30 August 2018

Far-right Dutch MP cancels Muhammad cartoon competition

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has cancelled a planned contest inviting people to submit a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad following death threats and large-scale protests in Pakistan.

“To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead,” the far-right opposition politician said in a written statement on Thursday night.

Wilders, who for years has lived under round-the-clock protection because of death threats sparked by his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric, said he does not want others put in danger by the contest he planned for November.

News of the competition sparked angry protests in Pakistan and an alleged death threat against Wilders this week from a 26-year-old man, reportedly a Pakistani, who was arrested on Tuesday in The Hague.

Physical depictions of the prophet are forbidden in Islam and are deeply offensive to Muslims.

“It’s not just about me,” Wilders said in the statement. Opponents of the event “see not only me, but the entire Netherlands as a target”. [The Guardian] Read more

29 August 2018

One in five vulnerable Syrian refugees are rejected by NL because of their views

Some of the most vulnerable refugees living in camps in Turkey have been rejected by the Netherlands because they have extremist sympathies or are too conservative, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday. The Netherlands has agreed to take its ‘fair share’ of refugees under a special scheme worked out with Turkey, but around 20% don’t get final approval, the paper said.

Paul van Musscher, head of the police department charged with monitoring migration and foreign nationals, told the paper that many of them have views which do not dovetail with Dutch values, such as equality between men and women. Last year, 2,100 Syrian nationals came to the Netherlands via the special arrangement with Turkey, but by the end of July this year only 288 have arrived. In total, 15,000 refugees have moved to the EU via the Turkey deal.

.... Around one in five do not get through this vetting procedure, Musscher told the paper. This is because they may have been involved with extremists or because their beliefs will interfere with their integration into the Netherlands. Swimming ‘If you say there is no way my children are going into a mixed school class… then your file is marked and you don’t get in,’ the paper quotes him as saying. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

Iranian activist jailed over hijab protests goes on hunger strike

Human rights activists in Iran have said they are worried about a man on hunger strike who was reportedly jailed for protesting against rules requiring women to wear a hijab.

Farhad Meysami, 48, a doctor and publisher before becoming a civil activist, was arrested in his office in July and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

After a wave of hijab protests, Iranian authorities cracked down on activists. Meysami was accused of possessing badges stating: “I am against the compulsory hijab.”

In recent months, a number of women have been arrested for defying hijab rules in public; standing on telecom boxes, taking off their headscarves and waving them on a stick. It has sparked a nationwide debate about the obligatory nature of the rules, drawing in previously silent members of the Iranian parliament. [The Guardian] Read more

Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands sparks Pakistan protests

Thousands of Islamists have set off on a protest march in Pakistan to demand Imran Khan’s new government sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands over a “blasphemous” cartoon competition.

The march, organised by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a political party dedicated to the punishment of blasphemy, presents the first major test of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration. Last year, a similar protest by the TLP shut down the capital, Islamabad, for almost a month.

In June, Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam MP who leads the Netherlands’ second largest party and has been found guilty of inciting hatred, invited submissions of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, which Islam forbids. The $10,000 (£7,700) competition is due to open in November, with 200 entries so far.


“We can be martyred or arrested,” said one of the TLP’s leaders, Peer Afzal Qadri, “but we will not return until either the cartoon contest is stopped or the Dutch envoy is expelled.” [The Guardian] Read more

A Visit to Islamic England

Other tourists may remember London for its spectacular sights and history, but I remember it for Islam. When I was visiting the U.K. as a teenager in 2006, I got lost in an East London market. There I saw a group of women wearing head-to-toe black cloaks. I froze, confused and intimidated by the faceless figures.

This summer, I found myself heading back to the U.K. as it was plunging into a debate over Islamic dress

.... My first visit was to Tower Hamlets, an East London borough that is about 38% Muslim, among the highest in the U.K. As I walked down Whitechapel Road, the adhan, or call to prayer, echoed through the neighborhood. Muslims walked in one direction for jumu’ah, Friday prayer, while non-Muslims went the opposite way. Each group kept its distance and avoided eye contact with the other. A sign was posted on a pole: “Alcohol restricted zone.”

Women and girls were dressed in hijabs, niqabs and abayas (robes). Some of the males wore skullcaps and thawbs, Arabic tunics, with their trousers tailored just above the ankles as per Muhammad’s example. The scene could have been lifted out of Riyadh, a testament to the Arabization of Britain’s South Asian Muslims.

.... I grabbed the first booklet that was in English. It was by Zakir Naik, a fundamentalist preacher from India. “The Qur’an says that Hijab has been prescribed for the women,” the booklet explained in one section, “so that they are recognised as modest women and this will also prevent them from being molested.” [The Wall Street Journal ($)] Read more

28 August 2018

Polish Lawmaker Backs Burqa Ban, No Saudi Mosques in Europe Until Poland Can Build Cathedral in Saudi Arabia

Polish lawmaker Dominik Tarczynski has waded into the European burqa debate, saying it should be banned partly for security reasons, and partly to make it clear to Islamic radicals that they cannot demand more rights in Europe than Europeans have in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Tarczynski, a member of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, made waves in Britain after clashing with left-liberal journalist Cathy Newman over illegal immigration.

Speaking exclusively to Breitbart London shortly after ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s run-in with the establishment over his criticism of the burqa, the Polish law graduate insisted that Islamic face veils “should be banned in the same way the Christian cross is banned in Saudi Arabia”.

He suggested the relationship between the West and the Islamic world was currently unbalanced, citing a mosque which Saudi Arabia’s theocratic regime wants to construct in the Polish capital of Warsaw as an example. [Breitbart London] Read more

25 August 2018

Headscarf has no place in schools

The hijab – the headscarf worn by Muslim women as the minimum form of coverage – should be the subject of a ban in schools under the next legislature, according to federal secretary of state Zuhal Demir.

“The headscarf has no place in schools,” she said.

The hijab, derived from the instruction from the Quran for women (and men) to dress modestly, has been the subject of controversy in Belgium for years, from the ban on the garment at a school in Antwerp to a ban on wearing by communal workers who deal with the public – a ban which was extended to include crucifixes and Stars of David to avoid accusations of religious discrimination.

Supporters of the hijab argue that women have the right to wear the garment if they choose, and legislation is a breach of their religious rights. Opponents use the exact opposite argument – women are forced by their communities, and in particular the men, to cover up in public, and have no say in the matter.

Demir, herself a Muslim of Kurdish origins who dresses in a western style, is an opponent of the hijab in schools. “A school, like a home, should be a place where you feel free. So there’s no place for a headscarf.” [The Brussels Times] Read more

24 August 2018

Tories need to promote and elect more Muslims, Ruth Davidson says in swipe at Boris’s burka row

The ex-Foreign Secretary sparked a furious party row after he compared women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes.

But tonight Ms Davidson, who is seven months pregnant with her first child, will say she will make sure more candidates from diverse backgrounds stand for office.

