31 March 2018

Punishing the powerless - Poor minorities are usually the target of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

On February 25, Patras Masih, an 18-year-old Christian boy in Lahore’s Shahdara locality, was accused by the local Muslim community of blasphemy. He was arrested and thrown in jail, the case being non-bailable.

During investigation, which can be pretty brutal under the Blasphemy Law, especially if the victim is non-Muslim, Masih tried to save his life by accusing another fellow Christian, Sajid Masih, of the same offence. Sajid, a poor janitor, was summoned by the police.

According to Sajid, after his arrival at the building of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Temple Road in Lahore on February 23, “he was tortured… by some officials of the agency”. The boy then jumped from the FIA building and suffered multiple fractures. The punishment for blasphemy is death.

Once accused of blasphemy it is normally assumed that the victim has to die. If he is a non-Muslim and found innocent he can expect to spend a lifetime in jail. This applies to Christians, the most downtrodden and deprived population in Punjab. [The Indian Express] Read more

Austria Has Issued 50 Fines For Violation of Burqa Ban Law in Six Months

Austria has issued 50 fines to transgressors of the full face covering ban in the first six months since it was enacted, each carrying a punishment of up to €150.

In a sign of how effective the ban has been in changing behaviour and discouraging the garment in public places in the nation, the majority of the 50 fine issued were in the first two months after October 2017 when the ban came into effect.

The fines were also predominantly localised to Vienna — Austria’s capital and most cosmopolitan city, with just nine in Lower Austria, and six in Tyrol, reports top Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

The number of fines given out in the early days of the ban were inflated by activists deliberately provoking police with full face coverings, with Ministry spokesman Alexander Marakovits remarking these actions may have been to see whether police would actually enforce the law. To avoid having to issue fines to visitors to Austria, the nation’s foreign ministry issued guidelines to foreign tourists from countries where full-face veiling for women is common, warning them the practice was not accepted in Austria. [Breitbart London] Read more

30 March 2018

NUT union plans new uniform guidance for schools after Ofsted hijab row

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman “overstepped the mark” in her comments about pupils wearing the hijab, according to a leading teaching union, which plans to issue new guidance on sensitive uniform issues.

The executive of the National Union of Teachers section of the National Education Union will this weekend seek to pass a motion condemning comments by Spielman, which it claims “go beyond the remit of Ofsted”. It will also will seek to advise schools on the best course of action to take when developing a uniform policy or dress code.

Spielman was criticised last year when she announced plans to have inspectors ask pupils why they were wearing the hijab during school visits. The situation was exacerbated when Spielman backed a headteacher at the centre of a row over her decision to ban young girls from wearing the hijab.

The NUT today warned that Spielman’s comments have “ramifications beyond the school gates” and could lead to “further marginalisation of, and increased physical and verbal attacks on Muslim women and girls”. [Schools Week] Read more

Most French want Macron crackdown on radical Islamists: polls

Most French people want Muslims suspected of harboring extremist views detained if they appear on spy agency watchlists and would back a ban on ultra-conservative Salafist Islam, two polls showed after the latest deadly attack in France.

.... An Odoxa poll published on Friday showed 87 percent wanted people suspected of religious radicalization to be put in detention, and 88 percent favored banning Salafist Islam.

An Elabe survey showed 80 percent backed the expulsion of radicalized foreigners, while more than half of its respondents said Macron was not doing enough to counter terrorism.

The president wants to redraw the relationship between France’s Muslims and the secular French state. He is not the first.

Since the late 1980s, successive Paris governments have tried but failed to nurture a liberal “Islam of France” that would help integrate the faith into a mostly secular society. [Reuters] Read more

29 March 2018

Swedish agency backtracks following child marriage brochure storm

Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has withdrawn an information brochure targeted towards people moving to the country while married to children after it provoked widespread outrage.

The brochure "Information for those married to a child" starts by explaining that marrying someone under the age of 18 is not allowed in Sweden, outlining the reasons why, and noting that a child who comes to the country married will be treated as a lone child without their parent or guardian under Swedish law and given the corresponding social services care.

A separate section details that having sex with someone under the age of 15 is a crime, regardless of whether a marriage is in place or not.

It is the brochure’s language in particular that has provoked criticism. In a section with advice for anyone who is married to a child, it states:

"Since children under the age of 15 have an absolute right to protection from sexual acts it is improper for you to live together if the child is under 15". [The Local] Read more

Be wary of Muslim causes that don't represent the faith's moderates

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, promoted March 27th as Muslim Women’s Day. While created by MuslimGirl.com, the day is being used by CAIR to highlight the issues and controversies affecting Muslim women in America.

Many Muslim women are truly oppressed, often by their husbands, fathers and brothers, as seen in the wearing of the hijab. Some don it to make a political statement, but many do so from obligation. Of course, nothing excuses the verbal and physical assaults some Muslim women have suffered. Such bigotry is a stain on our normally tolerant society.

However, Muslim Women’s Day and the activities and marches that will come with it wind up having a political agenda when they are so heavily endorsed by a fundamentalist outfit like CAIR. [Toronto Sun] Read more

France Expels Moroccan Imam Accused of Legitimizing Jihad

France continues its crackdown on suspected Islamic radicals with the expulsion of the Moroccan Imam, Mohammed Tlaghi, who is accused of calling believers to “pray for jihadists around the world” and to “destroy the enemies of Islam in France and in the world” in many of his sermons, French authorities announced on Wednesday.

The deputy imam of the Torcy mosque, located in east of Paris, was deported to Morocco on Wednesday, following his arrest by police services early morning.

“He will be taken back to the border under an expulsion order and must take a plane to Morocco during the day,” local authorities said. [Morocco World News] Read more

27 March 2018

Demand for atheism rises in countries under Islamic rule

The scientist and author Richard Dawkins is giving away translations of The God Delusion in countries under Islamic rule like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

The reason behind the decision is the thirst for atheism in such countries. Whilst 3.3 million copies of the bestseller have been sold since 2006, the unofficial Arabic pdf alone has been downloaded 13 million times.

The rise of atheism in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is something we have been speaking about for some time now. The Iranian Baztab Now website warned of a tsunami of atheism amongst Iranian youth. The #ExMuslimBecause hashtag initiated by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain became viral overnight with over 120,000 Tweets from 65 countries.

The hashtag “#Aik crore Pakistani mulhid” (10 million Pakistani atheists) trended around Darwin Day for two years running. Free Mind, launched by Arab atheists promoting atheism, has recorded more than 1 million visits so far. [The Freethinker] Read more

Imam who attacked Rotterdam mayor is not breaking the law: public prosecutor

The public prosecution department does not have a good reason to take legal action against a controversial imam who has attacked Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb in a sermon, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs on Tuesday.

Imam Fawaz Jneid ‘ranted for an hour in Arabic’ about Aboutaleb in January, calling him an apostate Muslim and an enemy of real Islam, the Telegraaf reported earlier this week.

Grapperhaus told MPs he is disgusted by Jneid’s views but that the public prosecution department does not consider he can be taken to court for inciting violence.

‘We are looking at everything he said from the perspective of the law,’ he said while answering MPs questions. ‘But on Facebook too, this man keeps just within the boundaries.’ [DutchNews] Read more

France wrestles once again with how to counter Salafists' sway

As France prepares to honour a policeman killed in the latest attack by a homegrown jihadist, debate has again flared over how to counter the influence of radical Salafist interpretations of Islam, with some officials urging an outright ban.

In the wake of Friday's shootings by Radouane Lakdim, officials disclosed his links starting in 2013 with "the Salafist movement", a Sunni Muslim branch originating in Saudi Arabia which promotes a strict conservative lifestyle.

While a majority of Salafists disdain violence as they adher to the fundamentalist traditions of "pious ancestors", some of its followers embrace using force to promote their beliefs.

