30 April 2017

German interior minister speaks out in favor of 'Leitkultur' for immigrants

Germany's interior minister has presented a 10-point plan on the divisive issue of "Leitkultur" - the idea of establishing dominant German values. Thomas de Maiziere believes this will help integrate immigrants.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere shared his plan about the controversial issue of fostering a dominant culture in Germany in the Sunday edition of Germany's daily "Bild" newspaper, saying he wanted to start a public debate about the subject.

In his guest contribution to the paper, de Maiziere defended the idea of advocating a dominant culture in Germany, stating that strengthening set values under such a "Leitkultur" would ultimately create greater tolerance and that feeling secure in one's culture would in turn create strength.

Critics of the idea of "Leitkultur" argue, however, that among other things it would serve the purpose of limiting immigration by rejecting those who do not succeed in assimilating. Opponents also say that such a set core of values would automatically lead to cultural clashes, with a "Leitkultur" being treated as inherently superior to immigrants' native cultures, and that they would therefore be designed to inadvertently limit the spreading of multiculturalism. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Al Fitrah speaker tour

The Waterlily Centre in East London has long been the preferred venue for Islamists. Last night saw the return of an old favourite – Hamza Tzortzis – offering ‘Advice to our Ummah’, one of a series of events organised by the Al Fitrah Academy.

For a handy reminder of Tzortzis’ views on blasphemy, child marriage, homosexuality, freedom of speech and other issues, check out this useful document prepared by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Another speaker is Jalal Ibn Sa’eed who has in the past expressed support for the Taliban.

.... Tonight the same group will speak at Villiers High School, Southall. A luridly post-apocalyptic image advertises the topic – Resurrection.

The Al-Fitrah Academy is endorsed by Khalid Yasin. Here he speaks unambiguously about the punishment for homosexuality in Islam. [Harry’s Place] Read more

29 April 2017

Ukip MEP's 'death cult' remarks spark new Islamophobia row

Ukip is facing renewed criticism over its attitudes towards Islam after it emerged that one of its senior MEPs said non-Muslims should have a “perfectly rational fear” of the faith, which he described as a “death cult” steeped in violence.

The Liberal Democrats and Greens described the comments, written in a blogpost by Ukip’s Brexit spokesman, Gerard Batten, as “hateful” and “the gutter of British politics”.

Asked twice about the issue at the launch of Ukip’s election campaign on Friday, the party’s leader, Paul Nuttall, declined to say whether he agreed with Batten’s views.

Ukip’s stance towards Islam has been in focus since Monday, when the party announced what it terms an “integration agenda”, including a ban on full-face veils and compulsory medical checks for girls seen as at risk of female genital mutilation. [The Guardian] Read more

28 April 2017

Media fuelling rising hostility towards Muslims in Britain

Mainstream media reporting about Muslim communities is contributing to an atmosphere of rising hostility towards Muslims in Britain, according to a University of Cambridge/ESRC Roundtable held at the House of Lords.

The findings, drawn from research developed across the University of Cambridge and presented to journalists, politicians and lawmakers, as well as representatives of faith communities, found Britain’s Muslim communities – fragmented and often uncomfortable with the media – to be ill-equipped to counter negative narratives with more balanced reporting.

“Can we have freedom and security at the same time?” said Roxane Farmanfarmaian, lead scholar on the ESRC project and principal at the Centre of the International Studies of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA). “And how do we balance the right to speak and think freely with the protections necessary for a life without fear? [University of Cambridge] Read more

Jordan: No more pardons for rapists who marry their victims

In some Arab countries, men who rape a woman but then marry her are protected from prosecution. But legislative changes approved by parliament in Jordan are making this a thing of the past.

For Jordan's MPs, it was time. In a bold move, the Jordanian government decided to change one of the most controversial articles in the country's laws. Article 308 had been a source of contention for years. It permitted rapists to go unpunished as long as they married their victims and stayed with them for at least three years.

Opposition to the law had been growing for some time, and numerous international organizations shared in the criticism. They say it was partly behind the recent increase in the number of so-called honor killings: family members of the victim say they often didn't know what else to do, and so took matters into their own hands.

The decision by parliament follows an awareness campaign mounted by both Muslim and Christian activists. For years, women's rights activists in Jordan have been calling for Article 308 to be changed. They say it represented a double punishment for female victims of rape: first the rape itself, then being forced to wed their attacker. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Indonesia: Female clerics issue fatwas against child marriage, marital rape

UNDERAGE marriage, marital rape, and destruction of the environment were targeted by religious edicts issued by a group of prominent female clerics in Muslim-majority Indonesia this week.

The first fatwa from the inaugural Indonesian Women’s Ulama Congress (KUPI2017) was to declare marital rape haram or “forbidden” according to Islam. The religious edicts or fatwas were debated and issued at the conclusion of the event in Cirebon, West Java, which ran from Monday to Thursday.

Sexual violence, including within marriage, is a significant problem in Indonesia.

A recent nationwide survey by the country’s government statistics body Statistics Indonesia (BPS) found that a quarter of married women had experienced violence at the hands of their husbands.

Netty Prasetyani the wife of West Java’s governor said: “I hope the results of the congress will be able to push Muslim women to be better educators for children and help reduce the prevalence of sexual violence against women.” [Asian Correspondent] Read more

27 April 2017

Theresa May criticised by Muslim MPs for scheduling general election during Ramadan

Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of ignoring Muslim voters after she scheduled the General Election in the middle of Ramadan.

Muslim politicians from Labour and the Scottish National Party fear reduced voter turnout among Muslims on June 8, which falls during the holy month where fasting from dawn to sunset takes place.

Ramandan takes place between May 26 and June 24.

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said: "The fact that the general election will fall in the middle of Ramadan is not ideal.

"Holding an election during Ramadan means there could be a disproportionate effect on voter turnout in those constituencies with a sizeable Muslim population.

"If anyone thinks that their ability to go and vote will be affected, I urge them to register for a postal vote." [Evening Standard] Read more

Former member of Iranian women's football team 'banned from sport' after being photographed without veil

A former member of Iran's women's football team claims she has been banned from the sport after being photographed with her hair uncovered abroad.

Shiva Amini shared photos on Instagram showing her playing friendly matches in Switzerland and Italy, competing in shorts and without Iran’s compulsory hijab veil.

“I never thought that I would one day be prevented from playing for my country because I appeared unveiled and was wearing a pair of shorts in a photo taken on a personal trip outside of Iran,” she told the My Stealthy Freedom women’s rights campaign.

“This was not even an official game. It seems that for the sports community in Iran, the veil carries greater importance than sport.

“I don’t know what our country’s officials are trying to prove by suspending people like me whose primary pre-occupation is give a better reputation to Iran.” [The Independent] Read more

German MPs approve partial burqa ban, security measures

German lawmakers on Thursday approved a partial ban on the full-face burqa Islamic veil and a package of security measures aimed at preventing extremist attacks.

The new laws follow several jihadist attacks, including a truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market that claimed 12 lives, and come ahead of September elections.

The new law on facial coverings falls short of a total ban in public places demanded by right-wing parties, like that in effect in neighbouring France since 2011.

The prohibition will apply to public servants -- including election officials, military and judicial staff -- performing their duties.

"The state has a duty to present itself in an ideologically and religiously neutral manner," says the text of the law passed by the lower house in the evening.

Germany has since 2015 taken in more than one million migrants and refugees, most from predominantly Muslim countries.

This has stoked a xenophobic backlash and boosted the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party, which has attempted to link the influx to a heightened threat of terrorism. [AFP] Read more

Swedish woman shocked at SAS uniform policy banning headscarves

A Swedish woman has explained her shock at being told during a job interview with Scandinavian airline SAS that she would have to take off her headscarf if she wanted the position.

Aye Alhassani, 23, had completed several tests and a group interview before she was invited to an individual interview for the position with the airline. It was during the interview that she was informed SAS has a uniform policy banning the wearing of religious symbols.

"At first they were cautious and I don't think the interviewer wanted to be straight about it. But eventually it was clarified that it's not permitted to wear a headscarf according to their policy. I was quite shocked," Alhassani told The Local.

The 23-year-old asked why they had chosen to wait until her individual interview to inform her about the rule.

"It would've been better to get that information early in the process, because I could've then looked for other jobs and not prioritized the SAS job over others and let them go. There are many things you have to think about as a company when you're recruiting. The interviewer clarified to me they wanted to give me a choice in person to take off the headscarf for the job. Which annoyed me." [The Local] Read more

26 April 2017

Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s worst places to be a woman, has just been put on the UN commission to promote gender equality

The UN has announced that Saudi Arabia will be a part of the Commission on the Status of Women, the intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. That’s right, Saudi Arabia.

The country so committed to women’s liberation that it ranks 141/144 for gender equality in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap report. That’s third place from the bottom. This may have something to do with the fact that women cannot drive and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work, marry, access healthcare and even leave prison.

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch summed it up with the comment, “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief”. [The Independent] Read more

French mayor fined for 'too many Muslim children' comment

A far-right French mayor has been fined 2,000 euros for inciting hatred, after declaring that there were too many Muslim children in his local schools.

