31 October 2017

Alcohol puzzle in Saudi Arabia's new dream city

A week after Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to build a $500 billion futuristic megacity free from the kingdom's usual religious restrictions, there's confusion over what, exactly, will be allowed.

A video presentation last week envisaged men and women working side by side in the new city, women exercising in leotards and people playing musical instruments – activities which have traditionally been forbidden in the rest of the kingdom.

This image of an easy-going lifestyle is aimed at attracting foreign investors but, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is the driving force behind the project, alcohol will be banned.

The official announcement of Neom, as the city will be known, described it has having a different "governmental framework" from other parts of Saudi Arabia – suggesting that sharia-based laws will not apply. In an interview with Bloomberg, Prince Mohammed confirmed that it will have "different rules" but continued:

"We can do 98 percent of the standards applied in similar cities. But there is two percent we can’t do, like for example alcohol." [al-bab.com] Read more

Complaints force university to draw up religious code of conduct

At the University of Hamburg, new rules leave it up to lecturers to decide whether the full face veil disrupts their teaching.

Complaints about students praying loudly in the library and flooding bathrooms to ritually wash their feet have forced the University of Hamburg to draw up a religious code of conduct, a first for a German university.

As many universities throughout the world grapple with how to accommodate an increasingly religiously diverse student body, a philosopher and a group of religious scholars at Hamburg have drawn up the rules for handling religion on campus.

The university’s executive board had received an increasing number of complaints about religious students “disturbing university life”, explained Dieter Lenzen, Hamburg’s president. “External Salafists” had been pressuring female Muslim students to wear traditional Islamic dress such as the veil, he said.

Asked which groups were causing the most difficulty, he said: “To date, there have been no complaints about Buddhist students, just a few about Christian students, but a great many about Muslim students.” [Times Higher Education] Read more

Muslim lobby group Muslim Engagement and Development ‘promotes extremism’

Police forces and town halls have been working with a Muslim group that promotes extremism, researchers say today.

Officials and volunteers with Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) are claimed to have legitimised the killing of British troops and promoted conspiracy theories.

Mend has been championed by some MPs, universities, police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service and teachers. A report released today by the Henry Jackson Society, a Conservative think tank, entitled Mend: “Islamists Masquerading as Civil Libertarians”, argues that public bodies should treat the group as an extremist organisation. [The Times (£)] Read more

Mend: “Islamists Masquerading As Civil Libertarians”

A new Henry Jackson Society report has warned that the public sector organisations and elected officials are partnering with the extremist-linked group Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend).

Compiling years’ worth of evidence, the report, Mend: “Islamists Masquerading As Civil Libertarians”, demonstrates how Mend meets the government’s own definition of extremism, even while local authorities, police, teachers and MPs have been working with this organisation. Our findings include:

How Mend meets the government’s own definition of extremism, even while local authorities, police, teachers and MPs have been working with this organisation.

It reveals how Mend has regularly hosted illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers, while also pushing a message that risks being inflammatory and making British Muslims feel further alienated from wider society. Mend and key figures in the organisation have also attacked moderate Muslim groups. [Henry Jackson Society] Read more

30 October 2017

MPs ditch meeting with Muslim group Mend over Islamist claims

Four MPs have pulled out of a Commons event with a group accused of “dismissing terrorism” and promoting hostility towards Jews.

Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) claims to help British Muslims engage in the democratic process but Anna Soubry, co-chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims and one of the five MPs advertised as speaking, said she had pulled out because Mend “don’t have the best of reputations”.

A report to be published by the Henry Jackson Society think tank says Mend are “Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians” with “highly concerning views on terrorism” who promote “conspiratorial narratives” with “anti-semitic components”.

The chairwoman of Mend’s Manchester working group, Siema Iqbal, said after the Paris attacks that it was “simplistic” to see Isis as “the enemy that must be defeated”. [Henry Jackson Society] Read more

It isn’t just halal slaughter that Britain needs to make more humane

After a long – and heated – debate, councillors in Lancashire voted on Thursday to ban the supply of non-stunned meat in state schools. The decision has resulted in some controversy over the status of kosher and halal meat, which has legal exemption from being pre-stunned, with one Labour councillor describing the ban as sending a disrespectful message to the children of Muslim families.

As a Muslim who eats only halal meat, I have to say that I am firmly on the side of Geoff Driver, the Conservative councillor who called for the ban. Killing an animal by cutting its throat may be an effective method of draining it of blood to avoid the transmission of disease – and is certainly prescribed by sharia law – but to do so without stunning it first is immensely cruel.

.... But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the UK, we pay scant regard to the conditions in which farm animals are reared, and it is notable that while issues around the sharia requirements for meat to be considered halal are frequently discussed, fewer people raise concerns over the treatment of farm animals before they enter an abattoir. [674 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 564 votes] "The Qur’an only requires that an animal be alive at the time its throat is cut; it makes no reference to stunning."

The central issue here, the unstunned elephant in the room as it were, is that it's an incredibly bad idea to take advice from a text written 1400 years ago during a time of profound ignorance. To grow is to learn and move on. To subscribe as a thinking adult to a set of dogmas that rejects this simply won't allow a rational debate on any subject. It's not the act of a reasonable human being to be "offended" by this.

I fully believe as someone who eats meat today that we'll look back in a few hundred years and wonder what the hell we were doing eating animal flesh at all. the Vegans shall inherit the Earth.

[392 2ND] I had to chuckle at this quote from the opponent of the Lancashire ban.

"Abdul Qureshi, acting CEO of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, was advocating children boycott their school lunches if the vote went against him. He told The Telegraph: “[The RSPCA’s guidance] is most of the time based on feelings, it's not scientifically conclusive.”"

Yes, this chap only deals with hard scientific fact.

[3RD 353] If we are going to continue to eat meat, the animal should be killed in the most humane way possible. Whatever that is. Archaic religious ceremony is not relevant.

[4TH 312] I can't see why the opinions of religious 'scholars' are relevant in this matter.

They are not qualified to know how an animal's nervous system works.

We should ban all slaughter of conscious animals, and if some religious people don't like this they can stop eating meat.

[5TH 228] "it's an incredibly bad idea to take advice from a text written 1400 years ago."

Once the animal is stunned, I don't think it makes any difference how the animal is killed. Cutting its throat is just as good/bad advice as any other.

Having said that, I will never knowingly buy halal meat as I do not want to endorse any form of organised religion. [Guardian Cif] Read more

29 October 2017

Al-Hijrah Islamic school defies ruling on mixing sexes

One of Britain’s first state-funded Islamic schools is to be the subject of an appeal against a court ruling that it was guilty of sex discrimination by separating girls and boys from the age of nine for lessons, breaks and clubs. Al-Hijrah, a school for 4 to 16-year-olds in Birmingham — where inspectors found books saying a man could beat his wife — has been told that pending the appeal it has to obey this month’s Court of Appeal ruling and allow boys and girls to mix freely.

The school has informed parents that there will be “no immediate changes”, however. The appeal to the Supreme Court will be lodged by the Association of Muslim Schools on behalf of Al-Hijrah. About 25 other faith schools are understood to be affected by the ruling. They include around 10 state-funded Jewish schools.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 57 votes] So a state-funded Islamic school (that sentence is already weird...) considers itself under no obligation to adhere to the laws and regulations of said state.

How very not surprising.

[2ND 51] Enough pussy-footing around. Close the school until the governers agree to obey the law of the land that they enjoy.

[3RD 37] Close the school- send the children to the next nearest state school where they can mix properly until this school complies with the law of the land and the fact is is state funded, by me and millions of others.

I am getting so fed up with the way Muslims are allowed always to be separate , exempted, allowed not to integrate, have their put their religion before our law ( sharia) but maintain special and victim status. Clearly if this sort of thing continues they will never integrate but lead a parallel life to us until they overtake us.

Make them integrate. De islamise UK society so that their religion is a private matter only preached at progressive mosques, sharia is banned and they become totally integrated into UK law and values.

[4TH 31] Close the school and make the practice of Shariah Law illegal.

[5TH 30] Should not be allowed in this country where we like to believe we are all equal. Segration is appalling wherever it lies.

[6TH 23] OK, if that's their attitude, there's one quick and easy solution - close it! End of... We have a law in this land, and schools of all faiths are required to observe it. Cut the cackle, the time for prevarication is over.

[7TH 21] Segregation in our society MUST stop, now. [The Times (£)] Read more

Saudi Arabia to allow women into sports stadiums

Saudi Arabia will allow women to attend sports events in stadiums for the first time from next year, officials say.

Families will be able to enter the stadiums in three major cities - Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

It is another move towards giving more freedom to Saudi women, who face strict gender segregation rules, and follows the historic lifting of a driving ban.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading a major drive to modernise Saudi society and boost the economy.

Saudi Arabia's sports authority said that preparations would start in the three stadiums so they can be "ready to accommodate families from early 2018".

