30 December 2017

Atheist mother loses custody of children in Egypt

A court in Egypt has separated a mother from her two children because she is an atheist. The decision to refuse custody of the children came from a family court in Cairo last Sunday, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reports.

RFI gives no further details of the case but notes that it comes in the midst of a nationwide crackdown on atheism. In Egyptian media, disbelief in God is increasingly presented as a form of extremism which threatens national security.

This week's court ruling is thought to be the first child custody case hinging on a parent's atheism but it is not entirely unprecedented.

In 2009, a 73-year-old Egyptian Muslim man was awarded custody of his seven-year-old grandson because the boy’s parents had changed their religion, converting to the Baha’i faith.

The grandfather, Mohammad Abdul Fatah, said he had gone to court after seeking advice from Egypt’s Grand Mufti: “He advised me to consider my daughter dead, and to file a lawsuit to demand the guardianship of my grandchild.” The court ruling could not be enforced, however, as the parents had already emigrated with their son. [al-bab.com] Read more

Anti-sharia laws proliferate as Trump strikes hostile tone toward Muslims

Anti-sharia legislation is spreading in state legislatures across the US, as Donald Trump’s hostile stance towards Muslims appears to be emboldening rightwing Islamaphobes.

In 2017 there were 23 new bills introduced in 18 states attempting to prohibit the practice of Islamic religious law, or sharia, in US courts. The rash of new bills brings the total number of such legislative efforts since 2010 to 217 in 43 states, according to the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley which monitors the anti-sharia movement.

Legal experts point out that the bills are superfluous, as the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and any foreign laws are subservient to it. Sharia itself is less a set of laws than religious guidelines, one of which requires Muslims to be law-abiding according to the rules of whichever country they find themselves.

.... Most of the recent bills are careful not to refer overtly to sharia or Islam, as to do so would be to expose the legislation to the scrutiny of federal courts on grounds of religious discrimination. Instead, they talk of “foreign laws” being banned in US jurisdictions. [The Guardian] Read more

29 December 2017

Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop

Nine people have been killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, Egypt's interior ministry has said.

Six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested, it said.

It said the man had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed its "soldiers" carried out the church attack.

The interior ministry's account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt's health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of IS militants. [BBC] Read more

28 December 2017

India aims for law that could jail Muslim men who instantly divorce wives

India’s lower house of parliament passed a bill on Thursday aimed at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the “triple talaq”, or instant divorce.

The bill now moves to the upper house of parliament, where it is likely to be approved.

In August, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a law which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq”, which means divorce in Arabic, three times.

Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing the practice of husbands divorcing them through triple talaq not only violated their rights but left many women destitute.

“Only a law can explicitly ban triple talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide for allowances and protect custody of children,” said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. [Reuters] Read more

27 December 2017

German authorities target Islamist women's network

Germany's domestic security agency has identified a radical network made up of Islamist women. Female extremists are becoming increasingly common, as they aim to fill the gap left by their detained husbands.

German intelligence services said on Tuesday that they had identified an Islamist network made up of around 40 women in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the network followed a strict Salafist doctrine — from how to raise children and cooking ingredients, to how to interpret the rules of Islam and stir up hatred against so-called "non-believers."

The result, Freier said, could be something "much more difficult to dissolve, namely Salafist pockets within society." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

26 December 2017

'It is your duty to stop it': Hardline Australian Sharia law preacher says Muslim men shouldn't allow women to get an education if it leads them to have sex outside of marriage

A hardline Islamic preacher who promotes Sharia law says Muslim men have a duty to stop women in their family from going to university.

Nassim Abdi, from western Sydney, said young Muslim women in their late teens and early twenties were at risk of having premarital sex if they delayed marriage to finish a degree.

'There is nothing wrong with a woman getting an education, especially if it's needed,' he said.

'There is nothing wrong with a person delaying marriage if there's an appropriate reason.

'But when you know this step is going to lead to the disobedience of Allah, then upon you dear brother is to stop that if you can.

'Otherwise, you will be held responsible.'

The Sunni fundamentalist, from the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association at Auburn in Sydney's west, used the Islamic legal term for premarital sex, Zinnah, to condemn the idea of a woman unnecessarily going to university. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Austrian minister's headscarf remark worry Muslims

Recent remarks by Austria's newly appointed Education Minister Heinz Fassmann against the headscarf have raised concerns for Muslims living in the country.

Fassmann's interview published in local Kurier newspaper on Friday quoted him saying "teachers should not wear a headscarf."

When asked about his opinion on the headscarf ban, Fassmann said: “Yes, I have a sympathy for the secular state and find that teachers should not wear a headscarf, except religious and private school teachers.”

The coalition government formed by Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) earlier this month, has an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant stance.

Reacting to the interview, President of Islamic Religious Authority in Austria (IGGO) Ibrahim Olgun told Anadolu Agency: “Headscarf is our red line.” [Anadolu Agency] Read more

"Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist": Rotterdam mayor

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb caused a social media uproar with an interview on NPO Radio 1 in which he said that "every Muslim is a bit of a salafist". PVV leader Geert Wilders called for Aboutaleb's resignation.

The Rotterdam mayor discussed several topics with Thijs van den Brink, but it was his statements regarding Islam that caused a commotion, AD reports. For example, he said he sometimes considers himself a jihadist. "I get up every day at 7 o'clock to do good for a city in the Netherlands.

That is the jihad in its purest form." Van den Brink pointed out that this is not the form "we know in the Netherlands". To which Aboutaleb responded that there are many definitions of jihad, "of which the armed struggle is only one form". "And that also falls apart in the defense and the attack deployment", he said.

Aboutaleb is also not worried about salafism. "Salafists can also be found among Christians, if you approach it linguistically. Salaf is a progenitor, and a salafist is someone who wants to look like his progenitor. For example, a Muslim who wants to look like Mohammed.

In Christianity you also have people who want to look like Christ in their actions. Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist", he said. He thinks salafism should not be banned, but the line should be drawn in the use of violence. The Salafists who want to be violent form a compact group, Aboutaleb said. "You have to track them down and isolate them." [NL Times] Read more

24 December 2017

Egypt lawmaker moves to criminalise atheism amid moral panic

An Egyptian lawmaker has announced plans to criminalise disbelief in God amid growing moral panic in the country.

Amr Hamroush, the head of parliament's religious committee, made the announcement in local daily al-Shorouq on Saturday.

"The phenomenon is being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong," Hamroush said.

"It must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions," he said.

He added that there were no legal obstacles to implementing the proposal into law, which already can prosecute atheists for expressing their disbelief in public.

The move to criminalise disbelief in God has received backing from al-Azhar - the country's highest Islamic religious institution.

"It is necessary to enact laws that deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism," said Mohamed Zaki, the head of al-Azhar's supreme council for dawah.

"The deterrent must be harsh and impeding to suit this malicious call and stop this poisonous thinking from spreading among Muslims and young people," Zaki. [The New Arab] Read more

Crowds attack Coptic Church in Egypt

The incident took place at the Prince Tawadros church in Giza, 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Cairo, following Friday prayers at a nearby mosque. Demonstrators gathered outside the church building in the afternoon and stormed it, chanting hostile slogans and calling for the church's demolition.

The diocese in Atfih said in a statement that the church's contents were destroyed during the attack and that Christians worshipping at the church were assaulted before security personnel came to their aid. It also said that the wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital but didn't elaborate on numbers or the nature of their injuries.

The church, yet to be sanctioned by the state and thereby gain full legal recognition, has been observing prayers for 15 years. Despite laws recently being eased, local authorities continue to refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim conservatives. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Why are British Muslim marriages unprotected by law?

.... "I fought for seven years through solicitors with my husband's family, but in the end, we didn't get a penny. They got nothing and I got nothing because my husband didn't make a will," she told Al Jazeera.

"The house was in his name and we weren't married in English law. In the end, my son and I were thrown out of the house. I remember I had to beg to be let back in to get some clothes we left behind. We just got passed around by the council from place to place until we got a maisonette. I eventually got three little jobs that got us by, but at that time, everything was just a nightmare."

Forty-four years since Maureen's relationship ended, the effects of unregistered marriages continue to affect Muslim women and children who have fallen into this legal black hole. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

22 December 2017

Halal school meals ban could be challenged in court

Councillors in Lancashire voted in October that in future any halal meat served in schools must be butchered from pre-stunned animals, with the exception of poultry.

The ruling on beef and lamb was due to take effect when the council’s meat supply contract was renewed this month.

However, there is a three month period from the time that Full Council made their decision in late October for any party which disagrees with the decision to apply for a judicial review.

The county council has now revealed that it has been served with legal papers from the Lancashire Council of Mosques which effectively puts it on notice that a judicial review could go ahead unless the matter is resolved.

County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are due to put on hold the new contract for supply of halal meat to schools.

