31 October 2016

Sharia law through women’s eyes

“I think they used religion to control my freedom and I wanted to use that to get my freedom back.”

Alfia (not her real name) was only 16 when she was taken away from school and forced into an arranged marriage.

Her husband abused her for 13 years.

She tried to divorce him, but when she went to a Sharia council in the UK, they asked her to mediate with him.

A Sharia council is where matrimonial and religious matters are addressed following the guidance of Islamic law.

Supporters say their main concern is to save marriages through reconciliation. In some cases this can put women at risk especially when they want to escape from abusive relationships.

Alfia’s story is one of many that show how Sharia courts can be harmful for the Muslim community and undermine a woman’s rights.

Campaigners say that having Sharia courts in Britain is a human rights scandal and under their laws a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s. [Artefact Magazine] Read more

Muslim woman lashed 23 times for breaking Sharia law by being 'close' to her boyfriend

The woman was seen crying in agony as she was lashed in front of a baying crowd for breaking Sharia law.

She was just one of 13 women who was punished in the orthodox Indonesian province of Aceh.

Each woman was lashed between nine and 25 times, depending on the severity of their crime.

The alleged crimes they were deemed guilty of included inappropriate acts, such as khalwat, which is affectionate contact by an unmarried couple, and ikhtilat, which is intimacy or mixing – both of which are in violation of Islamic bylaw.

One of the women, just 22-years-old, had her lashes delayed as she is currently pregnant. [Daily Express] Read more

Nearly TWO THIRDS of the public believe migrants are not fitting in well to British society, according to a poll

Nearly two thirds of the public believe that migrants are not integrating well into British society, according to a poll.

Research by YouGov found concern over how arrivals were fitting in rose to 79 per cent among those who voted for Brexit in the historic EU referendum.

By contrast, among people who supported Remain the figure was much lower at 38 per cent.

The results of the survey, conducted for of social integration charity The Challenge, underline the importance of immigration in the referendum result.

They emerged as the government prepares to publish an official review of integration.

The study by Dame Louise Casey is said to criticise ministers for failing to manage immigration better, tackle extremism and help minorities fit in.

The assessment has apparently been ready for months but its publication was delayed after Home Office officials expressed ‘unhappiness’ about its content. [811 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1131 votes] Only two thirds, I wonder where a third asked came from.

[2ND 1044] What does one expect when they segregate themselves from our traditions and way of life.

[3RD 837] Prospective immigrants should agree to do their bit, and promise to abide only by English law and dress in accordance with British culture.

[4TH 789] They don't integrate. They want to live in their own communities & want continually. I want to know how many don't speak or read English yet drive a taxi, badly I may add. Many are a hazard on the road.

[5TH 739] And what angers - me is, they look at me and my family like filth - and shouldn't be in my own country.

[6TH 658] Is allowing sh@ria courts in this country helping immigrants to integrate?

[7TH 561] It is too late to integrate migrants once they have been given permanent settlement or citizenship. The best way to integrate is by filtering out those that will contribute nothing and won't fit in during the immigration process.

We should take only migrants that are high earners, educated, fluent in English and have either lived in the west for years, or live in modern international areas of cities in their own countries.

There should be a points based system for citizenship which deducts points if migrants decide to live in segregated areas and rewards those that integrate. [Daily Mail] Read more

30 October 2016

“Meet Your Muslim Neighbors”

Ever since 9/11, mosques and “Islamic centers” have been conducting campaigns of determined “outreach” to non-Muslims. The point of this “outreach” is to present Islam as the least threatening of faiths, one which has been too often misunderstood and its adherents unfairly maligned, and those adherents are only too glad to clear up misconceptions about their faith. One such gathering was held on September 16 at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, Massachusetts, billed as “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors.”

The first “misconception” that the Muslim hosts thought needed to be cleared up had to do with how long Muslims have been in America. “People think that Muslims have just come here to this country,” said Shaheen Akhtar, who is an “interfaith liaison” and runs an “interfaith book club” at the Center. She told her audience that Jefferson and John Adams had both owned copies of the Qur’an. Her implication was clear: these men took a sympathetic interest in Islam. She even described Jefferson as “advocating for the rights of the practitioners of the faith.”

This implies special pleading on his part for Islam. What Jefferson actually did was “advocate” for the principle of religious freedom in general, and famously quoted a line from John Locke’s 1698 A Letter Concerning Religious Toleration: “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”

However, there were those whom Locke expressly excluded from toleration, and applying his own criteria, Muslims might well have been among them. [New English Review] Read more

Major push for UK mosques to make loud call to prayer THREE TIMES a day

A PETITION to allow loud call for prayer, known as Adhan, in UK mosques has been signed by more than 25 thousand people.

The petition on the UK Government website has received 25,221 signatures.

Those behind the petition say: “The adhan, or Islamic call to prayer, is an integral part of the Muslim faith.

“The number of people practicing the religion of Islam in the United Kingdom exceeds three million.

“Some neighbourhood towns have more than 50 per cent Muslim population.”

The petition has asked the Government to allow loud call for prayer at least three times a day in highly Muslim populated areas.

It says: “I believe it is the right time to experiment and allow highly Muslim populated areas with a loud call for prayer at least three times a day, not during anti-social hours.”

The petition was particularly popular in Hodge Hill in Birmingham with 765 signatories and East Ham in London, where it got 940 signatures. [Daily Express] Read more

Fury as German primary school ‘forces’ children to chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Muslim prayer

The father of the pupil at the girl's primary school in German ski resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen discovered that his daughter had been forced to learn the Islamic prayer when he discovered a handout she had been given.

He claimed she had been "forced" by teachers to memorise the Islamic chants and forwarded the handout to Austrian news service unsertirol24.

The handout read: "Oh Allah, how perfect you are and praise be to you. Blessed is your name, and exalted is your majesty. There is no God but you."

It had been given to the girl during a lesson in "ethics" at the Bavarian school.

Headteacher Gisela Herl did not confirm the incident when questioned, but said the school would issue a written statement detailing its position in the coming week.

The incident comes just weeks after parents complained to German newspaper Hessian Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA) that their children's nursery was refusing to acknowledge "Christmas rituals" to accommodate the "diverse cultures" of other pupils.

The Sara Nussbaum House daycare centre in Kassel refused to put up a Christmas tree, tell Christmas stories or celebrate Christmas in general because it said only a minority of pupils were Christian. [Daily Express] Read more

Top sharia court ‘is protecting wife-beater suspects’

A prominent sharia court has been accused of “sabotaging” criminal proceedings to protect alleged perpetrators of domestic violence against women.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (Mat) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is one of the most influential of about 80 Islamic “councils” in Britain.

It rules on disputes within Muslim communities and says on its website that it can make submissions to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to “reconsider” criminal charges against men accused of assaulting their partners.

The tribunal says that it tries to provide “reconciliation” services after men have been charged with domestic violence.

“The terms of such a reconciliation can then be passed by the Mat to the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] through the local police domestic violence liaison officers with a view to reconsidering the criminal charges,” its website states. [The Times (£)] Read more

'Islam no longer religion of peace' Muslim Charlie Hebdo journalist hits out at extremists

Zineb El Rhazoui, who was luckily in Casablanca the day Islamic State jihadis massacred nine of her magazine colleagues in Paris, said the Islamism of today is “applied Islam” which gives way to terrorism.

The outspoken Moroccan/French journalist is carrying on the work of her beloved friends by speaking out against extremism despite being France’s most protected woman, with state-provided armed guards protecting her 24 hours a day.

Writing in her controversial new book, Detruire Le Fascisme Islamique (Destroy Islamic Fascism), released in France this week, she said: “When we apply Islam to the letter it gives Islamism, and when we apply Islamism to the letter it gives terrorism.

“So we need to stop saying Islam is a religion of peace and love. What is a moderate Islamist? An Islamist who doesn’t kill?” [Daily Express] Read more

Stand by your imam: Shakeel Begg and his apologists

There have been two fascinating developments in the case of Shakeel Begg, the Imam of the Lewisham Islamic Centre. As I described here on Friday, Begg sued the BBC for describing him as an extremist, only for the judge in the case to last week dismiss the claim and confirm for the whole world to see that Begg is indeed an extremist.

On Friday I mentioned that industry of clueless klutzes and sinister beards who make up much of the ‘interfaith’ racket in this country. Paragraphs 33 and 34 of the judgement in the case of Begg vs Beeb might serve as the purest distillation of this phenomenon.Under the heading ‘testimonials’ we read: [The Spectator] Read more

29 October 2016

I’m A Muslim Reformer. Why Am I Being Smeared as an ‘Anti-Muslim Extremist’?

I am a brown, liberal, reform Muslim. I have survived violent neo-Nazi racism and served as a former War on Terror political prisoner in Egypt, witnessing torture. Yet, in a trip that takes us through the looking glass, the largely white American non-Muslim “progressive” leadership at the pro-civil liberties group Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) has just published a “journalist’s field list” naming me as an “anti-Muslim” extremist.

Through the counter-extremism organisation Quilliam that I founded, I have spent eight years defending my Muslim communities in Europe, Pakistan and beyond from the diktats of Islamist theocrats. I have also argued for the liberal reform of Islam today, from within.