"It's not about forbidding a religion or even an idea, but I'm saying very clearly that we must forbid the spread of Salafism, because it's the enemy," former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls said in a radio interview Tuesday. [AFP] Read more

26 March 2018

Rotterdam mayor called 'enemy of Islam' by controversial imam

Controversial imam Fawaz Jneid from The Hague called Rotterdam mayor Ahmad Aboutaleb an 'enemy of Islam' and a renegade Muslim in an hour long preach on social media, reports the Telegraaf, who had the Arabic preach translated to Dutch by a credited interpreter.

Jneid said that Aboutaleb 'hates and fights against Islam' and called him 'stupid and weak'. He added that Aboutaleb failed to condemn insulting Mohammed cartoons from Denmark, forbids Islamic schools and is 'against mosques'. According to the newspaper, two other controversial imams - Abdelhamid Ainalhayat from Eindhoven and Elalami Amaouch - expressed support for these statements in comments under the Facebook video. Amaouch called Aboutaleb "filthy scum". [NL Times] Read more

‘Racist slur’ by Muslim group against tolerance tsar Sara Khan

The new anti-extremism tsar was described as an “Oreo” by a senior member of a Muslim advocacy group, a television investigation is to say. The term is seen as racist because it describes a biscuit which is brown on the outside but white inside.

Sara Khan, a Muslim, has been appointed as the head of Theresa May’s Commission for Tackling Extremism.

Channel 4’s Dispatches will broadcast an investigation into Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a pressure group which persuaded Jeremy Corbyn last year to launch its anti-Islamophobia event in the Commons.

Ms Khan has led a charity that seeks equality for Muslim women and counters extremism. No sooner had she been appointed to advise Mrs May than Mend demanded her sacking.

The senior member of Mend who described her as an Oreo has accepted that this was wrong. One of Ms Khan allies, Fiyaz Mughal, founder of the Faith Matters group, said of the term: “For me that translates as being racist.” [The Times (£)] Read more

Divisive Muslim lobby group must clean up its act

Should the Home Office “engage” with the lobby group Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend)? It is a question that often preoccupies counterextremism officials. My investigation into Mend should convince them: not yet.

The dilemma arises because Mend increasingly has reach within Muslim communities and is now the dominant campaigning voice against government programmes to counter violent and non-violent extremism. Islamophobia is probably increasing, but Mend’s claim that Britain might “already be close” to creating the same conditions for Muslims that led to the Holocaust is preposterous. Its statistical projections are based on questionable methodology and the unspoken message from its videos about Islamophobia is: “You do know the state hates you, don’t you?”

Nor does Mend’s claim that the government’s Prevent programme is “state-sponsored Islamophobia” survive scrutiny. There are legitimate concerns, but when critics are asked what should replace Prevent, something very like Prevent is often the answer. The state also now firmly confronts Islamophobia, as it should.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 131 votes] .... please explain why they wish to live here at all? Their creed teaches the perfect way to organise society (not a good way, the perfect way).

So why do they not wish to live in one of the many countries organised in this perfect way? Those countries must be absolutely terrific. Unlike our country which is run on quite different lines, with no polygamy, capital punishment, death for apostates etc.

[2ND 93] I do not see either Mend or Cage cleaning up their acts and they will continue to promote their devisive influence on integration of Muslims into British society and undermining British values.

[3RD 85] .... integrated Muslims don't need a MEND. Radical Muslim groups, however, are very happy to jump on any bandwagon that will fill their coffers, especially from public funds. Naive politicians created this problem and naive politicians are nurturing its expansion.

[4TH 70] The problem is surely in part the mendacious attitudes shown by too many of these groups - this was an issue with Tell Mama back in 2013; they have since been 'rehabilitated' and seem to be viewed as a credible source by the media and government once again.

Arguably the greatest problem is the desire in certain quarters to Balkanize our society - why should there (and how could there) be a single group to represent a bloc of society?

Who is the authentic Muslim voice? Who speaks for Chinese British? Do Black British people simply become an amorphous blob and cease to identify as being from Africa or the Caribbean? Which group represents me as an early thirties white male from the West Country?

The notion of 'community' spokesmen should by now have been utterly discredited and yet the press and authorities seem to persist with this noxious fantasy which serves to empower odious individuals who too often should never have been given a platform. [The Times (£)] Read more

23 March 2018

Turkish leaders: Islam taking over Europe

Turkish leaders, including Muslim President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a member of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, are warning the Christian world that an Islamic takeover of Europe is taking place – an indication that the continent that once boasted a majority of Christians is giving way to Muslims’ mass migration.

Alparslan Kavaklioglu, who serves under Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the head of the Turkish parliament’s Security and Intelligence Commission, insisted that Muslim dominance throughout the European continent is already spreading, claiming that it is just a matter of time before Europe is taken over by Muslims.

"The fortune and wealth of the world is moving from the West to the East,” Kavaklioglu recently declared, according to the Gatestone Institute. “Europe is going through a time that is out of the ordinary – its population is declining and aging, it has a very old population, so people coming from outside get the jobs there.” [OneNewsNow] Read more

Norway presents proposal on full-face veil ban

The proposal was presented by ministers from each of the three parties in the coalition government – Finance Minister Siv Jensen (Progress), Minister of Education and Integration Jan Tore Sanner (Conservative) and Minister of Education Iselin Nybø (Liberal).

“Even though few people wear the burqa and niqab today, there are instances of it. A national ban will make things clearer for everyone,” Sanner said to NRK.

The ban will ensure good communication in educational contexts, the minister added.

“Norway is an open society where we are used to seeing each other face to face. This is particularly important in teaching situations, daycares and schools,” he said. [The Local] Read more

Merkel ally defiant in row over Islam's place in Germany

.... “I will not change my politics a jot,” Seehofer told Der Spiegel magazine, which said he was deeply annoyed by Merkel contradicting him.

A week ago, Seehofer told the Bild daily that “Islam does not belong” in Germany, prompting Merkel to say on Wednesday during her first government statement to parliament since starting her fourth term in office: “Islam has become part of Germany.”

Germany is home to some four million Muslims, including many Turks who have lived there for decades as well as migrants and asylum seekers who arrived in the past few years, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

Seehofer, who leads the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has long been a thorn in the chancellor’s side - especially over immigration and the role of migrants in Germany. [Reuters] Read more

22 March 2018

Anti-Islam PVV wins city council seats in 30 municipalities

Geert Wilders and his PVV won city council seats seats in each one of the 30 municipalities the party participated in during the municipal elections on Wednesday. In total the PVV currently stands on 74 seats, the Volkskrant reports.

During the previous municipal elections four years ago, the PVV only participated in two municipalities - Almere and The Hague. The party got fewer seats in those two municipalities this time around. In Almere the party dropped from nine to seven seats, and in The Hague from seven to two seats.

In Nissewaard, which covers Spijkenisse and its surroundings, the party won five seats. Relatively, the PVV got the most votes in Rucphen - 20.3 percent - giving it four seats. The PVV also won four seats in Terneuzen and in Venlo, and two in Rotterdam. The party is now also in the city councils of cities like Zaanstad, Enschede, Zoetermeer, Arnhem, Maastricht and Den Bosch. [NL Times] Read more

Mosques launch anti-radicalisation scheme as alternative to Prevent

An anti-radicalisation programme billed as an alternative to the government’s much-maligned Prevent strategy has been launched in mosques.

Safe and Secure, which is being backed by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), is the brainchild of former senior Muslim police officer, Dal Babu, and Mike Howes, a former council head of community safety, both strong critics of Prevent.

The government’s flagship anti-radicalisation strategy has attracted condemnation from many Muslims, who see it as a tool for spying on them, but also from teachers and even the government’s former terror watchdog, David Anderson QC expressed doubts on its effectiveness.

