31 May 2017

The strange death of liberal Europe

Douglas Murray offers a powerful critique of immigration, identity politics and Islam.

.... Murray is a compelling writer who, in The Strange Death of Europe, has compiled an array of evidence and argument in support of his claim that ‘the movement of millions of people into a guilty, jaded and dying culture cannot’ work. As his colleague at the Spectator, Matthew Parris, says, he ‘writes so well that when he is wrong he is dangerous.’

In my opinion Murray’s conclusion is not wrong, but there is a difficulty for anyone tackling subjects as contentious as immigration, identity and Islam. And that is the relationship between cause and symptom. Immigrants are not the cause of Europe’s woes, and parallel communities are a symptom of Europe’s political weakness. Immigrants have never been required or incentivised to assimilate; indeed, since the 1980s, the politics of multiculturalism has incentivised them not to assimilate. Easy though it is to blame the immigrant (a mistake often made by the populist parties of Europe), those who criticise postwar immigration must never lose sight of the fact that the easy target is the wrong target.

When reading Murray’s excellent book, it is worth remembering that, of his two arguments, it is the second that is causative of the first. In other words, it is because Europe is dying that immigration has become a politically fraught issue. The target of our anger has to be, not the immigrant, but our political leaders who, over six decades, have had so little belief in liberal democracy that they have never expected immigrants to assimilate to the political values that made Europe such a desirable place to live. [Spiked] Read more

Olivier Roy, “One of France’s Top Experts On Islamic Terrorism” (Part I)

.... As it happens, Salman Abedi did not “lose his connection” to Libya; in Manchester he lived in what was in effect a Little Libya, one of the largest communities of Libyans outside of Libya itself, surrounded by fellow Libyans, as well as other Muslims. Nor did his family sever their own connection to Libya.

His parents moved back to Libya in 2011, but they, and at least two of his siblings, returned to Manchester often; his father, known as Abu Ismail, had been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Khaddafy force that had close links to Al-Qaeda. When he was in Manchester, he and Salman Abedi regularly attended the Didsbury Mosque.

Abedi himself made frequent trips to Libya and was there, in fact, just before he returned to carry out the Manchester attack. He remained a devout Muslim, and gave no sign of falling away from Islam. His only sign of “Western decadence” was his occasionally smoking marijuana. He was not affected by “deculturation.” He did not suffer from a “dangerous ‘identity vacuum,” as Olivier Roy would have us believe.

He memorized the entire Qur’an, earning the title of hafiz. He was perfectly secure in his Muslim identity. Yet Olivier Roy insists on a psychological explanation — an “identity vacuum” — for Abedi’s decision to become a shahid, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

But that is because he continues to refuse to take the ideology of Islam seriously, refuses even to discuss the possibility that the clear meaning of the Islamic texts and teachings might be sufficient to explain Muslim terrorism. [New English Review] Read more

Fleeing Tyranny or Bringing it with Them?

Terror attacks and other offshoots of Islamic extremism have created an atmosphere of mistrust between Europe's natives and thousands of those who entered European countries to seek shelter.

The situation is turning the Europeans against their own governments and against those advocating help for the war-torn migrants who have been arriving.

Europeans are turning hostile towards the idea of freedom and peaceful coexistence; they have apparently been seeing newcomers as seeking exceptions to the rules and culture of West.

In an unprecedented shift in policy after public fury about security, the German government decided to shut down the mosque where the terrorist who rammed a truck into a shopping market in Berlin, Anis Amri, was radicalized before hecommitted the crime.

The mosque and Islamic center at Fussilet 33 in Berlin had apparently also been radicalizing a number of other youths by convincing them to commit terror attacks in Europe and to join the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The authorities had the mosque under surveillance for a time but did not make a move before 12 innocent civilians were butchered by Amri on December 19, 2016, while leaving around 50 others injured. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

France has woken up to the danger of Islamism. Has Britain?

.... What laïcité doesn’t do, and the reason why it’s scorned by so many on the British left, is ‘celebrate diversity’. This has been the British dogma for a quarter of a century and it’s clearly not worked, as was laid bare last year by Trevor Phillips, when the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that ‘squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community’.

Kepel shares this assessment, worried that Britain has yet to grasp the incompatibility of its values with those of the Islamists. ‘The United Kingdom has driven a policy of prevention but also of devolving entire districts to the Islamists, notably tolerating Islamic tribunals, in order to buy social peace,’ he explained. ‘The acceptance of a form of separatism, an ‘apartheid’, as is the case in Birmingham with his Sharia judges passing sentence, poses a very big problem for their values.’

Laïcité, in contrast, unashamedly promotes French values above all others, be they Catholic, Muslim or Jewish. All religions are respected – but the Republic comes first. In short, laïcité is the glue that holds the country together and that’s why the Islamists have failed to fracture France despite five years of sickening violence. [The Spectator] Read more

Majority want faith schools to keep the religious selection cap, poll finds

An opinion poll conducted by the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, has found that eighty per cent of those surveyed – including two-thirds of Catholics, are opposed to removing the current cap, which limits schools from not selecting more than half of their pupils on religious grounds.

Last September, the government said that new faith schools would no longer have to offer 50 per cent of their places to those of other religions or none.

But 80 per cent of the 2,000 people asked as part of the research have said they prefer to keep the cap in place.

This included 67 per cent of Catholics and 79 per cent of Anglicans.

Respondents from other religious backgrounds were more enthusiastic about the removal of the cap: 43 per cent of Muslims and 55 per cent of Jews were in favour of allowing schools to select all pupils on the basis of religion.

Jay Harman, of Humanists UK, was unsurprised by the poll’s findings. “Religious and non-religious people alike recognise that both children and society are best served when people from a range of different backgrounds are brought together to learn with and from one another,” he said. [EB News] Read more

30 May 2017

Trojan Horse disciplinary action against school teachers thrown out

A long-running disciplinary case against senior teachers allegedly at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse schools affair has been thrown out.

A professional conduct panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) ruled that the hearing into five people should be discontinued.

The Trojan Horse controversy centred on allegations of a plot to "Islamify" Birmingham schools.

The controversy sparked several inquiries and led to five former members of the Park View Educational Trust senior leadership team - Monzoor Hussain, Lindsey Clark, Razwan Faraz, Arshad Hussain and Hardeep Saini - being brought before an NCTL disciplinary panel.

In its ruling on Tuesday, the panel acknowledged that a decision to halt proceedings "should only be taken in exceptional circumstances". [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Denmark is on the Verge of Repealing Its Blasphemy Law

Denmark is one of the few European nations that has a blasphemy law.

While it’s considered something of a relic, that didn’t stop one prosecutor from trying to use it this past February against a man who burned a Qur’an in late 2015. The law’s mere existence also suggests that religious criticism or symbolic acts ought to be forbidden, providing support to those countries where people are regularly punished (or killed) for speaking out against popular dogma.

That may finally be changing this week, after the ruling party in the Danish government finally voiced their support for a repeal, which could happen as early as this Friday. [Patheos] Read more

29 May 2017

Sayeeda Warsi: UK policy on radicalisation 'has been flawed for years

.... Speaking at Hay literary festival on Monday, Lady Warsi – the Conservative peer and first Muslim in a British cabinet – said government policy was currently too focused on ideology as the sole cause of radicalisation, and not on other factors, including upbringing and drug and gang culture.

“We say it is all ideology,” she told the audience. “Ideology is a part of it, but it is not all ideology. And the concern that I have in terms of government decision making is if we’re genuinely wanting to deal with this – which we are – then we have to go back to seeing what the evidence says ...

.... At her event, Warsi, who was minister of state for faith and communities until 2014, also said she hoped British Muslims would push for the phasing out of wearing burqas in Britain, calling the head-to-toe garments “not the best manifestation of British Islam”.

“I want British Muslims to lead that charge … but I don’t want it to be done with a government diktat of what women can or can’t wear, because at what point do you start to draw the lines?” she said. “What else will offend us that we don’t want people to go around wearing? There are people in conservative societies across this country who would be offended at what certain girls are wearing out on a Friday night. What are we going to do, ban that next because we’re offended by it?”

She also revealed that the “jury was still out” on whether she supported faith-segregated schools: “I was a huge supporter of faith schools but ... I’m not convinced bringing up kids in a single-faith school is good for them.” [The Guardian] Read more

Leaders at Didsbury Mosque attended by Manchester bomber admit they have a 'lot to learn'

Faith leaders at a mosque attended by Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi have said they need to do more to deter young people away from extremism - and have admitted they have ‘a lot to learn’.

Didsbury Mosque was attended by the killer and his family.

Fawzi Haffar, a trustee of the mosque, told tonight’s BBC Panorama: “I have to be truthful. We have a lot to learn, [we] have to be more conscious.”

Mr Haffar said the mosque required ‘proper policies’ to keep people away from extremist ideologies.

He added: “When we did find out that he attended this mosque we had to really ask some of our employees whether they remembered him. And some of them say they did. [Manchester Evening News] Read more

28 May 2017

Dangerous drivel that inspired Manchester bomber has poisoned a significant number of British Muslims

.... While these sentiments are hard to fault, a closer look at the mosque’s past preaching reveals a different picture.

