28 February 2014

Turkish PM Erdoğan calls protesters atheists, leftists, terrorists

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said those who have taken to the streets in protest at corruption and graft allegations are “atheists and terrorists,” speaking at a rally in the western province of Balıkesir.

“We opened a boulevard in Ankara on Monday [Feb. 24] despite the [protests of] leftists, despite those atheists. They are terrorists, but the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP is calling them ‘our youth,’” said Erdoğan at the Feb. 28 rally. [Daily News] Read more

Conservative MP calls for public veil ban

Muslim women should not be allowed to cover their faces in public as there is no formal requirement in their religion, a Conservative MP suggested today.

Philip Hollobone was putting forward a Bill seeking to prohibit the wearing of face coverings, in particular the Muslim veil and balaclavas.

Presenting his Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill, the Kettering MP expressed regret that his campaign had "come to this".

Speaking during the Bill's Second Reading, he said: "But there's growing concern amongst my constituents and across the country about the increasing number of people who are going about in public places covering their faces and this is causing alarm and distress to many people in our country." [Asian Image] Read more

Football fan ripped up pages of the Koran while telling steward at away game 'we hate Muslims'

A football fan who ripped up pages torn from a the Koran at a football match, and told a steward 'we hate Muslims'

Middlesbrough fan Mark Stephenson, 25, was at an away game in Birmingham when he was handed pages of the Muslim holy book by a fellow supporter.

He proceeded to rip up the pages, and gestured with a lighter as if he were about to set them on fire.

The 'through and through fan', part of a group of 20 attending a championship game between Middlesbrough and Birmingham City, was asked by a steward what the book was.

Stephenson, who had been drinking, replied: 'It's the Muslim Bible, we hate Muslims.'

.... Stephenson, a season ticket holder, was fined £235 by magistrates, who heard he was 'shocked and appalled' at his own actions. [Daily Mail] Read more

Islamists demand levy in gold from Christians in Syrian city they control

An al Qaeda splinter group has demanded that Christians in a Syrian city it controls pay a levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection, according to a statement posted online on Wednesday.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), mainly composed of foreign fighters, is widely considered the most radical of the groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad, and is also engaged in a violent struggle with rival Islamist rebels.

Its directive to Christians in the eastern city of Raqqa is the latest evidence of the group’s ambition to establish a state in Syria founded on radical Islamist principles, a prospect that concerns Western and Arab backers of other rebel groups fighting Assad. [Reuters Blogs - FaithWorld] Read more

Woman did not show face at Heathrow Airport

Passport control officials have been criticised by Tory MPs for "waving through" a woman without asking her to remove her full-faced veil.

Philip Davies told the Commons he witnessed the scene at Heathrow Airport as a woman underwent checks to enter the UK after flying in from Saudi Arabia.

He insisted all women wearing a "full Islamic veil" should have to compulsorily remove it so they can be identified by immigration officials. [Asian Image] Read more

27 February 2014

Katy Perry Dark Horse video edited

The video for Katy Perry's track Dark Horse has been edited following claims from some Muslims it was blasphemous.

More than 65,000 people signed a petition which stated the clip - featuring a pendant with the Arabic word for God on it being reduced to sand - was offensive.

The music video has not been cut, but the pendant has now been digitally "scrubbed" out of the scene.

Petition instigator Shazad Iqbal, said he was "thrilled" with the outcome. [BBC] Read more

Islam flourishing in Belgium

Belgian cities have significant Muslim populations, comprised mostly of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as a growing number of native Belgians who converted to Islam.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 650,000, or around 6% of the overall population, about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin. The report stated that the Muslim population is young; nearly 35% of the Moroccans and Turks in the country are below 18 years of age.

Since 2008, the most popular name in Brussels for baby boys has been Mohammed. It is also the most popular name for baby boys in Belgium’s second-largest city, Antwerp, where an estimated 40% of elementary school children are Muslim. [Saudi Gazette] Read more

Militant Islamist group in Syria orders Christians to pay tax for their protection

A militant Islamist group has demanded Christians living in the north-east of Syria pay it a tax in return for protection as it seeks to build a traditional "Caliphate" in areas it controls.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published the terms under which minorities could live under its rule in a statement on the internet.

"Christians are obligated to pay Jizya tax on every adult male to the value of four golden dinars for the wealthy, half of that for middle-income citizens and half of that for the poor," their decree said. "They must not hide their status, and can pay in two instalments per year." Four dinars would amount to just over half an ounce of gold, worth £435 at current prices. [The Telegraph] Read more

Return of Blasphemy in Britain?

The resisting of censorship by recourse to offence or threat of violence is surely a prize of the highest order for a civilised society - a cursory glance at the myriad countries and societies where freedom of expression is so thoroughly curtailed (witness the pulping of Penguin India's book on Hinduism) or proscribed should be enough for doubters to stiffen their resolve.

And it needs reminding that this means granting of freedom of views one does not like or even passionately opposes as in the timeless remark attributed to Voltaire 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it'.

When Life of Brian was banned in Norway, an effective marketing opportunity presented itself to the Pythons: 'So funny it was banned in Norway!' Perhaps the makers of Jesus and Mo can follow suit by marketing their cartoon strip with the slogan 'So funny it was banned by the LSE and Channel 4 News!' As Mark Twain quipped 'Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand'. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Muslim boys’ school bans women from applying for job as science teacher

A Muslim boys’ school is facing claims of segregation after advertising for a temporary science teacher but making clear that women need not apply.

The advert published by the outsourcing company Capita requested a “Male Science Teacher” to cover lessons, including some mathematics classes, until the end of the current academic year on a short term contract for up to £150 a day. [The Telegraph] Read more

Legoland Cancels Family Day Out Organised By Muslim Group After Far-Right Threats

Legoland has announced it has cancelled a day trip arranged by Muslim families after staff and children were threatened by far-right extremists.

More than one thousand Muslim families were expected to visit the theme park after the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) hired it out exclusively.

Far-right groups including the English Defence League (EDL) and Casuals United had threatened to protest at the event due to the MRDF’s association with controversial preacher Haitham al-Haddad, the chairman of the foundation.

He is said to be among the top 25 hate preachers in Britain.

[A COMMENT] Muslim and fun would seem to be mutually exclusive concepts.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] Can you imagine the outcry from the PC brigade if there was a Christian family day. About time they stood up to these religions. Why could it not just be a fun day for kids? And leave religion out of it. Religion causes trouble full stop. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

26 February 2014

The Islamic Method of Examining the Textual Preservation of the Quran

Almost any Muslim in the world will tell you that the Qur'an has been perfectly (and miraculously) preserved, from the time it was revealed to Muhammad down to the present.

The most glaring difficulty with this claim is that the Muslim sources are filled with stories about the Qur'an being changed (not to mention stories about Muhammad's companions disagreeing about which chapters are supposed to be in the Qur'an, stories about Uthman burning manuscripts of the Qur'an to cover up textual differences, etc.). So why do Muslims conclude that the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved when their sources say the opposite? [Answering Muslims] Read more

Brunei sultan hits back at rare criticism over sharia

Brunei's all-powerful sultan, stung by rare criticism, has ordered social media users to stop attacking his plans to introduce harsh Islamic criminal punishments in the placid oil-rich kingdom.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- announced last October that Brunei would phase in sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1.

The move has sparked a growing outcry on social media, the only outlet for public criticism of authorities in the Muslim country where questioning the 67-year-old sultan is taboo. [AFP] Read more

Sultan of Brunei threatens his citizens following online criticism of Sharia law plan

Brunei’s all-powerful Sultan has ordered his citizens to stop criticizing his plan to institute a harsh version of Sharia law, telling them they’ll be sorry once the law is implemented.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiam — one of the world’s richest men — presides over the tranquil, oil-rich kingdom neighboring Malaysia with a population of 400,000.

He announced last October that Brunei would gradually institute Sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1. [NEW YORK DAILY NEWS] Read more

Multiculturalism’s Child Brides

Recent reports of under-age marriages in Australia are evidence that the authorities need to do more to enforce marriage laws in Western nations, and in particular to restrict the practice of unregistered ‘clandestine’ religious marriages, particularly Islamic marriages.

Two cases recently came to public attention of NSW girls being married to older men in unregistered religious ceremonies, allegedly with the approval of their guardians. The first case was of a 14-year-old girl who reported she was deceived into marrying a 21-year-old.

After being subjected to years of sexual and physical abuse she fled the relationship. Her case came to light in October, 2013, when she needed to pursue custody of her daughter through the courts. [Quadrant Magazine] Read more

Katy Perry 'Dark Horse' video causes offence after featuring burning 'Allah' pendant

In the latest ‘racist music video’ accusation, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” has sparked an online petition demanding it be pulled from YouTube, with some Muslims claiming it is blasphemous. More than 50,000 Muslims have pledged their support for the video to be removed because of an offending scene, which shows an Islamic necklace burned by lightning shot from Perry’s fingers.

