30 December 2017

Atheist mother loses custody of children in Egypt

A court in Egypt has separated a mother from her two children because she is an atheist. The decision to refuse custody of the children came from a family court in Cairo last Sunday, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reports.

RFI gives no further details of the case but notes that it comes in the midst of a nationwide crackdown on atheism. In Egyptian media, disbelief in God is increasingly presented as a form of extremism which threatens national security.

This week's court ruling is thought to be the first child custody case hinging on a parent's atheism but it is not entirely unprecedented.

In 2009, a 73-year-old Egyptian Muslim man was awarded custody of his seven-year-old grandson because the boy’s parents had changed their religion, converting to the Baha’i faith.

The grandfather, Mohammad Abdul Fatah, said he had gone to court after seeking advice from Egypt’s Grand Mufti: “He advised me to consider my daughter dead, and to file a lawsuit to demand the guardianship of my grandchild.” The court ruling could not be enforced, however, as the parents had already emigrated with their son. [al-bab.com] Read more

Anti-sharia laws proliferate as Trump strikes hostile tone toward Muslims

Anti-sharia legislation is spreading in state legislatures across the US, as Donald Trump’s hostile stance towards Muslims appears to be emboldening rightwing Islamaphobes.

In 2017 there were 23 new bills introduced in 18 states attempting to prohibit the practice of Islamic religious law, or sharia, in US courts. The rash of new bills brings the total number of such legislative efforts since 2010 to 217 in 43 states, according to the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley which monitors the anti-sharia movement.

Legal experts point out that the bills are superfluous, as the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and any foreign laws are subservient to it. Sharia itself is less a set of laws than religious guidelines, one of which requires Muslims to be law-abiding according to the rules of whichever country they find themselves.

.... Most of the recent bills are careful not to refer overtly to sharia or Islam, as to do so would be to expose the legislation to the scrutiny of federal courts on grounds of religious discrimination. Instead, they talk of “foreign laws” being banned in US jurisdictions. [The Guardian] Read more

29 December 2017

Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop

Nine people have been killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, Egypt's interior ministry has said.

Six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested, it said.

It said the man had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed its "soldiers" carried out the church attack.

The interior ministry's account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt's health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of IS militants. [BBC] Read more

28 December 2017

India aims for law that could jail Muslim men who instantly divorce wives

India’s lower house of parliament passed a bill on Thursday aimed at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the “triple talaq”, or instant divorce.

The bill now moves to the upper house of parliament, where it is likely to be approved.

In August, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a law which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq”, which means divorce in Arabic, three times.

Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing the practice of husbands divorcing them through triple talaq not only violated their rights but left many women destitute.

“Only a law can explicitly ban triple talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide for allowances and protect custody of children,” said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. [Reuters] Read more

27 December 2017

German authorities target Islamist women's network

Germany's domestic security agency has identified a radical network made up of Islamist women. Female extremists are becoming increasingly common, as they aim to fill the gap left by their detained husbands.

German intelligence services said on Tuesday that they had identified an Islamist network made up of around 40 women in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the network followed a strict Salafist doctrine — from how to raise children and cooking ingredients, to how to interpret the rules of Islam and stir up hatred against so-called "non-believers."

The result, Freier said, could be something "much more difficult to dissolve, namely Salafist pockets within society." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

26 December 2017

'It is your duty to stop it': Hardline Australian Sharia law preacher says Muslim men shouldn't allow women to get an education if it leads them to have sex outside of marriage

A hardline Islamic preacher who promotes Sharia law says Muslim men have a duty to stop women in their family from going to university.

Nassim Abdi, from western Sydney, said young Muslim women in their late teens and early twenties were at risk of having premarital sex if they delayed marriage to finish a degree.

'There is nothing wrong with a woman getting an education, especially if it's needed,' he said.

'There is nothing wrong with a person delaying marriage if there's an appropriate reason.

'But when you know this step is going to lead to the disobedience of Allah, then upon you dear brother is to stop that if you can.

'Otherwise, you will be held responsible.'

The Sunni fundamentalist, from the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association at Auburn in Sydney's west, used the Islamic legal term for premarital sex, Zinnah, to condemn the idea of a woman unnecessarily going to university. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Austrian minister's headscarf remark worry Muslims

Recent remarks by Austria's newly appointed Education Minister Heinz Fassmann against the headscarf have raised concerns for Muslims living in the country.

Fassmann's interview published in local Kurier newspaper on Friday quoted him saying "teachers should not wear a headscarf."

When asked about his opinion on the headscarf ban, Fassmann said: “Yes, I have a sympathy for the secular state and find that teachers should not wear a headscarf, except religious and private school teachers.”

The coalition government formed by Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) earlier this month, has an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant stance.

Reacting to the interview, President of Islamic Religious Authority in Austria (IGGO) Ibrahim Olgun told Anadolu Agency: “Headscarf is our red line.” [Anadolu Agency] Read more

"Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist": Rotterdam mayor

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb caused a social media uproar with an interview on NPO Radio 1 in which he said that "every Muslim is a bit of a salafist". PVV leader Geert Wilders called for Aboutaleb's resignation.

The Rotterdam mayor discussed several topics with Thijs van den Brink, but it was his statements regarding Islam that caused a commotion, AD reports. For example, he said he sometimes considers himself a jihadist. "I get up every day at 7 o'clock to do good for a city in the Netherlands.

That is the jihad in its purest form." Van den Brink pointed out that this is not the form "we know in the Netherlands". To which Aboutaleb responded that there are many definitions of jihad, "of which the armed struggle is only one form". "And that also falls apart in the defense and the attack deployment", he said.

Aboutaleb is also not worried about salafism. "Salafists can also be found among Christians, if you approach it linguistically. Salaf is a progenitor, and a salafist is someone who wants to look like his progenitor. For example, a Muslim who wants to look like Mohammed.

In Christianity you also have people who want to look like Christ in their actions. Every Muslim is a bit of a salafist", he said. He thinks salafism should not be banned, but the line should be drawn in the use of violence. The Salafists who want to be violent form a compact group, Aboutaleb said. "You have to track them down and isolate them." [NL Times] Read more

24 December 2017

Egypt lawmaker moves to criminalise atheism amid moral panic

An Egyptian lawmaker has announced plans to criminalise disbelief in God amid growing moral panic in the country.