“We will continue to supply halal meat under the terms of the current contract while the legal matters are resolved.” [Burnley Express] Read more

The debate about Islam should be put on hold, says Rotterdam mayor

The debate about Islam in the Netherlands has become so tense that it should be put on hold for a while, Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has told Trouw in an interview. ‘Some debates should wait until the time is right,’ Aboutaleb said. Some politicians and ‘opinion makers’ are forcing the issue with ‘steam and boiling water,’ he said.

‘The Netherlands’ intellectuals consider the time ripe for certain developments but most of the Dutch are not that ready. I am a real believer in the gradual approach.’ While Aboutaleb supports increasing the visibility of religion, he does not compare the Muslim call to prayer to church bells. There is a long tradition of Christianity in the Netherlands, and this is why the city council does not organise events over the Christmas break, he said.

Islam has had a foothold in the Netherlands for 50 years and Muslims are now so emancipated that they are able to build their own mosques, the mayor points out. ‘These sorts of issues are part of social developments and at a certain point they may become more accepted.

In 10 or 20 years, we may come to the point that more is done to mark the end of Ramadan, for example.’ The same goes for the debate about headscarves and police uniform, said Aboutaleb, who supports the status quo. ‘There is no point in having this debate now,’ he said. [DutchNews] Read more

Islamists threaten to crack down on Muslims wearing Santa hats in fatwa against Christmas

The Indonesian police have appealed to Islamic hardliners not to raid businesses to check whether Muslim employees were being forced to wear Santa Claus hats or other Christmas outfits over the festive season.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned this week that it would conduct “sweeping operations” to enforce a 2016 fatwa by the country’s Islamic Clerical Council prohibiting business owners from forcing employees to don Christmas attire. It claimed this was a violation of their human rights.

“We will raid businesses in anticipation of them being stubborn about this and we will be accompanied by police,” said Novel Bakmukmin, head of the FPI’s branch in the capital, Jakarta.

But national police chief Tito Karnavian urged members of the public to “respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations” and cautioned against taking matters into their own hands. [The Telegraph] Read more

21 December 2017

Canada: Obsessed with "Islamophobia"

.... The RCMP guide is premised on the belief that radicalization occurs because of perceptions of "injustice" (not because of perceptions of jihad). Islamic groups are not mentioned. The message is that terrorism is "diverse" and has nothing to do with Islam. However, Public Safety Canada's list of terrorist entities contains 54 terrorist groups, 46 of which are Islamic terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the war on free speech in Canada grinds on: Ottawa Public Library cancelled the screening of "Killing Europe", a documentary about, ironically, among other things, the death of free speech in Europe. Ottawa Public Library deemed this content not suitable for Canadians -- apparently snowflakes, not allowed to know about the rise of migrant rape crime, anti-Semitism, far-leftist violence and other irritants in Europe.

While worried about graffiti, Canadian authorities appear far less concerned about deterring Canadian imams from preaching jihad, Jew-hatred and the murder of Jews to their Muslim congregations, despite Jews being approximately twelve times more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than Muslims are. For anti-Muslim graffiti, you go to jail for five months, but inciting an entire congregation to kill Jewish citizens does not even merit prosecution. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Dutch police will set aside headscarf ruling in case brought by Muslim officer

The Dutch police will set aside a ruling from the equal opportunities committee which said a Muslim officer should be able to wear a headscarf while dealing with phone reports from the public, the national force has confirmed.

Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw has written to human rights commission outlining the force’s position and stating that a neutral appearance is crucial to good policing.

Sarah Izat who took the issue to the commission has not yet commented on the decision. She will be able to continue to answer calls via the phone or video link in plain clothes with a headscarf, Paauw said.

Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a reaction to MPs last month that the human rights council had stressed the legitimacy of the the importance of a neutral, uniform police appearance. The police code of conduct states that police officers are not allowed to display religious and other lifestyle convictions while dealing with the public, Grapperhaus said. [DutchNews] Read more

Board member of anti-racism agency fired amid accusations of Islamophobic commentary

A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency established to counteract racism, has been fired amid concerns over what Muslim advocacy groups describe as “Islamophobic commentary” and her “public association with purveyors of hateful propaganda.”

.... Douglass-Williams addressed her dismissal in an email to the Star and on Jihad Watch.

“Why? Because I dared to criticize political Islam,” she wrote.

“I make a distinction between those who practice Islam in peace and harmony with others, and those with an agenda to usurp democratic constitutions, demand special privileges over other creeds and who advocate the abuse of women and innocents as a supremacist entitlement.

“It is odd to be removed from a race relations foundation for my private work in criticizing this aspect of Islam, of which the latter is not a race.” [Toronto Star] Read more

Algerian arrested for smashing 'haram' statue's breasts

An Algerian man was arrested after he had vandalised a famous statue, removing the breasts and facial features, in what he deemed to be a religious act.

Algeria's Minister of Culture Ez Al Din al-Maheoubi said the man was caught vandalising the Ain El Fouara monument, which was built over 120 years ago in the city of Setif.

“His motive was indeed religious, but this does not excuse his actions”, al-Maheoubi said.

On Monday, police were trying to stop the man, who was attempting to chisel off the statue’s breasts with a hammer, from continuing his damage.

A crowd quickly formed and people began to take videos, which went viral in Algeria. [The New Arab] Read more

Poll: 70 Per Cent of Swiss Would Be ‘Disturbed’ by Increase in Muslim Population

The survey, which was conducted by the publishing firm Tamedia, is the first of its kind in Switzerland, and shows the older generations is particularly concerned with the growth of Islam in the country: 75 per cent of those aged over 65 feel negative about an increase in the Muslim population, newspaper 24 heures reports.

Supporters of the anti-mass migration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) were also strongly against an increase in the Muslim population, with 93 per cent against the further growth of Islam in the country.

72 per cent of “centrists” felt the same way, as did a significant minority — 38 per cent — of supporters of the left-wing Green and Socialist parties.

.... The Swiss poll mirrors similar attitudes in France and Germany, where residents have massively rejected the expansion of Islam into their countries. [Breitbart London] Read more

20 December 2017

Government rejects Swiss ‘burka ban’ initiative

The Swiss Federal Council has proposed an indirect counterproposal to an initiative calling for a nationwide ban on face-covering headgear: forcing another person to wear a burka or niqab should be made illegal.

On Wednesday, the Federal Council recommended that voters reject the so-called “burka ban” initiative, which was handed in with enough signatures by its promotors, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, in September. No date has yet been set for the vote.

The initiative wants face-covering headgear to be banned in public places all over Switzerland apart from a few exceptions, such as for health reasons.

National restrictions are only appropriate to prevent coercion of women or if people are in contact with certain authorities, such as migration officials, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. It is up to cantons to decide on how they regulate people in public spaces, she added. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Amir Khan and wife Faryal Makhdoom receive death threats for putting up a Christmas tree

Bolton boxer Amir Khan has been targeted with online death threats - because he decided to put up a Christmas tree.

I'm A Celebrity star Amir - a devout Muslim - shared a picture his Christmas tree on Instagram - and one of his followers threatened to kill him for 'betraying' his religion.

Other made threats against his family - including his pregnant wife Faryal and and his three year old daughter Lamaisah.

“While everyone’s asleep, daddy put the Christmas tree up," Amir posted, alongside a picture of the decorated tree. 'Lamaisah’s going to be happy. Christmas #MerryChristmas2017.” [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Men without beards cause 'indecent thoughts' in other men, claims Turkish preacher

Shaving off a beard may trigger indecent thoughts in other men who look at them, a Turkish cleric said on television earlier this week, causing backlash online.

Clean-shaven men, the cleric suggested, "cannot be distinguished from women" and can therefore cause "indecent thoughts," Murat Bayaral said on private religious station Fatih Medreseleri, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added.

The comments sparked a flurry of opinions across social media with many describing the logic as “absurd”. [The New Arab] Read more

19 December 2017

I wasn’t hired because I wear a headscarf: lawsuit

Fatima Sidib says she applied to work as a customer service rep at Checks Cashed at East 161st Street and Gerard Avenue in August, according to the Manhattan federal court suit.

The shop manager invited her in for an interview over the phone — but immediately got “hostile” when she arrived wearing the religious headwear, court papers state.

“Are you going to be wearing that thing?” the manager said, according to the lawsuit. “Because you will not be able to work with that on. Or will that be a problem for you?”

When Sidib said she wears the scarf sometimes when she fasts, the manager shot back that that meant she wouldn’t be available to work some of the needed shifts, court papers state.

The manager handed Sidib her job application back — and told to return when she was “more flexible,” according to the lawsuit. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Nottingham-based Muslim radio station falls foul of Ofcom

For the second time this year, Radio Dawn has fallen foul of rules laid down by UK broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

Last December, the station broadcast a piece of devotional vocal music known as a nasheed that praised the Taliban which included the line:

"It must be understood that justice will only be handed out at the point of the sword."