Shazad Iqbal of Bradford, West Yorkshire, who started the Change.org petition, said the burning of the pendant with the Arabic word for God was "blasphemous" and "distasteful". [The Independent] Read more

25 February 2014

The Real Agenda Behind the Push for "Islamophobia"

.... Islamophobia is also a convenient pseudo-cause around which to whip up young followers: they are informed, whether true or not, that they have much to be aggrieved about and that the only solution is to close down free speech, demonize all who might have an opinion that differs from theirs or who ask "inconvenient" questions, and to start creating an authoritarian political movement in which they might feel a meaningful participant.

But in the long run it can only numb the minds and hearts of young Muslims growing up in the West, and destroy all spirit of enquiry and independent thinking -- as increasingly seems to be another of its objectives. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Halal authority forbids machine-killed poultry

he Halal Authority Board (HAB) has signed a motion stating that machine-killed poultry is haram (forbidden) and unacceptable to UK Muslims.

The decision, since no certifiers will accept machine slaughter, will mean that 1.8 million machine-killed poultry will be taken out of the halal supply chain each week.

The HAB adopted and signed the motion at a conference on 22 February, attended by representatives from halal certification bodies, businesses, Muslim organisations and mosques. [Meat Info] Read more

600 lashes for expressing opinions

Raif Badawi is a Saudi intellectual, blogger and editor of a liberal website who faces the death penalty in his home country. The crime of which he stands accused is "committing apostasy". But there's a catch: Badwai never renounced his religion, Islam. Choosing one's religion is a fundamental human right, but the case of Raif Badawi has very little to do with the right to choose one's religion and everything to do with politics.

His website (Free Saudi Liberals) was a platform for serious discussion of liberal ideas, religious authorities and the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nowhere did he ever say anything about stopping being a Muslim. [Qantara.de] Read more

24 February 2014

Czech Muslims call for ban on book by apostate

Muslims in the Czech Republic are trying to have the book Islam and Islamism by Lukáš Lhoťan, a former Muslim, now an apostate from Islam, banned, weekly Týden writes today.

Islam and Islamism, released in 2011, describes Czech Muslims' extremism, but representatives of the mosques in Prague and Brno say the book promotes hatred, Týden writes.

The book says Muslims abuse the ideology of multiculturalism to infiltrate Czech schools, and they do not only deliver innocent lectures there but recruit converts and perhaps new jihad fighters.

After spending 12 years among Muslims in Brno, Lhoťan abandoned Islam, Týden writes. Now he has published the documents from the Brno mosque both in his book and on his webpage, it adds. [The Prague Post] Read more

Who Is to Blame for "Islamophobia" in the UK?

.... last May, a poll by the British research firm, YouGov, showed that nearly two-thirds of Britons believe there will be a "clash of civilizations" between British Muslims and white Britons, and 34% believe that Muslims pose a serious threat to democracy.

As a Muslim living in the UK, I wonder, who is to blame for the increase in anti-Muslim feelings in the U.K.? Or is the problem "Islamophobia"?

If one dispassionately examines facts, it seems possible that if "Islamophobia" exists in the U.K., then perhaps we Muslims are to blame for it.

[A COMMENT] This article does seem a middle road attempt - which is either brave or foolhardy and certainly dangerous. The never-ending war between the competing Islams has no solution. As a student of humanity and particularly the effect of organised religions on societies, the same problem that has kept Muslims in the primitive state of its foundations is inescapable without a total reformation.

The problem isn't "Islamaphobia" - the word "phobia" means an *irrational* fear of something - typically harmless. The problem is the rapidly developing awareness of the insane threat of the most violent, primitive tribal belief system in all of history. No, not "Phobia" - awareness. The problem is that the irrationality of the core of Mohommadism leaves no way for its civilised development at all. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Inner-city academy investigated after being accused of 'side-lining' its non-Muslim staff and trying to put Islamic studies on curriculum

An 'outstanding' inner-city academy is to be investigated over claims non-Muslim staff are being treated unfairly and staff are attempting to introduce Islamic studies to the curriculum.

Non faith-based Park View Academy in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham was the first academy in Britain to be rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted.

It will now be investigated by Department of Education (DfE) officials following a complaint by an employee.

The complaint is believed to include claims non-Muslim staff are being treated unfairly at the state school - which also manages two other schools in the city.

The unnamed employee also claims the school has been attempting to introduce Islamic studies on to the curriculum, it is believed. [Daily Mail] Read more

Rising Islamic conservatism in Malaysia

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad believes that Islam is under siege in Malaysia. He is not alone.

With religion fast becoming the most contentious source of disputes in Malaysia, this perception has given rise to a host of conservative Islamic groups becoming more vocal.

At the root of their grievances is their belief that non-Muslims and "liberal" Muslims are attacking the dominance of Islam in Malaysia, and Malays in general.

For them, the "Allah" issue - where Christians want to use "Allah" to refer to their God - is simply the last straw. [The Straits Times/ANN] Read more

10 Reasons Why I Do Not Want Shariah In Pakistan

One of the Taliban negotiators pulled out during a recent talk with the Pakistan government demanding that the agenda includes the strict imposition of Sharia law. Pakistani Blogger and Journalist Beena Sarwar highlights a protest note posted in Facebook titled '10 reasons why I do not want Shariah in Pakistan’ by communities The Traitors of Pakistan (Liberal/Secular Pakistanis against oppression, discrimination, extremism and intolerance) and Pakistan Votes (activist community). Here are some gems: [GlobalVoices] Read more

23 February 2014

Women of Iran defy mullahs by embracing western fashions

The regime in Tehran is increasingly feeling the pressure, but not from sanctions or the threat of a military strike.

It’s a vibrant and growing fashion scene, one that enables Iranians to defy the strict religious leaders who have ruled the nation with an iron fist since the 1979 revolution..

Many young Iranians have become emboldened in how they walk the streets, showing an affinity for Western clothing, jewelry, makeup and hairstyles. But it is more than just a fashion statement, say Iranians. It's a political statement. [FOX News] Read more

Pakistan's harsh blasphemy law under scrutiny

Mohammad Asghar, a 69-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, faces a death sentence in Pakistan for claiming to be the Prophet Mohammed in letters written to officials and police in 2010.

The retired British national of Pakistani descent is partially paralyzed after a stroke, but Pakistani courts have so far refused to acknowledge his physical and mental limitations.

The charges against Asghar recall the case of Rimsha Masih, a teenage girl who was alleged to have dumped torn and burnt pages of the Quran into a garbage heap nearly two years ago. Rimsha, who is Christian, was also arrested under Pakistan's blasphemy law, which stipulates a life sentence for defiling the Quran. [lohud.com] Read more

19 Islamic words banned for non-Muslims in Brunei

The Brunei government will ban the use of 19 Islamic words, including "Allah" and "masjid", by non-Muslims, according to the Brunei Times today.

The ban will take effect from April, the paper said.

Under the Syariah Penal Code Order, these words cannot be used with respect to other religions.

They are azan; baitullah; Al Quran; Allah; fatwa; Firman Allah; hadith; haji; hukum syara'; ilahi; Ka'bah; kalimah al syahadah; kiblat; masjid; imam; mufti; mu'min; solat; and wali. [thesundaily.my] Read more

Denmark set to lose millions following halal slaughter ban

Denmark is likely to lose millions of dollars in trade and tourism revenues following its ban Monday on slaughtering animals in accordance with Islamic standards.

Halal (Islamically slaughtered) beef and poultry products are imported in large quantities by Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf countries. In fact, around 55 percent of Danish exports to the Kingdom are food-based.

The controversial decision is poised to have a drastic effect on the Danish market since the country is likely to come under a comprehensive boycott as it has on more than one occasion in the past. [Arab News] Read more

22 February 2014

Court prefers political correctness rather than justice in case of a Muslim solicitor and a parking fine

Yesterday, solicitor Asha Khan was given a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The public interest in knowing that a member of the legal profession had herself tried to undermine the very integrity of the justice system is overwhelming.

Yet, disgracefully, the case was almost heard under a shroud of secrecy in the latest example of a court obsessing over political correctness.

Khan, a Muslim who was accused of helping her father dodge a speeding fine, had claimed that for ‘cultural reasons’ she could not speak freely in front of the Press – and, incredibly, Judge Peter Hughes agreed.

.... It was only after the intervention of this newspaper that the judge accepted he had made a mistake and reversed what risked setting a terrible precedent.

The Mail is glad that – belatedly – the sacred principle of open and transparent justice was upheld. [Daily Mail] Read more

21 February 2014

Muslim groups demand apology from Daily Mail over Littlejohn article

More than 25 British Muslim organisations, in company with interfaith bodies, have signed a letter of complaint to the the Daily Mail's editor, Paul Dacre, about an article by columnist Richard Littlejohn.

They say that Littlejohn's column on Tuesday, headlined Jolly jihadi boys' outing to Legoland, "deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes" and "used slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites."

