30 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 November 2017

St Gallen approves conditional ban on face coverings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim population in some EU countries could triple, says report

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

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

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

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

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 November 2017

Islamic faith schools endorsing misogyny, dossier reveals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ofsted accused of racism over hijab questioning in primary schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muslim children are being spoon-fed misogyny

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 November 2017

Ahmadi mosques on guard over death threats from Muslims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charity boss's links to online hate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accept equalities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several deaths have been reported.

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

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

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

24 November 2017

Church of England schools to be ‘sensitive’ over hijab

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

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

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

23 November 2017

Islamic ‘hate preacher’ to be expelled

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

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

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

Islam’s growing presence a challenge for Finland, Europe

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

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

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

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

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

IPSO clears Sun over 'The Muslim Problem' article - says causing offence is not a breach of Editors' Code

A Sun column which used the phrase “The Muslim Problem” has been cleared of breaching the Editors’ Code by press regulator IPSO

IPSO said in its adjudication: “The committee acknowledged that the question posed at the end of the column – ‘What will we do about The Muslim Problem then’ – was capable of causing serious offence, given it could be interpreted as a reference to the rhetoric preceding the Holocaust.

“The committee made clear that there is no clause in the Editors’ Code which prohibits publication of offensive content. It was clear that many, including the complainant, were offended by this aspect of the article, but there was no breach of the code on this point.”

A Sun spokesman said: “This is a welcome reminder that the vitality of newspapers comes from the free exchange of ideas and opinions, perhaps particularly those which some might not like.” [Press Gazette] Read more

Atheism is unconstitutional, says Malaysian deputy minister

A Malaysian deputy minister on Thursday (Nov 23) claimed that atheism is a “very dangerous” ideology that goes against the country’s Federal Constitution.

Mr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the ideology also goes against Malaysia’s Rukunegara that prescribes “Believe in God” as one of its tenets.

The Rukunegara is a set of national principles formulated after the May 13 racial riots in 1969 to uphold Malaysia’s diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Mr Asyraf alleged that the freedom of religion in the Federal Constitution — which guarantees the freedom to worship — does not include the freedom to not believe.

“We have to understand that in the Malaysian context, our Federal Constitution states that the freedom of religion does not mean freedom from any religion because that is unconstitutional,” he said.

“This means we cannot incite someone to leave a religion or promote not having a religion. We cannot order or promote the belief of not having a religion — that is against the Federal Constitution.” [Today Online] Read more

21 November 2017

School inspectors are right to question Muslim girls about the veil

Spare a thought for progressive UK Muslims, of multiple identities and allegiances. We are many, but you wouldn’t know that. We follow Islam (in our own ways), yet are keen advocates of secular democracy, the separation of state and faith in all matters. Our equality struggles, anti-racism and human rights activism extend to community and religious subjugation.

That maddens racists as well as conservative Muslims. We are caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. Criticism of fellow Muslims is seen as treachery because it encourages racism. Furthermore, reasonable, well-integrated Muslims are regarded with suspicion because they disrupt the well-rehearsed script of Britishness, of them and us.

For the sake of a quiet life, most have stayed out of the feverish disputes about Islam, Muslims, integration and all that. This willed silence has only emboldened reactionaries. [inews.co.uk] Read more

20 November 2017

Controversy over fundamentalist meeting in Genk Town Hall

A report broadcast in the Dutch current affairs programme ‘Nieuwsuur’ has caused controversy here. The report into how a growing number of young Muslims are adhering to a strict interpretation of their religion shows a meeting that was held at Genk Town Hall Limburg province.

During the meeting youngsters were told to stop listening to music as this constitutes a sin in the eyes of Islam.

The Genk Muslim association "Al Qiblah - Het Kompas" (the compass in Arabic and Dutch) organised the meeting that was entitled “From the cradle to the grave”. One of those that gave a reading was the Dutch former rapper Salah Edin. He was once a popular musician before he converted to a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

Men and women had to sit apart during the meeting and youngsters were told to try and no longer listen to music as it was sinful. They were also told to no longer frequent place where alcohol is served even if they don’t touch it themselves. [Flanders News] Read more

Muslim road rage driver who hadn’t eaten for 20 days during Ramadan has jail sentence cut

A MUSLIM road-rage driver who sent five men flying "like skittles" after mowing them down in his van during Ramadan has had his prison sentence cut.

.... Judge Jeremy Carey claimed that Aslam had "used the car as a weapon."

However, he noted that there was "substantial mitigation" and that the driver had not received sufficient credit for his guilty pleas.

It was also claimed that Aslam was a "quiet" family man and had been fasting for 20 days at the time of the incident.

The court heard how three of the pedestrians were left injured in the road rage, but none seriously.

One was flung onto the road, another struck the bonnet "full in the face" and the last "hit the dead centre of the bonnet." [Daily Express] Read more

Pakistani-American Muslims call for restrictions against ‘non-Muslims’

Pakistan born Islamic cleric Rafiq Khan defined America as “The land of Infidels” at a fundraiser for his Islamic charity this Saturday. The event which was held at a Holiday Inn in Springfield, Virginia attracted over 100 participants.

Speakers included an Islamist from Pakistan as well as radical Imams from the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. The conference revolved around the topics of Jihad, Infidels and what can the American Muslim community do to counter conspiracies against Islam.