Amr Hamroush, the head of parliament's religious committee, made the announcement in local daily al-Shorouq on Saturday.

"The phenomenon is being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong," Hamroush said.

"It must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions," he said.

He added that there were no legal obstacles to implementing the proposal into law, which already can prosecute atheists for expressing their disbelief in public.

The move to criminalise disbelief in God has received backing from al-Azhar - the country's highest Islamic religious institution.

"It is necessary to enact laws that deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism," said Mohamed Zaki, the head of al-Azhar's supreme council for dawah.

"The deterrent must be harsh and impeding to suit this malicious call and stop this poisonous thinking from spreading among Muslims and young people," Zaki. [The New Arab] Read more

Crowds attack Coptic Church in Egypt

The incident took place at the Prince Tawadros church in Giza, 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Cairo, following Friday prayers at a nearby mosque. Demonstrators gathered outside the church building in the afternoon and stormed it, chanting hostile slogans and calling for the church's demolition.

The diocese in Atfih said in a statement that the church's contents were destroyed during the attack and that Christians worshipping at the church were assaulted before security personnel came to their aid. It also said that the wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital but didn't elaborate on numbers or the nature of their injuries.

The church, yet to be sanctioned by the state and thereby gain full legal recognition, has been observing prayers for 15 years. Despite laws recently being eased, local authorities continue to refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim conservatives. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Why are British Muslim marriages unprotected by law?

.... "I fought for seven years through solicitors with my husband's family, but in the end, we didn't get a penny. They got nothing and I got nothing because my husband didn't make a will," she told Al Jazeera.

"The house was in his name and we weren't married in English law. In the end, my son and I were thrown out of the house. I remember I had to beg to be let back in to get some clothes we left behind. We just got passed around by the council from place to place until we got a maisonette. I eventually got three little jobs that got us by, but at that time, everything was just a nightmare."

Forty-four years since Maureen's relationship ended, the effects of unregistered marriages continue to affect Muslim women and children who have fallen into this legal black hole. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

22 December 2017

Halal school meals ban could be challenged in court

Councillors in Lancashire voted in October that in future any halal meat served in schools must be butchered from pre-stunned animals, with the exception of poultry.

The ruling on beef and lamb was due to take effect when the council’s meat supply contract was renewed this month.

However, there is a three month period from the time that Full Council made their decision in late October for any party which disagrees with the decision to apply for a judicial review.

The county council has now revealed that it has been served with legal papers from the Lancashire Council of Mosques which effectively puts it on notice that a judicial review could go ahead unless the matter is resolved.

County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are due to put on hold the new contract for supply of halal meat to schools.

“We will continue to supply halal meat under the terms of the current contract while the legal matters are resolved.” [Burnley Express] Read more

The debate about Islam should be put on hold, says Rotterdam mayor

The debate about Islam in the Netherlands has become so tense that it should be put on hold for a while, Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has told Trouw in an interview. ‘Some debates should wait until the time is right,’ Aboutaleb said. Some politicians and ‘opinion makers’ are forcing the issue with ‘steam and boiling water,’ he said.

‘The Netherlands’ intellectuals consider the time ripe for certain developments but most of the Dutch are not that ready. I am a real believer in the gradual approach.’ While Aboutaleb supports increasing the visibility of religion, he does not compare the Muslim call to prayer to church bells. There is a long tradition of Christianity in the Netherlands, and this is why the city council does not organise events over the Christmas break, he said.

Islam has had a foothold in the Netherlands for 50 years and Muslims are now so emancipated that they are able to build their own mosques, the mayor points out. ‘These sorts of issues are part of social developments and at a certain point they may become more accepted.

In 10 or 20 years, we may come to the point that more is done to mark the end of Ramadan, for example.’ The same goes for the debate about headscarves and police uniform, said Aboutaleb, who supports the status quo. ‘There is no point in having this debate now,’ he said. [DutchNews] Read more

Islamists threaten to crack down on Muslims wearing Santa hats in fatwa against Christmas

The Indonesian police have appealed to Islamic hardliners not to raid businesses to check whether Muslim employees were being forced to wear Santa Claus hats or other Christmas outfits over the festive season.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned this week that it would conduct “sweeping operations” to enforce a 2016 fatwa by the country’s Islamic Clerical Council prohibiting business owners from forcing employees to don Christmas attire. It claimed this was a violation of their human rights.

“We will raid businesses in anticipation of them being stubborn about this and we will be accompanied by police,” said Novel Bakmukmin, head of the FPI’s branch in the capital, Jakarta.

But national police chief Tito Karnavian urged members of the public to “respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations” and cautioned against taking matters into their own hands. [The Telegraph] Read more

21 December 2017

Canada: Obsessed with "Islamophobia"

.... The RCMP guide is premised on the belief that radicalization occurs because of perceptions of "injustice" (not because of perceptions of jihad). Islamic groups are not mentioned. The message is that terrorism is "diverse" and has nothing to do with Islam. However, Public Safety Canada's list of terrorist entities contains 54 terrorist groups, 46 of which are Islamic terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the war on free speech in Canada grinds on: Ottawa Public Library cancelled the screening of "Killing Europe", a documentary about, ironically, among other things, the death of free speech in Europe. Ottawa Public Library deemed this content not suitable for Canadians -- apparently snowflakes, not allowed to know about the rise of migrant rape crime, anti-Semitism, far-leftist violence and other irritants in Europe.

While worried about graffiti, Canadian authorities appear far less concerned about deterring Canadian imams from preaching jihad, Jew-hatred and the murder of Jews to their Muslim congregations, despite Jews being approximately twelve times more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than Muslims are. For anti-Muslim graffiti, you go to jail for five months, but inciting an entire congregation to kill Jewish citizens does not even merit prosecution. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Dutch police will set aside headscarf ruling in case brought by Muslim officer

The Dutch police will set aside a ruling from the equal opportunities committee which said a Muslim officer should be able to wear a headscarf while dealing with phone reports from the public, the national force has confirmed.

Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw has written to human rights commission outlining the force’s position and stating that a neutral appearance is crucial to good policing.

Sarah Izat who took the issue to the commission has not yet commented on the decision. She will be able to continue to answer calls via the phone or video link in plain clothes with a headscarf, Paauw said.

Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a reaction to MPs last month that the human rights council had stressed the legitimacy of the the importance of a neutral, uniform police appearance. The police code of conduct states that police officers are not allowed to display religious and other lifestyle convictions while dealing with the public, Grapperhaus said. [DutchNews] Read more

Board member of anti-racism agency fired amid accusations of Islamophobic commentary

A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency established to counteract racism, has been fired amid concerns over what Muslim advocacy groups describe as “Islamophobic commentary” and her “public association with purveyors of hateful propaganda.”

.... Douglass-Williams addressed her dismissal in an email to the Star and on Jihad Watch.

“Why? Because I dared to criticize political Islam,” she wrote.

“I make a distinction between those who practice Islam in peace and harmony with others, and those with an agenda to usurp democratic constitutions, demand special privileges over other creeds and who advocate the abuse of women and innocents as a supremacist entitlement.

“It is odd to be removed from a race relations foundation for my private work in criticizing this aspect of Islam, of which the latter is not a race.” [Toronto Star] Read more

Algerian arrested for smashing 'haram' statue's breasts

An Algerian man was arrested after he had vandalised a famous statue, removing the breasts and facial features, in what he deemed to be a religious act.

Algeria's Minister of Culture Ez Al Din al-Maheoubi said the man was caught vandalising the Ain El Fouara monument, which was built over 120 years ago in the city of Setif.

“His motive was indeed religious, but this does not excuse his actions”, al-Maheoubi said.

On Monday, police were trying to stop the man, who was attempting to chisel off the statue’s breasts with a hammer, from continuing his damage.

A crowd quickly formed and people began to take videos, which went viral in Algeria. [The New Arab] Read more

Poll: 70 Per Cent of Swiss Would Be ‘Disturbed’ by Increase in Muslim Population

The survey, which was conducted by the publishing firm Tamedia, is the first of its kind in Switzerland, and shows the older generations is particularly concerned with the growth of Islam in the country: 75 per cent of those aged over 65 feel negative about an increase in the Muslim population, newspaper 24 heures reports.

Supporters of the anti-mass migration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) were also strongly against an increase in the Muslim population, with 93 per cent against the further growth of Islam in the country.

72 per cent of “centrists” felt the same way, as did a significant minority — 38 per cent — of supporters of the left-wing Green and Socialist parties.

.... The Swiss poll mirrors similar attitudes in France and Germany, where residents have massively rejected the expansion of Islam into their countries. [Breitbart London] Read more

20 December 2017

Government rejects Swiss ‘burka ban’ initiative

The Swiss Federal Council has proposed an indirect counterproposal to an initiative calling for a nationwide ban on face-covering headgear: forcing another person to wear a burka or niqab should be made illegal.

On Wednesday, the Federal Council recommended that voters reject the so-called “burka ban” initiative, which was handed in with enough signatures by its promotors, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, in September. No date has yet been set for the vote.

The initiative wants face-covering headgear to be banned in public places all over Switzerland apart from a few exceptions, such as for health reasons.

National restrictions are only appropriate to prevent coercion of women or if people are in contact with certain authorities, such as migration officials, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. It is up to cantons to decide on how they regulate people in public spaces, she added. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Amir Khan and wife Faryal Makhdoom receive death threats for putting up a Christmas tree

Bolton boxer Amir Khan has been targeted with online death threats - because he decided to put up a Christmas tree.

I'm A Celebrity star Amir - a devout Muslim - shared a picture his Christmas tree on Instagram - and one of his followers threatened to kill him for 'betraying' his religion.

Other made threats against his family - including his pregnant wife Faryal and and his three year old daughter Lamaisah.

“While everyone’s asleep, daddy put the Christmas tree up," Amir posted, alongside a picture of the decorated tree. 'Lamaisah’s going to be happy. Christmas #MerryChristmas2017.” [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Men without beards cause 'indecent thoughts' in other men, claims Turkish preacher

Shaving off a beard may trigger indecent thoughts in other men who look at them, a Turkish cleric said on television earlier this week, causing backlash online.

Clean-shaven men, the cleric suggested, "cannot be distinguished from women" and can therefore cause "indecent thoughts," Murat Bayaral said on private religious station Fatih Medreseleri, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added.

The comments sparked a flurry of opinions across social media with many describing the logic as “absurd”. [The New Arab] Read more

19 December 2017

I wasn’t hired because I wear a headscarf: lawsuit

Fatima Sidib says she applied to work as a customer service rep at Checks Cashed at East 161st Street and Gerard Avenue in August, according to the Manhattan federal court suit.

The shop manager invited her in for an interview over the phone — but immediately got “hostile” when she arrived wearing the religious headwear, court papers state.

“Are you going to be wearing that thing?” the manager said, according to the lawsuit. “Because you will not be able to work with that on. Or will that be a problem for you?”

When Sidib said she wears the scarf sometimes when she fasts, the manager shot back that that meant she wouldn’t be available to work some of the needed shifts, court papers state.

The manager handed Sidib her job application back — and told to return when she was “more flexible,” according to the lawsuit. [NEW YORK POST] Read more

Nottingham-based Muslim radio station falls foul of Ofcom

For the second time this year, Radio Dawn has fallen foul of rules laid down by UK broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

Last December, the station broadcast a piece of devotional vocal music known as a nasheed that praised the Taliban which included the line:

"It must be understood that justice will only be handed out at the point of the sword."

When Ofcom censured Dawn in August, Karimia, the licensee, said it was “extremely embarrassed by what happened” and that it did “not agree with any of the content”. The licensee assured Ofcom it was:

"Against any type of material, which encourages or promotes such discriminative and negative messages of Islam."

It explained that staff were away on holiday on the day of broadcast (26 December 2016) and, as a result, Radio Dawn was automatically broadcasting pre-recorded material. The nasheed had been downloaded from the internet in 2013, “possibly by a volunteer”, and had “never been broadcast before”.