His article concerned the hiring of the Legoland theme park in Windsor by an extremist Muslim cleric, Haitham al-Haddad, for a "family fun day" next month.

[A COMMENT] There is some hypocrisy here. Across the Muslim world, orthodox Muslims have created a massive body of speeches and writings in which the vilest language is used against Westerners, Americans, British, non-believers (kuffar), Jews, Christians, Hindus, Israelis, and just about every group that falls foul of their censure.

The stereotyping, racism, hatred, calls for jihad against the kuffar sit alongside calls for the execution of homosexuals and the oppression of women.

These appalling statements are much worse in character and intent than Mr Littlejohn's satirical take on violent jihadism, but none of the usual Muslim bodies in this country take open offense at any of them. I wonder why that is? [The Guardian] Read more

20 February 2014

2% of Italy is Muslim, 35% of Italian Prisoners are Muslim

At least 35% of Italian prison inmates come from Muslim-majority countries, and one in four prisons has a prayer area set aside for them, a government report obtained by ANSAmed showed Monday.

The joint report by Italy’s Justice ministry and department of corrections is titled ‘Mosques in Penal Institutions’ and is to be released Tuesday in Rome at a Niccolò Cusano University conference on ‘Muslims in Italy’. [Front Page Magazine] Read more

Rowan Williams Hails the Khomeinist IHRC

Tomorrow the IHRC will hold its “Islamophobia Awards” rally in London. Apparently Theresa May is a favourite to win. Other nominees include Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation.

It is no surprise to see some of the names on the list of supporters of the event. They include weird peer Lord Avebury, disgraced former Labour peer Lord Ahmed, fanatical Israel hater Lauren Booth, and creepy Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather.

But this one does stand out: Yes, it’s that Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. [Harry's Place] Read more

Denmark's ritual slaughter ban says more about human hypocrisy than animal welfare

"Animal welfare takes precedence over religion" declared Denmark's ministry of agriculture when a ban on ritual slaughter came into effect this week. There were immediate accusations of antisemitism and Islamophobia from Jews and Muslims, even though both communities are still free to import meat killed by their preferred methods, and even though no animals have in fact been slaughtered without pre-stunning in Denmark for the past 10 years.

[A COMMENT] .... this is a very confused article. Seems to be saying that unless you can put everything right at once you shouldn't bother doing anything. [Guardian Cif] Read more

19 February 2014

A Saudi woman is threatened after tweeting about beards

The controversy began—as virtually all political and religious debate in Saudi Arabia does these days—with a provocative tweet.

On January 18th, Souad al-Shammary, a liberal activist with more than a hundred thousand Twitter followers, tweeted her thoughts about the idea, popular among devout Saudis, that Muslim men should grow long beards in order to differentiate themselves from unbelievers.

The notion was “silly,” Shammary wrote, pointing out that “Jews, priests, Communists and Marxists” have also been known to wear beards.

.... She has never been popular among Saudi conservatives. But her remarks about beards were met with an unusually violent reaction. [THE NEW YORKER] Read more

Academia Legitimizes Extremist Speakers

Extreme Islamic preachers do not only appear on university campuses at the request of radicalized students; increasingly, extremists are afforded a university platform, with all the credibility that comes with it, by the academics themselves.

The Centre for the Study of Islam, based at the University of Cardiff in Wales, for instance, has recently announced a lecture series starting this February.

.... Speaking to Wales Online, the Centre's Director, Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray, said, "We've managed to attract some of the leading experts to offer thought-provoking insights into various aspects of Muslim life in the UK."

In 2011 several student societies at the University of York actually organized a campaign against a proposed visit by Al-Kawthari to the University; they claimed he promoted intolerant and violent ideas" [Gatestone Institute] Read more

French satirical magazine enrages Islamists again; faces prosecution for ‘Koran is shit’ cover

.... No firebombs this time. Instead, the League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM), led by the former lawyer Karim Achoui, has decided to turn to the courts instead.

Taking advantage of the existence of the crime of “blasphemy” uniquely available in the Alsace-Moselle region – it no longer exists in the rest of French common law – the League has brought the case against Charlie Hebdo to the Criminal Court in Alsace-Moselle’s capital, Strasbourg. The hearing is set for 7 April.

One complication is that the Alsatian blasphemy law does not recognise Islam, covering only Catholicism, three forms of Protestantism and Judaism. This test case will decide whether the law can be widened to include Islam. [The Freethinker] Read more

Mixing religion with politics is Muslim world’s problem, says Al Murr

Federal National Council (FNC) Speaker Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr has said the problem of Muslim world lies in mixing up the religion with politics, adding that the problems of many Muslim countries were attributed to this phenomenon.

The religion has set general rules that are viable for all times and places.

Al Murr said, “The nation state is a developing organisation. When we think to cooperate with the Muslim states, we have to cooperate with those which have provided civil peace and capable to display leadership and development felt by citizens.”

He stressed the need for preserving the sovereignty, adding that the civil peace and development are the prerogatives of better Islamic cooperation. [Khaleej Times] Read more

Anger as extremist cleric is given a podium to preach at London university... despite history of hate speech against Jews and gays

An extremist Muslim who has claimed Jews are descended from 'apes and pigs', called gays 'criminals' and has made controversial comments about domestic violence has given a talk at a London university.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke to students on Islamic finance at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

He has outraged moderate Muslims who are critical of him for teaching young Muslims that men and women should be segregated. [Daily Mail] Read more

Mohammad Asghar case: Act now to save Briton on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy

Leading British-Asian politicians, academics, human rights campaigners and Islamic scholars are calling for a mentally ill Scottish pensioner sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan to be released from prison on humanitarian grounds.

In an open letter published by The Independent, influential figures from across the political spectrum are urging Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain to use his discretionary powers to allow Mohammad Asghar to leave jail and resume treatment for paranoid schizophrenia. [The Independent] Read more

Preacher Haitham Al-Haddad, Who Supports FGM, Speaks At SOAS University

A London university's student union has come under criticism for allowing a pro-female genital mutilation supporter to speak at a debate on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Monday, despite having previously publicly advocated his support for FGM.

In a video posted on YouTube, he lectures on the importance of knowing female circumcision in the UK is illegal and says there is a "proper" way of carrying out FGM. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Gulf Imams Issue Fatwa Against Muslims Travelling To Mars

Gulf imams have issued a Fatwa against Muslims travelling to Mars.

Likening attempts to send astronauts on a one way trip to the Red Planet to suicide, the clerics said no good Muslim could agree to go knowing he would not return.

The ruling was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE), a group of imams in the United Arab Emirates. [Huffington Post UK] Read more

One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam

Promoting or being involved in a one-way trip to the Red Planet is prohibited in Islam, a fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE has ruled.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said. “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”

Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”. [Khaleej Times] Read more

18 February 2014

French Islamists seek to use blasphemy law to silence critics

French Islamists are suing the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy after it published a front cover carrying the slogan "The Koran is crap, it doesn't stop bullets".

Taking advantage of the existence of the crime of "blasphemy" uniquely available in the Alsace-Moselle region - it no longer exists in the rest of French common law – The League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM), led by the former lawyer Karim Achoui, has brought the case against Charlie Hebdo to the Criminal Court in Alsace-Moselle's capital, Strasbourg. The hearing is set for 7 April. [National Secular Society] Read more

We must be free to criticise without being called racist - Liberals appease Muslims for fear of association with anti-immigrant thugs

.... Last month, the website of an organisation called the Islamic Human Rights Commission made me the "winner" of their "Most Islamophobic media personality" award. It has caused me a bombardment of emails of both extreme pro- and anti-Islamic poison, each one more luridly threatening than the last.

The occasional note of reason from moderate Islamic groups is so weak it hardly makes itself heard. I had challenged the legitimacy of the idea of Islamophobia and warned of the danger to free speech of trying to make criticism of a religion a crime akin to racism.

I pointed out yet again that theocracy is lethal. Wherever religion controls politics it drives out tolerance and basic human rights. The history of Christianity has been the perfect exemplar, a force for repression whenever it holds any political sway. It only turns peace-loving when it is powerless. [The Guardian] Read more

Insult Islam at your peril. Saudis will ‘deal decisively’ with ‘offensive’ online media and websites

SAUDI Arabia’s culture and information ministry has warned online media and websites that they could be shut down if they offend Islam, abuse people or insult community traditions.

Abdul Aziz Al Melham, the ministry spokesperson, said:

We will deal decisively with all those who affront Saudi Arabia or its citizens. This includes targeting the Islamic faith and the Prophet, peace be upon him, as well as attacking the customs and traditions of the Saudi society and compromising the security of the homeland. [The Freethinker] Read more

Much ado about not much

RELIGION (or perhaps the passionate, protective sense of identity that religions engender) has an extraordinary way of triggering disputes about matters that make no difference in the real world.