Restaurants, cafes and monitor screens would be set up inside the stadiums as part of the changes, it added. Up until now, the venues have been men-only areas. [BBC] Read more

Beaten up for poppies on his car

A Christian of Pakistani origin who was beaten and left unconscious in a car park says he was attacked by Muslims who objected to him displaying two large red poppies on the front of his car.

Tajamal Amar, 46, a food delivery driver in Derby, said he believed the men attacked him because they regarded him as a kaffir (infidel) and he displayed his support for British armed forces. He said the men he suspects of the unprovoked assault were Pakistani Muslims who had been staring at him earlier that evening.

“If I am not a brother, I am a kaffir. They left me for dead. They hit me as if they were playing on a football pitch,” he said.

“I am a Christian. Because of the poppies on my car, because of the cross in my car, I have been hit. I put poppies on my vehicle because I support British forces for their good work around the world and I really salute them, British forces.” [The Times (£)] Read more

28 October 2017

Kuwait-based cleric asks youths not to study maths, chemistry, zoology

Kuwait-based cleric Arshad Mohsin on Friday exhorted the Muslims to stop studying arithmetic, chemistry and zoology as these subjects taught things against the basic tenets of Islam.

Delivering the Friday special speech at the White House Compound Mosque of the town, he said even nursery rhymes should not be taught to the Muslims as the likes of 'Johny Johny Yes Papa, eating sugar no Papa' polluted impressionable young minds and glorified telling a lie.

Referring to zoology, the cleric said Darwin's 'Theory of Evolution' negated the Islamic concept of the process through which the universe came into being. Anybody who studied Darwin automatically ceases to be a Muslim, he said.

Explaining his opposition to the teaching/learning of chemistry, the cleric said chemical elements like cobalt and titanium derived their nomenclature from idols worshipped in the pre-Islamic era. He said it was part of the larger design to promote idol worship, which is most abhorred by Islam. [The Times of India] Read more

Religious schools may split in two to avoid Ofsted punishment after Court of Appeal ruling

Religious schools which separate boys and girls into different classes may split in-two in order to avoid punishment from Ofsted, it has emerged.

Headteachers have requested urgent clarification from the Government on whether their current practices will fall foul of the regulator after an Islamic school was judged to be breaching equality laws earlier this month.

The Sunday Telegraph has obtained a letter sent by one headmaster to parents at a north London Jewish school, informing them they may be forced to split into single sex schools amid a crackdown on gender discrimination.

It follows the Court of Appeal judgment last week, which ruled that co-educational schools cannot segregate pupils based on gender.

The ruling means that Al-Hijrah School, an Islamic centre in Birmingham, must end its policy of “complete segregation”, which previously stopped boys and girls from interacting at any stage of the school day. [The Telegraph] Read more

27 October 2017

Muslim students row with Newcastle University intensifies over prayer room changes

The row between Newcastle University and its Muslim students has escalated with another peaceful protest during prayer on Friday.

The Muslim prayer space in the King George VI building has been closed for most of Saturday and Sunday since it re-opened at the start of the new term, preventing students from fulfilling their five daily prayers.

Dozens of Muslim students gathered for an outdoor prayer on Friday to urge the university to abide by its Faith Space Policy, which states that prayer facilities should be open from 7am to 11pm every day of the week.

The space is currently open at those hours during the week but only from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays.

Second-year dentistry student Ghadah Ali, of the Newcastle University Islamic Society , said: “They’re going to restrict our ability to practise our faith. When we got back they said it’s going to open but there are new rules that are going to be in place, with restricted opening hours and it’s practically closed at weekends. [chroniclelive.co.uk] Read more

Headscarf row: German university lecturer 'humiliates' Muslim

Professor Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet has been accused of "discrimination" after asking everyone at the University of Würzburg lecture to take off their headwear.

The professor argued this should include the Muslim woman, because the lecture hall was a secular space.

But she says she did not insist that the headscarf be removed.

Instead, a university spokesman told BR24 [in German] that Professor Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet had launched into a discussion of equality between men and women, before expressing her personal disapproval.

The spokesman added that she "regrets the excitement and misunderstanding" which arose from her opinion.

Green Youth Würzburg reported [in German] that a number of students walked out in protest and solidarity with the 19-year-old woman, who is of Turkish origin but has not been named.

The students, who were attending a lecture on international relations, cited the right to religious freedom.

"We feel the professor's behaviour was a public humiliation," Green Youth Würzburg committee member Magdalena Bachinger said. "The headscarf is part of an individual religious exercise." [BBC] Read more

Support for face-covering bans drops to 40% outside Quebec, poll suggests

31 per cent say wearing the niqab should be 'discouraged but tolerated' and only 28 per cent say the veils should be 'welcome.

The vast majority of Quebecers support Bill 62, the Quebec government’s ban on wearing face coverings while dispensing or receiving government services, but that support drops to about 40 per cent elsewhere in Canada, an Angus-Reid Institute poll suggests.

While Bill 62 targets face coverings of any kind when dealing with public services, critics have charged it targets Muslim women who wear the niqab, a face veil considered an expression of religious devotion.

The survey question focused on the niqab itself, and nationwide, 40 per cent of respondents replied the veil should be prohibited in government offices. However, support among remaining respondents was mitigated, with 31 per cent saying wearing the veil should be “discouraged but tolerated” and only 28 per cent replying the veils should be “welcome.”

The same question applied to Quebec respondents found 70 per cent in favour of the face veil ban, 23 per cent calling for the veil to be discouraged but tolerated and only eight per cent saying it should be welcome.

The perception of the face covering ban varied from one region to another outside Quebec. Complete prohibition received the most support in Alberta (46 per cent) and Saskatchewan (52 per cent), which were most likely to say niqabs should be “prohibited” at government facilities, while 41 per cent of respondents in Manitoba were the most likely to say they should be “welcome.” [Montreal Gazette] Read more

Council faces Muslim boycott of school meals after banning 'abhorrent' halal beef and lamb from unstunned animals

Thousands of Muslims are expected to boycott school meals in a county after its council became Britain's first to ban halal beef and lamb from unstunned animals.

Some 27 schools across Lancashire serve meat from halal suppliers that do not stun animals before slaughter, including Church of England and Catholic schools.

But the county council's Conservative leader Geoff Driver proposed a ban, calling the practice an 'abhorrent' one that causes animals unnecessary stress and pain.

This week councillors voted 41 for the ban – which excludes poultry - with 24 of them against and 15 abstentions, reported the Lancashire Telegraph.

It raises the prospect of another boycott of halal meat in schools by thousands of Muslim children, following a similar policy being adopted in the area in 2012.

Abdul Qureshi, chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques, had said last month that Muslims would boycott school meals if the council banned non-stunned meat.

Mr Driver exempted poultry from the ban because stunning chickens may kill them before slaughter and bleeding - therefore clearly breaking Muslim rules.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 2131 votes] well done councils ...well done!!

[2ND 1849] Where are the RSPCA in this affair, their remit is to protect animals from cruelty but their silence is deafening

[3RD 1752] I'm more shocked that this was ever allowed. A nation's mentality is shown by the way it treats animals. There's no place in cruelty and if it can be stopped so it should be.

[4TH 1654] Enough of this. Why does any sector of British society have to bend over backwards for a tiny minority of the population?

[5TH 1498] Oh according to some we don't have a right to tell anyone how they should slaughter animals? I think we do.

[6TH 1373] Good decision

[7TH 1372] The animal-welfare law has already been weakened to allow slaughter by the medieval halal method of throat-cutting. Allowing this to be done to unstunned animals has weakened the law still further. The law is meant to protect animals from unnecessary pain and distress and we must start insisting that it is upheld. [Daily Mail] Read more

Stunned halal meat move 'inhumane' claims Muslim group

A Muslim body has criticised a council ban on unstunned halal meat, claiming stunning animals is "inhumane".

Councillors in Lancashire voted on Thursday to end its use in council-run schools saying it was "cruel" to not stun animals before slaughter.

But the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCOM) claims the practice of stunning can cause more distress to the animal.

UK and EU law requires animals to be stunned before being killed, unless the meat is intended for Muslims or Jews.

LCOM chairman Abdul Hamid Qureshi: "From our point of view, stunning is not humane - cases can be seen on YouTube where animals are in distress. Animal care is important.

"If the law allows it, the council does not have the right to impose this." [BBC] Read more

68% of Canadians want Quebec’s face-coverings ban in their province

The majority of Canadians outside of Quebec would support having a similar ban on face-coverings in their province, a new survey has found.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for Global News, found that 68 per cent of Canadian adults would either strongly or somewhat back the religious neutrality law in their part of the country.

Quebec’s Bill 62 was passed by the province’s Liberal government last week, requiring residents giving and receiving public services to do so with their faces uncovered — services such as taking the bus, or borrowing a library book.

Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée defended the controversial law, saying it is necessary for security and communication reasons. Many advocates have pointed out that it largely targets a small minority of Muslim women who wear the niqab.

But the law has widespread support inside the province, with 76 per cent of Quebecers backing the law, and 24 per cent opposing it. [Global News] Read more

26 October 2017

Lancashire council bans unstunned halal school meals

Lancashire County Council made the decision to stop using it in 27 council-run schools at a meeting earlier.

