31 January 2017

Dentist must pay 29k for allegedly ordering Muslim woman assistant to not wear hijab at work

A Cook County judge has ordered a Chicago dentist to pay an ex-employee, who is a Muslim woman, and her attorneys a combined sum of nearly $30,000, after the judge found the Chicago Council on Human Relations was correct to find the dentist had improperly ordered her to remove her hijab head covering while at work.

On Jan. 19, Cook County Judge Rodolfo Garcia ruled in favor of the Chicago commission, and against Dr. Dhiraj Sharma, who had asked the judge to vacate the commission’s findings the dentist had discriminated against the woman.

The case had landed in Cook County Circuit Court in January 2016, when Sharma, owner of American Dental Associates in Chicago, had asked the judge to intervene in his dispute with the Chicago Human Rights Commission.

Sharma had claimed the Commission didn’t properly allow him to defend himself against the accusations leveled by his ex-employee, identified in the court documents as Mirta Barrera. [Cook County Record] Read more

Austrian coalition pledges face veil ban, curbs on foreign workers

Austria's coalition government promised on Monday to ban Muslim face-covering veils and to restrict eastern European workers' access to the labor market, in a package of policies aimed at countering the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (FPO) has topped opinion polls for months, boosted by the influx of more than a million migrants into Europe in the past two years and concerns over their impact on jobs and security. Last month the FPO candidate came close to winning Austria's presidential election.

With a parliamentary election due next year, Chancellor Christian Kern of the Social Democratic Party (SPO) hopes the package will provide fresh impetus to an eight-month-old coalition widely seen as ineffective. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim full face veil to be banned in public places in Austria

Austria is planning to ban Islamic full-face veils in courts, schools and other public places.

The prohibition will apply to the niqab and burqa, the full-face or face-and-body coverings worn by some Muslim women.

It comes as part of a package of reforms drawn up by the country's governing coalition to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party, which has topped opinion polls for months.

"We believe in an open society that is also based on open communication. Full-body veils in public spaces stand against that and will therefore be prohibited," the agreement said.

The country's coalition also agreed to prohibit police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing head scarves in the interest of appearing "ideologically and religiously neutral" while serving the state.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] When will the UK have the courage to do this. Those coverings are offensive!!

[ANOTHER] Muslim face covering are provocative - and they know it.

[ANOTHER] Good for Austria, now Mrs May get it implemented here NOW

[ANOTHER] Also, what message does this alienating face mask send out to their own children? They should be the next generation of integrated citizens. Instead they will see us as "other" based on parents signalling, and be ripe for radicalization.

[ANOTHER] Well done Austria. We now just have to make sure we push through similar rulings across the EU and UK. In November Slovakia passed legislation which effectively prevents Islam from being a recognised religion in the country (bloody well done there), so no state funds etc....and this must be pushed through in other countries. With energy, persistence and the desire to do what is right we can eradicate Islam in Europe.

[ANOTHER] Ban the hijab. No one wore it until Saudi petrodollars exported hard Islam. It's a very political statement.

[ANOTHER] Why are Muslims so desperate to move to America and Europe, can they build good lives in Mulsim nations of hire choosing? What does this say about Muslim society?

[ANOTHER] Good, it is a disgusting Bedouin habit. [The Independent] Read more

30 January 2017

A Muslim Reformer Speaks Out About His Battle Against Islamism And PC

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser stands at the forefront of the Muslim Reform Movement (MRM), which celebrated its first anniversary on December 4, 2016. He and representatives from fourteen other Muslim reform groups formed the MRM, which held its inaugural press conference on December 5, 2015.

There, they announced their two-page declaration of principles that discusses counterterrorism, human rights, and secular governance. In a nod to Martin Luther nailing his 99 theses to the door of the All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, several MRM members then taped their principles to the door of the Islamic Center of Washington DC.

The following is an interview with Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, CEO of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and co-founder of the MRM. Jasser is a physician and former U.S. Navy officer whose parents fled Syria. Jasser agreed to reflect on the MRM’s one-year anniversary, the current battle between reformists and Islamists, and the Syrian Civil War. [The Federalist] Read more

Court missed chance to define Muslim clothing rules

A Prague court's Friday verdict in the case of a Muslim girl complaining against a ban of hijab in a school evaded answering the basic question, thus missing the chance to decide whether religious clothes can be worn by students in Czech schools, Josef Koukal wrote in Pravo on Saturday.

The anti-Islamic activists, who crowded the courtroom, probably welcomed it that the court dismissed the lawsuit that the Somali girl, Ayan Yamaal Ahmednuur, filed against a secondary medical school.

The court said she actually did not become the school's student because she failed to submit her Czech stay permit certificate in accordance with requirements. If so, she logically could not have been forced to leave the school due to her hijab, the court said, Koukal writes.

The court dispute was a chance to have school clothing rules defined, Koukal writes, adding that there is a number of model rules abroad, from rigid school uniforms to full anarchy.

For example, the court could have specified what requirements in this respect schools can introduce as binding internal directives without colliding with fundamental human rights, Koukal writes. [Czech News Agency] Read more

29 January 2017

"Islam Strengthening in Europe with the Blessing of the Church"

Everyone in Italy and the rest of Europe will "soon be Muslim" because of our "stupidity", warned Monsignor Carlo Liberati, Archbishop Emeritus of Pompei. Liberati claimed that, thanks to the huge number of Muslim migrants alongside the increasing secularism of native Europeans, Islam will soon become the main religion of Europe. "All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam", Archbishop Liberati explained.

Décadence is also the title of a new book by the French philosopher Michel Onfray, in which he suggests that the Judeo-Christian era may have come to an end. He compares the West and Islam: "We have nihilism, they have fervor; we are exhausted, they have a great health; we have the past for us; they have the future for them".

Archbishop Liberati belongs to a growing branch of Catholic leaders who refuse to see the future belonging to Islam in Europe. They speak in open opposition to Pope Francis, who does not seem too impressed by the collapse of Christianity due to falling birth rates, accompanied by religious apathy and its replacement by Islam. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

28 January 2017

Geert Wilders doesn’t threaten Dutch liberalism: he’s defending it

.... So might it happen? In an echo of the pre-Brexit and pre-Trump tsunamis, NRC, one of Holland’s leading newspapers, this week ran an article pointing out that Wilders and Baudet are receiving the most attention across all social media. No wonder. For years the Dutch people have been screaming into the wind.

For years the political class has refused to hear. Now the Forum for Democracy, like Wilders in his own way, is promising to give the people their voice back. Those who are against this upheaval believe it comes in opposition to the country’s traditions of tolerance. Yet for those who are behind it, Holland’s revolution is overtly in defence of the country’s liberal traditions.

A political opponent might deny this fact. Other parties might decry it. But in the long run only a fool would ignore it. For if this wind picks up across the lowlands of Holland, expect it to gain speed across the rest of Europe. Hurricane it may be. But an ill wind? Not necessarily. [The Spectator] Read more

The state and the veil

.... From this perspective, the government’s attempts to impose and elaborate a dress code are not just an affront to their freedom but further proof of male chauvinism. “I’m a feminist, I consider that I’m equal to men and I wear what I want,” says Fatima El Ouasdi, a student in finance, who wears her skirt short and her hair loose and runs a women’s-rights group. “But the burkini ban really revolted me.”

Yet the trend of “reveiling” among young French women is sincerely regarded by many members of their mothers’ generation and by many politicians as part of a fundamentalist political project.

They believe the government has both the right and the duty to oppose it. The French do not view the state merely as a provider of services but as a guarantor of norms. Lending legitimacy to certain individual choices is not just a matter of personal freedom but can have real social consequences.

For evidence, some say, look at the banlieues. The atmosphere in some heavily immigrant suburbs can curb freedom by making it hard not to wear the veil, argues Nadia Ould-Kaci, who co-runs a group called Women of Aubervilliers against the Veil. In recent years, she says, the spread of the veil in her district has reached “worrying” proportions. Girls of North African origin who do not wear it are insulted by being told that “God is ashamed of you.” [The Economist] Read more

27 January 2017

Czech court dismisses hijab ban complaint against school

A court in the Czech Republic dismissed a complaint Friday brought by a Somali woman who had accused a nursing school of discriminating against her by telling her she couldn't wear a hijab.

The school argued that Ayan Jamaal Ahmednuur was not properly enrolled as a student and therefore could not have been a target of bias.

The Prague 10 district court agreed, ruling there was no evidence of discrimination.

Ahmednuur alleged that on her first day at Secondary Health School the school's principal told her to remove her hijab. Instead, she submitted a form to quit and demanded an apology and 60,000 koruna ($2,372) in compensation.

Unlike some other European countries, the Czech Republic does not prohibit Muslim women from wearing headscarves in certain settings. However, the nursing school does for what it described as safety reasons since its students get some of their training in hospitals.

