30 June 2018

Why Britain's Deradicalization Programs Are Failing

The two effective initiatives were, "one defying political correctness and tackling difficult issues head-on and the other directly addressing extremism in religious [Islamic] texts." — The Times.

Unwittingly, Home Secretary Sajid Javid showed just why the deradicalization programs he is defending do not work. He said nothing about the boy's family's religious faith, radical Islam or the narrative of hate and intolerance founded on a "radical" interpretation of the Quran and Sunna to which the boy may well have been exposed at home, at the mosque and over the internet.

The trouble with Javid's tribute to those Muslims who "stand up against all forms of extremism" is that bigotry and bloodlust are not merely figments of Islamist extremists' minds. They stem from an authentic interpretation of Quranic verses and hadiths, which currently dominates the Muslim world. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Islamic theology institute at Berlin's Humboldt University sparks criticism

A supervisory committee at Berlin's Humboldt University (HU) voted on Friday in favor of establishing an institute for Islamic theology that critics have denounced for having what they called a conservative Islamic advisory board.

The head of the committee said the publically funded institute, which is set to train imams and religious teachers, was a "milestone" in the university's development. The city of Berlin will provide some €13 million euros ($15 million) in funding for the center, which will become the sixth academic institute for Islamic theology in Germany.

"Humboldt University will recognize its social responsibility and integrate Islamic theology into its interdisciplinary academic network," HU President Sabine Kunst said in a statement.

Berlin's deputy secretary for science and research, Steffen Krach, said the institute would play an important role in promoting integration in the capital.

Seyran Ates, a Berlin-based liberal Muslim lawyer, however, condemned Humboldt for allowing conservative Islamic groups to be represented on the board in charge of hiring professors. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

29 June 2018

No decision on appeal of overturned face covering law

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he isn't sure if the government will appeal a judge's ruling overturning a controversial law banning Muslim women from wearing face covering while receiving city services.

A Quebec Superior Court ruled on Thursday that the portion of Bill 62 violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just days before the law was to come into effect.

Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard specifically cited Section 10 of the legislation, saying it violated the charter’s principles for freedom of conscience and religion.

He said that the harm to Muslim women would be irrepairable.

Couillard, who is on a trip to New York, said he would wait for legal opinions before deciding whether to appeal.

"It's not a political decision, it's a decision that must follow legal analysis," he said. "This shows that we're in a very delicate area of the law." [CTV Montreal] Read more

The Netherlands Approves Burqa Ban

"People's faces should not be hidden in society, for it is our faces that give us our identity and our fundamental means of communication with others." — Geert Wilders, Party for Freedom (PVV).

Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren said the new law represents "a fair balance" between "the freedom to dress as one wishes" and "the general interest of communication and security." She also said that far from violating fundamental rights, the ban will enable Muslim women "to have access to a wider social life" because if they do not cover the face "they will have more possibilities for contact, communication and opportunities to enter the job market."

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) twice has ruled that burqa bans are legal, making it unlikely that the Dutch ban could be overturned in court. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

'Punish a Muslim Day' letter suspect appears at Old Bailey

A man will go on trial accused of sending letters calling for a day of violence against Muslims.

The "Punish a Muslim Day" notes calling for a coordinated attack on Muslims were sent to addresses across the UK.

David Parnham, 35, from Lincoln, has been charged with a total of 14 offences, including soliciting to murder and staging a bomb hoax.

He was remanded in custody and will go on trial at the Old Bailey on 26 November.

The letters were reportedly received in communities across England and Wales. [BBC] Read more

27 June 2018

English, French hold differing views on integration of newcomers: poll

While both hold positive views of immigrants, they are divided on how newcomers should assimilate, according to surveys conducted by Léger.

As the nation celebrates Canadian Multiculturalism Day on Wednesday, a new survey finds that anglophone and francophone Quebecers hold very different views on how newcomers should integrate, and particularly on whether female police officers should be allowed to wear hijabs.

While a majority of both groups said they held positive views of immigrants, francophones were more likely to respond in the affirmative when asked whether immigrants should give up their customs and traditions, or if the influx of non-Christian immigrants posed a threat to society.

At the same time, despite much debate in the province over the difference between the federal policy of “multiculturalism”, which encourages minority groups to maintain their cultural identities, and the Quebec push to embrace “interculturalism,” which emphasizes that French culture is dominant and encourages different groups to interact, the survey found that few Quebecers make the distinction between the two schools of thought.

“For all the talk that the politicians and academics have been pounding away at for the last 15 to 20 years about this big distinction between our two models and approaches, the public simply doesn’t understand the difference,” said Jack Jedwab, vice-president of the Association for Canadian Studies. [Montreal Gazette] Read more

Parliamentarians celebrate launch of report exploring and defining Islamophobia

Last night, MPs, Peers, NGOs, and community leaders celebrated the launch of MEND’s report, “More than Words: Approaching a definition of Islamophobia” at a Parliamentary event.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Muslims recently launched an inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia. In line with MEND’s submission to this inquiry, MEND released their comprehensive report as an exploration of the roots and causes of Islamophobia, how and why it is fuelled, and its socio-political and personal consequences.

While a full working definition can be found in the report itself, MEND’s definition of Islamophobia can be roughly split into two parts:

The overt part: Islamophobia is a prejudice, aversion, hostility, or hatred towards Muslims.

The “hidden” part that affects all Muslims both as individuals and as collective groups: that is the discrimination that excludes or limits Muslims’ equal exercise of fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. [MEND] Read more

French imam who heads an interfaith group gives sermon predicting Israel’s demise

A French-Jewish group called for legal action against a senior Muslim cleric in Toulouse who in a sermon recited anti-Semitic religious passages and predicted Israel’s destruction.

On Wednesday, the France chapter of the B’nai B’rith group condemned on Twitter the statements that Mohamed Tatai, the imam of the newly inaugurated Grand Mosque of Toulouse and the leader of an interfaith dialogue group, delivered on Dec. 15.

Tatai recited a Muslim text, called a Hadith, stating that on Judgment Day, the Muslims will kill the Jews.

The Prophet Mohammed “told us about the final and decisive battle: ‘Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him – except for the Gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews,'” he said. [JTA] Read more

Anti-Islamic election candidate suspended from business group

For Britain member Kevin Brack has been suspended from the Cockerton Community and Business Group after featuring them on leaflets distributed to households around Darlington.

Acting quickly to distance themselves from the contentious politics of the anti-Muslim For Britain party, members said that Mr Brack had no permission to use the group in his campaign to represent the Cockerton ward in an upcoming by-election.

The CCABG issued a statement online saying: “Please be assured that this has been done completely without the permission of the group and the group are not connected in any way to any political party.

“We are in the process of finding out how this has happened and will make sure that it doesn’t happen again. [The Northern Echo] Read more

Swiss government rejects proposed burqa ban

The Swiss government opposed on Wednesday a grassroots campaign for a nationwide ban on facial coverings in public that will prompt a binding referendum, the latest twist in a Europe-wide crackdown on burqas championed by anti-Muslim activists.

The Swiss cabinet said individual cantons should decide on the matter, which nevertheless will go to a nationwide vote under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy after activists last year gathered enough public support.

Measures against the wearing of Islamic veils have already been taken in Belgium, France, Denmark and Spain, among others, with the Netherlands passing its own ban this week.

The Swiss government suggested instead adopting laws that would prevent people from covering their faces when dealing with officials and punish anyone who forced women to conceal their faces with up to three years in jail.

“The government is aware that facial coverings can lead to problems. With its proposals it suggests targeted and specific legal measures in areas in which it has authority,” the cabinet said after a meeting. [Reuters] Read more

26 June 2018

Dutch approve partial ban on burqa wearing in public

Dutch senators overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday to ban the Islamic full-face burqa from some public places such as schools and hospitals, ending years of discussion on a hot-button issue.

"The Senate has agreed with the bill," the upper house of parliament said in a statement on its website.

"The bill proposes a legal ban on wearing clothing that completely covers the face or only shows the eyes, in educational institutions, on public transport, in government institutions and hospitals," it said.

The bill was approved by 44 to 31 votes in the 75-seat Senate and is the final hurdle before it becomes law.

It was supported by three of the four political parties in Prime Minister Mark Rutte ruling coalition, apart from the progressive D66 party which voted against. [AFP] Read more

Muslim group accuses Tories of turning blind eye to Islamophobia claims

.... Relations between the MCB and the Conservatives have been fractious ever since the group called for an internal inquiry at the end of May. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, said shortly afterwards that the MCB “does not represent Muslims in this country”, prompting the MCB to accuse him of “shooting the messenger”.