Well, Radio Dawn has found itself in trouble with Ofcom again – this time over advice given by scholar “Mufti1” to a caller in a phone-in programme regarding fasting and diabetes. In May this year the caller was told that Muslims with health issues should only consult Muslim scholars or Muslim doctors.

The station, according to this report, apologised and said that: On no account was it the intention of the presenter or Radio Dawn to suggest to listeners that they do not seek appropriate medical advice. [The Freethinker] Read more

German ban on Islamist group True Religion confirmed as complaints dropped

German federal prosecutors on Tuesday finalised their ban on an Islamist association accused of radicalising youngsters, saying that complaints about the ban from two members of the group had been withdrawn.

Last year, the interior ministry banned the Islamist group “True Religion,” saying it had persuaded about 140 people to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

Following the ban, police launched dawn raids across Germany on about 190 mosques, flats and offices linked to the group.

The federal prosecutor said that since the association itself had not complained about the ban and the two members’ complaints had been withdrawn, the prohibition ruling was final.

The case comes as Germany commemorates last year’s Islamist-motivated attack on a Berlin Christmas Market which killed 12 people and injured many others. [Reuters] Read more

18 December 2017

Radio Dawn told listeners to ignore non-Muslim doctors

A Muslim radio station has been reprimanded by Ofcom after an Islamic scholar advised a sick listener to ignore the advice of non-Muslim doctors.

The scholar, who was described on the phone-in programme as “the Mufti”, said that it was unacceptable for a diabetic to miss fasting days during Ramadan on the recommendation of a non-Muslim.

“If it is a non-Muslim doctor who is giving the advice, well their advice carries no weight. It has no importance whatsoever,” he told a caller during a phone-in on Radio Dawn, which broadcasts in Punjabi to Muslims in Nottingham. [The Times (£)] Read more

Islamic preacher in Turkey says men without beards may cause ‘indecent thoughts’

An Islamic preacher in Turkey has drawn a backlash after suggesting that clean-shaven men sometimes "cannot be distinguished from women" and can cause "indecent thoughts."

Speaking on the private religious station Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs) TV on Dec. 16, preacher Murat Bayaral blasted beardless men and said there is no need to receive permission from wives for a man to shave his beards.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard," Bayaral said.

"For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he added. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

Missouri lawmaker says proposal to ban foreign law not anti Muslim

A measure barring the use of foreign laws in Missouri courts is being filed in the state legislature for the upcoming session. Under the bill, any court ruling based on a foreign law would be unenforceable.

House Republican Bill Kidd of Independence says the proposal is not similar to bans on Shariah Law that some states have enacted.

“I’m trying not to take it into that realm of this is an anti-Sharia or anti-Muslim deal,” said Kidd. “I just wanted to make it basic that it’s as simple as, if you’re in the United States, use American laws in American courts. And I’m not trying to take into an issue of ‘This is a Sharia, this is an anti-Muslim thing. It’s not.”

A number of states adopted Sharia law bans after a New Jersey judge in 2009 determined a Muslim man had not sexually assaulted his wife because he was acting consistent with his practices. In that case, a state appeals court reversed the judge’s decision to deny the woman a restraining order.

Voters in neighboring Oklahoma overwhelmingly approved an anti-Sharia law in 2010, which was extended by its legislature to include all foreign laws in 2011. The statute was ultimately overturned by federal courts as unconstitutional. [Missourinet] Read more

Muslim women shouting #MeToo must be heard

For many Muslim women, cultural pressures mean it’s difficult to speak out about sexual abuse, but inspired by big names such as Salma Hayek, they are finding ways to have their own #MeToo moment.

While some people have criticised the way the movement has focused on celebrities, it should be applauded for creating a support community for women for whom it's harder to raise a voice, and encouraging women who would have otherwise suffered in silence to speak out.

Behind every hashtag or article by a big name star, a thousand stories that would have remained unsaid are being told. Whether it’s a newspaper article, or whisper from behind a veil, these voices are finally getting heard.

Ironically, many Muslim women were inspired to speak out after a controversial opinion piece written by Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, which suggested dressing modestly and ‘not being pretty’ protected you from unwanted attention. The idea that there is a direct correlation between how you are dressed and how much harassment you face is a guilt trip most Muslim women live with every day. [The Telegraph] Read more

17 December 2017

Austria: New Government to Resist "Islamization"

A coalition between the anti-immigration Austrian People's Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party, which will be sworn into office on December 18, is poised to catapult Austria to the vanguard of Western Europe's resistance to mass migration from the Muslim world.

The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. Austria has also emerged as a major base for radical Islam.

"We have a lot in common [with Israel]. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails." — Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party.

.... A 180-page document explains the new government's agenda between now and 2022. It promises to crack down on political Islam; to crack down on illegal immigration; to speed up asylum decisions and to sponsor an EU summit on immigration when Austria holds the EU presidency in the second half of 2018. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

16 December 2017

Ofsted chief received 'venomous' threats after raising concerns about faith schools

Ofsted's chief inspector has told how she received threats and abuse after raising concerns about the values being promoted in some of the country's faith schools.

Amanda Spielman said she had been the victim of some "pretty venomous stuff", receiving "nasty tweets" and threatening emails from what she believed to be a "mixture of Islamic extremists and the hard left".

She told The Times: "I'm not easily bruised. I don't fall over when I see a load of nasty tweets pointed at me but there has been some pretty venomous stuff.

"I had an email, which was the most threatening one, which was along the lines of 'We know where you live and we can get you any time we want to'."

Earlier this week, Ms Spielman released her annual report, in which she warned that a rising number of conservative religious schools were actively undermining British values and equality law.

She revealed that in a handful of schools, inspectors had found instances of sexist and sectarian literature. [The Telegraph] Read more

Head of Ofsted reveals she faces 'personal attacks' from 'extremists' trying to intimidate the watchdog over crackdown on illegal Muslim schools

Chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman received an email saying: ‘We know where you live and we can get you any time we want to,’ after a court case against an Islamic school that separated girls and boys.

Her home address has had to be removed from the internet , while inspectors in one of Ofsted’s regional offices have been sent extreme Islamic literature and forced to take security measures as they are targeted by extremists.