Anti-Muslim activists, including some politicians, applauded the verdict. [Associated Press] Read more

Islam 'not sustainable' in its current form and must 'reshape' to modern values, says religious expert

.... "Currently, Islam is unfortunately a religion of isolation. A religion of migration. A religion of Turkey, of Saudi Arabia. But no religion of Europe, which advocates pluralism or prepares children accordingly for a plural society.

"Why do we base the image of Muslims on women with headscarves? Organisations which shape our image of Islam, but they are just a small section of it."

Mr Aslan said European countries must lead the way in helping to amend the reputation of Islam, as certain Middle Eastern and African nations lacked the democratic freedoms necessary for such a debate.

"Unfortunately, this is not possible in Islamic countries. They simply cannot lead this debate in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia," he added. "Democracy is an invention of the Enlightenment." [The Independent] Read more

'We must stand up to extremism', activist and author Sara Khan tells Bradford University audience

.... She also said British Muslims were diverse and it was wrong for one person or group to say they represented them.

"There is no one-size-fits all in Muslim history."

Mrs Khan, a mother of two daughters, who studied pharmacy before taking an MA in human rights, co-founded Inspire, in 2008, a non-governmental women's rights and counter-extremism organisation and launched the MakingAStand campaign in 2014, a grassroots movement to reject the so-called Islamic State.

The campaign was endorsed at its launch by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

She was in the BBC Woman's Hour Power List of top ten influencers in 2015 and last year was winner of Marie Claire Future Shapers Award, shortlisted for Red Women of the Year Award and winner of Asian Women of Achievement Award.

"I have fought against groups like ISIS and yet I have been called Islamaphobic, in fact all the names under the sun by Imams who don't like my interpretation of Islam," she said.

"It is really quite troubling. I have dealt with numerous cases of extremism, even among very young children, and it is frightening."

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Noble effort by M's Khan. However she ought to stick her neck out and state the obvious: Saudi influenced schools and mosques are not welcome in the U.K. as the Saudi version of the faith has no compassion and encourages segregation by its unbelievably literal interpretation of religious texts.

AlQciada/ISIS/talibans are clearly inspired by such literal leaders and this has to stop. Yes the western proxy game has been played out over the last 500 years and Saudi Arabia along with its British and US sponsored protected rulers need to lose our support...not gonna happen as we supply them the weapons they use in bombing schools and hospitals in the Yemen.

The sooner the moderates increase their influence over the Saudis the better: this needs to stop and we must encourage peace as those who are learned do know that Islam is a peace loving way of life that is being tarnished with the extreme views of Saudi inspired interpretations.

[ANOTHER] Its very simple, muslims were not and are not welcomed by the vast majority of the population.

[ANOTHER] Well intentioned, but how many 'Community Leaders' did she reach? Would she be prepared to go to, say around the Leeds Road area, and deliver this speech. I think she would be advised (and rightly so) that it wouldn't be safe to go into those areas and express such views freely, preaching to the converted unfortunately won't drag Bradford out of the medieval city we have become in some parts. [Telegraph & Argus] Read more

26 January 2017

Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill receives its second reading on 27 January 2017 - Bill seeks to enhance Muslim women’s rights

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill received its second reading on 27 January 2017 and has been committed to Committee of the whole house on a date to be announced.

The Bill is a private member's bill introduced by Baroness Cox and received its first reading in the House of Lords on 25 May 2016.

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill would make provisions regarding the application of equalities legislation to arbitration and mediation services. It seeks to prevent providers of arbitration services from doing anything that constitutes discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the grounds of sex.

It would do so by inserting a new subsection into the Equalities Act 2010 and into the Arbitration Act 1996. It would also provide clarification that discrimination includes, but is not restricted to, treating evidence from men as being of greater value than that of women, or vice versa. [Family Law Week] Read more

Pakistan bans religious TV host Aamir Liaquat Hussain over blasphemy allegations

Pakistan’s television regulator has banned a well-known talkshow host for hate speech, after he hosted shows accusing liberal activists and others of blasphemy, an inflammatory allegation that could put their lives at risk.

Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan that can result in the death penalty. Even being accused of blasphemy can provoke targeted acts of violence by religious rightwing vigilantes.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain, who describes his programme aired on Bol TV as the country’s leading television show, had been at the forefront of a campaign to discredit liberal activists who went missing this month, as well as those defending them.

In a document sent to Bol TV and seen by Reuters, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said Liaquat’s show “wilfully and repeatedly made statements and allegations which (are) tantamount to hate speech, derogatory remarks, incitement to violence against citizens and casting accusations of being anti-state and anti-Islam.” [The Guardian] Read more

25 January 2017

Mosque where Berlin Christmas market murderer Anis Amri prayed to be SHUT DOWN

THE mosque where Berlin Christmas market mass murderer Anis Amri worshipped is to be shut down after it emerged he and other Islamic fundamentalists regularly prayed there.

Some 12 people died and more than 50 were injured when the Tunisian ploughed a 20 tonne truck into crowds at the festive market.

Just hours before the massacre on December 19, Amri was captured on CCTV entering the mosque in the Moabit neighbourhood in Germany’s capital.

And another clip emerged of the 24-year-old there five days before the atrocity.

German Interior Secretary of Berlin, Torsten Akmann, confirmed the committee on internal affairs of the Berlin Parliament was under “high pressure” to shut down the mosque.

He said the application for the planned ban of the building and the mosque association, Fussilet 33, would be finalised by the end of the month.

The move follows a raid on the mosque last week by a special deployment commando of the Berlin police, where they arrested another Islamic fundamentalist. [Daily Express] Read more

Austrian expert says Islam is unsustainable in its current form

A leading professor and expert on Islam has warned that the religion is "not sustainable" in its current form and called for more critical thinking.

Ednan Aslan, 57, a professor for Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna in Austria and a frequent guest on German-language TV shows, said that in Islam too little is being questioned and too much simply taken for granted.

He warned: "Islam, as it is now, is not sustainable," and said he wanted to "reshape the face" of his religion.

Aslan said that Islam is "out of touch with the present" in the way it is currently taught.

The Islamic expert is currently developing a curriculum for a new "Islamic Theology" course, in which he said he does not want to "inhale and breathe Islamic doctrine, but to question it".

Aslan said: "We want to reshape the face of Islam. It is important that Islam is given a new face in order to be able to remain viable. [The Local] Read more

Hairdresser convicted for refusing to serve hijab-wearing woman appeals case to high court

Merete Hodne was initially given an £800 fine by police in October, 2015 after she refused to serve Malika Bayan in her establishment in Bryne, south-west Norway, because she was wearing a hijab.

However as the 47-year-old businessman, who said she was fully within her rights to not colour Ms Bayan’s, refused to pay the fine she was taken to court.

The case has already been heard twice, as Ms Hodne appealed the ruling in September which initially found she had discriminated against the 24-year-old.

Contesting the ruling, the hairdresser claimed the court was unduly influenced by her previous membership of an anti-Islamic organisation.

However in January the courts upheld the first conviction and the businesswoman has now said she is ready to challenge it in Norway’s highest court.

“To me the hijab is the same as an Isis flag. The hijab is a political symbol,” Ms Hodne said after the January trial according to Stavanger Aftenblad. [Daily Express] Read more

Leicester taxi driver fined for refusing to pick up blind couple with guide dog

A taxi driver who refused to take a couple with a guide dog on religious grounds has been ordered to pay a total of £590 by a court.

Abandi Jamal Kassim (43), of Fountains Avenue, Eyres Monsell, Leicester, was sentenced at Leicester Magistrates Court, today.

In a prosecution brought by Leicester City Council under the Equality Act 2010, he pleaded guilty to the offence.

As reported by the Leicester Mercury at the time, the incident happened on July 1, last year.

John Moss, prosecuting, said that the law was clearly laid out in the conditions of the taxi driver's permit issued to Kassim by the city council.

He said: "You refused to carry out a booking that had been made by a disabled person and the reason you gave was because they were accompanied by a dog. [The Leicester Mercury] Read more

Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize: Reverend Gavin Ashenden

Very occasionally -- even in contemporary Britain -- some good news arrives. No single piece of news has been more invigorating than the discovery that a member of the clergy of the Church of England has found a vertebra.

In recent years, the British public have become used to a steady succession of bad-news stories from the purveyors of the Good News.

This has taken every imaginable form, from the former Bishop of Oxford suggesting in the House of Lords that the Quran could be recited at the next coronation service, to the former Archbishop of Canterbury -- Rowan Williams -- notoriously suggesting that a place should be found for Islamic sharia in the law of the land.

So the place in the British national comedy reserved for the type of vicar unwilling to take the side of his own faith in any argument has darkly morphed. The failure of the Church of England to defend its own beliefs or its own followers when they are facing persecution around the world, has become an unamusing stain on the reputation of the church.

