31 January 2016

Starbucks 'gender wall' collapses; women barred

Saudi Arabia’s religious police barred women from entering a Starbucks coffee shop after a gender-separating wooden wall collapsed many times under customer stampedes, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Women going to the café in the capital Riyadh were surprised to find a board placed at the door, telling them to keep out of the place.

The Arabic language daily 'Al Weaam' said the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most influential law enforcing authority in the conservative Gulf Kingdom, ordered the café’s management not to admit women.

It said the commission issued the order after its members, who were on a routine inspection in the market, found that the gender-separation wall ordered by authorities for all restaurants and other shops has collapsed. [Emirates247.com] Read more

30 January 2016

Muslim extremists' 'campaign of lies' to undermine the government's fight against terror

An organised campaign to undermine Britain’s fight against terrorism can be revealed today.

Islamist activists linked to Cage, a group known to sympathise with terrorists, are using coordinated leaks to mainstream news organisations, including the BBC, to spread fear and confusion in Muslim communities about the Government’s anti-terror policy, Prevent.

nvestigations by the Telegraph reveal that several widely reported recent stories about Prevent are false or exaggerated – and many of the supposedly “ordinary Muslim” victims are in fact activists in the campaign, known as Prevent Watch. The stories include a claim which became a cause célèbre for Prevent’s opponents – that a Muslim schoolboy from London was “interrogated like a criminal” for using the phrase “ecoterrorism” in class.

The boy’s mother, Ifhat Smith, who took the story to the media, presented herself as a traumatised ordinary Londoner. She is in fact an activist in the Prevent Watch campaign and a key figure in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which believes in replacing secular democratic government with Islamic government. [The Telegraph] Read more

Young Somali activist sentenced to death for being a lesbian

When the boy came into the room, his eyes brimmed with tears. The news he brought was devastating. “They are talking about killing you,” he told his older cousin.

Using a phone smuggled into her room, Sahra (whose name has been changed here over concerns for her safety) sent a despairing plea for help to friends on the outside. Although she didn’t know it then, her killing was thought to have been scheduled to take place after Friday prayers two days later, and time was running out.

Sahra, a 22-year-old Somali woman, remembers swaying with shock as she received the news. “I felt like I couldn’t breathe. One day they were looking for a guy for me to marry, the next they were looking to take my life,” she recalls. “It was horrible.”

In the eyes of her extended family, Sahra had brought shame on them all. From her family’s self-imposed exile in Uganda, she had long courted controversy as an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. But her personal safety took a turn for the worse when she was outed as a lesbian, setting in motion events that caused her to move to Mogadishu in Somalia, leaving her open to the wrath of her relatives. [The Independent] Read more

Britain's top judge wants ban on veils during criminal trials

Britain's senior-most judge has spoken out against veils being allowed during criminal trials, saying women should not be allowed to cover their faces in court to rule out any doubts over their credibility.

"I can see serious difficulties with the idea that a witness should have her head covered where evidence is contested. If there is any question of credibility, it should be uncovered," Lord Neuberger, the president of Britain's Supreme Court, told 'The Times'.

"The jury system works in this country by contested evidence being decided by witnesses giving evidence before a jury and having credibility weighed - and one factor taken into account is the impression the witness makes and that includes being able to see the witness's face," he said.

Lord Neuberger told the newspaper that previously he had been misunderstood when he was credited with backing the wearing of veils in court.

"What I was saying that - and I don't think many would disagree - was that witnesses and parties in court may have beliefs, convictions, which are not those that most people have or the judge is familiar with and the judge should be sympathetic and understanding of those factors, such as a woman not used to appearing with her face uncovered." [Press Trust of India] Read more

29 January 2016

National Muslim advocacy group asks General Assembly to abandon Sharia law bill

.... “Deciding in favor of CAIR’s lawsuit challenging the amendment, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that ‘the references to Sharia Law violated the Establishment Clause,’ ” Burgess wrote. “Should this legislation become law, I expect that it would meet the same fate.”

The House on Thursday approved the proposal 68-42, sponsored by Republican Rep. Chip Limehouse. It will be up for a third reading next week before being sent to the Senate.

Limehouse this week said though there are no known instances of an attorney or defendant trying to use Sharia law in a state court, the law is necessary.

“(With this law) an attorney can’t go into state court and say that the defendant that beat up his daughter for going on a date with a non-Muslim was within his rights according to (Sharia law),” he said. [The Post and Courier] Read more

40 percent of Germans demand Merkel's resignation over refugee policy, poll says

While 39.9 percent of Germans surveyed by the pollster Insa for "Focus" magazine said Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy is grounds for her to step down, 45.2 percent of the more than 2,000 people polled said they did not believe she should leave office. The remaining 15 percent did not state an opinion.

Merkel has long enjoyed high popularity ratings among Germans but that support has dwindled in recent months, particularly as the numbers of asylum seekers entering Germany from the Middle East and North Africa has increased.

Members of Germany's right-leaning Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) were particularly critical of Merkel, with two in three AfD members demanding the chancellor resign.

Among Germany's Left party, 45.4 percent of the survey's participants demanded Merkel's resignation, 44 percent of Free Democratic Party (FDP) supporters and 41.3 percent of Social Democrats (SPD).

The strongest support for the chancellor came from the Greens and Merkel's own Christian Democratic Union members, with lower figures of 30 and 26.6 percent calling for her resignation, respectively. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Muslim leader blames Christians and women for domestic violence

A senior Muslim politician has been accused of blaming Christians for most domestic violence because they get drunk.

Muhammad Afzal, the lord mayor elect of Birmingham, also allegedly told women’s rights campaigners that men were more likely to suffer from domestic violence and denied that forced marriage was a problem in Muslim communities.

Mr Afzal, 72, who is also chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, is facing calls to resign after he condemned David Cameron as an “Islamophobe”. He was accused yesterday of dismissing the threat of domestic violence during a visit by the Muslim Women’s Network UK charity to the mosque, one of the largest in western Europe.

Shaista Gohir, chairwoman of the charity’s trustees, said that Mr Afzal’s “misogynistic attitudes” made him unfit for positions of authority. In a letter calling for the mosque to ask Mr Afzal to resign as chairman, Ms Gohir claimed that at a meeting in December he argued that forced marriage was no longer a problem in the Muslim community as “women these days are strong and educated”. [The Times (£)] Read more

28 January 2016

Creationist views 'risk going unchallenged in schools'

The Government's Prevent strategy, introduced to tackle radicalisation in schools, has been blamed for creating a "hypersensitivity" among teachers when teaching evolution and challenging elements of the Muslim faith.

Headteacher, Tom Sherrington, said there was a risk that schools could shy away from teaching evolution for fear of "provoking a reaction" in pupils with creationist views.

He warned that the programme has "added to the sense that you treat Muslim students as different" and that the tone of the strategy "makes any engagement directly questioning the faith position of Muslim students more challenging".

Speaking to the Telegraph, following the publication of a controversial article detailing an assembly the head teacher gave on evolution, the head of Highbury Grove School, London, said that schools should create inclusive communities, but that "science should be promoted as science".

"The antagonism that creationist students feel when their faith is challenged by science is quite extreme; it’s a big deal to tell them that they are wrong. It provokes a response that in the current climate could be misconstrued. [The Telegraph] Read more

27 January 2016

Yes, Muslims are different. No, we shouldn't accept that

Oh dear. Where to start with Trevor Phillips? It’s tempting not to bother, since you have to wonder if he just says silly things just to get attention. He is, after all, a former journalist, and old habits die hard.

But let’s assume he’s serious about what he said at Policy Exchange this week about British Muslims:

“Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect.

“Because what you are essentially saying is the fact that they behave in a different way, some of which we may not like, is because they haven’t yet seen the light. It may be that they see the world differently to the rest of us.”

In other words, we mustn’t talk about Muslims integrating into British society and living lives that are more like the lives of their non-Muslim compatriots. We should accept that Muslims are different and respect their different ways. [391 comments]

[A TOP RATED COMMENT 155 votes] All migrants to Britain should respect our historical culture and make every effort to integrate with the entire community.

If you do not wish to do this, you are advised to leave.

[ANOTHER 125] Few Muslim women, if any, wore the veil in the 1970's or even 1980's in the UK.

So the question is why are they wearing it now, unless to make a very public political statement ?

If its also a " human right " for the veil to be worn, then its also a "human right" for others such as shop owners, bank employees,etc, not to serve anyone who in effect is deliberately wearing a mask.

They can't complain of being victimised if such incidents occur.

Only the emancipation of Muslim women will see the end of Islamic extremism.

That British feminists have already been repeatedly posted missing when horrific misogyny is being inflicted on Muslim women via forced marriage, FGM, honour killings, etc, says so much about the British feminist sisterhood.

No doubt issues such as gender specific childrens toys or banning Page 3 is more important.

