15 April 2017

'They will kill me': Saudi woman fleeing to Australia forced back to kingdom

Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, intended to flee to Australia to escape a forced marriage, Human Rights Watch cited a Canadian witness as saying.

The witness said Lasloom approached her while in transit at the airport in Manila, saying "airport officials had confiscated her passport and boarding pass" for a Sydney-bound flight.

The Canadian said she helped Lasloom film social media videos about her plight. In one of them she said: "If my family comes they will kill me," HRW said.

Arranged marriages are the norm in Saudi Arabia, where a "guardianship" system requires a male family member, usually the father, husband or brother, to grant permission for a woman's study, travel and other activities.

"Lasloom's whereabouts are currently unknown," HRW said in a statement from Manila.

The Canadian witness, who spent several hours with Lasloom at the airport in Manila, reported that two of Lasloom's uncles arrived, the New York-based watchdog said. [AFP] Read more

14 April 2017

Auckland jewellery shop criticised for 'no burkas' sign

An Auckland shop has come under fire for a policy sign on its front door saying "No burkas".

Avondale's Coffee and Gems store sign was noticed in an image emailed to Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey on Thursday.

"A local sent me pics of the 20 Avondale "Begging Is Banned" signs this afternoon which I forwarded to Auckland Council," she wrote on Facebook.

"I was totally speechless when she also sent me this pic of an Avondale shop door sign."

It's in breach of the Human Rights Act, Cr Casey says.

"I have this morning made an official complaint to the Human Rights Commission," she said on Friday.

But owner Louise Brinsden says it's an important rule for purchasing from the public, and is for staff safety.

"We are a jewellery store run by females located in Avondale. We deal in high value items and it is a security precaution. [Newshub] Read more

Sharia Councils and Sexual Abuse in Britain

The most recent scandal surrounding the sexual exploitation of Muslim women by Islamic religious leaders in the UK is yet further proof of the way in which Britain is turning a blind eye to horrific practices going on right under its nose.

A BBC investigation into "halala" -- a ritual enabling a divorced Muslim woman to remarry her husband by first wedding someone else, consummating the union, and then being divorced by him -- revealed that imams in Britain are not only encouraging this, but profiting financially from it. This depravity has led to many such women being held hostage, literally and figuratively, to men paid to become their second husbands.

This ritual, which is considered a misinterpretation of Islamic sharia law even by extremist Shi'ites and Saudi-style Salafists, is practiced by certain Islamic sects, such as Hanafis, Barelvis and Deobandis.

When a husband repeats the Arabic word for divorce -- talaq -- three times to his wife, these sects consider a Muslim marriage null and void. For such a woman to be allowed to return to the husband who banished her, she must first marry someone else -- and have sex with him -- before the second husband divorces her. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

13 April 2017

Minneapolis Muslims protest 'sharia' vigilante in Cedar-Riverside area

A man trying to impose what he calls "the civil part of the sharia law" in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has sparked anger among local residents and Muslim leaders.

Abdullah Rashid, 22, a Georgia native who moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, has been making the rounds in the Somali-dominated neighborhood, telling people not to drink, use drugs or interact with the opposite sex. If he sees Muslim women he believes are dressed inappropriately, he approaches them and suggests they should wear a jilbab, a long, flowing garment. And he says he's recruiting others to join the effort.

But local Muslim leaders are sounding the alarm. They are working to stop Rashid's group, General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah, and have notified Minneapolis police, who say he's being banned from a Cedar-Riverside property. Some say the group is preying on vulnerable young Muslims in a community that has dealt with national scrutiny around radicalization and terrorism.

"What he's doing is wrong and doesn't reflect the community at all," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). [Star Tribune] Read more

Pakistani student accused of blasphemy beaten to death on campus

A mob beat a Pakistani student to death at his university campus on Thursday after he was accused of sharing blasphemous content on social media, university and police officials said.

A group of about 10 students shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack on fellow student Mashal Khan, who was stripped naked and beaten with planks until his skull caved in as other students looked on, video obtained by Reuters showed.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Mohammed is a capital crime that has dozens languishing on death row and where even an accusation can lead to violence.

In recent months, Pakistan's government has been vocal about the issue, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issuing an order last month for removal of blasphemous content online and saying anyone who posted such content should face "strict punishment under the law". [Reuters] Read more

Bus driver faces fine for refusing ride to niqab-wearing woman

A bus driver in Lower Saxony faces a hefty fine after he repeatedly denied a Muslim woman wearing a niqab entry onto his bus.

A police spokesman in Leer, Lower Saxony said on Thursday that the driver was being investigated for an administrative offence, with the fine possibly rising to €10,000.

The woman was pregnant when the driver refused to let her onto the bus for wearing the conservative Islamic garb, the spokesman said, adding that her husband had reported the driver to local authorities.

