31 July 2018

FGM essential part of Islam, can’t be subjected to judicial scrutiny, SC told

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Dawoodi Bohra community, justified in the Supreme Court on Tuesday the female genital mutilation (FGM) and called it an integral aspect of religious practice.

Making this submission before a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud hearing petitions from advocate Sunita Tihar and others challenging the practice of FGM, Dr Singhvi contended that it has the sanction of religious texts.

He said, “It is an essential aspect of Islam and cannot be subjected to judicial scrutiny. Quoting from religious texts, he demonstrated that this practice has been followed for centuries.

FGM or ‘khatna’ is a practice prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra religious community of Shia sect though it is a crime and punishable offence. This practice is an age-old tradition in this community to mark the arrival of womanhood. The court had already orally expressed its disapproval to this practice. [The Asian Age] Read more

Study: Turkish Background Germans Increasingly Feel Closer Bond to Turkey Than Germany

A study has found that a growing number of ethnic Turks in Germany no longer see both Germany and Turkey as their homeland, but identify solely as Turks.

The study, undertaken by Martina Sauer of the Centre for Turkish Studies and Integration Research (ZfTI) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, says that many Turks feel excluded from German society, SVT reports.

The report comes after German star footballer Mesut Ozil quit the national side over allegations of racism sparking a movement called “Metwo” in Germany in which people of migrant backgrounds share stories of alleged discrimination.

.... The study echoes the loss of identity described by French radical Islam expert Gilles Kepel who noted that in France many migrants from Muslim backgrounds eventually began to feel excluded from society and instead of seeing themselves as French, increasingly saw themselves as primarily Muslim instead. [Breitbart London] Read more

30 July 2018

UK couple jailed after trying to force daughter to marry

A couple who tricked their teenage daughter into travelling to Bangladesh in an attempt to force her to marry her first cousin have been jailed.

The husband and wife, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found guilty in May of using violence, threats or coercion to force their daughter into marriage.

On Monday a judge at Leeds crown court sentenced the father to four-and-a-half years and the mother to three-and-a-half years.

During a three-week trial, a jury heard that in 2016 the couple’s daughter, then 18, was taken out of college during term time for what she thought was a six-week holiday to Bangladesh to see family and celebrate Eid. [The Guardian] Read more

Government's counter-terror strategy Prevent is creating 'high levels of distrust' among Muslims leading to 'genuine fears' of persecution

A 'lack of information' about a Government counter-terrorism strategy has led to 'genuine fears' of persecution among Greater Manchester Muslims, a report has found.

Although Prevent was 'working well' in the region, a commission set up in the wake of last May's Manchester Arena suicide bombing, said it was not getting its message across to communities where 'high levels of distrust and suspicion of statutory agencies continues to exist'.

It concluded there should be an effort to move Prevent - which aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism - away from the police and law enforcement to wider safeguarding.

The report stated: 'Most people agreed that the safeguarding principles that underpin Prevent are correct. [Daily Mail] Read more

Child Brides in Turkey

.... According to Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF), 40% of girls under the age of 18 in Turkey are forced into marriage. TPF found that the Turkish national average of female high school dropouts was 56%. It further found that early marriage is seen in families with a low education level. "Low education" means almost all of Turkey: The average schooling in the country is a mere 6.5 years. In 45 Turkish provinces, the schooling rate is below the national average.

The Islamist rule in the once secular country has added to the problem of child brides instead of combating it. In November 2017, President Erdogan signed the "mufti law," which allows state-approved clerics (or simply imams) to conduct marriage ceremonies, "despite concerns from civil society that this could have an impact on child marriage."

In January 2018, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) -- a government body under Erdogan's jurisdiction -- suggested that according to Islamic law, girls as young as 9 years old and boys as young as 12 could marry. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Muslims 'genuinely fear' being persecuted by Prevent due to lack of official information, report warns

Muslims “genuinely fear” being persecuted by the government’s controversial counterextremism strategy because of the lack of official information, a report has warned.

Research commissioned in Manchester following last year’s bombing found that although Prevent does good work tackling all forms of radicalisation, poor communication has caused a “dangerous perpetuating cycle of fear” and made people less willing to engage with the voluntary scheme.

A commission set up to investigate extremism and social cohesion said that Prevent’s work was “vital to community safety and vulnerable people are being safeguarded from being radicalised”.

But accurate information, statistics and positive news of interventions was are not reaching communities feeling “high levels of distrust and suspicion” towards authorities, it said.

“The lack of information is exploited by those with an anti-Prevent or anti-Islam agenda who maliciously miscommunicated the aims of Prevent or true nature of the issue,” the report concluded. [The Independent] Read more

29 July 2018

Germany: Rise of the Salafists

The number of Salafists in Germany has doubled over the last five years and now exceeds 10,000 for the first time, according to Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency. BfV estimates that Germany is home to more than 25,000 Islamists, nearly 2,000 of whom pose an immediate threat of attack.

The new figures are included the latest annual report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV), and presented by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and BfV President Hans-Georg Maaßen in Berlin on July 24.

The report, considered the most important indicator of internal security in Germany, draws a bleak picture. The BfV estimates that the number of Islamists in Germany increased to at least 25,810 by the end of 2017, up from 24,425 in 2016.

Strangely, the report does not provide any estimates for the number of followers of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda living in Germany. As a result, the actual number of Islamists in Germany is undoubtedly higher than 25,810. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

28 July 2018

A few thoughts on MEND’s recent report on Islamophobia

.... I find it really concerning – and it’s not just MEND who do this – when definitions of bigotry slip into an implication that anything which falls foul of the guidelines should be illegal.

People should absolutely have the right to invoke free speech arguments to say offensive and challenging things – that’s exactly what free speech is for, not to enable you to say things no one could possibly object to.

Identifying anti-Muslim or antisemitic discourse might help one decide that someone should be expelled from a political party, than at an article should not be published in a particular paper or simply that you want to unfollow someone on Twitter.

It’s right that people should be able to recognize a spectrum of bigotry ranging from the extreme to the subtle and marginal – but the (appropriate) inclusion of the latter makes it all the more important not to see every example as something which should be punished or banned. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Britain's teachers of terror: How extremists infiltrated classrooms

Twenty-four hours after Khuram Butt led his last Quranic class for the young children of an English Islamic school in June 2017, he strapped on a fake suicide vest, pumped himself up with steroids and committed a terrorist atrocity.

The dedicated extremist led three men in a murderous attack on the capital’s London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians and embarking on a frenzy of stabbing that left eight dead and dozens injured before they themselves were shot dead by police.

What was not known at the time was that for four months before the attack, the 27-year-old had been given the opportunity to mould the minds of young Muslims at the fee-paying Eton community school on the outskirts of London. He had no Arabic, no specialist knowledge and was unsupervised despite a conviction for violence.

The fallout from the murders and the scandal of the unsupervised sessions concluded this month with the school’s head receiving a life ban from teaching. But documents seen and interviews conducted by The National have revealed flaws within the British schooling system that allowed extremism like Butt’s to flourish unchecked. [The National] Read more

Indonesian Christian, 21, is sentenced to four years in prison for a Facebook post that likened the prophet Muhammad to a pig

An Indonesian Christian has been sentenced to four years in prison for a Facebook post that likened the prophet Muhammad to a pig in the latest conviction under a controversial hate-speech law.

