30 June 2016

Switzerland denies Muslim girls citizenship after they refuse to swim with boys at school

Switzerland has rejected citizenship requests from two Muslim girls for refusing to take part in swimming lessons with boys at school.

The 12- and 14-year-old will no longer be considered for naturalised citizenship because they have not complied with the school curriculum, authorities in Basel said.

The girls are understood to have refused to take part in school swimming lessons because boys were present and their religion forbade that form of interaction, according to USA Today. Their applications for Swiss passports have now been overturned.

Meanwhile, the father of two other girls who refused to let his daughters swim with boys was fined $4,000 swiss francs (around £2,900) by a district court in another part of the country.

Stefan Wehrle, president of the country's naturalisation committee, told TV station SRF that "whoever doesn't fulfil these conditions, violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalised." [The Independent] Read more

29 June 2016

Incidents of anti-Muslim abuse up by 326% in 2015, says Tell MAMA

Incidents of anti-Muslim abuse and attacks in public areas of the UK rose by 326% in 2015, with women disproportionately targeted by mostly teenage perpetrators, according to a new report from the monitoring group Tell MAMA.

More than one in 10 of all incidents reported to the organisation took place in educational establishments, with public transport in city centres another cluster area.

Far-right extremist groups and sympathisers were actively promoting hatred of Muslims on social media, which was a significant radicalisation factor, said Tell MAMA.

“The statistics paint a profoundly bleak picture of the explosion of anti-Muslim hate both online and on our streets, with visible Muslim women being disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers,” said Shahid Malik, chair of Tell MAMA. [The Guardian] Read more

India's top court to consider intervening in Muslim 'triple talaq' divorce law

India's Supreme Court said it will examine how far it could interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it heard a plea to end a practice allowing Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying "talaq" three times.

The Indian constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

A Supreme Court bench said Muslim personal law affected a large number of people and asked the federal government to weigh in on the debate as to whether intervening in the law would violate the Muslim community's fundamental rights.

"It is a serious issue and it has to be examined within the framework of the Constitution," Chief Justice of India, Tirath Singh Thakur, said of the petition on Wednesday.

"We have to hear all of the views and take a call as to what extent courts can interfere in Muslim personal laws," he said. [Thomson Reuters Foundation] Read more

French police are investigating 'new death threats' targeted at Charlie Hebdo

French police are probing death threats made towards the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, according to reports in France.

A source close to the investigation told Le Parisien newspaper the first threat was made on the magazine's Facebook account before being removed by an unknown person.

The threat reportedly said several editorial team members would be targets in an attack.

A similar second threat was sent to the magazine's editor a few days later, the source said.

The source told the paper: "The messages raise the idea of killing several members of the editorial team, again." [The Independent] Read more

27 June 2016

This video shows what some Brexit supporters are fearful of: Muslim immigration

.... Voters on both sides of the "leave" and "remain" camp have voiced varied reasons for their votes. But some polls suggest that the most important issue that concerned Brexit voters had to do with immigration.

The video above suggests that at least some Brexit supporters voted to leave the E.U. to prevent Muslims from immigrating to Britain. In the video, reporter Ciaran Jenkins from Channel 4 News spoke with an unidentified man from Barnsley, England, who explained that his motivation for leaving the E.U. had to do with preventing Muslims from immigrating to Britain. The majority of people from Barnsley voted to leave the E.U.

The unidentified man said: "It's all about immigration. It's not about trade or Europe or anything like that, it's all about immigration. It's to stop the Muslims coming into this country. Simple as that." [The Washington Post] Read more

MPs launch inquiry into sharia courts in UK

.... MPs will consider how sharia councils compare with other religious courts operating in the UK, such as the Jewish rabbinical Beth Din court, how such systems operate in other jurisdictions abroad and whether there should be government monitoring or oversight.

The chair of the committee, Keith Vaz, said: “We will be hearing evidence from both observers and practitioners of these courts, and are currently accepting written evidence on a wide range of issues, including the compatibility of sharia courts with British law.”

The separate Home Office inquiry is being led by Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islamic and interreligious studies at the University of Edinburgh. That inquiry focuses on identical areas including divorce, domestic violence and custody cases. The Home Office investigation is not due to report until next year. [The Guardian] Read more

25 June 2016

Saudi Arabia arrests 50 men for wearing 'un-Islamic' ripped jeans and Crocs during Ramadan crackdown

Fifty men have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for wearing 'un-Islamic' clothes like ripped jeans and Crocs shoes or for sporting haircuts not deemed as 'modest'. The men were detained during a crackdown in the holy month of Ramadan in Islam's holiest city of Mecca.

The form of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia is known as Wahhabism and clerics inside the Kingdom have banned camera phones, socialising with other genders and female drivers. During Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, the faithful must devote themselves to piety and charity.

The Saudi Council of Muftis regularly issues fatwas on western trends and items they believe to be un-Islamic including all-you-can-eat buffets, selfies with animals and men and women talking in online chat rooms. [International Business Times] Read more

24 June 2016

ALA's Ron Pike wants a 10-year ban on Muslim immigrants

Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) candidate for Farrer Ron Pike says the time is right for Australians to have a conversation about the threat of radical Islam.

The party’s published policy document states Islam “is not merely a religion, it is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations” and proposes a 10-year ban on Muslims from most Islamic nations coming to live in Australia.

“The growth of radical Islam is totally incompatible with a free, tolerant, peace-loving democracy and that is what we’re against,” Mr Pike said.

“What we’re saying is let’s pause this while we have a mature discussion. It could be in a few years time we say all of this is fine but at the moment that’s where a very large proportion of our immigrants are coming from.”

Mr Pike said the ALA had no problem with Muslims in general, but a discussion about the threat of radical Islam needed to be had. [The Border Mail] Read more

For millions of Muslims, the murder of Sufi singer Amjad Sabri is about way more than music

Amjad Sabri, a master of qawwali, the devotional music that is wildly popular across the Indian subcontinent and well beyond, was gunned down in Karachi, Pakistan. The man who spent his life singing the praises of the prophet Muhammad, continuing a centuries-long tradition of musical veneration, was accused of blaspheming the prophet, and he was executed for it.

That is so important, so painful and so hard to make sense of for the many Muslims — particularly for Pakistanis like me — because qawwali is part of our religion. At a time when Islam is reduced to warlike, uncivilized violence and portrayed as an angry, intolerant faith, qawwali is evidence of something different. The historic spread of Islam through much of what we call the Muslim world happened largely through architecture, calligraphy, poetry, but perhaps above all, music. [The Washington Post] Read more

23 June 2016

Muslim women kicked out of US cafe accused of ‘civilizational jihad’ by lawyer

A group of Muslim women who claim in a lawsuit they were kicked out of a California restaurant for wearing headscarfs have been accused of “civilizational jihad” by a lawyer for the restaurant, which has launched a countersuit.

The seven women, six of whom were wearing hijabs, were kicked out of Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach in April.

They claim that they were targeted for ejection because of their hijabs, though the cafe denies that, claiming that they were violating a policy which limited seating time to 45 minutes, and have also claimed that there were other women wearing headscarves present who were not thrown out.