The private bus company, which had been contracted by the city of Emden to run the local bus service, has admitted that the driver’s actions breached local regulations.

The company claimed that the driver had acted out of ignorance. [The Local] Read more

Pakistan student killed over 'blasphemy' on university campus

A university student in Pakistan accused of blasphemy against Islam has been killed by a mob of fellow students on campus, police say.

Many students have been arrested after the brutal attack in the northern city of Mardan, and the campus has been closed.

Reports suggest that two young men were accused of posting offensive content on Facebook. One survived with injuries.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan.

Critics say blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty in some cases, are often misused to oppress minorities.

There have been other cases where people accused of it have been killed by an angry crowd. [BBC] Read more

Muslim men permitted to hit wives in a soft and 'symbolic' way, Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia women say

The newly-appointed NSW police commissioner has lambasted a view propagated among some Muslim Australians that Muslim husbands are permitted to hit their wives.

In a video discussion posted on the Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia's Facebook page on April 8, two women from the hardline fringe group said that the permission to strike a disobedient wife was "a beautiful blessing" but it should only be soft and "symbolic".

The women, western Sydney primary school teacher Reem Allouche and Indian-born scholar Atika Latifi, also said that Muslim men have slower reaction times and no ability to multi-task but are physically stronger and obliged to be the leader in a marriage.

It was widely condemned, including in a statement signed by 34 sheikhs and prominent Muslims which said the promotion of violence is "against the spirit and letter of Islam" and "undermines the love, mercy and mutual support that should define a Muslim marriage". [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more

12 April 2017

Germany's Schaeuble says if Muslim migrants don't like Europe, go elsewhere

Muslims who migrate to Europe should understand that there are better places for them to live if they do not want to accept the European way of life, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday.

Such migrants who do not accept Europe's way of living should be told "you have made the wrong decision", Schaeuble said during a round table discussion in Berlin.

"There are better places in the world to live under Islamic law than Europe," he added. [Reuters] Read more

France shuts down another mosque for 'condoning violent jihad'

A mosque in the eastern suburbs of Paris was ordered closed on Tuesday because authorities deemed it "a threat to security".

The mosque, located in Torcy in the Seine-et-Marne department, was deemed by authorities to be "a threat to public order".

Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said the mosque had "become a place where radical ideology was advocated".

"Some of the preaching was openly hostile to France's laws and was inciting hate to other religious communities, primarily Shia Muslims and Jews."

He added that there was a risk of "a breeding ground that threatened security and public order" in France.

In the official police order for closure, Imams were said to have "legitimized armed jihad" over the past two years, "calling on members to pray for jihadists to destroy the enemies of Islam in France and around the world". [The Local] Read more

Sonny Bill Williams permitted to cover up sponsors' logos on religious grounds

Sonny Bill Williams will be allowed to continue covering up a sponsor’s logo on his Auckland Blues shirt after the New Zealand Rugby Union agreed to the All Blacks player’s request based on his religious beliefs.

Williams, a devout Muslim, last week taped up his collar to hide Bank of New Zealand logos as Islamic faith forbids financial institutions charging interest and fees on loans.

The move raised the possibility of disciplinary action, but the NZRU accommodated Williams’ request after he lodged a “conscientious objection”. The Blues support his stance.

From next week, Williams will instead wear a bespoke jersey that bears the name of the children’s support service, Plunket, over where BNZ’s logo would normally be. [The Guardian] Read more

Toronto-area Peel District School Board in Muslim prayer row

A school board in Ontario has become a flashpoint in the religious accommodation debate over Muslim prayers in school. The board says the matter is settled but detractors say the fight is far from over.

Pages torn from a Koran. Cries of "that's a hate group" and "there is no peace in Islam".

In March, a public meeting of one of Canada's largest public school boards descended into chaos over a policy of religious accommodation that has been in place for more than 15 years.

The Peel District School Board says the debate over whether Muslim students can hold voluntary Friday prayer sessions on school grounds is settled and has been for a long time.

They accuse some opponents of whipping up tensions with "deliberate misinformation" and say they are "appalled by the anti-Muslim rhetoric and prejudice we have seen on social media, read in emails, and heard first-hand at our board meetings".

Opponents of the policy say they are not done protesting against a practice they decry as "unequal and unfair". [BBC] Read more

11 April 2017

Hardline cleric is invited to UK by Islamic charity for fundraising tour

Islamic Relief is being asked by the Charity Commission to explain why it invited a hardline Muslim preacher to star in a fundraising tour of Britain.

Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated American academic, has been recorded apparently telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of their religion. Dr Qadhi, who features in an eight-city tour starting this month, described Islamic punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves as “very beneficial to society”.

