28 November 2019

Birmingham mosque attacks: Shia Muslim jailed

A Shia Muslim has been jailed for three years and nine months for vandalism attacks on five mosques in Birmingham.

Arman Rezazadeh, who is of Iranian descent, used a sledgehammer to smash windows and doors in Perry Barr, Aston and Erdington on 21 March.

The 34-year-old admitted religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been "motivated by religious hatred" and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims.

Rezazadeh sparked a major hate crime inquiry supported by anti-terror police, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

He caused damaged put at more than £11,000 in the attacks at Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.

Prosecutor Tom Walkling said the defendant had been drinking alcohol to celebrate the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks and that he had a history of mental issues linked to cannabis use. [BBC] Read more

27 November 2019

Muslim Council: parties must tackle Islamophobia to win votes

Candidates and parties campaigning in the general election must commit to tackling racism and Islamophobia to win the support of Muslim voters, according to the Muslim Council of Britain.

A manifesto setting out how parties’ policies could affect Muslims has been published by the MCB after consulting its affiliates and communities across the UK.

According to the document, British Muslim Perspectives at the 2019 General Election, there are 26 constituencies with a Muslim population of at least 20% of the total, and two – Birmingham Hodge Hill and Bradford West – with estimated Muslim electorates of over 50%.

Muslim voters could influence the outcome in 31 marginal seats, the MCB said last week. On Friday, it organised its first ever voter registration drive in mosques and community organisations.

The new report calls on British Muslims to ensure “every voice is heard in this election”. [The Guardian] Read more

Sayeeda Warsi on Tory Islamophobia: 'It feels like I'm in an abusive relationship'

.... With the party’s eyes fixed firmly on the election, there could be more trouble on the horizon for the Conservatives. In May, the Muslim Council of Britain filed a complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), urging the watchdog to investigate Islamophobia in the Tory party. Since then, the Tories have submitted evidence and the EHRC – which is separately investigating Labour over antisemitism – says it is still considering whether any action is needed.

Warsi, for one, feels there is more work to be done. She is sceptical about Johnson’s motivation for broadening the inquiry, but says she would still get involved, revealing that a senior party official recently sounded her out about taking part. “If that’s the only way to get scrutiny, I’m not just going to sit back and have a monk [sulk] on, as they say in Yorkshire.” But, she says firmly, she is “not prepared to rubber-stamp some nonsensical inquiry”. [The Guardian] Read more

26 November 2019

Silencing Muslim Dissent

On November 16, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) announced that Professor Muqtedar Khan would no longer be delivering the Al-Faruqi Lecture at this year's American Academy of Religion annual meeting.

IIIT justified this decision by declaring a certain post from Khan's Twitter account "to be inconsistent with IIIT's policies and interests." In fact, Khan had recently criticized an article published by the Islamist Yaqeen Institute, which discussed and endorsed the reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate.

In the essay that set it all off, Yaqeen writer Ovamir Anjum presented a caliphate as the "idea of a pan-Islamic union," which is winning more converts "with every suppressed uprising in the Muslim world, every new cycle of terrorism and punitive war, every new Muslim population violated with impunity, and every new wall erected in Euro-America." Now that ISIS's caliphate has collapsed, reasoned Anjum, this was precisely the right sort of "boost for the idea of a good caliphate" over a "bad" one.

Anjum concluded that a modern day caliphate would "not only be in accordance with the divine command but also is the only long term alternative to the mutually reinforcing coterie of despots and terrorists." [The Middle East Forum] Read more

Egypt court sides with woman against unequal inheritance law

An Egyptian woman says she’s scored an important legal victory against her country’s inheritance laws, which grant female heirs half of what they grant men.

Huda Nasrallah, a Christian human rights lawyer, says a Cairo court ruled she may inherit the same share as her brothers.

That decision follows a yearlong legal battle she launched after her father’s death. Two previous judges had ruled against her, based on Islamic inheritance laws that favor male heirs.

Nasrallah told The Associated Press on Tuesday she’s “thrilled” by the verdict and hopes it will encourage other women. [The Associated Press] Read more

LGBT teaching row: Birmingham primary school protests permanently banned

Demonstrations against LGBT inclusive education have been permanently banned outside a primary school.

