31 May 2016

Education minister refuses to fund Islamic school in Amsterdam

Junior education minister Sander Dekker has ruled out funding a proposed Islamic secondary school in Amsterdam in the latest stage of a long-running dispute. In a letter to parliament, Dekker said he was not convinced that the Amsterdam Islamic Education Board (SIO) could fulfill its ‘legal citizenship duties’, adding: ‘We cannot use taxpayers’ money to support a school where children learn to reject the Netherlands rather than become part of it.’

The row began two years ago when a member of the school’s management board, Abdoe Khoulani, openly expressed support for the aims of Islamic State. He immediately stepped down from the board, but Dekker criticised Kholani’s colleagues for not ‘immediately and unconditionally’ denouncing his remarks. [DutchNews] Read more

Former Miss Turkey gets suspended sentence for insulting Erdogan

Turkey sentenced a former beauty queen to 14 months in prison on Tuesday, deepening concerns that the country is swaying toward an increasingly authoritarian form of rule.

An Istanbul court found Merve Buyuksarac, 27, guilty of insulting a public official, after she shared a poem on her Instagram account in 2014 that was deemed insulting to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s president. [The Telegraph] Read more

Bosses can ban headscarves and crucifixes, EU judge says

Employers can ban workers from wearing headscarves, crucifixes and other religious clothing, the European Union’s top legal adviser said yesterday.

G4S, the security firm, did not breach EU anti-discrimination laws when it fired a Belgian Muslim receptionist who wanted to cover her head, it was argued.

Company dress codes that ban religious clothing are legal in the EU as long as they apply to all faiths and political views equally, it was said.

Juliane Kokott, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, issued the opinion which gives a strong indication of how Europe’s top court will eventually rule. [The Telegraph] Read more

Who are the Pakistani group proposing to 'lightly beat' women?

.... Portions of the draft leaked to the media recommend a husband should be allowed to "lightly" beat his wife if, among other things, she refuses to dress properly or turns down overtures for sexual intercourse.

It also prohibits female nurses from taking care of male patients, and bans the presence of women in receptions held for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah rejected the proposals, saying: "Islam does not allow any violence, whether against women or children."

Lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir told Geo TV that the proposals amounted to "the humiliation of women".

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan termed the proposals "ridiculous", and recommended the abolition of the CII. [BBC] Read more

EU court adviser: Employers can ban Muslim headscarf

A senior adviser to the European Court of Justice says a European Union business may legitimately prohibit an employee from wearing a Muslim headscarf on the job, provided the ban is based on a general company rule prohibiting visible political or religious symbols in the workplace, and not on prejudice against a particular religion.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued the opinion Tuesday after a Belgian court asked for clarification on what is prohibited by EU anti-discrimination laws.

In the Belgian case, Samira Achbita was fired as a receptionist by a security company after she insisted she should be allowed to work wearing an Islamic headscarf. [Associated Press] Read more

Who are the Pakistani group proposing to 'lightly beat' women?

A Pakistani group has come under fire for drafting a so-called women's protection bill that suggests a husband can "lightly beat" his wife to keep her in line. What is this body and does it have any real power? The BBC's M Ilyas Khan explains.

Created by a military government in 1961, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is a 20-member constitutional body that advises the government on religious aspects of the law and society - but its recommendations are not binding.

The constitution says CII members should be "well-qualified". It specifies that the council should have at least two retired judges, four members with a minimum of of 15 years of experience in Islamic research and teaching, and that members should have an "understanding of the economic, political, legal or administrative problems of Pakistan".

In practice though, this definition has been stretched to include men from religious pressure groups whose careers have been limited to administering or teaching in religious seminaries where contemporary knowledge is looked down upon. [BBC] Read more

30 May 2016

No Muslim family should engage in birth control: Turkey's Erdogan

No Muslim family should engage in birth control or family planning, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, calling again on pious Muslims to have more children.

"We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach," he said in a speech in Istanbul broadcast live on television. "Nobody can interfere in God's work. The first duty here belongs to mothers," he said.

Women's groups and opposition politicians have criticized Erdogan, a devout Muslim for telling women how many children to have and dismissing the Western idea of gender equality. He has previously equated birth control with treason. [Reuters] Read more

Swedish woman denied job because of her head scarf

Ruya El Hattawi said she was left speechless when a recruitment agency phoned her to tell her she would not be given a job that she had previously been offered because her veil went against the employer’s hygiene policy.

The 20-year-old was interviewed for a position at a factory run by Swedish spice and condiment giant Santa Maria a few weeks ago. The conversation was filmed by a recruitment agency and subsequently sent to the company, and the recruiter soon got in touch with her to tell her they were happy and she should be ready to start the position in the second week of June.

The offer left the Gothenburg native excited to have a summer job tied up. But that feeling would soon give way to shock when she was contacted by the recruiter once more. [The Local] Read more

Sweden stirs debate with women-only swimming, in nod to Muslims

As Muslims become a larger part of Swedish society, some municipal pools are offering women-only swimming to accommodate the new arrivals. But while well intended, the new policy is bumping up against Swedish ideals of equality.

On the face of it, the decision to offer special women's swimming hours at the Hyllie sports center, a municipal swimming pool in the southern Swedish city of Malmö, should not be contentious.

Indeed, Malmö is not alone. According to a survey by the Swedish TV channel TV4, 13 of Sweden's 100 largest municipalities have begun offering separate swimming hours for men and women. “Our facilities are used by 40 percent women and 60 percent men,” Johan Hermansson, the head of Malmö's recreations department, told TV4. “Our ambition is for them to be used equally by girls and boys, men and women.” [The Christian Science Monitor] Read more

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says no Muslim family should use contraception

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said “no Muslim family” should practice contraception and urged women to have more children.

Speaking at an educational foundation in Istanbul on Monday, Mr Erdogan said: "I say this openly: We will increase our descendants, we will increase our population.

"Family planning, birth control, no Muslim family can practice such an understanding".

He added: "Whatever our Lord says, whatever our beloved Prophet says, we shall follow that path".

In his speech he said women had a duty as "well-educated future mothers" not to use birth control as it was contrary to Muslim traditions. [The Independent] Read more

29 May 2016

Germany's New "Integration Law"

After months of haggling, Germany's coalition government has agreed on a new "Integration Law" aimed at regulating the rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers in Germany.

The main focus of the law is to encourage refugees to learn enough German to be able to find a job and help pay for their living expenses.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has hailed the new law as a "milestone," and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel says it represents a "true paradigm shift in Germany."

Critics counter that the new law is a largely symbolic measure directed at reassuring German voters and blunting the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party.

Details of the Integration Law were announced on May 25 after a two-day government summit in Schloss Meseberg, a castle north of Berlin. Based on the motto "Support and Demand" (Fördern und Fordern), the new law makes the government an active participant in the integration process. Key components of the law include: [Gatestone Institute] Read more

28 May 2016

Malaysia's government throws support behind Islamic penal code that includes amputations and stonings

Malaysia’s government has caused widespread outrage in the multi-ethnic country after adopting an Islamic penal code that will introduce amputations and stoning as punishments for some crimes.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s coalition government unexpectedly submitted the bill that had been proposed by the Islamist group Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS).

PAS has been pushing federal MPs to amend laws so that it can implement strict Islamic criminal laws, the Straits Times reported. This would include chopping off the hands of thieves.

Critics said the prime minister was only using “hudud”, the Islamic law, in a bid to win the support of Muslim voters ahead of two by-elections in Malaysia, and to fend off attacks on his leadership.

However Mr Najib has said the bill has been “misunderstood”, Reuters reported.

“It's not hudud, but what we refer to as enhanced punishment,” he told a news conference. [The Independent] Read more

Outrage in multi-ethnic Malaysia as government backs Islamic law

Prime Minister Najib Razak's government threw its support in parliament this week behind an Islamic penal code that includes amputations and stoning, shocking some of his allies and stoking fears of further strains in the multi-ethnic country.

Critics believe the scandal-tainted prime minister is using 'hudud', the Islamic law, to shore up the backing of Muslim Malay voters and fend off attacks on his leadership ahead of critical by-elections next month and a general election in 2018.

The government on Thursday unexpectedly submitted to parliament a hudud bill that had been proposed by the Islamist group Parti Islam se-Malaysia's (PAS).

Although debate on the law was deferred to October by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang, its submission to parliament brought criticism from leaders across the political spectrum, including allies of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, who represent the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

Najib sought to ease tensions with his allies on Friday, saying the bill was "misunderstood".

"It's not hudud, but what we refer to as enhanced punishment," he told a news conference after meeting leaders of his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party.

"It applies only to certain offences and this comes under the jurisdiction of the Syariah court and is only applicable to the Muslims. It has nothing to do with non-Muslims." [Reuters] Read more

27 May 2016

Amid growing tension, Muslim convention aims to dispel 'destructive myths' about Islam

Amid a presidential campaign season that has seen increased anti-Muslim rhetoric, and in the wake of ISIS-inspired attacks in California and abroad, a national Muslim-American organization is bringing its annual convention to Baltimore this weekend. It expects to draw tens of thousands for programs aimed at "dispelling destructive myths about the Islamic faith and about Muslim Americans."