She will say at an event in Glasgow to mark the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha: "If I am to be the next First Minister of Scotland, we need to fill the Holyrood benches with the brightest talent and greatest experience we can find, support, promote and elect from every community in this country.

"That includes the Muslim community.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 29 votes] Another f'kin snowflake handing over the keys

[2ND 24] She has lost the plot, we want the exact opposite!

[3RD 23] Can Davidson name ANY three: Stable, progressive, democratic, Islamic countries? Bit of a trick question really, as there are NONE on this planet. Congratulations must go to Blair; dragging the UK backwards a few centuries certainly took some balls. [The Sun] Read more

Unstunned halal meat back on school menu - for now

The county council has decided to suspend its ban on beef and lamb from animals which are not rendered unconscious before Islamic religious slaughter until its full meeting on October 18.

This will give all Lancashire's county councillors the chance to reconsider the authority's ban on halal meat from unstunned animals.

The county council's cabinet took a decision in July to provide only stunned halal meat, except poultry, to schools.

But the Lancashire Council of Mosques, which has a strict definition of halal meat as coming from only unstunned animals, objected and threatened to ask Muslim families across the county to boycott all school meals.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 31 votes] Why should the minority rule over the majority, its cruel and inhumane. Why do we pander to these people? The decision has been made and should be upheld.

[2ND 23] Lancashire Muslim leaders yet again show themselves to be inward looking and self obsessed. Koran allows Muslims to eat non halal if they are in a non Muslim community. Cruelty is cruelty and religion should not be used as a mask for cruelty.

[3RD 20] The bigger picture is - muslims DO NOT want to fit into the societies they migrate to. They EXPECT their hosts to conform to their ways. Lots of Chinese, Italian & Polish people have made the UK their home. You don't hear them making demands all the time.

You don't hear about 'The Grand Council of Chinese this and that' or 'Italian community leaders' placing demands on the UK to change things to their liking. They quietly fit in, get on with their lives & enjoy the hospitality & freedoms the UK has to offer.

[4TH 18] This is cruel and not part of British culture. When people talk about integration it means sometime giving up parts of your culture and accepting the culture of the country you now live in.

For example, if I was to move to Saudi Arabia where alcohol is not permitted I couldnt expect to go out on the lash and disrespect their culture. Those would be the rules and I would have to abide by them OR move to a country that had different rules.

Its the same with halal meat. Its not part of British culture. So either accept that or move. Its not racist. Its not divisive. Its living within the culture of this country. [Lancashire Telegraph] Read more

Family filmed hacking up animal carcasses in their garden sparks hygiene probe by council

Neighbours alerted environmental health officials after the raw meat was chopped up on a tarpaulin. It is not known if the family — celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice — slaughtered the animals at home or were simply butchering them.

Julia McClenaghan, 62, whose flat overlooks the yard in Dagenham, Essex, said: “It seems one of the least hygienic places to prepare meat, and they were using an old rag to wipe their tools.”

A woman living at the property confirmed yesterday they had been butchering for Eid but denied any wrongdoing.

Sun columnist Anila Baig said Muslim families traditionally sacrifice a goat or sheep and divide it into portions for Eid al-Adha.

But she added: “In this day and age, it’s extremely unusual for someone to do this themselves at home. [The Sun] Read more

Germany's Salafist Muslim children being radicalized faster and younger: intelligence report

Germany faces a growing threat from children raised in Salafist families, according to the country’s domestic intelligence service.

A recent report issued by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), warned that these children are “educated from birth with an extremist world view that legitimizes violence against others and degrades those who aren’t part of their group.”

The radicalization of youngsters is happening faster and earlier, according to Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s BfV.

Frank Jansen, a journalist with Berlin’s centrist paper Der Tagesspiegel, and an expert on extremism in Germany, notes that most of the Salafist minors in the BfV report are younger than eight-years-old. According to Jansen, the report calls these children ticking time bombs. [FOX News] Read more

22 August 2018

Swedish authorities monitor Islamic group's campaign to stop Swedish Muslims voting

The Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has launched a campaign under the slogan 'Use your voice – but not in the election', arguing that it is "sinful" for Muslims to take part in non-Islamic votes.

Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) is monitoring the campaign and has informed the Swedish Election Authority, as well as producing a handbook for communicators in order to help them deal with campaigns urging non-voting.

"MSB is primarily monitoring foreign influence activities and actors. The Hizb ut-Tahrir propaganda activity was identified in our general monitoring," Mikael Tofvesson, head of MSB's global monitoring and analysis section, told The Local via email.

Kirstine Sinclair, a professor in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, told The Local the group has carried out similar activities in other countries. They are "well-known in connection with Danish general elections" for example, she said. [The Local] Read more

Race is on to create 'halal' measles vaccine

An Indonesian pharmaceuticals company has said it is racing to produce a "halal" form of the measles-rubella vaccine amid concerns that conservative Muslim parents might deny their children’s inoculation on the grounds that it contains traces of pork.

The state-owned Bio Farma confirmed its research after the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), considered to be the Southeast Asian nation’s most authoritative Muslim body, declared the vaccination to be ‘haram’, or religiously forbidden.

MUI quickly clarified that in light of the dangers posed by the diseases, Muslims should continue to use the vaccine until an alternative was found.

However, its initial declaration that the vaccine was ‘unclean’ has provoked fears that conservatives may still shun the injection for religious reasons. [The Telegraph] Read more

Saudi Arabia 'seeks death penalty for woman activist'

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has reportedly sought the death penalty for five activists, including the female rights defender Israa al-Ghomgham.

Human Rights Watch said they recently went on trial at a terrorism tribunal on charges including "participating in protests" in the restive Qatif region.

It has been the scene of demonstrations by the minority Shia Muslim community.

Ms Ghomgham is believed to be the first Saudi woman to possibly face the death penalty for rights-related work.

HRW warned that it set "a dangerous precedent for other women activists currently behind bars" in the Gulf kingdom.

At least 13 human rights defenders and women's rights activists have been arrested since mid-May, accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. Some have been released, but others remain detained without charge. [BBC] Read more

Berlin sees rise in Salafists, extreme right and radical left: report

The German capital is home to a growing number of followers of radical Islam and members of the extreme right, according to a new report.

The total number of Salafists in Berlin rose to 950 from 840 the previous year, Der Tagesspiegel reported Wednesday, citing an as-yet-unpublished report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Berlin.

The growing numbers in Berlin mirror a nationwide pattern that saw the number of Salafists — who espouse a hard-line interpretation of Islam, and in some cases embrace jihadist ideology — in Germany edge up to 10,800 in 2017 compared to 9,700 the previous year, according to an interior ministry report released last year.