A High Court judge ruled in favour of an exclusion zone to remain around Anderton Park, in Birmingham, which has been targeted by protesters for months.

The protests had an averse effect on pupils, residents and staff, leading to 21 teachers being treated for stress, Mr Justice Warby said.

Campaigners accused the city council of trying to silence debate.

The protests at the school in Balsall Heath aimed to stop LGBT relationships education, with many parents and activists claiming it contradicts their Islamic faith and is not "age appropriate". [BBC] Read more

25 November 2019

Chickens still facing slaughter in pain and fear

Millions of chickens destined for supermarkets and restaurants are being electrically stunned in slaughterhouses in a process that “causes pain and fear”, according to a report by the EU’s food safety adviser.

Vets have called on the poultry industry to stop using electric water baths and switch to more humane methods of stunning birds before they are killed.

KFC, Nandos, Tesco and Marks & Spencer are among the businesses selling meat from birds that have been turned upside down and had their legs jammed in metal shackles on a fast-moving conveyor line. [The Times (£)] Read more

British women ‘being forced into polygamous relationships’ because law lets them down, campaigners say

British women are increasingly being pressured into polygamous relationships or left without child support when relationships break up because UK law does not offer adequate protection to spouses in religious marriages, campaigners have warned.

Activists say there is a growing problem of men “marrying” women in religious ceremonies but refusing to legally register the unions – and subsequently avoiding the financial and other duties owed to a spouse.

Women are being left to go through religious courts, which make rulings that force them to stay with their partners even when they are unhappy, or rule them unable to claim money or property from their de facto husbands after marriages dissolve.

The warnings come after the government intervened via the attorney general in a landmark case last week in an attempt to overturn a family court judge’s decision that a woman was entitled to apply for maintenance payments despite the fact they were not legally married. [The Independent] Read more

24 November 2019

It Can’t Happen Here? Muslim Organization Wants International Law Criminalizing Criticism of Islam

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is made up of 56 nations plus the Palestinian Authority, met Thursday in Jeddah and called for the adoption of an international law criminalizing criticism of Islam. But that kind of law could never be adopted in the United States, could it? Think again.

The OIC’s secretary-general, Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, called upon the nations of the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to crack down on speech that was “insulting religions or prophets.” It was clear, however, that al-Othaimeen couldn’t have cared less about speech insulting Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the revered figures of those religions. He cared only about criticism of Islam.

“There are laws against anti-Semitism and racism,” said al-Othaimeen. “So we request a law against mocking religions.” He didn’t explain why laws against racism should lead to laws against criticizing belief systems, since, after all, contrary to the assumptions of Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, one cannot change one’s race, but one can change one’s beliefs, including religious beliefs. Al-Othaimeen likely knows this, but cited racism because he knows how to pull the right strings to get the Western intelligentsia to do what he wants. [PJ Media] Read more

Thousands protest desecration of Holy Quran

Thousands of people affiliated to religious parties on Saturday gathered in different cities and towns across the country to protest continued attempts of desecration of Holy Quran in Norway, chanting slogans and burning flags and effigies of the Norwegian leadership, and asking the government to sever ties with Oslo to rectify the Islamophobic trend of the Norwegian society.

Addressing the demonstrators, religious leaders warned of a continued agitation campaign if the Muslim rulers do not take immediate action to stop the ugly blasphemous practices against Islam, and demanded that Muslim governments must bring about a global legislation and clamp economic boycott of such countries as a counter measure.

On the appeal of Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq, JI workers held demonstrations in different cities to condemn the blasphemous acts against Islam by European leaders and organizations. In Lahore, JI Secretary General Ameerul Azim led the protest in front of Mansoorah and showered praises for the young Muslim who interrupted the attempt through his brave act. [THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL] Read more

22 November 2019

OIC chief demands international law to criminalize Islamophobia

Announcing plans for the celebration of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) 50th anniversary in Jeddah on Monday, its secretary-general called for a global crackdown on individuals or groups responsible for “insulting religions or prophets.”

Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen told Arab News: “There are laws against anti-Semitism and racism. So, we request a law against mocking religions.”