The 41st national conference of the Islamic Circle of North America comes as Muslim organizations and their allies say Muslim Americans are facing growing levels of suspicion and intolerance.

Muslim leaders and organizations in the United States have condemned attacks on Paris, San Bernardino, Calif., and Brussels. Still, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has catalogued an increase in anti-Muslim incidents and rhetoric in recent months.

"There is a lot of misinformation about the Quran and Muslims," said Naeem Baig, president of the Islamic Circle of North America. "Islamophobia has become alarmingly commonplace during this past year. Much of this is due to the current presidential campaign cycle, in which anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric has translated into increased campaign donations and a [larger] spotlight. [The Baltimore Sun] Read more

Views of 44% of Europe Muslims are fundamentalist, Czech study shows

The opinions of 44 percent of European Muslims correspond to the definition of religious fundamentalism, according to a survey the Czech European Values think tank presented yesterday, which unveils serious shortcomings in Muslim immigrants' integration in this respect.

Problems with the integration in the European system of values concern both first and further generations of Muslim immigrants, the think tank said in a press release.

The survey showed that fundamentalists increasingly incline to radicalisation.

For example, the application of force was assessed as a justified measure to protect the faith by 35 percent of the surveyed Muslims, but 70 percent of fundamentalists among them.

"University education lowers the probability of radicalisation," sociologist Marketa Blazejovska said.

"Neither personal experience with discrimination nor the society's openness to foreigners have any influence," she said.

According to European Values executive director Radko Hokovsky, Islamic fundamentalists try to read and apply Islam consistently in a way that may result in breaching personal freedom, equality and human dignity. [CTK] Read more

'Too sick to work migrant' now wants to bring 12 MORE children and 2 MORE wives to Europe

Politicians in Denmark have condemned the asylum seeker policy which will allow Daham Al Hasan to rake in thousands in benefits once his huge family is reunited.

The 47-year-old fled war-torn Syria two years ago with a wife and eight children before arriving in Denmark.

The unemployed migrant, who claims to be too sick to work, has now been granted family reunification for his remaining 12 children and two wives who are still in Syria.

The approval will see the Danish taxpayer fork out 214,128 Danish Kroners (£21,883) in child support for the family each year.

Outraged officials have raised concerns about the policy and suggested the Syrian man is exploiting the country's welfare system.

Integration spokesperson for the Conservatives, Naser Khader, said: "It is highly problematic that a Syrian refugee can be allowed to call himself sick to avoid working and learning Danish, so he can support… 20 children." [Daily Express] Read more

Headache for Brussels as Slovakian leader declares 'no place' for Islam

Islam has “no place” in Slovakia, the country's prime minister has declared, weeks before he is due to take over the rotating presidency of the EU.

Slovakia is a fierce opponent of the European Commission’s plans to enforce migrant quotas, and is taking legal action to halt the scheme. As such, Slovakia’s chairmanship of the bloc for six months from July presents a major headache for Brussels.

The country has boycotted Mr Juncker’s quotas scheme for 160,000 refugees – which he wants to make a permanent system of handling asylum crises, backed up with fines of €250,000 for each refugee a state refuses to take

“This may be seem strange…but I’m sorry Islam has no place in Slovakia,” Robert Fico said. “I think it is the duty of politicians to talk about this openly and clearly. [The Telegraph] Read more

Theresa May's inquiry into sharia courts is long overdue

There are times when the state does need to interfere in religious observance, to protect all its citizens and ensure that all are equal in the eyes the law

It is a good principle to always be suspicious of any attempt by a government to monitor, regulate or in any way interfere with the religious observance of its citizens. As the founding fathers of America appreciated, religion and state should be separate; the less each interferes with the other’s affairs the better.

But there are exceptions. There are times when the state does need to interfere, to fulfil its overarching duty to protect all its citizens and ensure that all are equal in the eyes of one secular law.

And this is the case with Theresa May’s announcement on Thursday of a Government inquiry into the workings of sharia law and courts in the UK.

It follows growing concern that some of these courts, or councils, may be working in a “discriminatory and unacceptable way”, seeking to legitimise forced marriage and issuing divorces that are unfair to women, contrary to the teachings of Islam. [The Independent] Read more

Iranian Students Lashed 99 Times Over Coed Party

More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran’s judiciary has announced.

The punishments, which were believed to be part of a wider crackdown by a judiciary dominated by hard-liners, were meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, and were carried out in record time, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, reported on Thursday, citing the city’s prosecutor.

The Qazvin prosecutor, Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, said that more than 30 female and male students — the women were described as “half naked,” meaning they were not wearing Islamic coverings, scarves and long coats — were arrested while “dancing and jubilating” after the authorities received a report that a party attended both by men and women was being held in a villa on the outskirts of Qazvin.

An arrest warrant was issued, he said, and the defendants were sentenced to 99 lashes after being questioned. “We hope this will be a lesson for those who break Islamic norms in private places,” Mr. Niaraki said. [NYTimes.com] Read more

26 May 2016

Aarhus blocks plans for grand mosque

The sale of a plot of land for the construction of a grand mosque has been cancelled by Aarhus Municipality.

The movement to block the sale of the land at Bautavej 1 in the neighbourhood of Gellerup was approved by a majority in the city’s municipal council on Wednesday.

“The Social Democrats have lost confidence in this specific project, because a number of the associations involved in it have been revealed to hold opinions which are incompatible with our democracy and legal system. It was therefore necessary to cancel the proposal,” Aarhus Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard told Jyllands-Posten.

In March of this year, a documentary series by television station TV2 used hidden camera footage to reveal imams at Aarhus’ highly controversial Grimhøj Mosque saying that adulterers should be stoned and that children should be beaten for not praying.

A spokesman from the mosque subsequently accused TV2 of picking selective clips from its footage and not giving a balanced insight into its teachings. [The Local] Read more

Lawsuit: Woman’s head scarf led to job loss in Mich.

A Muslim woman is suing a staffing agency and Michigan employer over claims her religious head covering led to a demotion, then termination, from a plant on the state’s west side.

According to the federal lawsuit filed this week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan and Ohio offices, Aaminah Ussabur said she faced complaints about her hijab, or headscarf, immediately after starting work in August as a pressure packager at an Amway manufacturing/shipping facility in Ada.

On her second day, a supervisor told Ussabur people were “complaining about your headscarf.” She also asserts in the suit that he told her the handbook didn’t allow the head covering and it sparked safety concerns.

Ussabur told the supervisor she would not remove her hijab since it was “a part of her religious obligation,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. She also said to him “that if there were safety issues, she was willing to tuck in her hijab underneath her shirt.” [The Detroit News] Read more

The Citadel rejected her hijab, but another military school embraces Muslim student’s request

Norwich University, a nearly 200-year-old private military college in Vermont, has granted an accepted student’s request to wear hijab in keeping with her Muslim faith, a decision that was welcomed by some but also provoked outrage for some alumni and cadets.

The same student requested a similar exception to the required uniform from The Citadel, touching off a highly charged debate at the public military college in South Carolina where loyalty to the corps is a fundamental value and individual preferences are set aside to encourage unity.

The idea that the first exception might be for a Muslim student was particularly polarizing, given the national discussion and starkly divergent views about the role of Islam in U.S. culture. [The Washington Post] Read more

One in three Muslims do not feel ‘part of British culture’

A third of Muslim adults in the UK say they do not feel “part of British culture”, new research on identity, race and religion finds.

British Muslims are more than twice as likely as Hindus and more than 40 per cent more likely than Sikhs to feel excluded from society, a report by the pollsters Opinium Research shows.

But, strikingly, the study also found that almost a quarter of people who defined themselves as "white British" also claimed to feel alienated from wider British "culture".

The research, based in polling of 2,000 people plus a booster sample of just over 500 who define themselves as from an ethnic minority, shows that racism is widely perceived to be less common than it was 20 years ago but highlights fears that the migrant crisis is fuelling a resurgence.

Almost six out of 10 (58 per cent) of those from ethnic minorities says they had experienced some form of discrimination. [The Telegraph] Read more

Islamophobia is understandable, not a phobia, says former Egyptian extremist

An author and former radical Islamist who turned his back on extremism three decades ago has warned Muslims are not doing enough to counter violent interpretations of their faith, on a visit to Scotland.

He called on first minister Nicola Sturgeon to challenge Islamic leaders to condemn extremism to help protect communities and undermine Islamophobia.

Dr Tawfik Hamid, who is giving lectures in Edinburgh on tackling radicalism, said Imams and scholars should do more to disavow the Islamic texts which support the stoning of women, the taking of sex slaves, the killing of apostates and violent Jihad.

However his views were condemned by the Muslim Council of Scotland, which said he knows nothing of Scotland and called on him to provide evidence for his claims.