Robert Menard, mayor of the southern town of Beziers, is an ally of the anti-immigrant National Front party.

On 1 September 2016, France's first day back at school, he tweeted that he was witnessing the "great replacement".

The divisive term is used to describe the alleged eviction of France's white Christian population by migrants.

On 5 September Menard said on LCI television: "In a class in the city centre of my town, 91% of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance."

French law prohibits data based on people's religious beliefs or ethnicity.

Menard defended his comments, saying: "I just described the situation in my town. It is not a value judgement, it's a fact. It's what I can see." [BBC] Read more

Man ‘sentenced to death for atheism’ in Saudi Arabia

A man in Saudi Arabia has reportedly been sentenced to death on charges of apostasy after losing two appeals.

Several local media reports identified the man as Ahmad Al Shamri, in his 20s, from the town of Hafar al-Batin, who first came to the authorities’ attention in 2014 after allegedly uploading videos to social media in which he renounced Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

He was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy and held in prison before being convicted by a local court and sentenced to death in February 2015.

At the time Mr Shamri’s defence entered an insanity plea, adding that his client was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of making the videos.

He reportedly lost an Appeals Court case, and a Supreme Court ruled against him earlier this week. [The Independent] Read more

25 April 2017

Yassmin Abdel-Magied courts controversy with Anzac Day Facebook post

Muslim activist and television host Yassmin Abdel-Magied has courted controversy with an Anzac Day Facebook post suggesting Australians should also remember the suffering on Manus Island and Nauru, and in Syria and Palestine.

The presenter of ABC's weekend program Australia Wide wrote: "LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine …)"

She later removed the post and apologised after other Facebook users complained she had politicised the memorial day.

The 26-year-old Muslim youth activist removed the last portion of her original post, leaving the words, "Lest we forget".

"It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly," Abdel-Magied wrote.

However, her retraction caused further outrage.

"It was brought to your attention??? Are you not able to work that out for yourself? Did you have to be told? Do you know anything about the history of the ANZACs? Do you even care? Because if you did, you would have known better than to make today about your agenda. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

US Muslim teen wins right to box in hijab

A Muslim teen boxer from Minnesota who hopes to one day compete in the Olympics has won a fight to wear a hijab during matches in the US.

Amaiya Zafar will also be allowed to cover her arms and legs in accordance with her religious beliefs while competing in her first sanctioned match this month in Minneapolis under a USA Boxing exemption.

The organisation normally requires boxers to wear a sleeveless jersey and shorts.

"This is a big step," said, Nathaniel Haile, her coach. "She's put a lot of labour into this. She earned the right to showcase her skills, and I'm happy for her. But it's just the first step in letting her achieve her dreams."

The 16-year-old from the Minneapolis suburb of Oakdale was turned away from a fight in Florida when boxing officials told her she could not wear her hijab, leggings or long sleeves.

Zafar has been ready to jump into competition for some time.

"You get so invested," she said. "My weight is in the right place. My head is in the game."

Zafar said her goal is to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. [SBS] Read more

Why doesn’t Pakistan reform its blasphemy laws?

PAKISTAN’S blasphemy laws have been a source of infamy for decades. International human-rights groups regularly document their abusive implementation. Many cases would be comic if they were not so tragic: in 2010 a doctor was arrested for tossing out the business card of a man who shared the name of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

Nineteen people are currently on death row for blasphemy. Members of Pakistan’s beleaguered Christian minority are used as targets by hate-mongering mullahs and others.

Accusers often level false claims of blasphemy to settle land disputes, and other entirely worldly affairs. Police, scared of the mobs that round on alleged blasphemers, rarely resist pressure to lodge charges. Judges in the lower courts are unwilling to throw out even the most nonsensical cases for fear of retribution. Why doesn’t Pakistan make its blasphemy laws less prone to abuse?

[TOP RATED COMMENT 39 votes] Who is this prophet of yours who cannot stand criticism? He sounds weak and cowardly.

Criticism should be answered with arguments, not violence and intimidation.

[2ND 28] "Why doesn’t Pakistan make its blasphemy laws less prone to abuse?"

It's depressing that this is the question being asked. The problem isn't the abuse of blasphemy laws. It's the existence of blasphemy laws.

[3RD 27] In the USA, one of our most fundamental rights is freedom of speech and that includes freedom to criticize, humiliate or even make fun of other people's religion and that is legal. What is NOT legal is attacking, murdering or jailing people who do this. Here, if you attack them, it is you who are the criminal. If you do not like this do not come to the USA.

One of the big reasons President Trump was elected was to prevent people like you from coming to America. We object to people who commit murder to defend their religion and we do not want people whop hate Jews, gays or think women are second class. If someone comes to America we expect them to accept our laws and culture and not come here to make our laws and culture like those of wherever you came from. The people who elected our government hope you will never come to America, even to visit and for sure not to live here.

[4TH 23] Blasphemy laws are absolutely essential - for Islam to remain Islam. Not just in Pakistan but in every muslim majority country.

Without it, Islam will eventually weaken and the Faith will inevitably diminish. For the Believers nothing could be worse.

The Quran's claim of being the direct and exact words of God cannot withstand objective scrutiny (no religious book can).

Much of it could be said to be "inspired" (as many religious books can) but that is a far cry from being the exact words of a Supreme Deity.

Similarly, any objective scrutiny of Muhammed - which would include examining both positive and negative qualities of the man as prophet, statesman, warrior, and caravan raider - would inevitably deflate the image of Muhammed as the best of all men for all time. [The Economist] Read more

France’s terrorism is largely home grown – yet both Macron and Le Pen look away

In her victory speech last night, Marine Le Pen described the results of the first round of the French elections as “historic”. In many ways she’s right. The traditional parties suffered severe blows with neither the socialist candidate, Benoît Hamon, who received a humiliating 6.3% of the national vote, nor the republican one, François Fillon, even making it through to the second round.

But it’s not just the collapse of the traditional parties that has made this election like no other. The ongoing state of emergency and the continuation of extremist attacks in France have dominated the campaign, and the one on the Champs Élysées last Thursday made many ask whether Le Pen was going to be able to win more votes in the presidential election.

In the local elections that took place the week after the Bataclan attacks in 2015 the popularity of Le Pen’s Front National spiked, as she capitalised on the fear that followed the most deadly act of terrorism in France for decades. [436 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 309 votes] "Home Grown" is just another way to muddy the waters. Timothy McVeigh in the US or the KKK you may say is homegrown or PIRA, Brigata Rosso, Baader Meinhof, ETA. But Jihadists are not "Home Grown" in the same meaning of that word. Sure the terrorists may have been born and raised in Bradford or Moelenbeek or the Banlieu but their motivations, inspiration and focus is not domestic.

Home Grown used in this context is a weasely way of not mentioning that their motivation is based on an ideloogy fundamentally at odds with liberal western values and they does not emanate from liberal western culture or even the west.

[2ND 249] if anyone's 'Fixated in what people choose to eat or wear' it's muslims.Women showing bare flesh or even their faces,adultery punishable by stoning, homosexual behaviour punished by execution. It's muslims who have to integrate with westerners Not the other way round.

[3RD 245] ".... they should focus on preventative measures and coherent plans for integration"

How will you force those people to integrate that don't want to?

[4TH 210] .... So because one particular criminal was locally born a state shouldn't deport foreigners with links to dangerous criminals?

Have I got that right?

And people wonder why a quarter of the electorate is voting for Le Pen.

[5TH 175] To tackle the problem, somebody needs to bite the bullet and start a conversation with the Muslim community about whether it's right to sell in bookshops interpretations of the Qu'ran from extremist schools such as Wahhabism. In reality it cannot really be a conversation because there's only one acceptable answer: No.

In any society, but especially one that purports to be secular, it cannot be justified that a book which purports to be a factual work can be allowed to go on sale - including to children - if it encourages the reader to engage in illegal, often violent activities on the grounds of religious observance.

If the Wahhabi interpretation of the Qu'ran was not a religious work, it would have been banned long ago; it seems absurd that because the Qu'ran is - purportedly - the word of god, it should be exempt from the normal rules which govern society, particularly a secular society. [Guardian Cif] Read more

24 April 2017

It’s time to end Denmark’s blasphemy ban

On April 25, the Danish Parliament will have an opportunity to distinguish itself from countries such as Iran and Pakistan. What does liberal Denmark have in common with these two Islamic republics, you ask?

At first sight, not much. Denmark ranks No. 1 in the 2016 Rule of Law Index, far above both of those two countries. Freedom House puts Denmark in the category of “Free,” noting in particular the country’s strong commitment to a free press. Iran, by contrast, is “Not Free” in every respect. Pakistan is “Partly Free” overall, but “Not Free” when it comes to freedom of the press and Internet.

Yet Denmark, Iran and Pakistan do have one thing in common. They all enforce the criminalization of different forms of blasphemy. On Tuesday, the Danish Parliament will vote on whether to abolish its blasphemy ban, which until recently had been thought of as a dead letter.

The last trial on blasphemy charges took place in 1971, and no one has been convicted since 1946. In 1997, the chief prosecutor, citing freedom of expression, decided not to prosecute when a Danish artist burned the Bible on national television. [The Washington Post] Read more

Muslim group in Oxford supports UKIP's proposal to ban the burka

A MUSLIM group in Oxford has backed controversial proposals from UKIP to ban full face veils in public.

Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford director Dr Taj Hargey stressed his organisation did not endorse the party's 'right-wing agenda' but supported the 'sensible proposal' to ban the burka and niqab.

He did not comment on other plans unveiled by UKIP's leader Paul Nuttall today, which include a moratorium on the creation of new Islamic faith schools, banning sharia law and calls to prosecute parents of girls who are subjected to female genital mutilation. These were branded 'full-throttled Islamophobia' by critics.

Dr Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, said in a statement: "By banning the burka, Britain would belatedly follow the courageous lead of France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Morocco, Chad, Niger and other nations in outlawing this hideous tribal rag that has nothing to do with Islam, but only besmirches the Holy Qur’an.

"Instead of the liberal pandering to burgeoning Muslim extremism in the UK – which champions facial concealment as a religious requirement and ‘personal choice’ – the British public should be advised that there is no obligation for female facial coverings in Islam’s divine scripture. [Oxford Mail] Read more

Exposing the darkness within: Domestic violence and Islam

Most Muslims believe Islam abhors violence. So why do some say the Koran sanctions "lightly" beating your wife? An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence reveals the fight within Islam to stop the abuse of women and prevent imams from telling victims to stay and obey.

.... It was ostensibly an attempt to explain a controversial verse in Islam's holy book, the Koran, that, if taken literally, allows husbands to physically discipline rebellious wives.

In a video posted to Facebook by the Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia, a radical Islamic group, two hijab-clad women laugh off the idea that Islam is "gender biased" but claim the Koran permits men to hit disobedient women — gently, using small sticks or pieces of fabric.

"He [the husband] is permitted — not obliged, not encouraged — but permitted, to hit her [his wife]," one of the women says. "That is what everyone is talking about. It should not cause pain. Not harsh."

The backlash was swift.

Politicians including Minister for Women Michaelia Cash and Australia's first Muslim frontbencher, Labor's Ed Husic, called the attitudes expressed in the clip "abhorrent" and "out of touch with community standards". Social media exploded.

And many Muslim leaders went into damage control.

Only a few weeks ago, Keysar Trad, the president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, had indicated to Sky News' Andrew Bolt that his religion allows a husband to beat his wife as "a last resort" — though he later said his attempt to explain the Koranic verse had been "clumsy". [ABC] Read more

23 April 2017

General election 2017: UKIP manifesto to pledge a burka ban

Speaking about full face-veils, Mr Nuttall told the programme: "We have a heightened security risk at the moment and for CCTV to be effective you need to see people's faces.

"Secondly, there's the issue of integration. I don't believe you can integrate fully and enjoy the fruits of British society if you can't see people's faces.

"I can't walk into a bank with a balaclava on or a crash helmet, if I can't do it and other people can't do it, I don't see why there are special interests for certain people."

Muslim women who defied the ban could face a fine, he suggested.

He said that being "hidden behind the veil" contributed to 58% of Muslim women being economically inactive.

Mr Nuttall said: "We'll come in line with other European countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria - there's a ban for example in the city of Barcelona, some places in Italy and, indeed, Angela Merkel is talking about this in Germany at the moment.

"Manfred Weber, who's the leader of the biggest group in the European Parliament, is now talking about an EU-wide ban. We can either be on the curve on this or behind the curve." [BBC] Read more

Islam in the Heart of England and France

.... In February, French journalist Rachida Samouri published an article in the Parisian daily Le Figaro, in which she recounted her experiences during a visit there. In "Birmingham à l'heure islamiste" ("Birmingham in the Time of Islam") she describes her unease with the growing dislocation between normative British values and those of the several Islamic enclaves.

She mentions the Small Heath quarter, where nearly 95% of the population is Muslim, where little girls wear veils; most of the men wear beards, and women wear jilbabs and niqabs to cover their bodies and faces. Market stalls close for the hours of prayer; the shops display Islamic clothes and the bookshops are all religious.

Women she interviewed condemned France as a dictatorship based on secularism (laïcité), which they said they regarded as "a pretext for attacking Muslims". They also said that they approved of the UK because it allowed them to wear a full veil. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

22 April 2017

Ukip pledges to ban the burka and outlaw Sharia law as party's election manifesto aims at core supporters

Ukip will promise on Monday to ban the burka from being worn in public as it shelves a rebrand that was planned before the election.

The party’s first election manifesto pledges will be based on its an “integration agenda” aimed at its core supporters.

Sharia law – the religious rules that form part of Islamic tradition – would be outlawed in the UK under the party’s proposals.

People with evidence of female genital mutilation will be bound by law to inform police, it will be suggested.

It will also call for postal voting to be abolished for most citizens amid fears it is being used for electoral fraud.

Peter Whittle, Ukip’s deputy leader, is expected to say that the "established parties are mute either from fear, denial or sheer cowardice" when it comes to the dangers of extremism. [The Telegraph] Read more

Manchester Mayoral Candidate Delivers Video Manifesto Entirely in Urdu

A British mayoral candidate has caused controversy after delivering a video manifesto on the BBC website completely in Urdu.

Mohammed Aslam, who is an independent candidate for Greater Manchester ‘Metro Mayor’, appeared on the BBC News site’s “minute manifesto” series, in which each candidate is given one minute to spell out their policies.

However, the corporation appears to have had to dub over Mr Aslam’s speech after he delivered it in a foreign language.

Janice Atkinson, an independent member of the European Parliament, tweeted saying: “If you can’t/won’t speak English you have no right to stand in elections. You cannot represent our people, culture and values. Stand down.”

It remains unclear whether Mr Aslam is in fact unable to speak English or whether he simply refused to do so.

According to the BBC website, Mr Aslam was born in Faisalbad, Pakistan and moved to Manchester 17 years ago. He is the director of a property letting company, and says he wants to make the area “more developed and a modern region”. [Breitbart London] Read more

Mob attack over blasphemy claim in Pakistan's Chitral

A mob attacked a man accused of blasphemy during Friday prayers in a northern Pakistani town and injured six police officers after they intervened to rescue him.

It was the third blasphemy-related incident in the country this month after a student was beaten to death by a lynch mob and a faith healer was shot dead.

Security officials in Chitral fired tear gas and live rounds on the mob, injuring eight protesters, after they attacked the local police headquarters and demanded that alleged blasphemer Rashid Ahmed be made available for mob justice.

"We told them that Ahmed will be examined medically and if he was found mentally fit then he will be tried under the blasphemy law, but the mob was not satisfied," Akbar Ali Shah, the local police chief, said.

Shah said he had asked for army assistance to help control the crowds, but a Reuters news agency correspondent at the scene said soldiers had yet to arrive.

Witnesses said Ahmed entered the local mosque asking to make an important announcement, then declared himself a messiah and said he would lead his followers to paradise. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

21 April 2017

Investigation into conduct of judge who ordered woman to remove hijab suspended

More than two years after dozens of complaints were filed against a Quebec court judge who refused to hear the case of a woman unless she removed her hijab in the courtroom, an investigation into the judge's conduct has been suspended.

Judge Eliana Marengo is challenging the legitimacy of the Council of the Magistrature — the body charged with supervising the conduct of judges in Quebec.

Marengo is arguing the council doesn't have jurisdiction to investigate her conduct in this case.

Until that's settled, the Council of the Magistrature says its investigation of Marengo's conduct must be put on hold.

Compared Muslim headscarf to hat, sunglasses

The story of how Judge Marengo handled the case of Rania El-Alloul made international headlines.

Judge Eliana Marengo

Judge Eliana Marengo is now challenging the legitimacy of Quebec's Council of the Magistrature to investigate her conduct.

El-Alloul was in court in February 2015 for a fairly routine hearing to get her car back after it had been seized by Quebec's automobile insurance board, the SAAQ. [CBC News] Read more

20 April 2017

Malcolm Turnbull reveals tough new citizenship crackdown

Would-be Australians will face tough new hurdles – including a new English language and "Australian values" test – and have to wait several more years before being eligible for citizenship, under a major shake-up of the migration program.

Migrants could be asked whether they support female genital mutilation and forced marriages, or whether it's acceptable to strike a spouse at home, under proposed values-based citizenship test questions to be put to the public for feedback.

Applicants will also have to demonstrate they have attempted to integrate into Australian society, providing evidence of a job, the enrolment of their children in school, and even membership of community organisations.

Under the current system, migrants enter Australia on a range of visas. They can then become permanent residents but have to wait a further year before applying for citizenship. The one-year wait will rise to four years under the redesigned scheme. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

Awkward moment Malcolm Turnbull repeatedly refuses to say women who wear headscarves are integrated into Australian society during tense interview with Leigh Sales

Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly refused to say if Muslim women who wear headscarves have integrated into Australian society.

The Prime Minister became defensive during a tense interview with 7.30 host Leigh Sales.

'Leigh, what you're asking me to say is, "Is a woman who wears a headscarf not integrated?'," he told the ABC.

Sales replied she was not asking him to say that.

'Wearing a headscarf is a feature of a woman's life, wearing a particular garment,' Mr Turnbull said.