[ANOTHER 114] Muslim Shmuslim.... Am I alone at being HEARTILY SICK of the special pleading, accommodation and down right nuisance caused by these people? I spent most of my life as a pretty liberal sort of chap, but I am SICK TO THE BACK TEETH of these people dominating the news and the reports of crime and problems that they bring.

If you are brown, black or yellow, and pleased to be British, and accept our ways gladly and are a part of them, I don't care where you come from or what kind of a fairy tale god you believe in, but if you live here acting like a special group, entitled to despise our values, and our world, and act out pre-modern prejudices against half the human race, I want you gone. [The Telegraph] Read more

Sharia law UK: 'Ban Sharia? Say goodbye to chicken tikka masala' says Muslim leader

As the sun sets over the rolling green hills of the West Midlands, a black gate slowly opens giving way to a long gravel drive lined with trees. Here, on the outskirts of the drab commuter town of Nuneaton, is Britain's biggest Sharia court where – many believe – Muslim judges enforce Islamic law on British soil.

Inside, Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi sits behind a desk in his large office, surrounded by Quranic texts and cradling his baby daughter, Nabihah, in his arms. Branded a "hard-line cleric" in a prominent daily newspaper just weeks ago, he speaks in a posh – almost plummy – English accent tinged with the twang of his native Coventry.

"What [they] want to do is titillate [their] readers and sell a good story. We have British judges as part of this tribunal. We have barristers, solicitors, women, and professional people on the panel. We are not some backstreet Sharia council. It is a cheap shot," says Siddiqi. [International Business Times] Read more

Tory MP calls for complete veil ban as it 'stops women from enjoying British values of smiling and saying hello'

A complete ban on women wearing veils should be introduced because it stops them from "smiling, waving and saying hello" in a very British way, a Tory MP has said.

Philip Hollobone said it was "really, really sad" that Britain would be a "miserable country" if everyone went about their business with their faces covered.

The MP for Kettering, who is calling for a complete ban on wearing the veil in public, told LBC radio: "I don't want to live in a country where we go around with our faces covered because part of the British way of life is smiling, waving and saying hello to passersby and if we're all going to go around with our faces covered it is going to be a very miserable place indeed.

"I think it is really, really sad in 2016 talking about it being acceptable to live in a miserable country where everyone goes around with their faces covered. How sad is that."

France passed a law in 2010 which bans the wearing of any face-covering headgear, including balaclavas, niqabs and other veils in public places. [The Telegraph] Read more

Iran and France cancel diplomatic lunch to welcome Hassan Rouhani after French refuse to take wine off the menu

A lunch between the French and Iranian presidents in Paris has been scrapped after the hosts refused to take wine off the menu.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had been due to eat lunch with French President Francois Hollande in an upmarket restaurant as part of Mr Rohani’s tour of Europe - but negotiations broke down after the Iranians requested a halal, alcohol-free meal.

French officials insisted on serving traditional local food and wine and said making a meal “Iran friendly” went against their Republican values.

The Elysee Palace suggested the heads of state share breakfast instead but this was rejected as “too cheap”.

A source told French radio station RTL: “The leaders have missed out on a great opportunity to meet in the relaxed environment of a meal.” [The Independent] Read more

Schools that allow face veils could fail Ofsted inspection

Schools that allow pupils or teachers to wear the veil risk being failed by Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw has announced.

The chief inspector of schools backed head teachers who do not want girls to cover their faces at school and ordered inspectors to mark down schools if the veil was acting as a barrier to learning and positive social interaction.

David Cameron and Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, said last week that public organisations such as the courts should be free to restrict the wearing of veils.

Sir Michael said that they had been “right to give their backing to schools and other institutions which insist on removing face coverings when it makes sense to do so”.

He added: “I am concerned that some heads who are trying to restrict the wearing of the full veil in certain circumstances are coming under pressure from others to relax their policy. I want to assure these leaders that they can rely on my full backing. [The Times (£)] Read more

Oxford Muslim leader Dr Hojjat Ramzy criticises Sir Michael Wilshaw's statement on veils in the classroom

A Muslim leader in Oxford has accused the chief inspector of schools of "bullying" after he ordered Ofsted inspectors to mark down schools if the veil was acting as a barrier to learning.

Dr Hojjat Ramzy said the policy could lead to some Muslim students deciding to stay at home instead of attending class.

Sir Michael Wilshaw's warning that schools which allow pupils or teachers to wear the veil risk being failed by Ofsted came after Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that public organisations such as courts should be free to restrict the wearing of veils.

Dr Ramzy said Sir Michael's warning amounted to bullying.

The director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre, and former chairman of the Education Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "As an Imam and educationalist, personally I do not encourage Muslim women to wear the face cover, however I do not discourage them either. [Oxford Mail] Read more

Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot jailed for insulting Islam

An Egyptian court has sentenced secular writer Fatima Naoot to three years in prison and a fine of $2,550 after being found guilty of insulting Islam, daily Al-Ahram reported.

Naoot, a former parliament candidate, is the second public figure to receive a jail term in less than a month for charges related to blasphemy, the paper said.

The jail sentence is effective immediately, although Naoot will be able to lodge an appeal from behind bars.

In October, she described in a post on her Facebook account Eid Al-Adha’s tradition of slaughtering sheep as the “greatest massacre committed by human beings”.

Naoot also wrote in an article in Egyptian daily El-Masry El-Youm criticizing the traditional slaughter of sheep during Eid, the Islamic festival of sacrifice and one of the main Muslim religious holidays worldwide. [The Indian Express] Read more

Muslims are not like us, race equality chief says

Muslim communities are unlike others in Britain and the country should accept that they will not integrate in the same way, the former head of the equalities watchdog has said.

Trevor Phillips said that it was disrespectful to suppose that Muslim communities would change, claiming that we should accept that they “see the world differently from the rest of us”.

“Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect,” he told a meeting at the Policy Exchange think tank on Monday night.

“Because what you are essentially saying is the fact that they behave in a different way, some of which we may not like, is because they haven’t yet seen the light. It may be that they see the world differently from the rest of us.”

Mr Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added: “Part of the integration process is for the rest of us to grasp that people aren’t going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us.” [The Times (£)] Read more

26 January 2016

PC brigade 'failing victims of sex abuse': Minorities tsar slams liberals over Muslim criminals

David Cameron's integration tsar has blasted 'hand-wringing' liberals for failing to tackle forced marriage and other abuses in Muslim communities.

Louise Casey said some officials were 'so wrapped up in political correctness' they ignored shameful scandals which led to vulnerable women and children being harmed.

Miss Casey, who chaired the Government's troubled families unit and led an investigation into social services in Rotherham – where Asian sex gangs had abused as many as 1,600 children – is carrying out a review of how to boost integration in the most isolated communities.

Commissioned by the Prime Minister, this is looking at how to help migrants learn English, as well as other ways of boosting women's job prospects.

But Miss Casey claimed one issue was that the liberal elite had turned a blind eye to problems within some Muslim groups.

Speaking to the Policy Exchange think-tank in London last night, she said: 'We let forced marriage happen because we were so wrapped up in political correctness and wanting our multicultural Britain. We forgot to talk about equality and we forgot to talk about equal rights.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1605 votes] The problem we have is that since 1997 we have had nothing but "hand-wringing" liberals running the country!

[2ND 1395] The liberal elite are clueless, and that includes Mr Cameron who is one of those "hand-wringing" liberals himself who has promoted PC non stop since he came into power. I don't like hypocrites.

[3RD 1246] At last someone in authority is pointing this out, even if it is a little late. Not like her boss isn't one of those 'hand-wringing liberals' himself though. We need a proper Conservative government to sort this country out and put British people first. [Mail on Sunday] Read more

Fireman Sam creator detained at airport for veil comment at security gate

As David Jones arrived at the security gates at Gatwick airport, he was looking forward to getting through swiftly so he could enjoy lunch with his daughters before their flight.

Placing his belongings, including a scarf, into a tray to pass through the X-ray scanner he spotted a Muslim woman in hijab pass through the area without showing her face.

In a light-hearted aside to a security official who had been assisting him, he said: “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.”

The quip proved to be a mistake. After passing through the gates, he was confronted by staff and accused of racism.

As his daughters, who had passed through security, waited in the departure lounge wondering where he was, he was subjected to a one hour stand-off as officials tried to force him to apologise.

Mr Jones, 67, who is the creator of the popular children’s character Fireman Sam, said: “Something like George Orwell’s 1984 now seems to have arrived in Gatwick airport. [The Telegraph] Read more

Sharia law UK: 'Things are getting ugly for British Muslims' says Islamic court scholar Khola Hasan

.... Hasan sees the rights of women as enshrined in the Quran and their violation as a modern phenomenon, born out of the hundreds of years of confusion that followed the colonisation of the Middle East by the West. It was this, she argues, that created inequality between the sexes in the Muslim world – not Muslim scholarship and certainly the teachings of Mohammed.