.... The registration desk which was manned by teenagers displayed flyers and posters denouncing the founder of the moderate Ahmadiyya Islamic sect. An exhibition stall lined with posters urged Muslim voters to not vote for “non-Muslim candidates”. The event particularly targeted the Ahmadis who are considered heretic by the majority of mainstream Muslims as they believe in another Prophet after Prophet Muhammad and have a different understanding of Jihad. Many of the conference speakers accused the Ahmadis of being ‘Infidels’ and criticized them for having ‘abolished Jihad’. [Rabwah Times] Read more

Police admin worker can wear hijab with a uniform, says human rights council

The Dutch police are wrong to ban a Muslim women officer from wearing a headscarf in a job where her contact with the public is limited, the Dutch human rights council said on Monday.

The ban on religious symbols was introduced to ensure a ‘neutral and uniform appearance and for the safety of the police officer’, but the police have failed to prove these are ‘serious conditions’ for her to be able to carry out her job, the council said.

The case was brought by Sarah Izat, 26, who works in the national police 0900 call centre which the public can phone to make formal complaints, sometimes via a video connection. The police have banned headscarves and other religious and political symbols on the grounds that police officers should present a ‘neutral and uniform appearance’. The council said that in this case the need for a neutral appearance is limited, given the nature of the administrative job the young woman does. [DutchNews] Read more

Why we chose to take off our headscarves

For Muslim women who want to stop wearing the hijab, it’s a difficult and emotional decision. Meet some who have succeeded.

The sight of British Muslim women wearing the hijab, or headscarf, is ever more common. It is a phenomenon as little understood as it is contentious: almost every week there are stories on the rise of the hijab, from the release last week of hijabi Barbie to surveys in the autumn showing that a fifth of English primary schools have the hijab in their official uniform policy and half of Muslim state schools enforce the hijab for girls.

But what of the other direction? A woman taking up the hijab receives status within the Muslim community; she is also admired for facing any opprobrium from non-Muslims. The hijab is a symbol of cultural and religious pride. Deciding to take it off can alarm parents, worry husbands and disappoint communities. [The Times (£)] Read more

France to stop Muslims praying in the street, interior minister says

France will stop Muslims from praying in a Paris suburb, the interior minister has said, following skirmishes between worshippers and authorities.

Tensions have grown in recent weeks, with residents of the multi-ethnic Clichy-la-Garenne protesting street-prayers.

Worshippers began praying on the roads in March to protest the closure of a local mosque which was turned into a library.

The dispute underlined mosque shortages in the country and worshippers accused authorities of not offering land suitable land for Islamic centres. [The Independent] Read more

No one talks about the fact that in sharia courts, British Muslim women have fewer rights than women in Islamic countries

Channel 4 has commissioned a documentary titled The Truth About Muslim Marriage, to be shown this Tuesday. It examines whether Britain’s centuries-old marriage laws need to be updated to reflect and better serve today’s multifaith society.

The sighs and groans have already begun from Muslims about this on my social media. “Not another documentary ‘othering’ Muslims,” have been the cries.

I do not share this complaint. I have heard enough tales of women wronged and almost destroyed in the cases of separation and divorce to know that this is a subject that needs to be shouted about from the rooftops in order to obtain a change in the law. One which will give British Muslim women the right to a civil divorce and a share of matrimonial finances.

Take the case of a friend of a friend who tried to separate from her husband. Actually, she was already separated. She paid her own rent, utility bills and living costs, as well as solely providing for her three children who were all under the age of 10. Her peace of mind and happiness were all on hold as she tried to obtain a divorce through the Sharia Council because her husband refused to grant her one.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] This is a 'bait and switch' article. The 'bait' is the appearance of an article that will blow the lid off Islamic marriage. Then, once you're hooked, it 'switches' to this: 'Her faith taught her that she was an equal human being who was worthy of respect.'

Really?! Islam teaches that women must do what men tell them because men pay the bills. Islam teaches that a woman's evidence in court is worth only half that of a man. Islam teaches that a woman is like a man's field - tilth, in Arabic - and that like his 'field', her husband can 'go upon her' whenever he wishes.

This is one fish who didn't take the bait!

[HIGH RATED COMMENT] This whole story shows we have a parallel legal system ruling over 4m British Muslims, where the women have far worse rights than the men.

The sooner we ban sharia 'courts', the better.

But do you hear feminists howling about this rank injustice that affects 2m British women? Demonstrating outside places where the all-male Sharia courts are sitting?

Of course not. Too difficult. Too 'racist'. Much easier to attack white men over the supposed pay gap and manspreading.

[ANOTHER] Religious courts should not be allowed in this country. We have our legal system, that's it.

By the way, women are no better treated under the Beth Din (Jewish courts) either.

One court system, one law.

[ANOTHER] No ,British Muslim womens rights should not match those of women in Muslim countries,they should match those of British non-Muslim women. There should be no place for sharia courts and sharia law in Britain. Muslim women married by clergy must have their marriages registered by law as they do in churches,and the couple sign a register in the same room as couples do here. Anyone involved in conducting unregistered or polygamous marriages should be jailed.Divorce and the custody of children should be totally in control of British law.