Its representatives increasingly look as though they are willing to defend anything -- including the most intolerant expressions of the world's most intolerant religions -- rather than argue for their own faith or the faith of their own congregants. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Muslim campaigner on head scarves row: "We should let children be children"

A Muslim campaigner for women's rights has said young girls should not be made to wear head scarves, claiming that forcing them to do so is as bad as making them have spray tans or take pole dancing lessons.

Shaista Gohir from the Muslim Women's Network made the comments as she defended a Birmingham Catholic school which banned a four-year-old pupil from wearing the hijab.

She added that St Clare’s School in Handsworth was within its rights to set its own uniform policy – and criticism of it had been unfair.

Ms Gohir argues that the hijab is meant to discourage sexual advances - and so that forcing it on young children could be "sexualising" them.

The row erupted after Birmingham City Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities, Waseem Zaffar, announced on Facebook that he was challenging the school’s ban. Faith schools are free to set their own uniform policy. [ITV] Read more

24 January 2017

Mother and daughter to be first to wear Police Scotland ‘hijab’ uniform

The Herald Scotland and the Evening Times both report on the Muslim mother and daughter who will become the first hijab wearing police officers in Scotland once they complete their training.

Shafqat and Aleena Rafi, of Clydebank, are set to become the first officers in Scotland – special or regular – to wear the hijab as part of their officer uniform once they complete the recruitment process.

Miss Rafi, 19, said that seeing police officers in headscarves will help to “break down the barriers”.

Her mother Mrs Rafi, 50, said Police Scotland had been very supportive of their application to join. “Sometimes people just see the hijab and not what is underneath,” she said.

“Our religion teaches us to help each other. Islam means peace,” she added. [MEND] Read more

Muslim pupil's headscarf ban at Catholic school challenged

A school has been accused of breaching anti-discrimination laws after claims a four-year-old Muslim pupil was told she could not wear a headscarf.

St Clare's Catholic Primary School in Birmingham has met with equality leaders at the city council to discuss a complaint from the pupil's family.

The council is supporting the school to ensure its policies are appropriate.

But Muslim Women's Network UK said the school was not at fault as young girls are not required to wear headscarves.

The Handsworth school states on its website that "hats or scarves are not allowed to be worn in school" alongside examples including a woman in a headscarf.

Labour councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transparency, openness and equality, met the school's head teacher last week. [BBC] Read more

‘Behave normally, or go away’ Dutch PM warns immigrants weeks before vote

Anyone who cannot respect Dutch customs can leave, the country's prime minister has warned weeks ahead of the country's general election.

In a full-page message published in several newspapers, Mark Rutte said "we have to actively defend our values" against those who refuse to integrate or act antisocially.

"Behave normally or go away," he said.

While his message did not mention opponent Geert Wilders or his Party for Freedom, it was clearly aimed at winning over voters who would likely back Mr Wilders' anti-immigration platform.

Mr Rutte, leader of the centre-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, said he understands calls for people who don't integrate to leave the Netherlands. "I have that feeling, too," he said. [The Independent] Read more

Rising influence of Islam in schools alarms Bangladeshi secularists

Bangladesh's Education Ministry was preparing to print the 2017 editions of its standard Bengali textbooks when a group of conservative Islamic religious scholars demanded the removal of 17 poems and stories they deemed "atheistic".

By the time the books were distributed to schools on January 1, the 17 poems and stories were gone, with no explanation from the government. Other changes had crept in, too: First-graders studying the alphabet were taught that "o" stands for "orna," a scarf worn by devout Muslim girls starting at puberty, not for "ol," a type of yam; and a sixth-grade travelogue describing a visit to the Hindu-dominated north of India was replaced by one about the Nile in Egypt.

The changes were barely noticeable to the general public, but they alarmed some Bangladesh intellectuals, who saw them as the government's accommodating a larger shift toward radical Islam. [The Age] Read more

Poll: 40 Per Cent of Migrants Think Citizens of Host Country Have Too Much Freedom

A newly released study of migrants in Austria has revealed that whilst the vast majority are pro-democratic, many think Austrians live too liberally and have too much freedom.

The study, conducted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, interviewed 900 asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq on various topics from religion to their political opinions.

The results show the asylum seekers having a positive attitude for the democratic system with 90 per cent supporting the principle of democracy, 40 per cent claim people in Austria live “too liberally”, and the majority define themselves as religious, OE24 reports.

Around 80 per cent of those who took part in the study were men aged 18-30 years old reflecting the huge disparity between the numbers of men who have migrated to Europe over the course of the migrant crisis compared to women and children.

Sixty per cent said that they were actively religious and 30 per cent say they pray five times a day or more. A further 80 per cent say religious clothing, like the burqa or niqab, should be allowed in public places. Only two per cent claimed they weren’t religious. [Breitbart London] Read more

23 January 2017

General election: ‘Go away if you don’t like it here,’ says Dutch PM

.... The advert takes the form of an open letter to ‘all Netherlanders’. ‘There is something up in our country,’ Rutte says. ‘Why is our country so prosperous and yet some people behave so poorly?’

The letter refers to anti-social behaviour in traffic, on public transport and in the streets. ‘We feel a growing unease when people misuse our freedoms to spoil everything, when they have come to our country for freedom,’ Rutte says. ‘People who don’t want to adapt… who attack gay people, who shout at women in short skirts or call ordinary Dutch people racist.’

The coming period, Rutte says, will decide what direction the Netherlands will take. ‘There is one question to be answered,’ he says. ‘What sort of country do we want?’ The VVD is challenging Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV to become the biggest party after the March 15 general election. Rutte has already ruled out working together in a coalition with the PVV. [DutchNews] Read more

Taslima Nasreen says no Islamic country can be 'secular' until Islam learns to accept 'criticism'

Bangladeshi writer and human rights activist Taslima Nasreen batted for Uniform Civil Code, saying that the measure was "urgently" needed to empower people with their rights. In an impromptu session at the Jaipur Literature Festival here, the author who has been living in exile since 1994 after facing the ire of fundamentalists, said the Islamic society needed to be more tolerant towards criticism to make progress.

"It is necessary for Islamic society to be tolerant and accept criticism without which they cannot progress. Uniform Civil Code is urgently required for empowering people with human rights," she said.

The writer, who was in conversation with Salil Tripathi, a former board member of English PEN, slammed religious fanatics saying she did not believe in terms like "nationalism" or "religious fundamentalism". [DNA] Read more

Shariah Law Imposed in Mali As Islamist Extremists Ban Baptisms and Christian Weddings

The ominous shadow of Islamist extremism appears to be looming larger in Africa.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported recently that Islamist extremists have imposed Sharia law in a number of villages in Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa with a predominantly Muslim population.

The human rights watchdog group said the radicals have banned baptisms and Christian weddings, threatening dire punishment to those violate their edicts. These extremists have also executed public officials, it added.

The group said the human rights abuses are being carried out by several militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, Ansar Dine, the Macina Liberation Front and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa.

It said the Mali government has largely been rendered powerless to stop these Islamist militant groups from "imposing restrictions on village life" and from executing people. [Christian Today] Read more

Catholic school prompts uniform row by banning Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf

A Catholic school has prompted a uniform row by banning a four-year-old Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf at school.

St Clare's School in Handsworth, on the outskirts of Birmingham, asked the girl’s parents to respect their strict uniform policy, which includes no headwear or scarfs.

The primary school’s decision ignited a debate among community leaders after the girl’s father called on town hall officials to intervene.

Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council's Labour cabinet member for equalities, said that he had met with the head teacher and told her the ban on the scarf was against the equalities act.

He added: "I'm insisting this matter is addressed [as soon as possible] with a change of policy."

However, his colleague Majid Mahmood said that since it is a faith school, St Clare's is "maybe within its rights to insist upon a particular dress code," just as a Muslim faith school "may require girls to wear headscarves". [The Telegraph] Read more

22 January 2017

To Secular Bangladeshis, Textbook Changes Are a Harbinger

Bangladesh’s Education Ministry was preparing to print the 2017 editions of its standard Bengali textbooks when a group of conservative Islamic religious scholars demanded the removal of 17 poems and stories they deemed “atheistic.”

By the time the books were distributed to schools on Jan. 1, the 17 poems and stories were gone, with no explanation from the government. Other changes had crept in, too: First graders studying the alphabet were taught that “o” stands for “orna,” a scarf worn by devout Muslim girls starting at puberty, not for “ol,” a type of yam; and a sixth-grade travelogue describing a visit to the Hindu-dominated north of India was replaced by one about the Nile in Egypt.

The changes were barely noticeable to the general public, but they alarmed some Bangladesh intellectuals, who saw them as the government’s accommodating a larger shift toward radical Islam. [The New York Times] Read more

Queen's chaplain resigns over Glasgow cathedral Koran row

One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.

The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.

A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.

Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".

The cathedral has said it is standing by its decision.

St Mary's invited local Muslims, who revere Jesus as a prophet but not as the son of God, to join the service.

A student, Madinah Javed, read from the lectern in Arabic from the chapter of Maryam, or Mary.

