10 May 2015

Islamists jailed for chopping of teacher's hand 'because exam paper insulted Prophet Mohamed'

A group of Islamists who cut off a teacher’s hand in revenge for “blasphemy” against the Prophet Mohamed have been jailed in India.

The 13 men, all members of radical group the Popular Front of India, were handed sentences of between three and eight years at a National Investigative Agency court, NDTV reported.

They had been found guilty of involvement in the attack on TJ Joseph, a professor at Newman College in the town of Thodupuzha, Kerala.

He was on his way home from a Catholic church service in July 2010 with his mother and sister when their car was stopped.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Islam - the brainwashing which produces the finest fruitcakes.

[ANOTHER] People should be free to criticise Mohammed. After all he was a disgusting paedophile who married a 7 year old child named Ayesha!

[ANOTHER] The religion of peace strikes again.

[ANOTHER] A war mongering sex offender / paedophile, that's Mohammed. [The Independent]Read more

09 May 2015

A dead dog on school railings, a headteacher receiving death threats and the return of the classroom Islamic zealots

.... Another widely held view, shared by a head forced out of her school by the hardliners, is that the ruling Labour council was prepared to ‘sweep things under the carpet’ because the Trojan Horse plotters were all Labour supporters. ‘The vast majority of the Muslim community close their eyes and vote Labour,’ she told us this week. This former head, it should be pointed out, is herself a Muslim.

What is now becoming all too apparent, though, is that many of the individuals at the centre of the Trojan Horse affair are still agitating in the community, despite Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s announcement, in the aftermath of the supposed crackdown, that ‘we have got to the bottom of the issue’.

One is running a parental ‘advice’ service, another is a director of a recruitment agency supplying teachers to city schools, and others have joined forces to set up a private academy and continue to teach children.

And reinstated to the board of Mrs Hewitt-Clarkson’s own school, it emerges, is a governor who was suspended for ‘bringing the school into disrepute’ over his role in making collective worship at Anderton more Islamic. So much for the clampdown. [Daily Mail] Read more

Mayor compares burqa with slavery

Bo Frank, the conservative mayor of the city of Växjö in southern Sweden, on Friday suggested that women should be banned from wearing full-faced veils.

“It ought to be banned!! It (the burqa) doesn’t belong in Sweden. Europe, the world,” he wrote on his blog after seeing two men accompanying a veiled woman in the city, adding the incident “pi**d me off”*

He went on to describe the woman as the men’s “slave”.

“To wear a mask, a balaclava, is so far from the modern world we live in. I find it extremely off-putting,” he told local newspaper Smålandsposten, but removed the suggestion to ban the veil shortly after speaking to the daily. [The Local] Read more

Losing my religion

IDENTIFYING Muslims who have renounced their faith is tricky. Few are open about doing so, even in safe and secular Britain. But among the country’s Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Muslims, the numbers are growing, albeit from a tiny base.

According to official statistics, between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of Bangladeshis who say they have no faith has more than tripled, from 0.4% to 1.4%. For Pakistanis it has doubled, from 0.5% to 1.1%. Some who explicitly identify as ex-Muslims are becoming more vocal. Groups such as the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain (CEMB), set up in 2007, are helping.

Former Muslims’ reluctance to admit to their lack of faith rarely stems from a fear of violence, as in countries such as Sudan where laws make apostasy punishable by death. Rather the worry in Britain is about the social stigma, moral condemnation and ostracism that follows, says Simon Cottee of the University of Kent, who has written a book on the subject. [The Economist] Read more

08 May 2015

Trojan Horse: Police support head teacher who received death threat over gay teaching

The police are “supporting” a Birmingham school after its head teacher received a death threat on Facebook from a parent over teaching pupils about homosexuality.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head of Anderton Park School in Sparkhill, was sent a message saying: “Any headteacher who teaches my children it’s alright to be gay will be at the end of my shotgun.”

Chief Superintendent Richard Moore, of West Midlands Police, said: “We have been supporting the school in relation to Facebook messages that concern the use of anti-homophobic teaching resources at the school.