Council leader Geoff Driver described the practice of not stunning animals before slaughtering them as "abhorrent" and "really cruel".

A call for further discussion with Jewish and Muslim groups was rejected.

From December, the schools will only serve stunned halal beef and lamb after councillors voted by 41 to 24 against, with 15 abstentions.

Councillors are going to consult with the county's council of mosques over unstunned chicken as some Muslims are concerned that stunning kills them, the meeting heard.

Councillor Driver said he wanted to show videos of cattle being slaughtered to back his point but thought it would be too "gory".

Labour leader, Councillor Azhar Ali had an amendment rejected to defer the halal meat debate until December to give the council time to discuss plans with Jewish and Muslim groups. [BBC] Read more

Quebec’s niqab ban is a chance for women to embrace Western freedom

Bill 62 was passed last week, in effect denying public services to people in face masks.

While the ban includes all face coverings, this has predictably turned into an Islam versus the West issue. The familiar rivalries have resurfaced. Politicians have condemned the “burka ban”, saying it marginalizes Muslim women.

I see this as an opportunity for those women, whether they are oppressed by their husbands or have themselves chosen to cover up entirely, to embrace the equality the West offers.

The victim narrative assumes that niqabi women will continue to wear face coverings and therefore when they board the bus, or when they go for a hospital checkup, they will insist on staying hidden and consequently be denied service.

Granted, we tend to resist a law we find oppressive. In France, where such laws have been implemented, some women chose to act defiantly and be fined rather than remove face coverings. [Toronto Sun] Read more

Man accused of beating daughter who refused to wear hijab

Gatineau police have charged a man for allegedly beating his teenage daughter over the course of more than a year because she refused to wear a hijab.

The 35-year-old father is facing one count each of assault, assault with a weapon and uttering death threats, police said in a news release Thursday.

In what police described as a case of so-called "honour-based" violence, the father began the series of assaults upon learning his daughter had removed her religious head covering when she left the family home.

Gatineau police said they hope the courage the young girl showed would motivate others to speak out against similar incidents. The release also included some phone numbers for local resources for victims of violence. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

Halal meat row as Lancashire council becomes first to ban unstunned meat from all school meals

Lancashire became the first council to ban unstunned halal meat in school dinners.

After a bitter and impassioned debate which ran on for hours on Thursday afternoon, the Conservative-controlled council voted for the ban.

The campaign was fought between council leader Geoff Driver and part of the the local Muslim community.

In 2012, the council briefly stopped supplying halal meat to local schools over a production issue, but after children boycotted their school dinners, the unstunned meat was reinstated.

The council currently supplies 27 schools across the county with unstunned halal meat. According to research by the National Secular Society, four other local authorities use unstunned meat - Leeds, Bradford, Leicester, and Telford and Wrekin.

Many Muslims will not eat meat from animals which are pre-stunned, as they worry the stunning process could kill the animals, and eating meat from livestock which died before the ceremonial Halal slaughter process is “haram”, or forbidden. [The Telegraph] Read more

Teacher has SIX kids with TWO wives - but admits he loves one partner more than the other

A Birmingham teacher is taking lessons in love – after marrying TWO wives.

The primary school employee has three children with each partner and they all live together under the same roof.

The husband spends alternate nights with each wife – but admitted he loved one more than the other.

And he told BBC WM: “It’s the nature of a woman to only want one husband, but it’s in the nature of a man that he will want more than one wife.”

The teacher, who would not be named, admitted his first wife was upset when he revealed he wanted a second spouse, and asked “Why? What’s wrong with me?”

But he insisted he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of Islam.

“I spend alternate nights, one with each wife, just a room away in the house we share,” he said.

“I have three children with each of my wives and the whole house is shared.”

Asked if he loved one wife more than the other, the husband replied: “You can love someone more than the other, Islam allows for that.”

He spoke after Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips criticised a dating website which helps Muslim men find second wives.

Secondwife.com describes itself as a “Muslim polygamy matchmaking service” for “practising Muslims who are seeking marriage and accept polygamy as a lifestyle”. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

25 October 2017

Maassluis swimming pool threatened after Wilders criticism

The Dol-fijn swimming pool in Maassluis had to hire in extra security due to threats received after PVV leader Geert Wilders posted a critical tweet about the pool on Twitter earlier this week. "We owe all this to Geert Wilders", Dol-fijn manager Richard Ritmeester said to newspaper AD.

This commotion started because of an announcement on the Dol-fijn website. The announcement offered swimming lessons to "(immigrant) women" who want to get their A, B, or C swimming diploma in a screened-off place. "Sharia swimming in the Netherlands", Wilders tweeted.

The swimming pool realized that their announcement may create confusion, and adjusted the text. Dol-fijn doesn't only offer swimming lessons in their screened off area to Muslim women, but to women of all nationalities, Ritmeester emphasized. [NL Times] Read more

Behind Quebec’s Ban on Face Coverings, a Debate Over Identity

.... The debate centers on how traditionally white, Catholic and French-speaking Quebec can absorb and respect the religions and cultures of immigrants arriving to the province, while protecting its own identity.

Rejecting multiculturalism, the Quebecois speak instead of “interculturalism” — a concept of protecting both French culture and minority rights. But until now, that concept has never been codified.

The first try came in 2008 by a government commission, which was created to respond to a so-called “accommodation crisis,” when conflicts between members of religious groups and local institutions made regular headline news. One involved the Y.M.C.A. in Montreal, which replaced windows in its exercise room with frosted glass at the request of the synagogue next door so that Orthodox students would not see women exercising.

Run by two well-respected academics, the commission issued 37 recommendations focused on increasing integration, reducing intolerance and secularizing the state. Controversially, it suggested that all state officials in positions of “coercive power” — like police officers and judges — be barred from wearing any religious symbols, and that the large crucifix hanging prominently in the provincial legislative chambers be removed. [The New York Times] Read more

Why These Women Are Graduating In Secret

.... Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Baha’i – Iran’s largest religious minority, but one that isn’t recognised as such – have been banned from accessing higher education by the government of the Islamic Republic.

Considered a political sect, and therefore a potential threat to the Republic, Baha’is in Iran have been systematically discriminated against and persecuted in different ways, and their only recourse to university studies is the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), a unique institution founded in 1987 to give young Baha’i the opportunity to study.

“We call BIHE the least known but longest running institution for peaceful resistance,” says Saleem Vaillancourt, one of the executive producers of a new documentary entitled Changing the World, One Wall at a Time, which features actor Mark Ruffalo. The film chronicles Education Is Not A Crime – the world’s largest street art and human rights campaign, which raises awareness about the education apartheid against the Baha’i by the Iranian government. [Refinery29] Read more

Storm over secondwife.com polygamy site for Muslims

It is seen by some women as a technologically convenient way to find a “part-time” husband. But the appeal of secondwife.com is driven by men drawn to the “Muslim polygamy matchmaking” site, as its British founder boasts that it has more than 100,000 users, a quarter of them in the UK.

There have been calls for the website to be shut down for treating women like “ornaments” to be collected. An MP, a Muslim women’s rights campaigner and a prominent Islamic scholar raised concerns yesterday that it was encouraging a practice that can leave women with no legal rights.

It is illegal to be married to more than one person in the UK but bigamy legislation does not cover religious marriages unless they are separately registered under civil law. Islam allows men to take several wives, though only if they “deal justly” with each of them, but a woman may not take more than one husband.

Azad Chaiwala, 34, from Sunderland, founded secondwife.com in 2014 and has claimed that it helps to build “bigger and better families”. A second marriage is more “honourable” than having affairs or using prostitutes, he says, while polygamy is “more in tune with nature” than monogamy. [The Times (£)] Read more

Voters say country is full and support partial Muslim ban

A MAJORITY of Australian voters believe the country is full and almost half support a partial ban on Muslim immigration, a new survey has revealed.

In a blow for official multiculturalism, it found that just over 50 per cent of voters agree that Australia has changed beyond recognition and “sometimes feels like a foreign country”.

The explosive data from the poll, commissioned by The Australian Population Research Institute, has enormous implications for the main political parties as ordinary Australians cope with massive population growth driven by record migrant intakes.

The nation’s population grew by 384,000 in the year to March 2017, with 60 per cent of that due to net overseas migration.

.... On Muslim immigration, 48 per cent supported a partial ban, a quarter opposed a ban and 27 per cent neither supported or opposed it. [Herald Sun] Read more

The House of Saud is still in denial

Something is definitely afoot in Saudi Arabia this time. For decades, the Saud ruling family has followed a policy of promise but never deliver. They make the right noises in an attempt to polish the country’s much-tarnished global image – and yet when it comes down to it, they rarely come up with the goods.

But perhaps this time is different. In an interview with the Guardian, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman made statements that would make even the most hardened cynic take note. He directly addressed “what happened”, saying that the Iranian revolution triggered copycat religious regimes across the region, and that now it was time to “get rid of it” in Saudi Arabia.

