civilians rather than security forces, and which has failed to put forward any kind of political programme that its violence is allegedly designed to achieve. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

27 September 2013

Niqub-wearing Muslim waves a union flag shock!

The BBC's Newsbeat website has just published a piece on a 'damning survey' (as it's usually put) of young people's attitudes to Muslims in the UK. The results were rather negative. (The survey itself was carried out in June, 2013.

Perhaps because of that, the BBC evidently saw it necessary to portray Muslims in a positive light in order to counteract such negativity. One way in which it did so – and it's a way which others have replicated on many occasions – was by using the now obligatory image of a Muslim woman (usually in a hijab, an Islamic garment which covers the hair) flying the Union Flag. (They use the Stars and Stripes in the United States.)

Only this image went one step further. Instead of an image of a Muslim woman with a hijab waving the Union Flag, this image was one of a woman in a niqab, or veil, doing the same thing! Usually these photos are of brown-skinned models, probably not Muslims; this time it looked like the genuine article – but you never know. [LIBERTY GB] Read more

Iceland to Get its First Mosque

The Muslim Association of Iceland now admits that foreign donors will be paying for the mosque's construction costs. The former mayor of Reykjavik says he believes it is outrageous for the city to give Muslims a site at no cost at a great location in the center of the city, and asks why political and feminist groups are so tolerant of a religion that he says degrades women. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Psychology: Why Islam creates monsters

.... Nobody is born a mass murderer, a rapist or a violent criminal. So what is it in the Muslim culture that influence their children in a way that make so relatively many Muslims harm other people?

As a psychologist in a Danish youth prison, I had a unique chance to study the mentality of Muslims. 70 percent of youth offenders in Denmark have a Muslim background. I was able to compare them with non-Muslim clients from the same age group with more or less the same social background.

I came to the conclusion that Islam and Muslim culture have certain psychological mechanisms that harm people's development and increase criminal behaviour. [Jihad Watch] Read more

Devout Muslim Jubel Miah battered wife and forced her to wear niqab

Jubel Miah, 21, ordered his wife to wear a full veil after she said she was going to college to study.

He called her names and said to her: "You are a married woman. You don't do this."

Burnley Magistrates' Court heard how the wife, who has not been named, agreed to wear the full face veil because she believed he would stop making her life a misery.

However Miah began beating her when he noticed she was not smiling during Eid celebrations with family. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

26 September 2013

There are uncomfortable facts to be faced on immigration

.... Shootings in Sydney suburbs with big Muslim populations are so common that police created a Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad.

All this — and high rates of welfare dependency — suggests we should better integrate the nearly 500,000 Muslims we have already before admitting many more.

I know, it is not “nice” to say such things. Most Muslims are indeed peace-loving. Fifteen jailed terrorists is, after all, a tiny proportion of 500,000 people.

Yet we have nearly as many Buddhists as Muslims. Not one Buddhist is in jail here for terrorism. So would we be safer bringing in more Muslims or more Buddhists? [HERALD SUN] Read more

Ealing students have their say on wearing the niqab

.... Rima began wearing her headscarf soon after she got married as her husband was keen for her to wear it.

“He didn’t really force me. He just wanted me to wear it because he felt jealous,” she said.

She believes there are double standards at play. “I think, if they want to ban the veil, then they should ban other religious symbols as well," she said.

"It’s unfair to make a big deal just out of what Muslims choose to wear. I understand that, for some professions, facial contact is essential, but it shouldn’t be banned.” [Ealing Times] Read more

Rushdie fatwa, 25 years on: fear casts long shadow

.... The impact of The Satanic Verses is best understood through the contemporary social and cultural concern with the avoidance of “offence”. Writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik, author of From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair And Its Legacy (2010), gives this account of the cultural shift:

“The critics of…Rushdie lost the battle but they have largely won the war. They never managed to prevent the publication of The Satanic Verses. But the claim at the heart of the anti-Rushdie campaign – that it is morally wrong to offend deeply held cultural or religious sensibilities – has become incorporated into mainstream liberal thinking. From publishing to academia, from broadcasting to theatre, there is a great reluctance to give offence. In effect we have internalised the fatwa.” [Times Higher Education] Read more

To tackle Islamophobia in Britain, we need to fight clever

.... If we are going to explore these kinds of questions then we need to make sure that we do it properly, with good data and in a way that does not inadvertently legitimise the narratives of extremists.

This means building stronger bridges between journalists, editors and researchers, and also discussing whether some polls and their press releases should be subject to some kind of peer review. We need to take a more clever approach.

[A COMMENT] Bloody 'ell!! A call to censor 'incorrect thinking' before it gets though....

The problem is that people confuse fear and loathing of Islam (the religion/ideology) with fear and loathing (and/or descrimination) of Muslims. The latter is bigotry. The former is - in the view of many - a sensible and legitimate opinion. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Tony Blair Blasts 'Insidious And Venomous' Islamist Ideology

Tony Blair has said religion needs to be put "in its proper place in politics" in order to defeat terrorists who "fight without hesitation, kill without mercy and die without regret".

Speaking from outside the United Nations' headquarters in New York, the former prime minister and current peace envoy to the Middle East said Islamist ideology had created an enemy that was "insidious and venomous, but also difficult to beat".

And he called for the "basic long-term problem of extremism based on a perversion of religion" to be confronted following the Westgate mall massacre in Kenya, deadly attacks on Christians in Pakistan and the conflagrations in the Middle East. [The Huffington Post UK/PA] Read more

25 September 2013

Shock! Islamism may be involved in Nairobi massacre, says Guardian

After – in fact during – the hideous massacre in Nairobi The Guardian has really outclassed itself with its special brand of fatuity, which causes old Guardianastas like me to swallow a little vomit.

There was Jenkins’ ludicrous piece. It’s neatly summed up here and has been much linked to in derision.

There was Giles Foden: “al-Shabaab is really attacking the very idea of capitalism” [Harry’s Place] Read more

The Mathematics of Paradise

Saudi-based cleric Muhammad Ali Shanqiti discards the old 72 virgins tradition in favour of a radical new vision of sex in the after-life:

So, let's do the maths...

Four wives, say, each with 70 black-eyed virgins. That's...purses lips, taps figures into the calculator... 280 black-eyed virgins. And each of these brings 70 servant girls. That's...19,600 servant girls. Phew! And those are just the servant girls, remember. Let's not forget those 280 virgins...and the four wives...that's 19, 600 plus 280, plus 4, which makes.....19,884. Nineteen thousand eight hundred and eighty four women! Which is....a stunning 276-fold increase over the original 72 virgins. Now that's progress.

Anglican sermons were never like this. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Many young Britons do not trust Muslims, poll finds

Some 27% of the thousand 18 to 24-year-olds questioned said they did not trust them, while fewer than three in 10 (29%) thought Muslims were doing enough to tackle extremism in their communities.

A similar proportion of the young people polled (28%) said the country would be better off with fewer Muslims and almost half (44%) felt Muslims did not share the same values as everyone else.

The BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat survey was carried out by the pollsters Comres in June after the soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in the street in Woolwich, south east London, in May. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Quarter of young British people 'do not trust Muslims'

More than a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds in Britain do not trust Muslims, a BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat poll suggests.

Of the 1,000 young people questioned, 28% said Britain would be better off with fewer Muslims, while 44% said Muslims did not share the same values as the rest of the population.

Some 60% thought the British public had a negative image of Muslims.

An adviser on anti-Muslim hatred said the findings suggested young people needed to mix more. [BBC] Read more

24 September 2013

Islamophobia Watch says "Student thinks she knows better than Muslim women what form of dress their religious beliefs require"

A student asked not to wear her cap in Bromley College says she won’t agree unless Muslim women remove their headdresses as well.

