31 March 2019

Psychologist to be investigated over opposition to LGBT lessons

A psychologist who has played a key role in opposing the introduction of relationship and sex education lessons in schools is being investigated by her profession’s governing body over her fitness to practise.

Dr Kate Godfrey-Faussett, who has extensive experience working with young children and families, is a leading figure in Stop RSE, a campaign against relationship and sex education (RSE) lessons in schools.

In a speech broadcast online, Godfrey-Faussett, who converted to Islam 25 years ago, has that said many young Muslims were “turning to same-sex relationships because they haven’t had the guidance”. She has complained about the “queering” of the “Muslim community” and said Muslims should “work psychologically or in a mental health capacity” with those experiencing same-sex attraction. [The Guardian] Read more

30 March 2019

Islamic bigotry has been fuelled by the left

.... The Labour Party recently signed up to a definition of Islamophobia devised by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. “Islamophobia,” it says, “is . . . a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” Besides being a clunky non-word, what is “Muslimness”?

Hardline Deobandi or Salafist Islam, which has erased tolerant traditions, branding itself the true Islam, demands women wear the hijab and even the niqab, although neither is Koranically prescribed. Are Muslim feminists appalled that British state schools permit parents to cover the heads of six-year-old girls, enshrining a culture of modesty, constriction and separation from infancy, targeting “Muslimness”?

.... Now there’s lots to do. First up, let’s focus on the rights of Muslim women, especially those in conservative communities, who resort to Sharia courts in domestic disputes and are often counselled to stay with violent partners. It is appalling that Muslim couples are not compelled to undergo civil marriage, with wives left in penury after a religious divorce. [The Times (£)] Read more

Inside the angry Muslim protests over lessons about LGBT relationships in Birmingham primary schools as teachers face abuse

IT’S home time, and wide-eyed children streaming through the primary school gates are met by a wall of noise from placard-holding protesters.

As two police officers look on, demo orchestrator Shakeel Afsar bellows into his megaphone: “Our children!” A throng of around 50 Muslim demonstrators, some in black niqabs, chant back: “Our choice.”

One home-made banner reads: “Say no to the sexualisation of children.” Another, scrawled in black marker pen, says: “Let kids be kids.”

For the past two weeks, protesters have gathered at Birmingham’s Anderton Park Primary School’s gates demanding an end to LGBT lessons for children as young as four.

Ringleader Mr Afsar, 31, whose niece and nephew attend the school, told The Sun: “Parents feel the school is forcing a different moral way of thinking on the children.”

A tinderbox cause for some religious communities, opposition to the lessons in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, has spread through WhatsApp and social media and seen parents raising concerns in Manchester, Croydon, Oldham, Blackburn and Bradford. [The Sun] Read more

Head of LGBT protest school urges Government to act and says: 'We feel under siege'

The head at a Birmingham primary school has called for the Government to reject attempts to dilute messages of equality around LGBT issues - or risk a "bleak future."

Anderton Park Primary School in Moseley has been the subject of daily protests from some parents over the equality lessons.

Headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson has now called for action from the Government - and revealed the strain her staff have been under.

She said: "If someone is going to tell us that there are elements of the equality agenda that we just can't talk about, then I think we have a constitutional crisis. It is a terrifying prospect.

"This is the thin end of the wedge.

"If we succumb to what parents demand on this particular issue, and agree not to mention LGBT equality to young children, what do we say if there is a far right parents' group demanding we stop saying religions are equal, or black people are equal to white people? Where does it end?" [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Outlawing ‘Islamophobia’ would help jihadis

Last weekend the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described the massacre in Christchurch as the result ‘of failing to root out Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment from our society’. His intention is to crack down on Islamophobia and give it a formal definition. He is right about anti-Muslim sentiment. But he is dangerously, terrifyingly wrong about Islamophobia.

.... Sadiq Khan wants the Tories to define Islamophobia as ‘a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness’. This definition would go down well in any autocratic Islamist regime, as it is so wide-ranging that it could apply to almost anyone or anything — even Khan has been accused of Islamophobia.

So the Mayor should be careful what he wishes for. If he gets his way, the jihadis would be delighted. It would be tragic if, in an attempt to protect Muslims, we ended up taking the jihadis’ bait. [The Spectator] Read more

29 March 2019

George Clooney calls for hotels boycott over Brunei's LGBT laws

George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine luxury hotels, including the Dorchester on Park Lane in London, because of their links to Brunei, which plans to impose death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week.

“Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone,” the film star and activist wrote in an opinion piece for Deadline.

In a novel form of political activism aimed at the global elite, he called for the public to join him in immediately boycotting the hotels operated by the Dorchester Collection luxury chain: three in the UK, two in the US, two in France and two in Italy. [The Guardian] Read more

George Clooney calls for hotel boycott over Brunei LGBT laws

Hollywood actor George Clooney is calling for a boycott of nine luxury hotels with links to Brunei, after the country said gay sex and adultery would soon be punishable by death.

From 3 April, homosexuals could face being whipped or stoned in the tiny South East Asian state.

In 2014, Brunei became the first East Asian country to adopt Islamic Sharia law despite widespread condemnation.

Mr Clooney said the new laws amounted to "human rights violations".

"In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone," the actor wrote in a column for the entertainment website Deadline.

"Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws", he said. "But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations?"

He said Dorchester Collection hotels in the US, UK, France and Italy, which are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, should be avoided by those who oppose the measures. [BBC] Read more

28 March 2019

Why People Fear Islam

.... A map of the world where lesbian and gay people are criminalised and can expect to face harsh penalties is essentially a map of the Islamic world. A similar map can be drawn showing the worst oppression of women. It goes without saying, almost any credible list of the worst human rights offenders on Planet Earth will feature a majority of Islamic countries.

This is why people in the West fear Islamic immigration. It is not about racism and it is not about prejudice. Obviously there is a small racist contingent who oppose any and all immigration, particularly from countries with different skin colours, but there is nowhere near the level of opposition to immigration from Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, or Secular Humanists and Atheists, from anywhere in the world. We have to be honest about why this is the case.

If we’re honest, it is because we fear – for good reason – the regressive social attitudes and violent punishments for moral crimes that the Islamic world imposes. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Protests over LGBT+ classes ramp up at Birmingham school as MPs back more inclusive curriculum

Protests over lessons on same-sex relationships continued into their ninth day at a Birmingham primary school just hours after MPs voted in favour of a compulsory LGBT+ inclusive curriculum in schools.

Megaphone-wielding demonstrators at Anderton Park Primary School want classes teaching respect for LGBT+ relationships to be suspended until a resolution can be reached with parents who oppose the lessons.

Around 50 adults held placards and chanted “our children, our choice” outside the school gates as parents picked up pupils on Thursday afternoon. A group of children joined in with the demonstration.

The protest came after a large majority of MPs – 538 – voted on Wednesday evening in favour of new regulations to make relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory in English schools from September 2020. [The Independent] Read more

Erdogan says time has come for Hagia Sophia to be a mosque

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday (Mar 27) it was time to rename Istanbul's landmark Hagia Sophia as a mosque, saying that it had been a "very big mistake" to convert it into a museum.

"Hagia Sophia will not be called a museum. It will be taken out of that status. We will call Hagia Sophia a mosque," Erdogan told A Haber television during an interview.

"Those who come to Hagia Sophia will visit Hagia Sophia mosque," he said.

The former church and mosque, now a museum, often sparks tensions between Christians and Muslims over Islamic activities held there, including the reading of verses from the Koran or collective prayers.

Its secular status allows believers of all faiths to meditate, reflect or simply enjoy the astonishing architecture of a building dating back to the sixth century. [CNA] Read more

In Saudi trial, detained women speak of torture, abuse

Saudi women activists detained for almost a year offered their defence at an emotionally charged hearing on Wednesday, alleging torture and sexual harassment during interrogation, courtroom sources said.

Eleven women responded to charges that rights groups say include contact with international media and human rights groups, in the second hearing of a high-profile trial that foreign reporters and diplomats are barred from attending.

Some of them wept and consoled each other and their family members gathered before a three-judge panel in Riyadh's criminal court as they accused interrogators of subjecting them to electric shocks and flogging and groping them in detention, two people with access to the trial told AFP.

At least one of the detained women tried to commit suicide following her mistreatment, a close relative said.

The government, facing intense international scrutiny of its human rights record, denies the women were tortured or harassed. [AFP] Read more

Brunei introduces death by stoning as punishment for gay sex

runei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system that imposes strict corporal punishments.

It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn (£15bn) and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as “a great achievement”. [The Guardian] Read more

27 March 2019

Muslim campaigners condemn New Zealand women for donning headscarves in solidarity with mosque shooting victims, saying: 'The hijab is NOT empowering for us'

New Zealand women who wear a headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women have faced a backlash from campaigners who say it is not 'empowering'.

