27 September 2019

Russian Muslim leaders encourage polygamy ‘to help women’

Muslim leaders in Russia have appealed for men to be allowed to have more than one wife to stop the spread of “sinfulness and fornication”.

Polygamy is illegal in Russia but Ildar Alyautdinov, the mufti of Moscow, said that allowing the custom in Muslim regions would help to tackle social problems. Polygamy is a broad term, however, also allowing women to have more than one husband. The mufti insisted that he was advocating polygyny, under which only husbands can have more than one spouse.

A state news agency reported that he said: “Legalising polygyny would guarantee women’s rights.” [The Times (£)] Read more

26 September 2019

Legalizing Polygamy Will ‘Guarantee’ Women’s Rights in Russia, Moscow’s Muslim Leader Says

Russia can overcome its gender-related issues by legalizing polygamy, the leader of Moscow’s Muslims has said.

Polygamy, the practice of taking more than one spouse, is frowned upon by an overwhelming majority of Russians. While polygamy is not permitted under Russian law, it remains commonplace in the country’s predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus.

“Legalizing polygamy would guarantee women’s rights,” Ildar Alyautdinov, the mufti of Moscow, was quoted as saying by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency Wednesday.

Pointing to official data that shows women outnumbering men by 10 million in Russia, he stressed the importance of a “legislative-level protective mechanism for women to become full-fledged second wives.”

“[Polygamy] will help solve many social woes. Additionally, there’d be much less sinfulness and fornication that’s spreading so rapidly,” Alyautdinov was quoted as saying. [The Moscow Times] Read more

25 September 2019

Iran detains family members of women's rights activist Masih Alinejad

Iranian intelligence officials detained three of women's rights activist Masih Alinejad's family members in a move criticized by Amnesty International and the Center for Human Rights in Iran as an attempt to intimidate the US-based activist and journalist into silence.

"The agents of the Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic raided my brother house and handed him out in handcuff and blindfolded," Alinejad told DW. "They arrested him in front of his two small children.

"He was not involved in any kind of political activity," she added of her 45-year-old brother. "But right now, his crime is my activities against compulsory hijab and challenging the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Alinejad founded the White Wednesdays campaign to protest against Iran's mandatory headscarf, known as a hijab. She called the arrest of her family members a "typical" step for the Iranian government when it attempts to silence activists.

"This is what Stalin would do. This is what a dictator would do to its own citizens," she said. "The goal of the Islamic Republic was keeping me silent. I'm going to get louder against these hostage-takers." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

French education minister reignites row over Muslim headscarf

A fresh political row has erupted over the Muslim headscarf in France after the education minister said he wanted to avoid having mothers in hijab as volunteers on school outings.

Jean-Michel Blanquer criticised the country’s largest parents association for using a picture of a mother in a headscarf on a pamphlet under the words: “Yes I go on school trips, so what? Secularism is about welcoming all parents without exception.”

Blanquer told BFMTV that even though French law did not ban mothers in headscarves from going on school trips as volunteers, he wanted to avoid this “as much as possible”. He said he encouraged “dialogue” in which headteachers would ask mothers to remove their scarves. He said the parents association had made a “regrettable” mistake by using the picture. [The Guardian] Read more

24 September 2019

Government backtracks on non-stun meat labelling

The Defra Secretary has appeared to backtrack on the government's previous position on requiring meat from unstunned animals to be labelled.

Theresa Villiers said the government will not seek to introduce legislation requiring meat to be labelled either stunned or non-stunned.

In previous comments since 2017, ministers at Defra have suggested the government would review labelling requirements.

Figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first - more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. [FarmingUK] Read more

Villiers confirms Government will not be labelling meat from non-stun slaughter

Theresa Villiers has said the Government will not introduce labelling on meat from non-stun slaughter.

The Defra Secretary said the Government opposed restrictions on non-stun slaughter and that she ‘would not have supported’ amendments to the Agriculture Bill, proposed earlier in the year, which would have required the labelling of non-stun meat.

She said she thought it was ‘important for people to be able to follow their faith’.

In a letter to Ms Villiers, The National Secular Society (NSS) urged the Government to end the religious exemption which allows non-stun slaughter, or short of that to introduce labelling requirements and prohibit the export of non-stun meat.