The prime minister had earlier agreed with Sales that Jewish people who celebrated Hanukkah had integrated with Australian culture and values.

'Well, of course they are. Of course they are,' he said.

However, Mr Turnbull minced his words when asked about Muslim women wearing headscarves.

Sales rephrased the question by asking if he thought most Australians regarded a woman wearing a headscarf as someone who represented Australian values.

'People are free to wear whatever item of clothing they like,' Mr Turnbull said. [Daily Mail] Read more

The pitfalls of Islamic fashion

ISLAMIC fashion websites can be pretty drab. KhaleejiAbaya.com, an outlet based in Teesside, North England, plies its selection of faceless black coverings under the somewhat overstated slogan “effortlessly elegant”. Alongside, its website carries a health warning on the “dangers of al-tabarruj”, the impermissible exposure of beauty.

Defying such prudishness, leading Muslim designers recently took part in London Fashion Week, a global showcase of threads, to prove that what they called “Modest Fashion” could be as sleek as a bedtime story from a Thousand and One Nights.

The organisers avoided the word sexy, since that would be un-Islamic, explained one. But their models on the catwalk wore make-up, nail-polish, and figure-hugging costumes. Some had veils, though these tended to slip from their heads as they strutted to techno beats.

Abayas were embellished with leather straps, transforming nun-like uniforms, said the publicity, into “edgy urban wear perfect for warrior princesses”. Nearby, cosmetics companies plied alcohol-free perfume and lipsticks free of animal fat, which made the products halal, though still viewed by some clerics as not sharia-compliant for being flirtatious. [The Economist] Read more

Three sisters kill man booked for blasphemy in Sialkot

Three armed burqa-clad sisters on Wednesday shot dead a man near Sialkot after accusing him of committing blasphemy 13 years ago.

Police managed to arrest the three suspects and identified them as Amna, Afshan and Razia.

The incident took place in Nangal Mirza village, Pasrur tehsil.

According to the police, the three women went to the house of Mazhar Hussain Syed, a faith healer, and asked him to pray for them. They also asked him if his son, Fazal Abbas, had returned from abroad. When told that he had returned from Belgium, they asked if they could see him. As soon as Abbas, 45, appeared before the women, they opened fire on him with the weapons they had brought with them secretly. Abbas died on the spot.

The women raised slogans in jubilation after his death, asserting that they had finally eliminated a blasphemer.

The women, in their statement to police, alleged that Abbas had committed blasphemy in 2004, but “we couldn’t kill him at the time because we were too young then”.

The police confirmed that they had registered a case against Abbas in 2004 under Section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Pasrur City station, but he fled abroad soon after. [Dawn.Com] Read more

The Enemy Within by Sayeeda Warsi review – a thrilling and satisfying polemic

Sayeeda Warsi’s father arrived in northern England from Pakistan with less than £3 in his pocket and built a £2m-a-year bed-manufacturing business. His daughter qualified as a lawyer and became the first Muslim woman to be a member of the cabinet.

Despite all this, she has been subjected to the insult of being perceived as “the enemy within”, and finds herself wondering whether the UK will still be a home for her grandchildren. It is this personal stake that gives her forthright and intelligent book its sense of urgency. By tackling the “Muslim problem” head on, Lady Warsi has added to her accomplishments the feat of speaking truth to power.

She argues that the 7/7 bombing became the basis of bad policy, extending pre-charge detention; terrorism in the name of Islam was treated differently from others forms of terrorism.

By replacing multiculturalism with British values as the yardstick by which Muslims were measured, the path was set for the present state of disengagement between government and community. “In an attempt to build a more cohesive and resilient society,” she laments, “we demanded that ‘the Muslims’ join what we believed we stood for rather than jointly charting a route to what we wanted to be”. [135 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 48 votes] I urge those that are interested to read Maryam Namazie's review in the Evening Standard. Warsi - in her memoir- writes that Rushdie ought to have faced a criminal prosecution for his Satanic Verses. No mention of this in this blinkered review.

[2ND 39] "She cites figures to prove that after 9/11, only 0.5% of all terrorist deaths have occurred in western countries; the majority take place in Muslim countries. Muslim terrorists are mostly killing Muslims."

Unfortunately this argument is lost on most Muslims, who blame all killings of Muslims around the world on the US.

[3RD 35] "It is as enjoyable to read about her devout, enlightened mother as about the pivotal points in her political career."

Devout and enlightened, eh? How does that work?

[4TH 34] ".... most deaths from terrorism in the west are at the hands of killers with far-right, nationalist or supremacist ideologies."

Demonstrably untrue since the late 90s.

For a more honest appraisal of Warsi's apologia for Islamism, see here.

[5TH 32] Warsi is an apologist for the religious far right. Typically fawning Guardian piece which ignores her poisonous views on Rushdie.

[6TH= 29] "finds herself wondering whether the UK will still be a home for her grandchildren" Seems a little alarmist considering the Muslim community is about the fastest growing in Britain and one in 10 kids under 5 are in a Muslim family.

"To ensure that they know English" And there's the crux of the matter. Too many imams in Britain are deobandi or wahabi, bring with them the values of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. We need a home-grown British Islam for British Muslims, with home-grown British imams at ease with the social and moral norms of modern Britain.

[6TH= 29] Salman Rushdie, and a person's approach to him and his work, remain the touchstones of this whole area.

In her book, by decrying the absence of a prosecution of Rushdie for blasphemy, Sayeeda Warsi states her position very clearly. [The Guardian] Read more

19 April 2017

Is the Swiss burka ban a tyranny of the majority?

Swiss voters have banned the construction of new minarets, burkas and the ritual slaughter of animals for food, which some say amounts to the discrimination of religious minorities under Switzerland’s direct democracy.

Since July 2016, people in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino have not been allowed to wear clothing that covers their face in public. The measure came about through a 2013 cantonal vote calling for a ban on such clothing typically worn by Muslim women. A committee is now collecting signatures for a similar nationwide ban.

Seven years earlier, voters decided to ban the construction of new minarets in Switzerland. And slaughtering animals for kosher and halal meat, which involves slitting the animal's throat so that it bleeds dry without stunning it first, has been forbidden in Switzerland since 1893 following a national vote. Such decisions clearly affect members of certain minority religious groups, such as Muslims and Jews. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Battle over crosses in Saudi Arabia

A decorative concrete structure which had stood for more than 25 years at the entrance to a government building in the Saudi city of Buraydah was abruptly demolished at the weekend because of its alleged connection with Christianity, according to local media.

The structure, which incorporated a series of crosses, was bulldozed "in response to claims submitted by citizens to the competent authorities", the website newsqassim.com reported.

Criticising the decision in the Saudi newspaper al-Hayat, Aqal al-Aqal likened it to actions by the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He pointed out that shapes resembling crosses are a fact of everyday life and that nobody demands the closure of crossroads or removal of the cruciate ligaments from people's bodies.

An interesting question, though, is why "citizens" of Buraydah suddenly started objecting to the structure after apparently ignoring it for a quarter of a century. Aqal al-Aqal suggests it's a backlash against "the beginning of real openness in the arts" in Saudi Arabia. [al-bab.com] Read more

Welsh schoolgirl taken to Saudi against her will had warned school, charity says

A Welsh schoolgirl who was taken to Saudi Arabia against her will and allegedly held as a prisoner by her father was failed by the authorities, it has been claimed, after she raised the alarm with her school months before she was taken away.

Amina al-Jeffery spoke to school staff about her fears early in 2012, and had made a similar appeal at her previous school in 2011, according to the Henna Foundation, a charity that says it was consulted on the case. But there was no intervention by the authorities before she was taken to Saudi Arabia in April 2012.

The charity also says police in Swansea were warned that Jeffery was at risk of being forcibly taken to Jeddah but failed to follow advice to apply for a protection order that would have kept her safe. The police say they received no such warning.

Last year a British court ordered that Mohammed al-Jeffery must “permit and facilitate” his daughter’s return to the UK after he removed her from school on account of her “un-Islamic” behaviour and took her out of the country. He refused to comply with the order.

His daughter, who has dual British-Saudi nationality and is now 21, sent emails to her lawyer in December 2015 alleging her father beat her, put bars on her bedroom door and denied her access to the bathroom, forcing her to urinate in a cup, because she had “kissed a guy”. [The Guardian] Read more

How an 'Islamic' bar became a French election scandal

.... France has Europe's biggest Muslim community, estimated at around five million, a legacy of its colonial history in Africa and its desire for cheap labour in the booming post-war years.

Hakim El Karoui, the author of a major study on Muslims in France last September, believes the footage from the Jockey Club misrepresented the bar -- but it was so explosive because it rang true.

"There are segregated areas in France, segregated because there are only immigrants there... where the cultural norms are of Africa, not of France in the 21st century," he told AFP.

He believes successive governments have looked the other way as ghettoes built up and an aggressive strain of political Islam took hold, particularly among disaffected young people.

According to a survey that formed part of Karoui's controversial study for the respected Montaigne Institute last year, 28 percent of Muslims in France reject the values of the French republic.

"They are in favour of polygamy, they are against secularism, around 70 percent (of this minority) are in favour of women wearing the burka," he says, reeling off the problems.