When Ofcom censured Dawn in August, Karimia, the licensee, said it was “extremely embarrassed by what happened” and that it did “not agree with any of the content”. The licensee assured Ofcom it was:

"Against any type of material, which encourages or promotes such discriminative and negative messages of Islam."

It explained that staff were away on holiday on the day of broadcast (26 December 2016) and, as a result, Radio Dawn was automatically broadcasting pre-recorded material. The nasheed had been downloaded from the internet in 2013, “possibly by a volunteer”, and had “never been broadcast before”.

Well, Radio Dawn has found itself in trouble with Ofcom again – this time over advice given by scholar “Mufti1” to a caller in a phone-in programme regarding fasting and diabetes. In May this year the caller was told that Muslims with health issues should only consult Muslim scholars or Muslim doctors.

The station, according to this report, apologised and said that: On no account was it the intention of the presenter or Radio Dawn to suggest to listeners that they do not seek appropriate medical advice. [The Freethinker] Read more

German ban on Islamist group True Religion confirmed as complaints dropped

German federal prosecutors on Tuesday finalised their ban on an Islamist association accused of radicalising youngsters, saying that complaints about the ban from two members of the group had been withdrawn.

Last year, the interior ministry banned the Islamist group “True Religion,” saying it had persuaded about 140 people to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

Following the ban, police launched dawn raids across Germany on about 190 mosques, flats and offices linked to the group.

The federal prosecutor said that since the association itself had not complained about the ban and the two members’ complaints had been withdrawn, the prohibition ruling was final.

The case comes as Germany commemorates last year’s Islamist-motivated attack on a Berlin Christmas Market which killed 12 people and injured many others. [Reuters] Read more

18 December 2017

Radio Dawn told listeners to ignore non-Muslim doctors

A Muslim radio station has been reprimanded by Ofcom after an Islamic scholar advised a sick listener to ignore the advice of non-Muslim doctors.

The scholar, who was described on the phone-in programme as “the Mufti”, said that it was unacceptable for a diabetic to miss fasting days during Ramadan on the recommendation of a non-Muslim.

“If it is a non-Muslim doctor who is giving the advice, well their advice carries no weight. It has no importance whatsoever,” he told a caller during a phone-in on Radio Dawn, which broadcasts in Punjabi to Muslims in Nottingham. [The Times (£)] Read more

Islamic preacher in Turkey says men without beards may cause ‘indecent thoughts’

An Islamic preacher in Turkey has drawn a backlash after suggesting that clean-shaven men sometimes "cannot be distinguished from women" and can cause "indecent thoughts."

Speaking on the private religious station Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs) TV on Dec. 16, preacher Murat Bayaral blasted beardless men and said there is no need to receive permission from wives for a man to shave his beards.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

Missouri lawmaker says proposal to ban foreign law not anti Muslim

A measure barring the use of foreign laws in Missouri courts is being filed in the state legislature for the upcoming session. Under the bill, any court ruling based on a foreign law would be unenforceable.

House Republican Bill Kidd of Independence says the proposal is not similar to bans on Shariah Law that some states have enacted.

“I’m trying not to take it into that realm of this is an anti-Sharia or anti-Muslim deal,” said Kidd. “I just wanted to make it basic that it’s as simple as, if you’re in the United States, use American laws in American courts. And I’m not trying to take into an issue of ‘This is a Sharia, this is an anti-Muslim thing. It’s not.”

A number of states adopted Sharia law bans after a New Jersey judge in 2009 determined a Muslim man had not sexually assaulted his wife because he was acting consistent with his practices. In that case, a state appeals court reversed the judge’s decision to deny the woman a restraining order.

Voters in neighboring Oklahoma overwhelmingly approved an anti-Sharia law in 2010, which was extended by its legislature to include all foreign laws in 2011. The statute was ultimately overturned by federal courts as unconstitutional. [Missourinet] Read more

Muslim women shouting #MeToo must be heard

For many Muslim women, cultural pressures mean it’s difficult to speak out about sexual abuse, but inspired by big names such as Salma Hayek, they are finding ways to have their own #MeToo moment.

While some people have criticised the way the movement has focused on celebrities, it should be applauded for creating a support community for women for whom it's harder to raise a voice, and encouraging women who would have otherwise suffered in silence to speak out.

Behind every hashtag or article by a big name star, a thousand stories that would have remained unsaid are being told. Whether it’s a newspaper article, or whisper from behind a veil, these voices are finally getting heard.

Ironically, many Muslim women were inspired to speak out after a controversial opinion piece written by Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, which suggested dressing modestly and ‘not being pretty’ protected you from unwanted attention. The idea that there is a direct correlation between how you are dressed and how much harassment you face is a guilt trip most Muslim women live with every day. [The Telegraph] Read more

17 December 2017

Austria: New Government to Resist "Islamization"

A coalition between the anti-immigration Austrian People's Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party, which will be sworn into office on December 18, is poised to catapult Austria to the vanguard of Western Europe's resistance to mass migration from the Muslim world.

The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. Austria has also emerged as a major base for radical Islam.

"We have a lot in common [with Israel]. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails." — Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party.

.... A 180-page document explains the new government's agenda between now and 2022. It promises to crack down on political Islam; to crack down on illegal immigration; to speed up asylum decisions and to sponsor an EU summit on immigration when Austria holds the EU presidency in the second half of 2018. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

16 December 2017

Ofsted chief received 'venomous' threats after raising concerns about faith schools

Ofsted's chief inspector has told how she received threats and abuse after raising concerns about the values being promoted in some of the country's faith schools.

Amanda Spielman said she had been the victim of some "pretty venomous stuff", receiving "nasty tweets" and threatening emails from what she believed to be a "mixture of Islamic extremists and the hard left".

She told The Times: "I'm not easily bruised. I don't fall over when I see a load of nasty tweets pointed at me but there has been some pretty venomous stuff.

"I had an email, which was the most threatening one, which was along the lines of 'We know where you live and we can get you any time we want to'."

Earlier this week, Ms Spielman released her annual report, in which she warned that a rising number of conservative religious schools were actively undermining British values and equality law.

She revealed that in a handful of schools, inspectors had found instances of sexist and sectarian literature. [The Telegraph] Read more

Head of Ofsted reveals she faces 'personal attacks' from 'extremists' trying to intimidate the watchdog over crackdown on illegal Muslim schools

Chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman received an email saying: ‘We know where you live and we can get you any time we want to,’ after a court case against an Islamic school that separated girls and boys.

Her home address has had to be removed from the internet , while inspectors in one of Ofsted’s regional offices have been sent extreme Islamic literature and forced to take security measures as they are targeted by extremists.

Mrs Spielman said that confronting unregistered faith schools has been the toughest part of her role, which she took on in January this year. Investigating illegal schools, inspectors found some children had not been taught English and teachers had told them British values were ‘meaningless’, she told The Times.

In one incident at an unregistered East London Islamic school, Ofsted inspectors were called ‘Britain First paedophiles’ before being accused of performing sex acts in order to get their jobs. A head teacher at another faith school phoned parents during an Ofsted visit to say inspectors were asking the children if they were gay. The head then asked whether the inspection should proceed after telling inspectors that angry parents were lining up outside the school. [Daily Mail] Read more

Extremists target Ofsted over faith schools ruling

The chief inspector of schools has accused hard-left activists and religious extremists of trying to stop her clampdown on illegal Muslim schools with a campaign of intimidation.

Amanda Spielman revealed that one of Ofsted’s regional offices has been forced to take additional security measures after inspectors were repeatedly sent extreme Islamic literature. She has also been targeted and received one threatening email claiming that hardline Islamists know where she lives, after Ofsted won a court case against an Islamic school that segregated girls from boys. [The Times (£)] Read more

Amanda Spielman interview: ‘There are children in this country for whom British values are meaningless’

.... What horrifies her most is “the extent to which there are places in society that are very determined to have children not even knowing that there is any other way of thinking besides that which prevails in their particular group. There are people growing up in this country who . . . aren’t aware of the reach of equalities law and for whom British values are pretty meaningless. We are seeing separate or divergent societies developing.”

She is concerned by the number of primary schools that include the hijab as part of their uniforms. “Girls are made to think, ‘Am I immodest if I’m not wearing one?’ at an age when a child shouldn’t have to worry about being modest,” she explains. “We need to make sure that schools don’t sleepwalk into saying we must be accommodating and accidentally bringing problems into school that don’t necessarily need to be there.”

.... Although many of the worst cases have been in Islamic schools, she insists: “We see these problems in Muslim, Jewish and the odd Christian school. This is not an attack on Islam.” An estimated 70,000 children have disappeared from the education system and the chief inspector fears that the freedom to home-school is being abused by parents who want to segregate their children in a parallel, religiously run system.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 77 votes] It is time Education Secretary Justine Greening expresses vocal support for Amanda Spielman, and offers tangible help in confronting the extremists operating British schools.