Caroline Powell, of Sevenoaks Way, Orpington, is attending Greenwich University, which uses facilities in Bromley College, Rookery Lane.

While inside the Bromley College buildings, the 39-year-old has been told repeatedly to remove her cap, but believes that, while Muslim women are allowed to wear headdresses, this represents “double standards”. [Islamophobia Watch] Read more

Teacher 'forced out of school’ for failure to wear Muslim hijab

The 50-year-old claimed she left the Al-Madinah School in Derby after being “hassled” by senior managers about her choice of clothes.

She claimed that the school had issued staff with a handbook that told female staff to cover their entire body — with the exception of hands, face and feet — and not to wear “symbols of other faiths”.

The teacher, who does not want to be identified, claims she was put on gardening leave and then officially resigned after four months of employment because of her refusal to sign up to the rules.

It is the latest in a series of disclosures about Al-Madinah, a taxpayer-funded free school with about 200 pupils aged four to 16. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Lessons from the Peshawar church attack: appeasing Islamism leads to more terrorism

On Sunday, two suicide bombers targeted all Saints Church in Peshawar, resulting in a death toll so far of more than 85 with at least 140 others injured.

The bombing for which the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility potentially represents a new and more deadly stage in Islamist terrorism, and also illustrates the likely results of appeasing Islamism.

The bombing is also personal for me. I used to live in Peshawar and counted many Pakistani Christians as my friends. [ConservativeHome] Read more

23 September 2013

Abercrombie settles law suits over headscarves

Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch will permanently drop its ban on headscarves under a settlement announced Monday and will pay a total of $71,000 to two Bay Area Muslim women who lost job opportunities because of their attire.

The agreement comes three weeks after a federal judge ruled that Abercrombie & Fitch violated the religious rights of one of the women, Hani Khan, by firing her after she refused to remove the hijab she wore while working as a stockroom clerk at the retailer's Hollister Co. outlet in San Mateo. [San Francisco Chronicle] Read more

90% of Top Newspaper Headlines Censor Islam in Nairobi, Pakistan Attacks - Generic ‘terrorists’ and ‘militants’ appear in nine of 10 headlines

Dare a top newspaper journalist to play connect-the-dots and chances are he’ll fail miserably – at least with drawing the line between Islam and terrorism.

In Nairobi, Kenya last weekend, Islamist militants took over a high-end shopping mall and began executing non-Muslims. In Pakistan, Islamist suicide bombers detonated at a Christian Church on Sunday.

Yet on Monday, September 23, 90 percent of the top ten (via circulation numbers) daily newspapers’ headlines in the United States censored the words “Islam” and Muslim” from Nairobi and Pakistan reports. One – the New York Daily News – didn’t even have a headline for the latest Islamic terrorist attacks. That’s journalism at its finest. [Media Research Center] Read more

Veils, segregated schools and why we risk sowing the seeds of Islamic terror in Britain

.... My great worry is that, if the British authorities continue to allow the Islamic hardliners to have their way in the name of choice when it comes to segregating boys from girls in schools, or sharia courts, or insisting that women should be allowed to wear veils in all circumstances, then those hardliners will feel they are pushing at an open door.

We must, sadly, accept that there are people in our midst who want to see a hardline Islamist caliphate in Britain. And while the security and intelligence services are nothing less than heroic in their fight against Islamic extremists, continuing to foil terror plots on a regular basis, our civic institutions have in contrast been far too cowardly in their reluctance to challenge fundamentalism.

The shocking slaughter in Nairobi is the true face of Islamic fundamentalism. And we in Britain should never appease such a mentality. [MailOnline] Read more

The Nairobi siege

David Cameron’s comment on the relationship between Islam and horrific recent events in Nairobi doesn’t seem to make full sense:

“These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion – they don’t,” he said.

Although of course it is is entirely reasonable to argue that such terrorists’ understanding of their religion is horribly perverted, and that Muslims should certainly not in any way be held collectively responsible for such attacks, it seems clear that these people are acting in the name of religion. Given the very precise and chilling details of the role played by religion in determining the fate of hostages, it seems bizarre to brush that fact aside. [Harry’s Place] Read more

The Women in Afghanistan: In the News for the Wrong Reasons

.... These are high-profile women and their stories have made news. But they represent just the tip of a vast iceberg of violence against women in Afghanistan. According to one study, 87% of Afghan women have experienced violence of at least one form (many suffering multiple types).

An NGO report last year found that almost half the women in Afghanistan's prisons and nearly all the girls in its juvenile detention centres were there because they'd fled a forced marriage or domestic violence.

The miserable reality for many Afghan women and girls is that they are routinely targeted by their husbands or other relatives. If they're more prominent individuals, they're also likely targets for the armed groups, including the Taliban. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Peshawar horror as Muslims massacre and maim Christians

It was the worst atrocity committed against Christians in Pakistan's entire history. Two Muslim suicide bombers entered All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, and slaughtered around 80 Christians and maimed many more as they worshipped God and praised Jesus. It was a jihadi bloodbath of butchery and carnage.

And still the BBC led with the Nairobi atrocity, and placed the Peshawar horror beneath even Ed Miliband's mutterings about absolutely nothing. As the day progressed, the story languished beneath Angela Merkel's victory in Germany, suffering in Somalia and news of the Emmy awards in LA.

But it was only 78 Christians, so it ended the day as a single line in the bottom left-hand corner; an insignificant indication; an obscure footnote. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

No, Mr Cameron. The Kenyan massacre is all about Islamism

Here we go again. A group of Islamist terrorists armed with guns and grenades head into a shopping mall in Kenya. They separate out the Muslims from the non-Muslims, let the former go free and massacre the latter.

Cue the usual responses. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, says:

‘These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion – they don’t. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don’t represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world.’

I don’t think any sensible person would argue that the perpetrators represent all Muslims. But it seems strange to say that a separation of people — and massacre of them — based solely on their religious identity can be said to have nothing to do with religion. [The Spectator] Read more

Teachers at Derby's Muslim school 'ordered to wear hijabs'

WOMEN teachers at Al-Madinah School in Derby claim they are being told to cover their heads and shoulders with a hijab – an Islamic scarf – whether or not they are Muslim.

This is one of several complaints made by staff to their unions at Al-Madinah School, which is currently under investigation by the Education Funding Agency for alleged irregularities over its grants. [Derby Telegraph] Read more

War on Terror? Islam’s War on Us, more like

.... And this is the truly terrifying thing. Think of everything that Islam has demonstrated to us in recent history. And think of how the discussion is constantly cranked into reverse in order to protect Islam. To defend Islam. To protect Islam from “attacks”.

And ask yourself: how much lower must we fall? Where is our rock bottom? If 9/11 and 7/7 and Madrid and Mumbai and now Nairobi are not enough; if veils in criminal trials and in schools are not enough; if sharia councils on our doorsteps are not enough, then does anyone know what is enough?

What is your rock bottom? And incidentally, at what point might we be entitled to evidence that this religion is peaceful? [The Blog of The Re-Enlightenment] Read more

22 September 2013

Inspectors to be sent into Muslim school that orders staff to wear the hijab amid concerns about its quality of teaching

Inspectors are to be sent ‘within days’ to a Muslim free school where girls are segregated from boys and non-Muslim female staff forced to wear hijabs.

Michael Gove has ordered Ofsted to immediately investigate Al-Madinah School amid reports lessons are being replaced by prayers.