The study called "A French Islam is possible" also showed about half of Muslims in France (46 percent) were integrated fully, while another 25 percent were judged as conservatives somewhere between those two groups. [AFP] Read more

Religious schools create ‘parallel societies’, report claims

Study's Turkish-born author believes some Austrian kindergartens could be producing radicals of the future.

Religious schools in Austria help create “parallel societies”, a new report has claimed.

The Vienna University study found 10,000 children aged between two and six attend a Muslim preschool. However, lead author professor Ednan Aslan has claimed some preschools could be responsible for producing the homegrown terrorists of the future.

Vienna has roughly 150 Muslim kindergartens and Mr Aslan believes at least a quarter have the backing of ultra-conservative groups.

"Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran)," Mr Aslan of Vienna University told AFP.

"But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society.”

However many are sceptical of Mr Aslan’s findings and have called into question his methodology. [The Independent] Read more

18 April 2017

Victoria man pleads guilty to child marriage

A 34-YEAR-old man and the 14-year-old bride he illegally married have both cried in a Melbourne court as he pleaded guilty to his crime.

Mohammad Shakir pleaded guilty to going through a formal ceremony of marriage with a person not of marriageable age at Noble Park last September. The “wedding” was conducted by former imam, Ibrahim Omerdic. As part of Shakir’s plea, two charges were withdrawn by prosecutors in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

They included allegations Shakir had sex with the girl between September 30 and October 1, 2016, following their wedding.

Shakir, who has been in custody for six months, shed tears after entering his plea during what was to be a pre-trial committal hearing.

He was helped in court by a Burmese interpreter.

The complainant, who was in court, also wiped tears from her eyes. The imam who oversaw the ceremony, 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.

The Muslim cleric, who was Imam of the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park Mosque, has since been sacked. [news.com.au] Read more

Growing anti-Muslim rhetoric permeates French presidential election campaign

For some, the French presidential election will alter the course of a troubled nation steeped in economic and social turmoil. For others, it will alter the course of a troubled continent, challenging the very existence of European integration.

But in France itself, something far less abstract and far more intimate is at stake. In a country that remains under an official “state of emergency” following an unprecedented spate of terrorist violence in the past two years, the election also has become a referendum on Muslims and their place in what is probably Europe’s most anxious multicultural society.

Before the election’s first round of voting Sunday, each of the five leading contenders — from across the ideological spectrum — has felt compelled to address an apparently pressing “Muslim question” about what to do with the country’s largest religious minority. [The Washington Post] Read more

DF wants to ban religious headwear in the public sector

Danish right wing party Dansk Folkeparti (DF) has voiced its desire to ban all forms of religious headwear in the public sector.

The proposal calls for a ban on everything from niqabs, turbans and yamakas and for the dismissal of any state, regional and municipal worker not abiding by the ban during working hours.

“To avoid any kind of discussion that the proposal is against conventions on religious freedoms, we have decided to word it to include all forms of religious headwear,” Martin Henriksen, DF’s spokesperson on immigration issues, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

“Then we are sure that it is judicially sound.”

Despite encompassing the entire religious spectrum of headwear, Henriksen was quick to admit that the party was using the law proposal to specifically target Muslim headwear and notable Islamic symbols in the public sphere.

DF hoped that including all religious headwear in its ban would soften up previously staunch opposition to similar proposals. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Muslim kindergartens are producing homegrown Islamists of the future and creating 'parallel societies' where children do not integrate, study warns

A row has broken out in Austria after a study suggested Islamic kindergartens in Vienna were helping to create 'parallel societies' or even produce dangerous homegrown radicals of the future.

Some 10,000 children aged two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools, teaching the Koran much like Christian ones do with Bible studies, according to the study's author, Ednan Aslan, a Turkish-born Austrian professor at Vienna University.

At least a quarter are backed by groups propagating arch conservative strains of Islam like Salafism, or organisations that see religion not just as a private matter but integral to politics and society, Aslan believes.

'Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran),' Aslan, a respected researcher into Islamic education, told AFP.

'But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society,' he said.

The study, published last year, has been jumped on by critics of immigration - not least the far-right Freedom Party - in the wake of attacks such as Paris and Brussels perpetrated by Muslims who grew up in Europe. But many reject Aslan's findings, questioning its methodology. [Daily Mail] Read more

Barbara Kay: How academics portray Islam as a’ victim’ of oppression — even as they defend violent Islamists

Does M-103’s “Islamophobia” mean expressed hatred of people — the West’s normal definition of hatred — or hatred of a belief system, normally a protected category of expression here, as religious Christians know to their chagrin? Canadians have no idea if their right to express distaste for Islam would still be protected in a bill premised on the recommendations of this “study.”

I therefore contacted Jasmin Zine, who teaches race, ethnic, gender and postcolonial studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is a regular — and ideologically representative — participant in the Berkeley Islamophobia conferences, including this one.

I asked her to define Islamophobia for me, which she promptly did: “Islamophobia is a fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims that translates into individual, ideological and systemic forms of oppression.” This is quite an insidious, though admittedly clever, definition. Note that it puts “fear and hatred” of Islam, not Muslims, at the centre of the phobia. And the word “translates” is a masterstroke.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] It's not a phobia since they're really trying to kill us, and force their death cult on the West. It's all in the Koran, which reads like a terrorist's handbook. To suggest we're suffering from Islamophobia, is every bit as dumb and patronising, as claiming Jews had Naziphobia! There is no such thing as a 'moderate' Muslim, since Islam is a radical and barbaric cult. [National Post] Read more

17 April 2017

Sheikh tells teenage girls they will go to hell if they have non-Muslim friends

A fundamentalist sheikh told teenage girls at a youth night that they would go to hell if they made friends with non-Muslims.

Sheikh Mohamad Doar told a group of young girls in Sydney that they needed to stop being friends with non-believers during a lecture about Islam.

Speaking at Punchbowl on Saturday night, he said: ‘The reality is, my sisters, any friendship that is not built on the fear of Allah is only going to lead to hell fire so you need to be cautious.

‘With your actions, you distance yourself from the corrupted people.’

Sheikh Doar also told the girls that women would be cursed by Allah if they plucked their eyebrows, waxed their body or shaved.

He said: ‘You are not allowed the remove the hair of the eyebrow, it’s a major sin. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

15 April 2017

Children taken to meet Islamic preacher who had ‘promoted and encouraged religious violence’

A primary school took children on a trip to meet an Islamic preacher, just months after the High Court ruled the imam an ‘extremist’ who had ‘promoted and encouraged religious violence’.

The visits by state school students, aged eight and nine, to meet Shakeel Begg, the imam at the mosque attended by the killers of Lee Rigby, has provoked widespread outrage.

Mr Begg, chief imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre, was described in a High Court judgment at the end of October as a “Jekyll and Hyde character”. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave also warned that Mr Begg’s role as imam put him in a position to “plant the seed of Islamic extremism in a young mind”.

One expert said it was “shocking and unacceptable” that a school was arranging visits to a known extremist and accused it of ‘woeful neglect’.

"It is shocking and frankly unacceptable that any school should be arranging visits with anyone associated with extremism."

Details of the visit were posted on the mosque’s website including photographs of the imam with the children sat attentively on the floor. [The Telegraph] Read more

'They will kill me': Saudi woman fleeing to Australia forced back to kingdom

Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, intended to flee to Australia to escape a forced marriage, Human Rights Watch cited a Canadian witness as saying.

The witness said Lasloom approached her while in transit at the airport in Manila, saying "airport officials had confiscated her passport and boarding pass" for a Sydney-bound flight.

The Canadian said she helped Lasloom film social media videos about her plight. In one of them she said: "If my family comes they will kill me," HRW said.

Arranged marriages are the norm in Saudi Arabia, where a "guardianship" system requires a male family member, usually the father, husband or brother, to grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.

"Lasloom's whereabouts are currently unknown," HRW said in a statement from Manila.

The Canadian witness, who spent several hours with Lasloom at the airport in Manila, reported that two of Lasloom's uncles arrived, the New York-based watchdog said. [AFP] Read more

14 April 2017

Auckland jewellery shop criticised for 'no burkas' sign

An Auckland shop has come under fire for a policy sign on its front door saying "No burkas".

Avondale's Coffee and Gems store sign was noticed in an image emailed to Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey on Thursday.

"A local sent me pics of the 20 Avondale "Begging Is Banned" signs this afternoon which I forwarded to Auckland Council," she wrote on Facebook.

"I was totally speechless when she also sent me this pic of an Avondale shop door sign."

It's in breach of the Human Rights Act, Cr Casey says.

"I have this morning made an official complaint to the Human Rights Commission," she said on Friday.

But owner Louise Brinsden says it's an important rule for purchasing from the public, and is for staff safety.

"We are a jewellery store run by females located in Avondale. We deal in high value items and it is a security precaution. [Newshub] Read more

Sharia Councils and Sexual Abuse in Britain

The most recent scandal surrounding the sexual exploitation of Muslim women by Islamic religious leaders in the UK is yet further proof of the way in which Britain is turning a blind eye to horrific practices going on right under its nose.