Mrs Spielman said that confronting unregistered faith schools has been the toughest part of her role, which she took on in January this year. Investigating illegal schools, inspectors found some children had not been taught English and teachers had told them British values were ‘meaningless’, she told The Times.

In one incident at an unregistered East London Islamic school, Ofsted inspectors were called ‘Britain First paedophiles’ before being accused of performing sex acts in order to get their jobs. A head teacher at another faith school phoned parents during an Ofsted visit to say inspectors were asking the children if they were gay. The head then asked whether the inspection should proceed after telling inspectors that angry parents were lining up outside the school. [Daily Mail] Read more

Extremists target Ofsted over faith schools ruling

The chief inspector of schools has accused hard-left activists and religious extremists of trying to stop her clampdown on illegal Muslim schools with a campaign of intimidation.

Amanda Spielman revealed that one of Ofsted’s regional offices has been forced to take additional security measures after inspectors were repeatedly sent extreme Islamic literature. She has also been targeted and received one threatening email claiming that hardline Islamists know where she lives, after Ofsted won a court case against an Islamic school that segregated girls from boys. [The Times (£)] Read more

Amanda Spielman interview: ‘There are children in this country for whom British values are meaningless’

.... What horrifies her most is “the extent to which there are places in society that are very determined to have children not even knowing that there is any other way of thinking besides that which prevails in their particular group. There are people growing up in this country who . . . aren’t aware of the reach of equalities law and for whom British values are pretty meaningless. We are seeing separate or divergent societies developing.”

She is concerned by the number of primary schools that include the hijab as part of their uniforms. “Girls are made to think, ‘Am I immodest if I’m not wearing one?’ at an age when a child shouldn’t have to worry about being modest,” she explains. “We need to make sure that schools don’t sleepwalk into saying we must be accommodating and accidentally bringing problems into school that don’t necessarily need to be there.”

.... Although many of the worst cases have been in Islamic schools, she insists: “We see these problems in Muslim, Jewish and the odd Christian school. This is not an attack on Islam.” An estimated 70,000 children have disappeared from the education system and the chief inspector fears that the freedom to home-school is being abused by parents who want to segregate their children in a parallel, religiously run system.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 77 votes] It is time Education Secretary Justine Greening expresses vocal support for Amanda Spielman, and offers tangible help in confronting the extremists operating British schools.

[2ND 68] Not just children.... there is a large immigrant population now that has no wish to integrate and would rather take over and impose their values on us. Which will happen over the next decades unless we stop dreaming and listening to the brain-washing, doled out everyday from the BBC et al.

[3RD 42] Surely this was all to be expected given the level of diverse beliefs in this country. This has been on the horizon for many years. We chose to look the other way.

[4TH= 35] I can see which way the wind is blowing and I am getting prepared now. I have my Koran and am learning a few chosen phrases like Allahu Akbar. I am already practising beating my wife and restricting her from leaving the house. I'm going to be on the right side when the day comes.

[4TH= 35] Is this what trendy liberals term "Multiculturalism"

[6TH 29] All schools should teach a core curriculum designed to allow its products to participate in social, professional and personal life in the UK. Any school which teaches otherwise should be summarily closed.

The rules on home/alternative education need to be tightened and it should also be a bottom line that any child so educated must meet the above criterion.

There is a functioning civil and criminal law code in the UK and that should be obeyed at all times. Any school which teaches a knowledge/behavior system which contravenes British Law should likewise be closed...and we should not be apologetic about this.

[7TH 28] We must hear more from this very sensible person and soon.

Refreshing stuff for once.

[8TH= 22] What seems to be unseen for most people is the fact that British values have already been disappearing for many years. They have been replaced with "political correctness".

We are deteriorating national values with pleading 'diversity'.

What I am saying is not a call for nationalism.

Just a simple conclusion that we have become feared of saying out loud: "This is the UK, respect our law. If you don't respect it, you will have to leave."

We will be ruled by other religions' rules not by the UK law in next 15 years...

May the Force be with Ms Amanda Spielmann.

[8TH- 22] Brave lass. Well said, well done.

But "illegal schools"? If they're illegal you shut them down immediately. Send everyone home there and then all staff out and triple lock the doors, with police tape if needs be. How come there are ANY illegal schools that have lasted longer than a week? [The Times (£)] Read more

15 December 2017

20,000 tax funded faith schools are an affront to modern, liberal democracy

.... Last year, I was invited to speak at a Muslim school in the Midlands. Saima, the teacher who wrote to me, praised my 'leadership qualities' and said she wanted her girls to meet a successful, Muslim female role model. Flattery gets to most people.

I agreed even though I fiercely oppose educational Apartheid. A part of me was looking forward to stirring things up a bit, getting the girls to challenge ideas and adults.

Most are brought up to obey and be 'good'. I have never been obedient or good. A second letter arrived asking me, please. to wear a long skirt and long sleeves and a headscarf, because that is 'the dress code'.

I withdrew and wrote a stern letter on why such schools and demands were unacceptable in a modern, liberal democracy. The teacher who invited me was sacked. Her in-laws blamed her and me for what happened. Her husband was supportive but became increasingly controlling.

The marriage ended. The last time I spoke to Saima, she was working in a comprehensive where she felt free and like a 'proper teacher, not a prisoner'. [International Business Times] Read more

14 December 2017

Religious freedom review appointee has argued for limited sharia law in Australia

The Turnbull government has appointed an academic who has argued that recognising religious freedom should include acceptance of a limited form of sharia law to the Ruddock review.

On Thursday the government released broad terms of reference for its religious freedom inquiry, headed by former attorney general Philip Ruddock, including the new appointment of University of Queensland constitutional law professor Nicholas Aroney to the five-person panel.

Aroney is an expert on legal pluralism, law and religion who has warned that religious freedom has become a second-class right to anti-discrimination and argued that religious freedom should include a right to practise sharia law within “strictly justifiable limits imposed by the general law”.

.... Just Equal spokesman Rodney Croome said: “I am concerned by Nicholas Aroney’s appointment because his writing makes it clear he believes religious freedom trumps other rights, including equality.