At the time the MCB asked why no action had been taken against Bob Blackman, the Harrow East MP, after he retweeted an anti-Islam message from the hard-right activist Tommy Robinson, and hosted a hardline Hindu nationalist, Tapan Ghosh, in parliament. Blackman said he had retweeted the Robinson post accidentally and had not known in advance that Ghosh was being invited to an event last October.

Harun Khan, the secretary general of the MCB, said: “We earnestly hope that the Conservative party addresses concerns of Islamophobia with the seriousness it deserves. The true extent of the problem can only be achieved via an independent inquiry.” [The Guardian] Read more

Why London is the perfect model for the Muslim world

I’ve lived in the Middle East and the US but I keep coming back to live in London. The global success of this city in a small island nation is not an accident but the outcome of history, big ideas and a people willing to change. There is a dynamic at play in London that is desperately needed elsewhere.

I regularly travel to the Muslim world. There, a fire rages across borders, a lack of freedom for many, a commitment by Islamist activists to remove Muslim governments, fanned by a craze for a caliphate. A loss of confidence and a rise in anger against the West feeds terrorism and destruction. Only last month Iran’s oppressive government again threatened to destroy Israel. This cycle of hate must end.

.... Today, more than 600,000 Muslims live in London. Every Muslim country wishes to invest in the capital and send its youth to our schools and universities. Here, gay or straight, man or woman, atheist or believer, all have recourse to the law as equals. [Evening Standard] Read more

Muslim Council of Britain accuses Tories of inaction over call for Islamophobia inquiry

Muslim leaders have accused the Conservative chair Brandon Lewis of ignoring calls to set up an inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.

The Muslim Council of Britain has written its second letter to him, saying it is "deeply disappointed" at not having received a reply or acknowledgement of their demand.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the group which represents more than 1,000 mosques and Muslim institutions, said some victims of Islamophobia were afraid to raise their concerns, risking "political suicide".

In the letter seen by Sky News, Mr Khan said: "This is a sad state of affairs for our democracy and we hope they can be taken up in an independent inquiry."

The Conservative Party has declined to comment. [Sky News] Read more

25 June 2018

Burkinis should be allowed in German swim classes, says family minister

Full-body swimsuits, known as "burkinis," can be helpful in integrating Muslim girls into German schools by allowing them to take part in swim classes, Franziska Giffey said on Sunday.

"The most important thing is the well-being of the children and that includes being able to swim," she said at an event on Sunday.

The Social Democrat family minister, who was district mayor in the immigrant-heavy Berlin borough of Neukölln before switching to the federal level, said it was entirely justifiable for schools to not only allow the garment to be worn in class but to lend them to students who would otherwise not be allowed to participate.

Fellow Cabinet member, conservative Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, disagreed, saying that the burkini — which covers the whole body apart from the hands, feet and face — cemented a "misogynistic understanding in a place where children and teenagers are supposed to learn the opposite." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Rotterdam mayor gets extra protection after death threat

.... "It was because of a debate with DENK over Pegida. I decided not to ban Pegida but to let them demonstrate. That same afternoon there was a serious death threat", Aboutaleb said. Aboutaleb was on his way home when he received the threat. He decided not to return to the city hall that day, and had to be replaced at the next city council meeting. "It is very annoying when you are confronted with this while you are doing your work and trying to do the right thing."

Anti-Islam movement Pegida planned to roast pork in front of mosques in five Dutch cities during Ramadan. Aboutaleb was the only mayor to allow this demonstration, the other four banned it, but gave Pegida the option to demonstrate elsewhere. Pegida eventually decided to cancel the barbecue at the Laleli mosque in Rotterdam. A Turkish minister criticized Aboutaleb for allowing the demonstration. But according to the Rotterdam mayor, freedom expression means that every opinion may be expressed, even if you don't like it. [NL Times] Read more

Germany burkinis: Minister says garments should be allowed in schools

Germany's family minister has defended the use of the burkini in schools, saying that the swimsuits could help Muslim girls integrate.

Earlier this month, a school in western Germany sparked debate after offering burkinis to students who would otherwise not attend swim classes.

The burkini has been a controversial topic across Europe.

The French city of Cannes was last week ordered to repay a fine given to a woman wearing the garment.

The issue began when a school in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) bought 20 burkinis - paid for by private donations - for use by its female students, according to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.

Fifteen girls who would normally have refused to attend mixed swimming lessons have since been able to take part thanks to the swimwear, which covers the whole body except the face, hands and feet.

The school's decision caused outrage among conservative lawmakers in Germany, where over a million refugees, mostly from the Middle East and Afghanistan, have arrived in recent years. [BBC] Read more

24 June 2018

The Protocols of Whatever Zion

Egyptian scholar Dr. Samir Taqi Al-Din - I think that should be Egyptian "scholar" Dr. Samir Taqi Al-Din - knows about the Western culture of atheism and democracy. It's all Jewish:

Freud, Sartre, Durkheim....Jewish? Well, two out of three's not bad.

"It is no coincidence that the people who came up with the materialistic, secular, atheist ideologies were all Jews. Of course you should read The Protocols of Whatever Zion....I don't want to say wise elders, because they weren't wise or anything...

"When you read The Protocols [of the Elders of Zion], you will know that what I'm saying is true." [Mick Hartley] Read more

Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving officially ends

Saudi women are officially allowed to get behind the wheel, after a decades-old driving ban was lifted.

The change was announced last September and Saudi Arabia issued the first licences to women earlier this month.

It was the only country left in the world where women could not drive and families had to hire private chauffeurs for female relatives.

However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive.

At least eight women's rights activists are being detained and could face trial in a counter-terrorism court and long prison sentences for their activism, human rights group Amnesty says.

They include Loujain al-Hathloul, a well-known figure in the campaign for women's driving rights.

Amnesty has also called for wider reforms in Saudi Arabia, where women remain subject to male guardianship laws. [BBC] Read more

22 June 2018

Head hits back at Ofsted chief over extremism claims

The headmistress at a leading Church of England school where nine out of ten pupils are Muslim has criticised the chief of Ofsted for claiming that pupils face the threat of “indoctrination” by extremists.

In February Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, said that religious fundamentalists were trying to pervert the education system by putting pressure on schools over policies. She made the comments as she supported a primary school in London that banned girls from wearing the hijab to the anger of some in the local Muslim community. [The Times (£)] Read more

Islamic school head forced out after weapons and £400,000 cash found at flat in grounds

The headteacher of an independent Islamic school has been forced out to spare it from closure after a raid by armed police uncovered weapons and more than £400,000 in cash at a flat in the grounds.

Officers were called to the Darul Uloom school in Chislehurst on May 30 after reports of a man brandishing a gun. Headteacher’s son Yusuf Musa, who was the school’s designated safeguarding staff member, was arrested in connection with the incident.

Officers found a toy gun at his flat as well as bladed weapons and more than £400,000 in cash, Westminster magistrates’ court heard. [Evening Standard] Read more

21 June 2018

Yes, we need to ban the burka in Canada

I am joining my colleague Tarek Fatah in appealing to Ontario premier-elect Doug Ford to ban the burka, the oppressive face covering. In fact, I would like to extend this suggestion to premiers of other provinces.

Fundamentalist insistence on the veil is more political than religious. There is nothing in the Qur’an that expressly prescribes wearing even the hijab, let alone the niqab or other forms of face veiling.

Of course, Fatah is citing the burka as a security threat. This alone is compelling enough reason to ban it. There is no denying that the garment has been used to commit heinous crimes, not only in Canada but also overseas.

But I want the burka banned also because I care about Canadian Muslims. I care about their image as a diaspora community. If they continue to promote or allow the face veil, the image they project is one of backwardness and misogyny.

Muslims should be the first to seek a ban on this oppressive garment that has no basis in Islam and that portrays them in such negative light. That the garment is inherently misogynistic is undeniable. It is rooted in the conviction that women are a source of evil if they are left unshielded from the male gaze. [Toronto Sun] Read more

Iran's female football supporters make history at World Cup stadium screening

Iran’s female football supporters have made history in Tehran – for the first time in 37 years they were able to attend a sporting event in the city’s Azadi stadium.

The usually strict ban on women attending sports stadiums was relaxed for a screening of Iran’s World Cup match against Spain, which was taking place in Kazan in Russia.

It had been hoped the ban would be lifted for Iran’s opening match of the tournament, but it was only for the team’s second game, which they lost 1-0, that women were able to access the ground.

OpenStadiums, a group campaigning for more access to sporting events for women in Iran, reported on the day of the match: “Last night after some confirmations, fans could buy tickets to watch on the screen in the Azadi stadium. Female fans are pretty excited to pass the Azadi’s gates for first time – but some are saying we can’t believe it until we enter in stadium.”