But, in a naively dangerous form of neo-Orientalism, the SPLC just arrogated to itself the decision over which debates we Muslims may have about reforming our own religion, and which are to be deemed beyond the pale. [The Daily Beast] Read more

28 October 2016

In Germany, Syrians find mosques too conservative

Hani Salam escaped civil war in Syria and survived the journey from Egypt to Europe. But when he saw men with bushy long beards at a mosque near his current home in Cologne last November, he was worried.

The men's appearance reminded him of Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist rebels who took over his hometown near Damascus, said Salam, 36, who wears a moustache but no beard. One of them told Salam that "good Muslims grow beards, not moustaches," he recalled – a centuries-old idea that he dismisses.

"Everything about this mosque made me feel uneasy," he said.

Syrians in Germany say many of the country's Arab mosques are more conservative than those at home.

Over two months, a dozen Syrians in six places of worship in three cities told Reuters they were uncomfortable with very conservative messages in Arabic-speaking mosques. People have criticised the way the newcomers dress and practise their religion, they said. Some insisted the Koran be interpreted word-for-word. [Reuters] Read more

Gothenburg 'one of Europe's most segregated cities'

One in ten school students in Gothenburg’s north-eastern suburbs sympathize with religious extremist organizations, according to a survey carried out by Swedish non-profit organization Varken Hora eller Kuvad.

"I was completely shocked when I saw the result. I perhaps would have guessed one percent. I’m speechless," Guluzar Tarhan Selvi, acting project manager at Varken Hora eller Kuvad told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).

The Swedish government’s national coordinator against violent extremism said she was not hugely surprised by the number however.

"The study was carried out in some of the areas where we know there are people who have travelled to join Isis in Syria," Hillevi Engström said.

And the MP insisted it is good that more facts about support for extremist organizations are coming to light.

"You have to put forward all the facts and after that start prevention work early, and speak about everyone’s equal value and human rights in school. It’s also to do with alienation. Many people have a feeling that they don’t belong to society," she added.

Robert Hannah, a Swedish MP of the centre-right Liberals who grew up in north-eastern Gothenburg, said the study confirmed the city is divided. [The Local] Read more

27 October 2016

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

“We do not employ women who wear headscarves and do not understand why applicants would expect us to,” the rejection letter said, according to the woman’s lawyer.

The woman, who is an experienced dental nurse, now intends to seek damages from the dentist in a labour court, Spiegel reports.

According to German law, no one can be treated differently in the workplace based on things that have nothing to do with their ability to perform their job, such as ethnicity, religion or age.

The dentist has now gone public with an apology, stating on his website that his letter of rejection was “insufficient and utterly wrongly formulated”. [The Local] Read more

German parents may face trial after refusing mosque field trip

A German teen's parents have failed to pay a fine for truancy after the pair refused to allow their son to enter a mosque on a school field trip. The parents justified the move by citing "ideological reasons."

The prosecutor's office in Germany's Itzehoe is reviewing whether or not the parents of a seventh grader may have to appear in court because they failed to pay a truancy fine over a skipped field trip to a mosque.

The 13-year-old student's parents refused to allow their son to join his classmates on the June 14 school trip of this year to a mosque in the northern German town on Rendsburg, prosecutor Peter Müller-Rakow said on Wednesday. The field trip was reportedly part of a geography lesson.

A local education authority subsequently fined the parents a total of 300 euros ($328) for their son's truancy - which is a common practice in parts of Germany.

After the couple appealed the decision, the case was referred to Müller-Rakow who will now decide whether or not the parents stand trial over the case. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Demand for Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The well-known British political commentator Douglas Murray once observed that sections of the political left, known as the regressive left, have a supply and demand problem with bigotry. He elaborated that there simply aren’t enough racists in the West these days yet the demand for such bigotry is at an all-time high.

Without the demand left-wing activists that organise themselves as anti-bigotry activists can’t justify their work and, more importantly, request for donations. Hence, the definition of bigotry needs to be stretched, new sources of bigotry need to be found and, eventually, critics of the regressive left find themselves being accused of bigotry.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), founded in Montgomery Alabama in 1971 as a civil rights organisation, is a prime example of an activist outfit that may have begun with noble aims but has now resorted to stretching definitions along with credulity. This group has decided to branch into anti-Muslim bigotry without any clear understanding of what that term really means. According to their website:

“Anti-Muslim hate groups also broadly defame Islam, which they tend to treat as a monolithic and evil religion. These groups generally hold that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.”

The above quote illustrates the problem with SPLC’s approach to this subject. Individuals are well within their rights to dislike Islam as a religion, just as they are free to dislike any other religion or political ideology. Dislike of a faith is not tantamount to bigotry if it is not accompanied by demonisation of an entire people. Disliking Islam is not the same as disliking all Muslims; just as disliking smoking is not the same as disliking all smokers. [Sedaa.org] Read more

26 October 2016

Islam and human rights: Clash or compatibility?

Some proponents of human rights are deeply sceptical of Islam (and religion in general for that matter). They argue that the two are inherently incompatible. To be sure, there are plenty of examples of Islam being used to legitimise violations of human rights today: Think of Saudi Arabia’s use of whipping and other inhuman punishments, Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation, or the many gender discriminatory laws in other Muslim-majority countries.

But this is not all there is to say about Islam and human rights. If we listen to some of the many Muslim voices in contemporary human rights debates, a much more nuanced picture emerges. There are at least four different positions among Muslim state actors, civil society organisations and intellectuals today.

Some flat out reject the whole concept of human rights. They consider human rights to be a Western invention, grown out of Western history and based on Western values of secularism and individualism – and as such irrelevant to the Muslim world. ”The ideal of ’human rights’ (…) is not a universal value common to all human beings regardless of religious belief,” the British Hizb Ut- Tahrir writes in one of its pamphlets. [London School of Economics] Read more

24 October 2016

Denmark's queen: Living here doesn't make you Danish

Queen Margrethe II has raised eyebrows in Denmark for passages in a new book that weigh in on the nation’s seemingly never-ending debate on ‘Danishness’.

In the book, written with journalist Thomas Larsen, the Danish queen says that some immigrants and refugees have failed to properly integrate into society.

“It’s not a law of nature that one becomes Danish by living in Denmark. It doesn’t necessarily happen,” Queen Margrethe says.

The queen goes on to say that certain groups of people are better at integrating than others.

“Those who came from Southeast Asia have generally prospered. Others have had more difficulty adapting. They have had a hard time finding their rhythm in Denmark,” she says. [The Local] Read more

Islam in Malaysia: When religion infiltrates the government

WHAT is the role of a religious authority like the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) in the country? How much influence does it wield in Malaysia’s governmental and administrative affairs?

It may seem like the people in Jakim are just old wise men with long beards and a magical staffs who advise the ruler of the country – much like the magician Jaafar did in the Disney movie Aladdin.

In the case of Jaafar, he makes colourful potions and smoke screens to impress the king, using his powers to hide his sinister plans before going on to usurp the ruler’s power.

This analogy struck me when I was watching the 2017 National Budget presentation by the Prime Minister Najib Razak last Friday in Parliament.

.... It has infiltrated it so much that for many Malaysians, expressing any opinion that is just slightly against their accepted interpretation of Islam means that you are an infidel.

They are the be all and end all when it comes to religious knowledge and interpretation. Nobody should question their actions and motives – if you do, you’ll be accused of going against Islam.

For a multi-racial and multi-religious society that is far from homogenous like Malaysia, it is unhealthy and plain wrong when one religious group is allowed to impose their authority on all. [Asian Correspondent] Read more

Inquiry into Sharia will fail, MPs told

The government inquiry into Sharia is deeply flawed and failing to address fundamental defects in the theology, a former senior bishop has said.

The Right Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said that the Home Office review was scratching the surface by only examining the way that Sharia was applied.

“It asks whether the application of Sharia is incompatible with English law when it should be asking whether Sharia is itself incompatible with English law,” he said. “If Sharia is recognised in any way in terms of the public law, it will introduce a principle of contradiction in the body of the law, which will cause enormous problems.”

His comments were made in written evidence to the Commons home affairs committee, which began its own inquiry into Sharia councils in June. It has not yet held any evidence sessions. [The Times (£)] Read more

Muslim rules on halal meat mean 'animals are dying in pain'

Islamic scholars are often unaware that stunning animals before they are killed prevents them from feeling pain, a study has found.

Research by the University of Bristol found that scholars, who help set the rules on what meat is considered “halal”, often didn’t understand the science behind stunning.

Many ordinary Muslims were also ill-informed, the report found.

British Muslims are divided over whether pre-slaughter stunning is a legitimate practice. But the study concluded that it is increasingly being considered forbidden.

Researchers at the School of Veterinary Science found that 69 per cent of Islamic scholars who were questioned said they didn’t think stunning prior to slaughter reduced an animal’s pain. Fifty-nine per cent of halal consumers believed the same. [Evening Standard] Read more

23 October 2016

Swiss court: you can’t be fired for wearing a headscarf

A Serbian Muslim woman has been awarded compensation by a Bern court after being sacked for wearing a headscarf. It is the first time in more than 25 years that a Swiss court has had to rule on whether wearing a headscarf in a private company was grounds for dismissal.

