30 January 2019

Thousands Say Nike Air Max Sneaker 'Offensive' To Muslims, Petition For Recall

An online petition with nearly 15,000 signatures asks Nike to recall its Nike Air Max 270 shoe, saying the logo resembles the word Allah in Arabic and “will surely be trampled, kicked and become soiled with mud or even filth.”

The Change.org petition, created by a person named Saiqa Noreen in the U.K., says it’s “outrageous and appalling of Nike to allow the name of God on a shoe.”

“This is disrespectful and extremely offensive to Muslim’s and insulting to Islam,” Noreen writes in the petition.

The Air Max 270, which recently went on sale in new colors, retails for $150 and features “AIR MAX” stamped into the sole. The design makes part of the logo look like the word Allah in Arabic, petitioners contend

.... “Nike respects all religions and we take concerns of this nature seriously,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The AIR MAX logo was designed to be a stylized representation of Nike’s AIR MAX trademark. It is intended to reflect the AIR MAX brand only. Any other perceived meaning or representation is unintentional.” [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Pakistani Islamists to Rally Against Freed Christian Woman

A radical Islamist party in Pakistan says it has called on its followers to hold nationwide protests over the weekend against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row after being convicted for blasphemy.

Mohammad Shafiq Amini, acting leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, is urging the country's transport operators to stay off the roads on Friday and join their protest. He says police have arrested hundreds of the party's supporters following Tuesday's acquittal of Bibi to deter them from holding rallies.

Bibi, who is in hiding at an undisclosed location, is expected to join her daughters abroad soon. Her ordeal began in 2009 when she was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and was sentenced to death. [Associated Press] Read more

Muslim school will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished, Ofsted chief says

A Muslim school will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished, an Ofsted chief has told MPs.

Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham is still segregating boys and girls despite a Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that found it was unlawful, according to Luke Tryl, director of corporate strategy at Ofsted.

Addressing the women and equalities select committee, he said that Ofsted inspectors are trying to hold schools account for discriminating against girls but feel “isolated” when their stance is not backed up by ministers.

“Our inspectors are going out and having to make some quite tricky judgements where there are those potential clashes [between equalities laws and religious freedoms],” Mr Tryl said.

.... He said that Al-Hijrah school was enforcing a “very strict gender segregation” which included “denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys had had theirs”. “And we had some very discriminatory texts for instance, encouraging violence against women,” he said.

Mr Tryl said that Ofsted welcomed the Court of Appeal's ruling that gender segregation within the school fell foul of equalities laws, but despite the case concluding in mid-2017 the school has still not de-segregated. [The Telegraph] Read more

29 January 2019

Racism warning as Muslim pupils asked to draw God

Concerns have been raised after a teacher asked Muslim children to draw a picture of god, in breach of Islamic law. The incident was revealed by an academic who has warned of widespread racism and cultural ignorance in Scottish schools.

Khadija Mohammed, a lecturer and leading figure in Scotland’s equal rights movement, said that minority children faced covert and explicit racism in class, and teachers were denied promotion because of their ethnicity.

She has urged minority teachers not to “assimilate” into white culture, and to use their backgrounds to educate children about other societies. [The Times (£)] Read more

Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal upheld by Pakistan court

Pakistan's top court has rejected a challenge to the acquittal of a Christian woman on blasphemy charges.

The Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn Asia Bibi's conviction and death sentence.

She was originally convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours, and spent eight years on death row.

She has always maintained her innocence in a case that has polarised Pakistan.

The Supreme Court's quashing of her sentence last October led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws, while more liberal sections of society urged her release.

Hardliners had petitioned to overturn this ruling.

"Based on merit, this petition is dismissed," Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said in court on Tuesday. [BBC] Read more

27 January 2019

Jolo church attack: Many killed in Philippines

Two bombs at a Roman Catholic cathedral in southern Philippines have killed 20 people and injured dozens more, local officials say.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack on Jolo island, where jihadist groups are active.

The first blast happened as Sunday Mass was being celebrated. A second device exploded outside as soldiers responded.

The attack came days after a majority-Muslim area in the region voted for greater autonomy in a referendum.

A statement from IS said the attack was carried out by "two knights of martyrdom" against a "crusader temple".

Jolo has long been a base for militants, including those of the Abu Sayyaf group. Several of its factions have declared allegiance to IS. [BBC] Read more

‘INSULTING TO ISLAM’ Thousands of Muslims demand Nike recall ‘offensive’ Air Max trainer with ‘Allah written on the sole’

NIKE has been urged to recall “offensive” Air Max trainers because they have “Allah’s name in Arabic” on the sole.

Saiqa Noreen was appalled when she spotted text on the bottom of the shoe and accused the sports brand of “blasphemy”.

The illustrative wording appears to spell out the words Air Max in a joined up font.

However, Saiqa is not convinced and at the very least believes Nike have made a clumsy error - offending millions of Muslims in the process.

In Muslim culture showing the sole of your shoe is seen as the height of disrespect.

The shoe is considered dirty because it touches the ground and is associated with the foot – the lowest party of your body.

Saiqa launched a petition for Nike to recall their train with more than 4,800 signing it.

She fumes: “Nike has produced the Nike Air Max 270 shoe with the script logo on the sole resembling the word Allah in Arabic, which will surely be trampled, kicked and become soiled with mud or even filth. [The Sun] Read more

25 January 2019

Why I had to leave Saudi Arabia

In October 2018 I was asked to leave Saudi Arabia, the country of my birth, and a place where I had thought I might be able to build a new life. I was overheard discussing an article about female activists who had been detained in Saudi Arabia, while I was filming a BBC documentary about my attempt to see if I could settle there.

I had to leave the country immediately and was told that my behaviour apparently “criticised the kingdom”.

In that moment, the only thing I felt was shock. All I’d done was read an article - at most I thought I’d be reprimanded and told not to speak any further about the activists who campaigned for women to be given the right to drive.

Then the worry and the fear set in. I started to doubt myself; maybe I had done something truly terrible. It all happened so quickly, I had no time to think.

If I’d dared to stay, they could have cancelled my visa. I booked a flight to Heathrow and arrived home the same day. [BBC] Read more

24 January 2019

Pakistan's top court to decide Asia Bibi's fate as Muslim extremists demand her death

Pakistan's top court will decide next week whether a challenge against the acquittal of Christian mother Asia Bibi can proceed as radical Islamists continue to call for her execution.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, revealed that on Jan. 29 Pakistan’s Supreme Court will review a petition launched by Islamists calling for her blasphemy conviction to be overturned, the Pakistani news outlet Dawn reports. If the court rejects the petition, Bibi will finally be free to leave Pakistan.

The 47-year-old mother-of-five, who was on death row for eight years, was accused by Muslim farm laborers of having insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which is an offense punishable by death in Pakistan.

She was convicted despite denying the charges, and in October the Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict. The decision sparked nationwide protests by Muslim hardliners, prompting authorities to take Bibi into hiding. Since her acquittal, she has since been living at a secret location, under guard. [Christian Post] Read more

Holy row as councils supplying schools with halal meat accused of "normalising cruelty to animals"

Secretly filmed footage from a halal abattoir caused an outcry in 2016, showing sheep writhing in agony on a bloody floor after having their throats cut while still alive.

The abattoir, Simply Halal, has since been shut down by the Food Standards Agency and last year the owner and a slaughterman were fined for animal welfare offences, but the issue of the slaughter of livestock while still conscious is as inflamatory as ever.

By law, all animals should be stunned before slaughter, but UK and European Union rules give exemptions on religious grounds.

Kirklees in West Yorkshire is one of 17 councils that provides halal meat to schools from animals that have not been stunned before having their throats cut.

Last week council leader Shabir Pandor questioned whether those campaigning to ban non-stun slaughter really have animal welfare at heart.

.... Other groups that have criticised the slaughter of unstunned animals include the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA, which says: “Our concern is solely with the welfare of animals and we're calling for all farm animals to be stunned with no exceptions, to ensure they are unconscious and insensible to pain when killed.”

“With around 84% of halal animals already being pre-stunned and certified as halal it highlights that humane slaughter and religious practices can work together. [Daily Mirror] Read more

Iran arrested 7,000 in crackdown on dissent during 2018 - Amnesty

Amnesty International says Iran arrested 7,000 people last year in a "shameless campaign of repression".

Those swept up by the crackdown included protesters, students, lawyers, journalists, environmental and women's rights activists, and trade unionists.

Hundreds were sentenced to prison or flogging. At least 26 protesters were killed and nine others died in custody.

The crackdown was a response to unrest over poverty, corruption and the lack of political and social freedoms.

"From underpaid teachers to factory workers struggling to feed their families, those who have dared to demand their rights in Iran today have paid a heavy price," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director.

Amnesty said at least 112 were arrested or remained in detention during 2018, when women began standing on raised structures in public places and taking off their headscarves to protest against the compulsory hijab law. [BBC] Read more

Council of Europe calls for Muslim couples in UK to legally have to register marriage before or during Islamic ceremony

Muslim couples getting married in the UK should be legally required to civilly register their union before or during the Islamic ceremony, the Council of Europe has said.