.... But Sharia law has an image problem in 2016 and debates about the origins of sexism and Islam are not likely to change that. Hasan may be angry but she says British Muslims are choosing to ride out the wave. Friends have had their hijabs ripped off in the street, while somebody threw a beer bottle at her just the other day. Britain's streets, she said, are getting ugly.

"I've been called a member of Isis. It is very hurtful and scary. [We] are the new hated people and Muslims are very aware of that. We all feel not only how much we are hated but how huge the job is. We are constantly trying to prove that we are not traitors," she said.

"For Muslims now it is about keeping under the radar, sitting tight and just hoping that this blows over without many of us being killed. I am not sensationalising this, people are terrified." [International Business Times] Read more

Indonesia province bans Ahmadiyah from spreading minority Islamic sect

A tiny Indonesian province has banned a minority Islamic sect from conducting religious activities, a move activists say raises concerns over intolerance in the Muslim-majority nation.

The move by Bangka-Belitung, made up of two main islands off South Sumatra, is the latest in a series in which religious minorities including Christians and Shi’ite Muslims have faced harassment and complained of a lack of protection.

“The Ahmadiyah have a right to live in Bangka,” Fery Insani, a senior official in the local government, told Reuters. “In a meeting with community leaders and religious figures, all of us have agreed that it is forbidden for them to conduct activities like spreading their faith.”

Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims, the majority of whom adhere to moderate Sunni beliefs. But hardline Indonesian Muslims accuse Ahmadiyah and other Muslim minorities of apostasy. [Reuters] Read more

Can schools ban the veil?

No-one knows how many adult women in the UK wear the full face covering known as the niqab.

But it is a minority of British Muslim women, many prefer to simply cover their hair with the hijab.

Uniform rules in state-funded schools in England tend to reflect the sensibilities of local communities, as each school determines its own policy.

Many allow the hijab and adapt their uniforms to accommodate concerns about modesty.

Now, Ofsted says head teachers are coming under pressure to relax rules that exclude full face coverings.

It will not say where or how many schools are facing this pressure, but the chief inspector of schools in England is massively raising the stakes.

On Tuesday, Sir Michael Wilshaw said a school could be judged by Ofsted inspectors as inadequate if the wearing of a full face covering was "clearly hindering communication".

It is a line in the sand. [BBC] Read more

Ofsted chief backs schools that restrict 'inappropriate wearing of veil'

School inspectors will be allowed to rate schools as “inadequate” if they let pupils or staff wear full-face veils such as niqabs in their classrooms, according to a policy announced by the chief inspector of schools.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said Ofsted would support heads and principals banning what was described as the “inappropriate wearing” of the veil, in an intervention that was supported by ministers but criticised by Muslim leaders and teaching unions for polarising the issue.

“I am concerned that some heads and principals who are trying to restrict the wearing of the full veil in certain circumstances are coming under pressure from others to relax their policy. I want to assure these leaders that they can rely on my full backing for the stance they are taking,” Wilshaw said.

“Where leaders are condoning the wearing of the face veil by staff members or by pupils when this is clearly hindering communication and effective teaching, they should give consideration to judging the school as inadequate.” [The Guardian] Read more

Ofsted threatens to penalise schools where Muslim veil is worn

Schools will be marked down by Ofsted for the first time if inspectors judge that wearing the veil – by students or teachers – is a "barrier to learning".

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, has on Tuesday written to all inspectors instructing them to mark down institutions where they believe the veil hinders "positive social interaction".

He said that people need to listen to David Cameron’s concerns that “our liberal values, our liberal West values, are protected”. The new rules will affect around 16,000 children and just under 1,000 teachers who currently wear the veil to school.

It comes after the Prime Minister announced that Muslim women can be banned from wearing veils in schools, courts and other British institutions.

Mr Cameron said that he will give his backing to public authorities that put in place “proper and sensible” rules to ban women from wearing face veils in comments which will reignite debates.

The Government is preparing to announce a series of measures designed to stop British Muslims becoming radicalised and traveling to the Middle East to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). [The Telegraph] Read more

Listen: Damning audio which proves future Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal called David Cameron an Islamophobe

Birmingham’s future Lord Mayor has been caught on tape labelling David Cameron an Islamophobe at a protest meeting about anti-terror measures - a day after denying saying it.

And Muhammad Afzal, Chairman of the Central Mosque , said the Prime Minister “keeps on talking about extremists, extremists, extremists”, as he questioned claims that up to 700 Islamists had travelled from Britain to fight in Syria.

The Birmingham Mail told on Friday how the future civic leader had attended a protest meeting about the Prevent anti-terror laws and controversial new measures giving Ofsted power to inspect out-of-hours ‘schools’, including madrassas.

Coun Afzal later issued a statement denying he did not back Prevent and claimed his comments had been ‘sensationalised’ and ‘taken out of context’ - while he also denied calling the Prime Minister an Islamophobe, during a telephone call with our reporter.

But a photograph appeared today of him standing alongside a banner saying ‘No to Prevent’ while in our tape recording of the meeting he attacks David Cameron and his Government’s claims about the number of British Muslims travelling abroad to fight in Syria. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

25 January 2016

Sharia law UK: Baroness Cox says move to restrict Islamic courts 'has MPs' support'

A new law that seeks to restrict the power of Sharia courts in Britain could soon be debated on the floor of the House of Commons after passing its final reading in the Lords.

Baroness Cox's Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill passed unamended in the Lords on 20 January and is now on its way to the Commons, where the 78-year-old cross party peer believes it already has significant support from both Labour and Conservative MPs.

Cox told IBTimes UK that she has a meeting with Justice Secretary Michael Gove on Monday (1 February) and is optimistic that David Cameron's government may consider taking on her bill. If not, she said at least three Labour MPs had expressed an interest in taking it on as a private members bill.

The bill could see Sharia court scholars jailed if they present themselves as judges, and could force Islamic courts to ensure equality of the sexes. Cox believes this dovetails with plans by the Home Secretary to launch an enquiry into the Sharia system and the announcement of new funding for Muslim women to learn English. [International Business Times] Read more

24 January 2016

Islamic school 'suspended a teen boy for talking to a girl'

A Muslim faith school which was rated 'outstanding' by the education watchdog Ofsted has suspended a teenage pupil who is accused of breaching its behaviour policy after he interacted with a female student in a way which amounted to harassment.

Al-Khair secondary school in Croydon, south London, prohibits interaction 'through any medium' between male and female students who are considered 'non-mahrams' (not close relatives).

But a spokesperson denied that the school has a blanket ban on boys and girls talking to each other.

The parent of one pupil told The Sunday Times that the policy of the private school, which won praise by Ofsted for promoting pupils' personal development, was 'nonsense', and that students were not being prepared to integrate in British society.

.... Boys and girls are based in the same school but they are taught in separate classes and any interaction is prohibited. 'Free-mixing' is listed among the 'high-level' offences that could lead to an exclusion, alongside 'drug dealing, stealing, extortion, racism and arson. [Mail on Sunday] Read more

The Observer view on the radicalisation of young British Muslims

How do we combat the radicalisation of young Muslims? This debate is a political minefield, but, like it or not, it is one that ministers have to wade into: 800 Britons have gone to Syria to fight or support Isis since 2012 – and that is probably a conservative estimate; a further 600 have been caught trying to enter.

The prime minister attracted much criticism last week for his announcement that Muslim women must learn English or face deportation as part of measures to combat radicalisation. Some of the criticism was fair, but too much has been unnecessarily kneejerk.

The debate risks being party politicised: those who see it as an opportunity to undermine support for an ethnically diverse Britain; others who see it as an opportunity to lambast what they see as an illiberal government unfairly targeting groups of citizens. [681 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 132 votes] The issues go back a long way. In the early 90s you could see posters for the Young Muslims in Bradford calling for a Muslim Britain. Mention it here, and you get moderated. In the same city, I knew of 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants who spoke no English. Again, when I have mentioned it on CiF, my comments have been deleted.

If there is a wish to counter radicalism, it has to face the facts that multi-culturalism has helped to create a parallel society which interacts in the public sphere (they go to the same shops, work alongside people, etc), but not in the private (little or no intermarriage, or any social interaction). One thing I learned in Bradford was that Ray Honeyford had been trying to push Muslim girls to improve their education, to aim for a career rather just marriage. He was hated for this, and when he (stupidly) published in the Salisbury Review, it was the slip that the community leaders were waiting for.

An honest approach will look at how and why parallel societies, following their own laws and customs, have been allowed to settle, develop and grow in the UK for the last 30 or 40 years. It should look at how official blind eyes have been turned to possible offences in the name of 'cultural sensitivity'. It should look perhaps at how people growing up in such an environment could not be radicalized.

[2ND 105] Why do we have segregated schooling? It seems to me that this notion that children should be hived off into schools designated appropriate according to faith is just a divisive construct. We need all British children to be mixing freely and playing together with their parents interacting with each other. That would be a start.