In a report released by the OIC, he said that modernization and the Internet revolution had turned the world into a “global village” where religions and cultures should coexist, and races and nations must live side by side as neighbors.

“Islamophobia is a sentiment of excessive fear against Islam that is transformed into acts of intolerance and discriminations against Muslims and even violent crimes against people with Islamic attires.”

.... “These issues are of great importance, to be worked on in collaboration not only with governments, but also with people and non-profit organizations, to prove to everyone that Islam is the voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added. [Microsoft News] Read more

Outrage in Pakistan after feminism panel includes no women

The Arts Council of Pakistan has been forced to backtrack after it emerged that a discussion on feminism it is hosting was to have an all-male panel.

An outcry on social media resulted in two women guests being added, and Friday's event in Karachi was renamed.

The original title, Feminism: The Other Perspective, drew derision and has now been recast as Understanding Feminism.

Organisers say male decision-makers were to share views on feminism, but many critics questioned the very idea.

In overwhelmingly patriarchal Pakistan, having an all-male panel discuss feminism didn't seem the obvious way to tackle gender inequality.

The only woman included in the original line-up was discussion host Uzma al-Karim, whose name was put at the bottom of the promotional literature. [BBC] Read more

20 November 2019

Conservative councillor suspended after Islamophobia allegation

A Conservative councillor is being investigated by the party over an allegation of Islamophobia.

Mary Sherwin has been suspended from the Bosworth Conservative Association after a complaint was made against her.

The former Leicestershire county councillor said she had been unaware of the specifics of the complaint against her until she was contacted by LeicestershireLive.

She said the letter she had received said only that it was alleged she had discriminated against someone.

However, it is understood the allegation relates to an encounter with a Muslim party member outside an internal meeting in the summer.

The Burbage parish councillor and former police authority member denied the allegation, saying she was upset that it had been made against her. [LeicestershireLive] Read more

Iran's Crimes against Humanity, 2019

"As Iranian, Saudi and other Muslim women around the globe struggled for freedom from the hijab, which they consider a political symbol that has nothing to do with piety, the reaction among the liberal circles in the West was confounding. Here an increasing number of feminists, leftists and the liberal media glorified the hijab as some exotic symbol of women's liberation that had to be embraced." — Tarek Fatah, The Toronto Sun, August 29, 2019

"The Guards are gathering to remove reformists from power." — Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Iranian journalist, Financial Times, October 13, 2019.

The anti-corruption campaign is led by none other than the hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi.... Raisi is widely considered the most likely cleric to succeed to the role of Supreme Leader when Khamenei retires or dies. But Raisi also carries with him a disturbing reputation for judicial violence. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Asia Bibi lawyer vows to keep working in Pakistan despite risks

A lawyer who represented a Christian woman given a death sentence in Pakistan after being convicted of blasphemy says he aims to keep working despite risks to his life.

Saif ul-Malook (pictured above right), who helped get Asia Bibi's conviction overturned, has told lawyers and academics in London that he is involved with another blasphemy case in Pakistan.

He told a seminar chaired by a London-based barrister that no Christian accused of blasphemy could get a fair trial in Pakistan.

Ms Bibi, a Pakistani, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed after she drank from the same well as Muslim co-workers. She was held for eight years before her conviction was overturned by the Pakistani Supreme Court. She now lives in Canada.

Mr ul-Malook, who is also Pakistani, aired his thoughts at a seminar, staged to discuss freedom of religion in Pakistan and chaired by barrister Zimran Samuel, during a visit to London.

He said that when he took up Ms Bibi's case no one would help him because they thought they would not be safe in his company. [PREMIER CHRISTIAN RADIO] Read more

19 November 2019

Only Christian journalist registered with Lahore Press Club quits after being harassed for not converting to Islam

In a shocking, yet expected case of religious intolerance, Thirty-eight-year-old Christian journalist Gonila Gill, married to Husnain Jamil has quit Pakistan media house Dunya News after being harassed by her colleagues for her religion. According to reports, Gill was harassed by her colleagues for not converting to Islam after marrying her husband Jamil.

Gonila Gill who has now had to resign from Dunya News owing to the mental torture her colleagues put her through from not converting to Islam was the only Christian journalist registered with the Lahore Press Club.