A BBC investigation into "halala" -- a ritual enabling a divorced Muslim woman to remarry her husband by first wedding someone else, consummating the union, and then being divorced by him -- revealed that imams in Britain are not only encouraging this, but profiting financially from it. This depravity has led to many such women being held hostage, literally and figuratively, to men paid to become their second husbands.

This ritual, which is considered a misinterpretation of Islamic sharia law even by extremist Shi'ites and Saudi-style Salafists, is practiced by certain Islamic sects, such as Hanafis, Barelvis and Deobandis.

When a husband repeats the Arabic word for divorce -- talaq -- three times to his wife, these sects consider a Muslim marriage null and void. For such a woman to be allowed to return to the husband who banished her, she must first marry someone else -- and have sex with him -- before the second husband divorces her. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

13 April 2017

Minneapolis Muslims protest 'sharia' vigilante in Cedar-Riverside area

A man trying to impose what he calls "the civil part of the sharia law" in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has sparked anger among local residents and Muslim leaders.

Abdullah Rashid, 22, a Georgia native who moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, has been making the rounds in the Somali-dominated neighborhood, telling people not to drink, use drugs or interact with the opposite sex. If he sees Muslim women he believes are dressed inappropriately, he approaches them and suggests they should wear a jilbab, a long, flowing garment. And he says he's recruiting others to join the effort.

But local Muslim leaders are sounding the alarm. They are working to stop Rashid's group, General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah, and have notified Minneapolis police, who say he's being banned from a Cedar-Riverside property. Some say the group is preying on vulnerable young Muslims in a community that has dealt with national scrutiny around radicalization and terrorism.

"What he's doing is wrong and doesn't reflect the community at all," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). [Star Tribune] Read more

Pakistani student accused of blasphemy beaten to death on campus

A mob beat a Pakistani student to death at his university campus on Thursday after he was accused of sharing blasphemous content on social media, university and police officials said.

A group of about 10 students shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack on fellow student Mashal Khan, who was stripped naked and beaten with planks until his skull caved in as other students looked on, video obtained by Reuters showed.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Mohammed is a capital crime that has dozens languishing on death row and where even an accusation can lead to violence.

In recent months, Pakistan's government has been vocal about the issue, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issuing an order last month for removal of blasphemous content online and saying anyone who posted such content should face "strict punishment under the law". [Reuters] Read more

Bus driver faces fine for refusing ride to niqab-wearing woman

A bus driver in Lower Saxony faces a hefty fine after he repeatedly denied a Muslim woman wearing a niqab entry onto his bus.

A police spokesman in Leer, Lower Saxony said on Thursday that the driver was being investigated for an administrative offence, with the fine possibly rising to €10,000.

The woman was pregnant when the driver refused to let her onto the bus for wearing the conservative Islamic garb, the spokesman said, adding that her husband had reported the driver to local authorities.

The private bus company, which had been contracted by the city of Emden to run the local bus service, has admitted that the driver’s actions breached local regulations.

The company claimed that the driver had acted out of ignorance. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan student killed over 'blasphemy' on university campus

A university student in Pakistan accused of blasphemy against Islam has been killed by a mob of fellow students on campus, police say.

Many students have been arrested after the brutal attack in the northern city of Mardan, and the campus has been closed.

Reports suggest that two young men were accused of posting offensive content on Facebook. One survived with injuries.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan.

Critics say blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty in some cases, are often misused to oppress minorities.

There have been other cases where people accused of it have been killed by an angry crowd. [BBC] Read more

Muslim men permitted to hit wives in a soft and 'symbolic' way, Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia women say

The newly-appointed NSW police commissioner has lambasted a view propagated among some Muslim Australians that Muslim husbands are permitted to hit their wives.

In a video discussion posted on the Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia's Facebook page on April 8, two women from the hardline fringe group said that the permission to strike a disobedient wife was "a beautiful blessing" but it should only be soft and "symbolic".

The women, western Sydney primary school teacher Reem Allouche and Indian-born scholar Atika Latifi, also said that Muslim men have slower reaction times and no ability to multi-task but are physically stronger and obliged to be the leader in a marriage.

It was widely condemned, including in a statement signed by 34 sheikhs and prominent Muslims which said the promotion of violence is "against the spirit and letter of Islam" and "undermines the love, mercy and mutual support that should define a Muslim marriage". [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

12 April 2017

Germany's Schaeuble says if Muslim migrants don't like Europe, go elsewhere

Muslims who migrate to Europe should understand that there are better places for them to live if they do not want to accept the European way of life, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday.

Such migrants who do not accept Europe's way of living should be told "you have made the wrong decision", Schaeuble said during a round table discussion in Berlin.

"There are better places in the world to live under Islamic law than Europe," he added. [Reuters] Read more

France shuts down another mosque for 'condoning violent jihad'

A mosque in the eastern suburbs of Paris was ordered closed on Tuesday because authorities deemed it "a threat to security".

The mosque, located in Torcy in the Seine-et-Marne department, was deemed by authorities to be "a threat to public order".

Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said the mosque had "become a place where radical ideology was advocated".

"Some of the preaching was openly hostile to France's laws and was inciting hate to other religious communities, primarily Shia Muslims and Jews."

He added that there was a risk of "a breeding ground that threatened security and public order" in France.

In the official police order for closure, Imams were said to have "legitimized armed jihad" over the past two years, "calling on members to pray for jihadists to destroy the enemies of Islam in France and around the world". [The Local] Read more

Sonny Bill Williams permitted to cover up sponsors' logos on religious grounds

Sonny Bill Williams will be allowed to continue covering up a sponsor’s logo on his Auckland Blues shirt after the New Zealand Rugby Union agreed to the All Blacks player’s request based on his religious beliefs.

Williams, a devout Muslim, last week taped up his collar to hide Bank of New Zealand logos as Islamic faith forbids financial institutions charging interest and fees on loans.

The move raised the possibility of disciplinary action, but the NZRU accommodated Williams’ request after he lodged a “conscientious objection”. The Blues support his stance.

From next week, Williams will instead wear a bespoke jersey that bears the name of the children’s support service, Plunket, over where BNZ’s logo would normally be. [The Guardian] Read more

Toronto-area Peel District School Board in Muslim prayer row

A school board in Ontario has become a flashpoint in the religious accommodation debate over Muslim prayers in school. The board says the matter is settled but detractors say the fight is far from over.

Pages torn from a Koran. Cries of "that's a hate group" and "there is no peace in Islam".

In March, a public meeting of one of Canada's largest public school boards descended into chaos over a policy of religious accommodation that has been in place for more than 15 years.

The Peel District School Board says the debate over whether Muslim students can hold voluntary Friday prayer sessions on school grounds is settled and has been for a long time.

They accuse some opponents of whipping up tensions with "deliberate misinformation" and say they are "appalled by the anti-Muslim rhetoric and prejudice we have seen on social media, read in emails, and heard first-hand at our board meetings".

Opponents of the policy say they are not done protesting against a practice they decry as "unequal and unfair". [BBC] Read more

11 April 2017

Hardline cleric is invited to UK by Islamic charity for fundraising tour

Islamic Relief is being asked by the Charity Commission to explain why it invited a hardline Muslim preacher to star in a fundraising tour of Britain.

Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated American academic, has been recorded apparently telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of their religion. Dr Qadhi, who features in an eight-city tour starting this month, described Islamic punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves as “very beneficial to society”.

After being alerted by The Times, the commission is questioning two other charities, Muslim Aid and Read Foundation, about their sponsorship of a speaking tour by Dr Qaddi in 2015 organised by MEND. [The Times (£)] Read more

Women barred from Tehran marathon defy rules to complete their own race instead

Determined not to waste months of training and prove women ‘can do anything they want’, female participants created their own race route.

A group of female runners who were told at the last minute they could not take part in the Tehran marathon risked being arrested and detained by Iran’s strict religious authorities in order to stage their own race instead.

Around 160 women out of a total of 600 runners had registered to compete in Friday’s first ever ‘TehRUN’, a 26 mile (42 kilometre) race around the Iranian capital, including dozens of foreigners.

However, female participants were dismayed to be told in an email from organisers three weeks ago that they would actually not be allowed to take part, as men and women cannot participate in sports together in the conservative country. [The Independent] Read more

10 April 2017

Le Pen Calls Multiculturalism a Weapon for Islamic Extremists

Fighting terrorism must involve preventing Muslim communities from imposing their way of life in France and requires more than just repression, presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Monday.

“A multicultural society is a multiconflict society,” she said in a speech in Paris. “I want every French person, no matter where they are in France, to maintain their liberty and their rights that Islamic fundamentalists want to deny them. Multiculturalism is the soft weapon of Islamic fundamentalists, which is allowed by useful idiots under the guise of tolerance.”

Le Pen, head of the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front, called for France’s constitution to be changed so that it doesn’t recognize any communities, and criticized former President Nicolas Sarkozy for creating an organization to represent Islam. She also said she would ban an Islamic organization in France linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that mosques attended by Turks could be used to spy on France. [Bloomberg] Read more

Islamist who claimed killing British soldiers was 'justified' becomes director of a controversial Muslim pressure group with influence over Westminster

An extremist who said he supported the killing of British soldiers has been appointed a director of a controversial Muslim pressure group with influence at Westminster.