“The Ruddock review should be a balanced assessment of religious freedom, but instead the government is stacking the review to appease the religious right after the passage of marriage equality.” [The Guardian] Read more

Butlin's faces legal action over dodgems 'hijab ban'

A Muslim man has launched a discrimination case against the holiday company Butlins after he claims his teenage daughter was barred from using the dodgems because she was wearing a hijab.

Moammer Nasser, 41, a family-support worker from Birmingham, is bringing a claim for racial and religious discrimination after the incident at Butlins in Minehead in June.

Nasser was at the holiday resort with his wife and four children. He was waiting to use the dodgems with his 16-year-old daughter when an attendant said she could not go on the ride because she was wearing a hijab, and cited health and safety concerns.

Nasser complained and asked to see a policy banning hijabs at Butlins. He asked why others wearing various forms of scarves and headgear had not been similarly banned from using the dodgems on the same grounds.

.... He lodged a formal complaint with Butlins. Jan Axten, of Bourne Leisure Ltd, replied, saying it was company policy that no one could go on the ride if they were wearing a headscarf or loose garment which could not be removed.

This, Axten said, was due to a “previous very serious incident” in 2016 when a scarf around a visitor’s neck had come loose, got caught in the chassis and caused a serious neck and throat injury. [The Guardian] Read more

13 December 2017

Private faith schools are resisting British values, says Ofsted chief

.... “When I see books in schools entitled Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell; children being educated in dank, squalid, conditions; children being taught solely religious texts at the expense of learning basic English and mathematics, I cannot let it be ignored,” said Spielman, who argued that inspectors should be able to remove such texts from school libraries.

The Ofsted report detailed its recent inspections of private faith schools, with 26% rated inadequate and 22% as requiring improvement – Ofsted’s two lowest categories.

Of the 140 small Muslim private schools inspected by Ofsted in the year, 28% were graded as inadequate, along with 38% of Jewish private schools and 18% of Christian schools.

Spielman had praise for the bulk of state schools, noting that 90% of primaries and nearly 80% of secondaries were rated as good or outstanding. [The Guardian] Read more

12 December 2017

The Runnymede Trust: Islamophobia is still a significant issue in the UK

Twenty years after publishing their report, Islamophobia – A Challenge for Us All, which helped popularise the term ‘Islamophobia’, the Runnymede Trust has published a follow-up report to mark its anniversary entitled Islamophobia – Still a challenge for us all.

The defining feature of this report is its assertion that Islamophobia should be thought of as anti-Muslim racism.

This understanding of Islamophobia thus takes into account its nature as a phenomenon embedded structurally within institutions on both a local and national level (in line with the UN’s definition of racism), instead of seeing it simply as an attitude, as the original report did. The motivation for this redefinition is the recent rapid increase in Islamophobia; a 2016 Pew Research Center report stated that 28% of those in the UK view Muslims unfavourably.

.... It has been argued that the report’s updated definition of racism accounts for criticism of the old definition, which presented a ‘monolithic’ concept of Islam and Muslims, and which incorrectly understood the nature of the phenomenon of Islamophobia. However, it is also argued that the 2017 report essentialises Muslim identity by failing to deconstruct and question the categories of religion and race, and still fails to grasp fully the way in which Islamophobia permeates society. [Euro-Islam.info] Read more

Twitter reacts to halal supermarket’s ordered closure

The Good Price mini-market in Colombes, located in Paris, is required to be a “general food store” according to its license and must meet the needs of all of its inhabitants, meaning it must sell pork and alcohol, but that defeats the purpose of its halal credentials.

The owner Soulemane Yalcin opened his store in 2015 and turned it into a supermarket that sells halal produce. Following a court-ordered closure by the city of Nanterre, Muslims and non-Muslims expressed their frustration with the decision on Twitter.

Reactions ranged from, “Welcome to the land of liberty! France shuts down halal store because it does not sell pork or wine,” to “secular extremist France closes halal supermarket because it doesn’t sell pork or wine.” Others questioned whether France can be considered a “free country” if supermarkets aren’t allowed to choose what they sell. [Euro-Islam.info] Read more

It’s high-time liberal democracies tackled "non-violent" Islamist ideologies

At the end of November, the controversial imam of the Grand Mosque of Brussels, Abdelhadi Sewif, won the first round of a legal battle over his right to remain in Belgium. The judgement was prompted by the decision of Secretary of State for Migration Theo Francken to withdraw the residence permit of the imam, whom he has described as "a follower of Salafism, radicalised, very conservative and dangerous to our society and our national security".

Adopted in October 2017, the report examines the overall Islamist phenomenon and acknowledges how the decades-long extremist ideology that has been allowed to spread in different forms across Belgium, has paved the way for radicalisation and violence. Against this backdrop, the inquiry stresses that ideologies do not need to be openly violent to pose a threat: there are fundamentalist discourses which plant the seeds of terrorism even without inciting it directly, as they inspire a sense of hatred against the liberal-democratic order and its values.

They promote an “us vs. them” narrative and urge Muslims to isolate from the rest of society. This propaganda causes ghetto-mentality and polarisation, fuelling feelings of marginalisation, resentment and frustration that, with the right trigger, have the potential to translate into violence. [Euronews] Read more

Iranian media in tailspin over female British diplomat’s lack of headscarf

One of the UK’s top diplomats has caused a stir on a recent trip to Tehran after it appeared the Iranian Foreign Minister had told her to put a headscarf on.

Karen Pierce, currently political director of the Foreign Office and soon to become the UK’s permanent representative to the UN, accompanied foreign secretary Boris Johnson as part of a delegation to Iran on Sunday widely understood to be aimed at freeing dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe from an Iranian jail.

In video of the high level bilateral talks Ms Pierce is seen arriving for a meeting with foreign minister Javid Zarif with a scarf around her shoulders rather than over her head.

Mr Zarif greets the other members of the British party with a handshake, but instead of reaching for Ms Pierce’s hand instead points towards the ceiling with both hands, a gesture state news reported as the diplomat telling the visiting dignitary to pull the scarf up over her hair.

Ms Pierce is also photographed in talks without wearing the scarf on her head. In what appears to be a different meeting, she is wearing a different, orange headscarf. [The Independent] Read more

Islamic leaders: There's no religious reason Muslim women shouldn't remove burkas in court

Muslims in Australia have been told by Islamic leaders there was no religious reason for refusing to rise before a judge in court or for refusing to uncover one's face.