Dozens of Islamic hardliners cheered and shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) as the court in Sumatra ruled that Martinus Gulo was hostile toward Muslims in his post, which also said Mohammed sanctioned bestiality.

The Medan District court on Tuesday ordered the 21-year-old university student to pay a fine of one billion rupiah ($70,000) or spend an additional six months in jail. [Daily Mail] Read more

26 July 2018

Criticising Muslims doesn’t make you a racist

ast year, Sarah Champion resigned as Labour’s equalities spokeswoman after writing an article for The Sun about child sex grooming gangs in her Rotherham constituency. She had said that the assailants were “predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage”. And by and large she was right. As The Times reported over many years, and proved in the teeth of much criticism, the bulk of these crimes were committed by men of Pakistani origin.

Now it seems a serious effort may be under .... [The Times (£)] Read more

County leader seeks halal ban meeting with Lancashire Council of Mosques

COUNTY Council leader Geoff Driver is seeking a meeting with the Lancashire Islamic leaders in a bid to end the deadlock over the definition of halal meat.

Currently 9,000 Muslim pupils in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston are set to boycott all school meals when they return to class in September.

The threat followed Lancashire County Council’s cabinet earlier this month deciding to supply only halal meat from pre-stunned sheep and cattle to 27 schools, meaning those wishing to use un-stunned meat would have to find an alternative supplier. [Lancashire Telegraph] Read more

25 July 2018

Indonesian Christian jailed for Facebook post ‘insulting’ Islam

An Indonesian Christian has been sentenced to four years in prison for a Facebook post that likened the prophet Muhammad to a pig in the latest conviction under a controversial hate-speech law.

Dozens of Islamic hardliners cheered and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) as the court in Sumatra ruled that Martinus Gulo was hostile toward Muslims in his post, which also said Mohammed sanctioned bestiality.

The Medan District court on Tuesday ordered the 21-year-old university student to pay a fine of one billion rupiah ($70,000) or spend an additional six months in jail.

“Finding the defendant guilty of misusing information by offending believers through his Facebook account, I sentence him to four years,” said presiding judge Saidin Bagariang.

Gulo was convicted under Indonesia’s electronic information and transactions law, which makes it a crime to spread “hatred or animosity” against an individual or group based on their race or religion. [Arab News] Read more

24 July 2018

Danish imam charged over call to kill Jews

Danish prosecutors on Tuesday charged an imam with calling for the killing of Jews in the first case of its kind in the Nordic nation.

Imam Mundhir Abdallah, who preaches in the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Nørrebro at the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque, which media have linked to radical Islam, is accused of citing a hadith or koranic narrative calling for Muslims to rise up against Jews.

"Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them," Abdallah said in a Facebook and YouTube video post in March.

"These are serious statements and I think it's right for the court to now have an opportunity to assess the case," public prosecutor Eva Rønne said in a statement.

This is the first time the prosecution has raised such charges under a criminal code introduced January 1st 2017 on religious preaching.

Rønne said it's legal to quote religious books like the Koran and the Bible, but that inciting or welcoming the killings of people could be punishable by up to three years in prison. [The Local] Read more

Austria’s vice chancellor calls for ban on ritual slaughter

Austria’s vice chancellor has called for a ban on ritual slaughter in the country, including Jewish shechitah.

Heinz-Christian Strache, the nation’s interior minister and head of the far-right Freedom Party, in a Facebook post Monday said animals should be stunned before slaughter, which is prohibited for both Jewish kosher and Muslim halal meat.

“Slaughter is in many cases contrary to animal rights,” he wrote. “Slaughter should generally be prohibited without prior stunning. As in other EU countries, too. And animals are not a thing either, but protected creatures that cannot be tortured.”

The post included a link to an article in German that listed several European Union states that have made ritual slaughter illegal in recent years, including Denmark, Poland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. [JTA] Read more

In Western Europe, familiarity with Muslims is linked to positive views of Muslims and Islam

Across Western Europe, people who say they personally know a Muslim are generally more likely than others to have positive opinions of Muslims and their religion, according to a recent Pew Research Center study in 15 countries. However, knowing something about Islam – as opposed to personally knowing a Muslim – is less associated with these positive feelings.

This pattern is evident across several different questions the Center asked of non-Muslim Europeans to gauge attitudes toward Muslims, including whether they think Islam is compatible with their country’s culture and values and whether they would be willing to accept a Muslim as a member of their family. [Pew Research Center] Read more

23 July 2018

Bavarian town votes against building mosque

Citizens in the small Bavarian town of Kaufbeuren voted not to provide public land for a mosque. A local initiative was started by a retired detective and garnered enough votes to stop the negotiations.

In a local vote on Sunday, the residents of Kaufbeuren, a small town in Bavaria, decided against providing public land for the construction of a mosque.

At issue was the question of whether the city would provide the local branch of the nationally active Turkish-Islamic religious association DITIB with a 5,000-square-meter (54,000-square-foot) plot in an industrial area.

At least 45 percent of approximately 34,000 eligible voters took part in the local referendum. A minimum turnout of 20 percent was necessary to make the vote valid. The city must now break off its negotiations with DITIB.

According to the direct democracy NGO "More Democracy," there had only been one referendum in Germany before on building a mosque: in 2002, and then, a majority in Schlüchtern in Hesse voted in favor of construction. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Play shines light on Trojan Horse 'Islamist plot' to run schools

Much-disputed events centring on Birmingham schools is subject of ambitious drama

The notorious Trojan Horse inquiry into an alleged Islamist takeover of a number of inner city schools in the east of Birmingham is the subject of a documentary play that explores the devastating impact of the affair on the city and those whose lives it touched.

Based on more than 200 hours of interviews with about 90 witnesses, including many of the teachers, pupils, parents and governors whose lives were turned upside down by the events four years ago, the play will have its premiere in Edinburgh next month.

Inevitably not everyone will agree with its interpretation of what has been described as “the best known and most polarising story about Britain’s relationship with its Muslim citizens”. Among those who declined to be interviewed for the production were Michael Gove, then the education secretary, and the head of the schools inspectorate at the time, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who later claimed to have needed two bodyguards because of concerns for his safety during the course of the inquiry.

The play is the work of the critically acclaimed theatre company Lung, which enjoyed success with its Chilcot production, based on the government inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war and which was co-authored by Guardian journalist Richard Norton-Taylor. [The Guardian] Read more

Rare secular candidate in Pakistan hounded by angry mobs

It began with a audience members asking Pakistani parliamentary candidate Jibran Nasir to declare his religion at a public forum, a request he politely refused on the grounds it is irrelevant.

Later, the mobs started showed up. In the past week, three of Nasir’s public meetings in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, have been disrupted by religious hardliners - shouting out and shoving his supporters.

Nasir, a human rights lawyer, is a rare breed in Pakistan: an avowedly secular, progressive candidate in the overwhelmingly Muslim country of 208 million, where most parties appeal to an Islamic vote bank.

His independent candidacy is in stark contrast to the prevailing mood of Pakistan’s campaign, which has seen the rise of new ultra-right Islamist parties campaigning on protecting draconian blasphemy laws and denouncing the persecuted Ahmadi sect. [Reuters] Read more

Sweden struggles over child marriage

A row over how to deal with child marriage among immigrants has inflamed political debate ahead of a general election in Sweden, where migration continues to divide public opinion and the far right is riding high in the polls.