The Derby school, which opened last year, was due to have its first inspection later this term but the quality of teaching and leadership will now be scrutinised as a matter of urgency. [MailOnline] Read more

Muslim husbands must hate non-Muslim wives

.... When an attendee asked Burhami how Islam can allow a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman and yet expect him to hate her, the sheikh responded as follows:

"Where’s the objection? Do all men love their wives? How many married couples live together despite disagreements and problems? Huh?

That being the case, he [Muslim husband] may love the way she [non-Muslim woman] looks, or love the way she raises the children, or love that she has money. This is why he’s discouraged from marrying among the People of the Book—because she has no [real] religion.

He is ordered to make her hate her religion while continuing marriage/sexual relations with her. This is a very standard matter…. Of course he should tell her that he hates her religion. He must show her that he hates her because of her religion, and because she is an infidel. But if possible, treat her well—perhaps that will cause her to convert to Islam. He should invite her to Islam and call her to Allah. [The Commentator] "Read more

Ticino voters back ban on wearing face veils

Results from a referendum in the southern canton of Ticino showed that 65 percent of the electorate backed a proposal to forbid the covering of faces in public areas by any group.

Echoing bans in France and Belgium, the measure does not single out Muslims directly.

It states that "no-one may mask or hide their face on the public highway, nor in places open to the public, except places of worship, nor those offering a public service".

But in a clear nod to the Islamic tradition of veils for women, it adds that "no-one may require another person to cover their face for reasons of gender". [The Local Europe] Read more

Suicide bombers kill dozens of Christians in Pakistan. NOW will the world wake up to the Islamist war against Christianity?

Can we go easy on the phrase "religion of peace" today? Of course most Muslims are horrified what may be the biggest slaughter of Christians by Islamists in modern times: at the time of writing, estimates of the number of dead at All Saints' Peshawar are ranging from 60 to 200.

These faithful worshippers are the victims, first and foremost, of Islamic fanatics whose psychotic creed is held by a small minority of the world's Muslims. [telegraph.co.uk] Read more

Muslim groups oppose ban on child marriage

Muslim organisations, including the Indian Union Muslim League, have joined hands to oppose the law banning child marriage on the ground that the Child Marriage (Prevention) Act is against the provisions of the Muslim personal law.

.... Mr. Mundupara, spokesman for the convention, told The Hindu on Saturday that the meeting was convened in response to complaints from many mahal committees about problems in families in which girls were given in marriage before the age of 18 due to ‘unavoidable circumstances.’

Criticising the Child Marriage (Prevention) Act, which made marriage of girls below the age 18 an offence, speakers at the meeting said the law violated religious rights of the Muslim community since the Muslim personal law did not specify the age for marriage of girls in the community. [The Hindu] Read more

Muslim school banned pupils from singing and reading fairy tales as hardliners took control and ousted headmaster and deputy

Britain's first Muslim free school is controlled by religious hardliners who ban children from singing or reading fairy tales and force staff to wear headscarves - according to the former head teacher and deputy who claim they were forced to leave.

Andrew Cutts-McKay resigned from his role as head of al Madinah School in Derby in August, two months after deputy Suzanne Southerland stepped down from her post.

Both allege they were 'bullied and sidelined' by members of the school's trust, which is predominantly Muslim. The school strongly denies the pair's claims. [MailOnline] Read more

Lord Tebbit Warns Of Immigrants Who 'Recreate Their Country' In The UK

The former Conservative Party chairman said some were building "separate societies" and warned that immigrants from the "third world" had no intention of integrating.

Lord Tebbit also supported a ban on women wearing a full face veil in certain cases where it is essential to see people's faces.

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme that his concerns about immigration were not over Bulgarian and Romanian people who could enter the UK after transitional controls expire at the end of the year.

"Let's not jump to that conclusion about immigration. The bigger problem that is caused in our cities is caused by immigrants from the third world who have got no intention of integrating here," he said.

"They are people who left their country, came here and are trying to recreate their country in our country. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Saudi Arabian women call new day of defiance against driving ban

Saudi women activists have called for a new day of defiance next month of the long-standing ban on women driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

An online petition entitled “Oct 26th, driving for women” had on Sunday gathered more than 5,800 signatories, as activists try again to push authorities to end the unique ban.

“I will drive on October 26,” activist Nasima al-Sada told AFP on Sunday, saying that some 20 women are going to take part in the campaign in the kingdom’s Eastern Province. [Agence France-Presse] Read more

Pakistan church blast kills dozens

A twin-suicide bombing outside a church in Peshawar in Pakistan has killed at least 75 people, in one of the worst attacks on Christians in the country.

Two bombers blew themselves up as worshippers were coming out of the city's historic All Saints church after attending Sunday Mass, police say.

Relatives of the victims gathered at the scene to protest against the government's failure to protect them. [BBC] Read more

Veil Debate Special

The news items below cover the ongoing debate about banning the Muslim veil in Britain. Red headlines indicate support for banning completely or in some form. Green indicates arguments against any banning.

Let's face it – the niqab is ridiculous, and the ideology behind it weird

The niqab is a ridiculous garment, adopted by a small (but growing) number of women and rejected by many mainstream Muslims. When I see someone wearing it, I'm torn between laughing at the absurdity and irritation with the ideology it represents.

In secular countries, the notion that women have to cover their faces whenever they leave the house is rightly seen as weird, and runs counter to the principle of gender equality.

Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they're the ones suffering oppression. [independent.co.uk, 22 September] Read more

Let’s not go 'wobbly’ over the veil

The lack of muscle in Western liberal values is permitting a fundamentalist strain of Islam to gain a foothold in spheres that should be protected, such as schooling and childhood.

.... The question of where rights stop and dressing-up begins was dealt with succinctly by the Law Lords in 2006, in their ruling on the case of Shabina Begum, a who had relentlessly pursued her school through the courts for the right to ignore its uniform policy and instead wear an all-concealing garment called the jilbab.

The school – which had a Muslim headmistress, Yasmin Bevan – had gone to great pains to devise a sensibly modest option for Muslim girls, but drew the line at the jilbab.

The Law Lords found for the school, ruling that “a person’s right to hold a particular religious belief is absolute, but a person’s right to manifest a particular religious belief is qualified”. [telegraph.co.uk, 21 September] Read more

Niqab Notes - Anti-Jacobinism

.... although I don’t think women have the right to wear the niqab in all situations, I disagree with some of Jacobin’s arguments. I take his point (made in section 1) that banning one rather extreme form of clothing (proscription) is different from laying down precise rules about what women should wear (prescription).

However I still don’t think the fact there is no absolute symmetry between a niqab ban and a highly prescriptive dress code justifies such a ban, particularly when one can wear offensive symbols, including swastikas, in public.

[A COMMENT] I believe the argument is approaching the conclusion point that there will be no ban on Burkha or Niqab except in any situation where a state institution requires to see your face for identification or interviews ie court, benefits office, driving test, airports.

And where the state requires that your face is uncovered in nursing and school. Outside of these areas it remains whether a shop or supermarket may individually ban them on ground of identification for shoplifting. [Harry’s Place, 21 September] Read more

Left wing extremist behind the pro veil calls at Birmingham Metropolitan College

Reports appeared in the press this week about student activist Aaron Kiely being behind the campaign at Birmingham Metropolitan College to lift the ban on the veil introduced as a result of “security concerns. The Times reported that:

He is being investigated after a series of outspoken comments, including his opposition to the deportation of a notorious Islamist extremist and his accusation that the Conservative Party was “whipping up racism”.