It said her position seemed to ‘accept that the economic viability of the kosher industry is dependent on non-stun meat being allowed to slip into the general food chain’. [Farmers Guardian] Read more

Thousands protest against new criminal code in Indonesia

Thousands of students have taken to the streets in Indonesia to protest against a “disastrous” draft criminal code that would include outlawing extramarital sex and a controversial new law that could weaken the nation’s anti-corruption body.

On Tuesday, the second consecutive day of protests, thousands of students gathered outside the parliament building in Jakarta, calling for the government to suspend its plans to ratify the draft code. Police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators.

If passed, the new laws would usher in sweeping changes that activists have described as a disaster for human rights and democratic freedoms.

Among a series of contentious articles are those that would outlaw adultery, unmarried couples living together, as well as make insulting the president a criminal offence that could carry a jail sentence. [The Guardian] Read more

23 September 2019

Imposing Sharia would be a disaster for Indonesia

Democracy, free speech and basic rights are under assault in Indonesia — home to the world’s largest Muslim majority population — as its rulers pander to rising religious conservatism, extremism and identity politics.

This is all a far cry from the picture that the country likes to present to the outside world of a tolerant and friendly nation, and a hotspot for international tourists, with some 300,000 Britons alone visiting places such as Bali last year.

It’s time we paid a little less attention to the pristine beaches of Bali and focused instead on the rising prejudice against minorities from increasingly bold Islamic religious conservatives: [The Times (£)] Read more

Child marriages in Germany present a challenge for authorities

A law to prevent child marriage went into effect in Germany two years ago. It was designed to keep minors from marrying, but a new study by the women's rights group Terre des Femmes says its effect has been marginal.

Terre the Femmes put on a staged forced wedding as part of a protest against the practice. Berlin, October 25, 2015.

Germany's well-intentioned "Law to Combat Child Marriage" went into effect on July 22, 2017. At the time, the chances that the law would protect underage children from forced marriage looked good, with the new law setting the legal age for marriage in Germany at 18.

Moreover, it was designed to allow judges in Germany to retroactively annul underage marriages that took place outside the country even before the law was on the books, if the person in question was between the ages of 16 and 17 at the time of the wedding. In the event that a person was under the age of 16 at the time, the marriage would be automatically annulled.

Yet, the true efficacy of the law has been negligible. At least, that's what a new study by the women's rights group Terre des Femmes has shown. The group's figures show that at least 813 child marriages have been registered across the country since the law went into effect, yet only 10 of those marriages have been annulled. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

22 September 2019

Fifa 'assured' Iranian women will be able to attend football matches

Women in Iran will be able to attend football matches, starting with a World Cup qualifier next month, according to football's world governing body, Fifa.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said he discussed the issue with the Iranian authorities after the death of a female fan earlier this month.

Mr Infantino said they assured him that women would be allowed into matches.

Women have effectively been banned from stadiums where men are playing since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Earlier this month, football fan Sahar Khodayari died after being arrested for trying to go to a match disguised as a man. [BBC] Read more

20 September 2019

Islam’s Inferiority Complex

.... So too, today, those who mock the prophet, or his Qur’an, or who blaspheme against Allah commit a capital offense according to Islamic law, and are executed where Shari’a is fully implemented. What other religion demands a death penalty for those who make fun or draw irreverent pictures of its founder?

Those who find criticism (even well-founded criticism) intolerable and seek to eradicate it once and for all are typically hounded by a sense of inferiority. It’s no surprise that in recent years the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) has barraged the United Nations with demands that the world regulatory body outlaw any speech that might conceivably be construed as “Islamophobic.” An inferiority complex dreads freedom of speech.

.... Islam reveals its inferiority complex as well whenever Muslims publicly apostatize from the faith. No religion likes to lose adherents, but only Islam resorts to death threats to keep members from leaving.

It cannot bear to admit that former Muslims find Islam untrue and unappealing, nor does it wish to coexist with such disbelievers. Instead, Shari’a mandates execution of those who leave the faith, hoping by the imposition of fear to quell the spread of doubt among its masses. [the personal blog of Mateen Elass] Read more

Preston ex-Muslims demand city council revoke taxi driver's licence, saying "his extreme views puts people at risk"

Ex-Muslims in Preston are petitioning the city council to revoke a taxi driver's licence because they fear for the safety of his customers.

The 41-year-old man, from Deepdale, was arrested in December after filming an offensive video which appeared to threaten Muslim converts to Christianity.

Filmed in a car driving around the Moor Park area, the video was shared to a private WhatsApp group but went viral after it was leaked to social media.

