28 September 2015

The ex-Muslim Britons who are persecuted for being atheists

.... among some of Britain's urban Muslims - nearly half of whom were born in the UK and are under 24 - there's a belief that leaving Islam is a sin and can even be punished by death.

An investigation for the BBC has found evidence of young people suffering threats, intimidation, being ostracised by their communities and, in some cases, encountering serious physical abuse when they told their families they were no longer Muslims.

There are also local councils that seem to have little awareness of the issue or any policy on how to protect these vulnerable young people.

There are no official statistics on apostasy in British Islam, and only a few academic studies based on a tiny handful of individual cases.

.... Ayisha (not her real name) from Lancashire was just 14 when she began to question Islam after reading the Koran. She started rebelling over wearing the hijab, but eventually decided she wasn't a Muslim and the situation at home rapidly got worse.

"My dad threatened to kill me by getting a knife and holding it against my neck and saying: 'We might as well do it if you're going to bring this much shame to the family.'" [BBC] Read more

27 September 2015

The cost of diversity and community cohesion

Labour’s Jon Cruddas wants to re-engage with voters who feel disenfranchised by multiculturalism – but how?

.... Writing in the Times last week, the Tory peer Daniel Finklestein also touched on this area. “I think most of us agree that people shouldn’t have to believe the same things, worship the same god or dress like each other,” he said. “Isn’t the great British principle that if someone wants to keep themselves to themselves, they are welcome to do so?” But there are limits, he said. “I think we do want everyone to be willing to accept the same basic laws, a common attachment to western democracy and a shared responsibility for the nation’s security.”

I won’t take issue with any of that. But the devil is in the detail. Yes, it is about laws, democracy and mutual security. But just as crucial is what happens day to day: do we have common experiences? Do we work in the same places? Do we learn in the same places? Do we watch the same television, giving us shared things to talk about? Do we speak the same language in the public sphere? [Hugh Muir, 311 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 126 votes] Lets face it when we talk about multiculturalism we are not taking about curry we are talking about religion. Fundamentalist religious practice across the spectrum is incompatible with Liberal society, multiculturalism is a failed experiment we need to focus on all taking liberal secular values as the norm. That will solve all the issues we have with different communities failing to integrate, no amount of money will solve that, because they don't want to.

[2ND 109] A lot of people don't like change. A few immigrants In the 1950s and 60s were curiosities. More caused consternation and conflict. A trickle turned into a stream - of refugees from different cultures, migrants from ex-colonies, Eastern Europeans, people massing in particular cities, erecting mosques, dressing differently, having larger families.

Plus illegal immigrants and people cheating their way in, and now virtually forcing their way in. The cultural Marxists slyly shamed those who expressed reservations. To object was to be called racist, fascist, not too far from a sympathiser with Hitler.

This is changing. Older immigrants are wary of newcomers. Some liberals acknowledge that things have gone too far. Open borders don't work. Cohesion has indeed crumbled. Something has to change. How do pro-multiculturalist back down without losing face? How can Corbyn get anywhere without addressing the problem?

[3RD 92 ] It's typical that you missed out the important bit that Finkelstein mentioned in his Times article, delicately, tactfully, but you seem to have lacked the balls to do so. Islam...

[4TH 82] Wonderful to see a thoughtful article respectful of people's concerns. The only thing I take issue with is the idea that it's socially conservative people are concerned about multicultural practises and the impact continued acceptance of large numers.of refugees /migrants. Many who support socially liberal policies are extremely concerned about the acceptace of extremely regressive practises in certain communites all in the name of multiculturalism.

[5TH 81] Wow. Could this be the start of a sensible conversation on this topic without the usual suspects crying 'racism'?

The fact that Hugh Muir, of all people, has written this without hyperbole and hasn't taken the stance I expected him to is potentially promising.

[6TH 79] “I think most of us agree that people shouldn’t have to believe the same things, worship the same god or dress like each other,”

20% of one group in this country disagree with that.

[7TH 72] Have I really read this in the guardian. It is a pity that the guardian did not realise that people who were worried about multi culturalism 10 years ago, did not do so because they were ravening hate filled racists...

No they were people who cared about society. But alas the guardian was so arrogant that it believed that anyone who did not follow the multicultural agenda was somehow a moral basket case who should be ridiculed and humiliated at every turn. It's not too late to apologise now though

[8TH 72] The balkanisation of the education system doesn't help with social cohesion.

[9TH 66] Cohesion is a fantassy in my hometown. Its a mess and getting worse.

My kids school and wider community is segragated on religious lines as the guardian well knows as you reported on such issues over ten years ago, so stop the claptrap.

[10TH 63] You just moved the goalposts. Multiculturalism was supposed to be about us all mixing together, but when for too many that obviously didn't work then it became about some sort of voluntary apartheid.

Then it became about glossing over the obvious that many didn't really want to be British in any real sense, but just wanted to live as they did in an enclave with their culture and traditions from the old country, no matter how much they clashed with British culture.