Azad Ali, head of community development and engagement at Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), said the Westminster Bridge attack last month was 'not terrorism'.

Mr Ali said on Facebook that Khalid Masood, who murdered PC Keith Palmer and four pedestrians, should referred to as 'a lone wolf'. The Met Police has been treating it as a terror attack.

He also said that the Government's fury with WhatsApp for giving terrorists 'a place to hide' was ministers 'trying to invade more of our privacy', according to The Times.

.... Mr Ali's lawyers at Carter-Ruck said his comments on the Westminster Bridge attack were 'referring to terrorism in the sense of organised acts co-ordinated by terrorist groups'.

His legal teams also said Mr Ali considered it 'a barbarous and cruel act of murder for which there was no possible justification or mitigation'.

In 2009 it emerged that Mr Ali, then an IT worker and president of the Civil Service Islamic Society, was suspended on full pay for six months following comments on his blog. [Daily Mail] Read more

09 April 2017

Egypt declares state of emergency; ISIS attacks killed scores of Palm Sunday churchgoers

The state of emergency will last for three months, according to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The attacks, which were claimed by ISIS, follow warnings by the terrorist group that it would escalate attacks on Egypt's Christians, who the CIA estimates make up roughly 10 percent of the country's population.

The two bombings Sunday killed at least 44 people and injured at least 126 others, according to Egyptian officials. The first exploded in a Coptic Christian church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, and the second several hours later at Saint Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt.

ISIS claimed that the blasts were the work of suicide bombers who detonated explosive vests at the churches. [ABC News] Read more

08 April 2017

Primary pupils at risk of extremism at Birmingham school, Ofsted warns

Pupils at a Birmingham Islamic primary school could be at risk of radicalisation because of safeguarding failings, Ofsted has warned.

Government inspectors have highlighted extremism concerns and criticised management at the independent Birmingham Muslim School (BMS).

.... Now a published report has highlighted a ‘weak culture of safeguarding’ at the Golden Hillock Road school, including a lack of alertness by staff to ‘the risks of pupils being radicalised’.

It concluded the school had not met ‘all of the independent school standards that were checked during this inspection’.

Ofsted said: “Consequently, there is the potential for pupils to be exposed to extremist views through contact with older pupils or adults out of school, such as when on school trips.

"As a result, the school is not taking all reasonable steps to protect pupils from exposure to partisan political views.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

07 April 2017

Sentenced to Death for "Insulting Islam"

"During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go," said the source in an interview with CHRI on March 21, 2017. "Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges.

Then they sentenced him to death." "Later he admitted that he signed the confession hoping to get freed," said the source. "Apparently the authorities also got him to confess in front of a camera as well." -- Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

When the Islamists gain power, they immediately create their own "judiciary system" in order to "legitimize" their implementation of sharia law. In fact, the judiciary system is used less as a tool for bringing people to justice, and more as a tool to suppress freedom of speech and of the press. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

European Parliament’s biggest political group calls for EU-wide ban on Islamic face veils

The European Parliament’s biggest political grouping has said it supports the introduction of a European Union-wide ban on Islamic face veils

The European People’s Party adopted the measure as an official policy at its annual congress in Malta this week, claiming that the ban should be introduced “both for reasons of security and because seeing one another’s faces is an integral part of human interaction in Europe”.

The EPP, a centre-right liberal conservative grouping, holds 216 seats in the 751 member European Parliament and is affiliated with major governing parties such as Angela Merkel’s CDU, the French Republicains and Spain’s People’s Party.The provisions for the banning of face coverings appear to explicitly target Muslims, being contained in a resolution named "For a cohesive society: Countering Islamic extremism" and mentioning the burqua and niquab by name.

Speaking to the German media following the passage of the resolution, Manfred Weber, the group’s leader in the European Parliament, said: “We want a total ban of face covering in the EU.”

Mr Weber is a member of Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance in Germany. [The Independent] Read more

Tunisia sentences British DJ for Muslim prayer remix

A Tunisian court has sentenced a British DJ to a year in jail after he played a dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer.

London-born Dax J, was charged with public indecency and offending public morality - but had already fled the country before the court case.

He had also issued an apology.

The nightclub was shut down after footage of the weekend's event was shared on social media and sparked outrage.

A court spokesperson told AFP news agency that the court dismissed charges against the nightclub owner and an event organiser, but the prosecution has appealed saying the two should have checked what the DJ would be playing. [BBC] Read more

'We don't want burkas and mosques on every corner': Controversial Muslim leader says the 'entire religion of Islam needs a review'

A controversial imam has called for a 'review' of Islam in Australia and demanded that Muslims respect freedom of speech and democracy.

Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi, who in recent weeks has clashed with other Muslim leaders, said he did not want 'burqas running around' or 'mosques on every corner'.

Speaking at the Rotary Club of Adelaide, Imam Tawhidi said his father would not have moved from Iran to Australia had he known so many extreme Muslim people would end up living here.

'My father made the choice ... to come to Australia because it is a non-Muslim country,' he said.

'Now, if we knew that after 30 years, we were going to have burqas running around, mosques being erected in every corner, and people proposing sharia law against democracy in this country, we would not have come.' [Daily Mail] Read more

British DJ Sentenced To A Year In Tunisian Prison Over Muslim Prayer Dance Remix

A London-born techno DJ has been sentenced to a year in prison by a Tunisian court after he played a track sampling the Muslim call to prayer at a festival.

Dax J, who has since left the country after performing at club El Guitone as part of Orbit Festival, was sentenced in his absence having been charged with public indecency and offending public morality.

Nabeul governor Mnaouar Ouertani was quoted as stating the Tunisian government “will not allow attacks against religious feelings and the sacred.”

The club was shut down immediately and the manager was detained. AFP news agency reports the court dismissed charges against the nightclub owner and an event organiser, but the prosecution has appealed, claiming they both should have checked what the DJ was playing. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

06 April 2017

Girls as young as nine ready for marriage, says Malaysian MP

.... His comments came as the Muslim-majority South-east Asian country passed a law on sexual offences against children without criminalising child marriage.

Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, MP for Tasek Gelugor and a member of the multi-ethnic Barisan Nasional governing coalition, made the comments in reply to a proposal by an opposition MP to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill to include a ban on child marriages.

But the proposal was voted down by the majority of the House.

Said Mr Shabudin on Tuesday during a debate on the Bill: "They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12. And at that time, their body is already akin to them being 18 years old. So physically and spiritually, it is not a barrier for the girl to marry."

He also said there was "nothing wrong" with a rape victim marrying her rapist, as she would then not face a "bleak future". [The Straits Times] Read more

Former Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa: Women Are Incapable of Becoming Heart Surgeons

You may have noticed that there is not a single female heart surgeon in the world.

Interviewer: Not a single female heart surgeon in the world?

Ali Gomaa: That's right.

Interviewer: That's the first time I've heard this.

Ali Gomaa: It's amazing. It's peculiar. Why do you think that there are none? Because it requires great physical effort - beyond what a woman is capable of. That's in general. Along comes a woman who challenges this, and she succeeds in becoming a surgeon. But she is one woman among several million male surgeons. [MEMRI] Read more

Imam in hiding after calling for closure of Islamic schools

Australian imam Mohammed Tawhidi, above, claims he has been forced into hiding after voicing support for the ideas of anti-Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Tawhidi, of the Islamic Association of South Australia, said he agrees with Ms Ali’s call to close Islamic schools in Australia. He has also rejected extremist groups.

Ali cancelled her tour of Australia this week because of fears for her safety.

According to this report, the imam said:

"These schools do exist that are a problem and they need to be either shut down or changed completely." Fearing reprisals, the Adelaide-based Imam said he was escorted into hiding by police. [The Freethinker] Read more

The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain by Sayeeda Warsi - review

A blinkered view of Islamism, says Maryam Namazie. Sayeeda Warsi’s new book catalogues some of the hypocrisy and double standards of the British Government, the rise of the far-Right and bigotry against Muslims, yet has a glaring blind spot when it comes to Islamism. According to Warsi, Islamist terrorism is the result of everything but Islamist ideology.

.... Without any apparent understanding of the context and rise of the contemporary transnational Islamist movement, including Iran’s key role in it, Warsi says “simmering resentment” began when the British Government apparently failed to prosecute Salman Rushdie for blasphemy. “Muslims,” she says, “wanted British laws to protect Islam,” and when it didn’t happen, the Iranians were more than happy to step in with what she characterises as “concern and moral support”.

.... Warsi’s solution to the situation we are faced with today is more of the same: more religion in the public space and stronger “religious identities”, though it is clearly less religion that we need, not more.

And while she considers secularisation a threat, it is in fact the separation of religion from the state, universal values and citizenship rights that will provide minimum guarantees against the intolerance and violence of religion in politics and power. [Evening Standard] Read more

Hijab allowed for university, city police officers

Both UW-Madison and city police say they would permit their officers to wear hijabs while on duty, a move that sets them apart from other departments around the country that either do not allow officers to wear religious head coverings or do not have a clear policy on the matter.