Dr Hamid was recruited by the Jamaa Islamiya, as a medical student in Egypt 35 years ago, but claims to have left the group after being ordered to kill an Egyptian police office by burying him alive.

Now living in Washington DC, he is the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam. He publishes an online guide to peaceful interpretations of the Koran which has millions of readers. [HeraldScotland] Read more

Theresa May hails ‘benefits’ of Sharia as inquiry set up into ‘misuse’ of Islamic law

Sharia teaching is being “misused” and “exploited” to discriminate against Muslim women, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has claimed, as she unveiled plans for an independent inquiry into the issue.

But she insisted that many British people “benefit a great deal” from the guidance offered by Sharia teaching and other religious codes.

Prof Mona Siddiqui, the expert in Islamic theology and regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day slot, is to chair a review lasting up to 18 months to investigate whether British law is being broken in the name of Sharia ideas.

The inquiry, the first of its kind, will attempt to establish how common informal sharia courts or “councils”, which resolve disputes in line with religious teaching, really are. [The Telegraph] Read more

Saudi man shoots male doctor for delivering his baby

Jordanian obstetrician Dr Mohannad al-Zubn helped a Saudi woman give birth at the King Fahad Medical City in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last month.

The new father went to the hospital, saying he wanted to thank the doctor - but, after meeting him outside in the garden, withdrew a concealed gun and shot him at close range.

The unnamed attacker was reported to have carried out the shooting because he did not believe a man should have helped his wife give birth.

"The husband came to the hospital looking for the doctor and shot him in the chest in an attempt to kill him for helping his wife deliver a baby," said a hospital spokesperson.

.... Although many Saudi Twitter users condemned the attack, there were also some who supported the attacker - saying a female physician should have treated the pregnant woman.

Saudi Arabia has strict laws governing gender segregation in public places. [The New Arab] Read more

25 May 2016

Muslim pupils must obey teacher handshake rule: Swiss canton

Religious belief is no excuse for refusing to shake a teacher's hand, authorities in a northern Swiss region ruled Wednesday, reversing one school's controversial decision to grant exemptions for Muslim pupils unwilling to touch the opposite sex.

Parents of pupils who refuse to shake a teacher's hand at schools in the northern Swiss canton of Basel-Country could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000, 4,500 euros), regional education authorities ruled.

"A teacher has the right to demand a handshake," they said in a statement.

The decision comes after a national uproar arose over revelations last month that a middle school allowed two Syrian brothers, aged 14 and 15 not to shake their teachers' hands after they complained that doing so was counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher was a woman.

They argued that Islam does not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members. [AFP] Read more

Independent Muslim school criticised by Ofsted now being investigated by Charity Commission

A school that was criticised by Ofsted for segregating staff by their gender is to be investigated further by the Charity Commission.

The commission, which is an independent regulator of charities, has opened a 'statutory inquiry' into the Rabia Girls' and Boys' School in Luton.

The school recently attracted headlines after it was criticised in a letter from chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, in which he claimed the school's leaders were 'undermining British values'.

Issues of gender segregation at the independent Muslim school had already led to investigations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and now the Charity Commission is following suit.

The inquiry is set to examine the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees, as well as the financial controls and management of the independent school. [Luton On Sunday] Read more

Teacher who called homosexuals 'animals' says he has now changed his views

A teacher who labelled homosexuals “animals” in a message shared in a Muslim Whatsapp group claims he has changed his views and is “not homophobic.”

Razwan Faraz, former deputy headteacher at Trojan-Horse linked Nansen Primary School, is accused of including an undue amount of religious influence at three Birmingham academies.

The one-time governor was giving evidence at a disciplinary hearing at the National College For Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) based in Coventry.

Mr Faraz was a member of a Whatsapp group called the Park View Educational Trust Brotherhood , which consisted of Muslim teachers and staff based at the Park View Academies.

Mr Andrew Colman, prosecuting on behalf of the NCTL, referred to messages which Mr Faraz posted on the Whatsapp group.

In a reference to homosexuality being taught in schools Mr Faraz labelled homosexuals “animals” then said: “As teachers we must be aware of combatting their satanic ways.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Swiss school board rules Muslim boys must shake female teachers' hands

A school board in northern Switzerland said on Wednesday that two Muslim boys who have refused to shake hands with their female teachers for religious reasons can be required to do so, ruling that their parents could face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs (about £3,430) if they don't.

A public school in the northeastern Therwil municipality had sought the regional school board's advice after accepting the boys' belief that they should only willingly touch the women whom they will eventually marry.

The school had temporarily exempted the teens from shaking hands with teachers. [The Telegraph] Read more

24 May 2016

Why is Bulgaria making a big fuss about the niqab?

Bulgaria is set to become the latest EU country to ban the niqab, or face veil, after the right-wing coalition party, Patriotic Front, submitted a bill to parliament as a "pre-emptive measure".

Belgium, France and Latvia have already done so but Bulgaria's example stems from the small, southern city of Pazardjik, which has just imposed its own "burka ban", as local media dubbed it. The burka, which covers the eyes, has never been seen in Bulgaria.

The face veil is not considered traditional dress for Bulgaria's Muslims, who make up 10% of the country's 7.1 million population.

The vast majority are indigenous communities of ethnic Turks, Roma and Pomaks (Bulgarian-speaking Muslims). In fact, women who have been spotted wearing it in the past two to three years are almost all members of a small Salafist, Roma community in Pazardjik. [BBC] Read more

Ex-head tells Trojan Horse inquiry he never cancelled Christmas at Nansen Primary School

A former acting head teacher at a Birmingham school at the centre of the ‘ Trojan Horse ’ inquiry said Ofsted inspectors should be ‘sitting here too’ after they had seen its Muslim practices and praised the school as ‘fantastic’.

Arshad Hussain, 39, who worked at Park View School and later at Nansen Primary in Alum Rock , admitted there was an ‘Islamic ethos’ at the school, and said teachings on homosexuality were not done ‘as closely’ as in other schools.

He denied that there was an ‘Islamising agenda’ at the schools, although he conceded there was an ‘ethos’ of daily calls to Muslim prayer, prayer posters and regular Islamic assemblies at the non-faith state schools.

Giving evidence at the National College for Training & Leadership (NCTL) conduct hearing on Tuesday, Hussain – a former policeman – said that Ofsted inspectors ‘should be sitting here too’, after they had praised the school as fantastic. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Welcome to Iqra Village, Australia's first Muslim housing estate: 'Faith-based' neighbourhood in Melbourne features 75 new homes and its own mosque

Developers of a new housing estate in suburban Melbourne are only targeting Islamic families in what has been described as one of Australia's biggest faith-based developments.

Iqra Village, the residential project at Melton South in Melbourne's west, will be divided into 75 lots and marketed towards South Asian migrants.

There are also plans to build a mosque at the centre of the neighbourhood where two houses have already been built.

The vacant block of land is just a few kilometres from where Reclaim Australia protesters staged a violent rally last year over Islamic migration.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils treasurer Keysar Trad told Nine's A Current Affair that Muslims may want to live in the estate to be free of discrimination and misunderstanding.

'This particular venture is an indication there's a feeling out there that there's perhaps less acceptance of Muslims,' he said.

'A project of this nature will allow people to be able to develop a local place of worship or a local school without too many objections from neighbours. They won't be getting in anybody's way, it's something within their local community. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Islam doesn't need a Martin Luther!

Calls for an Islamic Reformation are issued in the wake of every Islamist act of terrorism. But Muslims don't need a Martin Luther. What is needed is a reconciliation of Islam with the constitutional state, says Loay Mudhoon

Lord Cromer was British Consul-General in Egypt when he coined the famous phrase in 1880: "Islam reformed is Islam no longer". Islamist apologists and representatives of traditional Islam in both Islamic countries and Islamic communities in the West would likely agree with him. After all, "Islam" is for them – and for most practising Muslims – something fundamentally complete that cannot be "reformed".

Such blind faith does not, however, alter the fact that the nature of "Islam" is not set in stone! The religion of Islam is and always has been, a child of its time.

In his writings, the renowned Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Sorush – one of the key voices in the global debate on reforming contemporary Islam – emphasises the mutability of religious insight. In his view, there can never be one absolute "version of Islam" that is applicable to all eras and contexts. In the words of Sorush: "I compare the situation to that of a river.

The Prophet was just the source of the river. Islamic tradition as a whole is the river. It flows towards eternity. We are a particular section of the river; the next generation will be another section. We should never assume that religion is a stationary body of water. It is like a flowing river." [Qantara.de] Read more

23 May 2016

UK attitudes towards Islam 'concerning' after survey of 2,000 people

The majority of Britons questioned in a survey believe Islam is not compatible with British values.

The poll also found almost a third of those asked believe Islam is a violent religion and promotes acts of violence in the UK.

However, it also suggests that younger people have a better understanding of Islam, compared to older people.