The 29-year-old had gone to court, supported by the Swiss Islamic Central Council, after an industrial laundry centre in Bern fired her after she started wearing a headscarf at the beginning of 2015, the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche reported on Sunday.

The company, citing health and safety regulations, gave the woman an ultimatum: lose her headscarf or her job. Although the company’s work regulations stipulated that employees must only tie their hair back, the company fired the woman a few days later.

The district court for Bern-Mittelland has now ruled the dismissal unfair and awarded the woman three months’ wages and compensation of CHF8,000 ($8,050).

The judges pointed to freedom of religion and belief, as anchored in the Swiss constitution, which protected the right to wear a headscarf – including during employment in the private sector. [swissinfo] Read more

21 October 2016

Muslim civil war on streets of Britain: Islam divide carries 'death warrant', says expert

The chief executive of the Quiliam Foundation, Haras Rafiq, has claimed that civil war has spread onto the UK's streets.

He said this the killers deemed their victims "not being Muslim enough" and it has led to "ISIS-style" killings on British street.

He said: "The last three killings of Muslims to be picked up by the media have been carried out by those who have decided that their victims 'are not Muslim enough'."

Mr Rafiq said that the Salafi version of Islam excommunicates Muslims who are not the same as them and under Sharia law, this means that these people can be killed.

The Muslim leader, Khalid Rashad, hired a hit man to shoot dead Abdul Hadi Arwani because of a mosque power struggle.

Rashad, who was jailed yesterday, decided to carry out the murder following a struggle over who had the right to run the An Noor cultural centre, a mosque in west London. [Daily Express] Read more

20 October 2016

Prevent is failing. Any effective strategy must include Muslim communities

{Treating all Muslims with suspicion has made Prevent a toxic brand. A grassroots-led programme would be more effective at countering terrorism}

.... At present, rather than enlist Muslim communities as equal partners in the fight against terrorism, they instead must live under the shadow of the government’s Prevent strategy, which is widely perceived to be a toxic brand.

.... In the report, the former security official and Prevent strategy’s architect, Sir David Omand, observed: “The key issue is, do most people in the community accept [Prevent] as protective of their rights? If the community sees it as a problem, then you have a problem.”

.... Notwithstanding this scepticism, there is a real desire in the community to explore grassroots-led responses to the challenge of terrorism. That is why the Muslim Council of Britain is carrying out a nationwide consultation to find out what Muslim communities would like the government to do to tackle terrorism together.

Initial feedback from this listening exercise suggests that the Prevent strategy is seen as a top-down government-led effort to create a more palatable version of Islam, targeting so-called non-violent extremists without a robust definition. Instead, Muslim communities support a greater focus on violent terrorism specifically, while community cohesion efforts unrelated to terrorism are dealt with separately. [Miqdaad Versi, 483 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 236 votes] "Rather than mosques and madrasas being targeted as potential hotbeds of terrorism, a claim that has no basis in fact" ?????????

.... The material, which was openly available in many of the mosques, including the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, which has been visited by Prince Charles, also encourages British Muslims to segregate themselves from non-Muslims. Channel 4 filmed preachers and obtained DVDs and books inside mosques which were filled with hate-filled invective against Christians and Jews. They condemned democracy and called for jihad. They presented women as intellectually congenitally deficient and in need of beating when they transgressed Islamic dress codes. They said that children over the age of 10 should be hit if they did not pray. Again the main mosque chosen for exposure was influenced and funded from Saudi Arabia.

At that time the Saudis were spending $2-3 billion annually on Wahhabist propaganda. That sum is thought to have doubled since then. Ban hate preachers.

Abdal Hakim Murad, the student Iman at Cambridge University says

“I regard what the Saudis are doing in the ghettoes of British Islam as potentially lethal for the future of the community.”

I would suggest you start above and please listen to Iman Murad!

[ANOTHER 145] "A grassroots-led programme would be more effective at countering terrorism."

I'm sorry, no. No, no, no.

You've had your chance to regulate yourselves, we've bent over backwards to leave you alone to do your thing in peace, and you've failed miserably time and time again.

That's why mainstream society has been forced to step in and play policeman, which is what Prevent is.

[ANOTHER 108] So what are the alternatives? Apparently, woolly inclusive flammery which ignores political extremism entirely, even though violent terrorism is always the result of political extremism, and the problem is the community which condones the political attitudes that can be used to justify violent action.

"And according to a BBC/Comres poll last year, an overwhelming 94% of Muslims would report terrorists planning violence to the police."

So 6% would not. That is quite a big minority for such a serious issue.

Actually the whole problem is that there are 'Muslim communities' in the first place. Muslims should be part of British society, not religiously labelled communities - but that can't happen (and Islam can't be compatible with the secular west) unless we break the link between community identity and religion. We've had the same problem in NI with the 'Catholic community' and 'Protestant community', as opposed to people feeling Northern Irish - even 'British' vs 'Irish' is better than a religiously delineated sectarianism.

"the best way to tackle violent extremists is to demonstrate that British Muslims are part and parcel of British life."

So how do we persuade them to join the rest of us in 'British life'? It is not Brits who are unwelcoming to people from other communities - look at how well integrated other minorities are. The problem is in the culture in these 'communities' and how they don't want to integrate. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Muslims call for Norway minister to resign after pork post

Norwegian Muslims have called on the country’s integration minister to step down after she said that immigrants should adapt to a culture of pork, alcohol and no face-veils.

Sylvi Listhaug, a minister appointed by the anti-immigrant Progress Party, caused outrage on Monday when she made an incendiary post on the eve of an national integration conference.

“I think those who come to Norway need to adapt to our society. Here we eat pork, drink alcohol and show our face. You must abide by the values, laws and regulations that are in Norway when you come here,” she wrote in a post that was ‘liked’ by 20,000 people.

Omar Gilani Syed, a criminologist who has worked with integrating refugees, asked whether Listhaug could continue to be responsible for integration in the country while making such statements.

“If she does not understand the complexity and does not have the expertise to deal with these social issues in a good way, it's time to ask: should Listhaug reconsider her position?” he wrote in the Aftenposten newspaper. [The Local] Read more

My issues with the Muslim Council of Britain’s alternative to the Prevent strategy

Critics of the Government’s counter-terrorism Prevent strategy often claim that it disproportionately targets and focuses on Muslims, despite the fact that it actually works on countering the far-right too.

So what does the Muslim Council of Britain decide to do? It has decided to set up its own programme to target, er, Muslims.

In a direct challenge to the government’s ‘controversial’ Prevent scheme, the MCB plans to start the Muslim-run counter-radicalisation scheme next year.

The MCB said in a statement: "In reflecting the wishes of a cross-section of British Muslim society, our affiliates have directed the MCB to explore a grassroots-led response to the challenge of terrorism. Real challenges exists, as we see with Muslim families broken up as a number of children, mothers and fathers leave to travel to Syria."

Cross-section of British Muslim society? I’m guessing this probably won’t include Ahmadi Muslims who aren’t even deemed Muslims by the MCB.

Until this April, the MCB was affiliated with the Stockwell Green Mosque (also known as the Aalami Majlise Tahaffuze Khatme Nubuwwat), in which ‘Kill Ahmadis’ pamphlets were found. Khatm-e Nubuwwat is an organisation, founded in Pakistan, specifically to target and persecute Ahmadi Muslims. [Sedaa.org] Read more

Channel 4 presenter: 'It's open season on Muslims'

Channel 4 news journalist Fatima Manji says the press regulator's decision not to uphold her complaint about The Sun is "frightening".

Writing in the Sun in July, Kelvin MacKenzie argued that a reporter wearing a headscarf should not have been allowed to report on the Nice terror attacks.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said he was "entitled to express" his view but Ms Manji says the ruling means "it is now open season on minorities and Muslims". [BBC] Read more

19 October 2016

Instead of fighting terror, Prevent is creating a climate of fear

{This unjust programme alienates law-abiding British Muslims, undermining the police’s ability to actually prevent terrorist attacks}

.... Prevent’s overly broad definition of extremism – vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values – creates a systemic risk of violations of the right to freedom of expression, the right against discrimination and the right to privacy. Scottish government officials told me that although the term “British values” was in the Prevent guidance, they “don’t ever use that phrase” because “it could be damaging or unhelpful if it endorses a ‘them and us’ mentality”.

Having spoken to more than 80 experts and individuals affected by the programme, my research found that Prevent was creating a climate of fear and a chilling effect on free expression. Case studies in the report describe children in schools being targeted and intimidated under Prevent for expressing political views. In UK universities – considered by many to be bastions of academic freedom – Prevent is apparently leading to the cancellation of conferences and debates about Islamophobia, and students are being targeted for reading course materials on terrorism. [Amrit Singh, 699 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 275 votes] "Prevent is creating a climate of fear"

Sorry but you are wrong. It was Islamic extremism that did that.

[2ND 202] I'm sorry but I don't care if Prevent hurts feelings. If it prevents one Paris style attack I'm all for it.

And before people chime in with 'This is what ISIS' want, just save it, its utter rubbish. If somebody is at risk of extremism we need to act immediately.

[3RD 175] Okay, so you oppose Prevent. That's fine. What you and other opponents of the program seem unable to do, however, is provide an actual working alternative.

[4TH 171] The quran, hadiths and other Islamic texts specifically mentions the death penalty for homosexuality, infidelity, apostasy and a host of other "unislamic" practices.