Raising concerns about the role of sharia councils in family, inheritance and commercial law, the human rights organisation made up of 47 member states, called for obstacles stopping Muslim women from accessing justice to be removed.

A resolution called on British authorities step up measures to provide protection and assistance to those who are in a vulnerable position and run awareness campaigns which teach Muslim women about their rights.

.... The Council of Europe’s new resolution welcomed the recommendations put forward in last year’s Home Office review.

It also called on the UK to ensure councils operate within the law “especially as it relates to the prohibition of discrimination against women, and respect all procedural rights”. [The Independent] Read more

23 January 2019

A warning from India for European liberals on how to manage relations with Muslim minorities

.... European liberals, especially in leftist parties such as the UK Labour Party, have tried to tap into the minority vote. In doing so, they have sometimes turned a blind eye to illiberal tendencies in socially conservative milieus, such as sex segregation in faith schools. During the Salman Rushdie affair and repeatedly since, many Muslims in Europe and elsewhere have called for a ban of criticism of Islam as “hate speech” or blasphemy. Such calls are hardly compatible with free speech. Yet, they have fallen on fertile ground with many European liberals.

However, as in the case of Indian secularism, there is considerable risk of a backlash from parts of the majority. European liberals should therefore reconsider their coalition building with illiberal minority brokers, Muslim or otherwise. Unless European liberals understand this sooner rather than later, the current wave of populism will continue and may eventually sweep away the liberal establishment.

That is what happened in India, where Modi and his allies almost wiped out the parliamentary presence of the Congress and other secularist parties. [The Conversation] Read more

Muslim girls should not be forced to wear a hijab at school simply because of pressures at home, head of Ofsted says

Muslim girls should not be forced to wear headscarves in schools just because they are facing pressures from their families, the head of Ofsted has suggested.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, made the comments as she was grilled by MPs about Muslim primary school children being questioned about hijabs during inspections.

It follows a recommendation by the schools watchdog in 2017 that officials should ask girls who wear garments such as hijabs “why they do so in school”.

Ms Spielman last year publicly offered her backing to the headteacher of a primary school when she faced a backlash for trying to ban the youngest Muslim girls wearing the hijab.

.... “My concern is that children at school should be free from the pressures that exist in many communities outside of school.

“We know that some children are feeling pressurised to wear headscarves, that it can make children unhappy to be told they are not good because they are not wearing a headscarf.

“This is something that is difficult and is contested, but I don’t think we can say that children should simply be ‘allowed to look like their mothers’ is the solution.” [The Telegraph] Read more

The people most contemptuous of other religions

Egyptian-Canadian writer Said Shoaib, in a discussion with German-Egyptian political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad, author of Islamic Fascism, talks about the problem of imams in the West who teach a supremacist form of Islam - and the naivete of the Canadian government:

.... Said Shoaib: I take a stand against people who hate Canada and want to destroy it. These people have stated that this is their intention. They even said so in books that this library approved, can you believe that? A normal Muslim – whether he was born here or whether he immigrated – has no alternative form of Islam. You find this form of Islam in the mosques, in the sermons… This is the form of Islam that you see in the Islamic schools here. I did not send my daughters to Islamic schools here, out of fear. They conceal their curricula, force young girls to war the hijab, and so on… If a Muslim here does not become a terrorist, he must be a great man. We should thank him for being a good, peace-loving human being, because the natural course of events is for him to become a terrorist. […]

Hamed Abdel-Samad: A strange thing is that when these people lived in their countries of origin, they did not allow the Christians to build churches, they despised the Christians and the Baha’is, and they did not help people of other religions with their rights. But when they come to the West, they not only demand their right to worship, and their right to practice their religious rites freely, but they also demand that no one criticize their religion. Here in Canada, they audaciously criticize the Christians, the Jews, the West, and secularism… There is no such thing as “secular-phobia”… There is no "Christian-phobia".... [Mick Hartley] Read more

Ahok release a reminder of 'weaponised' blasphemy law in Indonesia

The former governor of Indonesia's capital will be released from prison on Thursday, nearly two years after being jailed for blasphemy against Islam.

And Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known as Ahok, is widely tipped to re-enter Indonesian politics – though that is unlikely to happen until after the April 17 presidential election, according to his long-time friend and human rights campaigner Andreas Harsono.

Ahok, who is an ethnically Chinese Christian, took over as governor of Jakarta when Joko Widodo was elected President in 2014.

In September 2016, Ahok was accused of blasphemy after he suggested a verse of the Koran did not state that Muslims could not be led by a non-Muslim.

The comments triggered sprawling, violent street protests by hardline Islamists, a high-profile trial, Ahok's shock conviction in May 2017, and struck a blow against pluralism and tolerance in Indonesia that is still being felt more than two years later.

Harsono, who is a researcher for Human Rights Watch Indonesia, suggested Ahok would not quit politics but that "we are in a wait-and-see moment" and that an immediate return was unlikely. [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

22 January 2019

Rahaf al-Qunun has raised a major taboo: that some Muslims reject their faith

The case of Rahaf al-Qunun is well known. Having fled Kuwait and away from alleged abuse, she landed in Bangkok and claimed asylum. The world watched as she used Twitter to effectively raise her case since she said that if she were returned to her family, she would probably be killed.

There are three things that stuck in my mind about this case. The first is that Rahaf was genuinely frightened for her life and the claims of harassment paint a picture of severe and complete control over her by her family. The second was that she raised an issue that is affecting many families in the region around the way men and women are treated so differently, and the third was she said she had rejected her faith, in this case Islam.

.... What I found was that many ex-Muslims feel isolated when they openly come out as atheists. This is further compounded by their immediate families, who disengage with them or think it’s simply a phase they are going through. There was a real fear of the threat of physical and mental harm against ex-Muslims when they openly rejected Islam. When they find out this is not the case, threats and intimidation – particularly against women – have formed part of the pressure on ex-Muslims. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

Muslims call for boycott of M&S toilet tissue as it has ‘Allah’ symbol on it

Muslims are calling for people to boycott M&S toilet tissue because it is allegedly embossed with the Arabic word for God. Footage taken by an unidentified man shows the Aloe Vera 3-ply toilet tissue with the indentation in question. Speaking on the video, the man urges his ‘brothers and sisters’ not to buy the £2.50 roll because ‘every toilet tissue has the name of Allah on it’. But Marks and Spencer have denied the claims, responding on Twitter to confirm the pattern is ‘categorically of an aloe vera leaf’.

The clip, which has been shared widely over the last few days, shows one roll taken out of the £2.50 pack and placed on the roof of a car. The man speaks over the video whilst zooming in on the Aloe Vera 3 ply toilet tissue. He said: ‘Recently I bought toilet tissue from Marks & Spencer and when I opened one of them, it has the name of Allah, as you can see. ‘So please brothers and sisters, prevent yourselves from buying this particular toilet tissue, or try boycott Marks & Spencers, because every toilet tissue has the name of Allah on it. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

21 January 2019

Christian pair refuses to renounce faith inside Iranian court

A Christian man and woman appealing against jail sentences for "spreading propaganda against the regime" have refused during a court appearance to renounce their faith.

Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri face 18 months and twelve months respectively if two Tehran-based judges uphold their sentences - originally passed in September 2018.

It has emerged the pair were asked by the judges - who have both previously been accused of involvement in human rights violations - to renounce their Christian beliefs.

They have been accused of attacking Islam by discussing Christian doctrine in house churches.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of the religious freedoms charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said: "The conviction of Mr Fadaie and Ms Bakhteri for asserting Christian doctrine is not only a grave violation of their right to espouse a religious belief of their choosing, but also criminalises the Christian faith, which the Iranian constitution purports to recognise." [Premier] Read more

Egypt TV host Mohamed al-Ghiety jailed for interviewing gay man

An Egyptian TV presenter has been sentenced to one year of hard labour for interviewing a gay man last year.

A court in Giza also fined Mohamed al-Ghiety 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($167; £130) for "promoting homosexuality" on his privately owned LTC TV channel.

The gay man, whose identity was hidden, had talked about life as a sex worker.

Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalised in Egypt, however, the authorities have been increasingly cracking down on the LGBT community.

They routinely arrest people suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct on charges of "debauchery", immorality or blasphemy.

The most recent case came about after lawyer Samir Sabry, who is well known in Egypt for taking celebrities to court, filed a lawsuit against Ghiety for his interview which took place in August 2018. [BBC] Read more

Turkey's women face dangerous conditions to obtain legal abortion

Women seeking an abortion in Turkey face considerable danger and many hurdles. While the procedure is legal, experts say in reality there is a de facto ban, believed to be orchestrated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"I thought I'd go to some sort of hospital. But instead, it was an apartment on the second floor of a three-story building. A man with a cigarette in hand opened the door. I entered an apartment with a living room and kitchen. The bathroom in what apparently was the parents' bedroom had been converted into an abortion room. The operating table was filthy and covered in blood."