Speaking to the media, Gill said people are vile, but no matter what she will not lose faith in her religion. [OpIndia] Read more

Barking school asks pupils about their periods if they don't attend prayers, says Ofsted report

Pupils are asked questions about their periods if they don't attend daily prayers at a Barking Islamic girls' school, the schools watchdog Ofsted has found.

Staff at Lady Aisha Academy ask girls if their menstrual cycle is the reason they don't attend prayers after a certain number of days, pupils told an inspector. Under Islamic law, menstruating women and girls are forbidden from praying.

"This personal questioning does not promote pupils' self-esteem and confidence," inspector Carolyn Dickinson wrote in her report, which was published on November 15. "Nor does this practice encourage respect for women, as set out in the Equality Act 2010."

The findings are despite the school - which is on the same site as the Al Madina Mosque - supposedly banning the practice after a visit from the council in April. Ms Dickinson reported the headteacher, Naeem Aslam, wasn't aware it had continued.

Lady Aisha Academy is a private school that charges £3,600 a year for every pupil. [Barking and Dagenham Post] Read more

17 November 2019

France Shuts Down Mosques and Schools Linked to Islamism in 15 Neighbourhoods

The French government has shut down mosques, schools, and associations linked to the spread of Islamist ideology in fifteen neighbourhoods across the country.

French Secretary of State for the Interior Laurent Nuñez announced the closure of 130 drinking establishments, 12 places of worship, three schools, and nine associations linked to radical Islamism on Friday, Le Parisien reports.

“We fight against political Islamism that suggests that the law of God is superior to that of the Republic,” he told French media. He added that in his view political Islamism should not be conflated with the religion of Islam more generally.

While Nuñez noted that the closures occurred in fifteen different neighbourhoods, he did not identify which specific neighbourhoods were affected by the closures. The closures come as part of the National Plan for the Prevention of Radicalization (PNPR). [Breitbart London] Read more

14 November 2019

The New Political Weapon of 'Islamophobia'

The objective of using the word "Islamophobia" appears to have been to make Islam untouchable by placing any criticism of it as equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.

The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.

"The term 'Islamophobia' serves several functions....Above all, however, the term is intended to silence Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce their religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and dogmatic." – Pascal Bruckner, in his book, Un racisme ordinaire : Islamophobie et culpabilité, Grasset, 2017 [English version: An Imaginary Racism: Islamophbia and Guilt, Polity 2018]

It is not Muslims people "hate," any more than they hate Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos. It is the violence and coercion that some adopt -- what is known as jihad or holy war -- that people reject. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Support your local ruler

Political philosophy, Saudi style. Islamic scholar and university lecturer Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Rays argues that a ruler should always be obeyed, no matter how evil he may be. Even if he abuses his power, steals money, commits adultery, drinks alcohol, and engages in homosexual acts. Because - you know - he's a ruler. That's how society works.

But what if the ruler, say, arranges for a critic of his rule to be slaughtered and dismembered in an embassy in a foreign country?

Not a problem. [Mick Hartley] Read more

13 November 2019

Child Brides

On display at the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery - child brides in Bangladesh by Dutch photographer Jouk Oosterhof. Shot for Linda magazine and the child right’s organisation Plan International:

Worldwide every year 12 million girls get married under the age of eighteen. In Bangladesh child marriage is prohibited, but in reality this law is not well enforced. The older the girl, the more her parents must pay for the dowry. This only makes it worse. When a girl gets married, her education stops. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Saudi Arabia deems feminism and homosexuality forms of 'extremism' in government video

Saudi Arabia’s state security agency has been forced to do a U-turn after it released a video which classified feminism, homosexuality and atheism as extremism and cautioned citizens in the kingdom to be on guard.

The animated promotional video, which has since been taken down, was shared on the verified Twitter account of the State Security Presidency at the weekend.

A narrator on the clip said: “Don’t forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered exremism”.

Al Watan, a newspaper allied with the Saudi authorities, bolstered such sentiment by saying in an article on Monday that this type of “extremist behaviour” can be punished by being flogged or getting jail time.

