28 February 2018

Western German state plans to ban facial coverings in courts

Facial coverings of any kind would be banned from German courtrooms under legislation to be introduced by the Justice Ministry of the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

The ban would extend to Muslim religious garments like the burqa or the niqab, but also to any garment designed to obscure a face.

State Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach said he would bring up the measure at the next meeting of state justice ministers at the Bundesrat, the upper legislative house where state governments are represented, on June 6.

Allowing facial coverings hurts the hunt for the truth and hinders communications during court proceedings, said the ministry.

Such a ban can only be implemented with a federal law, which would also have to be considered by the lower house Bundestag.

North Rhine Westphalia's government is a coalition between the center-right Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats. [Daily Sabah] Read more

Tortured Pakistani Christian ‘leapt from window’ to escape police

A Pakistani Christian has said he jumped from the fourth floor of the Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore after he was tortured.

Sajid Masih, 24, was summoned for allegedly posting blasphemous material on Facebook. Police had also arrested his cousin, Patras Masih, 17, for the same alleged crime. His mobile phone was confiscated for examination and he was beaten. “When I asked them what I had done they responded, ‘We are beating you because you are the cousin of prime accused,’ ” he said in a video statement on Saturday.

“They took me and Patras to the fourth floor and started beating us. We were told to call each other ‘accursed’, which my cousin complied with . . . They asked me to take off my cousin’s trousers and have sex with him. I refused.” The officials insisted, and Mr Sajid said he had no choice but to jump from the window. He is in hospital in a critical condition. [The Times (£)] Read more

Finsbury Park attacker turned violent by far-right posts from Tommy Robinson and Britain First, police say

There is “no doubt” that far-right material posted online by the likes of Tommy Robinson and Britain First drove the Finsbury Park terror attacker to target Muslims, the UK’s most senior counter-terror officer has said.

Mark Rowley, the outgoing Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said Darren Osborne – an alcoholic, suicidal, unemployed “loner” – was vulnerable to radicalisation.

“He had grown to hate Muslims largely due his consumption of large amounts of online far-right material including, as evidenced at court, statements from former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, Britain First and others,” he told an event in London.

“Osborne had a ‘dysfunctional’ background and history of alcohol and drug abuse, and violence.

“There can be no doubt that the extremist rhetoric he consumed fed into his vulnerabilities and turned it into violence.” [The Independent] Read more

Jail term cut for father who showed beheadings to son

A Muslim convert who showed his son videos of beheadings has received a lesser jail term for spreading terrorist propaganda after a judge cited the impact of the sentence on his children.

Gary Staples, 50, created videos glorifying Islamic State when he was on licence from a prison sentence for child cruelty, imposed after he exposed his nine-year-old son to terrorist material.

The Old Bailey was told that he had been given unsupervised access to his four children while on licence and that they had been allowed to visit him in jail. Yesterday the judge sentencing him for propaganda offences reduced the term in part so that he could see his children again.

On Monday Mark Rowley, the national head of police counterterrorism, expressed concerns that courts were not as quick in removing children from extremist parents compared with paedophile parents. [The Times (£)] Read more

Revealed: Anti-Muslim hate crimes in London soared by 40% in a year

The number of Islamophobic hate crimes in London has soared by almost 40 per cent in the past year, figures have revealed.

There were 1,678 anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in the capital in the year up to January 2018 - up from 1,205 the year before.

And Scotland Yard warned that the figures, from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, do not show the full scale of “hugely under-reported” hate crimes in the capital.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned perpetrators they face arrest and prosecution under a "zero-tolerance" approach.

“London is a place where we celebrate, cherish and embrace diversity," he said.

"I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together, and send a clear message around the world that our city will never be divided by individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life."

Muslim leaders and police said the rise is linked to the terror attacks London Bridge and Manchester Arena last year. [Evening Standard] Read more

An open letter to President Erdogan from 38 Nobel laureates

We wish to draw your attention to the damage being done to the Republic of Turkey, to its reputation and the dignity and wellbeing of its citizens, through what leading authorities on freedom of expression deem to be the unlawful detention and wrongful conviction of writers and thinkers.

In a Memorandum on the Freedom of Expression in Turkey (2017), Nils Muižnieks, then Council of Europe commissioner for Human Rights, warned:

“The space for democratic debate in Turkey has shrunk alarmingly following increased judicial harassment of large strata of society, including journalists, members of parliament, academics and ordinary citizens, and government action which has reduced pluralism and led to self-censorship. This deterioration came about in a very difficult context, but neither the attempted coup, nor other terrorist threats faced by Turkey, can justify measures that infringe media freedom and disavow the rule of law to such an extent. [412 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 116 votes] The Turkish government complain about being stereotyped by the West.

Perhaps not behaving like ISIS-lite would help.

[2ND 80] It's doubtful the Turkish dictator will be moved.

[3RD 68] A letter from the 38 most senior Al Qaeda operatives would be far more likely to work.

[4TH 56] Until Turkey frees detained writers and returns to the rule of law, it cannot claim to be a member of the free world Turkey has never been a member of the free world and, with Islamists firmly in charge, will never be. And I doubt Erdogan and his Islamist chums care much about the free world. So, I am afraid this is all in vain. [Guardian Cif] Read more

27 February 2018

Malaysian Federal Court refuses four people their right to affirm Christian identity

Malaysia’s highest court dismissed an appeal today (27 February) against four appellants who wanted to be formally recognised as Christians.

The five judges of the Malaysian Federal Court ruled that in matters of conversion away from Islam, it was necessary for them to consult the Islamic Sharia courts.

The president of the court, Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, said the decision was unanimous.

He added that even though there are no specific provisions in the Sharia ordinance over conversions out of Islam, the religious court still has legal authority on what he termed “apostasy”.

.... Raucous, unruly scenes and shouts of “Allahu akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) greeted the decision as a mob surrounded the Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Peter Poh, outside the court complex. He was jostled while being escorted to his car amid fears that he might be assaulted. [World Watch Monitor] Read more

Hallelujah! Welby takes a stand against Sharia

The mouse has roared. In his new book Reimagining Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that Sharia should never become part of the British legal system because it is incompatible with our laws.

High levels of Muslim immigration, he says, have led many to challenge majority values, especially in family life. He wants Britain instead to uphold the values founded upon its own principles and Christian inheritance.

The Church of England upholding Christian values as preferable to those of another faith? There will surely be amazement in Heaven. It’s certainly a reversal of the position taken by the archbishop’s predecessor, Lord Williams, who said in 2008 that he backed the introduction of Sharia in Britain and argued that adopting some of its aspects seemed “unavoidable”.

.... Moreover, the basic principle of a liberal democracy is one law for all. Minorities are welcome to establish communities of faith and culture but these must not conflict with the country’s fundamental laws and values. In order to safeguard a nation’s cultural identity, there must be a line between, on the one hand, upholding its basic precepts and, on the other, tolerance of minority faiths and cultures. Preventing the imposition of Sharia is where that line needs to be drawn over Islam.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 176 votes]About time someone has spoken out on the obvious. If adherents of the desert religion want to have sharia law, then go and live in a country where it is practised.

[2ND 147] Well done Archbishop Welby! Impressed with all you have done since becoming AB. This stance is most laudable and I am only sad that you do not have the support and action of our elected politicians.

People of all political and religious persuasions are GREATLY concerned at what they see happening with Moslems in this country.

The Trojan Horse movement shocked everyone. The most recent occurrence of the headteacher, who had 20,000 signatures and highly offensive pressure put on her to rescind her correct decisions, is horrendous.

This country is not owned by Moslems. It is not only highly offensive to the British to have Moslems trying to introduce their sharia law into this country, but is against British law. Moslems have no right!

It seems to the growing majority of people in this country that`s its time for the British people to stand up and be counted. The goodwill, kindness, generosity, sense of fair-play and democracy of the British, is being abused.

[3RD 135] The simple fact is that Islam does not integrate, but colonises, and the West ignores this at it's peril. [The Times (£)] Read more

Women protesting against wearing the hijab in Iran will be charged with inciting PROSTITUTION and jailed for up to ten years as regime cracks down on growing dissent

Iranian women protesting the compulsory headscarf by taking off their hijab in public could be facing up to a decade in jail for 'inciting prostitution', police has warned.

Authorities in Iran are desperately trying to stem the growing protests across the country against the dress code enforced on women since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

More than 35 women have been arrested in the capital Tehran alone in the past two months, with several reportedly subjected to torture while in custody.

At least two of the arrested protesters, Narges Hosseini and Shaparak Shajarizadeh, are being charged with 'inciting corruption and prostitution', Amnesty International reports.

Ms Shajarizadeh was arrested last Wednesday and has reportedly been subjected to beatings in prison. [Daily Mail] Read more

‘You’re in denial’ Macron under fire as critics condemn France’s battle against terror

France’s conservative Les Républicains political party warned the French government’s new plan to counter radicalisation focuses too much on the consequences.