Following his arrest, the taxi driver voluntarily surrendered his licence and has not been behind the wheel of a cab since.

The man has since apologised for his comments in a follow-up video asking Christians and Muslims for forgiveness.

Zain Khan, speaking on behalf of the Ex-Muslims Association of Preston, said he is urging Preston City Council to take action because he fears the man's extreme views "puts people at risk". [Lancashire Evening Post] Read more

Indonesian president postpones plans to outlaw extramarital sex

Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has ordered his government to postpone the ratification of a deeply controversial criminal code that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president.

The apparent climbdown came in a surprise address at the state palace on Friday afternoon, and follows an outpouring of anger and criticism about the draconian draft laws.

“I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” the president, better known as Jokowi, told a televised news conference. He said he had decided the bill needed further review after taking into account input from various groups who objected to parts of it. [The Guardian] Read more

Indonesia rethinks ban on sex outside marriage

Indonesia's president has delayed a vote on controversial new laws that would have outlawed sex outside marriage.

They'd gained a lot of attention online, with the Australian government updating its advice for tourists heading to Bali.

Now President Joko Widodo says the new laws need more consideration and has delayed next week's vote.

Bali's a hugely popular destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.

There was criticism over the planned changes, with more than 500,000 people signing a petition urging the president to intervene.

The House of Representatives commission - which oversees legal matters in Indonesia - agreed on a final draft this week. [BBC] Read more

Islamophobia: Conservative Party members suspended over posts

A number of Conservative Party members have been suspended for posting or endorsing Islamophobic material online.

The BBC highlighted over 20 new cases to the party, who said all those found to be members who shared or supported anti-Muslim posts on Twitter and Facebook were suspended immediately.

However, the officials would not reveal the exact number of members suspended.

A Conservative spokesman said the party was now "establishing the terms" of an investigation into the wider issue.

There have been repeated calls for the party to hold an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia among members, due to previous incidents that have been highlighted to the party and in the media.

.... The incidents ranged from individuals "liking" anti-Muslim pictures or statements on one or two occasions, to regular Islamophobic posts by people who said they were members of the Tory party.

Among the content that has been shared on social media, a Conservative councillor responded to a tweet in March, writing: "Islam and slavery are partners in crime." [BBC] Read more

19 September 2019

School kids in Pakistan are raped, killed. So Imran Khan govt and clerics recommend abayas

In yet another absurd chain of events in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’, the ruling party’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made it mandatory for girls in public schools to ‘cover themselves up’ with a gown, abaya, veil, or chadar. The reason behind the decision gave a lot away: the government, which had already circulated its order in a district a couple of days ago, believed its measure would protect the girls from “unethical incidents”.

The Imran Khan government, which is responsible for the safety of young girls and boys, hides under tradition, religious and cultural values to pass its responsibility onto the children themselves. It seriously believes that enforcing a regressive practice on schoolgirls is the best way to protect them from harassment or abuse. [ThePrint] Read more

Couples flogged for public affection in Indonesia's Aceh

A trio of canoodling couples were publicly flogged in Indonesia's Aceh province on Thursday, charged with breaking local Islamic law that outlaws public displays of affection.

Despite international condemnation, whipping is a common punishment for a range of offences in the deeply conservative region on Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.

Aceh is the only region in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law.

On Thursday, a masked sharia officer rained down between 20 and 22 strokes from a rattan cane each on three men and three women caught behaving amorously.

They had all served several months in prison.

One woman winced and fell over from the painful punishment, which was carried out in front of a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

Dozens of onlookers, including some visiting Malaysian students, watched the spectacle. [France24] Read more

Poll: 46% of French Muslims believe Sharia law should be applied in country

The survey also shows that among French-born Muslims, 18% believe Sharia should be the adopted law.

At least 46% of foreign-born Muslims in France want to adopt Sharia law into the country's legal system, reveals a poll conducted by IFOP (French Institute for Public Opinions) for Le Point magazine.

The survey also indicates that among French-born Muslims, 18% believe that sharia should prevail.

That percentage rises to 46% among French Muslims coming from abroad, the study discovered.

"This claim of a supremacy of Sharia is therefore first carried by newcomers who come from countries where the imprint of Islam is very strong,"director of opinion and corporate strategies at IFOP Jerome Fourquet told Le Point.

The IFOP survey also reveals that "41% of Muslims believe that Islam must be practiced and integrated into French customs."