Just over two thousand British adults were questioned online by ComRes for the charity Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

Asked about their understanding of the traditions and beliefs of Islam, 41% of 18 to 24-year olds said they had a good understanding compared to just 27% of those aged over 45.

The 2,000 questioned were asked if they agreed with the statement 'Islam is compatible with British values', 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed while it was less than 31% for all other age groups. [BBC] Read more

Channel 4 Muslims documentary cleared after Islamophobia risk claims

Channel 4’s controversial documentary What British Muslims Really Think will not be investigated by media regulator Ofcom despite more than 200 complaints.

The hour-long programme presented by Trevor Phillips, a former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, promised to be a “rigorous survey of the views of British Muslims”.

It sparked a row after it commissioned a poll that found more than half of British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal.

Ofcom received 91 complaints about the programme, including from people who said it contained misleading information and risked increasing Islamophobia. Channel 4 received around 130 complaints.

Ofcom said it had looked at the complaints and decided not to take them forward for a formal investigation after Channel 4 shared details of its survey. [The Guardian] Read more

21 May 2016

Leaving Islam not like other religions, author says

Toronto author Ali Rizvi says leaving Islam is not like leaving other religions.

In his forthcoming book, The Atheist Muslim, Ali explores the divide between the religion of Islam and Muslim culture, and how giving up the religious side of the culture can mean being shunned and perhaps worse.

"There are many people, like evangelical Christians, that are also disowned by their families [for leaving their religion], but this is a problem where there are governments [that] will put you in jail for it, there are mobs that attack you in the streets, there are people that hack you to death," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Rizvi says he once observed a liberal interpretation of Islam, but says he has since left the faith altogether.

"I'm fortunate enough to have a family that's understanding, that's open-minded enough to tolerate different points of view," he said. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

Iranian women cut their hair off and dress as men to avoid morality police

Women in Iran are cutting their hair short and dressing as men in a bid to bypass state 'morality' police who rigorously enforce penalties for not wearing a hijab.

A number of women have shared photos of themselves in public with their hair uncovered on Instagram and other social media.

The women have cut their hair short in some images and in others are dressed in clothes more typically associated with men.

The hijab is becoming an increasingly contentious issue in Iran as women step up their campaign against it and other oppressive, gendered laws. In recent months, women have been filmed walking through Tehran with their hair uncovered and activists have urged Western tourists to violate laws by refusing to wear the hijab during their visits to the Islamic republic. [The Independent] Read more

Wycombe Islamic Mission and Trust investigating claims of hate preaching by three Imams at mosques in High Wycombe

An investigation has been launched by High Wycombe’s mosque trust after three town Imams were accused of hate preaching and glorifying a murderer, the Bucks Free Press can reveal.

The shocking allegations against the well respected and long-serving religious leaders came after a Muslim man claimed the Imams likened a Pakistani murderer to a “martyr” in front of hundreds of worshippers.

Bosses at the mosques in the town centre, Castlefield and Totteridge say they are taking the allegations “very seriously” and have started an investigation following emergency meetings.

Whistleblower Khalil Ahmed, from Micklefield, claims the trio led a prayer earlier this year for a bodyguard who assassinated the Pakistani governor he was hired to protect because of the politician’s opposition to blasphemy laws.

The killing – which led to the execution of murderer Mumtaz Qadri – resulted in dispute across the world, with Mr Ahmed now condemning the Imams for “taking sides” and “glorifying the terrorist”. [The Bucks Free Press] Read more

20 May 2016

CHP deputies walk out of parliament over speaker's secularism remarks

.... After Kahraman said he stood behind his words, the CHP deputies began to hit their tables and some left the session in protest.

“Turkey is secular and it will remain so,” deputies chanted as they left parliament.

Kahraman had earlier sparked outrage by suggesting in a conference that the principle of secularism “must be removed” from Turkey’s constitution.

“As a Muslim country, why should we be in a situation where we are retreating from religion? We are a Muslim country. So we must have a religious constitution,” he said.

However, he later stepped back from his remarks, saying he had “expressed his personal opinions on the new constitution” and stressing the need to provide a “clear definition of secularism” in the new constitution.

Turkey’s parliament gathered on May 20 to complete the second round of the general meeting over a controversial constitutional amendment that could lift the immunities of 138 lawmakers, particularly from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

19 May 2016

Let’s take Islam back from the extremists and fundamentalists

Islam – my religion – is facing the most serious crisis of its 1400 year history. Extremists like ISIS only serve to bring this crisis to a head, but it has been growing over the last 200 years. Yet despite this, we refuse to accept there is need for reform or even to engage in a conversation about it.

The past 200 years have seen some of the greatest changes in human history. Changes in relationships, gender roles, law and order, morality and ethics. Changes in the way we understand the natural world and the processes that drive it. Changes in the way we organise our lives in the pluralistic, multi-faith, multi-ethnic societies we now live in.

But when it comes to the understanding of our religion we have stood still. We cling to a literalist mentality that looks back 1400 years to 7th century Arabia as the perfect model for us to imitate in the 21st century.

We either ignore the changes or condemn them as iniquitous innovations. We refuse to accept that religion needs to change or evolve. Any apparent flaws are our own inadequacies and misunderstandings. We keep repeating, ‘If only the Qur’an was followed “properly” it would lead to peace and happiness for all mankind.’

Groups like ISIS are of course an inconvenient aberration, but there have been no shortages of such inconvenient aberrations in our recent history.

Reformers — or rather renewers (mujaddideen) — have only repeated the call to return to a “true, pure and unadulterated” Islam of the Qur’an and Sunna. Their “reforms” have been about halting change and erasing innovation rather than welcoming them. [Sedaa.org] Read more

Authorities shut down secret Islamic school in Brussels

Authorities have closed a “clandestine Islamic school” in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, French news website Sudpresse reported on Thursday.

Molenbeek Mayor Françoise Schepmans gave the order to close the school, which taught 38 children aged between 3 and 8, on Tuesday, after a tip-off from a neighbor, according to Sudpresse.

The school was housed in a family home and its teachers, reportedly dressed in niqabs, were not qualified.

Schepmans reportedly closed the facility due to “architectural” reasons, not over radicalization fears, media report.

Molenbeek has been dubbed a radicalization hub after it emerged that alleged terrorists linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks lived in the area. [POLITICO] Read more

Bangladesh headmaster: Shyamal Kanti Bhakta reinstated after sacking

The Bangladeshi government has reinstated a headmaster who was sacked after being publicly humiliated over allegations that he insulted Islam.

Shyamal Kanti Bhakta, who is a Hindu, was made to hold his ears while performing squats, before being beaten.

Many Bangladeshis were angered by his treatment, posting photos of themselves holding their ears in solidarity.

The government said the sacking was illegal and dismissed the school board. Mr Bhakta denies insulting Islam.

"The head teacher was a victim of injustice. This was a heinous act," Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said.

But he made no mention of local MP AKM Selim Osman who was present at the teacher's ritual humiliation in Narayanganj District near Dhaka last Friday. [BBC] Read more

18 May 2016

Sadiq Khan: ministers are clueless on curbing prison radicalisation

The Mayor of London today attacked the Prime Minister and government over radicalisation in prisons, claiming they were “utterly clueless as to what to do about the problem”.

Sadiq Khan said that yesterday’s revelations that Belmarsh prison was “like a training camp for extremists” were “deeply worrying but should not come as a surprise”.

“What is heartbreaking is that warnings about rising extremism in our jails were made by the Chief Inspector of Prisons as far back as 2010 — only to be ignored for six years,” he said.

“Yesterday’s exposé in the Standard is a massive wake up call to David Cameron and his Justice Secretary Michael Gove. Clearly there is radicalisation taking place inside our prisons and they need to get a grip and do much, much more.” [Evening Standard] Read more

Ofsted Admits 'Mistake' In Islamic School Report

The independent regulator says it has reinspected the school, after initially being told it was not allowed to talk with students.

Ofsted has admitted it failed to properly inspect a school run by a conservative Muslim sect because the inspector was "prohibited" from talking to pupils or staff.

The inspector's report into child safety at the private Zakaria Muslim Girls' High School in Batley claimed celebrations for an Islamic festival meant he could only speak to senior managers.

The school, which disputes Ofsted's claim that it prevented access to pupils, is one of three facing further action from authorities following investigations by Sky News into the secretive Deobandi sect.

Deobandis, many of whom shun contact with non-Muslims, are thought to control around half of Britain's private Islamic schools.

Ofsted's published report on the Batley school dated October 2015 stated: "It was not possible to talk to students during this visit as they and the staff were celebrating the festival of Eid." [Sky News] Read more

17 May 2016

Muslim students to be given 'charitable' sharia loans

Sharia loans are to be offered by the Government for first time as a new White Paper attempts to increase diversity in British universities. Muslims are forbidden from taking out loans on which they would be charged interest, but under the new arrangements they would instead pay "charitable contributions" which would allow more youngsters to go to university.