The left-wing activist is a £23,000-a-year black students’ officer for the National Union of Students and is also a Labour councillor in Thurrock, Essex. [Harry’s Place, 20 September] Read more

Ministers mustn’t duck the debate on the veil

When Jeremy Browne, the Lib Dem Home Office minister, floated the idea of banning the niqab – the face veil adopted by a certain kind of fundamentalist Muslim – in public places, he called for a “national debate” on the issue.

That debate, however, has largely failed to take place. Even as the appropriateness of the veil has been questioned for a Birmingham school, a London courtroom, and now NHS hospitals, politicians have hemmed and hawed and said that while they can see why people are concerned, ultimately this is a job for whoever runs that particular branch of the public services. [telegraph.co.uk, 19 September] Read more

Why truth wears a veil

The half-baked attempt at fusing political correctness whilst upholding British law was hailed by some as a good "compromise", but it turns out to be something much less than that. As pointed out by Robin Shepherd, there is in the judge's apparent stand in favour of British values and the rule of law a larger than realised appeasement of so-called ‘multicultural values’.

This is the first time that a judicial figure has made a legal statement about the niqab and its inevitable collision with the British legal system.

Still, this kind of story has long been expected, and as it happens, it has come to light alongside many other incidents where Western governments and large parts of their populations have agreed to crack down on the the niqab and burka. [The Commentator, 19 September] Read more

Niqab Notes - Further Thoughts on Face-Covering

.... I abhor all religious dress codes designed to restrict the freedom of their adherents and to mark them as separate and unequal human beings. But the idea that a woman's face is so shameful that she must be completely depersonalised is a vindictive and intolerable affront to human dignity.

The niqab marks, segregates, depersonalises and degrades those who wear it. It is, objectively, a tool of abuse. And for this reason, its extirpation - not just from Western societies, but from all societies - constitutes a moral imperative. [Jacobinism, 19 September] Read more

Secret ban on face veils for staff at 17 hospitals

The Government has ordered a review of all health service policies on workers’ uniforms. It will ask professional regulators to draw up clear rules so that communication with patients is always given priority over the right of a nurse or doctor to wear a veil.

It follows indications from David Cameron that he would support public sector bodies wishing to ban staff from covering their faces. MPs have called for a national debate on the issue. [telegraph.co.uk, 19 September] Read more

The veil: Britain’s verdict

SUN readers overwhelmingly agree with our plan for vital reforms on Muslim women wearing full-face veils.

In an online poll, 87 PER CENT agreed with the four proposals for niqabs or burkas we revealed yesterday.

— 87% back The Sun's 4-point plan

— 61% want full-face veils banned

— Work axe could breach European law

[The Sun, 18 September] Read more

London schools forcing pupils to wear burkas, with 'appropriate punishments for incorrect uniform'

Two London schools were today revealed to be enforcing strict dress codes that force pupils to wear burkas.

The Madani Girls School in Whitechapel and the Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School in Southall require all students to dress in Islamic clothing.

Both of the independent, fee-paying schools make clear that pupils who fail to abide by the rules will be disciplined and face being sent home in disgrace. [Evening Standard, 18 September] Read more

Islamic schools in Britain forcing girls as young as 11 to wear full-face veils

Muslim schools all over Britain are forcing female pupils as young as 11 to wear burkas, it emerged today.

Institutions say that they are 'strict' on uniforms for their children because full-face veils are the 'desired dress code of a Muslim female'.

But campaigners believe it is 'wrong' for any child to cover their face and the Home Secretary Theresa May says that all women should be able to 'make a choice' about what they wear.

The Madani Girls School in Tower Hamlets, East London, requires all its pupils wear a black burka and a long black coat outside.

On its website, its describes its uniform policy as 'strict' and as supporting the 'desired dress code of a Muslim female'. [MailOnline, 18 September] Read more

A Veiled Debate

.... This isn't a theoretical concern. The British press broke the news a few years ago that several private Muslim schools in Britain require female students to cover up from head to toe when they're dismissed from class.

As Tory MP Sarah Wollaston put it in a Telegraph op-ed Sunday, it would be "naive to think that a thirteen year old would have complete freedom to reject family or peer group pressure."

Muslims in Europe enjoy a level of religious toleration that Christians, to say nothing of Jews, could only dream of in most of the Islamic world. Underlying the veil debate is the lingering question that many would rather not ask openly, which is whether those who demand tolerance in the name of Islam would extend the same tolerance in return. [The Wall Street Journal, 18 September] Read more

The silence of secularists: how the Left-Islamist alliance is winning

.... Where does this leave Birmingham Metropolitan College? The original prohibition concerned “hoodies, hats, caps and veils”. The subsequent reversal permits only “specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values”, which sounds suspiciously as if facial covering is still beyond the pale, but an exception will be made for anyone invoking an extreme interpretation of Islam.

Those who seek such preferment in future know what to do. The rest of us can only despair at the precedent that has been set. [Trending Central, 18 September] Read more

Maybe it’s time to ban the veil

.... It’s time for everyone who hates this cloak of oppression to say so. Especially Muslims, and especially female Muslims.

If everyone spoke up then wearing the veil in public would be completely socially unacceptable, just like wearing a KKK mask is, and we wouldn’t have to recalibrate our collective intellect to pander to it by pretending the veil is a demonstration of personal freedom and women’s rights.

We wouldn’t even need to think about banning it. But this is what happens when religion has power. This is what happens when religion causes fear. Madness. Absolute bloody madness.

The state has views on lots of things and it often uses the criminal law to express those views. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time the state expressed a view on the veil and whether people can conceal their identity in public for no rational reason whatsoever.

I for one would very much like to know the state’s view. [The Re-Enlightenment, 18 September] Read more


As judge orders woman to uncover face, The Sun demands vital reforms:

1) BAN veils in school, courts and hospitals

2) BAN them in airports, banks and secure areas

3) LET employer decide if ok in the workplace

4) BUT freedom to wear them in the street

BRITISH justice must be transparent. And religious belief cannot trump the law of the land.

That is why Judge Peter Murphy was dead right to demand that a Muslim woman remove her full-face veil to give evidence at her trial.

Do you agree? Join Sun+ to have your say. [The Sun, 17 September] Read more

Top British Conservatives grovel to Islamist agenda over veils

.... "I start from the position that I don't think Government should tell people, I don't think the Government should tell women, what they should be wearing.

"I think it's for women to make a choice about what clothes they wish to wear, if they wish to wear a veil that is for a woman to make a choice."

For crying out loud. This is a so-called Conservative, a top one at that. She thinks this is a fashion issue? Actually, not quite.

It's worse than that. She is clearly and self-consciously threading her grovelling through the, "it's a woman's right to choose" paradigm that is one of the siren calls of the political Left especially on the abortion issue, on which we have no strong views by the way. [The Commentator, 17 September] Read more

British-born Girls Who Wear the Niqab Aren't That Different to Boys Who Flash Their Underwear

.... a penchant for anti-social fashion, an urge to pick out and put on clothes that express one's disregard for the world and its inhabitants, that say a big fat "screw you" to other people.

.... Veil-wearers often talk excitedly about the "barrier" their robe erects between them and the madding crowd. In the words of one, putting the veil on "creates [a barrier] between myself and the harsh, frenetic world [of] nosy passers-by, noise and crowds".

What really motivates this desire for sartorial separation from the mob is not some profound sense of piety or religious duty, but rather the same thing that drives "chavs" to put on face-obscuring hooded tops or young middle-class people to get covered in tattoos that were once the preserve of the workless or sailors - an instinct to advertise one's disdain for one's surroundings, to make an ostentatious display of one's practised, manicured sense of alienation.