[2ND 68] Not just children.... there is a large immigrant population now that has no wish to integrate and would rather take over and impose their values on us. Which will happen over the next decades unless we stop dreaming and listening to the brain-washing, doled out everyday from the BBC et al.

[3RD 42] Surely this was all to be expected given the level of diverse beliefs in this country. This has been on the horizon for many years. We chose to look the other way.

[4TH= 35] I can see which way the wind is blowing and I am getting prepared now. I have my Koran and am learning a few chosen phrases like Allahu Akbar. I am already practising beating my wife and restricting her from leaving the house. I'm going to be on the right side when the day comes.

[4TH= 35] Is this what trendy liberals term "Multiculturalism"

[6TH 29] All schools should teach a core curriculum designed to allow its products to participate in social, professional and personal life in the UK. Any school which teaches otherwise should be summarily closed.

The rules on home/alternative education need to be tightened and it should also be a bottom line that any child so educated must meet the above criterion.

There is a functioning civil and criminal law code in the UK and that should be obeyed at all times. Any school which teaches a knowledge/behavior system which contravenes British Law should likewise be closed...and we should not be apologetic about this.

[7TH 28] We must hear more from this very sensible person and soon.

Refreshing stuff for once.

[8TH= 22] What seems to be unseen for most people is the fact that British values have already been disappearing for many years. They have been replaced with "political correctness".

We are deteriorating national values with pleading 'diversity'.

What I am saying is not a call for nationalism.

Just a simple conclusion that we have become feared of saying out loud: "This is the UK, respect our law. If you don't respect it, you will have to leave."

We will be ruled by other religions' rules not by the UK law in next 15 years...

May the Force be with Ms Amanda Spielmann.

[8TH- 22] Brave lass. Well said, well done.

But "illegal schools"? If they're illegal you shut them down immediately. Send everyone home there and then all staff out and triple lock the doors, with police tape if needs be. How come there are ANY illegal schools that have lasted longer than a week? [The Times (£)] Read more

15 December 2017

20,000 tax funded faith schools are an affront to modern, liberal democracy

.... Last year, I was invited to speak at a Muslim school in the Midlands. Saima, the teacher who wrote to me, praised my 'leadership qualities' and said she wanted her girls to meet a successful, Muslim female role model. Flattery gets to most people.

I agreed even though I fiercely oppose educational Apartheid. A part of me was looking forward to stirring things up a bit, getting the girls to challenge ideas and adults.

Most are brought up to obey and be 'good'. I have never been obedient or good. A second letter arrived asking me, please. to wear a long skirt and long sleeves and a headscarf, because that is 'the dress code'.

I withdrew and wrote a stern letter on why such schools and demands were unacceptable in a modern, liberal democracy. The teacher who invited me was sacked. Her in-laws blamed her and me for what happened. Her husband was supportive but became increasingly controlling.

The marriage ended. The last time I spoke to Saima, she was working in a comprehensive where she felt free and like a 'proper teacher, not a prisoner'. [International Business Times] Read more

14 December 2017

Religious freedom review appointee has argued for limited sharia law in Australia

The Turnbull government has appointed an academic who has argued that recognising religious freedom should include acceptance of a limited form of sharia law to the Ruddock review.

On Thursday the government released broad terms of reference for its religious freedom inquiry, headed by former attorney general Philip Ruddock, including the new appointment of University of Queensland constitutional law professor Nicholas Aroney to the five-person panel.

Aroney is an expert on legal pluralism, law and religion who has warned that religious freedom has become a second-class right to anti-discrimination and argued that religious freedom should include a right to practise sharia law within “strictly justifiable limits imposed by the general law”.

.... Just Equal spokesman Rodney Croome said: “I am concerned by Nicholas Aroney’s appointment because his writing makes it clear he believes religious freedom trumps other rights, including equality.

“The Ruddock review should be a balanced assessment of religious freedom, but instead the government is stacking the review to appease the religious right after the passage of marriage equality.” [The Guardian] Read more

Butlin's faces legal action over dodgems 'hijab ban'

A Muslim man has launched a discrimination case against the holiday company Butlins after he claims his teenage daughter was barred from using the dodgems because she was wearing a hijab.

Moammer Nasser, 41, a family-support worker from Birmingham, is bringing a claim for racial and religious discrimination after the incident at Butlins in Minehead in June.

Nasser was at the holiday resort with his wife and four children. He was waiting to use the dodgems with his 16-year-old daughter when an attendant said she could not go on the ride because she was wearing a hijab, and cited health and safety concerns.

Nasser complained and asked to see a policy banning hijabs at Butlins. He asked why others wearing various forms of scarves and headgear had not been similarly banned from using the dodgems on the same grounds.

.... He lodged a formal complaint with Butlins. Jan Axten, of Bourne Leisure Ltd, replied, saying it was company policy that no one could go on the ride if they were wearing a headscarf or loose garment which could not be removed.

This, Axten said, was due to a “previous very serious incident” in 2016 when a scarf around a visitor’s neck had come loose, got caught in the chassis and caused a serious neck and throat injury. [The Guardian] Read more

13 December 2017

Private faith schools are resisting British values, says Ofsted chief

.... “When I see books in schools entitled Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell; children being educated in dank, squalid, conditions; children being taught solely religious texts at the expense of learning basic English and mathematics, I cannot let it be ignored,” said Spielman, who argued that inspectors should be able to remove such texts from school libraries.

The Ofsted report detailed its recent inspections of private faith schools, with 26% rated inadequate and 22% as requiring improvement – Ofsted’s two lowest categories.

Of the 140 small Muslim private schools inspected by Ofsted in the year, 28% were graded as inadequate, along with 38% of Jewish private schools and 18% of Christian schools.

Spielman had praise for the bulk of state schools, noting that 90% of primaries and nearly 80% of secondaries were rated as good or outstanding. [The Guardian] Read more

12 December 2017

The Runnymede Trust: Islamophobia is still a significant issue in the UK

Twenty years after publishing their report, Islamophobia – A Challenge for Us All, which helped popularise the term ‘Islamophobia’, the Runnymede Trust has published a follow-up report to mark its anniversary entitled Islamophobia – Still a challenge for us all.

The defining feature of this report is its assertion that Islamophobia should be thought of as anti-Muslim racism.

This understanding of Islamophobia thus takes into account its nature as a phenomenon embedded structurally within institutions on both a local and national level (in line with the UN’s definition of racism), instead of seeing it simply as an attitude, as the original report did. The motivation for this redefinition is the recent rapid increase in Islamophobia; a 2016 Pew Research Center report stated that 28% of those in the UK view Muslims unfavourably.

.... It has been argued that the report’s updated definition of racism accounts for criticism of the old definition, which presented a ‘monolithic’ concept of Islam and Muslims, and which incorrectly understood the nature of the phenomenon of Islamophobia. However, it is also argued that the 2017 report essentialises Muslim identity by failing to deconstruct and question the categories of religion and race, and still fails to grasp fully the way in which Islamophobia permeates society. [Euro-Islam.info] Read more

Twitter reacts to halal supermarket’s ordered closure

The Good Price mini-market in Colombes, located in Paris, is required to be a “general food store” according to its license and must meet the needs of all of its inhabitants, meaning it must sell pork and alcohol, but that defeats the purpose of its halal credentials.

The owner Soulemane Yalcin opened his store in 2015 and turned it into a supermarket that sells halal produce. Following a court-ordered closure by the city of Nanterre, Muslims and non-Muslims expressed their frustration with the decision on Twitter.

Reactions ranged from, “Welcome to the land of liberty! France shuts down halal store because it does not sell pork or wine,” to “secular extremist France closes halal supermarket because it doesn’t sell pork or wine.” Others questioned whether France can be considered a “free country” if supermarkets aren’t allowed to choose what they sell. [Euro-Islam.info] Read more

It’s high-time liberal democracies tackled "non-violent" Islamist ideologies

At the end of November, the controversial imam of the Grand Mosque of Brussels, Abdelhadi Sewif, won the first round of a legal battle over his right to remain in Belgium. The judgement was prompted by the decision of Secretary of State for Migration Theo Francken to withdraw the residence permit of the imam, whom he has described as "a follower of Salafism, radicalised, very conservative and dangerous to our society and our national security".

Adopted in October 2017, the report examines the overall Islamist phenomenon and acknowledges how the decades-long extremist ideology that has been allowed to spread in different forms across Belgium, has paved the way for radicalisation and violence. Against this backdrop, the inquiry stresses that ideologies do not need to be openly violent to pose a threat: there are fundamentalist discourses which plant the seeds of terrorism even without inciting it directly, as they inspire a sense of hatred against the liberal-democratic order and its values.