The programme does not look at the “root causes” of radicalisation, Les Républicains spokeswoman Lydia Guirous said, adding that President Emmanuel Macron’s government was locked in a state of “denial” over Islamic terrorism.

The plan, announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week, includes 60 measures and puts the accent on prevention and on the need to catch danger signals within French society.

The measures include doubling the number of prisoners evaluated for radicalisation to 250 per year and creating 1,500 extra “isolated” prison places for radicalised inmates.

.... Mrs Guirous said: “The government is doing nothing to fight Islamic communitarianism and is denying the real causes of radicalisation in France.”

French conservatives argue the new plan “does not even mention” the need to fight proselytism and be more strict about Islamic head coverings, namely the headscarf, which is already banned in state schools.

Mrs Guirous said: “The headscarf is a militant tool used to promote political Islam, it is a sign of religious exhibitionism.

“The government does not understand the way in which French society is evolving and is turning a blind eye to the fact that a worrying number of French Muslims adhere to a strict version of Islam, one which is at odds with the French Republic,” she continued. [Daily Express] Read more

‘I felt like I was getting out of jail’: What life is like for French women after removing their veils

Islamic headscarves and veils continue to be the subject of intense debate in Europe. Countries’ approaches toward the burqa and niqab, which cover the face, range from tolerance in the UK to an outright ban in France.

Reactions of Muslim women to restrictions have varied, including protests by some, reluctant acceptance by others and also support for bans. But what happens when a woman who has worn a niqab, sometimes for years, makes the decision to leave it behind? Hanane and Alexia – whose names are pseudonyms to protect their identity – were both born in France.

Hanane grew up in a non-practicing Muslim family, while Alexia converted to Islam at age 22. For five years they both wore a niqab. Hanane began in 2009, just before France banned the full-face veil, while Alexia adopted it later.

Once ardent defenders of the right to wear the niqab, both women have now completely abandoned it. But the transition took place gradually and was accompanied by a growing distance from extreme Salafist ideology. [i@inews.co.uk] Read more

Muslim radio station fined for broadcasting 'hate speech'

A radio station broadcasting to Nottingham's Muslim community has been fined £2,000 after a talk played on the radio was found to constitute 'hate speech'.

Watchdog Ofcom today (February 27) ruled a nasheed - a chant or speech often set to music which are popular in the Islamic world - broadcast by Radio Dawn breached its code on hate speech.

A decision published on Ofcom's website said the 17-minute nasheed, which was broadcast on December 26, 2016, began by "glorifying the victories on the battlefield of figures from Islamic history".

It said the broadcast also went on to "suggest that similar violent acts committed against non-Muslim people would bring honour to Islam".

The notice said: "Further, the Nasheed included a number of pejorative references to non-Muslim people.

"In particular, non-Muslim people were repeatedly referred to as “Kufaar” (the Arabic word for disbeliever) and on one occasion, “Kaafir I Murdaar” (meaning filthy disbeliever in Urdu)." [Nottingham Post] Read more

26 February 2018

Rowan Williams was denounced for saying Sharia Law in UK was inevitable, so why isn’t Justin Welby being commended for saying it’s not?

Back in 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a cerebral lecture about society and pluralism to a huddle of lawyers gathered in London. It might have remained fairly and literally academic had it not been for his decision to justify his comments in a subsequent BBC radio interview, when he said that Muslims were effectively entitled to have elements of their legal traditions recognised in UK law because Orthodox Jews have their own courts of arbitration, and so do Roman Catholics:

.... Rowan Williams was roundly and (almost) universally denounced for saying that Sharia Law in the UK was “inevitable” or “unavoidable”, so why isn’t Justin Welby being commended for saying that it is by no means inevitable and must be avoided at all costs? Why isn’t he applauded for defending the British Christian tradition of jurisprudence?

Why isn’t he appreciated for baldly stating that sharia brooks no rivals, and that accepting it even in part “implies accepting its values around the nature of the human person, attitudes to outsiders, the revelation of God, and a basis for life in law, rather than grace, the formative word of Christian culture”?

Why isn’t the media giving the man his due?

Why aren’t some of those Christians who have long sounded the alarm about cultural relativism and creeping sharia thanking God for the clarity of Justin Welby’s declaration? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Judge who ordered woman to remove hijab loses bid to quash investigation

After more than 3 years, disciplinary investigation into Judge Eliana Marengo's conduct will begin at last

The Quebec Court judge who refused to hear the case of a woman unless she removed her hijab in the courtroom has lost her latest bid to try to quash a disciplinary investigation into her conduct.

That means more than three years after Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul to remove her hijab, an investigation by a special committee of the Quebec Council of the Magistrature can begin at last.

Marengo tried to block that investigation in court, arguing the council didn't have proper jurisdiction to investigate.

In a decision last Thursday, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that the council's special committee does indeed have jurisdiction to look into complaints filed against Marengo.

"The continuation of the investigation by the committee, while constituting a delicate exercise, is the only possible avenue for justice to be rendered in an informed manner," wrote the panel of three justices in the decision. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

25 February 2018

£6m a year gift aid for Islamic charities linked to extremist speakers

Islamic charities vulnerable to extremists receive £6 million a year from taxpayers in gift aid, according to a new report.

The charities are accused of promoting hardline speakers by giving them platforms, spreading their literature, providing them with credibility and enabling access to beneficiaries and the general public.

The report accuses charities of supporting “the spread of harmful non-violent extremist views that are not illegal; by providing platforms, credibility and support to a network of extremists operating in the UK.”

One international charity mentioned in the paper is chaired by an Islamic preacher banned from entering the UK.

The claims provide an early challenge for Baroness Stowell of Beeston, who was appointed chairwoman of the Charity Commission by the government last week, despite strong opposition from MPs that accused her of having negligible experience with charities.

The report, Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing: How Islamist Extremists Exploit the UK Charitable Sector, has been produced by the Henry Jackson Society think-tank by its research fellow Emma Webb, a specialist in counter-extremism who studied 30 charities. [The Times (£)] Read more

Influential Muslim leader backs campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment

ONE of Ireland's most influential Muslim leaders has backed the campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Shayk Dr Umar al-Qadri, Chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC), said he believed it was now clear that the Eighth Amendment should be repealed and that the rights of women in crisis pregnancies be recognised.

Dr al-Qadri confirmed that IMPIC will shortly be producing and releasing a special guide for Muslims on the impending referendum - its implications, its meaning and Islam's stance on the complex issue.

His position has been welcomed by 'Repeal the Eighth' campaigners and has been hailed as a significant boost for the referendum campaign.

Dr al-Qadri said it was important people understand the issues involved.

"Islam is neither exclusively pro-life nor pro-choice," he said.

"The rights of the umborn child have to be balanced with the rights of the mother." [Independent.ie] Read more

Angela Merkel is about to pay for the ‘Mutti’ of all blunders

.... Often in history it is not the motives that matter, but the consequences. Since the start of 2015, Germany has received 1.38m “initial asylum applications”, about a third of them from Syrians. Three-quarters of the asylum seekers are aged 30 or younger; 60% are male. About half the applications have been approved, but only around 80,000 of those denied asylum have been deported. About 86% of accepted refugees are Muslims.

The full implications of this mass influx remain to be seen. According to the Pew Research Centre, the Muslim population of Germany (which was 6% in 2016) could be anything between 8.7% and 19.7% by 2050, depending on the future rate of immigration.

The short-run consequences, however, are clear. There has been a marked increase in crime. And there has been a seismic political backlash. The crime issue is controversial, but last month a rigorous, government-commissioned study was published by the Zürich University of Applied Sciences, based on data from the state of Lower Saxony. By the end of 2016, around 750,000 of the state’s 8m residents were not German citizens, and about 170,000 of them had applied for asylum. [429 comments]

[TOP RATED CPMMENT 209 votes] Brilliant article and 100% spot on. Merkel was 80% behind my reason to vote to Leave. Cannot believe one person can make such a monumental decision to completely destroy the culture of a country and then wanted to do the same to the U.K. by allocating a quota here.

[2ND 183] Multicultural migration does not seem to be working anywhere except in the heads of the liberals who have hijacked Europe for self indulgent experimentation.

[3RD 183] A good article. I never understood the logic that held Germany were helping the most vulnerable of the Syrian crisis by throwing open their borders - it inevitably would result in the youngest, fittest and most able to make the journey tramping across Europe to get there.

It's a stupid idea, asylum but only if you can get there under your own steam, what happens to the countries you transit through, what happens to those who can't pay the people smuggler, what happens to the elderly and the vulnerable who simply can't leave the camps?

Cameron by contrast had the right idea which was to help people in situ but for that eh was branded heartless by the sort of hypocrites who claimed they were happy to house a Syrian family (Harman and Sturgeon I'm looking at you) and have never lifted a finger to do so.

[4TH 158] Perhaps Merkel was hoping to become the next head of the UN after leaving German politics and as part of her job application she thought that her great 'humanitarian' gesture would endear her to many Third-World countries who would decide whom to appoint?