[ANOTHER] Surely these women cannot be so isolated, confined and gullible as to be TOTALLY ignorant of the laws of the country in which they live? Oh wait---of course we live in a multi-culti paradise where no one is encouraged to become part of the host community or we'd all be called "wacist". What is more "wacist" than allowing a significant numbers of inhabitants to be completely without rights?

[ANOTHER] The law has to apply to everyone equally or what's the point? We get angry when rich people can subvert the law or gay people have less rights under the law. Shouldn't Muslim women be equal under British law too? Why do religions keep getting away with subverting the laws of the land. From catholic priests getting away with child abuse to Muslim husbands getting away with anything, religion's shouldn't have exemptions under the law. [The Independent] Read more

New Channel 4 survey reveals The Truth About Muslim Marriage

A ground-breaking Channel 4 survey has revealed that almost two thirds of Muslim women married in Britain are not in legally recognised marriages, as they have not had a civil ceremony alongside their Nikah religious ceremony. Many of these women are unaware that they therefore do not have the same rights and protections afforded to couples who are married in the eyes of the law.

The survey also explored attitudes towards polygamy, finding that the vast majority of women questioned did not wish to be in a polygamous relationship, and more than a third of those who were in such a relationship had not agreed to it. (The Truth about Muslim Marriage, Channel 4, 10pm, 21st November).

One ceremony which unites virtually all of Britain’s three million Muslims is the Nikah – the traditional Islamic wedding ceremony. Ninety-nine per cent of those women questioned had a Nikah marriage. But, without having a separate civil ceremony, the Nikah alone is not a legally recognised marriage. This can cause serious problems for some people if their relationships break down. [Channel Four] Read more

19 November 2017

Muslim Anti-Semitism Threatens France’s Democracy

“In the Merah household, we were brought up with hating Jews, the hatred of everything that was not Muslim.”

These were the chilling words of Abdelghani Merah at the trial of his brother, Abdelkader Merah, who was accused of conspiring with a third brother, Mohamed, to murder three soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren, and a teacher in Toulouse, France, in 2012.

Abdelghani also revealed, at the time, that “when the medical examiner brought [his] brother’s corpse home, people came over. They cried tears of joy. They said that he had brought France to its knees. That he did well. Their only regret was that he had not killed more Jewish children.”

These appalling remarks, which suggest the environment in which Mohamed Merah was immersed and his family’s way of thinking, have sparked a debate about the extent of hatred of Jews in the French Muslim community. For years, it has been nearly impossible to speak about French Muslim anti-Semitism. [Newsweek] Read more

France to block Muslim street prayers in Paris suburb

French authorities will stop Muslims from praying in a street north of Paris, the country's interior minister said on Sunday, after a series of protests by lawmakers and locals over what they view as an unacceptable use of public space.

"They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying," Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told Questions Politics (Franceinfo, France Inter, Le Monde).

Prayers in the street have taken place every Friday in the multiethnic suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne since March to protest the closure of a popular local mosque that had operated in a government building but since been turned into a library.

Worshippers have accused the authorities of not offering suitable land to build a new mosque and the interior minister acknowledged the need for an alternative: "Muslims must have a place of worship to pray."

"We will make sure we resolve this conflict in the next few weeks," he added.

A local Muslim association has said it intends to hold prayers in the city centre next Friday. [The Local] Read more

School inspectors to question Muslim girls who wear hijabs amid concerns they are being forced to wear headscarf

Muslim girls who wear the hijab to primary school will be asked why they wear it by inspectors.

The reasons given will then be recorded in school reports, amid concerns girls are being forced to wear the headscarf by their parents.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, announced the move on Sunday.

She said schools could be in breach of equality laws if they only require girls to wear religious garments.

There were also concerns wearing the hijab at such an age could be seen to be sexualising young girls, as they are traditionally worn by young women after puberty as a sign of modesty in the presence of men. [The Independent] Read more

School inspectors to quiz girls in hijabs

The chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, said hijabs could be seen to be sexualising children

Inspectors are to question children who wear the hijab to primary school, amid concern that girls as young as four are being forced to wear the Muslim headscarf.

The controversial move to ask children why they wear the hijab to school is announced today by the chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman.

It will be the first time the rise of the classroom hijab has been officially challenged in state schools in England — or the reason given for wearing it recorded in school reports.

Spielman says in a statement today that primary school hijabs could be seen to be sexualising children because the headscarf is traditionally worn as a sign of modesty in front of men when Muslim girls reach puberty. [The Times (£)] Read more

Six in 10 Muslim wives not legally married

About 6 in 10 Muslim women who have had traditional Islamic weddings in Britain are not legally married, according to a survey.

They have had a nikah marriage but 61% failed to go through a separate civil ceremony, recognised by the family courts.

If their marriage breaks down and they cannot agree on a division of assets, it means they must fight through the civil courts rather than start with a presumption that they will get an equal share.

The survey, of 923 women in the UK, was based on responses to community researchers rather than random sampling. The findings will be broadcast on Tuesday on Channel 4 in The Truth About Muslim Marriage. [The Times (£)] Read more

17 November 2017

An 'Islamic feminist' on why she's not an oxymoron

Sherin Khankan is misunderstood. Ever since launching Denmark’s first and only woman-led mosque in 2016, she’s been regularly accused of being a radical Muslim. But that’s something the self-described “Islamic feminist” says could not be further from the truth.