After being alerted by The Times, the commission is questioning two other charities, Muslim Aid and Read Foundation, about their sponsorship of a speaking tour by Dr Qaddi in 2015 organised by MEND. [The Times (£)] Read more

Women barred from Tehran marathon defy rules to complete their own race instead

Determined not to waste months of training and prove women ‘can do anything they want’, female participants created their own race route.

A group of female runners who were told at the last minute they could not take part in the Tehran marathon risked being arrested and detained by Iran’s strict religious authorities in order to stage their own race instead.

Around 160 women out of a total of 600 runners had registered to compete in Friday’s first ever ‘TehRUN’, a 26 mile (42 kilometre) race around the Iranian capital, including dozens of foreigners.

However, female participants were dismayed to be told in an email from organisers three weeks ago that they would actually not be allowed to take part, as men and women cannot participate in sports together in the conservative country. [The Independent] Read more

10 April 2017

Le Pen Calls Multiculturalism a Weapon for Islamic Extremists

Fighting terrorism must involve preventing Muslim communities from imposing their way of life in France and requires more than just repression, presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said on Monday.

“A multicultural society is a multiconflict society,” she said in a speech in Paris. “I want every French person, no matter where they are in France, to maintain their liberty and their rights that Islamic fundamentalists want to deny them. Multiculturalism is the soft weapon of Islamic fundamentalists, which is allowed by useful idiots under the guise of tolerance.”

Le Pen, head of the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front, called for France’s constitution to be changed so that it doesn’t recognize any communities, and criticized former President Nicolas Sarkozy for creating an organization to represent Islam. She also said she would ban an Islamic organization in France linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that mosques attended by Turks could be used to spy on France. [Bloomberg] Read more

Islamist who claimed killing British soldiers was 'justified' becomes director of a controversial Muslim pressure group with influence over Westminster

An extremist who said he supported the killing of British soldiers has been appointed a director of a controversial Muslim pressure group with influence at Westminster.

Azad Ali, head of community development and engagement at Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), said the Westminster Bridge attack last month was 'not terrorism'.

Mr Ali said on Facebook that Khalid Masood, who murdered PC Keith Palmer and four pedestrians, should referred to as 'a lone wolf'. The Met Police has been treating it as a terror attack.

He also said that the Government's fury with WhatsApp for giving terrorists 'a place to hide' was ministers 'trying to invade more of our privacy', according to The Times.

.... Mr Ali's lawyers at Carter-Ruck said his comments on the Westminster Bridge attack were 'referring to terrorism in the sense of organised acts co-ordinated by terrorist groups'.

His legal teams also said Mr Ali considered it 'a barbarous and cruel act of murder for which there was no possible justification or mitigation'.

In 2009 it emerged that Mr Ali, then an IT worker and president of the Civil Service Islamic Society, was suspended on full pay for six months following comments on his blog. [Daily Mail] Read more

09 April 2017

Egypt declares state of emergency; ISIS attacks killed scores of Palm Sunday churchgoers

The state of emergency will last for three months, according to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The attacks, which were claimed by ISIS, follow warnings by the terrorist group that it would escalate attacks on Egypt's Christians, who the CIA estimates make up roughly 10 percent of the country's population.

The two bombings Sunday killed at least 44 people and injured at least 126 others, according to Egyptian officials. The first exploded in a Coptic Christian church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, and the second several hours later at Saint Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt.

ISIS claimed that the blasts were the work of suicide bombers who detonated explosive vests at the churches. [ABC News] Read more

08 April 2017

Primary pupils at risk of extremism at Birmingham school, Ofsted warns

Pupils at a Birmingham Islamic primary school could be at risk of radicalisation because of safeguarding failings, Ofsted has warned.

Government inspectors have highlighted extremism concerns and criticised management at the independent Birmingham Muslim School (BMS).

.... Now a published report has highlighted a ‘weak culture of safeguarding’ at the Golden Hillock Road school, including a lack of alertness by staff to ‘the risks of pupils being radicalised’.

It concluded the school had not met ‘all of the independent school standards that were checked during this inspection’.

Ofsted said: “Consequently, there is the potential for pupils to be exposed to extremist views through contact with older pupils or adults out of school, such as when on school trips.

"As a result, the school is not taking all reasonable steps to protect pupils from exposure to partisan political views.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

07 April 2017

Sentenced to Death for "Insulting Islam"

"During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go," said the source in an interview with CHRI on March 21, 2017. "Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges.