A bit like Blair giving away much of our EU rebate in the hope of becoming the next Head of the EU Commission - a job application that was dashed by the Iraq War.

Politicians' job applications can often be very expensive - for their citizens.

[5TH 152] Wait until human rights lawyers enable them to bring their extended families over.

[6TH 133] I am one of the new members who joined the SPD. Reason was to stop Merkel and the grand coalition. I can agree with everything in this article and I think Merkel has been an epic failure. But people here in Germany appreciate the fact that she seems to take care of things so they could stop bothering about politics. She has silenced the political discourse and people liked that. I did too for a long time.

The migration crisis was my point of no return and I now wish for her to leave. I do hope that a minority government will not last and I speculate that we will get new elections soon - which would most likely bring another swing to the right.

[7TH 116] You forgot to mention BREXIT: it was the media showing those endless columns of mainly young Muslim men flooding into Europe that finally topped the balance in the UK's referendum. And that was all down to Merkel, unilaterally, opening up the possibility to not only asylum seekers but millions in the middle east and north Africa to make the great trek. [The Times (£)] Read more

24 February 2018

Swiss Islamic Council Justifies Female Genital Mutilation

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (IZRS) has defended the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), claiming that Islamic law justifies the practice.

The organisation released an “Islamic legal opinion” this week arguing that a form of so-called “female circumcision”, involving the removal of parts of the genitals, is justified, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports.

IZRS Secretary-General Ferah Uluca said that while the paper justifies the practice, it does not call on Muslims to perform it as a duty. Ulucay said it is up to each parent to decide, but the paper does claim the practice is not harmful to the girl involved.

The paper also uses a United Nations Population Fund report to back its argument comparing FGM to male circumcision — but the report cited states that the health consequences of male and female circumcision are much different. [Breitbart London] Read more

Rome's Colosseum turned red to protest Pakistan blasphemy law

Rome’s ancient Colosseum was lit in red on Saturday in solidarity with persecuted Christians, particularly Asia Bibi, a woman condemned to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Hundreds gathered on a rainy night outside the Roman amphitheatre that is a symbol of the martyrdom of early Christians to hear the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi.

The Catholic woman has been living on death row in Pakistan since 2010, when she was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores. [Reuters] Read more

Archbishop of Canterbury says Islamic rules are incompatible with Britain's laws which have Christian values

Sharia law should never become part of the British legal system, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

Justin Welby said the Islamic rules are incompatible with Britain’s laws, which have developed over 500 years on the principles of a different culture.

He added that high levels of immigration from Muslim countries can ‘have an impact on the accepted pattern for choosing a partner, on assumed ages of maturity and sexual activity, and especially on issues of polygamy’.

Archbishop Welby’s comments follow the release earlier this month of a highly critical Home Office report that said all couples marrying in mosques should also have to go through a legally-binding civil marriage ceremony to shield wives from injustices under sharia. [478 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 7852 votes] I'm shocked he is right for a change

[2ND 6787] Good for him, about time people stood up to be counted, liberal PC will be the death of western culture and civilisation.

[3RD 6015] Have been saying this for years.

[4TH 5413] We all know that, just tell the Muppets in government and those limps in labour. Perhaps then our laws will be enforced and sharia out lawed.

[5TH 4879] Has the arch Bishop just woken up from a coma or something, talk about stating the obvious!! [Daily Mail] Read more

23 February 2018

France clamps down on radical Islam in prisons, schools

The French government said Friday said it would seal off extremists within prisons and open new centres to reintegrate returning jihadists into society as part of a plan to halt the spread of radical Islam.

France is experimenting with various ways of ending the drift towards extremism of young people growing up on the margins of society, in predominantly immigrant suburbs where organisations like the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda recruit.

The plan unveiled Friday is the third in four years and aims to draw lessons from past failures, after three years marked by a series of attacks that left over 240 people dead.

"No one has a magic formula for 'deradicalisation' as if you might de-install dangerous software," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in the northern city of Lille where he presented his strategy. [AFP] Read more

22 February 2018

EU says Christian woman's release will determine future trade with Pakistan

The European Union has said the renewal of a trade deal with Pakistan will be dependent on the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, something she denies. She appealed the sentence but the hearing was postponed and she has been in prison ever since.

Jan Figel, the EU's special envoy for freedom of religion outside the EU, has told Pakistan that the renewal of their export privileges will be dependent on the freedom of Asia Bibi.

Pakistan currently have 'Generalised System of Preferences (GPS) status', meaning Pakistani products have duty-free access to the EU market with either no tariffs or preferential levies. [Premier Christian Radio] Read more

More action needed to prevent ‘re-education’ trips abroad, says minister

Danish municipalities know of at least 130 cases in which immigrant children have suffered negatively after being sent home for re-education because their parents are afraid that they are becoming too Danish.

The stays abroad have been found to have negatively affected the young people in terms of school work, the Danish language and their general well-being.

The immigration and integration minister, Inger Støjberg, wants to see more done to prevent this practice, reports DR Nyheder.

“It’s a serious breach of their duty of care when parents threaten and coerce their children into taking these re-education trips abroad,” said the minister in a press release.

“This tells us that these parents don’t want any part of Denmark for themselves or their children. But they shouldn’t be allowed to make that choice on their children’s behalf,” said Støjberg.

“When we make a great effort to integrate refugees and immigrants living here, of course we can’t just sit back and watch while someone tries to unravel the whole process.” [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Foreign minister hits back at headscarf critics: ‘Should I not have gone?’

Foreign minister Sigrid Kaag has told the Telegraaf her decision to drape a headscarf over her hair while meeting the Iranian president on Wednesday was taken for ‘business reasons’. Kaag drew criticism from populist circles after photographs of her with a headscarf were circulated by the Iranian presidency office.

In particular, anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders said Kaag had ‘betrayed all the women who want to stop wearing headscarves.’ ‘No female representative would be allowed in the country without some form of simple head covering,’ Kaag told the paper.

‘Does this mean that a female minister should not go? I had far more important things to talk about: Israeli security, Libya, Yemen and Syria.’ Many young women in Iran have been protesting about the compulsory wearing of headscarves in recent months. [DutchNews] Read more

ANOTHER brave female anti-hijab protester is arrested in Iran as regime continues to crack down on defiant women who pose without headscarves

Footage shows Shaparak Shajarizadeh standing on a traffic island in the Iranian capital Tehran and waving her headscarf around on the end of a stick.

But she then became the latest activist to be arrested as the regime continues to crack down on defiant women who pose with their heads uncovered.

The veil has been a mandatory dress requirement for women in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

But a movement called White Wednesdays sees women flouting the regulations by capturing footage and pictures of themselves without their hijabs and posting it online.

The videos often capture some of the abuse they face for failing to adhere to Iran's strict religious rules. [Daily Mail] Read more

Saudi Halts Verdicts Forcing Unwilling Women to Return to Husband's Home

The Ministry of Justice in Saudi Arabia has halted the issuance of verdicts that force the wife to return to her husband's home.

All cases under the bracket "house of obedience" has been cancelled, as reported in Okaz.

The ministry had followed article 75 of the executive regulations stipulating that "verdicts delivered regarding forcing the woman to the 'house of obedience' are null and void".

Following the move, a woman who refuses to return to her husband's home can either be divorced or lawfully separated from her spouse. [Al Bawaba] Read more

Labour 'appalled' after Iranian delegation refuses handshake with female MP

An Iranian agricultural delegation has refused to shake the hand of New Zealand's female counterpart, Labour MP Jo Luxton.

In return, at least one male Labour MP refused to shake hands with the delegation.

Ms Luxton told NZME the incident made her feel uncomfortable but said she understands she deals with issues of cultural difference as an MP.

She was meeting the delegation as deputy chair of the Primary Production select committee.

Two of Ms Luxton's colleagues Kieran McAnulty and Rino Tirikatene leapt to Ms Luxton's defence.

Mr McAnulty refused to shake hands with the delegation in solidarity with Ms Luxton. [Newshub] Read more

21 February 2018

Britain: The Hijab as the Entry Point for Islam

.... While secular British values need to be upheld to provide equal opportunities to everyone, regardless of caste, creed, gender or color, Islamists seem to be influencing the British school system with ease: there is simply no solid opposition to them. The government even stays silent about the harassment and intimidation.

Was St. Stephen's forced to succumb to the pressure of ignorant zealots, who either do not know or choose to ignore that under Islamic law (Sharia), girls are not required to cover their heads until they reach puberty? Ignorance also seems not to have prevented them from accusing anyone who says or acts otherwise of "Islamophobia."

It is a form of political blackmail used by Muslim extremists against the Western institutions, the values of which they abhor.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Lord Agnew of Oulton, pledged to support the schools that are trying to ban hijabs as well as obligatory fasting: in Islam, young children are not subject to either.