“I believed it was time to change the patriarchal structure of Islam for a new generation of Muslims by rereading the Koran with a focus on women’s rights, on gender equality, and by promoting female Muslim leadership in the mosque,” the country’s first female imam, or mosque prayer leader, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, about her Mariam Mosque in Copenhagen.

Khankan, 43, is, in fact, the poster-child example of a modern Muslim woman who fits neatly into Western society — where many not only view Islam as oppressive, male-dominated, and threatening to long-standing democratic institutions, but may also have a negative view of Muslim women as being restricted in their own free will, from pursuing education to choosing what they can wear. [Yahoo] Read more

15 November 2017

Let's hope Canadian courts see the true meaning of the niqab

.... Amongst the (anglophone) chattering classes a consensus has formed that the challengers will win on constitutional grounds, in that women have a Charter right to dress as conscience dictates.

“Dress.” There’s the constant rub. I hope the court will see the difficulty here. While I make no comparison whatsoever as to motivation or purpose, to me, the niqab is no more an article of clothing than a KKK costume. Both are cause-rooted uniforms, draped over clothing, designed to embody a strong message.

The court should consider the impact of that message on fellow citizens in situations where, like in the giving and getting of public services, they cannot choose their interlocutor. The message is conveyed whether or not the costumed individual underestimates or misunderstands its full significance.

.... That there are relatively few niqabs in Canada is neither here nor there as a matter of principle. It seems to me strange and hypocritical that we see no problem in repressing even infrequent messaging associated with racism. But, fearful of being perceived as Islamophobic, we won’t endorse action against messaging that emblemizes gender apartheid. [National Post] Read more

Pakistani police clash with protesters at anti-blasphemy sit-in

Pakistani police have clashed with protesters and arrested dozens in an attempt to disperse an anti-blasphemy sit-in staged by a hardline cleric, which has blocked a main entrance to Islamabad for a week, choking traffic and putting the capital on near lockdown.

Thousands of supporters of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan party, are demanding that the law and justice minister, who they accuse of undercutting blasphemy laws, resign.

Fearing violence at a combustible time in Pakistani politics, police have blocked several roads with shipping containers to prevent protesters from reaching government buildings.

“The police have beaten up our peaceful protesters,” said one protester, Faisal, 37. “We are ready to get our heads cut off for this cause. We are protecting the prophet, because if we won’t, who will?” [The Guardian] Read more

‘Peace committee’ slaps Taliban-style curbs on Wana

WANA: A faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana, South Waziristan Agency, under the guise of a peace committee and placed a ban on cultural and social activities and put restrictions on movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

The so-called peace committee has issued tough guidelines through pamphlets in Wana town and warned local people to abide by these rules otherwise violators would face repercussions, according to sources.

The committee has banned music, athan, a traditional dance which is performed in wedding ceremonies or other festive occasions, and use of narcotics.

According to the committee’s guidelines, those activities which promote immorality or violate Islamic teachings would not be permitted on these occasions. [Dawn] Read more

14 November 2017

This Islamophobia obsession does Muslims no favours

For the past three years I have been involved in leading a national initiative called Islam Awareness Week. A celebration of faith and community that has been running for more than 25 years, it aims to raise understanding of the positive contribution made by British Muslims in all walks of life, including education, medicine, the arts and politics.

Five years ago, a rather different initiative sprang up, called Islamophobia Awareness Month, which sets out to highlight one of the most negative aspects of being a Muslim in Britain today.

The hatred of others should not determine how Muslims are viewed. Focusing disproportionately on Muslims as victims creates division: it emphasises the us and them mentality that further alienates Muslims from society.

I have been involved in tackling hate crime for over a decade and for most of that time have chaired an award-winning hate crime prevention organisation. I am well aware that anti-Muslim hatred is a sad reality and that it needs to be challenged. A report by the monitoring group Tell Mama shows that in 2016, 2,840 Islamophobic crimes and incidents were recorded by 18 police forces in the UK. [The Times (£)] Read more

Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws

The bill includes provisions that would legalise marital rape and child marriage and ban Muslims from marrying non-Muslims.

Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women's rights back 50 years.

They are calling on Iraqi ministers to withdraw a draft of the Jafaari Personal Status Law which would allow Muslim clerics to have control over marriage contracts.

The legislation is based on the Shia principles of the Jaafari school of jurisprudence, which was founded by the sixth Shia Imam, Jaafar al-Sadiq.

The 2014 version of the bill, which was approved by Iraq's Council of Ministers, includes provisions that would legalise marital rape, ban Muslims from marrying non-Muslims and allow nine-year-old children to marry. [International Business Times] Read more

Sayeeda Warsi accuses UK press of hate speech and Islamophobia

Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative cabinet minister, has accused British newspapers of Islamophobia and hate speech and called for a parliamentary investigation into the issue.

Lady Warsi, the first Muslim woman to hold a cabinet position, said hate speech in the press had become a “plague” with Muslims the “principal target”.

She gave examples from the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Times in her speech.