Horror takes hold of Gul as she describes the place in Istanbul's Alibeykoy district where she went to have her pregnancy terminated. What she encountered was one of Turkey’s illegal abortion clinics, often housed in converted apartments despite the procedure being legal in Turkey. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

20 January 2019

Imam Who Converted to Christianity: My Own Family Now Want to Kill Me

A former imam from Pakistan who migrated to Germany and converted to Christianity now claims that he faces death threats in his native country from many including members of his own family.

The 34-year-old said he grew up in a religious household in Pakistan and trained from the age of eight to become an imam, just as his father and grandfather had been before him. Following missionary work in Greece, where he had planned to start his own mosque, he began his conversion to Christianity and now says he fears for his life in Pakistan, German tabloid Bild reports.

The German paper identifies the imam under a different name, Haroon Masih, for his own safety, and according to Mr Masih it was the charity of a Christian couple in Greece that began his journey to Christianity, saying that he had previously been taught to reject other faiths.

.... After converting Masih moved back to Pakistan where he founded an underground church which was eventually discovered. After the discovery, he claims he was “beaten half to death” by members of his own family and friends along with others from his town. [Breitbart London] Read more

Universities double invitations to extremists

It is the university league table in which no one wants to be first. King’s College London and Birmingham are among the elite institutions topping Britain’s rankings of extremist speakers at universities, published next week.

Universities and student societies organised at least 200 events with extremist speakers last year — up from 107 in 2016-17, according to the Henry Jackson Society think tank.

The number, based on the government definition of extremism, is probably an underestimate because some events are not made public. [The Times (£)] Read more

19 January 2019

‘Racial hatred’ prompts opposition to halal meat in school meals

Kirklees Council Leader Shabir Pandor, above, accused animal rights campaigners of stirring up racial hatred.

Rejecting calls to end the policy of providing halal meat he said:

"This debate has been generated deliberately on the back of creating divisions, hatred and putting communities against one another. I cannot commit myself or my cabinet to review this policy. The answer has to be no."

The announcement has disappointed the National Secular Society, which raised the issue of non-stunned meat in school last year. It said the council was:

"Normalising cruelty to animals."

Clr Pandor’s comments followed deputations both in support of serving non-stunned halal meat, and against.

The debate was prompted after more than 7,000 people signed an online petition calling for all meat served in the borough’s schools to be stunned before slaughter. [The Freethinker] Read more

A new definition of Islamophobia could be a recipe for trouble

There is a looming risk the Government will soon subscribe to a definition of Islamophobia that will function as a backdoor blasphemy law shielding one religion from valid criticism, even by fellow believers. At worst, the proposed definition of Islamophobia could pave the way to a police state in which none of us can be sure when we might be arrested.

Until 28 January, the Home Affairs Committee is calling for evidence on Islamophobia. It is considering the definition proposed recently by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Muslims, co-chaired by Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting. It has proposed the following definition:

‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.’

If this definition becomes law, no one would be sure which forms of words could land them in court. [The Spectator] Read more

Police probe south London mosque-based Scout group linked to Islamic extremist over claims it segregates boys from girls and urges children to be 'Muslim first'

A mosque-based scout group is being investigated by police after links to an 'Islamic extremist' preacher and claims that the group leader encouraged girls as young as five pose in videos, advocating wearing the hijab.

The scout group for ages 10-14, based in Lewisham Islamic Centre in south east London, is linked to Imam Shakeel Begg, who has in the past lost a libel case against the BBC for dubbing him an extremist.

The Telegraph uncovered these links in an investigation that also found that the scout group leader Ahammed Hussain segregated groups by gender, going against the organisation's values.

Hussain has since been suspended pending a police investigation into safeguarding concerns.

It was he who admitted encouraging members to be 'Muslim first', despite the Scouts commitment to 'British values'.

Facebook records also show that Hussain promoted a group that's owner donated money to David Irving, the Holocaust denier who described Hitler as a 'great man'. [Daily Mail] Read more

18 January 2019

Police called in after Scout group run from mosque is linked to Islamic extremist and Holocaust denier

A scout group run from a mosque is being investigated by police after a Telegraph investigation linked it to an Islamic extremist and a man associated with Holocaust denial.

The Scout Association raised the alarm after the Telegraph found the Lewisham Islamic Centre had been segregating groups by gender, despite the Scout’s own commitment to mixed-sex groups.

The investigation also found girls as young as five in the group have been encouraged to record videos advocating wearing the hijab and that contrary to the Scouts own commitment to ‘British Values', the group’s leader Ahammed Hussain has admitted to encouraging the members to be ‘Muslims first’. [The Telegraph] Read more

17 January 2019

Ex-Muslim activist says renouncing Islam more difficult for women, invited constant sexual harassment

Zara Kay was 18 years old when she tore off her hijab and renounced her religion.

Now, the outspoken ex-Muslim wants the world to know there are a lot of women like she once was, who are forced to wear the hijab but secretly don’t believe in Islam.

The 26-year-old was born in Tanzania and raised as a strict Shia Muslim, but moved to Australia shortly after she renounced her faith.

“I have spoken to a lot of Iranians who are forced to wear a hijab by law,” Ms Kay told news.com.au, explaining that in countries where the religious garment is an enforced dress code for women, these dress codes are not necessarily governed by their faith.

Ms Kay began wearing a hijab at the age of eight and started questioning her faith from a young age. Her parents encouraged her to be educated, and she graduated from high school early, gaining a Master’s degree by the age of 21.

Her aim now is to highlight the plight of other ex-Muslim women, including those who may be living in secret, still fearful to publicly renounce their faith. [news.com.au] Read more

Halal meat row is being used to stir up racial hatred says council leader

Kirklees Council has gone on the offensive over its policy of serving non-stunned halal meat in its schools.

Council Leader Shabir Pandor accused those campaigning for the policy to be reversed of using animal welfare as tool to stir up racial hatred.

He said they were taking advantage of communities and playing with fears on an issue that ran deep.

And in rejecting calls to end the policy he said: "This debate has been generated deliberately on the back of creating divisions, hatred and putting communities against one another.

"We cannot afford this council chamber to be fooled into a situation where we create a scenario that we cannot control."

In a strong rebuke to anti-halal campaigners he said their moral outrage was "politically motivated".

The announcement has disappointed the National Secular Society, which raised the issue of non-stunned meat in school last year. It said the council was "normalising cruelty to animals".

Clr Pandor's comments followed deputations both in support of serving non-stunned halal meat, and against.

The debate was prompted after more than 7,000 people signed an online petition calling for all meat served in the borough's schools to be stunned before slaughter.

.... "These councillors are dismissing the concerns of Kirklees residents who do not wish their council to supply this meat to children, including Muslims who reject the hardline interpretations of Islam that the council has effectively endorsed.

"Indeed the council's policy flies in the face of the fact that the majority of halal meat consumed by Muslims in the UK is from animals stunned prior to slaughter.

"Those who claim to be standing up for Muslims are in fact helping to stir social resentment and entrench reactionary views both among Muslims and against them." [Examiner Live] Read more

Ex-Muslim activist says renouncing Islam more difficult for women, invited constant sexual harassment

Zara Kay was 18 years old when she tore off her hijab and renounced her religion.

Now, the outspoken ex-Muslim wants the world to know there are a lot of women like she once was, who are forced to wear the hijab but secretly don’t believe in Islam.

The 26-year-old was born in Tanzania and raised as a strict Shia Muslim, but moved to Australia shortly after she renounced her faith.

“I have spoken to a lot of Iranians who are forced to wear a hijab by law,” Ms Kay told news.com.au, explaining that in countries where the religious garment is an enforced dress code for women, these dress codes are not necessarily governed by their faith.

Ms Kay began wearing a hijab at the age of eight and started questioning her faith from a young age. Her parents encouraged her to be educated, and she graduated from high school early, gaining a Master’s degree by the age of 21.

Her aim now is to highlight the plight of other ex-Muslim women, including those who may be living in secret, still fearful to publicly renounce their faith. [news.com.au] Read more

16 January 2019

Malaysia to revise school textbook telling girls to cover up

Malaysia has said it will revise a national school textbook after a section suggesting girls should cover up to avoid sexual assault sparked outrage among women’s rights supporters.

The book, aimed at nine-year-olds, includes a chapter called “protecting one’s dignity” in which a girl’s parents are shown telling her to dress modestly or she would be ostracized by her friends and bring shame to her family.

The image went viral on social media, causing anger among campaigners and parents who said it perpetuated the idea that sexual violence could be blamed on how a woman dresses.

The education ministry said in a statement late Tuesday it would cover up the controversial page with stickers “because the infographic can be construed as blaming sexual assault victims”. [Reuters] Read more

Rahaf Mohammad and the Need for Universal Human Rights

.... The incident exposes the shallow thinking of social influencers who denigrate would-be allies of the most vulnerable Muslims and dissidents by disseminating the cliché that women of Muslim heritage should be left to deal with their troubles on their own, without the interference of non-Muslims.