In its report, the ministry describes Germany’s Salafism scene as “the main recruiting source for jihad” despite the fact that “political Salafists usually refrain from using violence.” It also noted that analysis of recent terror attacks in Germany and in Europe shows that “jihadist activities are very often preceded by Salafist radicalization.” [POLITICO] Read more

21 August 2018

Iran Sentences 12 Christians to Year in Prison for House Church Worship, Evangelism

An Iranian court has sentenced 12 Christians to one year in prison for holding worship meetings and evangelizing — crimes that Iran considers to be "propaganda activities."

The Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News reports that a Christian convert known as Payam Kharaman and 11 other Christians who were arrested in Bushehr in April 2015 were sentenced for the crime of promoting what the Iranian authorities call Zionist propaganda that goes against the Islamic Republic's Shia Muslim-controlled system.

Kharaman told the news outlet that he and the others were accused of the crimes because they held house worship meetings, evangelized and invited others to accept Christ as their Savior. Additionally, the Christians were charged with "inclination to the land of Christianity." [The Christian Post] Read more

Woman who complained about noisy mosque jailed for blasphemy

An Indonesian court has sentenced a Buddhist woman to 18 months in prison for blasphemy after she was accused of insulting Islam.

Meiliana, a 44-year-old ethnic Chinese woman, had complained the Muslim call to prayer, which is repeated five times a day, was being played too loudly at the mosque near her house in North Sumatra.

She burst into tears as the presiding judge, Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo announced her sentence on Tuesday and she was taken from the court in handcuffs.

Prosecutors alleged she had violated the country’s criminal code by committing blasphemy against Islam, the dominant faith in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. [The Independent] Read more

Saudi female activist faces death penalty, rights groups say

Human rights groups warned this week that prominent political activist Israa al-Ghomgham could soon be executed by the Saudi government.

Al-Ghomgham was arrested along with her husband in December 2015 over her support for protests against the authorities in Riyadh. She has spent the past 32 months in detention.

A video shared online over the past few days purported to show al-Ghomgham's body after her execution. However, the footage turned out to be three years old.

For now, "her life is safe," Ali Adubisi, the director of the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Adubisi said that al-Ghomgham's trial began on August 6, and that she could face execution by beheading on October 28 if found guilty. Some Saudi lawyers have offered to work on her case pro bono, the ESOHR reported. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

20 August 2018

Danish parties ready to deny citizenship to those who refuse to shake hands

Over the weekend it emerged that a Muslim couple in Switzerland were denied citizenship after refusing to shake hands of people of the opposite gender during an interview pertaining to their citizenship process.

Now two Danish parties, Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Konservative (K), want to make it mandatory in Denmark for people to shake hands with mayors of their respective municipalities during citizenship ceremonies.

“A handshake must simply be a demand. If you want to be a Danish citizen, you need to be prepared to greet politely and decently with other people. And in Denmark that means shaking hands. That’s just how it is,” Martin Henriksen, the DF spokesperson for immigration issues, told Ekstra Bladet tabloid. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

Government accused of ‘extreme negligence’ over deal to sell non-stunned slaughtered lambs to Saudi Arabia

Ministers have been accused of opening the door to lower animal welfare standards post-Brexit after it emerged the UK has agreed to sell meat to Saudi Arabia from lambs that were not stunned before being slaughtered. Senior MPs and animal welfare groups have attacked the deal, understood to be worth around £25m over the next five years.

They believe the move signals the Government’s intent to lower welfare standards once the UK leaves the European Union as it frantically seeks to sign trade deals with other countries around the world.

According to Vet Record magazine, British lamb to be exported to Saudi Arabia is being certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee, which prohibits any stunning of animals before they are slaughtered. [inews.co.uk] Read more

19 August 2018

Government accused of inaction as number of British girls forced into marriages abroad has soared by a third since 2015

.... “The training that school staff receive to help them spot these issues is really poor, meaning that a lot of people who work in schools have no idea how to even recognise that it is happening.

“Rather than there being any attempt to understand a different culture or why this happening to young girls it often becomes this very uncomfortable anti-Muslim conversation. Ultimately the really crap training that school staff get around this issue only puts these kids even more at risk because nobody knows what to look out for.”

This echoes research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) from last year which found less than half of teachers said they had been given training to recognise the signs of forced marriage. [The Independent] Read more

18 August 2018

'We are real': Saudi feminists launch online radio

Operating out of a small room in an unknown country, a new internet radio station broadcasts a programme aimed at campaigning for greater women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

With melancholy music playing in the background, the presenter of Nsawya FM (Feminism FM) addresses the issue of domestic violence in the Gulf kingdom.

The presenter's voice shakes with emotion as she discusses the fate of Sara, a woman she says was killed by a male relative.

She was a 33-year-old university graduate with a job who lived with her parents - and who wanted to marry a man with a different nationality, that of Yemen.

"Sara's dream was ended with five bullets shot by her 22-year-old brother, even though she had been officially engaged with the consent of her parents," Ashtar, a 27 year old who uses a pseudonym inspired by the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, later told BBC Arabic by phone. [BBC] Read more

17 August 2018

Couple denied Swiss citizenship over handshake refusal

A couple who refused to shake hands or answer questions with members of the opposite sex on a naturalisation board in Lausanne have been denied Swiss citizenship.

In a statement issued on Fridayexternal link, the Lausanne city authorities confirmed a recent local newspaper report that it had denied a couple Swiss citizenship for refusing to shake hands with members of the opposite sex on the board during a naturalisation interview in spring.

But there had been other reasons that justified their rejection, the statement went on.

“During the hearing, this couple displayed a general discriminatory behaviour which was demonstrated by their refusal to answer questions posed by people of the opposite sex,” it said.

“Such an attitude does not respect a fundamental principle of our Constitution and a pillar of our society, namely equality between men and women. The Municipality noted that this couple did not meet the legal requirements and thus rejected their request.” [swissinfo.ch] Read more

16 August 2018

Manchester mosque sermon 'called for armed jihad', say scholars

A sermon at the mosque where the Manchester bomber worshipped called for the support of armed jihadist fighters, according to two Muslim scholars.

An imam at Didsbury Mosque in December 2016 was recorded praying for "victory" for "our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq".

Scholars Usama Hasan and Shaykh Rehan said it referred to "military jihad".

The imam, Mustafa Graf, says his sermon did not call for armed jihad and he has never preached radical Islam.

The recording the BBC obtained is of Friday prayers at the mosque six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017.

Abedi and his family regularly attended the mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer. [BBC] Read more

Boris Johnson and the burqa both causing concern - Readers respond to Guardian articles by Matthew d’Ancona, Emine Saner and Polly Toynbee

The Muslim women featured in Emine Saner’s article .... miss the point as to why most of us find the niqab so objectionable. This has little to do with religion or racism. It is because the niqab covers the face and effectively renders a woman unidentifiable. It is incomprehensible to many of us that the human face, the means by which we communicate and relate to each other, should be deemed unfit to be seen in public.