Trustee of Didsbury mosque Farzi Haffar has previously sent a number of inflammatory anti-semitic tweets, including one that states: “The more these radical and fundamental #Jewish invaders attack #Moslem and #Christian #Arab holy areas in Palestine, the more hate there is.”

In another, he retweeted someone writing about “joy/applause for breaking taboo, comparing Israelis to Nazis”.

Didsbury mosque has also hosted speakers with anti-Semitic, homophobic, and other worrying views. Among them have been Abdullah Hakim Quick, Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, and Abu Eesa Niamatullah.

The following provides only a slight glimpse into the dangerous drivel being preached on British soil by such speakers:

Hardline preacher Abu Eesa Niamtullah has said, “Is it halal to love one’s nation? […] The problem of course comes when you want to put your identity above that [the Ummah] and you start to be more loyal, and start to be more favourable to the people from your own nation and praise them, and support them, and look after them more so than the people from your primary nation which is the nation of Islam.” [Jewish News] Read more

26 May 2017

No change to headscarf ban, Dutch police chief says Society

Police uniform rules will not be changed to allow Muslim police officers to wear headscarves, police chief Erik Akerboom has told staff, the AD reported on Friday. Akerboom said in a message on the police intranet system he had been shocked by the reactions the idea – first floated by Amsterdam’s police chief – had generated.

Currently police officers are not allowed to wear any religious symbols but officials are considering lifting the ban in an effort to improve diversity. ‘We are talking about it,’ the city’s most senior officer Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told the AD earlier this month.

‘If we cannot recruit sufficient officers with a migrant background, this is a measure which could have an impact.’ ‘There is clearly no support for the idea,’ Akerboom wrote. ‘The discussion is having a polarising effect within and outside the force.’ Acting justice minister Stef Blok has also said he opposes the idea. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

Women in burkinis stopped from swimming in Cannes

French police on Friday prevented a group of Muslim women from swimming in their burkinis in the seaside city of Cannes, home to the ongoing annual Cannes Film Festival.

Around 10 women gathered on the beach at Hotel Martinez -- where the festival is being held -- to swim in their burkinis to show support for the concealing swimsuit.

But police stopped and questioned the women, who had gathered at the call of Rachid Nekkaz, a French-Algerian businessman, to celebrate the defeat of last summer’s burkini ban on some French Riviera beaches.

Nekkaz told Nice Matin daily that the event was a way of celebrating the French high court ruling last year which allows any woman to wear a burkini.

"The Cannes Film Festival is all about liberty and tolerance," the paper quoted Nekkaz as saying. "It’s the perfect place to celebrate this newfound freedom in the city that was the first to ban the burkini." [Anadolu Agency] Read more

Manchester attack: Question Time debates 'Didsbury Mosque' leaflet

A Question Time audience member has claimed he was handed an anti-Western leaflet at Didsbury Mosque in Manchester.

The mosque was previously attended by the father of Salman Ramadan Abedi, the man who carried out Monday's bomb attack.

However, a spokesman for the Didsbury Mosque has said the leaflet was not printed by the mosque and did not carry its name, but admitted that unauthorised leaflets are sometimes left by people who are not affiliated with them.

The mosque has also condemned the attack, saying "cowardice has no place in our society". [BBC] Read more

Greek goddess statue removed in Bangladesh after Islamist outcry

Workers have begun to dismantle the statue of a Greek goddess from Bangladesh's Supreme Court complex, after an outcry from Islamists.

The sculpture of Themis - the goddess of justice - wearing a sari was less than six months old, but Islamist groups demanded its removal by Friday.

They claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and it prompted mass protests in the capital, Dhaka.

PM Sheikh Hasina agreed to its removal, but secular groups opposed it.

Workers came with equipment and a crane at midnight to uproot the controversial statue, the BBC's Bangla service reported.

The statue is being removed to maintain peace, said its creator Mrinal Haque.

Analysts say this is a sign of the rising tension between Islamic conservatism and liberal values in Bangladesh.

Protesters have long asserted that the figure, which held the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounted to idolatry.

In February, conservative Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam led protests and threatened to spread the demonstrations across the country if the statue was not removed. [BBC] Read more

25 May 2017

Why Salman Abedi grew to hate us

Aalman Abedi was a British Libyan. So am I. His parents were given refuge in the UK, and so were mine. His grandparents and great grandparents were saved from German and Italian fascists by the sacrifice of British soldiers, as were mine. Details are now emerging that suggest Abedi fought in the Libyan revolution alongside his father. If true, then he will have depended for his life upon the actions of British, French and American airforces.

Abedi was not disenfranchised. He was not rejected by British society. He was taught to reject and hate it, despite everything it gave him and his family. His older sister has reportedly said that Abedi was looking for ‘revenge’ for the ‘ill-treatment’ of Muslims in the UK and Syria.

This is the circular logic of the Islamist victimhood narrative that almost every Muslim growing up in the UK will have been exposed to at one time or another. Western governments, and therefore Western societies, are to blame for all instances of intervention in Muslim majority countries, and are equally culpable should they fail to intervene. [Spiked] Read more

You squish the cockroach because you're disgusted by it': Australia's first female Muslim MP says terrorists see non-believers as sub-human and not to dismiss link between terror and Islam

Australia's first female Muslim MP says terrorists see non-believers as cockroaches and admits there is a link between terrorism and Islam.

Labor's Anne Aly, who was a counter-terrorism expert before being elected to federal parliament last year, said religiously-motivated murderers saw non-believers as sub-human.

.... In a break with many left-wing politicians, who deny the link between Islam and terrorism, the Egyptian-born politician said the Koran was often used to justify violence.

'It would be wrong to completely dismiss ideology and the role of ideology and religion in this,' she said.

'There are certainly parts of the religion that do justify or that can be used, that are easily manipulated to justify violence.'

The Perth-based politician said the Islamic Hadith, which chronicles aspects of the Prophet Mohammad's life, was also used to justify terrorism. [Daily Mail] Read more

Students at bomber's university tried to sabotage Prevent anti-terror scheme because it 'demonises Muslims'

Students at the university attended by the Manchester bomber have tried to sabotage the Prevent anti-terror scheme over claims it ‘demonises Muslims’.

The student union at Salford University, where Salman Abedi studied, passed a motion last year to boycott the initiative and ‘educate’ undergraduates about its ‘dangers’.

The boycott was part of a ‘Students not Suspects’ campaign, run by the National Union of Students, which has been linked with controversial terror apologist group CAGE.

Even yesterday, other Muslim student leaders in other Manchester universities have been calling for Prevent to be scrapped.

The Muslim chaplain for both Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University, said the scheme needed to be ‘wrapped up’ and said society should ‘move on’

Prevent places a legal duty on universities to report any signs of students becoming radicalised to the authorities.

The purpose of the initiative is to stop students being groomed by extremists before it is too late, with teams of experts deployed to help those identified as at risk.

The duty began as a voluntary scheme and was made law in 2015 – one year after Abedi began his business and management course at the university. [Daily Mail] Read more

Councillor censured for comparing women in burqas to 'walking black post boxes'

A COUNCILLOR has been censured for comparing Muslim women wearing burqas to “walking black post boxes.”

Keighley town councillor Samuel Fletcher also called for Muslim culture in Britain to be banned.

The comments, made last week, have been condemned and described as “appalling.”

Cllr Fletcher has this week accepted his post boxes comparison was "crass", adding that he also regretted his statement about banning Muslim culture in Britain.

But he stressed the point he was trying to make was that full face veils can be intimidating and inappropriate in certain public situations, noting that plenty of people would agree with this. [Telegraph & Argus] Read more

24 May 2017

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: Islamic Mosques Key to UK Terrorist Attacks

British officials can end terrorism once they stop "ignoring the substance" undermining these attacks, which is "Islamism, supremacist theocratic mosques in Britain," Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

"Many of these guys have been called known wolves, not lone wolves, known wolves," he told host Bill Tucker on "America Talks Live" in an interview. "The problem is that in all of our apparatus, even in America, we're still focused on that last stage.

"There's a reason why most of these guys are homegrown — born in Britain, born in Germany, Italy, wherever it is," he said. "They're not necessarily the refugees.

"Most of these are homegrown because the separatist culture — the underbelly of imams, communities, families — that tell them that the West hates them, that the conspiracy theories, the misogyny of Islamism, is preferable to the free-wielding freedoms of the West." [Newsmax] Read more

Indonesia canes men convicted of gay sex before a jeering crowd

The pair, aged 20 and 23, received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking sharia rules in conservative Aceh province, the only part of Indonesia that implements Islamic law.

They were led onto a stage set up outside a mosque in front of a crowd of thousands, who jeered and booed loudly.

The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, bowed their heads as they were whipped by officials who wore dark robes and masks with eye slits, and used thin rattan canes.

One of the men grimaced occasionally and the other showed little emotion.

Before the caning, Abdul Gani Isa, a member of the Acehnese clerics' council, told the crowd the caning was "a lesson for the public".

"Lessons carried out with our sharia law are conducted in a very thoughtful way, are educational and do not violate human rights," he said.

Their sentences, which were carried out in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, were reduced by two strokes of the cane due to time already served in detention. [Special Broadcasting Service Corporation] Read more

As a Muslim, Briton and Mancunian, I believe that defeating terror requires us to stay united

Nothing to do with Islam?