There's nothing foreign or religious about this. The urge to put on some kind of veil doesn't come from some dusty backwater in the East but rather from the super-fashionable politics of identity here at home. [The Huffington Post UK, 17 September] Read more

Asking women to remove veil is not racist, says former extremist

Maajid Nawaz, a British-born Muslim who has since renounced his views and is standing as a Liberal Democrat, said girls and women should remove their veils in classrooms, courts, and banks. His intervention came amid a growing political row over the issue.

Theresa May, the Conservative Home Secretary, said “women should be free to decide” for themselves whether to wear a veil. She said it was not for the state to “tell people what they should be wearing”, but added that at schools and courts removing veils may be a “practical necessity”. [telegraph.co.uk, 17 September] Read more

Why are my fellow feminists shamefully silent over the tyranny of the veil

For the past week, our court system has been tying itself in knots to accommodate a young Muslim defendant who wishes to wear the full face veil or niqab in court.

Finally, on Monday, the judge in the case ruled that while she must take off her veil to give evidence, she will otherwise be allowed to wear it during the rest of the trial.

Judge Peter Murphy then expressed the hope that Parliament or a higher court would soon ‘provide a definitive answer’, adding: ‘The niqab has become the elephant in the court room.’

.... The tragedy is that the more we allow the niqab to be accepted by our society, the more that some Muslim girls will be put under pressure to cover themselves.

The debate about the niqab and whether it should be worn in court has been the wrong one. We have failed to tackle the real issue. [MailOnline,17 September] Read more

We are all at the mercy of the activists who are driving these veil confrontations

We do need a proper debate, a parliamentary debate, to sort this out and clear up the confusion. We should have clear policies on what is and isn't acceptable in schools (instead of leaving it to individual headteachers to take the heat) and what is and isn't permissible in courts (at the same time saving the exchequer a fortune from judges having to spend time ruling on each case).

If we don't have definitive legislation, these kinds of unpleasant conflicts will continue and the Islamists will exploit them to create more and more resentment among young Muslims in this country.

Unfortunately, this is an issue that the Government is unlikely to tackle. They know it would unleash an almighty backlash not only from Islamists but from the liberals who seem to support them. Parliament would be in the same situation as the rest of us: open to bullying and manipulation by extremists who have us in a corner by using the concept of freedom to take freedom away. [National Secular Society, 17 September] Read more

Jack Straw: Muslim Face Veils Should Not Be Worn By Defendants In Court

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has called for new laws on the wearing of the veil in court.

The Blackburn MP welcomed a ruling by a judge that a defendant should remove the niqab while giving evidence.

But he said it did not go far enough, saying the woman's face should be visible throughout the whole of the trial.

Straw sparked a worldwide debate in 2006 when he used his Lancashire Telegraph column to call on women to remove the veil when they visited his surgeries. [The Huffington Post UK, 17 September] Read more

The veil: where will it end?

.... in all societies a balance has to be struck between religious freedoms or personal freedoms, and the necessity to have common laws and values on such issues as gender equality.

It seems to me that the total covering of the face is such an extreme expression of religion (especially when one considers the religious justification for requiring women to wear the niqab) that the balance ought to be struck in favour of the idea of equality between men and women, and in favour of an institution simply trying to have a practical rule on face covering and a law that applies equally to everyone.

There is an added inherent contradiction in Muslim groups campaigning for the freedom to wear what they want to, and in the attempt to co-opt the language of human rights, women’s rights and the right of a woman to wear whatever she wants, when Islam itself does not give its adherents that freedom to do so: it is requirement for a woman to dress in a certain way, to wear the hijab or the niqab depending on their interpretation. [Lawyers' Secular Society, 16 September] Read more

A veiled threat to race relations? Judge rules that woman must remove niqab to give evidence during trial - Lawyers argue removing veil would breach her human rights

.... I reject the view, which has its adherents among the public and the press, that the niqab is somehow incompatible with participation in public life in England and Wales; or is nothing more than a form of abuse, imposed under the guise of religion, on women by men.

.... Balancing the right of religious manifestation against the rights and freedoms of the public, the press, and other interested parties such as the complainant in the proper administration of justice, the latter must prevail over (the defendant’s) right to manifest her religion or belief during the proceedings against her to the extent necessary in the interests of justice.

No tradition or practice, whether religious or otherwise, can claim to occupy such a privileged position that the rule of law, open justice, and the adversarial trial process are sacrificed to accommodate it. That is not a discrimination against religion. It is a matter of upholding the rule of law in a democratic society. [independent.co.uk, 16 September] Read more

Head teachers against face veils in school

Veils that prevent teachers from seeing pupils' facial expressions are "not suitable in school", says head teachers' leader Brian Lightman.

He was responding to Home Office minister Jeremy Browne's call for a "national debate" about Islamic veils in public places, such as schools.

But Mr Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says there is no need for any government regulation. [BBC, 16 September] Read more

Muslim veil ruling? Nonsense upon stilts

.... To set out the relevant details: a female Muslim defendant accused of intimidating a witness, and therefore brought to trial at the Crown Court, had argued (via lawyers) that her "human rights" would be violated if she were disallowed from standing in the witness box wearing a veil (niqab) from which only her eyes were visible through a narrow slit.

At Blackfriars Crown Court in London, the presiding judge said: "The ability of the jury to see the defendant for the purposes of evaluating her evidence is crucial." But he did not "doubt the sincerity of her belief" not to be seen by a man in public. The upshot? She will be shielded from public and media view but must be seen by the lawyers, the judge and jury while she is giving testimony. [The Commentator, 16 September] Read more

Spare us a 'national debate' on veils

.... The calm answer has to be to deny this as a national crisis. Individuals and institutions should be able to make their own decisions ad hoc.

Some authorities, possibly schools and colleges in populated Muslim areas and certainly the justice system, clearly regard obscured faces as a practical problem. They should make their own decisions, consulting and defending them in their local circumstances.

The state, and the law, must stand behind such decisions and, where appropriate, support them. But a national debate, a national decision, another France? The game is not worth the candle. [guardian.co.uk, 16 September] Read more

Sarah Wollaston: Veil debate should be wake-up call for feminism

.... In my opinion it is time for politicians to stop delegating this to individual institutions as a minor matter of dress code and instead set clear national guidance.

There are serious consequences for women if they are hidden from view in our courts and our classrooms. For individual campaigners this may be a free choice but what of those who, once the niqab becomes an accepted norm, are pressured into compliance as a badge of piety or purity?

It would be naive to think that a thirteen year old would have complete freedom to reject family or peer group pressure. [telegraph.co.uk, 15 September] Read more

Fully veiled women hinder progressive Islam

.... That all-covering gown, that headscarf, that face mask – all affirm and reinforce the belief that women are a hazard to men and society. These are unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors. They have no place in our country. So why are so many British females sending out those messages about themselves?

Some think they are outsmarting anxious Western institutions by covering up, winning dispiriting culture wars which will give them no advantage in our fast moving world. Young women in niqabs are either testing the state as teenagers do their parents or think their garb is political action – but for what?

Many women, mothers in particular, have been brainwashed by proselytisers who want to spread conservative Islamic worship across Europe and North America. They are well funded by sources based in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. [independent.co.uk, 15 September] Read more

The Headmistress who likes to say no, and the Headmistress who does U-turns

On the left we have Alison Cowell headmistress of Ebsfleet Academy in Kent. She has an "unashamedly strict uniform policy" and this week, with the new academic year, she has been exercising her muscles to enforce it. 5% of her pupils have been sent home for offences against the uniform policy such as wearing her hair bun too high on her head, or carrying her books in a bag which is too small (no handbags are allowed).