.... Where are the media debates about this with ordinary British people from varied backgrounds and faiths who can participate in discussions about this? We never hear from the alienated and the angry. If we don't open up the forum for debate and see the representation of all those who need to talk then we are only going to ignore this problem until one day it may become insurmountable.

.... It's time for the rule of law; the outreach programmes; the schools to become the juridical and social embodiment of one for all and all for one. It is a mammoth task and something some of us on the Left have been pointing out for years while others looked at us askance and accused us of everything from paranoia to low grade racism. Sadly, the truth is out, and we must work together to establish a coherent response to a now rather entrenched and knotty problem.

.... Things are really roiling, and it's not a surprise that considerable numbers of people are seriously worried about this. There is a palpable sense of fear in people I talk to about this.

[3RD 93] There is no debate. Embrace civilisation or die ignorant. I for one will not respect any religious group that does not accept women and gays as equals.

End of discussion.

[4TH 92] This article reeks of Guardian whataboutery and offers no solution. In fact everything mentioned here has been discussed to death and the only thing the Guardian can propose is that the government needs to 'do more' and treat 'at risk' muslims with the softest gloves ever.

"How do we combat the radicalisation of young Muslims? This debate is a political minefield."

This debate is a 'political minefield' only to left-wing-loonies, the rest of us are very clear about what this issue is. Most of the readers of this CIF are responsible and open-minded people who have had enough of pussyfooting around this issue by the Guardian.

The simple and brutal truth is that Islam as manifested by a fair few of it's adherents can never co-exists in an enlightened European nation like ours - no matter how much we say otherwise. The sooner we all lay this to bare and move forward the better.

"The debate risks being party politicised: those who see it as an opportunity to undermine support for an ethnically diverse Britain; others who see it as an opportunity to lambast what they see as an illiberal government unfairly targeting groups of citizens."

Do we now Guardian?

"But he was wrong to frame English lessons for Muslim women as an anti-radicalisation measure linked to punitive deportation. This is particularly true given the government’s poor overall record on integration."

How much does this affect people who are not muslim, that would an interesting statistic to see. All non-muslim immigrant communities do fairly well as far as integration is concerned. So successive governments don't have a 'poor overall record'.

"But much of the critique of the government has been misleading and incendiary, attempting to impose a black-and-white filter on a world that exists in shades of grey."

Nope, there is nothing misleading. There is only one thing that needs clarity (none of this black-and-white filter nonsense) and it's that radicalisations only happens in Muslims who have a perceived victimhood complex and something urgently has to be done about it.

Can at least the Observer editorial offer a bit more clarity please and avoid of phrases such as 'nuanced and responsible approach'. [Guardian Cif] Read more

23 January 2016

NUT leaders ‘colluding to undermine anti-terror policies’

Leaders and activists of Britain’s biggest teachers’ union are colluding with Islamic extremists to undermine policies aimed at preventing terror attacks.

Private emails leaked to the Telegraph show that Rob Ferguson, a senior National Union of Teachers (NUT) activist in heavily-Muslim Newham, east London, is working with Mend, an extremist front group, and Cage, the notorious organisation which backed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) killer known as “Jihadi John”.

Mr Ferguson is orchestrating a campaign with Mend to discredit Prevent, the Government initiative which aims to spot signs of radicalisation in young people. A member of the NUT’s ruling national executive, Alex Kenny, and Ian Hale, the NUT’s assistant secretary in Newham, are also involved. [The Telegraph] Read more

22 January 2016

Cameron and Muslim women: a new twist on an old colonial story

Before David Cameron launched himself this week into a critique of the English language skills of Muslim women in the UK, he would have done well to take a tour of Tate Britain’s exhibition Artist and Empire. It’s a deeply unsettling reminder of a past that the British have made an art of half-forgetting.

This is painting by the square metre: huge canvases to demonstrate the struggle and the glory of British expansionary militarism. It’s a reminder that spreading that pink across the globe was a brutally violent process. But it was the undercurrent of erotic thrill to empire that is even more disturbing.

Imperial maps are bordered by large-breasted maidens holding cornucopia brimming with exotic fruits for the conqueror. One portrait of a coy, bare-breasted woman was that of a hostage imprisoned by James Cook in his cabin as part of negotiations with a recalcitrant indigenous people in the Pacific. Empire offered an abundance of available women; in contrast the imperialists’ womenfolk are dressed and presented in domestic settings, safely established under male control as wives and daughters. [1419 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 541 votes] So, an inability to speak English after a decade or more in the country is a good thing, because it is sticking two fingers up to 19th century British colonialism?

[2ND 352] OMG Guardian stop embarrassing yourselves...

[3RD 343 ] This insane article makes me bristle with anger. It seems the Guardian sees racism and imperialism in everything.

Cameron was making a sensible remark about immigrants who can't speak English: if they are to integrate and be financially independent, they need to learn it. It's sensible - really rare thing for Cameron.

"No issue is more likely to incense Muslim families than targeting their mothers and grandmothers; it will be seen as a threatening and unwarranted intrusion into their private domestic lives."

Then they should grow up. Immigrants who refuse to do the minimum and learn at least some English should not be allowed to stay permanently. Other nations have similar policies - for example, Norway.

"In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear that the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members."

Aren't traditional values lovely? If only white women could be as easily domesticated as the brown ones.

Truly pathetic!

[4TH 332] "In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear that the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members."

And why shouldn't they be content with that eh..?

[5TH 315] Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims in the UK hail from the same background and were all affected by colonialism. When you study how the communities have progressed there are startling differences (muslims with degrees 20%, Sikhs: 30%, Hindus: 45%). The key issue is the progress made by respective women. The better the women are integrated the better the whole community does. If you stand in the way of progress of women then you suffer. See: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/cmpo/migrated/documents/ethnicityreligion.pdf [Guardian Cif]

Read more

Germans must ban ALCOHOL if they want to prevent further sex attacks and help North Africans integrate, says Muslim group

Germany needs to ban alcohol if it wants to prevent further sexual violence and to help North African migrants integrate into society, a Muslim pressure group has claimed.

Commenting on the Cologne sex-attack controversy, MuslimStern, which has 20,000 followers on Facebook, said its mission was to 'highlight the way the media was using the incidents to promote racism against minorities'.

The group complained that the female victims had brought the unwanted attention to themselves by dressing in a manner that North African men were not accustomed to.

The group claimed: 'You cannot expect to chuck a naked antelope in front of a lion and not expect it to react. It is mind boggling that with so much time spent teaching children about sex at school, they completely forget to pass on this basic biological fact.'

As a consequence of the attacks, they urged the German government to introduce a ban across the country on the consumption of alcohol.

The group also blamed women for getting attacked by inciting the young men.

In one section of the Facebook post, which has since been deleted, the group claims: 'Some women should think about whether it is wise to lightly dressed and drunk, to go between hordes of drunken men. [Daily Mail] Read more

21 January 2016

Chess forbidden in Islam, rules Saudi mufti, but issue not black and white

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh was answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ queries on everyday religious matters.

He said chess was “included under gambling” and was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”.

Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. It is not clear when the fatwa was delivered. [2365 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1003 votes] An honest question: if Saudi Muslims are so against gambling, how come they are so active in horse-racing?

[2ND 683] Yes I can understand how a game that encourages logical thought would be frowned upon by a follower of a magic sky pixie. What an idiotic pronouncement. Plus any religion that classes music as a vice can really fuck off as far as I'm concerned.

[3RD 575] An honest answer - hypocrisy. [The Guardian] Read more

UKIP MEP Calls for End to Muslim Mass Immigration To Britain

.... “Daesh has turned sectarian strife into a core theme of its propaganda and of its actions. They have used it as a tool for recruitment and as an excuse for claiming oil rich lands – not much to do with religion, but a lot about power.”

It is a narrative that’s often repeated by European leaders and parliamentarians. But Mr. Batten, the UKIP member for London, broke ranks yesterday telling his colleagues that Islamic State’s murderous barbarism has everything to do with religion.

“Some say that ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. In fact it represents a literalist interpretation of the Quran,” he said.

“The Quran speaks of making war on infidels, killing infidels, and striking terror into the hearts of infidels. The Quran endorses beheadings, crucifixions and slavery. Even the systematic rape of non-Muslim women is justified by the verse that says: ‘those you have taken with your right hand, you may possess.’

“ISIS represents a revival of the original ethos of the Mohammedan cult that conquered its way up to France before being driven back in the eighth century.

“Thank God, not Allah,” he said, “Most Muslims do not follow this literalist interpretation”. [Breitbart London] Read more

Danish city makes pork mandatory but allows other food

A Danish city has ordered pork to be mandatory on municipal menus, including for schools and daycare centers, with politicians insisting the move is necessary for preserving the country's food traditions and is not an attack on Muslims.

Frank Noergaard, a member of the council in Randers that narrowly approved the decision earlier this week, says it was made to ensure that pork remains "a central part of Denmark's food culture."