A tug-of-war between the ruling Social Democrat-Green Party coalition and the opposition over the government’s role in managing or eradicating the practice — which predominantly affects young girls, and in some cases boys, from immigrant backgrounds — is emblematic of a broader struggle to find a balance between efforts to integrate a large number of new immigrants and preserve a Swedish way of life.

“Sweden has been bad at providing people who come here with clear information about how our system works, about this society’s views on children’s rights, gender equality, family policies, and parents’ and guardians’ responsibilities,” said Juno Blom, who is running for parliament on behalf of the opposition Liberal Party. [POLITICO] Read more

19 July 2018

Populist views in Europe: It’s not just the economy

Nationalist populism has become a major force in European politics. But while such populism has long been thought to have its roots in economic anxiety, a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data suggests there are additional factors at play.

.... Another sentiment strongly expressed among those who support right-wing European populist parties is that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with their country’s culture and values: 75% of Germans with a positive view of AfD, 66% of Dutch PVV supporters and 63% of French National Front backers say Islam is “fundamentally incompatible with our culture and values.” About four-in-ten or fewer adults with unfavorable views of populist parties in these nations agree.

Old-fashioned nationalism is still evident in modern European right-wing populism, too. [Pew Research Center] Read more

Programme to tackle Islamic extremism launched

Founded by Middlesbrough-born Ifty Rafiq and officially launched at the Jamia Masjid Al-Madina Mosque in the town, The Harmony Initiative is a national initiative, which seeks to explain moderate Islam as compatible with British values. [The Northern Echo] Read more

18 July 2018

Why is the US now taking a serious look at Muslim Brotherhood threat

Experts who recently testified at a US Congressional hearing looking into the Muslim Brotherhood have lauded Republican efforts into reviving a bill designating the group as a terrorist organization but said that much more needs to be done.

Last week, several experts testified before the House Oversight National Security Subcommittee hearing on whether the US should designate the Muslim Brotherhood – or at least some of its factions – for its terrorist activities.

During his opening statement during the hearing, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security of the House oversight committee, spoke on the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood and its founder Sayyid Qutb, whose books some observers note were used as manifestos by modern political Islamist regimes like Hamas. [Al Arabiya] Read more

Victorian judge bans niqab in court's public gallery

A Victorian judge has banned a woman whose husband is facing terrorism charges from wearing a niqab in court, saying it posed a potential security risk.

The woman applied through her husband’s lawyers to wear the face veil, which she said was a “a fundamental way in which she observes her faith”, while sitting in the public gallery to support him through the six-week trial.

She said she had been permitted to wear the niqab during a committal hearing in the magistrates court and was willing to show her face to security guards manning the metal detector and weapons check at the court entrance to verify her identity.

But the supreme court judge Christopher Beale said the risk of a mistrial or other incident caused by “misbehaving” in the public gallery would be heightened if a person could not be instantly identified because their face was covered, and ruled that the risk outweighed the infringement upon the woman’s right to freedom of religious expression. [The Guardian] Read more

17 July 2018

Muslim swimmers asked to leave Wilmington public pool; mayor apologizes

It's the fourth year Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel has taken children, participants in her summer Arabic enrichment program, to the Foster Brown public pool in Wilmington.

But this year marked the first time some of her elementary schoolers were asked to leave the pool, Ismaa’eel said — supposedly because they were wearing cotton shirts; shorts; and hijabs, or headscarves.

The pool manager said it's against city policy to wear cotton in public pools, according to Ismaa’eel. If it's a rule, Ismaa’eel said, "it's never been enforced."

To pick on her group is discrimination, she said.

"There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton," said Ismaa’eel, owner and principal of the Darul-Amaanah Academy and director of its summer program. "At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on. … I asked, 'Why are my kids being treated differently?'"

Ismaa’eel, who wears a hijab with a niqab covering her face, said she told the manager she would relay the message to the program parents. But that didn't resolve the issue.

"She (later) had a police officer come over and ask what time we were leaving," Ismaa’eel said. [Delaware News Journal] Read more

Muslim umbrella group warns against stigmatisation of Islam

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland has warned against associating crimes with a certain religion.

In an interview external linkwith the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZexternal link) on Tuesday, federation spokesperson Pascal Gemperli said that someone’s religious affiliation was not a determining factor in crime.

Muslim teenagers are not disproportionately represented in juvenile crime proceedings, according to Gemperli.

“We often observe that Muslims are quantified as a block, while Christians are split into their different churches,” Gemperli said in the interview.

If it were proven that people with a weaker sense of faith received heavier punishments than stronger believers, religion would probably even be classified as a violence-inhibiting factor, he said.

Religion, like culture, was a very abstract concept, he added, so that drawing a direct conclusion from this factor to someone’s risk of violence was questionable. [swissinfo.ch] Read more

Manager who kicked Muslim kids out of a Delaware pool says she wasn't being racist and 'strands from their cotton clothing and headscarves could have clogged the drains'

A Delaware pool manager who asked Muslim children to leave a pool because of their clothing says her action was not discriminatory.

Glenda Pinkett, a seasonal city employee in the city of Wilmington, says she was following 'well-known guidance' that cotton clogs pool filters, even though there may not be an explicit no-cotton policy.

Tahsiyn Ismaa'eel runs a summer Arabic enrichment program and brought Muslim campers wearing cotton shirts, shorts and headscarves to the pool and they were asked to get out of the water.

It was one of four incidents in which the kids were told not to wear the clothing, which is part of their religious observance, at the pool.

'We were harassed on four separate occasions,' she said. 'She tapped several of them, like four little girls, tapped them and told them to get out of the pool.' [Daily Mail] Read more

Islamic school investigated after firearm incident

An Islamic boarding school is being investigated after the headteacher and his son were arrested following reports of a firearm being brandished.

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Darul Uloom School, in south-east London, over concerns about potential misconduct and mismanagement at its charity.

Armed police went to the school on 30 May following reports of a man believed to be seen with a suspected firearm.

A teacher, Yusef Musa, who worked as the school's safeguarding lead, was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

He is due to appear at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. [Tes] Read more

15 July 2018

Counter-extremism czar Sara Khan: ‘There’s no such thing as the “Muslim community”’

Halfway through our interview, Sara Khan starts to cry. The activist, who was appointed as the government’s counter-extremism tsar in January, had hitherto seemed unflappable. Yet suddenly, she is blinking back tears and pulling tissues from her handbag, while the PR man gestures at me to stop recording.

What has made her well up is describing the harm that extremists cause. “Young people drawn to extremism, ruining their lives,” she chokes up. “We’ve reached a crossroads where if we don’t realise the threat, our country will become more divided, and we’ll lose a generation of young people. [The Times (£)] Read more

14 July 2018

Belgium struggles to manage its burgeoning Islamic scene

.... The city, like Belgium as a whole, has long been split between French-speakers and Dutch-speaking Flemings. These days, a still more obvious social gap divides people of loosely Catholic heritage and the more introvert parts of a Muslim community which now accounts for a quarter of the city’s population, and could be in the majority by mid-century, on present trends.