They promote an “us vs. them” narrative and urge Muslims to isolate from the rest of society. This propaganda causes ghetto-mentality and polarisation, fuelling feelings of marginalisation, resentment and frustration that, with the right trigger, have the potential to translate into violence. [Euronews] Read more

Iranian media in tailspin over female British diplomat’s lack of headscarf

One of the UK’s top diplomats has caused a stir on a recent trip to Tehran after it appeared the Iranian Foreign Minister had told her to put a headscarf on.

Karen Pierce, currently political director of the Foreign Office and soon to become the UK’s permanent representative to the UN, accompanied foreign secretary Boris Johnson as part of a delegation to Iran on Sunday widely understood to be aimed at freeing dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe from an Iranian jail.

In video of the high level bilateral talks Ms Pierce is seen arriving for a meeting with foreign minister Javid Zarif with a scarf around her shoulders rather than over her head.

Mr Zarif greets the other members of the British party with a handshake, but instead of reaching for Ms Pierce’s hand instead points towards the ceiling with both hands, a gesture state news reported as the diplomat telling the visiting dignitary to pull the scarf up over her hair.

Ms Pierce is also photographed in talks without wearing the scarf on her head. In what appears to be a different meeting, she is wearing a different, orange headscarf. [The Independent] Read more

Islamic leaders: There's no religious reason Muslim women shouldn't remove burkas in court

Muslims in Australia have been told by Islamic leaders there was no religious reason for refusing to rise before a judge in court or for refusing to uncover one's face.

The new guidance from the Australian National Imams Council comes after a string of Muslim defendants have refused to stand in court or remove their burkas, citing their religion.

"Standing up for the magistrate or judge is a sign of respect to the court," guidelines published in conjunction with the Judicial Commission of New South Wales stated.

"This sign of respect is also reflected in the teaching of Islam."

It said the teachings of the Prophet told people to "stand up for your chief".

"There is no religious reason why Muslims can't abide by the custom of lowering or bowing one's head when entering or leaving the court as a mark of respect," it added.

The guidelines, published on Tuesday (12 December), went on to say Muslim women wearing burkas should uncover their faces in court if requested to do so. [International Business Times] Read more

11 December 2017

School run Muslim mums ‘should be banned from wearing headscarf’ claims minister

FRANCE’S education minister says Muslim mothers should be banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf when doing the school run.

Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Sunday: “A parent should be banned from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, namely the Islamic headscarf, when escorting their child to and from school.”

He told RTL radio: “My personal opinion is that anyone who accompanies a child to and from school should be considered a ‘public service worker,’ which means they have a duty to conform to social codes.”

When asked whether he was implying that Muslim mothers should be explicitly banned from wearing the headscarf when dropping off or picking up their children from school, Mr Blanquer said: “Yes. That said, it is not against the law for mothers to wear the Islamic veil to school.

“I respect French law and it is not my place to make sweeping statements about this issue. But we must play by the rules, and the rules must be the same for everyone.” [Daily Express] Read more

How best to help women caught between different kinds of family law

AS IS reported by The Economist in this week’s print edition, almost everybody can agree that there are acute difficulties at the interface between Islamic family law and the liberal West. Especially for married Muslim women, living in a kind of limbo between the Islamic world and the secular world can be exceptionally tough. So far, so much consensus. What people don’t agree on, however, is how to improve this situation.

Start with England, which presents an extreme case of the pathologies facing Muslim minorities in the West. In no other country have so many “sharia councils” sprung up to adjudicate the affairs of Muslim people, especially women who are trapped in unhappy marriages and want a religious divorce. (Some say these councils should be regulated, others want them abolished.) And in no other country is it so common for young Muslim couples to have religious-only marriages or nikahs which are never registered with the state, so that in the event of a breakdown the financially vulnerable partner, usually female, has few entitlements.

Aina Khan, a London-based lawyer who specialises in family law, is prime mover of a campaign called “Register Our Marriage”, which aspires both to change the law and to make Muslims, especially women, more conscious of the dire consequences of a religious-only rite. [The Economist] Read more

10 December 2017

Number of Salafists in Germany reaches record high

More Salafists are living in Germany than ever before, domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen said on Sunday.

Maasen said the number of people adhering to the fundamentalist Islamic ideology had "risen to an all-time high," with the German intelligence agency BfV giving a figure of 10,800 Salafists in Germany as compared with 9,700 in December last year.

A growing "fragmentation" and drift to the private sphere of Salafism in Germany was making the scene harder to observe for authorities, Maassen said.

The BfV said the movement's recruitment drives have now more or less left the streets and mosques, and added that Salafists were instead being radicalized in small conspirative groups on the internet. The agency also pointed to the growing number of women's networks as posing a challenge for authorities, who have problems accessing them.

Security authorities see the Salafist movement as a potential springboard into Islamist terrorism, particularly for young Muslims. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

09 December 2017

Amina Lone: This is a scary time to be a Muslim, but take courage

For the second time in my adult life I am deeply fearful for my faith. The first time was the horror I felt watching aircraft fly into the Twin Towers, murdering thousands of innocent people in the 9/11 attacks.

My sense of unease is fueled by President Trump and Islamist extremists. A knight in shining armour for some, the Devil in disguise for others, the US president has yet again illustrated his mistrust and disdain for all things Islamic, pushing forward with his “Muslim” ban and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite worldwide condemnation and the real risk of .... [The Times (£)] Read more

08 December 2017

Debate over plan for Muslim prayer room and education centre in Belgrave

Controversial plans to convert a vacant warehouse in Belgrave into a prayer facility, nursery and education centre are set to be rejected.

Fusion Consulting Ltd has applied for planning permission to change the use of the industrial building in Belper Street.

The proposal has led to a huge number of objections being sent to planning officers at Leicester City Council.

More than 1,435 letters of objection have been sent to officials, as well as petitions with a total of 3,569 names.

Some 350 representations have been made in support of the plan to establish the Belper Education Centre, as it would be called.

Many of the concerns sent to the council point out that the area is largely made up of Hindu families and the proposed centre would be a Muslim organisation.

Other concerns relate to potential disturbance from early morning activity in the street, and parking problems and traffic congestion that would be generated by worshippers and other users of the centre. [The Leicester Mercury] Read more

07 December 2017

France shuts down 'halal' supermarket and Muslims are angry

The business owner Soulemane Yalcin was forced to shut down his supermarket and pay the council €4000 ($4725) in legal fees.

A Muslim owned supermarket in France has been shut down for “violating its terms of lease” by refusing to sell alcohol and pork under grounds.

The Good Price mini-market in Colombes, located in Paris is required to be a “general food store” according to its licence and must meet the needs of all of its inhabitants, meaning it must sell pork and alcohol, but that defeats the purpose of its halal credentials.

The owner Soulemane Yalcin opened his store in 2015 and turned it into a supermarket that sells halal produce.

In what is being described as an Islamophobic campaign online, after Yalcin opened his store, locals began to complain that they could no longer buy alcohol and pork at the said supermarket and urged local authorities to get it replaced.

Last year, the mayor of Colombes, Nicole Goueta, went to the store in order to pressure Mr Yalcin to start selling alcohol and pork.

The mayor's chief of staff, Jerome Besnard, said that he asked the owner to 'diversify' his range of products on sale to stop local residents from complaining. [The New Arab] Read more

Grand Mosque: Saudi authorities understand Belgian intention

For several months, the role played by Saudi Arabia on the international stage, in particular with the rapid development of Islam, has been called into question in Belgium. The federal parliament approved a resolution requesting that the government reconsiders its policy with regard to the Saudi Kingdom. The Investigative Commission for the Terrorist Attacks recommended, for its part, ending the agreement concluded in 1967. This enabled Saudi Arabia to control the Grand Mosque.

An even rarer occurrence, when faced with these developments, was the visit by a high-level Belgian delegation to the Gulf States from November 5th to 8th of this year. It was made up of civil servants within the Foreign Affairs and Justice departments, the Cell for Processing Financial Information (known as “CTIF”) and the Body for Coordinating the Analysis of Terrorist Threats (known as “OCAM”).

Meetings took place in Saudi Arabia, including with representatives from the Muslim World League, on which the mosque depends. In such forums, Belgium’s intention regarding the Grand Mosque was expressed, even though the government has not yet fixed any date for this termination to occur. [The Brussels Times] Read more

06 December 2017

‘Politically correct’ rules push people to extremism, says Islamic scholar

A leading critic of religious extremism today claimed excessive political correctness may push some people towards hate-filled views.

Dr Uamsa Hasan, head of Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, said stifling debate was dangerous.

He said open discussions were the key to fighting extremism among young people - and he urged against a retreat to “safe spaces” as seen at some university campuses.

Dr Hasan was speaking at Turing House free school, in Teddington, as part of a unique nationwide debating programme.