I am fed up to the back teeth with people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, pronouncing that such terrorist atrocities have nothing to do with the perpetrators’ religious views. See for example Mehdi Hasan: “How Islamic is Islamic State?” and Baroness Warsi’s recent book “The enemy within” and the linked extract “Can someone pass my terrorist spotting vision goggles?”

The perpetrators are Muslims. They tell us they are Muslims, they pray, they fast – etc. Whether they are experts or amateurs when it comes to Islam is irrelevant. Religious ignorance (such as the travellers to Syria who bought “Islam for Dummies”) is not proof that the individuals are not motivated by their understanding of Islam, however limited it may be.

No serious commentator has ever claimed that their religious beliefs are the sole motivators of violent Islamist extremists. The beliefs have to be allied with a cause, and often there is an association with identity crises or other personality problems. However, the religious beliefs really matter.

Assuming that he was a Muslim, it is crystal-clear that before the moment he detonated his bomb, Abedi knew that he was going to die and that he expected to go to heaven. While heroes often sacrifice their lives, I refuse to accept that any man who believes in God, heaven and hell would consciously choose to act in a way that would cause God to sentence him to hell for all eternity. [ConservativeHome] Read more

23 May 2017

The Wahhabi Threat - Westerners must wake up to the danger in our midst

The ideology of the caliphate is so absurd and intellectually vacuous that to try to refute it is to do it more honor than it deserves or is capable of supporting. But the history of the world proves that absurdity is no obstacle to acceptance, even (or perhaps I should say especially) by the intelligent and educated. And Islamism in Europe can count on the financial support of, or sustenance by, the Saudi, or Wahhabi, state.

Even if there was no direct link between the action of Salman Abedi and the Saudi or Wahhabi state, the latter has spent untold millions in spreading its version of rigorism in the world, on creating the atmosphere in which it flourishes and without which it would not survive.

It would not be surprising to learn that some of Abedi’s associates, if not Abedi himself, had lived a life of dissipation until converted to that vicious rigorism, having discovered that dissipation was not the way to a fulfilled life. [City Journal] Read more

Shocking moment a girl, 14 'marries a Muslim man 20 years older than her in the back room of a mosque - after he paid her family for her with a gold necklace'

A shocking video shows the moment a 14-year-old girl is allegedly forced to marry a man 20 years older than her at the back of a Melbourne mosque.

The video seized by police from the alleged groom’s phone shows the traditional Islamic ceremony by a prominent Muslim marriage cleric last year.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 62, has faced court accused of forcing a minor to enter marriage.

In video shown in court and obtained by 7 News, a timid teenage girl sits quietly as her groom-to-be signs papers presented by the Imam.

The underage girl's mother watches on, after the groom allegedly paid to marry her daughter with a $1,480 gold necklace.

The Imam asks the child bride if she takes the man - who she reportedly met only a few days prior - 'to live together and live according to Islam.' She answers 'yes' and is told by the Imam that as a wife, she now has a duty to 'obey' her husband. [Daily Mail] Read more

Proposed Islamic hub draws cross chamber accusations among Brisbane councillors

An Islamic school's plans to create a master planned hub in Brisbane's south west has sparked fiery debate, including accusations of 'racial undertones', between the city's leaders.

The Australian International Islamic College (AIIC) at Durack has submitted a development application to Brisbane City Council and proposed a child care centre, mosque, multi-storey residential building, shops, medical centre and aged care facility be built on the school's site at 724 Blunder Road.

.... The development received more than 15 submissions from residents during the community consultation stage of this application with a majority opposing the development.

Concerns raised included the general proposed use of the site as well as associated noise, building height and traffic congestion.

"Other colleges do not build places of worship on their grounds and this one must not be allowed to do so," Blunder Road resident Kevin Franklin said in his submission to the council. [Brisbane Times] Read more

Inside the Secret World of Ex-Muslims

Even in America, these ‘apostates’ must meet in private. In April, a defiant group of self-identified “apostates” convened in downtown Portland, Oregon, to revel in the joys of brew culture, bacon burgers, and atheism. Nine ex-Muslims from several states in the region gathered for a local meeting of the Ex-Muslims of North America. EXMNA is a nonprofit that provides support to individuals who have left Islam.

Some of its members have faced disownership and death threats from family members for renouncing their religion. Chapter gatherings across the United States and Canada are closed-group meetings for safety reasons. Individuals who wish to join the organization go through a screening process to authenticate their identities, explained Sarah Haider, who co-founded EXMNA in 2013.

“Unfortunately, it is not paranoia that requires us to be careful,” Haider said. “In the Muslim world, we are openly persecuted and regularly meet grisly ends. In the Western world we are safer, but even here open meetings can be a big risk.” [National Review] Read more

22 May 2017

World's largest Muslim youth organisation calls for re-examination of Islamic text

The world’s largest Muslim youth organisation Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (GP Ansor) - the youth wing of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation Nadlatul Ulama (NU) - on Monday (May 22) called for a re-examination of Islamic text to adapt it to modern civilisation.

.... “A wide discrepancy now exists between the structure of Islamic orthodoxy and the context of Muslims’ actual reality," said Luthfi Thomafi, a member of GP Ansor's board. "(This is) due to immense changes that have occurred since the teachings of orthodox Islam, which became largely ossified towards the end of the medieval era.”

“Civil discord, acts of terrorism, rebellion and outright warfare - all pursued in the name of Islam - will continue to plague Muslims and threaten humanity at large, until these issues are openly acknowledged and resolved,” Thomafi added.

Among the complex issues that lie at the heart of this discrepancy are practices governing relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, according to GP Ansor. These include the rights, responsibilities and role of non-Muslims who live in Muslim-majority societies and vice versa. [Channel NewsAsia] Read more

The cradle of religious intolerance

.... If the president had wanted to attend worship services Sunday, he would have been out of luck. Churches are banned in Saudi Arabia, as are synagogues and any and all religious activities unrelated to Islam. If Trump had been so inclined to read passages from the Holy Bible while in Saudi Arabia, he would have been free to do so, as long as he was doing it out of public view, like behind closed doors.

Trump told his audience in the land of Islam’s holiest sites, that “young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence and innocent of hatred.” How does that apply to Christians, Jews and non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia who wish to practice their faith as openly as adherents of Islam observe their own? I’ve been there. Religious tolerance is an alien notion.

Saudi Arabia neither recognizes nor protects religious freedom. It also cares little about keeping non-Muslims free from fear, violence and hatred. But, then again, come to think of it, in some ways, that’s also true of the Islamic State. [The Washington Post] Read more

20 May 2017

We cannot allow this’ - UEA Muslim students hold open-air prayer in protest at loss of religious space

Hundreds of Muslim university students stood in solidarity by holding an open-air prayer in protest at the loss of their religious space.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) students learned a week before Ramadan, through an unofficial source, that they were to temporarily lose their prayer room due to a £2m refurbishment of its main lecture theatres.

Instead they were offered the Multi-Faith Centre for their main Friday prayers, even though a university report in 2014 deemed it inadequate for that purpose.

Students will also be able to use the university’s Blackdale main hall in the evenings. They will also be able to use them for Friday prayers, but only when exam season is over.

A UEA spokesman said: “As part of a £2m investment in new library study spaces and the complete refurbishment of the university’s main lecture theatres the use of a prayer facility near Lecture Theatre 2 will be temporarily unavailable for safety reasons during the building works. [Eastern Daily Press] Read more

Father can't watch daughter at Muslim netball tournament

A Muslim father is upset he isn't allowed to watch a daughter compete at an Islamic women's netball tournament.

But organisers say it's important for the girls to have a "secure environment" to play sport.

The father, who wished to remain anonymous, has a daughter playing in today's Muslim women's netball tournament at Zayed College For Girls in Auckland.

The tournament has been running for the past 15 years or so and has always excluded men from the event. The referees and coaches at the tournament are also required to be female.

"We as men can't go and watch the tournament. My daughter is playing and I can't watch," the father said.

"I can understand swimming because they wear different clothes, but netball is netball, women should be able to watch men and men able to watch women ... It is rather sad that it is happening here in New Zealand."

Earlier this year, a WaterSafe Auckland initiative at YMCA's Cameron Pool and Leisure Centre in Mt Roskill had the pools partially closed one night a week to give Muslim women the opportunity to learn to swim. [The NZ Herald] Read more

19 May 2017

Schools urged to 'show sensitivity' to Muslim pupils by moving GCSE and A-Level revision classes and rescheduling sports days for Ramadan

Schools are being urged to move revision classes and consider rescheduling sports days to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils fasting for Ramadan, MailOnline can reveal.

A new report also suggests that schools should also 'show sensitivity' when organising graduation celebrations and change PE lesson plans to make sure that activities are 'less strenuous'.

Ramadan falls at the end of May this year and will last for approximately one month meaning it will clash with GCSE and A Level exams across the country.

During the period Muslims who have reached 'maturity' are required to go without food or drink - including water - during sunlight hours.

It means that thousands of pupils could face sitting exams with empty stomachs in warm exam rooms at the height of summer when Britain gets an average of 16 hours of daylight.