.... In March, following the recommendations of a parliamentary commission set up after the bomb attacks, the government formally terminated the arrangement under which a body with Saudi affiliations oversaw the city’s Great Mosque (pictured above). Responsibility for the Mosque, which is the city’s most prestigious place of Islamic worship and instruction, will be transferred to the Executif de Musulmans en Belgique (Executive of Muslims in Belgium, or EMB), a powerful but often dysfunctional organisation which has a broad remit to administer the affairs of Islam in the country. [The Economist] Read more

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2018

Paigham Mustafa, a Scots-Muslim writer, was threatened with death after he wrote in a Facebook post that fasting between dawn and dusk during the month of Ramadan is not decreed by the Quran.

During the 2018 Quds Day rally in London, Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour of the Islamic Centre of England sent a message "to the Jewish people of Palestine": "You can be sure that the resistance will come, free Palestine, and wipe Israel off the map."

A protection order was issued in Sheffield for three sisters, aged one, four and six, deemed at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Gay couple whipped in Indonesia for sharia-banned sex

A gay couple was publicly whipped in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province Friday, despite an earlier pledge by officials to stop the punishment after it drew international criticism.

The two men were flogged more than 80 times each for having gay sex, which is outlawed under local Islamic law, as a jeering crowd hurled abuse at them.

They were among 15 people whipped outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Friday for crimes including drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public.

A crowd of about 1,000 people, including tourists from neighboring Malaysia, snapped pictures and shouted “flog them harder” as a hooded figure rained down lashes from a rattan cane on their backs. [AFP] Read more

13 July 2018

Swimming pools have no right to prohibit burkini

The Mediahuis publications are reporting on Friday that in two judgments, the Court in Ghent overturned the prohibition of the burkini.

The cases related to two swimming pools in the north of the country, which had instigated the rule. Prohibiting this swimming suit which fully covers the body for hygiene and safety is not justified. The government has itself provided scientific proof that there are no problems with either aspect.

The communal leisure complex, Ter Wallen in Merelbeke, and the communal swimming bath, Van Eyck in Ghent, cannot prohibit women from swimming in a burkini. These facilities must now adapt their rules in this regard, even if appeals are lodged in the coming days.

These cases had been brought to court by Muslim women, who are now entitled to receive compensation in the form of moral damages on religious grounds. [The Brussels Times] Read more

Burkini rulings are a precedent, UNIA says

The two rulings handed down by the lower court in Ghent against banning the burkini in swimming pools are a first and thus constitute a precedent, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities, UNIA, stressed on Friday.

The court ruled that wearing the long swimming garment could not be banned for reasons of hygiene or security. The municipal swimming pools of Ter Wallen and Van Eyck in Ghent cannot prevent Muslim women from wearing the burkini, according to the Court, which found that the ban had no legal basis. Establishments must adapt their regulations in that sense, the Court decided, granting moral damages to the women who filed the complaint against the ban.

“The rulings are coherent with the legal analysis we conducted last year at the request of certain cities and communes,” commented UNIA’s Els Keytsman.

UNIA had concluded that a general ban would be a clear form of discrimination and that it could place Muslim women who wear it for religious reasons at a disadvantage as well as people who opt to wear it for reasons of health or physical characteristics or because of a handicap. [The Brussels Times] Read more

German government aims to expand Islam Conference with critical voices

By the time the summer comes to a close, things will be different at the German Islam Conference, an annual event aimed at fostering dialogue between the government and Muslims living in the country. At least that is the aim of the Interior Ministry, led by conservative Horst Seehofer.

His deputy minister, Markus Kerber, sparked a debate on Friday after telling Bild newspaper: "We must place the large number of Muslim fellow citizens not yet organized in Germany at the center of the Islam Conference much more strongly than before." What Kerber did not say, but of course means, is that the strong influence of formal Islamic associations with often-conservative interpretations of religious laws is to be curbed at the dialogue forum.

In the run-up to this year's conference, which describes itself as "the most important forum between the German state and Muslims living in Germany," representatives of these types of Islamic associations were the only ones included on the organizing committee. Critics of that decision argued that Muslim life in Germany was far more colorful, and in March, secular migrant associations declared the event would be a failure if it was not reformed. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Lancashire bans non-stunned halal meat from council-supplied school meals

Move is Islamophobic, antisemitic and undemocratic, say Muslim leaders.

A council has banned meat from animals that have not been stunned from council-supplied school meals, prompting accusations of Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Lancashire county council voted on Thursday to stop providing halal meat to council establishments unless animals were stunned before slaughtered.

The decision ignored the result of a public consultation in which 65% of respondents strongly disagreed with the proposal. About 8,545 people filled in a questionnaire earlier of which about 2,000 were pro-forma responses that used a template provided by the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM).

Nine out of 10 Muslims who responded were against the move, saying that stunning animals before slaughter is against Islam. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also opposed the proposal, saying that stunning could go wrong and lead to animals drowning, being gassed or electrocuted.

The National Secular Society supported the ban. Stephen Evans, its chief executive, said: “It’s reassuring to see Lancashire councillors voting to pursue the council’s ethical policy on the provision of halal meat in schools, and facing down orchestrated efforts to ensure school meals in the county comply with a hardline interpretation of Islam. [The Guardian] Read more

12 July 2018

NSS welcomes Lancashire vote to end supply of unstunned meat to schools

.... Unstunned halal meat is currently supplied by the council to 12,000 pupils at 27 schools in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn, Clitheroe and Preston.

Following the October vote in favour of ceasing supplies of unstunned halal, the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) said it would launch a judicial review and encourage a boycott of school meals. Subsequently, council leaders said in January that they would reconsider the policy and launched a public consultation.

The council received over 8,500 responses to the consultation, including a response from the National Secular Society. The report into the consultation highlighted that LCM had made a concerted effort to prompt responses supporting their position by asking people to submit a template response provided on their website. The council received approximately 1,300 online responses and 705 paper responses using this template.

The report also stated, "The findings presented in this report are not representative of the views of the population of Lancashire and should only be taken to represent the views of people who were made aware of the consultation, and who had the opportunity and felt compelled to respond." [National Secular Society] Read more

Head of faith school that hired terrorist banned from teaching

The head of an Islamic faith school that hired the London Bridge terrorist attack ringleader has been banned from teaching.

Sophie Rahman, former headteacher of Eton Community School, was given a prohibition order as a result of a teacher misconduct panel in June.

Eton Community School is an independent Islamic school for children aged 3-11 in Ilford. The Mail on Sunday reported that the school was inspected by Ofsted just two months before the terror attack and given a positive report, which even commended how teachers had fulfilled their obligation to halt extremism in pupils.

The panel found that Ms Rahman was guilty of "unacceptable professional conduct" by hiring Islamist extremist Khuram Butt as an unpaid volunteer to teach Quran classes at Eton Community School. [National Secular Society] Read more

East Lancashire Muslim pupils in new school meal boycott

THOUSANDS of Muslim pupils in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston will be told to boycott all school meals when they return to class in September.

The move follows the decision by Lancashire County Council’s ruling cabinet to stop supplying only halal meat from pre-stunned sheep and cattle to 27 schools.

The authority currently provides halal meat from un-stunned animals to these schools attended by 12,000 pupils, three-quarters of them Muslims.

The senior councillors exempted poultry from the requirement for animals to be stunned before slaughter.

County leader Cllr Geoff Driver, who championed the move, said: “This decision has been taken solely on the grounds of animal welfare.”