Ministers are tackling the issue by creating a "Takaful" model, by which students would make payments to a communal pot that would then benefit future students wanting to go to university.

The White Paper said: "We will introduce an alternative finance system to support the participation of students who, for religious reasons, might feel unable to take on interest-bearing loans. [The Telegraph] Read more

Bulgaria’s Plovdiv rejects ban on burqa in public places

The municipal council in Bulgaria’s second-largest city Plovdiv voted on May 17 to reject a proposal to ban the wearing of the burqa in public places.

As in other cities where the proposal has been made – and in the case of the municipalities of Pazardzhik and Stara Zagora, already accepted – the move was initiated by nationalist party VMRO.

At the Plovdiv municipal council meeting, there were 15 votes in favour, 12 against and 21 abstentions, defeating the proposal.

Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev, who initially had said that it was his personal opinion that there should be a ban on the burqa in public places, told the council meeting that he would not a big speech on this important topic, but wanted to draw attention to it pending the state making a decision on the matter. [The Sofia Globe] Read more

Sharia students loans that do not conflict with the rules of Islam to be offered for the first time in drive to get more Muslims to university

Sharia student loans will be set up for the first time in Britain as part of a drive to boost the number of young Muslims applying to university.

The Government confirmed on Monday that a new ‘halal’ finance model will be introduced which does not conflict with the rules of Islam.

Muslims are forbidden from taking out loans on which they would be charged interest, and campaigners say this is putting some youngsters off going to university

In a white paper published yesterday, the government vowed to tackle the issue by creating a so-called ‘Takaful’ model, which is Sharia-compliant.

Ministers are looking to include it in legislation imminently and hope it will encourage more Muslim youngsters to enter higher education.

The document said: ‘We will introduce an alternative finance system to support the participation of students who, for religious reasons, might feel unable to take on interest-bearing loans.

‘We have heard that that some students will not access higher education in these circumstances, some will access higher education and use loans but will be troubled by their situation, and others will restrict their choice of course or institution to try to minimise the sums involved. [Daily Mail] Read more

Muslim states block 11 LGBT groups from attending UN Aids meeting

A group of 51 Muslim states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the United Nations next month on ending Aids, sparking a protest by the US, Canada and the EU.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member general assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters has seen.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, wrote to the general assembly president, Mogens Lykketoft, and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic,” Power wrote.

UN officials said the EU and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest against the objections by the OIC group, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda. [The Guardian] Read more

Maximum security Belmarsh prison is 'like a jihadi training camp,' says former inmate

A maximum-security prison in London has become “like a jihadi training camp”, according to shocking testimony from a former inmate.

The whistleblower said that a terrifying group of jihadists at Belmarsh, who call themselves “the Brothers”, or “the Akhi” (Arabic for brother), appear to “almost have the run of the prison”.

Our witness, a Muslim university graduate who has recently been released from a sentence for bank fraud, said that “governors, prison officers and imams all know about this”.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, he said that Belmarsh, where many convicted terrorists and terror-related offenders mix freely with ordinary prisoners, was “the worst”. [Evening Standard] Read more

16 May 2016

Some British Muslims refuse to let their children be part of British society. We should say so openly

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, is generally an admirably plain-spoken man, willing to talk with refreshing candour about problems in the education system that others refuse to confront.

Yet his letter revealing his inspectors’ findings about scores of unregistered schools operating in England is curiously circumspect, almost mealy-mouthed. Referring to the risk that children face “indoctrination”, Sir Michael does not explain exactly which harmful ideas could be foisted on those children.

Nor would Ofsted confirm publicly that many of these unlisted schools are operated by British Muslims, parents who do not want their children to be taught in the state school system. This refusal to state plain facts is deeply troubling.

If even senior officials responsible for overseeing the education system and identifying its problems are unwilling to say openly that the evidence suggests that some British Muslims are rejecting British values, how can the country ever attempt to address that problem? [The Telegraph] Read more

15 May 2016

Muslims are not a ‘different’ class of Briton: we’re as messy as the rest

“‘It shows it is possible to be Muslim and a westerner. Western values are compatible with Islam.” So said Sadiq Khan after his victory as London mayor. Trevor Phillips, former chief of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, takes a much bleaker view of Islam’s place in western society.

Last month he presented a Channel 4 documentary – What British Muslims Really Think – based on an ICM poll of Muslim attitudes. The poll revealed a deep well of social conservatism.Just 18% of Muslims thought that homosexuality should be legal, four in 10 thought wives should always obey their husbands, almost 90% wanted to prohibit mockery of the prophet.

Phillips wrote of “a chasm opening between Muslims and non-Muslims” and “the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future”. Last week, he developed his thesis in a pamphlet for the thinktank Civitas. In Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, he argues that Britain’s “superdiversity” has combined with the authorities’ laissez-faire attitude to make integration much more difficult.

Muslims, in particular, are a problem, remaining at “a significant social distance” from wider society and “resistant to the traditional process of integration”. “Rome may not yet be in flames,” Phillips ominously suggests, alluding to Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, “but I think I can smell the smouldering while we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion”. [Kenan Malik, 330 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 122 votes] If all Muslims were as tolerant as Sadiq Kahn then Islam would not be causing so many problems around the world. Sadly Phillips documentary seems far nearer the reality concerning the attitudes of many Muslims. One can only hope that decent Muslims such as Kahn can lead the way in fostering a new kind of thinking and provide the many decent Muslims with the courage to stand up to their more extreme neighbours.

[2ND 102] An interesting and well argued essay. However the bottom line is that Mr Malik does in the end agree with Trevor Phillips that, for a combination of reasons, many Muslims have become more conservative and this makes for an increasing divide with the attitudes of the majority of the population.

I would add that Mr Malik assumes that non-Muslims should respect Muslim beliefs, even when they want to challenge them. Sorry, but there are many traditional Muslim beliefs that I cannot respect because they go against all our principles of equality, democracy and rationality.

[3RD 81] For me this was a superbly reasoned article, unlike 90% of the apologist articles published in the Guardian where it's all the Wests fault and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Islam.

I would comment on this though:

"Partly they lie in the growing influence of Saudi Arabia on Islamic institutions in the west and its aggressive promotion of Wahhabism."

To me the Partly should be replaced by "Almost entirely". Wahhabism is a pure evil which is being allowed to poison English life. Saudi pays for mosques and preachers to introduce and maintain Islamofascism in this country.

[4TH 76 ] "Western values are compatible with Islam.” So said Sadiq Khan after his victory as London mayor.

How can Western democracy be compatible with Islam when Islam specifically states in its most holy texts that no man-made laws should be ever supreme over Sharia, the holy laws of Islam that is deemed by Islam to be given to Muhammad directly by Allah himself?

And of course Islam has in its creed that there should be no separation of religion and state as again all laws belong to Allah. That is the antithesis of being compatible to Western societies view of democracy and is a major part of the reason why democracy has always struggled to cement itself in Islamic countries. [Guardian Cif] Read more

13 May 2016

Belgian cabinet minister: Time for total ban on ritual slaughter

Citing resistance by Muslims to a compromise on ritual slaughter of animals, a Belgian cabinet minister called for a blanket ban on the custom, a policy that would affect observant Jews and Muslims.

Ben Weyts, animal welfare minister in the government of the Flemish Region — one of three entities that make up the federal kingdom of Belgium – on Tuesday told Radio 1 that it had become necessary to outlaw in the region any slaughter of animals who have not been stunned prior to the act.

“Organizations within the Muslim community are just not open to any sort of compromise,” said Weyts, who is a member of the New Flemish Alliance, a center-right movement that the Flemish Region’s ruling party.

Religious laws in Islam and Judaism require animals be conscious when their necks are slit, though some religious leaders from both faiths allow stunning immediately after the cut.

Despite Weyts’s statement, Michael Freilich, the editor-in-chief of the Antwerp-based Joods Actueel Jewish monthly, told JTA that he foresees no ban in the near future, citing internal divisions on this subject within Weyts’s party and others. [JTA] Read more

12 May 2016

First Muslim woman elected speaker of state parliament

A Muslim woman will sit in the speaker's chair at sessions of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament from now on – a first for any German state.

"We wrote history today," Green party politician Muhterem Aras said after being elected with a large majority as president (speaker) of the state legislature.

The south-western state had sent "a message of openness, tolerance, and successful integration," by electing her, she went on, promising to ensure a lively but fair debating culture in the chamber.

Aras, 50, is a tax accountant and financial affairs spokeswoman for the Greens in the wealthy southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

Her family moved from Turkey to Stuttgart, where her father found work at an elevator company and her mother worked as a cleaner. [The Local] Read more

'The perpetrators on NYE in Cologne were Islamists'

Germany's most prominent feminist, Alice Schwarzer deals with the sex assaults in Cologne on December 31 in a new book. She tells DW why she uses a term usually reserved to a political ideology to describe the offenders

Alice Schwarzer: That night wasn't just a shock for me. People all over the world saw it as a turning point. For the first time since the end of World War II, women were victims of organized mass sexual violence in the heart of Europe. So far, 627 women have pressed charges.

