18 March 2017

As a Muslim, I strongly support the right to ban the veil

I was raised as an observant Muslim in a British family. Women, I was taught, determine their own conduct — including their ‘veiling’. We’d cover our hair only if we freely chose to do so. That’s why I’m baffled by the notion that all good Muslim women should cover their hair or face.

My entire family are puzzled by it too, as are millions like us. Not until recent years has the idea taken root that Muslim women are obliged by their faith to wear a veil.

It’s a sign, I think, not of assertive Islam, but of what happens when Islamists are tolerated by a western culture that’s absurdly anxious to avoid offence. This strange, unwitting collaboration between liberals and extremists has been going on for years. But at last there are signs that it is ending.

In response to cases brought by two veiled Muslim women from Belgium and France, the European Court of Justice has ruled that employers have the right to stop employees wearing visible religious symbols, including headscarves worn in the name of Islam.

This ruling includes not only the burka and the niqab (already entirely banned from the public space by a number of European countries) but also the face-revealing hijab. The ruling goes two ways: if the company does tolerate religious symbols, then no employee can be asked to take them off. [The Spectator] Read more

15 March 2017

Austrian colleges ban religious symbols after ECJ case

An education company in Austria has banned its staff from wearing visible religious symbols following the decision of the EU’s top court to allow such a block, local media said Wednesday.

BFI, which runs around a dozen vocational colleges across the country, said it had banned its employees from wearing “every kind of visible” religious symbol, the Kleine Zeitung newspaper reported.

In an interview hours after the European Court of Justice said it did not constitute “direct discrimination” to ban the wearing of any “political, philosophical or religious sign”, company executive Wilhelm Techt said his staff would comply with “Western culture”.

He told the newspaper: “We should transfer Western culture and values without misunderstandings. Therefore, educators have to work in Western clothes.” [Anadolu Agency] Read more

After EU headscarf ruling, UK PM May says government should not tell women what to wear

It is not right for government to tell women what to wear, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday, after the European Union's top court ruled that companies may ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves under certain conditions.

The Court of Justice's ruling on Tuesday, which also applied to other visible religious symbols, set off a storm of complaints from rights groups and religious leaders.

Asked about the ruling, May told parliament: "We have ... a strong tradition in this country of freedom of expression, and it is the right of all women to choose how they dress and we don't intend to legislate on this issue."

"There will be times when it is right for a veil to be asked to be removed, such as border security or perhaps in courts, and individual institutions can make their own policies, but it is not for government to tell women what they can and can't wear." [Reuters] Read more

Headscarves: PM May says European court ruling not to change UK law

Britain will not make changes to its laws following a ruling by the European Court of Justice that employers banning political and philosophical signs such as headscarves did not constitute direct discrimination, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s ruling evoked a mixed reaction in Britain. Amid concerns in minority communities, May said in the House of Commons: “We have a strong tradition in this country of freedom of expression.

“Of course this case came up particularly in relation to the wearing of the veil - there will be times when it's right to ask for a veil to be removed, but it is not for government to tell women what they can and cannot wear and we want to continue that strong tradition of freedom of expression.”

Reacting to the ruling, the Muslim Council of Britain said, “It is a sad day for justice and equality. At a time when populism and bigotry are at an all-time high, we fear that this ruling will serve as a green light to those wishing to normalise discrimination against faith communities.” [Hindustan Times] Read more

How the media got the "Muslim headscarf ban" ruling wrong

It will be very hard for employers to legally ban women from wearing hijabs at work. But the far-right are already celebrating.

In the 24 hours since the European Court of Justice (ECJ) published its judgments relating to Muslim women wearing a headscarf at work, much ink has already been spilled on the issue. This seems to be by many who have either not read the judgments or, at least, have not understood them.

On the one hand, the far-right across Europe is celebrating the end of Islamic clothing. On the other, religious rights advocates are mourning the end of freedom of religion in Europe. Both groups seem to base their opinions about the judgments on exaggerated media headlines about the EU’s court banning the Muslim headscarf, and both groups are highly likely wrong.

One fundamental point to be understood is the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the extent of its powers. The ECJ provides guidance to domestic courts on specific questions of EU law that arise within a case, but does not actually decide the case.

In yesterday’s judgment of Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV, about a Muslim female receptionist who was dismissed for wearing a headscarf, the domestic court asked the ECJ a single, simple question: if an employer prohibits all employees from wearing religious symbols at work, is it direct discrimination under EU law if a Muslim woman is prevented from wearing a headscarf due to that policy? [New Statesman] Read more

The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women

This week’s decision by the European court of justice to allow the hijab to be banned in the workplace is yet another sign of the continent’s obsession with how Muslim women dress.

The ruling states that the hijab can be banned only as part of a policy barring all religious and political symbols – and so framed in a way that doesn’t directly target Muslim women. Indeed, the Conference of European Rabbis was outraged, saying that the ruling sent a clear message that Europe’s faith communities were no longer welcome – and a number of religious communities, including Sikhs, will be affected.

However, there’s no doubt that Muslims are the main group in the line of fire. That’s why far-right groups across the continent were so delighted with it. “Of course companies have to be allowed to ban the wearing of headscarves,” said Georg Pazderski, of Germany’s hardline Alternative für Deutschland. “Even the ECJ votes Marine [le Pen],” tweeted the French MP Gilbert Collard, a Front National supporter.

.... I have friends who have taken to wearing the hijab in recent years because they feel their Muslim identity has been threatened, and they have decided to take a stand for their faith.

The far-right, and now the European courts, may have succeeded in turning the hijab into something perhaps even more powerful than a symbol of religion, and turning it into a symbol of resistance too. [571 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 1034 votes] "the continent’s obsession with how Muslim women dress"

Surely it's the obsession of misogynist religious fanatics who want to deny women a public identity.

[2ND 842] The Koran says women should dress modestly, it says very little about what that entails. The headscarf is cultural, it is not religious.

[3RD 727] "The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women"

Great British Public "Oh, no it isn't"

Graunitariat and Muslim Council of Great Britain "Oh yes it is"

[4TH 632] This lady says the European court of justice is repressing women but says nothing about the repressive nature of Islam that requires women to wear these things.