The former lawyer was giving the fifth annual Leveson lecture at an event hosted by the Hacked Off campaign, which wants greater regulation of the press. She resigned from the government in 2014 over its “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza.

Warsi said hate was a daily reality for Muslims in Britain in 2017, adding: “In sections of our press, it is relentless and deliberate. Steadily and methodically using paper inches and columns to create, feed and ratchet up suspicions and hostilities in our society, driving communities apart and creating untold – and unnecessary – fear and distress. [The Guardian] Read more

13 November 2017

Bangladeshi village burned down after 'Prophet Mohammed insulted' in resident's Facebook post

One person was killed and five injured as police retaliated.

A Hindu village in Bangladesh was burnt down after a rumour spread that a local youth had insulted the Prophet Mohammed in a Facebook post.

More than 30 houses were set alight in the Rangpur Sadar upazila (district) following the man’s alleged defamation of the religious figure on social media.

The mob reportedly emerged from a crowd of 20,000 people who had gathered from six or seven neighbouring Muslim villages. Anger started to grow after a local Muslim businessman lodged a complaint with the police about the alleged Facebook post. [The Independent] Read more

12 November 2017

Government house calls for Maldivians insulting Islam on social media

People making fun of Islam on social media will get house calls from government officials who will educate them about the faith, authorities have said.

It was common for Maldivians to use social media to insult or disrespect the country’s official religion, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Ziyad Bagir said at a news conference, and the house visits were intended to correct that.

The move comes amid the trial of seven people charged with murdering liberal blogger and Internet activist Yameen Rasheed, whose death was justified and even welcomed on social media by those who saw him as an apostate.

One article at the time said mocking Islam was punishable by death, while a Facebook page threatened more killings against those it accused of campaigning for secularism. It spoke of a hit list, announcing there would be no rest until all apostates were beheaded.

Islamic ministry officials at Thursday’s news conference did not explain what constituted mockery, nor did they give a reason for singling out social media. [Maldives Independent] Read more

11 November 2017

No Safe Haven: Persecution Continues for Pakistani Religious Minorities in UK

.... Hatred of minorities by Pakistani Sunni Muslims has roots in Pakistani societal norms imported with immigration to the UK.

.... Pakistan’s national education curriculum ‘openly demonises and caricatures minorities,’ according to Wilson Chowdhry of British Pakistani Christian Association. Christians are often demonised by teachers and headmasters. There have been incidents of Christian children being beaten by school staff for using the same toilets as Muslims, in an attempt to make Christians an ‘untouchable’ caste.

In one instance, a Christian boy was beaten to death by his fellow classmates.

The attacks by Pakistani Sunni Muslims on Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims in the UK indicates that the religious hatred generated throughout Pakistan’s educational curriculum remains embedded in some Pakistani Sunni communities in the UK. [Conatus News] Read more

10 November 2017

Tensions over Muslim street prayers north of Paris

Around 100 local French lawmakers attempted to block Muslims praying in a street north of Paris on Friday and called on the government to ban what they see as an unacceptable use of public space.

The lawmakers, led by the head of the regional government of the Paris area, Valerie Pecresse, disrupted the crowd of around 200 all-male devotees and sang the national anthem in the multiethnic Clichy suburb.

"Public space cannot be taken over in this way," Pecresse said at the demonstration alongside the rightwing mayor of Clichy, Remi Muzeau, who like other lawmakers wore a sash in the national colours of blue, white and red.

Prayers in the street have taken place every Friday in Clichy since March to protest the closure of a popular local mosque that had operated in a government building.

The interior ministry "must ban street prayers," Muzeau told reporters at the scene on Friday. "I am responsible for guaranteeing the tranquility and freedom of everyone in my town."

The former mosque run by the Union of Clichy Muslim Associations (UAMC) was used by 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims daily before the mayor's office reclaimed the building and turned it into a library.

Muzeau says that local Muslims have been urged to use a new 1,500-square-metre (16,000 square feet) mosque nearby, but many are refusing to go there. [AFP] Read more

French mayor leads protest to stop Muslim worshippers praying in street

A French mayor and dozens of other MPs and elected councillors from around the Paris region sang the Marseillaise on Friday as they marched towards around 200 Muslim worshippers in a bid to stop them praying in the street.

The stand off which was caught in several video clips (see below) took place in the Paris suburb of Clichy on Friday afternoon.

The local right wing mayor Remi Muzeau led the march after growing infuriated by the presence of hundreds of Muslim worshippers praying on the town's market square every Friday for the past nine months.

Images relayed from the scene near Clichy Town Hall shows around 60 elected officials, including MPs and the president of the greater Paris region of Île-de-France, Valerie Pecresse marching with their tricolore sashes as they sing the Marseillaise.

They head towards around 200 Muslim worshippers who are observing their Friday prayer outside in protest against the town's decision to close a prayer hall. [The Local] Read more

One of the most important duties of women is to obey their husbands

"Liberal countries, which call for absolute freedom, have caused us some problems. Islam does not want that. Islam is the pinnacle of progress and freedom. But it keeps freedom in its proper place."

Which is - for men only.