People advocating that non-Muslims stay in their lane include well-known Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy: “Unless you are a Muslim woman shut the f**k up about the veil. This is our conversation,” and senior lecturer at Sydney Law school, Ghena Krayem: “Muslim women do not need to be saved by others, nor do they need you to speak for them.”

Such commentators should bear in mind that they alone could hardly have had sufficient impact to have helped Rahaf—at least not without the assistance of millions of people, including ex-Muslims, reformers and infidel Westerners.

Many paid lip service to Rahaf’s cause, but attempted to use their advocacy to strip her of the most (or only) effective means of rescue: the world’s attention. Such commentators rush to the defense of Muslims when their alleged victimhood consists of mere offense. Such actions do nothing to protect tolerant Muslims (who by definition can withstand dissent from their faith). [AreoMagazine.com] Read more

Denmark: "In One Generation, Our Country Has Changed"

.... A recent government study, "Analysis of children of descendants with a non-Western background", shows that there continue to be huge problems with assimilating immigrants into Danish society.

.... Least of all, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. In his New Year's speech, he said that things are "going well" in Denmark. He did not mention the study about the descendants of non-Western immigrants, or that the Danish government has no significant answers to the many questions that the existence of Muslim parallel societies poses -- although he did mention that Muslim parallel societies constitute a problem and that immigrants must learn to put secular values over religious ones. He just did not say how he planned to address all that.

"When I was in high school, he also said, "there were around 50,000 people with a non-Western background in Denmark. Today, there are almost half a million. In one generation, our country has changed". The country did not just "change". Danish politicians, with their policies, changed it. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

15 January 2019

TV station founded by Islamic preacher banned from UK for saying 'all Muslims should be terrorists' is probed over guest's claim that fathers should 'push' daughters into marriage

A TV station founded by an Islamic preacher banned from the UK is under investigation after a guest claimed fathers should 'push' their daughters into marriage.

Islamic scholar Haitham al-Haddad, once described as 'one of the most dangerous men in Britain', made the statements on Peace TV's Marriage and Divorce show in November.

During a broadcast, he claimed fathers should 'push' and 'convince' their daughters to get married and said it was 'alarming' for women to want to go on to higher education before marrying.

His comments are now being investigated by media regulator Ofcom, the Times reported.

Dr Haddad also said women who were unmarried in their 30s would 'not receive good proposals'.

He said he knew older women who wished their parents had pushed them to wed when they were younger.

The investigation comes after it was revealed in October that Amazon sends cash to Dr Haddad's Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) charity.

Under its charitable scheme Amazon Smile, the tech giant donates a percentage of customers' money to the MRDF – described as 'the main Salafist organisation in the UK'.

The Salafi movement promotes a hardline interpretation of Islam and is linked with jihadism. [Daily Mail] Read more

14 January 2019

'I was called a sl*t for taking off my hijab': Student, 26, who renounced Islam reveals she still receives death threats for ditching the religion – and says hundreds more women are living in fear

.... Zara Kay, who moved to Melbourne in 2012 to continue studying information technology and engineering, renounced her Muslim faith after realising the religion she was raised with was, in her opinion, anti-women and anti-gay.

The 26-year-old Tanzanian-raised founder of the Faithless Hijabi support group said there were hundreds of ex-Muslims in Australia, who live in fear of being ostacised, abused or even killed.

'Apostasy is punishable by death in 13 countries. It's either Islam or death,' she told her Instagram followers on Sunday.

Ms Kay, who now lives in Sydney, has stepped up her campaign to support people like herself, after Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was granted asylum in Canada, after fleeing to Thailand fearing her family would murder her for leaving Islam.

Ms Kay began wearing the hijab when she was an eight-year-old girl growing up in Tanzania, in east Africa, as a Shia Muslim. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

13 January 2019

Toronto Imam is issuing religious marriage certificates for polygamous relationships

A recent investigative report by the Fifth Estate has revealed that a Toronto mosque has been issuing marriage certificates for Muslims in polygamous relationships.

Polygamy is illegal in Canada under section 293 of the Criminal Code, however it is rarely prosecuted by the legal system.

“I’ve decided to have a marriage again, to take a second wife” says the undercover reporter to Imam Aly Hindy.

“We have no problem with the government because this is nikah [a Muslim marriage]. There is no problem,” says the Imam.

“We are not going to register. If you register then it is illegal because you are already married.”

When confronted with the video of his statements, Imam Aly Hindy says that “you can’t prevent” polygamy.

“We have a problem and eventually this society, we’re going to recognize that there’s not enough men for each woman.”

Imam Aly Hindy has courted controversy before. In 2012 Hindy was quoted telling his congregation that homosexuality was “nonsense” and an “invented” phenomenon. [The Post Millennial] Read more

Egypt university expels female student for hugging male friend

Egypt's Al-Azhar university on Sunday said it had expelled a female student after she appeared in a video hugging a male colleague, accusing her of undermining the school's reputation.

The video, which went viral earlier this month, showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers kneeling before a young woman and then hugging her in what appeared to be a marriage proposal.

The video was apparently not filmed at Al-Azhar -- a branch of Egypt's highest Sunni Muslim authority -- but at another establishment, Mansoura University in the country's north.

Nevertheless the disciplinary council of the Al-Azhar University campus in Mansoura on Saturday "decided to expel the young girl definitively", university spokesman Ahmed Zarie told AFP.

He said the video had caused a "public outcry" and that the university's decision to expel her was because she had presented a "bad image" of Al-Azhar University, which strictly segregates the genders.

He said hugging between unmarried men and women violates "the values and principles of society". [France24] Read more

12 January 2019

21pc girls in Pakistan become victim of child marriage, WHO reports

A recent report issued by World Health Organisation (WHO) has shed light on the issue of child marriages in Pakistan saying such practice is most common in rural areas. It further said that more than 140 million underage girls are likely to get married between 2011 to 2020.

According to the WHO report titled 'Demographics of child marriages in Pakistan', child marriage remains a serious concern in Pakistan, with 21 per cent of girls getting married before reaching the age of 18, especially in the rural areas.

Formal marriage or informal union before age 18 occurs throughout the world, it added. However, being forced into marriage before one was able to give consent violates the basic human rights of boys and girls, the report said.

It further said that the percentage of child marriage remained high in Sindh, with 72 per cent girls and 25 per cent boys becoming victims to this menace, however, the highest number of girl child marriages were recorded in the tribal areas of Pakistan, with 99 per cent girls married under this unlawful traditional practice. [Dawn.Com] Read more

Amina Lone: Denying women liberty and life is Islamophobic

.... Question why little girls are shrouded in “invisibility cloaks” or ask what would happen if their daughter came home wearing a skirt instead of getting changed at the back of the bus and you are met with a deathly stare. Muslims often remain silent or prevaricate when Islamic human rights abuses are exposed.

Perversely, many in the liberal West are terrified of calling this puritanism out. How else can one explain opinion pieces from Islamic groups and individuals without any counter-analysis? How often is the CEMB interviewed alongside the self-appointed Muslim Council of Britain? Is the former given opportunities to challenge or critique the latter’s claims? The obvious conclusion is this is deliberate — fear of being called anti-Muslim, laziness in seeking the loudest voices. The result is that the mullah’s men win without even lifting the Koran. [The Times (£)] Read more

Europe: More Nifty Censorship from the EU

.... There is, according to the European Commission, a "need for action", as "unfavourable views of Muslims appear to have surged in the past few years". The European Commission does not, of course, offer up the possibility that such unfavorable views might be due to the fact that an overwhelming majority of all terrorist attacks on European soil in recent years have been committed primarily by one group, among several other signs of transformation on the European continent.

Examples include preaching jihad against "infidels" in mosques; the rise of rape, as well as rape grooming gangs -- not exclusively, but overwhelmingly run by the same group in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and now also apparently Finland; brutal misogynist practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), honor killings, forced marriages and polygamy -- in addition to an exponential rise in anti-Semitism, especially in France.

Sadly, the main victims of many of the abuses that the European Commission seemingly wishes to silence are Muslims, often women and children, and often too scared to speak out (here, here and here). [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Rahaf al-Qunun: Saudi teen refugee arrives in Canada

A Saudi teenager who fled her family and got stranded at a Bangkok airport has arrived in Canada after being granted asylum there.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had been trying to reach Australia via Bangkok but was initially told to return to Kuwait, where her family were waiting.

She refused to fly back and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room, attracting international attention.

She said she had renounced Islam, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

.... Ms Qunun told the BBC earlier that she was afraid her family would kill her.

"I can't study and work in my country, so I want to be free and study and work as I want," she said.

Separately, she told AFP news agency she had suffered physical and psychological abuse from her family, including being locked in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

A spokesperson for her family told the BBC that they did not wish to comment and all they cared about was the young woman's safety.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said it considered her to be a legitimate refugee and welcomed Canada's decision to grant her asylum. [BBC] Read more

Actress Rania Youssef facing jail term over revealing dress

Rania Youssef is set to appear in court after being accused of "inciting debauchery".