[5TH 626] "the hijab doesn’t fit neatly under the bracket of being a “religious symbol”"

"I have friends who have taken to wearing the hijab in recent years because they feel their Muslim identity has been threatened"

Sounds a bit contradictory.

[6TH 619] "However, the hijab doesn’t fit neatly under the bracket of being a “religious symbol”".

Absolutely right. It's also a misogynist and patriarchal symbol, as well as a nod to a theocratic political ideology.

[7TH 554] its a ban, on a religious oppressive symbol, all oppressive symbols should be banned.

[8TH 528] "For its wearers the hijab is a core part of their way of life, linked to the way they choose to practise their faith. It is not up for debate."

The hijab is completely optional: women wear it because they choose to. That means it is well and truly up for debate.

[9TH 490] "I have friends who have taken to wearing the hijab in recent years because they feel their Muslim identity has been threatened, and they have decided to take a stand for their faith."

And I have friends in Turkey who have had to flee their country because the public and government pressure to cover their heads to even get a job in the Government, or walk comfortably down the street without being harassed, was overwhelming. [Guardian Cif] Read more

14 March 2017

What the EU Court ruling on headscarf bans means for Germany

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that employers may ban headscarves in the workplace in certain circumstances - an issue which has been heatedly debated in Germany in recent years.

The European Court of Justice ruling on Tuesday was based on two cases in France and Belgium of Muslim women who wanted to wear their headscarves to work. The main question was how to interpret anti-discrimination and equal treatment policies of the EU.

The court said that employers may ban headscarves if the company has a general ban on "political, philosophical or religious" symbols, and if there is good reason for a ban.

The decision also clarified under what conditions a ban would be allowed. For the woman in Belgium, who worked as a receptionist at a security firm, the court said her case did not constitute “direct discrimination” as the company had a general rule against displaying religious symbols.

But for the woman in France, the court said a ban was not justified. The design engineer was fired after a company client complained about her headscarf. The court said that this situation “cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination." [The Local] Read more

European court rules employers can ban women from wearing Islamic headscarves and religious symbols

The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies can ban employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf, but only as part of prohibitions including other religious and political symbols.

It is the first case of its kind amid a series of legal disputes over the right for Muslim women to wear the hijab at work.

“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the court said in a statement.

“However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer's services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.” [The Independent] Read more

Pakistan to offer extra college credits to girls who cover their faces

Pakistan’s Minister for Higher Education has announced that girls who cover their faces will be given extra college credits. Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani made the remarks while speaking at an Education Board meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking at the event, Minister Gilani said:

We are leaving our religion behind, we are forgetting our culture and ethics. Hence, I have made the hijab compulsory for our women and sisters in colleges

The minister added that it was his duty to take the step as it is “the duty of every Muslim”

Minister Gilani who is a graduate of Philadelphia University, USA went on to say that his Department will make it mandatory for girls in public colleges to wear the Hijab, he announced:

Female students would be required to wear the Hijab, and as an incentive, the Department of Education will allocate 5 extra attendance credits to those who have less than 65% attendance. [Rabwah Times] Read more

Saudi Arabia launches girls' council - without any girls

It was an encouraging initiative for a country not known for giving women a platform in public life.

But when Saudi Arabia wanted to show off its inaugural girls' council in al-Qassim province, they overlooked one thing: the women.

Pictures released to mark the first Qassim Girls Council meeting showed 13 men on stage, and not a single female.

The women were apparently in another room, linked via video.

The male-dominated photos have been circulating widely on social media, after the meeting took place on Saturday. [BBC] Read more

EU workplace headscarf ban 'can be legal', says ECJ

Workplace bans on the wearing of "any political, philosophical or religious sign" such as headscarves need not constitute direct discrimination, Europe's top court has ruled.

But the ban must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to "dress neutrally", said the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

It cannot be based on the wishes of a customer, it added.

This is the court's first ruling on the wearing of headscarves at work.

The ECJ's ruling was prompted by the case of a receptionist fired for wearing a headscarf to work at the security company G4S in Belgium.

The issues of Muslim dress and the integration of immigrant communities have featured prominently in debates in several European countries in recent years. Austria and the German state of Bavaria have recently announced bans on full-face veils in public spaces. [BBC] Read more

13 March 2017

After playing all season, Maryland girl held out of basketball game for wearing a hijab

With the game out of reach and the season sputtering to a finish, Watkins Mill Coach Donita Adams made sure every girl played in the team’s first region final appearance. But Adams left Je’Nan Hayes sitting on the bench. She had no other choice.

“I didn’t even want to look down at Je’Nan in that moment,” Adams said. “I had not yet told her that she wasn’t allowed to play in the game because of her headscarf.”

The game was at Oxon Hill High in Prince George’s County on March 3. Hayes, a junior in her first season playing organized basketball, was not allowed to play because she wears a hijab as part of her Muslim faith. Before the contest, the head official informed Adams of a rarely enforced rule requiring “documented evidence” that Hayes needs to cover her head for religious reasons.

“I felt discriminated against, and I didn’t feel good at all,” Hayes said. “If it was some reason like my shirt wasn’t the right color or whatever, then I’d be like, ‘Okay.’ But because of my religion it took it to a whole different level, and I just felt that it was not right at all.”

The news that Hayes wasn’t allowed to play because of her hijab was first reported by The Current, Watkins Mill’s student newspaper. [The Washington Post] Read more

Iran Sentences American Citizen, Wife to Death for “Holding Mixed Parties” With Alcohol

A dual American-Iranian citizen and his wife have been sentenced to death by an Iranian court after being convicted of founding a “cult” and “holding mixed parties” that involved serving alcohol, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

Tehran prosecutor-general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said in a statement on Sunday that the case “is related to a woman and man who provided alcoholic drinks, and encouraged corruption and debauchery by holding mixed parties.” Dolatabadi claimed that the man had stored 4,000 liters of alcoholic beverages in his home, in violation of Iranian law.