Some women including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have covered up in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings which killed 50 people on March 15.

Ardern won widespread praise for putting on a headscarf when she met members of the Muslim community after the terror attack.

But women's rights advocates said it was a sensitive issue for many women who campaign against the obligatory wearing of headscarves.

Critics pointed out that women in conservative Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia were forced to cover up for the sake of modesty or risk public rebuke, fines or arrest. [Daily Mail] Read more

25 March 2019

'Professor against political correctness' had his Cambridge fellowship withdrawn after posing next to a man in an 'I'm a proud Islamophobe' t-shirt, university's vice chancellor reveals

A controversial Canadian academic had his Cambridge fellowship withdrawn after posing next to a man in an 'I'm a proud Islamophobe' t-shirt.

Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor, was offered a two-month visiting fellowship at Cambridge University.

It was revoked last week after Dr Peterson was pictured posing with a man wearing an anti-Islam t-shirt last year on February 18 while on his 12 Rules for Life Tour in Auckland, New Zealand, as reported by Varsity.

The phrase emblazoned on the front of the t-shirt of what is thought to be a Peterson fan says 'I'm a proud Islamaphobe.' (sic)

Apart from misspelling 'Islamaphobe', which is actually spelt Islamophobe, the t-shirt also lists a number of other offensive statements about Islam. [Daily Mail] Read more

Birmingham LGBT lessons row school staff 'distraught'

The head of a school trust embroiled in a row over classes about LGBT rights says staff have been left "distraught".

The No Outsiders programme at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham has been paused after protests by parents.

Hazel Pulley, chief executive officer of the trust which runs the school, said some staff had lost weight and were not sleeping.

She added the situation had been the most "challenging" she has seen in 27 years in education.

There have been protests outside the school in Alum Rock over No Outsiders, with some parents claiming the lessons were age-inappropriate and incompatible with Islam.

Ms Pulley, of Excelsior Multi-Academy Trust, confirmed its lessons have been temporarily stopped to allow for discussions with parents.

The Leigh Trust has also said it would be halting lessons at four of its schools until reaching an agreement with parents. [BBC] Read more

'Muslims don't date, we marry'

.... Back then he was working for a bank in the City of London. He enjoyed his job, but at the same time he increasingly realised that there was a gap in the market for a decent dating app aimed at Muslims who were looking for a partner from within their religious community.

"At the time there were either these really basic websites for Muslims, or big dating apps that didn't quite get our culture," says Shahzad, who was born and bred in Manchester.

"In the Muslim community a lot of us did, and still do, rely on matchmakers [to find a wife or husband]. These are 'aunties' in the community who know families, and who would match up a son with another family's daughter."

His idea for Muzmatch was that it would be a digital matchmaker app for Muslims who wanted to find someone to marry. [BBC] Read more

One-man Sharia courts ‘discriminate against women’

Women face discrimination as a growing number of “one-man” Sharia councils pop up, an Islamic scholar has warned.

Khola Hasan, a scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council in east London, said that a number of new councils had sprung up, run from living rooms, the back of shops or even through the post.

Sharia councils offer advice and rulings on Islamic law. They mainly deal with religious divorce cases and most of their clients are women seeking to dissolve their Islamic marriage.

An independent review into Sharia councils last year raised concerns that the bodies “engage in practices which are discriminatory to women”, particularly because Islamic law grants men the right to divorce their wives by simply declaring the marriage to be over, but insists that wives must seek permission from a scholar to divorce her husband. [The Times (£)] Read more

24 March 2019

Supporters of Birmingham primary school’s gay lessons warned they will ‘burn in hell’

A teacher at the centre of protests over what children learn about relationships has called on the education secretary to make it “crystal clear” that schools are only trying to follow the law.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, the head of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham which is rated “good” by Ofsted, says she feels intimidated and upset after protesters outside her school last week chanted “Hewitt-Clarkson, go, go, go” and “Hewitt-Clarkson is a liar”. The school, where most of the pupils are Muslim, called the police.

“It was very intimidating for my staff, parents and the children,” said Hewitt-Clarkson. “Children were crying.”

She added that it reminded her of the Trojan Horse scandal in 2014 when her school was one of a number inspected after claims that Muslims were trying to influence what was taught in secular state schools. [The Times (£)] Read more

Silencing Islamophobes is as futile a response as banning the Qur’an

.... It’s not just figures on the right who inhabit this grey area. Liberals demand restrictions on Muslim immigration as a necessity to defend secular society. Social democratic parties across Europe have ramped up rhetoric against Muslims and migrants, citing a need to stem the rise of the far right. The creation of Fortress Europe, and of Fortress Australia, and their immoral immigration policies, have helped legitimise the idea of continents under siege from invading migrants.

All this is why the calls for stricter censorship to curtail anti-Muslim bigotry miss the point. The dehumanisation of Muslims and of migrants is a process that happens in many ways and through many agencies.

Banning rightwing thinkers hostile to Muslims will no more stop terrorism acts than banning the Qur’an will stop jihadist fighters. Anti-Muslim bigotry was just one strand of Tarrant’s warped worldview. Should we censor, too, the identity politics and anti-globalisation sentiments that also provided the frame for his intent? [Guardian Cif] Read more

23 March 2019

Activist warning of 'war on morality' wades into LGBT lessons row

In a YouTube clip published last year, the softly spoken Dr Kate Godfrey-Faussett takes to the stage, apologises for delaying lunch, stutters slightly – saying she has an entrenched fear of public speaking – before launching into an impassioned speech about the government’s “totalitarian endeavour to indoctrinate our children in sexual ideologies”.

Godfrey-Faussett, who describes herself as a chartered psychologist and Muslim academic, is the latest voice entering the tinderbox row over LGBT lessons in Birmingham schools.

The debate has so far led to the removal of hundreds of children from school by parents staging weekly protests against lessons they claim promote LGBT lifestyles.

Despite that hesitant start, Godfrey-Faussett has delivered this performance before at locations around the country, normally to Muslim parents, as part of Stop RSE, her campaign against relationship and sex education lessons in schools. [The Guardian] Read more

Terrorism fears as 3,000 UK children a year go to 'jihadi' schools in Pakistan, secret government report reveals

A secret Government report has warned that more than 3,000 British children are being taken to Pakistan each year and enrolled in extremist summer schools.

The chilling Home Office study says courses at madrasas teach a 'glorified version of jihad', according to a source.

Officials fear some youngsters will be radicalised and return to the UK with a warped ideology and pose a terrorism risk.

'It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children,' the source told The Mail on Sunday.

'Enrolment at madrasas poses the greatest risk of exposure to more serious forms of religious extremism.'

Two of the 7/7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, enrolled on madrasa courses in Pakistan a year before they launched their deadly attack in 2005, which killed 52.

But the security services have established that some Pakistani parents take their children back to their native homeland during summer holidays under the pretext of visiting extended family.

In reality, they sign them up for lessons at some of Pakistan's estimated 20,000 madrasas. [Daily Mail] Read more

Egyptian singer banned after claiming lack of free speech

An Egyptian singer has been banned from performing in her home country after suggesting that it does not respect free speech.

A video clip circulated online shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, during a performance in Bahrain, saying: "Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned."

Egypt's Musicians Union responded late Friday by barring the singer, popularly known by her first name, from performing. It also summoned her for questioning.

Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint against the singer accusing her of "insulting Egypt and inviting suspicious rights groups to interfere in Egypt's affairs." [ABCNews.com] Read more

22 March 2019

Liberals in Pakistan fear hate crimes following lynching victim Mashal Khan's death

Mashal Khan, a student in Pakistan, was accused of blasphemy and killed by a mob in 2017. Now, the trial to convict his killers has raised questions about whether legal punishments will help prevent future hate crimes.

Twenty-three-year-old Mashal Khan was a student of mass communications at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after being accused of blasphemy. The lynching took place within the premises of the university. Soon after, a video of the incident was shared on social media.

According to Mashal Khan's legal team in June 2017, a 13-member joint investigation team (JIT) concluded in its report that the allegations of blasphemy were unfounded and were used as a pretext to incite a mob against the student.

The JIT found that Mashal had been vocal about the rights of students at the university, challenging the appointment of a new vice chancellor for reasons related to students' obtaining their degrees. The investigation also exposed illegal and criminal activities taking place, including the harassment of female students. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

It’s time for my Conservative party to root out Islamophobia for good

.... Whether we like it or not, there is a subculture of Conservative supporters that place Islam at the centre of much that’s wrong with our society. And I think they’re wrong. This Tommy Robinson brigade appears to place ignorance ahead of understanding and does a disservice to British Muslims and the vast majority of Conservatives who bear absolutely no ill will toward the Muslim community. As a political movement we do ourselves no favours by tolerating or ignoring this hateful fringe.