Unless the government takes the bull by the horns and addresses this contradiction between what fundamentalist muslims believe in and what British law states, the tensions will continue.

When asked to choose between a literal interpretation of the bible and British law, most British citizens will choose the latter. can we say the same for our muslim population?

[5TH 159] Genuine question: Why is the Guardian so far removed from common sense and public opinion that they release pieces like this?

Does the author think that doing nothing about home grown terrorism is acceptable? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Norway PM blasts she would NOT hire someone wearing niqab as migrants should integrate

Speaking ahead of an integration conference on Tuesday, Erna Solberg declared foreigners coming to the Scandinavian country need integrate to its culture and customs.

When asked if she would hire someone wearing a niqab, Mrs Solberg said: “No. [They] would probably not get a job from me or many others if [they] were wearing a niqab.

“We believe we should see each other’s faces in the workplace.”

The PM said the government had no plans to ban anyone from practicing their religion at work, but that it was important for Norway to set clear boundaries.

Mrs Solberg added: “Niqab and burka is a very small problem in Norway, but there are some who wear it.

“I experience it as a political statement from those who wear it, [who] wish to challenge the boundaries in Norwegian society. And so we must enforce some limits. [Daily Express] Read more

Kelvin MacKenzie cleared over Fatima Manji hijab article by regulator

Complaints made against Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie alleging religious discrimination have not been upheld by the press regulator.

The former editor of the tabloid newspaper was referred to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) after he questioned whether it was right for correspondent Fatima Manji to appear on screen wearing a hijab to present a report on the Nice massacre in July.

He subsequently defended his "reasonable" criticism of Channel 4 News, arguing the hijab was a "religious statement" and questioning whether a Christian would be able to wear a cross prominently on television.

In response, Ben de Pear, editor of Channel 4 News, said Ms Manji had been the victim of religious discrimination.

In its ruling on Wednesday, Ipso said: "While the columnist's opinions were undoubtedly offensive to the complainant, and to others, these were views he had been entitled to express. The article did not include a prejudicial or pejorative reference to the complainant on the grounds of her religion." [The Telegraph] Read more

Islam, Intolerance and The Indulgence of Extremism

The Louis Smith case demonstrates that conservative Muslims are far more keen on policing the speech of British athletes than tackling extremism in their own communities.

Allah hu Akbar has become the rousing war cry of terrorists from London to Lahore. Yet, it is important to remember, Allah hu Akbar is also part of an exercise of spiritual deference for millions of believing Muslims worldwide, a call for believers to bask in the glory of God. Any criticism of that reflexive and meaningful enterprise is a blow that the 1.8 billion followers of Muhammed will not put up with - or at least their ‘community leaders’ won’t, that truly ghoulish collective of mavens who are humourless, unshaven, and of course, exclusively male.

Louis Smith fell victim to that particular cohort when he made the grievous error of shouting “Allah hu Akbar!” in jest whilst on a night-out. Poor Louis may have been under the impression jokes can and will be handled with at least some modicum of maturity and good humour.

Nay, it seems underneath every cute joke, even immature and poor jokes like Louis’s, is the need for an ‘earnest' conversation about the limits of satire or some allied spiel we seem to have got over with the Life of Brian half a century ago - people’s feelings, surprisingly enough, do not count as a valid reason to halt a well-earned mocking. [Conatus News] Read more

Did Australian farmers hand raise their animals to be treated like this? Muslims are filmed cruelly slashing the throats of Aussie sheep on the street during barbaric Islamic 'Festival of Sacrifice'

Tied up, stuffed into a car boot, and then left to bleed out as the streets run red around them - this is the fate of thousands Australian animals sold to Muslim countries for Islam's annual 'Festival of Sacrifice'.

Distressing new footage shows goats and sheep being beaten, dragged and thrown about as they are taken to be slaughtered in conditions that are 'nothing short of a blood-bath'.

Now politicians and activists are calling on the government to properly enforce four-year-old laws that were designed to stop such abuses.

Andrew Wilkie, the independent MP for Denison, branded the Animals Australia footage 'appalling' and called for the export industry to be shut down.

He said: 'Here we see Australian sheep and goats being sent to Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Lebanon to suffer horrific treatment during the annual Festival of Sacrifice.

'Surely this alone is all the proof we need that the live export trade is inherently cruel and needs to be shut down. [Daily Mail] Read more

Saudi activist Raif Badawi to receive more lashes

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, will receive a new set of lashes, his supporters said.

A private source told Evelyne Abitbol, who founded the Raif Badawi Foundation with Badawi's wife, said that the Saudi government would resume corporal punishment against the jailed blogger.

"Our understanding of the information is that another series of lashes punishment will take place this time inside the prison," she said on the foundation's website on Monday.

The unnamed source, who was the same person who had alerted Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar in 2015 before he received his first 50 lashes in public, did not indicate when the next flogging would take place. [The New Arab] Read more

Why Ipso was correct: freedom of expression means the freedom to offend

When the row blew up over Kelvin MacKenzie’s column in the Sun about Fatima Manji wearing a hijab while presenting Channel 4 News, I said he was wrong.

Wrong because his criticism was hateful and offensive and vulgar. But that’s the price we must pay for freedom of expression (a point made endlessly in the aftermath of the massacre of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists).

I didn’t share MacKenzie’s views, but so what? There are precious few things we agree about. It’s just how it is. And I’m sure that Sir Alan Moses, chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), would have few views in common with MacKenzie.

Indeed, I would doubt if any single member of Ipso’s complaints committee agreed with the Sun columnist’s opinion. I say again, so what? [Roy Greenslade, 412 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 184 votes] I am French and although I watch Channel 4 News every day and Fatima, the day she was on air to report on the Nice attack, I was shocked, traumatized by the events themselves. I still can't understand why Muslims need to dress in a particular way in order to show they're religious.

In that particular case, I had the same reaction as McKenzie's, although not as contemptuous. If you are not French, you may not understand, but that day Ch4 ought to have assumed that some would find Fatima's headscarf too much. I did, regardless of what I think about Islam. Dissociating a headscarf and jihadism is sometimes difficult in that context. Ignoring the fact that it could shock is arrogant.

[2ND 122] It is refreshing to see someone defend the right of freedom of speech especially when they disagree with what the person they are defending said.

[3RD 106] You absolutely have the right to be offended, you do not have the right not to be offended.

Something that seems to divide the opinion of the West and Islamic world... [The Guardian] Read more

18 October 2016

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’

She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.

Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question. [NYTimes.com] Read more

Marine Le Pen Would Ban All Religious Clothing, Including Crosses, 'To Fight Islam'

Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader in France, has promised to ban all religious clothing including Christian symbols, in a bid to defeat radical Islam.

The National Front chief enjoyed a surge in polls after recent terror attacks and is expected to come top or second in the first round of presidential voting in April.

She said on Sunday that Jews and Christians would have to accept the ban in order to "fight the advance of political Islam".

If elected in April and May next year Le Pen, 48, said she would extend the current ban on religious symbols in state schools to all public spaces.

"I know this is a sacrifice, but I believe that the situation is too serious today."

he proposed ban would include Christian crosses and Jewish kippah as well as Muslim garments like the hijab and burka.

Le Pen was recently accused of "waging Hitler's campaign" but "replacing Jews with Arabs and blacks". Comedian Guy Bedos, 82, told his audience that Le Pen's message was: "If you are unemployed and you're suffering it's because there are too many Arabs, too many blacks and if we throw them into the sea you will have work." [Christian Today] Read more

Frightening photos show woman screaming as she’s caned for standing too close to her boyfriend

Horrific images have emerged of an unidentified woman being caned 23 times in Indonesia’s Aceh province — all because she allegedly broke the province’s strict Islamic laws by standing too close to her boyfriend. The woman was one of 13 people — all between the ages of 21 and 30 — who were publicly flogged on Monday at a mosque. The six couples all stood accused of violating Islamic law by having touched, hugged, or kissed each other without being married.

One of the alleged moral offenders wasn’t accused of committing the crime of touching a woman — his crime was simply having spent time with a woman in a private location. Another of the offenders, a 22-year-old pregnant woman, temporarily escaped caning because she was pregnant. The flogging would still be enacted, they told her, after she had given birth.

The number of canings that occur in Aceh has surged since the region’s adopted a new penal code last year that prescribed caning in cases where “moral offenses” occur. Under the new code, non-Muslims can also be caned for violating Sharia law. [NYTimes.com] Read more

Muslim woman REFUSES community service order saying she needs husband’s permission

The mother also claimed to be unaware of the law and told the court: “We had to make a sacrifice.”

When she was told she would have to serve 150 hours of community service she told the court that she could not do it due to having to look after her husband and that she would have to ask his permission before saying whether or not she could accept the ruling.

The judge then said that she would have to make the decision and once again she stated she need her husband’s permission and maybe an alternative would be to pay a fine.

The woman ultimately gave in and accepted the punishment after she was told the only alternative was a prison sentence. [Daily Express] Read more

British Peer: Polygamy ‘Commonplace’ Within Muslim Communities in Britain

Polygamy is “commonplace” within Muslim communities in Britain, with husbands fathering as many as 20 children by four wives, a Peer has said. She has called for a change in the law so that Muslim women know their rights under British law not to be discriminated against.