Though the couple has not been named, it is believed that they are owners of a Tehran art gallery who were arrested last July. They are reported to be members of the Zoroastrian religion, who under Iranian law are allowed to have alcohol for private purposes but forbidden from sharing it with Muslims.

The statement also noted that the couple had allegedly been “exhibiting and selling obscene images at [their] gallery,” and that they had founded “a new cult.” [TheTower.org] Read more

The Truth About Sweden

"I often use Sweden as a deterring example.”

The words are not those of Donald Trump, but Anders Fogh Rasmussen. In an interview with Swedish public television in January, the former NATO secretary general and Danish prime minister described Sweden's immigration policy as a failure and a warning to other countries.

But it was President Trump's unclear and slightly confused reference to Sweden during his February 18 rally in Florida that has turned attention to the Scandinavian country of 10 million and the details of its migrant experience. Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita in recent years than any other country in Europe.

"Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible," Trump said. Since then, Swedes have seen facts about their country, and many exaggerations and misconceptions, used as arguments in an American domestic debate.

But there are, in fact, good reasons for Americans to care about Sweden's problems. First, because Sweden's failure to integrate its immigrants, in line with Rasmussen's observation, carries lessons for other countries; second, because Swedish news reporting and public discourse on immigration and integration are restricted by taboos.

Swedish journalists and public figures who have been outspoken about the problems—and transgressed what the Swedes call the "opinion corridor"—have risked being labeled xenophobes or racists. [The Weekly Standard] Read more

11 March 2017

Imams to be told to preach in English at mosques

Imams are to be encouraged to deliver their sermons in English under measures being prepared to rid Britain of hate preaching.

The Telegraph has been told that the counter-extremism taskforce is working on the plans amid concern that preaching in foreign languages enforces divisions between Islam and mainstream British society and can foster radicalisation.

Ministers have been inspired by some Middle Eastern countries that have begun urging that sermons be published in English online. A senior Government source said: “If imams are speaking in another language it makes it far harder to know if radicalisation is taking place.”

Measures are being prepared for the long-awaited counter-extremism proposals after an initial strategy was published in October 2015. Exact measures are yet to be finalised but one source said tougher licensing rules for foreign preachers was being considered.

Currently, imams from outside the European Union who visit Britain have to prove they can speak English before a visa is granted. However, sources have ruled out the introduction of any new licensing scheme for imams already in the UK because it could be seen as a curb on religious freedom. [The Telegraph] Read more

Sandwell Hospital halal kitchen plan criticised

A former patient’s daughter has hit out at Sandwell Hospital’s plans to create a separate halal kitchen.

The move comes as NHS bosses were criticised about the quality of meals there last year.

Loraine Yarnold’s mother Caroline Fellows died after 10 days in the hospital in 2014.

The 50-year-old said: “This kitchen would just be a diversion of resources they should not be doing. I don’t agree with it at all.”

A spokesperson for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said earlier this week that a separate halal kitchen was one of the best ways to provide a range of healthy halal options to patients and staff who want them. [Express & Star] Read more

Distrust of Islam soars among Victorians, survey reveals

Four out of five Victorians do not trust the Islamic faith, alarming new research for the state government has revealed.

A survey, conducted by an international consulting company, has found only 17 per cent of the general population trust Islam and a majority of Victorians believe a face veil "inhibits social inclusion".

More than 3000 Victorians who were surveyed rated Islam as the least-trusted institution.

Senior figures in the Victorian Government are worried this antipathy towards Islam has helped fuel the rise of extreme right views. [Herald Sun] Read more

09 March 2017

Swiss senate refuses nationwide burqa ban

The upper house of parliament has rejected the idea of a nationwide ban on the Islamic face veil and other face coverings.

The draft bill, which was narrowly passed by the lower house last September, was opposed by the senate after a debate on Thursday, reported news agencies.

The proposal by hardline Swiss People’s Party (SVP) MP Walter Wobmann called for a federal ban on the burqa, niqab and other full face coverings in public, along the same lines as a cantonal ban that came into effect in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in July last year.

In March Wobmann launched a popular initiative to that effect, which has until September 2017 to gather the required 100,000 signatures to take the issue to a referendum.

On Thursday the senate followed the recommendation of a commission on the subject which advised against implementing a ban nationwide, saying it was not necessary since so few people in Switzerland wear the veil. [The Local] Read more

08 March 2017

Algeria: Don't Prosecute a Writer for Insulting Islam

Algeria's prosecutor's office should drop its criminal blasphemy investigation of a writer over his 2016 novel, Human Rights Watch said today. The Algerian authorities should uphold freedom of expression and take immediate steps to abolish the blasphemy law.

The judicial police in Tipaza, a city 70 kilometers from Algiers, interrogated Anouar Rahmani, a 25-year-old law student and novelist, on February 28, 2017. They told him that the public prosecutor had opened an investigation into "The City of White Shadows," a novel he published online in August 2016. They filed a report accusing him of insulting Islam in his novel. Rahmani is free pending a decision by the prosecutor on whether to charge him.

"It is not the business of the prosecutor to question the author about their religious beliefs," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. [AllAfrica] Read more

Italian region bans women in face veils from entering hospitals

The northern region of Liguria on Tuesday announced plans to ban the Islamic face veil from hospitals and other public institutions, in a bid to "defend women's freedom".

Regional president Giovanni Toti, of the Forza Italia party, described the burqa as "the worst symbol of the oppression of women". He defended the ban against accusations that it is discriminatory and possibly anti-constitutional.

"Those who live in Italy need to grasp and respect at least the minimum rules of equality between men and women," said Toti, who proposed the measure together with Liguria's health councillor, Sonia Viale of the far-right Northern League party.

The party's national leader, Matteo Salvini, was quick to praise the region for a "concrete initiative" to protect women's freedom in the midst of what he called a "flood of useless chatter that accompanies Women's Day".

Face coverings have been banned in public institutions in the neighbouring region of Lombardy since January 2016. [The Local] Read more

Muslim women urged to register their marriage at Bradford event

The ‘Register Our Marriage’ (ROM) Roadshow was led by solicitor Aina Khan.