That night, the area in front of the main train station was extralegal territory for hours, and the police did nothing. So we're not looking at slip-ups by individuals, but a demonstration of power by a group of like-minded people.

The book starts with a reconstruction of New Year's Eve. Among others, you quote the Vosen family that gets hemmed in by the throng of men in the train station building, where the mother and daughter are aggressively fondled. Later, when they describe the men as "being of North African or Arab origin," they are called racist. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

11 May 2016

She Won a Seat in Iran’s Parliament, but Hard-Liners Had Other Plans

Minoo Khaleghi easily won a seat in the Iranian Parliament in February, part of a wave of independents and reformists who now have the numbers to wrest authority from the hard-liners. On Wednesday, however, a powerful state committee demonstrated that the conservative forces would not relinquish power without a fight.

Citing “evidence” that had emerged against her, the Dispute Settlement Committee of Branches, a part of Iran’s generally conservative judiciary, ruled that Ms. Khaleghi could not be sworn in as a new member of Parliament, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported. The evidence, it turned out, consisted of photographs of Ms. Khaleghi, “leaked” on social media last week, showing her in public in Europe and in China without the obligatory Islamic head scarf. Hard-liners immediately accused her of “betraying the nation.” [NYTimes.com] Read more

Female student at US Citadel military college threatens to sue over right to wear hijab

A prospective female Muslim student at one of America's oldest military colleges is threatening to sue because school officials have refused to allow her to wear a hijab. Every one of the students at The Citadel wears a military uniform at all times on campus other than while swimming or sleeping. The prestigious 175-year-old public military college that trains officers for the US services first admitted women in 1995.

The Citadel "has relied upon a highly effective educational model requiring all cadets to adopt a common uniform," said Lieutenant General John Rosa, president of the South Carolina college.

"The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, action, and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college" and "reflects an initial relinquishing of self" that is an important aspect of military discipline, he added. [International Business Times] Read more

10 May 2016

As an American Muslim, Donald Trump doesn’t scare me. He inspires me to vote

So now we know. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States. Considering the Islamophobia of Trump’s campaign up until now, some terrible months lie ahead for Muslim Americans. But I won’t be intimidated by Trump. In fact, this is an exciting turn of events.

Trump was never alone in his Islamophobia, and most of the other Republican candidates for president of the United States had also expressed alarmist ideas regarding Muslim Americans. Ted Cruz called on police to patrol “Muslim neighbourhoods”. Ben Carson stated that a Muslim would “have to reject the tenets of Islam” before becoming president. Chris Christie said that the United States should not admit any new Syrian refugees, not even “orphans under the age of five”.

.... Even more fundamentally is the organising energy I see from young Muslim Americans and so many others determined not to let their country be taken over by radical haters. What I’ve never seen – and don’t expect to see – are Muslims cowering in fear of Trump.

He may never have expected it, but Trump is helping to build the strongest, most multicultural, multifaith, and multi-ethnic America we have ever had. So, thank you, Donald. You really are making America great. [696 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 124 votes] "Islamophobia of Trump’s campaign..."

A phobia is an 'irrational' fear.

There's nothing 'irrational' about fearing nihilistic and 'misogynistic' behaviour embedded in religious belief!

[2ND 98] ".... and mobilising to oppose radical haters"

Does that include followers of an ideology that despises women and homosexuals?

[3RD 96] The Left is fantastic at confronting symptoms, but never the root problems.

The Left is fantastic at confronting "Islamophobia" but never the very real problems that exist within Islamic culture today.

The Left has made its position quite clear in recent years. It can be summed up as:

"Better to be dead than to be culturally insensitive."

This ex-Leftist has hence jumped ship. I wouldn't say I've joined the Right, but I am certainly no longer "Left."

[4TH 73] Every time Obama and Hillary tell the American people that "terrorism has no religion", Trump will gain more voters.

This is the simple truth. If the sane political leaders are not prepared to be honest about this issue, they leave the door open for insane leaders to lead the charge.

Stop lying. Address the problem. And Trump's appeal will evaporate.

[5TH 72] I wish those who condemn Trump really read what he actually said after the terrorist attack in San Bernadino- "Put a temporary ban on the entry of Muslims coming to America until we find out what is going on" . He wanted validation of visa applications especially for people coming from countries that are associated with terrorist activities. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has been said by him against Muslims residing in the US.

I wish all those who protest against Trump would do as much against ISIS and AlQaeda. Why aren't they marching in the streets condemning these terrorist outfits?

Why is the idea of building a wall on the southern border so outrageous when millions come in illegally and drugs flow in unchecked? Why did the UK block the entry of Refugees trying to come across from Calais? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Muslim migrants are forcing Christians to take part in Islamic prayers at refugee camps, and regularly threatening those who converted from Islam, German study claims

A new study has found that Muslim migrants in Germany are forcing Christians to take part in Islamic prayers at refugee camps and threatening those who leave the religion.

The report by Christian group Open Doors Germany claims that half of the 231 Christian refugees questioned said they felt bullied by Muslim migrants or guards, while in reception centres or refugee camps.

And now the organisation, which helps Christians around the world who feel they are being persecuted due to their religion, is calling for German authorities to keep non-Muslims in separate centres to ensure their safety.

They point to one incident in Berlin where a Protestant minister claimed Christian refugees were threatened after they refused to take part in Islamic prayers with other migrants, mainly from Afghanistan and Iran.

The report also claims that Muslim guards at camps and detention centres also use threatening behaviour, and incidents of violence are sometimes not being properly documented by Arabic translators. [Daily Mail] Read more

The Citadel will not allow an exception to the uniform to let a Muslim student wear her hijab

The Citadel will not allow a Muslim student to wear a hijab, an exception she had requested to the required uniform to keep her head covered, in keeping with her faith.

The family of the accepted student is now considering “all legal options,” according to an advocate authorized to speak for them.

The uniform is traditional, and central to the ideals of the nearly 175-year-old public military college in South Carolina, so the fact that it was considering an exception to it for an accepted student set off shock waves among alumni.

The idea pleased some in the close-knit corps, who felt it could be an important symbol of religious freedom and inclusiveness. But it upset others who felt it would clash with the mission and ideals of the Citadel, where loyalty, teamwork and uniformity are paramount. [The Washington Post] Read more

Britain ‘sleepwalking to catastrophe’ over race: Trevor Phillips

.... Drawing a direct parallel with Enoch Powell’s notorious “rivers of blood” speech, he likens Britain’s politicians, media and educated elite in general to the Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned, unable even to recognise the “dark side of the diverse society”.

Ominous “muttering in the pub or grumbling at the school gate” about foreigners could, he insists, be the first signs of a backlash many thought could not happen in Britain because of a history of relative success in integrating new arrivals.

Significantly, he claims the arrival of some Muslim groups in particular who are actively “resistant to the traditional process of integration” threatens to shake the foundations of “liberal democracy” itself.

In a 100-page paper, published by the think-tank Civitas set to provoke uproar, he argues that a new brand of “superdiversity” is bringing challenges to the Western way of life, far removed from those of immigration of the past. [The Telegraph] Read more

08 May 2016

Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor more popular than Mark Rutte with PVV voters

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Abouteleb is more popular among supporters of the anti-Islam PVV than current prime minister Mark Rutte, according to a new Maurice de Hond opinion poll.

The poll gave Aboutaleb, a Labour party member, a seven point lead over the VVD‘s Rutte among PVV voters when asked which of the two men they preferred as prime minister. Aboutaleb is also more popular among PVV voters than D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and Christian Democrat chief Sybrand Buma.

Even 7% of the VVD back Aboutaleb over the prime minister and their own party leader. Aboutaleb, a Muslim, is known for his outspoken stance on radical Islam. In November he broke with the Labour party line and said Dutch nationals who have decided they want to travel to Syria to join Islamic militias should be allowed to go but should be banned from coming back to the Netherlands. [DutchNews] Read more

Claims of extremist views in Cardiff classroom

A former teacher has told a national newspaper that they encountered extremist views in a Cardiff classroom.

In an article on the 'Mail on Sunday', the teacher writes that some of the students thought those behind the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and the murder of Lee Rigby, were heroes. Whilst the teacher adds that the majority of students were 'lovely' and 'respectful', they claim the school failed to respond effectively to those showing extreme views.

In a statement to ITV News, the school says that is not the case:

"Anyone who knows Fitzalan would not recognise the picture of the school that is being painted here. In a recent peer review, visiting teachers recognised how positive the atmosphere is at the school.

"Fitzalan is a very popular and over-subscribed school, serving a diverse community. The school population is made up of children and young people from 40 different nationalities and a number of religions. [ITV] Read more

Rights activist Khurram Zaki killed in Karachi gun attack

Unknown assailants gunned down social media campaigner and civil society activist Khurram Zaki on Saturday night in Karachi.

