30 November 2014

Pope and patriarch condemn expulsion of Christians from Middle East

Pope Francis has condemned the persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East, blaming the fanaticism of terrorist groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The Pope warned that Christians were in danger of being wiped out in the region on the final day of his visit to Turkey, which has been accused of failing to stop Islamist extremists from crossing its borders into Syria and Iraq.

His position put him at odds with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had earlier blamed the emergence of Isil on “rising Islamophobia” in the West. [The Telegraph] Read more

British Muslims face worst job discrimination of any minority group, according to research

Muslims experience the worst discrimination of any other minority group in the UK when it comes to job prospects, new research has found.

The research, revealed by The Independent, found that Muslims are seen by employers as "disloyal and threatening" which results in followers of Islam being far less likely to be employed than Christians.

Muslim men are up to 76% less likely to have a job than white British Christian men of the same age, with the same qualifications.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] There is far more discrimination in Muslim countries than here. There is also much more equality too. I know of no Muslim country where women are treated as equals as they are here. I love my country and I object to people running it down. If it is such a bad place to live, why are so many Muslims living here?

[ANOTHER] Perhaps because the law discriminates too positively toward that group,requiring employers to make allowances for prayers, Ramadan, other festivals, even not handling packaged pork products etc. It's perhaps seen as less hassle to not have to battle with their needs?

[ANOTHER] It's Islam and all it's rules that's the problem, wanting to stop work five times a day to prey, not allowed to touch certain things, wanting to eat at different times for things such has Ramadan. No it is Islam that makes too hard to employ Muslims. That is why they are a drain on the economy. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Real Madrid and the offence of the cross

It was a really tiny cross. Honestly, it was barely noticeable in all that pearly pizzazz and gaudy gold. The Crown of Alfonso XII has been a sacred symbol of the Spanish Monarchy for more than 300 years, and that symbolism is reified by the Christian cross which sits at the crest of majesty. God has appointed; Christ is the source of wisdom; the Church proclaims its earthly sovereign. Europe still resonates with the echoes of Christendom: our history is undeniable; the fons et origo of our law, morality, freedom and fraternity are irrefutable.

But not for Spain’s supreme football team Real Madrid, who, despite proudly bearing the ‘Royal’ epithet, have excised the cross of Christ’s regency from their iconic crest after securing a sponsorship deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

Apparently it’s only the sponsored credit card which carries the theologically-emasculated emblem. But that credit card doubles as the Real Madrid club membership card, so escaping sharia sensitivities censorship would appear to be impossible. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

29 November 2014

'Terror link’ charities get British millions in Gift Aid

Charities accused of supporting jihad in Syria and other forms of terrorism have been paid millions of pounds by British taxpayers.

Groups under investigation for allegedly aiding Syrian militants have used the Gift Aid system to claim large sums from the public purse.

Among them is Al-Fatiha Global, a Midlands-based charity which is being investigated by the Charity Commission after the chief executive’s son was apparently pictured in Syria with his arms round two masked men holding AK47s. He denies the photograph is of him. [The Telegraph] Read more

More from MEND: Islamophobia Awareness Month

.... A MEND Islamophobia Awareness event on demonising Muslim youth depicts a Muslim girl with horns. Alongside the picture is a tendentious Daily Star headline, a report of disgraceful vandalism at a Muslim cemetery – and this assertion:

"Muslim faith schools and Muslim run state schools are characterised as educating Muslim children to hate Western values and culture."

This is not some kind of completely unfounded slur. It’s rather starkly put, but some of the evidence arising from the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation would support this allegation.

By smearing secularists and liberals (including many Muslims) as ‘Islamophobes’, and seeming to delegitimise even measured criticisms of anything associated with Islam, organisations such as MEND only feed the fears of genuine bigots. [Harry’s Place] Read more

28 November 2014

Faith schools told: judiciary comes before religious law

Faith schools face being penalised for placing religious laws ahead of the British judicial system under plans to promote respect for other cultures.

New guidance from the Department for Education says all pupils must be made aware of the difference between the “law of the land” and moral codes such as Christian canon law and Islamic sharia.

Schools should not "teach anything that undermines" the civil and criminal law, it says. [The Telegraph] Read more

Muslim duo’s refusal to stand is ‘a slur on court’

TWO Muslims have refused to stand for a District Court judge, with one claiming they are not “at the behest of any authority other than Islam”.

Under NSW law an accused is required to stand to hear the charge against them and respond with a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Wassim Fayad and co-accused Milad Bin Ahmad-Shah Al-Ahmadzai both defied the law yesterday and remained seated during their arraignments on an aggravated break and enter charge in Parramatta District Court. [The Daily Telegraph] Read more

27 November 2014

Islamic women’s groups welcome call for imams to denounce domestic violence

Islamic women’s groups have welcomed a call by the peak body for Australia’s Muslim clerics that imams around the country should use their sermons this Friday to denounce domestic violence.

The president of the Australian National Imams Council, Imam Abdel Aziem, has appealed to Islamic religious leaders to speak out against family violence in their khutbah, a sermon usually delivered before prayers on Friday, Islam’s holiest day of the week.

.... “Islamically, it’s very clear that violence against women is very much forbidden.”

Imams play an important role in contextualising passages within the 1,400-year-old religion’s holy book that appeared to subordinate women or condone their physical abuse, she said.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] If they're serious then they should start by denouncing the old Surah 4:34. You know the one, when God says it's ok to beat disobedient women. Can't see it happening though.

[SECOND] You beat me to it ... Sura 4:34 (Pickthall translation): Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women).

So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

Good luck getting a cafeteria ... sorry, "moderate" interpretation of the sura from the imams. [The Guardian] Read more

British Muslims face worst job discrimination of any minority group, according to research

Muslims are facing the worst job discrimination of any minority group in Britain, according to new research which found that they had the lowest chance of being in work or in a managerial role.

Muslim men were up to 76 per cent less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. And Muslim women were up to 65 per cent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts.

Muslims were the most disadvantaged in terms of employment prospects out of 14 ethno-religious groupings in the UK, researchers Dr Nabil Khattab and Professor Ron Johnston found using data from the Office for National Statistics' Labour Force Survey of more than half a million people. Skin colour made little difference to the figures.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] You have a section of society that does not want to integrate, wants to use its own language, dress, social practises, even when they are illegal in this country, even when they are 2nd or 3rd generation born here, and they are surprised they are not treated equally.

Time off to pray multi times a day that we will all die so they can take over the world, time off to take there kiddies 'home' to marry them off once they are nearly 10.

The ones who get on have integrated. The ones who want to live as if it was 1200 years ago will not be welcome until they do integrate. Or they could go 'home' rather than living in their enclaves here.

[SECOND] Try getting a job with a Muslim employer if you are not a Muslim. It ain't gonna happen. These essentially anti-white headlines sicken me.

[THIRD] Under no circumstances whatsoever would I employ a Muslim of whatever nationality, whatever age or qualification. They are enemies of democracy and enemies of Christianity and we have made a serious mistake in allowing them into the country. Whatever they might tell you publicly they all support the Muslim extremist organisations.

[FOURTH] Should we perhaps learn tolerance from how Muslims treat Christians in Islamic countries?

[FIFTH] "They are perceived as disloyal and as a threat rather than just as a disadvantaged minority" Here we go; the muslim as victim. Again. Nothing to do with their attitude, e.g. taking jobs in British supermarkets but refusing to sell alcohol or pork to the customers, or turning up for work with their faces covered? Who would have guessed that an attitude like that might have deterred companies from employing them? Amazing! [The Independent] Read more

Dutch MP calls for removal of all mosques in Netherlands

A Dutch right-wing political party has demanded Netherlands be cleared of mosques, amid an ongoing row over the integration of Muslim and Turkish minorities in the country.

Machiel de Graaf, a member of Dutch anti-immigration and anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV), asked all mosques in the country to be shut down while speaking during a debate on integration in the House of Representatives.

Emphasizing that a Netherlands without mosques would be better, the parliamentarian said “We want to clean Netherlands of Islam.”

In addition to not being integrated into Dutch society and refuse to be assimilated, Muslims living in the country threaten Dutch identity and culture by giving more birth, according to de Graaf.

De Graaf’s remarks drew harsh criticism from members of social democratic parties attending the debate. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

'British values' or universal rights?

.... Veerman, if I've understood the article correctly, is not saying that all Muslims are equally bad but that we should stop trying so hard to categorise them. A better way forward, Veerman suggests, would be to focus on "certain key concepts that are commonplace throughout most of the Islamic continuum" – including sharia and jihad which, in the way they are most commonly interpreted, are clearly at odds with universal rights.