Muslim women kicked out of California restaurant sue for discrimination

David Yerushalmi, the lawyer representing Urth Caffe, said that one of the owners of the cafe, Jilla Berkman, is also a Muslim. [The Guardian] Read more

Should Islam have a role in politics?

.... Islam has an undeniable social and political character. This may be due to its worldly nature and the circumstances of its birth and evolution, which had coincided with state emergence, unlike Christianity which began as a creed persecuted by Roman authorities.

Seeking to restrict Islam’s role to the private sphere and within the mosque’s confines is a very difficult endeavour. A majority of respondents to the recent Pew survey in Muslim countries have declared their support for democracy, while at the same time demanding a large role for Islam in public life.

Islam evidently continues to have an active and influential presence in Muslims’ lives. The challenge is how it can play a positive role in a space open to different religious expressions, free of all forms of violence and fanaticism.

Because only through an equation combining respect for collective culture with individual freedoms and the demands of identity with the reality of pluralism, can Muslim societies hope to regain their lost equilibrium and stability. [Middle East Eye ] Read more

Saudi crackdown on ‘un-Islamic’ clothing during Ramadan

A police clamp-down in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan resulted in the arrest of up to 50 men for wearing clothes deemed ‘un-Islamic.’

The men were arrested for a variety of fashion violations such as wearing ripped jeans, Crocs shoes, shorts, necklaces and having Western hair styles.

Mecca governor Prince Khalid al-Faisal ordered police to crackdown on individuals wearing clothing that go against Islamic traditions.

Authorities who processed the violations noted the arraigned were sporting “bizarre hairstyles, chains that are hung on the chest and arms, hair ties, shorts and immodest clothes” at malls and shopping districts in Mecca, according to Saudi newspaper Sabq. [The Foreign Desk] Read more

Erdogan: “Europe, you don’t want us because we’re Muslim”

Britain’s Brexit campaign and the rise of Europe’s populist right have further dented Turkish hopes of ever joining the EU, leaving President Tayyip Erdogan largely indifferent to its criticism and weakening an anchor of Turkish reform.

While neither side has any interest in ending Turkey’s decade-long accession process, their relations are increasingly transactional, driven by mutual need in areas such as migration, trade and security, rather than by convergence towards European Union norms on democracy and basic rights.

Warnings from populist leaders around Europe of creeping Islamisation and from campaigners for a British exit from the EU of dire consequences if Turkey, a Muslim nation of 78 million, ever joins, have led Turkish leaders to complain increasingly openly about what they see as European Islamophobia.

“Europe, you don’t want us because the majority of our population are Muslim … We knew it but we tried to show our sincerity,” Erdogan said at a graduation ceremony in Istanbul on Wednesday, the eve of Britain’s “Brexit” vote, quipping that Turkey too could hold such a referendum. [The Turkish Sun] Read more

22 June 2016

Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches

Pork sausages are as much a part of Swiss cuisine as fondue and chocolate – so much so that a decision to remove them from the lunch menus of four primary schools in the district of Binningen in Basel-Country has left some local politicians fuming.

“We are outraged. When we first hear [about the decision] we thought we weren’t reading it right,” Swiss People’s Party representative Susanna Keller said at a local council meeting on Monday.

Speaking at the meeting, she argued that sausages such as the Klöpfer – a boiled sausage similar to the cervelat – were part of Switzerland’s cultural heritage.

“Could it be that we are adapting to certain cultures, rather than the other way around,” Keller said, according to local daily the Basellandschaftliche Zeitung. [The Local] Read more

Stop 'tip-toeing' around Islam: Abbott

Tony Abbott believes there's too much "tip toeing" around Islam and says elements of the religion are hard to reconcile with modern society.

The former prime minister was asked on Wednesday why he had never hosted a fast-breaking dinner for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as his successor Malcolm Turnbull did last week when he inadvertently invited a controversial Muslim cleric.

"If I may say so, I think all of us have at times tip-toed too softly through this particular field," Mr Abbott told Sky News.

"I think we do have to be a little more forthright."

Mr Abbott said some elements of Islam were hard to reconcile with a modern, secular, pluralist society and called for a more "interpretative tradition" in Islam.

More attention needed to be paid to live-and-let-live Muslims, he said. [news.com.au] Read more

Pakistan: Christians jailed for six years on blasphemy charges

A court in Pakistan has jailed two Christians for six years on blasphemy charges and acquitted five others of the same offence.

The pair were sentenced for allegedly 'instigating sectarian hatred and hurting religious feelings and sentiments of the Muslims'.

They were part of a group detained after a pastor published a poster relating to an ordination ceremony using the word "rasool".

Rasool means messanger in Arabic and is often used to refer to the Prophet Muhammed.

Bushra Zaman Court cleared five men of the accusations but convicted Pastor Aftab Gill and Hajaj Bin Yousaf and jailed them for six years.

CLAAS, a charity providing free legal aid and support to those who are charged under Pakistan's blasphemy law, told Premier people were using the law to settle personal scores.

"During the last month at least three Christians were accused of blasphemy," a spokesman said. [Premier Christian Radio] Read more

21 June 2016

Anti-Muslim Discrimination Is Rising, Most Americans Say

Seventy percent of Americans believe that discrimination against Muslims in the nation is increasing, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

Fifty-four percent of Americans say that Muslims currently face “a lot” of discrimination, little changed from a survey last March in which 55 percent said the same.

More than 100 Islamophobic incidents have been recorded across the U.S. this year, including an anti-Muslim rally in Texas and an assault on a Muslim livery driver in the Bronx, New York, last month.

Americans’ own views of Islam remain generally negative. Fifty-eight percent report an unfavorable view of Islam, unchanged since last December, while just 25 percent say they have a favorable view. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Islam has ‘no place’ in my country, says next EU president

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico is one of the most outspoken European leaders on the subject of Muslim immigration and is also known to hold the Islamic faith in barefaced contempt.

“Islam has no place in Slovakia,” Fico told reporters in May. Warning that “migrants change the character of our country,” Fico declared he wouldn’t allow such change to affect his nation, implying an adverse, “Islam-driven” change.

On the subject of immigration, which is also said to be a significant factor driving the Brexit campaign, Fico has argued that his country has no obligation to house Muslim refugees and that, unlike the United States and leading Western European nations, Slovakia had little experience of Muslim immigration. [The Express Tribune] Read more

The next EU president says Islam has ‘no place’ in his country

One of the causes driving the Brexit movement - the desire in Britain to quit the European Union - is fear over immigration and refugees. Backers of the Leave campaign, whose hopes may come to fruition at a referendum later this week, have argued that the continent's existing policy allowing freedom of movement and proposals to accommodate an influx of refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere are simply unacceptable.

Ironically, that's an argument for which the leader of the country slated to assume the presidency of the European Council, the executive body heading up the European Union, would feel sympathy.

The job of the presidency rotates every six months between E.U. member states. Next week, Slovakia will replace the Netherlands. And its prime minister, Robert Fico, has been one of the more outspoken European leaders on the subject of Muslim immigration.