Then they sentenced him to death." "Later he admitted that he signed the confession hoping to get freed," said the source. "Apparently the authorities also got him to confess in front of a camera as well." -- Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

When the Islamists gain power, they immediately create their own "judiciary system" in order to "legitimize" their implementation of sharia law. In fact, the judiciary system is used less as a tool for bringing people to justice, and more as a tool to suppress freedom of speech and of the press. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

European Parliament’s biggest political group calls for EU-wide ban on Islamic face veils

The European Parliament’s biggest political grouping has said it supports the introduction of a European Union-wide ban on Islamic face veils

The European People’s Party adopted the measure as an official policy at its annual congress in Malta this week, claiming that the ban should be introduced “both for reasons of security and because seeing one another’s faces is an integral part of human interaction in Europe”.

The EPP, a centre-right liberal conservative grouping, holds 216 seats in the 751 member European Parliament and is affiliated with major governing parties such as Angela Merkel’s CDU, the French Republicains and Spain’s People’s Party.The provisions for the banning of face coverings appear to explicitly target Muslims, being contained in a resolution named "For a cohesive society: Countering Islamic extremism" and mentioning the burqua and niquab by name.

Speaking to the German media following the passage of the resolution, Manfred Weber, the group’s leader in the European Parliament, said: “We want a total ban of face covering in the EU.”

Mr Weber is a member of Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance in Germany. [The Independent] Read more

Tunisia sentences British DJ for Muslim prayer remix

A Tunisian court has sentenced a British DJ to a year in jail after he played a dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer.

London-born Dax J, was charged with public indecency and offending public morality - but had already fled the country before the court case.

He had also issued an apology.

The nightclub was shut down after footage of the weekend's event was shared on social media and sparked outrage.

A court spokesperson told AFP news agency that the court dismissed charges against the nightclub owner and an event organiser, but the prosecution has appealed saying the two should have checked what the DJ would be playing. [BBC] Read more

'We don't want burkas and mosques on every corner': Controversial Muslim leader says the 'entire religion of Islam needs a review'

A controversial imam has called for a 'review' of Islam in Australia and demanded that Muslims respect freedom of speech and democracy.

Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi, who in recent weeks has clashed with other Muslim leaders, said he did not want 'burqas running around' or 'mosques on every corner'.

Speaking at the Rotary Club of Adelaide, Imam Tawhidi said his father would not have moved from Iran to Australia had he known so many extreme Muslim people would end up living here.

'My father made the choice ... to come to Australia because it is a non-Muslim country,' he said.

'Now, if we knew that after 30 years, we were going to have burqas running around, mosques being erected in every corner, and people proposing sharia law against democracy in this country, we would not have come.' [Daily Mail] Read more

British DJ Sentenced To A Year In Tunisian Prison Over Muslim Prayer Dance Remix

A London-born techno DJ has been sentenced to a year in prison by a Tunisian court after he played a track sampling the Muslim call to prayer at a festival.

Dax J, who has since left the country after performing at club El Guitone as part of Orbit Festival, was sentenced in his absence having been charged with public indecency and offending public morality.

Nabeul governor Mnaouar Ouertani was quoted as stating the Tunisian government “will not allow attacks against religious feelings and the sacred.”

The club was shut down immediately and the manager was detained. AFP news agency reports the court dismissed charges against the nightclub owner and an event organiser, but the prosecution has appealed, claiming they both should have checked what the DJ was playing. [The Huffington Post UK] Read more

06 April 2017

Imam in hiding after calling for closure of Islamic schools

Australian imam Mohammed Tawhidi, above, claims he has been forced into hiding after voicing support for the ideas of anti-Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Tawhidi, of the Islamic Association of South Australia, said he agrees with Ms Ali’s call to close Islamic schools in Australia. He has also rejected extremist groups.

Ali cancelled her tour of Australia this week because of fears for her safety.

According to this report, the imam said:

"These schools do exist that are a problem and they need to be either shut down or changed completely." Fearing reprisals, the Adelaide-based Imam said he was escorted into hiding by police. [The Freethinker] Read more

The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain by Sayeeda Warsi - review

A blinkered view of Islamism, says Maryam Namazie. Sayeeda Warsi’s new book catalogues some of the hypocrisy and double standards of the British Government, the rise of the far-Right and bigotry against Muslims, yet has a glaring blind spot when it comes to Islamism. According to Warsi, Islamist terrorism is the result of everything but Islamist ideology.

.... Without any apparent understanding of the context and rise of the contemporary transnational Islamist movement, including Iran’s key role in it, Warsi says “simmering resentment” began when the British Government apparently failed to prosecute Salman Rushdie for blasphemy. “Muslims,” she says, “wanted British laws to protect Islam,” and when it didn’t happen, the Iranians were more than happy to step in with what she characterises as “concern and moral support”.

.... Warsi’s solution to the situation we are faced with today is more of the same: more religion in the public space and stronger “religious identities”, though it is clearly less religion that we need, not more.

And while she considers secularisation a threat, it is in fact the separation of religion from the state, universal values and citizenship rights that will provide minimum guarantees against the intolerance and violence of religion in politics and power. [Evening Standard] Read more