This kind of concept-based approach could be a lot more fruitful in identifying precisely where the problems lie. [al-bab.com] Read more

Iran Upholds Death Sentence for Photographer Who Insulted Prophet on Facebook

An Iranian photographer and blogger has seen his death sentence upheld by the country's Supreme Court for insulting the Prophet Mohammed in several Facebook posts, according to local reports.

The photographer, 30-year-old Soheil Arabi, was arrested in November 2013 by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in his home in Tehran, over allegations of "insulting the Prophet of Islam" (sabbo al-nabi).

Arabi was jailed for two months in solitary confinement in the feared section 2A of Evin Prison, which is under the rule of the IRGC.

.... But his lawyers had hoped that the Supreme Court would dismiss the charges based on Article 263 of the Islamic Penal Code. According to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the article "explicitly states that if a suspect claims in court that he said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes".

However, the top court not only confirmed the death sentence, but also added a new charge - "corruption on earth" - which cannot receive a pardon under Iranian law. [International Business Times] Read more

Veena Malik and the modern witch-hunt of Pakistani blasphemy laws

It’s hard to read about the blasphemy convictions handed down to Pakistani actress Veena Malik and her husband Asad Bashir, media owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, and television presenter host Shaista Wahidi without a sense of frustration and confusion over the arbitrary application of the country’s blasphemy laws.

Malik and Bashir took part in a restaging of their wedding on a programme on Geo TV, owned by Shakil-ur-Rahman. Playing in the background was a song about the marriage of one of Mohammad’s daughters. That, apparently, was enough to trigger a prosecution.

[A TOP RATED COMMENT] Has David Cameron said "This has nothing to do with Islam" yet? I hope I haven't missed it because it cracks me up every time. One of the funniest catchphrases ever.

It's like Tommy Cooper and "Just like that!" You know it's repetitive nonsense and not really even funny at all - but the sheer unadulterated, predictable daftness of it always has you in stitches. Theresa May has taken to using it but it doesn't have the same effect. It's the way Dave tells 'em!

[ANOTHER] And the lesson is - don't let any more followers of the Prophet into this country!

[ANOTHER] In other news, "men of Somali heritage" (i.e. Muslims) have been convicted of "sexual abuse" of vulnerable non-Muslim girls in Bristol.

Pursuant to the Koran (4.3), some Muslim men consider "sex with vulnerable non-Muslim females" to be their "entitlement".

So, there have now been groups of "men of Pakistani heritage" and "men of Somali heritage" convicted of "sexual abuse" of non-Muslim females. [The Telegraph] Read more

John Cleese & Bill Maher Debate Political Correctness, Muse 'You Can't Make Jokes About Muslims, They'll Kill You'

“Who are the people you can’t make jokes about?”

Quick as a shot, Maher replies with a knowing laugh: “Muslims. Try that, see what your Twitter feed says.”

A giggling Cleese says: “That’s not saying that you can’t, that just means they’ll kill you.”

"Oh yes, I’ve said that. I’ve made jokes like ‘It’s a religion of peace… there’s a piece of you over there, there’s a piece of you over there'", Maher responds.

Cleese cracks up, as does the audience, but the 75-year-old quickly makes the distinction he was referring to fundamentalists.

He said: “I think it’s terribly important. But the problem is if you make jokes about people who are going to kill you… there is a sort of tendency to hold back a little, isn’t there?

[TOP RATED COMMENT] .... he is not wrong in saying making a joke about Islam is more dangerous than any other religion. In fact doing anything that could be regarded as insulting is dangerous.

There are no other religions I know of in which an small but influential segment go insane and pronounce death sentences, on a fairly regular basis, about cartoons, comedians, rubbish YouTube videos or authors.

Other religions do have insane minorities too - it's just they tend to be ignored by all but a few nutters and they don't hold very much sway. [Huffington Post UK] Read more

Real Madrid remove cross from crest to appease Abu Dhabi bank

It is believed the European champions' new crest, minus the Christian cross, was created so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where a marketing drive will take place.

Club president Florentino Perez labelled the deal as a "strategic alliance with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world".

But the redesigning of the famous club badge shows, according to Spanish sports paper Marca, how far top clubs are willing to go, including sacrificing part of their famous identity, to generate new revenue streams. [The Independent] Read more

26 November 2014

Canon Andrew White ordered home with $57m bounty on his head

“It’s the end for Iraqi Christians,” writes Josh Glancy in The Sunday Times, as he recounts the appalling horrors, heartbreaks and sheer despair of Iraq’s Christians, many thousands of whom are homeless, destitute and traumatised, and many hundreds of whom have had their hands held and tears wiped away by Canon Andrew White, the acclaimed ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, who, sadly, ministers in Baghdad no longer.

He has been ordered home by the Archbishop of Canterbury. When there’s a $57m (£36m) bounty on your head (quite literally), it becomes a little too dangerous to expound the scriptures every Sunday if the demonic hordes know exactly which pulpit you’ll be preaching from, at what time, and approximately for how long. [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Peer faces formal complaint after calling on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur’an"

Lord Pearson of Rannoch is facing a formal complaint from Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, after calling on Muslims to "address the violence in the Qur'an."

Speaking in the House of Lords, Pearson, the former UKIP leader, said: "My lords, are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby's murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur'an to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the prime minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam?

Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Qur'an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?" [National Secular Society] Read more

Indonesia’s growing religious intolerance

Outsiders have long viewed Indonesia as a bulwark of moderate Islam. In November 2010, for example, US President Barack Obama visited Jakarta and mentioned “the spirit of religious tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesia’s constitution, and that remains one of this country’s defining and inspiring characteristics.”

This religious tolerance, however, is under acute threat. Sunni Muslim militants are seeking confrontation with Buddhist, Catholic and Shia Muslim communities. In many instances, moreover, the Indonesian government and Muslim mass organizations are not doing enough to help.

Last month, Indonesian police tightened security around Java’s Borobudur Buddhist temple complex in response to a threat by Islamist militants to destroy the UNESCO World Heritage site. The militants had circulated the threat online, calling for the “demolition” of Borobudur by “Islamic caliphate mujahidin.” [openDemocracy] Read more

25 November 2014

It’s impossible to laugh off the appalling sexism of the Turkish president

.... While fewer than a third of women are officially employed in Turkey, many others work unregistered on farms or in factories, and many families could not survive without this second income. According to Erdogan, however, women should stick to being mothers. In 2008 he advised women to have “at least” three children and preferably five, for the sake of the economy; in 2012 he tried to outlaw abortion.

... Why did Erdogan make a speech like this? Turkey pundits often characterise his speeches as deliberately polarising, aimed at mobilising his parochial, conservative supporters. While they do achieve that, I think he really means what he says and after 11 years in power he has become increasingly – and understandably – confident about spouting parochialism to people who repeatedly vote him into power.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 624 votes] "I am always surprised when people don't understand that American style feminism isn't as widely supported around the world as you would think." You mean civil rights aren't a world-wide phenomena? And religious freaks are everywhere? Well done you, who knew?

[SECOND 257v] Given Erdogan's ideology is anyone out there really surprised that he turns out to be a frothing tit?

[THIRD 246v] Erdogans views need to be challenged because they give legitimacy to the idea that equality is a 'western agenda'. He is trying to suggest that Turkey can follow a different path, a return to Islam and better days when women could be easily controlled.

why does he not want women to work? Simple, because without work women can't be financially independent. They will remain virtual slaves to their husbands.

But of course he dresses it up as Islamic principles, in order to make discrimination seem more appealing. [Guardian Cif] Read more

The Disturbing Heroes of Dutch Muslim Youth

.... or hundreds of thousands of Dutch youth, the heroes of the day are neither film stars nor comedians: they are the jihadists of the Islamic State.

That is the result of a recent study by Dutch research company Motivaction, which found that 90 percent of Dutch Turks ages 18-35 consider the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) members heroes, and enthusiastically support their friends and neighbors who travel to Syria to join them. And 48 percent of Holland's 18-35-year-old Moroccan immigrants agree.

(For reference, the latest official figures count more than 368,000 Moroccan immigrants – first and second generation – in the Netherlands, and more than 395,000 Turks in a national population numbering 16.8 million.) [IPT News] Read more

Islamic State destroys historic church in Mosul

Islamic State militants have blown up one of the oldest churches in the city of Mosul, according to Kurdish media sources.

St George's church was built in the late 17th century, though rebuilt in 1931.

According to the Rudaw news service, cries of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) rose from many mosques in the city as Islamist militants blew up the church.