Pick your start point, and I will choose Ray Honeyford from the mid 1980's when the rot set in. Nobody has had the balls to tells a certain section of out society where to get off, and they have been taking the piss ever since.

Multiculturalism in many respects has been a failure both in economic and societal spheres. All that is left is for the likes of Muir to keep trying to push the failure as a success in some sort of damage limitation exercise. [The Guardian] Read more

The readers’ editor on… Islam and the media

.... Some of that mocking, misreporting and unhelpful shorthand is starkly evident in our media every day, and confirmed by Professor Tony McEnery and Professor Paul Baker of Lancaster University. They have analysed some 220m words of coverage on Muslim matters published in the British press from 1998. Their latest research, commissioned by Muslim Engagement and Development and due to be published next month, spans the period 2010 to 2014, and while it reports some improvement in press discourse it indicates that many obvious faults remain.

.... “We were a nascent community, only just getting our voice heard,” he said, identifying the burning of the Satanic Verses in the streets of Bradford as a pivotal media moment. “That act alone provided the iconic photograph that would join a gallery of negative imagery of Muslims, providing the optics to demonise the community that carry on until this day.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] A COMMENT SAID: "Most of the folks who discuss Islam negatively (by most I mean 98%) learn all they know from anti-Islamic web sites."

How do you know this? Anything which says something negative is hate speech? That sounds like sharia's concept of slander.

Besides. Who cares about their theology? I only care how they behave.

[2ND] Is there a similar project on the coverage of Sikhs and Hindus in this country? If not, why not?

The answers are, of course, NO and NOT NECESSARY, as the personal piety and religious life of the many Hindus and Sikhs in this country does cause any alarm or worries to the population as a whole (nor interfere with them being highly effective compatriots).

Is it logically impossible that some things that SOME Muslims do explicitly citing Muslim sacred texts as authority could be a matter of deep concern to fellow citizens?

If you are of the Guardianista persuasion, the answer is YES. It clashes with Guardianista ideology and thus any further discussion of the issue is pathological and those who wish to persist in discussing it vicious bigots.

[3RD] That act alone provided the iconic photograph that would join a gallery of negative imagery of Muslims, providing the optics to demonise the community that carry on until this day.

Yes, it is astonishing that when a community acts in a negative manner factually reporting it casts a negative light on them.

[4TH] Trust me, I would dearly love not to be reading about Muslims every time I open a newspaper. [The Guardian] Read more

Ex-Muslim speaker's Warwick University ban overturned following public pressure

A decision to ban a speaker from Warwick University, citing fears she may offend Muslim students, has been reversed.

The Telegraph revealed on Friday that ex-Muslim and human rights activist Maryam Namazie had been blocked from speaking at an event organised by Warwick Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (WASH).

he Iranian-born secularist is well known for her talks which highlight aspects of Islam she does not agree with.

The students' union indicating the decision had been made was made “in deference to the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their University campus.”

But, after 48 hours of intense public pressure, the union has backed down.

A petition had been set up calling for the decision to be overturned and high-profile academics such as Prof Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre and Salman Rushdie had hit out at the initial ruling. [Coventry Telegraph] Read more

26 September 2015

'Free speech is dead!': Reaction after Warwick University Students’ Union bans speaker over Islam offence fears

Telegraph readers have hit out after an ex-Muslim campaigner was banned from speaking at Warwick University when the students’ union said it was concerned she could incite hatred or offend Islam.

Coventry residents took to social media to give their views after Maryam Namazie, a human rights campaigner and member of the Council of Ex-Muslims, was invited to Warwick University’s Students’ Union by Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society to give a talk on October 28.

Namazie's invitation was later blocked by the university’s students’ union, and said: “This is because after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus.

“There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy.” [Coventry Telegraph] Read more

25 September 2015

Speaker banned from Warwick University over fears of offending Islam

An ex-Muslim campaigner has hit out after she was banned from speaking at Warwick University when the students’ union said it was concerned she could incite hatred or offend Islam.

Human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie, a member of the Council of Ex-Muslims, is well known for giving talks which challenge aspects of the religion she does not agree with.

The Iranian-born secularist was invited to Warwick University’s Students’ Union by Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society to give a talk on October 28.

But the university’s students’ union later blocked the invitation and, in a response shared by Ms Namazie, said: “This is because after researching both her and her organisation, a number of flags have been raised. We have a duty of care to conduct a risk assessment for each speaker who wishes to come to campus.

“There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy.”

The response goes on to detail other aspects of the policy including the guidance that speakers “must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups”. [Coventry Telegraph] Read more

24 September 2015

The Guardian view on Muslims in the west: marginalised by mistrust

David Cameron has talked about ditching “the passive tolerance of recent years”, and moving towards a “much more active, muscular liberalism”, which makes for good headlines, but could also trigger the systematic suspicion that’s so unhelpful.

The mooted definition of extremism is opposition to “fundamental British values”, which only patriotically fundamentalist historians would pretend this country has always measured up to. “Mutual respect and tolerance”, for example, is listed as one such value, and reactionary attitudes towards homosexuality are increasingly held to be a warning sign in schools.