Shiite Iraqi scholar Taleb Khozaei delivered lectures at the Hussainayet Ale Yassin Mosque in Sydney, through the month of Ramadan, on the duties of the wife toward her husband. In a May 31 sermon, he said that "one of the most important duties of women is to obey their husbands" and that she must obtain his permission to step out of her home or to use his money.

In a June 8 sermon, Khozaei, citing a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, said that the wife must make herself available for sex with her husband whenever he wants, "even if she is riding a camel..."

Could be awkward - how would that work? - but, you know, if that's what the Prophet said... [Mick Hartley] Read more

The latest Prevent figures show why the strategy needs an independent review

The Prevent strategy (2011) and the subsequent Prevent duty (2015) – whereby public authorities are required to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” – have instead become a “significant source of grievance” among students, teachers, academics, human rights groups and broader civil society, encouraging “mistrust to spread and to fester”.

In a year when we have suffered a series of terror threats, it is clear we need a counter-radicalisation strategy that is effective and has the trust of our entire society. The Home Office’s latest attempt to reverse the loss of trust over the past decade, therefore, is very welcome. In a new report, it has opened a small door into the inner workings of Prevent: who is doing the referring, what happens to those referred, who is being referred and for what reason?

.... While there are clearly some community-based Prevent initiatives that have had a positive impact, and individual success stories that have understandably been promoted by the Home Office, there is little doubt that there are serious, legitimate questions about the Prevent strategy, which the latest figures corroborate.

Let’s regain trust and win the hearts and minds of Britons across all communities. Let’s have an independent review of Prevent. [Miqdaad Versi, 321 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 145 votes] "Ten years later, hearts and minds are yet to be won."

I don't think we're asking a lot. All we ask is that particular groups don't try to kill the rest of us in the name of their religion. I don't think that's unreasonable.

[2ND 134] "The threat, quantified by the number of terror arrests, is approximately five times greater from “Islamist” terrorism compared to “extreme rightwing” terrorism."

What if we use a different metric like, for instance, number of people murdered?

[3RD 123] I am reminded of Willie Sutton's explanation of why he robbed banks - 'cos that's where the money is'.

If the author thinks muslims are being targeted disproportionately by Prevent, he should look at the pattern of terrorist attacks in the UK. On the day that Hebridean grandmothers are committing most of the attacks then I'll suggest targeting them. Until then, Special Branch and the rest have to go where the money is.

[4TH 114] "However, this does not explain why a smaller proportion of “Islamist” extremists referred to Prevent are discussed at a Channel panel, compared with “extreme rightwing” extremists."

No, what explains this is the relative rarity of extreme right-wing terrorism in the UK as opposed to islamic terrorism. I can't seem to find the figures anywhere, but I somehow suspect that if we were to count the terror attacks in the past 20 years in the UK, less than 10% of them will have been the result of extreme right-wingers.

Wikipedia, at least, reports two such attacks - the killing of Jo Cox and the 1999 bombings, which caused a total of four deaths. There have been more deaths to islamic extremism in the UK this year alone. The figures are likely even more extreme if we take into account attacks prevented by security services - but this is impossible to do because it is uncommon that they alert the public when it happens.

I kept reading and hoping that this would be addressed somehow, but it wasn't. It is impossible to have an honest discussion on this subject whilst this elephant in the room remains unaddressed.

[5TH 108] What a total misuse of statistics. According to the article, the threat of terror of the Islamic variety is 5 times more likely than far right terrorism. At the same time, the article implies that there are 2.5 million Muslim people in the county. That implies that there is approximately 60 million non-Muslims.

Assume that Islamic terrorism is all carried out by people of the Islamic faith, then the data implies that a supporter of Islam is 120 times more likely to carry out a terrorist atrocity than a non-muslim is likely to carry out a far-right atrocity.

Whilst the author has calculated a figure of 2.5 million muslims, they have not calculated a total cohort of people to include in the far right category

I hate writing this sort of stuff, but it is what comes from the Guardian constantly ramping up gender and identity politics and the victim culture it promotes.

Odds on this gets blocked even though I'm just using the statistics of the author.

[6TH 99] "the government’s action plan to isolate, prevent and defeat violent extremism in 2007. Ten years later, hearts and minds are yet to be won."

So after 10 years the government has failed to convince everyone that living peacefully with the 90% of the population that don't share their religion rather than trying (indeed succeeding) to blow them up.

Have you considered that maybe, just maybe the problem does not lie wholly, or primarily with the government? [Guardian Cif] Read more

09 November 2017

‘Those who denounce Prevent as Islamophobic are themselves dangerous’

If we fail to tackle extremism when we encounter it, then we fail our children and their communities, writes the CEO of a large multi-academy trust

One of the fundamental responsibilities that we have as educators is in loco parentis: we protect our pupils from harm, in whatever form. Safeguarding is so fundamentally hardwired into what we do, and yet for some in our sector, our duties under Prevent cause a sense of unease and discomfort. Two years on from those duties coming into effect, critics still regularly denounce Prevent as tantamount to spying, or worse "Islamophobia".

But these criticisms themselves are dangerous. By putting a question mark in a teacher’s mind about whether to report concerns they might have, making them second guess their judgements, could put a pupil in real harm.