.... comparing a tiny minority of Muslim women in the UK to letterboxes is not racist. Surely it is not necessary to state again that Islam is not a race. It is a shifting set of dogmas, prescriptions, beliefs and practices to which anyone from any ethnic origin is invited to subscribe. There are “white” Muslim converts who choose to wear the niqab. To confuse religion and race is to make the humanist’s task more difficult when confronting religions head on, or, as Albert Camus famously put it: “To name things incorrectly is to add to the misfortunes of the world.” [The Guardian] Read more

Boris Johnson and the burqa both causing concern

The Muslim women featured in Emine Saner’s article (‘Boris Johnson wants to get the populist vote – at our expense’, G2, 15 August) miss the point as to why most of us find the niqab so objectionable. This has little to do with religion or racism. It is because the niqab covers the face and effectively renders a woman unidentifiable.

It is incomprehensible to many of us that the human face, the means by which we communicate and relate to each other, should be deemed unfit to be seen in public. Even more offensive, especially in these egalitarian times, is the idea that it is the female face alone that is required to be covered.

.... If Polly Toynbee were to walk the streets of Birmingham, she would see that the practice is far from the preserve of a tiny group. Mr Johnson might be a sharp political operator, but on this occasion his vivid choice of metaphor might start to undermine the apparent taboo surrounding the issue. [The Guardian] Read more

Manchester mosque sermon 'called for armed jihad', say scholars

A sermon at the mosque where the Manchester bomber worshipped called for the support of armed jihadist fighters, according to two Muslim scholars.

An imam at Didsbury Mosque in December 2016 was recorded praying for "victory" for "our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq".

Scholars Usama Hasan and Shaykh Rehan said it referred to "military jihad".

The imam, Mustafa Graf, says his sermon did not call for armed jihad and he has never preached radical Islam.

The recording the BBC obtained is of Friday prayers at the mosque six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017.

Abedi and his family regularly attended the mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer.

The family's whereabouts on the day of the sermon are unknown but the BBC has been told that Abedi bought a ticket for the concert 10 days later. [BBC] Read more

We are not to fit in

"But what we need to understand is that the battle between us and the West is an ideological battle. It's an ideological battle. Everything we represent goes in total contradiction to what the West represents, because all of Islam is in opposition to secularism. They know this, and it is time that we did too. [...]

"My dear brothers and sisters, this idea of fitting in – we need to eliminate this from our vocabulary. Again, we are to stand out. We are a unique nation with a unique set of solutions. We are not to fit in.

How dare the truth and the falsehood hold hands? How dare we think that fitting in is the sole purpose of this message? A Muslim may not choose which aspect of Islam to adhere to or to abandon. We have no choice in the matter. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Fatwa-hit scholar calls for more tolerant Islam in the UK

But instead of shrinking from the limelight, Scottish scholar Paigham Mustafa has pledged to step up his efforts to question Islamic teaching by setting up a new think tank to reverse “Muslim social self-exclusion” and ensure greater integration for the community in the UK..

Mr Mustafa as targeted by Muslims in Glasgow and had to seek police protection after he spoke out about the more restrictive practices of Islam being propagated by Mosques.

In response, he says that 15 imams issued the fatwa - or ruling - calling for other Muslims to take action against him.

He has since 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, and has sought the protection of the police.

.... “Muslim social self-exclusion has become a largely voluntary phenomenon within the UK. This tendency towards Muslim segregation must be reversed to reduce social tensions, youth disaffection, juvenile criminality, economic deprivation, political disillusion and community alienation,” said Mr Mustafa. [Evening Times]

Read more

15 August 2018

Senator Fraser Anning gives controversial maiden speech calling for Muslim immigration ban

In a provocative first speech to Parliament, Queensland senator Fraser Anning has called for a return to a "European Christian" immigration system and a ban on Muslims migrating to Australia.

The Katter's Australian Party senator's praise for the White Australia policy has been swiftly condemned as "vile" and "bile" by his parliamentary opponents.

"We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society," he told the Upper House.

"Those who come here need to assimilate and integrate."

He said migrants should embrace the English language and Australian values, saying cultural diversity undermined social cohesion.

"Ethnocultural diversity ... has been allowed to rise to dangerous levels in many suburbs," he said.

"In direct response, self-segregation, including white flight from poorer inner-urban areas, has become the norm." [ABC] Read more

Woman wins handshake discrimination case in Sweden

A Muslim woman whose job interview was cut short when it became known that she would not shake hands with male colleagues for religious reasons, was indirectly discriminated against, the Swedish Labour Court has ruled.

The 24-year-old woman had been called to a job interview in Uppsala with a company providing interpretation services via telephone or video, as The Local reported last year. But when she declined to shake hands with one of the interviewers, a male manager, he terminated the meeting.

Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman took the case to the Labour Court last year, arguing that the woman, who would not have had to meet customers in her role, had been discriminated against.

The company admitted that it considered germophobia and autism legitimate reasons for not shaking hands, but argued that its policy called for employees to treat all colleagues equally no matter their sex. [The Local] Read more

Whittington Hospital apologises for mistakenly selling non-halal chicken in canteen

THE Whittington and its private contractor Sodexo offered “sincere apologies” to Muslim patients and visitors for wrongly selling non-halal chicken in its canteen.

The Whittington said it was now “reviewing our relationship” with its contractor Sodexo. The firm was brought in on a five year contract in 2014 when all catering services were privatised by the NHS trust.

Hospital staff were informed today after the New Journal contacted the NHS trust for comment on Tuesday night. [Camden New Journal] Read more

Fraser Anning: Australia MPs condemn 'final solution' speech

An Australian senator has been widely condemned for a speech that invoked the term "final solution" in a call for immigration restrictions based on race.

Fraser Anning, from the conservative Katter's Australian Party, called for migration bans on Muslims and others in his maiden Senate speech on Tuesday.

Political opponents denounced his speech as "disgraceful". Mr Anning said he did not need to apologise.

"Final solution" was a term infamously used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

In his speech, Mr Anning said "the final solution to the immigration problem is a popular vote".

On Wednesday, lawmakers across the political divide moved to pass parliamentary motions censuring Mr Anning for his "racist hate speech", noting in particular his use of the phrase "final solution", and his "false, misleading and hurtful statements" about Muslim Australians and other immigrant groups. [BBC] Read more

14 August 2018

NSS backs call for review of role of sharia ‘courts’ in divorce

The National Secular Society has backed calls for the government to withdraw divorce guidance which encourages women from minority religious backgrounds to turn to religious 'courts'.

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans has joined campaigners in signing an open letter to the Ministry of Justice which has been published on the website of Southall Black Sisters (SBS). SBS campaigns for the rights of women in minority communities.

The letter calls for "an urgent review into sharia and civil marriage and divorce laws and to guarantee access to justice for all".

.... "The state should treat marriage and divorce as civil processes, governed by what is best for the individuals involved and society as a whole. But the government's guidance leaves women at the mercy of religious authorities who do not share these priorities, endangering their rights.

"The best way to ensure marriage and divorce are handled fairly is to recognise the supremacy of civil law over the religious and secularise the marriage laws."