On the right we have Dame Christine Braddock CBE headmistress (OK - she's a very senior cheese - she's a Principal) of Birmingham Metropolitan college. Birmingham Metropolitan College had a clear principle that no face coverings were to be worn. No balaclavas, no motorbike crash helmets, no ski masks, no niqabs or burkas. [The Iconoclast, 15 September] Read more

Civilised society must not draw a veil over the niqab

THERE IS always a conflict over the limits of freedom, even in matters of dress. We take such limits seriously. A man who ran out stark naked in the street would be sure to be apprehended more quickly than if he were breaking into a car.

But the opposite extreme, covering up the body so that practically no part of it can be seen, strikes the vast majority of us as sinister and demeaning. When freedom becomes licence (and covering the entire body in public is as licentious in its way as complete nakedness), it cannot long survive. [telegraph.co.uk, 14 September] Read more

I was forced to wear the veil and I wish no other woman had to suffer it

.... I believe the Government should be more robust in determining the guidelines. No manner of dress should be compulsory. Girls in schools should not be forced to wear religious dress when they are too young to question it.

In hospitals, the concern that patients should be able to see health-care professionals’ faces is a valid one. A lot of the arguments against the niqab are valid, but I am not sure that they call for a ban. [telegraph.co.uk, 20 September] Read more

This ban does not bode well for Britain's multicultural future

What to make of the ban given this week to wearing face veils while giving evidence in court?

Beyond the issue of this individual woman’s dignity and freedom to practice and express her religion, the ruling holds wider implications for the place of Muslims in British multicultural society.

Behind the ruling is a not-so-subtle message directly from the state apparatus to Britain’s Muslims: the apparent incompatibility between being a practicing Muslim and participating in British public life (despite the judge’s comments that this is not the case). [independent.co.uk, 19 September] Read more

Muslim veil ban row: Debate over the niqab provokes bigotry says expert

Talat Ahmed, who chairs the Muslim Council of Britain’s social and family affairs committee, remains concerned despite Birmingham Metropolitan College reversing its initial banning of the Islamic full-face veil.

Mrs Ahmed was worried by a separate landmark ruling by Judge Peter Murphy this week stopping a 22-year-old female defendant from taking to the witness stand unless she removed her niqab.

She said: “The recent events will once again generate controversy when, in fact, what we really need is sensible, non-hysterical conversation.

.... On the question of whether the niqab is an Islamic requirement, Mrs Ahmed said: “We recognise that there are different theological approaches to the niqab. Some consider this to be an essential part of their faith, while others do not.

“Even amongst those who do consider the niqab to be an ultimate expression of their faith, there are some who emphasise the need to be practical when there is an essential need to show one’s face – for example, for reasons of security.” [Birmingham Mail, 18 September] Read more

'Why it is so important for us to wear the veil'

When Birmingham community worker Shalina Litt steps out in her niqab, she has come to expect the worst. “It gets a really bad reaction,” the 34 year-old mother of two says. “I’ve had glass kicked at me and when you drive people are extra aggressive. They will roll down their window to shout at you.”

.... Ms Hannan added: “I haven’t found any evidence to show this is something fundamental in Islam but there is a very small minority which feels that it is. But I don’t think it’s right that people are proposing draconian laws. I don’t think that’s the British way of doing things.” [independent.co.uk, 18 September] Read more

Councillor fears Birmingham veils debate may trigger ‘Islamophobia’

.... But Coun Zaffer said the issue had been “blown out of proportion”. He said: “Probably 0.1 per cent of people in this country wear a niqab. To ask for a national debate on something that affects such a small number of people is ridiculous. We need a national debate on the bedroom tax and unemployment.

“I fear this will play right into the hands of the far right and lead to a rise in Islamaphobia. We need to nip that in the bud.” [Islamophobia Watch, 17 September] Read more

The niqab debate: 'Is the veil the biggest issue we face in the UK?

.... Talat agrees that there are always ways of negotiating issues of security. "I understand that safety is paramount, of course, but how safe do women now feel at Birmingham Metropolitan College? The decision might have been revoked, but how safe, how included, does a Muslim woman who wears a veil now feel, or does she feel like an outsider?"

When this debate is raised, one sad outcome, says Salma Yaqoob, "is a lot of Muslims actually resent the Muslim women [who wear the veil] as well, because they think: 'You're causing this grief for us.' So that intolerance is infectious. It's like: 'Come on, we're getting all this negative attention again, can't you lot just stop it.'" [guardian.co.uk, 16 September] Read more

Muslim Women Who Wear Face Veil Speak Out Over Niqab Ban Debate

Pictures of women wearing the full-face veil were splashed across the front pages of national newspapers on Monday as politicians debated the right of Muslim women to wear the niqab in public.

But, by-and-large, it's white, secular, middle-aged politicians and journalists doing the talking, not the so-called 'niqabis'.

Women wearing the face-veil need to take a more active role in public debate, according to Shalina Litt, 34, radio presenter and community activist from Birmingham. She has been wearing the face veil for around five years, having left a career in the music industry to dedicate herself more fully to Islam. [The Huffington Post UK, 16 September] Read more

My veil epiphany

As Birmingham Metropolitan College, one of Britain's largest institutes of higher education, bans Muslim women from wearing veils on the grounds of "security risk" – then changes its mind within days – we ask: what, precisely, were they imagining?

Was it a sort of Mr Toad scenario, where a villain creeps about disguised as a woman? Or that Muslim girls themselves would tuck Berettas under their veils, ready to whip out if a teacher prescribed too much geography homework? [Guardian Cif, 15 September] Read more

21 September 2013

Immigration and the future of Britain

Britain is losing its traditional cultural identity, and with that loss goes a loss of authority over many cultural values. If the Muslim population becomes a majority in Britain’s towns and cities, then traditional British culture will very likely have to change.

There has always been an air of political unreality in debates about cultural assimilation and diversity in heavily immigrant Britain. Debates on contentious issues always assumed that large scale demographic changes could be ignored and that everyone, immigrant and native, would somehow come happily together in a liberal, secular common culture.

This has not happened, and with birth-rate differentials and continuing immigration, it is hard to see it ever happening. [The Commentator] Read more

20 September 2013

Christianity becoming extinct in its birthplace, says Holland

MIDDLE EAST historian Tom Holland told a briefing in London last night that the world is watching the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.

In an apocalyptic appraisal of the worsening political situation in the region, a panel of experts provided a mass of evidence and statistics for the end of the region’s nation states under the onslaught of militant Islam.

‘In terms of the sheer scale of the hatreds and sectarian rivalries, we are witnessing something on the scale of horror of the European Thirty Years War,’ said Holland.

‘It is the climax of a process grinding its way through the twentieth century – the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.’ [Lapido Media] Read more

Teaching union furious as Islamic free school staff are told they must wear hijab even if they are not Muslim

Teaching unions have reacted with anger after staff at an Islamic free school were told they had to wear the hijab even if they were not Muslim.

It was also claimed that teachers were dismayed that girls at the Al-Madinah School in Derby are required to sit at the back of the class raising fears over possible discrimination.

Staff were reportedly spotted removing their headscarves as they left the premises at lunch time and claim they have been instructed not to wear jewellery or bring non-halal food with them to work. [independent.co.uk] Read more

Turkish pianist Fazil Say gets jail term for 'religiously offensive' tweets about Muslims

AN ISTANBUL court has handed a 10-month suspended jail term to world-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say for a second time in a retrial over social media posts deemed religiously offensive.

Say, who was not present at Friday's hearing, was also placed on a two-year probation, his lawyer Meltem Akyol said, adding that he planned to appeal the verdict.

Say was originally sentenced on April 15 for allegedly inciting religious hatred and insulating Islamic values in a series of tweets he posted last year.