Physical bullying, online victimisation, sexual abuse, FGM: as unpleasant as these are, they are real challenges that we all face in our schools. By and large, teachers have accepted that these challenges all need to be confronted head-on. Radicalisation is no different. As difficult as it is, if we fail to tackle extremism when we encounter it, then we fail our children, their families and our communities. [Tes Global] Read more

07 November 2017

Ottawa 'carefully' reviewing constitutional challenge of Quebec's face-covering law

The federal government says it's reviewing the recently launched constitutional challenge to Quebec's controversial face-covering ban.

A coalition of Muslim and civil liberty groups filed the complaint in Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday.

The challenge contests portions of Quebec's religious neutrality law under both Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The law requires those giving or receiving public services to do so with their faces uncovered.

"We have been following the progress of Bill 62 and appreciate the importance of the issues it raises. As the prime minister has said, we do not believe that the government should be telling people what they can and cannot wear," said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in statement. [CBC News] Read more

Some Islamic schools in England still segregating children

At least 10 Islamic schools in England are still segregating boys and girls in co-educational schools, while others are likely to be separating the genders for certain activities, despite a recent court ruling outlawing the practice.

Details emerged in an appeal court judgment on Tuesday, which turned down an attempt by the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) to join a legal action to seek leave to appeal to the supreme court for a review of the segregation ruling.

The request followed a judgment last month when three court of appeal judges found that Al-Hijrah Islamic school in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by formally segregating girls and boys from the age of nine.

The court heard that boys and girls were taught in different classrooms and were made to use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy also applied to clubs and school trips.

The judgment overturned an earlier high court ruling which found that Ofsted inspectors were wrong to penalise the school on the basis of an “erroneous” view that the segregation amounted to discrimination. In its successful appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act. [The Guardian] Read more

Legal bid over Islamic faith school's segregation policy rejected by judges

The Association of Muslim Schools has failed in a bid to take a legal case on an Islamic faith school's policy of segregating boys and girls to the UK's highest court.

In a landmark ruling last month three Court of Appeal judges found that the policy of the mixed-sex Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham to completely segregate from the age of nine is unlawful sex discrimination.

The judges overturned a High Court finding that Ofsted inspectors were wrong to penalise the school on the basis of an "erroneous" view that the segregation amounted to discrimination.

For religious reasons the voluntary-aided school, which has pupils aged between four and 16, believes that separation of the sexes from year five onwards is obligatory.

The school, which is maintained by Birmingham City Council, has complete segregation from nine to 16 for all lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips. [ITV] Read more

05 November 2017

Religion is increasingly being treated with leniency in the name of multiculturalism. How can we stop Sharia courts from threatening secular values?

Liberals seem to have forgotten their pledge to uphold secular values and, it seems, are quite happily embracing theological interference in politics and legislation in the form of Sharia courts.

There was a time when Europe was in the firm grip of the Church. It took years of tireless efforts to separate religion from the State.

Thanks to the leniency with which religion is being increasingly treated in the name of multiculturalism, however, the West is again falling for the dangerous romance between Church and State.

The latest manifestation of this unfortunate phenomenon took place in Canada, where the Ontario Superior Court allowed a Muslim man to walk free from the charge of marital rape because the accused followed Sharia law, under which a wife is obliged to submit to sexual intercourse at her husband’s will.

The victim stated that her husband sexually assaulted her and that she tried to stop him, but he only continued to rape her. The defendant claimed he didn’t know that this constituted marital rape in Canada.

This was in spite of the fact that in 2005, Ontario had prohibited the adjudication of family disputes in religious courts.

Nevertheless, the Court gave the man margin, finding that although he was guilty of the accusations, he was not aware that he was committing a crime on Canadian soil. [Conatus News] Read more

03 November 2017

A brief response to right-wing media accusations

There is currently a co-ordinated right-wing media attack on MEND, that is being fuelled by selective quoting and misrepresentations by a selection of primarily neoconservative and Islamophobic groups and individuals.

MEND is currently in the process of compiling a comprehesive document which fully refutes all allegations ever made against us. We expect to have this rebuttal within the coming few days. In the meantime, we would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the recently levied and unfounded allegations against us by right-wing journalists.

In order to contextualise some of these allegations, it is important to note that many of them have been raised by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) – an organisation that is known to be notoriously right-wing and Islamophobic, and which has been labelled as ‘corrupt’ by its own founder. HJS is known for its distinct anti-Muslim and xenophobic tendencies.

These tendencies are exemplified by many of the key figures within HJS, including Douglas Murray, who has made serious and disturbing comments about Muslims, including suggesting that Islamophobia is a “nonsense term”, and that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” so that Europe would appear to be a less attractive proposition. [MEND] Read more

Birmingham Council insists Trojan Horse did happen and promises to challenge those who deny it

Birmingham City Council has insisted there WAS a serious problem in city schools during the Trojan Horse affair.

And it promised to "challenge" people who try to deny what happened.

Inquiries in 2014 found there was a "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained" attempt by a group of people to take control of some Birmingham schools and "introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos".

But the authority issued a statement after pressure group MEND organised a debate in a city community centre to discuss whether Trojan Horse really did happen as it has been described.

MEND publicity material advertising the event said: “Has a hoax letter, a media scrum, a forceful education secretary and political motivations in education regulation lead to the stigmatisation of a community, discrimination against outstanding teachers/school leaders and exam failure for a generation of children?”