The chapter tells the story of the birth of Christ to the virgin Mary, and includes the Islamic teaching that Jesus is not the son of God and should not be worshipped. [BBC] Read more

A mosque is at the center of a raw debate in the South of France

The Mosque En-Nour is hidden on the outskirts of town, tucked away in an anonymous office park behind the airport and off a highway. No feature betrays its identity; no sign marks its entrance.

Yet many people know exactly where to find it, and some are convinced that it has to go. On two occasions since it opened in June, nearby residents, to humiliate worshipers, have left the bloodied heads of pigs outside the mosque’s door. Shortly thereafter, regional authorities resumed their push to shut it down, after nearly 15 years of trying — and failing — to prevent it from opening.

.... Especially not after the terrorist attack in Nice in July, when one local Tunisian man, later claimed as a “soldier” by the Islamic State, plowed a rented truck through crowds of revelers gathered to celebrate France’s national holiday, killing 86 and injuring hundreds more.

Mosque En-Nour had only opened the month before the attack, but a growing number here began to view the notion of a large mosque — especially one housed in a building originally purchased by the Saudi minister of Islamic affairs — as further evidence of a fundamental incompatibility between the French Republic and its second-largest religion.

In the words of Estrosi, shortly thereafter: “We can’t go around proclaiming secularism everywhere and at the same time say that Islam and democracy are perfectly compatible.” [The Washington Post] Read more

20 January 2017

What is Turkey’s problem with Darwin?

Turkey’s National Education Ministry announced a new curriculum for secondary schools on Jan. 16. A draft of the curriculum will be discussed for a month, the ministry said, and criticisms will be taken into account before the final version is approved.

Some aspects of the new curriculum, such as decreasing the amount of homework and allowing more time for play and socializing, seem like good ideas, but as usual, what made the headlines were the changes related to the culture war between Turkey's religious conservatives and secularists.

Commentators from the latter camp focused primarily on the life and times of Ataturk, Turkey’s secularist founder, being given less attention. Any secularist with a broad outlook should, however, be concerned about something else: the elimination of the theory of evolution from biology textbooks.

This change appears to be a “reform” based on advice given by Egitim Bir-Sen, a conservative, pro-government education union, to the ministry. Thus, “The Beginning of Life and Evolution,” the only chapter on evolution in the pre-college curriculum, will be excised from high school textbooks.

The replacement chapter will be titled “Living Beings and the Environment,” and all references to Darwinian or “neo-Darwinian” theory will be removed. In other words, a Turkish high school graduate will learn nothing about one of the most important scientific theories, the one explaining the diversity of life on Earth as the product of common descent through gradual change and natural selection. [Al-Monitor] Read more

Denmark bans marriage for under-18s after report suggests dozens of asylum seeking teens arriving with spouses

The Danish government has approved a bill that will prohibit people under the age of 18 from getting married, after it was alleged that dozens of young refugees were entering the country with spouses or registered partners.

The bill, which also states asylum-seeking minors who were married abroad will not have their marriages recognised by the state, comes after a report by the Integration Ministry last year revealed there were 27 minors in the Danish asylum system who had spouses or registered partners.

Under the legislation passed on Thursday, which will come into effect on 1 February, exceptions to the ban can be granted if couples can provide a “compelling argument” for their marriage.

A number of legal experts and human rights groups in Denmark have criticised the government’s decision. A spokeswoman for the country's National Council for Children told The Independent the organisation was against the legislation because it “takes the child’s best interest too little into consideration”. [The Independent] Read more

19 January 2017

Iran Continues “Cruel and Inhuman” Floggings, Blindings, Amputations

Iranian authorities are exposing their “utterly brutal sense of justice” by continuing to carry out “cruel and inhuman” corporal punishments including floggings, amputations, and forced blinding, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Hundreds of prisoners are flogged in Iran each year, sometimes in public, Amnesty noted. In the latest flogging case on January 5, a journalist was lashed 40 times in Esfahan Province after being convicted of inaccurately reporting the number of motorcycles confiscated by local authorities.

“The authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation and blinding, throughout 2016 highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“These cruel and inhuman punishments are a shocking assault on human dignity and violate the absolute international prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment,” she added. “The latest flogging of a journalist raises alarms that the authorities intend to continue the spree of cruel punishments we have witnessed over the past year into 2017.” [TheTower.org] Read more

University of Kansas maintains women’s-only lunchroom for Muslims

The University of Kansas maintains a women’s-only lunchroom that’s largely utilized by Muslim students, a venue billed as a “safe place” for them.

“It is mainly used by Muslim women because it allows them a space to remove [their] hijabs and eat,” said Abdoulie Njai, KU Student Senate director of diversity and inclusion, in an email last week to The College Fix.

The room, open on weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. in the public university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, is open to all female students — but in particular it allows female Muslim students to eat in a segregated, private area.

The lunchroom debuted a year ago. A campus spokesperson confirmed to The College Fix that it’s still in use today but declined to comment further. [The College Fix] Read more

Press publishing 'consistent stream' of inaccurate stories about Muslims

British media organisations have been forced to make a string of corrections and retractions over recent months relating to coverage of Muslims following routine monitoring.

Miqdaad Versi, an assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, has undertaken a personal project to track articles about Islam and Muslims in order to spot misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

He has secured almost 20 corrections and retractions, and a further 20 complaints are being examined by the press regulator, Ipso. Several complaints have been rejected.

Among the published corrections was a story published on the Sun website last week, originally headlined: “SUPERMARKET TERROR: Gunman ‘screaming Allahu Akbar’ opens fire in Spanish supermarket while ‘carrying bag filled with petrol and gunpowder’.”

After Versi complained, the headline was changed to “SUPERMARKET HORROR: Gunman opens fire in Spanish supermarket while ‘carrying bag filled with petrol and gunpowder’.” [The Guardian] Read more

The man correcting stories about Muslims

When one newspaper reported last year that "enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim" last year, Miqdaad Versi's instinct was to challenge it. He believes errors in the reporting of Muslims have become all too common, and has made it his mission to fight for corrections.

Miqdaad Versi sits in front of a rather geeky-looking spreadsheet at the offices of the Muslim Council of Britain in east London.

He is the organisation's assistant secretary general, but the task in front of him is a personal project.

The spreadsheet has on it every story published concerning Muslims and Islam that day in the British media - and he is going through them looking for inaccuracies.

If he finds one, he will put in a complaint or a request for a correction with the news organisation, the press regulator Ipso, or both.

Mr Versi has been doing this thoroughly since November, and before that on a more casual basis. He has so far complained more than 50 times, and the results are visible. [BBC] Read more

Female bodybuilder is thrown in jail in Iran for posting 'un-Islamic' photographs of her workouts online

An Iranian bodybuilder has been arrested after publishing selfie of her muscles on social media which were deemed to be 'nude'.

The woman, who is accused of breaking the Islamic Republic's strict rules on nudity, has been locked up in prison because she was unable to post bail of two million rials (£50), according to the Mizanonline news agency.

She has not been identified but it is thought she may be Shirin Nobahari, one of two women who took part in an international competition and were reported in September to have been warned about selfies which they posted afterwards.

Ms Nobahari's Instagram account, which users the moniker Shirin Muscleking, contains a number of photographs and videos of her showing off her biceps and lifting weights.

The Iranian judiciary's own news agency said today: 'One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested.' [Daily Mail] Read more

Reina attack highlights widening chasm in Turkish lifestyles

.... A woman wearing shorts was recently beaten on a public bus; a party in a record shop during Ramadan was attacked by local Islamists; and pro-government newspapers blast out headlines against secularism or leftists. There's a siege mentality in the government and a sense of two visions of the country colliding.

"We who wear headscarves were the ones who were oppressed before this government", said Elif Devecioglu, a designer of Islamic women's fashion, which has become Turkey's fifth-largest industry.

"Academics were taking 17-year-old girls into a room to persuade us not to wear headscarves. It was psychological violence… a crime against humanity. This government has the intention to represent all sides but 14 years is not a long time to change mentalities."

Much has changed in Turkey in a relatively short time, and the pious now hold power while the secularists feel under threat. But Turkey also feels dangerously polarised - a trend likely to deepen as constitutional change is disputed. [BBC] Read more

18 January 2017

Iran: Wave of floggings, amputations and other vicious punishments

Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice, said Amnesty International.

Hundreds are routinely flogged in Iran each year, sometimes in public. In the most recent flogging case recorded by Amnesty International, a journalist was lashed 40 times in Najaf Abad, Esfahan Province, on 5 January after a court found him guilty of inaccurately reporting the number of motorcycles confiscated by police in the city.

“The authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation and blinding, throughout 2016 highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. These cruel and inhuman punishments are a shocking assault on human dignity and violate the absolute international prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. [Amnesty International] Read more

Yemeni who questioned Qur'an "science" survives assassination attempt

Yesterday I received a disturbing message from a young man in Yemen who fears for his life – not because of the tragic war there but because of something that he wrote.