Women in unregistered marriages are left without rights in a British court of law, in the case of divorce and unregistered marriages are steadily rising in the Muslim community.

Aina Khan was joined on the panel by Neil Addison, a barrister at the New Bailey Chambers in Liverpool, and Siddique Patel, head of family department at Kamrans Solicitors, one of West Yorkshire’s leading criminal defence firms.

"The Muslim Women’s Council receives calls daily from women enquiring about their marriage rights. Almost half of these calls are from women in unregistered marriages. Bradford is tipped to have the largest Muslim population in the country by 2030, a community which could be vulnerable to the downfalls of unregistered marriages, so it’s incredibly important for men and women in our community to know their rights." [ITV] Read more

Indonesia imprisons leaders of 'deviant' religious group on blasphemy charges

A court in Indonesia has found three leaders of the religious minority group, known as Gafatar, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced them to multiple years in prison.

The East Jakarta District Court awarded five-year prison terms to the community's founder, Ahmad Moshaddeq, and president, Mahful Muis Tumanurung. Gafatar spokesperson and vice president Andry Cahya received a three-year sentence.

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Presiding judge Muhammad Sirad ruled on 7 March, that the three men had "tarnished one of the religions in Indonesia deliberately in public", referring in particular to Islam. In his verdict statement, he said that the movement "contradicted and offended Islamic values held by most Indonesian citizens".

The Gafatar belief system combines the teachings of Islam, Christianity and Judaism but urges followers to give up certain Islamic practices like prayer, fasting and the Hajj pilgrimage. Indonesia being a country with a majority Muslim population, these opposing ideas have lead to public suspicion and accusations of "deviant teachings". [International Business Times] Read more

Don’t be complacent about the risk of President Le Pen

Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National party has never been closer to power. That is not to say she will be elected president in May. When in 1962 Charles de Gaulle introduced direct universal suffrage for the presidential election, he cushioned it with a two-round voting system in which a 50% majority is required in the runoff.

Le Pen seems set to pass the first hurdle, but not the second. In that case, the biggest danger lies not so much in her entering the Elysée Palace, but in her party becoming the largest opposition force in the National Assembly after the parliamentary elections in June. But don’t be mistaken, a worst-case scenario is possible.

The fact is, the taboo of a far-right presidency no longer holds in France. Low turnout in the runoff, combined with political polarisation, more scandals or, even worse, outbreaks of violence, could make a Le Pen win possible. [741 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMEBT 496 votes] 'It is no exaggeration to say the fate of democracy in France and in Europe is at stake.'

If Le Pen gets elected, that's democracy.

[3RD 366] You're bang on.

The arrogance is unbelievable.

[2ND 429 ] "In today’s France it has become almost normal to say immigration and refugees are a problem". How unpleasant. People saying things. Can't have that. I imagine it is normal because people think it is an accurate refelection of reality. What is the writer suggesting here - that people should in some way be prevented from saying what they think the world is like?

[4TH 280] I sincerely hope she wins

[5TH 264] Guardian HQ just can't help themselves comparing Marine Le Pen and other "populist" leaders to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich at any given opportunity. This decry of wanton hysteria does no one no favours.

[6TH 247] I'd have thought the Guardian would support the only woman in the game especially on International womens day! [Guardian Cif] Read more

The Muslim Brotherhood is creating a 'parallel social structure' in Sweden, aided by 'political elites' making it impossible to criticise Islam, government report admits

The Muslim Brotherhood is creating a 'parallel social structure' in Sweden with the help of 'political elites' who foster a culture of silence, a damning government report has found.

The document claims that the Brotherhood is building a 'parallel society' within the Scandinavian country, which can help the Islamist group to achieve its ends.

Founded in 1826, the Muslim Brotherhood aims to organise Muslims politically in order to create a global, Sunni Islamic Caliphate.

The group is arguably the largest Islamist organisation in the world and has in the past been linked to mainstream Islamic institutions, including to the Muslim Council of Britain.

The organisation has been accused of fostering links to militants and is classed as a terrorist organisation by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. [1112 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 5734 votes] When will Europe learn ?

[2ND 4803] Are we shocked NO ............. Its been happening in the UK for years

[3RD 3996] Bye to the Sweden we knew and loved.

[4TH 3862] Wake up Sweden! You are losing your country due to cultural Marxism of your Liberalist parties.

[5TH 3194] The new European war is nearly upon us all

[6TH 2603] A little more than concerning

[7TH 2556] My friends in Germany tell me it's the same there - the media dare not tell the truth and politicians and the police lie systematically.

[8TH 2481] Sweden is finished.

[9TH 2389 ] Why is it only Herr Farage and Sir Donald Trump that speak the truth...?

[10TH 2294] Liberalism = self hating self destruction mental illness. Sadly there are millions of suffers and growing. [Daily Mail] Read more

07 March 2017

'SHE NEEDS TO BE KILLED' Muslim teen girl, 17, suffers horrifying death threats after she is caught twerking in the street while wearing hijab

A MUSLIM teenager who was filmed twerking in Birmingham city centre while wearing a hijab has been targeted by vile trolls who said she is a “stupid b****” who “needs to be killed”.

The 17-year-old was out shopping with pals when she and a friend joined a street performer and began dancing.

Footage of her dancing was later uploaded online, and attracted a barrage of hateful comments.

One wrote: “That’s so disrespectful is you are wearing hijab you are representing Islam respect dignity so how to act like a fool that is a big disrespect.”

Another said: “Truly disgusting.

“Some people don’t understand the meaning of the veil.”

One even said she “needs to be killed”.

She later gave an emotional interview to Muslim YouTube star Ali Dawah.

The teenager, who has not been named, told him during a phone interview: “To all the girls that wear hijab and wear abayah, I’m sorry for disrespecting it. [The Sun] Read more

Birmingham Muslim Apologises for ‘Twerking’ in Hijab After Death Threats

A woman filmed “twerking” with a man whilst wearing a hijab in Birmingham has been forced to publicly apologise after the footage went viral and she was sent death threats.