But the security agency, which has now said it is looking into the clip, has said there were a number of errors in the footage and those behind it did not do their job properly. [The Independent] Read more

12 November 2019

Tell Mama Doesn’t Like Lord Pearson

Tell Mama, the Muslim group devoted to sounding the alarm about the unspeakable conditions in which Muslims must live in the U.K. – though for some reason they keep making great efforts to enter and settle in, that terrible country – is once again angry with Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who is one of the few sane voices in the House of Lords. For Lord Pearson dares to worry aloud about the ideology of Islam, and the effect of ever-increasing numbers of Muslims in the U.K. on its indigenous non-Muslim population.

Tell Mama’s rant can be found here.

The enduring racist myth that Muslim birth rates are soon to replace ‘native’ populations reappeared on television yesterday, after Lord Pearson, formerly of UKIP, spread the falsehood that the Muslim birthrate ‘in this country is going up ten times faster than ours’.

Lord Pearson obviously misspoke when he said that the “Muslim birthrate…is going up ten times faster than ours [the English].” What he was referring to was data from the government’s ONS (Office of National Statistics), not about birthrates, but about population increases. He had mentioned the correct version — which he surely meant to say on SkyNews — in a 2017 speech: “The latest figures I have from the ONS show that the Muslim population in England rose 10 times faster between 2001 and 2016 than did the rest of the population, by 107% compared to 11%.”

That is perfectly true, and Tell Mama certainly knew what he must have meant – it even refers to that 2017 speech — but chose not to explain Lord Pearson’s obvious error in substituting “birthrate” for “population.” [New English Review] Read more

10 November 2019

Thousands march against Islamophobia in Paris

Thousands gathered Sunday afternoon in Paris for a march against Islamophobia that has markedly divided the French political class in recent days.

“Yes to criticism of religion, no to hatred of believers”, “Stop Islamophobia” and “Co-existing is crucial,” read some of the signs held aloft at the demonstration, as marchers set off from the Gare du Nord train station in the French capital on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

“Solidarity with veiled women”, some in the crowd chanted.

French media on Sunday evening estimated the number of participants in Paris at around 13,500.

The rally – held at the initiative of a number of left-wing political organisations including the New Anticapitalist Party and groups including the Collective Against Islamophobia in France – was called for by the left-leaning daily Libération in an editorial on November 1, four days after a man attacked a mosque in Bayonne and amid the flare of renewed debate over Muslim women wearing the veil in public establishments like schools. [France24] Read more

Judge blasts council after Muslim kids fed bacon and hotdogs by foster parents

A judge has hit out at a council after three Muslim children were given bacon sandwiches while in foster care.

A court heard the youngsters, who are all aged under 16, had been placed with a family who also fed them bacon and eggs for breakfast and gave one of them a hotdog while at a fair.

The carers are said to have told them at the time: “If we make bacon, you eat it.”

The kids' dad, who was accused of being violent and abusive towards their mum, accused the council in Yorkshire of "playing God" during the four-year legal battle.

He also said they had ignored his Islamic faith, telling Judge Angela Finnerty: “One matter that sits terribly with me is that they have been feeding my children bacon.

"You yourself told them not to feed my children pork products."

The mother also spoke of her anger and accused the council of discrimination, saying it doesn't "like Muslims" and doesn't "want Muslim kids to be raised as Muslims by Muslim parents". [Daily Star] Read more

09 November 2019

General election 2019: Tory peer accuses Hancock of 'whitesplaining'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of "whitesplaining" by Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi after he said others in the party took a "more balanced approach" on Islamophobia than her.

Baroness Warsi has repeatedly criticised the party's response to Islamophobia in its own ranks.

On Friday, Boris Johnson appeared to rule out an independent inquiry specifically into Islamophobia.

He said the party would hold a "general investigation into prejudice".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday, Mr Hancock said the Tories needed to hold an inquiry on Islamophobia within the party.

But he added: "Well look, I like Sayeeda [Warsi], she has a particular view on this. There are others who take a more balanced approach," he said.

Asked if he was saying she was "unbalanced", Mr Hancock replied: "No, I'm certainly not saying that. I have an enormous amount of respect for Sayeeda but she does take a particular view." [BBC] Read more

07 November 2019

Badruddin Ajmal writes to Union home ministry seeking ban on book allegedly demeaning Islam; author denies the claim

.... The book, which is in the eye of the storm, cites 52 verses of The Quran raising questions on the status of women in Islam, the meaning of Jihad, Islamisation and also practices like Nikah Halala.

