15 February 2020

Judges reject bid to make Islamic marriages legally binding

A bid to make religious marriages legally binding in the UK has been rejected by judges, dashing the hopes of campaigners who say women are left penniless with no support after the break-up of sharia unions.

Campaigners claimed the landmark judgment, handed down at the Court of Appeal on Friday, could have “profoundly discriminatory consequences” for women and upholds an antiquated system of marriage.

The Court of Appeal overturned a family court judge’s decision that a woman was entitled to apply for maintenance payments from her estranged husband despite the fact they were not legally married. The attorney general had appealed the ruling.

Nasreen Akhter had a nikah, an Islamic marriage ceremony, that led to a Muslim marriage contract between herself and Mohammed Khan. The couple were married for 18 years and have four children together.

Ms Akhter, a 47-year-old solicitor, said she was keen to have a civil marriage and presumed it was on the cards, but her husband refused. She alleges their relationship ended after he said he wanted to take another wife; they separated in 2016. [The Independent] Read more

14 February 2020

Appeal Court rules Islamic marriages invalid in UK

A court has reversed a judgment from two years ago which found that a couple who had an Islamic wedding ceremony could legally divorce.

The High Court ruled in 2018 that the couple's Islamic "nikah" ceremony fell within English marriage law.

But the Court of Appeal has now said it was an "invalid" non-legal ceremony.

Judges said the fact they intended to have a further civil ceremony meant they must have known their Islamic marriage had no legal effect in the UK.

The Attorney General appealed against the original court decision.

The case involved the divorce of Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan, who have four children.

The couple had an Islamic wedding ceremony in a west London restaurant in 1998 in the presence of an imam and about 150 guests, but no civil ceremony subsequently took place, despite Mrs Akhter repeatedly raising the issue.

They separated in 2016 and Mr Khan tried to block his wife's divorce petition two years ago on the basis they had not been legally married in the first place. [BBC] Read more

Islamic faith marriages not valid in English law, appeal court rules

Islamic faith marriages are not valid under English law, the court of appeal has ruled, in a blow to thousands of Muslim women who have no rights when it comes to divorce.

The judgment, delivered on Friday, overturned an earlier high court ruling that an Islamic marriage, known as a nikah, fell within the scope of English matrimonial law.

The appeal court has confirmed that nikah marriages are legally “non-marriages”, meaning spouses have no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets such as the family home and spouse’s pension if a marriage breaks down.

Many couples who undergo nikah ceremonies believe they are lawfully married. But their marriages are only legal if they additionally go through a civil ceremony.

A survey in 2017 found nearly all married Muslim women in the UK had had a nikah and almost two-thirds had not had a separate civil ceremony. [The Guardian] Read more

13 February 2020

'Toxic' Islamist terror website editors jailed

Two web managers who ran a website glorifying Islamist terror groups and encouraging attacks have been jailed.

Muhammad Abdur Kamali and Mohammed Abdul Ahad promoted "toxic ideologies" including speeches by hate preacher Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal.

Their website also featured material from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, the Old Bailey heard.

Kamali, 31, of Rochdale, and Ahad, 38, of north London, each received sentences of four-and-a-half years.

The pair were found guilty of four counts of dissemination of terrorist publications, while Ahad was also found guilty of the possession of a document or record likely to be useful in preparing an act of terrorism. [BBC] Read more

'Million woman' march hits streets of Iraq demanding end to violence

Thousands of women assembled on streets across Iraq on Thursday for large-scale marches against the staggering levels of violence waged against anti-government protesters by security forces and armed militia groups.

The unique all-women marches, which have been organised in key Iraqi cities including central Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriyah, Najaf and Karbala, also aim to highlight women's participation in the demonstrations - which have already brought down a government - and show solidarity with male protesters, organisers said on social media.

The Iraqi Women's League on Tuesday condemned the "excessive violence committed by the Iraqi security services".

Over 600 protesters have been killed and at least 18,000 others the four month period since the predominantly peaceful protests began. [The New Arab] Read more

Hundreds of Iraqi women defy cleric to protest authorities

Hundreds of Iraqi women of all ages flooded central Baghdad Thursday alongside male anti-government protesters, defying an order by powerful cleric Moqtada Sadr to separate the genders in the rallies.