“Islam has no place in Slovakia," Fico told reporters in May. He warned that "migrants change the character of our country," and declared he wouldn't allow such change to affect his nation. [The Nation] Read more

20 June 2016

Turkish students up in arms over Islamization of education

Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power in 2002, Turkey has had six education ministers, each of whom made major changes to the education system, some argue to turn students into guinea pigs.

The most significant change, bulldozed through parliament amid fistfights and protests in March 2012, expanded the imam-hatip religious schools and introduced Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammad as elective courses in public schools, among other changes. The opposition has long decried the Islamization of education, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted on raising a “devout generation,” lauding imam-hatip schools, which train Muslim clergy and offer extensive Quranic studies.

In early June, a wave of protests spread through leading high schools around the country, with students demanding “modern” education. The spark was ignited at the graduation ceremony of the prestigious Istanbul Erkek Lisesi when the students turned their backs in protest to their principal as he delivered a speech.

The protest continued the following day at the school’s traditional party, which the principal chose not to attend. The students unfurled a large banner demanding “a modern and not partisan administration,” setting the tone for more protests to come. [Al-Monitor] Read more

19 June 2016

Businessman launches website to find himself TWO more wives - But boss behind SecondWife.com and Polygamy.com says he is promoting family values

A dating website has been set up to help men find SECOND WIVES, and already has 35,000 members - most of them from the West Midlands.

It has proved so successful among Muslim men that another site, this time for Westerners, has opened for business – and is especially popular with women. The man behind SecondWife.com is Azad Chaiwala, who insisted the service promoted fidelity, morality and old-fashioned family values.

.... The law surrounding multiple wives in the UK is clear.

It is illegal, with bigamy carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Chiawala stressed, however, that he was not promoting a criminal act.

His religion allows a man to have up to four wives, as long as they are in agreement with the arrangement, the internet guru maintained.

Those tangled relationships can be celebrated through a civil-style ceremony in mosques but cannot be cemented through a legal, western service.

“This is my wedding, I do not need to have a piece of paper,” Chiawala said.

“Is it illegal to have a mistress?” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

The Impact of Islamic Fundamentalism on Free Speech

The 57-member-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have been working hard for years to render Islam the only religion, political system and ideology in the world that may not be questioned with impunity.

They have tried -- and are in many respects succeeding -- to ring-fence Islam as a creed beyond criticism, while reserving for themselves the right to condemn Christians, Jews, Hindus, democrats, liberals, women and gays in often vile, even violent language.

Should anyone say anything that seems to them disrespectful of their faith, he or she will at once be declared an "Islamophobe." [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Turkish Radiohead fans attacked for 'consuming alcohol'

Turkish police have fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people protesting after an attack on Radiohead fans for attending a listening party in an Istanbul record shop and "drinking beer" during Ramadan.

Unidentified attackers, apparently upset that people were listening to music and consuming alcohol during the Muslim holy month, forcibly entered the Velvet Indieground record shop, shouted at employees and beat fans of Radiohead with pipes on Friday, according to Turkish media reports.

Skirmishes between police and protesters broke out on Saturday near the shop as hundreds of people rallied against the previous night's attack.

Several people were detained, the DPA news agency reported, while Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

The protesters shouted "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!" and denounced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "thief" and a "killer". [Al Jazeera English] Read more

18 June 2016

Ofsted warn of 'music act of devil' leaflet found during Muslim school inspection

Ofsted has criticised an Islamic independent school, after inspectors found leaflets which claimed music and dancing were "acts of the devil".

Inspectors made an unannounced visit to the Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham after having previously rated the school as "inadequate".

Inspectors said pupils were not being protected from "extreme views".

But the school rejected this saying the leaflets were not in the school, but in a "mosque adjacent to the school".

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the allegations would be urgently investigated and that action would be taken against schools "promoting twisted ideologies".

"These leaflets should have no place in any school - and we will not hesitate to take strong action when schools focus on ideological indoctrination rather than a high-quality education," said the DFE spokeswoman. [BBC] Read more

17 June 2016

Pakistan bans Ramadan TV shows for discussing blasphemy

Two Ramadan shows broadcast by private news channels in Pakistan were taken off air Friday by regulators for discussing blasphemy laws.

The channels, 'Aaj News' and 'TV One', were said by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to have violated its code of conduct by promoting sectarian views and disgracing the holy month of Ramadan.

"An immediate ban has been imposed on TV One's programme Ishq-e-Ramazan (hosted by Shabbir Abu Talib) and Aaj News programme Ramazan Hamara Iman (hosted by Hamza Ali Abbasi)," a PEMRA statement said.

The regulator ordered both channels to cease the programmes from Friday evening or face being shutdown. [Al Arabiya Network] Read more

Norway Salafist: 'Homosexual death penalty' misunderstood

Islam Net, which was founded by Qureshi in 2008, holds information meetings across Norway – known for their separation of men and women – which, according to the organisation’s web site, aim to make information about Islam more accessible for the public.

In a recording from one such meeting in 2013, Qureshi appears to say that supporting the death sentence for homosexuals, as well as stoning to punish adultery, was not an extreme view for Muslims but a mainstream one.

Qureshi told NRK News Radio show Dagsnytt 18 on Thursday that the video had been misunderstood, and that he expressed himself in a way that could be misinterpreted.

The former engineering student referred to the context in which stoning is mentioned in Islamic law and said that such punishments did not fit with modern Norwegian society. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan bans Ramadan TV shows for discussing blasphemy

Two Ramadan shows broadcast by private news channels in Pakistan were taken off air Friday by regulators for discussing blasphemy laws.

The channels, 'Aaj News' and 'TV One', were said by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to have violated its code of conduct by promoting sectarian views and disgracing the holy month of Ramadan.

"An immediate ban has been imposed on TV One's programme Ishq-e-Ramazan (hosted by Shabbir Abu Talib) and Aaj News programme Ramazan Hamara Iman (hosted by Hamza Ali Abbasi)," a PEMRA statement said.

.... In his show earlier this week, actor and activist Hamza Ali Abbasi discussed the alleged oppression of the Ahmadi community and blasphemy laws.

The discussion triggered debate on social media, while Islamic cleric Allama Kokab Noorani threatened Hamza with "terrible consequences" for raising the topics.

Pakistan has extremely strict laws against blasphemy, including the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammed, and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes in a country where 97 percent of the population is Muslim. [Daily Mail] Read more

Bulgaria set to ban niqabs and burqas in crackdown on the face veil

Bulgaria is set to ban niqabs and burqas in a crackdown on women wearing face veils in public places.

A new bill, which was tabled by the nationalist Patriotic Front party (PF), was backed by 108 MPs, with just eight voting against it and no abstentions, at its first reading.

Bulgaria's second-largest opposition party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), attempted to postpone the reading by suggesting the measures be covered in counter-terrorism legislation instead, but the calls were rejected. [The Independent] Read more

Muslim faith school says Ofsted inspectors are racist after reports slams them over leaflets branding music and dancing 'acts of the devil'

A Muslim faith school has accused Ofsted of racism after the watchdog slams posters branding music and dancing as 'acts of the devil'

The Darul Uloom Islamic High School said the leaflets - described by Ofsted as evidence of safeguarding weakness - were not found on its premises but at the rear door of an adjacent mosque.