“In Quran, the word Jihad is used multiple times. In the real world too we have seen terrorist groups killing people in the name of Allah. Is this what Jihad means?” Bora told Firstpost.

The author also evoked the issue of population control policy adopted by the state government in Assam which was opposed by Ajmal.

“In a verse in the Quran, women are compared with fertile agricultural fields. Is this what the status of women in Islam?” he asked.

Recently, the Government of Assam adopted a two-child policy barring anyone to apply for state government jobs if a person has more than two children. The policy is an attempt in population control and it seeks to discourage married couples from having more than two children. However, the policy faced opposition from Ajmal.

"Muslims will continue to produce children and they will not listen to anyone despite the government bringing a law to stop Muslims from having jobs," the AIUDF chief had said. [Firstpost] Read more

Germany: Imams will have to prove they speak the language

The German Cabinet has introduced a draft of a bill that would require clergy from countries outside the EU to prove their knowledge of German in order to reside in the country, .

Although the law would apply to clerics from all religions, the coalition treaty signed by the German government specifically refers to Muslim preachers.

"We expect foreign imams to be able to speak German," an Interior Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

The bill would change current residency and labor ordinances by requiring foreign clerics to prove within a year of arriving in Germany that they understand enough German to discuss key topics such as family, shopping, work, and their immediate surroundings. Prior to that, proof of a basic understanding of German would suffice.

The draft states that "for religious reasons, clerics often take on an influential role in their communities" that requires them to act as models and counselors in a way that facilitates peaceful cooperation between different cultures and religions as well as a successful integration of immigrants to Germany. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Muslim preachers must speak German to work in the country under proposed law

All imams who work in Germany will in future have to prove they can speak the German language, under a draft law for religious leaders introduced by the government.

The bill, which passed cabinet on Wednesday, means that foreign preachers will only be granted work visas if they can demonstrate basic German. They would then need to show improvements in their language skills after a year in order to prolong their stay.

Although it applies to all religious preachers, the coalition treaty signed by the German government - which includes the rule - specifically refers to imams.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer hailed it as “a vital contribution for successful integration in Germany.” The government justified the move by saying that imams have a central role to play as models of integration for other immigrants, who often turn to mosques for help when they first arrive. [The Telegraph] Read more

‘It shut all my doors’: how a Quebec law banning religious symbols derails women’s careers

Nour Farhat always dreamed of becoming a Crown prosecutor.

At 28, she is a newly minted lawyer with a master’s specialization in criminal law.

As a young woman of colour, her presence in Quebec courtrooms caught the attention of judges, other attorneys, even defendants – all of whom, she said, were happy to catch a glimpse of a rare non-white lawyer.

“In Montreal, they say that a third of people come from somewhere else, and you really see it in court. There’s a lot of black people, Arab people, Hispanics, and they were so happy to see me,” she said. After a year articling with the Quebec vehicle licensing bureau Farhat was hopeful for the future.

But the Quebec government dashed those dreams in June when it passed Bill 21, a controversial secularism law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols by certain public-sector employees. Farhat wears a hijab, a non-negotiable item of clothing and expression of her Muslim faith.

.... “Keeping your faith hidden is very much a Protestant way of doing things,” Kaur said. “You need to understand that my faith, and the way I practice, doesn’t work like that. And you don’t have to be OK with it. You just have to accept that I have that right to live my life the way I want to live my life.” [The Guardian] Read more

Malaysia sentences five men to jail, caning and fines for gay sex

A Malaysian religious court sentenced five men on Thursday to jail, caning and fines for attempting gay sex, media and a rights group said.

Sodomy and same-sex acts are illegal under Islamic law in Muslim-majority Malaysia, although convictions are rare.

The Selangor Shariah High Court, on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, sentenced four men to six months’ jail, six strokes of the cane, and a 4,800 ringgit ($1,163) fine for “attempting intercourse against the order of nature”, the Malay-language daily Harian Metro reported.