The pamphlet has been published by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents more than 18,000 head teachers and college leaders.

It recommends teenagers should not stay up late praying during this summer's exam period because 'extra devotions in Ramadan are voluntary' and performing well at school is 'obligatory'. [1164 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 10788 votes] So the UK are bowing down to other religions.... In doing so losing its own culture... Makes sense all the kids who have been studying their whole epidemic careers put on hold because a minority have to fast to stay pure to Islam...... Joke

[2ND 8598] They are not forced to do anything, they give up food and drink in daylight hours voluntarily, its their choice

[3RD 8114] This is England isn't it time to put a stop, to all this nonsense.

[4TH 7975] No No not right if they want to live in our country abide by our rules

[5TH 6599] When Ramadan falls is not our problem. The UK is a Christian country.

[6TH 6219] If these parents place their religion over their children's immediate wellbeing and future prospects then they need to have a wobble of their heads.

[7TH 5297] If they need special allowances for revision and exams they're going to be no use to a future employer. Time to show them the door. [Daily Mail] Read more

Dog sculpture thrown into Bedford river in a ‘religious’ protest

.... Hundreds of passers-by saw him chiselling the remains of an old willow trunk to create the shape of a dog. “It was harmless and delightful occupation that was giving pleasure to many,” said one passer-by. “It was beautiful, so much so that at least one person offered him money to take it away to her garden,” she said.

But artist Prince, whose passion is creating works of art out of waste, did not have long to enjoy his sculpture once it was finally finished. He was visited at his spot by the river by a group of young men who objected to the sculpture, saying that anything depicting a dog was against their Muslim religion. A witness said: “They accused Prince of creating a shape that was forbidden. [Bedford Today] Read more

Germany: Should Migrants Integrate?

.... After five months of deliberation, the task force on May 16 presented a list of what it considers to be the top 15 guiding principles of German culture. Encapsulated in the catchphrase "Cohesion in Diversity," the list consists of mostly generic ideas about German culture — gender equality, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, pluralism and democracy — that are not at all unique to Germany.

Moreover, the list makes no mention of German culture as being the guiding or core culture (Leitkultur), nor does the task force explicitly demand that migrants assimilate to the German way of life. Rather, the guiding principles appear to be aimed at encouraging Germans to embrace the foreign cultural norms that migrants bring to Germany. The task force's focus seems to have shifted from integration and assimilation to coexistence, tolerance and to the Germans adopting the migrant's core culture.

The preamble states:

"Integration affects all people in Germany. Social cohesion can neither be prescribed, nor is it alone a task of politics.... Solidarity is one of the basic principles of our coexistence. It shows itself in our understanding of each other and in the attention to the needs of others — we stand for a solidarity society....

"Immigration changes a society and requires openness, respect and tolerance on all sides.... The stirring up of fears and hostilities is not the right way — we stand for a cosmopolitan society....

"The European integration process is not only a guarantee for peace in Europe and an important basis for prosperity and employment, it also stands for cultural convergence as well as for common European values — we want a united Europe."

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, a well-known supporter of the idea of a core culture (Leitkultur), expressed disappointment at the task force's refusal to be more specific about what constitutes Germanness. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

18 May 2017

American Islam's Most Extreme Conference

Speakers included Siraj Wahhaj, an imam who addresses Muslim events across the country every week, and is a former advisory board member of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Wahhaj has preached:

"I don't believe any of you are homosexual. This is a disease of this society. ... you know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both."

Elsewhere, Wahhaj cites the death penalty for adultery, advocates chopping off the hands of thieves, and tells Muslims:

"Take not into your intimacy those outside of your race. They will not fail to corrupt you. Don't you know our children are surrounded by kafirs [disbelievers]. I'm telling you, making the hearts of our children corrupt, dirty, foul."

Other listed speakers included Abdul Nasir Jangda, who advocates sex-slavery and gives husbands permission to rape their wives; Suleiman Hani, who claims that "Freedom of speech is a facade" used to stifle "objective discussion" of the "Holocaust and Jews"; Mohammad Elshinawy, who claims that women who fail to wear the hijab will contract breast cancer; and Yasir Qadhi, whose violent homophobia was recently the subject of an investigative report by The Times. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Muslims urged to use their votes in the general election

Imams around the country have been asked to use their sermons to urge British Muslims to vote in the election, thereby helping young people to avoid the lure of “deviant ideologies” through a sense of investment in civil life.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella group with 500 affiliated mosques and Islamic bodies, has released a list of key issues affecting Muslims before the election. It has also circulated a suggested sermon for imams to deliver during Friday prayers that declares: “Muslims need to be more politically active.”

IpsosMORI research suggests that 53 per cent of eligible Muslims did not vote at the 2010 general election. [The Times (£)] Read more

Lawsuit over Islam comments tests boundaries between controversial language and free speech

A lawsuit filed against a Greek author and historian under Greece’s anti-racism legislation over claims she defamed Islam and incited violence via a comment in one of her articles is testing the boundaries between free speech and what could be considered offensive language.

Soti Triantafyllou is set to appear in court on July 21 on charges of using racist language in an article that included a quote, which she attributed to 13th-century Venetian traveler Marco Polo, that said, “The militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim.”

The lawsuit, under Law 4285/2014, was brought by veteran human rights activist Panayote Dimitras, who heads the Greek Helsinki Monitor watchdog group and is in charge of the Racist Crimes Watch blog. In his suit, Dimitras claims that Triantafyllou could have confirmed, just by searching on the internet, that the quote is fake and was never uttered by Polo. [Kathimerini English Edition] Read more

Amsterdam police force considers allowing Muslim headscarves: AD

Police chiefs in Amsterdam are considering allowing female Muslim officers to wear headscarves, the AD said on Thursday. Currently police officers are not allowed to wear any religious symbols but officials are considering lifting the ban in an effort to improve diversity.

‘We are talking about it,’ the city’s most senior officer Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told the paper. ‘If we cannot recruit sufficient officers with a migrant background, this is a measure which could have an impact.’ Aalbersberg says half of the city’s police force should have an ethnic minority background to better reflect the city’s population.

Currently some 52% of the city’s residents have ‘non-Dutch’ roots, compared with 18% of police officers. ‘The make-up of Amsterdam is changing,’ he said. ‘I think this is a subject for debate, and that should involve the man in the street as well.’ [DutchNews] Read more

The British broadcaster brave enough to discuss Islamic violence

.... Sadly, part of the reception of that programme, and numerous events in the years since have kept such displays of scholarly truthfulness nearly as much of a rarity since as they were before. Which is one reason why Tom Holland deserves even more praise for returning to the subject of his earlier documentary.

And not just returning to it, but – in ‘Isis: The Origins of Violence’ – returning to the hardest part of that subject. In a nutshell he posed the question ‘Why do Isis, and groups like Isis, do what they do?’

And he answers this with the only honest answer anybody interested in truth could possibly come back with – which is that although they may be inspired by many things, their most important inspiration is a version of Islam whose roots can be traced to the origins of the religion, its foundational texts and the behaviour of Mohammed. [The Spectator] Read more

Unmarried Mali couple stoned to death for violating 'Islamic law

An unmarried couple were stoned to death in public in northeast Mali by "Islamists", local officials revealed, the first such incident since jihadist groups were driven out of the region.

Jihadists seized key northern cities in March 2012, and though they were driven out by a French-led military intervention in 2013, Islamist groups continue to make their presence felt with frequent attacks on domestic and foreign forces.

"The Islamists dug two holes where they put the man and the woman who lived maritally without being married," said a local official. "They were stoned to death."

The stoning happened in Taghlit on Tuesday, close to Aguelhok in the Kidal region, and the same source told AFP that members of the public were invited to take part.

"Four people threw stones at them until they died," they said.

Another local official said the Islamists had accused the unmarried couple of violating "Islamic law", which requires punishment by stoning. [The Telegraph] Read more

17 May 2017

Isis: The Origins of Violence – a brave documentary that will start many a fight

.... While visiting sites of Isis atrocities that have not yet been made safe, he was required to address the philosophical question of whether Islamic doctrine contains a strain of thought that can be used to justify extreme violence and even genocide.

Although Holland rightly emphasised that the “vast majority of Muslims” find the deeds and reasoning of Isis abhorrent – and acknowledged that the west has its own history of bloodily targeting foreign lands in the name of God – this remained a courageous film exploring questions left unspoken in large parts of the media through a combination of liberalism and fear. Many articles have explained the origins of jihad and the Islamic State dream of a global caliphate, as Holland does, but he heads from there into rare depths.

.... Qutb’s rhetoric calling for a fundamentalist enforcement of Islamic laws as a bulwark against western decadence inspired first al-Qaida and then Isis, which – in the closest this topic has to a joke – was formed by terrorists expelled from al-Qaida for having views thought too brutal.

.... While touching on the reasons cited for the French capital’s regularity as a target – reputation for decadence, large and disadvantaged immigrant population – the film also has a deeper thesis: that the Isis obsession with the French is simultaneously a revenge for and a homage to Napoleon. His seizure of Egypt and westernisation of Islamic culture, argues Holland, created long grudges but also gave some extremist Muslims a model of conquest and conversion that has been turned back on Napoleon’s successors at the Bataclan, Charlie Hebdo, the Stade de France and the Champs-Élysées. [83 comments. Closed for comments early]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 103 votes] I did a project once on Central Asia history (extending to northern Indian subcontinent and Western China) and started reading Muslim writers on how see they see things themselves in those periods (mainly 10 to 16th century). I wasn't interested in Islam itself, but still it is very noticeable how much they wrote about attacking infidels and took great pride in it.