And the independent school in Small Heath, Birmingham, has alleged that an Ofsted inspector angrily refused to take off their shoes during a recent inspection, describing them as 'extremely belligerent' throughout the visit.

Ofsted said a large pile of copies of the leaflet were found in May in areas shared by the mosque and school and used by pupils.

The latest Ofsted report, published this week, said: 'Leaders and staff have had training in preventing extremism and radicalisation, and been given the latest Government safeguarding guidance. [Daily Mail] Read more

16 June 2016

Germany to clamp down on migrants’ multiple wives and child brides

The country’s justice minister said no one has the “right to place their cultural values or religious beliefs above our laws”.

There has been increased concern over polygamous marriages after Germany welcomed than a million migrants - many from Muslim countries - last year.

Polygamy is banned in Germany - but many officials “turn a blind eye” to migrants who arrive in the country with more than one wife, according to the German newspaper Bild.

The same accusation about forced and underage marriages.

Justice minister Heiko Maas said: “We need to look very carefully. Forced marriages, we can not tolerate, and certainly not when underage girls are involved.

“Everyone must abide by rules and laws, whether they grew up here or are new. The law is equal for all.” [Daily Express] Read more

Half of Turkish Germans hold Islam above state law

The survey provides an often contradictory picture of social attitudes among Germany’s 2.7 million people of Turkish origin.

A total of 47 percent of the 1,201 respondents said that “following the tenets of my religion is more important to me than the laws of the land in which I live.”

But the study also reveals that this viewpoint is much more firmly held by the first generation (57 percent agreement) - Turks who emigrated to Germany - than by their offspring (36 percent agreement among 2nd and 3rd generation Turks).

One in three respondents, meanwhile, agreed that “Muslims should strive to return to a societal order like that in the time of Muhammad.”

Once again, this point of view was more strongly held in the first generation (36 percent) than in the second and third (27 percent).

Twenty percent said that the threat which the West poses to Islam justified violence. Seven percent said violence was a justifiable means of spreading Islam. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan's religious leader explains how men should beat their wives

The leading Mullah in Pakistan who said that men should be able to beat their wives "lightly" has given a detailed explanation into the process in which domestic abuse would be allowed.

In an interview with the BBC, the head of Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology defended the right of men to beat their wives.

He also issued a detailed process of when and how domestic violence should be carried out.

Maulana Sheerani, the chairman of the council, said: "These recommendations are according to the Quran and the prophet's teachings. [Daily Mirror]

"No one can dispute that. Read more

15 June 2016

Islamophobia on the rise in Germany - study

Islamophobia has risen markedly in Germany, a study published on Wednesday showed, underscoring the tensions simmering in German society after more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims, arrived last year.

Every second respondent in the study of 2,420 people said they sometimes felt like a foreigner in their own country due to the many Muslims here, up from 43 percent in 2014 and 30.2 percent in 2009.

The number of people who believe Muslims should be forbidden from coming to Germany has also risen, the study showed, and now stands at just above 40 percent, up from about a fifth in 2009.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Leipzig in co-operation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation and the Otto-Brenner foundation.

The influx of migrants has fuelled support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that wants to ban minarets and the burqa and has described Islam as incompatible with the German constitution. [Reuters] Read more

Germany to scrap 'cultural immunity' and will no longer allow migrants to have multiple marriages or child brides

Germany will no longer allow migrants to have multiple wives or child brides, the justice minister has said.

Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild that no one has the 'right to place their cultural values or religious beliefs above our laws'.

There has been increased concern over polygamous marriages in the wake of a rise in the number of migrants arriving in Germany, many from Muslim countries.

While polygamy is already banned in Germany, many officials 'turn a blind eye' to migrants who arrive in the country with more than one wife, the newspaper reports.

This is also true of forced and underage marriages.

Mr Maas told the tabloid: 'We need to look very carefully. Forced marriages, we can not tolerate, and certainly not when underage girls are involved. [643 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 4087 votes] They were allowing child brides?! That makes me sick to my stomach. What a terrible country Germany has become.

[2ND 3132] When will the UK follow suit.

[3RD 2918] When you become a resident and take the oath of citizenship you agree that the law of that country is now your law. If you are a guest then honor your host for the hospitality/asylum as long as you are staying in that country. It only makes sense. Return to your homeland if that doesn't suit you.

[4TH 2324] Why was it being allowed anyway. And child brides why was that allowed that is just wrong on so many levels. How soon before that would been allowed here too?

[5TH 2098] Look out, common sense is beginning to break out in Germany!

[6TH 1665] The man talks sense but whether it happens or not is another matter

[7TH 1541] What took you so long? [Daily Mail] Read more

Germany to end unofficial tolerance of polygamy

Germany is to end its unofficial tolerance of polygamy - including marriages involving minors, the country's justice minister has vowed.

Heiko Maas said the move was designed to prevent people in Germany committing to more than one marriage.

“No one who comes to us has the right to put their cultural roots, or their religious beliefs, above our laws,” Mr Maas told Bild newspaper.

“For that reason multiple marriages cannot be recognised in Germany.”

Polygamy is a criminal offence in Germany, but Bild alleged German authorities “often look the other way” if a migrant brings several wives to the country.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] When a western country needs to introduce new laws that, up until now weren't needed because of common values and common sense, you know it has a problem with immigration and failure of integration. This is just another sign that Muslim integration is a myth.

[ANOTHER] 'No one who comes to us has the right to put their cultural roots, or their religious beliefs, above our laws,' says justice minister

A good start. Now, the German politicians have to get their heads round the fact that polygamy, child brides and FGM, are approved by Allah.

And if you disagree with Allah, you are in a state of rebellion, and rebelling against god automatically puts you in the cross-hairs ...... and violence naturally follows.

[ANOTHER] They should be made to live by our rules throughout europe. No ifs no buts, they can always go back

[ANOTHER] High time we did something about this in the UK. I hope the German president will rid himself of this ridiculous burden. We want to discourage large families. Child support should be only for the first two children.

[ANOTHER] If mass Muslim immigration continues, as Merkel said it will, ethnic Germans between the ages of 20-40 will be a minority by 2020. It is unenforceable because political power and political will is going to change soon due to shifting demographics. The more Muslims, the more Islamic cultural practices such as polygamy will be accepted as the norm. [The Independent] Read more

As an Arab, the Middle East’s reaction to Orlando left me speechless…

Recently, a devastating terrorist attack took place in Orlando, where 49 innocent people were murdered. Surely, the majority of people in the Arab world condemn this atrocious act of violence?

The most fatal shooting in recent American history cannot possibly be celebrated by such a large number of peace-loving people who, after all, mostly condemn the acts of terror committed in the name of Islam by groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, right? Right?