This isn’t an argument to exclude radical Islam from scrutiny or debate. But we don’t honour that debate by indulging the unfounded fears spread by Islamophobes whipping each other into a frenzy online. It is the duty of leaders on the political right to demystify the debate, not pander to people’s cheap fear of “the other”. [Guardian Cif] Read more

21 March 2019

Calgary university cancels event by ex-Muslim, citing sensitivity after New Zealand attacks

Citing the recent anti-Muslim attacks in New Zealand, a Calgary university suddenly cancelled an event by Armin Navabi, an Iranian-Canadian atheist activist who was scheduled to deliver a talk critical of Islam.

“I’ve been deplatformed again,” wrote Navabi in a Wednesday tweet.

The event, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, was entitled The Case Against Islamic Reform. Hosted as part of a speaker series organized by the Atheist Society of Calgary, it was to be held at Mount Royal University.

Only two days before the talk, however, a representative from the school informed the society that they were being denied space.

“In light of the shooting last week and the responses to the event we have received from students and staff, we are going to have to cancel hosting your event with Armin on campus on Thursday,” reads an email from the school’s interfaith coordinator since posted to social media. [National Post] Read more

MRU cancels speech by ex-Muslim-turned-atheist in light of New Zealand terror attack

An ex-Muslim who is now an atheist and secular activist says Mount Royal University is overreacting by canceling his talk that was planned on campus for Thursday.

Armin Navabi, who lives in British Columbia, was being brought in by the Atheist Society of Calgary to share his journey and discuss the reasons he doesn't believe the Islamic faith can be reformed.

But now he says he's disappointed he won't get a chance to engage in some passionate discussions with staff and students, including those who still practice Islam, because of MRU's last-minute decision. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

London mosque warned over 'kill Ahmadis' leaflets

A mosque has received an official warning after leaflets calling for the killing of a sect of Muslims were found on display.

Piles of the flyers, which say Ahmadis should face death if they refuse to convert to mainstream Islam, were found in Stockwell Green mosque.

The Charity Commission found the mosque had failed in its duties, and had no control over literature on display.

The mosque in south London has been approached for comment.

A BBC investigation found the leaflets were authored by an ex-head of Khatme Nabuwwat, a group based in Pakistan which lists the mosque as its "overseas office".

Previously a mosque trustee said he had never seen the leaflets before and suggested they were fakes or had been left there maliciously. [BBC] Read more

Birmingham LGBT row: Parkfield School protests resume

Protests over a primary school's teaching of LGBT rights have resumed amid claims the topic is still being discussed with pupils.

Parent rallies outside Parkfield Community School ended last week when teachers decided to stop lessons on homophobia indefinitely.

But on Thursday, about 250 parents and children protested at the school gates in Birmingham for the fourth time.

The BBC has asked the school for comment.

In the latest demonstration, organised by Parkfield Parents' Community Group, there have been calls for head teacher Hazel Pulley to resign, with demonstrators alleging she "cannot keep her word".

Protesters are concerned while formal lessons have stopped in the No Outsiders programme - which taught children about diversity and equality - discussions about same-sex relationships and LGBT issues are still happening. [BBC] Read more

New Zealand school faces backlash after banning girls from wearing hijabs

An exclusive all-girls private school in New Zealand is facing a backlash after banning Muslim students from wearing the hijab.

Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland said the hijab was not allowed under their uniform code.

Responding to criticism, the $19,000-a-year school conceded that girls could wear hijabs only for a "Scarves in Solitarity" event on Friday in the wake of the terror attack targeting Muslims in mosques in Christchurch.

Diocesan School Principal, Heather McRae said in a statement: "Any girl or person who wants to show their respect for Muslim families affected in Christchurch by wearing a hijab to school on this day is most welcome to do so."

She explained that their uniform code is strict with girls prohibited from wearing jewellery or nail polish, long hair must be tied back and school blazers worn outside the grounds. [Evening Standard] Read more

Majority of Muslim women in Scotland have been the victims of hate crime

Nearly two-thirds of Muslim women in Scotland have witnessed or experienced a hate incident or crime, according to a new survey – and 74 per cent of those women said they were the victim.

The women said they had been shouted and sworn at or spat on, while others had their hijabs forcefully removed. Scottish Muslim women also reported being told to “go back to where you came from”.

Some 65 per cent said they had not reported the incident, and 91 per cent said there had been no intervention or support from bystanders.

The shocking statistics have been revealed by Amina, the Glasgow-based Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, which conducted the survey in an attempt to understand the scale of Islamophobia in Scotland. [The Scotsman] Read more

Study Claims Western-Born Muslims More Likely to Be Radicalised

Muslims born in the West are more prone to Islamic extremism due to a perceived sense of being “disadvantaged,” according to a study from the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

The study claims to have compared western-born Muslims with migrants, saying that those born in Europe or North America were much more likely to see themselves as primarily Muslims first and become angrier over perceived anti-Muslim injustice, a press release from the University of Uppsala states.

“The most important finding, however, was that Muslims born in the Western world admitted a greater willingness to use force to defend Muslims around the world,” researchers said.

The main cited reason for the differences between the two groups of Muslims is that Muslims in the West have “a stronger experience of being disadvantaged compared to the majority population in which they live.”

The study claims that Muslims are “disadvantaged” due to the alienation they feel in countries, mentioning Sweden, one of the most progressive countries in western Europe, as alienating Muslims as “immigrants” rather than “real Swedes.” [Breitbart London] Read more

20 March 2019

Parkfield School and No Outsiders: We must learn from Trojan Horse history in Birmingham

No Outsiders and in particular the teaching of LGBT issues must continue, if we want to protect the values that are enshrined in British law, says Colin Diamond

Word spread quickly on social media last week that Parkfield Community School in Birmingham had suspended the teaching of No Outsiders lessons “until a resolution has been reached”. Now we learn that a further four schools in the neighbouring Leigh Academy Trust have also withdrawn from teaching the programme. And pressure has mounted elsewhere, with parents being asked to sign petitions demanding the same action in other schools.

The Parkfield news was greeted with both triumph and despair. Local voices lobbying for the removal of No Outsiders and its author, assistant head Andy Moffat, sensed victory and called off the protests. The wider schools community deplored the decision and saw it as capitulating to homophobic pressure.

.... We must be resolute and hold to the values of the Equalities Act and the Birmingham Curriculum Statement. Local dialogue is essential – but there are red lines here. No Outsiders and in particular the teaching of LGBT issues must continue. If it does not, I guarantee that the next targets will be music, drama, liberal humanities and girls’ participation in sports. No Outsiders is taking off in schools across the UK: it needs to continue to thrive in the community where it is most needed. [Schools Week] Read more

Parents 'warned they'll go to hell unless they sign LGBT protest petition' at Moseley school

A councillor claims parents have been warned they will 'go to hell' unless they sign a petition against LGBT teachings at a Birmingham school.

Mums and dads have staged protests outside Anderton Park Primary School, Moseley, demanding lessons about same sex relationships are scrapped.

The school does NOT teach the 'No Outsiders' programme, which has sparked similar demos at Parkfield Community School and five other city schools.

But local councillor Kerry Jenkins branded the Anderton protests yesterday as 'intimidating' as the LGBT crisis in Birmingham schools continues to escalate.

She tweeted: “I have learnt tonight about ‘intimidating protests’ held today outside Anderton Park School with parents being harassed and told they will go to hell if they do not sign a petition. This because they teach the equality act.

“This behaviour is not acceptable & will be challenged.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Of Antisemitism and Islamophobia

.... Judaism is a non proselytising religion/ideology. It does not seek to impose itself on humanity. Islam is emphatically the opposite. It does, and its many followers do, believe it is the best way for humanity to live. Any religion with this world-view is going to encounter push-back, and certainly Christians attempting something similar in Muslim-majority countries would likely face the same antipathy.

Added to that, the extremes of Islam – even the mainstream if you include a global representation of the religion – are opposed to Western values of secular democracy. An alarming proportion of British Muslims support, for example, Sharia Law. It would be naive to think that this sort of polling data doesn’t affect public perceptions of British Muslims. A more inclusive society is a good thing, but that is premised on the assumption that everyone wants to be a part of it. The one Jewish state, in contrast, has embraced Western values.

.... In contrast, a great deal of anti-Islam feeling is not irrational. Obviously at the fringes there is stuff that crosses the line into conspiracy territory, and even casually speaking, there is some ‘Islamophobia’ – or anti-Muslim hatred that is a proxy for racism. And of course there is a huge difference between animosity towards individual Muslims rather than the ideas of Islam as a religion, or political Islam/Islamism.