Safe and Secure is intended to address the same issues as Prevent but without the accompanying negative baggage. It is also intended as a riposte to those who say Muslims are not doing enough to counter the threat posed by extremists. [The Guardian] Read more

21 March 2018

Angela Merkel stresses migrants, Islam in first Bundestag address of new government

.... The chancellor noted that Germany had mastered this "unprecedented challenge" but added that they country's acceptance of more than 1 million migrants was a "humanitarian exception" that would not be repeated.

.... "It is beyond question that our country was historically formed by Christianity and Judaism," Merkel said. "But it's also the case that with 4.5 million Muslims living with us, their religion, Islam, has also become a part of Germany."

Merkel admitted that not all Germans shared that view — a remark that drew a cry of "Seehofer!" from the parliamentary ranks. Germany's new conservative Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, made headlines last week when he stated that Islam was not part of Germany. Merkel's statement implicitly rebuked his posturing. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

‘Islam Makes Little Contribution to Identity of Europe’: Merkel Party Ally

A senior politician in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Union has said that Islam “makes little contribution” to the foundation of Europe and that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “holds the key” to solving the EU’s migrant problems.

“Islam belongs just as little to Europe as it belongs to Germany,” Christian Social Union (CSU) of Bavaria Vice-Chairman Manfred Weber told German newspaper Die Welt.

“Of course, today Muslims are part of Europe. On the positive side, there is a debate about the leading culture in Germany. Europe needs this debate too. We must defend our European lifestyle globally,” he added.

The vice-president of the ally party of the Chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) made the comments after Merkel’s staunch insistence that Islam “belongs to Germany”.

Merkel’s pronounce came directly after CSU leader Horst Seehofer told media that “Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany has been shaped by Christianity” on Friday. [Breitbart London] Read more

100 French Intellectuals Denounce Islamist Separatism

.... This new separatism is advancing under concealment. It seeks to appear benign but is in reality a weapon of political and cultural conquest in the service of Islamism.

Islamism wants to set itself apart because it rejects others, including those Muslims who do not subscribe to its tenets. Islamism abhors democratic sovereignty, to which it refuses any kind of legitimacy. Islamism feels humiliated when it is not in a position of dominance.

Accepting this is out of the question. We want to live in a world where both sexes can look at each other with neither feeling insulted by the presence of the other. We want to live in a world where women are not deemed to be naturally inferior. We want to live in a world where people can live side by side without fearing each other. We want to live in a world where no religion lays down the law. [New English Review] Read more

Muslims place greater importance on national identity, finds UK study

More than half see being British as important, compared with 44% of general population.

They also place greater emphasis on education, and identify more strongly with their religious identity than their non-Muslim peers.

The 75-page report from Ipsos Mori analysed research and opinion polls conducted since 2010 to paint a comprehensive picture of British Muslims.

The UK’s Muslim population was 3 million at the 2011 census, but was estimated last year to be 4.1 million, or 6.3% of the population. Almost half are under the age of 24 and one-third are under 15, making them the fastest-growing group among young Britons.

.... Muslims tend to have more conservative social attitudes than the general population, the report said. Half of Muslim men and one-third of women believe wives should obey their husbands, and 38% of men said it is acceptable for a British Muslim to have more than one wife. A majority said homosexuality should not be legal. [The Guardian] Read more

A review of survey research on Muslims in Britain

A new report by Ipsos MORI brings together and analyses research from various sources and explores the attitudes of British Muslims as well as the views of the public towards Muslims. The report was supported by the Aziz Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Unbound Philanthropy.

The research findings shows that:

.... Religion plays a far more important part of life for Muslims than it does for others

Religion is far more important to Muslims’ sense of identity than it is for others, which is notable given that wider research points to a decline in religion in British life. Religion is a particularly important to Muslims holding a UK degree. The vast majority of Muslims believe they can practice their religion freely in Britain and that being a Muslim is completely compatible with the British way of life. However, there are concerns that not enough is being done to protect the rights of Muslims and the review shows that Muslims are more likely to be worried about being a victim of crime because of their religion, ethnicity or skin colour.

Young Muslims hold distinct views to older Muslims

Younger Muslims are quite a distinct group in their views and outlook and this is particularly the case among young Muslim UK graduates. Across a range of attitudes, younger Muslims demonstrate more outward looking and liberal views. For example, younger Muslims have a more diverse friendship groups than their older counterparts, and are more relaxed on issues such as inter-racial marriage. Younger Muslims – particularly UK graduates – are more likely to be politically active than Muslim non-graduates. At the same time, this group is more likely to report experiences of discrimination and feel that prejudice against Muslims is increasing. [Ipsos MORI] Read more

20 March 2018

Islam is ‘part of Germany,’ says German president

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said he believes there is a place for Islam in Germany, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday.

His statement came in response to comments made by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer last week. The leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) claimed in an interview Islam “doesn’t belong to Germany” and unveiled plans to tighten the country’s immigration policies.

“Of course the Muslims living here do belong to Germany,” Seehofer later added. “My message is: Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us.”

Seehofer’s controversial comments were met with approval by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), but condemned by every other major party.

The German president on Tuesday urged politicians to focus on discussing policies to boost integration rather than fighting over headlines. Germany should stand by former German President Christian Wulff’s assertion that “Islam is now also part of Germany,” he said. [POLITICO] Read more

19 March 2018

Germany's top court rejects full-face veiled driver's complaint

Germany's top court on Monday rejected a Muslim woman's request to suspend a ban on driving while wearing a face veil.

The woman had argued that the face veil ban for drivers violated her religious freedom.

The Karlsruhe-based court found the woman, who has worn the niqab for seven years, failed to explain how the law violated her religious freedom or why she faced harm driving unveiled.

According to traffic laws, drivers must have "unhindered all-around visibility" in order to protect other drivers and may "not cover up or obscure their face so that it is no longer recognizable."

The law, which was approved in September last year, also aims to help police identify and prosecute drivers for traffic violations. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Richard Dawkins will give away The God Delusion to Muslims

Richard Dawkins is to make a number of his books available free of charge in the Islamic world after an Arabic translation of The God Delusion was downloaded illegally millions of times.

The evolutionary biologist and noted atheist said that he had recently learnt that 30 million copies of the book questioning the existence of a supernatural creator had been illegally downloaded with three million alone in Saudi Arabia.

“I derive huge encouragement from that,” he said yesterday adding that he had heard similar stories about the number of PDFs of the book that had been downloaded in Iran.

Dawkins said he had started a project to provide free downloadable PDFs of seven of his books, including The God Delusion, “in the language of Islamic countries”. [The Times (£)] Read more

Jeremy Corbyn’s drive for tolerance ‘gave platform to extremists’

A campaign against Islamophobia launched in parliament by Jeremy Corbyn gave a platform to supporters of jihad, a report claims today.

Islamophobia Awareness Month (Iam), which was celebrated in council buildings, universities and schools, featured extremist speakers. The campaign promoted the views of Cage, the pressure group that once described Mohammed Emwazi — Jihadi John — as having been a “beautiful young man”.

Mr Corbyn was joined by Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP, Lord Paddick, the Liberal Democrat peer, and fellow parliamentarians for the launch of Iam on November 1.

The launch organisers were Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a lobbying organisation whose senior figures included a campaigner who supported killing British soldiers and whose activists have made statements regarded as anti-Jewish. Mend denies being antisemitic. [The Times (£)] Read more

Saudi women should have choice whether to wear abaya robe: crown prince

Women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya - the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of Islamic piety - as long as their attire is “decent and respectful”, the kingdom’s reform-minded crown prince said.

With the ascent to power of young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom has seen an expansion in women’s rights including a decision to allow women to attend mixed public sporting events and the right to drive cars from this summer.