Lord Agnew said that the government should support head teachers in making difficult and "sensitive" decisions in the face of vitriolic opposition. We have yet to see the effects of his statement. Supporting head teachers is one thing, but there is also a dire need to confront these extremists on all levels, including law enforcement, if they try to harass or intimidate anyone. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

MPs endorse Labour council candidate who claimed ISIS doesn't exist

Two Birmingham MPs have endorsed a council candidate who claimed ISIS doesn't exist.

Safia Noor, a Labour candidate in Birmingham's Small Heath ward, also suggested people should "grow up" after the terrorist attack in Westminster last year, in which five people were killed along with the terrorist.

She apologised for the comments last year.

But party members have told BirminghamLive they were shocked to see her endorsed by city MPs Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) and Jess Phillips (Lab Yardley).

Mr Byrne is the author of a book, called Black Flag Down, which warns the west is in danger of losing the propaganda battle with extremist groups. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

800 Christian families flee city after blasphemy claim triggers riots

Hundreds of believers have fled rioting in Pakistan's second-largest city after a local Christian man was accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Local church leader, Bishop Emmanuel Masih told World Watch Monitor - an organisation which reports on cases of Christians facing pressure for their faith - that 800 families have left Lahore since Monday when an angry mob burned tyres and partially blocked a major road.

The unrest broke out after local Christian man, Patras Masih, was accused of posting offensive material on Facebook last month.

His uncle, Arif Masih told World Watch Monitor: "People had started gathering around 7am, while I heard about what was happening around 11.30am, when things had started getting worse. [Premier Christian Radio] Read more

Iain Dale Demands End To Non-Stun Religious Slaughter During Epic Interview

Iain Dale has demanded the end to non-stun religious slaughter during a testy exchange with the former president of the Halal Food Authority.

The row broke out after Britain’s biggest farming body warned that the rise in religious slaughter risks jeopardising Britain’s high animal welfare standards.

Supporters of Halal and Kosher slaughter insist the animal is killed instantly.

But, during this tetchy interview with Masood Khawajam, Iain labelled non-stun slaughter “barbaric” as he called for it to be banned.

At one point he thundered: “I care what the animal suffers and you seem to be happy in the 21st century to allow animals to suffer.”

He added: “I don’t understand how an intelligent person could defend this barbaric practice.”

The epic interview, which lasted almost 10 minutes, sparked a massive reaction from LBC listeners. [LBC] Read more

Halal and kosher slaughter threatens welfare standards, say farmers

Britain’s biggest farming body has warned that the rise in religious slaughter risks jeopardising Britain’s reputation for high animal welfare standards.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) urged the government to crackdown on abattoirs that kill animals before they have been stunned.

More than three million lambs had their throats slit last year while they were still conscious and able to feel pain, double the number in 2011. It is illegal under EU law for abattoirs to kill an animal that has not been stunned, but there are exemptions on religious grounds for halal and kosher food. [The Times (£)] Read more

20 February 2018

Advertising Standards Authority probes billboards declaring ‘The Messiah has come’

Billboards have been popping up around London declaring ‘The Messiah has come’. According to Harry Farley in Christian Today, these have attracted a number of objections, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are currently investigating.

We like the ASA. They jump in with both feet; bark, intimidate, harass, bludgeon and hassle with reams of paperwork, and then they issue their decree and skulk off with their tail between their legs.

Farley reports that “the campaign has prompted outrage from Christians, Muslims and Jews who all have notions of a ‘messiah’ in their beliefs and find the billboards offensive.”

This is odd. Since when did religious advertisements have to conform to a particular interpretation of messianic eschatology? Since when was it the task of the ASA to discern between mythical symbols and promised realities? If the remit of the ASA now extends to determining theological orthodoxy, what hope is there for billboards proclaiming ‘Jesus is Lord’? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Teachers at school in Newham that banned hijab were failed by council, say inspectors

Teachers at St Stephen’s school in Newham faced a coordinated campaign of bullying and harassment after the school stopped young girls from wearing the headscarf.

Staff were not given proper “emotional care and public support” by the local authority during the crisis, says a damning report by Ofsted.

Inspectors made an emergency visit after the school became a target of abuse from people protesting against the headteacher’s decision to stop girls aged under eight from wearing the hijab. The abuse was so vicious that the headteacher Neena Lall was compared to Hitler and the ban was reversed.

Inspectors, who published their findings today, said the school continued to be “outstanding”, but said it was let down by “ineffective” support from Newham council. St Stephen’s, a secular state school in an area with a large Pakistani and Bangladeshi community, was last year named as the best primary in England. [Evening Standard] Read more

Macy's decision to sell hijabs sparks debate among Muslim women

American department store Macy's sparked a fierce debate on Thursday, when it launched a line of "modest clothing" that featured hijabs.

The Verona Collection was founded by fashion photographer Lisa Vogl, after she converted to Islam in 2011, and struggled to find modest, fashionable clothing. The brand stands for "women's empowerment and taking pride in one's Muslim identity," according to its website.

Macy's decision to stock Vogl's line came after US retailer Nike released a "Pro Hijab" for Muslim athletes, and fashion brand American Eagle's limited-edition denim hijab, which sold out.

While the department store's efforts to be inclusive were applauded by some online, others criticized it for legitimizing the hijab -- a religious headscarf that has been politicized in some parts of the world in recent years and closely tied to women's rights issues.

Over the past few months in Iran, for example, some women have removed their headscarves in public to protest the country's compulsory hijab law. At least 29 people were arrested in the capital, Tehran, for their involvement in the protests. [CNN] Read more

Referee prevents student from playing with hijab

The 16-year-old student from Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus was confronted with an unfamiliar dilemma last week by a referee officiating her high school basketball game: Remove the hijab she wears as part of her Islamic faith and take the court, or be prevented from playing.

She refused to take off the hijab and stayed on the bench.

“My hijab is part of me, and I feel like I was going to take off a part of me to play in the game,” said the high school sophomore as she sat beside her mother, Fatima Thompson, inside their Overbrook home on Monday.

The incident occurred Friday during a quarterfinal playoff game against Academy at Palumbo. Thompson-King plays for the Mastery Charter North-Pickett Pumas, which is part of Philadelphia Public League’s District 12. [phillytrib.com] Read more

British media's negative Muslim coverage 'much worse'

The way some British media depicts Islam and Muslims negatively is much worse than it was in 2011, former Tory co-chair and member of the House of Lords Sayeeda Warsi said Tuesday.

Providing evidence to the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee on "hate crime and its violent consequences", Warsi said British Muslims were constantly targeted by certain print media outlets.

“I could spend hours and hours on negative depiction by the written press,” she said.

Warsi said low-level poisoning via negatively written stories was now a “daily occurrence”.

Chris Frost, the chairman of the National Union of Journalists, said the “problem is a large-scale” problem now.

Frost told the committee that some of the evidence he gathered was appalling, namely how some editors instructed their reporters to write stories in a particular way. [Anadolu Agency] Read more

Ofsted condemns council for not backing hijab ban school

Ofsted has condemned Newham Council for its lack of support for the primary at the centre of a row over its decision to ban pupils from wearing the hijab.

The criticism comes in a letter outlining the findings of a special extra Ofsted inspection of St Stephen's Primary, in the East London borough, at the end of last month.

It was conducted because Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman (pictured) was concerned about "a potential breakdown in trust between school leaders and parents" after the media reported the primary's decision to remove the hijab from the uniform for girls aged 7 and under.

Headteacher Neena Lall also tried to stop young children fasting at school in case they became ill. But she ended up withdrawing the hijab ban after it led to her being abused and compared to Hitler. [Tes Global] Read more

Speaking Out About Islam – Lubna Ahmed, Rebel With a Cause

.... She is only twenty-six years old, yet the courage and conviction she has shown befit a war hero with years of battlefield experience. She has, in fact, found her life threatened, and on a battlefield of sorts – an ideological one on which she has been defending her rights, and specifically, her rights as a woman.

In 2015, she decided that she could remain silent no longer, and came out internationally as an atheist on The Rubin Report (Dave Rubin’s popular Internet talk show) in a deeply Islamic society, knowing the mortal risks awaiting her, and had to flee her homeland. But even in her new life in California, she has to live concerned for her safety, as do all those ex-Muslims – and especially women – who publicly denounce Islam. Yet she remains undaunted. [Quillette] Read More

19 February 2018

UK mosques must make space for women – not turn us away

.... Of the 1,975 mosques in Britain, 28% do not offer facilities for women, and up to 50% of all South Asian-run mosques do not accommodate them. When mosques do offer it, the access is restricted, and often does not even include a prayer space, but rather a teaching space, such as a girls’ madrasa.

The 36-year-old activist Anita Nayyar established the Open My Mosque initiative in 2015, which highlights how, if you’re a woman, it’s far less likely you’ll get a foot in the door, let alone munch a samosa with the imam. Nayyar has been documenting experiences of women across Britain who use words like “frustrated”, “isolated” and “humiliated”. Her team receives hundreds of calls, emails and social media messages from women (and men) who are grateful to have a platform to express their grievances.