In the video, the young woman, wearing an Islamic headscarf and loose fitting robes, is seen doing the provocative dance move alongside a man and woman who do not appear to be Muslim.

The footage was uploaded to YouTube, where it received more than a million views before being deleted. It has since been re-uploaded several times.

It has divided opinion, with some praising the woman for her dance moves and enjoying herself. Conservative minded Muslims, however, were largely shocked, claiming she had “disrespected” Islam and should be punished.

“She should be shot!!!!!!!!” wrote Aliya Hussian below the video. “Killing her oughta teach her!” said Yah-luna-tic on Reddit. [Breitbart London] Read more

Girl in viral twerking video says she is ‘sorry’ during interview with YouTuber Ali Dawah

A video showing a girl wearing the hijab while twerking in Birmingham City Centre went viral yesterday, being viewed over 1 million times on several Facebook and Instagram pages.

The video received thousands of negative comments and death threats towards the girl.

One person commented on the video: ‘F*****g s**t someone give me her address I will kill her’

While another person commented: ‘Stupid b****h needs to be killed’.

YouTuber Ali Dawah earlier spoke to the girl in the video (below) in which she became emotional and said she was ‘sorry’. [British Asians UK] Read more

The town that pioneered multiculturalism

I have become a stalker of old men. I seek them out in community centres, cafes and mosques, in their cluttered flats and in dark alleys. I don’t want anything nefarious with them, just to capture their memories.

My speciality is old Somali men, especially those in Cardiff. Having grown up in London, where it is anathema to turn up unannounced at a stranger’s door, it is always discombobulating to ring doorbells in Butetown and be met with a smile.

This is a district built on the absorption of strangers, particularly sailors from all corners of the globe, and the resulting community is one of the most truly mixed I’ve ever seen. The area gave us Shirley Bassey,, but it also lost a quarter of its men in shipping disasters during the second world war and nurtured “multiculturalism” before the word even existed.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 122 votes] Guardian confusing multiculturalism with multiracialism again I see.

[2ND 73] Author failing to understand the distinction between assimilation , racial integration, and multiculturalism. Throughout the article praise is heaped on the two former eg "very British Muslims" in the name of the latter. Multiculturalism is about people retaining intact their cultural identities. Not mixing them.

Very woolly thinking here. The examples show how assimilation and integration are both excellent well worn paths for newcomers to Britain over the ages. And how multiculturalism the antithesis of integration has failed. And miserably so.

[3RD 69] The problem is the Guardian doesn't understand multiculturalism. The true test of multiculturalism is mixed families, that is the very definition of a melting pot. Eventually the immigrant group mixes with the rest of the population and you don't have completely separate communities anymore.

That isn't what is happening with some communities in this country. We don't have multiculturalism, we have separate communities that sometimes meet in the workplace and in schools. This is happening for generation after generation.

It is allowed to happen, because the barrier is being created by minorities communities themselves. Communities that have no desire to integrate. The Guardian has massive blind spot when it comes to this. Good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

[4TH 60 ] Nice article, but by and large multiculturalism doesn't work. [Guardian Cif] Read more

06 March 2017

Extremely British Muslims - Love, Dating And Marriage

Last week, a programme called ‘Extremely British Muslims’ stirred up a storm on social media with its first episode as it delved into the problems faced by British Muslims in the world of romance, dating, and marriage.

The documentary, though presented in a humorous and light-hearted fashion, was fundamentally disheartening and tragic.

The programme focused on the love lives of young Muslims living in Britain, yet the show can be seen as a commentary on the overarching internalised struggle that many 2nd generation British children are living with today. The conflicting attitudes towards dating and relationships made apparent in this documentary can be extrapolated to the larger perceived discord between ‘Islamic’ and British values.

The older members of the community wish to enforce their own conservative views on the younger generation, with one mother even declaring that a child would be completely cut off from the family if they were found to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

This type of harsh disapproval of any sort of romantic relationship has its roots in the idea that dating is inherently a promiscuous act, that it is the result of Westernisation, and that ultimately, all Western ideas are in conflict with Islam. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Austrian govt criticizes headscarf advice for Muslim women

Austrian government officials are criticizing a recommendation by the country's Islamic leaders that Muslim women wear a headscarf with the onset of puberty.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who also is the country's integration minister, says the stance is "an attack on the freedom and self-determination of women." State Secretary Maria Duzdar says such restrictions on the freedom of women are "unacceptable."

Austrian media reported their comments Monday in reaction to a recommendation by the Islamic Community. The organization says the final decision is a woman's to make and criticizes what it says is political interference into religious affairs.

The Austrian government has prohibited full-face veils in courts, schools and other "public places" and banned police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing headscarves earlier this year. [Associated Press] Read more

'No longer living a French life' Marine Le Pen condemns religious symbols in France

The Front National leader said she wanted to ban all religious symbols, “especially ones that are not French”, if she wins the presidential election in May.

She said it was “good” there were not a lot of Sikhs in France.

The hardline candidate insisted she is “not waging a religious war” but said immigration had changed France’s image.

Ms Le Pen is predicted to win the first round of voting on April 23, but to lose the second round to centrist Emmanuel Macron who is polling ahead of his rivals.

The 48-year-old told the International Business Times: “There are a number of neighbourhoods where you are no longer living a French life. That's undeniable.

"France isn't Burkinis on the beach. France is Brigitte Bardot. That's France." [Daily Express] Read more

Hardline Islam and Saudi money are spreading across the Indian Ocean and into Asia

The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is currently wending his way through Asia on a rare trip abroad. Alongside the regional giants of China and Japan, his trip is taking him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Maldives.

For many, those latter four will conjure up images of endless sunshine, pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and luxurious holiday resorts. But beneath the radar of tourists, a dark force is spreading across parts of south and south-east Asia that is threatening social cohesion and peaceful coexistence: the rise of Islamism.