As a bilingual Arabic and English speaker from the Middle East, I took the liberty of browsing through Arabic news pages on Facebook earlier today; namely Al Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC Arabic and a number of Egyptian news outlets to gauge how the Arab world was responding to the Orlando shooting. The results were disappointing, alarming, and depressing to say the least. [Arabhumanists.org] Read more

Germany polygamy: Minister says migrants must abide by the law

Germany will not recognise polygamy or marriages involving minors, Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said

"No-one who comes here has the right to put his cultural values or religious beliefs above our law," he told Bild.

In some Islamic countries, men are allowed to take up to four wives, but in Germany polygamy is banned by law.

Concern about polygamy and underage marriage has risen recently, as Germany has been taking in record numbers of migrants, many from Muslim countries.

The law in Germany is clear: no-one is allowed to be married to more than one person at a time, and that includes recent arrivals in the country. [BBC] Read more

14 June 2016

Justice minister wants to end toleration of polygamy

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said this week that he wants to bring an end to the practice of tolerating polygamous marriages among immigrants in Germany.

“No one who comes here has the right to place their cultural entrenchment or religious thinking over our laws,” Maas told Bild newspaper.

“Therefore no multiple marriages will be allowed to be recognized in Germany.”

In Germany, marrying another person after you are already married is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.

However, immigrants who arrive in Germany after already marrying multiple people in their home countries may be tolerated by legal authorities in practice, depending on what's best for the family, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

If a husband dies, for example, courts may decide to divide the man’s pension between his wives, the newspaper wrote. [The Local] Read more

Why the words ‘radical Islam’ matter

In the course of denouncing Donald Trump on Tuesday, President Obama tried to explain why he still refuses to use the phrase “radical Islam” to describe the ongoing terrorist threat against America.

“Does anyone seriously think we don’t know who we’re fighting?” the president said, adding that US forces in the Middle East “know full well who the enemy is.”

But if we all know it, why refuse to say so?

Obama insists that naming the foe “would make us less safe, fueling [ISIS’s] notion that the West hates Muslims.”

Please. Does anyone seriously believe that ISIS and those who share its ideology haven’t always felt this way — or that avoiding the words “radical Islam” matters a whit to the terrorists? [NEW YORK POST] Read more

None is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version

The Orlando massacre is a hideous reminder to Americans that homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism. That isn’t to say that some people of other faiths and ideologies aren’t hostile to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community.

Nor is to say that Islamic extremists don’t target other minorities, in addition to engaging in wholly indiscriminate violence. But it is important to establish why a man like Omar Mateen could be motivated to murder 49 people in a gay nightclub, interrupting the slaughter, as law-enforcement officials reported, to dial 911, proclaim his support for Islamic State and then pray to Allah.

I offer an explanation in the form of four propositions. [The Wall Street Journal] Read more

Christians forced to hide their faith from 'abusive' Muslim refugees

According to German newspaper Zeit a number of refugees in Hamburg said they feel unsafe and fear for their safety because of their faith.

Dena Kasravi, a Christian convert from Iran, spent years attending illegal bible groups in her homeland but after making her way to Germany said she still lives in fear.

The 33-year-old said: “If they find out, I will be fair game. Everyone will have the right to destroy me. Some Muslims even think it is their obligation.

Miss Kasravi's name has been changed and other Christian refugees say they are repeatedly verbally attacked by Muslim refugees.

One young Iranian woman said a Syrian man questions her every day about why she does not wear a headscarf and cover herself up. [Daily Express] Read more

Islamic scholar in homosexuality comments row leaves Australia

A British Islamic scholar who toured Orlando this year and had preached in 2013 that "death is the sentence" for homosexual acts left Australia on Tuesday after the government launched an "urgent" review of his visa because of his comments.

Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a senior Shi'ite Muslim scholar, was in Australia to give a series of lectures at an Islamic center in Sydney on the topic of spirituality.

Sekaleshfar said in a lecture in Michigan in 2013 that in an Islamic society, the death penalty should be carried out for homosexuals who engaged in sodomy. [Reuters] Read more

13 June 2016

Orlando Massacre: The Need To Challenge Homophobia

Just over six months after a Muslim couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino County, USA – killings in whose aftermath US Presidential candidate Donald Trump would call for an immediate ban on all Muslims entering the USA – we have witnessed yet another massacre committed by a US Muslim.

It is too early at this stage to say whether the killer Omar Mateen’s possible mental health issues played a role in the massacre. There will also no doubt be the usual questioning of the ridiculous US gun laws which appear to make lethal weapons readily available to aspiring murderers.

What we can perhaps most safely say at the moment is that the killings which took place in the Orlando gay club were motivated by a virulent form of homophobia.

The main monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all have a lamentable record when it comes to the persecution of gays. [inayatscorner] Read more

Sarkozy clashes with presidential rival Juppé over Islam in France

The two leading contenders to be the mainstream right's candidate in next year's French presidential election have clashed over France's relations with its Muslim population. After former president Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the "tyranny of minorities" in a speech last week, his chief rival, Alain Juppé, warned that judging Islam incompatible with the nation's values would lead to civil war.

.... The former president called on the French people to "wake up" to defend the national identity in the face of the "abdication of the elites".

A "tyranny of minorities" is "forcing the republic further into retreat each day", he went on, declaring France to be a "Christian country" that must be "respected ... by those who wish to live in it". [RFI] Read more

Muslim students in Denmark banned from praying during school hours

Students at a school for health care and education in Denmark have been told they cannot pray during working hours because "religion and education do not belong together".

A Muslim student from SOPU Hillerød, which is in Northern Copenhagen, highlighted the ban in a photograph which was posted on Facebook by a friend and received hundreds of likes.

In the picture, the woman held a sign which read: “New from the director. May one pray at SOPU Hillerød? The answer is NO!”

.... “Some [students] wanted to establish a prayer room on school property and the Muslims’ prayers have become far more visible because in some cases and they have used the hallways to pray. Religion and education don’t belong together – it belongs to the private life. [The Independent] Read more

Ramadan row: Headmaster in Spain warns against fasting

The state school in Melilla, one of Spain’s two north African enclaves, is almost exclusively attended by Muslim pupils.

But as Ramadan got underway last week, the headteacher of Juan Caro primary school sent home an advisory letter.

"Observing Ramadan could provoke episodes of lightheadedness, migraines and sunstroke as a result of dehydration or lack of sustenance," warned the letter penned by Alfonso García Zafra.

His letter was accompanied by a missive from the Islamic studies teacher which pointed out that “students who have not reached puberty – and all who study here are under 12 – are exempt from fasting under Islamic teaching".

"So I advise - and am supported by the Islam teacher - that parents follow this recommendation because of the host of activities planned until the end of term, and because of the heat." [The Local] Read more

Cleric who preached death for homosexual acts and toured Orlando visits Sydney

A controversial British cleric who toured Orlando in March and preaches that “death is the sentence” for homosexual acts is scheduled to speak in Sydney throughout June.

Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a British-born doctor and senior Shia Muslim scholar, travelled to Orlando two months ago to give a lecture about homosexuality in Islamic law.

He said in a 2013 lecture in Michigan on the same subject that “death is the sentence for homosexual acts” in Islam and this was “nothing to be embarrassed about”.