Éric Ciotti, Member of the French National Assembly since 2007, responded to the survey by taking to social media and called for a return to "assimilation."

"In the face of Islamist communitarianism, which is growing and threatening the (French) republic, we must stop immigration and rediscover assimilation as the core of our integration policy," Ciotti posted to Twitter. [i24NEWS] Read more

Why I decided to remove my hijab after 26 years

Yesterday I took off my hijab after 26 years. It isn’t a decision that I made lightly: wearing a headscarf in public has defined me not only spiritually, but professionally for many years.

Some might think that I am making a grand ideological statement and turning against the principle of hijab or even the religion itself. Nothing could be further from the truth: it is precisely because of my commitment to having an authentic relationship with my faith and with my public image that I have made the choice. [The Telegraph (£)] Read more

“Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran”

Statement by the FIFA President on stadium ban for women in Iran:

I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.

I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.

We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October. [FIFA] Read more

Outcry at Indonesia draft criminal code that could see unmarried couples jailed

Indonesia is set to pass a new criminal code that could outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president, among a raft of changes that rights groups have decried as disastrous.

The Indonesian parliament has spent decades revising its colonial-era criminal code, creating a 628-article draft bill that could be passed in coming days.

Containing a series of contentious new revisions, a coalition of Indonesian rights groups argue the new code violates the rights of women, religious minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as freedom of speech and association.

“Indonesia’s draft criminal code is disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Lawmakers should remove all the abusive articles before passing the law.” [The Guardian] Read more

18 September 2019

Morocco TV show censured for guest's boast of 'beating wife'

A Moroccan television show has been suspended for allowing a celebrity guest to boast on air of “beating his wife”, the country media authority said on Wednesday.

“Whoever doesn’t beat his wife is not a man,” popular singer Adil El Miloudi said in June on a Chada TV show, Kotbi Tonight, drawing laughter from a fellow guest, actor Samy Naceri, and host Imad Kotbi.

“In Morocco, this is normal, anyone can do what he wants with his wife, hit her, kill her,” he insisted after Kotbi jokingly said: “It’s forbidden to hit one’s wife all over the world.”

Miloudi’s remarks amounted to “justification for violence against women, an express incitement to violence, presented in a positive way as a sign of virility… or even recommended behaviour”, the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA) said in a statement. [The Express Tribune] Read more

2,000 Christians flee village following IS attack in Burkina Faso

Christian villagers in Burkina Faso have come under threat by IS extremists for refusing to convert to Islam.

According to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), 2,000 villagers from Hitté and Rounga in Burkina Faso's Loroum Province, fled their homes following violent attacks by Islamist extremists earlier this month.

Speaking about the attack on Hitté, ACN's source said: "At the beginning of September, 16 men arrived in the village, intercepting the villagers who were returning from the fields.

"Some of the men forced the people to enter the church where they threatened the Christians and ordered them to leave their homes in the next three days, while others set fire to whatever they found in their path. Now Hitté is empty of any Christians and any catechumens."

7,000 people reportedly sought shelter in the provinces' capital, Titao. [PREMIER CHRISTIAN RADIO] Read more

17 September 2019

Indonesia raises minimum age for marriage to curb child brides

Indonesia's parliament has raised the minimum age at which women can marry to 19, in a ruling which is expected to curb child marriage in the country.

There was unanimous agreement on the revision to the country's existing marriage law, according to a statement on Indonesia's House of Representatives' website.

Under current laws, girls are allowed to marry at 16 and boys to marry at 19, while parents can also ask religious courts or local officials to authorize marriages of younger girls -- with no minimum age in such cases.

Indonesia has the eighth highest number of child brides in the world, according to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership committed to ending child marriage.

According to UNICEF, 14% of girls in Indonesia are married before the age of 18, and 1% are married before their 15th birthday. [CNN] Read more

UK: The Push to End Free Speech

# "We are concerned that the definition... could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states. There is also a risk it could also undermine counter-terrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism." — Martin Hewitt, Chair, National Police Chiefs' Council.

# Islam represents an idea, not a nationality or an ethnicity. The conventional purpose of most hate-speech laws is to protect people from hatred, not ideas.

# The new proposed definition would criminalize criticism of Islam. Considering the origins of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, that is probably the whole point.