Take the heated arguments that have broken out in Denmark, and far beyond, over this week's ban on the ritual slaughter of animals by Jewish or Muslim rules. Such slaughter is already banned in at least five European countries.

There are no slaughterhouses which use the ritual method in Denmark, because there is not enough local demand to keep such a facility going; people who want to eat ritually slaughtered meat simply import the product, and they face no obstacle.

[A COMMENT] If the muslims in Denmark do not like the new law they are free to leave the country and return to their respective homelands. Where they will find laws that are much more agreeable with them and their culture. [The Economist] Read more

Pregnant teenager alleging gang-rape charged with adultery in Sudan

A pregnant teenager who says she was gang-raped has been charged with adultery in Sudan, and faces a possible sentence of death by stoning. The country's judiciary has received millions of pounds in aid from the UK.

The 18-year-old Ethiopian, who is nine months pregnant, is being held in a police cell and until recently was sleeping on a bare concrete floor without a mattress or suitable food or clothing, according to the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) network. [The Guardian] Read more

Baroness Warsi ‘saddened’ by rise in Islamic sectarianism

Islamic sectarianism has become a “deep and dangerous” problem in Britain that is being used to justify acts of religious extremism, the country’s most senior Muslim politician has warned.

In a speech during a trip to the Middle East, Baroness Warsi said that differences between branches of Islam were being used by extremists to cause “tension, turmoil and terrorism”. She warned that such preaching was stripping the “soulfulness and kindness of spirit” from the heart of the religion and called on Islamic leaders to “reclaim the true meaning of the religion”.

[A COMMENT] The biggest problem is that our political classes are too weak and scared to do anything about it, such as banning the niqab, stopping the practice of Sharia law in communities and insisting that English only is spoken in schools to name a few.

If they don't like it there are plenty of other countries in whose environment they can feel comfortable, but most of us are getting mighty fed up with our established culture being eroded by these aliens. [The Independent] Read more

Jolly Jihadi Boy's Outing to Legoland

Legoland has been hired out to a radical Muslim cleric for a ‘Family Fun Day’. Maybe that’s ‘Fun’ as in ‘Fundamentalism’.

The theme park in Windsor, Berkshire, has accepted a booking from a man said to be among the top 25 hate preachers in Britain.

Haitham al-Haddad leads the Muslim Research and Development Foundation, which is based in Tower Hamlets, and is in favour of turning this country into a Sharia state. [Daily Mail] Read more

17 February 2014

Muslims sue satirical paper for blasphemy, MP for hate speech

rench Muslims are taking satirical paper Charlie Hebdo to court for blasphemy over a front page insulting the Koran. In a separate case, a right-wing MP is being sued for accusing young Muslims of anti-Semitism.

.... A hearing has also been set for the 7 April, this time in the southern town of Nîmes, for a case against former decentralisation minister Claude Goasguen that accuses him of "offending the honour and dignity of the Muslim community", in the words of lawyer Khadija Aoudia, acting for one of France's two major Muslim associations, the CFCM.

Speaking to a gala organised by a pro-Israel group, KKL, Goasguen claimed that the history of the Holocaust could no longer be taught in French schools "because people are so scared of the reaction of young Muslims who have been drugged in the mosques". [RFI] Read more

16 February 2014

Legoland's homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic "Family Fun Day"

.... The question is not why is Legoland content to promote a "Muslim Day" (which, incidentally, is open to people of all faiths and none): it is why is Legoland prepared to tarnish its reputation by associating with a known anti-gay, anti-Semitic, misogynistic hate-preacher.

It may be a fun day out for the children, but how many of the girls are aware that this man wants to remove their clitoris for the glory of Allah?

Legoland insist that they welcome people of all faiths and of diverse beliefs: "We certainly do not discriminate in any way,” they told The Express. It seems to His Grace that, instead of protesting at the gates, the EDL ought to test this: they might try to hire the park for their own "fun day" of "patriotic celebration" (open, of course, to all those who do not share their nationalistic ideology).

Would Legoland care if Nick Griffin were behind a booking? Would they object to a group of Christians hiring the park if its members (say) opposed same-sex marriage? Or would the company's executives withhold the contract (or, indeed, cancel the event or "reconsider" its policy) on account of it breaching corporate diversity policy? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Fundamental truths that many will find hard to accept

.... I think that the numbers show a general trend that is hard to brush aside. The study should make people reconsider the old story that Muslim fundamentalists are just a tiny minority ruining everything for the majority. Maybe it’s actually the other way around – the majority is ruining it for the few.

It seems like the numbers are simply reflecting that Islamism has been the reigning political-religious discourse of the last 30 years in the Islamic world. But before anyone jumps to any conclusions, we should remember that a new fundamentalist study in the US showed that Christian Americans are actually a bit more fundamentalistic in their minds than their Muslim countrymen.

[A COMMENT] Is there a single muslim majority that doesn't have a poisonous, violent and hostile attitude toward non-muslims? Religious minorities in muslim countries seem to do best under the implied protection of a dictator or monarch (both of which are problematic) when the majority is given freer reign the result is rapid escalation to violent oppression. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Christians in Pakistan

.... All could agree that more needs to be done for members of religious minorities suffering as a result of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and other discriminatory measures. Rev. Khan warned that ‘it is not bullets that will kill us but the silence of our friends’, and he emphasized how important it is for those with any influence, such as members of the Pakistani diaspora, to speak out against repression.

Rev. Khan is a patron of Faith Matters which works to counter extremism and reduce intra- and interfaith tensions. [Harry’s Place] Read more

15 February 2014

Judge peers through eye slits to identify woman behind veil: Farce in court as witness is allowed to stay covered

A Muslim woman was allowed to wear a veil while giving evidence – even though a judge had to try to confirm who she was from photographs.

The crucial witness in a deportation case had her entire face, apart from her eyes, covered by a niqab.

Farcically, a judge was left trying to check her identity using a visa document with a photograph of her unveiled.

He had to peer at the small visible portion of her face in the vain hope of working out if it matched the picture.

The immigration tribunal’s decision has been quashed by a senior judge, who said it was procedurally unfair. A new hearing will now take place.

.... ‘The [tribunal] engaged in an exercise of attempting to compare [the woman’s] veiled visage with two photographic images. We consider that there are combined elements of insufficient findings and inadequate reasoning.’

He also criticised the judge for failing to ask the witness whether she would remove her veil, and not offering to let her speak from behind a screen. [Daily Mail] Read more

Fun, Fun, Fun with a Preacher of hate at Legoland

.... At first glance that sounded elitist, isolationist, not condusive to integration and diversity. Then when we realised that the organisation making the booking was the Muslim Research and Development Foundation headed by Haitham al Haddad it becamse cause for concern.

This was not not a friendly neighbourhood mosque arranging something comparable (other than in its elite isolationism) to the Sunday school picnic.

Haitham al Haddad, as many of you will know is an Islamic cleric who features high on the official government list of 'Hate preachers' whose activities are monitors lest they spread "ideological hatred at universities, mosques and other public places." The Sunday Times reported on him in December. [The Iconoclast] Read more

Twenty five years on from Rushdie we are too frightened to say we are scared

British publishing is now such a neurotic and hypocritical business there are stories it cannot cover. Nor should it try. When journalists, writers and artists can’t be honest with their audience, when they can’t even be honest with themselves, silence is preferable to the damage their double-standards bring.

Last month our media commemorated the imminent anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie by trying and failing to report the threats to the life of Maajid Nawaz, the chief executive of Quilliam Foundation.

In a vindication of Kipling’s “once you have paid him the Dane-geld/you never get rid of the Dane” fanatics are after Nawaz not because he satirised the founding myths of Islam, as Rushdie did, or projected sexist verses from the Koran on to a naked woman’s body, as Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali did, but because – brace yourselves – he tweeted a picture of Jesus saying “Hey” and Muhammad saying “How ya doin’?” [Nick Cohen: Writing from London] Read more

14 February 2014

Legoland is blasted for 'Muslim day'

A theme park has come under attack after announcing it was hiring out the park to a Muslim foundation.

Legoland has received abuse on its Facebook and Twitter pages for its decision to hire the park out to the Muslim Research and Development Fund (MRDF) on Sunday, March 9.

On its website, the park says the family fun day aims to allow Muslims to enjoy 'Fun Halal activities with thousands of other Muslims and their friends in an environment more in line with their faith.'

A Legoland spokesman defended its decision, saying it was a normal private hire event which will take place before the park opens for its new season on Friday, March 14. [Windsor Express] Read more

Denmark bans religious slaughter

Denmark's Agriculture and Food Minister Dan Jørgensen has signed into law a regulation that bans religious slaughter of animals.

European Union regulations require stunning before slaughter, but permit member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter. Under the new law, Danish slaughterhouses will no longer be able to apply for an exemption to pre-stunning.