“Women who feel excluded from the mosque face more exclusion than their non-Muslim counterparts,” says Nayyar. “If they cannot participate in religious life, then they can’t get involved in community life, and that increases the already existing lack of inclusion of Muslim women in public life.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT 374 votes] “Women who feel excluded from the mosque face more exclusion than their non-Muslim counterparts,” says Nayyar. “If they cannot participate in religious life, then they can’t get involved in community life, and that increases the already existing lack of inclusion of Muslim women in public life.”

I, for one, have a hard time understanding religious people and religious mentality in general. Religion, to me, in particular, should be an entirely private experience and, as such, should not hinder inclusion in the wider, secular society of Western Europe. If your religion prevents you to be a full part of society, then the problem is likely to be within your religion, rather than in society itself.

That said, if someone chooses to be religious, then of course should get equal treatment under whatever religion they are brought up to practice.

Islam seems to be especially lacking in any form of parity between men and women.

[2ND 346] About time we had journalistic scrutiny of this deep inequality and sexism in the very infrastructure of the faith, my former faith. True, this has occurred and still occurs across most religions, but here we have a glaring example of exclusivity based on gender which has remained very hidden. In fact I would go so far as to say that most Mosques, the small ones in ordinary residential homes and unused spaces above shops, are pretty much a law unto themselves and I am afraid extremist preaching has happened, a lot. I remember my Mosque in Haringey taking part most weekends where in public they would lay out a stall with homophobic signs- gays cause aids etc.

This was all tolerated by the Liberal Left and I find it fascinating. A right wing movement laying out its stall in public in a London high street would be challenged and rightly so. Those on the Left need to understand that the extremist forms of this religion are fascist and right wing in nature. Being mainly brown skinned does not mean we are immune to such ideology. Now, get with it please, and campaign for more equality and more openness, as well as gay friendly Mosques, please!

[3RD 259 ] Good luck with that, you won't get any backing from any of the authorities, they're too scared to criticise for fear of being called racist.

[4TH 238] The UK, and every country that gives lip service to equality of the sexes, has a responsibility to require all religious facilities to give equal access to women. No mosque should be free to ban women, or restrict women's full participation in any way. [Guardian Cif] Read more

18 February 2018

Ukip's Gerard Batten reiterates his belief that Islam is a 'death cult'

.... Batten, formerly Ukip’s Brexit spokesman, has previously attracted controversy for calling Islam a “death cult”, saying non-Muslims were rational in being afraid of the faith and calling for a ban on the construction of new mosques in the UK.

In his first interview since becoming interim leader, Batten told Sky News’s Paterson on Sunday he would consider whether to seek the job permanently and defended his opinions.

Asked about calling Islam a death cult on his personal blog, he said: “What I wrote there about Islam is factually and historically true, and anybody that cares to look at the history of Islam over the last 1,400 years will see that that is true.

“It was propagated by invasion, by violence and intimidation. And if you look at every continent in the world where you have this belief, then you have violence. It glorifies death. They believe in propagating their religion by killing other people and martyring themselves and going and getting their 72 virgins.” [The Guardian] Read more

Macron and Muslims in France: “Vaste Programme, Monsieur”

Many years ago, Charles De Gaulle was addressing a political rally when an enthusiast in the crowd shouted out “Mort aux cons!,” a term first used by the French military in addressing the enemy, and which means “Death to the idiots” or “Death to the dopes.” De Gaulle turned slowly to where the shout had come from and famously replied “Vaste programme, monsieur,” which means “that, sir, is a very tall order.”

Emanuel Macron, who is now proposing to promote “national cohesion” and crush Islamic “fundamentalism” by restructuring Islam in France, deserves the same response: “Vaste programme, monsieur.”

First, given the plethora of Islamic institutions in France, with 2,500 mosques, thousands of imams representing different sects, different levels of cooperation by Muslims, both clerics and believers, with the French state, and different degrees of integration into French society, who shall speak for Muslims in France? Macron has suggested the creation of the position of Grand Imam, based on the model of the Grand Rabbi, who speaks for French Jews.

But the problem remains: who will decide who should be chosen as “Grand Imam”? Will it be the French government? Will it be the current heads of existing Muslim organizations, that vary considerably in their ideology as in their size and significance, in solemn conclave assembled? Vaste programme, monsieur. [New English Review] Read more

Gerard Batten Defends Describing Islam As A 'Death Cult'

Ukip’s acting leader has defended labelling Islam a “death cult”.

Gerard Batten, who took the reins of the chaos-stricken party after Henry Bolton was ousted as leader on Saturday, claimed that a “significant minority” of Muslims are extremists who want to be martyred and insisted Islam “glorifies death”.

The London MEP said Muslims migrating to the UK should reject the “dark age ideologies which many of them bring with them” through a literalist interpretation of the Koran.

In the wake of the Westminster terror attack in 2017, Batten posted a blog in which he called Islam a “death cult”.

“The terrorist attack in Westminster was just the latest in a long line of atrocities committed internationally in the name of Islam,” he wrote.

Speaking on Sky News’s Sunday With Niall Paterson, Batten defended his comments, saying: “What I wrote there about Islam is factually and historically true.

“Anybody that cares to look at the history of Islam over the past 1,400 years will see that that is true.” [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Jeremy Corbyn attacks Islamophobia during mosque visit

Muslim women are facing routine racist abuse on the streets of the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has said while visiting mosques participating in a nationwide open day to build bridges across communities.

“Islamophobia is a real problem in our society, as is other forms of racism like antisemitism and racism against people of Afro-Caribbean heritage,” the Labour leader said at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.

“I’ve held meetings with Muslim women who have told me horrific stories of routine racist abuse on our streets. If women are abused because they are wearing a headscarf, then it is a wrong against them and it is a wrong against all of us.”

Finsbury Park mosque was among more than 200 Muslim places of worship to take part in Visit My Mosque day, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). From Inverness to Cornwall, mosques invited people of other faiths and no faith to witness prayers, ask questions, read the Qur’an, take part in hijab and henna demonstrations and eat traditional food in an effort to debunk myths about Islam. [The Guardian] Read more

Police inquiry into online abuse of Newham head teacher Neena Lall who banned hijab

Police are investigating allegations that abusive messages were sent to the head teacher of an east London primary school embroiled in a row about banning the hijab and to its chairman of governors.

A complaint has been filed with police in Newham about emails, Facebook posts and other social media messages received by both Neena Lall, head teacher at St Stephen’s School in East Ham and Arif Qawi, the former chairman of governors.

.... Qawi said he received a flurry of online messages the day after The Sunday Times published an article and film about the school last month which mentioned its decision to ban the hijab for young girls at the school.

Yunus Dudhwala, a local imam, shared Qawi’s Facebook post of the article and invited people to comment online.

Some of the messages that followed were abusive. One described Qawi as a “coconut”, another claimed that he was Islamophobic and a third called him an “imbecile”.

One poster publicly listed Qawi’s personal email address and urged people to email him and also the head teacher.

Qawi said that a campaign of messages, some abusive, over several days had forced the school to reverse its hijab ban. He himself resigned “because I did not agree with reversing the hijab ban and to protect the head teacher. She was told that if I left the campaign would stop.” [The Times (£)] Read more

17 February 2018

'Utterly wrong' for headteacher to have suffered abuse after hijab ban, says Education Secretary

The Education Secretary has said it was “utterly wrong” for the headteacher of a leading primary school to have suffered abuse after banning the hijab for girls under eight.

Damian Hinds backed the right of school leaders to set their own uniform policies, saying they are in charge and should not be harassed as a result.

His intervention came after Neena Lall, head of St Stephen’s primary in Newham, came under fierce personal criticism — which saw her likened to Hitler — after banning young pupils from wearing the Islamic headscarf in school. The decision was later reversed following the backlash from parents.

Mr Hinds told the Evening Standard: “I am very clear that schools set uniform policy.

"Schools are in charge of what is okay to wear to school and nobody should be subject to abuse and harassment — no school leader or school governor — as a result of that. [Evening Standard] Read more

16 February 2018

Britons are unknowingly eating Halal meat that is being sold without a label, says top vet

Britons are inadvertently eating meat from animals slaughtered while they are still conscious, a top vet has warned.

Lord Trees, who is a former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said the meat would mainly be found in pies and ready meals.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of sheep and poultry being killed without being stunned first. This has been attributed to religious practices.

But Lord Trees, a crossbench peer, said it was highly probable that some unstunned meat was entering the ‘standard’ food chain as well.

Writing in the journal Vet Record, he pointed out that many experts were calling for a law change so that all animals had to be stunned before being killed.

The issue is controversial because halal and kosher meat – some, but not all of it, from stunned animals – is an essential part of Muslim and Jewish practices. [1121 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 7645 votes] The sooner Kosher and Halal are banned altogether the better a civilised society cannot call itself so if these wicked practices are allowed to continue.

[2ND 5902] Its a joke and its disgusting. This IS animal torture. Thi needs to be regulated. its not right.