The Egyptian actress appeared at the Cairo Film Festival in a lacy, black, see-through outfit that exposed most of her legs.

A complaint against her was filed by two lawyers, Amro Abdelsalam and Samir Sabry, known for taking celebrities to court. [BBC] Read more

11 January 2019

'Nobody wants you here': Muslim family complains Virginia hospital staff told them they couldn't visit their newborn baby granddaughter because they looked 'scary'

A Muslim family says a Virginia hospital told them they couldn't visit a newborn baby because they looked 'scary'.

Ahmed Zahr's wife had just given birth to a baby girl in early December at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, where his parents, aunt and uncle went to visit.

When they arrived at the birthing center on the third-floor, they were approached by a security guard, reported News4.

'He screams and he says: "You're not allowed to be here!" And then he said: "You know, you look scary",' the aunt, Arwa Zahr, told the station.

The Zahr family believes the security guard was referring to the long black veils worn by Arwa and her mother.

Both women were wearing a niqab, which is a veil that is worn by some Muslim women for reasons of modesty.

The niqab covers the entire face - unlike the hijab, which just covers the hair - leaving an opening slit for the eyes.

There is no law in the US that bans the wearing of the niqab, though wearers may be required to unveil their face during a traffic stop, for a driver's license photo or at an airport.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 3263 votes] They do look scary. The guards job is to protect the property, how can he do that when he can't tell who or what is coming in.

[2ND 2651] Baby theft is real. No one should be on a neonatal ward without their face visible in security cameras.

[3RD 2437] Hard to argue with the hospitals logic.

[4TH 2083] You need to know who is visiting a mother and baby unit. What if a child went missing. Your face should be on show its security.

[5TH 1923] The hospital needed to do what any bank would do and tell them that disguises aren't allowed for security reasons. [Daily Mail] Read more

Saudi Arabia advisory body aims to end child marriage, setting minimum age limit of 15, but loopholes remain

Saudi Arabia is trying to ban child marriage through new regulations, but loopholes are leaving young girls in the deeply conservative kingdom unprotected, campaigners said on Thursday.

The Shura Council, a top advisory body to the government, approved regulations on Wednesday to prohibit marriage for girls and boys under 15, and those under 18 will need approval from a specialised court, according to council member Lina Almaeena.

Currently, the conservative Muslim country does not have a minimum legal age for marriage, and women live under a guardianship system where they must have permission from a male relative to marry, work and travel.

Almaeena said the approval by the council, which does not have legislative powers but can propose laws to the king and the cabinet, is a “great accomplishment” for the kingdom in protecting its young citizens.

.... Heather Hamilton, deputy director of Girls Not Brides, said it is “encouraging” that the kingdom is setting age limits for marriage, but the rules are a “far cry” from protecting children under 18, who can still marry with court approval.

“Girls are still at risk of being forced into marriage if their parents can persuade a court to agree,” she said in an emailed statement. [Reuters] Read more

Hamas leader quits Finsbury Park mosque board after watchdog inquiry

A ruling member of Hamas has stood down as a trustee of one of Britain’s most prominent mosques after an inquiry by the charity regulator.

Mohammed Sawalha’s role at the Finsbury Park Mosque, north London, was investigated by the Charity Commission after The Times revealed in 2017 that he had been appointed to Hamas’s political bureau. The mosque said it was unaware of his Hamas role until the report. Mr Sawalha had been a trustee since 2010, making him legally responsible for the management.

The US and EU designate Hamas as a terrorist group. Only the military wing is banned in Britain, meaning that Mr Sawalha has committed no offence. [The Times (£)] Read more

Hamas leader quits Finsbury Park mosque board after watchdog inquiry

A ruling member of Hamas has stood down as a trustee of one of Britain’s most prominent mosques after an inquiry by the charity regulator.

Mohammed Sawalha’s role at the Finsbury Park Mosque, north London, was investigated by the Charity Commission after The Times revealed in 2017 that he had been appointed to Hamas’s political bureau. The mosque said it was aware of his Hamas role until the report. Mr Sawalha had been a trustee since 2010, making him legally responsible for the management.

The US and EU designate Hamas as a terrorist group. Only the military wing is banned in Britain, meaning that Mr Sawalha has committed no offence.

Separately, the mosque became notorious in the 1990s as the base for the preacher Abu Hamza, now serving life in jail in the US for terrorism offences. The mosque’s new management has worked to shed its links to extremism.

The Charity Commission said it had begun an inquiry after reports about Mr Sawalha’s Hamas role but that it had not reached any findings. [The Times (£)] Read more

London mosque to host Shoah exhibition after Golders Green cancellation

A London mosque is to host the Yad Vashem-supported exhibition on Muslim heroes of the Holocaust after its cancellation by the Centre for Islamic Understanding in Golders Green.

The Love Your Neighbour exhibit will take place in Redbridge on 20 January, though the venue and organisers are being kept under wraps for fear of a repeat of the campaign that led to the Golders Green hub scrapping their event.

Faith Matter’s Fiyaz Mughal, who is supporting the event, said: “Thankfully, the exhibition on Muslims who saved Jews is being held in Redbridge. There is some fantastic work being done in the Borough to bring together communities. [Jewish News] Read more

10 January 2019

Saudi Arabia Introduces New Regulations for Early Marriage

Members of the Saudi Shoura Council on Wednesday approved fresh regulations for minor marriages that will see to outlaw marrying off 15-year-old children and force the need for court approval for those under 18.

Chairman of the Human Rights Committee at the Shoura Council, Dr. Hadi Al-Yami, said that introduced controls were based on in-depth studies presented to the body. He pointed out that the regulation, vetted by the Islamic Affairs Committee at the Shoura Council, has raised the age of marriage to 18 and prohibited it for those under 15.

Wedlock for those within the 15-18 age group will be subject to regulations and must seek authorization by the judiciary, Yami explained.

He pointed out that the new regulations are meant to protect Saudi families and reduce the high rate of divorce, saying that “early marriage sometimes can cause health problems and increase the chances of divorce.” [Asharq Al Awsat] Read more

Religious Exemptions Fuel Bigotry – Ban Non-Stun Slaughter

As the new year opened, a measure preventing the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning came into effect in the Flanders region, which roughly covers the northern half of Belgium. A similar measure will come into effect in Wallonia, in the south, in September.

These regions will join European countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden in outlawing non-stun slaughter. And the local animal welfare group Gaia is calling for the local authorities in Brussels to follow suit.

In the UK the National Secular Society has called for the UK to repeal the religious exemption to its animal welfare laws, which allows animals to be killed without being stunned to suit Jewish and Muslim preferences. The Belgian decisions have also prompted some debate over whether the non-therapeutic cutting of children’s genitals – ritual circumcision – may be restricted, as lawmakers in Iceland and Denmark have suggested it should be over the last year.

The scientific evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of those who wish to restrict non-stun slaughter. This week the British Veterinary Association’s John Fishwick reiterated the body’s view that the practice causes avoidable harm.

.... On all sides this makes people less willing to abide by common rules, less inclined to look out for each other and less interested in contributing to the greater good. In contrast, upholding consistent rules and laws makes societies fairer, more equal, more cohesive, more tolerant and more liberal. [Conatus News] Read more

Belgium’s Future Head Imam Filmed Calling on Allah to ‘Burn the Zionists’

Mohamed Toujgani , tipped as a future president of the League of Imams of Belgium, has been accused of anti-Semitism after a video emerged of him calling on Allah to “burn and eviscerate” Zionists.

The Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism was alerted to the 2009 film, with president Joel Rubinfeld saying it was anti-Semitic and that the imam was using the word “Zionist” as a substitute for “Jew”, Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure reports.

In the video, the imam is heard to say, “Lord, master of worlds, fill with fear the hearts of the Zionist oppressors,” going on to add: “Lord, fill their hearts with fear. Lord, make the earth tremble beneath their feet. Lord, make the blood of the martyrs a weapon under the feet of the Zionists oppressors, and may this blood ignite a fire that burns them and start a wind that eviscerates them. […] O Lord, tear them down.” [Breitbart London] Read more

09 January 2019

Atheism grows in Turkey as Recep Tayyip Erdogan urges Islam

According to a recent survey by the pollster Konda, a growing number of Turks identify as atheists. Konda reports that the number of nonbelievers tripled in the past 10 years. It also found that the share of Turks who say they adhere to Islam dropped from 55 percent to 51 percent.

"There is religious coercion in Turkey," said 36-year-old computer scientist Ahmet Balyemez, who has been an atheist for over 10 years. "People ask themselves: Is this the true Islam?" he added. "When we look at the politics of our decision-makers, we can see they are trying to emulate the first era of Islam. So, what we are seeing right now is primordial Islam."

Balyemez said he grew up in a very religious family. "Fasting and praying were the most normal things for me," he said. But then, at some point, he decided to become an atheist.

Diyanet, Turkey's official directorate of religious affairs, declared in 2014 that more than 99 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. When Konda's recent survey with evidence to the contrary was published, heated public debate ensued.