An outspoken critic of Islamist extremism, he has previously received death threats for advocating evolution within the religion.

He argued that in recent years sensitive topics such as the causes of Islamist terror have been “stifled”, leading to extreme views being pushed to the darkest corners of the internet: “If you push these issues to one side then it will explode," he said. "That is where political correctness went too far.

“Stifling debate is dangerous. We know these ignorant or dangerous views exist, but if you ignore them they don’t go away. They fester. People feel a sense of frustration that they don’t have the freedom to express their views, which can lead to even more extreme views.” [Evening Standard] Read more

Ex-governor of alleged Trojan Horse school loses bid to overturn ban

A FORMER chairman of governors at a Birmingham school linked to the alleged Trojan Horse plot has lost an appeal after being barred from involvement in the management of schools.

Tahir Alam was chairman of governors at Park View in Alum Rock from 1997 to 2014, and chairman of a trust set up to manage the school.

He was issued with the ban by the Department for Education (DfE) in September 2015.

Officials concluded he had engaged in conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values.

He challenged the ban at a public specialist tribunal hearing in London in March.

A three-strong care standards tribunal panel had reserved a ruling after analysing evidence.

The panel has not made its decision or detailed ruling publicly available.

.... Investigators had found evidence of “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos” into a few schools in Birmingham, he said.

Mr Chamberlain said Mr Alam - plus Park View School and the managing trust - were “at the centre” of what had happened. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

05 December 2017

'Blasphemy': Hijab-clad Indian women get brutally trolled for 'insulting Islam' by dancing in public

Three Muslim women from the southern Indian state of Kerala have come under fire after a video showing them dancing in the middle of the street went viral on social media.

Shared via Facebook on 1 December, the clip showed the hijab-clad women grooving to popular tunes as part of a flash mob. However, the video received much flak, with people accusing the young women of "insulting Islam".

The performance that drew public ire featured students of a dental college in the Malappuram city of Kerala, who had taken part in an event to raise awareness on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Apart from the flash mob, there were street plays and rallies too that were aimed at educating the public, deputy district medical officer of Malappuram Dr Muhammed Ali told the Times of India. [International Business Times] Read more

03 December 2017

'Islam brought me nothing but pain and hardship': Iranian child bride who was beaten by her husband and then forced to give up her children to flee to Australia slams harsh Muslim regime

A Muslim child bride who fled to Australia has told how she was beaten and abused by her husband, claiming her religion caused her 'nothing but pain'.

At the age of just 16 the Iranian woman was forced by her father to marry a man who was a decade older. She says she didn't want to, but Islam left her with 'no rights'.

More than two decades since her wedding day, the 39-year-old is living on the Gold Coast, Queensland, her new home after initially fleeing Iran for the safety of Europe.

Telling the Gold Coast Bulletin her story of discrimination and how she was forced to give up seeing her children, the woman revealed she has converted to Christianity. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

A Video Journalist Wrestles With the Candor of an Egyptian Woman

.... Without a moment’s hesitation, she waved the flag, high over her head. And her friend snapped a picture. Esraa posted the photo to her Facebook account accompanied with a post where she denounced discrimination.

A few other concertgoers waved the flag, too. The act, extraordinary in its audacity, provoked public outrage. And it set off a campaign of targeted arrests.

Esraa was not at her mother’s place when the police came for her. And she has not returned to visit since then. She left her job, she moved apartments and she has been living in a state of total paralysis.

In early December, there were no official charges, but those who had been arrested were accused of “inciting debauchery” and could face years in prison.

I reminded Esraa of her words to me when we were filming: I am not scared of anything.

I asked her again if she was afraid.

“It is not fear that is dominating me; it is despair,” she said. “But I have no regrets. I did nothing wrong.” [The New York Times] Read more

Muslim school receives 'inadequate' Ofsted rating after loos did not have toilet paper for 'cultural reasons'

A Muslim girls' school has received the lowest Ofsted rating available after inspectors discovered that pupils were not provided with lavatory paper for "cultural reasons".

Staff at the fee-paying Park Avenue Girls' High School, in Stoke-on-Trent, said paper was available from the school office, but because most of the students were Asian, they preferred to wash rather than wipe.

But some of the girls told inspectors they were so unhappy about the situation that they avoided using the lavatory all day.

The school, which was visited by inspectors October, was rated "inadequate", with the report identifying a range of concerns, including safeguarding problems and the discovery of sectarian material on the premises. [The Telegraph] Read more

02 December 2017

Triple talaq: India considers jail for 'instant divorce'

Husbands who attempt "instant divorce" could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India.

The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying "talaq" (divorce) three times - in any form, including email or text message.

It was declared unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since.

The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women.

The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation.

It would explicitly ban "triple talaq", in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a "subsistence allowance" and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said. [BBC] Read more

30 November 2017

Britain First may be fringe, but its anti-Islam views aren’t

The fringe anti-Muslim group Britain First is enjoying a burst of publicity after Donald Trump retweeted three of its propaganda videos. This has had the rare effect of uniting almost the entire British establishment in horror.

A firm slapdown from the office of the prime minster followed condemnation by Jeremy Corbyn. The archbishop of Canterbury joined in. Even Melanie Phillips, author of a book called Londonistan, which laments the transformation of the urban landscape by headscarves and niqabs, told BBC radio that she was “absolutely appalled”.

Earlier in the same programme, the author Ann Coulter had defended Trump. She argued it didn’t matter if the videos were inaccurately labelled, and that “the native countries are blowing up at the just constant importation of people who do not share our western values – that’s the point at issue”. [751 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 456 votes] "many Britons already fear and misunderstand Muslims"

Well most muslims want to get on with their lives like the rest of us but please tell me why most Britons should not be concerned about the small minority of terrorists amongst them and the much larger minority who express views in polls which are hostile to liberal, enlightenment values on such subjects as the equality of women, punishments for homosexuals, apostates, atheists and cartoonists.

[2ND 369] Islam is against atheists (among others). So it seems perfectly legitimate that atheists are against Islam (and afraid of).

[3RD 340] As a gay man who deeply appreciates the advantages of living in Western Europe I do 'fear' Islam and what feels like its inexorable spread across the planet.

Are you *really* suggesting that I'm wrong to do so? Please, tell me why.

[4TH 331] We can talk about how Islam per se, divorced of its adherents, is no more or less violent than the scriptures of other religions. We can also talk about how the vast majority of adherents are just normal human beings more interested in a cup of tea than fighting over interpretations of a 1,500 year old book. And the Guardian does both of these things.

But we also can't ignore the ugly fact that the terrorist groups staging regular attacks across Europe are doing so in the name of Islam, and recruiting from the Muslim population of Europe - mostly second- or third-generation migrants who are far removed enough to idealise the backward way of life that their parents or grandparents came here to escape.

And we also can't ignore that most majority-Muslim countries still cling to many values that we in the West (whether Christian or atheist) have moved on from. For example, as shown in this map from Wikipedia, it is largely only the Muslim world where homosexuality is illegal, and in many of these countries it carries the death sentence.

Is it really unreasonable to suggest that people arriving from these countries are likely to be much more homophobic than your average Briton? And there are many other issues too - for example I believe yesterday there was a Guardian editorial on child marriage, which once again is mainly a problem in the Muslim world and people with that cultural background. FGM, honour killings... I could go on.

This is not to homogenise or demonise Muslims in any way - but to warn that the massive demographic shifts caused by immigration from faraway countries could have dangerous consequences, and at present many (especially on the left) are actively engaged in brushing all possible negatives under the carpet, for fear that uttering any criticism makes them a racist. One is reminded of Orwell's comment that they are "like children playing with fire who do not know that fire is hot." [Guardian Cif] Read more

29 November 2017

St Gallen approves conditional ban on face coverings

The cantonal parliament of St Gallen on Tuesday voted in favour of introducing a ban on covering the face in public, under certain conditions.

The bill was approved by 57 votes to 55 in its second reading, reported news agency ATS.

The new rule bans anyone from covering their face in public if they present a security risk or threaten social or religious peace, a condition that will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

That could include women wearing the burqa and people covering their faces during demonstrations or protests or for criminal intent.

The bill also passed in its first reading in September, when opponents slammed the move, saying it was superfluous and unsuitable.

Writing in the St Gallen Tagblatt at the time, editor Andri Rostetter criticized the law's implication that the authorities must make an “instant assessment” as to whether a person who covers their face is a threat. [The Local] Read more

Ex-Muslims: They left Islam and now tour the US to talk about it

.... "You can find beauty within Islam itself," he tells the audience. "It's an amalgam of many, many ideas. Some are good, some bad.

"A lot of them are outdated, because it was the 7th Century. It doesn't mean they're all bad. Personally speaking, one of the better things in Islam is the emphasis on charity."