The move has been opposed by Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in Denmark, who have argued that the ban constitutes an infringement of religious freedom. [National Secular Society] Read more

Denmark to ban halal and kosher slaughter methods

Denmark's Agriculture and Food Ministry has announced that as of Monday the Jewish and Muslim traditional method of animal slaughter will be banned in the country, following similar measures already in place in Poland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

A new law requires that all animals are stunned before being slaughtered, which is contrary to Islamic and Jewish teachings. This means that observant Muslims and Jews living in Denmark will no longer be able to purchase their meat from local butchers, and will have to buy imported halal and kosher meat instead. [Worldbulletin News] Read more

International Symposium on Liberty and Islam in Australia

.... According to the president of Q Society, Mrs Debbie Robinson, our leaders are not only facing mounting problems as a result of the growing number of radicalised Muslims living amongst us; but must find a response to what she describes as ‘socio-political jihad’ and the balkanisation of communities along religious and ethnic fault lines.

Q Society speaker Andrew Horwood points to a national survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research in October 2013. Answers to a series of questions probing public perception and personal views on Islam validate that a majority of Australians are concerned about the spread of Islam into their communities.

“While some Australian politicians still insist that our brand of multiculturalism is superior to what has been tried and failed in Europe, the reality is we are merely a decade behind and catching up fast” Mr Horwood argues. [NewsGallery] Read more

Muslim men don't know how to talk about love. But they need to

.... There's an unequalled serenity that comes from the Divine, but He's not a warm body. Nor a hand to hold. But He is also the answer I'd get, as much as I might not want to listen to it, when I stared at an empty bed and realized I was the only person in it.

Years later, enough of me accepted this to get my head down on the floor to pray. Though there are no legs to nudge out of the way. And even now I'm astonished at how much I wish there were.

[A COMMENT] The obvious answer surely is to leave the religion that prevents you expressing your emotions.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] "I spend every other weekend traveling, visiting Muslims all across the US. I give Friday sermons. I sit on panels discussing Muslim identity. I teach Islamic history." Boy are you going to feel silly when you realise it is all made up. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Valentine's Day Celebrations Lead To Alcoholism, Abortion & Fraud, Warns Malaysian Islamic Watchdog

Indulging in Valentine’s Day celebrations can lead to alcoholism, abortion, fraud and baby-dumping, Malaysian Muslims were warned on Friday.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) issued an official sermon describing how the occasion could lead young Muslims in particular, to a life of vice.

"Social ceremonies such as this are a stepping-stone towards greater social ills such as fraud, mental disorder caused by alcohol, abortion and baby-dumping, and other negative ills that can invite disaster and moral decay among youths," it said, according to an AFP translation.

[A COMMENT] Those fun-loving muslims again, they'll be demonstrating against Christmas next. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

13 February 2014

Embrace Islam or die!

The Pakistani Taliban have announced an “armed struggle” against an indigenous tribe and Ismaili Muslims in the picturesque northern Chitral Valley, calling on Sunnis to support their cause in a video.

The valley was once dominated by moderate Ismailis and is also home to the Kalash, a polytheistic people who claim descent from Alexander the Great and who have maintained separate cultural traditions to the predominantly Muslim country.

But migration in recent decades has meant that Sunni Muslims are now the majority in the area, while the Kalash way of life has come under threat by the Taliban, who have also carried out a number of attacks against security forces in the area. [Pakistan Today] Read more

Islamic fundamentalists destroy archeological treasures in Syria

In Syria, Islamic fundamentalists destroy archaeological treasures such as Byzantine mosaics and Greek and Roman statues because their portrayal of human beings is contrary to their religious beliefs.

.... Islamic iconoclasm is nothing new. However, the deliberate targeting of mosaics and statues seen as profane by Islamic fundamentalists currently occupying parts of Syria is a cultural and archeological tragedy in the making. Antiquities that have survived invasions and wars for 5,000 years may soon be in rubble. [Patheos] Read more

Islam’s Second Crisis: the troubles to come

.... The religion of Islam has long been regarded by Muslims as a prestigious brand, a symbol of stability in Islamic politics. Thus politicians would be obliged to advertize their Islamic credentials. If Islam itself loses credibility– which is already happening – a spiritual vacuum of considerable proportions will be created. How this vacuum is filled will be difficult to predict, but what we can be sure of is that revivalism and the revivalists will not go quietly.

Fasten your seat-belts: the world will be in for quite a ride in the years to come, as Muslims – who constitute around a quarter of the world’s population – struggle to make theological sense of the trashing of their religion’s utopian vision.

It is one thing to blame the infidels for this – or the proxy tyrants which revivalists claim the West has foisted on the Muslim world – what is more threatening by far is the damage being done to Islam’s name by revivalist Muslims themselves. [markdurie.com blog] Read more

Did Religious Extremism drive 2 Million Egyptian youth to Unbelief?

Egyptian journalist Hilmy al-Namnam said last fall that some researchers had concluded that there were 2 million Egyptian atheists. He blamed the rapid increase in unbelief among young people on the period of Muslim Brotherhood rule and the hypocrisy of television preachers. Educated young women are especially dismayed at the discourse on women apparent in clerical sermons. [Juan Cole] Read more

Why imported notions about rights can't help Afghanistan's women

It feels like a slap in the face of humanity: a new Afghan draft law effectively legalising domestic violence against women and children. If it were a movie this bill, which will automatically become law later this month unless President Hamid Karzai refuses to ratify it, would be called "The Patriarch Returns". So are we to take it that this is the price of peace?

[A COMMENT] People who think of themselves as progressive start saying things which amount to "They're a bit brown, a bit Muslim and, well, a little bit savage, and you can't expect any better and it would be unreasonable to try."

Astoundingly, the argument that all human beings are capable of behaving well towards other human beings then becomes a unreasonable, racist assumption. It's just bizarre the way in which western liberals are willing to throw eastern women under the bus rather than criticise eastern patriarchs. [Guardian Cif] Read more

As Hate Crimes Rise, British Muslims Say They’re Becoming More Insular

Alum Rock, a neighborhood of Birmingham, looks the way Pakistan might, if Pakistan were under gray northern skies and British rule.

The streets are lively but orderly, with shops that provide the largely South Asian population with most of its needs. The huge Pak Supermarket, with its 10-kilogram bags of spices and rices, is matched by the nearby Pak Pharmacy. Nearly every face is South Asian, and people wear a vibrant mixture of clothing, from Western styles to head scarves, knitted caps and full-face veils, or niqabs.

.... “It’s not safe in Pakistan,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.” Here in the “Balti triangle,” as the neighborhood known, he feels he can construct a decent life. “There are good rules in this country,” he said. “Some people have prejudice, but mostly they are very nice. This is a safe country.” [The New York Times] Read more

Saudi cleric chides women for going alone to doctor

A top Saudi cleric has scolded women who visit male doctors without being accompanied by a male guardian, claiming that is prohibited by Islam, Al-Hayat daily reported Thursday.

His remarks follow the death of a university student last week after paramedics were denied access to her campus because they were not accompanied by a male guardian, or close relative, a must according to the strict segregation rules in the Muslim kingdom.

“Women are becoming negligent in consulting doctors without a mahram (male guardian), and this is prohibited,” Al-Hayat quoted Sheikh Qays al-Mubarak, a member of the Council of Senior Ulema (Muslim scholars), as saying. [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE] Read more

12 February 2014

The Pentagon’s bow to Islamic extremism

.... And so, at a time when the U.S. should at the very least be wary of those who openly wear their Islamic radicalism around their face and head -- beards for males, hijabs for females -- the U.S. Pentagon (of all places) is embracing them in “celebration of multiculturalism.”

No-one is arguing that a beard or a hijab makes for an automatic link with radicalism. But it would be foolish and would go against all the available evidence to deny that a link of some sort exists at some level.

Where loyalty to the U.S. is most needed, the Pentagon embraces those who may be showing that their loyalty is elsewhere (among other things, the beard and hijab are meant to separate “pure believers” from “impure infidels”). [The Commentator] Read more

11 February 2014

French firm bans Muslim headscarves at work

From Tuesday onward the 4,000 workers at recycling company Paprec, based in the Parisian suburbs will no longer be allowed to demonstrate their religious faith by wearing items like the Yarmulke/Kippah (the Jewish skullcap), Christian crosses and Muslim head or face covers.

Paprec’s CEO Jean-Luc Petithuguenin said he set the new rules, which he claims are the first of their kind, after four months of negotiations with representatives of the company’s employees. The result was an eight-article agreement that follows closely the principles already laid in French secular laws.

“I am applying the same model that prevails in the public sphere, only I am applying it to a company,” Petithuguenin told AFP. “I am applying the founding principles of the French republic.” [The Local] Read more

Imam charged in Australia over child marriage

A Muslim cleric was on Tuesday charged in Australia with conducting an illegal marriage between a 26-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl.

It follows the arrest of a Lebanese national - the "husband" - last week on child sex offences.