Since its takeover of Mosul in June, Islamic State has destroyed a number of churches, Shiite mosques and other ancient sites, including the shrine of Prophet Jonah. [Christian Today] Read more

Ex-Ukip leader condemned for Qur’an comments over Lee Rigby murder

A former leader of Ukip has been accused of “diabolical” behaviour after he responded to the publication of a report on the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby by calling on Muslims to “address the violence” in the Qur’an and in “the life and the example” of the prophet Muhammad.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who led Ukip during the last general election, is to be reported to the speaker of the upper house, Lady D’Souza, after he suggested that the Qur’an had inspired Rigby’s killers.

Ukip defended Pearson’s remarks but the Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said the peer’s intervention showed that Nigel Farage led a “party of Islamophobes”. [The Guardian] Read more

Sharia and English law - A secularist success

.... back in August, a row has been raging among practitioners of English law over how far they should go in accommodating the desire of Muslim clients to handle and bequeath their property in accordance with the strictures of Islam.

Secularists were horrified when the Law Society (a prestigious professional body for solicitors) issued a guidance note to its members designed to help them formulate an Islamic will.

The note recalled, for example, that in many circumstances a male relative can expect to receive twice as much as a female, and that non-Muslims cannot inherit at all.

The objectors insisted that they were not trying to overturn the cherished English axiom of testamentary freedom, the right to leave your property to anybody you please; but they felt it was wrong for lawyers to be put in the position of offering "Islamic" advice.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] The question is simple: do we wish to live in a society of superstition and primitive ideas or do we want to live in an evolving society that increasingly respects individual rights and responsibilities in a humane manner?

You can either have enlightened secularism or you can have regressive superstitious primitivism; you can never have both for they are fundamentally opposed. Unfortunately we see a rise of superstitious primitivism all around the world and European countries including the UK need to be clear about the heart of the problem and formulate adequate approaches to resolving the conflicts that will increasingly occur as superstitious/religious dogmas are imposed upon others by religionists who are intellectually and emotionally unhappy with the idea of human-centric ethics and principles.

[SECOND] The irony is delicious; the left has been up in arms for decades over Christian sidelining of secularism (often real enough in US, mostly imagined in Europe), only to find out that their pet minority - Muslims - are the real threat.

[THIRD] .... The only real hope for the decline of fundamentalism is the steady discrediting of religion in general.

Although Cameron is a Christian (at least, he says he is), Milliband and Clegg are self-declared atheists. At some point, there will be a majority of atheists in the Commons and then we may hope for the disestablishment of the Church of England and the abandonment of religious teaching in schools.

Only when the West has comprehensively abandoned official support for superstition can we seek to dissuade those places that are currently fundamentalist to develop into modern secular societies. [The Economist] Read more

24 November 2014

British fear of Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin

.... British fears about Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin. Ideas that were once alien or unknown can now leap across national borders and take root in unexpected places. Globalisation is making national cultures less monolithic and more diverse – and, thanks mainly to the internet and the ease of international travel, it is likely to happen on an ever-increasing scale.

Trying to prevent that is as futile as trying to stop wind or rain. Far better to recognise that it’s happening and adjust to it. Nor is it necessarily bad.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 694 votes] Remember that story the other week where an atheist group had members blow themselves up in a crowded market, just before another of their members beheaded somebody on live television?

No, nor me. Stop talking nonsense.

[SECOND 556v] Or how about that atheist practice of hacking off the clitoris of their beautiful daughter?

Or the one which riots with signs adorned with "Behead all those who insult atheism!" when somebody drew a cartoon of Richard Dawkins in a newspaper in a secular country thousands of miles away.

The fear of extreme Islamism is not one based on the 'unknown'. It is one based on the repeated acts of Islamic extremists over the past several decades.

[THIRD 445v] "The aim of education, according to Saudi Arabia’s basic law, is “instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation”, which in principle is not very different from Michael Gove’s idea of instilling “British values” in English schools."

Haha, nice try. Where to start? One difference (among many) being that we don't execute people if they later reject these British values. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Egypt: The forbidden love of interfaith romances

.... Aya and Milad's relationship started in Tahrir Square in the middle of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

But after more than three years together, they feel frustrated. They can't marry in Egypt because Milad is a Christian, while Aya is a Muslim woman. Under Egyptian law, Milad would have to convert Islam, even though a Christian woman can marry a Muslim man without having to convert.

The couple considered travelling abroad to marry and start a family. But even that would not solve their problem.

"Even though we would sign a civil marriage document, we would not be able to come back to Egypt," says 24-year-old Aya. [BBC] Read more

Taliban peace talks a threat to women’s rights in Afghanistan, Oxfam warns

Afghan women are at risk of being excluded from peace talks with Taliban insurgents, leaving many fearful that, 13 years after a US-led force ousted the extremists from power, the men who banned them from schools and work could once again rein in their rights, Oxfam has warned.

In a new report published ahead of the London Conference on Afghanistan, the aid agency has urged the international community and the newly-elected president, Ashraf Ghani, not to sacrifice women’s rights in future peace talks with the insurgents, who denied women basic freedoms while in power between 1996 and 2001. [MailOnline] Read more

Saudi Arabian restaurants ban single women from entering because of their 'mentally unstable' behaviour such as flirting, smoking and using mobile phones

Restaurants in Saudi Arabia have banned single women from entering because of their 'mentally unstable' behaviour such as using flirting, smoking and using mobile phones.

Several restaurants have put up signs that say 'women are not allowed' in another blow for women's rights in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

There is no law banning women from travelling alone in Saudi Arabia but deeply-held religious beliefs dictate that they should be accompanied by a male family member when out in public. [MailOnline] Read more

Turkey president Erdogan: Women are not equal to men

"You cannot put women and men on an equal footing," he told a meeting in Istanbul. "It is against nature."

He also said feminists did not grasp the importance of motherhood in Islam.

His comments often seek to appeal to his pious core supporters, says the BBC's Mark Lowen in Istanbul, but they anger more liberal voters.

Turks who have more secular views argue that the government's social policies are taking the country in a dangerous direction, our correspondent says.

Mr Erdogan has previously urged women to have three children, and has lashed out against abortion and birth by Caesarean section. [BBC] Read more

By caving in to religious misogyny, ‘anti-racist’ liberals reveal their inner racist

Even by the low standards of English lawyers, the men and women who run the Law Society have behaved like shameless hypocrites. Instead of confining themselves to offering professional advice, they set themselves up as Islamic theologians.

In a practice note on Sharia-compliant wills, the Law Society advised the 125,000 solicitors in England and Wales to urge Muslim clients to discriminate against women, non-Muslims, adopted and ‘illegitimate’ children.

‘Male heirs [should] in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir,’ it said, and ‘non-Muslims may not inherit at all’. Likewise ‘illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs’ and should not be left a penny.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Sharia should be illegal in Britain. We have a perfectly adequate moral and legal system, which should apply to everyone with no dispensations to members of minority sects.

[SECOND] Every push back against the racists and sexists is a step forward for humanity. The "racism of lower expectations" seems to be gaining ground in the US and other places, as liberals protect the right to be racist and sexist, as long as your racism and sexism is part of your religious or minority culture.

Human rights are for everyone. Allowing or even considering the sexism-borderline-misogyny of these religious chauvinists is tantamount to brain death.

[THIRD] Indeed a very shameful act , one body that you might have thought would defend Common law would have been them, the Law Society, yet with this ruling they were acting as agents for its demise. It will take a very long time for them to live this down.

What is it with the establishment that values so little of our culture? The politicians undermining Parliament and our constitutional law, and the Law Society seeking to put a nail in the coffin of Common Law. [The Spectator] Read more

HRW calls on Indonesia to scrap 'virginity tests' for female police

In a report published on November 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses the Indonesian government of subjecting women applying for Indonesia's National Police to discriminatory virginity tests.

Based on interviews with both female police and police applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the test, the report describes the practice as "painful and traumatic" for the women.

The test is done early in the recruitment process as part of the applicants' physical exam. Personnel from the Police Medical and Health Center conduct the tests primarily in police-operated hospitals. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Erdogan: Gender equality against nature

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday took issue with gender equality, saying that women and men cannot be equal because they have different “natures and bodies.”

“You cannot bring women and men into an equal position; this is against nature,” Erdogan said while addressing a meeting of an association promoting women rights in Istanbul. “You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man. You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did… This is against her delicate nature.”

Erdogan instead promoted the notion of "equivalence" and equality of women before the justice system.

"They talk about equality between men and women. The correct thing is equality among women and equality among men. But what is particularly essential is women's equality before the justice [system]," he said. "What women need is to be equivalent, rather than equal; that is, justice." [Today's Zaman] Read more

Sharia law guidelines abandoned as Law Society apologises

The Law Society has withdrawn controversial guidelines for solicitors on how to compile “Sharia compliant” wills amid complaints that they encouraged discrimination against women and non-Muslims.