The changes have been hailed as proof of a new progressive trend toward modernization in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom, although the gender-segregated nation continues to be criticized for its continued constraints on women. [Reuters] Read more

Turkish Government Official: "Europe Will be Muslim"

Yesterday, while many Europeans are still pilloried for viewing mass migration from Muslim-majority countries as a threat to Western culture -- and are still accused of "xenophobia," "Islamophobia" and "fear-mongering" -- the city of Afrin, in the Kurdish area of Syria, fell to Turkey.

At the same time, a prominent Turkish government official has been openly and proudly declaring that the demography of Europe is changing in favor of Muslims.

MP Alparslan Kavaklioglu, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the head of the parliament's Security and Intelligence Commission, recently stated:

"the Muslim population will outnumber the Christian population in Europe. This... has increased the nationalistic, xenophobic and anti-Islam rhetoric there. Hence, marginal, small parties have started to get large numbers of votes... But there is no remedy for it. Europe will be Muslim. We will be effective there, Allah willing. I am sure of that." [Gatestone Institute/CNN Turk] Read more

17 March 2018

Dame Louise Casey interview: I’m sick of some men’s version of Islam: telling women what to do

.... Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, has announced £50 million to help integration, including English classes for the 770,000 who still don’t speak the language. Dame Louise, 52, would like the government to go further, with a target date for everyone to speak English and a “sunset clause” on translation services. “It’s not that I have a problem with people being bilingual. Speak Welsh, Punjabi, Urdu, Spanish, Mandarin. I’m worrying about the people who don’t have English language as well, which is holding them back.”

More than 60 per cent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are economically inactive, she points out. “What is it about that culture and those women? . . . Some people’s interpretation of Islam is misogynistic. I’m sick to the back teeth of men in these communities telling women how to behave.”

.... It’s a patriarchal society in some of these areas where essentially the imam and community leaders lead in the name of a religion. They say kids can’t go swimming, play music or go to the theatre, it’s a deliberate interpretation to pull people further away from mainstream society.” [The Times (£)] Read more

16 March 2018

Hijab Removal by New York Police Prompts Lawsuit

One evening in January 2017, after she had been detained for hours in a police holding cell in Manhattan and repeatedly told to remove a head scarf that is part of her Muslim faith, Jamilla Clark began to cry. Then, she relented: She let a New York City police officer photograph her without her hijab.

As the camera flashed, Ms. Clark, 39, felt as if she were naked, she later said. Several male officers then stared at the image of her uncovered head as they stored it in a police database.

In August, Arwa Aziz, 45, endured a similar experience at a police building in Brooklyn. Police officers made her pull down her hijab for an official arrest photo as she stood in a cramped hallway with dozens of male prisoners. The police snapped photos of her uncovered head and hair from several angles. The prisoners, who saw Ms. Aziz weeping, turned away in respect as the officers looked on. [The New York Times] Read more

Three in Four of Swedes Favour Banning Religious Schools

A poll has revealed that 73 per cent of Swedish citizens are in favour of banning independent religious schools after the ruling Social Democrats promised to ban them to aid integration.

Earlier this week, the Social Democrats said that they wanted to ban the schools to put power back in the hands of secular educators and prevent the rise of parallel societies in post-Christian Sweden, SVT reports.

Minister of Civil Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi commented on the proposal saying: “In Swedish schools, there will be teachers and educators who rule – not priests and imams.”

The poll, conducted by polling firm Novus and Swedish public broadcaster SVT, shows that support for the ban was much higher with men than with women with 78 per cent of men favouring the proposal compared to 69 per cent of women. [Breitbart London] Read more

Horst Seehofer: Islam does not belong to Germany, says new minister

Horst Seehofer has long been a vocal critic of Mrs Merkel's refugee policies but has now taken up a key role at the heart of her new coalition.

His comments are seen as an effort to win back voters from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The chancellor was quick to distance herself from the remarks.

In his interview with the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, Mr Seehofer said Germany had been "shaped by Christianity", and that the country should not give up its own traditions.

"No. Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany is shaped by Christianity," he said.

"The Muslims who live among us naturally belong to Germany... That of course does not mean that we should, out of a false consideration for others, give up our traditions and customs.

"Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us." [BBC] Read more

15 March 2018

Young dancing girls end career of Tehran’s mayor

Hardline cleric says girls ‘incited arousal. They made the most atrocious movements’.

A troupe of young dancing girls throwing rose petals may have ended the career of Tehran’s mayor, who suddenly resigned on Wednesday.

The mayor, Mohammad Ali Najafi, attended a celebration last week amounting to an Islamic version of Mother’s Day. There he encountered six girls dancing in traditional costumes and throwing the rose petals in honour of a female saint.

There is a ban on dancing in public, however, for women in the Islamic republic. Girls older than age 9 are regarded as women by clerics, who resist any change in social norms.

Mr Najafi, a 66-year-old graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who came to lead the capital promising change, did not leave the auditorium when the girls took to the stage. A video of the event shows him immersed in paperwork as they twirl around and are handed baskets of rose petals by an adult. [The Irish Times] Read more

The number of ex-Muslims in America is rising

Yet even in the land of the free, apostasy isn’t easy.

Mr Olad was told he would leave college and be turned over the next day to the care of Muslim clerics who would restore his faith. “I was aware of the horrors of these camps,” Mr Olad says. “They operate them in the middle of nowhere, where you cannot escape. They subject you to beatings, starvation and trampling.”

He tried to contact the American embassy, but it could not send help because of recent terrorist attacks nearby. Luckily, he also managed to reach a Kenyan atheist group. In the dead of night he sneaked into his mother’s room, stole his passport and was whisked away by taxi to the embassy, which eventually returned him safely to America. He has not spoken to his family since. [The Economist] Read more

Don’t make Muslims solely responsible for integration in the UK

.... With news of Britain First’s Facebook page being banned, we should recognise that these are challenges across all parts of society, and give due regard to the intolerance of Muslims among a large section of our society. Yet too often, people ignore the challenges faced by the “white British” population in favour of a conception of a “top-down, mono-nationalist and establishment ‘British values’ approach”, which assumes it is only the non-white “other” people who must be civilised.

.... And again this week, Muslims across the country received “Punish a Muslim Day” letters, and four Muslim MPs received suspicious packages, the government response was extremely poor. Victoria Atkins, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for the home department, ignored questions asked by MPs and cited the security fund to protect places of worship – a fund that is currently closed.

On Wednesday, the Muslim Council of Britain report on integration stated that “all Muslims in their full diversity … cannot and should not be treated as anything but equal citizens, and our expectations cannot be different”.

For any government strategy affecting Muslim communities to succeed, there needs to be a fundamental rethink of the government’s approach – one where trust is rebuilt, communities are listened to and action is taken. I cautiously hope this green paper – a vast improvement on the Casey Review – will be the start of this change in approach, but I am not holding my breath. [Guardian Cif] Read more

14 March 2018

Britain’s Grooming Gang Crisis

Responses to the crisis are contentious because most of the perpetrators are British Asians; specifically British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

Child abuse is not uniquely or largely a problem of particular demographics but grooming gangs – that is, multiple offenders exploiting women they have met, manipulated, and abused outside their homes – are 84 percent Asian, and this does not mean Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Indonesian (other perpetrators have been Somali, Romani, Kosovan, Kurdish, and white British.)

.... Some have pointed the finger at Islam. I support the criticism of Islamic texts where appropriate but think this factor can be over-egged. Quite apart from being abusively adulterous, these criminals drank, did drugs, and made their victims have abortions. These were not, in other words, devout Muslim men.

Yet Taj Hargey of the Oxford Islamic Congregation has observed that “the view of some Islamic preachers towards white women” and “an attitude where women are seen as nothing more than personal property” might have been contributing factors in the stew of thought processes that characterised these men, along with provincial machismo, clannish contempt, and degenerate sexual appetites. [Quillette] Read more

Getting to the heart of what M-103 was always all about

.... The Conservatives tried to have the motion amended with that substitution, but M-103’s supporters — notably among them the unelected Muslim advocacy group, National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly CAIR.Can, and MP Iqra Khalid — with the full support of the Liberals, dug in their heels on “Islamophobia,” without ever clearly denying that it could also mean “criticism of Islam.”