“We will continue to support the school and any others in the local area where criminal offences are identified.

“We are also aware that the Department for Education, the local authority and Ofsted are taking an on-going interest and supporting local schools on all of the related issues.” [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Free speech and human rights in decline in Turkey, survey reveals

.... The rate of Turkish citizens who believe that “people cannot express their opinions freely and without any fear in Turkey” increased from 44 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2015, according to the survey conducted by academics Ali Çarkoglu and S. Erdem Aytaç with the support of the Open Society Institute, Koç University, and the Ohio State University School of Communication.

There is a sharp difference between respondents who plan to vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and those who plan to vote for opposition parties with respect to the perception of freedom of speech, according to the survey, titled “Public Opinion Dynamics ahead of June 2015 elections.”

Among AKP voters, only 28 percent said “people cannot express their opinions freely and without any fear in Turkey,” while this rate is 75 percent among those who will vote for one of the opposition parties, the survey revealed. [Hürriyet Daily News] Read more

07 May 2015

Islamic schools in midst of leadership crisis with principals sacked, accusations of mismanagement of taxpayer funds

Australia's leading Islamic schools are in the midst of a leadership crisis, with school principal sackings, accusations of mismanagement of taxpayer funds, slipping standards and concerns they are becoming more hardline.

Parents have protested about what they say is poor management by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), the group that runs the schools.

The schools receive up to $40 million a year in federal and state government annual and building funding.

A key concern is the sacking at many campuses of principals who have been replaced in some cases by appointees parents feel have insufficient teaching qualifications or experience.

.... The new principal of the Islamic College of South Australia said the school's major focus was going to be the improvement of the Islamic curriculum.

Students report that at the high school, where boys and girls have long been loosely segregated, there are now bans on boys and girls sharing corridors and members of the opposite sex who speak to each other are sternly chastised.

There have been parent and student protests, with a student who was involved in a protest about the sacking of a much-loved teacher expelled by text message. [ABC] Read more

Extremists order east London Muslims to boycott election vote in Tower Hamlets

Voting in the General Election was embroiled in controversy with some Muslims told not to vote while others were allegedly ordered by spiritual leaders to back Labour.

Muslims in east London were warned not to vote in what has been branded an “intimidating” and “covert” campaign.

Flyers claiming that “Islam is the only real working solution for the UK” were stuck to the wind shields of residents’ cars in Tower Hamlets, a borough that has previously been riddled with election fraud.

The leaflets also warned that voting for “man-made law” was a sin, akin to idol worship, and that “democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah”. [The Telegraph] Read more

06 May 2015

If Labour wins, Islamophobia will become a crime and truth stifled

.... We have pathologised our culture in a way that makes it difficult to tell the truth. But we need to make a distinction between facts and opinions. It is right to afraid of some things; it may be neurotic to be afraid of others. But if Miliband does make the expression of Islamophobia a crime, it will be a criminal offence to tell the truth.

There are, of course, many kind, dignified and wholly attractive Muslims. It would be a terrible mistake not to be able to distinguish between gentle, amenable Muslims and Islam itself.

The West has tried to do this by adopting two words in particular– ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’– to qualify Islam. The problem with this approach is that it mistakes the basic tenet of Islam, which is the requirement in the Koran and the Sira for all Muslims to imitate as closely as possible the life of Mohammed. What concept are the adjectives ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ supposed to be qualifying? [Archbishop Cranmer] Read more

Raif Badawi: The West is not doing enough to support a hero of liberalism

.... The last time Saudi citizens were shown such largesse coincided with the 2011 Arab uprisings, and its effect this time seems likely to be much the same as ever: a lull in the airing of grievances about rights and political freedoms.

One subject, however, has little reason to thank the King. It is now a year since Raif Badawi, a blogger, was first incarcerated. The public floggings – handed down as part of a 10-year sentence for insulting Islam – have stopped, at least for now, but hopes that Mr Badawi would be released by a new ruler courting international opinion have proven over-optimistic.