But a significant proportion is not irrational or racist, and it has to be acknowledged. If whatever instrument is devised to combat this prejudice and hatred is not forensic in its scope rather than being a blunt instrument, Islamists will beat us with it. [Harry’s Place] Read more

Bahawalpur student stabs professor to death over 'anti-Islam' remarks

A third-year student at Bahawalpur's Government Sadiq Egerton College on Wednesday allegedly stabbed a professor to death over what he vaguely described as the academic's "anti-Islam" remarks, police sources and persons familiar with the incident said.

Associate professor Khalid Hameed, the head of the English department, was seated inside his office at the college when he was allegedly accosted and attacked with a knife by the student.

According to initial information noted by police at the scene of the crime, Khateeb Hussain, a 5th-semester BS student enrolled in the English department, had exchanged hot words with Prof Hameed at around 8:40am over the arranging of a 'welcome party' at the college.

The event, which Hameed was overseeing, was to be held on March 21 to welcome new students to the college, police said.

Police sources told DawnNewsTV that Hussain was averse to the event being organised because he viewed the mingling of male and female pupils at the function as "un-Islamic". [Dawn.Com] Read more

Pakistani student murders professor over proposed co-ed party: police

A student stabbed a college professor to death on Wednesday in eastern Pakistan on Wednesday, apparently because he felt that a planned party that women were going to be involved with would be un-Islamic, a police official said.

Khalid Hameed, an English professor at the Government Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur, was preparing for the farewell party when one of his students attacked him with a dagger, police said.

“Apparently, the accused has no link to any religious group but we are investigating about his past and the reasons behind his mindset,” local police official Farhan Hussain said. He added that the motive given by the alleged attacker was Hameed’s decision to hold the party.

The student, Khateeb Hussain, was in policy custody and was being charged with murder, police said. [Reuters] Read more

Labour formally adopts definition of Islamophobia

The Labour party has formally adopted a definition of Islamophobia, arguing that it is vital to tackling the rise of far-right racism.

A party spokesperson said its national executive committee had adopted the working definition produced by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims “to help tackle Islamophobia, build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities”.

The definition reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

The definition was produced by the group to build a common understanding of the causes and consequences of Islamophobia. It was decided upon after a six-month consultation with academics, lawyers, elected officials, Muslim organisations, activists, campaigners, and communities.

More than 750 British Muslim organisations, 80 academics and 50 MPs have backed the definition. Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West and a shadow minister for women and equalities, said all political parties should adopt the definition. [The Guardian] Read more

Christchurch shootings: Why Turkey's Erdogan uses attack video

.... For many, the leader of a Nato member appearing to exploit New Zealand's grief, repeatedly playing footage that's been condemned around the world and removed from 1.5 million Facebook sites is at once baffling and galling.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters called it "unfair" and warned it could damage his country's nationals abroad.

And yet Mr Erdogan has continued - and gone further.

At a rally this week, coinciding with a commemoration of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign - when Ottoman soldiers defeated British-led forces, including those from Australia and New Zealand - he warned those coming to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments:

"Your grandparents came here and returned in coffins", he bellowed. "Have no doubt: we will send you back like your grandfathers."

That prompted Australia's prime minister to summon the Turkish ambassador and review travel advice to Australians travelling here. [BBC] Read more

19 March 2019

MEF Defends the Right to Discuss Islam in Europe

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff's appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was just rejected. Pursuing the principle that publicly discussing Islam and related matters should not lead to arrest and jail, the Middle East Forum had helped fund her important case with its implications for all of Europe.

Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff has been criminally convicted under Austria's "defamation of religion" law for "publicly denigrating" the Islamic prophet Muhammad "in a way likely to arouse justified indignation." Her crime? Asking in a private seminar: "A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?" She was referring to Islamic texts stating that Muhammad married Aisha when she was six years old and consummated their marriage when she was nine.

"Since the Rushdie affair thirty years ago, criticism of Islam has become hazardous throughout the West," said Marc Fink, director of the Forum's Legal Project, which protects the public discussion of Islam in the West. "It has become fashionable to ban and even criminalize 'hate speech' and 'defamation of religion,' but these terms are poorly defined and the attendant laws are inconsistently applied. [The Middle East Forum] Read more

We need an effective definition of Islamophobia

In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, in which fifty worshippers were murdered by a man who subscribed to a series of conspiracy theories, many now understand that there is an urgent need to adopt and enforce a definition that addresses anti-Muslim hatred.

There is now a rush to sign up to the definition of Islamophobia published in November by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. Unfortunately, that definition is not fit for purpose.

The authors of the report have taken the structure and content of IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as their starting point and, in many places, done little more than cross out ‘Jew’ and insert ‘Muslim’ in its place.

Most forms of bigotry have some common characteristics but diverge significantly in their details and form. Homophobia doesn’t take the same form as anti-Black racism. Transphobia isn’t identical to misogyny. If you start out with a definition of antisemitism and try to apply it to the sort of hatred that Muslims face, you will miss the mark. [The Jewish Chronicle] Read more

LGBT lessons row: More Birmingham schools stop classes

Four more schools in Birmingham have stopped teaching about LGBT rights following complaints by parents.

Leigh Trust said it was suspending the No Outsiders programme until an agreement with parents was reached.

Earlier this month the city's Parkfield Community School suspended the lessons after protests were held.

Campaigner Amir Ahmed said some Muslims felt "victimised" but an LGBT group leader said No Outsiders helped pupils understand it is OK to be different.

In a letter seen by the BBC, Leigh Trust said it was halting the lessons until after Ramadan, which finishes in June.

The schools involved are Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior and Infants School and Wyndcliff Primary School.

Leigh Trust - which is yet to comment publicly - said it wanted to discuss the programme with parents to find "a positive way" of teaching about the Equalities Act.

Some parents at Parkfield, and the other four schools, claim the classes are inappropriate for young children and the schools' LGBT message contradicts Islam. [BBC] Read more

The New Zealand Mosque Massacre Blame Game Is Out of Control

.... So it is with no surprise that I noticed, a mere day after 50 of my fellow Muslims were so publicly and tragically killed, while the blood was still wet and the bodies remained unburied, that the ideologues had circled like vultures.

Opportunistic Islamist and far-left extremists began calling for a purge of people whose politics they disagree with, and started publishing McCarthyite lists of personae non grata to target. Few have come under fiercer assault than my friend and collaborator in dialogue, Sam Harris. The following spectacle has been incredibly unedifying.

After the multiple jihadist terror attacks Western cities have faced to date, it has been these same far-left and Islamist voices resisting the call to name the ideology behind these attacks as “Islamism”, and to distinguish it from the religion of Islam.

They have taken the view that talking about the Islamist ideology unfairly stigmatises all Muslims. They have preferred to beseech us all to understand the grievances that fuel the anger of jihadists, and have encouraged instead ‘hug a Muslim’ campaigns. Yet, after New Zealand, these same voices paradoxically insist on directly addressing white nationalist ideology; they hounded a pregnant Chelsea Clinton; they have taken to compiling blacklists of individuals they do not like; and they are calling for the deplatforming of “right-wing” pundits and protests against “right-wing” media. Consistency has been sorely missing. This is dangerous, despicable and disingenuous. Only the extremist seeks to erase all opposition. [The Daily Beast] Read more

18 March 2019

‘Systemic Islamophobia’ fuels terror attacks, say Muslim leaders

Muslim leaders from around the world have accused the mainstream media, politicians and academics of contributing to the conditions fuelling terrorist violence against their community such as Friday’s attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, which claimed 50 lives.

More than 350 leading Islamic figures from countries including the UK, US and South Africa have signed a letter to the Guardian, which links the actions of the suspected shooter, the 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, to an atmosphere of “systemic and institutionalised Islamophobia”.

The letter says: “This bigotry has been fuelled by certain callous academics, reckless politicians as well as media outlets who regularly feature those who demonise Islam and Muslims with impunity, disguising their vile mantra behind a veneer of objectivity.

“The massacre of Muslims did not just begin with bullets fired from the barrel of Tarrant’s gun. Rather it was decades in the making: inspired by Islamophobic media reports, hundreds and thousands of column inches of hatred printed in the press, many Muslim-hating politicians and unchecked social media bigotry. [The Guardian] Read more

'Community' pressured Muslim school to stop girls scuba diving

Al-Khair School rated ‘inadequate’ after Ofsted finds it unlawfully segregates boys and girls aged 11-16.

A private Muslim school in London has come under pressure from its community to stop girls doing scuba diving, Ofsted has reported.

The Al-Khair School in Croydon, South London, received an overall rating of "inadequate" after inspectors found it was breaking the law by segregating pupils by gender in its secondary phase.

However, the report, published today, praises the way the school responds when parents press it on a range of issues.

.... Today’s report on Al-Khair says its “otherwise strong work” to promote pupils’ personal development “is impaired by the unlawful segregation by sex” between the ages of 11 of 16.