The new guidance from the Australian National Imams Council comes after a string of Muslim defendants have refused to stand in court or remove their burkas, citing their religion.

"Standing up for the magistrate or judge is a sign of respect to the court," guidelines published in conjunction with the Judicial Commission of New South Wales stated.

"This sign of respect is also reflected in the teaching of Islam."

It said the teachings of the Prophet told people to "stand up for your chief".

"There is no religious reason why Muslims can't abide by the custom of lowering or bowing one's head when entering or leaving the court as a mark of respect," it added.

The guidelines, published on Tuesday (12 December), went on to say Muslim women wearing burkas should uncover their faces in court if requested to do so. [International Business Times] Read more

11 December 2017

School run Muslim mums ‘should be banned from wearing headscarf’ claims minister

FRANCE’S education minister says Muslim mothers should be banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf when doing the school run.

Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Sunday: “A parent should be banned from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, namely the Islamic headscarf, when escorting their child to and from school.”

He told RTL radio: “My personal opinion is that anyone who accompanies a child to and from school should be considered a ‘public service worker,’ which means they have a duty to conform to social codes.”

When asked whether he was implying that Muslim mothers should be explicitly banned from wearing the headscarf when dropping off or picking up their children from school, Mr Blanquer said: “Yes. That said, it is not against the law for mothers to wear the Islamic veil to school.

“I respect French law and it is not my place to make sweeping statements about this issue. But we must play by the rules, and the rules must be the same for everyone.” [Daily Express] Read more

How best to help women caught between different kinds of family law

AS IS reported by The Economist in this week’s print edition, almost everybody can agree that there are acute difficulties at the interface between Islamic family law and the liberal West. Especially for married Muslim women, living in a kind of limbo between the Islamic world and the secular world can be exceptionally tough. So far, so much consensus. What people don’t agree on, however, is how to improve this situation.

Start with England, which presents an extreme case of the pathologies facing Muslim minorities in the West. In no other country have so many “sharia councils” sprung up to adjudicate the affairs of Muslim people, especially women who are trapped in unhappy marriages and want a religious divorce. (Some say these councils should be regulated, others want them abolished.) And in no other country is it so common for young Muslim couples to have religious-only marriages or nikahs which are never registered with the state, so that in the event of a breakdown the financially vulnerable partner, usually female, has few entitlements.

Aina Khan, a London-based lawyer who specialises in family law, is prime mover of a campaign called “Register Our Marriage”, which aspires both to change the law and to make Muslims, especially women, more conscious of the dire consequences of a religious-only rite. [The Economist] Read more

10 December 2017

Number of Salafists in Germany reaches record high

More Salafists are living in Germany than ever before, domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen said on Sunday.

Maasen said the number of people adhering to the fundamentalist Islamic ideology had "risen to an all-time high," with the German intelligence agency BfV giving a figure of 10,800 Salafists in Germany as compared with 9,700 in December last year.

A growing "fragmentation" and drift to the private sphere of Salafism in Germany was making the scene harder to observe for authorities, Maassen said.

The BfV said the movement's recruitment drives have now more or less left the streets and mosques, and added that Salafists were instead being radicalized in small conspirative groups on the internet. The agency also pointed to the growing number of women's networks as posing a challenge for authorities, who have problems accessing them.

Security authorities see the Salafist movement as a potential springboard into Islamist terrorism, particularly for young Muslims. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

09 December 2017

Amina Lone: This is a scary time to be a Muslim, but take courage

For the second time in my adult life I am deeply fearful for my faith. The first time was the horror I felt watching aircraft fly into the Twin Towers, murdering thousands of innocent people in the 9/11 attacks.

My sense of unease is fueled by President Trump and Islamist extremists. A knight in shining armour for some, the Devil in disguise for others, the US president has yet again illustrated his mistrust and disdain for all things Islamic, pushing forward with his “Muslim” ban and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite worldwide condemnation and the real risk of .... [The Times (£)] Read more

08 December 2017

Debate over plan for Muslim prayer room and education centre in Belgrave

Controversial plans to convert a vacant warehouse in Belgrave into a prayer facility, nursery and education centre are set to be rejected.

Fusion Consulting Ltd has applied for planning permission to change the use of the industrial building in Belper Street.

The proposal has led to a huge number of objections being sent to planning officers at Leicester City Council.

More than 1,435 letters of objection have been sent to officials, as well as petitions with a total of 3,569 names.

Some 350 representations have been made in support of the plan to establish the Belper Education Centre, as it would be called.

Many of the concerns sent to the council point out that the area is largely made up of Hindu families and the proposed centre would be a Muslim organisation.

Other concerns relate to potential disturbance from early morning activity in the street, and parking problems and traffic congestion that would be generated by worshippers and other users of the centre. [The Leicester Mercury] Read more

07 December 2017

France shuts down 'halal' supermarket and Muslims are angry

The business owner Soulemane Yalcin was forced to shut down his supermarket and pay the council €4000 ($4725) in legal fees.

A Muslim owned supermarket in France has been shut down for “violating its terms of lease” by refusing to sell alcohol and pork under grounds.

The Good Price mini-market in Colombes, located in Paris is required to be a “general food store” according to its licence and must meet the needs of all of its inhabitants, meaning it must sell pork and alcohol, but that defeats the purpose of its halal credentials.

The owner Soulemane Yalcin opened his store in 2015 and turned it into a supermarket that sells halal produce.

In what is being described as an Islamophobic campaign online, after Yalcin opened his store, locals began to complain that they could no longer buy alcohol and pork at the said supermarket and urged local authorities to get it replaced.

Last year, the mayor of Colombes, Nicole Goueta, went to the store in order to pressure Mr Yalcin to start selling alcohol and pork.