“We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. Seventy per cent of Saudis are younger than 30. Honestly, we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT 655 votes] "The House of Saud is still in denial"

Actually, it's a few miles east of denial.

[2ND 360] I personally don't care what they do in their own borders. I don't ever want to go there. Just stop exporting Wahhabism to the rest of the World.

[3RD 225 ] "It was always frustrating to see the religious police harass and intimidate the public, enforcing the strictest of religious laws while the government scrambled to combat the rise of extremism, failing to make or address the link between the two."

That one slipped past the editor.

I hope they succeed. The SA policy of exporting it's brand of intolerant Islam across the world has caused a lot of problems. TBH right now the country disgusts me, it's got a long long way to go before it stops being a pariah to everyone but politicians.

[4TH 194] "Yet there is still no honest reckoning over what lies at the heart of the Saudi malaise."


[5TH 185] Like all great lies there is a little bit of truth behind it. After promoting Islamism, funding ISIS and other Islamist groups, the Saudi's suddenly realised Jihadis were coming home. They have been worried about this for a couple of years now....hence the change in tack. There is no change in their wahhabi ideology, they are just scared of domestic terrorists. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Voters say country is full, support partial ban on Muslim immigration: report

A MAJORITY of Australian voters believe the country is full and almost half support a partial ban on Muslim immigration, a new survey has revealed.

In a blow for official multiculturalism, it found that just over 50 per cent of voters agree that Australia has changed beyond recognition and “sometimes feels like a foreign country”.

The explosive data from the poll, commissioned by The Australian Population Research Institute, has enormous implications for the main political parties as ordinary Australians cope with massive population growth driven by record migrant intakes.

The nation’s population grew by 384,000 in the year to March 2017, with 60 per cent of that due to net overseas migration.

.... Fifty-four per cent wanted a cut to migration, while 55 per cent agreed Australia “was in danger of losing its culture and identity”, and 52 per cent said the country had changed so much that it sometimes felt foreign.

On Muslim immigration, 48 per cent supported a partial ban, a quarter opposed a ban and 27 per cent neither supported or opposed it.

While Coalition and One Nation voters were more likely to voice concerns over migration and cultural diversity, substantial minorities of ALP voters had similar views. [Herald Sun] Read more

24 October 2017

MEND and Parliament – This is no way to help Muslims

I suppose the MPs on this list think they are helping Muslims by welcoming MEND to Parliament next week. (Click the images in this post to enlarge them.)

If this is what Joanna Cherry, Ed Davey, Stephen Kinnock, Caroline Lucas, Anna Soubry, and Wes Streeting think, they could not be more wrong.

The Muslims all of us should support – with room left aside for debate on specific issues, of course – are the liberals and the opponents of extremists.

Well, these very Muslims are the targets the Islamists of MEND have chosen for the most crude and vicious abuse for years and years on end.

.... One can also understand MEND by looking at the Muslims it likes. The speakers at its events and the people it promotes, for example.

It is a disturbing roster. It includes Anas al-Tikriti, Moazzam Begg, Lauren Booth, Malia Bouattia, Haitham al-Haddad, Omer El-Hamdoon, Dilowar Khan of the East London Mosque, Zahir Mahmood, Abu Eesa Niamatullah, Yasir Qadhi, Tariq Ramadan, and Yvonne Ridley.

This Must End

It is long, long past time for MPs to see MEND for what it is – a proudly intractable part of the problem and no component of any desirable solution.

If the Parliamentary event does go ahead, it will be interesting to see who does stand by the extremists. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Niqab will become bigger problem in years to come

The niqab conversation in Canada isn’t going away anytime soon. Don’t think that whatever happens with Quebec’s Bill 62, whether it lives or dies, is going to neatly solve the issue and put it to bed for good.

How could it, with the number of Muslims in Canada increasing and the extent of their religiosity showing no signs of abating?

The Quebec Liberal government’s bill banning face veils is somewhat rightly seen as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There aren’t all that many women walking about the streets of Montreal in full niqab and burka coverings. For now.

But according to Statistics Canada, the Muslim population is going to double in 20 years to make up 7.2% of the nation, clocking in at more than 2.5 million people.

Will this demographic become increasingly liberalized and integrated, less likely to cling to intolerant old country ways? Don’t count on it. [Toronto Sun] Read more

I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has vowed to return the country to “moderate Islam” and asked for global support to transform the hardline kingdom into an open society that empowers citizens and lures investors.

In an interview with the Guardian, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne said the ultra-conservative state had been “not normal” for the past 30 years, blaming rigid doctrines that have governed society in a reaction to the Iranian revolution, which successive leaders “didn’t know how to deal with”.

.... “What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”

Earlier Prince Mohammed had said: “We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. 70% of the Saudis are younger than 30, honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.” [The Guardian] Read more

100,000 Brits sign up for polygamous dating site helping Muslim men find multiple wives

A website that helps Muslim men find “second wives” in Britain has more than 100,000 users registered, it has been revealed. The practice has been accused of opening women, often younger than their husbands, to physical abuse and even trafficking.

In the UK, polygamous marriages – in which a person has more than one spouse – are only recognized if they took place in countries where they are legal. British law, however, does not stop unregistered religious ceremonies from taking place.

Most Muslims in Britain do not practice polygamy, but some interpretations of the Quran say that a man may marry two, three, or four women, so long as he can deal justly and fairly with each of them.

SecondWife.com creator Azad Chaiwala says the website came from his “need” and “thinking there’ll be other people in my situation.” [RT NEWS] Read more

Muslim mother-of-five, 44, was ordered to leave sixth-form college open evening because she was wearing niqab face veil 'that stopped her being recognised on CCTV'

.... Sayeedah Mahetar, 44, was visiting the school with her teenage daughter who was hoping to study there next year.

The pair were welcomed into the entrance of the college but once inside Ms Mahetar was approached by a teacher who asked her to remove her veil or leave the college.

A spokesman for the school said it was part of their safeguarding policy not to allow anyone to wear garments which obstructed their face inside their grounds.

Ms Mahetar said: 'The staff member rushed over to me and whispered to me, 'Are you aware of our dress code policy?' 'I said no and then she said that anyone wearing a veil compromises the safety of students and teachers and that either I remove the veil or I leave.'

She told her daughter to continue the Open Day alone and that she would meet her outside the college premises.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 937 votes] Good for the college

[2ND 863] It should be banned in public in the UK everywhere. Can't wear a motorcycle helmet into a building because it obscures the face.

[3RD 852] Good for them! We can't have one rule for one lot and another for the rest of us - either ban all face coverings or legalise all, anything else is unfair treatment

[4TH 838] Well done St. Mary's; their right to do so. Do not backtrack and apologise please.

[5TH 816] Well done to the school. Its there policy so tough luck. She says she takes it off for work but couldn't take it off for a hour at college, whatever! It should be banned anyway

[6TH 743] Good for the college. We all have to stand firm against this. If you don't like it- leave.

[7TH 675] Removed it at work why not at College. [Daily Mail] Read more

23 October 2017

Mosque caretaker in Kasur held over blasphemy charges

.... Villagers staged a demonstration outside the Kanganpur police station following the arrest. They besieged the building and demanded police hand over the suspect to them after he reportedly burnt pages of the Holy Quran.

According to a police official, there are two madrassas in the area following the Ahle Sunnat and Deobandi doctrine of Islam.

“We are investigating the matter and holding meetings with elders and religious scholars of the area in a bid to find out what happened,” the official added.

The suspect, however, has denied the allegations. Police said they were investigating the matter further and would proceed as per the law. According to initial investigations, the caretaker did not commit blasphemy.

In September last year, a man with disabilities was arrested by police on blasphemy allegations, just two days after a teenager was accused in a similar case. The administration of Markazi Mosque of the Ahle Sunnat sect had accused the suspect of desecrating some pages of Holy Quran. [The Express Tribune] Read more

I produced My Week As a Muslim. Its intention was to educate, not offend

The idea for making the documentary My Week As a Muslim came to me after I spent almost a year in Birmingham, filming a series for Channel 4 called Extremely British Muslims in and around Birmingham Central Mosque.

Towards the end of our time there, the Brexit vote happened. Almost immediately, there was an English Defence League demonstration outside a mosque in Birmingham, and the number of attacks on Muslims spiked dramatically. We only managed to capture a small part of this, but in the coming weeks there were reports seemingly every day about hate crime, and articles on Britain’s diverse but divided communities – living parallel lives but not integrating.

I wanted the new show to bring to a wide audience the harsh realities of what was happening. We wanted to do something bold and experimental to achieve this. Often, when making documentaries, you feel you are preaching to the converted. I was determined to make something that would reach people who wouldn’t normally watch a programme about Muslims.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 471 votes] "We started filming the day before the Manchester bombing. After that happened, everyone was shaken and we questioned whether we should continue"

To be honest, whatever findings came out of the programme are rendered somewhat meaningless by what happened that night. I don't think the UK is an especially intolerant country, but I literally can think of nothing more likely to ferment intolerance than somebody blowing himself up at a kids concert in the name of a cause which aims to bring down the society he's chosen to live in.