It says: “The boys’ department is located on the ground floor of the building, and the girls’ department is on the first floor.

“Boys and girls have separate entrances to the school. Pupils are segregated for classes and all other activities.

“The policy causes the following detriment to pupils: boys and girls cannot learn and socialise together.” [Tes] Read more

Germany: Bavarian court upholds headscarf ban for judges, prosecutors

Bavaria's constitutional court has confirmed the legitimacy of the southern German state's ban on judges and prosecutors wearing headscarves. It said the presence of crosses in courtrooms was another matter altogether.

The Bavarian constitutional court on Monday rejected an appeal by an Islamic religious community to overturn a ban on judges and prosecutors wearing headscarves, saying that justice officials in particular were obliged to be neutral in questions of religion and ideology.

The judge voiced the opinion that the ban, which also forbids officials to wear religious symbols such as crosses or a kippa — or yarmulke — during court proceedings, did not go against laws on religious freedom or equality.

The Islamic group had argued that the ban violated both laws, as the Christian symbol of the cross hangs in Bavarian courtrooms.

This argument was not accepted by the court, which maintained that the presence of crosses was a different matter, as it was determined by the court administration and cast no doubt on the neutrality of individual judges or lawyers. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

A law against Islamophobia is a terrible idea

.... Those advocating a legal definition of Islamophobia argue that it is the same as anti-Semitism. It is not. Jewishness (except in the rare case of conversions to Judaism) is what you either are, or aren’t, by birth. Islam, however, is a religion.

Like Christianity, but unlike Judaism, Islam is a proselytising religion. It seeks to convert the whole of humanity. Therefore – again like Christianity – it inevitably enters the world of controversy in which its beliefs and practices are challenged. Muslims believe, for example, that Jesus was not crucified, and some call Christians cross-worshippers. Christians believe that Mohammed is not the last and greatest prophet of God. They have different scriptures.

They can’t both be right, therefore they are bound to disagree. For both, their faith is, in principle, more important than life itself, so they will sometimes disagree passionately. Atheists think that both faiths are nonsense, so they want to argue too. None of this is “phobic”. [The Telegraph] Read more

17 March 2019

Islamists misusing blasphemy law to harass Christians in Pakistan: Activists

Pakistani Christians living in parts of Europe held a protest rally in Geneva to raise their voice against Islamic hardliners who are persecuting minorities in the name of blasphemy.

The protestors including women and children carried out a rally from Palais Wilson, the current headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Broken Chair, during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

They demanded that the Pakistan government must abolish the 'dangerous' law misused by the state and non-state actors to target the minorities.

Frank John, a Pakistani Christian and Chairman of Drumchapel Asian Forum in NW Glasgow, said: "We are unhappy with the functioning of the government in Pakistan because the mindset of 'maulvis' (Islamic hardliners) towards Christians is immoral. Every day, atrocities are being committed against our children, especially girls, which is not acceptable. Our girls are being kidnapped by misusing PPC 295C and they are converted into Islam." [India Today] Read more

Islamophobia Is A Global Crisis -- And It’s Time We View It That Way

.... Islamophobia, like bigotry and hatred of any kind, is easier to identify when it occurs on the far right. When Rep. Steve King said that he didn’t want Somali Muslims working at meatpacking plants because they don’t eat pork or when Ann Coulter proposed that America invade Muslims countries and “kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” the condemnations were sharp and swift.

But tackling Islamophobia from liberal and left circles is trickier. New Atheists such as Bill Maher and Sam Harris, both championed as progressives, have been accused of perpetuating anti-Muslim sentiments under the guise of intellectual debate.

“Not only does the Muslim world have something in common with ISIS. It has too much in common with ISIS,” proclaimed Maher in a 2014 episode of his HBO show. Harris voraciously opposed the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site in 2010, writing that its construction would be “a sign that the liberal values of the West are synonymous with decadence and cowardice.” [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

16 March 2019

Mohammed Amin: The New Zealand atrocity – and the symbiotic relationship between anti-Muslim and Islamist terrorists

.... The Muslim extremists who contend that Muslims will never be accepted in, for example, Europe exist in a symbiotic relationship with those non-Muslim extremists who contend that Islam is an alien religion that does not belong in Europe. Such Muslims will already be pointing towards the New Zealand attack in order to convince impressionable young Muslims that they will never be accepted here.

The outpouring of support and sympathy that we have seen from political and religious leaders is therefore vital.

Going forward, all politicians and media outlets should reflect on their language. Are they using words that unite people or divide them?

Sadly, all too often in Britain, North America, Australia, and continental Europe one finds politicians promoting divisions within society for electoral gain. They need to be ostracised as Fraser Anning, the Australian Senator, has been for his comments immediately after the shooting. [ConservativeHome] Read more

Islamophobia is not confined to online groups. It leaks across public life

.... Islamophobia is racism: it’s not a coincidence that the majority of Muslims are not white and have roots in formerly colonised countries. It’s not an exaggeration to say that racist stereotypes abound to the point where you don’t even have to be a Muslim to be attacked as one (just ask a Sikh navigating the world post-9/11).

Islamophobia does not simply exist on the unpalatable mass of the internet. It’s not the preserve of rightwing extremists whom we write off as online nutters. It leaks across public life, in our institutions and our media, to form a pernicious feedback loop and almost nobody cares. If in doubt, consider the lonely figure cut by Sayeeda Warsi, whose calls for an inquiry into the documented Islamophobia within the Conservative party are blithely ignored by government. [The Guardian] Read more

14 March 2019

Birmingham school suspends diversity lessons despite Ofsted backing

A school has suspended lessons about diversity amid objections from predominantly Muslim parents over references to LGBT people, despite backing for its curriculum from Ofsted inspectors.

Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, where almost all children are from Muslim backgrounds, has been at the centre of a coordinated campaign against its 'No Outsiders' lessons in recent weeks.

Those objecting to the lessons have organised protests and mass withdrawals of children, while a member of staff who organised the lessons has reportedly been subjected to a personal campaign of abuse and threats.

In a statement on Wednesday the school said it would not resume teaching the lessons "until a resolution has been reached" with parents who object to the programme. [National Secular Society] Read more

Muslim-turned-Christian refugees in the Netherlands face threats

.... Faraidoun Fouad fled Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Once safely arrived in the Netherlands, he came into contact with Christianity.

“I converted in 1999,” he said. “In 2002 God called me to reach out to my own people. Directly after my conversion to Christianity I received the first threats. People who I thought were my friends, became my enemies.”

It got to a point where he had to flee the asylum seekers center he was staying in to go live with a family he knew from church. Although the center is no longer a safe place for him, he still returns there on a regular basis to evangelize.

“Even Muslims who are not very conservative told my wife that they would kill me,” Fouad said. [Crux] Read more

13 March 2019

Life and death in a theocracy

For Islamic Revolutionary Guard strategist Hassan Abbasi, guarding Iran's Islamic Revolution is his top priority - even if he himself is sentenced to death. And what could be more admirable than the parents who hand their own children over to the firing squad for opposing the regime?

.... I recall that since the beginning of the Revolution, some of the great people in this regime… With their own hands… Some people have executed their own children. Yes. They handed their own children over to the firing squad – this is incredible!

Hassan Abbasi: There were mothers whose children were being executed for opposing the regime, and they would come and stand before the gallows [to watch the execution]. […]

As long as the Islamic Republic can raise and educate valiant young men, 2,300 of whom went to Syria and they have been martyred in recent years, and before that, 220,000 in the Iran-Iraq war… Educating people to that level is the pinnacle of the Islamic Republic’s achievements. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Geneva: Muslim councillor 'forced to sit out council meeting because of headscarf'

In an early test for Geneva's controversial new secularism law, a Muslim councillor on Tuesday chose to sit in the public gallery during a recent council meeting rather than obey the new legislation by removing her headscarf so that she could take part in the session.

The move by Sabine Tiguemounine, a councillor with the Greens for the Geneva municipality of Meyrin, came just days after Geneva’s new cantonal secularism law came into force on March 9th.

The law was adopted after 55 percent of voters in the canton backed its introduction in a referendum in February.

Under the new law – which aims to more clearly define the limits of religion in the public sphere, but which has been criticised by Greens, feminist organisations, unions and Muslim groups – elected representatives in Geneva are banned from displaying religious symbols including headscarves when taking part in plenary council sessions or during other official acts when they are in public view.

But as Geneva daily Tribune de Genève reported, Tiguemounine chose not to remove her headscarf for Tuesday's council meeting which meant she could not vote during the session. [The Local] Read more

Saudi women's rights activists stand trial in criminal court

Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists stood trial on Wednesday for the first time since their arrest over nine months ago, a case that has intensified scrutiny of Riyadh’s human rights record after the murder of a prominent journalist.

Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan and Hatoon Al-Fassi are among 10 women to appear before the Criminal Court in the capital Riyadh, where charges were presented against them, court president Ibrahim al-Sayari said.