The clerical establishment that holds such sway would not look kindly on any show of lenience to a man whose crime was to write – often beautifully, sometimes scathingly – on the benefits of a secular outlook and the separation of Church and State. [The Independent] Read more

Promiscuous women cause earthquakes, claims Iranian cleric

In about the most extreme example of slut shaming yet, a prayer leader in Tehran has blamed earthquakes on women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity.

"When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase," Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi said during prayers on Friday, a video of which was later posted on YouTube.

"There is no way other than taking refuge in religion and adapting ourselves to Islamic behavior," he added.

Sadeghi is a senior cleric who was last year appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as a substitute prayer leader in Tehran, a powerful position with Khamenei himself being the official prayer leader.

Iran has suffered greatly from earthquakes, with one in the city of Bam killing tens of thousands in 2003. [The Independent] Read more

Monash hospital agrees to female-only doctor requests after complaint

One of Victoria's largest hospitals will change its policy on female-only care after a Muslim patient wearing a full-length niqab complained of discrimination during an antenatal visit at one of its clinics.

For Ziarata Zia, the niqab she wears – which reveals only her eyes, hands and feet – is central to her Muslim faith.

Ms Zia, who moved from Afghanistan to Melbourne in 2010, believes it is a sin to be seen without it or be touched by a man other than her husband or immediate family, except in an emergency.

Two years ago, a significant conflict arose during Ms Zia's antenatal consultation at a Monash clinic because she requested a female doctor. Afterwards she lodged a discrimination complaint at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. [The Age] Read more

Fury at Labour's segregated rally: Sexism row after senior party figures attend Birmingham election meeting where Muslim men and women are seated separately

Labour faces a sexism row today after it defended the decision to segregate Muslim men and women at a party rally at an Islamic centre.

Senior party figures, including Liam Byrne, Tom Watson and Harriet Harman's husband Jack Dromey, spoke at the event in Birmingham on Saturday even though men sat on one side of the room and women on the other.

Labour has denied that people were forced to sit separately based on gender - even though photographs from the event show that the groups were clearly segregated.

Critics called the decision 'sickening' and claimed that the party was 'selling values for votes' in order to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street. [Daily Mail] Read more

05 May 2015

Trojan Horse radicals STILL free to preach from the sidelines: Islamic hardliners are 'active' despite crackdown

School governors behind the Trojan Horse scandal are still agitating in the community despite a supposed crackdown, it was claimed last night.

Politicians warned that no action has been taken against key figures in the alleged attempts by hardliners to take over Birmingham schools.

They said that – although some had resigned or been removed from governing bodies – many former governors were still allowed to work with families and ‘preach nonsense’.

This week a number of Birmingham head teachers said they have been subjected to an ‘ongoing’ intimidation campaign. One head teacher received death threats while two others had dead animals strung up on school gates.

Khalid Mahmood, Birmingham Perry Barr MP, said: ‘The governors involved in Trojan Horse are still around and still active. [Daily Mail] Read more

04 May 2015

Senior Labour politicians Liam Byrne and Tom Watson 'attend segregated Muslim rally'

Senior Labour politicians attended a rally where Asian men and women were apparently separated along gender lines.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the event, which was attended by Liam Byrne and Tom Watson, was rejecting “a century and more of advancement for women’s rights”.

It emerged today that Parliamentary candidates Tom Watson, Liam Byrne, Khalid Mahmood and Jack Dromey, along with MEP Sion Simon, attended the political rally in Birmingham.

Pictures posted on Sion Simon's Twitter feed showed Muslim women sitting in a small cluster on one side of what looked like an Islamic community centre with the men seated opposite. [The Telegraph] Read more

03 May 2015

The Erosion of Free Speech

.... Incidents such as these or UK Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband's promise to make Islamophobia a hate crime (without even defining Islamophobia) illustrate the most dangerous result of Islamic agitation and asserted victimhood: it has caused us to turn on ourselves, to abandon our commitment to free speech, open academic enquiry, and the readiness to question everything -- the very qualities that have made us strong in the past.