A higher Istanbul court then overturned the conviction on "procedural flaws" and a retrial was ordered. [AFP] Read more

Message to Richard Dawkins: 'Islam is not a race' is a cop out

Of late, a new variation of the old chestnut "I'm not racist but …" has emerged. It goes: "I've got nothing against Muslims, it's Islam I hate". Otherwise known as the "Islam is not a race" argument.

After I wrote about Richard Dawkins's snide attack on the supposed dearth of Muslim scientific and cultural achievement, some critics hit back along these lines. It is acceptable to criticise and belittle Islam because it is a religion, not an ethnic grouping – and therefore fair game.[Guardian Cif did not give the option of comments on this article. You can understand why.] [Guardian Cif] Read more

Derby Muslim School Investigated Amid Claims Non-Muslims Forced To Wear Hijabs

A Muslim free school has reportedly insisted staff, including non-Muslims, sign new contracts insisting they wear hijabs.

The Derby Telegraph reported that teachers were also concerned about gender segregation at the school, with girls reportedly asked to sit at the back of classrooms.

Al-Madinah school in Derby, which opened in 2012, is obliged as a free school to recruit 50% of pupils without taking religion into consideration. The school is currently under investigation by the Education Funding Agency for irregularities. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

19 September 2013

District ends field trips to Nashville mosque after complaints

A certain kind of field trip is now off limits in one Middle Tennessee school district after students and parents complained.

Some Hendersonville High School students came to the Islamic Center of Nashville as part of a world studies class field trip.

The students took a tour of the mosque and were offered a copy of the Quran, and one parent isn't too happy about that. [WSMV; Nashville] Read more

Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States

CAIR’s report “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States” is now available. The report’s key findings are the following:

Finding 1: Subject matter experts perceive a small, but highly welcome, decline in Islamophobia in America during the period covered by this report.

In 2012, CAIR rates Islamophobia as a 5.9 on a scale of one to 10, with one representing an America free of Islamophobia and 10 being the worst possible situation for Muslims. In 2010, CAIR rated the state of Islamophobia in America as a 6.4.

.... Finding 4: In 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments designed to vilify Islamic religious practices were introduced in the legislatures of 29 states and the U.S. Congress. Sixty-two of these bills contained language that was extracted from David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation.

While the bias behind the bills is clear, the presence of an actual problem that needed solved was not, even to the legislators introducing the measures. In at least 11 states, mainstream Republican leaders introduced or supported anti-Muslim legislation. [Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)] Read more

Saudi religious police told not to arrest women drivers

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia have been told not to arrest women driving cars.

“There is no law or specific text that allows the Commission members to do it,” a source at the religious organisation said, the London-based Saudi daily Al Hayat reported.

“The arrest of women driving cars is within the powers and jurisdiction of the security authorities. The Commission for the promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice applies the rules of the state and cannot go beyond them.” [Gulf News] Read more

18 September 2013

Does the Qur’an Teach Hate?

.... In light of the Qur’an’s teachings about jihad and the subjugation of non-Muslims, he certainly had a case that “there is no such thing as radical Islam” and “all Islam is radical,” for there is no mainstream sect of Islam or school of Islamic jurisprudence that does not teach that the Muslim community must wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under its rule.

.... But what CAIR was most outraged about was not that, of course, but Jamason’s contention that the Qur’an teaches hate. They did not, however, provide any evidence showing that it doesn’t.

So does it? [FRONTPAGEMAG.COM] Read more

Norway PM: 'Say sorry for sneak-Islam claim'

.... Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the party's deputy leader, yesterday told a meeting with foreign journalists that Jensen's claim that Norway faced the threat of "sneak-islamization" had been unfortunate.

But Jensen on Tuesday evening stood by her provocative past statements.

"I'm not going to apologize for that and I and the Progress Party will continue to fight the emergence of such radical forces and the ideas they advocate," she wrote in an email to VG newspaper.

In February 2009, Jensen said: "The truth is that we are beginning to allow a form of sneak-Islamization to take place in this country." [The Local Europe] Read more

Artist convicted of racism speaks out

Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was handed a 5,000 kroner fine on Monday when the Western High Court found her guilty of racism.

She was charged by Aarhus Police of violating anti-racism legislation, section 266 b of the penal code, after publishing a blog entry in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in December 2011, in which she stated: [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Quebec’s push for secular values no big deal in Europe

Quebec Prime Minister Pauline Marois has been taking a lambasting in Canada’s English-language media for proposing a charter of values, which would forbid public officials, including teachers, from wearing ostentatious religious symbols.

But, in Europe, from where I have just returned, Marois’s sentiments are nothing new. Last week, for instance, Germany’s highest court ruled that Muslim girls, in the name of universal education, can be compelled to take part in mixed-sex swimming classes at school.

The girls are allowed to guard their modesty by swimming in a full-body suit, which has been dubbed a “burquini.” [The Vancouver Sun] Read more

Pakistani clerics suggest amendment to blasphemy laws

.... Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population is Muslim, and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can be punished by death under the country's penal code.

Even unproven allegations can provoke a violent public response, and critics say the law is often used to settle personal scores.

The country's Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) suggested the government should bring in the death penalty for people convicted of making false accusations of blasphemy. [AFP] Read more

17 September 2013

Judge orders lawyer to remove headscarf

The lawyer, who has not been named, was told by a judge three times that she was not allowed to wear a headscarf in court, Berlin newspaper the Morgenpost reported on Tuesday. After the first two times, she replaced her scarf with a tight-fitting hairnet, and the third time she wore a scarf tied behind her head.

Reasoning behind the request was that lawyers should present themselves as “an organ of the legal system”. State sector workers are also supposed to show religious neutrality but criticis argue the lawyer is not a state worker so should not have to show religious neutrality.

If he asks her again, she has said she will place a complaint at the Berlin constitutional court, according to the paper. [The Local Europe] Read more

Yemen Urged To Commute Thief's Amputation Sentence By Amnesty International

Amnesty International has urged Yemen to commute a sentence of hand and foot amputation meted out to a man convicted of robbery, slamming the Islamic law-compliant verdict as "cruel".

A Sanaa court on Sunday ordered the amputation of the right hand and the left foot of a man found guilty of attacking another man and robbing him of cash he was transporting in a vehicle belonging to a money exchange firm.

"Amputation is a cruel punishment that amounts to torture and accordingly is a crime under international law," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director in a statement. [Agence France Presse] Read more

Man is jailed for attaching bacon to handle of mosque doors

A man who attached bacon to the handles of a mosque’s main door before throwing the meat inside has been jailed for ten months.

Wayne Stilwel, 25, was caught on CCTV throwing the bacon into Edinburgh’s Central Mosque on January 31, 2013.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Islam prohibits its followers from eating pork and Stilwel’s actions offended people at the mosque.

Stilwel pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace before Sheriff Gordon Liddle at a hearing last month. [STV] Read more

Quebec's values charter: What is it and what will it change?

The Parti Quebecois's proposal for a so-called charter of values has already sparked a heated debate across the country, as well as several public protests.

The PQ says its aim with the document is to establish the neutrality of the state and create clear rules on religious accommodations for public employees, to "contribute to integration and social cohesion."

Here is a look at what the proposed charter would and would not allow, if passed into law: [CTV News] Read more

Leicestershire schools' flu vaccine contains gelatine

A flu vaccination programme at schools in Leicestershire has attracted criticism after it was discovered the vaccine contains pork gelatine.

Leicestershire and Rutland is part of a pilot by NHS England to offer the nasal flu vaccine Fluenz to 70,000 pupils in the region, aged four to 10.