The theologian Cemil Kilic believes that both figures are correct. Though 99 percent of Turks are Muslim, he said, many only practice the faith in a cultural and sociological sense. They are cultural, rather than spiritual, Muslims.

Kilic said Muslims who regularly pray, go on pilgrimages or wear veils could generally be considered pious, though, he added, being true to the faith means much more than just performing rituals or opting for certain outerwear. In his view, "judging whether a person is religious should also be based on whether he or she subscribes to certain ethical and humanitarian values." When only taking into account people who practice Islam, he said, "no more than 60 percent of people in Turkey can be considered Muslim." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Disappeared Saudi couple highlights crackdown on activists

Story of married Saudis' disappearance last year resurfaces debate on kingdom's crackdown on dissidents.

The cases of Saudi stand-up comedian Fahad al-Butairi and his wife, Loujain al-Hathloul, a women's right-to-drive activist, who were arrested in 2018, has resurfaced following a Twitter thread detailing their disappearance.

In a series of tweets, American writer and television producer Kirk Rudell spoke about his friendship with the Saudi couple who tried to challenge the kingdom's strict social rules.

The tweets about their disappearance went viral, spotlighting Saudi Arabia's crackdown on activists and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

BBC asks if Muslim teen who fled Saudi in fear of death ‘should be able to leave Islam’

In a now-deleted Tweet, BBC Asian network asked viewers if they ‘respected the decision’ of a teenager who fled Saudi Arabia saying she would be killed for renouncing Islam. The Tweet read, ’18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam – do you respect her decision?’ The Tweet was rapidly picked up by Media Guido – and the BBC posted an edited version minus the part about ‘respecting her decision.’

Irate readers responded on Twitter with comments such as ‘You’re a waste of taxpayer’s money,’ and the BBC rapidly deleted the Tweet and apologised. A BBC Spokesperson said: “We accept that the original wording of our tweet did not reflect the question being posed on air and was open to misinterpretation. ‘We took action to remove the tweet and clarify the question, which was aimed at Asian Network listeners who had faced their own issues regarding family and religion.

On the programme the audience responded positively to the debate topic and shared powerful stories of bein’g in similar situations regarding family and religion issues in the UK.’ BBC Asian Network previously stirred up controversy with a Tweet asking, ‘What is the right punishment for blasphemy?’ [Metro.co.uk] Read more

BBC Asian Network is forced to apologise amid backlash after asking listeners whether 18-year-old girl was right to flee Saudi Arabia when family threatened to kill her for leaving Islam

The BBC Asian Network today sparked outrage after asking listeners if they 'respected' a teenagers' decision to flee Saudi Arabia amid fears her life was in danger.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained by Thai authorities on Sunday.

The 18-year-old fears her family will kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and 'rebelled' against her father.

After a discussion about the teenager, the BBC Twitter account asked followers if they 'respected her decision.'

.... The BBC has since apologised for the ill-advised tweet, but has faced a furious backlash from social media users.

In a tweet, the BBC said: 'We have deleted the tweet about our earlier discussion on Rahuf al-Qunun.

'The question we asked on air 'How do you feel about the 18 year old Saudi woman's decision to leave her family and religion?' was aimed at our listeners who had faced similar dilemmas in their own life regarding family and religion. [Daily Mail] Read more

Rahaf al-Qunun: UN 'considers Saudi woman a refugee'

A Saudi woman who fled her family and refused to leave a Bangkok hotel has been declared a legitimate refugee by the UN, the Australian government says.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, refused to board a flight from Bangkok to Kuwait on Monday and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room.

She said she had renounced Islam, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

The UN's refugee agency has referred her case to Australia for possible resettlement.

Thai immigration officials had initially said she should return to Kuwait, where her family were waiting. She then started a social media campaign, live-tweeting her case and attracting international attention. [BBC] Read more

Belgium’s non-stun slaughter decision shows that UK ban is 'possible

New legislation banning the slaughter of animals without prior stunning comes into effect in parts of Belgium, showing that a similar ban is possible in the UK, according to the veterinary industry.

The ban in the Flanders region of the country was put in place on New Year’s Day, following on from legislation that was passed by Belgium’s parliament in July 2017.

Similar restrictions are expected to be implemented in the country’s Wallonia region from September.

Belgium follows several other countries including Iceland, Estonia, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark in its decision to ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning.

John Fishwick, Senior Vice President at the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: “This shows that there is considerable strength of feeling on the issue and that a ban would be possible within domestic law of EU member states.

“BVA would like to see all animals stunned before slaughter and this call has received widespread support from the veterinary profession and general public, including a petition with over 120,000 signatures. [FARMINGUK] Read more

08 January 2019

Only hell awaits if non-Muslims lead, Hadi says in piece calling for Islamic supremacy

Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has delivered a warning to Muslims to place their trust in Muslim leaders regardless of their wickedness, claiming that believers will end up in hell if led by non-Muslims.

In a lengthy opinion piece titled “Rule of Law: Where is Allah?” today, the PAS president stressed the importance of religion in keeping the law, and the importance for Islam to reign supreme in the governance of country.

“If the one leading is a Muslim, even if he were cruel, at least (others) can become cattle herders,” the Marang MP wrote.

“But if the one who leads is a non-Muslim, even if he were the kindest, (others) can work however they wish [but] without any limits of what is ‘halal’ and ‘haram’ they will still end up in hell.”

.... In his piece, Hadi stressed that the country can only be saved with guidance from Allah, including a faith-based judiciary that is superior to man-made laws.

He also claimed that only an Islamic party deserves to inherit Quranic teachings to provide such guidance — a veiled reference to his own Islamist party — rather than party devoid of morals and faith to God and his Prophet.

In his dissection of the “Rule of Law”, Hadi had urged for Prophet Muhammad to be the role model of law-keeping, including forsaking revenge by pardoning those who repented.

“Don’t ever take the infidelic West as an example, because the best of them will still end up in hell, since their kindness is without any faith to Allah and the End Times,” he wrote. [Malay Mail] Read more

Apologists for Extremism in the West

As someone who grew up in fundamentalist Muslim countries, the continuing spread in the West of apologists for sharia law is, to say the least, intriguing. It is, of course, good-hearted to wish people from other cultures to feel welcome. Many of these apologists, however, have no first-hand experience of how it feels actually to live in that part of the world or to be a victim of day-by-day radical Islam. What is painful is that although many of these apologists have never lived under Islamist rules, they often act as if they had.

First, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan correctly said, "There is no moderate Islam; Islam is Islam."

Islam, however, can be interpreted. Even Erdogan has said -- although it is not clear what he meant by it -- that, "Islam must be updated."

.... Finally, my message to such apologists is simple: Those who are whitewashing the purveyors of radical violence and extremism -- by changing the subject or accusing others, often unjustly, of racism, discrimination, oppression, and "Islamophobia" -- are contributing to their empowerment.

You are emboldening these fundamentalists and, by reinforcing sharia laws, enabling the suppression and subjugation of millions of women and children. You are enabling child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), the oppression and execution of children, gays, ethnic and religious minorities, and the increasing religious terrorism across the world. The cause, as pointed out, is born of a radical, outdated belief system. The cause is not the West. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Multiculturalism and the Transformation of Britain in 2018: Part II

Not a single Christian was among the 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in Britain in the first three months of 2018. The Home Office agreed to resettle only Muslims and rejected the four Christians recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees — The Sunday Times.

Islamist groups are "weaponizing" Islamophobia and "cynically" using human rights to promote their ideology. Islamist groups accuse their critics of being anti-Muslim, in an attempt to shut down "legitimate debate" about Islamic extremism. The "use and abuse" of the language of human rights is "perhaps the most concerning" tactic employed by fundamentalist groups — Sara Khan, the UK government's new counter-extremism tsar.

Women and girls who are coerced into marriage by their families will be allowed to give evidence in secret so they can object to their foreign spouses' visas without fear of repercussions, according to legal changes announced by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Saudi Arabia's enduring male guardianship system

Saudi Arabia drew international plaudits last year when it lifted a longstanding ban on women driving.

However, restrictions on women remain - most notably, the "male guardianship system", a woman's father, brother, husband or son has the authority to make critical decisions on her behalf.

These restrictions were highlighted in early January, when a young Saudi woman fleeing her family barricaded herself in a hotel room in Bangkok saying she feared imprisonment if she was sent back home.

A Saudi woman is required to obtain a male relative's approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study abroad on a government scholarship, get married, leave prison, or even exit a shelter for abuse victims.

"This is something that affects every Saudi woman and girl, from birth to death. They are essentially treated like minors," the Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy told the BBC. [BBC] Read more

Parents in Essex withdraw children from RE lessons over objections to Islam

Parents in Essex are withdrawing their children from religious education lessons on Islam and stopping them from visiting mosques on school trips, a report for the council has found.

The trend has been uncovered in the area of Thurrock, a former stronghold for Ukip supporters, where a new report warns of “integration issues” within the local community.

The report, from the standing advisory council for religious education (SACRE), a body that advises on RE in schools, calls for the “nature and extent” of withdrawals to be investigated.