And so, although the motion passed in March 2017, it passed amidst controversy and alarm amongst a great number of Canadians who worried we were being hoodwinked into a plan to curtail freedom of speech where one specific religion was concerned.

.... Which is why I view with extreme concern the still-undefined term Islamophobia popping up in the report’s 30th recommendation for a National Day of Action to combat it. Clearly that is the glittering prize for M-103’s backers; the rest is obfuscatory preamble.

If an official Day of Action against Islamophobia is granted, even fair-minded and objectively warranted criticism of parts of the Islamic faith, and perhaps even Islamism itself, would be increasingly legally fraught. I believe that is the point of the exercise. [National Post] Read more

Illegal schools: Ministers promise crackdown

Ministers are promising new measures to crack down on illegal schools, including new powers for Ofsted to seize evidence and question witnesses.

A new legal obligation for schools to register will be created "as soon as possible" under the proposals.

The move follows concerns some ultra orthodox Jewish and Muslim children are being denied a basic education.

Ofsted currently struggles to gather evidence to prosecute people running illegal schools.

Both the current Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, and her predecessor Michael Wilshaw, have told the BBC they needed stronger powers.

A recent BBC investigation highlighted frustration about the lack of legal powers and loopholes in the law. [BBC] Read more

Five English councils to adopt integration plans

Five English councils are to adopt new integration plans to deal with problems of segregation.

The government's Integrated Communities Strategy will see £50m invested in schemes to improve community relations over the next two years.

Bradford, Blackburn, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest in London have been selected for special help.

The plan includes schemes to encourage pupils to form lasting relationships with those from different backgrounds.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, launching a consultation paper on the plan, said Britain "cannot ignore the fact that in too many parts of our country, communities are divided".

"Successive governments have refused to deal with the integration challenges we face head on, preferring to let people muddle along and live isolated and separated lives," he said. [BBC] Read more

Blasphemy laws against Christians in Pakistan highlighted at UN

The abuse of Christians in Pakistan was highlighted at the United Nations with a warning that religious minorities are 'systematically persecuted'.

.... 'In Pakistan, once an individual is accused of blasphemy, he is presumed guilty and the law fails to safeguard against people willing to use violence. Blasphemy law also creates an atmosphere of religious intolerance and has contributed to the institutionalisation of discrimination against religious minorities.'

Another Christian woman activist from Pakistan, Salma Bhatti, raised the issue of kidnapping, conversation and forced marriages of young women from the minority religious groups.

She said: 'There are many young Christian girls in Pakistan who are being kidnapped and forcibly married. Later, there are no whereabouts of these women.' [Christian Today] Read more

Government Must Spent More Than £50m To 'Heal The Nation,' Ex-Integration Tsar Says

The plan to spend £50m to encourage social integration will not be enough to produce the “seismic change” the country needs, the government’s former integration tsar has warned.

Dame Louise Casey, who wrote a report for the government on integration in 2016, said a the UK needed “healing”.

Her intervention came as Communities Secretary Sajid Javid launched the government’s Integrated Communities Strategy which calls on schools to teach “British values”, sets out plans to boost English language skills and encourage women from minority communities to find jobs.

Five pilot areas – Blackburn, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall and the London borough of Waltham Forest – will develop local integration plans allowing new strategies to be tested as the programme develops. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Anti-Sharia proposals will do little to integrate isolated communities

Briefing the cabinet last week on the latest strategy to encourage new arrivals in the UK to integrate, Sajid Javid did not shy away from citing his own background.

How is it, he asked, that one British Muslim lad born in Rochdale grew up to be a cabinet minister and yet another born at the same time ended up a radicalised, violent Islamist extremist?

Some may believe the question to be glib but coming from the man with the only non-white face around the top table it was also uncomfortable, and deliberately so. Sensitivities around what was once called “community cohesion” and is now termed “integration” remain acute in Whitehall so it is little surprise that the latest effort to promote it has been stuck in the system.

.... With her characteristic bluntness, Dame Louise Casey, who authored a previous report on the subject, has made clear that she thinks the document released today will fall short, at least in terms of scale.

She is right to serve notice that without follow through — and where necessary, funding — the latest drive to bring Britain’s isolated communities into the mainstream will do little to help.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 69 votes] As Vladimir Putin has put it so nicely: "If minorities prefer Sharia Law, we advise them to go to those places where that is the state law. Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they shout "discrimination".

Perhaps our government should take some advice, regardless of its source.

[2ND 50] Countries where Sharia applies are places where people flee from; secular countries are where they flee to, and once allowed to settle show no inclination to leave for anywhere Sharia compliant. Why on earth import elements of such a system into our relatively attractive and successful society?

[3RD 47] Sharia law has no place in the UK, in Britain British law and language is predominant. if people want to live under the restrictions of Sharia law they know what they should do.

[4TH 33] The headlines should read: 'Muslim organisations and ideologues will whip up hysteria and threats in opposition to any measures which threaten their influence or growing powerbase'.

[5TH 30] In other words,politicians have realised,allbeit years too late,that many of England's towns and cities are now ghettoised dumps. [The Times (£)] Read more

13 March 2018

Sweden’s Social Democrats Pledge to Ban Religious Schools

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats pledged to ban religious schools in an effort to combat segregation, as it outlines its education policy ahead of this year’s general election.

The school system’s foundation should be knowledge, learning, equality and democratic values where each pupil "is free to form their own ideas and future," the party, which leads a minority government with the Greens, said in a statement. It should give all pupils, regardless of background, gender or religion, a good education and be free from confessional elements, it said.

"In our schools, teachers and principals should make the decisions, not priests or imams," Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training Anna Ekstrom said at a press conference in Stockholm. [Bloomberg] Read more

Pro-equality groups aspire for more dialogue on fair inheritance

Calls for equality between men and women in inheritance have arisen once again in Egypt, after protests continued in Tunisia by a number of women’s organisations to demand equality with men in inheritance rights.

Dozens of Egyptian social media users, women and men, have changed their photos on social media channels with frames including slogans of “equality in inheritance is a right not a privilege,” and further expressed solidarity with issue through opinion posts and hashtags.

Calls of equality between men and women in inheritance have long been an issue of debate. Supporters of the issue believe that females continuously inherit less than men, which is something that exposed many females to facing injustice. Meanwhile, others believe that calls of equality are in violation of the Islamic religion’s provisions. [The Daily News Egypt] Read more

Religious leaders to be trained in 'British values' with reform of marriage laws to be considered, as part of new government integration strategy

Faith leaders will be asked to help promote “British values” and laws on religious marriages could be reformed as part of a new government strategy to boost integration within the UK’s communities.

Ministers said the £50m Integrated Communities Strategy will focus on helping people learn English, encouraging more women to find work and promoting “meaningful discussion” between young people.

Sajid Javid, the Housing and Communities Secretary, said immigrants to the UK will also be given “practical information” to help them adapt to British culture.

The plan is the Government’s response to a review of integration carried out by Dame Louise Casey in 2016. [The Independent] Read more

11 March 2018

Sweden to crack down on Islamic schools

.... “The regulatory framework will be tightened,” Gustav Fridolin wrote in an article in the Aftonbladet newspaper. “Those who do not support fundamental values around equality and human rights should be stopped from running free schools in Sweden.”

The proposal comes as the debate around religious free schools continues to rage in the country, most recently over the decision to let the Islamic headmaster and former Moderate party MP Abdirisak Waberi start a new Islamic school in the city of Borås.