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), branded it ‘absolutely unfair’ and said Muslim children should not eat any meals at the schools as a protest, a repeat of one in 2012.

The LCM has a strict interpretation of halal meat which says pre-stunning animals before religious slaughter does not meet Islamic dietary requirements. [Lancashire Telegraph] Read more

Sri Lankan Islamic centre condemns ban on female circumcision as 'affront'

Members of Sri Lanka's Muslim communities on Wednesday condemned a government decision to ban female genital cutting as an "affront" that infringed upon their religious rights.

The Centre for Islamic Studies in Sri Lanka criticised the government after the health ministry denounced female genital mutilation (FGM) and prohibited doctors from any involvement in the tradition, known as "khatna."

"The (ban) ... not only infringes on our religious rights, but also threatens to drive the procedure underground," Asiff Hussein, a senior official with the Centre for Islamic Studies, said in a statement.

The ban was announced in May. Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Supporters say khatna only involves a harmless nick to the clitoral hood and cannot be compared to other forms of FGM in parts of Africa, which can involve removing external genitalia and sewing up the vagina.

They consider it an important religious duty and say it improves hygiene, but some women say they have suffered irreversible damage. [Dhaka Tribune] Read more

Terrorist taught school pupils to hate non-believers

London Bridge terrorist Khuram Butt taught primary school children that non-believers were the 'worst creatures'.

One of the London Bridge terrorist attackers taught primary school children that non-Muslims were the "worst creatures" and told them it was OK to lie to their parents "in a state of war".

A police counter-terrorism officer said the actions of Khuram Butt at Eton Community School, in Ilford, East London, were suggestive of "grooming type behaviour".

Butt was one of the three terrorists who carried out the London Bridge terrorist attack on 3 June 2017, in which eight people died and 48 people were injured. He was shot dead by police with the other two terrorists on the night of the attack.

He was employed in a voluntary position as an Arabic memorisation teacher at an after-school club at Eton Community School – an independent Muslim day school for pupils between 3 and 11, which was closed down in August 2017. [Tes] Read more

11 July 2018

Those who stand up to extremism 'vilified' in UK, says commissioner Sara Khan

Counter-extremism commissioner Sara Khan admits she has received death threats in the course of her work.

People are being "vilified" for standing up to extremism in some UK communities, the counter-extremism commissioner has told Sky News.

Sara Khan said some stories have left her "heartbroken", while the problem is increasing in scale and becoming more professionalised.

The Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE), which Ms Khan heads, was set up last year following the Manchester Arena bombing.

On Wednesday, it launched an evidence gathering programme with the aim of producing an in-depth report on how to confront all forms of extremism.

In an interview with Sky News, the commissioner admitted she herself has received death threats, but remains undeterred from carrying on with her work.

Ms Khan has campaigned for women's rights in Muslim communities for many years.

After her appointment in January, she faced immediate calls to quit from some Muslim groups and politicians because of her support for the Home Office's Prevent counter-terrorism strategy. [Sky News] Read more

School inspectors defend sex-segregation battle against Al-Hijrah School

The head of the schools inspection service has defended her decision to penalise Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham for segregating boys and girls.

Amanda Spielman, head of inspection service Ofsted, said the school was just one example of a wider problem.

She said inspectors face “increasing hostility” from a few schools that have been influenced by “the most conservative religious groups”.

And she insisted schools had to teach “British values” because they helped to unite people in a multi-cultural society.

A huge row broke out after Ofsted ruled Al-Hijrah, a council-funded Muslim school in Bordesley, was school was practising unlawful discrimination because it separated boys and girls from the age of nine.

It led to a series of court battles, with judges eventually ruling in Ofsted’s favour. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

10 July 2018

What Was M-103 Really About; Islamophobia or a Money Grab for Radical Islamic Groups?

This week Canadians were stunned to hear that after the near unanimous passing of Motion 103 on Islamophobia in the Canadian parliament last March, the government has decided to use this “non-binding motion” as a reason to give 23 million dollars of hard-earned Canadian Tax payer’s money, to organizations that sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that supports radical Islam and which has been linked to known terrorist groups in the Middle East.

”This money will go to NCCM (National Council of Canadian Muslims) & Islamic Relief “ said MP Iqra Khalid, the Muslim Brotherhood-associated Liberal MP who was the “godmother” of M-103.

By the way, this a charity that once lost its charitable status but seems to be back in action under the Liberals.

Simply put, Khalid, with the full backing of Prime Minister Trudeau, just got 23 million dollars for potentially radical Islamic groups in Canada. So much for being “non-binding.” [The Post Millennial] Read more

President Macron promises to reform practice of Islam in France

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday night that work on the "framework and rules" would start in the coming months to ensure that Islam "will be practiced everywhere in accordance with the laws of the republic."

He added: "We will do this with French Muslims and their representatives."

The "immense majority" of French Muslims supported the country's principles of individual freedom and secularism based on mutual respect, he said.

Macron acknowledged that "terrorism, the chaos of the world, migration and our failures in integration" played a role in public fears.

"This is why we must restore the republic's order and respect," Macron said, referring to the fight against terrorism and a policing plan for troubled suburbs announced earlier this year.

“General order, ordinary sense of civility and independence of minds and individuals regarding religion are not empty words in France, and this requires a new framework and harmony,” he said. [Al Arabiya] Read more

Burkini woman ejected from pool

A burkini-clad woman was asked to leave a municipal swimming baths in Florence on Saturday, sources said Monday night.

Leftwing Power to the People Councillor Miriam Amato called on sports pointman Andrea Vanucci to send a circular to all municipal baths telling them to let women in burkinis use their facilities.

"What happened on Saturday is unacceptable," she said.

A lifeguard asked the woman to leave the children's pool where she was playing with her baby son. [ANSA] Read more

Farmers and halal sector urged to move closer as lamb demand increases

The farming industry and the halal sector are being urged to forge better relationships as the Muslim population, and demand for quality lamb, increases.

This was the key message from an AHDB halal event held in West Yorkshire, which helped farmers and the Muslim community establish a common understanding of each other’s requirements.

More than 40 delegates attended, including livestock farmers, representatives from the Muslim community and agricultural bodies.

John Royle, Chief Livestock Advisor from the NFU started off the day by giving an overview of UK livestock farming with a focus on the lambing season.

There is already significant demand for domestic lamb in both domestic and overseas halal markets as around 40 percent of Muslims currently eat lamb.

Awal Fuseini, AHDB Halal Sector Manager, spoke about the importance of animal welfare in the Muslim community, and the necessity to be open and transparent about halal slaughter. [FARMINGUK] Read more

Iranian woman 'sentenced to 20 years in prison' for removing headscarf in protest

An Iranian woman says she has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for removing her compulsory Islamic headscarf out of protest.

Shaparak Shajarizadeh said she had been jailed for "opposing the compulsory hijab" and "waving a white flag of peace in the street" in a post on her personal website.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

A spokesperson for the Iranian embassy in London could not confirm the claim, and directed The Independent to Iranian judicial sources, who have been contacted for comment.

In February, police in Iran arrested 29 people for removing their headscarves as part of a campaign known as "White Wednesdays."

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer who represented Ms Shajarizadeh and other women, was arrested last month.