The signatories call on the government to withdraw this guidance. [National Secular Society] Read more

13 August 2018

Tribunal dismisses homophobic Muslim teacher’s discrimination claim

An employment tribunal has dismissed a Muslim deputy head teacher's claim of religious discrimination, while claiming homophobic views he expressed had "nothing to do with" his religious beliefs.

.... In one message Faraz shared a BBC article entitled 'Gay Pakistan; where sex is available and relationships are difficult'. Alongside the message he wrote that "the problem of homosexuality is rife in Pakistan", adding "sign of the end of times" and "may Allah further expose this and give us the strength to deal and eradicate it".

In another message he shared a Guardian article on the resources available to teachers on gay marriage. He wrote: "These animals are going out full force. As teachers we must be aware and counter their satanic ways of influencing young people."

When the messages were revealed the trust decided they had breached part two of the teachers' standards issued by the Department for Education. This includes the requirement for teachers, "within and outside school", to show "tolerance of and respect for the rights of others". [National Secular Society] Read more

French MPs ‘sickened’ by Gap Kids advert showing girl wearing hijab

An American advert showing a Muslim girl wearing a headscarf has prompted an outcry in France and been deemed an affront to the nation’s secularist principles.

The back-to-school campaign by Gap Kids was shot in a New York primary school but published by Gap in French on social media. The girl is dressed in denim and a headscarf as she plays with classmates of various ethnicities.

The image has prompted criticism because of France’s attachment to la laïcité, the 113-year-old reform that separates religion from public life. Hijab-style headcoverings have been banned from state schools, along with other “ostentatious” religious insignia, since 2004. [The Times (£)] Read more

Tunisian president proposes inheritance equality for women, with exceptions

Tunisia’s president on Monday proposed giving women equal inheritance rights despite protests from thousands of people objecting to any challenge to Islamic law.

The North African Muslim country, which toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, grants women more rights than other countries in the region, and since last year has allowed Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.

But in a show how divided society remains, thousands demonstrated on Saturday in front of parliament against any changes to inheritance rules.

The current system is based on Islamic law which typically allows men to inherit double what a woman would receive.

“I propose equality inheritance to become law,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a speech.

But in the face of the opposition from conservatives, he left the door open for some exceptions, saying families who wished to continue the allocation based on Islamic law would be able to do so. [Arab News] Read more

Trojan horse teacher called gays ‘animals’

A deputy head teacher who said that gay people should be eradicated has lost his latest attempt to get his job back.

Razwan Faraz’s claim for unfair dismissal has been thrown out by an employment judge. Mr Faraz had alleged that he was the victim of religious discrimination when he was sacked for making homophobic comments.

Mr Faraz, 38, worked at the multi-faith Nansen Primary School, which became embroiled in the Trojan horse scandal when an alleged plot by a group of conservative Muslims to take over several Birmingham schools and impose an Islamist ethos was laid out in an anonymous letter

Nansen Primary was placed in special measures alongside four other schools in 2014. It has since been removed from special measures by Ofsted but Mr Faraz lost his job in 2015 over comments he made in a Whatsapp group called “Park View Brotherhood” in which he also described gay people as “animals”.

.... During the disciplinary hearing Mr Faraz said that his views had changed and that the outburst had been an expression of his faith. A tribunal panel found that his comments “were a significant factor in causing the school to be brought into disrepute”.

He also lost on appeal and a judgment published last month said that his comments were “demonstrably homophobic” and described him as “evasive” and “not a credible witness”. [The Times (£)] Read more

12 August 2018

Boris Johnson must face full inquiry, Muslim leaders tell May

Britain’s largest Islamic organisation is writing to Theresa May to demand Boris Johnson be subject to a full disciplinary inquiry, saying no one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said Islamophobic incidents had spiked since Johnson’s controversial article was published a week ago and therefore the Conservative party process needed to go beyond its initial stage.

“We are hopeful that the party will not allow any whitewashing of this specific inquiry currently in process. No one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity,” the letter prepared by the MCB will say.

In a statement the MCB said: “It is of deep concern that some Conservative members of parliament appear to be pressuring the chair of the party to dismiss the complaints made. [The Guardian] Read more

Johnson has created a moment more divisive than ‘rivers of blood’

There was a time when Conservatives used to split over this or that aspect of an EU treaty; or the practice of monetarism; or the composition of the House of Lords; or the consequences of welfare policy. Now they argue over whether it is acceptable to sneer at Muslim women in religious dress. O tempora, o mores, as Jacob Rees-Mogg might say.

There is depressing bathos in the fact that two cheap gags in Boris Johnson’s Daily Telegraph column about the burqa have caused such a rift. But they have.

The former foreign secretary refuses to apologise for writing that a Muslim woman wearing the veil resembles “a bank robber” and that it is “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes”. He is now under investigation by his own party, which has received dozens of complaints. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Boris Johnson niqab row: the veil enslaves, and it isn’t racist to say so

The first veiled woman I came across was a teacher at a mosque in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where I grew up. Most of us Muslim girls, then aged 9 or 10, found it very odd. Whenever the male imam came into our section she would rush to either cover her face or turn her back so he couldn’t see her. We didn’t get it.

So I was surprised at the furore last week when Boris Johnson wrote that Muslim women who wear the face veil “look like letter boxes” and compared them to bank robbers. Quite rightly, he doesn’t think we should ban the niqab in all public places, as Denmark has done, but described them as “absolutely ridiculous”.

There are many Muslims — including many of my relatives — who hate the niqab and what it stands for, and will use much worse language than “letter box” about them: words like “ninja” and “bin bags” come to mind. [The Times (£)] Read more

Burka poll shows Britons BACK Boris Johnson as MP warns row threatens Tory World War 3

The former foreign secretary caused huge controversy when he wrote that women wearing the Muslim garment looked like “letter boxes” or “bank robbers”.

But most people believe the leading Tory leadership contender, who flew back into England after a short break in Italy yesterday, should not be disciplined by the party over the article.

And 60 per cent of people say free speech is under threat, the ComRes poll shows.

The results come as calls mount for the Conservatives to drop any disciplinary proceedings against Mr Johnson.

.... The poll found 53 per cent of people do not think Mr Johnson should be disciplined for his comments about women wearing the burka.

It also found that 60 per cent of people believe protection of our rights to free speech have been weakened.

Last night the Conservatives defended their inquiry, saying they had a “responsibility” to investigate following complaints over the article in which Mr Johnson called the burka “ridiculous”. [Daily Express] Read more

11 August 2018

Taj Hargey interview: ‘The burka is a fifth column... we will wake in the Islamic Republic of Britain’

Taj Hargey, the Oxford imam and scholar who robustly defended Boris Johnson in the row over burkas this week, has a habit of asking vivid questions and then answering them himself with a punchiness that makes the former foreign secretary seem timid and colourless.