Although it has long been recognised that polygamy occurs in Muslim communities, it is typically seen as very rare.

But in a statement delivered to a conference on Islam in the UK on Sunday, Baroness Cox, a cross-bench member of the house of Lords, told the audience that polygamy in some communities is “commonplace” and that, as the marriages are Islamic ceremonies which have no legal status in British law, women who find themselves in polygamous marriages are being left without any rights.

Furthermore, the situation is being enabled by the acceptance of sharia councils in the UK, which Baroness Cox called a “parallel legal system”. [Breitbart London] Read more

17 October 2016

Athletic club drops cross from its crest over Isil fears weeks before Dublin Marathon

The Crusaders Athletic Club wrote to members last week telling them that a decision had been taken to remove the cross from new singlets to be worn by some runners competing in the Dublin City Marathon in two weeks.

The decision to remove the cross from the crest caused major disquiet among members of the Dublin club, with some threatening to leave if the logo is changed.

In an email sent to members, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, the club said a final decision had not been taken to change the crest but it would be discussed at the annual general meeting.

"As some of you may or may not have heard, our website was hacked (twice) by persons unknown purporting to be from Islamic State and threatening messages sent to us," it said. [Independent.ie] Read more

'Make Muslims of them ALL’ Radicals call for ‘Islamification’ outside Swedish Parliament

In a shocking clip, filmed by politician Hanif Bali outside his workplace, a huge crowd can be seen chanting and praising Imam Khomeini, who enforced Sharia Law in Iran.

Posting the footage on Facebook, Bali wrote: “Today there was quite a lot of noise outside parliament – prayers were proclaimed and people chanted.

“When I first looked outside, I thought I was seeing scenes from streets of Tehran.”

The demonstration, which took place on Wednesday, was instigated by Imam Ali Islamic Center, a Shia Muslim Mosque which has had known ties to hate preachers calling for the murder of homosexuals.

After seeing the demonstration outside the Parliament building, Bali went outside and within moments he said he heard people hailing Imam Khomeini. [Daily Express] Read more

French school pupil told to 'cut beard or go home'

The young Muslim pupil at a high school in Seine-Saint-Denis in the northern suburbs of Paris, says he has been growing his beard out for two years.

But the facial hair is not to the liking of the school's headmaster, who reportedly asked the pupil to trim it back.

"I explained that I grew it for religious reasons, and he said it was a sign of radicalization and told me: You cut it or you leave," the student told Le Parisien newspaper.

There are no rules against pupils having beards, and the 21-year-old was quick to point out that he wasn't alone in having one.

"I'm not the only one with a beard, there are teachers and students that have them," he said. "It's important to me, the Prophet [Mohammed] had one," he said.

The bearded pupil said that he has since told the headmaster that he would be dropping out of the school. [The Local] Read more

Angry Muslims Say Teen Christian Boy Must Die For 'Insulting Islam'

An angry mob of 80 Muslims has confronted a Christian boy, demanding he is hanged.

The mob also threatened to burn his family to death for a Facebook post they claim insulted Islam.

The case is just the latest of rising persecution of Christians in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country.

Nabeel Masih, 16, from Punjab, who faces the death penalty for posting a picture of the Kaaba religious pilgrimage site in Mecca, had to be rushed under protective guard from court, the Express reports.

The "insulting and sacrilegious" image is alleged to have featured a pig's head.

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The mob has even threatened his defence team for taking the case. Masih's lawyer Aneeqa Maria said it was becoming increasingly tense. [Christian Today] Read more

Young Muslims at risk of radicalisation in Vienna

The study found that 85 percent of young people who are in contact with a youth worker have an immigration background, and that 27 percent of those teenagers who are Muslim show strong sympathy for jihadism, and violent and anti-Western thinking.

The government in Vienna says that it wants to identify this group of “latently vulnerable” youth and establish a dialogue with them, before they become radicalised.

The author of the study, Kenan Güngör, spoke to young people who are involved in youth work, either in centres, parks, or on the streets, and identified three groups of teens - "vulnerable", "ambivalent", and "moderates".

Out of 401 respondents, 214 were Muslims aged between 14 and 24-years-old. Asked if the Islamic world should defend itself by force against the West, 34 percent said that they agreed with this statement. 29 percent said they thought positively of people who were prepared to go to war for their religion. [The Local] Read more

16 October 2016

Muslim woman becomes first ever student to be allowed to wear a hijab beneath her uniform at America's oldest private military college

She's the first woman ever allowed to wear a Muslim headscarf beneath her military uniform at the nation's oldest private military college.

But don't call Sana Hamze a pioneer.

'I don't really see it as me changing the world or changing the U.S., even,' said Hamze, 18, a freshman at Vermont's Norwich University.

'I just kind of see it as the school allowing an American student to practice her faith while also training to be an officer in the Navy.'

.... But the uniform for the 18-year-old student from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a little different. Unlike other female members of the corps, Hamze wears her Muslim hijab, or head covering, beneath.

As part of her effort to fulfill her lifelong dream of continuing her family's legacy of military and public service while staying true to her devout religious beliefs, she asked for a uniform accommodation to wear the hijab when she was applying to colleges earlier this year.

Norwich, one of the nation's six senior military colleges, agreed to make the accommodation.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1180 votes] It's called a uniform for a reason

[2ND 1034] Don't know what I find more ridiculous. The college thinking they are being so cutting edge and PC or her thinking she has a right to wear what she likes, unlike every other person. Years ago I wanted to be a Policewoman, but I couldn't. I was too short. I accepted it. All she has to do is remove what to me is an offensive item. It may as well be chains round her ankles.

[3RD 981] This is just not right.

[4TH 878] What a Disgrace!!!! [Daily Mail] Read more

15 October 2016

Islamist girls’ school that taught pupils gay people should be killed and men could beat their wives forced to close

An Islamist girls’ boarding school which taught pupils that men could beat women and gay people should be killed is facing closure after a pupil exposed its sharia-inspired rules.

Aliyah Saleem was expelled in front of the entire study body at Jamia Al Hudaa girls’ school in Nottingham in 2006.

She was accused of “narcissism” for owning a disposable camera, and publicly humiliated as a part of her punishment.

Following her expulsion, Ms Saleem spoke out about her treatment at the school, saying that pupils were taught no geography, history, art, sport or music, but were instead subject to extremist views.

Students were taught that the death sentence could be given to gay men and that Jews and Christians made Allah angry.

Speaking to The Times under a pseudonym in 2014, Ms Saleem spoke of how she was made to feel isolated and shut off from society – visits into town being banned unless it was to see a doctor or dentist. [The Independent] Read more

14 October 2016

Two Burkini-Dressed Women Thrown Out Of Széchenyi Baths

Two burkini-clad swimmers were told to leave a pool in Budapest’s Széchenyi Baths after a visitor complained about their clothing to staff.

According to the news website444.hu, the two women, aged around 30 and 70, were in the pool for over an hour before they were asked to leave by two members of staff, who cited instructions given by the pool’s leadership.

Contacted by the website, the sales and marketing director of Budapest Baths cPlc., the operator of the Széchenyi Baths, said that the women were told to respect the pool’s policies and bath in appropriate clothing.

According to these, pools can only be used in swimsuits not reaching below the knee or shoulder for health reasons. While the rules do not name the burkini, they do not permit wearing clothing covering the entire surface of the body for visitors to the capital’s baths. [Hungary Today] Read more

Turkish delegate rips Mohammed cartoon from Council of Europe mural

A Turkish official ripped a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed out of a mural at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, a source at the rights body said Friday.

Dozens of people watched as the official, a member of Turkey's parliamentary delegation to the Council, removed the image from the mural titled "The Road not Taken" on Wednesday, the source said.

The drawing of Mohammed wearing a bomb instead of a turban -- the original of which sparked outrage in the Muslim world when it was published in 2005 by a Danish newspaper -- had a banner across the prophet's face reading "censored".

Most Muslims consider portraying the prophet in images to be blasphemous.

The work on the theme of freedom of expression, titled "The Road not Taken", is made up of around 1,000 images.

The mural's Maltese creator Norbert Attard told the online version of The Malta Independent he had placed the "censored" banner across the cartoon "so that it would not offend anyone". [Expatica] Read more

13 October 2016

Coach driver ‘put children’s lives at risk’ by stopping on busy Portsmouth road – to pray

Some 50 children, parents and teachers from Meon Junior School in Southsea were returning home from a school trip to London when the incident happened.

The Muslim coach driver stopped his vehicle in the middle of the Eastern Road, just before rush-hour, for 10 minutes while he conducted his daily prayer. The man’s actions have since been condemned by parents and Muslims in the city and have prompted an investigation by Cosham-based coach company Vision Travel.

Mum Claire Powell, 35, was furious. Her nine-year-old daughter Heidi was one of those on the coach at the time. Claire, of Cedar Grove, Copnor, said: ‘I was absolutely livid when I heard. [Portsmouth News] Read more

Why shouldn’t Louis Smith take the piss out of Islam?

.... The most concerning part of this story is not the video but the quote from a security expert, who said: ‘Mocking religion is pretty foolish anyway. In the case of Islam, it can also be quite a risky thing to do.’