Waberi has been criticised in the past for attempting to explain why under Islam it is permitted for a man to marry four women but not for a woman to marry four men, and for expressing a desire to live in a state governed by Shariah law.

In 2006, he told Ottar magazine that he thought men should be the heads of their families. “In my opinion, it is the man that is the strong person in the relationship. He controls the relationship, and the woman stands as a base,” he said. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan activists say court ruling on declaring religion threatens minorities

Rights activists in Pakistan expressed concern Sunday over a court ruling that would require people to declare their religion on all official documents, saying it could lead to the persecution of minorities, particularly adherents of the Ahmadi faith.

The Islamabad High Court ruling on Friday also requires that citizens take a religious oath upon joining the civil service, armed forces or judiciary.

Zohra Yusuf, a board member at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, called the ruling "very dangerous." She said her group would issue a statement in the coming days.

"Religion is someone's personal affair, not a matter of public display," she said. "The oath thing is nothing but discrimination, and would show the government has no belief that minorities, too, are patriotic." [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

09 March 2018

Teacher at Islamic school in France jailed for shaving off pupil's blonde tints

The head of an Islamic school in France has been handed a 12 month jail sentence for a hitting a pupil an forcibly shaving his hair off after deciding the blonde tints in his hair flouted the rules of the Koran.

The head of the Islamic school in the Sarcelles suburb of northern Pairs was jailed along with three others including his brother and two of the school's auxiliary staff employed by the Town Hall.

They were convicted of violence against a minor along with kidnapping.

The incident happened at the Sablons mosque in Sarcelles where the 12-year old boy attended Arabic classes in the evening.

When he turned up with blonde tints in his fringe the director of the Islamic school said it was against the rules of the Koran. He then pulled out the electric clippers and shaved the offending part of his hair off. He then hit the boy. [The Local] Read more

08 March 2018

Will Morocco's new law protect women from violence?

Legislation criminalises violence against women, but some claim law falls short, leaving domestic abuse victims at risk.

A new law in Morocco criminalising violence towards women has divided opinion, with some observers applauding the legislation as progress while critics claim some women would still be left at risk.

Until recently, women were vulnerable to various types of violence in private and public spheres, including rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse. Much of this abuse had gone unreported, with such incidents considered private matters and not criminal.

.... The law, however, does not explicitly outlaw marital rape or spousal violence and does not provide a precise definition of domestic violence. .... Human Rights Watch said the law includes positive provisions, but leaves women at risk of being abused in a marriage. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

Enough with the feminists who stay silent on Islam

.... Needless to say, even after decades of public conversations on women’s rights, their plight in undeveloped nations has not changed much. In fact, in this politically correct era there are some nominal Western feminists who say too little about the suffering of third world women.

.... Let’s extend this argument. Submission to the requirements of one brand of Islam has convinced some women to support the heinous practice of female genital mutilation. Their understanding of religion has brainwashed them into considering this beneficial. Such a procedure subjects them or their daughters to pain and poor health. Are they more liberated because they have defined their femininity in these terms?

Clothing matters less than mutilation. The niqab and hijab may be “mere” pieces of cloth, but the expectation that women will wear them remains an important issue. The requirement is rooted in patriarchy, and it is hard to accept that any woman who “chooses” to wear these garments has somehow defined her womanhood in a liberated way.

.... Next International Women’s Day it would be encouraging if the women’s movement redefined some of its goals as universal rather than relative. Culture can never be an excuse. [Toronto Sun] Read more

Justin Welby’s stance on sharia law is a welcome relief

Justin Welby is right to take a stand against his predecessor, Rowan Williams’ most controversial announcement: that Britain should introduce sharia law. Ten years ago last month, Williams suggested parts of Islamic sharia law should be incorporated into British law. He argued that some kind of “constructive accommodation” was not only possible but desirable to better integrate British Muslims. The idea provoked almost universal condemnation, and now Williams’s successor has thankfully knocked down Williams’ poorly thought through stance.

This isn’t to say, of course, that Muslims, mosques and halal food are not all welcome in Britain—diversity makes us richer. But law is another matter. Reconciling any two legal frameworks within a single country is problematic; and sharia remains particularly incompatible with the Judaeo-Christian tradition our own legal system has been built on. [The Spectator] Read more

Chief inspector: English schools need to address extremist elements

.... Speaking to members of Parliament on Wednesday, Spielman reiterated her concerns about religious extremism in English schools and said her inspectors had found in some private Islamic schools that children had been shown films of people being beheaded and that they had been taught that it is acceptable for men to beat their wives.

Although these most extreme examples were found in private schools that were not properly registered with authorities, Spielman also expressed concerns about state schools.

That British parliamentarians have chosen to intervene in the issue signifies how much anxiety surrounds it — in education circles and British society at large. Educators have come into conflict with conservative Muslim parents who want their children to be able to observe religious practices even in secular state schools. The parents accuse the schools of thwarting religious expression. [National Catholic Reporter] Read more

University of Auckland fires senior academic who tried to shake female Muslim student's hand

A senior male academic has been fired by the University of Auckland (UoA) after he tried to force a female Muslim student to shake hands.

When she refused, he laid a sexual discrimination complaint against her.

UoA vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon sent a newsletter to his staff warning them such "serious misconduct" would not be tolerated.

"Late last year we terminated the employment of a senior male academic staff member, after a complaint was received," he says in a screenshot posted to Twitter.

"The staff member concerned intentionally set out to force a young female Muslim student to shake hands with him. He did this knowing that she would consider it culturally or religiously inappropriate to have physical contact with a man who was not a close relative.

"When she declined to shake his hand, he made a complaint of sexual discrimination against her." [Newshub] Read more

Iran jails woman for removing headscarf in public

An Iranian woman who publicly removed her veil to protest against a mandatory hijab law has been sentenced to two years in prison, prosecutors say.

The woman, who has not been officially named, was found guilty of "encouraging moral corruption", Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said.

He added that 21 months of the woman's sentence had been suspended and that she was in need of medical treatment.

It follows dozens of similar arrests of Iranian women in recent weeks.

Most of those detained for defying the country's strict law on appearing in public in a headscarf have been released without charge.

The woman sentenced in the capital, Tehran, on Wednesday was jailed for three months without parole.

She is "in need of long-term medical treatment and has to be seen by a psychiatrist", Mr Jafari-Dolatabadi said. [BBC] Read more

07 March 2018

German court allows courtroom headscarf ban

A court in the southern German city of Munich has overturned a 2016 lower court's ruling that struck down a Bavarian state ban on headscarves in courtrooms.

Even if the claimant had won on Wednesday, victory would have been short-lived. The case led the Bavarian parliament to pass a state law completely prohibiting people from wearing religious symbols in courtrooms. The law is set to come into effect in April.

.... Why today's ruling is symbolic: In response to the 2016 verdict, Bavaria's center-right government proposed a law forbidding legal officials from wearing religious "clothing or symbols that could elicit doubts about their independence, neutrality or commitment to the rule of law."

The law passed in February and will, when it enters force on April 1, give the earlier ban a legal basis that it had lacked in the form of a state order. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

On Women's Day, drop the doublethink on hijabs (especially you, cosmetic companies)

March 8 is International Women’s Day, the day we should be talking about women fighting for their rights around the world. From Iran to India, there are some big fights underway.

In Saudi Arabia, women are battling their country’s archaic guardianship laws that deny women the basic freedoms we in the West take for granted, such as travelling overseas, going to work and leaving the house as we please. With no public outlet to raise their voices, Saudi women have turned to social media with the hashtag #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen. In Jaipur, India, Muslim women are this week marching against the unfair treatment they receive under Shariah divorce laws.

And the fight closest to my heart is that of women in Iran protesting laws that make wearing the hijab mandatory.