It says: “Parents have objected to the teaching of Islam and withdrawn children from lessons and visits to places of worship.

“The outcome [is that] those children, who arguably are those that most need to be taught about Islam, are no longer being taught about it.” [The Independent] Read more

The blood of Muslims is more important

The oddly named Egyptian cleric Samir Hashish talks about the hadith according to which Muslims should not be put to death for killing infidels. Some people, he says, use this hadith to justify killing non-Muslims. That's a misunderstanding. It's wrong to kill infidels. But not wrong enough to justify the death penalty.

.... "If a Muslim kills a non-Muslim without a legitimate reason.... Is he wrong to do so? Yes. Should he be punished? Yes. However, he should not be given the death penalty. The judge may give him any deterring punishment in his case, with the exception of the death penalty. Why? Because of the hadith that says that no Muslim may be killed for killing an infidel. Why is that? Because their lives are not worth the same. The blood of Muslims is more important. If you want to call this "racism", fine. Of course the blood of Muslims is more important." [Mick Hartley] Read more

Saudi teen detained in Bangkok could realise her dream of living in Australia

The Australian government will "carefully consider" any asylum application made by the Saudi teen detained at Bangkok airport whose case has gained media attention around the world.

Saudi officials stopped 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun at Bangkok airport, preventing her from travelling to Australia where she planned to claim asylum.

The Australian government said it was 'pleased' Ms Qunun's claim would be processed by the UNHCR amid a report that Australia was preparing to offer her a humanitarian visa once her application was processed. [The Age] Read more

Complaints prompt Amazon to remove products that are offensive to Muslims

Amazon has pulled more than a dozen products off its website after receiving complaints that the items are offensive to Muslims.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, asked the online retailer last week to remove the products, which included doormats, bath mats and other items imprinted with Islamic calligraphy, references to the Prophet Muhammad and scripture.

The products, which were being sold by independent merchants on Amazon's website, are deemed offensive because they "would be stepped-on or otherwise disrespected by customers," CAIR said in a statement on Thursday.

The following day, CAIR issued another statement welcoming Amazon's decision to remove the items from its website and conduct an audit to purge similarly offensive products. [CNN] Read more

07 January 2019

Belgium bans halal and kosher slaughter methods which see animals killed without being stunned first

A Belgian region has banned halal and kosher slaughter unless the animal is stunned before it is killed, despite critics saying it violates freedom of religion.

The northern region of Flanders is the first in Belgium to implement the ban, followed by the southern region of Wallonia in September.

When proposed, the law was slammed as 'the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights since Nazi occupation' by the European Jewish Congress.

Both the Muslim halal and Jewish kosher rituals require that butchers slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining the blood.

Under the new law, animals will have to be stunned electrically before being killed, which most animal rights campaigners say is more humane than the halal and kosher rituals.

Belgium's Muslim and Jewish communities have expressed their opposition to the law, saying halal and kosher requires the animal to be in 'perfect health' when its throat is cut - which would rule out stunning the animal first.

Some say that the ban is less about animal rights, and more about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. [Comments 1952]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 8944 votes] Well done Belgium! maybe, just maybe the rest of Europe might follow suit but I wont hold my breath!

[2ND 6168] When will our spineless politicians do the same here? Never, that's when.

[3RD 5902] The West should not have been accommodating this in the first place.

[4TH 4754] Belgium has done the right thing, excellent!

[5TH 4354] The whole of Europe should ban it and also stop it being imported. [Daily Mail] Read more

Muslims and Jews united in anger at ritual slaughter ban

.... Muslim bodies mounted an appeal against the ban in vain in the Belgian constitutional court, calling it a direct onslaught on “one of the most basic alimentary stipulations of the Muslim faith — the obligation that animals must be subjected to ritual slaughter”.

The new law, which requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter, was initiated by Ben Weyts, a hardline Flemish nationalist and minister in the regional government, and approved in 2017. The law was a political response to the activities of unregulated Muslim slaughterhouses.

Defenders of the law say that it is motivated purely by animal welfare and that stunning before the ritual throat-slitting and bleeding does not breach halal or kosher rules. Much of Europe’s halal meat comes from pre-stunned animals, but stricter Muslims and Jews say their faith demands that the animal be in perfect health at the moment of death.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 164 votes] Well done Belgium. Waiting for the rest to catch up.

[2ND 148] Time for us to do the same. If anyone else slit an animals throat and left them to bleed out they would be prosecuted. This is barbaric and must be stopped.

[3RD 80] Bravo Belgium. All civilised countries need to ban these barbaric practices.

[4TH 63] The ban has to stay, otherwise one group will essentially have more rights than others. If Kosher and Halal meat is cruel then it must be banned and /or reformed accordingly. [The Times (£)] Read more

Eye on France: Charlie Hebdo keeps the Lights on

This is the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attack against the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Four years on, the survivors who still produce the weekly paint an embittered picture of a French society which appears to have turned its back on the Enlightenment values of rationality, debate and the acceptance of differences.

“A lot of people have already given up,” says Riss, the caricaturist and current editor of Charlie, himself shot in the shoulder during the attack. His complaint is not simply that the personal tragedies have been forgotten. Riss feels that France has turned its back on what happened, that the enemy is not just religious extremism but a large part of the French intelligensia.

In the editorial of last Saturday’s commemorative edition, Riss laments the fact that the situation concerning what he calls “islamic totalitarianism” has gotten worse. “Blasphemy has had babies,” he says “Everything is now blasphemous.”

.... The paper continues to sell 30,000 copies every week, and has thirty thousand subscribers, but is being ruined by the security bill, currently running at one million euros per year, entirely at the publication’s expense.

The most recently published company accounts show a loss for the year 2017.

Riss remains hopeful. His wish for 2019 is that the paper will continue to make readers think, give them hope, make them feisty. “We can’t bow to doom and depression,” he says, “even if things remain very worrying.” [Yahoo News] Read more

Eight-year-old boy questioned by counter-terrorism police officers in London school over ‘radicalisation’ fears

An eight-year-old boy was questioned by two counter-terrorism police officers and a social worker at a school in east London over alleged radicalisation fears, The Independent can reveal.

The Counter Terrorism Professional Standards Unit has now launched an investigation into the matter after the boy’s parents logged a formal complaint about the treatment of their young son.

The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, said their child was left “frightened” and “traumatised” after he was separated from his classmates at a school in Ilford to be interviewed.

The father claims his son was asked about Islam, the mosque he attends, whether he prays, and his views on other religions. He was also asked to recite verses from the Quran.

No safeguarding issues were identified from the interview in July and no further action was taken by the police – but now the parents are seeking legal advice. [The Independent] Read more

See also previous articles.

Isis follower tried to create jihadist child army in east London [The Guardian] Read more

When parents take their children to die in jihadist suicide bombings, what can be done? [The Conversation] Read more

Government rejects Senator Anning’s call for Muslim, Sudanese migration ban

Immigration Minister David Coleman has rejected the call for an immigration ban by Senator Fraser Anning, saying Australia has "a non-discriminatory migration policy".

The controversial Queensland senator said he is concerned that violence by "Sudanese gangs" is spreading across Australia, including to Queensland.

He said that concern prompted him to represent his constituents and attend a Melbourne rally organised by far-right ultra nationalists, the United Patriots Front.

Senator Anning ultimately wants a ban on Muslim and Sudanese migrants coming to Australia.

"I would not bring any more Muslims or Sudanese in the country," he told the Nine Network's Today Show.

"I would put a ban on that. And if any of them committed a crime, I would be shipping them home to where they came from."

Members and supporters of the United Patriots Front group were filmed performing the the "Sieg Heil" Nazi salute during the rally at St Kilda beach on Saturday. [SBS] Read more

Saudi woman shuts herself in Thai hotel room to avoid deportation

An 18-year-old Saudi woman being detained in Bangkok having fled from her family after renouncing Islam fears she will be killed if she is repatriated, according to a close friend who said the threats to her life are real.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has barricaded herself in her hotel room for fear that Thai immigration officials, who have gathered outside her door, would force her on to a plane to leave the country. Thai immigration officials have confirmed she has been denied entry to the country.

The Guardian has confirmed Qunun had a three-month multiple-entry tourist visa for Australia, where she said she was intending to seek asylum.

Qunun maintains she will be killed if she is returned to Saudi Arabia and has said she will not leave until she can see the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, according to Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s Asia deputy director. [The Guardian] Read more

Rahaf al-Qunun: Saudi woman ends airport hotel standoff

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family at the weekend has left Bangkok airport "under the care" of the UN refugee agency, the head of Thailand's immigration police says.

Thai immigration officials had tried to return Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, to Kuwait, where her family is.

But she refused to board a flight on Monday and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room.

She said she feared her family would kill her as she had renounced Islam.

"My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait," Ms Mohammed al-Qunun told Reuters.

"My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things."