The event did not run completely smoothly – initially police were reluctant to let it go ahead and people were turned away, but the BBC Persian reporter Hadi Nili said an intervention by the interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, confirmed it could go ahead, leading to joyous scenes of celebration within the ground. [The Guardian] Read more

20 June 2018

Iranian Women Fight for Their Right to be Football Fans at the World Cup

.... But even the most minor of protests against Iran in another country, comes with its risks. "We are determined to do it but many of us are scared," Fatemeh says. "Some of us work for public services, and it's completely possible that [some] could return home to find they've lost their jobs as a punishment. The police could launch investigations into us and our families. Anything is possible in Iran. And of course there will be hate messages on social media from the hardliners back home."

There are, perhaps, signs pointing to a brighter future. In March, a sustained social media campaign ahead of FIFA president Gianni Infantino's visit to the Tehran derby, saw Infantino raise the issue of stadium access for women with the Iranian president. Infantino later claimed the president had assured him that access would soon be granted.

However, Iran's female football fans remain to be convinced.

"There are many in government who believe that women should be allowed to enter stadiums," Fatemeh says. "But it isn't their decision to make. The real power lies with the supreme leader who rules the Islamic state. I hope that within my lifetime, women no longer have to take risks for the basic rights of being able to watch a match. I think every one of us just wants to go to a stadium as a woman with respect." [VICE] Read more

18 June 2018

SPLC Apologizes, Pays Settlement to Islamic Reformer It Wrongly Labeled ‘Anti-Muslim Extremist’

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reached a settlement with liberal Islamic reformer Maajid Nawaz and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation, for wrongly including them on its now-defunct list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”

The SPLC announced Monday that it has agreed to pay Nawaz and Quilliam $3.375 million “to fund their work to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and extremism.” The settlement was the result of a lawsuit Nawaz filed in April over his inclusion on the SPLC’s “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

The list, which was published in 2016 and was intended to serve as a resource for journalists, was deleted shortly after Nawaz filed the suit. The deletion came roughly two years after Nawaz first demanded a retraction.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center was wrong to include Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation in our Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. Since we published the Field Guide, we have taken the time to do more research and have consulted with human rights advocates we respect,” SPLC president Richard Cohen said in a statement. “We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism. [National Review] Read more

17 June 2018

Outrage as a Thousand Muslims Pray in French Street Following End of Ramadan

A thousand Muslims in the southern French city of Nice took to the street to pray on Friday following the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, in defiance of the country’s laws.

The open-air prayer, which took place at around 6 a.m. at the Ariane quarter of Nice, was condemned by Mayor Christian Estrosi of the conservative Republicans who took to Twitter to post a picture of the incident.

In two separate posts, Mayor Estrosi slammed the street prayer, saying: “I condemn with the utmost firmness the street prayers which have been held at the Ariane since 6 a.m. this morning. The laws of the Republic must be respected everywhere.”

Estrosi noted that the group had used loudspeakers to attract worshipers to the area and said: “Even if #AidElFitr is an important moment for Muslims, nothing can justify street prayers and thus disturb public order.” [Breitbart London] Read more

Berlin's liberal mosque marks 1-year anniversary

In the year since its foundation, Berlin's liberal mosque has established itself and is attracting ever greater interest. But lawyer Seyran Ates, who opened the mosque, lives with ongoing hostility and threats.

There are 15 chairs in the room. And two men with guns. Bodyguards. This is daily life for Seyran Ates, dailylife in the liberal Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin. This small Islamic place of worship in Berlin's Moabit district celebrates its first anniversary on Friday. "A great deal has already happened in the past 12 months," says Ates. "There really is a need for a mosque like this."

For her, it's all about "a friendly, spiritual Islam, a contemporary interpretation." This was why she named the mosque after the Arab doctor and philosopher Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroes (1126-1198), and the German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – two people "who did a great deal that was positive for Islam in their respective times."

.... Ates also talks about other pressures, such as the Muslim man at the door of the mosque who told her, "In a week's time you'll be gone." Or the five men from another established Berlin mosque who came and demanded that the liberal mosque close down. There have been a lot of personal threats online. This is why Ates has bodyguards; and this is why the highest security level applies whenever she makes a public appearance in Germany.

"Your jobs are definitely safe," she tells one of her bodyguards, laughing. She hopes she will be able to move freely again in 10 or 15 years' time. "That's the sort of timescale I'm thinking along." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Federal jobs program gives funding to hate preacher's group

Using the politicized Canada Summer Jobs grant, the Trudeau government recently gave funding to a controversial hate preacher who’s the subject of a criminal complaint.

The Islamic Humanitarian Service in Kitchener, Ont., was approved by the Trudeau government to receive the grant in 2018, according to the government’s public registry of approved organizations.

This organization is also in the news this week following its participation in the racist and hateful al-Quds Day rally held on June 9. Al-Quds is an annual march, started by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s radical Mullahs, dedicated to the destruction of the world’s only Jewish country.

The march frequently features anti-Semitic speeches and chants, and some rally-goers wave terrorist flags and show their open support for jihadist organizations like Hezbollah.

One of the largest and most radical rallies takes place each year in Toronto, on the grounds of Queen’s Park. This year’s rally caught the attention of Ontario’s premier-designate Doug Ford, who denounced the rally as “racist” and “anti-Semitic.” [Toronto Sun] Read more

16 June 2018

Muslims in Australia at a crossroads, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells says

In a new essay, senator says challenges facing immigrants must be dealt with ‘head on’

Fierravanti-Wells says Muslims in Australia face prejudice. She recounts an anecdote from 2016 when she asked a group of business leaders: “If you had to hire someone and you had three CVs, all with equal qualifications, from Fred, Mario or Mohammed, who would you employ?

“No one spoke. The looks on their faces answered my question.”

She says to deal effectively with the security challenges presented by young Muslims being radicalised, Australia needs to understand why young people are vulnerable to those overtures, which include the difficulty of finding a job.

“To me, this is the essence of what Menzies was talking about,” Fierravanti-Wells says. “Rather than fostering hatred, deal with the issues head on. To resolve the challenge of radicalisation, it means working with communities at risk to ensure they not only own the problem but support them to own the solution. [The Guardian] Read more

Paris suburb defies efforts to loosen Salafist grip

Just a short drive from the opulence of Versailles Palace, a closed-off community of strictly conservative Muslims is posing the most visible challenge to French authorities hoping to stem the rise of homegrown extremists.

At first glance the town of Trappes, where urban renovation projects have replaced dozens of grim tower blocks, doesn't match the stereotype of poverty-stricken enclaves offering fertile ground to jihadist recruiters.

While never quite shaking off its rough reputation for drugs and violence, the town southwest of Paris has produced international football star Nicolas Anelka and popular French-Moroccan comedian Jamel Debbouze.

These days every butcher shop in the town-centre is halal and most women at the market wear headscarves, and increasing numbers of local Muslims adhere to Salafism, a Sunni branch which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

While most French Salafists disdain violence in following the traditions of "pious ancestors", many of the jihadists who have struck France in the past three years have been associated with the movement.

And a security source told AFP that around 50 people from Trappes -- which has a population of 30,000 -- have gone to fight in Iraq or Syria. [AFP] Read more

Muslim Blogger Receives Death Threats For Video That Shows Her Stomach

A Muslim blogger is fearing for her safety after receiving a number of death threats because she posted a video of herself wearing an outfit that showed her stomach.

Madina Basaeva was wearing a yellow crop top and shorts and filmed herself dancing and miming to a song before posting the clip to her Instagram account.

Basaeva lives in Moscow but was born in Yekaterinburg to a family within the Tadzhiki community.

Despite it only being a 13-second-long video, she has received torrents of online hate from within the Tadzhiki community for what some of the conservative Muslim viewers perceive to be a lack of modesty.

The post was soon filled with comments that range from abusive to downright threatening. One said: "When will you finally die?!"

Another posted: "Someone kill her already."

One commenter who uses the online name umm.ma.96 left a comment that read: "Do not forget while chasing fame in this life, you will have to pay for it to Allah in the next one. Your naked belly button will cost you a lot." [LADbible] Read more

15 June 2018

In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies: poll

As Chancellor Angela Merkel fights to save her government in a heated battle over immigration, an opinion poll Friday showed most Germans support the tougher line of her rebel interior minister.

The survey found that 62 percent of respondents were in favour of turning back undocumented migrants at the border, in line with the stance of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who is openly challenging Merkel.