Violence in the cause of Islam has a long history. The problem has been that many people is the West have been too busy trying to make excuses for Islam and its violent history (you know, Islam means peace or "etymologically related" to peace stuff), and it becomes almost disturbing how inventive they can be trying to sidestep the issue of Islamic violence. If people are ignorant of what have been done in the name of Islam, blame those writers and people in the academia.

[2ND 92] Do islamists regularly attack Paris because of its

"reputation for decadence, large and disadvantaged immigrant population [or because] the Isis obsession with the French is simultaneously a revenge for and a homage to Napoleon"?

I'd suggest it's because Paris is a symbol, to many people, or European civilisation. No wonder the death-cultists hate it.

[3RD 91] "Tom Holland is brilliant, he kicks quite hard against the 'liberal' consensus on Islam."

And what is that consensus?

In a nutshell, it's that no true Muslim would recognise violent jihad as part of their faith, and that the advent of violent jihad as a core tenet of Islam stems from Western aggression against the Muslim world.

This is why pretty well everybody knows about the crusades, but barely anybody knows about the Battle of Tours. The idea that Muslims attacked (and occupied) Western Europe centuries before the first crusade kicked off in 1099 does not fit with the narrative.

[4TH 68] Tom Holland is a brave man, you'd have to be brave to willingly travel to the middle east after skewering the traditional narrative of Muhammad's life and the foundation of Islam, as Holland undertook to do in his 2012 book. [The Guardian] Read more

'What next, curtains around Bondi Beach?' Mark Latham slams Sydney council for putting screens around a public pool for Muslim women to swim in private without having to wear 'burkinis'

Media personality Mark Latham says putting up curtains at a Sydney public swimming pool to cater for Muslim women is a step towards putting drapes around section of Bondi Beach - as an Islamic sheikh likened it to imposing sharia law in Australia's suburbs.

The council-run Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre in the city's west has installed a retractable curtain around one of its three pools so women can swim privately during two set time slots on Wednesdays, infuriating many residents who said it was like 'segregation'.

The organiser of the swim group, Yusra Metwally, said the idea behind the sessions was to 'accommodate people who wouldn't otherwise swim at a beach, or swim in a swimming pool because they don't feel comfortable'.

However Mr Latham, a former federal Labor leader, said it set an awful precedent and undermined Australia's egalitarian values about people from all different backgrounds mixing together.

'Where does it end? What's the next step? Down at Bondi Beach, we're going to have some curtained-off area, or something, it's just ridiculous,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.

While Mr Latham supported the right of Muslim women to swim in a burkini, he said councils were bowing to left-wing demands to protect minority groups instead of encouraging individuals to come to terms with their modesty issues.

'It's not going to be very helpful for Islamic integration into the broader Australian community,' he said.

.... There are even critics within the Muslim community, with Adelaide Shia imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi likening the swimming pool policy to sharia law.

'It is part of sharia law that a strange man must not see the body of another woman, therefore they are installing the curtains,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

Sheikh Tawhidi said religious Muslims should build 'Muslim-only swimming pools for themselves' rather than have their laws imposed on non-Muslims.

'Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre is not an Islamic swimming pool, therefore they should not be accepting of such an idea in the first place,' he said.

'The Muslim community can afford a private swimming pool for themselves that observes their sharia laws.'

[TOP RATED COMMENT 819 votes] This is so wrong...it's your choice to come live in Australia and should live by the moral and laws in Australia why bother leaving your country if you refuse to live by another country social values?

[2ND 574] This is not correct. Inflicting this type of nonsense because of a minuscule minority is ridiculous.

[3RD 537] How totally r i d i c u l o u s.

[4TH 444] Ridiculous! It's not like they are even paying council fees for the screens!

[5TH 367] Muslim women want to swim in private - in a PUBLIC pool? If they want a private pool to swim in they should pay for one to be built in their backyards.

[6TH 311] If it was a pool built for and by muslims and maintained by religious money then I can't see an issue. If however it is public baths paid for by taxpayers then this is not acceptable. We should not be promoting seperatism and divides

[7TH 248] This does not represent the Australian values of equality. It is sexist to only have female lifeguards on duty and is not in the best interest of these women as it does not encourage socializing with other members of society. As a child I loved swimming with both my parents. Mum would feel nice to snuggle with and dad was fantastic to play with. Why are we allowing this segregation? [Daily Mail] Read more

Swimming coach slams segregated privacy curtain at community pool

Privacy curtains to allow female Muslims to swim without worrying about men watching are causing controversy for a western Sydney council.

The privacy curtains have been installed at Belgravia Leisure, a council-run facility in Auburn.

The curtain runs around a glass wall which is drawn when female-only swimming sessions are held for two hours every Sunday and at other times during the week.

.... The push for inclusiveness has been applauded by Silma Ihram, head of the Australian Muslim Woman's Association.

"Good on the council for understanding there is a number of people who can't swim because of their religious background," she said.

.... But legendary swimming coach Dick Caine, who has trained numerous Olympic swimmers, believes the push for inclusiveness is actually causing division.

"It is dividing Australia, it is dividing families," Caine said.

"The thing of this segregation, the thing of making them separate, it's making them that they are different. That people think they are either better than us or that there's something strange about them or that the males are standing over them." [Nine] Read more

Historian Tom Holland on Isis, receiving death threats and why there is a 'civil war' in the Muslim world

.... But talking about Isis, he’s sombre. He feels the terrorist organisation has “raised the ghosts of the past”. “Isis may be notoriously adept at the arts of modernity — social media and suicide vests — but their behaviour is redolent of ancient civilisations: enslaving and crucifying people, exactly as the Romans and Arabs did in the heyday of their imperialism.”

Holland knows the documentary will be controversial. He argues that Isis “self-consciously draws on Islamic scriptures, texts and episodes from Mohammed’s life to justify what they’re doing”.

So how Islamic is Islamic State? “Pretty Islamic, to the degree that they consider themselves to be Islamic,” he replies. “The mistake people make is to replicate Isis’s position, which is that there’s one, true form of Islam and anyone who deviates from that isn’t a Muslim. That’s Isis’s justification for killing Shia.

Ironically, when Western leaders say ‘it’s nothing to do with Islam’, they’re doing the same. I don’t think it’s the business — particularly of non-Muslims — to specify what a Muslim is. If people say they’re Muslim, they’re Muslim.” [Evening Standard] Read more

Muslim campaign groups publish key demands ahead of UK election

According to advocacy group MEND, the UK Muslim community could have a decisive impact on more than 80 seats at upcoming elections.

Muslim organisations in the UK this week launched their manifestos ahead of the 8 June general election in an attempt to lobby potential parliamentarians on the issues they believe matter most to Muslim communities across the country.

Addressing concerns over the rise of Islamophobia and counter-terrorism strategies, as well as calling for more engagement with a range of representatives from Muslim communities, were on top of the lists of demands made by the various advocacy groups.

In its manifesto published on Tuesday, the anti-Islamophobia advocacy group Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) called on the UK’s leading political parties to focus on “key areas of concern to Britain’s Muslim community” which include the rise of Islamophobic hate crime post-Brexit, anti-Muslim discrimination in the workplace and preserving access to halal meat and the freedom to wear religious dress.

“We’ve sent it [the document] out to all the political parties nationally and also locally we are approaching all the potential parliamentary candidates,” said Azad Ali, head of community development and engagement at MEND. [Middle East Eye] Read more

Mum watched as imam wed daughter, 14, to 34-year-old man: court

Footage of an alleged forced wedding ceremony between a 14-year-old girl and a man 20 years her senior held at a Melbourne mosque has been played in court.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday where he faces charges of conducting the forced marriage at a Bosnian mosque in September, 2016.

During the recording, as the bride's mother looked on, a male voice can be heard saying "she is very young". During the proceeding, Mr Omerdic says that the two should follow the example of the Koran.

"As a wife you have a duty to obey your husband," Mr Omerdic is heard saying in the video.

The footage, which was taken in Mr Omerdic's office at the Bosnia-Herzegovina Islamic Society in Noble Park, was played in court after it was seized by police from the groom's phone. [The Age] Read more

Austrian parliament passes burqa ban as part of new migrant law

The measure was backed by both of the ruling parties, the SPÖ and ÖVP, on Tuesday, in spite of political turbulence that has divided the governing coalition in recent days.

Starting in October, police will be charging fines from people who wear clothes that obstruct their facial features. The 150-euro ($166) fine would also apply to women wearing burqas and niqabs at universities, courts, or in public transport.

It was not immediately clear how many people would be affected by the ban.

Austrian mainstream parties have come under pressure from a rise in popularity for the far-right FPÖ faction, which criticized the law adopted on Tuesday by saying it did not go far enough.