The city council highlighted two inquiries, one led by former police officer Peter Clarke for the Department for Education and one by education expert Ian Kershaw for the council, which both confirmed the claims.

The council said in a statement: "We are concerned to ensure that there are no misleading messages given about what really happened during Trojan Horse, and to make it clear that the city council in no way endorses the planned event. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

'Boycott school meals' call in Lancashire halal meat row

Calls have been made for a boycott of school meals in Lancashire after councillors voted to ban unstunned halal meat from its kitchens.

Lancashire County Council made the decision to stop using it in 27 council-run schools last month.

They described the practice of not stunning animals before slaughtering them as "abhorrent" and "really cruel".

Lancashire Council of Mosques said the decision would "only serve to increase Islamophobia and anti-Semitism".

The group said the decision, which will take effect from December, meant the council would stop providing meals "in accordance with the universal criteria of Halal".

LCOM's chief executive officer Abdul Hamid Qureshi said: "Our advice to the community is to stop school meals as soon as this occurs and campaign for change.

"We recognise that this will have a significant impact on schools across Lancashire and, more importantly, on the children.

"We are committed to continue working with schools and regret the impact this will have." [BBC] Read more

Egyptian TV presenter who spoke about single motherhood jailed for 'outraging public decency'

An Egyptian TV presenter has been sentenced to three years in prison for discussing women having children outside wedlock on air.

Doaa Salah asked if her viewers had considered having sex before marriage.

The Al-Nahar TV presenter also suggested a woman could briefly marry to have children before divorcing her husband.

Opening the Dodi Show wearing a false pregnancy bump, she said: “If she gets divorce she becomes a single mother. If, God forbid, she is widowed, she becomes single mother. So can you choose, yourself, to become a single mother before you get married?"

She also complained artificial insemination was not offered in Egypt.

Ms Salah was immediately suspended from her presenting job for three months after the broadcast.

She was later charged and convicted of outraging public decency. [The Independent] Read more

Far right and Islamic terrorists ‘thrive’ on political correctness, says Dame Louise Casey

Political correctness and a failure to tackle integration issues help Islamic terrorists and allow the far right to flourish, the government’s former community cohesion adviser has warned.

Dame Louise Casey said that “horrible far right racists” were being empowered by Britain’s inability to take on issues such as inequality in the Muslim community and segregation in some ethnic communities.

She said: “In our desire to embrace diversity we are creating division. The far right is growing and they are milking it every time we are overly politically correct and unable to deal with Islamic extremism.”

Dame Louise was speaking publicly for the first time since her review into social integration found that Britain was more divided as it became more diverse. [The Times (£)] Read more

Anger over debate asking whether 'Trojan Horse' plot to take over Birmingham schools really happened

A debate about the Trojan Horse affair has been cancelled after organisers were accused of attempting mislead the local community.

Pressure group MEND was due to host the event at the Bordesley Centre in Stratford Road, Birmingham, on November 3.

Speakers were to discuss whether the Trojan Horse affair really did take place in the way it has been described.

An inquiry in 2014 by Peter Clarke, who was appointed Education Commissioner for Birmingham by the Government, found “a sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strand of Sunni Islam.”

But MEND publicity material advertising the event said: “Has a hoax letter, a media scrum, a forceful education secretary and political motivations in education regulation lead to the stigmatisation of a community, discrimination against outstanding teachers/school leaders and exam failure for a generation of children?” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

01 November 2017

The Trojan Horse is being dragged back into our schools: it must be stopped

The invite seemed innocuous. Tomorrow evening, at a community centre in Birmingham, parents, teachers and others would gather to discuss the future of schools in Britain’s second city. One pictures a scene from David Cameron’s Big Society: local people pulling together with experts to improve the education of their children.

Sadly, the meeting was no such thing. It was instead a shocking attempt to deny the Trojan Horse scandal of 2014 in plain sight of the public and authorities.

When The Daily Telegraph discovered this, and contacted the owners of the venue, they rightly cancelled it. It may still be held elsewhere. But even if it is not, that is unlikely to be the end of this plot. [The Telegraph] Read more

Inquiry rejects press claims about 'Christian' girl fostered by Muslims

Allegations made in the national press about a girl placed with Muslim foster carers have been roundly rejected in the findings of an official investigation seen by the Guardian.

In August, claims that the five-year-old, described as a “white Christian”, had been left distressed after being placed in a Muslim household became the focus of a political and media furore. The allegations emerged from a family court case over the future of the child’s custody.

But an investigation by a senior social worker at Tower Hamlets council did not find evidence to support any of the allegations, which were made by the child’s mother and published in the Times in an article headlined: “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care.”

“Although the mother disputes the findings, the local authority is satisfied that at all times the foster carers provided warm and appropriate care to the child,” a report on the investigation’s findings says. [The Guardian] Read more

Jury did not have enough Muslims, says rape convict

A man jailed for raping and threatening to kill his wife has begun an appeal because he felt that there were not enough Muslims on the jury.

The 43-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for ten years after being convicted at the Central Criminal Court last year. His appeal claimed that he was faced with a jury of “homogeneous” white Catholics and that jurors were not given a tailored warning addressing the potential for racial bias. [The Times (£)] Read more