That was followed up by Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, who said: ‘Our faith is not to be mocked, it is to be celebrated.’ Sorry, Mr Shafiq – you are free to celebrate your faith to your heart’s content, and drunken Olympians are free to take the piss out of it. Or they should be.

That security expert is right, actually: mocking Islam is a risky thing to do these days. And that’s a dire indictment of the censorious situation we’ve allowed ourselves to get into. I even thought twice before submitting this piece defending Smith, such is the climate of fear around offending the religion of peace. [Spiked] Read more

Gymnast Louis Smith: I’ve had death threats for mocking Islam

Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith has told BBC 5 live that he's had death threats “every day” since a video was leaked showing him mocking Islamic prayers.

Talking to Emma Barnett, he admitted that he and fellow gymnast Luke Carson were drunk when they filmed the late-night video, which started with singing songs from the musical Aladdin after a wedding, and ended up with them using a rug to imitate the Muslim call to prayer.

He said he is "very ashamed of my actions", which was a "very silly thing to do", and admitted that he is "quite ignorant to religion in general…. I think what I did was very offensive especially to the Muslim community".

Louis is now planning to visit a mosque and find out more about the Muslim faith to "rebuild some bridges". [BBC] Read more

Pakistan delays Asia Bibi blasphemy appeal

Pakistan's Supreme Court has delayed an appeal into the country's most notorious blasphemy case against a Christian mother on death row since 2010, after one of the judges stepped down.

Thousands of security troops had been deployed in the capital, Islamabad, as the court prepared to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi on Thursday.

The court did not immediately set a new date for the appeal.

But the threat of violence was largely abated when one of the three-judge bench, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, told the court he had to recuse himself from the case.

"I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that," he told the court.

Taseer, a liberal provincial governor, was shot dead in Islamabad in 2011 after speaking out for Bibi. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

12 October 2016

The Guardian view on blasphemy in Pakistan: a dark moment for religious freedom approaches

The supreme court in Lahore will on Thursday hear the appeal of Asia Bibi against her death sentence for blasphemy. It is a case that has already cost two lives: that of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, who spoke out in her defence, and his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered the governor for defending her and was himself hanged.

Qadri was described as a saint and a martyr for his crime by many in Pakistan, and by some prominent mosques in Britain. This is a poisonous mess. Successive generations of Pakistani politicians – most notably Zia ul-Haq – have used the statutes on blasphemy as a way to combine religious fanaticism with the fear and resentment of outsiders.

Almost all societies have speech codes enforced by law and reinforced by public opinion. The blasphemy law of Pakistan is not just an affront to liberal decencies; the evidence points to it being used as a tool to persecute minorities. It also involves a distortion and coarsening of the sharia principles it claims to embody. Bad as the Islamic laws against apostasy are – and they are very bad indeed – they can by definition only apply to Muslims. [150 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 73 votes] "Large demonstrations already demand her death."

And yet there are plenty who claim Islam does not need reforming.

[2ND 63] Pakistan is the biggest recipient of British aid. We send them more than £400 million a year. So we should start making demands about its deteriorating human rights record. If they continue to let bad neighbours use the blasphemy law to murder people they dislike, stop sending money.

[3RD 63] Blasphemy in Islam seems not to be just about God, but to cover everything relating to Islamic religion and Islamic culture. Quite unbelievable and not very logical. The less we have to do with countries like Pakistan the better off we shall be.

[4TH 52] We should shut down all dealings with Pakistan if this is not rectified at appeal. What is the merit of wringing our hands if we are still prepared to deal with such evil?

[5TH 50] The elephant in the room is that this woman is a Christian. Grudges against Christians in Pakistan are routinely used to rid people of someone they don't like or have had a dispute with. Being a Christian in such a society is virtually an impending death sentence; I'm just surprised that the whole family haven't been convicted of blasphemy.

Pakistani Muslims hate Christians (and Jews) with a vengeance, though they are hardly alone in that. What has appalled me is seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury welcoming the imam who lauded the murderer of the Punjabi governor who tried to help Asia Bibi, praising him as a hero of Islam. Welby should be ashamed. [The Guardian] Read more

The Vilification of Ex-Muslims and Islamic Reformers

These instances of the demonization of reformist Muslims and ex-Muslims are by no means exhaustive, but they do hopefully give a sense of the dirty resistance currently being levelled (mostly) by the Islamic right and their allies on the left; levelling sordid personal attacks on reformists in order to undermine dangerous and critical ideas which could radically reshape the Islamic faith and stem the tide of Islamism across the world.

Leftists and liberals who wish to reverse the damage which has been done by the regressive left and others should put their full weight behind these protestors and dissenters and call out the slanderers and demagogues who wish to divert attention away from the real issues.

Those fighting for Islamic reform – especially those living under theocratic regimes who put their lives at risk for what they believe – are some of the bravest, most courageous people alive today. Moreover, their arguments and ideas have to succeed if the tide of Islamism across the world is to be stemmed and the killing of Muslims, Christians, Jews, ex-Muslims, atheists, Yezidis and other religious minorities is to stop. We owe them our support. [Conatus News] Read more

CHRISTIAN CRACKDOWN: Pakistan bans TV stations in sweeping 'attack on religious freedom'

Pakistan, home to some 2.8million christians, ordered the censoring of pro-Christian programmes after the nation's TV regulatory body declared them illegal.

One censored station, Catholic TV, broadcasted from Lahore where 42 adult Christians and 30 children were killed in a suicide blast while celebrating Easter last March.

Catholic TV founder Father Morris Jalal said: "As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal.

"When someone bans the expression of faith, which is a fundamental right, there is persecution."

The move to ban the stations leaves Pakistan's Christian minority with no public media presence after 17 years of having been allowed to broadcast across the country.

Father Jalal added: "We must protest this decision, and we hope the West does it as well." [Daily Express] Read more

France's Hollande sees a "problem with Islam", according to new book

French President Francois Hollande told the authors of a book just published that "France has a problem with Islam", comments that risk dividing his party before next year's presidential election.

Hollande made the remarks to the two authors of "A President Shouldn't Say That...." in December 2015, a month after Islamist militant gunmen and bombers attacked Paris, killing 130 people. Their book was published on Wednesday.

"It's true that there's a problem with Islam. No one doubts it," Hollande is quoted as saying.

"It's not that Islam poses a problem in the sense that it is a dangerous religion, but in as far as it wants to affirm itself as a religion of the Republic."

The comments echo similar statements by conservative politicians following a fresh wave of militant attacks this summer, though Hollande did not suggest the hard-line responses advocated by some right-wing opponents.

Among other proposals, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking a return to the Elysee palace, has promised a nationwide ban on burkinis and said France should detain or tag all individuals on an intelligence watchlist. [Reuters] Read more

Nearly one in five Flemish Belgians want to ban Islam

Nearly one in five Flemish Belgians believe following Islam should be banned in Belgium.

In response to a public survey conducted by the Flemish public broadcaster VRT and the daily De Standaard, 64 per cent of Flemings said they supported allowing the police to detain terror suspects without a warrant.

The governing nationalist New Flemish Alliance have proposed the idea, though it has encountered resistance from the liberal and Christian democrat coalition.

However, 26 per cent of Flemings oppose the measure.

Responding to the question "Should following Islam be banned in Belgium?" 17 per cent of Flemings polled agreed.

The idea was most popular among the over 55s, blue collar and low skilled workers.

However, half said they believe the presence of Muslim immigrants enriches society, compared to 27 per cent who said it did not.

In addition, 67 per cent said they did not mind being served in a shop by Muslims wearing headscarfs. [The Independent] Read more

11 October 2016

Vermont Military College Accommodates Muslim Student’s Dress

A policy change pertaining to uniforms at a Vermont military college has enabled a Muslim student to feel welcome on campus.

“I’m just a normal college student,” said military recruit Sana Hamze. “I’m very happy here.”

Hamze is of Lebanese heritage, from Florida. She said she was born in the United States to parents who were, too.

The 18-year-old recently started her first year at Norwich University in Northfield.

Before Hamze enrolled, Norwich allowed a change to its uniform policy to enable her observance of the hijab, a form of modest dress by Muslim women.

“A lot have had questions,” Hamze said of her fellow students. “Many have asked what’s it called? What does it mean?”

Hamze’s hijab must be in muted tones to match the camouflage of her recruit’s uniform, she explained. Over her hijab Wednesday, Hamze was wearing a school cap designating her as a recruit.

Another part of her uniform that reflects her Muslim faith is how Hamze wears long sleeves and pants, she explained. Other students may have short sleeves. [New England Cable News] Read more

Smith should be free to mock Islam

Here’s a prediction: the Louis Smith video will become a test case, not merely of the illiberal contracts that British Olympians are required to sign by UK Sport to receive public money, but of the wider debate on free speech and religious tolerance.

Smith, in case you were unaware, filmed a private video — which inevitably ended up on the internet — where he and his friends mock Islam.

The film shows Luke Carson, a fellow gymnast who has recently retired from the sport, shouting “Allahu akbar” while lying face down on a prayer mat, as Smith giggles and provides commentary.