Central District SSP, Muqadas Haider told Dawn.com that four suspects riding on two motorcycles opened fire on Zaki while he was eating dinner at a restaurant in Sector-11B of North Karachi. The activist was killed, and two others – journalist Rao Khalid and bystander Aslam – were critically wounded in the attack.

A former journalist, Zaki was an active campaigner for human rights and was the editor of the website and Facebook page Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP) which claimed to "spread liberal religious views and condemned extremism in all forms".

According to his Twitter profile, Zaki was the former head of current affairs for TV Channel News One, where he looked after Infotainment and religious programming. [Dawn.com] Read more

07 May 2016

Bangladesh: Sufi Muslim murdered by suspected extremists

A Sufi Muslim leader has been hacked to death near the north Bangladeshi town of Rajshahi in what police say may be another attack by Islamic extremists.

The body of Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, was found by villagers in a pool of blood in a mango grove, police say.

His murder comes amid rising concern over the rise in violence against religious minorities.

A wide range of people have been attacked in recent years including secularists, bloggers and academics.

Among more than 20 people killed by Islamic militant groups are members of religious minorities, although this is believed to be the first attack on a Sufi Muslim. [BBC] Read more

Bangladeshi prof under 24-hour armed guard after asking woman to remove veil

After a Dhaka University professor asked a woman to remove her veil during his class, Muslim extremists called for his death, posting his personal details online along with tips on how to kill.

Now he remains under constant guard by armed police, stays mostly at home and bars his front door.

Azizur Rahman is among a growing number of political moderates and intellectuals seeking protection in Bangladesh, where at least 15 writers, activists, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed in targeted attacks since the start of 2015. Islamic extremists have claimed responsibility for the killings, which have prompted some Bangladeshis to go into hiding, and others to seek asylum in the United States and Europe. [The Scotsman] Read more

Sadiq Khan’s victory won’t end Islamophobia, but it offers hope

What a relief. For the past few months it’s been hard to get my head out of my hands long enough to watch the news. And it’s not just the celebrity deaths that have depressed me: 2016 has not been kind to British Muslims. Channel 4 painted us as polygamous, sexist homophobes in its documentary What British Muslims Really Think.

Donald Trump told us we would be banned from the US – and went on to clean up in the primaries. And through it all there was the steady drip of poison from Zac Goldsmith’s London mayoral campaign. So the news that Sadiq Khan has become London’s first Muslim and first ethnic minority mayor couldn’t come at a better time.

Khan spins it as a political fairytale to give Dick Whittington a run for his money: the son of a bus driver and seamstress who grew up on a council estate and became mayor of the capital.

For London’s 44% BAME population it’s a particularly powerful message of aspiration – no matter your race, religion or class, you too could become the most powerful, directly elected politician in the country. And it’s a kick in the teeth to polls last year that suggested that a third of Londoners would be “uncomfortable” with a Muslim mayor. [The Guardian] Read more

06 May 2016

Mosques ban Muslim women from wearing trousers, leaving the house without their husband’s permission and order them to close Facebook accounts

Muslim women should not wear trousers, leave the house without their husband's permission or use Facebook, according to controversial rules published by British mosques.

The Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham said that women were not allowed to wear trousers, even in front of their husbands, while the Central Masjid of Blackburn called Facebook a 'sin' and an 'evil'.

One Islamic organisation also stated that Muslim women must not leave the house without their husband's permission.

The controversial ruling was published this week by the Blackburn Muslim Association, an affiliate member of the MCB, telling women that they should not travel more than 48 miles without a male chaperone. A document written by a mufti at the Croydon Mosque and Islamic Centre, entitled 'Advice for the husband and wife', also stated: 'A woman should seek her husband's permission when leaving the house and should not do so without his knowledge.'

In another article, the mosque calls abortion 'a great sin' and describes acting and modelling as 'immoral acts'. [618 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 2060 votes] Ladies, the sky is not going to fall in if you wear trousers, log on to Facebook or go out without telling your husband. You now live in the West where you have equality and freedom. Don't let these men control you any more. You do not belong to them, they cannot tell you what to do.

[2ND 1660] This is against British Law! If they want to live by Sharia law, then they should be forced out of this country to live in a muslim country of choice!

[3RD 1279] Since when did the government let outside parties set new laws?

[4TH 1158] Any such ideas should be nipped in the bud! British law always above any other crazy secular or religious ideas of this type. In Europe men and women are equal, if you don't like it, simply leave!

[5TH 1050] Absolutely sick of this. Enough is enough. [Daily Mail] Read more

Mosques ban trousers, travel and Facebook

Muslim women must not leave the house without their husband’s permission, should avoid wearing trousers and should even delete their Facebook accounts, according to rulings published by mosques and Islamic associations around Britain.

The statements provoked anger among anti-extremism campaigners and moderate Muslims, who have spoken out against “outdated and patriarchal” attitudes. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is facing calls to demand that affiliated institutions remove online advice that curtails the freedom of women.

Controversy was triggered this week by a ruling published by the Blackburn Muslim Association, which told women that they must not travel more than 48 miles without a male chaperone. The association is an affiliate member of the MCB, an umbrella body representing hundreds of mosques, schools and other organisations. Research by The Times found that other MCB members had published similar statements. [270 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 227 votes] Islam has become a poison in Western democracies-above all in countriea like France and especially in the UK. Western democracies are secular and its the responsibity of our politicians to actively defend our democratic values and not surrender to an alien and medieval religion like Islam. Nowhere in the world you'll find Islam and democracy cohabitating. As a matter of fact Islamic countries are all in the bottom third on the Democracy Index. It's time for our elected leaders to draw a definite line against a medieval Islam. They could start by putting a stop to the practisr of Sharia courts, FGM and for ed marriages. If Muslims cannot embrace Western values they should leave.

[2ND 186] When is the Government of this country going to take some active steps to curb these people, they are just toeing the water to see just how far they can get away with their medievil practices, we passed the thin end of the wedge some time ago, if something isn't done soon I fear for our future. Any Mosque promoting anything alien to the culture of this country should be shut down.

[3RD 144] There is no place for these kinds of edict in British society. Shame on them!

[4TH 133] They don't live in British society, they have created a parallel society. When you import as many as Labour have, it is impossible to have a national society. Ethnicities stick together, that's how countries came to exist, and shy Britain will break apart.

[5TH 105] Facebook I avoid but this edict is preposterous and leaves those who issue it open to scorn. But I suspect those same people don't give two figs for the views of those who view this as unacceptable, and therein lies the problem. This cult is alien and I marvel that our politicians cannot see it. Truly to speak of Londonistan is neither an exaggeration nor nonsense. When taking the measure of something I look to its fruits and this example alone should raise serious questions about Islam and its place in this country. [The Times (£)] Read more

Muslim women 'banned' from Facebook

Muslim women should delete their Facebook accounts, not wear trousers or leave the house without their husband's permission under controversial rules published by British Islamic associations.

Online advice on the conduct of Muslim women has been published by the Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham which says women should not wear trousers as they "show off the detail of their bodies", even in front of their husbands, according to the Times.

It comes after the Blackburn Muslim Association, which is an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain, stated women should not be able to travel further than 48 miles without a male chaperone.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, criticised the advice from Blackburn Muslim Association as "disgraceful" and said that such views had "no place" in modern Britain. [The Telegraph] Read more

Muslim schoolgirl is sent home because her long skirt is deemed 'ostentatiously religious' by French teachers

A teenage girl has been banned from her school in France after arriving in a long skirt that the headmistress decided appeared too religious.

The 16-year-old, who converted to Islam a year ago, arrived at her school outside of Paris on May 2 and, like each day, took off her veil.

However the skirt she was wearing that day, which reached below her knees and nearly to her shoes, was quickly spotted by the headmistress who allegedly decided it was too obviously religious, the Nouvel Obs reported

The day after, the student had a meeting with the headmistress in which she said she was told she could not come in to school in a long skirt, Islamophobie reported.

France passed a law in 2004 which applies to state schools and workplaces which bans the wearing of religious items such a veils, kippas and large Christian crosses.

Though 'discreet religious symbols' are allowed, the teenager's black H&M skirt was not viewed to be subtle enough.

According to Islamophobie, however, a long skirt alone is not enough to warrant a student being barred from a school on grounds of the 2004 law. [Daily Mail] Read more

British Muslim group tells women not to travel more than 48 miles without male escort

A British Muslim group in the UK has advised women not to go on long journeys without a male chaperon.

Blackburn Muslim Association gave instructions that it is “not permissible” for a woman to go more than 48 miles – deemed to be the equivalent of three days walk – without her husband or a close male relative. The ruling also stipulates that men must grow beards and advises women to cover their faces.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, condemned the advice as ‘disgraceful’ and said such views had ‘no place’ in modern Britain. [The Express Tribune] Read more

French Muslim sent home from school over long skirt

A teenage Muslim girl was barred from entering her school grounds for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious.