And 86 percent want faster deportations of rejected asylum seekers, a process now often held up by bureaucratic hurdles and legal challenges, according to the Infratest dimap poll.

The survey turns up the pressure on Merkel, who has faced a backlash for allowing into Germany more than one million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.

The mass influx sparked the rise of the far-right and anti-Islam AfD party, which entered parliament last September.

Merkel's welcome to refugees also infuriated Seehofer and his CSU, the sister party of her Christian Democrats in the southern state of Bavaria, which became the main entry point for most migrants. [AFP] Read more

How Australian KFC stores are refusing to sell bacon in their burgers - because they only use HALAL products

KFC has refused to sell bacon at three Australian stores to keep in line with Halal certified products.

A customer revealed the rule after contacting the fast food company about the lack of bacon offered at a store in Punchbowl, in Sydney's west.

'Why is bacon not available at KFC Punchbowl, NSW?' Disgruntled customer Marc Miller? wrote on Facebook.

In response, KFC said the fast food chain's stores in Punchbowl and Bankstown South in NSW, as well as a location in Fawkner in Victoria, don't sell bacon to keep in line with other halal products. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Tories chairman Brandon Lewis vows to 'stamp out' Islamophobia

Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis has outlined plans he says will "stamp out" Islamophobia in the party.

He said diversity training would be offered to all members and local associations would report back on how complaints were handled.

He told ConservativeHome the party would work with TellMAMA, which monitors anti-Muslim activity.

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the "positive step" but said it fell short of the full inquiry it wants.

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister, has also called for a full inquiry into alleged Islamophobia in the party.

Mr Lewis announced the new measures "as Muslim families gather today to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan".

He said it was "utterly unacceptable" that anyone should suffer abuse because of their faith, race, gender, sexuality or disability. [BBC] Read more

Islamic Council leader sentenced for jihadist propaganda

.... The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, which brought the case, called in mid-May for 24-month suspended sentences for each of the accused. The defence called for them to be acquitted.

The specific allegation against Cherni was that between the end of September 2015 and mid-October 2015 he made films in Syria with a leading member of the banned terrorist organisation al-Qaeda.

The films were subsequently used as propaganda for the al-Qaeda member concerned, according to the indictment. Two videos were published on YouTube.

The ICCSexternal link describes itself as the country’s largest Islamic organisation and says it focuses on representing the local population. However, its 3,000 members make up less than 1% of the estimated 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Muslim prof made students praise Allah before entering office

A Muslim professor at the University of Connecticut aggravated numerous students last year by requiring them to remove their shoes and say "Bismillah" ("in the name of Allah") before entering his office.

.... The footage in the video was originally taken in December 2017, and also contains an audio clip, from an unspecified date, of Coe interacting with a student who saw that his door was open and was trying to ask about where another professor was.

“Get the hell out of here. I don’t want to see you,” Coe told the unidentified student after she asked him why she needed to remove her shoes to enter his office.

“I am a Muslim,” Coe explains to the student. “You don’t come into my office with dirty shoes; that’s a curse.” [CampusReform.org] Read more

The surprise place where hijab can spell trouble

"It is easier to be wearing hijab in London than Cairo." This is how 47-year-old Dalia Anan describes her experience as a woman wearing the Islamic headscarf - also known as hijab - in London compared to her hometown in Egypt.

Dalia, an engineer who works in the IT industry, moved to the UK two years ago to be with her children, who are studying in London.

"I feel judged in Egypt more than I do here," she says.

But this was not always the case.

Egypt, whose population is predominantly Muslim, used to be a welcoming space for women who chose to wear hijab.

But for the past few years this has been changing, especially for women from the upper class.

"After a certain time in the evening, you are not allowed into some restaurants or what are regarded as 'cool' places, especially in the north coast," Dalia says. [BBC] Read more

14 June 2018

Immigration, terrorism top concern list of Europeans: poll

The Commission’s twice-a-year Eurobarometer poll showed 38 percent of the EU’s 510 million citizens saw immigration as the most important issue facing the bloc. Paradoxically, the highest level of concern about the issue was registered in countries were immigration is minimal — Estonia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Concern over terrorism was mentioned by 29 percent of Europeans. Again, it was highest in countries that have not had a single terrorist attack in recent years — Lithuania, Cyprus, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Latvia. [Reuters] Read more

Sealand man who posted anti-Muslim Facebook rants branded 'armchair bigot' by judge

A MAN from Sealand who posted anti-Muslim Facebook rants following the Westminster terror attack last year has been branded an “armchair bigot” by a judge.

Judge Timothy Petts imposed a 12 months suspended jail term on Sean Maguire and ordered him to do 250 hours unpaid work and a 20 days rehabilitation activity. He also has to pay £300 costs.

Previously the judge told Maguire, 49, at Caernarfon Crown Court: "The language you used was horrific and disgusting.”

Maguire, a jobless forklift truck driver from North Street, was convicted by a jury last month of two offences of publishing material intending to stir up religious hatred.

Barrister David Potter, prosecuting, said on the day of the terror attacks on Westminster Bridge and Parliament last March, Maguire wrote on Facebook: "Time to start fighting back. Kill all Muslims.’’ [The Leader] Read more

13 June 2018

Greece's Muslims seek reform between civil and religious laws

.... That financially secure life has so far eluded her. Molla Sali's two sisters-in-law contested the will on the grounds that, as a member of Thrace's Muslim community, their brother was bound by the precepts of Islamic law, under which they, too, should receive a share of his estate.

The Sali dispute has now escalated into a landmark case at the European Court of Human Rights and prompted the Greek government to radically alter the law governing its Muslims for the first time since they found themselves outside the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.

Greece is the only European country to preserve a bifurcated legal system in which Islamic law coexists with Greek civil and family law.

Molla Sali was vindicated in lower court, which upheld her husband's will under the Greek civil code, but this decision was overturned in the Greek Supreme Court, which ruled the will has no legal standing and Islamic law must apply. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

I Never Dreamed Of Being An Imam - Then I Founded One Of The World's Only Female-Led Mosques

It was Ibn Arabi, the Islamic Sufi master and theologian, who once said: ‘the perfect man is a woman’. This is also typical of something my father would say. He was the first feminist I knew (as well as the first political activist) with a social democratic leaning to boot. He is one of my role models, and he gave me his sense of political activism and his taste for current events and debating ideas.

My mother is a Finnish Christian and my father a Syrian Muslim. This rarely posed a problem for them, and when it did, my parents sought a point of convergence. Love is a process, an alloy of compromise and negotiation. I am the product of this wise philosophy. Half Finnish, half Syrian, my identity is an intersection.

.... Moreover, at Mariam Mosque, we celebrate interfaith marriages because we acknowledge the reality that, being in Europe, there is a considerable probability that a Muslim woman could fall in love with a non-Muslim man. We respond to this by respecting Quranic legality, since you only need to study the sacred book lightly to discover that it doesn’t oppose such unions. As such, I have officiated more than 30 Islamic marriages, half of them between faithful Muslim women and faithful Christian men. We have couples coming from all over the world to get married in our mosque, since the majority of male imams around the world do not accept Muslim women to marry outside Islam. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Sikhs in Peshawar disperse after attacks by Islamic fundamentalists

Pakistan's minority Sikh community is dispersing to other parts of the country from Peshawar after repeated attacks by Islamic fundamentalists.

Peshawar has a population of about 30,000 Sikhs, out of which, 60 per cent has left for other parts of Pakistan to avoid living under a constant threat.

This comes after, Charanjeet Singh, a peace activist and grocery store owner was shot by a customer in Pakistan. Charanjeet was killed for not attending to the customer as he was busy. He died on his way to the hospital, a report by TRT world said.

Baba Gurpal Singh, a spokesperson from the community told a media outlet, "I believe genocide of Sikhs is taking place here."

Few people from the community are also blaming Talibani extremists for carrying out routine killings. [India Today] Read more

Police investigating 'Punish a Muslim Day' letter arrest man on suspicion of conspiracy to murder

Counter-terrorism police investigating the so-called "Punish a Muslim Day" letters have arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

The 35-year-old from Lincoln is in custody in West Yorkshire following his arrest on Tuesday.

Lincolnshire Police said the man had been arrested on suspicion of sending a hoax noxious substance, sending threatening letters and conspiracy to commit murder.

Searches have taken place at a residential property in south Lincoln and an office building in the city centre.

It follows a number of reports of hate mail being received in March. [Daily Mirror] Read more

Scores of students kicked out of Iranian universities for their religion

Tens of college students have been kicked out of their universities over the past months because of being followers of the Baha’i faith, several human rights groups have reported.