The talk ends with questions - some from Muslims, some from non-Muslims. They are all respectful. The policeman sits by the door, legs crossed, interested.

Before the talk, Muhammad admitted he had doubts. Not about leaving Islam - but about whether being a well-known ex-Muslim was worth it.

"Of course, everybody has those moments," he says. "It's normal, it's human. Is this worth the toll it's taking on me?

"But on the flip side you also see the good you're doing. You see the people who were suffering in bad situations [who are] doing great now.

"It's heartening to hear those stories - to hear how we've affected their lives." [BBC] Read more

Muslim population in some EU countries could triple, says report

The Muslim population in some European countries could triple by 2050 while it will barely change in others, according to new projections released by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.

The report, Europe’s Growing Muslim Population, shows a stark west-east divide. The Muslim share of Germany’s population could grow from 6.1% in 2016 to 19.7% in 2050 if high migration continues, whereas over the border Poland’s share would change from 0.1% to 0.2% in the same scenario.

Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Muslim population share in the west would continue to grow owing to a younger age profile and higher fertility rates, but remain very low in the east.

According to Pew’s data, Muslims made up 4.9% of Europe’s population in 2016, with an estimated 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to almost half a million annually, largely due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. [The Guardian] Read more

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

.... The baseline for all three scenarios is the Muslim population in Europe (defined here as the 28 countries presently in the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland) as of mid-2016, estimated at 25.8 million (4.9% of the overall population) – up from 19.5 million (3.8%) in 2010.

Even if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop – a “zero migration” scenario – the Muslim population of Europe still would be expected to rise from the current level of 4.9% to 7.4% by the year 2050. This is because Muslims are younger (by 13 years, on average) and have higher fertility (one child more per woman, on average) than other Europeans, mirroring a global pattern.

.... Finally, a “high” migration scenario projects the record flow of refugees into Europe between 2014 and 2016 to continue indefinitely into the future with the same religious composition (i.e., mostly made up of Muslims) in addition to the typical annual flow of regular migrants. In this scenario, Muslims could make up 14% of Europe’s population by 2050 – nearly triple the current share, but still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe. [Pew Research Center] Read more

EU Migrant Policies Rejected by 74 Per Cent of People in Central Europe

A strong majority of Europeans across 11 nations are opposed to the European Union’s (EU) immigration policies, including nearly nine in 10 Hungarians.

The survey was conducted by the Nézopont Institute in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

It revealed that 74 per cent of respondents in those countries believed that the EU’s migration policies have or will be negative for the continent.

Central Europeans were the most opposed, with 89 per cent of Slovaks and Hungarians holding a negative view of the policies, closely followed by 88 per cent of Czechs.

Meanwhile, 63 per cent of Austrians and 58 per cent of Germans also said the mass immigration overseen by the EU is bad for the bloc. [Breitbart London] Read more

Clacton MP Giles Watling calls for halal meat to be banned from schools

CLACTON MP Giles Watling has called on County Hall bosses to ban halal meat from schools.

Mr Watling wants Essex County Council to ban religiously-slaughtered meat due to concerns over animal welfare.

The law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, which leaves them unable to feel pain during the process. But there is an exception for animals slaughtered for religious purposes.

Mr Watling said he believes slaughtering animals that are not pre-stunned is “barbaric” and causes the animals unnecessary pain.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Totally agree! Does this mean all our children are subjected to eating Halal meat. If so its its a disgrace and must be stopped.

[HIGH RATED COMMENT] Halal should be banned in this country full stop. I think it's disgusting!

[ANOTHER] This needs to be a National initiative, not a local one. The government already dictates menu choices to schools under the "healthy schools initiative" - such as the number of portions of fried food allowed per week, so it can be extended to include animal welfare requirements - not only this but also things like free range eggs. [The Clacton and Frinton Gazette] Read more

28 November 2017

Islamic faith schools endorsing misogyny, dossier reveals

The Government's former integration tsar has called for a moratorium on the opening of new faith schools after a dossier revealed endorsements of wife-beating and misogyny in Islamic schools.

The contents of a file which showed examples of discrimination and sexism witnessed by Ofsted inspectors were reported in The Times. The findings prompted Dame Louise Casey – who wrote a major report on social integration last year – to accuse the Government of inaction.

Dame Louise told The Times no faith schools should be opened until the problems were addressed – a move advocated by the National Secular Society in its December 2016 report Rethinking religion and belief in public life.

"Some schools are teaching a segregated way of life and misogyny and the government isn't taking enough of a stand," she said. "The public expects them to do that. The DfE (Department for Education) turns a blind eye and hopes that Ofsted will deal with the problem. It's all in the 'too difficult' box." [National Secular Society] Read more

A lesson in silencing dissent: the controversy of hijab in schools

.... As I prepared to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and to take part in the 16 Days of Activism, I had little idea that a meeting I had attended the previous week would overtake my life in the way it has or present new challenges and dangers for me and my fellow activists.

MP Afzal Khan, MEND and Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale Council of Mosques have all called for for the "names of the women" who attended a meeting with Ofsted on 17th November.

The attendees could then be outed as "disconnected from grassroots communities", exhibiting "an intolerant, unsound and incoherent understanding of Islam and Muslim practice" and "stirring up anti-Muslim hatred".

Given the accusations, which are simply untrue, I feel I have little choice but to state publicly that I was at the meeting and share the focus of the discussions. The meeting had been organised and publicised several months ago. [National Secular Society] Read more

Ofsted accused of racism over hijab questioning in primary schools

Ofsted’s recommendation for inspectors to question Muslim primary school girls if they are wearing a hijab has been condemned as “kneejerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist” by more than 1,000 teachers, academics and faith leaders.

The schools inspectorate announced this month that the policy was designed to tackle situations in which wearing a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of girls as young as four or five, when most Islamic teaching requires headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty.

But the move has been criticised as a “dangerous” decision that risked “reinforcing an anti-Muslim political culture in which Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism has been institutionalised in schools and across the public sector”.

A letter signed by 1,136 teachers, academics and faith leaders said: “It is a kneejerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist response that will violate civil liberties and create a climate of fear and mistrust in schools, and must be retracted immediately.” [The Guardian] Read more

In praise of Trevor Phillips, the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s latest target

.... Of course in the IHRC’s strange, Khomeinist, moral universe, revealing what some British Muslims actually think must be ‘Islamophobic’. Especially when some British Muslims turn out to think things that are worrying.

A decent group might recognise that the answer to such disturbing findings would be to try to help change what British Muslims think, or make them think more decent things.

But, as I say, the IHRC are a Khomeinist group and for such a group, with such goals, the best course of action is of course to attack anybody who reveals what some British Muslims think. Trevor Phillips simply turns out to be the IHRC’s latest victim. [The Spectator] Read more

Books in UK Islamic school say it's OK to beat women for refusing sex

Library books which sanction domestic violence and say women should never deny their husbands sex have been found by Ofsted inspectors at Islamic schools in the UK.

The texts were part of a file compiled by Ofsted of the worst examples of discrimination and sexism its inspectors had encountered.

Ofsted insiders told the Times the books and writings made for "uncomfortable reading" and that the material found was out of step with mainstream Muslim thinking.

One book found in a school library entitled Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell said it was wrong for wives to show "ingratitude to their husband" or "have tall ambitions".

It described feminism as an atheist conspiracy "driving women towards aberrant ways".

Another school encouraged pupils to read a text comparing "noble women of the East" who protect their modesty with veils with the "internally torn woman of the West" who "leaves her home to knock about aimlessly in cinemas and cafés, malls and bazaars". [International Business Times] Read more

Muslim children are being spoon-fed misogyny

Thus man is definitely master of the woman”, states rule number one on the checklist for children in a book kept in the library at one Islamic school. It’s part of a shocking dossier of material uncovered by Ofsted inspectors on recent visits to faith-based institutions in both the private and state sector.

Photographs of texts in the school libraries as well as examples of pupils’ own work — which I have seen — raise serious questions about the government’s campaign to uphold so-called “British values” in the education system. Despite promising to defend equality, tolerance and mutual respect in schools as part of the drive against extremism, ministers appear to be turning a blind eye .... [The Times (£)] Read more

It’s OK to beat your wife, says Islamic school book

Library books which urge women to be submissive to their husbands and never refuse sex are among a dossier of misogynistic material inspectors have found in Islamic schools.

Ofsted has compiled a file of the worst examples of discrimination and sexism its inspectors encountered. The material includes excerpts from library books and children’s marked work which sanction domestic violence.

Among the worst examples was a book discovered in a school library entitled, “Women who deserve to go to hell” which said that it was wrong for wives to show “ingratitude to their husband” or “have tall ambitions”. [The Times (£)] Read more

26 November 2017

Ahmadi mosques on guard over death threats from Muslims

A minority Islamic sect has introduced airport-style security at its mosques in Britain to screen worshippers for knives and firearms after receiving death threats from other Muslims around the country.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK (AMC), which represents about 30,000 Ahmadis, has brought in walk-through metal detectors, identity checks and bag searches at its prayer centres after threats were made on the life of its leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and other group members.