When Western so-called intellectuals such as Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash condemn a Muslim apostate such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her criticisms of radical Islamism, or when Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree for Ms. Ali when Muslim students object, we see our intellectual foundations shake.

It is also necessary to ask, if Geert Wilders and others are being accused of hate speech, then why isn't the Koran -- with its calls for smiting necks and killing infidels -- also being accused of hate speech?

If we do not reverse this trend of submission, censorship, blasphemy laws and all the other encumbrances of totalitarianism will return to our lives. The bullies will win, and the Enlightenment will fade and pass away from mankind. Political correctness and shari'a law will rule. How tragic if a senseless fear causes us to do this to ourselves. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Sharia-compliant savings and bank accounts rocket in popularity across Britain

Britain has long been an important Western centre for Islamic finance, and specialist providers have been offering Sharia-compliant financial products here for around 30 years. But now this niche section of banking has seen an upsurge in popularity – and not just among Muslims. So how does it work and could it be the right choice for even more UK customers

Islamic financial products conform to the ethics laid out by Muslim teachings. It’s possible to find Islamic savings accounts, investments, mortgages and insurance policies, and last year the Government even committed to developing a Sharia-compliant student loan.It sounds as if such products would be fairly niche, yet more savers than ever are turning to Islamic accounts. [The Independent] Read more

Headteachers 'receiving threats' when teaching values against homophobia

Schools in Birmingham are dealing with a renewed campaign of intimidation following the Trojan Horse scandal, including death threats and dismembered dead dogs and cats hanging from their railings, a headteacher claimed.

The threats - some posted on social media sites - have emerged in areas where the Muslim population is high and in response to heads teaching about gay relationships in their schools.

These incidents illustrate how issues around Trojan Horse have not gone away as headteachers raised concerns that no school governor implicated in the affair that saw hardline Muslims infiltrate schools in Birmingham last year has been investigated or banned.

Addressing an annual NAHT Union conference in Liverpool, heads claimed there has been. Fresh campaign of intimidation against them and called for a database of individuals who are taken out governing bodies. [The Telegraph] Read more

Malaysia: Islamic leader warns comedians not to make people laugh

An Islamic mufti has warned Malaysian comedians against telling jokes that cause excessive laughter. According to the mufti, Islam urges emotional moderation and to refrain from excessive laughter, crying, or other emotional expressions.

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria claims excessive laughter is “haram” or forbidden according to Islamic law. A mufti is an Islamic scholar trained to interpret and expound Islamic law.

According to Zakaria, Muslims are allowed to laugh, but not in excess. In other words, a chuckle is okay, but a prolonged, out-loud laugh could be considered haram.

Zakaria's statements come after the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) issued guidelines stating that jokes told by comedians should be moderate and not cause excessive laughter. Zakaria supports Jakim and believes the guidelines are in line with Islamic law. [Digital Journal] Read more

30 April 2015

Britain's Labour Party Vows to Ban Islamophobia

The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has vowed, if he becomes the next prime minister in general elections on May 7, to outlaw "Islamophobia."

The move — which one observer has called "utterly frightening" because of its implications for free speech in Britain — is part of an effort by Miliband to pander to Muslim voters in a race that he has described as "the tightest general election for a generation."

With the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour running neck and neck in the polls just days before voters cast their ballots, British Muslims — who voted overwhelmingly for Labour in the 2010 general election — could indeed determine who will be the next prime minister. [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Fear of religious coercion as Muslims are told holy man endorses Labour

Concern that voters are at risk of religious intimidation is growing after Muslims were urged to back a candidate blessed by the Prophet Muhammad’s living descendant.

Anonymous text messages are being sent in the marginal constituency of Pendle, Lancashire, which Labour sees as essential in its quest for an absolute Commons majority.