Other measures in the legislation included setting up a 12-month integration school for migrants who are deemed to have good chances of staying in Austria. The schools would offer German courses, but also teach the asylum seekers about ethics and values considered customary in the country. Other skills, like applying for a job, would also be included. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Austrian Parliament Bans Full Facial Veils in Public

Austria has banned wearing a full facial veil in public places, the latest move by a European country to restrict expressions of Muslim identity viewed as contrary to Western secular values. The decision immediately drew criticism from rights advocates and from representatives of Austria’s Muslim community.

Under the new legislation, approved by Parliament on Tuesday, women who wear clothing that covers their faces, such as burqas or niqabs, in places like universities, public transportation or courthouses will face fines of 150 euros, or about $167. The measure will take effect in October.

The ban is part of legislation aimed at improving the integration of immigrants, according to Muna Duzdar, a state secretary in the office of Chancellor Christian Kern. Other elements of the legislation include mandatory integration courses, German-language lessons and requirements that asylum seekers do unpaid work while awaiting the processing of their claims. Under the new law, migrants who do not meet the requirements could see their welfare benefits slashed. [The New York Times] Read more

'As a wife, you have a duty to obey your husband': Muslim cleric filmed performing a 'forced marriage' of girl, 14, to a man, 34, inside a Melbourne mosque

Shaky phone footage showing the wedding of a 34-year-old man and an underage child was shown in a Melbourne court.

Muslim cleric Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is fighting claims he solemnised or intended to solemnise the pair's marriage, which was not subsequently formalised under Australian law.

Police seized footage from the husband's phone, in which Omerdic, who was an imam of the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park Mosque, can be heard telling the girl it was her duty to obey her husband.

'If (your husband) is happy with something, do it. If (your husband) is not happy with something, don't do it,' he tells the girl.

'She's very young,' he can be heard telling the child's mother and her betrothed.

Police executed a search warrant of Omerdic's office, finding wedding materials, ceremonial garb, wedding readings and certificates.

The Certificate of Islamic Marriage also contained a disclaimer stating the document could not validate a marriage by Australian law. [Daily Mail] Read more

16 May 2017

Bach vs burka: Germany in election-year identity debate

What does it mean to be German? A minister close to Chancellor Angela Merkel has kicked off a divisive election-year debate about cultural identity -- earning him praise, ridicule and charges of immigrant-bashing.

Some say it's high time to define shared values as Germany seeks to integrate more than a million mostly Muslim asylum seekers who arrived since 2015 under Merkel's open-door policy.

Others have slammed the initiative as a grab for right-wing voters who threaten to drift off to the nationalist, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in September elections.

The eye-catching opening salvo was fired by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere in the top-selling tabloid Bild on Sunday.

The front page showed the politician in charge of police and migrant affairs before the national colours black, red and gold, with the grammatically dubious headline "We Are Not Burka".

In a double-page spread, de Maiziere outlined in 10 points what he considers core elements of the German "Leitkultur", the guiding or dominant national culture. [AFP] Read more

Controversial Copenhagen imam defends antisemitic sermon

In a Facebook interview with newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, Mundhir rejected the broad criticism levelled at him after it emerged last week that he had cited a hadith that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic during a Friday sermon in March this year.

The hadith – a lesson on the prophet Mohammed’s life or record of his speech that is used as a basis for Islamic tradition – includes the phrase “‘Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.’ The Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’,” according to a translation by American institute Memri.

But Abdallah said that he had been the victim of a set-up.

“Politicians in the West and the media never stop attacking Islam and Muslims. Their propaganda never stops. Muslims are the real victims, not others. Our women our being attacked, our mosques are being burned,” Abdallah wrote.

The imam added that he had received support following the controversy over his sermon.

“Even from many in Denmark. They know that my words have been manipulated and they know that the motivation for this campaign is to prevent Muslims from criticising Israel and Western governments that support the occupation [of Palestine, ed.],” Abdallah wrote to Kristeligt Dagblad over Facebook. [The Local] Read more

New mosque spotlights Swiss fracture lines

A new prototype for mosques in Switzerland – one meant to blend in and to minimise any possible offence – has arisen in a place that was ground zero in a bruising fight over the construction of minarets.

The new mosque that has opened in Wil,external link Switzerland, conforms to the 2009 Swiss voter-approved constitutional ban on the construction of new minarets, reflecting a significant local-led effort to overcome the European backlash against a growing Muslim population.

The weekend-long dedication culminates a years-long effort by Muslim groups in Switzerland to overcome resistance to putting in a new mosque in Wil, the third-biggest city in canton St Gallen.

The resistance is a reflection of Europeans’ fractured views toward migration, Islam, nationalism and European unity. Due to the ban on construction of the iconic mosque towers, Muslims in Wil had to adapt their blueprints. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

15 May 2017

Azad Ali of MEND and Haitham al-Haddad – Democracy and Hellfire

.... At present, however, Mr Haddad is disappointed with some of the Muslim MPs in the last Parliament. You see, “some of them, they are anti-Muslim, as we all know.”

He expands on this theme in another video from 2013. Muslim MPs voted for same sex marriage? Really? Yes, a majority of them of them did just that, wa alhamdulillah, as they say.

Though Mr Haddad would not say that. Oh no. It’s all takfiri hellfire for the yes voters, really. To summarise Mr Haddad’s words on what he terms these “so-called Muslim MPs”:

- They should be brought before an “Islamic body” charged with deciding whether they are Muslims or not.

- If they do not repent for “leaving Islam”, they are bound for the hellfire.

- In this life, those who do not repent must be shunned even by their own families.

- When the hellfire time comes, they should be denied Muslim funeral prayers and burials.

- No, there is no forgiveness for them. Do not pray for this. It is forbidden. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Marriage laws are failing vulnerable Muslim women

Divorce can be a costly and messy business, unless you are a Muslim man married under Islamic law. In that case, you can simply utter the word talaq (divorce) three times and the marriage is over.

This practice was last week challenged in India's supreme court, where Muslim women are demanding its abolition. But it is not just India that is failing to safeguard basic rights — lawmakers here in Britain are letting down vulnerable Muslim women.

The problem is that some Islamic marriages are not legally binding in the UK, usually because the marriage has not been registered through a civil ceremony. In effect, this means the married couple are treated under the law as cohabitees. [The Times (£)] Read more

A law unto themselves: Why Triple Talaq should be abolished

But India remains the only country in the world where the triple talaq remains law. Which means that an Indian Muslim man, by the power invested in Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, can, like the Beatles chorus line of ‘Back in the US/ Back in the US/ Back in the USSR’, divorce his wife by simply uttering ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’.

For a country that defines its secularism not along the thick line of separation between religion and state but by the all-embracing Article 14 of the Constitution — ‘The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law and equal protection of laws within the territory of India’ — circa 2017 India sure knows how to treat all laws as equal, but some laws more equal than others.

The Supreme Court, currently hearing arguments for petitions challenging the validity of the triple talaq, could soon well be discussing arguments pertaining to how many angels can be allowed to dance on a pinhead. [Economic Times] Read more

14 May 2017

Canadian Imam defends Danish Imam who called for “uprooting the Jewish entity”

At a Friday sermon delivered on March 31, 2017 at the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen, Denmark, preacher Mundhir Abdallah cited a hadith according to which the Muslims will kill the Jews on Judgment Day, and said that there would soon be a Caliphate, which would “wage Jihad against its enemies,” “liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Zionists,” and “uproot the Jewish entity, that colonialist and Crusader base.”

.... Mazin AbdulAdhim, a prominent Imam of Iraqi descent in London, Ontario who is affiliated with the global Islamic movement of Hizb ut-Tahrir, came to the defence of the Danish Imam after he faced criticism from the Jewish community and the authorities over his controversial sermon. [CIJnews] Read more

Ex-Muslims slam Facebook for 'censoring pages that disrespect Islam' as pages are shut down

An anonymous group of ex-Muslims has slammed Facebook for its censorship of anti-Islamic content as several pages are shut down and banned for allegedly violating community rules.

The group - which is made up of former Muslim-Australians - claims Facebook pulled the plug on pages with thousands of followers after users flagged them as 'disrespecting' the Islam religion, reports The Australian.

'Restrictions to these platforms would be overwhelmingly damaging for ex-Muslims who are too afraid to go public with their views due to the taboo of leaving and criticising a religion,' a spokeswoman for the group said.

Pioneers of the ex-Muslim groups have condemned the social media giant for censoring content and filtering the type of information available to users.

The pages exist for ex-Muslims to denounce their former religion and band together with other previous adherents of Islam.

Anti-Islamic pages ripped from cyberspace include the Ex-Muslims of North America page - which soon resurfaced - and a page called Mufti News which parodied Muslim news. [Daily Mail] Read more

13 May 2017

Muslim group prays in front of Hagia Sophia to demand re-conversion into mosque

A large group of people, who demand Istanbul’s monumental Hagia Sophia to be turned into a mosque again, gathered in front of the museum in the early hours of May 13, before offering their morning prayer there.

Organized by the Anatolia Youth Association (AGD), the group gathered in front of Hagia Sophia at around 4 a.m. with the motto “Break the chains, Open Hagia Sophia,” and prayed the morning prayer with a call for the reconversion of the museum into a mosque.