Police said the imam, reportedly Pakistan-born, was arrested in Sydney on Monday afternoon by the Child Abuse Squad and charged with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person. [News24] Read more

Religious Minorities In Islamic Pakistan Struggle But Survive Amid Increasing Persecution

.... It used to be different. Before British colonial India was partitioned into India and Pakistan in 1947, more than one-fifth of the population of what would become Pakistan was non-Muslim.

Most fled to India during the creation of the Muslim state, though largely peaceful relations among faiths continued during Pakistan's early decades. But in 1978, the nation began a 10-year process of "Islamization" under military dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

He pushed to convert secular laws into religious ones, installing Sharia courts and enacting anti-blasphemy statutes. Through the 1990s and 2000s, conservative Islamic movements gained cultural and political sway, subverting the region's historically more open approach to faith, including non-Islamic traditions.

[A COMMENT] "Islamism--the belief that Allah wants Muslims to politically rule non Muslims through Sharia law" Or just Islam for short. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

10 February 2014

Handshake refusal leads to fine

It made headlines nationwide last summer when a male examiner refused to shake hands with female students for religious reasons.

The man, an external examiner who sat in on exams in the Jutland town of Herning, said his Muslim beliefs kept him from making physical contact with unknown women.

Female students complained to the equality board, Ligebehandlingsnævnet, which on Friday ruled in favour of the students. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Rein In the Saudi Religious Police

.... Her response highlighted the perception that the commission is an intrusive body that seeks to impose a narrow vision of religion on Saudi women. Equally noteworthy was her rejection of the officer’s definition of appropriate veiling practice.

After years of relying on the teachings of a single religious authority, the websites and social networks the mutaween have fought so hard to repress have facilitated the spread of alternative views.

A nearly 75-year-old police force can’t be disempowered overnight, and those like Mr. Sheikh who attempt to liberalize it risk fomenting a dangerous backlash. But, aided by social media, the doctrinal foundations of the religious establishment are finally beginning to crack. A broad-based, grass-roots show of anger against the mutaween may be the push the government needs to finally weaken and perhaps eventually dismantle the religious police. [The New York Times] Read more


Young people in Tunisia are posting videos of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s Happy song as a form of defiance.

Islamists have said the dancing is just ”debauchery and moral decay” but the videos have received tens of thousands of hits and loads of support. Their coming to power heralds the death of music and dance so dancing is a really good way of challenging their regression.

In March of last year, Tunisian high school students did a protest version of the Harlem Shake pitting them against the Islamists. [Maryam Namazie] Read more

Saudi Arabia: buses for women? - Travel problems hamper female employment

The Saudi government's efforts to increase female employment seem to be having the opposite effect in some areas.

Several women-only shops in Jeddah are closing down because there are not enough qualified women to work in them and they are not allowed to employ men, reports:

.... Transportation, however, is not merely an "excuse".

The problems that Saudi women face in travelling to and from work are very real and go a long way towards explaining the apparent lack of commitment that employers complain about.

Since women are not allowed to drive, they often end up spending large amounts of their wages on taxis or private male drivers. This has led to renewed calls for a bus system that women can use. [al-bab] Read more

09 February 2014

Can you dissuade fanatical jihadis using theological argument?

How much of what jihadis do is religiously motivated? At one extreme are those who claim their beliefs are entirely explained by oppression and reaction to social circumstances; at the other is the view that the Qur'an is a kind of brain parasite, compelling its victims to slaughter.

This latter view is still quite popular on the fringes of the right. I'd like to think the view that religion doesn't matter at all has been abandoned entirely but there is bound to be some groupuscule or cult that still clings to it.

[A COMMENT] "I think it's important to clarify that 'Jihad' doesn't mean holy war the way it was alleged to either by violent Muslim extremists, or by advocates of the War On Terror - itself a pretty cynical term; it merely means 'struggle' or 'strive'."

That's constantly trotted out, but there's very little evidence that jihad refers to 'inner struggle' in the Qu'ran and Hadith: it almost invariably means holy war against, and the forced conversion of, nonbelievers.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] .... let there be no doubt that the teachings of Islam unequivocally function as a hook. If the core texts of Islam unequivocally preached pacifism under all circumstances there could be no hook and there would be no textually-justified violence. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Islamic preachers: the pied pipers of sexual apartheid?

A young man called Ishmael, with a wispy black beard and a slight blemish in one eye, is telling me why women should be covered up and kept apart.

“If I had two sweets – one wrapped and one unwrapped – and threw them in a bin, which one would you pick out and eat?” He grins, the amateur philosopher pleased with his analogy, and breaks off to shake the hand of a young man walking past the makeshift London Metropolitan University Islamic Society stall set up in the student canteen. Ishmael, who says he is a former head of the society (something the current president later denies) appears to know a lot of the students passing through.

[A COMMENT] You can't welcome saudi (and their gulf associates) funding of their ideology propaganda centres into towns, cities and universities all over the land and not expect their backwards ways to rub off on some people.

[ANOTHER] Weep my friends - because at present this country and its history and its culture will be done for in 30 years and in the meantime we will slowly sink into slow motion destruction via the ballot box and the maternity ward and the fleet of Boeings flying them in from the islamic world. [The Telegraph] Read more

Child bride's marriage was permitted by father, say police

The father of 12-year-old girl gave his blessing for her to be ''married'' to a Lebanese university student in the Hunter region earlier this year, police will allege.

.... Police say they do not believe the girl's mother had any knowledge of the ''marriage'' or that her daughter had moved to Sydney with a 26-year-old man.

It is understood the girl's father and mother are separated.

Police learned of the man and under-age girl's marriage after the accused tried to enrol the girl, who recently turned 13, at school and applied for legal guardianship through Centrelink.

The victim has been taken into the care of the Department of Family and Community Services until a permanent home is found for her. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Critics of internet law demonstrate in Turkey

Turkish riot police have used tear-gas grenades and water cannon to disperse more than 2,000 people demonstrating against new internet restrictions that have caused concern both at home and abroad.

Large numbers of police with body armour and shields backed up by armoured water-cannon lorries deployed against the chanting, mostly young crowd around Istanbul's Taksim Square on Saturday. [Al Jazeera] Read more

Sharia is here already, what else do you want?

Gilani says Sharia already exists in country in form of 1973 Constitution, Taliban’s demand of Sharia invalid

Sharia already exists in the country in the form of 1973 Constitution as no legislation could be made repugnant to the Islamic teachings, said former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani while talking to journalists at his Lahore residence after his meeting with Gilgit-Balistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah on Sunday.

Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the Taliban have come up with three major demands including enforcement of Sharia in the country, release of Taliban prisoners and withdrawal of troops from militancy hit areas and it is up to the government either to accept or not these demands. [Pakistan Today] Read more

Islamists hate free speech

As Turkey's Islamist government enforces new internet restrictions and persecutes journalists, prosecutors, freedom protesters, and even police, Islamists accuse Digital Journal of hate speech for reporting the truth.

Be careful what you say or publish in Turkey. Even if you are a journalist from another country, you could be arrested or expelled. Islamists in Turkey are trying to control free speech, protesters, the media, the legal system, and even the police.

This week, new restrictions over the internet came into effect. The Turkish government will be able to block objectionable websites within hours. [Digital Journal] Read more

08 February 2014

Blasphemy Laws in an Islamic Country

.... And, in fact, lawyers are rarely needed anyway, because just the accusation of Holy Qur’an desecration or insult to Islam or the Prophet of Islam is enough to generate a mullah-led flash mob of angry Muslims intent on beating or killing the accused.

Even police protection in jail isn’t really protection, because those accused of blasphemy are almost guaranteed to be brutally assaulted or murdered in jail by the police or other inmates.

As a result of what they know is coming if they are accused of blasphemy, most victims go into hiding or flee their homes or the country itself, if they can afford to. These last are indeed the lucky few. [LankaWeb.com] Read more

German Muslims angered at insinuation that Muslims are easily angered

The right-of-center think tank and conservative news portal The Brookings Institute and International Policy Council has published on Feb. 6, 2014 that during a meeting between German government officials and influential leaders of the nation's rather large Muslim minority, the scheduled topic of gender equality quickly went off the rails when the followers of Mohammed took offense to the possibility that there just may a connection between Islam and forced marriages. [Examiner.com] Read more

Mark Stephenson Charged After Tearing Pages From Quran During Football Match

A 25-year-old football fan has been charged after pages were torn from the Quran and thrown during a match.

The incident occurred during the Birmingham City and Middlesbrough game at St Andrew's on December 7.

West Midlands Police said they had today charged Mark Stephenson with causing racial or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. Comments are closed on this entry [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Man charged after 'Koran ripped up at football match'

A man has been charged after pages were allegedly torn from the Koran and thrown during a football match.

Police said the incident happened on 7 December at a game between Birmingham City and Middlesbrough at St Andrews.