Twenty-year-old Mohammed Atboush (seen in the video above) is a medical student in Aden and the son of a judge. He also takes an interest in philosophy, which led him to write a book about the conflict between science and religion in Islam.

His book, "Critique of Scientific Inimitability", was published last February by Masarat Publishing & Distribution in Kuwait and has been featured at book fairs in several Arabic countries, including Yemen. It looks critically at claims that the Qur'an is a "scientific miracle" – claims which are also included in the Yemeni school curriculum.

The "scientific miracle" claim is a fairly recent invention and not part of Islamic tradition. It originated in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and is based on the idea that the Qur'an contains scientific information which could not have been known in the time of the Prophet – thus reinforcing belief that the holy book must have come from God. [al-bab.com] Read more

Court rejects Muslim teacher's discrimination case over headscarf

Despite a major 2015 Constitutional Court ruling striking down absolute headscarf bans in schools, a lower court has rejected a case brought by a woman who was not allowed to teach due to wearing the garment.

An Osnabrück court on Wednesday dismissed a complaint filed by a Muslim woman seeking compensation for discrimination and damages after she was not allowed to teach due to her headscarf in the state of Lower Saxony, according to Spiegel.

The case dates back to 2013, but the woman came forward to file a complaint after the 2015 Constitutional Court ruling calling general bans on state school teachers wearing headscarves unconstitutional.

Germany's highest court at the time stated that such bans violated teachers' rights to religious freedom, and such garments should not be forbidden simply for being an expression of religious beliefs. But the court also stated that such bans could be implemented if headscarves were found to “constitute a sufficiently specific danger of impairing the peace at school or the state's duty of neutrality.” [The Local] Read more

Afghanistan's first female orchestra set to take Davos

In the face of death threats and accusations they are dishonouring their families by daring to perform, the women of Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra are charting a new destiny for themselves through music.

The group is set to be catapulted onto the world stage with a performance at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Zohra, an ensemble of 35 young musicians aged 13 to 20, some orphans or from poor families, will be performing before 3,000 CEOs and heads of state during a session on Thursday and at the closing concert on Friday.

Led by Negina Khpalwak, who will be celebrating her 20th birthday on the return flight from Europe, the girls have overcome death threats and discrimination in this deeply conservative war-torn country to play together.

With their hair hastily knotted, eyes focused on their instruments, the musicians performed in unison under Khpalwak's baton earlier this month at one of their last rehearsals in Kabul before the concert. [AFP] Read more

Burka 'not part of our culture' but no plans for ban, WA Premier Colin Barnett says

WA Premier Colin Barnett has ruled out any attempt to ban Muslims from wearing burkas, but has said he would prefer "that type of clothing" was not worn in Australia.

Premier Barnett was responding to questions following Senator Pauline Hanson's renewed call for a ban on the burka ahead of her visit to WA, where One Nation will be fielding candidates in the March state election.

Ms Hanson used Twitter to vent her concerns about the burka yesterday.

"It seems people don't realise the burqa is not a religious right, it's an evil tool of oppression and an extreme national security risk," she said.

Mr Barnett dismissed any suggestion of a ban, but expressed reservations about the religious headwear worn by Muslims.

"We're not about to introduce laws into Western Australia to ban the burka," he said. [ABC] Read more

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority says ban on pop concerts and movies must stay to stop mixing of the sexes

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority has said that a ban on pop concerts and cinemas will not be lifted in the strict Muslim country.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said attending such events could be harmful and corrupting as they encourage the mixing of the sexes.

Speaking on his website, Al al-Sheikh also said cinemas and round-the-clock entertainment could open the door to 'atheistic or rotten' foreign films.

The comments come after Saudi Arabia's government makes efforts to introduce cultural reforms to the conservative kingdom.

It promised a shake-up of the cultural scene with a set of 'Vision 2030' reforms announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz last year. [Daily Mail] Read more

17 January 2017

The Islamization of France in 2016

The Muslim population of France was approximately 6.5 million in 2016, or around 10% of the overall population of 66 million. In real terms, France has the largest Muslim population in the European Union, just above Germany.

Although French law prohibits the collection of official statistics about the race or religion of its citizens, Gatestone Institute's estimate of France's Muslim population is based on several studies that attempted to calculate the number of people in France whose origins are from Muslim-majority countries.

What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in France during 2016:

January 1. The Interior Ministry announced the most anticipated statistic of the year: a total of 804 cars and trucks were torched across France on New Year's Eve, a 14.5% decrease from the 940 vehicles burned during the annual ritual on the same holiday in 2015.

Car burnings, commonplace in France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight over which can cause the most destruction. An estimated 40,000 cars are burned in France every year. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Malcolm Turnbull says Australia must put 'safety first' when asked about burqa ban

Malcolm Turnbull said there were certain environments in which people’s faces shouldn’t be covered when asked about a call to ban the burqa in public buildings – but he insists it is a matter of “safety first” and is unrelated to religion.

The comments came in an interview with 4BC Radio in which Turnbull also refused to be drawn about an imminent cabinet reshuffle, after a report suggested Greg Hunt was in the box seat to become the health minister.

When asked a leading question about “how much of a risk to national security” the burqa is, Turnbull said: “It’s not something that you should be generalising about but there are obviously environments where it’s important for people’s faces not to be covered for identity reasons.

Malcolm Turnbull holds out hope for TPP despite Trump's opposition

“We don’t tell people how to dress in Australia. But, where it’s important that people’s identity be plain, their faces shouldn’t be covered.” [The Guardian] Read more

16 January 2017

Muslim cleric accused of performing forced marriage of child bride sacked

A Melbourne Muslim cleric accused of performing the forced marriage of a child bride has been sacked.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage at Noble Park on September 29 last year.

Omerdic, imam of the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park mosque, was stood down after his November arrest, according to a statement from the Islamic Council of Victoria on Monday.

He was later sacked after an internal investigation and a new imam appointed, the statement said.

“Mr Omerdic is no longer the imam of the Noble Park mosque and has no role with the society,” it said. “Further, Mr Omerdic’s marriage celebrant licence has been revoked.” [The Guardian] Read more

Is Tolerance a One-Way Street?

The 7th of this month marked two years to the day since two gunmen walked into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and murdered twelve people.

This period also therefore marks the second anniversary of the period of about an hour during which much of the free world proclaimed itself to be "Charlie" and attempted, by walking through the street, standing for moments of silence or re-tweeting the hashtag "Je Suis Charlie" to show the whole world that freedom cannot be suppressed and that the pen is mightier than the Kalashnikov.

So two years on is a good time to take stock of the situation. How did that go? Did all those "Je Suis" statements amount to anything more than a blip on the Twitter-sphere? Anyone trying to answer such a question might start by looking at the condition of the journal everyone was so concerned about. How has it fared in the two years since most of its senior editorial staff were gunned down by the blasphemy police? [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Sectarian killer Tanveer Ahmed calls for enemies of Islam to be 'eliminated' in new prison recording

A new recording allegedly made by Islamic extremist murderer Tanveer Ahmed from a Scottish prison has emerged in which he calls for supporters to "eliminate" enemies of Islam.

In August, Ahmed, from Bradford in Yorkshire, was jailed for 27 years for the murder of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah.

Shah, a member of the persecuted Ahmadi Muslim sect, was stabbed and beaten to death outside his shop last March. In a statement released while in police custody Sunni Muslim Ahmed, 32, claimed he had been acting to defend the "honour" of the Prophet Muhammad.

From behind bars in Scotland's Barlinnie prison, Ahmed has continued to spread his violent sectarian message, and in an Urdu recording apparently made over the telephone he praises fellow Islamist killer Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated liberal Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer in 2011. [International Business Times] Read more

Muslim parents who lost Swiss court battle to let their daughter swim separately from boys vow to set up private schools that 'adhere to their faith'

Swiss-Muslim families have vowed to create their own private schools to segregate boys from girls after a European court ruling made mixed-gender swimming lessons compulsory.

Aziz Osmanoglu took a case to the European Court of Human Rights after Swiss authorities insisted his young daughters should participate in mixed swimming lessons.

School authorities claimed the swimming classes were vital to the children's 'successful integration into Swiss society as part of the 'full curriculum'.

After exhausting the Swiss legal process, Osmanoglu brought his case to the ECHR who upheld the original decision.

Serhad Karatekin, media representative of the Muslim Commission in the city of Basel, said: 'We know that individual clubs have set themselves the goal of opening up a Muslim private school now.' [150 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 2621 votes] I am always puzzled why Muslims come to live in the West and enjoy its lifestyle and freedoms... and then try to turn it into the East. Save yourself a lot of heartache, stay where you are happy and the majority think like you.

[2ND 2072] Plenty of schools in the middle-east and beyond who can assist.......STOP trying to change our cultures to match a failed one, hence why so many of your compatriots want to settle in Europe!