Student Suha Izzdi, 21, has been reportedly dismissed from the University of Zanjan, only one year before her graduation, a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has claimed.

The student was studying at the Faculty of Information Technology when she was informed in a phone call from university officials that she would not be able to complete her education and that her name has been removed from the register.

Izzdi took to Twitter to express her feelings after the decision, saying “trying to get an education in a society that does not believe in women is definitely a hard thing to do.” [Al Arabiya] Read more

UK non-stun animal export data under scrutiny

Concerns over the lack of information on UK exports of meat from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter have been raised by the British Veterinary Association (BVA). [GlobalMeatNews] Read more

Indian chess star says no to headscarf, pulls out of event in Iran

Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, calling the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf” rule violative of her personal rights.

“I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights, including my right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran. [Times of India] Read more

12 June 2018

Prominent Bangladeshi Writer Dragged Out Of Shop, Shot Dead

A prominent Bangladeshi writer and publisher was dragged out of a shop and shot dead by unidentified attackers in central Bangladesh, ending a lull in the killings of secular bloggers and activists in the Muslim-majority country.

Shahzahan Bachchu, 60, an outspoken proponent of secular principles and owner of a publishing house 'Bishaka Prokashoni' that specialised in publishing poetry, was gunned down in his ancestral village Kakaldi in Munshiganj district last evening by five assailants.

Shahzahan Bachchu had gone to meet friends at a pharmacy shop near his home before iftar, when the five attackers on two motorcycles came into the area. They blasted a crude bomb outside the pharmacy, creating panic, the Dhaka Tribune reported. [NDTV] Read more

Bangladeshi blogger slain for urging religious tolerance

Shahjahan Bachchu was ambushed late yesterday afternoon in a pharmacy in Munshiganj, a district just to the south of the capital, Dhaka. After a homemade bomb was exploded outside the pharmacy to create a panic, four or five masked gunmen stormed in, pulled Bachchu out, shot him four times and then fled on two motorcycles. He died on the spot.

A keen poet and editor of the weekly Amader Bikrampur as well as a blogger, Bachchu was well known as an outspoken champion of freethinking, especially on religious issues. His defence of religious tolerance and atheism made him a target of Jihadi groups and Muslim fundamentalists.

He had been getting death threats for years from Sunni extremists, which had forced him to often change his place of residence. [Reporters Without Borders] Read more

Dutch anti-Islam party to hold Prophet Mohammad cartoon competition

The Freedom Party of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will hold a competition of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, it said on Tuesday.

The party said the plan to hold the competition in the party’s secure offices in Dutch Parliament had been approved by the Dutch Counter-terrorism Agency NCTV.

Cartoons depicting Mohammad have provoked violent responses in the past.

In 2015, Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris offices of the French secularist satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had printed cartoons of the Prophet. In 2005, the publication in a Danish newspaper of a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet led to violent protests across the Muslim world.

Wilders’ Freedom Party is the leading opposition party in parliament after coming in second place in elections last March. He has called for the Koran to be banned, and says Islam is a totalitarian faith. [Reuters] Read more

11 June 2018

Another pubco instructs operators to remove Saudi flag

Mitchells and Butlers has joined Greene King in instructing publicans from its managed estate to remove the flag of Saudi Arabia from World Cup bunting ahead of this summer’s tournament. [The Morning Advertiser] Read more

Judge orders Washington state to provide Ramadan meals to Muslim inmates

A federal judge on Monday ordered Washington state prisons to provide nighttime meals to Muslim inmates observing Ramadan, according to The Associated Press.

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit from the Muslim advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which accused the state’s corrections department of violating inmates’ constitutional rights.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of four Muslim inmates, said that the Monroe Correctional Complex’s Ramadan meal policy was insufficient. According to the lawsuit, the prison requires inmates to register by the end of January if they want to be on the list for Ramadan meals.

Some inmates observing Ramadan, including those who entered the prison after the deadline, were not being given nighttime meals. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit reportedly lost an average of 20 pounds each during Ramadan, which requires that Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. [The Hill] Read more

10 June 2018

Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged

“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”

Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.

In another move greeted with dismay by Denmark’s Muslims, a citizen’s proposal to ban the circumcision of children got the 50,000 signatures it needed to go to a parliamentary vote. [The Guardian] Read more

08 June 2018

Austria to shut seven 'political' mosques and expel imams

Austria has said it will close down seven mosques and expel imams who it says are funded by foreign countries.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the move was a crackdown on political Islam.

Some mosques are suspected of having links to Turkish nationalists. In April images emerged showing children in Turkish army uniforms re-enacting the World War One Battle of Gallipoli.

The Turkish president's office called Austria's move "Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory".

.... The Austrian government says 60 of the 260 imams in the country are being investigated, of whom 40 belong to ATIB, an Islamic organisation in Austria close to the Turkish government.

"Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation tendencies have no place in our country," said Chancellor Kurz on Friday. [BBC] Read more

Turkey condemns Austria's 'racist' move to close seven mosques

Austrian chancellor says country can no longer put up with ‘parallel societies’.

As many as 60 Turkish imams and their families face expulsion from Austria and seven mosques are due to be closed under a clampdown on what the government has called “political Islam”.

Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said the country could no longer put up with “parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation,” which he said had “no place in our country”.

The announcement at a press conference by leading members of the coalition government, which comprises the centre-right People’s party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ), prompted a furious reaction from Ankara, which called the move anti-Islamic.

“Austria’s decision to shut down numerous mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country,” tweeted İbrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. [The Guardian] Read more

Austria to expel up to 60 imams, close 7 mosques

Austria said Friday it could expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and their families and would shut down seven mosques as part of a crackdown on "political Islam", triggering fury in Ankara.

"The circle of people possibly affected by these measures -- the pool that we're talking about -- comprises around 60 imams," said Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the junior partner in Austria's coalition government.

Kickl was referring to imams with alleged links to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organisation, a branch of Turkey's religious affairs agency Diyanet.

Kickl added the government suspects them of contravening a ban on foreign funding of religious office holders.

The ministry said 40 of them had an active application for extending their residency and that a number of these had already been referred to immigration authorities, where a process for expelling them was underway.

Once family members were taken into account, a total of 150 people risked losing their right to residence, Kickl told a Vienna press conference. [AFP] Read more

Austria to Close 7 Mosques, Expel Imams in Crackdown

Austria's government said Friday that it is closing seven mosques and plans to expel imams in a crackdown on "political Islam" and foreign financing of religious groups.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government is shutting a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques.

The actions by the government are based on a 2015 law that, among other things, prevents religious communities from getting funding from abroad. Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said the residence permits of around 40 imams employed by ATIB, a group that oversees Turkish mosques in Austria, are being reviewed because of concerns about such financing.

.... "Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalization have no place in our country," Kurz told reporters in Vienna. He added that the government's powers to intervene "were not sufficiently used" in the past. [AP] Read more

Dutch Muslims increasingly religious

Over the past ten years Dutch Muslims' faith became increasingly important to them, according to a study by social and cultural planning office SCP. The researchers attribute this partly to increased tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims and the feeling of exclusion that stems from that, NOS reports.

"The repelling attitude from Dutch society makes the faith, the Muslim identity and belonging to a community extra attractive. The negative image can be an incentive to delve into knowledge about Islam", the SCP wrote in its report The religious experience of Muslims in the Netherlands. "The negative judgments about Islam and Muslims from the Dutch social environment stimulate the strengthening of ties within the origin group and underline the Muslim identity." In other words, those who experience Dutch society as hostile, cling to their faith.

The study is based on data from 2015 and focuses mainly on Dutch-Turks and Dutch-Moroccans - the largest Islamic groups in the Netherlands. Of them, 86 percent and 94 percent respectively call themselves Muslim. Respondents who call themselves Muslims prayed more often over the past 10 years. Especially Dutch-Turks visited mosques more often, and more Dutch-Moroccan women wore a hijab. Almost all of them indicate that their faith is a very important part of themselves. [NL Times] Read more

Death Penalty Now Mandatory for Apostasy in Mauritania

On 27 April 2018, The National Assembly of Mauritania passed a law that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of “blasphemous speech” and acts deemed “sacrilegious.”

Human rights experts from the UN, the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and more than 20 NGOs have called upon the government of Mauritania to review and rescind Article 306 of the Criminal Code that carries the mandatory death sentence for people convicted of blasphemous speech or any acted deemed to be sacrilegious.