Mark Stephenson, 25, from Napoleon Drive, Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury, has been charged with causing racial or religiously-aggravated harassment. [BBC] Read more

07 February 2014

Rationalising the irrational

In November last year, Recital Hall in Sydney played host to a debate with the motion: “God and Prophet’s should be protected from insult”. Arguing for the motion was Uthman Badar of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

.... In Badar’s case, he advocates a state in which his particular ideology deserves power over the lives of us all, should be given special privileges over all others, simply because he believes its premise to be true.

This is the advocating of oppression, regardless of how it is dressed up. No supremacist – to my knowledge – including Uthman Badar has ever provided a reasonable position as to why we should all accept their particular brand of supremacy as legitimate over our lives. [Futile Democracy] Read more

Opposition to Muslims and the Muslim headscarf in Western Europe

It has been almost 10 years since France’s National Assembly and Senate approved a controversial law prohibiting students from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols in public schools.

While the legislation applies to all students, whether they wear Jewish skullcaps or large Christian crosses, the Muslim headscarf has become the primary focal point in the debate over the principles of secularism and religious freedom.

.... Helbling concludes that the two issues — general attitude towards Muslims and views on headscarf legislation — are not necessarily correlated: “opposing the idea that schoolgirls should be allowed to wear the headscarf in school does not mean that one dislikes having Muslims in the neighborhood or is opposed to close friendship with Muslims.” [Journalist's Resource] Read more

Al-Madinah: why is Muslim free school being closed?

PART of the troubled Al-Madinah Muslim free school will be closed after an Ofsted report warned that it was in "chaos". The Derby school, which was previously accused of segregating its pupils by gender and forcing its female teachers to wear the hijab, will stop teaching secondary school students after the summer term.

[A COMMENT] Islam has no place in an enlightened society --- why these western educated head-teachers promote this repressive regime is beyond any logical explanation! [The Week] Read more

Al-Madinah School in Derby to close its secondary section

.... A damning report by an inspection team from Ofsted – Office for Standards in Education – published in October found the free school “in chaos” “dysfunctional” and “inadequate” and it was placed in special measures.

Schools Minister Lord Nash stepped in to demand an action plan from the trustees but when that proved to be unsatisfactory he demanded the resignations of the founding trustees – Shazia Parveen, Shahban Rehmat and Ziad Amjad - although they did not leave the school until January 31.

[A COMMENT] This was never anything to do with education, it was all about indoctrination.

[ANOTHER] The practice of indoctrination of our young is a relic of the middle ages and open and free discussion of all theories and religions should be offered without a teacher recommended option.

I have seen this is action in a Derby Primary where the staff are from many countries and various religions and the children are taught all religions as subjects for review and not automatic adoption. [Derby Telegraph] Read more

Staffing agency says no job for teenager 'if she wears a headscarf'

An 18-year-old girl who applied for a job at Roosendaal staffing agency All-In was shocked to be told she could not work there if she wore a headscarf.

The girl, named by free newspaper Spits as Leila, had not worn a headscarf to the interview but had done so during a previous internship. All-In asked her about this and added 'we are a Dutch company and are allowed to make demands.'

Leila, who told Spits she had no intention of wearing a headscarf to work, later phoned back the company asking for clarification and recorded the phone call. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

Man who ‘married’ 13-year-old girl has bail refused over child sex charges

A Sydney man has been refused bail after being charged over allegations of a live-in sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Ahmad Chamma, 26, allegedly met a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter region in 2012 and became involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with her.

The pair then allegedly moved to a house in Sydney’s south-west, where they continued the relationship.

Police claim the man and child were married in a religious ceremony in NSW earlier this year and the schoolgirl is now 13.

.... The man made a brief appearance at Burwood local court on Friday and spoke via an Arabic interpreter. [The Guardian] Read more

Indonesia: Aceh Province Enforces Sharia for non-Muslims

The government of Indonesia's Aceh province has approved a new law obliging every citizen to follow the sharia Islamic legal code regardless of their religion.

Councillor Abdulah Saleh told the Jakarta Post that the new behaviour law, or qanun jinayat, "does indeed oblige everyone in Aceh to follow sharia without exception."

Saleh said that the qanun stipulated that all those found to have violated sharia would be tried under Islamic law regardless of their religion. [International Business Times] Read more

Muslim Free School In Derby To Be Permanently Closed, Department For Education Announced

A beleaguered Muslim free school which had been accused of enforcing hardline religious practice is to be closed amid concerns over the quality of teaching and curriculum, the Department for Education has announced.

The Al-Madinah secondary free school in Derby had been branded a "minefield" by secular campaigners, who said the system was being "exploited" by religious groups. The primary school will remain open.

[A COMMENT] Now close the rest down and remove religion from schools. religion is for places of worship.End Of.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] All sorts of cults & crank organisations never mind religion can take advantage of this. Religion should be barred from all schools. It is a family and church thing, nothing to do with education. Ethics can be taught without religion. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

06 February 2014

Death of Saudi female student stirs uproar

.... Following Wednesday’s incident, professors at King Saud University also demanded an investigation.

“We need management who can make quick decisions without thinking of what the family will say or what culture will say,” said Professor Aziza Youssef.

One staff member who witnessed the situation said paramedics were not called immediately. She said they were also not given immediate permission to enter the campus and that it appeared that the female dean of the university and the female dean of the college of social studies panicked.

The staff member spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from university management. [Al Arabiya] Read more

EU calls on Saudi Arabia to allow public worship for all faiths

The European Union has today called for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to respect the public worship of all faiths.

In a motion drafted by Portuguese MEP Ana Maria Gomes, the European Parliament said that while Saudi Arabia was an important strategic partner, Saudi authorities should accept that it is a human right for individuals to worship any religion in public.

Issues like terrorism, Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Syrian conflict, post-Arab-Spring transition, and better relations with Iran, were all key areas in which the EU said Saudi co-operation was needed.

However, it made clear that if this partnership "is to be effective, [Saudi Arabia] must respect basic human rights and civil liberties". [Christian Today] Read more

Germany Aiming to Become More Muslim Friendly

Muslims attending the gathering were offended by the insinuation that Islam could be radical or violent, and demanded instead that the German government take steps to make "Islam equal to Christianity" in Germany.

They were equally unwilling to discuss the main item on the official conference agenda: "Gender Equality as a Common Value," and refused even to acknowledge that there might be any connection between Islam and forced marriage.

While focusing his energy on expanding the rights if Muslims in German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has been largely silent about the responsibility of Muslim immigrants to take measures to integrate better into German society. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Saudi female student dies after male ambulance crew denied access

.... Amna Bawazeer, a Master’s student at the College of Social Studies at King Saud University in the capital Riyadh, suffered the heart attack at 11 am at the women’s college where she was finalising her course timetable for the second semester.

However, when the ambulance arrived, the medics were not allowed to enter the college for two hours.

The university officials argued that the ambulance staff were males and could not enter the premises as the student was not covered and that no man could be allowed into the women’s college even though Amna needed prompt and vital treatment, local daily Okaz reported on Thursday. [Gulf News] Read more

Do Muslims need advice from Ukip? Unfortunately, Gerard Batten thinks so

As Ukip's spokesman for immigration, Gerard Batten MEP, a former candidate for mayor of London, has decried the "explosion of mosques" across Europe and claimed he would "refuse applications for new mosques until there's a non-Muslim place of worship in Mecca and Medina".

Batten, who represents London in the European parliament, doesn't seem to have noticed that he might be missing a vote here and there in the May European elections, given that one in seven Londoners is Muslim.

[A COMMENT] Odious though he may be 1. He is, as you point out, elected. Ms Aly gets paid to promote Islam for a living. She doesn't have a constituency. 2. The census figures from 2011 characterise slightly less than 1/8th identifying themselves as muslim, not 1/7, and there isn't any data to identify or further classify into lapsed/disinterested/just by heritage etc. Clumsy, racist, misguided or whatever, Batten is at least trying to deal with a genuine issue. Fundamentalists are receiving support from muslims in the UK.

[ANOTHER COMMENT] Although his sartorial taste is rather eccentric none of his suggestions for Islamic reform are in any way unreasonable.

[ANOTHER] I've just spent an afternoon working with a friend of mine who is a Muslim. In fact I have quite few friends who are Muslims. I do work for Muslims and go to shops owned by Muslims. .... But I support UKIP. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Turkish MPs endorse Internet control law

Turkey's parliament has adopted a new Internet bill roundly criticised as an assault by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on freedom of expression, access to information and investigative journalism.

After hours of debate, the measures were adopted late on Wednesday where Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) dominates with 319 of the 550 seats. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

05 February 2014

Threats to Britain's Open Society

For several hundred years, people have thought of Britain as the epitome of modern civilisation and land of Enlightenment that gave rule of law, individual freedom and democracy to the world.

In early decades of the 21st century, this image is being eroded, as pockets of Britain are being transformed into isolated enclaves, administered by Islamic clerics associated with different mosques and madrassas.