# (A)n alternative definition of Anti-Muslim Hatred should be specific and narrow. It should focus on addressing bigotry directed at individuals, and avoid censoring debate or freedom of expression on religion. Finally, a comprehensive definition of Anti-Muslim Hatred must take intra-Muslim hatred into account to protect those who want to speak freely or express themselves differently." — Nikita Malik, Forbes, May 20, 2019. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

16 September 2019

Pakistan pledges end to underage, forced marriages by 2030

Pakistan has committed to the United Nations that it will ensure an end to underage and forced marriages in the country by 2030 in line with its plan to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the country is reporting an abrupt increase in the incidence of underage marriages. As per a recent report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Pakistan ranks sixth in the world in the number of underage marriages.

According to the UNICEF report, the number of underage marriages recorded in Pakistan is in excess of 1.91 million. About 21 percent of women in Pakistan are married before they attain the age of 18 while 3% are married before they turn 15, UNICEF reveals in its report. [The Express Tribune] Read more

Pakistan blasphemy riots: Dozens arrested after Hindu teacher accused

Dozens of people have been arrested in Pakistan after a teenager accused his Hindu headteacher of blasphemy, sparking riots.

The principal, who owns the school, was accused of making comments about the Prophet Muhammad in Sindh province.

A large mob then allegedly attacked a Hindu temple, shops and the school in the town of Ghotki on Saturday.

The principal is now in custody facing blasphemy charges. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

The rioters have also been charged under the blasphemy act, according to BBC reporters in Pakistan. However, they face a lesser charge of attacking a temple which does not carry the possibility of a death sentence. [BBC] Read more

PM's burqa jibes 'dehumanising', says government's extremism adviser

The government’s chief adviser on extremism has called the language used by Boris Johnson to describe Muslim women demeaning and dehumanising, as she warned that politicians and the media risk provoking violence through their rhetoric.

In an interview with the Guardian, Sara Khan, who leads the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE), criticised the use of inflammatory phrases and terms such as “enemies of the people” and “saboteurs” – both of which featured in Daily Mail headlines – in political discourse.

Khan, whose role is to advise the government on new policies and powers to deal with extremism, said the word “extremist” itself is being used unhelpfully by MPs on all sides to describe those who hold opposing politics, undermining the fight against hateful narratives against race, religion and sexuality. [The Guardian] Read more

15 September 2019

A sign of the times: Butcher is forced to take down THIS notice outside his shop after it was found to be offensive and 'inciting hatred' of Muslims

A local butcher has been forced to take down a sign on its front window declaring that its meat is 'non halal certified'.

Muslims complained Valley Butchers was mocking Islam with the prominent sticker, which included pictures of kangaroos and emus, at its Adelaide shopfront.

'It pokes fun of a specific group of people based on religious belief. It is very intentional and obvious,' the complaint read.

'Jokes like this on a public shopfront perpetuate a culture of vilification towards religious minorities, that results in harm towards them.'

Valley Butchers defended the sign to the Advertising Standards Board as merely an answer to a frequently asked question. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

Girl, 10, filmed being forced to marry her 22-year-old cousin in Iran

Footage has emerged showing a 10-year-old girl being forced to marry her 22-year-old cousin in Iran.

There has been widespread condemnation of the marriage and the practice of child brides which remains in common in impoverished areas of the oil-rich country.

In the video a mullah says the groom will pay the traditional “mahr” or dowry for his bride’s hand of 14 gold coins and 50 million tomans, the local currency, equivalent to a total of £7200, France24 reports.

He asks the girl, who is reported to be his cousin: "Fatima, do you agree to marry Milad Jashani?” to which she replies: “With my parents’ permission, yes."

The groom says “Yes, I do”, and they become man and wife as their families applaud and cheer and the newlyweds smile.

The video was posted on social media and state TV also covered the story, which has led to outrage and the marriage being annulled by the authorities. [Daily Mirror] Read more

13 September 2019

We have to avoid 'integration' becoming another form of racism

.... By “others”, he meant Muslims – the EDL’s most frequent target – or any other visible minorities he deemed to have made insufficient effort to assimilate into British culture. It struck me as the most chilling and insidious form of racism of all: he was, in effect, saying, “People who come to England are acceptable to the extent they attempt to mimic us.”

Underpinning that is a confidence in one culture’s inherent superiority over others. It’s for exactly this reason that it is becoming more widely recognised that assimilationist thinking – the idea that a particular culture is preferable, and that others should therefore adopt it – is a racist ideology.