Prior to 27 April, the law permitted three days during which convicted defendants were allowed to repent. It appears that the revision to the Code was engendered by the high-profile case of a Mauritanian blogger, Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaïtir. Mkhaïtir, a member of the blacksmith caste, had posted a blog in “denouncing the use of religion to legitimize discriminatory practices” against his caste. [Missions Box] Read more

07 June 2018

Turkey criticizes Rotterdam mayor for allowing Pegida protest at mosque

Turkey fiercely criticized Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb for allowing anti-Islam movement Pegida to roast pigs in front of the Laleli mosque on Thursday evening. On Twitter Omer Celik, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the decision to allow this protest "immoral".

"Other municipalities in the Netherlands did not allow Pegida to roast pigs in front of mosques at the fast-breaking time", Celik tweeted. "However, Ahmet Abutalib, Mayor of Rotterdam, who is of Moroccan origin, thinks that this activity of Pegida is not against the law. Such a gross tragedy!"

The mayors of The Hague, Utrecht, Gouda and Arnhem, among others, decided to stop the demonstration at the mosques, but did give Pegida the option to protest elsewhere in the cities, according to NOS. In Utrecht Pegida went to court to overturn this decision, but the court ruled in favor of the municipality.

"Mr. Abutalib, from a Muslim family, says that organizing a demonstration is a fundamental legal right. Since when has disrespect to mosques become a legal right? Any disrespect to mosques, churches and synagogues is a hate crime", Celik wrote. He said that Turkish and Muslim organizations in Rotterdam will lay flowers around the mosque while Pegida holds their barbeque to "erect a wall of love with flowers against the odor of hate". "This is a true lesson of humanity." [NL Times] Read more

Amazon Lets Muslim Workers Put Ramadan Before Prime Day

The run-up to Amazon Prime Day, the e-commerce giant’s big July sales promotion, overlaps with Ramadan, 30 sacred days during which many observant Muslims fast and seek time off.

That’s creating tension in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, where activists say Amazon.com Inc. employs more than 1,000 East African Muslim immigrants at four warehouses. Amazon needs to stuff its facilities with inventory in preparation for one of its busiest days of the year at the very time many of those workers want a break.

The conflicting demands of the religious holiday and the corporate one has helped spur something almost unheard of: Concerted workplace activism by employees of Amazon. In a tight labor market, at a sensitive moment for management, employees say the company is making moves to address the culture clash. [Bloomberg] Read more

Norway's parliament votes to ban burqa in schools and universities

Norway’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on wearing the burqa or niqab in nurseries, schools and universities.

Members of the Storting voted 91 to eight to adopt amendments to several laws that, together, “imply that there is a prohibition on the use of clothing that fully or partially covers the face” in an educational setting.

The bill was proposed in March and passed its first reading on Tuesday, according to the parliament’s website, and will become an act if it passes a second debate. That debate will take place on Monday, a Storting spokeswoman told The Following that, it must receive royal assent from King Harald V before it officially becomes law.

During the debate politicians said they believed it was important that students and teachers be allowed to see each others’ faces and communicate openly.Independent. [The Independent] Read more

06 June 2018

Sajid Javid lashes out at trolls for jibing that he is 'not Muslim enough' after rejecting claims of widespread Islamophobia in Tory party

Sajid Javid has lashed out at trolls for jibing that he is 'not Muslim enough' after he rejected claims of widespread Islamaphobia in the Conservative Party.

The new Home Secretary highlighted the wave of vile abuse he has received since taking on his high-profile job.

He said he had been branded a 'Coconut' and 'Uncle Tom', and some people had even questioned whether he was 'really Muslim or not'.

The comments, at a meeting of the cross-party group on British Muslims last night, come amid a bitter row over whether the Tories have failed to deal with allegations of Islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) demanded an inquiry into 'racists and bigots' in the Conservative Party last week, highlighting a series of alleged incidents involving activists.

Mr Javid - a non-practising Muslim - hit back over the weekend, pointing out that he had been made Home Secretary in a Tory government.

He also questioned whether the MCB was a legitimate voice for the Muslim community.

Jeremy Corbyn sparked disbelief yesterday by adding his voice to calls for an inquiry into the incidents - even though he himself has face an outcry for failing to tackle anti-Semitism in Labour. [Daily Mail] Read more

In defence of the Prevent programme

A few years ago, a teacher friend told me that she had been administering an English speaking and listening exam to her group of Year 11s. Having instructed them to prepare a speech making an argument they would have to defend under questioning, nothing in her training had prepared her for the opening statement of one young man’s strident speech: "9/11 was invented to kill Muslims".

Terminating the exam and reviewing the rest of his notes, she found references to Zionist conspiracies, garbled slogans and a deep-seated hatred of the American and British governments. Despite the fact that she passed on her concerns about his vulnerability to potential extremist influences, no action was taken. Maybe a decision was taken to ease off because of his difficult home life or maybe his explanation about creating a persona was given the benefit of the doubt.

.... Outside the home, for many of these children, teachers are their connection with the wider world; their guides and guardians. We can’t just abandon them to face a rising tide of extremism and hate alone. [tes] Read more

Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain – Political Fraudster

Harun Khan, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), likes to strike an aggrieved innocent pose. He has been at the forefront of the MCB’s new campaign for an “inquiry” into “Islamophobia” in the Conservative party, offering words like these: .... The reality of Islamophobia is that Muslims and the Muslim Council of Britain have to deal with the smear of extremism even though they have clearly and consistently condemned violence perpetrated by people who claim to do this in the name of our religion.

.... On the MCB website, Khan proudly states this that he is “a management committee member at my local mosque, Redbridge Islamic Centre”.

Would that be the Redbrige Islamic Centre (RIC) that hosted the terrorist cheerleaders of Cage earlier this year? Why, yes, it would.

.... Let’s take a look at a few more episodes in the record of Mr Khan’s mosque. .... Ismail Menk is a preacher from Zimbabwe. He is an enthusiastic supporter of brutal sharia punishments – he grins when speaking about chopping off hands and feet – and has the most crude and harsh words for homosexuals and pop stars. He delivered the Friday sermon at the RIC just last month. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Norway bans burqa and niqab in schools

Norway’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill banning clothing that partially or fully covers the face from being worn at educational institutions.

The bill applies to students and teachers alike, as well as to staff at daycare centres, in 'teaching situations'. It was backed by a majority in two rounds of voting separated by three days, in accordance with Norway’s parliamentary procedure, media including VG and Bergens Tidende report.

Representatives from the Socialist Left, Red and Green parties voted against the bill.

The Socialist Left voted in favour of applying the ban to teaching staff but not to students.

The anti-immigration Progress Party expressed its delight at the passing of the bill.

“This is very good news. When Progress in 2003 proposed a total ban on the niqab and burqa, we were laughed at. We see now that we have succeeded in bringing the political environment around to our viewpoint,” Åshild Bruun-Gundersen, an MP with the party, told Bergens Tidende.

“In a few years’ time, we believe that Norwegian politicians will be ready to pass a total ban on the niqab in public,” Bruun-Gundersen added. [The Local] Read more

Conservatives hoping Islamophobia issue 'will magically go away', warns senior party activist

The chairman of the Conservative Party’s own Muslim forum has accused the Tories of failing to root out Islamophobia because they are scared of damaging their own political power.

Mohammed Amin said the party does not want to “rock the boat” with a contentious racism probe at a time when it lacks a Commons majority, and instead is hoping the issue “will magically go away”.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, the chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF), itself comprising party members and set up to encourage Islamic people to stand for office under the Tory banner, claimed repeated warnings about the problem had been ignored.

It comes as further evidence of Islamophobia came to light, including:

Five BME Tory members being seated on a single table at the back of a room at a Conservative association dinner

One Muslim member telling how a councillor had told him he was “not welcome” in the party

The same member later being told during a candidate’s interview that “naturally in your core belief women are not allowed to work” [The Independent] Read more

Most programmes to stop radicalisation are failing

More than 95 per cent of deradicalisation programmes are ineffective, according to a study commissioned by the Home Office that raises questions about the government’s Prevent programme.

The study revealed failures in the approach to deradicalisation in schools, youth centres, sports clubs and English-language classes.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the so-called nudge unit formerly part of the Cabinet Office, examined 33 deradicalisation programmes across the country designed to safeguard vulnerable people from far-right and religious extremist threats. The Times understands that most were funded by or fell under the label of Prevent. [The Times (£)] Read more

Norway bans burqa and niqab in schools

Norway’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill banning clothing that partially or fully covers the face from being worn at educational institutions.

The bill applies to students and teachers alike, as well as to staff at daycare centres, in 'teaching situations'. It was backed by a majority in two rounds of voting separated by three days, in accordance with Norway’s parliamentary procedure, media including VG and Bergens Tidende report.