Andrew Caplen, president of the society, apologised and said the criticism had been taken on board.

It follows a storm of protest after The Telegraph disclosed in March that the society had issued a practice note to solicitors effectively enshrining aspects of Islamic law in the British legal system.

The guidelines advised High Street solicitors on how to write Islamic wills in a way that would be recognised by courts in England and Wales.

They set out principles which meant that women could be denied an equal share of inheritances while unbelievers could be excluded altogether. [The Telegraph] Read more

23 November 2014

Ban on women in restaurants draws praise and criticism - 'Women are not allowed' signs appear outside some eateries in the kingdom

A move by some restaurants in Saudi Arabia to ban women from their premises has drawn praise and criticism on social networks.

As “Women are not allowed” signs have been spotted in front of some restaurants in the kingdom, people took to the social networks to express their displeasure or their satisfaction with the merit and implication of the unusual situation.

National Society for Human Rights Secretary General Khalid Al Fakhri called for their immediate removal, saying that the restaurant owners acted on their own discretion and insisting that they broke the law, Al Hayat daily reported.

One restaurant owner said he felt the need to ban women from the premises as a strict policy in order to avoid possible problems following a series of harassment cases. [Gulf News] Read more

The battle against Islamism should start in schools

.... Last week, Ofsted condemned seven schools in Tower Hamlets for failing to protect children from radical influences. In one institution, they found that pupils did not know the difference between sharia and British law, and that the curriculum “focused solely” on Islamic themes.

At least four of the seven schools have links to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which wants to create a sharia state and controls a mosque that has hosted many preachers of hate. The IFE’s activists are thought to enjoy considerable clout within Tower Hamlets’ notoriously Byzantine politics.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Sectarian education is a recipe for civil conflict. Teaching the values of a cult that is barbaric, mysognistic and cruel has no place in Europe.

[SECOND] Just closed the schools down, not compatible with a western country.

[THIRD] And the mosques, all of them, and ban the Death Cult altogether. [The Telegraph] Read more

22 November 2014

Friend of Alan Henning says Muslim hate crime surge is fault of media and politicians

.... She told MM: “Irresponsible journalism, mainly tabloid sensationalism around a minority of extreme individuals seems to have become the focus of the mainstream media spotlight in recent months that unfortunately all Muslims are tarnished with and inevitably bear the brunt of.”

“This gradual but constant negative media focus serves to exacerbate the issues through groups such as the Far Right who feel justified in vilifying all things Islamic because the media in a sense legitimises and reinforces their stereotyping. [Mancunian Matters] Read more

Within a Muslim bubble

Laylah Hussain, in the Times, recalls her time in an Islamic school near Nottingham, where she was sent aged 11:

"[M]y mother sought to protect me from the secular culture she thought could ruin my education and prospects. She is a deeply spiritual woman and wanted me to have an Islamic education, not based upon her own adaptable, tolerant South Asian faith but on the literalist Saudi Arabian Salafism she saw preached on Islamic TV channels, which presents itself as “pure”.

.... A brave and important article. "I cannot understand why the British government allows girls of 11 to be put into schools that set them on a course of separation from mainstream society, to live according to Sharia principles, which can discriminate against them in divorce, inheritance and legal testimony." Me neither.

It's understandable, if perhaps disappointing, that Layla Hussein is in fact a pseudonym. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran

Terror organisation al-Shabaab have claimed an attack that killed 28 people on a bus in Northern Kenya.

Around 100 gunmen, who are believed to have travelled over the border in Mandera county from Somalia, took the bus off the road before separating the passengers.

It is believed they asked travellers to recite passages from the Koran, shooting dead those who were unable to prove they were practising Muslims.

A statement on a website linked to the extremist organisation said the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombassa earlier this week. [The Independent] Read more

21 November 2014

The Ofsted report about my former school is way off the mark

I left the Jamiatul Ummah school in 2011. When I saw the headlines saying that my former school and other independent Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets were vulnerable to “extremist influences and radicalisation”, my first thought was that Ofsted couldn’t be more off the mark .

[TOP RATED COMMENT 230 votes] 5 buggers heading off to fight for ISIS a week, mainly young men recently out of education. Something needs to be done and looking at extremism in schools is a start.

[SECOND 207v] I make no apologies for being one of the many people who say this again and again but faith schools (of any description) should not exist.

[THIRD 200v] Harun is telling us how great his school was and that he learned a lot, but from his story I see that he was taught only Islamic theology apart from the required curriculum. I think his story proves the point of Ofsted. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Turkey to open mosques 'in every university'

Turkey's top religious body said on Friday that there are plans to build a mosque in every state university, adding to concerns over what critics say are creeping efforts to force Islamic values on the society.

"Mosques are under construction in over 80 universities. Fifteen of them have been opened for prayers and we will open at least 50 more in 2015," said Mehmet Gormez, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, known as Diyanet in Turkish.

"There are 20 million young people in our country and we would like to reach out to each one of them," he told the official Anatolia news agency. [AFP] Read more

Muslim Pupils Confused Over Sharia And UK Law

Ofsted inspectors found that pupils at a private London Muslim school were not able to tell the difference between Sharia law and English law.

Inspectors concluded that young people at Mazahirul Uloom School in Tower Hamlets were being taught a narrow curriculum regularly focusing only on the Islamic faith and culture.

Many pupils told Ofsted that learning about other religions was wrong.

Some pupils told the watchdog that it was a woman's job to "stay at home and clean and look after the children", while others, when talking about Sharia law and English law, were unable to say which laws they should follow and which were more important. [Sky News] Read more

‘We need child safeguard powers’ over Islamic links, Tower Hamlets urges

Tower Hamlets’ education director Robert McCulloch-Graham has admitted to the East London Advertiser that Sir John Cass, which comes under Town Hall control, was “not robust enough” in tackling concerns about safeguarding pupils after the school’s sixthform Islamic Society was found to have Facebook links with extremist preachers.

The authority has now drawn up an action plan with the school’s award-winning head teacher Haydn Evans to improve safeguarding.

But the authority has little powers over the six privately-run Muslim faith schools in the East End that have also been inspected by Ofted over the ‘fundamentalist links’ issue.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “We have no jurisdiction whatsoever as a local education authority over teaching and standards at independent faith schools. [East London Advertiser] Read more

'Radicalisation risk' at six Muslim private schools, says Ofsted

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the pupils' "physical and educational welfare is at serious risk" following a series of emergency inspections.

He said all the schools focused too heavily on Islamic teachings.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says the schools will be closed down if changes are not made quickly.

She said: "We asked Ofsted to carry out these independent school inspections and the findings are very concerning. While there is no suggestion of a co-ordinated plot, it is clear that these schools are failing children and this is unacceptable.

"All schools must prepare children for life in modern Britain."

At one school, inspectors found pupils did not know the difference between sharia and British law.

And they said the curriculum at Mazahirul Uloom School in Tower Hamlets "focused solely" on Islamic themes. [BBC] Read more

Justice Minister: burkas are awful but legislation's not the answer

Mette Frederiksen, the justice minister, told BT today she believes burkas are of a bygone era and have no place in Denmark, but she doesn’t believe that they should be legislated against.

“My fundamental position with burkas and other garments that cover the face and hands is that they are completely awful,” she told the paper.

“They are oppressive to women. They in no way belong in Denmark or in other societies. They belong to a bygone time – and by that I mean a hundred years ago.”

A report from 2010 found that fewer than 200 women in Denmark cover their face. Frederiksen therefore believes that outlawing the apparel would be cracking a nut with a sledgehammer. “In my opinion it’s completely out of proportion to start legislating on it,” she said. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Two cab drivers guilty of refusing to pick up blind man and guide dog

A blind man who was left standing in the pouring rain when two cab drivers refused to transport his guide dog has welcomed the decision to prosecute the pair so that “other people will not have to suffer”.

Andrew Goddard, who is registered blind, booked a cab to take him and guide dog Sammy to a social event in Bristol in December 2013.

He waited outside his home in Brislington, Bristol, in pouring rain with Sammy for the private hire driver to arrive.

But when Khader Ahmed Sharif Abdi pulled up, he refused to allow the guide dog into his vehicle.

Mr Goddard was forced to call for another driver but, when Sheikh Omar Mohamed arrived, he also refused to let the pair in his car. [The Telegraph] Read more

20 November 2014

Austrian bill would ban foreign funding for mosques, imams

Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.

The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams working in the country and requires a unified German-language translation of the Quran.

The government argues the legislation, which Parliament will vote on this month, will help combat Islamic radicalism. Muslim groups and civic activists say it flouts the principle of equality. [Religion News] Read more

Muslim ‘apostates come out of hiding’

A number of Muslims in Europe are publicly abandoning their religion to become Christians or agnostics despite their former community's taboo against such acts.