Denmark is a major pork producer and it is the most popular meat, but it is forbidden to Muslims and Jews. Most of the asylum-seekers who have arrived in the country in the past months are Muslim.

Noergaard, a member of the anti-immigration, populist Danish People's Party that proposed the council motion, said Thursday that it wasn't meant as a "harassment of Muslims," but added that he had received "several complaints about too many concessions" being made to Muslims in the small, predominantly Lutheran country. [AP] Read more

20 January 2016

Revealed: Private Muslim school in London had books promoting stoning people to death

A private Muslim school has failed its Ofsted inspection after the watchdog found books promoting extreme views, including stoning people to death, in its library.

Inspectors uncovered three texts at Jamiatul Ummah School in Tower Hamlets which promoted illegal punishments and inequality of women, according to their report.

Staff failed to be “sufficiently vigilant” over “inappropriate” material and the books could “unwittingly promot[e] extreme views”, it added. The school said the texts had been removed and the library shut while it audits material.

It is the school’s third failed inspection since October 2014, shortly before Osfsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw identified it as one of six independent Islamic teaching institutions in Tower Hamlets at which more than 1,000 pupils were said to be “at serious risk”. [Evening Standard] Read more

Cologne Imam: Girls Were Raped Because They Were Half Naked And Wore Perfume

Warning women against “adding fuel to the fire”, the Imam of a Salafist Cologne mosque has said the victims of the New Year’s Eve attacks in that city were themselves responsible for their sex assault, by dressing inappropriately and wearing perfume.

Speaking to major Russian channel REN TV, Imam Sami Abu-Yusuf’s remarks came during a 12 minute segment bringing Russians up to date with the latest developments in the migrant invasion of Europe.

Sandwiched between eyewitness-footage of migrant rampages in Cologne, women being sexually assaulted by apparently Arab gangs, and a segment on a surge of interest in self defence courses in Germany the Imam told the interviewer: “we need to react properly, and not to add fuel to the fire”.

Explaining in the view of Salafist Islam why hundreds of women found themselves groped, sexually assaulted and in some cases raped by gangs of migrant men in cities across Germany the Imam said: “the events of New Year’s Eve were the girls own fault, because they were half naked and wearing perfume. It is not surprising the men wanted to attack them. [Dressing like that] is like adding fuel to the fire”. [Breitbart London] Read more

Only Muslim women can reform Islam

A lecturer friend was shocked when a student asked if she could miss class to accompany her mum to hospital. The daughter needed to translate for the mother who had lived in east London for more than 30 years. When my friend wondered how that was possible, the daughter replied: “My dad didn’t want mum to learn English so she never did.”

Sadly, her case is far from unique. Some 22 per cent of Muslim women in the UK – around 190,000 – speak little or no English. That’s not a huge figure in itself, but multiply it by the number of their children and suddenly you have an awful lot of five-year-olds turning up at school without a clue how to talk to their teachers or classmates. Without a clue about the culture of their country.

Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, says women tell her that their husbands or in-laws don’t want them to learn English because it will “disturb the status quo”. So you live in the UK, where you get all the benefits of the world’s fifth largest economy, but you can still treat your wives and daughters as if you were back in rural Pakistan. [The Telegraph] Read more

Iraq's oldest Christian monastery destroyed by Islamic State

Satellite images confirm that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

St Elijah's stood on a hill near the northern city of Mosul for 1,400 years.

But analysts said the images, obtained by the Associated Press, suggested it had been demolished in late 2014, soon after IS seized the city.

A Catholic priest from Mosul warned that its Christian history was "being barbarically levelled".

"We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land," said Father Paul Thabit Habib, who now lives in Kurdish-administered Irbil. [BBC] Read more

Iran bans use of the word ‘wine’ and foreign animal names in books

Iran has banned the use of the word "wine" as well as the names of "foreign animals" and “certain foreign presidents”.

The Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is imposing the ban to counter a “Western cultural onslaught”.

Mohammad Selgi, head of book publishing at the ministry, said: “When new books are registered with us, our staff first has to read them page by page to make sure whether they require any editorial changes in line with promoting the principles of the Islamic revolution, effectively confronting the Western cultural onslaught and censoring any insult against the prophets.

“Words like wine and the names of foreign animals and pets, as well as names of certain foreign presidents are also banned under the new restricting regulations.”

According to BBC Persia, Mr Selgi also spoke out against books on psychology that cite masturbation as a treatment method.

He said: “We will not give the opportunity to keep the books on the market.”

Mr Selgi also said books that were published several years ago and still on the market will be re-evaluated for content that may be contrary to the law. [The Independent] Read more

Jamiatul Ummah School In East London Fails Ofsted Inspection Over Books 'Promoting Stoning People To Death'

A Muslim school in east London has failed an Ofsted inspection after investigators found books in its library that promote "inequality of women and punishments, including stoning to death".

Inspectors found "inappropriate texts" in the Jamiatul Ummah School's library during a "very brief" tour, uncovering three books that "undermine the active promotion of the rule of British law and respect for other people".

The books, an Ofsted report released this month, said: "Promote inequality of women and punishments, including stoning to death, which are illegal in Britain and which do not reflect the school's ethos and integration."

The unannounced investigation at the Tower Hamlets school, which teaches 158 boys aged 11 to 16, was carried out on 25 November, and is the third inspection it has failed since October 2014.

The watchdog was at the all-boys private secondary school - which has annual fees of £3,400 - to assess what progress it had made in implementing an action plan to correct problems it had earlier identified. This was the second assessment. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

19 January 2016

Schools can decide whether to ban full-face veils, says Morgan

The education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has said it is “very much up to schools” if they want to ban the full-face veil, arguing that being able to see a person’s mouth was important for teaching.

Morgan was speaking after the chief schools inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said inspectors had found that religious dress that covered the face sometimes caused communication problems.

David Cameron had said on Monday that he would back institutions with “sensible rules” over Muslims wearing full-face veils, but he ruled out a full public ban.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Morgan said: “The prime minister was absolutely right to say, and we have a very clear view in this country, we are not going to tell people what they can and can’t wear; that would cut across the values we are talking about that we want everybody to follow. [1444 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 368 votes] ANOTHER COMMENT SAID: "Just continue stripping people of their freedoms in the name of freedom. Sad"

The "freedom" for a community to segregate itself from the rest of society and essentially create a parallel community though various factors including dress and refusal to speak the host language?

[2ND 222] Symbols of their parents' ideologies should be kept out of schools. Would we accept UKIP t-shirts? No way!

[3RD 217] The full veil has no place in British schools, just as a mini skirt would not be tolerated in Saudi schools. This is not a Muslim country.

[4TH 197] Typical cowardly politician. She should actually lead on this, and say that schools are expected to be full face veil free, and will be failed by Ofsted if they're not.

BTW not one muslim parent I know would have any objection to it either.

Typical cowardly politician. They should also make sex ed compulsory in Primaries up and down the country.

[5TH 194] Nuns don't cover their faces.

[6TH 192] "Going for the French approach of banning an item of clothing, I do not think that’s the way we do things in this country and I do not think that would help."

A mask isn't an item of clothing and face coverings are already banned in Britain. If you are a motorcyclist you have to by law wear a helmet, yet in Banks, Petrol station etc, you are asked to remove it to show your face. Yet Muslim face masks are not worn because of British law only Saudi fashion and they will not be asked to remove them in a Bank of Petrol Station, so do we have one law for all of us? Or different laws for different communities? I think the French have got it right, one Law for ALL. [The Guardian] Read more

City fires new salvo in Denmark's ‘meatball war’

The Randers City Council voted 16-15 on Monday night to require the city’s public institutions to serve pork products.

The vote was part of a long-running debate in Denmark, with one side arguing that Danish values are under attack from multiculturalism and the other side maintaining that the whole situation is a nonexistent issue that has made an problem where there wasn’t one.

The so-called ‘meatball war’ (frikadellekrigen) arguably hit its apex in 2013, when the summer’s slow news cycle was dominated by a debate on whether or not public institutions should bar pork in deference to Muslim children.

While there are no official numbers on how many public institutions that ban pork, in 2013 it was estimated to be about 30 out of 1,719. [The Local] Read more

'The numbers are small': Muslim groups play down issue of veils in schools

The renewed debate over the wearing of full-face veils in schools, either by pupils or teachers, has been greeted with scepticism by some in the Muslim community who say it is a small issue affecting tiny numbers.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council for Britain, could not disguise his frustration. “These issues come up every couple of years,” he said. “Every couple of years there’s a big debate, ‘should we ban it, what should we do?’”

In fact, he said, it was an issue that affected a tiny number. “I’m not aware of any children wearing it. I think the concern they are raising is about teachers wearing it, but the numbers are very, very small.

“The number of women wearing the full-face veil in general is very small. The number of teachers wearing the face veil is even tinier.”