“Integration is not assimilation,” said the UK’s most senior counterterrorism officer, Neil Basu, this week. Basu was pointing out that the latest research on terrorism shows that people with extremist views are moved to violence not because they aren’t “assimilated” but because they feel excluded.

“Create a sense of belonging, while not forcing people to give up things they may hold as sacred,” Basu rightly recommended. “If we fail … we risk social exclusion turning to violence.” But too many people who profess their support for integration are really talking about assimilation. [The Guardian] Read more

12 September 2019

Pair ‘plotted honour killing’ of ‘porn star’ relative who denounced Islam

Two men accused of plotting the ‘honour killing’ of a 25-year-old relative who denounced Islam and became a ‘porn star’ appeared in court today. Mohammed Patman, 54, and Darya Khan Safi, 49, are facing extradition to Slovakia where they face charges of planning to kidnap and murder their target.

The two Afghans travelled to Europe to find Patman’s daughter but were arrested at UK homes on Wednesday, September 3, Westminster Magistrates Court heard. The woman was reportedly living in Austria and working in Slovakia at an adult film company she ran with her husband. Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) tracked the duo as they got ready to make their overseas trips after being alerted by the Slovakian authorities, the court heard. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

11 September 2019

Mosque-run Salafist schools are teaching children sharia law: report

Children who go to mosque-run fundamentalist Muslim schools across the country are being taught people of different faiths deserve the death penalty and to turn their backs on the values of Dutch society, a joint investigation by current affairs programme Nieuwsuur and newspaper NRC has found.

The news comes in the wake of a report by intelligence service AIVD about the growing influence of the stream of fundamental Islam known as Salafism at mosque-run schools. The researchers looked at teaching materials for different age groups and some 70 hours of audio and video material retrieved from the internet.

Much of the material was obtained by journalists posing as potential parents. They found that punishments in sharia law, for instance for homosexuals and other ‘enemies’, were glorified. Children were asked to answer multiple choice questions about the appropriate punishment, including whipping, stoning and beheading by sword. At some of the around 50 schools that were scrutinised, children were told they should leave the Netherlands and go to an Islamic country instead. [DutchNews.nl] Read more

10 September 2019

Iranian female football fan who self-immolated outside court dies

An Iranian female football fan has died a week after setting herself on fire outside a courtroom, after learning she may face six months in prison for trying to enter a stadium, a news agency reported on Tuesday.

Sahar Khodayari’s death immediately ignited an outcry in Iran, where women are banned from football stadiums, although they are allowed to watch other sports, such as volleyball.

Khodayari, 29, died at a hospital in Tehran on Monday, according to the semi-official news agency Shafaghna. She was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media after the colours of her favourite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal.

She set herself on fire last week, reportedly after learning she may be imprisoned for trying to enter Tehran’s Azadi (freedom) stadium, in March, to watch an Esteghlal match. She was reportedly posing as a man and was wearing a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her. [The Guardian] Read more

Iran's 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire

An Iranian female football fan who set herself on fire a week ago has died.

The woman set herself alight in Tehran after her trial, for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man, was postponed.

The authorities in Iran regularly stop women from entering stadiums.

Her story has been followed closely by Iranians around the world who used the hashtag "blue girl" - a reference to the colours of her favourite team, Esteqlal of Tehran.

The woman, named as Sahar Khodayari, was arrested in March when she tried to enter a football stadium.

After being jailed for three days she was released on bail and waited six months for her court case.

But when she appeared at court she found out it had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency.

She later returned to court to pick up her mobile phone and it is widely reported that she is thought to have overheard someone saying that if she were convicted she could get six months to two years in prison. [BBC] Read more

Muslim woman claims discrimination after being rejected as hotel waitress

A luxury hotel has been accused of discrimination after it denied a Muslim woman a job as a waitress because her faith stops her handling pork or alcohol.

Rufflets St Andrews hotel, in Fife, interviewed Fatima Elfakri for the role last month but decided against hiring her, citing concerns the job would make her feel “awkward and uncomfortable”.

The job involved serving afternoon tea to hotel guests, which would include ham sandwiches, sausage rolls and champagne.

In the interview Ms Elfakri, 20, told management that she would be unable to serve some of the items on religious grounds. She later received an email praising her interview performance but saying she was not suitable for the job.

The hotel, which is family run, said that it did not have enough staff for her to avoid certain duties. [The Times (£)] Read more

08 September 2019

New Islamophobia definition shuts down criticism of radical Islam, female imam says

A female imam has claimed that "reasonable" criticism of Islam would be banned under MPs' proposals for a new definition of Islamophobia.