In France, the film “The Apostle” by filmmaker Cheyenne Carron has meanwhile lifted the veil on “apostasy” by telling the story of a young Muslim who converted to Catholicism and how he had trouble getting family and friends to accept his choice.

“It is time for us to stop hiding,” said Pastor Said Oujibou, 46, who left radical Islam for evangelical protestantism and who is among the few converts to have publicised his decision in France. [Independent Online] Read more

Switzerland Highights Europe's Huge Immigration Problem

.... Perhaps even more damaging, vigilantism has increased. Italy has seen incidents where neo-Nazi groups have attacked foreign shopkeepers, shouting "get out bastard foreigners," even in Rome's trendy Rigneto district.

Anti-Muslim websites have proliferated, one of which, Gates of Vienna, sells a cap with the motto in the language of one's choice, "Islamophobe and Proud of It." A prominent German feminist, Alice Schwarzer, has concluded that immigrant Islamic influences "probably and unfortunately can no longer be stopped with only democratic means." [The Huffington Post] Read more

19 November 2014

Schools accused of failing to protect children from extremism

An outstanding state secondary school and a group of independent Muslim faith schools in London’s east end are to be criticised for safeguarding failures and branded as inadequate after Ofsted inspectors raised a string of concerns over protecting pupils from extremism, the Guardian has learned.

Among the issues highlighted were sixth formers at one school posting links to Islamist extremist matter via a Facebook page claiming to be associated with the school, and separate entrances for boys and girls at the same school.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 411 votes] Why is it not illegal to have sex segregation in public places? If there was a "main entrance" and a "black persons entrance" on anything it would be an outrage, sex discrimination should be the same.

[ANOTHER 394v] Education should be secular. Every faith is prejudiced against all other faiths and atheism and yet we allow that prejudice to continue unchallenged simply because it is faith. The best way to eradicate the prejudice is to remove the source from public life.

[ANOTHER 314v] Faith schools need to be abolished, end of. They have no place in modern society.

[ANOTHER 232v] Tower Hamlets is a suburb of Riyadh isn't it? God, what a mess you Brits have created for yourselves.

[ANOTHER 240v] Yup. Welcome to the results of fourty years of multiculturalism, a pernicious, self defeating and destructive ideology which encourages the separation of communities who know little of each other and have massively different beliefs and standards. [The Guardian] Read more

Vienna's Muslims 'to double in 30 years'

A study by the Vienna-based WIREL project showed that in 30 years time only one third of the capital will be Catholic and the proportion of Muslims will almost double to 21 percent.

Researchers estimate that Vienna is currently around 41 percent Catholic, four percent Protestant, nine percent Orthodox (mainly Serbian), 12 percent Muslim and 0.5 percent Jewish. Three percent are other religions and 30 percent are atheist or agnostic.

Ramon Bauer from the WIREL project said that since the 1970s Viennese people have been leaving the Catholic church and increased migration has contributed to an increase in Orthodox Christians and Muslims. [The Local] Read more

Queen Rania denounces religious fanatics

.... Personal status law in Jordan is dealt with by two types of court: sharia-based courts for Muslims and others for those of recognised non-Muslim religions. Defectors from Islam can be taken to the sharia courts (by relatives or others) and stripped of important rights – in effect being punished with "civil death":

.... "The court stated that he no longer had any inheritance rights and that he could not remarry his wife unless he returned to Islam. He was also forbidden from being considered an adherent of any other religion.

The verdict also implied the possibility that legal and physical custody of his child could be assigned to someone else. The convert has since left Jordan, received refugee status, and resettled in another country.

.... Maybe Queen Rania should have a word with her husband about this. If she is serious about "reclaiming the narrative" she should make sure that Jordan sets a good example for other countries. [al-bab.com] Read more

Top London CofE school 'failed to safeguard pupils from Islamic extremism'

Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat Church of England school in Tower Hamlets, east London, will be placed in special measures by the education standards watchdog Ofsted for failing to monitor the activities of an Islamic society set up by sixth-formers at the school.

In particular, a Facebook site set up by the society contained links to hard-line Islamist preachers – a move which could have made pupils vulnerable to radicalisation. The society also set up its own YouTube channel which was not monitored.

According to Ofsted, that constituted a failure to safeguard the pupils – a breach for which it had to be placed in special measures. It is the first school outside of Birmingham to be failed on such a safeguarding issue. [The Independent] Read more

18 November 2014

Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully before and must do so again

.... For centuries the two faith communities have managed to co-exist peacefully in almost all countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Islam has recognised Christianity as a sister Abrahamic faith.

Places of worship have been respected, freedom of worship accorded and lives and property protected. The oldest known Christian community that speaks the language Jesus allegedly spoke has co-existed with Muslim neighbours until the recent troubles.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 326 votes] What if a Muslim wanted to leave Islam and join Christianity?

[ANOTHER 298v] That's La La Land stuff. Cherry picking.

The basic fact is that even with discussing the relationships between Islam and all other religions on this planet, Islam generates poor violent and unjust societies.

The only solution barring other religions leaving the planet or conversely, Muslims leaving Earth, is for reform of Islam. (Gasp).

[ANOTHER 269v] Indeed. And does this co-existence allow Muslim women to marry non Muslims?

[ANOTHER 239v] No doubt you will get a sympathetic hearing from the CofE when you address them. I dare you to go in person with the same message to ISIS and see what your fellow Muslims think

[ANOTHER 225v] Jews also lived well in Moslem countries as long as they follow the Dhimmi statutes with only a few pogroms etc. Now I suggest that the readers look up those statutes and see if you are willing to live under such rules! [Guardian Cif] Read more

Slavery in Islam

THE holy book is clear about what to do when you capture a city: “Put to the sword all the men in it”. As for the women and children, “You may take these as plunder for yourselves.”

This is pretty much the advice that the fighters of Islamic State (IS) seem to have followed in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq, peopled largely by members of the Yazidi faith, that the jihadists seized last month.

Reports by the UN and independent human-rights groups suggest that the invaders executed hundreds of Yazidi men and kidnapped as many as 2,000 women and children. [The Economist] Read more

17 November 2014

The Guardian view on Rowan Williams and the veil: democracy can’t always be simple

In an interview, Williams said that when a child learns language, it also learns about gesture, facial expression and coding and decoding, in order to interact with the other speaker. “We all know what happens when people don’t learn that,” he went on, “when they speak without a sense of the codes that are operating – the tone, the timbre, etc. I suppose that’s what panics people about, let’s say, a primary school teacher wearing the face veil.”

This was reported as: “Let Muslim primary school teachers wear full-face veil in class, says former archbishop of Canterbury.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Why have you deliberately failed to quote the rest of what Rowan Williams said? Is it because it than makes this a poor example to choose for your opinion piece?:

"“I suppose that’s what panics people about, let’s say, a primary school teacher wearing the face veil.

“As a matter of fact I think that’s largely a misplaced anxiety, but I can see where it comes from.

“I’ve actually been in public discussions in Pakistan with women wearing full face veil, and you learn to read differently, it’s not that those codes don’t happen … but there’s a cultural obstacle to overcome.”

This is why quite rightly the media reported that Rowan Williams thought that the worries about the face veil in the classroom were "misplaced".

[ANOTHER] Don't know about everyone else but if it had been me in primary school I'd have been scared s*****s by a teacher walking around in a niquab.

[ANOTHER] A Saudi cleric has called for babies to be put in burquas to help prevent children being abused. .... and in the UK, Imams offer to marry girls as young as nine. There is a definite problem in the Islamic world and it has been imported into the UK. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Jihad Is Fine? So Says 80 Percent of Holland’s Young Turkish Muslims

Is the Netherlands becoming a netherworld of Islamic extremism? If a new poll can be believed, this very well may be the case.

The research, conducted by the Motivaction group in Amsterdam, concerns the attitude of Dutch Turks between the ages of 18 and 34 about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and found that “80% saw nothing wrong in jihad, or holy war, against non-believers,” writes DutchNews.nl.

The website also reports, “The survey found 90% of young Turks think those fighting against Syrian president Assad’s troops are ‘heroes’ and half thought it would be a good thing if Dutch Muslims went to join the fight.”

The reaction by Dutch politicians has been swift and unsure. During a Wednesday debate on integration, Dutch members of parliament (MPs) “from across the political spectrum,” writes Dutch News, “called for more research … to investigate why youths have such radical views.” [The New American] Read more

More than 50 British Muslim charities on watch list over fears they could be linked to extremism and radicalisation

.... The figures were revealed in a request under the Freedom of Information Act by think tank Claystone, which works to promote social cohesion for British Muslims.