Ms Shajarizadeh, 42, was subject to torture and beatings after her arrest, her lawyer said, according to Amnesty International. [The Independent] Read more

09 July 2018

Expert hired to solve Iran’s water crisis arrested at Tehran airport

It was an unusual welcome for someone invited back by his government to help to solve a national crisis. As Kaveh Madani arrived at Tehran airport to take up his post as deputy head of Iran’s environment ministry, he was arrested.

Taken to an interrogation room, he was held for several hours. His laptop and phones were removed and their contents downloaded for inspection.

Ten months later, after a brief and unhappy tenure in office, he is back in exile in the West and claiming that events have vindicated his warnings about the crisis he was trying to solve.

.... He refuses to talk about what happened during his 72 hours in custody. But unlike his colleagues, he was allowed to leave. He resigned after six months, the final straw being the leaking of a video of him dancing with an unveiled woman at a party in America.

They let him go, but they have not forgotten him. The chief prosecutor for Tehran said Mr Madani’s decision to return to the West meant he knew he was guilty. “He will come back one day,” Abbas Dowlatabadi said. “We will get him sooner or later.” [The Times (£)] Read more

Is Islam "Exceptional"?

"Western observers... will need to accept Islam's vital and varied role in politics and formulate policies with that in mind, rather than hoping for secularizing outcomes that are unlikely anytime soon, if ever." — Shadi Hamid, author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World.

"'Islamic exceptionalism' is neither good nor bad. It just is." — Shadi Hamid.

"As the transition from pre-modernity to modernity proceeds with its twists and turns, the Muslim world, over time will progress and develop to the point that eventually there will arise a theology, as occurred in Christendom, consistent with the needs of Muslims and reconciled with modernity." — Salim Mansur, author of The Qur'an Problem and Islamism: Reflections of a Dissident Muslim. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Germany's Thilo Sarrazin in court over controversial book on Islam

His highly controversial books sell in the millions. It all began with "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany is doing away with itself"). Thilo Sarrazin's 2010 book stimulated a fiery debate over German immigration policy and migrants from Islamic countries.

While critics accused the author of polemics and racism, others claimed that finally, someone was telling the truth. Sarrazin quickly resigned from his management position at Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, over public pressure but continued to write, issuing books about the euro and what he calls "wishful thinking" in public policy.

A new book has been announced for release this summer, titled "Feindliche Übernahme - wie der Islam den Fortschritt behindert und die Gesellschaft bedroht" (Hostile takeover – how Islam impairs progress and threatens society). Like his previous four books, it was to be published by the Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA), a subsidiary of Random House, but a dispute erupted between the author and the publisher "over whether the book was to be released or not," said DVA chief press officer Markus Desaga. No agreement was reached, and now the matter has been brought before the Munich Regional Court. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Iran women dance in support of arrested Instagram teen

Women in Iran have posted videos of themselves dancing online, in support of a teenager who was arrested.

Maedeh Hojabri had gathered thousands of followers on Instagram with videos of herself dancing to Iranian and Western pop music.

On Friday, state TV broadcast Ms Hojabri's apparent confession.

Social media users shared videos and messages supporting the young dancer, using hashtags such as one that translates as #dancing_isn't_a_crime.

The Iranian government has strict rules governing women's clothing and dancing with members of the opposite sex in public is banned, except in front of immediate family members.

Ms Hojabri's videos showed her dancing at home without the mandatory headscarf, or hijab. [BBC] Read more

Imran Khan criticised for defence of Pakistan blasphemy laws

Imran Khan has been accused of risking bloodshed for electoral gain after the former cricketer-turned-politician offered a full-throated defence of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws in the run-up to the general election on 25 July.

“We are standing with Article 295c and will defend it,” said the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at a gathering of Muslim leaders in Islamabad on Saturday, referring to the clause of the constitution that mandates the death penalty for any “imputation, insinuation or innuendo” against the prophet Muhammad.

Khan, 65, also directed anger at the rival party in the electoral race, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), by resurfacing controversy over its hastily withdrawn edits to an electoral oath last year, which Islamists deem blasphemous. [The Guardian] Read more

Ofsted chief accuses minority groups of 'entitlement' in hijab row

The head of Ofsted has again stepped into the debate over the wearing of the hijab by primary school pupils, accusing minority groups with a “sense of religious or cultural entitlement” of attempting to exert an outsize influence on school policy.

In a speech on Monday evening, Amanda Spielman urged school leaders to resist pressure on issues such as what children should wear or what is taught to pupils.

She highlighted a “worrying” trend in schools where headteachers were being lobbied by groups seeking to influence school policy “whether or not members of that group constitute the majority of a school’s intake”.

The importance of teaching British values in schools has become a familiar theme in the 18 months since Spielman became Ofsted chief inspector. In her latest intervention, she urged headteachers to step up their efforts so children learn about democracy and civil society, rather than leaving a vacuum that can be filled by extremist groups. [The Guardian] Read more

08 July 2018

Australian MPs fight to criminalise the burqa after Denmark becomes the latest nation to ban the Islamic garb

Australian MP's are pushing to ban the burqa in Australia again after Denmark became the latest European country to outlaw it.

Senator Pauline Hanson recently announced she will be pushing forward with legislation to have the Federal Parliament prohibit the face-covering veil.

The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Austria and Bulgaria are among the countries that have banned the burqa.

Several Liberal and National MP's are 'privately supportive' of Senator Hanson's stance, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten have both previously ruled out the move.

In a post to Facebook last week, Senator Hanson announced her intention to bring the debate back into the Senate. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

07 July 2018

Radical Islamist preacher who has said he 'does not believe in democracy' and is 'not obedient' to secular law is working as an expert witness to British courts

A radical Islamist preacher who has said he 'does not believe in democracy' and is 'not obedient' to secular law is working as an expert witness to British courts, MailOnline can reveal.

Dr Imran Waheed, 41, a psychiatrist working for the NHS and Bupa in Birmingham, offers his services as an expert witness in a range of civil and criminal cases assessing defendants' psychological reliability.

For many years he was a key figure in the UK branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for an Islamic state run by Sharia law. In an interview he said: 'I've got no respect for any law other than Allah's... I don't care for the law of any man.'

The disclosure has sparked fears that the justice system is vulnerable to Islamist entryists who wish to 'take control from within'.

Dr Waheed told MailOnline that he had since left the group and changed his views.

But in November he appeared in the organisation's official internet broadcast extolling the virtues of a caliphate.

According to his website, Dr Waheed gives British courts psychiatric assessments of a defendant's 'dangerousness', fitness to hold a firearm licence and fitness to stand trial.

He also treats mentally ill patients and lectures university medical students on subjects including 'cultural and ethnic aspects of mood disorders'. [Daily Mail] Read more

06 July 2018

Random House axes Islam book by disputed German author

Publishing giant Random House has declined to release a new book by controversial German politician-turned-author Thilo Sarrazin over fears it could whip up anti-Muslim hatred, Bild daily reported Friday.

The dispute, which will be heard before a court in Munich on Monday, revolves around Sarrazin's new book "Hostile Takeover -- How Islam Hampers Progress and Threatens Society".

In 2010 Sarrazin, a former central banker and Berlin state finance minister, published the incendiary book "Germany Does Away With Itself", arguing that undereducated Muslim migrants were making the country "more stupid".

The volume became a runaway bestseller and is now seen as having helped pave the way for the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party which entered parliament last year with nearly 100 deputies.