From 537, the year it was constructed, until 1453, when the Ottoman Empire conquered the city, Hagia Sophia served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinopole, It was turned into a mosque by the Ottomans before being secularized and converted to a museum in 1935.

The AGD made the call to mark the anniversary of the conquest. [Daily News] Read more

11 May 2017

Gillian Triggs tells of alarm over 'demonising' of Muslims in Australia

Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, has expressed alarm at Australia’s growing tolerance for “demonising” Muslims and hate speech directed at minorities.

Triggs said the controversy over an Anzac Day Facebook post by the writer and television presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied – “a hijab-wearing Muslim woman” – was an example of a “growing tolerance for demonising Muslims generally”.

Abdel-Magied posted “LEST.WE.FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine … )” on her Facebook page on 25 April, before deleting it.

“Despite a speedy apology for what she conceded was a disrespectful comment on this day of remembrance,” Triggs said, “this relatively minor incident has been used to demand the removal of Abdel-Magied from the Council of Australian-Arab Relations, to constrain her right to freedom of speech and to demand that, as an Australian resident since she was a young child, she should return to Sudan, her country of origin.” [The Guardian] Read more

Indonesia’s Islamist Indulgence - Secular and religious leaders fail to stand up for a Christian politician

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation known for religious tolerance, but a blasphemy conviction Tuesday shows the growing power of Islamists and the timidity of opponents. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian and governor of Jakarta until his election defeat last month, was convicted of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in prison.

Mr. Purnama made an offhand remark in September about clerics who interpret a verse in the Quran to mean that non-Muslim politicians shouldn’t be elected. A... [Wall Street Journal] Read more

Copenhagen imam accused of calling for killing of Jews

A video of an imam appearing to call for the murder of Jews in a sermon during Friday prayers at a Copenhagen mosque has caused outrage in Denmark.

Mundhir Abdallah was reported to police after being filmed citing in Arabic a hadith - a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad - considered anti-Semitic.

The hadith says the Day of Judgement "will not come unless the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them".

A Jewish community leader said his words were a "thinly-veiled" threat.

Videos of the sermon were posted on YouTube and Facebook by the Al-Faruq Mosque on Sunday, although Mr Abdallah reportedly gave it on 31 March.

A part of the 30-minute address was later translated by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri).

In the video, Mr Abdallah is seen standing in front of a black flag with the Shahadah written on it, similar to those used by jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda. [BBC] Read more

People who smoke, eat openly during Ramazan face 3-month imprisonment

The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs on Wednesday unanimously approved the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017 under which fine for the hotel owners – violating the Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance, 1981 – has been increased from Rs500 to Rs25,000.

People who will smoke or eat openly during Ramazan will be fined Rs500 along with 3-month imprisonment. TV channels or cinema houses that violate the law will be fined Rs500,000 or more.

The amendment bill was introduced by Senator Tanveer Khan in the Senate sitting held on January 16 and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs for further consideration. [The Express Tribune] Read more

On Triple Talaq, Supreme Court To Start Hearing Pleas Today

The Supreme Court will begin hearing a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of 'triple talaq', 'nikah halala' and polygamy practices among Muslims today.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J Khehar will begin hearing seven petitions, including five separate writ petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq prevalent in the community and terming it unconstitutional.

The bench will also take up the main matter on its own as a petition titled "Muslim Women's quest for equality".

The members of the bench are from different religious communities including Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim.

The Supreme Court had decided to hear the case during the summer vacation and even suggested that it is likely to sit on Saturdays and Sundays to expeditiously decide the contentious and sensitive issues arising in the matter.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi will assist the bench which will also examine to what extent the court can interfere in the Muslim personal laws if they are found to be violative of the fundamental rights of citizens written in the Constitution. [All India - Press Trust of India] Read more

10 May 2017

'Tide turning' on Sweden's attitude to immigration: report

NGO network the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) carried out a report on racism and discrimination in the context of migration across 26 EU countries, and when it comes to Sweden, researchers concluded that while the country appears to be more progressive than other EU nations on immigration, the tide is turning.

The report highlights examples of attacks on migrants, anti-migrant discourse, and far-right vigilante activity in Sweden.

"In terms of immigration and integration policies it appears that Sweden is more progressive than other countries, but the tide is also turning.

A number of restrictions to existing migration and integration policies have been introduced, and the media discourse has shifted from positive welcoming of refugees and asylum seekers to portraying migration, and by extension, migrants, as a problem," ENAR press spokesperson Georgina Siklossy told The Local.

"This also has an impact on people who have lived in Sweden for two or three generations and continue to be regarded as 'alien elements'," she added.

Citing figures recorded by the Kantor Center, the report notes that 43 arson attacks against asylum seeker accommodation occurred in Sweden in 2015, while in 2016 a group of black-clad masked men assaulted people who looked 'foreign' in Stockholm. [The Local] Read more

Indonesia's courts have opened the door to fear and religious extremism

The Jakarta court that sentenced governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy against Islam has sent a chilling message to non-Muslims in Indonesia. How could religious freedom slowly decline in Indonesia? And how could political Islam shape the country?

Ahok, himself a Christian, is the biggest political figure to be victimised under the blasphemy law. He is not only the Jakarta governor, backed by Indonesia’s biggest political party, but he’s also an ally of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Ahok and Jokowi were the dream team: Jokowi with vision, Ahok doing daily management.

Ahok’s imprisonment is a big blow for the president. He too might expect to be called infidel, kafir – a term used by Islamists to describe their fellow Muslim opponents.

Indonesia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy has created space for more freedom of expression for all Indonesians, including Islamists. Emboldened by the government’s inaction on discrimination and violence against religious minorities, over the last 19 years Islamists have increasingly sought to enforce laws like the blasphemy law more strictly to “protect” Islam and move Indonesia from a secular to an Islamic state. [126 comments. Closed for comments early]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 88 votes] Yet another reason why I left the religion.

The only way to fight this is to continue to blaspheme. Because the judiciary is beholden to the so-called moderates.

[2ND 85] Islamic extremism already openly exists in Indonesia. Aceh has been under full Sharia law for some time.

[3RD 77] Indonesia is descending into the grips of hard line Islamic influences. It's ok to burn the Bible in Indonesia but non Muslims cannot comment on anything Quranic.

Time for Christians to flee. Yet again.

[4TH 74] Indonesia is an outright disgrace of a country. It's continued occupation and systematic genocide of West Papua us a blight on Australia for ignoring the travesty of justice and human rights abususes occuring on our doorstep. Australia needs to send a strong and emphatic signal to Indonesia that if they want to be treated as anything other than a corrupted 3rd world medieval abomination, they need to embrace the notion of a secular democratic society.

[5TH 70] I am sure Stephen Fry is relieved he isn't in Indonesia.

[6TH 69] "The court also adopted the Islamist’s position that non-Muslims should not comment on Qur’anic interpretations." Sadly that's a phenomena being pushed all over the world.

[7TH 67] Sad. Indonesia (along with Turkey) used to be the poster boy of moderate Islam, repeatedly cited as an example of how Muslim-majority countries can be secular, modern and progressive. Now both Indonesia and Turkey seem to have succumbed to radical Islam. The extremists seem to be winning, and the purported moderates seem to have no answers, nor the will to go the extra mile to fight this hijacking of their religion by fanatical murderers. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Is secular Islam possible in our country?

The recent PAS muktamar brings to the forefront - yet again - the question of whether secular Islam is a possibility in an increasingly racially and religiously acrimonious and divided Malaysia.

Secularism has been defined as the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments, or more simply the separation of religion and politics. It is an evolution that the great majority of the world's nations have gone through - some quickly, others more slowly.

However, almost all nations, even as they develop at uneven speeds, have inevitably gravitated towards a separation of religion and state.

Today, except for a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen, most nations - developed and developing - view a religiously-based state as a throwback to a more primitive form of government; and a historical era in which life was nasty, brutish and short, except for the religious elite.

[A TOP RATED COMMENT] Ahok sentenced to two years for saying nothing! Increasing intolerance, bigotry and religious hatred, and the moderate majority and irresponsible politicians in power staying silent out of fear of being branded as anti islam by the fanatics. A very disturbing trend indeed, perhaps 40 plus years of wahabbi petrol dollar fueled mind poisoning is starting to bear fruit among the once peacefiul shores of Islam Nusantara. Watch this space, this could be the beginning of the end!

[ANOTHER] There is no such thing as secular Islam. There is such a thing as secularism. All modern and civilised societies are based on secularism. Muslims fleeing violence, terror and destruction in Islamic States invariably run to secular historically Christian societies for shelter. Muslims must ask why do fleeing Muslims never opt to go to rich Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi for a better life?

[ANOTHER] The Quran, 'authentic' Hadiths, Islamic historical texts and the Sharia are replete with injunctions which reject each and every point presented above. None of the so called liberal and secularist Muslims have adopted a position whereby they state it is possible to be a Muslim and yet not believe that the Quran is the exact word of God or believe that the Quran is a man made creation susceptible to human fallibility.