Yes, we know it's not all Muslims. Yes, we know the vast majority of Muslims are ordinary people who don't want to commit acts of terrorism. By the same token, the vast majority of British people didn't yell abuse at Muslims the day after a jihadi attack which specifically targeted children and teenagers. So maybe give us a break?

[2ND 442] "fearful of women wearing the niqab."

She has every right to be offended by full face coverings.

It is a powerful symbol of the subjugation and inferior status of women.

It is also an insult to the men in our society.

[3RD 380] "Saima Alvi is a strong, independent woman" but "one of the first things we did was meet the imam from her local mosque and the chairman of the local British Muslim Heritage Centre".

Such a strong and independent woman that she needs the approval of the local Muslim patriarchy to take part in a reality TV show?

[4TH 314] Imagine if the millions of British Muslims were not Muslims but conservative Christians from deep South USA who had moved to the UK. Their backwards views would immediately be called out by liberals. But for some reason Islam gets a free pass from the left; misogyny ain't a problem when Muslims are doing it. [Guardian Cif] Read more

22 October 2017

Quebec justice minister defends new face-covering law, to release guidelines this week

Quebec's justice minister is expected to make public this week the guidelines for how Bill 62 will be applied as law, a document that wasn't supposed to be ready until next summer.

Stéphanie Vallée said it's necessary to do so because things have "escalated" in the past few days. She is appealling for calm and wants to "properly communicate and explain" the law to the population .

The bill was passed as law last week. It requires people to show their faces when they give or receive public services.

Vallée said she was surprised by Canadians' reactions since it was passed. Many have expressed staunch opposition, saying it's a thinly veiled target of Muslim women who wear niqabs, is discriminatory and could encourage harassment.

Despite that, Vallée defends the law championed by the provincial Liberal government, saying her government outlined its position on the matter long ago, and that the debate surrounding face coverings and religious garb has been going on in Quebec for the past decade. [CBC News] Read more

Trojan Horse plot: Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw given guards

The former chief inspector of schools had to be protected by two bodyguards after being “threatened and intimidated” during his investigation into the influence of Islamists on Birmingham schools.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said he needed “two heavies” accompanying him at taxpayers’ expense after Ofsted became concerned for his safety and that of his family.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, he told how he was screamed at in a public meeting, threatened on social media and accused of being an Islamophobe as he led an inquiry into whether schools in the city were coming under Islamist influence in the so-called Trojan Horse plot.

Wilshaw felt “really bitter” about his treatment, which he is making public for the first time. He said that “political correctness at the Department for Education [DfE]” had stopped — and was still stopping — ministers effectively intervening in failing or illegal schools, including Islamic schools. Even though more than 291 illegal schools have been identified and 38 warning letters issued by inspectors, no owners have yet been prosecuted. [The Times (£)] Read more

Scots Muslim writer who lives under fatwa calls for burka ban

A SCOTTISH Muslim writer who has received death threats for repeatedly criticising Islamic doctrine wants women to be banned from wearing the “oppressive” burqa.

Paigham Mustafa, who claims to be living under a fatwa issued in 2001 by Glasgow imams after he published articles questioning mosque teachings, made the controversial comments after Austria became the latest European country to prohibit face veils in public.

From the beginning of this month Muslim women in Austria who wear a veil which covers the face will be fined around £130. Similar restrictions are in place in France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. And last week Quebec became the first North American province to ban citizens from wearing face coverings in public places. [Sunday Herald] Read more

Why Quebec is ground zero in the battle over secularism

To understand why Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard chose to defy his own beliefs and risk his province's international reputation by pressing ahead with a ban on religious face coverings, you must begin with the premise that doing nothing was not an option.

For more than a decade now, Quebec has been in the throes of a relentless debate about the challenges posed to its secularist society by the arrival of thousands of new immigrants belonging to religious minorities in general and one religious minority in particular. Without action to establish the primacy of secularism, this unfinished business risked monopolizing Quebec politics ad nauseam. Mr. Couillard sees the niqab ban as the least invasive way of bookending this debate.

As one former senior provincial cabinet minister explained it to me, a majority of francophone Quebeckers has felt extremely unsettled by the renewed incursion of religion into the public domain. Quebeckers fought to rid their polity of the insidious influence of the Catholic Church. This has instilled in them a zero-tolerance attitude toward the state's condoning of any religion. The government's failure to act remained an itch Quebeckers could not resist scratching. [Globe & Mail] Read more

'Politically correct' DfE fails to take action against illegal schools - Wilshaw

Political correctness is stopping the Department for Education from intervening in schools that discriminate against pupils or are illegal, Sir Michael Wilshaw has said.

The former Ofsted chief inspector’s claims come after Ofsted won a High Court case that supported its view that segregating boys and girls at mixed-sex schools amounts to unlawful discrimination.

On Friday, Ofsted published its inspection report about the Al Hijrah school in Birmingham, which was at the centre of the case.

It said that pupils had “easy access” to books in the school library containing “derogatory views about, and incited violence towards, women.”

The inspectors said that those responsible for running the school “have failed to keep pupils safe from extreme views that undermine fundamental British values” and “failed to have due regard to the need to achieve equality of opportunity”.

Sir Michael told the Sunday Times: “My concern is that the DfE should not have allowed all this to happen. It has become a politically correct department although Ofsted has raised so many concerns, including about the proliferation of illegal schools. [Tes Global] Read more

21 October 2017

The Al-Hijrah School ruling was a demonstration of powerful women in action

.... The public gallery was jam-packed, full of mostly South Asian women, young and old, of faith and none, from across the country who came to show solidarity. To be visible for those who could not be. To represent the countless testimonies of women, men and children we have listened to over the years.

The stories of being told you have to behave a certain way because of your gender. The feelings of “I have no choice” to “I have been told I will go to hell if I don’t cover myself”, to the emotional pressure exerted by family and community members. The feelings of guilt, shame and self-loathing for daring to question a set of imposed values on them.

There were not enough seats for all the frontline activists that came and a camaraderie game of musical chairs took place. But we stayed. Waiting. Willing that justice be served for the children who quietly spoke about being treated unequally. Familiar strangers, an imperceptible thread connecting us across cultures.

We understand the everyday, ordinary impact of gender inequality, for we live it. Through our lives, listening to our mothers or our grandmothers before them. Worlds largely hidden away from those in power, often only sought out by vote-seeking politicians or by far-right propagandists. [Sedaa.org] Read more

‘Modesty’ clothing and culture within British Muslim communities prevents Muslim women from fully participating in 21st century society

Connotations of ‘modesty’ bring to mind the picture of a burqa-clad woman. Extremists’ claims that the gown ‘liberates’ a woman realistically only serve to make her vanish from 21st century public life. This is an unconscionable situation. In the debate surrounding the veil for Muslim women, defenders of modesty culture and dress argue in the name of religious freedom, women’s empowerment and a matter of choice.

Conversely, critics consider it an encroachment on women’s rights to be free. However, these arguments do not shed sufficient light on what modesty means in terms of a dress code for Muslim women. This phenomenon – the erasure from the discussion of the veil’s intrinsic relationship to religious ideals of female modesty – only further highlights the extent to which patriarchal narratives, both pro and against veiling, continue to infringe the rights of women at the deepest levels.

Opponents of extremism consider banning the burqa, niqab or hijab essential to countering growing fundamentalism among Muslims. Banning these garments, it is argued, is also essential to assimilating Muslims to shared democratic values among all citizens. It is additionally considered important to identify an individual in public places.

The crucial point that is being neglected here is an analysis of the malevolent concept of modesty for women, which throws Muslim women into oppressive waters where shark-like clerics are the sole judge of how women are supposed to conduct themselves. [Conatus News] Read more

20 October 2017

Lincolnshire Police hit back at criticisms of British Muslims video

Lincolnshire Police have slammed negative comments made following the release of their latest video which aims to challenge perceptions of how Muslims in Britain are viewed.

The video released earlier this week as part of Hate Crime Awareness week was created with school pupils as its target audience, and was the brainchild of PC Glenn Palmer, who is based in Mablethorpe.

Following its release, a number of residents across the county have posted negative comments on Lincolnshire Police’s social media channels.

Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Craig Naylor said: “I am really disappointed in some of these comments.

“I am very committed to reducing hate crime and what we aimed to do, during hate crime awareness week, is to show a different side to Islam and tackle misconceptions and myths. [Lincolnite] Read more

Police heavily criticised on social media after posting video on better understanding of British Muslims

A social media backlash has been launched at Lincolnshire Police after they posted a video on better understanding British Muslims.

The 12-minute long film touches on the history of Islam, its values, its followers' journey to British shores and reminded people of hate crime laws.

But a barrage of negative online comments have been posted in response, with some accusing the police of producing a "propaganda" video and telling people what to think.

The force and other social media users defended the move, saying it is an attempt to promote better understanding between communities.