“Do you think that these Wahhabis, Saudis and other extremists are going to be content with the burka and niqab?” he asks. “No! [The burka] is a fifth column, it’s a Trojan horse. They are going to bring other forms of Sharia down the pike. This is not the end of the story.

“White, liberal, Guardian-type readers think that they should allow this multiculturalism, where everything is equal, to flourish. They are in for a rude shock. One day they will wake up, if nothing happens [to stop it], to an Islamic republic of Britain. Now, before that happens I’m out of here. If tomorrow an Islamic Republic of Britain is announced, I leave tonight.” [The Times (£)] Read more

Bishop calls for burka ban: Pakistani-born Church of England cleric voices support for outlawing veil in public

A senior Church of England bishop last night called for a near-total ban on the wearing of burkas in public.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, GP surgeries, universities and schools.

The cleric said a ban should also extend to areas where there were legitimate security and safety concerns, such as at airports or while driving a car. However, he said it was acceptable for women to wear face veils at home, while in the street and at prayer.

The controversial call from the Pakistani-born bishop, who led the Diocese of Rochester between 1994 and 2009, drew support last night from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey said ‘oppressive’ veils should not become ‘normalised’. [Daily Mail] Read more

Frenzy about the burka is no help to women

.... Nor should we hold back from examining exactly what “choice” means. Are Muslim women really choosing the hijab if state primary schools, against all Koranic teaching and despite campaigns by secular feminists, have allowed it to be imposed upon them from early childhood?

Why did husbands in the Open Society study mainly encourage wives to veil? To keep them from other men’s eyes, to possess and contain them? Britain should consider French and Danish legislation which imposes hefty fines and imprisonment on anyone forcing a woman to cover.

There are a thousand better ways to support Muslim women than a burka ban. We could insist that Islamic marriage is accompanied by a state ceremony to give Muslim wives legal divorce rights; support the campaign One Law for All to diminish the role of Sharia courts; invest in English lessons for foreign brides; prosecute forced marriage with more vigour.

.... Do those who favour a burka ban really seek a tolerant society? Or do they need extremes: hate figures in black veils, “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. Meanwhile Islamists long to portray these defiant burka-wearers as victims. Both want clear-cut lines, a battle that may hit the streets, end up with slapped women, and children who having witnessed their mother’s humiliation may turn to violence. In our volatile times, we must ask if we want to build a cohesive society or fight an unwinnable war [The Times (£)] Read more

10 August 2018

Questioning the misogynistic veil isn’t racist

.... the purpose of veiling is to “stop men’s thoughts about women”. This not only effectively places the blame for sexual harassment and assault on women and girls, it also positions men as bestial victims of their uncontrollable urges. It is insulting to all, and when applied to veiling youngsters, it implicitly sexualises children and normalises paedophilia. How can any thinking person with a functioning moral compass defend such blatant misogyny?

The lazy cultural relativism of those who express shock and disgust at Boris Johnson’s comments, without ever thinking of women such as Hessa leaves those who are most marginalised at risk. But those of us who are free to criticise shouldn’t be shamed into silence; people, like me, who aren’t from Muslim backgrounds have a duty to call out all oppressive practices, not just those that affect us. Failing to see the sexism behind the veil is cowardly and careless racism. [UnHerd] Read more

Boris Johnson critic Lord Sheikh receives abusive emails after complaining about burka ‘letterbox’ comments

.... He said he’s received 75 emails since calling on Johnson to resign. Fifteen were complimentary, while the rest included “offensive language” and “horrible things, obscene things about the Prophet Muhammad”. Johnson’s comments have caused a rift in the Tory Party, who are currently investigating dozens of complaints against the former London Mayor.

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis is among those calling on him to apologise. And a letter signed by around 100 Muslim women who wear the burka or niqab has been sent to Mr Lewis calling for the former Foreign Secretary to lose the party whip. They accused him of making a deliberate choice to “inflame tensions in a way which makes it easier for bigots to justify hate crimes against us”. [inews.co.uk] Read more

Bus driver disciplined for asking Muslim woman to remove veil

A bus driver has been disciplined after asking a Muslim woman to remove her face veil, telling passengers: “This world is dangerous.”

The 20-year-old woman was with her two-month-old baby when the driver of a First service into Bristol city centre told her he did not know what she was capable of doing if he could not see her face.

The woman, who has not been named, told Bristol Live: “He said I was scary and I was dangerous, and he kept talking about it during the journey. I didn’t say anything.

“He continued to insult me, and he made me out to be a terrorist, and kept saying everyone should see each other’s faces. He asked why I was wearing a balaclava. He was insinuating I was going to bomb the bus.”

The woman said the incident had made her feel “horrible and disappointed”.

“I get that he might not be from the country, so maybe he has never seen a person with a face veil, but for him to treat me like that in a public place is wrong,” she said. “It’s 2018, we shouldn’t be like that. I’m being stereotyped.” [The Guardian] Read more

Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson over burka 'joke'

Boris Johnson has been defended by comedian Rowan Atkinson following his recent comments about burkas.

The actor, best known for playing Mr Bean and Blackadder, described the remarks as funny.

The former foreign secretary has also won the support of ex-cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell, who called the comments "colourful" but not against the law.

The Conservative Party have decided Mr Johnson should be investigated by an independent panel following complaints his comments breached the Tories' code of conduct.

The Uxbridge MP compared women who wear the burka to "bank robbers" and questioned why they would "go around looking like letter boxes". [Sky News] Read more

09 August 2018

Ottawa mosque loses charity status for promoting ‘hate and intolerance’

The federal government has stripped one of Ottawa’s largest mosques of its charity status over “activities that promote hate and intolerance,” Global News has learned.

The Canada Revenue Agency took action against the Ottawa Islamic Centre and Assalam Mosque following audits that raised concerns about its roster of guest speakers.

“Many of the views expressed by the organization’s speakers are misogynistic, homophobic, racist and/or promote violence,” the CRA Charities Branch wrote in a letter sent to the mosque president.

The CRA was also concerned that “radicalized individuals” had attended the mosque, one of whom, Ashton Larmond, is now imprisoned for attempting to join the so-called Islamic State. [Global News] Read more

Boris Johnson is a buffoon but if there's one thing we all need to agree on it's that our society is built on the absolute freedom to disagree

.... Ten years ago, you could (just about) say that the rise of the burka on the streets of our cities made you feel a bit uncomfortable, as if one group of people wanted to feel separate from the rest of society.

God forbid you voice that point of view now - you're called an islamophobe, a racist and God knows what else within seconds on social media. We have entered a puritanical age with black and white and nothing in between. No debate, just shrieking statements.

The latest spat about the burka has brought out the worse in all concerned, and laid bare our lily-livered snowflake society, full of knee jerk reactions and bids for Twitter stardom.

.... Boris Johnson is a publicity-seeking buffoon, who would make just about the worst Prime Minister on record. He thrives on the oxygen of publicity, which explains his latest rantings about women in burkas looking like 'letterboxes', made at a time when he's not in any position of real power.