A number of Muslim-majority countries in Asia, including the world’s most populous Muslim country Indonesia, have long been portrayed as a model for the compatibility of Islam and democracy. [The Telegraph] Read more

Islam – unlike Christianity – refuses to see virtue in secularism

There was a good programme last week on Channel 4 about Muslims looking for love, or at least marriage. It was called ‘Extremely British Muslims’, and it did indeed show us some young Muslims who were very much like anyone else. But it was also a reminder that many Muslims have a deep-seated assumption about religion and secularism that the rest of don’t.

Lots of these young Muslims, though not very religious, saw it as their duty to become more religious as they grew up and settled down. Religion, for them, was an essential part of becoming responsible, civic-minded, family-minded, and about putting away youthful selfishness. And – the other side of the coin – secularism was assumed to be devoid of such healthy values, the site of mere hedonism.

This is a big difference from the majority culture. The rest of us, even if we are religious, see that there is plenty of good in secularism. We are familiar with the long tradition of secular humanist idealism, and we know many people who strive to exemplify it.

Muslims are more likely to have a binary moral narrative, drummed into them in childhood and difficult to dislodge: social virtue is religious, secularism is the site of selfish rebellion against it. Their own young lives seem to prove it: they drift away from religion for a while, in their self-centred late teens and early twenties. [491 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 55 votes] It's no good us saying what Islam needs because we are unbelievers who should be forced to obey Islam.

What we think has no influence on Islam, and that is exactly the problem.

[2ND 30] "This is a major part of the reform that Islam needs – it must admit that there is virtue in secularism."

"Needs"? In order to do what - to accommodate our Western expectations of it? I can imagine a Muslim laughing at you saying that. "Why don't you go and die, infidel? You betrayed your God, but I wouldn't betray mine."

You can't integrate someone who's not willing to - and what's the point for Muslims to integrate? It's not like they have any pressure to do that. On the contrary - keeping to their colours grants them numerous benefits in modern Western society.

[3RD 22] Islam will never be "reformed". Any Muslim who criticised his religion let alone attempted to alter the "precepts" of the Koran, would risk death.

[4TH 17] Anybody who wants to see how Islam treats those it perceives as weaker than itself need only go to Africa, and all will become abundantly clear. Islamised countries have been culturally cleansed of everything outside Islam, their names erased, their languages largely forgotten.

And it marches relentlessly southward. For a time this was held in check, as it was by imperialism in India, but now it is free to force itself on the masses. Christianity and animism on that continent are doomed.

Islam has absolutely no incentive to reform. The West is weak, Africa is beyond weak, and the rest of the world doesn't care. [The Spectator] Read more

05 March 2017

Ban the Koran in the Netherlands, says far-right leader Wilders

As campaigning starts to reach a climax in the Netherlands ahead of elections on March the 15th, the far-right Freedom party looks set to double its number of parliamentary seats.

On one policy, leader Geert Wilders told Euronews he thinks the Koran should be forbidden in the Netherlands, just like Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.

“I rather would have not Koran at all as we in Holland at least have outlawed Mein Kampf as well.

“It might be in some part highly symbolic, still it would have an enormous effect to do so.

“If one country is tougher on its immigration policy than the other, then the most immigrants go to the country with the softest immigration policy.”

Members of the Muslim community organised a meeting to report what they describe as a rising climate of extremism, which they say is being encouraged by Wilders. [Euronews] Read more

04 March 2017

Demonstrations clash in Toronto over M-103 motion to fight Islamophobia

More than 1,000 people participated in a counterdemonstration at Toronto City Hall Saturday against a “March for Freedom, Liberty and Justice,” organized by the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC).

The CCCC marched against M-103, a parliamentary motion that commits the Legislature to fight against hatred, discrimination and prejudices, particularly against Muslims. The group believes the motion will put a chill on free speech.

An Ontario Liberal backbencher, Iqra Khalid, brought forward the M-103 motion in Parliament last year. The Opposition tried to pass an amendment last month removing the word “Islamophobia” from the motion, but the Liberals used their majority to block the effort. [Toronto Star] Read more

Government Report: Islamists Building ‘Parallel Society’ in Sweden Aided By PC Culture of Silence

Aided by a politically correct culture of “tolerance”, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is secretly building a “parallel” society in Sweden by infiltrating organisations and political parties, a government report has concluded.

Surprisingly, the document takes aim at “political elites” for fostering a doctrine of multiculturalism and silence, which can help and facilitate the nefarious ends of anti-democratic organisation like the Brotherhood.

Somewhat predictably, however, the publication of such claims in Sweden – where open criticism of liberal, multicultural ideals is rare – has caused a row, with critics labelling the report “conspiratorial” and claiming it misrepresents Islam.

Published Friday, the document was commissioned by Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), part of the country’s Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for civil protection and public safety.

The paper’s authors claim the Brotherhood is working to increase the number of practicing Muslims in Sweden, encouraging tension with Secular society, and targeting political parties, NGOs, academic institutions and other civil society organisations. [Breitbart London] Read more

03 March 2017

Muslim women win right to wear full body suits in amateur swimming competitions

Competitors in amateur swimming races will be allowed to wear full body suits for the first time, as part of a rule change to encourage more Muslim women to take part in the sport.

The Amateur Swimming Association said yesterday that it was relaxing its swimsuit regulations to allow women to wear loose-fitting full body outfits, after a request from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation.

Until now, full body suits like those worn by Olympians have been banned, as they help streamline the shape of the body and have performance-enhancing characteristics.

The new guidance, which will only apply to amateur competitions in England, states that competitors will not be allowed to wear any suit that a competition referee believes will increase performance.

Photographs published by the governing body suggested that loose-fitting outfits would be permissible, while specifically excluding body suits similar to those worn by elite competitors. [The Telegraph] Read more

German school bans Muslim students from praying within campus, sparks controversy

A high school in western Germany is in the midst of a controversy after banning its Muslim students from praying within the school campus, terming the action "provocative".

The ban notice sent by the Gymnasium Johannes Rau administration in Wuppertal was also posted on Facebook, following which many users slammed and questioned the school's decision, citing religious tolerance in Germany.