[3RD 5680] This should not be forced on the public at large.

[4TH 4556] I want to eat only non-religious meat.

[5TH 3225] This is chilling. [Daily Mail] Read more

15 February 2018

Morocco OKs law against violence on women, wives excluded

Morocco's parliament has approved legislation against violence on women. It took 1,200 days for MPs to approve law 103-13, also known as 'Hakkauoi law', after Family and Solidarity Minister Bassima Hakkaoui who promoted it.

The legislation obtained its second and final approval on Valentine's Day with 168 yes votes and 55 nays and is considered a step forward to promote gender equality.

The law's first vote dates back to June 2006, when 83 lawmakers voted in favor and 22 against.

The legislation now extends the term violence to acts of aggression and abuse via text messages, vocal messages or photos, sexual exploitation, aggression and abuse in the workplace and harshens punishment in situations like pregnancy or in the event that violence is perpetrated by people who are known to the victim, like colleagues. However, the legislation does not contemplate spousal abuse, a controversial issue in civil society. [ANSAmed] Read more

Pensacola NAS sailor wants permission to wear hijab head covering during training

A Pensacola Naval Air Station sailor who was told to remove her hijab has requested official permission to wear the head covering while attending the base's Naval Air Technical Training Center.

Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Meadows, spokeswoman for the training center, said the student made the official request after she was told by an instructor to take off her hijab.

Meadows said the student was previously denied a request to wear the hijab during her eight-week basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.

"Upon her arrival at Naval Air Technical Training Center, she did not have commanding officer approval to wear the hijab, therefore she was appropriately directed to remove it to ensure compliance with Navy standards," Meadows said in an emailed statement.

Meadows said the Navy's uniform regulations do not authorize the wearing of a hijab or any other non-uniform items unless the sailor is granted a waiver based on an exception to the policy. Religious exceptions are allowed, but must be requested and approved. [Pensacola News Journal] Read more

Western Feminists: Hijab Hypocrisy

No one in the Women's March called out the Iranian government for imprisoning, torturing and killing women trying to break free of their shackles. Instead, they chanted "Me Too" and "Time's Up," as they paraded with activists such as Palestinian-American Linda Sarsour, who calls for jihad and apparently also denigrated one of her employees who was a victim of sexual assault in the workplace.

The same day as activists, fighting tyrannical regimes, were burning hijabs in solidarity with Iranian and other suppressed women across the world, the spineless British Foreign Office was handing out hijabs, trying to sell them as a symbol of "Liberation", "Respect" and "Security".

These women -- who are trapped in despotic Middle Eastern dictatorships, who face possible prosecution and having their lives ruined -- were given no attention by the same women marchers in the U.S.

Evidently, feminists in the West were too busy wearing hijabs in solidarity with Sarsour and other promoters of Islamic law (sharia), which advises husbands to beat their wives; that in court, a woman's testimony is worth only half a man's testimony; that daughters can receive only half the inheritance of a son, and that if a woman is raped, she will need four male Muslim witnesses, supposedly at the scene, to prove that she was not committing adultery. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Walsall council ban on cemetery borders and flowerbeds challenged

A Muslim man is mounting a legal challenge over a prohibition on edging, or borders, around individual graves in his local cemetery, saying that the ban breaches his right to freedom of religion.

Atta Ul-Haq has been granted permission for a judicial review of Walsall council’s policy on the basis that it is a matter of public interest.

Ul-Haq’s father was buried in the Muslim section of Streetly cemetery in Walsall in 2015. Newer sections of the cemetery are “lawn only”, the graves marked only with headstones and not surrounded by borders. Edgings and flowerbeds have been prohibited apart from in a section that has children’s graves.

The policy has triggered protests by members of the Muslim community because the Islamic faith forbids people from stepping on a person’s grave. [The Guardian] Read more

'Celebrating Valentine's Day is immoral': Islamic teacher slams the day of romance and says Muslim women should NEVER be referred to as a 'girlfriend'

An Islamic teacher who covers her face with a niqab has written a poem describing Valentine's Day as immoral.

Muslim convert Umm Jamaal ud-Din, who is based in western Sydney, told her 18,357 Facebook followers to avoid the annual day of romance.

Using the hashtag '#SayNoToValentinesDay', she mocked Roses are Red-style love poems.

'Roses are red, violets are blue, celebrating Valentine's Day is from what the immoral people do,' she said.

The religious instructor, also known as Mouna Parkin, made her denunciation of Valentine's Day next to an image of a moral values sign in a Muslim fashion store.

'In Islam, a woman is know to be your mother, sister, wife and your daughter,' she said. 'She is never known to be your girlfriend.' [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

14 February 2018

Muslim leader urges Macron not to meddle too much in French Islam

A leading representative of French Muslims urged Emmanuel Macron not to meddle in the organization of France’s second-largest religion, days after the president said he would try to redefine relations between Islam and the state.

The rebuke came from the leader of an organization set up 15 years ago in a bid to defuse concern about radical preachers and foster a more homegrown form of Islam that would fit better with France’s traditional separation of church and state affairs.

“Everyone must stick to their role,” Ahmet Ogras, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), told Reuters in an interview.

“The Muslim faith is a religion and, as such, takes care of its own household affairs. The last thing you want is the state to act as guardian,” said Ogras, a Frenchman of Turkish descent who has led the CFCM since mid-2017.

.... Macron’s declarations in the Feb. 11 newspaper interview suggest he is considering a profound reorganization of the way in which the Islam faith is funded and its preachers schooled. [Reuters] Read more

Ministers too 'politically correct' to enforce hijab policy in schools, former Ofsted boss warns

The Government is too politically correct to enforce rules on hijabs in schools, leaving teachers "alone, isolated and vulnerable", the former head of Ofsted has warned.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said a lack of formal policy from the Department for Education on whether children should be allowed to cover their heads in lessons has led to angry clashes.

He also highlighted concerns that there are 150 schools around the country which make it compulsory for children to wear hijabs, adding that "the country has enormously changed" and some communities hold very conservative views which cannot easily be challenged.

It follows a public outcry after a primary school in east London announced it was banning children from wearing hijabs but was forced to reverse the decision after complaints from parents.

.... The Government is expected to come under further pressure to publish formal guidance on hijabs later this month, after the education select committee said it would hear evidence from the current chief inspector of schools about the issue.

Amanda Spielman will be questioned by MPs after she backed the Newham school's decision.

Earlier this month she said some religious fundamentalists want to "actively pervert the purpose of education ... and in the worst cases indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology". [The Telegraph] Read more

13 February 2018

Macron Vows to Reform Islam in France. "It is time to bring in a new generation"

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a declared effort to "fight fundamentalism" and "preserve national cohesion," has promised to "lay the groundwork for the entire reorganization of Islam in France."

According to Macron, the plan, similar in ambition to Austria's Islam Law, is aimed at seeking to "better integrate" Islam in France in order to "place it in a more peaceful relationship with the state."

A key priority is to reduce outside interference by restricting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in France. The plan's overall objective is to ensure that French law takes precedence over Islamic law for Muslims living in the country. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

The enemy of all that is modern

Sayyid Al-Qemany is an Egyptian writer and intellectual whose work emphasises the importance of secular critical thinking. He believes, for instance, that the Koran should be subject to scholarly study as a historical document.

In 2009 he received Egypt’s highest cultural award, the State Award of Merit Prize for achievement in the field of the social sciences - a decision which didn't go down too well with the Muslim establishment:

"Just imagine a religion that a thousand years ago stopped adding anything, stopped changing, stopped renewing itself. Therefore the way Muslims think is at complete odds with our times, because they think according to the logic of a thousand years ago. Mankind has evolved and the sciences have progressed in a way that no one could have anticipated. The Muslims find it impossible to grasp and understand this great progress. [...]

"Al-Azhar refused to accuse ISIS of heresy for a very simple reason. If it had done so, ISIS would have said: "Everything we know we learned from you"....

"It is the source of terrorism. Al-Azhar is the enemy of all that is modern." [Mick Hartley] Read more

12 February 2018

Giving up control of Brussels mosque, Saudi Arabia sends a signal

Saudi Arabia has agreed to give up control of Belgium’s largest mosque in a sign that it is trying to shed its reputation as a global exporter of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam.

Belgium leased the Grand Mosque to Riyadh in 1969, giving Saudi-backed imams access to a growing Muslim immigrant community in return for cheaper oil for its industry.

But it now wants to cut Riyadh’s links with the mosque, near the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels, over concerns that what it preaches breeds radicalism.

The mosque’s leaders deny it espouses violence, but European governments have grown more wary since Islamist attacks that were planned in Brussels killed 130 people in Paris in 2015 and 32 in the Belgian capital in 2016.

Belgium’s willingness to put its demands to oil-producing Saudi Arabia, a major investor and arms client, breaks with what EU diplomats describe as the reluctance of governments across Europe to risk disrupting commercial and security ties. [Reuters] Read more

Bristol scout leader expelled after comparing Muslim colleague to Star Wars villain Darth Vader

A senior scout leader who was expelled for criticising a Muslim colleague for wearing a niqab has launched a law suit against the Scout Association.