A fifth man was sentenced to seven months’ jail, six strokes of the cane and a 4,900 ringgit fine for the same offence. [Reuters] Read more

06 November 2019

School breaking the law by keeping boys and girls apart, Ofsted says

A school is breaking the law by keeping boys and girls apart, education watchdogs have said.

An Ofsted inspection found that Rochdale Islamic Academy ‘segregates pupils by sex for the whole of their education and at social times’ - contrary to the 2010 Equality Act.

A report says it amounts to ‘discrimination by sex’ and is having a harmful effect on students.

“Pupils do not have the choice to socialise or work with pupils of the opposite sex," the report reads.

"This is detrimental to their education and social development.

“Boys and girls also follow a different curriculum. Their choice of subjects is limited by their sex.

"For example, boys spend less time learning secular subjects than girls because they spend every morning taking part in Islamic studies.” [Manchester Evening News] Read more

First guide for reporting to tackle anti Muslim hate is published

A GUIDE for media to avoid reporting that can exacerbate hate crime towards Muslims has been published.

Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar helped produce the report which he hopes will show leadership to other countries.

The guide has been jointly published by the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia with the National Union of Journalists and academics at Newcastle University.

The group found participants said “headlines hurt” and questioned why there aren’t more positive stories about Muslims in the media.

The report found that “terminology is often used without much regard for accuracy – such as the terms ‘hijab’ and ‘burka’ being used interchangeably” and said articles sometimes reference an individual’s Muslim faith when it isn’t clear why it is relevant to the story. [The Evening Times] Read more

05 November 2019

Maldives: Human rights group shut down for ‘slandering Islam’

Closure comes after threats against NGO’s staff by religious hardliners

‘The Maldives Democracy Network is being punished for exercising its legitimate right to freedom of expression’ - Dinushika Dissanayake

The Maldivian Government’s closure of a widely-respected human rights group for “slandering Islam” has been strongly condemned by Amnesty International.

The organisation was shut down earlier today by the Maldivian Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, which regulates the activities of NGOs in the country.

On 10 October, the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it had temporarily suspended Maldives Democracy Network’s operations, alleging that the content of a 2015 report by the NGO contained “content slandering Islam and the Prophet Mohamed”.

The closure comes after a series of threats by religious hardliners against Maldives Democracy Network staff, including its director Shahinda Ismail. [Amnesty International] Read more

Student to take university to court after being 'kicked out for views on halal meat'

A student looks set to take academics to court after he was kicked out of university for giving his views on halal meat.

Sebastian Walsh told friends on his uni course it was “violent and barbaric" and that "the UK is being Islamified" in a seminar.

However, after multiple complaints were made against him, the University of Central Lancashire suspended the first year Children, Schools, and Families student in February.

Now, he is set to take the university to court after raising £30,000 through CrowdJustice pending the outcome of an appeal.

Halal is meat where animals are killed through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe instead of stunning.

He told friends he would never eat at Subway or KFC because they sold meat that had been slaughtered. [Daily Mirror] Read more

03 November 2019

Isis women driven by more than marriage, research shows

.... There are broad and varied reasons for radicalisation, the guidance says, including the appeal of “sisterhood”, a desire to be part of the state-building effort of Isis or to be part of something “bigger and divine”.

Travelling to the proclaimed caliphate was perceived by some to be an aspect of living a “true and pure Islamic life”, while others were driven by feelings of social exclusion or experiences of discrimination.

The guidance also says rebellion against society and parents sometime played a factor, along with female empowerment and a rejection of “western feminism”. [The Guardian] Read more

Tories must include labelling of Halal and Kosher meat in manifesto, animal welfare group backed by Carrie Symonds says

The Conservatives must include the labeling of Halal and Kosher meat in their upcoming manifesto, the Tory Animal Welfare group, backed by Carrie Symonds, has said.

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF), whose patrons include the Prime Minister's partner as well as ministers Dominic Raab, Zac Goldsmith and Theresa Villiers, has presented a blueprint manifesto to the Prime Minister.

It is hoped that Boris Johnson will include many environmental and animal welfare related issues in the document, and the CAWF has suggested many, including banning foie gras and the export of live farm animals for fattening and slaughter. [The Telegraph] Read more