Actually, he was making a valid point - that Denmark's decision to ban wearing the burka in the street - following France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the German republic of Bavaria- was ill-advised. He said 'women should be free to wear what they want'. Correct answer. [Daily Mail] Read more

It’s a fiction to suggest that there was no plot by Islamist hardliners to take over state schools

The imagery could not be clearer. A schoolgirl looks startled. A white hand grabs at her jumper. Another pulls at her hijab. Well integrated – she wears pink nail varnish – and hard working – she clutches her exercise book – she is none the less under attack by a powerful, white adversary.

This photograph, published by the Guardian and the BBC, and used to market a play shown this week at the Edinburgh Festival, conveys exactly the message the writers of Trojan Horse want.

.... There is plenty more evidence that proves Trojan Horse involved a campaign to transform, illegally, secular schools into austere Islamic faith schools. Telling the affected communities – poor, isolated and vulnerable to extremism – that it was instead an Islamophobic plot by government is wrong. Doing so will cause division, undermine faith in the authorities, and promote behaviour that is antithetical to British values. Deliberate or not, Left-wingers in the arts and media risk playing the extremists’ game. Any attempt to rewrite the history of Trojan Horse must not be allowed to succeed. [The Telegraph] Read more

08 August 2018

Tories should ignore self-appointed Muslim leaders

.... What’s at stake here is the desire of Warsi and others to be the official voice of all Britain’s Muslims, even though there is no evidence that Muslims as a whole want that. They’re right that anti-Muslim hate crimes are rising but that’s a matter for the police. They’re right that the Tories have some pretty unsavoury characters but that’s something the party has to sort out for itself.

In their narrow focus on issues such as “Islamophobia” and foreign policy, they ignore the reality that many Muslims are more interested in the same issues as the wider population: jobs, education and the NHS.

The Tories should ignore the calls for an official investigation into the party’s problem with Muslims. That’s not to say the Conservatives don’t have a problem with Muslim voters, and ethnic minorities generally. They do. But it is for the voters to punish them if they come up short. That’s how democracy works. [The Times (£)] Read more

Boris Johnson burka row: Tories should ditch MP, peer says

Boris Johnson should be kicked out of the Conservative Party for his remarks about the burka, a Muslim peer says.

Conservative Muslim Forum founder Lord Sheikh told Newsnight demands from the PM for an apology were not enough.

He has called for Mr Johnson to have the whip removed - meaning the MP would no longer represent the Tory party.

Mr Johnson said Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes" and compared them to "bank robbers". A source said he stood by the comments.

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi - the first Muslim woman to sit in a British cabinet - said comments like Mr Johnson's could lead to a rise in hate crime in the UK.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said there was no reason not to have a "robust conversation", but added: "We're not talking to our friends in the pub, we are public figures and we have an additional obligation to be careful." [BBC] Read more

07 August 2018

High Court rules Muslim ‘marriage’ void rather than non-marriage

A woman who had a Muslim 'marriage' ceremony but not a civil one is entitled to a decree of nullity which rules her marriage void, the High Court has ruled.

Last week Mr Justice Williams declared that Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan had a void marriage rather than a non-marriage.

He ruled that the couple had "a marriage entered into in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage". Under the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973 this entitled Akhter to a decree of nullity, which rules a marriage void.

The decision means the provisions of civil divorce law will apply and Akhter will be entitled to protection under English law.

The couple had an Islamic wedding ceremony (a nikah) in 1998 but did not have a civil ceremony. They lived together as a married couple for 18 years and had four children, living in London, Birmingham and Dubai. In 2016 the 'wife' went to court to ask for a divorce. [National Secular Society] Read more

Boris Johnson and the liberal criticism of Islam

.... What Boris’s shrill detractors are really demanding is that he respect everything about Islam. That he be unquestioning towards this religion. That he celebrate it and love it, unconditionally. But why should he? His responsibility, as a politician, is to never interfere with people’s religious freedom; he doesn’t have to like people’s religious beliefs.

The attacks on Boris are a reactionary, illiberal assault on his right to be critical of certain aspects of religious ideology. People are not demanding that he support freedom of religion, because it is clear from his column that he already does. Rather, they are demanding that he bow and scrape before Islamic values and never criticise them again. This is a medieval demand, a war on heresy, dressed up as a progressive critique. [The Spectator] Read more

Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for burka comments as Theresa May says they 'offended people'

Boris Johnson has rejected calls to apologise for his comments about Muslim women wearing burkas as Theresa May said they had "offended people".

The former Foreign Secretary accused his critics of mounting "ridiculous" attacks and attempting to "shut down" legitimate debate.

However the Prime Minister said in Scotland that politicians have to be "very careful" about the language they use as she called on him to apologise.

It comes after Mr Johnson said in an article for The Telegraph that women who wear face veils look like "bank robbers" and "letter boxes", leading to accusations that he was fuelling.... [The Telegraph] Read more

06 August 2018

Tories are in denial on Islamophobia, says hero imam

The imam hailed for his heroism in the Finsbury Park terror attack today condemns the Government’s “lacklustre” efforts to fight Islamophobia.

Mohammed Mahmoud accuses ministers of failing to show “meaningful engagement” with the Muslim community that is feeling increasingly “vulnerable”.

Writing exclusively for the Evening Standard, in his first article since the horrific incident in June last year, he said the Government’s actions were “lacklustre, or worse, in denial”.

.... He suggested Islamophobia was becoming more mainstream and backed calls for an independent inquiry into allegations of the issue made against Conservative Party members.

.... Official figures show reports of Islamophobic incidents are on the rise. More than 700 such offences have been reported to the Metropolitan Police so far this year. Westminster has the highest number, 82, followed by Tower Hamlets, 43, Brent, 41, Waltham Forest 38, Newham 37, Haringey, 35, Camden 34 and Southwark 33. [Evening Standard] Read more

05 August 2018

Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that's still no reason to ban it

.... If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.

I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any – invariably male – government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

.... I am against a total ban because it is inevitably construed – rightly or wrongly – as being intended to make some point about Islam. If you go for a total ban, you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations; and you fan the flames of grievance.

You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse. Like a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager determined to wear a spike through her tongue, or a bolt through her nose, you run the risk that by your heavy-handed attempt to ban what you see as a bizarre and unattractive adornment you simply stiffen resistance. [The Telegraph] Read more

03 August 2018

Forced marriage: Beaten and raped after wedding to cousin

A Muslim woman with a “very significant degree of learning disability” was beaten and raped after she was forced to marry a cousin in Bangladesh and he was given a visa, court records show.

The man was free to live with her in the Midlands despite her local council knowing she was forced to marry. He later admitted having sex with her and a court was told he was “very rough and abusive, smacking her head, shaking her, and yanking her eyelid”. She was saved after social workers became increasingly concerned for her welfare. [The Times (£)] Read more

02 August 2018

Do Burqa Bans Do More Harm Than Good?