It says the new issue code was introduced in December 2012, three months after Sir William Shawcross was appointed as chairman of the Commission that September.

The following year, Sir William brought in a new board, including former Metropolitan Police counter terrorism chief Peter Clarke, and he has described the cause of Islamic extremism as the 'most deadly' faced by the charity sector.

'The Commission has labelled 55 charities with the issue code "extremism and radicalisation" without their knowledge,' writes Claystone's Adam Belaon in his report, 'Muslim Charities: A Suspect Sector'. [Daily Mail] Read more

16 November 2014

Bangladesh professor 'hacked to death' by suspected militants

Suspected Islamic militants have hacked to death a university professor in western Bangladesh, several years after he led a push to ban students wearing full-face veils, police said Sunday.

Police have arrested at least 20 people for questioning over the murder near Rajshahi University in the west of the Muslim-majority country where the victim was a professor of sociology, a senior officer said.

The victim, Shafiul Islam, followed the folk sect Baul, popular in parts of western Bangladesh, whose members call themselves followers of humanism rather than a particular religion. [Daily Mail] Read more

Quarter of Charity Commission inquiries target Muslim groups

More than a quarter of the statutory investigations that have been launched by the Charity Commission since April 2012 and remain open have targeted Muslim organisations, an analysis by the Guardian can reveal – drawing criticism from Islamic groups that they are being unfairly singled out.

Responses to freedom of information requests show that more than 20 of the 76 live investigations focus on Muslim charities associated with running mosques, providing humanitarian relief and, in a number of high-profile cases, aid efforts in Syria. [The Guardian] Read more

15 November 2014

Wake up and oppose theocracy: Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the urgent Islam debate

.... Did Jebreal really think she would help her cause by chastising Maher for speaking his mind and thereby reminding us of the intolerance that has so frequently characterized Islam? (To wit: the longstanding Muslim-led campaign to make blasphemy against Islam an international crime.) The rush among Muslims to condemn their faith’s critics discloses a valid underlying fear — that possibly those critics are onto something, that maybe the religious beliefs in question are untrue and even ridiculous.

.... One thing is certain: You know you enjoy true freedom of speech when you can mock religion without fear of violence, persecution or ostracism. If, though, you deride faith and you suffer any of these ills, you know the Spirit of Medieval Darkness is still out and about.

What Jebreal, Aslan and others trying to stifle free speech about Islam need to know is this: With or without their permission, we nonbelievers will exercise our right to express our opinions about faith, even if we — gasp! — cause offense.

They had better get used to this. There is more on the way. [SALON] Read more

Muslims found Americas before Columbus says Turkey's Erdogan

Muslims discovered the Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

He made the claim during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.

Mr Erdogan also said "Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178".

He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.

The Turkish president - whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam - gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: "Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century." [BBC] Read more

Welcome to Hotel Sharia: No more bacon or booze as trendy venue bought out by a Muslim multi-millionaire

An exclusive hotel has banned alcohol and pork after being taken over by a Middle Eastern businessman who wants to run it ‘in accordance with Sharia law’.

The strict Islamic policy was imposed without warning this week at London’s Bermondsey Square Hotel – where the bar and grill was previously run by Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace.

Staff said the new rules were swiftly implemented on Tuesday on the orders of the new Muslim owner, forcing waiters to tell disgruntled guests that much of the menu was no longer available. [Daily Mail] Read more

Erdogan says America was discovered by Muslims, not Columbus

America was discovered by Muslims, not by Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed, vowing to build a mosque "on that hill" in Cuba if the authorities of the Caribbean nation grant the permit.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the first Latin American Muslim leaders summit in Istanbul on Nov. 15, Erdogan slammed colonialism before referring to a controversial claim about the discovery of the Americas. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

14 November 2014

Al-Arabiya Chief: No Evidence Islam is Compatible w/Democracy

No Western writer could have gotten away with this. But Politico surprisingly did publish this from the D.C. bureau chief of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya network; think a less radical and much less watched Al Jazeera.

"For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims.

And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy.

From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just or a practitioner of good governance." [Front Page Magazine] Read more

Saudi school 'teaching anti-Semitism'

A reporter from News magazine got hold of a copy of a school history textbook which is said to contain "a smorgasbord of conspiracy theories and incitement against Jews, Israelis and divergent trends in Islam".

News commissioned a translation of the book from Arabic - which has sentences like “the Freemasons were a secret, subversive Jewish organization, which aimed to secure Jewish control of the world".

The school has now been asked to provide certified German translations of all its teaching materials by the end of the year. [The Local] Read more

Mehdi Hasan: sanctions for 'dishonest, demonising press coverage' of Muslims

Misrepresentative portrayals of Muslims and other minorities will not stop unless newspapers are threatened with sanctions, Mehdi Hasan said yesterday.

The columnist and political director of the Huffington Post UK said the press has proven “singularly unable or unwilling to change the discourse, the tone or the approach” towards Muslims, immigrants and asylum seekers.

Hasan, who was speaking in a personal capacity at a media industry event hosted by Mindshare UK, said: “We’re not going to get change unless there is some sanction, there is some penalty. This is not just about Muslims; it is about all minorities.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] This is the guy who believes atheists are cattle. Now he wants censorship to protect his nonsensical beliefs. And he isn't a critic of Islamophobia, he is a supporter of a made up word designed to stop criticism of the silly belief.

[ANOTHER] So he wants his religion to be immune from criticism. Quelle surprise...

[ANOTHER] Yes, that's what we need a major assault on freedom of expression. Then we can become like one of the many Islamic paradises we see around the world. [The Guardian] Read more

India court library ban on women 'unconstitutional'

A court in northern India says it is against the country's constitution for female students to be barred from a main university library.

Several thousand female undergraduates at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh are being barred from entering the Maulana Azad Library.

The University's Vice-Chancellor has reportedly argued that female students would attract a lot of young men.

He has also argued that young women can order books online instead.

The Allahabad High Court addressed the issue after a petition was filed by a law intern, supported by the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). [BBC] Read more

British Muslim woman: why can’t I make any white friends?

.... My experience of being a British Asian Muslim and feeling like ‘the other’ in the country I was born in has led me to create this microcosm of family friendships, despite my parents moving here from Pakistan some 40 years ago.

You see I’ve had too many typical ‘awkward race moments’in the UK - such as walking into a cafe in a predominantly white area and being ignored. Or feeling embarrassed when friends tell me I’m no fun because I choose not to drink.

.... As mother of a two-year old little girl, I hope things will be different for my daughter. I really do. With every generation, people from immigrant backgrounds tend to integrate further. I doubt she will learn Urdu from me but I still want Islam to be a part of her life because it's a massive part of mine.

[A TOP RATED COMMENT] Ah, of course, its all our fault.

[ANOTHER] what a whingefest - one of life's great lessons for all of us is that 70% of other people's behaviour towards us is caused by us - so if you want people to change how they react to you then change yourself and your behaviour first !! and amazingly it works !!!

[ANOTHER] People of various religions and creeds mix very easily in Britain today. Only one particular group has issues and it is entirely of their own doing. [The Telegraph] Read more

13 November 2014

Poll puts Wilders far-right party on par with Liberals

A new opinion poll in the Netherlands shows Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam, anti-EU Freedom Party neck-and-neck with the Liberals, led by prime minister Mark Rutte, as the threat posed by returning Islamic State jihadists replaces the MH17 air disaster at the top of the national agenda.

A weighted average of the country’s four main political polls shows the Liberals losing three seats compared with a month ago, and the Freedom Party gaining three. The poll has the Liberals and the Freedom Party each taking between 25 and 29 seats, an outcome a long way from Mr Rutte’s high of 41 seats in the 2012 general election and from the lacklustre 15 won by Mr Wilders. [THE IRISH TIMES] Read more

Court backs right for schoolgirl to wear scarf

The administrative court on Tuesday ruled in favour of the girl’s parents who appealed a decision by school authorities to prohibit the headwear.

The court said the ban was “disproportionate” given that there was no evidence wearing the scarf, or hijab traditionally worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty, caused any problems in the school or affected the teen's integration in the class, the SDA news agency reported.

The school invoked the ban in early summer last year.

But the court said this would only be justified if it became “a serious threat to the religious peace”, SDA reported. [The Local] Read more

12 November 2014

No need for Muslim primary teachers to wear full-face veil – Islamic scholar

Muslim primary school teachers should not be encouraged to wear the full-face veil in class, one of Britain's leading Islamic scholars has insisted.

Dr Sheikh Hojjat Ramzy welcomed remarks by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams that fears about the increasing use of the niqab in Britain are 'misplaced' but said young children nevertheless need to see their teachers' facial expressions.