Some were veiled, others not, still more wrapped their faces in black-and-white checkered scarves. Most carried roses, Iraqi flags or signs defending their role in the regime change demonstrations.

They marched through a tunnel and spilled out into Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the youth-dominated movement in a country where vast regions remain socially conservative.

"We want to protect women's role in the protests as we're just like the men. There are efforts to kick us out of Tahrir but we'll only come back stronger," said Zainab Ahmad, a pharmacy student.

.... On Saturday, the militiaman-turned-politician had alleged drug and alcohol use among the protesters and said it was immoral for men and women to mix there.

And a few moments before Thursday's women's march began, Sadr once again took to Twitter to slam the protests as being rife with "nudity, promiscuity, drunkenness, immorality, debauchery ... and non-believers". [AFP] Read more

MP Khalid Mahmood calls for tougher controls on Muslim schools and security checks on imams

The number of extremists known to the security forces is only "the tip of the iceberg", Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood has warned.

He called for tougher controls on Islamic schools known as madrassahs, to ensure they are not promoting extremist beliefs, and said teachers of Islam, known as imams, should be subject to security checks.

Mr Mahmood, the Labour MP for Perry Barr, was speaking as MPs debated changing the law to prevent people convicted of terrorism offences being released from jail half-way through their sentence.

It follows a terrorist incident near London Bridge last year in which two people were killed, an an attack in Streatham on February 2. In both cases, the perpetrators had been automatically released from jail part way through serving a sentence.

Mr Mahmood said some violent extremists might consider themselves Muslims but they practiced a "misguided version of Islam". He said: "They do not practise Islam; they practise what they believe is Islam. Islam in itself is a peaceful religion." [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Afghan sports coach says she will flee after dog shot dead

Sahba Barakzai, her family and seven-month-old husky Aseman, tried to get out into the mountains near their home in western Afghanistan every Friday.

But last Friday, the hike turned to tragedy after an unidentified group of men approached the family and shot Sahba's beloved puppy dead.

The attackers told her a woman could not own a dog.

But Sabha fears this may have been something more - that it may have been to do with her teaching girls sport.

"We still don't know about their goal but we think it is because of her career," her sister Setayesh told the BBC. "She was the first woman who has her own club and these things are taboo."

Sahba was used to threats - she had been teaching karate to children in Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city, for 10 years.

She had also set up a cycling club for teenage and young girls - a very public sport in a country where, less than two decades ago, women were banned from going to school, working or even leaving the house without a male chaperone. [BBC] Read more

12 February 2020

Court in Pakistan Validates Forced Conversion, Marriage of Christian Girl to Muslim

A high court ruling in Pakistan validating the marriage and forced conversion to Islam of a 14-year-old Christian girl has heightened fears that it will encourage others to commit such crimes, sources said.

The High Court in Sindh Province on Feb. 3 dismissed a petition to have the marriage and forced conversion of a Catholic girl overturned, ruling that both were valid since a girl under sharia (Islamic law) can marry after her first menstrual cycle.

Huma Younus was taken from her home in Karachi’s Zia Colony on Oct. 10 while her parents were away and was forced to marry the man who abducted her, identified as Abdul Jabbar of Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab Province, her attorney said.

“The hearing on Feb. 3 lasted only five minutes,” the family’s attorney, Tabassum Yousaf, told Morning Star News. “The court, in just a few words citing the sharia, has justified the violation of the girl’s body since she has already had her first period.” [Morningstar News] Read more

Landmark Islamic funeral held for sex worker in Bangladesh

Activists in Bangladesh have welcomed the first ever Islamic funeral for a sex worker, breaking a long-standing taboo in the Muslim majority nation.

Hamida Begum, who worked at one of the world's largest brothels in the village of Daulatdia, died of illness last week at the age of 65.

A number of people gathered at her grave to witness the historic moment.

Sex work is legal in Bangladesh, but Islamic leaders have previously refused to perform funeral prayers for workers.

Instead, sex workers who die are usually buried in unmarked graves, without formal prayers, or dumped in rivers. [BBC] Read more

Blasphemy 'is no crime', says Macron amid French girl's anti-Islam row

Emmanuel Macron has waded into a row over a schoolgirl whose attack on Islam has divided France, insisting that blasphemy is “no crime”.