UW-Madison Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott said the department’s policy does not “directly address the wearing of hijabs,” but allows for “uniform modifications” with the approval of the chief. UWPD Chief of Police Kristen Roman said she would permit an officer to wear the hijab for religious reasons, according to Lovicott.

Madison Police Department’s standard operating guidelines say that “scarves are allowed, as are head covers that are required for religious or medical purposes, with a Commander’s approval.” MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain confirmed that the department is “tolerant of officers and their religious beliefs.”

Both Lovicott and DeSpain were not aware of a time the issue has come up within their departments. [The Daily Cardinal] Read more

Islam Has Become Toxic in the West

.... Such striking, even disturbing, findings should be an eye-opener to the powers-that-be and civil society at large in the West. Yet, much of the political establishment, the mainstream media, and academia have been distinctly reluctant to seriously address this profoundly important issue.

Indeed, their default position is that of the minority that is favourable to, or not unduly concerned by, Islam’s role in the West. So how to explain what can accurately be described as a ubiquitous visceral hostility to Islam and Muslims?

The kernel of an explanation lies in the fact that the majority think that Islam is incompatible with Western democracy and the Western way of life. This judgement is based upon observation of the many millions of Muslims who have settled in North America and Europe in recent decades.

This judgement is coupled with the mass media and the internet showing the reality of Muslim countries across the globe; a reality hardly appealing to the majority of Westerners. Indeed, a seldom remarked fact is the magnetic appeal of the secular West to Muslim migrants, whose strong religious identity might be expected to encourage their migration to other Muslim countries.

[COMMENT ONE] As a (borderline) Muslim myself, I have to say, you’re analysis is extremely insightful. It’s the ‘guilt-tripping’ that traps the common believer in the web of the clergy. Fear of divine punishment etc. Historically, the Islamic clergy silenced free-thinkers, but alas this is not possible in the West. The vast and varied Western interest in Islam applies existential pressure to the Ivory Tower of the clergy. Critiquing Islam – this notion itself – is their kryptonite.

[COMMENT TWO] Yes, this seems to be one of the more significant differences between Islam and Judaism/Christianity in the present age. Biblical criticism, undertaken by Christian and Jewish scholars, has been a thing now for quite sometime (I think it got under way in the late 19th century). Whereas an analogous deconstruction of the Qur’an is still forbidden, and could even get the person attempting it murdered. Thus, Islam is still tied to its own mythology in a way that Judaism/Christianity are not.

[COMMENT THREE] There’s no shortage of strongly felt and clearly stated rejection of Islam in these comments and the article reports near uniformity of majority opposition to Islam in independent polls. This is not news, but much needed plain speaking.

What is amazing is the almost complete lack of response by the nominally democratic governments of the western world to these views and the manner in which polled majority opinions are now criticised and branded as ‘populist’ (bad!) by the government / legal / media ‘elites’ that control which part of our news is reported. As an example I find it disturbing that in the UK the first report I see of the last four months of poll results mentioned in paragraph 4 comes via Quillette not the national media. Where’s our democracy gone?

The UK has a history of tolerance of immigration and subsequent integration. The rate and nature of recent immigration combined with the denigration of prior national culture and the denial of a resultant problem is storing up trouble. Decades of far left and fundamentalist liberal legislation from nominally Labour or Conservative governments, under the banners of diversity and equality, have isolated immigrants into competing pressure groups and set each against the other and all against the state.

There are ways of living with Islamic immigration, but I suggest they start with the recognition of the primacy of the national majority culture of the host nation, continue with the management of immigration rates and geographic distribution, and rest with temporary guest status for anyone unable or unwilling to integrate.

[COMMENT FOUR] Fewer cut-outs from modernity are needed. Faith based schools must have a World Religions multi -year course taught with everything from Ahmadis to Zoroastrians taught. Quebec already does this. Kudos to them. While we are at it ALL schools and all home schoolers must teach this course too!

Importing bad ideas leads to bad outcomes. If an applicant for resettlement or immigration espouses in their embassy interviews for migration that Female Genital Mutilation or Sharia are values they like or if they agree that any religion should get special privileges then their application should be denied even if they are angel investors with millions of dollars and want to create jobs.

Muhammad is a hero for all Muslims and all of Islam. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said though, “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” [Quillette] Read more

05 April 2017

Malaysian MP says girls as young as NINE are ready for marriage and rape victims should wed their attackers to help them 'turn over a new leaf'

Mr Shabudin Yahaya also told Parliament in Kuala Lumpur that some girls as young as nine were ‘physically and spiritually’ ready for marriage.

‘When we discuss 12 and 15 year olds, we don’t see their physical bodies because some children aged 12 or 15, their bodies are like 18-year-old women,’ he said.

Mr Shabudin, a former Shariah court judge, pointed out that some girls reached puberty when they were as young as nine, making them physically and spiritually ready for marriage - ‘so it’s not impossible for them to get married.'

And he said there was nothing wrong with a rape victim marrying her rapist as this could serve as a remedy to an increasing number of social problems.

The Star newspaper reported that Mr Shabudin made his comments when debating the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 after several opposition lawmakers suggested amending it to include child marriages as an offence.

Agreeing that rape is a criminal offence, Mr Shabudin said the rapist and the victim should be ‘given a second chance to turn a new leaf in life.

‘Perhaps through marriage they can lead a healthier, better life - and the person who was raped does not necessarily have a bleak future. [Daily Mail] Read more

Germany cracks down on child marriages

Germany's cabinet Wednesday moved to ban child marriages after the recent mass refugee influx brought in many couples where one or both partners were aged under 18.

The new law, set to receive parliamentary approval by July, is seen as a protective move especially for girls by annulling foreign marriages involving minors.

It will allow youth welfare workers to take into care underaged girls even if they were legally married abroad and, if deemed necessary, separate them from their husbands.

"Children do not belong in the marriage registry office or the wedding hall," said Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

"We must not tolerate any marriages that harm minors in their development."

"The underaged must be protected as much as possible," he added, stressing that no minor must suffer restrictions on their asylum or residential status as a result of the change.

.... There were 1,475 married minors registered in Germany last July -- 361 of them aged under 14 -- according to the latest figures released after a parliamentary request.

Of these 1,152 were girls, said the interior ministry.

The largest group, 664 children, came from Syria followed by 157 from Afghanistan, 100 from Iraq, and 65 from Bulgaria.

The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung welcomed the bill, saying that "archaic practises that harm women and children have no place" in Germany. [AFP] Read more

Fears of another 'Trojan Horse' scandal reignited after Islamic school posts advert for 'male-only' teacher

Fears of another “Trojan Horse” scandal have been reignited in Birmingham after an Islamic private school was found to have placed an advert for a male-only science teacher.

The advert which risks being in breach of the Equalities Act, has since been retracted - but the headmaster claims that the role must be occupied by a male teacher because of “religious observance reasons”.

The decision has prompted calls for the Salafi Independent School, located in Small Heath, to be investigated, amid fears its stance promotes “gender-based discrimination” and threatens to undermine “British values”.

Whilst the Department for Education said it could not comment on individual cases, a spokesperson said that it could not see realistic grounds on which a school would be legally able to advertise for a teacher from a specific gender. [The Telegraph] Read more

9yo girls 'physically & spiritually' ready to marry – Malaysian MP

Girls as young as nine are “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage, a Malaysian MP says, also claiming there’s “nothing wrong” with females marrying their rapists. It comes after Malaysia failed to criminalize child marriage in a recent law.

“They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12. And at that time, their body is already akin to them being 18 years old. So physically and spiritually, it is not a barrier for the girl to marry,” Shabudin Yahaya, a member of the Barisan Nasional Coalition, told Parliament on Tuesday, as quoted by Reuters.

He went on to say there is “nothing wrong” with a rape victim marrying the man who raped her, as doing so would allow her to avoid a “bleak future."

“Perhaps through marriage they can lead a healthier, better life. And the person who was raped does not necessarily have a bleak future. She will have a husband, at least, and this could serve as a remedy to growing social problems,” he said, as quoted by Malaysian newspaper the Star. [RT News] Read more

The women who sleep with a stranger to save their marriage

A number of online services are charging "divorced" Muslim women thousands of pounds to take part in "halala" Islamic marriages, a BBC investigation has found. Women pay to marry, have sex with and then divorce a stranger, so they can get back with their first husbands.

Farah - not her real name - met her husband after being introduced to him by a family friend when she was in her 20s. They had children together soon afterwards but then, Farah says, the abuse began.

.... Despite the abuse, Farah hoped things would change. Her husband's behaviour though became increasingly erratic - leading to him "divorcing" her via text message.

"I was at home with the children and he was at work. During a heated discussion he sent me a text saying, 'talaq, talaq, talaq'."

"Triple talaq" - where a man says "talaq", or divorce, to his wife three times in a row - is a practice which some Muslims believe ends an Islamic marriage instantly.

.... They believe halala is the only way a couple who have been divorced, and wish to reconcile, can remarry.

Halala involves the woman marrying someone else, consummating the marriage and then getting a divorce - after which she is able to remarry her first husband.

But in some cases, women who seek halala services are at risk of being financially exploited, blackmailed and even sexually abused. [BBC] Read more