He was speaking to reporters and more than a dozen diplomats from the United States and Europe, who were barred from entering the court after receiving no response to earlier requests. Sayari cited privacy concerns for not making the trial public.

The women are among more than a dozen prominent activists, including several men, arrested in the weeks before a ban on women driving cars in the conservative kingdom was lifted last June. A few were previously released without trial. [Reuters] Read more

12 March 2019

Videos Shed Light On 'Violent Assaults' On Iranian Women Over Dress Code

Videos shared on social media recently have demonstrated the "shocking levels of abuse" women in Iran face from morality police and pro-government "thugs" seeking to enforce the country's strict dress code, Amnesty International says.

"Iran's forced hijab laws are not only deeply degrading and discriminatory, they are also being used to justify violent assaults on women and girls in the streets," Philip Luther, the London-based human rights watchdog's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, said in a statement on March 12.

The statement said that women in Iran were "routinely stopped in the street at random by morality police, who insult and threaten them, order them to pull their head scarves forward to hide strands of hair, or give them tissues to wipe off their make-up." [RFE/RL] Read more

Birmingham primary school in LGBT row cleared by watchdog

A Birmingham primary school at the centre of a dispute with parents over lessons about LGBT rights has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Ofsted.

Inspectors visited Parkfield community school in Saltley, Birmingham, last month after parents complained the lessons promoted gay and transgender lifestyles and were being taught to pupils who were too young to understand.

On the basis of the inspection, the schools watchdog ruled in favour of the school on Tuesday, praising its record on promoting “tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect” and confirming its Ofsted rating of “outstanding”.

.... In January, the Guardian reported the school was forced to defend its LGBT equality lessons after 400 predominantly Muslim parents signed a petition calling for them to be dropped from the curriculum. Last week, Parkfield said it had stopped the lessons, which would resume only after a full consultation with every parent. [The Guardian] Read more

11 March 2019

Nasrin Sotoudeh: Iran lawyer who defended headscarf protesters jailed

A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer who has represented women arrested for removing their headscarves has been jailed.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was charged with several national security-related offences, all of which she denies.

There are conflicting reports over the length of her sentence. Her family said she was given 38 years and 148 lashes.

Iran's Isna news agency reported she had been sentenced to seven years in prison, with no lashes.

Her husband later clarified to BBC Persian that while she had been sentenced to 38 years in total, according to a new Iranian law, she would only serve the longest sentence for one of the convictions, which was 10 years.

Another two and a half years were added to this because of the number of charges against her, raising the total to 12 years, he said.

Rights groups strongly criticised the "shocking" sentence against the award-winning human rights activist. [BBC] Read more

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh jailed 'for 38 years' in Iran

Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran, has been handed a new sentence that her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf, was arrested in June and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader, her lawyer said.

She was jailed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security – charges she denied – and was released after serving half of her six-year term. The European parliament awarded her the Sakharov human rights prize.

Mohammad Moqiseh, a judge at a revolutionary court in Tehran, said on Monday that Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years for assembling against national security and two years for insulting the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. [The Guardian] Read more

Iranian human rights lawyer who defended hijab protesters sentenced to seven years in prison

A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer has been sentenced to seven years in prison after defending protesters against the Islamic Republic’s mandatory headscarves for women.

According to Iranian news agency ISNA, Judge Mohammad Moghiseh ruled that 55-year-old lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh will spend five years in jail for “colluding against the system” and a further two years for insulting Iran‘s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The case has now gone to the appeal court,” Mr Moghiseh, who heads branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, is quoted as saying. Ms Sotoudeh has 20 days to appeal the verdict. It was no clear when the sentencing took place.

Her husand Reza Khandan said on Facebook that his wife's verdict was delivered to her in jail and that it was "five years imprisonment for her first case and 33 years imprisonment with 148 lashes for the second case." He did not elaborate.

Mr Khandan was also sentenced to six years in prison in January 2019 for posting updates about his wife’s case on Facebook. [The Independent] Read more

A Month of Multiculturalism in Britain: February 2019

.... February 9. 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, the government agency responsible for inspecting schools.

.... February 11. Brunel University in London launched a sports hijab to encourage more Muslim women to play sports. A 2017 study by Sports England found just 18% of Muslim women participate in regular sports, against 30% of the UK's female population as a whole. The Independent noted:

"Traditionally the hijab, which covers the wearer's hair and neck, is made from cotton which can quickly become hot, sodden with sweat and uncomfortable when used for sport. But Brunel's has been made from materials specifically designed to keep the wearer cool while also respecting their religious beliefs."

....February 13. Langley Academy, a primary school in Slough, terminated its contract with the Al-Miftah Institute, which provided "IslamHood" Sunday school classes from its campus. The termination took place after the madrassa gave a lesson suggesting that Muslim girls should have children rather than careers. The move was prompted by complaints that IslamHood had hosted speakers who warned about women in hijabs making social media videos and described non-Muslims as "pigs."

....February 28. Mohammed Amin, 37, of Walthamstow was found guilty of trying to impose Sharia dress codes on female medical staff at St. Andrew's Health Centre in Tower Hamlets. In one instance, Amin gave a handwritten note to a female staff member stating that the woman should be aware that she was not following the Islamic dress code. The staff member confronted Amin and he threatened her. Amin also hurled abuse at a doctor he believed was a Christian and threatened him with violence if he reported Amin to the police. Snaresbrook Crown Court sentenced Amin to 18 months of community service. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Iranian couple arrested after public marriage proposal goes viral

A young Iranian couple have been arrested after a marriage proposal in public that was captured on a video clip that went viral on social media. The police say the pair offended Islamic mores on public decency but were later released on bail.

The video, which spread on social media on Friday, shows the young man standing in a heart-shaped ring of flower petals next to colourful balloons in a shopping mall in the central Iranian city of Arak.

He proposes, and after the young woman says “yes”, he slips a ring on her finger to cheers from a crowd of onlookers. The two were not identified.

Mostafa Norouzi, deputy police chief in Arak, told the Shahrvand daily that it is unacceptable for the young “to do whatever is common in other places of the world and disregard mores, culture and religion” in Iran.

The pair’s “offence is very clear and there is no need for explanation” about the reason for their arrest, Norouzi added. [The Guardian] Read more

No more foreign money for mosques in Denmark

A new law proposal from the government and Dansk Folkeparti would make it illegal for foreign governments and authorities to give money to religious bodies in Denmark.

The law would come into play if it is decided that the purpose of the donation is to undermine the fundamental rights of freedom and democracy in Denmark, reports Kristeligt Dagblad.

In the past, countries such as Turkey and Qatar have donated money to both religious bodies and mosques. The law will focus on loans, loan guarantees, paying the rent for premises, donations of equipment and paying the wages of personnel.

Turkey has invested in mosques in Roskilde and Holbæk, and Qatar has donated an estimated 100 million kroner for the construction of a new mosque on Rovsingsgade.

However, experts fear that the move could provoke a backlash abroad.

“It is obvious that such a move could be seen as harassment in Turkey and yet another example of the religious inequality,” said Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. [The Copenhagen Post] Read more

10 March 2019

'Telling people that it is okay... for you to be gay. Shame. Shame. Shame': Chilling moment Muslim parents and children chant along with hate-filled rant during a protest against primary school lessons they say promote homosexuality

Muslim children were encouraged to chant 'shame, shame, shame' towards their headteacher who told them it was okay to be gay during a protest this week.

During the protest against Birmingham headteacher Andrew Moffatt's decision to introduce lessons on equality, same-sex marriage and relationships one speaker said being gay should not be given a 'positive spin'.

He then called the lessons, designed to teach the children at Parkfield Community Scool about equality and introduce them to books called 'Mummy, Mama and Me' and 'King & King', 'toxic' and an 'aggressive indoctrination'.

And the children gleefully chanted 'shame' along with their parents after he directed the words 'shame, shame, shame' at their headteacher.

He said: 'We have to make one thing very clear.

'This program is not just about telling people there are other families and other types of lifestyles exist it is actually aggressively promoting them.

'Giving a positive spin and telling people that it is okay or you to be Muslim and for you to be gay. Mr Moffatt. Shame, shame, shame.' [Daily Mail] Read more

Erdogan accuses women's march of disrespecting Islam

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday accused a women’s march in central Istanbul on Friday of disrespecting Islam by booing the Islamic call to prayer.

Several thousand women had gathered in central Istanbul on Friday evening for a march to celebrate International Women’s Day but police fired tear gas to disperse them.

.... Women who took part in the march said on Twitter the chanting and whistling was part of the demonstration and was not aimed at the call to prayer, which began during their protest. [Reuters] Read more

09 March 2019

Oxford University suspends jihad-supporting student, 21, for trying to recruit for an extreme Islamist group

An Oxford student has been suspended by the university after trying to recruit for an extreme Islamist organisation.