I am not sure that the video represents satire of the genius of, say, Life of Brian, but it certainly pokes fun at the idea that anyone would wish to spend their time shouting slogans at a fictional deity in the sky and, by implication, the underlying basis of Islam itself. [The Times (£)] Read more

Europe’s no-go zones: Inside the lawless ghettos that breed and harbour terrorists

.... Before the French, Belgian, German and British governments — including their police, courts, schools and housing authorities — offer resident Muslims in Europe the blessings of a secular society, they will have to take back the ghettos.

They will have to disarm the militants, deport scores of preachers, pacify the gangs, cut off the drug supply and cut off funding from Saudi Arabia and Iran. And they will have to persuade key players in the ghetto to stand up to their violent neighbours and instead support the peaceful aims of the state.

However, if the European ruling elites and the mainstream media have stopped believing in the liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) that was proclaimed on that fateful day of July 14, 1789, then the future of France and much of western Europe will be one of a growing series of terrorist nightmares.

They will have lost the war against the jihadists, the authority of the state will wither, and the French and other European majorities will be treated like a conquered people in their own lands. The same fate awaits the British, if they do not soon take preventative action. [National Post] Read more

Is Muslim sectarian violence a new reality for Britain?

.... It is the pace and scale of difference in the past two decades that has had an impact here, accompanied by religious information and sectarian mobilisation on the internet. Unlike many of the pioneer generation of post-war Muslim migrants, their descendants are fully literate and able to access theological material, particularly online. And they are much more aware then their parents’ generation of the theological differences within Islam.

There is a real internal debate going on within communities, often with a streak of intolerance which was not as pronounced 20 years ago.

Research on established Muslim communities has argued that the encounter with other Muslims in the diaspora is crucial in the development of the religion. Mixing with other Muslims can inspire theological debate and has the potential to bear significantly on religious identity and the process of transformation across generations. But as the two recent murders have shown, it can also lead to sectarianism and violence. [The Conversation] Read more

We must have the freedom to mock Islam

How did mocking Islam become the great speechcrime of our times? Louis Smith, the gymnast, is the latest to fall foul of the weird new rule against ridiculing Islam. A leaked video shows Smith laughing as his fellow gymnast, Luke Carson, pretends to pray and chants ‘Allahu Akbar’.

Smith says something derogatory about the belief in ‘60 virgins’ (he means 72 virgins). Following a firestorm online, and the launch of an investigation by British Gymnastics, Smith has engaged in some pretty tragic contrition. He says he is ‘deeply sorry’ for the ‘deep offence’ he caused. He’s now basically on his knees for real, praying for pity, begging for forgiveness from the guardians of what may be thought and said.

The response to Smith’s silly video has been so mad you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d been caught snorting coke or hanging with prostitutes. But all he did was have an innocent laugh at the expense of a global religion. He made light fun of a faith system. That’s not allowed anymore?

.... We often wonder why radical Islamists are so tetchy, so determined to smack down, sometimes literally, those who take aim at their faith. Well, wonder no more — they’ve grown up in societies that do precisely the same, which demonise and criminalise criticism of Islam, and which in the process give a green light to Islamist intolerance of the ‘enemies’ of Islam. [The Spectator] Read more

Mocking Islam

.... The governing body warned of possible severe disciplinary action saying: “British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion and is appalled by such behaviours. Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation.”

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the federation’s move.

“This behaviour by leading and decorated sportspeople is sadly a confirmation of how Islamophobia has become acceptable,” the Muslim council’s deputy secretary general, Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, said. “It is therefore heartening that British Gymnastics has resolved to take swift and decisive action.

“The supposed apology that has been issued by the two men falls well short of addressing the hurt caused against Muslims,” he said. “We hope they reflect upon their actions and realise the need for people to follow their faith with dignity.”

Follow their faith with dignity? If only. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Muslim councillor removes support for Louis Smith to receive freedom of Peterborough after ‘mocking Islam’

Councillor Mohammed Jamil, Labour group leader on Peterborough City Council, has written to the panel saying he has withdrawn his backing for the Olympic silver medallist to be made a freeman because the Muslim community is offended by his actions.

Video footage appeared to show Mr Smith, with fellow gymnast Luke Carson, laughing while pretending to pray and shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

The Islamic phrase means “God is the greatest” in Arabic.

Cllr Jamil said: “I’ve had people over the weekend saying they do not want someone who says things like that to have the freedom of Peterborough.

“There is anger. He is a role model to a lot of people.

“It’s stuff like that which gives the misconception of what Islam is.

“I just do not think someone like that is someone I can support to have the freedom of the city in a city as diverse as ours. [Peterborough Telegraph] Read more

Half of all Australians want Muslim immigration ban? New ANUpoll suggests it's not that simple

It may well be, as recent headlines claimed, that half of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration, but those wanting a less simplistic view of Australians' attitudes to terrorism and Islam should take a closer look at the latest ANUpoll.

We set out wanting to establish the limits of Australians' support for national security policies in the face of diminishing civil liberties.

To this end, we surveyed a randomly, probability-based sample of 1,200 Australians – not people who had signed up to answer survey questions for money – and explored a range of their attitudes.

We found that many adult Australians are anxious about terrorism, and that anxiety leads to support for government policies such as the retention of telecommunications data, and the justification of strict border protection regimes as a counter-terrorism measure.

For instance, 45 per cent of Australians are either 'very' or 'somewhat' concerned about either themselves or a family member being the victim of a terrorist attack in Australia.

More than half – 56 per cent – think the Government could do more to protect such an attack.

Almost half – 46 per cent – believe the Government's counter-terrorism policies have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country, compared with 28 per cent who believe they have gone too far in restricting Australians' civil liberties. [ABC News] Read more

10 October 2016

Islamic woman who wouldn't shake male boss' hand sues for $1 million after firing

A woman of Islamic faith who was hired as a case manager at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has filed a $1 million lawsuit against her former employer -- claiming she was fired after she refused to shake the hand of a male boss, wore a head scarf on the job and asked for time to pray during the work day.

Sharmin Rahman's lawsuit states that after starting her job on Dec. 1, 2014, she met a senior director, Royce Bowline. When Bowline tried to shake Rahman's hand, Rahman declined by explaining that her faith prohibited her from shaking the hands of men, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

.... A spokeswoman for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

"We strive to treat all employees fairly and equitably," wrote spokeswoman Samantha Ridderbusch.

The nonprofit employs 900 people in the Portland area and greater Willamette Valley. It offers assistance to about 15,000 people each year who are homeless or have problems with addictions or mental health.

Rahman was born in Bangladesh and her ethnic background is South Asian, according to the suit. She speaks with an accent, but started learning British English when she was in kindergarten. The suit states that she has a master's degree in social work. [Oregon Live] Read more

Louis Smith could be disciplined over video appearing to mock Islam

Louis Smith could face disciplinary action after British Gymnastics said it would investigate footage published by the Sun over the weekend which appeared to show Smith and his friend mocking Islam.

The gymnast, who won a silver medal for Great Britain on the pommel horse in Rio was videoed with fellow gymnast Luke Carson shouting “Allahu Akbar” and mimicking a praying pose.

“British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion and is appalled by such behaviours,” a statement read. “Gymnastics is an inclusive sport and we are proud of members who portray the inclusive values of British Gymnastics.

“Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation. We will be investigating the behaviours reported.”

Smith apologised for the incident, which took place at a friend’s wedding. “I am deeply sorry,” he wrote in a message on Twitter. “I am not defending myself, what I did was wrong. I want to say sorry for the deep offense I have caused and to my family who have also been affected by my thoughtless actions. [The Guardian] Read more

Islam is like ‘gangrene’ and wearing burka is 'serious crime’, says presidential candidate

The Republican and former agriculture minister, has called on all “disillusioned Socialists” to vote for him in the first and most decisive round of the French elections, which will be held on November 20 and 27.

Mr Le Maire, 47, who is known for his strong anti-immigration stance, told French magazine Le Journal du Dimanche political Islam had been gnawing away at France’s secular values for years; and Islamic institutions were being run from afar by powerful religious leaders based in more radical Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

He said: “Political Islam is like gangrene. It’s an infection which has caused France’s liberal traditions to slowly rot away.

“There is an urgent need to regain control and to reorganise the way in which Islamic institutions based in this country are run.”

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) – which acts as a bridge between Muslims and the government – is “doomed to failure”, he said, and has helped give Salafi-jihadist leaders and militants a voice.

The council must become more “transparent and secular” if it is to succeed in helping Muslims integrate into French society, he warned. [Daily Express] Read more

Traditions such as Christmas celebrations will die out unless people stand up for British values, government review finds

British laws and traditions such as the celebration of Christmas are under threat and must be vigorously upheld to stop ethnic segregation dividing society, according to major government review.

Waves of immigration have rapidly changed the character of some state schools and left residents in parts of Britain feeling unsettled, the landmark report will say.

These issues must be tackled head on, rather than swept under the carpet by politically correct council officials who fear being labelled “racist” if they assert British values or raise concerns, it will say.

The findings emerged as part of a wide-ranging, year-long government study by Dame Louise Casey, the government’s integration tsar.

David Cameron and Theresa May appointed her to take stock of the state of the nation, focusing on issues such as racism, extremism, and segregation among different communities. [The Telegraph] Read more

09 October 2016

Integration tsar criticises government over immigration

The Government has reportedly come under fire for failing to deal with the impact of immigration.