Brian Walker, an assistant Explorer Scout leader from Bristol, wrote to Scouting magazine to complain after it featured a Muslim leader who was also a scout leader.

The woman, named as Zainab, told the Spring 2017 edition of the magazine: “A couple of times we’ve been out on hikes in our hijabs and neckers, and people have come up to us and given us a lot of positive comments.

“It is not a barrier; it doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I’m bossy. Nobody can say I’m repressed.”

But Mr Walker, a canoeing instructor, wrote to the magazine to say they would “most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent”.

In his letter, which was unpublished, he said her “outward appearance is enough to frighten children and animals”. [The Bristol Post] Read more

More and more French believe Islam is compatible with society

While the role of Islam in French society has long been a divisive and inflammatory topic a new study suggests people in France are now more accepting of the religion.

The new survey showed that 56 percent of French people believe Islam to be compatible with the values of French society compared to two years ago when the same percentage believed the opposite to be true.

Carried out by pollsters Ifop on behalf of Le Journal de Dimanche, the survey however also showed that 43 percent of the country does not think the religion is compatible with life in France (see graph below).

The survey comes at a time when France is waiting for President Macron to deliver his vision for the role of Islam in French society.

In an interview with Le Journal de Dimanche in November the president said he wanted "to reorganize Islam in France to better integrate worship, fight fundamentalism and preserve 'national cohesion'.” [The Local] Read more

11 February 2018

Emmanuel Macron to propose reorganization of Islam in France

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to reorganize Islam in France to better integrate worship, fight fundamentalism and preserve “national cohesion.”

“We are working on the structuring [he used the word structuration] of Islam in France and also on how to explain it, which is extremely important,” Macron told the Journal du Dimanche in an interview Sunday.

“My goal is to rediscover what lies at the heart of laïcité [the French concept of secularism], the possibility of being able to believe as not to believe, in order to preserve national cohesion and the possibility of having free consciousness,”the French leader said declining to reveal further details about the reform plan. “I will not reveal the proposal until the work is completed,” he said. [POLITICO] Read more

Scout master fired for ‘Darth Vader’ veil jibe

A Scout master has been expelled for comparing a Muslim leader who wore a niqab, which covers the face, to the Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

Brian Walker, 63, an assistant Explorer Scout leader, complained to Scouting magazine after it featured the woman who it said “cut a striking figure” “in her full Islamic veil” “when she takes the girls out canoeing”.

He emailed saying: “Canoeists don’t dress like this; they need all-round unobstructed vision so they protect the group. They will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent!”

The woman, from Yorkshire, named as Zainab, told the spring 2017 edition: “It’s not about being Muslim, it’s about being human. A couple of times we’ve been out on hikes in our hijabs and neckers, and people have come up to us and given us lots of positive comments. It’s not a ­barrier; it doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I’m bossy. Nobody can say I’m repressed.” [78 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 115 votes] Madness, sharia law cripping into our society. You can't even criticise or joke about the burka. Doesn't matter that someone can drown or be suffocated by veil when doing sport. Let alone about psychological aspect of not seeing facial expression nor body language when 70% of our communication is non verbal. It doesn't create a trustful relationship.

[2ND 101] He is quite correct about needing all around vision when canoeing, more so than driving where women wearing this attire are a danger to other road users, but more importantly, pedestrians.

The time has come where practicality, and common sense override political correctness.

[3RD 85] Just yesterday a top Cleric in Saudi Arabia issued a ruling that Women need no longer wear an Abaya.

It seems just as Saudi Arabia is turning away from an intolerant and unbending form of Islam that promotes Women to dress in the full veil - we in the Politically correct UK are marching - lemming like over the cliff - towards it .

[4TH 76] PC irrationality and willingness to suppress reasonable comment knows no bounds.

There has to be a reaction against these narcissistic posturing morons.

[5TH 72] ".....It’s not a ­barrier; it doesn’t stop me from doing anything" she says.

It does exactly what it is designed to do, it's a mysoginistic construct to prevent her interacting with the world. For a 'teacher' and 'guide' of children I'd have thought personal and social interaction would be rather important.

.... She has every right to wear what she wants but she should not be able to teach or lead children wearing that type of outfit. It's simply inappropriate for the role and shouldn't that be the criteria to on which to base a decision of suitability rather than 'cultural rights' and PCness. [The Times (£)] Read more

10 February 2018

A culture of fear and intimidation cannot pass through the school gates

.... St Stephen’s Primary School in east London has been at the centre of media attention after its ban on young pupils wearing the hijab and fasting during Ramadan. I have seen the vitriolic abuse on social media after this decision and read of the intimidation of staff, resulting in the resignation of the chairman of governors.

.... We want to do all we can to help schools on sensitive issues, such as those thrown up by this case, and we will be working closely with school leaders and sector organisations on how we can support them.

Schools must continue to make decisions in the best interests of their pupils, in line with the law and in discussion with parents — and we will always protect their right to make these decisions.

As members of society, we all have a role to play in exemplifying the very values we are promoting to our young people to help protect them from extremist views. If we fail to do so, the price is not only the loss of great head teachers and governors, but the undermining of all our efforts to create a cohesive society, one of the most vital strands of our British way of life. [The Times (£)] Read more

We’ll stand up for schools that ban hijabs and fasting, pledges minister

Schools that try to ban hijabs or fasting will receive government support if they face a backlash, a minister has pledged.

Lord Agnew of Oulton, the schools minister, says that he will help head teachers to make difficult and “sensitive” decisions if they come up against opposition.

Writing for The Times, he criticised parents, local residents and religious leaders who “intimidate and bully” schools when they disagree with the head teacher. He said that “a culture of fear and intimidation must not be allowed to pass through the school gates”.

He gave his personal backing to Neena Lall, head of St Stephen’s primary in east London which tried to ban girls under eight from wearing the hijab. The school capitulated to opposition and removed the ban last month.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] "The Muslim Council of Britain said last week that Ofsted had issued a “disproportionate” number of statements about Muslims. It warned: “A lack of appropriate engagement will undoubtedly strengthen the negative perception among many Muslim parents about Ofsted’s interventions.”

This is where I lose any sympathy for Muslims. This is (one of the areas) where I get negative perceptions about Muslims. They live in the UK, they are a minority and yet they expect their own cultural and religious ways to dominate those of their host country. They have totally the wrong attitude. They should be doing what they can to integrate into their host country. If they aren't they need to be challenged as to why not.

School uniform is there to provide a school with identity but also inclusivity, same with school rules. Demanding your child wears your own cultural clothing instead of complying with a school's uniform ( the Koran does not require any specific clothing, it's the later interpretation by clerics in the hot and dusty 7th c ME countries ) and the need for children to integrate via accepting school wear, is demonstrating just how little you are prepared to adapt and integrate into this country, but rather more how you want to dominate.

Same with school curricula and the approach to Ramadam and schools. Same with demanding halal meat in schools and wanting segregation in PE and swimming lessons.

This is why I think if they don't like our values then they should resettle in a Muslim country which meets their requirements. However, ironically even some Muslim countries don't enforce the wearing of hijabs or niqabs even for adult women, so they'd have to go to regressive places.

[2ND] Fasting and the hijab should be banned in all primary school by the government. Both practices were always for teens / adults in Islam and have been introduced recently by fundamentalists.

[3RD] The Hijab is about preventing men getting aroused at the sight of a woman. If men are getting aroused at the sight of the hair of children, regardless of age, then they need to seek help.

There are plenty of other ways to protect children from Paedophilic behaviour. Making them wear a Hijab is not one of them.

This garment should be banned for under 18’s.

[4TH] I wonder why Ofsted has issued a disproportionate number of statements about Muslims. Could it possibly be because Muslim schools are, in general, all about teaching isolationism rather than inclusiveness, and the Koran rather than the core curriculum?

[5TH] Why leave this battle for the schools to fight; why not introduce a law?

[6TH] The government needs to stop buck passing and put in place nationally applicable legislation. Expecting individual schools to risk running battles with potentially extremist groups is ridiculous.

[7TH] At root, this is about stopping the rise of sectarianism in the UK.

There is a new, aggressive, hardline religiosity at work among the Muslim population that began in the 1980s and took even settled Muslims by surprise. It galvanised Muslim youth and led to the jubilant response to the death order against Rushdie.

Behind it are unreconstructed Salafist and Islamist groups with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. These groups were also behind the aggressive and vicious campaign against the St Stephens headteacher and chair of the board of governors.

We are in practice a secular society in which a segment of the population is growing numerically and their self-appointed representatives are trying to cement an increasingly unassimilable religious identity, bolstered by law (sharia councils) and education. I think we should politely push back. [The Times (£)] Read more

09 February 2018

Make female circumcision legal, says Muslim scholar

A leading Muslim scholar based in Ireland has said that a form of female genital mutilation should be “reasonably practised” and should not be illegal.