Among those objecting to it were people posting on the police's facebook page.

"Are we now not allowed to think our own thoughts!?" asked one. "We don't require any indoctrination. Police should deal with law not religion." [Lincolnshire Live] Read more

Channel 4’s ‘brownface’ documentary is no way to portray Muslims

Katie Freeman is being given a prosthetic nose. It is larger, thicker and wider than her existing nose. Next come a selection of teeth covers – all of which appear slightly yellower and more crooked than her existing teeth – and brown contact lenses. Then the piece de resistance: her white skin is covered up with a dark layer of makeup.

This is not a tasteless Halloween costume. It is a scene from Monday’s Channel 4 show My Week As a Muslim, where a white woman is “transformed to look like she’s of Pakistani origin”. The idea is for Freeman, a 44-year-old British healthcare assistant who genuinely wonders whether every woman in a burqa might be covering up a suicide belt, to spend a week undercover in Manchester’s Muslim community.

The problem with the show is not Freeman’s desire to learn more about Muslims, but the execution.

The concept is a worthy one. Islamophobia is on the rise, with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May (which took place during Freeman’s week as a Muslim); while just 20% of working-age Muslims are in full-time employment in the UK, compared with 35% for the overall population, with discrimination seen as a major factor.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 431 votes] "with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May (which took place during Freeman’s week as a Muslim);"

Although if you look at the actual figures it is still only 224 reports - and there's no indication of what exactly these attacks are - physical? verbal? Twitteral?

Still, at least that's the main issue, not all those children killed....

[2ND 353] I imagine there has been a more than 500% increase in children murder at gigs in Manchester.

[3RD 347] "with anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester soaring by 500% after the suicide bombing in May"

What exactly were these attacks? Did they equate to detonating a nail bomb in a stadium packed with women and children?

[4TH 339] Many years ago when I was a teenager the muslim families on our street blended in and did not wear clothing that identified them as muslims. Why did the practise of wearing the hijab, niqab and the big beards develop and spread so prolifically about 15 years ago? People I didn't even know were muslims were all of a sudden identifying their belief system to the rest of the population.

[5TH 317] So tired of hearing Islam described in race terms.

The journalist also says she once donned a niqab, you know, that massive piece of cloth that separates you from the world around you... and was then ignored. Go figure! [Guardian Cif] Read more

19 October 2017

My Week as a Muslim documentary sparks racism row

.... Shelina Janmohamed, the author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World, told the Guardian: “Increasing understanding of Muslims at a time when divisions and hatred are rising – some of which is violent – is more vital than ever.

“It’s a shame if efforts are derailed by basic errors such as ‘brownfacing’ which reinforce rather than challenge such prejudice. I hope the programme lets the experiences of Muslims shine through rather than being a form of television tourism.”

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim abuse and attacks, said the programme was “absolutely shocking” and a “complete catastrophe”.

“Just think for one second if that was done against the Jewish community. There would be legitimate accusations of antisemitism, which would be correct and clear. So why is this OK for the Muslim community, in the desire to reach what I think is a laudable objective?” he said.

“They could have simply taken a secret camera and got Muslim women to record things that happen to them every day. But they tried to maximise their audience by putting a twist on it, a twist that has badly backfired.” [The Guardian] Read more

Bulgaria deputy PM wants new laws to stifle radical Islam

Bulgaria should tighten rules on foreign financing for religious communities and restrict visits by foreign clerics to help counter the potential spread of radical Islam, deputy prime minister Krasimir Karakachanov said on Thursday.

Karakachanov is a co-leader of the nationalist United Patriots, a junior partner in the coalition government that is known for its tough rhetoric on migration and Bulgaria’s Roma.

He said proposals to parliament to amend laws on religion and education as well as the criminal code would be submitted by the end of the year. Bulgaria’s government banned the wearing of full face veils in public places last year. [Reuters] Read more

Swiss pressure on Koran-distributing group grows

Following in Zurich’s footsteps, the Swiss canton of Bern has instructed municipalities to ban the Koran-distributing campaign called Lies! (German for ‘Read’) from operating in their area. Officials fear their actions could promote radicalisation.

On Thursday, canton Bern Directorate of Police and Military Affairs announced that it had circulated a letterexternal link to the municipalities asking them to adopt a uniform practice when it comes to authorising Koran distribution campaigns. It called for a systematic refusal of permission to the True Religion group to distribute Korans under their Lies! campaign.

“It is feared that the Lies! campaign will incite young people to radicalise and serve as a platform for sympathisers of the Islamic State group to meet. Links between travel for the purpose of jihad and Koran distribution actions have been established by several sources,” said the statement.

Authorities added that the Lies! campaign was based on unconstitutional principles and is against democratic principles and the rule of law. Earlier this year, canton Zurich had made a similar recommendation and Basel City canton had introduced tougher provisions to restrict distribution of printed matter that was targeted at the Lies! campaign. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Muslim police trainee asks for right to wear headscarf in uniform

A police cadet from Rotterdam has gone to the Dutch human rights commission to ask for the right to wear a headscarf with her police uniform. The woman, a new recruit who has not been named, believes she is suffering from religious discrimination in being forbidden from wearing the Muslim head covering.

She is asking for a ruling on her case, but also in the interest of others, according to a police press release on Wednesday. Police lawyers are arguing that she can wear a headscarf in the office, but when in contact with the public, she must ‘comply with uniform rules’ and – the body argues – the uniform is ‘neutral’. ‘The police code of conduct is clear, the [woman’s] employer believes,’ says the release. ‘Visible expressions of beliefs and opinions are not permitted.’ [DutchNews] Read more

Scrapping the term Islamophobia from M103 is the best path forward

During my presentation I asked the committee some pointed questions such as “Why would the House not agree on a more precise term to combat anti-Muslim sentiment and instead insist on a vague and all-inclusive term such as Islamophobia?” A term, I might have added, which also has Islamist overtones.

Also, why would the House accede to a demand that is clearly unpatriotic by casting an unfair aspersion on Canada’s society and current laws?

I explained the connotations of Islamophobia to the house, stating that in Islamic nations and some Islamic circles in the West, the term clearly also means mere criticism of Islam.

I also explained that the term is often falsely considered parallel to the term anti-semitism. This was important as MP Khalid had also implied an equivalence between the two.

A common dictionary meaning of anti-semitism is “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. Islamophobia, on the other hand, also includes criticism of Islam as a religion. [Toronto Sun] Read more

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom condemns death sentence for Ahmadis

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned a Pakistani court’s decision to award the death penalty to three Ahmadis accused of blasphemy. The Ahmadis who were arrested in 2014 after they were accused of committing blasphemy by tearing down posters against them.

Daniel Mark, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated that:

“Pakistan must repeal its blasphemy laws and immediately release all those imprisoned under those provisions. Blasphemy laws and the horrific acts they unleash are an assault on human rights and dignity.”

Pakistan’s constitution declares Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and the Penal Code makes it criminal for Ahmadis to refer to themselves as Muslims; preach, propagate, or disseminate materials on their faith; or refer to their houses of worship as mosques. He said:

“In short, Ahmadis are required to renounce their faith in order to avail themselves of important civil rights in Pakistan.” [Rabwah Times] Read more

North America's First 'Burqa Ban' Passed by Quebec Liberals in Name of 'Religious Neutrality'

.... Critics, like Shaheen Ashraf of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, question the religious neutrality narrative. "I define neutrality as being able to do what I choose and you are able to do what you choose and everyone else is able to do what they choose and that's neutral. Accepting each other as we are," Ashraf told CTV Montreal.

Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, called it "an unnecessary law with a made-up solution to an invented problem. We don't have hordes of women in niqabs trying to access or work in public services."

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and others have questioned how the law would actually work in practice. "So what does it mean now? Niqab police as bus drivers?" Coderre told CTV. "What are we going to do in libraries? And refuse to provide them with services? If [a woman is] freezing with children, say no? You have to pull that out. I don't think the doability is there." [Reason.com] Read more

Burqa Bans: Which Countries Outlaw Face Coverings?

The Canadian province of Quebec is the latest place to make it a crime to wear a face-covering garment in public, a move that critics derided as discriminatory against Muslim women.

Quebec’s law, enacted on Wednesday, is the first of its kind in North America, but similar measures — sometimes referred to as burqa bans — have existed in Europe for years.

Very few Muslim women in Europe or North America wear full-face veils, but laws that forbid the coverings have come into force in at least five West European countries. Many more lawmakers — including in Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway — have considered them.

Supporters of the laws say they are necessary to protect public safety, defend Western values or encourage migrants to assimilate into their new societies. But rights groups say they discriminate against Muslim women, some of whom view garments like niqabs and burqas as a religious obligation.

Here’s a look at efforts in some Western countries to restrict the wearing of face-covering garments in public. [The New York Times] Read more

A third of Switzerland’s population mistrusts Islam, according to survey

Recently, the Swiss federal statistical office published preliminary results of a survey on Switzerland’s attitudes toward foreigners, which included questions on nationality, race, language and religion.