The French president defended the teenager, named only as Mila, who received death threats and was forced out of her school after filming an anti-religious diatribe on social media.

Macron’s intervention comes after his justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, was criticised for claiming Mila’s attack on religion was “an attack on freedom of conscience” while saying the death threats were “unacceptable”.

The case has sparked a furious public debate in France, a strictly secular republic with a large Muslim population. The education authorities have since found another school for the teenager.


“In this debate we have lost sight of the fact that Mila is an adolescent. We owe her protection at school, in her daily life, in her movements,” Macron said in an interview with Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper. [The Guardian] Read more

11 February 2020

Honour Crime: Swedish Muslim Migrant Sentenced for Beating Daughter with Kebab Spit

A Swedish court has sentenced an Iraqi asylum seeker to eight years in prison for honour crimes after he beat his daughter with a kebab spit, locked up his wife, and forced his daughters to wear Islamic veils.

The father, who fled to Sweden from Iraq with his family in 2006 and was highly active at the local mosque in Hässleholm, was found guilty of abuse, serious abuse, illegal threats, and unlawful coercion from a period between January of 2015 and September 17th of 2019.

Investigators were made aware of the father’s behaviour in 2019 when two of the family’s seven children reported his actions to social services in Hässleholm, telling of serious abuse and death threats, including being labelled “whores” by the father if they refused to wear the Islamic veil.

The investigation was considered an honour crime with prosecutor Malin Paulsson stating that the father repeatedly told them not to bring shame to the family, SVT reports. [Breitbart Europe] Read more

Controversial Muslim school at centre of probe is shut down - by order of Government

The Department for Education has removed the controversial Birmingham Muslim School from its register of independent schools, triggering its closure.

An investigation into its owners, Albayan Education Foundation Ltd, is still under way by the Charity Commission, connected to an unreported "serious incident" relating to the lSmall Heath school.

The school's head, Janet Laws, also known as Aisha Abdrabba, had previously been subject to an interim prohibition order banning her from teaching because she was deemed "a potential risk to pupils" - though we understand the ban, imposed in February last year, was lifted in the autumn.

The school, which had 80 pupils aged 4-11 on roll, shut down for good on December 16, says the report.

Two inspectors from Ofsted, the schools' watchdog, stood by to ensure head teacher Aisha Abdrabba, also known as Janet Laws, was closing it down, it adds.

The school, in Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath, has been under regular review by Ofsted since 2014.

It opened in 2001 and throughout its 19 year history the school has never been graded 'Good' or better by Ofsted. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

10 February 2020

Mila: Teen who criticised Islam on Instagram moves school

A French teenager who criticised Islam on Instagram has moved to a new school after receiving death threats.

Education minister Gabriel Attal told broadcaster LCI on Monday that they had found a new school for Mila "to allow her to continue her life".

Mila, 16, sparked a national row over free speech when she called Islam a "religion of hate".

The teen's criticisms prompted fury but also drew support in France, where there are no laws against blasphemy.

Her comments about Islam came after she received homophobic abuse from a Muslim commenter. Supporters started the hashtag #JeSuisMila (I am Mila), while critics responded with #JeNeSuisPasMila.

.... The controversy began on 18 January, after Mila did a live broadcast on her Instagram account. After speaking about her sexuality she was called a "dirty lesbian" by a Muslim commenter.

In response, Mila posted an attack on Islam. "I hate religion. The Koran is a religion of hate," she said, before using stronger words to attack Islam. [BBC] Read more

09 February 2020

France Quietly Reintroducing the Crime of Blasphemy

Today, in France, using freedom of expression to criticize Islam is clearly an extremely dangerous act, even if you, like Mila, are a child.

France is rapidly going from laïcité (secularism) to lâcheté (cowardice); from freedom of expression to unconditional surrender. France keeps trying to procrastinate while Islamism thrives on the elites' rapidly abandoning their Judeo-Christian values.

Feminist organizations, so quick to denounce "toxic masculinity" and "patriarchal structures of domination", were also silent.

Today, in France, the country of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which always sanctified freedom of expression and the right to criticize religion and ideologies, some within the justice system.... are quietly and de facto reintroducing the crime of blasphemy. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Preacher who inspired Streatham terror attack peddling jihad from behind bars

Hundreds of sermons preached by the Islamist cleric who inspired the men who carried out the terrorist attacks in Streatham and on London Bridge in November are available on a website that allows his followers to communicate in private chatrooms, the Observer has established.