The Darul Uloom madrassa in the village of Chislehurst, modelled after India’s Darul Uloom Deoband, seeks to produce “an Islamic elite who will rule the Muslim world” — as reported by British Indian journalist Edna Fernandes, who also reported that music, drama and modern foreign languages are deemed un-Islamic and Shakespeare is seen as evil for dealing with subjects like love and revenge. [The New Indian Express]

Read more

A life without God in Iraq: This 22-year-old atheist has been called the "Baghdad converter"

Despite its dangers and taboos in the conflict-ridden nation, some Iraqi youth are turning towards atheism. Mariwan Salihi met a few of them.

One of the Iraqi capital’s most vocal young activists, who uses the pseudonym Omar Al-Baghdadi for his own security, is often described as “Baghdad’s Converter.” His mission, among others, is to enlighten his friends and other young people about atheism.

“I became an atheist at an early age, after I investigated my former religion, Islam, in depth. I discovered that my religion is not the only one that exists on earth; there are more than 1100 other faiths and their followers all claim that their religion tells the absolute truth. So religion is a form of Dogma,” the 22-year old engineer and activist says from his home in one of the major Sunni-inhabited areas of Baghdad. [Al Bawaba] Read more

Satirical Turkish site on trial for insulting religion

One of Turkey’s most popular websites, the satirical Sour Dictionary (Eksi Sozluk), is on trial for insulting religion. Forty contributing writers have been charged following a complaint by popular Islamic figure Adnan Oktar. The trial kicked off Jan. 14 with 27 of the defendants in attendance.

Oktar, in his complaint to the prosecutor, claimed that some entries in the dictionary included comments that amounted to insults of religion and prophets. The entries he cited and for which the prosecutor eventually pressed charges include jokes that the Prophet Muhammad and Allah had “sent money” to Turkey’s Housing Development Administration and that Jesus Christ and religious people were of low intelligence.

Other examples include an entry on suggestions for a 100th name for Allah in addition to the 99 names Muslims have for their god and another titled “Allah’s official sponsors.” [Al-Monitor] Read more

Isolating Dissent - Maajid Nawaz and the 'Jesus & Mo' Controversy

.... It is astonishing how quickly a deeply-entrenched taboo can collapse in a free society once it has been violated. Had the reporting of the Jesus and Mo row been universally accompanied by the cartoon in question (as it would have been in any other context), it would have demonstrated at a stroke how stupid the debate about Islam has become.

Shafiq and Ansar understand this perfectly, which is precisely why they have kicked up such a racket over such an innocuous image. If sharing a gently satirical comic strip can attract such outrage, vituperation and hatred, what are the chances of a genuinely provocative, transgressive and iconoclastic satire of Islamic beliefs and ideas emerging?

The internalised fear of violent reprisal is an effective tool, and explains the uniformity of self-censorship right across a media establishment not known for its tactful avoidance of sensationalism. But religious zealots know they are aiming at a soft target. Ian Katz and others like him genuinely do seem to be embarrassed to take their own side in this quarrel.

This is not simply an error, but a betrayal. A betrayal of the need to defend free conscience, expression and inquiry from religious obscurantists, and a betrayal of Muslim dissidents, like Maajid Nawaz, who believe in these principles and are fighting to uphold them. [Unrepentant Jacobin] Read more

Understanding Quilliam and its Critics

The recent cartoon controversy, in which a group of reactionary Muslims demanded punitive action against a secular Muslim for stating he was not offended by a cartoon depicting Muhammad, revealed a great deal about the state of Britain’s Muslim communities.

The secular Muslim in question, Maajid Nawaz, is the director of a counter-extremism think tank called the Quilliam Foundation. In a series of candid admissions, many of these Muslims admitted that much of the vitriol directed against Maajid during the cartoon affair was directly inspired by frustration with and hatred for Quilliam, rather than the cartoons themselves.

[A COMMENT] The main problem - the proverbial elephant in the room - is that islam is not - and never has - been peaceful. This can be confirmed by a few minutes reading practically any section of the Koran at random. [Harry’s Place] Read more

04 February 2014

New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women

A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.

The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them.

Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering. [The Guardian] Read more

Eminent Saudi Cleric: Female Genital Mutilation a 'Noble Act'

Sheikh Mohamad Alarefe is a popular Saudi Arabian Islamic theologian and a professor at the King Saud University. A recent “tweet” to his almost 8 million followers on his Twitter account stated: “Circumcision [FGM] is a noble act to do to women. There’s nothing wrong with doing it.

Some religious scholars have issued fatwas that it’s not allowed because many that perform the circumcision cut too much and they cause damage to the woman.” [Clarion Project] Read more

Elmwood Park woman says bosses ordered her to remove religious head scarf at Saddle Brook job

An Elmwood Park woman claims she faced religious discrimination at her job at a Saddle Brook factory when her bosses ordered her to remove her hijab, or head scarf.

Naima Mnasri, who is Muslim, filed a complaint late in January with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Mnasri said she was ordered to remove her hijab at her second day of work on Jan. 17 while she was awaiting her day’s assignment at Paradigm Packaging, which makes plastic bottles for vitamins and medications. [North Jersey Media Group] Read more

Proposed code of conduct for British Muslims commissioned by Ukip MEP Gerard Batten – full document

Batten's 'proposed charter of Muslim understanding' was written in 2006 by Sam Solomon, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, with a foreword by the MEP. [The Guardian] Read more

Muslim who says she was fired for refusing flu shot sues Children's Hospital Boston

A former Children's Hospital Boston employee who said she was fired because her Islamic beliefs prohibited her from getting a mandatory flu shot sued the hospital today.

Leontine Robinson says in her complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that her civil rights were violated because the hospital "intentionally discriminated against (her) due to her religious beliefs."

Some Muslims refuse flu shots because they contain a small amount of pork gelatine — a violation, the abstainers contend, of restrictions on consuming pork products. [American City Business Journals] Read more

Ukip MEP says British Muslims should sign charter rejecting violence

A Ukip MEP believes that British Muslims should sign a special code of conduct and warns that it was a big mistake for Europe to allow "an explosion of mosques across their land".

Gerard Batten, who represents London and is member of the party's executive, told the Guardian on Tuesdaythat he stood by a "charter of Muslim understanding", which he commissioned in 2006.

The document asks Muslims to sign a declaration rejecting violence and says parts of the Qur'an that promote "violent physical Jihad" should be regarded as "inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic".

[A COMMENT] Well said Gerard Batten!

[ANOTHER COMMENT] .... what Mr Batten said is in essence fairly reasonable and will resonate with a lot of voters (including centre-left and centre-right voters). A lot of people here need to calm down a bit.

By the simple method of not feigning outrage at every little phrase they don't like, Ukip have already gone up in my estimation compared to the tradtional mainstream parties. And no, I'm not a Ukip supporter. Tiresome comments threads like this could very well make me one though. [The Guardian] Read more

03 February 2014

Islamic school denied registration after highly critical review

A proposed new Islamic school in north Canberra will not be allowed to take enrolments for this year after being roundly condemned in a government review for failing to plan for basic teaching, curriculum or child-safety requirements.

The At-Taqwa school, conceived by the Islamic Society of Belconnen, was slated to take kindergarten to year 4 enrolments from February 6 but it is in limbo, having been rejected for ACT government provisional registration on several counts. [The Canberra Times] Read more

‘Islamophobe’ of the Year

.... Anyhow – I hope I do win. As a Khomeinist organisation the IHRC may wish to celebrate by hanging me from a crane, as is customary in Iran. As it is, I am content with my nomination and can only keep my fingers crossed that I make their cut.

If I do win I promise to donate any cash prize to a charity of my choice. Probably the Barnabas Fund. If I lose, all I can do is promise the IHRC that I will do everything in my power to do better next year. [The Spectator] Read more

‘Frantic Crackdown’ on Media in Turkey

Reports charting declining media freedoms in Turkey are now being published with increasing regularity.

The latest, from U.S.-based Freedom House on Monday, slammed Turkey for a “frantic crackdown” on the media, and broadened its criticism to include Washington, which the think tank said fails to realize threats to the country’s democracy as the government tightens its grip on news outlets.

In a special report that dovetails a barrage of negative publicity on the declining state of press freedom in Turkey, Freedom House highlighted problems led by broadly interpreted antiterrorism laws; scores of jailed reporters; rampant firing of journalists for covering antigovernment protests and developments; and the media’s self-censorship driven by their owners’ other, non-media business interests. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more

More horrifying death threats against Maajid Nawaz

.... This is one of those occasions where I think that by listing the "vox populi" of both camps makes for an essential article, one that, when viewed a few years down the line .... will be a document that will attest to the terrible state we have sunk to.

The Enlightenment seems as far away as witch-burning and medieval torture. I hope someone who reads this in a few years' time will be shocked by our tolerance of other peoples' superstitions, superstitions that are backed up by barbaric threats.

I hope they will read this and ask: "Were people in 2014 really so weak and cowardly that they invited self-censorship and officially caved in to, and legitimised, extremist Salafi dogma?" [Harry’s Place] Read more