.... Like the many millions of women in Iran, I was forced to wear a hijab. This was in Canada and it was my family that forced me, not the government. Rather than threats of arrest or “re-education” for being seen in public without a veil, my family threatened me with violence. My mother threatened to kill me when she saw me without my hijab. Mine is not a unique experience. [National Post] Read more

Government should set policies on hijabs in schools, Ofsted chief suggests

The Government must step in to set policies on hijabs in schools, the head of Ofsted has suggested.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, said it is “worrying” that headteachers can be “bullied” by campaigners into changing their uniform policies.

Her comments come after she threw her weight behind the head of an east London primary school who attempted to ban pupils under the age of eight from wearing hijabs.

Neena Lall was later forced into reversing the ban at St Stephen's School in Newnham after an angry backlash from activists who accused her of Islamophobia.

She became the subject of an intimidation campaign which included a video posted on YouTube comparing her to Hitler.

.... Last month Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector of schools, called for the Government to implement an official policy on wearing hijabs in primary schools to stop headteachers from feeling “isolated and vulnerable”.

Sir Michael claimed that the Government’s fear of being politically incorrect has stopped it from providing guidance to schools. “The Government needs to step in. It can no longer say it’s up to the headteachers," he said. [The Telegraph] Read more

'No dancing': Saudi concert edict stirs ridicule

A "No dancing or swaying" instruction on tickets to Egyptian pop sensation Tamer Hosny's upcoming concert in Saudi Arabia has triggered an avalanche of mockery and ridicule on social media.

Thousands of fans were taken by surprise when tickets for Hosny's first-ever Saudi concert in the western city of Jeddah on March 30 came with the edict that dancing was "strictly prohibited".

"Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts," one Twitter user said.

"The corridors and seats will be equipped with sway detectors. Anyone who thinks about swaying will be kicked out."

Another tweeted: "No dancing or swaying in a concert! It's like putting ice under the sun and asking it not to melt." [Agence France-Presse] Read more

Iranian woman who removed headscarf jailed for two years

An Iranian woman who publicly removed her veil in protest against Iran’s compulsory headscarf law has been sentenced to two years in prison, the judiciary said on Wednesday.

Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, who announced the sentence, did not give the woman’s identity but said she intended to appeal against the verdict, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency reported.

Dolatabadi said the unidentified woman took off her headscarf in Tehran’s Enghelab Street to “encourage corruption through the removal of the hijab in public”.

The woman will be eligible for parole after three months, but Dolatabadi criticised what he said was a “light” sentence and said he would push for the full two-year penalty.

More than 30 Iranian women have been arrested since the end of December for publically removing their veils in defiance of the law. [The Guardian] Read more

Women should not be able to hide their faces behind a veil in court as it prevents juries from reading their body language, says UK's top judge

Women giving evidence in court should not be able to hide their faces behind religious veils, one of Britain’s most senior judges has suggested.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale said it is vital to see expressions and body language when judging whether someone is telling the truth – something she learned while presiding over a child abuse case.

The intervention from Lady Hale, head of the Supreme Court since last autumn, comes after more than two years since guidance was promised from the Lord Chief Justice on whether or not women in courts should be allowed to cover their faces for religious reasons.

She said in a speech to the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies: ‘The ingredients of a fair trial should be the same for all, regardless of their religious or other beliefs. We do take it for granted in this country that observing a person’s facial expressions, body language and general demeanour are an important part of assessing their credibility. [Daily Mail] Read more

Poll: Should non-stun slaughter be banned in the UK?

Slaughter without pre-stunning can cause severe suffering to farm animals according to opponents of the practice, but Jewish and Muslim groups forbid stunning animals before their throats are cut.

Under UK animal welfare legislation, all animals must be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain.

However, EU laws have an exemption permitting non-stun slaughter for religious purposes, for example in halal and kosher meat. The UK government implements these exceptions.

.... The RSPCA and British Veterinary Association (BVA) are calling for an end to non-stun slaughter a position that has angered Jewish and Muslim communities.

Countries that have brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, include Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.

What do you think? Take part in our poll below. [Farmers Weekly Interactive] Read more

Top judge Baroness Hale of Richmond backs no veils in courtroom

Britain’s most senior judge has backed the removal of veils by witnesses in trials, citing Koranic sources in support of her view.

Baroness Hale of Richmond, the president of the Supreme Court, said that it was not for her to give guidance to the courts of England and Wales as to the right approach in such cases. However, she said: “We do take it for granted in this country that observing a person’s facial expressions, body language and general demeanour are an important part of assessing their credibility.”

Some Koranic sources seemed to share that view, she said in the Sultan Azlan Shah lecture given at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in January but not released until yesterday.

She added: “Our adversarial trial system depends crucially on testing a witness’s evidence through crossexamination — I suspect that most advocates would find it difficult to imagine how one would cross-examine a witness whose face one could not see.” [The Times (£)] Read more

06 March 2018

The Silence of the Liberals

Observer columnist and writer Nick Cohen thinks mainstream liberal culture and left-wing politicians are failing to help progressive Muslims who want to fight inequalities endorsed by culture and religion in their communities. He calls this the "racism of the anti-racist".

Forty years ago, Edward Said coined the term "Orientalism" to condemn the West's patronising representations of the "exotic" East, whose inhabitants were too irrational to handle the freedoms Americans and Europeans enjoyed.

In this programme, Nick Cohen examines evidence that this old colonial condescension is re-emerging in 2018, He interviews frustrated Muslims tackling discrimination - Muslims who feel betrayed by the Liberal left who, they say, should be their natural allies in their campaigning for women's rights and tackling discrimination such as homophobia in Muslim communities.

.... Amina Lone who says her outspoken views including a campaign against young girls wearing the hijab in school led to her losing her seat as a Manchester city councillor. The local Labour party failed to re-select her, blaming her attendance record.

Tell Mama founder Fiyaz Mugal's said that those who raised their head above the parapet to speak out were intimidated and threatened, not only by the white far right but also by Islamist extremists, while Maajid Nawaz founder of counter-extremism organisation Quilliam was on a Jihadist's hit list. [BBC via Mick Hartley] Read more

As an imam, I'm often asked about women's role in Islam – and this is my message for International Women's Day

I am often asked about women’s role in Islam. The reality is that women are an integral part of both Islam and Britain alike. The Quran regards men and women as equals in the sight of God. It’s time, then, that we champion the success of Muslim women such as Malala Yousafzai, Mishal Husain and Nadiya Hussain, who are throwing a positive spotlight on the contribution that Muslim women make to British society and who give young girls up and down the country and around the world someone to look up to.

Islam grants women, as it does men, fundamental rights to life, property, and opinion, and has done so for more than 14 centuries. However, it cannot be denied that despite this, they’ve had to fight for equality every step of the way. Men have sought control over their finances, opinions and fundamental rights to life, but “Time’s Up” on those controls; it’s time for a cultural shift.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] It is nothing less than an absolute insult to women everywhere to allow the representative of a religion that treats them as second class citizens by it's own religious laws a public platform to speak about women on Women's International Day. The utter bald faced hypocrisy of this 'newspaper' is completely baffling to me.

[ANOTHER] Where are the female imams? You chaps talk the talk but do you walk the walk?

[ANOTHER] Yep, Muslims are so bent over backwards to treat both sexes equally that around a third of British Mosques have absolutely no provision for women. These are registered as charities and as such subsidised by everyone, including women. We are just so stupid.

[ANOTHER] As an Imam, I often write transparently mendacious pieces for the left-wing media to try to con the naive that my backward religion is compatible with 21st century western values.

[ANOTHER] Most people in this country live near a Muslim community and can see with their own eyes how women are treated . We don't need this flannel from an Iman.

[ANOTHER] Nice read but a bit too much to swallow all in one go, I'm afraid.

To be fair we must also consider the behaviour of Catholic persons and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Religion has never been a friend of society considering the costs in lives and cruelty over the centuries.