Sekaleshfar framed the death sentence as an act of compassion. “You have to be happy for that person,” he said. “We believe in an afterlife, we believe in an eternal life … and with this sentence you will be forgiven and you won’t be accountable in the hereafter.”

He is scheduled to speak every evening throughout Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood, in Sydney’s south-west. [The Guardian] Read more

Qatar convicts Dutch woman held 'after being raped'

A court in Qatar has convicted a Dutch woman of having sex outside marriage after she told police she was raped.

The 22-year-old was handed a suspended sentence and fined $824 (£580). She will also be deported.

Her lawyer said her drink had been spiked at a Doha hotel in March and she had woken up in a stranger's flat, where she realised she had been raped.

Her alleged attacker, who said the sex was consensual, was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside marriage.

He will be given a further 40 lashes for consuming alcohol.

The woman has been detained since making the allegation three months ago, but her case only came to light over the weekend when her family decided to go public. [BBC] Read more

We need a counter-narrative to the threat that is Islamism

Islamism is a serious threat to humanity. The harm that it has caused, and continues to cause, is indescribable, unspeakable and extremely horrendous. The most saddening aspect of this aching cruelty is that it has damaged the reputation of the entire Muslim community around the world

Although its extremist tactics have affected the entire human community across the globe, but the ones who have also suffered are peaceful Muslims, who carry the pain of the entire humanity in their hearts; those who do not hate other fellow humans because of their race, caste and religious beliefs and those who want nothing but the betterment of the whole world. In the same way, the image of the European Muslims is also greatly hurt whenever these Islamists strikes in a horrific way as we witnessed in Paris and Brussels.

I know most of the Muslims living in Europe and in different parts of the world also experience the same grievances whenever any terrorist activity takes place. However I believe that we Muslims have failed to renounce this Islamist ideology on a greater note. [Sedaa] Read more

12 June 2016

The Observer view on killings in Bangladesh

It has been another bloody week in Bangladesh. A Christian shopkeeper, a Hindu priest and the wife of a prominent anti-terror security official were killed in separate attacks by assailants. On Friday, a monastery administrator enjoying an early morning walk in the north-western district of Pabna was hacked to death in a similar unprovoked assault.

In all, nearly 50 people have been murdered since 2013.

Their offence? Not conforming to the fanatical faux-religious outlook espoused by Islamist extremists, for whom majority Sunni Muslim Bangladesh’s tradition of democratic, secular governance and multi-confessional inclusiveness is an abomination deserving of annihilation.

.... Crime and punishment is not the sole issue here. At stake is Bangladesh’s tradition of cultural diversity, religious tolerance and secular governance. At risk is the future of a moderate Muslim nation battered by a destructive international political cyclone that it alone cannot control.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 76 votes] .... The terribly secular, modern and enlightened western-oriented Guardian/Observer editors apparently know better than these religious zealots themselves what their motivation is and despite religion being absolutely, rooting-tootly, 195%, up front and in your face, no doubt about it, shout it from the rooftops, the self-proclaimed reason given by these fanatics for these attacks, the good old Guardian knows better, it's all a "faux-religious outlook".

The Guardian editors will still be claiming it has nothing to do with religion as the religious maniacs are cutting their throats, chanting verses from their holy book as they do so.

It's not faux-religion Guardian! It is real, genuine, unashamed, proud to proclaim it religion in its truest sense that lies behind these attacks, why do you continue to deny what is so obvious to the rest of the sentient population?

[2ND 56] This is a disgraceful article trying to minimise the importance of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh.

[3RD 53] According to the Bangladeshi Home Minister - "“These killings are part of a national and international conspiracy. Those who are carrying out these incidents are communicating with Mossad,”

Meaning in a racially prejudiced country, in which Christians are discriminated against and Jews are banned, you can still have anti-semitism, because instead of anti-semitism against individual Jews who are not allowed in the country, the option of collective anti-semitism is available you just blame ISrael for everything.

But the Guardian would have a moral problem pointing this out.

[4TH 51] It is preposterous to describe Bangladesh as a moderate Muslim nation blighted by a few nutters. As In Pakistan, there is wide tacit support for these murders and for the Islamist agenda. That is why it is thriving.

[5TH 49] "fanatical faux-religious outlook"

What exactly is "faux" about it? [Guardian Cif] Read more

We can’t ignore the religion of the Orlando gay club gunman

Last night a gunman attacked a gay club in Orlando, Florida. At present at least 50 people are confirmed dead and another 42 are confirmed injured – which would make it the worst mass shooting in American history.

The gunman appears to have been a US citizen called Omar Mateen. Even the FBI is now admitting that he would appear to have had ‘leanings’ towards radical Islamic ideology. Perhaps that’s why, shortly before his murder spree, he called 911 to declare his allegiance to the Islamic State (which has since claimed responsibility for the massacre).

Here’s a prediction. If the gunman from last night had proved to have been a Christian fundamentalist, every person he had ever associated with would by now be being crawled over not just by law enforcement but by the press. Senior church figures and political leaders across America and the rest of the world would have condemned the act and said how important it is to root out such hatred from people’s hearts. [The Spectator] Read more

10 June 2016

Danish school tells Muslims they can’t pray

A Muslim student at SOPU Hillerød, a school for health care and pedagogical assistants in a northern Copenhagen suburb, recently went on Facebook to protest against the school’s decision to ban all praying during school hours.

She posed for a photo holding a sign that read: “New from the director. May one pray at SOPU Hillerød? The answer is NO!”.

“My friend received a letter from the leadership of our school, SOPU Hillerød, today that said she can no longer pray during school hours,” Mia Victoria Lunderød Hansen wrote in a public post. “We students don’t think this is right and therefore we’ve gone around the school collecting signatures.” [The Local] Read more

09 June 2016

More than half of Britons surveyed think Islam is NOT compatible with British values

One in three said the religion promotes violence in the UK with 72 per cent saying most people in the UK have a negative view of Islam.

Professional survey company ComRes questioned 2,012 people, chosen to be representative of the British adult population, on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to find out more about British attitudes towards Islam.

Just 32 per cent thought Islam promotes peace in the UK.

Overall 56 per cent disagreed with the question is Islam compatible with British values.

The survey results were revealed during ‘Caliphate in the 21st Century’ conference, held to discuss the true nature of caliphate and its role in the 21st century.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who commissioned the survey is a Muslim organisation dedicated to peace who have a caliphate in the UK. Their belief in the caliphate is it is a spiritual and peaceful group which is at odds with Islamic State’s version of a controlled political organisation. [Daily Express] Read more

German public pool bans the burqini

The ban was imposed after the pool in Neutraubling held a women-only swim day, the Mittelbayerische Zeitung reported last week.

One young woman chose to swim and do water aerobics in a burqini, eliciting loud complaints from the other women there.

The complaints reached the town officials, who decided to place a ban on the burqini as ‘non-typical’ swim attire.

“Why the burqini as a full-body suit would be necessary to wear during a women’s swim day is for me incomprehensible,” town mayor Heinz Kiechle said.