Local daily Der Westen, which first reported the issue, wrote that the school authorities declined to comment on the ban, but Düsseldorf authorities confirmed that the circular was shared on the social media site. The authorities also explained that Muslim students "praying provocatively" inside the school premises was making other students and teachers uncomfortable and thus, the administration had to make the decision.

"In recent weeks it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others, signalled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats, and taking up certain postures. This is not permitted," the circular read. [International Business Times] Read more

02 March 2017

Danish ex-Muslim sets up Facebook group for apostate Muslims

Abdikani Josef has created a Facebook group for Danish ex-Muslims like himself in a bid to give them a platform where they can find support from others who have also taken the step to leave Islam.

The idea for the page, Ex-Muslims of Denmark, came about late last year when Josef and a few other ex-Muslims in his network began wondering how many people in Denmark were in their situation.

.... Josef, 28, was himself a radicalised Muslim in his teenage years, but turned his back on the religion – a move that can have serious consequences, such as lost contact with family, networks and friends, and it can even lead to harassment and violence.

According to Martin Riexinger, a researcher of Islam at Aarhus University, it can be considered a great sin to turn one’s back on Islam.

“Consequences can include being excluded from one’s family and also harassment from people in their surroundings, if you live in an area with many Muslims,” Riexinger told DR Nyheder.

As of 2016, a total of 16 Muslim nations criminalise public apostasy – with some carrying death sentences. Some, including Somalia, have large diaspora populations in Denmark. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

German school in Wuppertal bans Muslim children from 'provocative' prayer

"In recent weeks it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others, signaled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats, and taking up certain postures."

"This is not permitted."

So read an internal message to teachers at Gymnasium Johannes Rau in Wuppertal, western Germany, banning prayer for its Muslim students.

.... Looking forward, Gross said the local education board is now in talks with the school management and will be informed about a further course of action.

"Through discussions with the publicly praying students, the school leadership will now look for ways in which the pupils can practice their religion without others being disturbed or constricted," she told DW.

Legally, however, the headteacher of the school is allowed to implement the ban. The constitutional decree for the functioning of a school and the educational mission (Article 5 of the German Constitution) prevails over Article 4, the right to profess a religious or philosophical creed, Groß explained.

"Therefore, for example, Muslim girls must also take part in swimming lessons," she added. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Councillor involved in hijab row steps down from cabinet duties

A Birmingham councillor has stepped down from his cabinet duties following scrutiny of his actions in a row over hijabs in schools.

Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities, was involved in a debate about a Catholic school banning a Muslim girl from wearing a hijab.

Earlier tonight, he released this statement about his decision to step down from his duties on the cabinet:

"Birmingham is my city and I feel privileged to have served as a cabinet member on my council.

"But after careful consideration and in light of continued media and social media speculation, I have discussed the situation with the leader of the council and I have decided I will step aside from my cabinet role with immediate effect

"I will be asking the city council to commission an independent review into all current and historical speculation against me. "Clearly this speculation is a distraction for Birmingham City Council at a time when John Clancy's administration has important work to do. So I believe this is the right decision. – Cllr Waseem Zaffar. [ITV] Read more

01 March 2017

Pence: White House fully supports saying 'radical Islamic terrorism'

Vice President Pence on Wednesday said the White House fully supports using the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” despite reports that the new national security adviser broke with Trump on using the phrase.

“We all fully support the naming of what it is that we face,” Pence said on MSNBC's "For the Record with Greta."

"On the campaign trail, President Trump was the first in that famous speech in Ohio, to name radical Islamic terrorism and say we need to bring the broadest range of resources to bear," Pence said.

.... The phrase has its critics in the foreign policy and national security sector, including those arguing that using the term plays into militants' recruiting efforts by portraying the U.S. as at war with Islam.

But the vice president doubled down on using the phrase Wednesday evening, arguing that a variety of tactics should be used to defeat groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Not just military, but also on the internet, also with our allies, also reaching out to moderate voices in the Islamic world to join us to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the world," he said on MSNBC. [The Hill] Read more

Erdogan Exploits Islam For Personal And Political Gain

Anyone who follows Turkish President Erdogan’s political career cannot escape the conclusion that he has carefully and systematically crafted policies framed in Islamic clothing.

He uses religion to present himself and his political agenda as if it is being sanctioned by a higher authority, surreptitiously uses Islamic symbols to indoctrinate the population with religious precepts, and promotes Islamic studies in schools in order to cultivate a new generation of devout Muslims loyal to him.

To consolidate his powers, he focused on economic development to build a strong constituency consisting of the poorer and less-educated segments of the Turkish population who support him and follow his model of political Islam. He trumpets democracy to pay lip-service to the secular sector of the population to reduce resistance to his attempt to convert Turkey into an Islamic state.

There is nothing wrong in promoting any religion in a democracy, provided there is a clear separation between ‘church’ and state. In Turkey, though, Erdogan is making religion part and parcel of the state’s political process. [The Huffington Post] Read more

Birmingham schools reassured of right to ban hijab after row over four-year-old

Birmingham City Council is to reassure schools that they are free to ban pupils from wearing Islamic headscarves, after its equalities chief was criticised for trying to force a headteacher to allow a four-year-old to wear the hijab.

John Clancy, the Labour leader of the council, said Waseem Zaffar, his cabinet member for transparency, openness and equality, had referred himself to an independent standards committee after the government’s integration tsar said she was “very concerned” about his behaviour.

Mr Zaffar wrote on Facebook that he had met with the headteacher of a local primary school after a four-year-old girl, who it later transpired was a relative, was prevented from wearing a headscarf and told to wear shorts during PE.

He said: “I'm insisting this matter is addressed asap with a change of policy.” A friend of the councillor replied, saying that requiring shorts to be worn for PE was equivalent to “forcing a girl to undress”.

Dame Louise Casey, the government’s integration tsar, wrote to Mr Clancy, warning that Mr Zaffar’s "grossly unfair and undue” actions suggested that the council had failed to learn the lessons of the Trojan Horse scandal, when aggressive school governors in the city tried to impose a hardline Islamic ethos on head teachers. [The Telegraph] Read more

Ryerson parts ways with imam whose teachings are under investigation

An imam at a Toronto mosque who prayed for the purification of “Jews” and slaying of “infidels and polytheists” is no longer employed by Ryerson University.

Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said the university “has taken appropriate action” after looking into comments by imam Ayman Elkasrawy.

Elkasrawy and Ryerson have parted ways.

Elkasrawy, who has apologized, was seen in videos offering supplications, saying “O Allah! Destroy anyone who displaced the sons of the Muslims, O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them, O Allah! Purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.”

Another passage stated “slay them one by one” and suggested “humiliate the polytheism, the polytheists, the infidels and the atheists.”

Toronto Police are investigating, as is the Muslim Association of Canada, which has apologized and suspended the “junior employee” who preached an “unauthorized” service. [Toronto Sun] Read more

Inside Britain’s sharia councils: hardline and anti-women – or a dignified way to divorce?

.... Khan fears councils are becoming increasingly misogynistic and inefficient. “Sadly they have become a victim of their own success – they are overworked. The Salafi [ultra-conservative] influence on religion has brought in a real misogyny. They have become more hardline and anti-female.”

This can be seen in the most frightening complaint against sharia councils – that with divorce permissible but discouraged by Islam, women are pressured into mediation with violent partners – or even reconciliation. Savin Bapir-Tarvey, a psychologist with the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), sees around 15 clients a week, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.

She says cultural concepts such as honour are used to manipulate women. “They have experienced severe abuse and their children have witnessed it,” she says, but they are told that “to leave would bring shame on the family”.

Even marital rape can be ignored. “Women who have been through FGM might not make that clear [to their new husbands], but they might say they don’t want to have sex. One woman was told it was her duty – and she should pray while her husband has sex with her – basically while he raped her.” [The Guardian] Read more

Islam 'to overtake Christianity as world's largest religion by 2070' as birth rates slide in Latin America

Islam will overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion in the next 60 years, according to researchers.

The faith is the only religion growing faster than the global population with more than a third of the world's people predicted to be Muslim by the end of the century, according to the US-based Pew Research Centre.

Christianity is currently by far the world's largest religion, with 2.2 million worshippers accounting for 31 per cent of all 6.9 billion people on Earth in 2010.

There were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims at the same date. But if the current rate of demographic change remains the same Muslims will outnumber Christians by about 2070, researchers said.

Both religious groups are projected to continue to grow, with Islam predicted to account for 34.9 per cent of the world's population by 2100 and Christianity for 33.8 per cent. [Daily Mirror] Read more

Freedom of expression vs. defamation of religions: Protecting individuals or protecting religions?

In 2005 the Danish Muhammed cartoons sparked a heated international debate on the relationship between free speech and protection against religious discrimination. Whilst such tensions continue to be a source of conflict in the UN today, Marie Juul Petersen and Heini í Skorini look at what lies behind the actions of one of the key players in this debate, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Freedom of expression does not justify in any way whatsoever the defamation of religions.” The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an intergovernmental umbrella organisation of 57 Muslim-majority states, was unequivocal in its condemnation of the Danish Muhammad cartoons, published in a press release a few months after the cartoons had been printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten in September 2005.

.... As such, this is not a sincere disagreement between those who argue for free speech restrictions as a tool against religious discrimination and hate speech, and those who believe that such restrictions will only lead to more discrimination and hate speech.

Instead, the OIC’s ambition is to outlaw a particular form of speech, which violates Islamic censorship norms, thus bolstering authoritarian states and religious orthodoxy rather than protecting individual freedom and rights. [London School of Economics] Read more

Birmingham has 'not learned lessons of Trojan Horse' warns Government tsar

A GOVERNMENT integration expert has condemned a councillor for stepping in to insist a Catholic school allow a four-year-old girl to wear the hijab Islamic headscarf - in defiance of its uniform policy.

Dame Louise Casey, who last year produced a hard-hitting report on social cohesion in Britain, said the row has echoes of the Trojan Horse affair in which governors imposed a hard-line Islamic ethos on several inner city schools.

The Government’s Integration Tsar has written to council Labour leader John Clancy over the behaviour of his cabinet member for equalities Waseem Zaffar.

In January the Birmingham Mail revealed that Cllr Zaffar (Lozells and East Handsworth) had demanded in a Facebook post that St Clare’s Catholic Primary School change its uniform policy as its ban on the hijab was in breach of the Equalities Act. It was not.

We also later revealed he was a relative of the girl - a fact Cllr Zaffar had not made public, although the council said he had informed it and the school of the link. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Birmingham accused of going soft on extremism

Birmingham city council has been accused of failing to learn the lessons of the Trojan horse scandal after its equality chief challenged a school for stopping a four-year-old girl from wearing an Islamic headscarf.

Dame Louise Casey, the government’s integration tsar, has written to the leader of the Labour-run council to condemn the “grossly unfair and undue” actions of the senior councillor.

In a letter seen by The Times, Dame Louise warned of a repeat of the scandal when aggressive school governors in the city tried to impose an intolerant Islamic ethos on head teachers. She said: “I do question whether sufficient lessons have been learnt.” [The Times (£)] Read more

Murderer Tanveer Ahmed inspires Pakistani hardliners from Scottish jail

.... Ahmed stabbed to death Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah - who belonged to the persecuted Ahmadi sect - because he believed he was committing blasphemy by uploading online videos in which he claimed to be a prophet.

But in Pakistan, Ahmed is developing a growing number of supporters who see him as a "defender of Islam" for having killed someone they believed to be disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad.

On Monday evening, about 400 gathered outside his family's home in the city of Mirpur, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir for a rally in his honour. The crowd chanted slogans praising Ahmed as "brave" and "courageous".

One man attending said: "Because of what he did, the whole of Pakistan knows who he is."

Another speaker told supporters Ahmed could help mediate their prayers.

"You should close your eyes, raise your hand towards the sky and pray, making Ghazi [warrior] Tanveer your representative," he said.

The event was organised by the anti-blasphemy religious lobby group Labaik Ya Rasool Ullah (Here I am present, o Prophet of Allah). [BBC] Read more