Her relatives have not commented on her claims.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch have expressed grave concerns for Ms Mohammed al-Qunun, who had travelled to Thailand for a connecting flight to Australia, where she hoped to seek asylum. [BBC] Read more

06 January 2019

Saudi woman 'trapped at Bangkok airport trying to flee family'

A young Saudi woman says she is stranded at Bangkok's main airport after fleeing her family and having her passport seized by a Saudi official.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, says she was on a trip to Kuwait with her family when she fled on a flight two days ago.

She was trying to head to Australia via a connecting flight in Bangkok.

She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam, and feared she would be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia and killed by her family.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok says Ms Mohammed al-Qunun is frightened and confused. She says she has an Australian visa but her passport was seized by a Saudi diplomat when he met her coming off the flight at Suvarnabhumi airport.

.... The case echoes that of another Saudi woman who was in transit to Australia in April 2017.

Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, was en route from Kuwait via the Philippines but was taken back to Saudi Arabia from Manila airport by her family.

She used a Canadian tourist's phone to send a message, a video of which was posted to Twitter, saying her family would kill her.

Her fate on arriving back in Saudi Arabia remains unknown. [BBC] Read more

05 January 2019

Meet The Trailblazing Women Training To Be The UK's First Female Mosque Leaders

.... According to its own research, the MCB claims more than a quarter of the UK’s 1,975 mosques in Britain don’t have prayer area for women, and 28% do not offer any facilities for women.

Maysoon has a legal background, having worked in the sector for 10 years, and has a masters degree in education (she also speaks six languages). Using her experience, Maysoon is currently teaching at the Abu Bakr mosque in West Yorkshire.

“I just teach in the mosque, but I wanted to take it further,” she says. “I didn’t want to limit myself because I could see that the mosque needed a female voice amongst all the elderly men who run it.

“The same men who would make it quite clear with some of their comments and reactions that they felt uncomfortable with women coming to the mosque to pray as is their right.”

In August, Muslim women in Scotland launched a campaign for equal prayer space and inclusion in decision-making bodies. The Scottish Mosques for All campaign said: “It is unfortunate that many mosques fail to provide basic access for Muslim women to use the facility to pray, or the quality of the space can often be inadequate and not suitable.

“It is also unfortunate that many mosques have limited or no women present at mosque trustee or managerial level, either intentionally preventing women from taking up these roles or not sufficiently providing a welcoming atmosphere where women feel comfortable to get involved. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Saudi women to get divorce confirmation by text message

A new regulation in Saudi Arabia is set to stop Saudi women from being divorced without their knowledge.

Starting from Sunday, courts will be required to notify women by text on rulings confirming their divorces.

Local female lawyers suggest the measure will end what are known as secret divorces - cases where men end a marriage without telling their wives.

The directive would ensure women are fully aware of their marital status and can protect rights such as alimony.

Last year, a decades-old driving ban on women was lifted in Saudi Arabia.

However, women still remain subject to male guardianship laws.

"The new measure ensures women get their [alimony] rights when they're divorced," Saudi lawyer Nisreen al-Ghamdi told Bloomberg. "It also ensures that any powers of attorney issued before the divorce are not misused." [BBC] Read more

04 January 2019

We must be free to criticise Islam

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims is calling on the government to establish a legally binding definition of ‘Islamophobia’, akin to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Last November, the APPG launched its landmark Islamophobia Defined report, offering the following definition: ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.’ To tackle what it calls Islamophobia, the report calls for ‘appropriate limits to free speech’ and for the policing and regulation of matters ‘far beyond what can be captured as criminal acts’.

.... there are serious problems with the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia, and indeed with the term Islamophobia itself. It is far too vague and it conflates attacks on Muslims (and non-Muslims) with criticism of Islam and of the behaviour of a minority of Muslims.

.... The National Secular Society (NSS) has warned MPs that the term Islamophobia ‘confuses hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims with criticism of Islam’. Liberal and secular Muslims, ex-Muslims, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners have all been labelled ‘Islamophobes’ for voicing opposition to Muslim clerics on issues such as women’s rights, gay rights, gender segregation in schools and forced hijab-wearing.

In a letter to the home secretary, published in The Sunday Times, the NSS, Maajid Nawaz, Amina Lone, Mohammed Amin and others called the proposed definition ‘unworkable’. [Spiked] Read more

"We are a hundred years behind"

The Tunisian parliament is to consider a bill recently agreed by the cabinet that would grant equal inheritance rights to men and women – a proposal that has created a furore not only in Tunisia, but throughout the Middle East. Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi describes the move as "positive" and believes that Egypt may finally be following in Tunisia's footsteps. Interview by Imane Mellouk.

El Saadawi: It's a very positive development and defintely something that every Arab country should adopt. There must be full equality between women and men in this Arab and Islamic world of ours. These days such equality exists in many countries, while we in the Arab world still lag far behind.

.... El Saadawi: In Tunisia, the laws are ahead of the reality for ordinary women. I've visited Tunisia several times in the past. The law is ahead of the actual status of women in society today. In situations where the political leadership is bold, like under Essebsi, and endorses progressive laws, as Bourguiba did, while the social, political, religious and cultural situation remains unchanged, we find the law to be progressive.

However, neither women nor even the government are able to apply such progressive laws in practice. We therefore need a cultural, political and intellectual renaissance to strike the monster and the merchants of religion. [Qantara.de] Read more

Muslim extremists force cancellation of mosque’s Holocaust event

FIYAZ Mughal, UK-based Director of Faith Matters, claims that ‘forward thinking’ members of his community are being ‘held to ransom’ by Muslim extremists, after Golders Green mosque abandoned an exhibition about Muslims who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

The Islamic centre was due to hold the exhibition about Muslim Albanians who rescued Jews on Sunday, to maintain dialogue with Jewish neighbours.

Mughal, above, said members of the congregation were targeted and the mosque had been denounced as un-Islamic for holding an event associated with Israel’s national Holocaust memorial museum.

Calls for a boycott, spearheaded by Roshan Muhammed Salih, editor of British Muslim news site 5 Pillars were made for over the event’s links to the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. [The Freethinker] Read more

03 January 2019

British Muslim YouTube star reads out the abuse she has received since she stopped wearing a hijab – and it takes 47 minutes to get through just some of them

A British Muslim YouTube star has revealed the outpouring of vile abuse she received after she stopped wearing her hijab full-time.

Dina Torkia, who has more than a million followers on Instagram, said she had made a 'personal decision to wear it when I want to'.

In a video called The Bad, The Worse And The Ugly she reads out the torrent of abuse she has received from strangers on Facebook.

Even in an uninterrupted 47-video the fashion blogger is only able to get through some of the nasty messages.

Among the offensive and unsolicited posts, one comment said she would 'be a porn star' while another called her a 'sick person mentally'.

Many posts questioned her faith, with one saying 'she's not a Muslim any more' and another writing she was 'messed up' and had 'made Islam look bad'.

Another called her a 'part-time Muslim' while yet another said 'you can't just wear a hijab when you feel like it'.

Others made uninvited comments on her personal appearance, saying she was 'ugly and gross' without the scarf.

The nastiest messages called for her death and used a range of offensive terms to describe her.

The blogger has previously posted videos online about fashionable ways to wear the head covering. [Daily Mail] Read more

30 Years After the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward

The opening of 2019 marks two dark events in the recent history of free speech: the fourth anniversary of the attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the 30th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for the killing of the British-Indian author Salman Rushdie.

Both of these events were immediately recognized as attacks against foundational European values. Neither event, however, occasioned any concerted defense of the values in question. Instead, Europe’s highest institutions are now as likely to affirm laws against blasphemy and religious offense as they are to overturn them.

.... But despite the unanimous rhetorical support for free speech after Charlie Hebdo, blasphemy bans have become more firmly anchored in some parts of the continent in recent years. In a recent case, the European Court of Human Rights even reaffirmed that European human rights law recognizes a right not to have one’s religious feelings hurt.

The court based its decision on the deeply flawed assumption that religious peace and tolerance may require the policing rather than the protection of “gratuitously offensive” speech. Accordingly, it found that Austria had not violated freedom of expression by convicting a woman for having called the Prophet Mohammed a “pedophile.” [Foreign Policy] Read more

02 January 2019

Prevent strategy on radicalisation faces independent review

Security minister challenges critics to produce ‘solid evidence of their allegations’

.... Muslims groups have made it clear they have little or no confidence in Prevent, which over time has faced claims that it is more concerned with gathering intelligence than supporting communities.

Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said on Tuesday: “We welcome the government’s support for a review. However, those tasked with its implementation must have the independence, credibility and trust required to deliver it.”

Critics have called Prevent a “toxic brand” and argue that at its heart is an ideological purity test that means western foreign policy cannot be criticised and that the government is prepared to work only with those who do not challenge it.

But there is unanimity in counter-terrorism circles that it is needed to limit the threat Britain faces from Islamist terrorism as well as the rising menace of extreme rightwing terrorism.

On Wednesday the head of counter-terrorism policing, Neil Basu, revealed that 18 plots to causes mass murder on British soil had been thwarted since March 2017, of which 14 were Islamist and four rightwing. [The Guardian] Read more