Seyran Ateş is urging ministers to reject calls for a legally binding description of anti-Muslim prejudice that could be used to prosecute those found guilty of Islamophobia or impose sanctions on workers or members of political parties.

Ms Ates, who was the first female imam to open a mosque in Germany, claimed the proposals would "capture many moderate and liberal Muslims’ criticism of the 'Muslimness' followed by their .... [The Telegraph] Read more

07 September 2019

The press regulator must not turn into a religious thought police

.... ‘Sensitive’ and ‘contextualised’ reporting about Muslims may sound like a cause that any right-minded individual would support. But as Policy Exchange’s meticulous research shows, what is being demanded by, for example, the Muslim Council of Britain is instead a kind of media apartheid, under which Muslim communities are reported on according to rules and conventions not applied to others; where work by non-Muslim professionals is judged by different standards from those who claim to follow the faith; and where those standards would be policed by self-appointed community leaders such as the MCB, sitting in judgment like a modern-day Lord Chamberlain.

.... What is exceptionally disappointing is the surrender of those who should know better — including Ipso, the press regulator — to some of these regressive trends. Of course, it is vital for writers to hear the views of everyone involved in a story, if they are willing to share them. However, this has never meant assuming that all members of an ethnic or religious group share the same perspective.

And still less should it lead to editors putting a veto in the hands of self-appointed community spokespeople, or ‘media monitors’ — in effect a religious thought police, which might not seem out of place in Turkey or Saudi Arabia, but which should have no function in the UK. [The Spectator] Read more

Revealed: the press regulator’s leaked guidelines on Islamophobia

If truthful reporting risks increasing tension between communities, should it still be published? Do journalists have a social duty to repress certain topics which are unhelpful? These questions tend to separate free societies from those countries where the press is muzzled. In Britain, there has been a tradition: readers decide what is acceptable. But that tradition is under threat, not just from politicians but from the press regulator itself.

You may not have heard of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, but it’s worth knowing about. It regulates this magazine and most British newspapers. When it was set up five years ago, its rules, laid out in the Editors’ Code, were meant to enforce accuracy and basic standards. Writing must be truthful and reporters should protect their sources, not engage in harassment and so on.

.... It won’t end here. If the new Ipso guidance is published, it is likely to be ‘banked’ as a useful concession on the road towards yet further restrictions on media freedom. The next step could be for activist groups to obtain changes to the Editors’ Code, so that it would prohibit discrimination against groups of people — as well as individuals (at present, it rules out only the latter).

Editors and journalists are clear that such a change — giving activists more power to complain ‘on behalf’ of others — would mark a sinister turn in press regulation. It would deeply compromise the free press. But make no mistake. As it stands, that is the direction of travel — and time is running out to change course. [The Spectator] Read more

06 September 2019

Iranian woman sets herself on fire outside Tehran courthouse after being charged with illegally attending a football match dressed as a man

An Iranian woman set herself on fire outside the Tehran courthouse she was being tried in for illegally attending a football match disguised as a man.

The woman, known only as Sahar, 29, was taken to Motahari Hospital and is in intensive care with burns covering 90 per cent of her body.

She was arrested in March for allegedly trying to enter Tehran stadium dressed as a man and resisting arrest.

She was subsequently charged with 'insulting the public by defying the dress code for women'.

After she was told she could face up to six months in prison, Sahar set herself on fire with gasoline as she left the courthouse on Sunday.

Her sister, who was not identified, said Sahar had bipolar disorder and had been receiving treatment for two years, according to the Times of Israel.

Since 1979 and the Iranian Revolution the country's Islamic government has banned women from attending sporting events. [Daily Mail] Read more

Mosque trustees failed to monitor IS sympathiser who groomed boys for terrorism, inquiry finds

The trustees of a mosque where children were groomed for terrorism failed to properly monitor an Islamic State sympathiser then attempted to cover up what happened, the Charity Commission has found.

All five have been disqualified for 10 years as a result of the inquiry into the Ripple Road Mosque, also known as Essex Islamic Academy.

Islamic State fanatic Umar Ahmed Haque, from Forest Gate was found guilty of terrorism offences in March 2018 and jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years after grooming children as young as 11 at the mosque.

The Old Bailey trial heard how the 25-year-old secretly brainwashed the boys through terrorism role play and exercises, and showed them gory IS propaganda.