[3RD 1957] Don't like Swiss laws and way of life, then go back whence you came...


15 January 2017

Government to remove evolution from high school curriculum

Ismet Yilmaz, the Minister of National Education in Turkey on Friday announced the new curriculum draft for school. After the draft is finalized, textbooks will be published based on the new draft to be used starting from 2017-2018 academic year.

The new curriculum draft brings some radical changes:

- The failed coup attempt will be included in Social Studies courses starting from the 6th grade.

- The overall academic difficulty is reduced.

- Evolution Theory is excluded from Biology courses. The related unit named “The Origins of Life and the Evolution” is replaced with “Living Beings and Environment”. [sol.org.tr] Read more

14 January 2017

Austria's far-right Freedom Party calls for ban on 'fascistic Islam'

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPO) on Saturday called for a law banning "fascistic Islam" and Muslim symbols, comparable to an existing law banning Nazi symbols, saying Islam could wipe out European society.

Austria needs "a law which prohibits fascistic Islam", Heinz Christian Strache told several thousand supporters at the party's new year meeting in Salzburg.

"Let us put an end to this policy of Islamisation... otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end," Strache said, in an apparent reference to the course pursued by the coalition government.

The junior coalition party OVP called on Wednesday for halving the number of asylum applications accepted this year to around 17,000.

Strache responded by saying: "We need zero and minus immigration." [Reuters] Read more

Saudi Arabia's religious authority says cinemas, song concerts harmful

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority has called cinemas and singing concerts harmful and corrupting, in a move that could complicate government efforts to introduce cultural reforms to the conservative kingdom.

The comments by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, published on his website, said cinemas and round-the-clock entertainment could open the door to "atheistic or rotten" foreign films and encourage the mixing of the sexes.

Cinemas and public concerts are already banned in the conservative Islamic kingdom. But the government promised a shake-up of the cultural scene with a set of "Vision 2030" reforms announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz last year.

The head of the government's General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani, stirred debate last week when he raised the possibility of opening cinemas and staging concerts this year. [Reuters] Read more

13 January 2017

Pakistan: Senate committee to debate how to prevent misuse of blasphemy laws

A PAKISTANI Senate committee is set to debate how to prevent the country’s blasphemy laws being applied unfairly, despite opposition from religious conservatives who support legislation that carries a mandatory death penalty for insulting Islam.

Senator Farhatullah Babar told Reuters that the Senate Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a member, will start discussions on blasphemy laws as early as next week, based on recommendations from a 24-year-old report.

He said it would be the first time in decades that any parliamentary body had considered a formal proposal to stop the abuse of the blasphemy laws.

According to Babar, the committee would consider a proposal making it binding to investigate complaints before registering a case, to ensure “genuine blasphemy” had been committed and the law was not being used to settle scores, as critics say it is. [Asian Correspondent] Read more

Melbourne imam faces court over girl's forced marriage to older man

A charge sheet tendered to Melbourne Magistrates Court alleges Mr Omerdic performed the ceremony at the Noble Park mosque on September 29 last year.

The 62-year-old fronted court on Friday and had his bail extended to return on February 3.

The 34-year-old man who was allegedly married is charged with the same offence as the imam, and also one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

He appeared before the court via video link, and was remanded in custody to the same date.

He began crying while the magistrate discussed the case with him.

The girl was in court. [The Age] Read more

Melbourne Muslim cleric charged over forced marriage of child

A Melbourne Muslim cleric and another man have been charged over the forced marriage of a child.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage at Noble Park on 29 September last year.

Omerdic appeared in the Melbourne magistrates court on Friday, along with Mohammad Shakir, 34, of Springvale.

Shakir is charged with sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and being a party to a forced marriage.

A DVD of the ceremony being conducted at a mosque may form part of the evidence, the court was told.

Omerdic’s bail was continued and Shakir was further remanded in custody until the case resumes on 3 February. [The Guardian] Read more

'Everyone will be Muslim because of our stupidity': Catholic leader says Europe will become an Islamic state because of the migrant crisis

An important figure in the Catholic church has warned that everyone in Italy will 'soon be Muslim' due to the country's 'stupidity'.

Italian Archbishop, Monsignor Carlo Liberati, said that the growing number of Muslim migrants in Europe and increasing secularism will lead to Islam becoming the continent's foremost religion.

The Bishop Emeritus of Pompeii said: 'In 10 years we will all be Muslims because of our stupidity. Italy and Europe live in a pagan and atheist way, they make laws that go against God and they have traditions that are proper of paganism.

'All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam.'

He added: 'We have a weak Christian faith. The Church nowadays does not work well and seminaries are empty.

'Parishes are the only thing still standing. We need a true Christian life. All this paves the way to Islam. In addition to this, they have children and we do not. We are in full decline.' [1319 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 6415 votes] We know. Would you please explain it to our political classes as they cannot grasp what is happening at all.

[2ND 4893] Finally somebody says what we are all thinking !!!

[3RD 4356] I remember my Great-Grandad saying this when I was little. I can hear him now, 'that lot will take over the world one day'.

[4TH 3788] Only saying what everyone else is thinking.

[5TH 3272] Say it as much as you want none of our leaders are listening but we agree with you that's us in Australia [Daily Mail] Read more

12 January 2017

Dutch human rights institute defends bus driver hand-shake ruling

The Dutch human rights institute has rejected criticism of its recent decision about a potential bus driver refusing to shake hands with women, saying respect for religious differences is a key value in society.

The institute was responding to angry comments made by The Hague city councilors about its backing for a Muslim man who had applied for a job as a bus driver but later said he would not shake the hand of female passengers. The bus company then cancelled the interview.

VVD councillor Queeny Raijkowski told the Telegraaf earlier this week the decision was ‘political correctness gone too far’. Christian Democrat councilor Sander van Waveren said: ‘Shaking hands is the norm in the Netherlands and if you do not do this, you put yourself at a disadvantage.’

In its ruling, the institute said it had to weigh up interests between discrimination on grounds of sex and discrimination on grounds of religion. The bus company’s demand is legitimate for the sake of client-friendliness but a refusal to shake hands is no obstacle to doing the job, the council said. [DutchNews] Read more

11 January 2017

Muslim and blind – the stigma of having a guide dog

A blind Muslim man has told BBC 5 live about how he had to overcome cultural barriers when he got a guide dog.

Growing up, Mohammed Rasid thought the Islamic tradition of seeing dogs as unclean meant he couldn’t have a guide dog, but the charity Guide Dogs helped explain the benefits to him and his family.

Speaking to Emma Barnett, he explained there are certain rules he has to observe: “If you get saliva from a dog on your clothes, they have to be thoroughly washed before you can pray.

"Some of my family and people in the community aren’t happy that I have a guide dog, but they’ve calmed down." [BBC] Read more

Italy to train Muslim imams on country's constitution to improve integration and fight terrorism

Muslim imams in Italy are to be enrolled on a course educating them about the national constitution, in a bid to improve integration and fight radicalisation.

The Italian government hopes the course will help "create a climate of tolerance," and is set to urge all non-Catholic religious leaders in the country, as well as prospective foreign workers, to enrol.

Costing around €92,000 (£80,000), the training is being funded by the Interior Ministry with the aid of the esteemed University of Bologna.

The syllabus is expected to contain Italy's constitutional principles and the "rights and duties inherent in our democratic societies". Topics covered will include freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to practice and worship individual faiths. [International Business Times] Read more

School forced to apologise after dozens of Muslim children are served up ice-cream containing forbidden pork gelatin

A school has been forced to apologise to parents after dozens of Muslim school children were served up ice-cream containing pork.

The mix-up was only flagged up after some children at the school had already eaten the ice cream.

Instead of the usually Halal-friendly dessert, the school were sent ice-cream laced with pork gelatain by a supplier.

The issue was raised at Lodge Primary School in Birmingham - but is understood to have affected a number of schools across the city.

A letter has now been sent to parents apologising for what happened, Birmingham Mail reported .

The mistake was only noticed after some pupils at the school, which has a large Muslim intake, had eaten the ice-cream.

The dessert was a new addition to the school’s menu, which was introduced last week. [Daily Mirror] Read more

How an obscure U.S. policy effort could hurt American Muslims

U.S. lawmakers have introduced a measure calling for the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest Islamist organizations in the Middle East, to be designated a foreign terrorist organization, and for the first time in recent years they are optimistic it will get signed into law.

The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, introduced this week by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) in both chambers of Congress, advocates for the designation on the grounds that the Muslim Brotherhood espouses “a violent Islamist ideology with a mission of destroying the West.”

.... Former House speaker and Trump adviser Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said he thinks that unlike Obama administration, the Trump administration will go ahead and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, severing all diplomatic interaction and opening up the opportunity to go after people in the United States.