Representatives from the Socialist Left, Red and Green parties voted against the bill.

The Socialist Left voted in favour of applying the ban to teaching staff but not to students.

The anti-immigration Progress Party expressed its delight at the passing of the bill.

“This is very good news. When Progress in 2003 proposed a total ban on the niqab and burqa, we were laughed at. We see now that we have succeeded in bringing the political environment around to our viewpoint,” Åshild Bruun-Gundersen, an MP with the party, told Bergens Tidende. [The Local] Read more

Sajid Javid lashes out at trolls for jibing that he is 'not Muslim enough' after rejecting claims of widespread Islamophobia in Tory party

Sajid Javid has lashed out at trolls for jibing that he is 'not Muslim enough' after he rejected claims of widespread Islamaphobia in the Conservative Party.

The new Home Secretary highlighted the wave of vile abuse he has received since taking on his high-profile job.

He said he had been branded a 'Coconut' and 'Uncle Tom', and some people had even questioned whether he was 'really Muslim or not'.

The comments, at a meeting of the cross-party group on British Muslims last night, come amid a bitter row over whether the Tories have failed to deal with allegations of Islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) demanded an inquiry into 'racists and bigots' in the Conservative Party last week, highlighting a series of alleged incidents involving activists.

Mr Javid - a non-practising Muslim - hit back over the weekend, pointing out that he had been made Home Secretary in a Tory government. [Daily Mail] Read more

05 June 2018

Met Police confirm that criticism of Islam constitutes ‘Islamophobia’

.... So, if you believe Islam is inferior to Christianity; or that Islamic society and culture are inferior to “the West”, you may be arrested for Islamophobia. If you believe Islam is “sexist”, you may be arrested for Islamophobia. If you believe Islam is “violent” or “aggressive”, you may be arrested for Islamophobia. Astonishingly, if you believe Islam to be an expression of political ideology (or is used for “political advantage”), you may be arrested for Islamophobia.

The Met police appear to be oblivious of what’s been going on in Tower Hamlets. Do not all religions agitate for political advantage? Why should it be Islamophobic to point out specific examples of Muslims doing so?

The Met may make appeal to the definition of the Runnymede Trust, but there is a world of difference between a think-tank developing guidelines for community and fraternity, and an agency of law enforcement incorporating these definitions into a definition of criminal activity. How many police officers are aware of the history of Islam? How many grasp the theology of the long-prophesied Caliphate?

How many understand the theo-political differences and divergences between its multiple sects? (May one say ‘theo-political’ or does that fall foul of equating the religion with a political ideology?) Is Wahhabism or Saudi Salafism an expression of Islam? If so, how can it be Islamophobic to articulate the bald truth of its violent, aggressive “clash of civilisations” theological genesis and political nature? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Sajid Javid speech: Home secretary says Islamist terrorists are twisting Muslim faith

.... Mr Javid, who is Britain’s first Muslim-heritage Home Secretary, said those who commit terror attacks and self-identify as Muslims are “twisting their faith”.

In a highly personal speech in which he outlined his new anti-terror strategy, Contest, he praised British Muslims leading the fight against extremists by “throwing them out of their mosques and countering their poison online”.

.... Mr Javid said that after the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015, he had a heart-breaking conversation with his 11-year-old daughter trying to explain what had happened.

“I had to explain that these murderers called themselves Muslims. That they were invoking the religion of my parents, and my grandparents, and countless generations of Javids before them.

“Of course, I know they are not true Muslims, but there’s no avoiding the face that these people self-identify as Muslims.” [Evening Standard] Read more

The sons who 'want mum dead' after she left Islam

A Melbourne woman who told how she felt like an "animal" and a "slave" while practising Islam says she hopes she'll inspire other female Muslims to "free themselves" from the religion.

Nadia (last name with held) and her eldest daughter Allawea are now in hiding, after their family turned against them when the pair denounced Islam.

"It is in an honour for them to kill somebody whose turned away from Islam, and their own mother has turned away from Islam so I mean nothing to them," the 40-year-old told A Current Affair.

.... "I watched my children giving me their seconds off their plate ... and that was okay because I was western and white, and not Muslim," she said.

She claims she denounced the faith after growing concerned about growing anti-western sentiment in the family and discovering her ex-husband had been seeing other women – a move that ultimately led to the October incident.

"Maybe after today, there will be some women who will say 'hey I am human, I'm not an animal' and maybe they will get the chance to be free," she said. [9NEWS] Read more

Conservatives hoping Islamophobia issue 'will magically go away', warns senior party activist

The chairman of the Conservative Party’s own Muslim forum has accused the Tories of failing to root out Islamophobia because they are scared of damaging their own political power.

Mohammed Amin said the party does not want to “rock the boat” with a contentious racism probe at a time when it lacks a Commons majority, and instead is hoping the issue “will magically go away”.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, the chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF), itself comprising party members and set up to encourage Islamic people to stand for office under the Tory banner, claimed repeated warnings about the problem had been ignored.

It comes as further evidence of Islamophobia came to light, including: [The Independent] Read more

04 June 2018

Inside Britain's secretive sharia courts: Veil is lifted on the religious tribunals where downtrodden women plead with judges to dissolve their marriages

What strikes you first is the squalid nature of the women’s stories. Their husbands have beaten and abused them, they claim; lied and cheated, cavorted with prostitutes, become addicted to drugs.

One weeping wife even accuses her spouse of molesting her infant child.

Wearing colourful headscarves and robes, and often clutching handbags stuffed with banknotes to pay the £300 fee for their cases to be decided, this procession of downtrodden women have come before a panel of three judges to plead for their miserable marriages to be dissolved.

.... his claim to offer a modern alternative to the brand of sharia handed down in Dewsbury is rather undermined by the shockingly patriarchal posts I found on his council’s Facebook page.

‘The rights of the husband upon his wife are greater than the rights of the wife upon the husband,’ began one, said to have been taken from the Koran. ‘Man is caretaker of his wife and household. He is responsible for all her affairs. He is responsible for training, direction and discipline if needed.

‘It is an essential right of man over his wife to be obeyed so long as his comments do not conflict or contradict the commands of Allah the Almighty . . . righteous women are devoutly obedient.’

[TOP RATED COMMENT 5432 votes] As a muslim woman, I married under UK law and Islamic marriage. If my marriage broke down - I only need to seek a UK divorce. The problem arises when you marry under Islamic law only. This should not be happening! Sharia courts should not function in the UK as it clashes with the law of the Land i.e british laws. I am glad I dont live in a country where old men decide I should obey my abusive husband! [Daily Mail] Read more

03 June 2018

Sajid Javid slams 'unrepresentative' Muslim Council of Britain as he dismisses claims of widespread Islamophobia in Tory party

Sajid Javid slammed the 'unrepresentative' Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) today as he dismissed claims of widespread Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

The stinging rebuke came after the MCB demanded an inquiry into 'racists and bigots' in the party, highlighting a series of alleged incidents involving activists.

Former Tory chair Baroness Warsi also backed an investigation last week, complaining that the party tended to 'shrug its shoulders' over such claims.

But asked about the issue on the BBC's Andrew Marr show today, Mr Javid pointed out that he had been made Home Secretary in a Tory government - and questioned whether the MCB was a legitimate voice for the muslim community.

'I have got a lot of time for Baroness Warsi, but I am afraid I don't agree with her,' he said.

'As you just described me, I am Sajid Javid, I am the Home Secretary in this country...

'The MCB does not represent muslims in this country. You find me a group of muslims that are represented by the MCB.'

Mr Javid - who is from a muslim background but non-practising - said there were issues of 'anti-muslim hatred' as well as anti-Semitism in the UK. [Daily Mail] Read more

Sajid Javid in Muslim Council of Britain spat over Islamophobia claims

Home Secretary Sajid Javid sparked a row with the Muslim Council of Britain after he rejected their call for an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

Demanding action from Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis last week, the council said the last month it had seen weekly incidents of Islamophobia from Conservative representatives and candidates.

Former Tory chair Baroness Warsi backed up the claims and suggested there is a "simmering anti-Muslim underbelly of Islamophobia within the party".

However, Mr Javid, appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, dismissed the Conservative peer's comments, as he pointed to his Muslim background.

He said: "For a start, let's just look at who the home secretary is in this country. My name is Sajid Javid, I'm the home secretary."

Mr Javid also dismissed the demand for an investigation, adding: "The Muslim Council of Britain does not represent Muslims in this country. You find me a group of Muslims that thinks they're represented by the MCB. [Sky News] Read more

'You will get your head chopped off' - Scots Muslim writer threatened by extremists

A SCOTS writer has been threatened with beheading by extremists after he claimed fasting between dawn and sunset during the month of Ramadan is not a requirement in the Quran, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Paigham Mustafa and his family have been offered protection by police after several fundamentalists branded him a "Kafir", which means disbeliever, and issued death threats.