He said that even for the most strict Muslims education must be "paramount" and, when it comes to communicating with small children, facial expressions are essential because "a picture paints a thousand words". [The Telegraph] Read more

The school that says Osama Bin Laden was a hero

A hardline cleric in Pakistan is teaching the ideas of Osama Bin Laden in religious schools for about 5,000 children. Even while the Pakistani government fights the Taliban in the north-west of the country, it has no plans to close schools educating what could be the next generation of pro-Taliban jihadis.

"We share the same objectives as the Taliban but we don't offer military training. We work on minds. The Taliban are more hands-on," says Abdul Aziz Ghazi, imam of Islamabad's controversial Red Mosque.

"We teach about the principles of jihad. It's up to students if they want to get military training after they leave here. We don't discourage them." [BBC] Read more

11 November 2014

Fundamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism

.... Most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims do not countenance violence and human rights violations, but the fact remains that fundamentalists are not a fringe group; they occupy senior positions in Muslim clerical hierarchy. There are tens of millions (or more) of them, and they believe their interpretation of Islam is the only correct one.

Moderate Muslims claim they are being unfairly lumped into this motley crew, but if they are claiming a schism, they haven't been clear about it.

When Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and a theology professor, repudiated two core teachings of the Catholic Church, he acknowledged that, by definition, he was no longer Catholic. He was part of the Protestant Reformation, and his followers are called Lutherans.

Moderate Muslims still call themselves Muslims. But there will never be a Quran 2.0. According to fundamentalists, moderates do not follow the rules, and fundamentalists are correct on this point. Fundamentalists view them as bugs in the program. [The Huffington Post] Read more

East Lancs Muslims’ shock at flu ‘pig vaccine’

PUBLIC health bosses have been slammed for failing to offer a 'suitable' vaccine to Muslim children as part of a major new flu immunisation programme.

Thousands of East Lancashire youngsters, aged between 11 and 13, are being offered the new nasal spray , which is made with gelatine derived from pigs, as part of a pilot scheme.

But the decision not to offer an alternative has been branded 'outrageous' by community leaders, who said some Muslims would consider the spray to be ‘Haram’, or sinful. [Burnley and Pendle Citizen] Read more

Anger over university's decision to cancel Islamic extremism report launch

A university has been accused of censorship after scrapping the launch of a report into alleged Islamic extremism in schools and campuses across the UK.

The University of West London was criticised following the decision to cancel the event staged by Sharia Watch UK – set up to monitor the radicalisation of young British Muslims – on safety and procedural grounds.

It follows claims in the past that universities have failed to crackdown on extremist speakers and turned a blind eye to gender segregation for religious reasons. [The Telegraph] Read more

Iran stripped of world championship volleyball tournament after jailing female spectator

Iran says a decision by volleyball's governing body to ban the country from hosting international tournaments as long as women are barred from watching men's games is "unfair".

The international volleyball federation FIVB announced its decision on Sunday, a week after a British-Iranian woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, was reportedly jailed by a Tehran court for trying to attend a match. [ABC] Read more

10 November 2014

UK: New Charity Commission Powers Fall Short

.... Under the previous Labour Government, counter-extremism programs were mostly aimed at violent extremists, which often led, as mentioned earlier, the Home Office and local councils to work with "non-violent" extremist groups.

Since 2010, although the Conservative-led government did begin to focus on non-violent extremists, this was typically limited to groups regarded as archetypically bad, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir.

If the Home Office defines "extremism" properly, the Charity Commission can then take appropriate action. This definition should include the smiling Islamist charity activist who attends interfaith vigils during the day but spreads anti-Semitism and rallies for Hamas at night.

Extremist charities pose a serious threat. It is a public health problem. As long as we allow such a façade to flourish, we will be continuing to radicalize British youth. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Islamic extremists infiltrating schools, university campuses and scout groups across the UK in 'unprecedented scale', report warns

Islamic extremists are infiltrating schools, university campuses and scout groups across the UK, a new report has claimed.

Hardline groups, blamed for radicalising young British Muslims, have posted invitations on social media sites and at university campuses to public talks in an 'unprecedented scale', according to Sharia Watch UK.

The group, which monitors Islamic extremists, will publish its report highlighting the operations of 15 people it claims hold 'extremist views' who were allowed to give public talks or lectures at 20 institutions.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1029 votes] Islamic extremists infiltrating schools, university campuses and scout groups across the UK in 'unprecedented scale', report warns. That's what you get in subversive lefty/Liberal-minded tolerant societies...just before they disinetgrate into chaos!

[SECOND 944v] Wake up UK... and Stop all of this political correctness... Mao Tse Tung ('Father' of Chinese Communism) ... "Give me two generations, and I will take a country without firing a single shot.

[THIRD 914v] What's happened to the Governments supposed crackdown on extremism? More empty words. [Daily Mail] Read more

Pakistan’s blasphemy law is a relentless guillotine for minorities

British citizens have been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan in the past year, both narrowly escaping with their lives.

Masud Ahmed, an Ahmadi Muslim doctor, was arrested last November for ‘pretending to be a Muslim’, after a man posing as a patient recorded him reading the Quran.

Pakistan’s Constitution ‘officially’ excommunicated Ahmadi Muslims in 1974, with the Pakistan Penal Code barring the community from ‘using Islamic titles’, ‘posing as Muslims’, or ‘outraging the religious sentiments of Muslims’.

In Pakistan you can be jailed for reading the Quran if you happen to belong to the Ahmaddiya sect. [Left Foot Forward] Read more

An Allegation of Blasphemy Spells Death in Pakistan

Last week, Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi, a Christian couple who had spent years in modern-day slavery in Punjab province in Pakistan, were brutally beaten and burned to death at the brick kiln where they work after they were accused of blasphemy for desecrating the Holy Qur'an.

While Pakistan does have a law against blasphemy, even the mere allegation of it is enough to provoke religious zealots to instigate a mob that acts as judge, jury and executioner, especially in the power vacuum that is rural Punjab.

However, this case is also a window into a context where Pakistan's feudal lords can act with impunity and religious minorities are vulnerable to abuse, a context where Islamabad's laws don't reach - and in this case, where the label of blasphemy is also a distraction.

There are reports that the blasphemy allegation was made against the couple after the clerks of the kiln tried to prevent them from leaving to work elsewhere, eventually killing them over an unpaid debt. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Let Muslim primary school teachers wear full-face veil in class – Rowan Williams

There is no need to “panic” about Muslim primary school teachers wearing the full-face veil in class, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has insisted.

He said concerns that young children would struggle to learn from a woman whose face was covered were “largely misplaced” and that there are other ways to "read” what people are saying.

The former Archbishop’s remarks, in an interview for the Christian think-tank Theos, reopen the debate about the place of the niqab in British public life.

It follows a political storm last year after the then Home Office minster Jeremy Browne called for a national discussion about restrictions in some settings such as schools to prevent young women from having the veil “imposed” on them.

David Cameron rejected the idea of a ban but said he would “back up” schools and courts that ask women to remove veils. [The Telegraph] Read more

08 November 2014

United Nations called to investigate horrific murder of pregnant Christian woman and her husband in Pakistan

Christians around the world have been shocked by the brutal murder of a pregnant Christian woman and her husband in Pakistan.

Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih were killed by a mob of radical Muslims before being dumped and incinerated in a brick kiln.

The couple were bonded labourers at the brick kiln where they were killed near Kot Radha Kishan village, Punjab province, 28 miles south of Lahore.

They were killed on 4 November after being accused of burning pages of the Koran, and Aid to the Church in Need said there were reports that Masih, although badly injured, was still alive when he was thrown into the kiln. [Christian Today] Read more

The full story of the 'medieval monarch' of Tower Hamlets

A high court recount of thousands of votes cast for the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, in May’s election has uncovered “significant irregularities” that may, if reflected in the whole sample, be sufficient to overturn the result.

The official “scrutiny”, in the presence of a judge, took place in strict secrecy last week as part of a legal challenge to the election, which was marred by widespread claims of intimidation and fraud.

It is the latest and potentially most serious blow to Mr Rahman, many of whose functions were last week taken over by government commissioners, after an official report found he had presided over serious abuses of public money and property. [The Telegraph] Read more

07 November 2014

Pakistani police officer axes man to death over blasphemy

A policeman in Pakistan hacked a man to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, police said, just two days after a Christian couple was lynched over blasphemy in the same province.

The man, Tufail Haider, 55, was taken into custody late on Wednesday in the city of Gujrat after a group of people allegedly overheard him making the remarks, beat him up and handed over to police.