[ANOTHER] "The Quran regards men and women as equals in the sight of God" is a lie.

4:34 in my old Penguin Classics, The Koran, reads "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other".

I stopped reading there because Quari Asim revealed he either hasn't read the Koran (hardly likely as an imam) or he is using taqiyya - the practice in Islam of lying to gain the trust of infidels. [The Independent] Read more

05 March 2018

Nottingham radio station's song against non-Muslims breached rules

A radio station has been fined for playing a song that "glorified battlefield victories" against non-Muslims.

Ofcom fined Radio Dawn, in Nottingham, £2,000 as it was in "serious breach" of broadcasting rules when it played the "nasheed" chant on Boxing Day in 2016.

Under its code, licensees must not broadcast material likely to incite crime and disorder.

Dawn Radio was "extremely embarrassed" and said its rules had been tightened.

Ofcom investigated after a complaint was made and it found the station had breached its licence and issued a "notice of statutory sanction".

The watchdog found the Urdu nasheed "glorified historic violence against infidels" and suggested similar acts committed now would bring honour to Islam.

Along with the fine, Radio Dawn must air a statement of Ofcom's findings.

Station manager Sana Tariq said did not agree with the song, which had not been screened by a manager.

"I was in disbelief, I couldn't believe something like this had been played. [BBC] Read more

In Pakistan, Those Dangerous Ahmadis

.... Islam is a brittle faith. It cannot stand to be challenged from within. It regards converts as being traitors, defectors from the Army of Islam. That is why converts out of Islam — apostates — can be severely punished or killed.

Most dangerous of all those apostates are those who become Ahmadis, for Ahmadiyya Islam can be confusing to mainstream Muslims. That is why, right now in Pakistan, the most important story is not about the state of the economy, or the general election coming up this July, or the gas pipeline that is being built to run from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and then to India, or what global warming means for the country’s stability.

Nor is it about the Taliban’s activities in challenging the state. No: the main story is about gathering data on 10,000 Ahmadi converts, scarcely visible, but seemingly an endless threat, in a country of 201 million. [New English Review] Read more

03 March 2018

The key difference between the far right and the Islamists

Mark Rowley, who is just stepping down as the country’s chief counterterrorism officer, is a classic British policeman of the best sort — a low-key, quietly amusing, naturally moderate professional who does not play political games. He became something of a hero (not a word he would endorse) for his cool handling of last year’s atrocities.

On Monday night, he delivered the Cramphorn Memorial Lecture at Policy Exchange, firmly entrenching the understanding which the British authorities were too long loth to recognise, that extremism — even when not itself violent — is a necessary condition for Islamist violence to develop.

On one point, however, I felt Mr Rowley did not convince. He warned, justifiably, that right-wing terrorism is on the rise. In doing so, however — perhaps in the interests of ‘balance’ — he set up an equivalence between Islamist terrorism and right-wing terrorism which does not exist, although morally there is little to choose between them.

The non-equivalence is that the first is so very much more formidable, global, well financed and politically connected than the second. Where, in Britain, are the right-wing equivalent of extremist mosques, giving livelihoods to bad actors, often funded from abroad? Where are the suicide bombers and their mentors? And where are the powerful fellow travellers? [The Spectator] Read more

In Sweden, Christians Fleeing Persecution Face Violence All Over Again

Germany saw nearly 100 anti-Christian attacks in 2017. The most violent incidents occurred among asylum-seekers in refugee homes, and German politicians express growing concern for the safety of Christians fleeing to Europe.

Open Doors Deutschland, which supports and advocates for persecuted Christians, recorded 743 incidents in 2016. After a wave of violence against Christians in refugee homes, many of them asked, repeatedly, for separate accommodation. Except in a few cases, authorities failed to respond.

A similar pattern of violence against Christian refugees afflicts Sweden, our own country. Compared with other European nations during the ongoing migrant crisis, Sweden, like Germany, has taken in a disproportionately high number of refugees of all faiths.

While that is laudable, it has led to many violent incidents, as the hatred against religious minorities in, for example, Syria and Iraq has now migrated to Sweden. [National Review] Read more

Illegal ‘schools’ teach children hatred

Religious extremists are exploiting lax home education laws to expose children to hate-filled material at scores of unregistered “schools” and secret teaching groups.

.... he Times obtained five extremist books relating to Islam, including Dos and Do Nots of Islam and The Islam Way of Life. One was by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-born extremist Muslim preacher who has been banned from Britain. Concerns have also been raised about illegal Christian and Jewish schools.

.... “It is lawful to give slight punishment to the wife for her adverse behaviour but it is not permissible to beat her black and blue.”

“If a sweet thing is left uncovered, swarms of dirty creatures are liable to prey upon it and corrupt it. Similar is the case of a woman. The current wave of rape incidents in regions where public exposure of women prevails, strengthens this argument beyond doubt.”

“Celibacy is an unlawful criminal indulgence in sinful violations involving sex. Socially it is a disruptive and destructive act amounting to disobedience to Allah.” [The Times (£)] Read more

02 March 2018

How a teacher sought to recruit a terror 'death squad'

A part-time religious teacher who tried to groom children to become future suicide attackers has been convicted of preparing acts of terrorism.

Umar Ahmed Haque, 25, was dragged from the dock at the Old Bailey shouting support for the Islamic State group.

He had been inspired to carry out an atrocity by the 2017 Westminster Bridge attack.

He had taken limited steps towards fulfilling that plan and sought to radicalise children in a small mosque.

Police believe he came into contact with more than 100 children, some of whom have received deradicalisation support.

Haque was arrested two weeks before the London Bridge and Borough Market attack. [BBC] Read more

01 March 2018

Angela Merkel admits there ARE 'no-go' areas in Germany that 'nobody dares' to enter

Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed there are 'no-go areas' in Germany, leaving ministers speechless.

Officials have previously dismissed the notion there are places in the country that police and other outsiders can't visit.

But Merkel said she favours a zero-tolerance policy on crime that includes preventing no-go areas, which she called 'areas where nobody dares to go' in an interview with n-tv on Monday.

'There are such areas and one has to call them by their name and do something about them,' she said.

Asked to name the areas, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters today 'the chancellor's words speak for themselves.'

Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth likewise declined to identify no-go areas, saying security was a matter for local not federal authorities. [Daily Mail] Read more

Muslim women win payout after New York police forced them to remove headscarves

The city of New York on Wednesday agreed to pay $180,000 to three Muslim women forced by police to remove their headscarves to have mugshots taken, officials said.

Each of the women is to receive $60,000 after the settlements were finalised in a Brooklyn federal court earlier this week, their lawyer Tahanie Aboushi said.

Two of the them were arrested in 2015 and one in 2012. All three incidents took place in Brooklyn, New York's most populous borough, she added.

The women sued the city and the New York Police Department, the largest city police force in the United States, which was represented by the city's law department.

New York police have since changed their guidelines to give detainees wearing a religious head covering the option of having their photograph taken in private by a police officer of the same gender. [SBS NEWS] Read more

Merkel Admits ‘No-Go’ Zones Exist in Germany

Angela Merkel has admitted the existence of ‘no-go areas’, where outsiders are afraid to enter, in Germany — just months after Breitbart London editor in chief Raheem Kassam comprehensively documented their existence in his groundbreaking book.

In an interview with RTL earlier this week, the acting Chancellor also conceded that the huge influx of third world migrants who arrived after her decision to throw open the border in 2015 has “raised multiple questions”.

Merkel said she is in favour of a “zero tolerance” approach to crime, telling the broadcaster it is the duty of the authorities to keep people safe because “the state has the monopoly of power”.

“That means, for example, that there are no-go areas … where no one dares to go” said the German leader, stating: “One has to call them by their name and do something about them.” [Breitbart London] Read more