Third-year engineering student Danial Farooq, 21, now faces an investigation after expressing support for jihad.

He says he is a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir which seeks to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law and is banned in more than a dozen countries worldwide – though not in the UK.

He claimed he is ‘close’ to gaining supporters at Britain’s oldest university and told an undercover Daily Mail reporter he supported jihad to ‘spread’ Islam.

Mr Farooq, who is from Brent in north London and studies at Wadham College, said: ‘There’s a few brothers who believe that the problem of our time is political and that the solution is for Islam and a [caliphate].

‘I believe if there was 50 to 100 hizbis (Hizb ut-Tahrir members) – just students – in all of the UK, if there was even five hizbis in Oxford, if you could influence two or three, that could change the whole Muslim unity. Because that’s how it all starts.’ [Daily Mail] Read more

Hinds backs headteachers over LGBT education

The education secretary Damian Hinds has backed headteachers who teach pupils about LGBT relationships following protests by parents against the curriculum of a Birmingham school.

West Midlands police has confirmed it is investigating homophobic graffiti at Parkfield Community School following vocal rallies organised by parents against the school’s programme of study on LGBT rights amid concerns of a lack of parental consultation.

The protests have stoked fears of a larger backlash against schools when new relationships and sex education guidance comes into force next year. The guidance states that the government “expects” schools to teach about LGBT relationships, but the timing of such teaching is to be left up to headteachers. [Schools Week] Read more

Malaysian jailed for more than 10 years for insulting Islam

A Malaysian has been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail and three others have been charged over insults against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad on social media.

The sentence of 10 years and 10 months is believed to be the harshest such penalty on record in the Muslim-majority country.

Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement on Saturday that the person, identified only as Facebook user "Ayea Yea", had pleaded guilty to 10 charges of anti-religious activity and misusing communication networks.

The statement did not specify the number of charges for each offence but said they would be served consecutively.

Under Malaysian law, those found guilty of anti-religious activity can be punished with a jail term of two to five years. The misuse of communication networks carries a maximum one year in jail or a fine of up to 50,000 ringgit ($12,200), or both.

According to Andrew Khoo, a Malaysian lawyer focusing on human rights, this is an "unprecedented" situation.

"For someone to face five separate charges, and for the sentences to be served consecutively - this is excessive," Khoo told Al Jazeera. [Al Jazeera English] Read more

Iranian couple arrested over public marriage proposal

An Iranian couple have been arrested after they got engaged in front of a cheering crowd at a shopping centre.

Video of the public proposal in the northern city of Arak was shared on social media and shows the pair standing in a ring of rose petals.

After the woman says yes, she can be seen hugging her partner as the crowd celebrates.

But they were soon arrested after police said they had contravened Islamic principles.

Mixing between the genders and displays of public affection are severely restricted under Iran's Islamic laws. [BBC] Read more

Managing Shariah Marriages in Britain

.... The Review had weighty objectors from the start. A large number of women’s rights organisations, many of them led by Muslim women and focusing on Muslim women’s issues, both in the UK and from around the world, denounced the Review’s terms of reference, as well as the composition of the Review panel.

Their opposition, in essence, was that the Review’s integrationist agenda was designed “to improve the functioning of systems that are discriminatory in effect and intent”, or, in other words, to welcome shariah councils and the whole shariah project into the fold of British society.

The objectors wanted the Review to consider instead whether the very existence of “shariah councils, mediation and arbitration systems undermine access to justice.” Their objection could be summarised as: you cannot turn a wolf into a sheep by asking a task-force to develop principles for best practice in wearing sheep’s clothing.

.... Those who objected to the Independent Review did so with good reason, but the principal recommendation of the Review, that Islamic marriages should be registered as civil unions, is sound and should be supported by all. This legislative change should be implemented, not only in the UK, but by all governments. It should also be applied systematically, in a way which is informed by a good understanding of the Islamic marriage contract. [Interface Institute] Read more

08 March 2019

Islamic school rated 'inadequate' over offensive library books

An independent Islamic girls’ school has been judged "inadequate" after inspectors found books in its library that could expose pupils to "sexist and racist ideas".

Ofsted rated the Tayyibah Girls’ School, in the London borough of Hackney, as "inadequate" – the same rating as after its previous inspection in 2016.

Today's inspection report says the school is "inadequate" for leadership and management, while personal development, behaviour and welfare "require improvement".

There were "good" ratings for both quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and outcomes for pupils.

Inspectors were alarmed by two books in the school library. One read: “So the Muslim woman does not seek work outside the home unless there is pressing financial need… or her community needs her to work in a specialised area such as befits her feminine nature and will not compromise her honour or religion.” [Tes Global] Read more

"Prevent" ban on extremist speakers at universities is "unlawful", Court of Appeal rules

A "Prevent" ban on extremist speakers at universities is "unlawful", the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The Government has been forced to partially revise its counter-terrorism strategy after senior judges decided that the guidance was not balanced and accurate enough.

Muslim campaigner Dr Salman Butt won a Court of Appeal challenge against part of the Prevent Duty Guidance, which states: "When deciding whether or not to host a particular speaker, RHEBs should consider carefully whether the views being expressed, or likely to be expressed, constitute extremist views that risk drawing people into terrorism or are shared by terrorist groups."

Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton ruled that the guidance, issued under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, was unlawful and should be quashed. [The Telegraph] Read more

The shame of the Parkfield school protesters

An estimated 600 children were withdrawn for the day from a primary school in Birmingham last week. A rather disturbing video has since been circulating on social media, showing scores of Muslim parents with their young children in Birmingham, shouting “shame, shame, shame”.

What has caused such a reaction? Parkfield, a primary school in Saltley, teaches a programme called No Outsiders which is designed to encourage children to be “happy and excited about living in a community full of difference and diversity”.

It covers issues such as race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or religion. One part of the programme, on LGBT rights, offended some Muslim parents who saw it as a promotion of homosexuality. It prompted Fatima Shah to withdraw her 10-year-old daughter from the school, saying children were too young to be learning about same-sex marriages and LGBT rights in the classroom. “We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers,” she said, while holding a leaflet with the heading: “Is it okay for your child to be gay?” [The Spectator] Read more

Birmingham school LGBT lessons protest investigated

Protesters branding school lessons about LGBT rights as "toxic" and "disgusting" have been accused of using "appalling" and "incendiary" language.

It follows footage of continuing rallies at a Birmingham primary school where the lessons have been taught.

A man can be heard telling a crowd outside Parkfield Community School that teaching about social difference is "aggressive indoctrination".

Police are reviewing the video to see whether any offences are committed.

The footage - in which a vocal and supportive audience is told homosexuality is incompatible with Islam - was taken outside the school.

On Thursday, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for social inclusion John Cotton said: "In recent days, we have been appalled to see attempts to divide the people of our city by using insulting and incendiary language targeting the LGBT community."

While Parkfield is an academy, not a local authority school, Mr Cotton said the council was monitoring the situation. [BBC] Read more

Islamic Scholar: No Western Country Has Successfully Integrated Muslims

Dutch author and sociologist Ruud Koopmans said this week that Muslims are more difficult to integrate into Western society than other migrant groups because of a literal interpretation of the Quran prevalent among Muslims.

Koopmans, a professor at the Berlin Social Science Center and author of several books including Contested Citizenship: Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Europe, told the Danish newspaper Berlingske that whereas most groups of migrants integrate relatively quickly, especially from one generation to the next, Islam stands out as an exception.

“Although it’s not completely absent in Muslims, the change is much slower,” he said, noting that a literal interpretation of the Quran prevents them from integrating into Western countries.

In an earlier published study titled “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility,” Koopmans compared Muslim radicalism with Christian radicalism to better understand why Islam stands out for its isolationism.

“Almost 60 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam,” he wrote, while “75 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Qur’an possible to which every Muslim should stick.” [Breitbart London] Read more

07 March 2019

Jakim’s special unit to monitor online insults to Islam

Putrajaya has set up a special unit to monitor online activity for any form of insult against Islam, following several cases of people allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the unit, which will come under the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), has been tasked with monitoring any form of writing or provocation against Islam or Prophet Muhammad on all media platforms including social media.

“I have also asked them to lodge reports immediately with the police and the Communications and Multimedia Commission if they receive any complaints about the matter,” he said in a statement today.

He said those with information or complaints can WhatsApp the unit’s hotline. [Free Malaysia Today] Read more

My sister is in a Saudi jail. Her crime? Campaigning for women’s rights

This year has been a nightmare for my family. On the day of my sister’s arrest, my parents’ house was raided by armed men without a warrant. They took Loujain and for an entire month we had no idea where she was. No one would give us an answer on her whereabouts.