The new book was to have hit shelves in late August and is billed as a critical close reading of the Koran.

Sarrazin, 73, told Bild that he had signed a contract with Random House in November 2016 on the basis of a 10-page expose and delivered the manuscript in February this year. [AFP] Read more

Denmark confronts Islamism and integration

Imam Mundhir Abdallah is a good example of the dilemmas that have confronted politicians in Denmark in their response to Islamist extremism among the country’s 300,000 Muslims, the large majority of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants.

In May 2017, the Danish Jewish community filed a complaint against Imam Abdallah for a sermon he delivered two months previously, in which he implored faithful Muslims to kill the Jews on “Judgement Day” and urged the “liberation” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from “the filth of the Zionists.”

The Danish authorities were aware of Imam Abdallah’s extremist beliefs and associations for at least two years before that. In February 2015, a man named Omar al-Hussein attended Abdallah’s mosque in the Copenhagen suburb of Nørrebro; two days later, al-Hussein embarked on an armed terror rampage in the Danish capital, gunning down a Jewish security volunteer, Dan Uzan, at Copenhagen’s main synagogue before being shot himself by police. So when audio of Abdallah’s Jew-baiting sermon of 2017 surfaced on the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the reaction against him was forceful—and not solely from the Jewish community. [JNS] Read more

05 July 2018

Controlling father enslaved his teenage daughter and hit her with a vacuum cleaner

A controlling father who starved his daughter and treated her like a slave has avoided jail.

The 17-year-old was subjected to 11 years of physical and emotional abuse at the taxi driver’s hands.He threw cutlery and a metal pole at her, said he would burn down the house with her in it and threatened to chop her up into pieces.

The Ravensthorpe man labelled the frightened girl a prostitute when she attempted to dress in more western clothing and forced her to wear a headscarf and read the Koran.

He had denied charges of assault and engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour but was found guilty following a trial at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court.

Andy Wills, prosecuting, said that at one point the girl tried to kill herself because of the suffering caused by her domineering, extremely religious Muslim father. [Huddersfield Examiner] Read more

Breakthrough made in fight to end virginity testing in Afghanistan

In a prison in the Balkh province of Afghanistan, more than 200 girls and young women are crammed into dirty prison cells. Many have been here for months – and some for more than a year. When they are eventually released, they face a future defined by shame, exclusion and destitution.

Their crime is that they all failed a virginity test performed by a health professional at a clinic or hospital.

Last year, under increasing pressure from human rights campaigners, Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, promised that forensic virginity tests – invasive examinations to check whether the hymen is intact – would be banned as an official procedure. The tests nonetheless remain widespread, and the implications for girls and women who are deemed to have failed them are both immediate and catastrophic. [The Guardian] Read more

Tory candidate suspended after 'Islamophobic' Facebook posts

The Conservatives have suspended a council by-election candidate following "unacceptable comments" on social media.

Laurel Ellis was picked for the Gurnos ward on Merthyr Tydfil council.

She had shared posts critical of Islam and showing Theresa May in Muslim religious dress, which Labour AM Dawn Bowden claimed were Islamophobic.

Ms Ellis said she would not defend the posts and regretted comments she had made about Mrs May on Twitter.

The Conservative Party announced the suspension following inquiries from BBC Wales about the Facebook posts on Wednesday. Despite the party saying she would not be standing for the Tories, nominations have already been published for the poll and she will still appear on the ballot.

Laurel Ellis' Facebook page included one post that suggested Britain was tolerant "until... Muslims marched".

Another, entitled "Sharia May", includes a photo-shopped picture of Theresa May wearing Muslim religious dress.

The posts originally came from other pages on Facebook.

In a Twitter post sent during the Conservative leadership campaign in 2016 which led to Mrs May becoming prime minister, Ms Ellis said: "Theresa May is a front runner really? A leader that supports Islam and is happy to have Sharia Law in our country? [BBC] Read more

The Rise of Iraq's Young Secularists

Rayyan Hadidi was 18 years old when he lost his faith. It was July 2006, and he was on his way to school when he stumbled upon a cheering crowd that had gathered near a local mosque. The group, made up mostly of mosque leaders and worshippers, had encircled two men accused of volunteering with the Iraqi police force, which many saw as a puppet of the American occupiers. Al-Qaeda gunmen brandished their arms, preparing to execute the men, as the crowd shouted, “Allahu akbar.” Hadidi stared at the two men, flinching when he made eye contact with one of them just before they were both shot.

.... But the execution haunted Hadidi. He began reading philosophy, history, and writing that was critical of Islam—dangerous stuff that he shared with his conservative family, who eventually cut off communication with him. Repelled by the extremism he’d witnessed, Hadidi told me that he began working with the American forces, which led to threats on his life from militants. He fled to Turkey in 2011, where he took to social media to write about the shortcomings of political Islam. [The Atlantic] Read more

04 July 2018

Sayeeda Warsi calls for inquiry into Islamophobia within Tory party

Sayeeda Warsi has called on the Conservatives to launch a “full independent inquiry” into Islamophobia in the party and warned the Tories were pursuing a politically damaging policy of denial about the problem in its own ranks.

The former Conservative party chair accused incumbent Brandon Lewis of a “woefully inept” response to recent complaints and added that MP Zac Goldsmith should receive “mandatory diversity training” following his unsuccessful attempt to beat Sadiq Khan to the London mayoralty.

Writing for the Guardian, Lady Warsi said: “I’ve been warning my party of its ‘Muslim problem’ for far too long,” and said that elite indifference to the issue meant the Tories were stuck with a political strategy that amounted little more than “fuck the Muslims”.

Warsi’s comments come a week after the Muslim Council of Britain repeated its call for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, complaining that Lewis had failed to respond to a dossier of complaints it had submitted and was hoping that the issue would “magically go away”. [The Guardian] Read more

Campaigners decry attack on Tory plan to tackle Islamophobia

Campaigners against Islamophobia distanced themselves from Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the former chairman of Britain's ruling Conservative Party, as she reignited her feud with its leadership over Islamophobia.

Weeks after the Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis announced it would work with campaigners to fight the scourge, Lady Warsi said his efforts would not tackle "systemic prejudice" in the party.

"The current plan to tackle Islamophobia, however, is woefully inept," she wrote in the Guardian newspaper. "Lewis has oddly announced that he will work closely with the hate-crime reporting service Tell Mama.

"Hiding behind bureaucracy and using process as a fig leaf is not the answer."

Iman Atta, the director of Tell MAMA, told The National that Lady Warsi was mischaracterising its work. It has been at the forefront of the campaign to counter the letters threatening anti-Muslim violence and works with companies and institutions seeking to address prejudice.

"Our engagement with the Conservatives has been a discussion at an individual level," he said. "There is yet a more structural and deeper rooted plan to be developed and which needs to be done sooner rather than later and we will be pushing for this as good practice that must systemically iron out issues around anti-Muslim bigotry. We are clear about this and which looks at local and national issues. [The National] Read more

03 July 2018

Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan

Many extremist Muslims are aiming at even more government submission to sharia through intimidation and terror.

Christians and Ahmadis continue to raise concerns regarding the government's failure to safeguard minority rights, as well as the government's persistent discrimination against religious minorities.