.... The formal label “would put pressure on the groups that have been willing to affiliate with the Brotherhood,” he added, naming CAIR as one such group. “It would certainly put them on the defense psychologically.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Islam never admits its brutal past and present. Always good at blaming others and play the victim. Quran teaches arrogance that not to admit crime and genocide committed by the name of Allah.

Mohammed was also a warlord and Muslims love to glorify Mohammed's disgrace life. Most civilized countries admit darkness from the past and moving forward but it is forbidden for Islam to admit its brutal and barbaric past.

[ANOTHER] Yes it is terrorist and even declared so by Arab Emirates, Saudi, Bahrain, Syria, Russia, Egypt. It is known terrorist underground and is a danger to USA and Canada with its nice/guy BS. Their pledge is "Allah is the objective, the Qur'an is the constitution, the Profit is the leader, Jihad is the Way, death for the sake of Allah is our wish."

It was put together by Banna 1928 in Egypt where most MB are, though today QATAR is a big producer, supporter and many moved into Syria to fight after Morsi was kicked out for his ideology and support of their crimes. (alsoTurkey, Jordan, Malaysia) USA has become so naive, so ignorant, I do not understand it Especially since I am on the Left and not religious.

I am open minded and since I did not know much about Islam at all, in 2008 I decided to find out all I could about it and how its people really thought, felt, what various sermons preached in US and in Middle East.

I have found out much, talked to many and I can say with conviction that it does not belong here and will be corrosive & MB is definitely terrorist and Also will work to change by politics, thinking Democracy means Mob Rule. I think Cruz is a nut case but on this he is Correct and should be supported for our Countries sake. [The Washington Post] Read more

10 January 2017

Morocco 'bans the sale and production of the burka'

Morocco has banned the sale, production and import of the burka, according to local reports.

Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.

There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to "security concerns".

It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.

A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that "bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes".

The burka, which covers the entire face and body, is not widely worn in Morocco, with most women favouring the hijab, which does not shroud the face. [BBC] Read more

Switzerland: Court rejects Muslim parents’ human rights objection to daughters’ compulsory mixed swimming lessons

.... The court emphasised, however, that school played a special role in the process of social integration, particularly where children of foreign origin were concerned.

It observed that the children’s interest in a full education, facilitating their successful social integration according to local customs and mores, took precedence over the parents’ wish to have their daughters exempted from mixed swimming lessons and that the children’s interest in attending swimming lessons was not just to learn to swim, but above all to take part in that activity with all the other pupils, with no exception on account of the children’s origin or their parents’ religious or philosophical convictions.

The court also noted that the authorities had offered the applicants very flexible arrangements to reduce the impact of the children’s attendance at mixed swimming classes on their parents’ religious convictions, such as allowing their daughters to wear a burkini. [Council of Europe] Read more

Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules

Switzerland has won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obliging Muslim parents to send their children to mixed swimming lessons.

It said authorities were justified in giving precedence to enforcing "the full school curriculum" and the children's "successful integration" into society.

The ECHR acknowledged that religious freedom was being interfered with.

But judges said it did not amount to a violation.

The case was brought by two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, who refused to send their teenage daughters to the compulsory mixed lessons in the city of Basel.

Education officials, however, said that exemptions were available only for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls had not reached at the time.

In 2010, after a long-running dispute, the parents were ordered to pay a combined fine of 1,400 Swiss Francs ($1,380, £1,136) "for acting in breach of their parental duty".

They argued that such treatment was a violation of article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. [BBC] Read more

Court rules Muslim girls MUST swim with boys after Government says integrate or leave

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said school bosses are justified in enforcing the "full school curriculum" and children's "succesful integration" into society.

Although the court recognised religious freedoms were being interfered with, judges said there was no violation.

The landmark case comes after two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, from Basel refused to send their teenager daughters to mixed swimming lessons.

Education bosses said exemptions were only available for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls hadn’t reached at the time.

The parents were ordered to pay a fine of around 1,300 swiss francs (£1,100) for “acting in breach of their parental duty" after a long-running fued in 2010.

Therefore they argued this was a breach of article nine of the ECHR, which covers the religious rights.

However the ECHR held unanimously, that there had been "no violation of Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights". [Daily Express] Read more

09 January 2017

Minister's call for public office headscarf ban angers Muslims

.... Kurz's proposal was also rejected by the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiOe), which said in a statement that such a measure would be a completely false signal and be "anti-integrative" and "discriminatory."

The organisation's president Ibrahim Olgun said: "We urgently urge the withdrawal of this move, which threatens to undermine further cooperation between the IGGiOe and the Ministry."

The organisation feared the move would "hit the emancipated and educated women and push them into the kitchen."

Yet many political leaders from different Austrian states supported Kurz’s initiative.

State Governor of Styria Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said: "We must defend our values like freedom, democracy and equal rights." [The Local] Read more

Two Years on from the Hebdo Massacre, Freedom of Expression is More Imperiled Than Ever

.... Whether forcing students of the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to remove “Jesus and Mo” T-shirts or attempting to silence ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie’s speeches to students at Warwick University or Goldsmiths College, a climate of intimidation prevails. Amnesty International has also maintained complicit silence in offering no public support to those satirising or critiquing Islam in the UK even though it did take a principled opposition to the banning of the play The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged).

The Guardian’s topic-specific selective censorship (above) is consistent with the general approach of the UK media, as evidenced by the refusal of any mainstream media outlet to publish or show the Danish cartoons when the controversy exploded in 2005.

Taking offense has become the first refuge of the censor and the media meekly complies. Hasan concludes his chapter with a poignant citation from On Liberty, in which Mill reflects on the inconsistency in wanting free discussion while objecting to it being ‘pushed to an extreme’.

If the reasons for allowing extreme cases of free expression are not good then they are not good for any case at all, since free expression is intended a forteriori for those ideas which are up for debate, not for ones that are considered to be so certain as to need no further discussion.

Hasan concludes that restoring the freedom of expression enjoyed four decades ago will require courage and determination, as well as the participation of the mainstream media and academia. [Conatus News] Read more

India divorce: How 'triple talaq' destroys lives

A practice in India that allows Muslim men to divorce their wives in an instant is facing fierce opposition.

"Triple talaq" - divorcing by saying the word talaq three times - is legal for Muslims in India but controversial. It is banned across much of the Islamic world.

India’s Supreme Court is deciding whether triple talaq is unconstitutional, a move that could help thousands of women. [BBC] Read more

Austrian minister calls for headscarf ban for public servants

Austria's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz said on Friday he wanted to ban public servants, including school teachers, from wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Kurz, of the Christian Conservative People's Party (OVP), is working on a draft law with Muna Duzdar, a junior minister from the OVP's senior Social Democrat coalition partner who has an Arab family background and is Muslim.

If passed by parliament, the nationwide ban would be stricter than laws in France, where only the full body veil is illegal, or Germany, where the highest court in 2015 restricted lawmakers' scope to ban teachers from wearing the headscarf.

"Because there (schools), it's about the effect of role models and the influence on young people. Austria is religion-friendly but also a secular state," Kurz said, according to a spokesman.

Christian crosses, widespread in staunchly Catholic Austria, should be allowed in classrooms, Kurz said, referring to the country's "historically grown culture".

An adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in March companies should be allowed to prohibit staff from wearing the Islamic headscarf but only as part of a general ban on religious and political symbols. [Reuters] Read more

Some 60% of Belgians Consider Islam Incompatible With European Values – Poll

The survey, conducted jointly by the Soir newspaper, the RTBF broadcaster, the Survey&Action institute and the Ceci n'est pas une crise foundation, also indicated that seven out of ten Muslim Belgian respondents thought they are treated as foreigners, RTBF's La Premiere radio station reported.

In turn, the Soir newspaper published survey results showing that 77 percent of respondents no longer felt at home in Belgium, while 65 percent feared the recent influx of refugees. A total of 70 percent expressed the desire for a strong government to restore order in the country. Belgian citizens also have a tendency to overestimate the number of Muslims living in the country. The average respondent thought the share of Muslims amounted to 30 percent, while the real number comes to around 8.5 percent.

The survey sampled 2,400 people, including 400 Muslims. The margin of error does not exceed 2 percent. [Sputnik] Read more

Religious extremists ARE infiltrating other schools in the same way as in the Trojan Horse scandal, integration tsar Louise Casey warns MPs

Religious extremists are still infiltrating British schools in the same way as happened in the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham, MPs have been warned.

Government integration tsar Dame Louise Casey published a major review on community integration across Britain last month, revealing a shocking picture of 'ghettos' in some British towns.

Her investigation found segregation and social exclusion are at 'worrying levels' and are fuelling inequality in some areas of Britain.

In evidence to the communities committee, Dame Louise today told MPs it had been 'easy' during her probe to find troubling examples in schools.

She said many bore a resemblance to the Birmingham Trojan Horse scandal where Islamists infiltrated and took over three schools.

Dame Louise told MPs today: 'Yes, it is happening elsewhere.'