The 16-year-old was sent home this week after her headmaster took a dislike to her skirt.

The skirt - popular among some Muslim women who cover their whole body - reportedly reached beyond her knees and down to her sneakers, reported the Nouvel Obs newspaper.

The headmaster of the Seine-et-Marne school, in the outer suburbs of Paris, reportedly deemed that the skirt "conspicuously" showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France's strict secularity laws.

According to the 2004 law that governs secularity in schools, veils, the Jewish kippa or large Christian crosses are all banned in educational establishments, but "discreet religious signs" are allowed.

The mother of the teenage girl has since returned to the school to complain. After a chat with the headmaster, the school has promised to discuss the matter further with the family on Monday. [The Local] Read more

05 May 2016

Urth Caffe owner hires lawyer to fight Muslim women's discrimination allegations

The owner of Urth Caffe has hired a law firm to counter allegations by a group of Muslim women that they were thrown out of his Laguna Beach restaurant because of discrimination.

Shallom Berkman confirmed Wednesday he retained the American Freedom Law Center after a civil rights lawsuit was filed by seven women this week in Orange County Superior Court. He did not offer details, referring questions to his attorneys. The law center has previously represented private businesses that have sought to create so-called “Muslim-free” zones.

David Yerushalmi, the law center’s co-founder and senior counsel, called the women’s lawsuit “a fraud and a hoax.” He said the cafe’s owners plans to countersue.

“The claim that these women were asked to leave the cafe because they were wearing hijabs is laughable,” Yerushalmi said. “That night, as every Friday night, a large number of young people, including a majority who are Muslim and of Arab descent, make up the base of Urth Caffe’s customers. Not surprisingly, many of these customers are women wearing hijabs. None of these other Muslim women were asked to leave.” [Los Angeles Times] Read more

'Muslims - but not Islam - part of Germany,' says senior conservative lawmaker Kauder

Volker Kauder, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Islam had not influenced Germany historically or culturally. But he warned against excluding Muslims from German society as desired by some populists.

Kauder told the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung" in an interview published on Thursday that he considered a statement by former German President Christian Wulff saying that Islam was part of Germany to have been "well-meant," but imprecise.

"But just so there is no misunderstanding: The Muslims themselves are a part of Germany, no question about it," he said.

Kauder, who heads the parliamentary group of the union comprised of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), said he had several reasons for not sharing Wulff's opinion.

Among other things, he said, Islam had not shaped Germany "historically and culturally." He also argued that the religion of Islam was not based on a homogeneous set of teachings.

"There is certainly not just the one Islam, as this statement suggests," he said, adding that Islam also took on forms "that we can never accept in Germany." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Why Canadian Muslims seem happier than British ones

OVER the past few weeks, reports have been published in both Canada and Britain about the state of Muslim citizens' opinion on a broad range of topics. The Canadian poll results were generally hailed as a pleasant surprise, while the British investigation was seen as fresh, depressing evidence that followers of Islam were ultra-conservative in their social attitudes and ambivalent towards violence.

Does that point to a huge gap, sociological or even theological, between Canadian and British Muslims? That seems unlikely. What the polls do indicate, though, is a big difference of political atmosphere.

Let's have a look at the two surveys and the responses they generated. In Canada, it was noted that Muslims resemble their non-Muslims compatriots in seeing the economy and jobs as the country's biggest concerns. As you might expect, a majority of the Muslim respondents supported the right of Muslim students to pray in government schools, and of Muslim women to wear a niqab, or face veil, at citizenship ceremonies. But these rights (both the subject of recent public arguments) are also supported by a somewhat smaller majority of non-Muslims

Differences between Canada's 1m followers of Islam and their 33m compatriots did emerge. While nine in ten Muslims agreed with the statement that “taking care of home and kids is as much a man’s work as woman’s work", gaps opened up when the questioners probed deeper.

They found that four in ten Muslim respondents thought the father should be master in his own house, a view held by only two in ten non-Muslims. [The Economist] Read more

Long Beach police respond to lawsuit filed over removal of Muslim woman’s headscarf

A Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit against Police Chief Robert Luna and the city of Long Beach, alleging that an officer forcibly removed her religious headscarf while she was handcuffed after an arrest on an outstanding warrant.

The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the lawsuit today in Los Angeles federal court on behalf of Kirsty Powell, who alleges that the incident occurred May 5, 2015 at the Long Beach police station.

Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin said his office has not yet been served with the lawsuit, and therefore had no comment.

In a statement late Monday, the police department said it removed Powell’s headscarf – as it does for other items such as belts, neckties and shoelaces – for the safety of the individual, staff and other prisoners.

“We respect the religious rights and beliefs of all people and understand the sensitivity of this matter,” said Chief Robert Luna said in a statement.” [Long Beach Press Telegram] Read more

04 May 2016

Danish school bars Muslim students from wearing niqab

An adult education centre in the northern Copenhagen suburb of Lyngby has told six female students that they can no longer attend classes unless they remove their niqabs, a veil worn by some Muslim women that covers most of the face but leaves an opening for the eyes.

The school in question, VUC Lyngby, said that it changed its rules in the autumn to no longer allow students to cover their faces during class but the case only hit the media this week when a post on the school’s Facebook page led to a debate over its policies.

As the story picked up steam in the national press on Wednesday, the school went to Facebook to explain its decision.

“Free and unhindered communication requires that we can see each other’s faces. Therefore it is not allowed to cover the eyes, nose or month while participating in lessons,” a post read. [The Local] Read more

Is violent extremism on the rise in Bangladesh?

There has been growing international concern after a wave of brutal killings targeting secular bloggers, professors, foreigners and religious minorities.

Recently the country's most high-profile gay activist Xulhaz Mannan was hacked to death inside his home. Islamic militants linked to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State are said to be behind the violence.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder reports from Dhaka. [BBC] Read more

Women should not travel more than 48 miles without a male escort – Muslim group

Women should not be allowed to go on long journeys without a male chaperone a British Muslim group has advised followers.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, condemned the advice from Blackburn Muslim Association as “disgraceful” and said such views had “no place” in modern Britain.

Instructions from the association’s “Department of Theology” insist that it is “not permissible” for a woman to go more than 48 miles – deemed to be the equivalent of three days walk - without her husband or a close male relative.

It also stipulates that men must grow beards and advises women to cover their faces.

The rulings are contained in a question and answer section of the group’s site which offers offer “solutions and answers” to social, religious and financial matters from sharia teaching, accompanied by the catchphrase: “Allah knows best.” [The Telegraph] Read more

03 May 2016

'Sharia police' who patrolled German city of Wuppertal in orange vests to face trial

Düsseldorf state court said on Tuesday that eight of the nine accused men can face trial on the grounds of "violating laws against wearing uniforms with political messages."

The decision overturned a ruling by Wuppertal district court last December, in which the judge said the behavior of accused Islamist preacher Sven Lau did not amount to a "criminal violation of the ban on uniforms." The decision sparked controversy in Germany and led to an appeal by prosecutors. The latest ruling by the Court of Appeal cannot be overturned.

Lau, who is widely regarded as a leading figure in the German Salafist scene, was also indicted by federal prosecutors last month on suspicion of supporting a terror group linked to the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria.

The Salafists, who are all aged between 24 and 35, first made headlines in September 2014 after they patrolled the streets of Wuppertal, in Germany's western industrial Ruhr region, in an attempt to enforce a strict interpretation of Islam. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Saudi Arabia gives women the right to a copy of their marriage contract

Saudi brides will now get a copy of their marriage contracts, a privilege that was previously exclusive to men in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the kingdom’s justice ministry has announced.

According to a directorate issued by the justice minister, Walid al-Samaani, clerics who register marriage contracts will now have to hand a copy to the bride “to ensure her awareness of her rights and the terms of the contract”.

The decision aims to “protect the rights of the woman and facilitate procedures for her”, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

It said the decision took into consideration that a woman would need a copy of her marriage contract in case of a dispute with her husband and in court.

Women need the permission of their male guardians to get married under Saudi Arabia’s interpretations of Islamic law. They also need that permission to travel and work, in a country where they are not allowed to drive and have to cover from head to toe when in public. [The Guardian] Read more

French Mayor Christian Estrosi vows to penalise football clubs that allow Muslim prayers at games

The mayor of Nice has warned that funds will be cut from football teams that allow Muslim players to pray at games. In the latest crackdown on the Islamic religion in the wake of terror attacks and Europe's refugee crisis, right-wing Mayor Christian Estrosi has ordered clubs on the Riviera to obey a new "secularism charter" that forbids mixing religion with the sport, reports the Telegraph.

The charter, based on a centuries-old French law requiring the separation of church and state, was introduced after a dozen incidents of Riviera club players praying on or near the field or in locker rooms since October 2015. At least two players were suspended for two matches for praying, reports BFM TV.

In addition, there was a report that some male Muslim referees had refused to shake the hands of female players because of religious strictures. Club leaders support Estrosi's warning. [International Business Times] Read more