Pakistan is also where Muslim militants, such as the Pakistani Taliban, carry out assassinations and terrorist attacks. It seems no one is there to stop them. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

02 July 2018

UKIP Peer calls fear of Muslims “reasonable” and calls for abandoning term “Islamophobia”

The UKIP Peer, Lord Malcolm Pearson of Rannoch, has once again ignited controversy as he calls for the Government to dismiss the term “Islamophobia” claiming that it is perfectly “reasonable” to be afraid of Islam.

Speaking in the Lords Chamber, 27 June 2018, Lord Pearson stated that: “the Government must know that hatred of us Kuffar is central to radical Islam, that it is being taught in our mosques and madrassas, and that their own Behavioural Insights Team has said that their present policies are failing”.

He added: “And will the Government please stop using the word “Islamophobia”, because it is surely reasonable and not at all phobic to fear the world’s most violent ideology, from which indeed most hate speech now comes?”

The comments were quickly called out for harbouring hostile sentiment towards Muslims and were sharply criticised by fellow Peers. [MEND] Read more

Europe: "The Vision is an Islamic State"

"The growing religiousness is not an expression of marginalization. We are talking about people who are well-integrated, but who want to be religious". — Professor Viggo Mortensen.

"The vision is an Islamic state -- Islamic society... Muslims will prefer sharia rule. But the vision for twenty years from now is for sharia law to be part of Germany, that sharia will be institutionalized in the state itself". — "Yusuf", in a documentary series, False Identity.

"I will pick them one by one -- I will start with people around me... If every Muslim would do the same in his surroundings, it can happen with no problem... you don't confront him [the German] with force; you do it slowly... There will be clashes, but slowly the clashes will subside, as people will accept reality." — "Yusuf", in a documentary series, False Identity.

Europe will still exist but, as with the great Christian Byzantine Empire that is now Turkey, will it still embody Judeo-Christian civilization? [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Malaysia probes marriage of 11-year-old girl to 41-year-old man

Malaysian authorities are investigating the marriage of an 11-year-old Thai girl to a 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim that has sparked public outrage and calls for child brides to be banned.

Rubber scrap dealer Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid secretly wed the girl as his third wife in Thailand, and the union became public after one of his wives lodged a complaint with police.

Muslim girls under the minimum legal marriage age of 16 can wed with the consent of the Shariah court and their parents. Muslim men in Malaysia can marry four wives.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has said the marriage was illegal as it had not been approved by the Shariah court. She was meeting officials on Monday to discuss the issue, her aide said.

Photos on social media showed the groom holding the girl’s hand after the marriage ceremony. [ITV] Read more

Imam who subjected pupils to over 100 physical assaults at a mosque in Rochdale has been jailed

An imam who subjected his young pupils to over 100 physical assaults at a mosque in Rochdale has been jailed for 17 months.

Abdul Rauf, 51, was said to have displayed ‘Dickensian’ methods of teaching at a mosque on Crawford Street, where he bullied and tormented children.

Rauf, of Sussex Street, Rochdale, was sentenced at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court on Monday after earlier pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and 20 offences of common assault.

The court heard that the father-of-five would slap, kick and push the boys he was teaching.

The scale of the imam’s offending was not revealed until one of the victims told a teacher at his school that he and another boy had been assaulted at his local mosque.

Over 40 hours of CCTV was reviewed by Greater Manchester Police officers and the footage revealed 109 assaults perpetrated by Rauf. [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Ex-Muslims: A community in protest

When the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) started 11 years ago, in June 2007, we were hard pressed to find 25 people who would come out publicly to break the apostasy taboo. Today, we are witnessing an international ex-Muslim ‘community’ – a tsunami of atheism.

But for me, this has never been about building a community as it is understood within identity politics, which implies people being boxed into homogenised, segregated communities with culturally-relative rights managed by ‘community leaders’. Rather, I see ex-Muslims as a community in protest: insisting on freedom from religion, and freedom of conscience. For the right to apostasy and blasphemy, without fear.

Like the LGBT, anti-slavery, anti-colonialist, anti-apartheid, suffragette or civil rights movements, it’s a movement which insists upon our common humanity and equality – not upon difference or superiority. It’s a movement of people who refuse to live in fear and in the shadows, and who are speaking out for social change in unprecedented ways.

This movement matters because thirteen states punish atheism with the death penalty and all of them are Islamic.

Because a series of laws in Saudi Arabia define atheism as terrorism, where Ahmad Al-Shamri has been sentenced to death for atheism.

Because Sina Dehghan has been sentenced to death in Iran for ‘insulting Islam’.

Because a Pakistani High Court Judge has said that blasphemers are terrorists and Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman face the death penalty there.

Because even in countries without the death penalty, such as Bangladesh, Islamists kill atheists whilst the government turns a blind eye.

Because in Bangladesh, the atheist poet and publisher Shahzahan Bachchu was dragged out of a shop and shot dead mid-June this year.

Because the Egyptian government is producing a national plan to ‘confront and eliminate’ atheism.

Because in Egypt, the atheist blogger Sherif Gaber has not been seen in public since his arrest at Cairo airport on 2 May.

Because a Malaysian government minister has said that atheists should be ‘hunted down’ and ‘re-educated’.

Because even in secular societies, ex-Muslims can be shunned, ostracised, and face ‘honour’ related violence. [sister-hood] Read more

01 July 2018

Migrant crisis thwarts Emmanuel Macron’s grand plan

The French Alps might seem a strange place to find what Angela Merkel says threatens Europe. But standing on the mountain pass from where Hannibal may once have descended on Rome, I could see what was worrying the German chancellor

Christelle Lechevalier, a French National Rally (formerly National Front) MEP, was making a YouTube video with members of Generation Identity, pan-European young activists committed to removing Islam and non-ethnic Europeans from the Continent. “If we don’t do something about our borders, we will disappear Lechevalier said to the camera. [The Times (£)] Read more

Wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi calls for burqa ban in Ontario

The wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has called on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to ban the use of Islamic face coverings in public places.

Ensaf Haidar, who along with her three children became a Canadian citizen on Canada Day, took to Twitter to urge Ford to follow Quebec’s lead and outlaw the burqa and niqab from government settings, schools, banks, hospitals and public transportation.

Quebec’s Bill 62, which came into law in October, doesn’t specifically mention burqas or niqabs, but forbids people from covering their faces while providing and receiving public services.

Haidar and her children fled Saudi Arabia and took refuge in Sherbrooke, Que. in 2015, three years after Badawi was arrested and charged with “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” Badawi ran a website, Free Saudi Liberals, which published content critical of influential religious clerics and the festering of extremism in certain Saudi institutions. [Global News] Read more

Child marriage involving bride of 11 sparks outrage in Malaysia

he wedding of a girl of 11 to a man of 41 has prompted outrage in Malaysia and calls for the minimum age for all marriages to be changed to 18.

Her Thai parents say they consented for her to become the Malaysian's third wife if he agreed she could stay at their home until she was 16.

Malaysia's government says it has no record of the marriage, which occurred in Thailand, and is investigating.

The UN children's agency said it was "shocking and unacceptable".

"It is not in the best interest of the child," said Unicef's Malaysia representative, Marianne Clark-Hattingh.

What do we know of the wedding?

Photos have emerged showing the adult groom holding the girl's hand after the marriage ceremony.

He already has two wives and six children aged between five and 18, local media reports say. [BBC] Read more