Ali Selim, a spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh, said in an interview with a newspaper for doctors that “female circumcision” was provided for in Islam because of a saying by the Prophet Muhammad.

It has been illegal since 2012 to perform FGM in Ireland or to take a girl outside the country to have it done.

Dr Selim was against the ban being introduced. He said that the centre was against FGM but not against “female circumcision”. There is no distinction between the terms in Irish law. [The Times (£)] Read more

Maldives crisis: a bitter religious divide comes to the fore

.... Maldivian authorities claim that 100% of its population are Muslims, and you need to be Muslim to be a citizen. Conservative Islamic groups in the country have been vocal in their support of the current leadership.

In the 2013 election, when Yameen replaced Nasheed, the rhetoric used against Nasheed portrayed him as anti-Islamic. One pamphlet widely circulated on social media read: “President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians.” The current ruling party also organised a rally with the slogan “my religion, my nation” during this time of crisis.

.... These conservative trends are at work across South Asia. Sri Lanka, for example, is feeling the growing influence of so-called da’wa (missionary) movements such as Jamaat-e-Islami and Tablighi Jamaat. These movements started their missionary activities in the 1970s, but they have since become part of a violent and deadly conflict between so-called reformists (conservatives) and Sufis. [The Conversation] Read more

Ofsted head to be questioned over backing for hijab ban

MPs are to quiz Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, about her controversial backing for a ban on girls wearing the hijab, following complaints from Muslim community leaders.

Parliament’s education select committee will question Spielman, the head of Ofsted, next month over her vocal support for a primary school in east London that barred girls under eight from wearing the headscarf – a move the school’s headteacher swiftly reversed after complaints from parents.

It has emerged that the head who introduced the ban, Neena Lall, of St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, has publicly apologised to parents at the school, calling the decision a “huge error in judgment”.

Lall blamed the media for inflammatory reporting of the hijab ban last month, which staff members said was to help the youngest girls move freely in PE lessons and outdoor learning.

.... “I want to put on the record my full support for Neena Lall, the headteacher of St Stephen’s school in Newham, and her leadership team,” Spielman told a conference of Church of England school leaders.

“Schools must have the right to set school uniform policies as they see fit in order to promote cohesion. It is a matter of deep regret that this outstanding school has been subject to a campaign of abuse by those who want to undermine the school’s position.”

[The Guardian] Read more

08 February 2018

Make no mistake, the M103 report still focuses on Islamophobia

The eagerly anticipated M103 report seems to signal victory for citizens who sought to protect free speech. The wording of the report certainly appears to accede to their demand that Islamophobia not be treated as a special case.

Twenty-nine out of the 30 recommendations in the report even avoid the nebulous and troublesome word.

It mentions Islamophobia among a plethora of other issues related to racism and bigotry in Canada — a comprehensive statement that many had sought. The committee report has reinforced these broad recommendations by addressing various areas of concern, such as rights for First Nations citizens, women, transgender people and minorities.

.... The efforts of concerned citizens did pay off to some extent in deflecting the focus from Islamophobia to all incidents of bigotry. But the committee has been rather sly in recommending that Islamophobia still be recognized in a Jan. 29 National Day as part of the very last of its thirty recommendations. The City Council of Toronto is pondering the same.

.... This is despite the committee’s own findings that anti-Semitism is perhaps more of a concern than Islamophobia. According to the report, “While the Muslim population was the religious group that saw the greatest increase in the number of hate crimes against them in 2015, the most targeted group in 2015 remained the Jewish population.” [Toronto Sun] Read more

Judge unreasonable for barring woman from Victorian court because of niqab, Islamic Council says

A judge who barred a woman from wearing traditional Muslim garb in the Victorian Supreme Court was being unreasonable, the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has said.

Justice Christopher Beale told lawyers that the wife of a man charged over terrorism offences could not be in the courtroom while she was wearing a niqab.

"All are welcome," Justice Beale told the court.

"But anybody who comes into the court [I require] for their face to be uncovered."

The lawyers for the accused said his wife was "content" to sit outside the courtroom on this occasion but it may become an issue if she is required to give evidence at a later date. [ABC] Read more

County Hall launches consultation into halal meat proposals

A CONSULTATION has been launched on proposals to provide only stunned halal meat to schools.

Lancashire County Council currently supplies non-stunned halal meat in 27 schools catering for up to 12,000 students choosing from either non-halal or halal menus.

School governing bodies have the option to provide either stunned or non-stunned halal in their school meals.

When the contract to provide non-stunned halal meat came due for renewal last year, the council agreed a resolution not to provide meat, other than poultry, to county council establishments unless animals are stunned before they are slaughtered.

This resolution however has not been implemented and a 4-week consultation is now being held to inform the council's future policy.

The online consultation is available for anyone to complete, and asks for views on the council's proposal to provide only stunned halal meat to schools rather than the currently policy, to provide both stunned and un-stunned halal meat. [Lancashire Telegraph] Read more

The number of sheep slaughtered in Britain without being stunned first has doubled

The number of sheep slaughtered in Britain without being stunned first has doubled in the last six years to more than 3 million, official figures show.Ministers attributed the rise to the Muslim community eating more sheep meat.

Former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Lord Trees, pointed out this meant animals were having their throats cut while still conscious and argued the country was moving "backwards" in this area of animal welfare.

The Government has said it would prefer all animals going to slaughter to be stunned first, but there was long-standing convention to respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to prepare meat in accordance with their religious beliefs.

.... Labour former environment minister Lord Rooker pointed out all New Zealand sheep and lamb that arrived in this country was halal, but had been stunned prior to slaughter.

He said: "So if it's good enough to have a standard in New Zealand that classifies as halal, why do we put up with a local decision that is not an international rule?

"Why can't we adopt the New Zealand practice in respect of the Muslim community?"

Lord Gardiner said there were different requirements within the Muslim community. [Farming Online] Read more

UK Foreign Office faces backlash after giving out headscarves during World Hijab Day event

The Foreign Office (FCO) is facing a backlash after inviting staff to wear Islamic headscarves for the day in an event to mark World Hijab Day. Officials claimed the headscarves symbolised "liberation, respect and security".

The walk-in event, during which taxpayer-funded headscarves were given away, was criticised as being supportive of the "institutional oppression of women".

The event took place as women in Iran burned their headscarves in protest to ultra-conservative laws that forces them to wear them or face punishment.

Maajid Nawaz, who leads the counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, criticised the FCO for "supporting World Hijab Day and the institutional oppression of women through modesty culture, while brave Iranian women risk all to remove the hijab tyranny".

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen also slammed the department. "I'd like to know whose bright idea this was. It is ridiculous, a complete waste of taxpayers' money and not the business of a Government department.

"I can't see the Foreign Office promoting Christianity or the handing out of crosses." [International Business Times] Read more

Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

The Foreign Office handed out free headscarves to staff and encouraged them to learn why Muslim women wear the garment as part of its World Hijab Day celebrations.

The Government department, headed up by Boris Johnson, offered all employees the chance to wear a hijab for part of their day to mark the worldwide event on February 1.

In an internal memo, the Foreign Office said that the headscarf is worn by some women who see it as representing “liberation, respect and security”.

According to reports, an email sent to staff said: “Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. [Evening Standard] Read more

Foreign Office staff invited to wear hijab for the day: Civil service accused of promoting 'oppression of women' after giving out free headscarves

Mandarins at the Foreign Office invited staff to wear Islamic headscarves for the day, claiming they symbolised ‘liberation, respect and security’.

The department was accused of backing the ‘institutional oppression of women’ by giving away taxpayer-funded headscarves at a walk-in event to mark World Hijab Day.

The event was held as women in ultra-conservative Iran burned their headscarves in protest at being forced to wear them or face arrest and prison.

Many Muslim women across the world have shunned the hijab – which covers the hair and neck but not the face – as an antiquated, oppressive, religious tool.

The event was last Thursday, just days before Britain marked the 100th anniversary of women being given the vote. [1090 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 6370 votes] Why? What a total waste of time and money!

[2ND 5475] Meanwhile in Iran women in Iran are burning them. We are mad.

[3RD 5303] And this is Britain??????

[4TH 4656] Shall we have wear a crucifix next day

[5TH 3923] You could not make this up. What county are we living in again? [Daily Mail] Read more

UK Foreign Office faces backlash after giving out headscarves during World Hijab Day event

The Foreign Office (FCO) is facing a backlash after inviting staff to wear Islamic headscarves for the day in an event to mark World Hijab Day. Officials claimed the headscarves symbolised "liberation, respect and security".

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen also slammed the department. "I'd like to know whose bright idea this was. It is ridiculous, a complete waste of taxpayers' money and not the business of a Government department.

"I can't see the Foreign Office promoting Christianity or the handing out of crosses."

The event took place on 1 February inside the department's headquarters at Whitehall an internal email to Foreign Office staff revealed.

It said: "Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day. [International Business Times] Read more