.... When questioned regarding religion, Muslims were viewed most negatively. 14% voiced hostility towards Muslims, compared to 8% towards Jews.

The survey made an important distinction between Islam and its followers. The percentage mistrusting Islam, as opposed to followers of the religion, was 33%, a figure far higher than the 14% voicing hostility towards Muslims. [Le News] Read more

18 October 2017

Progressive Muslims deplore the lack of support from the left in the debate over Islam

Muslims writers who describe themselves as “secular” have published two important opinion articles in the last few days, one in Canada in the Quebec newspaper "Le Devoir" and the other in the French paper "Libération".

Are they “secular” Muslims? Are they “open” or indeed “progressive”? Several Muslims answering these descriptions have spoken out in recent days in France and in Canada to condemn the polarization of the debate over Islam.

Claiming not to identify either with those people who show contempt for “the islamization of society” nor among the crusaders against “islamophobia", they say they feel that they are being held hostage between competing discourses and have called for a greater diversity of views.

Writing in the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir, on Tuesday, October 13, Hadi Qaderi, a professor of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal, who is a Muslim of Afghan origin, said that he feels "caught in a sandwich" between the two camps. [La Croix international] Read more

'I should see your face, and you should see mine,' Quebec premier says of new religious neutrality law

A new law that would effectively force Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka to uncover their faces to use public services is based on a principle "the vast majority of Canadians, and not just Quebecers" can agree on, Premier Philippe Couillard said.

The Liberal government's Bill 62 on religious neutrality was passed Wednesday in Quebec's National Assembly.

"We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face," Couillard told reporters.

"We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It's as simple as that."

The law prohibits public workers — including doctors, teachers and daycare employees — as well as those receiving a service from the government from covering their faces. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

Quebec just banned face veils for people receiving government services

Quebec has become the first jurisdiction in North America to institute a so-called “burqua ban,” prohibiting government employees and any citizen using public services from wearing a face veil.

Provincial politicians passed the measure on Wednesday after years of unsuccessful attempts to pass similar legislation. Initially Bill 62 would only have applied to provincial public services, like universities and public health care institutions. But recent amendments have expanded the plan to cover municipal services, including public transit, meaning women can’t wear the niqab or burqa when they’re on a bus or subway in the province.

Provincial officials say the bill targets all face coverings and doesn’t discriminate against a particular religious group. But debates surrounding the measure have mostly focused on Muslim women who cover their faces.

.... Quebec’s new rules follow similar legislation, and debates over religious accommodation, from Europe and beyond.

Here’s a brief history of how the push to ban the niqab and burqa has progressed over the years. [VICE] Read more

17 October 2017

The Facts about the Al-Hijrah Gender Segregation Judgement

On Friday, in a landmark judgement, the Court of Appeal ruled – as Asian and Muslim feminists have long argued – that gender segregation in co-ed schools is unlawful sex discrimination and is a violation of the Equality Act 2010.

The ruling overturned a previous verdict where Justice Jay at the High Court had suggested that “separate is equal” and that neither boys or girls were being discriminated against. Three Judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously disagreed and stated both boys and girls were being discriminated against. As a result, 20 other schools (Jewish, Muslim and Christian schools) are now going to have to change their unlawful policy so that it is in line with the Equality Act 2010. It is worth remembering that schools have a statutory obligation to uphold the Equality Act.

Having taken OFSTED to court, the school in question whose practice of gender segregation was found to be unlawful was Al-Hijrah, a voluntary aided co-ed school based in Birmingham. Founded in 1988, by the Al-Hijrah Trust, it openly publicises its practice of gender segregation which it says is a defining characteristic of the school and one of the main reasons why some Muslim parents choose to send their children there. This is irrespective of the inadequate Ofsted reports Al-Hijrah has received alongside having been placed in special measures. [Inspire] Read more

Algeria: Laws to Prevent ‘Alteration’ of Citizens’ Religious Convictions

Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Mohammed Eisa warned of sectarian efforts to break the religious principles of Algerian society, pointing out that the government is planning to issue new laws posing penalties on those who try to change Algerians’ religious convictions.

Speaking at a conference for religious Imams and religious guides, eastern Algeria, the minister said that the country was exposed to foreign ideas that created terrorism and provoked hatred among the people. Eissa was referring to the war during the 1990s where 150,000 people were killed inducing: extremists, security men, and civilians.

The minister reiterated that Algerian youths do not need to cross the border looking for new forms of religiosity other than the ones they inherited from their ancestors. He didn’t elaborate as to what he meant, but it is understood that he was referring to hundreds of young people who had been involved in extremist groups abroad and then returned to the country to perform their practices in society.

.... Eissa stressed that the state is determined to legislate laws that “protect the doctrine, fight sectarianism, and punish those who seek to change the convictions of religious Algerians.”

The minister announced a new law will soon be issued to regulate mosques’ affairs.

Since 2008, according to the minister, all Imams finished their religious education programs and memorized the Qur’an because these measures are important to ensure moderate speech that could serve the country.

Eissa himself is in a war against al-Ahmadiyya sect and Shiaism in the country. [Asharq Al-Awsat] Read more

16 October 2017

MPs: anti-burqa initiative 'would not sort out the problems it claims to combat'

Seven politicians have formed a committee to fight against the anti-burqa initiative, saying such a law would restrict individual freedoms.

The popular initiative ‘Yes to a ban on concealing the face’ calls for it to be made illegal for anyone to cover their face in public, with some exceptions including for local customs, the weather and health and safety reasons.

The initiative, which would effectively ban women from wearing the burqa in public, in September succeeded in getting the required number of signatures to push it to a federal referendum.

Now, seven MPs on both the left and right wing of politics have formed a committee to campaign against the initiative.

Speaking to Le Temps, Liberal-Radical Andrea Caroni, who heads up the group, said he was opposed to the initiative by “liberal conviction”.

“The state does not have to legislate on the clothes of citizens,” he said, adding that the proposed law “would not sort out the problems it claims to combat. It would only generate bureaucracy and limit individuals’ freedom and private lives”. [The Local] Read more

Freshers' fair students are bombarded with leaflets promoting Muslim extremists who call for homosexuals to be killed and say the punishment for mocking Allah is death

University students are being bombarded with leaflets promoting Muslim extremists who have called for homosexuals to be killed.

Student societies across London have distributed posters featuring organisations which have promoted extremist beliefs.

The freshers' fairs, hosted by student unions on university campuses in September and October, allow a range of societies to hand out promotional literature.

An event called the 'ILMFest' was advertised and the conference is being sponsored by Islamic studies institute, the AlMaghrib Institute, which was founded in Texas.

.... One of the people due to speak at the event is Mr Suleiman, an Islamic preacher, who previously called homosexuality a 'disease' and a 'repugnant shameless sin'.

Meanwhile, Mr Qadhi said that to 'kill … the homosexual – this is also our religion', and that 'to make fun of Allah and his Messenger, the punishment is death'. [Daily Mail] Read more

15 October 2017

In Belgium, arguments about Islam grow louder

LIKE much else in Belgium, the administration of the country’s second-largest religion is in a rather chaotic state, and things could get worse.

In a kingdom of 11m people, Islam claims the loyalty of about 800,000 souls, of whom the vast majority originate either from Morocco or Turkey. Most of the country’s 300-plus mosques are Turkish or Moroccan in flavour, and imams who serve them usually come from those countries. In Brussels, which is the country’s capital as well as hub of Europe’s main institutions, the Muslim share of the population is about 25%.

.... The investigative panel, representing politicians across the linguistic and ideological spectrum, has come up with a bold proposal: the Great Mosque should be removed from Saudi oversight and instead placed under a panel representing Belgian Islam as a whole. Meanwhile the country’s (Flemish) migration minister, Theo Francken, has declared his intention to expel the mosque’s main imam on grounds that he belongs to the purist Salafi school of Islam. (Its director was expelled in similar circumstances in 2012.) [The Economist] Read more

What this liberal Muslim will be saying before the M-103 committee

On Monday, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will reconvene to discuss the pros and cons of M-103, the hotly-debated motion that has polarized the country.

The motion is controversial for a number of reasons. Its critics justifiably fear that the motion attempts to thwart freedom of conscience and speech when it comes to criticizing the disturbing and extreme Islamic practices sometimes seen among migrant communities.

Such practices often centre on treatment of women. They might include polygamy, the segregation and marginalization of women, and in some groups, such as the North African communities, the heinous practice of female genital mutilation.

Many fear that mere criticism of such practices will soon become legally actionable.

.... I originally come from a country where blasphemy is considered a crime against the state. The term Islamophobia poses a unique problem in the way it is understood in Islamic nations, as well as among Muslims, some of whom espouse a deeply obscurantist understanding of Islam. This understanding tolerates no criticism of Islamic precept, culture, belief or practice.