The debate surfaced again this week against a backdrop of David Cameron’s drive to get more Muslim women speaking English and the launch of the government’s Educate Against Hate website. [The Guardian] Read more

Gender segregation: The truth about Muslim women 'forced' to sit away from men

This week David Cameron has backed a ban on Muslim women wearing veils, decreed that Muslim women need to learn English, and latterly, come up with plans to outlaw gender segregation.

The Telegraph understands that as part of plans to stop British Muslims from being radicalised, Tory ministers will ban women from sitting separately from men during meetings in public buildings.

It comes after concerns that certain Muslim organisations are enforcing gender segregation. There have been high profile cases of this, such as last year when Asian men and women were found sitting separately at a rally attended by senior Labour politicians. It is also known to be an ongoing issue at various universities throughout the UK.

.... But gender segregation is not something that only occurs at ‘radical’ events. Batool Al-Toma, director of the New Muslims Project, says: “It’s common in Muslim gatherings. I’ve seen it mainly happen at spiritually led talks, never anything radical – I wouldn’t go to anything radical.” [The Telegraph] Read more

Charity watchdog slams Glasgow Central Mosque elders amid concerns of funding for ultra-orthodox group

SCOTLAND’s biggest mosque has been criticised by charity watchdogs in a damning report over the way the centre has been run by its previous orthodox leaders.

Trustees who wielded power at Glasgow Central Mosque - the country’s largest place of worship - breached their legal duties over many years, according to the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

The watchdogs says trustees were making decisions about the running of the charity where they had no power to do so.

The probe follows concerns from Scottish-born reformers that money from the mosque was going to a group which has been accused of promoting Islamic extremism.

The loan of £50,000 to the European HQ of the conservative group Tablighi Jamaat in Dewsbury in 2011 only came to light after the younger generation of liberal Mosque members, who are co-operating with OSCR, effectively took control of the Mosque last year. [heraldscotland] Read more

Education secretary backs classroom ban on Muslim veils

Schools should be able to decide whether to ban Muslim girls from wearing face veils in lessons, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said.

Mrs Morgan said uniform policy is "very much up to schools" and head teachers have the right to decide if they want to ban the veil.

It follows comments from Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of the education watchdog Ofsted, who said veils cause communication issues in the classroom.

Asked if he would back banning veils in schools, Sir Michael told BBC's Newsnight: "Yes, I would".

David Cameron has also said he would back institutions that "needed to see someone's face" and that have "sensible rules" over Muslims wearing full-face veils.

But he ruled out a full France-esque public ban, saying it was not "the way we do things in this country". [ITV] Read more

It is crucial that Muslim women learn English as without it they and their daughters are kept captive

Rochdale has a large Muslim population, and I’m a Muslim woman.

Yet at the height of the general election campaign last year I visited the town and, as I walked around with the standing MP in predominantly Muslim areas, I saw no one like me.

There were many Muslim men – but no women out and about. It was as if they had been spirited away in a spaceship.

I went knocking on doors. The women were there, but they would not come out.

Many, I believe, felt they had to stay indoors unless they were accompanied by a male member of their family. And most spoke little English.

The Prime Minister has identified the right problem, but he’s blaming the wrong people. It isn’t the Muslim women who are the root of the problem, much less the British public.

The problem is the Muslim menfolk who are gradually stripping away all the rights of their wives and daughters. It is also the politicians who collude in that Islamic misogyny and the oppression of women.

Of course, as soon as Mr Cameron made his remarks, Muslim activists and some liberals were quick to dismiss them, implying that any criticism of British Muslim culture was tantamount to bigotry.

But the fact is we do have a crisis in the Muslim culture – and it is one that’s reflected in this fact that so many Muslim women, some of whom have lived here for decades, can’t speak English. [Mail on Sunday] Read more

18 January 2016

'Islam is INCOMPATIBLE with Western life' Czech leader warns of more Cologne-style attacks

Czech Republic president Milos Zeman said that it is “impossible” to integrate Muslims from the Middle East into European societies because their core values are too dissimilar to those of Western populations.

In an outspoken interview the veteran left-winger blamed the New Year’s Eve rapes in Cologne on “Muslim culture” and said people who want to live according to Islamic law should not move to Europe to settle.

His controversial remarks come amid growing fury in neighbouring Germany over a string of refugee sex attacks, with a poll today revealing nearly half of Germans now openly fear newly arrived migrants.

Speaking on local TV the 71-year-old president said immigration from countries with “similar cultures”, including Ukraine and Vietnam, had benefitted Czech society.

But he claimed recently arrived refugees from the Middle East have brought “ghettos and excluded localities” to Europe, referring to reports of radicalised Muslim neighbourhoods in cities including London and Paris. [Daily Express] Read more

Cameron has alienated the very people he must ally with: Muslim women

You’d think, from the way politicians tend to frame the issue, that there were legions of misguided voters passionately intent on protecting the right of controlling men to isolate their wives from all influence but theirs.

David Cameron, in 2016, sounds no different to David Blunkett in 2002, when he insists that immigrant women must be empowered to learn English, or else. Except that they don’t say “migrant women”. They say “Muslim women” when speaking of the “alarming picture of forced gender segregation, discrimination and social isolation”. Misogyny, it seems, is only a problem when it’s Islamic misogyny.

Just to be clear, it is not controversial to declare that Islamic misogyny is a particular and large problem. Islam is a highly patriarchal belief system. Muslim feminists argue that their religion does not have to be practised in a way that oppresses women. But the fact is that Islam is used again and again, by nations, cultures and individuals, to justify the negation of the rights and freedoms of women. This is not unsayable, and authorities from Cologne to Rochdale who believe that such assertions should not be encouraged or confronted are part of the problem. [1210 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 569 votes] "Who are the people in the best position to provide solutions to this problem? Other Muslim women".

I think that it's time to let go of the idea that Islam can only be reformed from the inside, especially given that there's no sign of it happening. We in the west – including moderate Muslims - should stop tip-toeing around it for fear of causing 'offence'. We should just move past that. There's no human right not to be offended. There never was.

The vision of multiculturalism as a set of discrete, non-overlapping blocs, each with their own value system, has been a manifest failure. But that model isn't the only one available - we could try co-existing around a core set of values that we all share. One such would be the freedom to openly criticise each other's ideas. Everyone should be free to believe what they want, and everyone else should be free to openly question that, with no fear of violence.

A couple of hundred years ago, criticising the Pope in Europe could fast-track you to a grisly end, like Theo Van Gogh, or the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. One of the key reasons Catholicism lost that power is the spread of information, the loosening of taboos, the gradual erosion of the edifice of solemnity and mystery that it shrouded itself in. Islam retains that edifice to this day. In Europe and elsewhere, fundamentalist Muslims have successfully implemented a blasphemy law, enforceable by summary execution.

How could we have allowed that to happen? It's absurd to sit around waiting for Islam to reform itself from within, when it's plain to see that it's moving in the opposite direction. Those Muslims who want to publicly speak out against its oppressive might can only do so if they're ready for immediate martyrdom at the hands of their grim-faced coreligionists. The conditions created by these lunatics are such that Islam can't possibly reform. The process can't even begin.

[2ND 391] 1) Ditch the facemasks

2) Learn English

3) Ensure integration by allowing your daughters to intermarry if they wish.

[3RD 374] The misogynists are those that want to suppress women by isolating them, physically and linguistically, from British society so that they do not get ideas above their station.

[4TH 361] Must ally with?

Am I the only person who's a little tired of being told what 'we' must do in order to better accommodate Muslims per se?

[5TH 349] How luck we are to have Deborah Orr to tell us what Muslim women think.

[6TH 347] Muslim communities exercise postal voting to an extent completely out of kilter with the rest of the population.

Since Muslims are no more prone to disability or infirmity than any other section of the population, there must be a reason for this unusual number of postal voters.

Please take your head out of the sand; democracy is being subverted.

[7TH 231] What Cameron said was quite clear. Orr seems intent on muddying the issue. If you're upset about how a politician says something rather than what he is saying then you'll probably hate the next few years. People are getting sick of cotton wool politics when it comes to a particular misogynistic and ill-integrated demographic, and will welcome strength and determination from politicians on such matters. [Guardian Cif] Read more

David Cameron backs bans on Muslim face veils as Tories plan crackdown on gender segregation

Muslim women can be banned from wearing veils in schools, courts and other British institutions, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister said that he will give his backing to public authorities that put in place “proper and sensible” rules to ban women from wearing face veils in comments which will reignite debates.

It comes as the Government prepare to announce a series of measures designed to stop British Muslims becoming radicalised and traveling to the Middle East to join terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

As part of the plans, ministers will pledge to outlaw gender segregation during meetings in public buildings amid concerns that some Muslim organisations are forcing women to sit separately. [The Telegraph] Read more

Bank ejects Muslim woman over full-face veil

The woman went to the Sparkasse bank in Neuss, North Rhine-Westphalia, last Wednesday to make a transfer, but an employee would not let her enter, reported the Neuss-Grevenbroicher Zeitung.