The criticisms have been made in a report by the government's integration tsar, Dame Louise Casey, according to The Sunday Times.

The paper says the report has been ready for months but publication was delayed amid concern over its content.

According to the newspaper, the report is understood to criticise the government for failing to get a grip on immigration and its impact on public services until too late.

It reportedly cites a lack of a strategy to integrate communities, and the failure to promote a programme designed to counter radicalism.

The newspaper said it is understood that the report also warns "liberal tolerance" has gone too far.

It was previously suggested that the report could warn that political correctness from council chiefs threatens British laws, culture and traditions. [ITV] Read more

Integration tsar 'attacks government's immigration strategy'

The criticisms have been made in a report by the Government's integration tsar Dame Louise Casey, according to The Sunday Times.

The newspaper says the report has been ready for months but its publication was delayed after Home Office officials expressed concern about its content.

According to the newspaper, the report is understood to criticise the Government for failing to get a grip on the pace of immigration and its impact on public services until too late.

It reportedly cites a lack of a strategy to integrate communities and the failure to promote and defend a programme designed to counter radicalism in communities.

The newspaper said it is understood that the report also warns that "liberal tolerance" has gone too far.

It has previously been suggested the report could warn that political correctness from council chiefs poses a threat to British laws, culture and traditions. [The Express & Star] Read more

07 October 2016

Former Blackburn MP Jack Straw stands by view on full veil 10 years on

FORMER Blackburn MP Jack Straw said his opinion has not changed 10 years after he called on Muslim women not to wear the full veil.

Mr Straw prompted an international debate on the issue when he wrote in his Lancashire Telegraph column in October 2006 about asking Muslim women to remove their veil when they visit his surgeries.

At the time he said the veil could be seen as a “visible statement of separation and difference” and was concerned “that wearing the full veil was bound to make better positive relations between the two communities more difficult.”

Speaking a decade on from the column, he said what sparked it had been an interaction with a constituent in his surgery.

He said: “A lady I knew but had not seen for a few years came and she said ‘it is so nice to see you again face-to-face’. I smiled and thought she was the lucky one. Now I talk to her about it. At the time she decided to remove it so we could have a proper conversation. [Lancashire Telegraph]

[TOP RATED COMMENT] The veil is worn to be a devisive instrument that sticks two fingers up to the British way of life and cohesion, and has nothing to do with religion or the womans rights to wear! How come that in a predominantly Muslim country like Saudi with it's strict intolerance towards the breaking of religeous rules, that the majority of women do not wear the veil ? It is only worn here and in other western countries by muslims who want to stand out and not intergrte with their fellow countrymen. By wearing it, it gives them a platform to jump on the islamaphobic bandwagon if you complain.

[ANOTHER] This is England, whats the matter with you jack straw.

Each & everyone should can & will have their own faith but when you see drivers with this said veil on and only looking out through a small oblong gap, that is what should be stopped, not only is it not visually safe, when it comes down to them having an accident how can they be identified if they leave the scene or will not give you details, does`nt mean that they drive their own car does it. The veil should be kept for their praying and indoors only. Not out amongst the public when they cannot be identified.

[ANOTHER] I think it is time the full veil was banned in public really as it is probably a security risk as well and when you see a woman with a small child - well how is that child supposed to see the mother's expression when her face is covered up. As for driving wearing that - words fail me at the stupidity of it.

[ANOTHER] Part of British culture is that women are free to chose to dress as they please.

But the women who wear the niqab have deliberately chosen to put up a barrier between them and me and also to make insulting assumptions about my behaviour. So they are free to chose to dress as they please but I am free to want to have nothing at all to do with them. [Lancashire Telegraph] Read more

Maryland imam’s advocacy of ISIS lands him at center of terrorism probe

Suleiman Anwar Bengharsa once told a court during a custody dispute that he worried his ex-wife’s new husband was too close to Islamic radicals under FBI investigation and she might raise their child in an “extremist environment.”

A little over a decade later, the Maryland man became the thing he once feared. The onetime Commerce Department trade analyst had remade himself into something rare in the United States: a radical imam publicly supporting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Bengharsa celebrated ISIS killings and immolations on Facebook and issued a blistering fatwa against feminism through a sharia law center he started in Montgomery County, Md., not far from the nation’s capital. He criticized fellow Muslims who assisted authorities in terrorism investigations. [The Washington Post] Read more

Iranian woman is sentenced to six years in prison for an unpublished story she wrote about women being stoned to death

An Iranian woman has been sentenced to six years in prison after authorities found an unpublished story she wrote about women being stoned to death.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist, has been convicted of 'insulting Islamic sanctities' because of her fictional story.

Under Shari'a law in Iran stoning is the punishment outlined for adultery.

The story describes a woman who watches the film 'The Stoning of Soraya M' - which tells the true story of a young woman stoned to death for adultery - and becomes so enraged that she burns a copy of the Qur'an.

'She is effectively being punished for using her imagination,' Philip Luther, Amnesty's Director of Research and Advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa, said. [Daily Mail] Read more

Leaflet 'handed out at east London mosque' tells Muslims to kill all who insult the prophet

Police today launched a hate crime probe after literature saying those who insult Islam “must be killed” was allegedly handed out at a London mosque.

A Standard investigation has uncovered claims that the booklet, which says “any Muslim should kill” those who insult the Prophet Mohammed, was distributed at a gathering in Walthamstow.

It points to a classical manual of Islamic law to justify killings without waiting for court judgments and says apostates “deserve to be assassinated”.

The booklet discusses the case of Mumtaz Qadri, a fanatic who murdered a governor in Pakistan in 2011 because of his support for liberal reforms to the country’s strict Islamic laws.

It says “all Muslims should support” Qadri and that being a “big shot” does not prevent someone from being an apostate who should face being killed. [Evening Standard] Read more

Saudi male-guardianship laws treat women as second-class citizens

The male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia is not just law: it is a set of bylaws and state-sanctioned discriminatory policies and practices that restrict a woman’s ability to have a wide range of choices unless permitted by her male guardian – typically a father, husband, brother or even a son.

In practice, it means women are unrecognised by the state as full legal adults.

This year, female activists joined forces to promote abolishing the system through a petition and received massive online support.

It seemed that, contrary to earlier campaigns for women for municipal participation or driving, this campaign had a life of its own. Women activists submitted a letter to the Royal Advisory Council in 2014 and though women members of the council expressed support no significant change ensued.

This time I drafted the petition to the king around Saudi’s national transformation plan and urged him to consider the significant impact of the guardianship system on the risk to women of poverty, exploitation and domestic violence. [Guardian Cif] Read more

06 October 2016

Norway sets out plans for banning burqa in schools and universities

The burqa veil is to be banned in schools and universities across Norway following similar measures in other European countries, according to the Norwegian education minister.

The country's right-wing government confirmed it was considering “national regulations prohibiting the full-face veil in schools and universities”, a move supported by the opposition Labour Party.

Education minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen confirmed the ban would only apply to the full-face veil and not to other Islamic headscarves including the hijab, chador and niqab.

He did, however, defend the right of Norwegians to express their religion in their clothing, in contrast to the strict secularity laws in place in France.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] This oppressive clothing also needs to be banned in the UK.

[ANOTHER] For all those who support the wearing of burqas, niqabs, hijabs, burkinis etc. Remember that these are merely symbols of a brutal and misogynistic ideology that demeans and despises females:

“I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1052)

[ANOTHER] Just proscribe Islam.

[ANOTHER] All forms of religious clothing need banning along with banning religion in schools.

[ANOTHER] The knuckle dragging culture of Islam that produces nothing and sponges in the west. This pseudo "religion" has killed millions in the spread of the Arab Islamic Empire and War on the Buddhist Hindu and Christian nations. They turn on each other both muslim Shia against Sunni muslim. Islam is no fun and Islam will be destroyed.

[ANOTHER] And every Muslim woman wearing such garb symbolizes the following repressive and misogynistic ideology:

“MEN HAVE AUTHORITY OVER WOMEN BECAUSE GOD HAS MADE THE ONE SUPERIOR TO THE OTHER. and because they spend their wealth to maintain them.

[ANOTHER] In the meantime, women in Iran are putting themselves at risk to gain the freedom to drop the scarves and all that ragg but in Europe, they seem to be fighting for it. Why? Pure provocation.

Anyway, the Q'ran does not require women to hide their hair, let alone their face. Those who do are there supporting radical religious thinking which should not be tolerated in Western countries of any kind. Good on Norway!

[ANOTHER] "He did, however, defend the right of Norwegians to express their religion in their clothing, in contrast to the strict secularity laws in place in France."

Actually, France has only banned the burqa so this law would bring Norway exactly into line with France. Mind you, the Islamic headscarf is next on the list here in France with Sarkozy talking about banning it if he returns to office next year. Not a big fan of the man but it's definitely got to go and go it will. France is Churchill on this issue and the UK is Chamberlain.

[ANOTHER] Its an enemy uniform. It needs to be banned on that basis. Period.

[ANOTHER] I cant think of anything more miserly than the withholding of the sight of a fellow human face.

[ANOTHER] Well done Norway. Lets hope more countries follow your example. If muslims want to live in the west they should have the decency to respect western customs. [The Independent] Read more