The religious scholar Sheikh Bahauddin, believed by millions of Sufi adherents to be a direct relative of God’s last prophet, has told The Times that he has no political affiliation. He said the claim that he and his brother, another revered holy man, endorsed the Labour candidate was untrue. [The Times (£)] Read more

29 April 2015

It’s still right to honour Charlie Hebdo

If you thought that the debate following the Charlie Hebdo killings had exhausted the media and literary world’s reserves of feverish self-examination, brace yourself for another round.

Since the American wing of PEN, the international writers’ association, decided to honour Charlie Hebdo with a Freedom of Expression Courage award, six high-profile writers – including Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje and Francine Prose – have decided not to attend next month’s PEN gala in New York in protest. The organisation, they said, had “stepped outside of its traditional role” in honouring a magazine they believe is guilty of “cultural intolerance”. [618 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 132 votes] So these courageous SORRY "allegedly" courageous satirists "might be worthy of recognition".

Do you even realise how weasely and sneering your words sound?

Of course Charlie Hebdo deserves this award and Islam should grow a pair and not get all murderous when it is quite rightfully lampooned.

[2ND 90] ".... but 12 people died when it was attacked on 7 January for depicting the prophet." - The Prophet? Not to me he isn't, and the majority of the Guardian's readership I imagine. So please call him/her/it Muhammed.

[3RD 85] .... time for some wise words from Salman Rushdie;

"At Cambridge University I was taught a laudable method of argument: you never personalise, but you have absolutely no respect for people’s opinions. You are never rude to the person, but you can be savagely rude about what the person thinks.

That seems to me a crucial distinction: people must be protected from discrimination by virtue of their race, but you cannot ring-fence their ideas. The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible."

[4TH 81] "Yes, Charlie Hebdo has published offensive cartoons"

Increasingly I find these types of articles offensive. You're saying the cartoons were abhorrent, really? How about atrocity after atrocity after atrocity being committed by Islamists. That is truly abhorrent.

[5TH 69] Why is it so hard for anyone in the Guardian to write an article about Charlie Hebdo without including a big, fat, "but..."?

[6TH 63] "Alleged courage" eh? When you next publish satire with death threats from known, armed radicals over your head, come back and talk. Charlie Hebdo were/ are equal opportunity satirists. They targeted all religions. They also targeted right-wing economics. Only one group responded with violence. And of course people continue to confuse derision directed at religion (such derision being an entirely legitimate aspect of democratic society) with racism. [Guardian Cif] Read more

The price that Ed Miliband is prepared to pay to win the Muslim vote

.... Ed Miliband, who told Muslim News last week that a future Labour government would outlaw Islamophobia, making it an aggravated crime.

“We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records, with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” said Miliband. “We are going to change the law so we make it absolutely clear of [sic] our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country.”

This is deeply disturbing. Do you reckon the Labour leader has read any of the recent reports into child-sex grooming gangs? You know, the ones that concluded that the main reason local authorities, police and social services did nothing to protect thousands of young girls from abuse at the hands of mainly Pakistani men was because they were afraid of appearing racist? [The Telegraph] Read more

Student 'in hiding' after father threatens to kill her because of 'Westernised behaviour'

A frightened student is at a “confidential address” after her father threatened to kill her because of her “Westernised behaviour”, a family court judge has been told.

The woman’s father had told her she needed to “die in a religious state” and “I am going to kill you”, Mr Justice Hayden heard. She called police and left the family home with the help of officers when her parents were out, her lawyer said. Details of the case emerged yesterday at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Barrister Katy Chokowry said the woman’s parents did not like her wearing leggings because they were “Western clothing”. She said the woman, in her twenties, who worked part-time at a McDonald’s to help her finance her studies, was “in fear for her safety”. [The Independent] Read more

The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders

The prissy self-absorption of the six PEN boycotters is well represented by Francine Prose in the Guardian:

"When I learned that PEN had decided to award the Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo, I was dismayed. I had agreed to serve as a literary table host and I wondered what I would do when the crowd around me rose to its feet to applaud an award being given – in my name – to what I felt was an inappropriate recipient."

Count the Is in that opening paragraph. This is all about defining oneself as a person of impeccable liberal opinions. [Mick Hartley] Read more