The mayor's chief of staff, Jerome Besnard, said that he asked the owner to 'diversify' his range of products on sale to stop local residents from complaining. [The New Arab] Read more

Grand Mosque: Saudi authorities understand Belgian intention

For several months, the role played by Saudi Arabia on the international stage, in particular with the rapid development of Islam, has been called into question in Belgium. The federal parliament approved a resolution requesting that the government reconsiders its policy with regard to the Saudi Kingdom. The Investigative Commission for the Terrorist Attacks recommended, for its part, ending the agreement concluded in 1967. This enabled Saudi Arabia to control the Grand Mosque.

An even rarer occurrence, when faced with these developments, was the visit by a high-level Belgian delegation to the Gulf States from November 5th to 8th of this year. It was made up of civil servants within the Foreign Affairs and Justice departments, the Cell for Processing Financial Information (known as “CTIF”) and the Body for Coordinating the Analysis of Terrorist Threats (known as “OCAM”).

Meetings took place in Saudi Arabia, including with representatives from the Muslim World League, on which the mosque depends. In such forums, Belgium’s intention regarding the Grand Mosque was expressed, even though the government has not yet fixed any date for this termination to occur. [The Brussels Times] Read more

06 December 2017

‘Politically correct’ rules push people to extremism, says Islamic scholar

A leading critic of religious extremism today claimed excessive political correctness may push some people towards hate-filled views.

Dr Uamsa Hasan, head of Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, said stifling debate was dangerous.

He said open discussions were the key to fighting extremism among young people - and he urged against a retreat to “safe spaces” as seen at some university campuses.

Dr Hasan was speaking at Turing House free school, in Teddington, as part of a unique nationwide debating programme.

An outspoken critic of Islamist extremism, he has previously received death threats for advocating evolution within the religion.

He argued that in recent years sensitive topics such as the causes of Islamist terror have been “stifled”, leading to extreme views being pushed to the darkest corners of the internet: “If you push these issues to one side then it will explode," he said. "That is where political correctness went too far.

“Stifling debate is dangerous. We know these ignorant or dangerous views exist, but if you ignore them they don’t go away. They fester. People feel a sense of frustration that they don’t have the freedom to express their views, which can lead to even more extreme views.” [Evening Standard] Read more

Ex-governor of alleged Trojan Horse school loses bid to overturn ban

A FORMER chairman of governors at a Birmingham school linked to the alleged Trojan Horse plot has lost an appeal after being barred from involvement in the management of schools.

Tahir Alam was chairman of governors at Park View in Alum Rock from 1997 to 2014, and chairman of a trust set up to manage the school.

He was issued with the ban by the Department for Education (DfE) in September 2015.

Officials concluded he had engaged in conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values.

He challenged the ban at a public specialist tribunal hearing in London in March.

A three-strong care standards tribunal panel had reserved a ruling after analysing evidence.

The panel has not made its decision or detailed ruling publicly available.

.... Investigators had found evidence of “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos” into a few schools in Birmingham, he said.

Mr Chamberlain said Mr Alam - plus Park View School and the managing trust - were “at the centre” of what had happened. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

05 December 2017

'Blasphemy': Hijab-clad Indian women get brutally trolled for 'insulting Islam' by dancing in public

Three Muslim women from the southern Indian state of Kerala have come under fire after a video showing them dancing in the middle of the street went viral on social media.

Shared via Facebook on 1 December, the clip showed the hijab-clad women grooving to popular tunes as part of a flash mob. However, the video received much flak, with people accusing the young women of "insulting Islam".

The performance that drew public ire featured students of a dental college in the Malappuram city of Kerala, who had taken part in an event to raise awareness on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Apart from the flash mob, there were street plays and rallies too that were aimed at educating the public, deputy district medical officer of Malappuram Dr Muhammed Ali told the Times of India. [International Business Times] Read more

03 December 2017

'Islam brought me nothing but pain and hardship': Iranian child bride who was beaten by her husband and then forced to give up her children to flee to Australia slams harsh Muslim regime

A Muslim child bride who fled to Australia has told how she was beaten and abused by her husband, claiming her religion caused her 'nothing but pain'.

At the age of just 16 the Iranian woman was forced by her father to marry a man who was a decade older. She says she didn't want to, but Islam left her with 'no rights'.

More than two decades since her wedding day, the 39-year-old is living on the Gold Coast, Queensland, her new home after initially fleeing Iran for the safety of Europe.

Telling the Gold Coast Bulletin her story of discrimination and how she was forced to give up seeing her children, the woman revealed she has converted to Christianity. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

A Video Journalist Wrestles With the Candor of an Egyptian Woman

.... Without a moment’s hesitation, she waved the flag, high over her head. And her friend snapped a picture. Esraa posted the photo to her Facebook account accompanied with a post where she denounced discrimination.

A few other concertgoers waved the flag, too. The act, extraordinary in its audacity, provoked public outrage. And it set off a campaign of targeted arrests.

Esraa was not at her mother’s place when the police came for her. And she has not returned to visit since then. She left her job, she moved apartments and she has been living in a state of total paralysis.

In early December, there were no official charges, but those who had been arrested were accused of “inciting debauchery” and could face years in prison.

I reminded Esraa of her words to me when we were filming: I am not scared of anything.

I asked her again if she was afraid.

“It is not fear that is dominating me; it is despair,” she said. “But I have no regrets. I did nothing wrong.” [The New York Times] Read more

Muslim school receives 'inadequate' Ofsted rating after loos did not have toilet paper for 'cultural reasons'

A Muslim girls' school has received the lowest Ofsted rating available after inspectors discovered that pupils were not provided with lavatory paper for "cultural reasons".

Staff at the fee-paying Park Avenue Girls' High School, in Stoke-on-Trent, said paper was available from the school office, but because most of the students were Asian, they preferred to wash rather than wipe.

But some of the girls told inspectors they were so unhappy about the situation that they avoided using the lavatory all day.

The school, which was visited by inspectors October, was rated "inadequate", with the report identifying a range of concerns, including safeguarding problems and the discovery of sectarian material on the premises. [The Telegraph] Read more

02 December 2017

Triple talaq: India considers jail for 'instant divorce'

Husbands who attempt "instant divorce" could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India.

The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying "talaq" (divorce) three times - in any form, including email or text message.

It was declared unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since.

The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women.

The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation.

It would explicitly ban "triple talaq", in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a "subsistence allowance" and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said. [BBC] Read more