She added: 'In terms of some of the things seen in what's called the Trojan Horse, we did not find it very difficult to find things like segregation of girls, what I would describe as anti-equal opportunities or anti-liberal values.' [53 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 957 votes] We know. Now do something?!

[2ND 923] Then do something, we did in Australia, took away funding

[3RD 770] .....because we let them. It's as simple as that.

[4TH 706] Our Career Politicians are not interested in the Country or its values that is plain, What are we the People going to do about it, Its no use blaming them they are more interested in their Duck Islands and getting into the House Of Lords than our Culture and Future. Its Pathetic.

[5TH 703] WoW surely this is serious enough for at least one of our pathetic politicians to have the courage to do something,anything.!!!!!! [Daily Mail] Read more

08 January 2017

Austrian integration expert calls for burqa ban on public sector, Muslims offended

Heinz Fassmann, an Austrian expert who is consulting the government on integration, has called for a ban on the burqa to be enforced throughout the country’s public sector. Speaking to the newspaper ‘Die Presse’, Fassmann bravely said, “When asked whether teachers in public schools should be allowed to wear a headscarf, I would clearly say: No”.

Fassmann went on to say that “you run the risk of importing certain religious conflicts into the civil service” if the burqa continued to be legal. It should be emphasised that the burqa facilitates violence and terrorism due to its ability to provide the wearer with a form of disguise. Even ISIS banned the burka because it allowed a female assassin to kill two of its soldiers.

He also said that it should be permissible for teachers to wear crosses or other symbols associated with Christianity, despite promoting the ban on the burqa. And rightly so, as Christianity defines Austrian heritage and should be prioritised by the government in order to ensure the continued preservation of this heritage.

Christian values are of immense importance to the Western world because of the latter’s inextricable connection with the former. Other religions are simply new entrants to Austria, thus justifying the special position afforded to Christianity. [The Unshackled] Read more

The danger of admitting you're an atheist Muslim

You can be a lapsed Catholic. You can be a cultural Jew. You can be a Buddhist who believes more in dharma than in divinity.

But being an atheist Muslim isn't so easy. In some parts of the world, it's an admission that could cost you your life.

"People tend to lose a lot. It's not just a matter of changing your mind or saying that you think differently. And as I write in the book, in some of these societies, changing your mind can literally mean losing your head. Your government's going to come after you. Your family comes after you. Society comes after you. And that's apart from just your own internal fragmentation of what you thought your identity was."

Ali Rizvi was raised in a Shi'a Muslim family, but for him, religion always raised more questions than answers.

.... He still holds fast to some Islamic traditions, like celebrating Eid or singing nohas (mourning songs) to his baby daughter, but the concept of a "cultural Muslim" isn't actually recognized within Islam – in fact, apostasy is considered a major sin.

In his new book, The Atheist Muslim, Rizvi recounts his journey growing up in a Muslim family in Pakistan and the Middle East, moving to Canada and eventually becoming an outspoken critic of his religion. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

Fighting intolerance a challenge for Indonesia's moderate Muslims

.... Yahya says Indonesia has a history of recontextualising Islam. Proof of this, he says, is Indonesian scholars accepting in the 1940s that Indonesia would be a pluralist state based on Pancasila rather than an Islamic state.

"You cannot find in the orthodoxy of Islam any elements that support the decision to legitimise a non-Islamic republic. But Islamic leaders at the time did that."

Yahya says the fact Ahok was elected deputy governor in 2012 also illustrates Indonesia's culture of tolerance. "That should be a proof that Jakarta Muslims are ready to have a Chinese Christian to be governor of Jakarta," he says.

"But the problem is that supremacist view is still there in the orthodoxy of Islam. It is, to us, un-negotiable that this view of orthodoxy should be reformed."

This year Nahdlatul Ulama will hold a conference in East Java which Yahya says will try to set a road map for the reform of Islamic teachings.

"We ... need a powerful social movement to drive Muslim people to move toward the direction of reform. In Indonesia we have Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, the two largest [Islamic] organisations, that should play a role in this matter." [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

07 January 2017

German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel calls for ban on some mosques

Germany’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has called for Salafist mosques to be banned and their preachers “expelled” following the Berlin terror attack.

The leader of the Social Democrats said those who “encourage violence” do not “enjoy the protection of religious freedom”, stressing he had a “zero tolerance” attitude towards combating Islamism.

The country is on edge following a terror attack where Amis Amri ploughed a lorry in a Berlin Christmas market killing 12 people last month and a year of attempted “lone wolf” attacks.

Salafism, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam.

Mr Gabriel told German weekly Der Spiegel that half the followers of Isis who travel to Syria are German, often with German parents.

He said: “Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved, and the preachers should be expelled as soon as possible.

“If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural fight.” [The Independent] Read more

06 January 2017

Two years ago we were all Charlie Hebdo. Now our willingness to defend freedom of expression has been crushed again

.... While the brute violence of the Charlie Hebdo massacre was abhorrent in its own right, the decision of the Kouachi brothers to target a satirical magazine carried a particular disturbing message.

It signalled an attack on the progressive values of freedom of expression and tolerance. In the aftermath, there was recognition that, although the magazine had dared to satirise Muhammad, freedom of speech - including its mischievous extension, the freedom to ridicule - were more important than the right not to be offended.

But two years later, "Je suis Charlie" has been substituted for "Je suis offensé", and our brief flirtation with the value of freedom of speech has been replaced by a willingness to ban and condemn.

So when Charlie Hebdo mocked the death of Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi in 2015 and again in January 2016, and the victims of the Amatrice earthquake last September, many jumped at the opportunity to chastise the magazine. [The Telegraph] Read more

Yemeni woman who campaigned for female literacy shot dead

A charity worker who campaigned for female emancipation in Yemen has been shot dead in an assassination attempt that has left other activists in the city of Taiz fearing for their own safety.

Amat al-Aleem al-Asbahi, who worked to improve female literacy in the war-torn country, was killed on 25 December by two motorcycle riders as she walked on a busy street in the city centre.

A fatwa issued by Islamic scholar Abdullah al-Odaini in September, banning women activists from mixing with men, had already curtailed Ms Asbahi and the aid community’s work, as has fierce air strikes and other violence.

All sides in Yemen’s civil war condemned the attack, but no party has claimed responsibility. Several sources have blamed the Yemeni-government allied Popular Resistance group, with which Mr Odaini is affiliated, but the group has denied the allegation.

No one has been arrested in connection to the murder and Middle East Eye reports that local journalists have stayed away from the story for fear of retribution. [The Independent] Read more

'It's is not merely a religion' Secret party vowing to 'reduce Islam' soars in popularity

The mysterious Q Society is now gaining ground and support for the “Islam-critical Movement” across Australia and has decided to embrace the limelight.

It is a far cry from the days the group insisted members sign a nondisclosure agreement if they want to attend one of its meetings.

But now the anti-Islam party is publicly promoting a $150-a-head (£89) fundraising dinner in Sydney and Melbourne, which will feature speeches from well-known local councillors.

Leaders say the secretive group is gathering momentum across the pond in the wake of multiple Islamist terror attacks.

Deputy president Ralf Schumann said now is the big moment to “reduce Islam” and encourage a “more human rights friendly” version of the religion.

He said: “More people are aware, they see the problems in their backyard, their community. The public has picked up on it more with every bombing, stabbing, forced marriage and child bride. [Daily Express] Read more

‘Most protected woman’ in France quits satirical magazine for going soft on Muslim extremists

Zineb El Rhazoui, the ‘most protected woman’ in France, said she’s resigning from her job at Charlie Hebdo, the controversial satirical magazine that was targeted by Muslim extremists in a shooting rampage two years ago.

Speaking with Agence-France Presse, El Rhazoui suggested the notoriously irreverent and defiant magazine has gone soft on extremists and actually succumbed to their demands that an image of the prophet Mohammed should never be depicted.

“Charlie Hebdo died on January 7 [2015],” El Rhazoui said in the interview, referring to the shooting massacre that left 12 dead, including nine of her Hebdo colleagues. She happened to be out of the office the day the Islamist gunmen burst into the Paris offices with assault rifles and began firing.

“Freedom at any cost is what I loved about Charlie Hebdo, where I worked through great adversity,” she said, adding that the jihadists may as well be editing the magazine now, ensuring “that Mohammed is no longer depicted.” [NYTimes.com] Read more

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel calls for ban on Islamist mosques

Social Democrats leader and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has called for tougher measures against Islamist trends in Germany. His demands come just weeks after the "Islamic State"-claimed terror attack in Berlin.

In an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that "Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved, and the preachers should be expelled as soon as possible."

"Those who encourage violence do not enjoy the protection of religious freedom," the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) added, stressing that he had "zero tolerance" in combating Islamism.

Radical Islamism is regarded as the fastest-growing extremist movement in Germany. Its followers are convinced that Islam and modernity cannot be reconciled.

"If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural fight," Gabriel told Der Spiegel. [Deutsche Welle] Read more