He had told the children he intended to die a martyr and bragged about recruiting them in the months before his arrest. [Newham Recorder] Read more

05 September 2019

Iranian woman sets herself on fire after being charged with illegally attending soccer match

An Iranian woman set herself on fire outside a courthouse in Tehran on Monday to protest being charged with trying to impersonate a man and illegally attend a soccer match, according to reports.

The woman was charged with “insulting the public by defying the dress code for women,” court documents said, and was told she could face six months in prison. She set herself on fire after leaving the courthouse, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The woman, identified only as “Sahar,” was arrested earlier this year after she allegedly tried to enter the stadium dressed as a man and resisted arrest. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the country's Islamic government has banned women from attending sporting events. [FOX News Network] Read more

Pair arrested over ‘plot to kill female relative who renounced Islam’

Two men accused of plotting to kill a female relative who left Britain and renounced Islam have been arrested by armed law enforcers.

Mohammed Patman, 53, from Ilford, and Darya Khan Safi, 49, from Coventry, were detained by National Crime Agency (NCA) firearms officers at their homes in the capital and the West Midlands.

The pair, who are both originally from Afghanistan, are wanted by the authorities in Slovakia over allegations that they have been conspiring to murder a 25-year-old female relative working there.

The arrests follow months of surveillance of the two men by the NCA’s armed operations unit during which the pair were seen preparing for multiple trips to Austria, where the woman lived, and Slovakia, where she ran a company with her husband. [Evening Standard] Read more

04 September 2019

Report: News coverage of Muslims is more negative than of other minority groups

A new study of how the media covers minorities in the United States finds that depictions of Muslims in the news remain by far the most frequent and the most negative.

“Muslims are just way down there in comparison to the other groups,” said Erik Bleich, director of the Media Portrayals of Minorities Project Lab at Vermont’s Middlebury College. “It’s pretty amazing.”

The lab’s report, released Tuesday (Sept. 3), analyzes 26,626 articles mentioning African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Jews and Muslims that were published in 2018 in four national newspapers — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

About 9,000 of those articles mentioned Islam or Muslims, which constituted more than a third of the total articles analyzed. The second-most-covered minority group were African Americans, who were the subject of about 6,500 articles. Jews were mentioned in nearly 6,000 articles, of which the average tone was neutral.

Researchers scored each article on how positive or negative it was, then compared the average result for each group to the average U.S. newspaper story. [Religion News Service] Read more

03 September 2019

Don’t blame Boris for hate crime

Now, the NGO Tell MAMA, which records anti-Muslim incidents, has said that the piece was followed by a 375% surge in abuse and attacks on Muslims. The Guardian goes further, saying that the comments “led to a surge in anti-Muslim attacks”.

That sounded absolutely extraordinary to me. A 375% increase is enormous. So I thought I’d have a closer look.

The report records all “anti-Muslim incidents” received by Tell MAMA. That includes offline and online incidents, and also both verbal abuse and physical assaults. Tell MAMA says that it received 1,282 reports of anti-Muslim incidents in 2018, and that it “verified” 1,072 of them, 745 of which were offline.

Johnson’s “letterboxes” column was published on Monday 5 August 2018. In the week before that, Tell MAMA “received 8 reports of street-based (offline) anti-Muslim attacks”, by which I think they mean all incidents. But in the week afterward, the 6th to the 13th, “this jumped to 38, an increase of 375%”.

If I’ve read it correctly, and they’re referring to all verified offline incidents, then 745 incidents a year translates to a bit more than 14 a week, on average. So the eight reported the week before was anomalously low, making that 375% increase sound much more dramatic. [Unherd.com] Read more

02 September 2019

'Significant spike' in Islamophobia after Boris Johnson's comments on burkas

There has been a "significant spike" in Islamophobic incidents following Boris Johnson's comparison between women in burkas and letterboxes, according to an anti-racism group.

Tell MAMA reported a 375% increase in anti-Muslim incidents from the week before Mr Johnson made the comments in August 2018 to the week after.

In the week after the publication of Mr Johnson's Telegraph column in which he compared veiled Muslim women to "letterboxes", 38 incidents were reported to police and Tell MAMA.

Of those incidents, 22 involved "visibly Muslim women who wore the face veil", the organisation said.

"Between August 5 and August 29, 42% of the street-based incidents reported to Tell MAMA directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column." [Sky News] Read more