Abdullah al-Faisal, who was born into an evangelical Christian family in Jamaica and spent many years in Britain, has become one of the most successful propagandists for al-Qaida and Islamic State.

Sudesh Amman, 20, who was shot dead by police last week after coming out of prison for terrorism offences, had copies of Faisal’s speeches, the Times reported.

The newspaper also said that Usman Khan, 28, who fatally stabbed two Cambridge graduates near London Bridge last November, had the cleric’s number in his mobile phone when he was arrested over his links to a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange in December 2010. [The Guardian] Read more

Tory inquiry imam in free-speech row

A leading imam appointed by Theresa May to conduct a government inquiry into Islamophobia faced calls to stand down last night after he was accused of questioning free speech.

Qari Asim, the imam at the Makkah mosque in Leeds, was appointed to the government’s Islamophobia panel last July to help create a definition of anti-Muslim hatred.

However, a tape has emerged in which Asim told an interfaith workshop in September 2018 that, while Muslims “cherish free speech”, some want exceptions in instances where something is “distasteful to Muslims or they find it offensive”, particularly where it concerns the prophet Muhammad.

In his presentation, Asim suggested that some Muslims argue “we can have exceptions to the freedom of speech, on the basis of their being some words or some actions being offensive or distasteful”. [The Times (£)] Read more

Iran chess champion ponders next move after slip of the hijab

When she was nine years old, Shohreh Bayat’s father took out a chess set and taught her how to play. He picked it because it was one of the few sports where he could watch his daughter compete: swimming, even football, would have been out of the question under the laws of the Islamic Republic.

She excelled. Within a few years Bayat was ranked No 1 in Iran for her age. Soon afterwards she joined the national team — representing her country across the world. She loved the mental gymnastics of chess, the depth, the endless combinations of moves.

Today, at 32, she is the highest-ranked female chess arbiter (referee) in Asia. With her well-cut suits, loosely slung headscarf and red lipstick, she seemed the ideal of the modern Iranian woman. But two weeks ago her life collapsed when a photographer at the women’s world chess championships in Shanghai published a picture that appeared to show Bayat without her headscarf. [The Times (£)] Read more

06 February 2020

Orbán: Not a single Muslim immigrant in Hungary, declares liberalism over

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, during a panel discussion at the National Conservatism conference in Rome on Tuesday, declared liberalism to be over and said that not a single Muslim immigrant lives in Hungary.

During conference, which was organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation, Orbán declared liberalism to be over while adding that a fresh kind government in the form of Christian democracy is needed to replace it, About Hungary reports.

.... While mentioning Europe’s growing Muslim population which has coincided with its rapidly declining Christian population, Orbán said: “According to the liberals, this is fine, because they don’t like Christian society,” before noting that the suicidal choice was theirs to make, but that forcing Central Europeans to follow in their footsteps is completely unacceptable. [Voice of Europe] Read more

05 February 2020

Can Muslim Terrorists be Deradicalized? - Part I

"What we found [in prisons] was so shockingly bad that I had to agree to the language in the original report being toned down. With hindsight, I'm not sure that was the right decision." — Ian Acheson, British expert on prisons.

"There were serious deficiencies in almost every aspect of the management of terrorist offenders... Frontline prison staff were vulnerable to attack and were ill-equipped to counter hateful extremism on prison landings for fear of being accused of racism. Prison imams did not possess the tools, and sometimes the will, to combat Islamist ideology.

The prison service's intelligence-gathering system was hopelessly fractured and ineffectual." — Ian Acheson, "London Bridge attack: I told ministers we were treating terrorist prisoners with jaw-dropping naivety. Did they listen?", London Times, December 1, 2019. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Streatham terror attacker devoted to ‘sheikh’ who inspired London Bridge killer

The jihadist who stabbed two shoppers had boasted of trying to join Islamic State and was devoted to a notorious preacher who inspired another convicted terrorist behind a similar knife attack.

Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police on Sunday after going on the rampage in Streatham, south London, ten days after being released from prison.