Many pupils cannot consume or use animal products for religious reasons, or because they are vegetarian.

Health officials have apologised for not informing parents at the outset.

At one school attended by Muslim pupils, head teacher Chris Hassall said it showed a lack of "sensitivity". [BBC] Read more

16 September 2013

More on the persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan

A disturbing post highlighting anti-Ahmadi feeling in Pakistan.

The Radd-i-Qadianiyat Conference was held at Jamia Naeemia. The participants were told they had a duty to wage a holy war against Ahmadis. The audience which included a large number of students of the Jamia, vowed to wage ‘jihad’ against Ahmadis through their writings, speech, charity funds and corporal strength.

Maulana Ghulam Hussain Kiani, one of the speakers, said they would force Ahmadis to leave the city. “Their presence has polluted the city… their so-called places of worship are in fact centres of conspiracies against Muslims,” he said. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Muslim Family Mis-Sold Non-Halal Meat Pasty At Morrisons Then Offered Champagne As Apology

Morrisons managed a spectacular double whammy of cock-ups when they apologised to a devout Muslim family for selling a vegetable pasty that contained non-halal meat - by offering them alcohol.

The offending snack - labelled a cheese and onion pasty - was for three-year-old Yousuf Khan.

But after complaining they were "not nice" his mother found they contained a large amount of mince. [Huffington Post UK] Read more

15 September 2013

No one has a human right to hide from justice behind a veil

.... It thus damns basic western values as ‘discrimination’ or ‘racism’, and turns the application of common sense into a prohibited activity.

It is, in short, a mad reversal of truth and justice that ultimately would destroy western society — a fate that risks being brought about not by Leftist rabble-rousers or Islamic fanatics, but by sanctimonious idiots like Nick Clegg.

Multiculturalism is one of the principal confusions of our age, one of many I have been writing about on this page for the past 12 years.

This, I’m sad to say, is the last column I shall be writing in this slot. I am extremely grateful to you, my dear readers, who have written to me in such huge number over the years to express your often passionate support for my views. [MailOnline] Read more

Islam to remain state religion in Egypt's new constitution

Egypt's constitution-drafting committee is unlikely to amend Article Two which defines the role of Islamic law in legislation, committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawi said on Sunday.

Article Two, which was introduced in the 1971 constitution, states that "Islam is the religion of the state and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation."

Some leftist members of the 50-member-committee have called for Article Two to be amended in a way that would keep Islam as the official religion of the state while basing legislation on the spirit of all three major monotheistic religions. [Ahram Online] Read more

14 September 2013

Christians flee Pakistani village after pastor accused of blasphemy

Dozens of Christian families have fled from their homes in a village near Lahore after a pastor was accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

In a discussion with a Muslim man on August 24, Pastor Sattar Masih, 37, was accused of saying that Muhammad was a brutal man who killed innocent people.

Masih denies the accusations, saying he said nothing derogatory about Islam or the Prophet.

The pastor was beckoned before Islamic clerics to plead his case. "The clerics will decide if he blasphemed against our Prophet and in case he refused to appear before the clerics then we will kill him," said his accuser, 18-year-old Ali Hassan. [Christian Today] Read more

Yemeni minister to seek child-marriage ban

Yemen's human rights minister has said she will press for the minimum age of marriage to be set at 18, after the reported death of a young girl on the first night of her marriage.

Eight-year-old Rawan was said to have died last week from internal bleeding after sexual intercourse, after having been married to a man in his 40s in the northeastern province of Hajja.

The provincial governor, however, on Saturday denied the reports that Rawan had died. [Al Jazeera] Read more

13 September 2013

The veil and a threat to open justice

.... This week, it was Birmingham Metropolitan College which found itself under attack, from a black students’ campaign group, for requesting students do not cover their faces.

The intention of this eight-year-old policy, which also applied to hooded tops and baseball caps, was to make attendees ‘easily identifiable’.

.... Nick Clegg, however, with pathetic predictability, said the ban made him feel ‘uneasy’.

Regrettably, the college yesterday caved in.

On Monday comes an even more important test, when a judge in London is due to decide whether a Muslim woman accused of intimidation can stand trial with her face covered. Her barrister says that, in ‘tolerant’ Britain, it is her human right to do so.

But, as Mr Straw remarked in 2006, ‘seeing what someone means is better than just hearing what they say’. [Daily Mail] Read more

Kuwait Funding Muslim Brotherhood Growth in Western Mosques

The completion of a new mosque in Amsterdam is doing more than opening the doors of worship to Dutch Muslims; it is opening new windows into unexpected avenues of terrorist financing and funding for the growth of radical Islam in the West.

.... Based in the UK, the Europe Trust is funded largely by Kuwait (with help from the UAE-based Makhtoum Foundation, about which, more later), and, according to the Middle East Quarterly, "channels money from the Persian Gulf to groups sympathetic to the Brotherhood in Europe, primarily to build mosques."

Indeed, the Blue Mosque was funded entirely by Kuwait, working through the offices of the Europe Trust Nederland (ETN). [IPT News] Read more

Birmingham college forced into U-turn over Muslim veil ban following outcry

.... Current Department for Education guidance is that education establishments should act reasonably in accommodating religious requirements whilst safeguarding safety, security and effective teaching under the terms of the Human Rights Act.

It is a fine balancing act. When Islamic dress codes have been tested in the courts, senior judges have ruled against them.

In 2007 a 12-year-old girl from Buckinghamshire lost her bid to wear a full-face veil. It followed a similar ruling in the case of a 15-year-old Muslim who had claimed the right to wear a jilbab whilst an employment tribunal also found against a teaching assistant who was told by her school she could not wear a niqab.

Responses in Britain have differed dramatically from France where veils were banned from being worn in state schools in 2004 and outlawed from public places in 2011. This summer there was an outburst of rioting in a Paris suburb when a woman was ordered to lift her veil by police. [The Independent] Read more

The secularism charter is about the Niqab. Turbans and crosses are merely collateral damage

Quebec’s PQ government has published a helpful set of comic panels showing Quebecers what sort of religious garb will be permitted, and not permitted, under its planned secularism charter. There are separate panels for Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims. Teeny religious symbols are permis au personnel de l’état. Anything visible from across a room, on the other hand, ne seraient pas permis.

But if Pauline Marois and her supporters were being more honest with themselves, the comic would have had but a single panel: an image of a veiled woman with a line through it.

Face-covering is what this is really about. Turbans, crosses and Stars of David are all just collateral damage stuck in for the sake of ostensible religious neutrality. It simply wouldn’t do for Ms. Marois to single out one religious faith for censure. So she created a policy that goes after everyone. [National Post] Read more

Birmingham Metropolitan College drops ban on Muslim face veils

A city college has been forced to drop a controversial ban on Muslim face veils.

Birmingham Metropolitan College originally said students must remove all hoodies, hats, caps and veils while on the premises so that they were easily identifiable.

Prime Minister David Cameron backed the decision, with his spokesman saying he believed educational institutions should be able to "set and enforce their own school uniform policies".

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was "uneasy" about the ban and believed the bar had to be set "very high" to justify any prohibition on wearing a veil.

The college has now issued a statement saying it has decided to modify its stance to allow individuals to wear "specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values".

[A COMMENT] Spineless. Just goes to show one rule for Muslims and one rule for everyone else. I say everyone should wear a balaclava who attend BMC and then see how they tables will turn.

When I was at college I had to wear an ID with a photo on it, everywhere I went I had to display the ID and staff would check to see if I was the same person as in my picture. How does anybody know who is under the veil. NON students could be taking student exams. NON students could be using the college services. Makes me sick. [Evening Standard]

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