“Officer Faraz Naveed brought him to the police station and sent him to lock-up. Haider did not stop using nasty words about Sahaba (the companions) despite warnings from various officials,” said police officer Khurram Shehzad. [Reuters] Read more

Bus driver blocks entry for woman in burqa

The driver for the city’s Tuvisa transport service who took decided not to allow the women in a veil that to board his bus has now organised a petition among company colleagues and passengers in a bid to gain support for his stance, according to sources cited by Spanish news agency Europa Press.

Tuvisa has opened an investigation into the incident, while the municipal company’s president has called a meeting with politicians from the city council to inform them of what the ABC newspaper says is the latest in a series of flashpoints relating to rules for the city’s Muslims. [The Local] Read more

Islamic State shuts down schools in eastern Syria

Islamic State has shut all schools in areas it controls in eastern Syria pending a religious revision of the curriculum, residents and a monitoring group said on Friday.

Islamic State is tightening its rules on civilian life in Deir al-Zor province, which fell under near-complete control of the Islamist militant group this summer. The government still controls a military air base and other small pockets.

The announcement came on Wednesday, after Islamic State held a meeting with school administrators at a local mosque on the outskirts of Deir al-Zor city, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors all sides of the conflict. [Reuters] Read more

Alabama 'bans' Sharia law amid fears it could violate American rights

Sharia law has been “banned” by Alabama in the US – even though it has never been part of the state’s legal system.

Under the “American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment”, it is now illegal for judges to apply any foreign law if it violates citizens’ existing rights.

Voters passed Amendment One on Tuesday, which despite being worded to encompass any foreign law, sprang from a specifically anti-Sharia bill first proposed almost four years ago. [The Independent] Read more

06 November 2014

Pakistani 'blasphemer' killed by policeman

Pakistani police say an an axe-wielding officer killed a Shia man in police custody, claiming he had committed blasphemy by insulting companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Officer Mukhtar Ahmed said the incident took place at a police station in the city of Gujrat in eastern Punjab province early on Thursday.

Ahmed said the killer, officer Sarfraz Naveed, was questioning Syed Tufail Hyder who was detained on Wednesday following a street fight. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

Could Muslim votes really decide the Conservatives’ fate?

Sayeeda Warsi is reported this morning as saying again that the Conservatives will lose the Muslim vote in 2015. Whether or not this is so, how important is this vote in any event?

Three points at the start.

First, all votes are important to the Party – and from the point of view of winning next May particularly in marginal seats – whatever the religious view of those who cast them.

Second, the concept of a “Muslim vote” is controversial. Many Muslims vote in much the same way as their fellow countrymen of all religions and none. However, there clearly is a block vote among some voters who practice Islam, particularly those whose origins lie in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir (as I know from experience in Wycombe).

Finally, measuring the impact of this vote is very difficult. Some people will use one means and some another. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Acid attacks in Iran sharpen row over Islamic dress and vigilantism

It is a question all Iranians are asking: who is stalking the streets of Isfahan, throwing acid into women's faces?

The attacks - there have been at least four in the busy city in central Iran in recent weeks - appear aimed at terrorizing women who dare to test the boundaries of the Islamic dress code.

The crimes coincided with the passage of a new parliamentary bill that allows private citizens to enforce "morality" laws. The bill has sparked a clash between hardline politicians, who overwhelmingly support it, and moderates including President Hassan Rouhani. The split is an illustration of the wider political challenges Rouhani faces from his hardline opponents. [Reuters] Read more

Canada Moves to End Immigration Rights for Polygamists

Canada's government is considering legislation to curb immigration rights for polygamists.

The government's Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate Wednesday.

In an online statement, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said the bill sends "a strong message: early and forced marriages, honor-based violence, & polygamy will not be tolerated in (Canada)."

Alexander said hundreds of immigration cases could be affected.

Canadian law already bans polygamy and requires would-be immigrants to have only one spouse.

The Zero Tolerance act looks to close a loophole and prevent immigrants who practice polygamy in Canada or abroad from accessing immigration benefits.

The proposed amendments would allow the government to deport immigrant polygamists without the need for a criminal conviction. [Voice of America] Read more

05 November 2014

Why I don’t believe people who say they loathe Islam but not Muslims

It is a trope among people who loathe and fear Islam that their fear and loathing has nothing in common with racism because Islam is not a race, the implication being that hating Muslims is rational and wise whereas hating black people is deeply irrational and stupid.

Some people who claim that Islam is profoundly evil will also say that they bear Muslims no ill will but I don’t think they are telling the truth. It is really difficult and indeed psychologically unnatural to claim that you hate an ideology without hating the people in whose lives it is expressed.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 272 votes] This argument is complete nonsense. I despise many aspects of Catholicism but my wife and family are Catholics. In the same way I loathe many aspects of Islam but that doesn't stop me liking Muslims who are nice to me.

[ANOTHER] False. First paragraph, and you're already distorting the argument. It's not that "hating Muslims is rational and wise". It's that disliking Islam is rational and wise. And no, saying so doesn't make anybody "islamophobic": some few, brave Muslims say so themselves:

[ANOTHER] This is nonsense. Islam is a vile, backward belief system that not only threatens world peace but represses its adherents. But Muslims are not vile! They are as much the victims of this medieval voodoo as anyone else, particularly the women.

[ANOTHER] "Some people who claim that Islam is profoundly evil will also say that they bear Muslims no ill will but I don’t think they are telling the truth."

It's more like pity - it's perfectly possible, for example, to hate the regime in North Korea and yet feel sorry for the poor bastards who have to live under it. I think Catholicism is an evil, backward religion but I went to Catholic school and I don't hate my former classmates, I'm still good friends with a good proportion of them.

[ANOTHER] It is perfectly reasonable to single out one particular religion as particularly bad if there is evidence to support it. Not all religions are exactly the same, and at this present time Islam is informing or being used to justify some of the most repressive, conservative and inhumane regimes on the planet.

Simply recognising that Islam is particularly bad is no indication of racist attitudes. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Challenging Anti-Muslim Bigotry and Challenging All Forms of Bigotry, Within and Against Muslim Communities

Over the last three years, I have been involved in formulating, implementing and managing the TELL MAMA project that has built up a substantial amount of information and expertise in the monitoring, mapping and measuring of anti-Muslim hatred or Islamophobia. Our work has supported over 2,000 people nationally since mid-2012 and has also filled a much needed gap for victims of anti-Muslim bigotry.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Condeming Islamic terrorist groups who are committing genocide in the middle east is not Islamaphobia. Pointing out Imams and Islamic organizations in the U.K. who preach hatred towards non Muslims, incite their followers to support terror, and encourage mistreatment of women is not Islamaphobia.

Demanding that British Muslims follow British law is not Islamaphobia. Criticizing Islamic organizations pushing anti Israel agendas in colleges and in the media is not Islamaphobia. Expressing anger at radical muslims for intolerant statements is not Islamaphobia. Expressing fear of Islamic terror is not Islamaphobia.

[ANOTHER] There's no place for bigotry in in the modern world. There is also no place for the tribal superstitions that religions trade on; people are free to believe in whatever nonsense they want, but ridiculous beliefs deserve to be ridiculed, not promoted and publicly financed.

That is not islamophobia, it's just logic. It's logical to stand against any religion or cult that indoctrinates, divides and promotes utter intolerance. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Jihadists not the only problem

It simply confirmed concerns that too many Muslims have a group loyalty and inflamed sense of victimhood that made them the sea in which jihadists swim.

One reason it backfired was that Brandis was brilliant in defending the Government’s anti-terrorism strategy. But what really undid the exercise was the audience which grabbed the ABC’s microphone.

Bilal Raulf warned that the big anti-terrorism raids should stop ... or else: “This gung-ho approach” against suspected jihadists would just “drive them in a particular direction”. Sheik Wesam Charkawi suggested we should instead give “young, angry Muslim men” what they wanted: “There are legitimate grievances that people have.”

Charkawi implied our anti-terror laws, rather than Islamic terrorism, were the problem: “Given that these new laws create the atmosphere of such a major divide in the hearts and minds of all concerned, isn’t it time the Government changed its approach?”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Funny how every audience always has very good Muslim representation, more so than many other groups it seems. They certainly know how to use the media to push their views. I'm sick and tired of their victim mentality.

We are the victims here - it's our way of life that is being forcibly changed and freedoms curtailed by the undeniable incitement to hate and kill, whether they agree with it or not , which derive from the teachings and ideology from within their religion. When they acknowledge that the problem is theirs to fix, not ours, is when mainstream Australians will feel more comfortable with sharing our country with them.

[ANOTHER] They seemed to hate our government more than the Islamic State. [Herald Sun] Read more