The attack had remarkable similarities to that carried out by Usman Khan, 28, another former prisoner who fatally stabbed two Cambridge graduates at London Bridge last November before he was shot by police.

Both men are linked to Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, who has been accused of inspiring hundreds of jihadists, including the 7/7 bombers who killed 52 people in London in 2005. [The Times (£)] Read more

Muslim girls school kicks out Ofsted inspectors for wearing shoes in prayer room

A Birmingham school which charges pupils £4,000 a year in tuition has accused Ofsted of 'serious failings' after being rated as 'inadequate' - after it blocked inspectors during a visit.

Leaders at Cannon Hill Girls School say they felt 'belittled and degraded' by one of the inspector’s conduct during the inspection - the first since it opened in 2018 - adding that they are 'increasingly doubtful' about being able to place any faith in inspection judgements.

According to the Ofsted report leaders at the school, an independent Muslim day school for girls, were "unwilling to cooperate with inspectors," adding that they "prevented inspectors from collecting the full range of evidence that was needed to inform the inspection". [Birmingham Mail] Read more

04 February 2020

Britain is losing the fight against extremism

.... Last November Usman Khan, an Islamist released from prison 11 months earlier, murdered two people at a conference that he was attending on London Bridge organised by a prisoners’ rehabilitation project.

This provoked much head-shaking about the risks of letting terrorists out of jail too early and accepting too easily that they’d been deradicalised. Now, some are saying we can’t go on like this.

.... For all the evidence suggests that deradicalisation programmes both inside and outside prison are singularly ineffectual. That’s not just because of the chaos in the under-resourced prison and probation system. It’s because of a conceptual error: the belief that the power of reason can be used against fanatics who believe in killing infidels and “martyring” themselves in the name of God, and wear mocked-up bomb-belts to encourage the police to kill them.

.... To begin to confront that threat properly, the government should admit what is staring it in the face: for the terrorists, we are the infidels in a holy war that will be fought to the bitter end. It is time that those states which still fund the most poisonous anti-western preachers took responsibility for the hatred they are spreading and time we shamed them into stopping it.

Liberalism’s flaw is that it believes reason is the antidote to all problems, including a religious death-cult. “We can’t go on like this” means our own society taking steps which won’t seem very liberal — be they tougher sentences or new restrictions on hate preachers.

But if a society is so liberal it refuses to defend itself properly, it will vanish. [The Times (£)] Read more

French teenager who received death threats for saying Islam was a 's**t' religion says she 'does not regret' her online rant and defends her 'right to blaspheme'

The French teenager who received death threats after footage of her saying that Islam was a 's**t' religion went viral online has come out of hiding to defend her strong atheist convictions.

The teenager, identified only as Mila, appeared on the French TV programme Quotidien last night to say she 'does not regret' her comments.

It comes after France's left-wing elite was criticised for failing to support a 16-year-old girl who has faced death threats for insulting Islam.

She was removed from her sixth-form college in Lyon, south-east France, by police 'for her own safety' and has faced a torrent of insults and threats to rape and kill her.

During the interview Mila defended her right to her strong atheist convictions. She said: 'I would like to clarify that... I would like to come back to the subject about the fact that I absolutely do not regret what I said, that it was really what I thought.' [Daily Mail] Read more

03 February 2020

Would most Iranians vote no to an Islamic republic?

The shooting of a passenger airplane in Iran on January 8th and the initial denial of firing rockets, shattered the Iranian regime’s credibility. When the evidence quickly piled up, exacerbating international pressure, the call for the truth swelled up across all of Iran.

Two television news presenters working for the state broadcaster IRIB resigned. A third apologized: “forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.” Never in the past forty years was the regime forced and humiliated to acknowledge its crimes so publicly in this way.

The people’s aversion to lying and deceit in politics remind of the Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo.

In 2006, he spent four months in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. A state-run television program aired his forced confession to having operated to the benefit of Iran’s enemies. He has ever since defended the “Right to Truth,” inspired by Gandhi, in exile, as the proper response to political persecution and the entrenched culture of lies in the Iranian political system.

.... The survey, published by GAMAAN, reveals that around 80% of the Iranian people would vote NO in a free referendum on the Islamic Republic as such. This unprecedented poll confirms years of qualitative research in the social sciences and the humanities regarding Iranians’ demand for democracy. [openDemocracy] Read more