The newspaper reports that the young woman, who witnesses described as a good swimmer, has not returned to the pool. [The Local] Read more

Andy Burnham calls for 'toxic' Prevent strategy to be scrapped

The duty on public bodies to report signs of radicalisation, included in the government’s strategy to counter Islamist extremism, is today’s equivalent of internment in Northern Ireland, the shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, has said, calling for the strategy to be scrapped.

In a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester, Burnham called for a cross-party review of the Prevent strategy, but said his personal view was that the policy should be discarded. “I do feel that the brand is so toxic now that I think it’s got to go,” he said.

Burnham also announced Labour’s intention to oppose the government’s extremism bill, which was unveiled in last month’s Queen’s speech. It contains new powers to ban “extremist” organisations, gag individuals and enable local councils to close premises used to “promote hatred”. [The Guardian] Read more

Hand-shaking row over Muslim border inspector

Sweden introduced police border controls in November last year in an effort to keep the number of asylum seekers down. To help officers carry out the checks, 72 trained civilian ID controllers were brought in.

One of these civilian inspectors recently sparked tension for not shaking the hands of his female colleagues, on the grounds that it violated his Muslim faith. Instead, he is said to have placed his hand over his heart in greeting.

But several employees took offence, according to Swedish state television SVT.

"He did not shake my hand when we said hello. I don't want to speak more about it, because I have chosen to hand it over to management," one of the female police officers working with the man told the broadcaster. [The Local] Read more

Waitress 'attacked by Muslim men for serving alcohol during Ramadan'

A French waitress was allegedly assaulted by two Muslim men for serving alcohol during Ramadan.

The woman, a practising Muslim of Tunisian origin, was working on the terrace of the Vitis Café in Nice when she was reportedly insulted by two passers-by on Wednesday.

The men are said to have started to abuse her when they saw she was serving alcohol to customers, The Times reported.

She said one of the men screamed she was a “whore” and slapped her across the face, leaving her with a black eye after she was knocked to the ground.

The incident has been seized upon by the far-right as proof of the spread of radical Islam despite attempts to impose secular principles that underpin the French state. [Evening Standard] Read more

08 June 2016

UK Government To Spend £1 Million Polling British Muslims On Extremism

The Home Office plans to commission a series of telephone polls to survey British Muslims’ attitudes towards extremist ideas and ideologies, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Ministers hope that the polling will not only measure respondents’ existing views but also allow them to track the effectiveness of counter-extremism initiatives such as the controversial Prevent programme.

But Muslim leaders voiced concerns that the polling reinforced the notion that the Muslim community was suspect, and said sampling difficulties meant the results could be “plain wrong”.

The Home Office has confirmed the plans, although a spokesperson said it would not comment on costs. BuzzFeed News understands the government will spend “about £1 million” on the polls.

The polling is part of a broader counter-extremism strategy, set out in a document published at the end of last year, that covers all forms of extremism, including that of the far right. In the document the government said its approach “will always be informed by an understanding of the way extremists work, their ideologies and the harm they cause”. [BuzzFeed] Read more

Germany: Family Reunification Could Double Number of Syrians

German officials say the country's migration agency calculated that each Syrian who has arrived in the country could on average eventually be joined by one more, under rules allowing family reunification.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate confirmed Wednesday a report by the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees reached the conclusion in an internal paper last November. He cautioned that the office's prediction doesn't make account of a legal change since then that may make it harder for some Syrians to bring relatives to Germany.

German authorities registered over 428,000 Syrians as asylum-seekers last year and nearly 72,000 in the first five months of this year. [The Associated Press] Read more

07 June 2016

Now Muslim women take on Labour

WHILE Shami Chakrabarti investigates allegations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the Labour party, discrimination against another group seems to be largely ignored.

In February the Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWN) wrote to Jeremy Corbyn detailing concerns about Muslim male councillors blocking “able, knowledgeable and independent-minded” women from standing for public office and alleging the party was colluding with “systematic misogyny” to harvest votes.

The national media then aired claims about candidate selection stitch-ups and Muslim women threatened with being “shamed” if they persisted in challenging traditional male-dominated community politics. [Private Eye] Read more

Police Scotland 'adds hijab to uniform' to encourage Muslim women to join force

Police Scotland is preparing to introduce a hijab to its uniform in a bid to encourage more Muslim women to join the force.

The hijab, which covers the head and neck, has been ‘sourced and tested’ by police. It will now be presented to a uniform standards working group for consideration.

The proposals are designed to increase the number of Muslim women applying to join the force and address the under-representation of officers from ethnic minorities.

Figures revealed that just 2.6 per cent of the applications received by Police Scotland in 2015/16 were from black and Asian candidates.

The force would need to recruit a further 650 candidates from ethnic minorities to reflect the four per cent of the Scottish population who come from black and Asian backgrounds, something it says is currently 'unachievable'. [Herald Scotland] Read more

Islam is Europe’s ‘new fascism,’ and other things European politicians say about Muslims

In the United States, Donald Trump is taking aim at Islam, putting the faith front and center in a contentious presidential campaign. But across Europe, populist leaders are doing the same, pointing a finger of blame at Islam for threatening domestic cultures and security even as critics decry such statements as a serious threat to freedom of religion and minority rights.

Here’s what 10 conservative and far-right leaders have recently said about Islam:

Where: Germany.

Who: Alexander Gauland, deputy chairman of the Alternative for Germany party.

What he said: “Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but a faith linked intellectually with a takeover of the state. Therefore, the Islamization of Germany is a danger.” [The Washington Post] Read more

06 June 2016

‘This reminds us of the times of Hitler’: In the heart of Europe, anti-Islam politics are on the rise

.... Once a libertarian force opposed to the euro and Greek bailouts, the fast-growing Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has now squarely joined the anti-Islam ranks. In recent weeks, the AfD unveiled a scathing denunciation of the faith, warning against “the expansion and presence of a growing number of Muslims” on German soil. Adding fuel to the party’s campaign, German authorities on Thursday arrested three Syrian men who had posed as migrants, accusing them of plotting an attack on the historic center of Düsseldorf in the name of the Islamic State.

Saying it wants to protect women’s rights, national security and German culture, the party — supported by almost 1 in 6 voters — is calling for a ban on headscarves at schools and universities and is preparing to release an anti-Islam “manifesto” based on “scientific research.” Here in the formerly communist east, the party has gone further, startling local Muslims by launching an effort to stop the construction of Erfurt’s first mosque. [The Washington Post] Read more

05 June 2016

Turkey's Erdogan says women who reject motherhood 'incomplete'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a woman who rejects motherhood is "deficient" and "incomplete", urging women to have at least three children.

He said he supported women having successful professional careers - but stressed that this should not be an "obstacle" to having children.

He was addressing Turkey's Women and Democracy Association in Istanbul.

His comments were the latest in a series of controversial remarks about women and their role in a society.

Earlier this week, President Erdogan called on Muslims to reject contraception and have more children.