The 20-year-old woman said the bank employee stood in her way, blocking her from entering and asked her to leave.

She offered to remove the veil from her face in order to identify herself, but this apparently did not resolve the situation and it escalated into a loud confrontation.

The woman said the employee pushed her, leaving a mark on her body because she was carrying heavy shopping bags.

By the time police arrived, the woman had already left, but she later filed a complaint alleging bodily harm.

A spokesperson for Sparkasse Neuss denied the woman's version of events and said that the employee had simply tried to explain that the niqab - which covers the face and head, except for the eyes - violated the bank's ban on masks. [The Local] Read more

Bradford's language bubbles: 'it’s perfectly possible never to speak English'

Selecting a royal blue velvet for her next shalwar kameez in Aeman’s fabric emporium in Bradford on Monday, Nusrat Parveen asked the shop assistant a question. The pair then had a brief conversation, all in Urdu. “I want this job because my English is not so good. Here I can speak my own language,” said the assistant, Shamsa Kanwal, in lightly broken, but perfectly understandable, English.

The sunny 30-year-old arrived in Bradford nine years ago, an imported bride on a spouse visa, barely speaking a word of English. The marriage broke down and she found herself “totally alone”, having to navigate all aspects of British life on her own: doctors appointments, parents evening at her daughter’s school, shopping, the lot. She’d love to take English lessons and go on to do GCSEs, she said, but she didn’t know where she would find the time.

Some 22% of women in Manningham, where Kanwal works, either can’t speak English very well or can’t speak it at all, according to the 2011 census. [The Guardian] Read more

Muslim Leaders Warn David Cameron Educating Women Is Not The Same As Tackling Radicalisation

David Cameron has been accused of conflating education with radicalisation after announcing a £20m fund to improve the English skills of Muslim women.

While a number of Muslim commentators welcomed moves to empower and educate women, they also warned the government was confusing two different issues when it came to extremism.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "There are three million Muslims in this country and the Prime Minister chooses to focus on a very small minority of extremists when clearly the majority of British Muslims reject extremism.

"The Ramadhan Foundation has been clear for many years that we face an increased risk from terrorism and an ideology of hatred.

"The best way to confront it is to build support within Muslims and support the work done across the country, and not lashing out and denigrating Muslims."

Speaking after David Cameron announced a new £20 million fund to teach women English, a number of Muslims have discussed both the positive and negative implications of his proposals. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Muslim women to be taught English in £20m plan to beat 'backward attitudes'

Tens of thousands of Muslim women unable to speak English are to be given the chance to learn the language in a new government drive to build community integration and counter extremism.

Launching a £20m language fund, David Cameron called for an end to the “passive tolerance” of separate communities which left many Muslim women facing discrimination and social isolation.

The prime minister said he would not avoid telling the “hard truths” required to confront the minority of Muslim men whose “backward attitudes” led them to exert “damaging control” over women in their families.

“All too often, because of what I would call ‘passive tolerance’, people subscribe to the flawed idea of separate development,” he wrote in the Times

“It is time to change our approach. We will never truly build One Nation unless we are more assertive about our liberal values, more clear about the expectations we place on those who come to live here and build our country together and more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers.”

The government estimates that there are 190,000 Muslim women in England who speak little or no English. [The Guardian] Read more

Muslim women's segregation in UK communities must end - Cameron

A £20m fund to teach Muslim women in the UK to speak English will tackle segregation and help them resist the lure of extremism, David Cameron says.

While there was no "causal connection" between poor English and extremism, language lessons would make communities "more resilient", Mr Cameron said.

But some Muslims have accused him of wrongly "conflating" the two issues.

The PM also suggested failing to learn English could affect people on spousal visas who wanted to settle in the UK.

The government says 22% of Muslim women living in England speak little or no English - a factor it argues is contributing to their isolation.

Segregation, the prime minister says, is allowing "appalling practices" such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage to exist, and increasing vulnerability to recruitment by so-called Islamic State - also known as Daesh.

He is also announcing a review of the role of Britain's religious councils, including Sharia courts, in an effort to confront men who exert "damaging control over their wives, sisters and daughters". [BBC] Read more

17 January 2016

'It's practically impossible to integrate Muslims into Western Europe,' says Czech president as he blames Islamic culture for Cologne sex attacks

The president of the Czech Republic has claimed it is 'practically impossible' for Muslims to integrate into modern Europe.

Speaking on local TV, President Milos Zeman also blamed the New Years Eve sex attacks in Cologne, Germany, on 'Muslim culture'.

Zeman is known for his fiery anti-migrant comments and has previously accused refugees 'with iPhones' of exploiting their children to get asylum in the EU.

'The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible,' Zeman said in a televised interview Sunday.

'Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne,' he added, referring to the mass New Year's Eve assaults on women in Germany and elsewhere. [Daily Mail] Read more

It is ‘practically impossible’ for Muslims to integrate

Czech President Miloš Zeman said that it was “practically impossible” for Muslims to integrate into Europe, and went on to blame the New Year’s Eve attacks against women in Cologne and other German cities on “Muslim culture.”

Zeman quoted two passages of the Quran, the first says a man can beat a woman, and the second said a woman’s testimony only counts half as much as a man’s in court.

“That is Islam. It follows that those refugees mainly from the Islamic religion treated German women like they were accustomed to in their home countries,” he said in an interview from the presidential chateau in Lány that was broadcast over the Internet by tabloid Blesk.

Zeman called for not only destroying the Islamic State, but for killing its leaders. “They are the ones who dictate these huge terrorist actions,” he said. [Prague Post] Read more

Inquiry into foreign backers of UK extremists gets green light

David Cameron has authorised an investigation into the foreign funding and support of jihadi and extremist groups in the UK, a development that could lead to a potential standoff with the government’s key Gulf ally Saudi Arabia.

Political pressure on Cameron to investigate extremist revenue streams in the UK has come from the Liberal Democrats who requested the inquiry in exchange for supporting the extension into Syria of British airstrikes against Islamic State.

The Home Office’s new extremism analysis unit has been directed by Downing Street to specifically examine the scale and origin of funding of extremist groups in the UK with a remit to follow overseas funding streams. Home Office sources would not give details on the level of resources which will be assigned to the inquiry. Its findings will be sent directly to the home secretary Theresa May and Downing Street this spring.

The Gulf kingdom has repeatedly been accused of funding mosques and groups with links to Islamist terrorism in the west. Last month Angela Merkel’s deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the Saudi regime posed a danger to public security through its support for Wahhabi mosques around the world. Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. [The Guardian] Read more

15 January 2016

Town bans male refugees from pools amid complaints

.... A spokesman for the local government of Bornheim said on Friday that the ban on male asylum seekers above the age of 18 came after six people filed complaints "over the sexually offensive behaviour of some migrant men at the pool".

The measure aimed at "making it clear to the men that the rights of women in Germany is inviolable", he added.

Officials have gone personally to three asylum seeker shelters near the pools to deliver news of the ban and emphasize how people should behave in swimming pools, said the spokesman.

The town, situated on the west bank of the Rhine River, would revoke the ban once it deems that the message has been drilled into the asylum seekers, he said, adding that this would be evaluated through interviews with social workers at the shelters.

Authorities denied placing entire groups of people under suspicion, but said the measure was aimed at laying down clear ground rules. [The Local] Read more

Bill banning child marriage fails in Pakistan after it’s deemed ‘un-Islamic’

Pakistani lawmakers had to withdraw a bill aimed at curbing the practice of child marriage after a prominent religious body declared the legislation un-Islamic.

The bill, which proposed raising the marriage age for females from 16 to 18, also called for harsher penalties for those who would arrange marriages involving children. Despite the laws in place, child marriages, particularly involving young female brides, are common in parts of the country. It's estimated that some 20 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.

But the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body which gives advice to parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, appeared to slap down the legislation after deeming it "un-Islamic" and "blasphemous," according to Agence France Presse. It had already handed down a similar ruling in 2014.

The council has garnered opprobrium in the past. In 2013, reports AFP, "it suggested making DNA inadmissible evidence in rape cases, instead calling for the revival of an Islamic law that makes it mandatory for a survivor to provide four witnesses to back their claims." [The Washington Post] Read more

No plan to move exams for Ramadan, Ofqual chief tells schools inspector

The heads of England’s two most powerful education bodies, the exam regulator Ofqual and the schools regulator Ofsted, have clashed over reshaping the summer exam timetable to accommodate Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.

Glenys Stacey, the chief executive of Ofqual, has issued a public letter to her counterpart at Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, following Wilshaw’s warning that any changes to the GCSE and A-level timetable could lead to other groups “piling in” as a result.

Wilshaw told the London talk radio station LBC: “Once we give in to one religious group, we’ve got to give in to the other.” He said pressure from such groups could make the exam timetable unmanageable.