Citizens must retain the right to criticize what they find mistaken, misguided or damaging, whether in movies, in art or in the behaviour of individuals or even cultural groups. Islamophobia seeks to write special rules for fundamentalist Islam. [Toronto Sun] Read more

14 October 2017

German minister sparks uproar with Muslim holiday idea

Conservatives in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition were in an uproar Saturday after one of her key allies floated the idea of a Muslim holiday in Germany.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said this week he was willing to discuss the possibility of introducing a Muslim holiday in parts of the country.

Germany is home to some 4.4 million Muslims, with many coming from the nation's large ethnic Turkish community. The over one million migrants that arrived in recent years also include many Muslims.

"Where there are many Muslims why shouldn't we consider a Muslim holiday," the interior minister said at a rally in Lower Saxony ahead of Sunday's regional election in the state.

The CSU, the Bavaria-based sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats, strongly rejected the idea.

"Germany's Christian heritage is not negotiable," Alexander Dobrindt, a senior CSU politician, told the Bild newspaper.

"For us, the introduction of Muslim holidays is out of the question," he said. [AFP] Read more

Knights Templar Crusader Mugs Trader Set For Crunch Council Meeting As Officials Backtrack - Officials say they 'got this one wrong'

A market trader banned from selling Knights Templar crusader mugs over fears they could offend Muslims has been invited to crunch talks with council officials, who look set to offer a reprieve.

Tina Gayle received an official rebuke and a ban over the coloured printed cups which Charnworth Council in Leicestershire said “breached trading rules”.

Vintage book seller Gayle said she had been told the council “had a complaint that the mugs might be offensive to Muslims”.

A letter stated she was in breach of trading terms and conditions and had to leave her pitch of three years at Loughborough Vintage Market.

The mugs, also stamped with the Christian chivalric order’s Latin motto which translates as: “Not to us Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory”, brought a single complaint.

But now the council appears to have re-considered its approach, summoning Gayle for a meeting with market bosses next week. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

13 October 2017

Swiss to hold referendum on banning face-covering garments

The Swiss government says voters will decide whether to ban face-covering garments like masks or Muslim burqas and niqabs.

The government said Friday a vote on the ban, championed by far-right groups, will take place. That comes after advocates gathered over 100,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, which lets voters decide major policy issues.

The executive Federal Council will set a date for the referendum, not expected before next year.

Passage would put Switzerland alongside France, Austria and other European countries in prohibiting face-covering garments. The Italian-speaking Swiss region of Ticino enacted such a ban last year.

The measure was proposed by a group including lawmakers from the nationalist Swiss People's Party that was also behind a ban on building minarets in Switzerland. [Associated Press] Read more

Christian Concern intervenes to protect Europe from Sharia law

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is set to rule on a case concerning the application of sharia law to a dispute between Greek citizens who are Muslims.

The case is Molla Sali v. Greece (application no. 2042/14).

Christian Concern has submitted an intervention because of the importance of the case and its legal implications for countries across Europe, including the UK.

The case involves an inheritance dispute. Ms Molla Sali inherited the entire estate of her husband when he died under the terms of a will that he had drawn up in accordance with Greek law.

Two sisters of her husband are claiming that since her husband was a Muslim, the inheritance should be allocated according to sharia law, adjudicated by the mufti. There are provisions for sharia law to be applied to Greek nationals who are Muslims.

Does sharia law have supremacy over domestic law?

The case has gone all the way to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. This is the highest chamber of the court, with 17 judges sitting. Its rulings cannot be appealed. [Christian Concern] Read more

Islamic school's gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules

Schools in Britain will no longer be able to substantially segregate boys and girls, after the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational faith school in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by separating the two sexes.

The court overturned a ruling by the high court last year involving Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school that had been strongly criticised by Ofsted school inspectors for failing to uphold British values.

On appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act by strictly segregating pupils from the age of nine, teaching them in different classrooms and making them use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy was also applied to clubs and school trips.

About 25 other mixed schools in England have similar rules and they now face having to overhaul their policies in the wake of the ruling by Sir Terence Etherton, the master of rolls, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Beatson.

Ofsted said it would now look closely at the other schools with similar policies, which includes several Orthodox Jewish and Christian faith schools. [The Guardian] Read more

Islamic faith school's segregation of boys and girls ruled unlawful sex discrimination by Court of Appeal

An Islamic faith school's policy of segregating boys from girls is unlawful sex discrimination, Court of Appeal judges have said in a landmark ruling.

Ofsted placed the mixed-sex Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham into special measures last June after it claimed dividing classes was discriminatory.

But a High Court ruling last year found inspectors were wrong to penalise on the basis of an "erroneous" view that segregation amounted to unlawful discrimination.

Three Court of Appeal judges have now unanimously overturned the previous ruling, finding the complete segregation of classes to be contrary to the 2010 Equality Act.

The judges ruled the segregation caused detriment and less favourable treatment for both male and female pupils by reason of their sex.

"It is common ground that the school is not the only Islamic school which operates such a policy and that a number of Jewish schools with a particular Orthodox ethos and some Christian faith schools have similar practices," they said.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Faith schools are a bad idea. They reflect and reinforce divisions in society.

[NEXT] A far greater concern is that the pupils are taught that unbelievers are inferior, 'the worst of creatures' and destined for eternity in hell fire (Q 98:6) .

Not really a good basis for community cohesion.

[NEXT] .... And will the government, and Ofsted, please stop pussy-footing around schools which are operating illegally? If they won't reform, close them. And distribute the students around other, normal community schools. And give the closed school's assets to one of those other, normal schools to use in the provision of normal education.

The longer we turn a blind eye and just let things slide, the more trouble we store up for the future.

[NEXT] Religion is a lifestyle choice. Brainwashing of children into any faith should be illegal until they are old enough to make an informed choice.

[NEXT] Well this is a good ruling. Now let's move on to the prohibition of teaching of violent or antisocial texts from a book that purports to be factual statements from a real supernatural being.

[NEXT] If anyone wants to indoctrinate their children with religious claptrap it should not be done in conjunction with education. [The Independent] Read more

Market trader, 56, is BANNED from town centre after selling Knights Templar coffee mugs that are 'offensive' to Muslims

A market stall holder has been banned from having a stand in a town centre because she was selling 'offensive' Knights Templar coffee mugs.

Tina Gayle has been prohibited from having a stall in Loughborough Market after someone complained about the mugs.

She said the complainant had told the council the £6 Knights Templar mugs were offensive to Muslims and so she was asked to remove them from her stall.

When she refused to do so she was sent a letter and informed she had been given an outright ban.

Speaking to MailOnline Miss Gayle, 56, said: 'It's very unfair. The council told me about the complaint about the mugs and them being offensive to Muslims. They asked me to remove them. I said that was ridiculous and told them "no".

'They then printed off a letter on Friday at 4pm and said I'm banned. You're meant to have three written warnings before expulsion and they didn't do that. It was apparently something so bad they were banning me completely.' [1367 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 10305 votes] Pathetic country we live in. Are they going to ban all shops and butchers from selling pork now?

[2ND 6968] .... am going to buy one in protest.

[3RD 6489] Citizens of Loughborough. Vote differently at the next council election.

[4TH 6331] WTF. Nights Templar is part of British history. Does British history have to be scrubbed clean so it doesn't offend anyone. This is sick - the country is almost unrecogniseable.

[5TH 4904] Sue the Council for every penny they have. It is time these PC brigade idiots were stopped.

[6TH 4253] Ffs .... I am SICK of this pathetic nonsense!!

[7TH 3793] What a complete and utter bunch of idiots they are at Charnwood Borough Council.

[8TH 3373 ] I find ignorance and stupidity offensive so would the council kindly step down to be replaced by people who pick up a book occasionally and can display less prejudice to historical facts. [Daily Mail] Read more

12 October 2017

Stall holder banned after selling ‘offensive’ Knights Templar mugs

A market trader has been banned from having a stall after selling Knights Templar coffee mugs – in case they upset Muslims.

Tina Gayle, 57, who was previously warned for selling books and CDs featuring Nazi swastikas, was ordered to remove the £6 mugs from her stall after Charnwood Borough Council received a complaint they were offensive.

The mugs feature a drawing of a knight and have the Latin motto which translates as: ‘Not to us Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give the glory.’

The Knights Templar was a medieval order of crusading Christian monks who fought against Muslim soldiers. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

Appeal against Dublin mosque over call to prayer ‘noise pollution’

Plans for a large-scale mosque in west Dublin, including an 29 metre (95ft) tall minaret, have been appealed to An Bord Pleanála over fears the call to prayer would cause “noise pollution” in the area.

The Shuhada Foundation of Ireland was last month granted planning permission by Fingal County Council for the mosque, community centre, and primary school on the site of Warrenstown House, a former HSE facility in Blanchardstown.

Dr Taufiq al-Sattar, a Dublin-based neurosurgeon, pledged to build the mosque in memory of his late wife Shehnila Taufiq who died along with their daughter Zainab (19), and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) in an arson attack in Leicester, England, in September 2013.

Plans for the development, which would be one of the largest mosques in Ireland, were first lodged with the council just over a year ago. They were substantially revised earlier this year after the council raised concerns about the scale of the development. [The Irish Times] Read more