Things have only got worse since then. Loujain told us she has been beaten, electrocuted and sexually harassed. She was attacked by interrogators who tried to take off her clothes, telling her she is a slut. And one of the interrogators was found was found sitting next to her legs while she was asleep.

During a recent visit, we learned from Loujain that her captors had taken her to a psychologist to help her recover from torture she had endured. But she fainted from the trauma of reliving her experiences. On her second visit to the psychologist she says she was blindfolded and duct taped to a wheelchair.

The Saudi government claims the torture did not happen, but it cannot prove this because it won’t allow independent parties to visit the prison. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Fears grow for 'very unwell' Christian mother Asia Bibi, 53, who was freed from a blasphemy death sentence in Pakistan and remains in protective custody

Fears are growing for a Christian mother freed from a blasphemy death sentence in Pakistan who is said to be ‘very unwell’.

Asia Bibi remains in protective custody sheltering from lynch mobs as she endures an agonising wait to leave the country after her acquittal.

Last month the decision was bravely upheld by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, but her freedom is now being blocked by the army, sources told the Daily Mail.

Her health is failing and she is being denied access to medical care, they said.

The 53-year-old had been expected to leave Pakistan for a new life in Canada in January but her escape is ‘no longer imminent’, it is understood.

Mrs Bibi is said to be suffering from very low blood pressure as she languishes in a safe house with her husband Ashiq Masih.

The mother of two became a global cause celebre for enduring eight years on death row after allegedly insulting Islam. [Daily Mail] Read more

Saudi Arabia rebuked over detention of women activists at UN forum

Thirty-six states at the UN Human Rights Council have criticised Saudi Arabia for detaining women's rights activists, and demanded their release.

The joint statement was the first collective rebuke of the Gulf kingdom since the council was set up in 2006.

It reflects international concern at the detention of a number of activists in the past year and also at the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A Saudi diplomat denounced the use of such statements "for political causes".

"Interference in domestic affairs under the guise of defending human rights is in fact an attack on our sovereignty," said Abdul Aziz Alwasil, the kingdom's permanent representative in Geneva.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says that for years the Human Rights Council has shied away from public criticism of Saudi Arabia.

Many European countries view Riyadh as an ally in a troubled part of the world, restricting their concerns over human rights to private informal chats, our correspondent adds. [BBC] Read more

Saudi Arabia's repressive guardianship laws are trapping these women in desperate situations they have little chance of escaping

Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws are leaving women stuck in desperate situations, and driving them to risk severe punishment by trying to escape the country.

On Tuesday, it was reported that a US citizen is effectively trapped in Riyadh with her four-year-old daughter. She is stuck in Saudi Arabia a year after she divorced her Saudi husband, because he remains her legal "guardian" and must give her permission to leave.

The woman, Bethany Vierra, is the latest in a sting of cases which illustrate how much control the guardianship system has over women in Saudi Arabia.

Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, every woman must have a male guardian — usually a husband, but sometimes a brother, or even a son — to make daily decisions for her.

Women need permission to leave the house, go to school, access money they've earned, and travel outside the kingdom. Adult women in Saudi Arabia, therefore, have the same legal rights as children. [Business Insider] Read more

06 March 2019

Prominent human rights lawyer faces imprisonment in Iran

A prominent human rights lawyer in Iran who defended protesters against the Islamic Republic's mandatory headscarves for women has been convicted and faces years in prison, an activist group said Wednesday.

The conviction of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who previously served three years in prison for her work, underlines the limits of challenging Iran's theocracy as it faces economic pressure exacerbated by the U.S. pulling out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

It also highlights the limits of Iran's civilian government as well, as the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and others have signaled an easing of their concern over the mandatory hijab.

It shows "the insecurity the regime has to any peaceful challenge," said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, which reported Sotoudeh's conviction. "It knows a large segment of the country are fed up with the hijab laws." [CBS News] Read more

Google refuses to remove Saudi government app that lets men track and control women

Google has refused to remove a controversial Saudi government app that can be used by men to track women and stop them from travelling.

Absher, an app owned and operated by the kingdom’s interior ministry, will continue to be available to buy despite it coming under mounting scrutiny.

An investigation found the app, which gives men the power to grant and rescind travel permission for women and to set up SMS alerts for when they use their passports, did not violate Google’s terms of service.

Apple and Google faced criticism last month when 14 members of the US Congress wrote a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking both companies to stop hosting the app.

They accused the technology giants of enabling gender discrimination – describing both companies as “accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women”. [The Independent] Read more

Battles over LGBT education reach a messy stalemate

ANDREW MOFFAT is a respected figure among liberal-minded teachers. He is the prime mover of a teaching plan called No Outsiders, which aims to raise youngsters’ awareness, from the earliest years of school, of things grouped under buzzwords like equality and diversity.

The books, games and discussions that the programme recommends have the stated goal of reinforcing Britain’s Equality Act, which bars discrimination on grounds of race, creed, gender, sexuality and gender change. It is offered on a voluntary basis for use in schools, libraries and parent-teacher groups all over England, and many have taken it up.

But this week Mr Moffat and his course were at the eye of a storm in his own workplace, a primary school in a heavily Muslim part of Birmingham where parents are furious over the gay-friendly message. [The Economist] Read more

05 March 2019

Sharia law horror: Women unable to walk after public whipping in Indonesia

AT least two women were left unable to walk after a brutal public whipping in Indonesia as punishment for alleged “intimate relations” outside marriage, with a total of six couples subjected to the brutal ordeal, carried out in accordance with Sharia law.

The beatings were handed out on Monday after the couples were arrested several months ago following a police sweep of a hotel in Bande Aceh in Sumatra, where flogging is a common punishment for a wide range of offences, ranging from gambling, alcohol consumption, and gay sex. The Aceh province, located at the tip of Sumatra, is the only one in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, where Islamic law is imposed. The 12 people involved were arrested late last year, and all had served several months in prison prior to their punishment. [Daily Express] Read more

Fierce Backlash For Birmingham MP Who Defended Parents Boycotting LGBT Lessons

A Labour MP has come under intense criticism after she appeared to defend a group of parents who protested against lessons about homosexual relationships being taught at a primary school.

For weeks, the ‘No Outsiders’ programme on same-sex relationships and equality has been at the centre of a fierce row at Parkfield community school in Saltley, Birmingham, with some parents saying it promotes same-sex relationships.

On Friday around 600 Muslim children were withdrawn from the school for the day, parents told the Guardian newspaper. The school would not confirm the number. Parkfield school announced on Monday that it would be “pausing” the programme, following the backlash.

In a video posted to her Twitter account, Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, is shown telling parliament last week that she had been contacted by constituents who were concerned about young children being taught lessons about homosexuality. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

Heroic British Transport Police officer slammed for not being 'proper Muslim' - because she wears uniform

British Transport Police has revealed how one of its officers was told they were not a "proper Muslim".

The policewoman was hit by the scathing comment from a "selfie-taking crowd", according to BTP.

The cop was told she was not a "proper Muslim" because she was wearing the force's uniform.

In a post, uploaded to the BTP London account last night, the force wrote: "Yesterday one of my officers was accused of not being a 'proper' Muslim because she wears the uniform.

"As she helped a man who cut his own throat.

"By a crowd who were taking selfies of the incident.

"I don't understand how that logic works, but I know I'm very proud of her."

The incident is believed to have taken place in London. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Parkfield School says No Outsiders WILL continue after Easter as parents deliver protest petition

Parkfield Community School has insisted its 'No Outsiders' programme will return after Easter - as angry parents delivered a protest petition.

The school has temporarily halted the LGBT lessons for the rest of this term, according to reports in the Daily Mail and Guardian.

But the Saltley school has confirmed to BirminghamLive that No Outsiders - a syllabus which promotes equality and supports LGBT - will return after Easter.

It says RE lessons have temporarily replaced No Outsiders until after the Easter break (Monday, April 29) and, according to school leaders, this was already determined last summer.

Last week it was reported that hundreds of parents had withdrawn their children from the Parkfield Road school in protest. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Tories suspend 14 members over alleged Islamophobia

The Conservative party has suspended 14 members for allegedly making Islamophobic comments after a string of abusive posts were uncovered on social media.

The party was responding to racist and abusive remarks that were discovered and collected online by the @matesjacob Twitter account and made by people who had said or indicated they were members of the party.

The suspensions come at a time of growing scrutiny of the Conservative party’s record on Islamophobia. The former Tory chairman Sayeeda Warsi again called for an internal inquiry and suggested the most senior figures in the party – including Theresa May – needed to take the problem more seriously.

The messages included one from an individual who wrote that they would like to “turf all Muslims out of public office”. Another said they wanted to “get rid of all mosques”. Many comments were found on a Facebook group supporting Jacob Rees-Mogg. [The Guardian] Read more