“Other groups might say we’ve got a festival here, a holy day there, we want you to change. Schools would find it very difficult to manage that,” said Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools.

But in blunt terms, Stacey told Wilshaw: “I would like to confirm that exams have not been moved this summer to accommodate Ramadan, nor is there an intention to move them. [The Guardian] Read more

The West’s refusal to confront Islamism is doing Isis’s work for it

.... Isis regularly mocks the West for our “analysis paralysis”. We cannot decide what is right and wrong because we have lost our moral compass – they, meanwhile, retain an extreme clarity.

Guilty from days of empire, we no longer feel we have the right to tell others how to behave. Islamist fanatics have no such compunctions and exploit our reticence. This is a culture war, a battle of ideas.

When a German judge allows a Muslim husband to beat his wife because the “Koran permits it”, and “it is their culture”, then we are letting the hardliners win. When our teachers, in all good intent, grant girls as young as four and five the right to wear the hijab to schools across Europe we are sending a message that these young children are different, and we accept their markers of separation. [The Independent] Read more

Survey: Most Young Middle East Muslims Believe ISIS Perverts Islam

A majority of Muslim youths in the Middle East and North Africa regard extremist groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam and its teachings, according to a new survey.

"At least three-quarters of millennial respondents in all countries surveyed" regard groups like ISIS and Al-Qaida as "either a complete perversion of Islam's teachings or mostly wrong," according to the survey conducted by Egypt's Zogby Research Services

The survey, which was reported by AFP and Arab media, polled 5,374 young Arab Muslim men and women in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. It was conducted last October and November.

.... In the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia, over 55 percent of those surveyed said the radical groups were distorting Islam's teachings. [Haaretz] Read more

Bill aiming to ban child marriages shot down

Another move to ban child marriages in Pakistan has fallen at the first hurdle. The bill to prohibit underage marriages has been withdrawn after the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) declared it un-Islamic.

The ruling party lawmaker, who moved the bill, withdrew her proposal on Thursday following staunch resistance from the council, which advises the legislature whether or not a certain law is Sharia-compliant.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 after the CII dubbed it ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘blasphemous’.

The committee meeting, which was presided over by its Chairman Hafiz Abdul Karim, unanimously rejected the bill on ‘purely religious grounds’. Afterwards, PML-N’s Marvi Memon also withdrew her proposal. [The Express Tribune] Read more

Muslims in UK living 'as if still in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan'

YEARS of “do-what-you-want” multiculturalism was blamed for the rise of Islamic Sharia courts and the Rotherham sex abuse scandal yesterday.

Dr Rumy Hasan launched a scathing attack in Parliament on the right-on policies of successive governments.

He claimed the “do-what-you-want” and “laissez-faire” nature had let communities live as if they were still in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The University of Sussex lecturer argued that gangs of mostly Pakistani Muslim-background men raping young girls in UK towns was an “inevitable consequence”.

Dr Hasan said: “The authorities in towns and cities — Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford, Oldham, Birmingham — kept quiet because they were embarrassed.”

He was speaking at a discussion on the rise of Sharia law held by the Henry Jackson Society think tank.

He added: “It’s time we woke up and smelled the coffee.” [The Sun] Read more

14 January 2016

Norway imam: Muslim kids should shun birthday parties

“I believe that birthdays are not a part of our religion. That pertains to both children and adults,” the 49-year-old imam Abdikadir Mahamed Yussuf told Fæderlandsvennen.

Yusuf is the leader of the mosque in Posebyen in Kristiansand, which is the largest Muslim community in Southern Norway.

“We Muslims have our religion. If it states in the Quran or hadith that birthdays are okay, we say okay. I believe it doesn’t say that. Therefore we aren’t saying ‘don’t go to birthday parties’. We aren’t saying ‘you are wrong and it is forbidden’. But we are saying ‘you shouldn’t do it’,” Yussuf said.

It is also against the religion to wish people a merry Christmas, according to the imam. He doesn’t care if other imams agree with him.

“What I care about is whether it is part of the religion or not. I don’t greet women, but if another imam does so, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t Muslim. He just has another interpretation.” [The Local] Read more

Changing Exams To Accommodate Ramadan 'Sets Very Bad Precedent,' Says Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw

The head of Ofsted has said moving A-level and GCSE exams to accommodate Ramadan and other religious festivals would set a "really bad precedent", putting himself on a collision course with examination boards.

It emerged earlier this month a number of exams were rescheduled to avoid clashing with the Islamic holy month, after concerns were raised fasting Muslim students would be at a disadvantage.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents examination boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, defended the decision, saying it "meets the needs of various groups as far as possible".

But Ofsted head and Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, told LBC radio on Thursday morning: "I don’t believe we should re-organise the examination timetable to fit in with religious festivals and celebrations. Once we do that we set a very bad precedent. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

12 January 2016

Rules to fight extremism ‘creating fear among teachers and pupils’

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Jenny Smith, headteacher at Frederick Bremer school in Walthamstow, east London, put up a display of press cuttings and photographs. Students, many of whom are Muslims, were invited to add their comments. Discussions about the Islamic State attack were held in citizenship classes.

Then, in December, pupils put on a shadow puppet performance in the borough about injustice and prejudice faced by a young Muslim. The performance was part of an exhibition organised by Maslaha, an organisation working with schools to explore Islam’s contribution to UK culture.

Smith’s approach seems in marked contrast to the government’s policy to prevent radicalisation, which places increasing pressure on schools, through its Prevent strategy, to be vigilant and report suspicions about students. [121 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 50 votes] "In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, [.....]. Then, in December, pupils put on a shadow puppet performance in the borough about injustice and prejudice faced by a young Muslim."

I'm not sure if I'm reading this right. Of all the "injustices" they could have discussed, i.e. the mass slaughter of the kuffar in central Paris, the murderous assault against cartoonists, the destruction of Syrian architectural and cultural heritage, they decide to stage a play reinforcing the victim narrative?

[2ND 48] Immigration causing problems....who'd have thunk it

So heads in the sand didn't work, what shall we try now?

[3RD 41] "Young Muslims care deeply about their faith".

Do they care enough to ask, with real intellectual honesty, if it's true? If not, then what this means is that they are, and want to remain, brainwashed. [The Guardian] Read more

Let’s tap into Islam’s heritage of critical education to defeat extremism in schools

The policy response to the threat of radicalisation has focused on law, security and intelligence. As the problem spirals out of control, this one-dimensional response, which includes the government’s Prevent policy in schools, seems merely to be repeated more aggressively.

Applying security and surveillance policy across society not only risks limiting civil liberties, but also isolating mainstream Muslims. This does not counter the manipulative interpretation of Islam being used by extremists to play upon grievances held by some Muslims.

A sensible alternative is a long-term educational policy that would support Muslim communities to address the rise of religious extremism in their midst. Since 9/11, official counter-terrorism policy has largely been determined by right- and left-leaning thinktanks. Rightwing pundits tend to explain Islamic extremism by the supposed inability of Islam to reform itself, together with Muslims’ unwillingness to integrate into wider society.

Analysts on the left try to understand extremist action as a political struggle that has almost nothing to do with religion. While the former avoids sharing responsibility for addressing the root causes of the problem, the latter dismisses the possibility that a form of theology defines the central ideology of Islamic extremism. [599 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 140 votes] And exactly what parts of The Koran and the Hadith are actually open to criticism?

This is the fundamental problem with Islam in the Western world. Muslims believe that Islam is the perfect solution for humanity. Perfection cannot, by definition, be criticised. It is extremely, extremely difficult to have a sensible, objective discussion with people on a topic, if that is their starting point.

[2ND 124] By all means, but let us not pander to the out-of-date aspects of religion, particularly those which clash with secular law. Equal rights for women is the law. Medieval dress codes for women are not. The interpretation of the religion must be brought up to date to take account of modern knowledge and customs. It cannot be allowed to impose social customs and legal traditions from the 8th century in the Middle East as the norm for the 21st century in the Western world.

[3RD 111] Unmitigated sophistry, coming from a religion that punishes, or even executes, apostates.

For this country to move forward and embrace true integration, we must become secular and remove all religious influence from our laws and schools.

Superstition has no place in the classroom. [The Guardian] Read more

Too many Muslim men are misogynists

I was not surprised by the mass sexual attacks against German women during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne. Shocked by the scale and the audacity of them, yes, but not remotely surprised. When Angela Merkel announced her decision to take in 800,000 refugees this summer, my sisters and I immediately predicted that this was going to lead to big problems for Western women.

In 1993, when I was 17 and my sister were 12 and 11, our family moved to the Turkish capital, Ankara, because of my father’s job with the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR. For the next two years we were leered at, jeered at, hissed at, groped and touched, again and again and again, every single time we left the house. The only time this treatment lessened was if we went out with my father. Once I was groped and hit in the face right outside the president’s palace. The guards responded by hooting and laughing and shoving their pelvises at me. [The Telegraph] Read more