Mustafa claims to be living under a fatwa issued in 2001 by 15 imams in Glasgow after he published a series of articles questioning mosque teachings. The married father of three later published his book The Quran: God's Message to Mankind, his interpretation of the central religious text of Islam. [Herald Scotland] Read more

The wind in my hair: one Iranian woman’s courageous struggle against being forced to wear the hijab

Masih Alinejad unties her hair, and a sea of corkscrew curls cascades down her shoulders. It looks amazing, but the significance of Masih’s hair isn’t looks – it’s politics. Masih is an Iranian activist who has spent her life fighting for women’s rights in her country through one simple battle: a campaign against the law that says they have to wear a veil, or hijab, over their hair when they’re in public.

.... Her ambition, of course, is to return to Iran, and she says that in her heart she believes she will. “But for now, though I am not inside Iran, I am there every day via social media. When I was a child my mum would say: ‘If you get thrown out of the room, you always find a window to get back in.’ And now social media is my window. The authorities are watching me, and my campaign, because they know how powerful it is that ordinary women are protesting. We’re like the suffragettes, we’re risking breaking the law for something we absolutely know is right.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT 199 votes] Here, she reveals why all she wants is to give women the choice to wear the hijab or not

That's the whole point - for many women it's not a choice. So, to read piece after piece in the Guardian about how hijab is a sign of feminism is a slap in the cheek for women like Masih.

[2ND 177] When I see small girls wearing the Hijab on their way to school in the UK whilst their similar age brothers wear western clothes I cringe. I could understand it if the modesty rules apply to both boys and girls and men and women but to simply apply it to the female gender is discrimination of the highest order.

Why feminists in this country don’t stand up against this extreme form of discrimination is beyond me. Anyone who thinks it is acceptable for young girls to be fully covered (how uncomfortable they must be in this hot weather) with only faces showing whilst young boys are allowed to wear what they like are also guilty of supporting discrimination. It is nothing to do with religion but purely subjugation of girls and women from the moment they are born.

[3RD 157] I am Iranian and totally agree with masih. majarity of women in Iran dont want to wear hijab and want to be free what to wear, is it to much to ask in 21 century?

[4TH 145] I'll accept the hijab as a choice when I see it mixed up as a part of a varied wardrobe; hijab on a Monday, slumming it in a t-shirt and jeans on Tuesday to go get bread and milk, a summer dress on Wednesday because it's 90 degrees in the shade... But no. Remarkably, it's hijabs 7 days a week, no matter the weather or the activity. Odd, innit?

If a bunch of priests and a significant percentage of menfolk in this country were proclaiming the virtue of 'modesty' (whatever the fuck that is) for women, we'd have bare tits in Parliament Square. The hijab is an obscenity in 2018 but it gets a free ride from some quarters because of cowardice, quite frankly.

[5TH 116] Great work Masih, I'm going to buy your book. The only thing that makes me angrier than the forced covering up of women and little girls in the name of a fictional being, is it being defended by a once liberal newspaper in the name of cultural correctness.

If I made my son my son wear a tent every time he left the house, re-arranged his genitalia and then forced him to marry a stranger because the fairies at the end of the garden told me to, I would quite rightly be in prison. [The Guardian] Read more

02 June 2018

Is Sherin Khankan the future of Islam?

Last year Sherin Khankan’s husband gave her an ultimatum: she could continue as Denmark’s first female imam or remain his wife. “Blood will be spilt and marriages dissolved when women challenge male dominance,” she concludes in her new book. “That’s the price of change. I know, because it happened to me.”

It was not that her husband opposed her creation of the Mariam Mosque in Copenhagen where she leads women – both veiled and bare-headed – in Friday prayers. Rather, Khankan insists, he was concerned for their four young children and frightened for her. When a Le Monde journalist asked what trait enabled his wife to combat Islamists and Islamophobes alike, he replied, “Fearlessness.” “And he’s afraid of that fearlessness,” she says. “I think that many people support the revolution, but they just don’t want the leader to be their wife.”

.... She is also rare in conducting interfaith marriages. Her first couple were Swedish, a Christian man and a Muslim woman of Pakistani origin, who wished to honour each other’s religion but not convert. They’d been turned down by 96 imams across Europe. This intransigence, Khankan believes, is a barrier to Muslims feeling they belong in the west. “You hear some parents say, ‘It’s not a problem to us because we have raised our children well, so they won’t fall in love with a non-Muslim.’” [The Times (£)] Read more

UK: A New Drive for Islamic Blasphemy Laws?

It is reasonable to assume that the planned report and the ensuing work on finding a definition of "Islamophobia" is meant effectively to destroy the little that remains of free speech in the UK.

.... Despite the government's focused activity on fighting "Islamophobia", the APPG for British Muslims remained dissatisfied. In October 2017, Baroness Warsi declared that "it is high time to have a definition of Islamophobia, and that to fundamentally challenge the hate that underpins hate crime, we need to define what that hate is".

Warsi therefore invited the British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, "to meet with a cross-section of community organisations and individuals, led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, to work towards a definition".

Lord Bourne responded that he would be happy to meet with the group but that he did not accept the need for a definitive definition of Islamophobia. According to Bourne, the government "does not currently endorse a particular definition of Islamophobia. Previous attempts by others to define this term have not succeeded in attracting consensus or widespread acceptance". [Gatestone Institute] Read more

France's divided response to Islam and extremism

While few areas of the world are immune from extremism, France feels its impact more than any other European country, an unenviable distinction that lies at the heart of President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to streamline the organisation of Islam.

As a source of jihadist fighters enlisting with ISIS and similar groups in Middle Eastern conflicts, as well as in terms of death and injury caused by repeated terrorist attacks, France has suffered disproportionate levels of social turmoil.

The challenges faced by the president – and community leaders who sometimes seem at a loss to offer effective guidance – go beyond questions of countering radicalisation.

Academics as well as Islamic figures recognise a glaring need to make young French Muslims feel a sense of belonging in a society riddled with racism and mutual suspicion.

But it is the hard statistical evidence of extremism that preoccupies the currently dominant centre and right of French politics, widening a fierce intellectual divide on causes and effects. [The National] Read more

Al-Qaeda warns Saudi crown prince his cinemas and WWE events are 'sinful'

Extremist group al-Qaeda has sent a warning to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince that his efforts to liberalise the conservative kingdom are “sinful projects”.

“The new era of [Mohammad bin Salman] replaced mosques with movie theatres,” the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said in a statement.

The group went on to condemn the prince for the Western “absurdities” which have “opened the door wide for corruption and moral degradation”.

The prince was given his title by his father King Salman a year ago. Since then he has sent shock waves through Saudi society, instigating wide-ranging social and economic reforms designed to wean the kingdom off its dependence on oil. [The Independent] Read more

01 June 2018

UK school only serves water and halal meat in canteen and bans pupils from bringing in packed lunches

A school has been branded “like a dictatorship” after it banned all packed lunches - and only serves water and halal meat.

Aureus School in Didcot, Oxon, has come under fire from parents for its strict stance on its food policy.

Packed lunches are banned, and pupils and staff sit down to eat in the canteen together with an emphasis on eating healthily and socially.

Students and staff get to choose from eating a hot halal meat meal, hot gluten-free vegetarian meal, a jacket potato, a salad, a pasta pot or a baguette.

The school insists that only water may be drunk on site because “hydrated brains learn better”.

.... Reiterating the Halal kitchen policy, the document states this is to 'celebrate the diversity of our country’s culture'. [Daily Mirror] Read more

The Tories have an Islamophobia problem. Will they tackle it?

This week, the Muslim Council of Britain – of which I am assistant secretary general – wrote to the Conservative chair, Brandon Lewis, detailing the many incidents of unchecked Islamophobia within his party. The MCB chose its words carefully, explicitly refraining from calling the party inherently Islamophobic. But the letter did call for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia so that the Conservatives could acknowledge the problem and find ways to fix it.

As chairman, Lewis is the person who could make a difference. But in recent weeks, he and the party’s deputy chair, James Cleverly, have played down Islamophobia among Conservatives despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary.

.... One MP, Bob Blackman, shared an anti-Muslim tweet from the far-right activist Tommy Robinson in 2016, though he claims it was an “error”. He also hosted a hardline anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist in parliament. He was also a member of Islamophobic Facebook groups including Britain for the British. [Guardian Cif] Read more