Denmark became the latest country to “ban the burqa” this week when its new law prohibiting the wearing of face coverings in public came into force.

Whilst the ban has been condemned as “discriminatory” by its critics, the Danish government insists that the law is not aimed at the religious. The law also forbids the wearing of balaclavas, face masks and fake beards, but there’s little doubt that the biggest impact will be on the relatively small number of Muslim women who wear the Islamic niqab and burqa.

Denmark is just one of a rising number of European nations to crack down on the wearing of face veils. Full or partial bans have been implemented in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Latvia, the Netherlands and in the southern German state of Bavaria.

The bans have come amid rising concerns across Europe about the growth of Islam and its influence on societies. Migration often has positive effects on countries, but it can have negative effects, too, and many European citizens are clearly concerned about the detrimental impact that Islam, or at least certain manifestations of it, is having across the continent. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Landmark ruling sees British court recognise sharia law for the first time as judge rules wife married in Islamic ceremony can make claim on husband's assets under UK law

A British court has recognised sharia law for the first time in a landmark decision as a judge ruled that a wife can claim her husband's assets in the split.

The decision came about after Nasreen Akhter wanted a divorce from her husband Mohammed Shabaz Khan. The couple were wed in an Islamic faith marriage in 1998.

Mr Khan wanted to block Mrs Akhter's divorce on the basis that they are 'not legally married' under English law and says they are married 'under Sharia law only'.

The High Court ruling on Wednesday said their union should be valid and recognised because their vows had similar expectations of a British marriage contract.

Mr Justice Williams said the marriage was considered to be void under section 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 due to it having been 'entered into in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage.' This meant that Mrs Akhter was 'entitled to a decree of nullity'.

Previously, Nikah marriages had been deemed legally non-existent, meaning that any party wishing to terminate the marriage had no legal recourse for any division of assets. [Daily Mail] Read more

Positives in Andy Burnham’s commission’s PREVENT report overshadowed by greater concerns

In September 2017, in the aftermath of the atrocities at Manchester Arena and a subsequent 500% rise in Islamophobic hate crimes, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham established the Greater Manchester Tackling Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion Commission.

On 30th July 2018, the commission published a report exploring the findings of their review into tackling violent extremism and promoting social cohesion. While offering a number of valuable insights and policy recommendations regarding tackling inequalities that lead to social exclusion, the report also exhibits key perspectives and conclusions that are a great cause for concern, specifically regarding strategies for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

A particularly commendable outcome of the report is the manner in which it highlights the frequently underestimated role of socio-economic inequalities and reductions in public services in marginalising vulnerable individuals and contributing to the social exclusion of minorities. Amongst other admirable recommendations, this understanding leads the commission to call for greater investment in youth in overcoming barriers to “education, employment, training and socializing”. [MEND] Read more

01 August 2018

Women defiant as Denmark's full-face veil ban comes into effect

DENMARK’S CONTROVERSIAL BAN on the Islamic full-face veil in public spaces came into force today as women protested the new measure which fines anyone wearing the garment.

Human rights campaigners have slammed the ban as a violation of women’s rights, while supporters argue it enables better integration of Muslim immigrants into Danish society.

Protests against the ban were planned in the capital Copenhagen and the second-biggest city Aarhus, with several hundred people expected to attend, some of them wearing the full-face veil.

A spokesman for the Copenhagen police said they did not plan to fine the protesters who violated the ban.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 2443 votes] Should be banned here too

[2ND 1864 ] If we go to Saudi Arabia etc we abide by their rules. If we Europeans welcome these people to our shores they should abide by our rules. Or else they are free to return from whence they came.

[3RD 987 ] I’m not for banning things but let’s not pretend the face veil has not come from a very misogynistic religious culture. Fenminsts defending the face veil are hilarious.

[4TH 857 ] Stopped reading after “Human rights campaigners have slammed the ban as a violation of women’s rights”.

[5TH 543 ] Well done Denmark [TheJournal.ie] Read more

Danish ban on Islamic full-face veil takes effect

Denmark's ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public spaces came into force on Wednesday, with anyone wearing a garment that hides the face in public risking a fine.

Human rights campaigners have slammed the ban as a violation of women's rights, while supporters argue it enables better integration of Muslim immigrants into Danish society.

Wearing a burqa, which covers the entire face, or the niqab, which shows only the eyes, in public will lead to a fine of 1,000 kroner ($156, 134 euros).

The ban also targets other items that hide the face such as balaclavas and false beards. Repeated violations will be fined up to 10,000 kroner. [AFP] Read more

Denmark’s Ban on Muslim Face Veil Is Met With Protest

Denmark’s ban on face veils in public took effect on Wednesday, setting off protests and reigniting a debate over a law that rights groups say discriminates against Muslim women.

The law, passed in May, does not specifically mention Muslim dress — it states that “anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine” — but protesters say Muslim women are the intended target.

On Wednesday evening, women wearing the traditional Muslim face veil, known as a niqab, and full coverage burqas were joined by dozens of supporters wearing makeshift coverings and handkerchiefs tied across their faces at a protest in central Copenhagen. A simultaneous demonstration was held in the city of Aarhus.

And at the center of a protest for a woman’s right to cover up were women who didn’t. Bare legs, exposed shoulders and long blond hair mixed with head scarves and black veils. [The New York Times] Read more

English law applies to Islamic marriage, judge rules in divorce case

A high court judge has decided that a couple’s Islamic marriage falls within the scope of English matrimonial law, in a ruling that could have implications for thousands of Muslims in the UK.

Nasreen Akhter wanted to divorce Mohammed Shabaz Khan, her husband of 20 years, but he blocked it, arguing that the couple were not married under English law.

Akhter and Khan underwent a religious marriage ceremony, known as a nikah, conducted by an imam in 1998.

This year Akhter, a solicitor, petitioned for divorce, saying the nikah constituted a valid marriage. Khan, a businessman, wanted to prevent Akhtar from bringing a case for a divorce settlement to court, and said they were married only under sharia or Islamic law.

.... Previous cases involving nikah marriages have concluded that they were legally non-existent, meaning spouses had no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets such as the family home and spouse’s pension if a marriage broke down. [The Guardian] Read more

Poll: Majority of Austrians Against Muslim Women Wearing Headscarves

A poll in Austria shows that less than half of Austrians are willing to tolerate a cityscape dominated by women wearing headscarves while a vast majority also condemn migrants who refuse to integrate.

The new poll shows that only 42 percent of eligible voters are willing to tolerate women in Islamic headscarves dominating their cities, while 84 percent say they would not tolerate migrants who refuse to integrate into Austrian society, Kronen Zeitung reports.

While the survey shows Austrians have little tolerance for those unwilling to integrate, it also revealed voters to be incredibly tolerant of those with a different political opinion to them. Nine in ten said they did not mind if another person had different political beliefs except for individuals glorifying National Socialism, or Nazism, which 87 percent said they could not tolerate. [Breitbart London] Read more