Religious belief should always be a personal matter as there is no means of 'proving' that an individual's belief system is true. It is only by force and violence that one can impose a belief system. I dare say in the modern world, it is only Islamic countries which impose Islam on the populace in varying degrees, thus automatically being in conflict with modern values such as freedom of thought and human rights. The crux of the issue is whether Islam can square the circle of allowing for freedom of worship, human rights and Secularism? [Malaysiakini] Read more

Woman Files Complaint After Being Asked to Remove Islamic Headscarf to Vote in French Elections

In the south-eastern French town of Orange, famous for its Roman theatre, a Muslim woman claims she was the subject of discrimination by electoral officials during the second round of the French presidential vote on Sunday.

The woman said she was forced to remove her headscarf as officials said she did not match her photo identification. She has now filed a complaint, L’Express reports.

The woman, Naima El Omar, told local radio: “The gentleman looked at me with an odd look, and said, ‘Madam, you take off your veil, it’s the law, or you do not vote.'”

“I had a scarf, not even a veil. Shirt, sneakers and jeans,” she added.

According to French law, no person is allowed to vote if they are covering their face with a veil or a mask, as the electoral officials would not be able to identify them. When it comes to headscarves and other religious items, the electoral law does not say they are banned as long as the individual’s face is visible.

In 2010, France banned the full-face Islamic veil, which includes the burqa and the niqab, but the headscarf – or hijab – is still permissible to wear in public. [Breitbart London] Read more

Amusement park settles bias complaint over religious headwear

Nearly four years after Noorah Abdo was denied from riding go-karts at a Livermore amusement park because she wore a hijab, the company has agreed to change their “no headwear” policy and pay $32,000 to settle a discrimination complaint.

A complaint against Palace Entertainment, an amusement park company and owner of the Boomers park in Livermore, was filed in August 2014 with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The grievance was submitted on behalf of seven Muslim girls and women, and a Sikh man after they were denied access to the go-karts because they refused to remove their religious hijab or turbans.

“It was really upsetting for these individuals when they were denied access purely because of their religious beliefs,” said Brittney Rezaei, a civil rights attorney with CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area. [SFGATE] Read more

Blasphemy laws around the world

.... Blasphemy bans are the norm rather than the exception in the Middle East and North Africa, with 18 of the region's 20 nations treating insults to Islam as a criminal offence. Fourteen countries in the region also criminalise apostasy, the act of formally renouncing a religion.

Saudi Arabia is infamous for the severity of its laws on blasphemy, which is punishable by death. In 2013, human rights activist Raif Badawi was found guilty of insulting Islam in blog posts that criticised the country's religious police and hardline Wahhabi ideology. He was sentenced to 1000 lashes.

The first 50 lashes were administered in January 2015, amid international outcry. Badawi's poor health has delayed any further beatings, but he still faces 19 more sessions of public flogging. [The Week] Read more

Islamic brainwashing

Interestingly, it's the Kuwaiti journalist in traditional Arab dress who's telling the home truths here:

"The principles and values of democracy, human rights, and secularism are universal principles, not just Western ones. That's right, the world has gone through globalisation, and (these ideas) are not restricted to a specific group of people....

You tell me that (Arab) peoples are demanding freedom. Brother, the Arabs can't even stand in line. They do not know how to ride a bus or stand in line for bread. They are demanding the "freedom" of the Islamic sharia, which calls for criminal and repugnant "rights" like stoning criminals and chopping off hands. Are these human rights? What "essence of freedom" is there in Islam? I see none.


The Western countries are afraid of Islamic people, and justifiably so. Most of these (Muslim) nations are criminal. These people are undergoing Islamic brainwashing. They are time bombs."

And it's the Sorbonne professor in the suit who's the one insisting that Islam is a religion of peace, and that it's the intelligence agencies who are responsible for all the terror attacks in Europe. [Mick Hartley] Read more

09 May 2017

In landlord vs. religious Muslim couple, no one won. Everyone lost

.... I asked James what he thought a righteous religion-based grievance might be. He wrote, “It is difficult to know other than to say that they are getting broader and more absurd all the time. In light of this decision, what landlord wants to open themselves to this kind of debacle for failing to navigate someone’s personal belief system?”

Most sobering is the fact that the defendant must hire a private lawyer, whose costs — thousands of dollars per day, according to James — are not recovered even if he wins. Minimally, James reckons, Alabi is out $22,000. On the other hand, win or lose, the cost to the complainants is nothing but their time before the tribunal.

I now sympathize with neither party. Instead of going nuclear with the HRTO, basic mediation would have revealed that compromise could have been reached through a smidgen of mutual courtesy. It wouldn’t have killed Ismail to wear modest garb indoors the whole afternoon. It wouldn’t have killed Alabi to remove his shoes. It wouldn’t have killed Madkour to assign specificity to their prayer time.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 116 votes] It is obvious that the 'victims' were out to make trouble. I feel for the landlord. You can be sure that he'll be much more particular in future when selecting tenants. The HRC is an abomination. The decision is just plain wrong.

[2ND 67] This isn't tenants going nuclear, it's Muslims employing lawfare to force people around them to capitulate to their way of life. Lawfare--it's in the Koran. Everyone would do well to read it.

[3RD 56 ] I don't blame the landlords. I've had to put up with Muslim tenants blaring their ugly religious music at 5AM, all throughout the day, and they try to bait you into doing something discriminatory so they can try to sue you for it after. It's like the purpose of the religion is just to piss off everyone else. [National Post] Read more

Council was right to cut niqab-wearer’s welfare benefits

A Muslim woman who refused to remove her niqab while undergoing training to find a job rightfully had her benefits cut by 30%, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Tuesday.

The woman, who has since moved to England, refused to remove the garment which only left her eyes exposed. Utrecht city council, charged with helping the jobless find work, then reduced her welfare benefits, claiming that the niqab substantially reduced her chances of finding work.

‘An uncovered face plays and important role in the contact between people and is essential in finding work,’ the court said in its ruling. While the woman is entitled to wear a niqab under freedom of religion legislation, the council’s interest in helping her to find a job as quickly as possible is more important, the court said. In addition, her refusal to remove the niqab was putting unnecessary pressure on council resources. This means that the city council has the right to impede upon her religious rights, the court concluded. [DutchNews] Read more

Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy

Shock sentence comes after hardline Islamist groups called for Christian official to be jailed for referencing Qur’an verse.

Jakarta’s Christian governor has been sentenced to two years in prison after a trial that was widely seen as a measure of religious pluralism in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment”, the head judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told the court.

“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.”

Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant did not feel guilt, the defendant’s act has caused anxiety and hurt Muslims”. [The Guardian] Read more

Jakarta governor Ahok found guilty of blasphemy

The outgoing governor of Jakarta has been jailed for two years for blasphemy after judges handed down a sentence that was harsher than expected.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, was accused of insulting Islam by referring to a verse in the Koran in a campaign speech last year.

Mr Purnama, a Christian in Muslim-majority Indonesia, has denied blasphemy and plans to appeal.

His case was seen as a test of the country's religious tolerance.

Mr Purnama was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read out. His deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat will govern Jakarta until the term ends in October.

The sentence was harsher than that requested by prosecutors, which was a one-year suspended sentence.

The governor was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment", the judge told the court. [BBC] Read more

08 May 2017

Pub apology after Muslim customer was wrongly served pork in side dish

A pub has apologised after a Muslim diner was served pork in a dish of chilli chips.

Naz Ali, who had never eaten the meat in line with his faith, had gone to Farmer John’s in Streetly with family and friends.

The 39-year-old truck driver ordered a burger and the side of chilli cheese fries, which contained a meat he assumed was chicken.

But after eating about a quarter of the dish he checked with a waitress - who told him it was pork.

Mr Ali said: “My friend is a Sikh and we had been joking about not having bacon on the burgers we ordered, but the waitress didn’t pick up on it at all.

“I fancied a side to go with the burger, so I ordered the chill chips.

“It had what I thought was chicken stuck right in the middle.

“My friend said I should check what I was eating so I asked the waitress and at first she had no idea. Then she came back and said she was really, really sorry because it was pork.

“I had food in my mouth and I spat it out and went to the toilet, where I was sick. I felt degraded.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

07 May 2017

Tackling Taqiyya

.... A recent article in the Huffington post – written by Omar Suleiman and Nazir Khan of the Yaqeen Institute* – sets out to criticise the way the Taqiyya charge is weaponised. The authors’ comments on this specific point are fair enough. However there seems – both ironically and unnecessarily – to be some obfuscation in the authors’ more general preamble.

"[W]ords like “Shariah” and “Jihad” have been exploited by Islamophobes who affirm the perverted meanings assigned to these terms by terrorists. Meanwhile, mainstream Muslims believe that Jihad refers to a struggle undertaken for the sake of God to protect the lives and rights of others, and that Shariah refers to a divinely ordained system that enjoins treating all human beings in the best manner.

Islamophobes, when faced with this discrepancy between what they want the words to mean and what mainstream Muslims believe they actually mean, resort to a profoundly unsophisticated tactic – they simply declare all Muslims to be compulsive liars."

I’ll just focus on the discussion of ‘Shariah’. It’s pretty ambiguous. It could be glossed as meaning that hudud punishments are a perversion and that true ‘Shariah’ is something reassuringly benign (if vague). Yet presumably Muslims who support the harshest penalties in an ideal state would concur that Shariah means ‘treating all human beings in the best manner’. So the whole argument is rather circular. [Harry’s Place] Read more