In a televised speech on 30 May, he stressed that "no Muslim family" should consider birth control or family planning. [BBC] Read more

03 June 2016

Growing concern for German churches: Muslim refugees harassing Christians

Germany’s refugee crisis is challenging the country’s main religious groups as they try to balance a welcoming attitude to the mostly Muslim migrants and concern for the welfare of the minority Christians among them.

Increasingly, accounts of Muslim migrants ganging up on Christians and other minorities in refugee shelters have raised concerns.

Germany is dealing with an influx of about 1 million newcomers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Scattered media reports since last fall have spoken of radical Muslims harassing Christians and other religious minorities, making them feel threatened and under pressure to convert to Islam. [RNS] Read more

College president: Why we changed the uniform rules to allow a cadet to wear a hijab or yarmulke

When a Muslim student asked for an exception to the required uniform at the Citadel, the public military college that had accepted her, it provoked a strong response: Some alumni and others found the idea anathema to the defining principles of unity, uniformity and Corps before self; others thought it would send a message that all faiths were welcome and that the storied institution was not so bound to tradition that it could not evolve with a more diverse society.

.... The new regulations to the NUCC uniform policy will specify the proper wearing and color of the hijab and kippah or yarmulke to allow students to participate as full members of the Corps. No other Corps standards will be altered or changed.

The Corps of Cadets places a high value on the rights of its cadets to observe tenets of their respective religions or to observe no religion at all. Regardless of their spiritual or religious affiliation, all students and employees should feel welcome and comfortable at Norwich University. A dynamic world requires change as evidenced by the adjustments that were made in 1974 with the admission of women into the Corps.

I hope this helps you understand the decision better. Like our trustees, I believe this decision will make us a stronger university. [The Washington Post] Read more

Schools say Muslim students 'should break Ramadan fast' to avoid bad grades

Hundreds of schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have asked parents to allow children to break their Ramadan during exam season after government-backed guidelines raise concerns that their grades could suffer, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

Ramadan has been gradually moving into the summer exams season in England and this year falls between June 6 and July 5, when many of the summer exams take place, for the first time in more than three decades.

Heads fear young Muslim students will have health issues as a result of fasting all day during the time of year where the days are longer and their exam results will take a hit as a result. [The Telegraph] Read more

Islam course for inmates teaches jihad, cleric warns

A training manual used in English and Welsh jails to teach prisoners about Islam should be withdrawn because it encourages them to become jihadists, a cleric has warned.

Sheikh Musa Admani said that the Tarbiyah (Islamic study) programme, which has been used since 2011, had a section on jihad, or holy war.

The programme was co-written by several imams and Ahtsham Ali, a prisons adviser to the Ministry of Justice. At the start of the year there were 12,328 Muslim inmates held in prisons in England and Wales. Of these, 131 were convicted of terrorist offences and 1,000 more were thought to be vulnerable to radicalisation. Muslims make up 4.5 per cent of the UK population but nearly 15 per cent of prisoners. [The Times (£)] Read more

02 June 2016

BBC religion chief says it is wrong to suggest Isis has nothing to do with Islam

People should admit the "uncomfortable" truth that Islamic State is made up of Muslims and their doctrine is Islamic, the BBC’s head of religion told an audience of students.

Professor Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim to hold the role at the corporation, said it was wrong to suggest the terrorist group "has nothing to do with Islam" during a speech at Huddersfield University last week.

He also responded to criticism of the BBC’s use of the term "so-called Islamic State" in its programming since last year.

Professor Ahmed said: "I hear so many people say Isis has nothing to do with Islam — of course it has. They are not preaching Judaism.

"It might be wrong but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine." [The Independent] Read more

Prison Islam course 'could turn prisoners to violence'

A manual used by imams to teach prison inmates about Islam risks "turning people into jihadis", a cleric says.

Sheikh Musa Admani told the BBC the Tarbiyah programme, used in English and Welsh prisons since 2011, could turn people towards violence and should be withdrawn.

A section of the programme is on jihad, and it says taking up arms to fight "evil" is "one of the noblest acts".

The Ministry of Justice will investigate issues raised by the BBC.

The BBC understands that the Tarbiyah programme was co-written by a number of imams and Ahtsham Ali, a prisons adviser to the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Ali declined to comment.

Another teaching course was withdrawn by the department last year because it was based on texts written by extremists. [BBC] Read more

Mosque whistleblower 'receives death threats' over hate preaching claims

A whistleblower who made shocking allegations of hate preaching in three High Wycombe mosques says he has received serious death threats since speaking out.

Two weeks ago, the Bucks Free Press exclusively revealed town mosques were under investigation after three long-standing Imams had been accused of glorifying a murderer.

Khalil Ahmed, a Muslim man from Micklefield, claimed the Imams likened the Pakistani killer to a “martyr” in front of hundreds of worshippers. [Bucks Free Press] Read more

Philadelphia schools add two Muslim holidays

The Philadelphia School District will add two Muslim holidays to its calendar, placing it among the first in the nation to do so.

In what would be an even rarer step, Mayor Kenney said Tuesday he also hopes to adopt the holidays for city workers. He has created a task force to determine how the change can be accomplished.

A spokesman from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington said his group is not aware of any cities that have included the holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, in their municipal calendars. [Philly.com] Read more

Admit that Islam drives Isis, says BBC religion boss

The BBC’s Muslim head of religion and ethics has said it is untrue that Isis has “nothing to do with Islam”. Aaqil Ahmed acknowledged it was an “uncomfortable” truth that the terrorist group is inspired by Islamic doctrine.

Mr Ahmed was speaking at Huddersfield University when he was asked to defend the corporation’s policy of referring to Isis as the “so-called” Islamic State. At an event organised by Lapido, the centre for religious literacy in journalism, the barrister Neil Addison said: “You wouldn’t say ‘so-called Huddersfield University’.”

According to a report yesterday by Lapido, Mr Ahmed said at last Wednesday’s event: “I hear so many people say Isis has nothing to do with Islam — of course it has. They are not preaching Judaism. [The Times (£)] Read more

01 June 2016

Bulgarian Black Sea’s Bourgas bans burqas

The municipal council in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Bourgas voted on June 1 to ban the wearing in public of clothing such as the burqa that covers the face.

In the 51-member council, 34 councillors voted in favour of the ban, nine abstained and one voted against.

As has happened in other Bulgarian municipalities, such as Pazardzhik and Stara Zagora, where the wearing of the burqa in public has been banned, the proposal was tabled by a constituent party of the nationalist Patriotic Front, the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB).

The NFSB is a minority party in the council, with just four councillors. The largest group in the council is Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB, which has 29 seats on the council. [Sofia Globe] Read more

Muslim group sues U.S. firm for religious discrimination after it dismissed 15 workers over prayer break policy

An Islamic group has filed a complaint for religious discrimination against a Wisconsin company on behalf of 15 Somali Muslims who were terminated for failing to follow break policy.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) lodged the complaint before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Milwaukee against Ariens Company in Wisconsin.

In the complaint, the fired workers said Ariens, which makes lawn mowers and snow blowers, discriminated and retaliated against them on the basis of their religion (Islam), national origin (Somali) and race (black) in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

They also accused the company of creating a hostile work environment. [Christian Today] Read more