The Metropolitan police are understood to be investigating threats from British Muslims against the community.

Ahmadis, who make up 1% of the UK’s 3m followers of Islam, have been persecuted for years, especially in Pakistan, because they believe Muhammad was not the last Muslim prophet. Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims see that as blasphemous. [The Times (£)] Read more

Ofsted plan to ask schoolgirls about the way they dress. Manchester Muslims say the idea is 'absurd' and un-British

Muslim representatives in Greater Manchester say Ofsted’s plan to ask young girls in primary schools why they are wearing the hijab is ‘unfair and discriminatory’ and will stigmatise them.

The education watchdog’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman announced last week that pupils wearing hijabs would be questioned with their responses documented in school reports.

It comes amid concerns that some young girls were being forced cover up by their parents.

The policy – which has been widely criticised by religious communities – was announced after Ms Spielman met with Muslim and secular campaigners who want a ban on hijabs in primary schools.

Now Greater Manchester’s Muslim leaders have responded with a strongly-worded joint statement signed by the Manchester Council of Mosques, Stockport Muslims, Bolton Council of Mosques, Oldham Mosques Council and the Rochdale Council of Mosques. [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Charity boss's links to online hate

A charity handing out millions of pounds to mosques and other organisations in Britain is run by a former Qatari official who founded a website that instructed Muslims to hate Jews and Christians, the Telegraph can disclose.

Yousef al-Kuwari is the chief executive of Qatar Charity UK, whose work includes the construction of a new mosque in the north of England.

He previously founded Islamweb, a website that issued edicts stating that it is “forbidden” to swear an oath to gain British citizenship. In June, it warned of Jews and Christians: “It is incumbent to hate them for the sake of Allah.”

Qatar Charity UK is the British arm of Qatar Charity, a Doha charity which has been designated a proscribed organisation by neighbouring Gulf states.

.... The charity added that during Mr al-Kuwari’s time as Islamweb chairman “he was not involved in the development or moderation of the website’s content or in its daily management.

“The views and contents expressed in the website do not reflect the views of Mr al-Kawari and cannot be attributed to him. They certainly do not reflect the views of and cannot be attributed in any way to QCUK.” [The Telegraph] Read more

Egypt shows again that Muslims have most to fear from extremist Islamists

.... The primary target of radical Islamist groups is, and always has been, other Muslims. Muslims are the principal victims – and Muslims, more than any other group, are the ones who are fighting them more than anyone else. Rather than problematise them, we ought to recognise that Muslims are an integral – the most fundamental – part of the campaign against radical extremism. Of course, Mr Trump, while offering his condolences to Mr al-Sisi, a close ally, couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that the victims of this latest atrocity were Muslims.

Another key point is that while it may be tempting to describe this brutal attack as an extremist group attacking another minority in a Muslim-majority country, we ought to be very careful about falling into that trap. Sufis aren’t a sect of Muslims; rather, Sufism is an integral part of mainstream Sunni Islam.

Extremists may deny that, but there is no reason why the rest of us ought to; historically, all normative expressions of Islam took for granted the discipline of Sufism as a spiritual science within Islamic thought. That radicals deem Sufi orders, or those affiliated to them, as renegades is not in keeping with the heritage of Sunni Islam, whether in Egypt or elsewhere. [246 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 289 votes] "Muslims should be embraced by the West"

Perhaps this should be the other way round. Muslims should embrace the West. Adapt to Western society integrate into it take on its values and behaviours.

Accept equalities.

It is not enough to stand apart and then complain that they are not treated in the same way.

[2ND 236] [A COMMENT SAID] "London's mayor is Muslim. Visit Tower Hamlets and many people on the street will be Muslim. Channel 4 news has a Muslim presenter who wares the veil. As so often with people who do not encounter Muslims in daily life, you make the mistake of assuming every Muslim is an actual of potential terrorist. Which plays right into extremists' hate narrative.2

Tower Hamlets is an example of self-segregation, the opposite of integration. I do not think that example helps the point you are trying to make.

[3RD 191] Western civilisation should hold islam in contempt as it is incompatible with democracy,freedom,equality and tolerance.

[4TH 190] Everyone has something to fear from Islamists and anyone who thinks their god is the be all and end all.

[5TH 172] "Muslims have most to fear from Islamists"

Then do something about it. The cancer is in Islam, nowhere near the majority of peaceful Islam, but that hard line Islamic teachings which are a conveyor belt to violent Islamism that too many ignore. It needs to be cut out, fought against at every turn, given no quarter.

I know many in Islamic countries are doing that, but we also know far too many are not. You need a reformation, you need to make Islam fit for purpose in the 21st century. Failure to do so will mean more Islamist terrorism. [Guardian Cif] Read more

25 November 2017

The President of the Muslim Executive Committee suspends an imam from Leuven

The President of the Muslim Executive Committee for Belgium (EMB) has suspended the auxiliary imam at a Leuven mosque.

He is accused of making “unacceptable” statements, it was revealed on Friday evening. This comes after a Het Laatste Nieuws article claimed the imam said a man could “strike his wife lightly if she misbehaved” during a sermon.

The sermon Het Laatste Nieuws referred to happened in November last year. It was made by the auxiliary imam at the Wilsele mosque in Leuven (Flemish Brabant).

The Flemish paper claimed the imam said a man could strike his wife lightly if she misbehaved, if other methods didn’t work. However, he couldn’t hit her “on the face or intimate areas”.

“This type of statement is unacceptable as it legitimises violence against women”, the EMB said on Friday evening.

An EMB Commission questioned the imam who made the sermon. “While waiting for the conclusions of the internal inquiry, the President of the EMB and the EMB’s Theological Council have decided to suspend the imam as a preventative measure”, the EMB said. The EMB is the body that represents Muslims in Belgium. [The Brussels Times] Read more

Pakistan army called on to stop 'blasphemy' clashes in Islamabad

Pakistan's government has called for troops to be deployed in the capital, Islamabad, after violence broke out during protests by Islamists.

About 200 people were injured when security forces tried to disperse an Islamist sit-in at the Faizabad Interchange - a key highway.

Several deaths have been reported.

The protesters have been blocking the highway for several weeks, demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid whom they accuse of blasphemy.

Pakistani media report that demonstrators also broke into the minister's residence in Punjab province. Mr Hamid and his family were not in the building.

The protests have spread to other cities, including Lahore and the southern port of Karachi. [BBC] Read more

24 November 2017

Church of England schools to be ‘sensitive’ over hijab

.... A recent survey by The Sunday Times of 800 primary-school websites found that one fifth, including C of E schools, listed the hijab as part of the uniform (News, 8 September). A campaign group of Muslim women complained in a letter to the same paper that allowing girls as young as five to wear the hijab as part of the school uniform was an “affront” to gender equality.

Ms Speilman had met some of the group two days before the announcement, on Sunday. “While respecting parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, creating an environment where primary-school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls,” she said.

A spokeswoman from Church House responded on Tuesday: “Research shows that there are many reasons why pupils wear the hijab in school. Our approach is to encourage local schools to set uniform policies having due regard to the cultural and religious sensitivities of the communities they serve, in balance with the well-being of their students.” [Church Times] Read more

23 November 2017

Islamic ‘hate preacher’ to be expelled

A district court in canton Zurich has given a Muslim preacher, accused of promoting violence, an 18-month suspended prison sentence. It also ordered the 25-year-old Ethiopian to be deported and banned from re-entering Switzerland for 15 years.

The preacher was on trial for calling for the burning of Muslims who are not devout enough in their worship.

Police arrested the cleric in October of last year, after receiving reports of the controversial sermon delivered at the An’Nur mosque in Winterthur, in north-eastern Switzerland. The man is also charged with distributing pictures of executions online and of violating labour regulations by working without a permit. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Islam’s growing presence a challenge for Finland, Europe

Islam’s growing presence poses a challenge for both Finland and Europe, estimates Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).

Sipilä commented on the issue while speaking to reporters at the Parliament House on Wednesday, underscoring that work remains to be done to both enhance the transparency of how religions are practised and improve the religious literacy of Finns.

“If these things are done in secret and away from the public eye, the outcome is a higher risk of radicalisation and extremist tendencies,” he stated, after making an announcement to the Parliament on the current EU agenda.

Sipilä has recently also warned against giving way to the temptation to “start resisting the influx of values that are foreign to us”.

“Islam’s presence challenges us to develop our religious literacy also in a wider sense,” he stated in his opening remarks at a seminar on the values and future of the European Union at the Finnish Parliament Annex on Tuesday. [Helsinki Times] Read more