.... The need is for a different language that talks to diverse society – a language that can condemn the vicious nihilism of Isis without lapsing into the sort of nationalism that could sound like chauvinism in disaffected Muslim communities; a language that allows the state to balance the objective of a happily integrated society with its duty to defend itself. That language exists: it is the language of international human rights. It is high time the government began speaking it, instead of seeking to undermine it. [770 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 355 votes] So nationalism is bad, but Muslims all showing pride and togetherness in their religious grouping is fine and dandy?

[2ND 350] I wonder how this mistrust came about?

[3RD 309] And gangs of men in Oxford, Bradford and other UK cities setting up sex rings for the purpose of abusing young, white girls only we're not supposed to notice their race or religion.

[4TH 299] Simplistic analysis that completely fails to concede how fundamentally many Muslim communities have sought to distance themselves from British values. I'm talking about tolerance of other faiths, female equality, homophobia etc things I hold sacred as secular lines in the sand in a free liberal democracy.

The guardian has fallen into the same lame liberal narrative that frees Muslims of any responsibility for their own position in society. The police are blamed by the families of silly little teenage Isis bride wannabes for failing to stop them. Schools are blamed for being too intrusive or too unobservant. It's time to stop blaming anybody else but......

[5TH 290] So how does the language of International Human Rights relate to Islam, somehow you forgot to explain.

Jihadi threat has been around for 1500 years so hardly reasonable to expect it to suddenly go away.

Multicultural society and Islam is a very odd concept, care to mention just one Muslim country that practices it? Just one.

[6TH 286] "That language exists: it is the language of international human rights."

Human rights? Oh bloody nora. Only in Islam, in the Koran and the hadith, do you see detailed, written rules cementing women's position of inferiority. Acts of misogynistic violence are codified and ritualized by these texts; from the number of wives a man may have (four), to the number of male witnesses required for a woman to bear witness against a man (four), to the specification of the exact number of public lashes to be given to a prostitute (100), to the punishment for adultery (death), to the explicit permission given to men for domestic violence. Honour killings, for instance, are simply a vigilante expression of violence that would, in an orthodox Islamic context, be carried out by legitimized state and social means.

Islam is the prescription for the complete ordering of civil society according to the social mores of an ancient desert culture, but presented as the eternal and unchanging Word of God. So do tell us, because we're all very interested, precisely what it is about Islam that merits such special protection by The Guardian?

[7TH 275] It really is simple. Apply the law equally to all.

That means no cruelty during animal slaughter; no special courts; no special rights to have one's face concealed in airports, banks etc.

Everyone equal under one set of laws. Surely even the Guardian has enough principles left to agree with that?

[8TH 266] Lets not pretend that the failure of certain communities to integrate with the wider society is anything to do with government anti terrorism laws . The failure of some communities to integrate predates all this by decades.

[9TH 261] Sorry, I don't trust them. Show me one place in the world they make good neighbours. No? Thought not.

[10TH 245] Muslims do not wish for a multicultural society and they don't believe in many values that the Western cultures take as fundamental (sorry about the pun).

That statement may or may not be true: but it is widely believed.

More articles about Muslim lives and attitudes would be more welcome than endless opinion pieces with lots of advice and very little data. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Poll ordered by Harper found strong support for niqab ban at citizenship ceremonies

A public-opinion poll ordered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year found overwhelming support among Canadians for the requirement that women remove their niqabs or burkas at citizenship ceremonies.

The March telephone survey by Léger Marketing found 82 per cent of Canadians favoured the policy somewhat or strongly, with just 15 per cent opposed. Support was widespread, but especially strong in Quebec, where 93 per cent were in favour of the requirement.

The government has tried to impose a ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies, but the Federal Court ruled earlier this month that such a ban is unlawful. The Conservatives have said they will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Léger survey results, delivered March 31 to the Privy Council Office, were posted Thursday, the day of the first French-language leaders' debate, on a government website under a policy that requires publication of taxpayer-paid polls within six months. [CBC News] Read more

School refuses to give Muslim pupils day off on religious holiday of Eid al-Adha

A school has refused to let its Muslim pupils take today off to celebrate Eid al-Adha, saying they should mark the religious holiday tomorrow instead.

Acklam’s Outwood Academy, in Middlesbrough, has said its Muslim pupils will not be granted an authorised absence, but can celebrate tomorrow when the school will be closed to all pupils as part of a professional development day for its teachers, the Teeside Gazette reports.

One outraged mother said she immediately contacted the school after receiving a letter explaining its stance on Monday, but said staff did not change their minds.

The mother of the schoolgirl, neither of whom wished to be named, told the newspaper: “Friday doesn’t mean anything. Eid is on Thursday. [The Independent] Read more

23 September 2015

It’s time the media treated Muslims fairly

.... The real-world consequences of the spread of one of the last acceptable forms of bigotry affects the very cohesiveness of our society. According to the largest survey of its kind in the UK, over a quarter of children aged between 10 and 16 believe Islam encourages terrorism, and almost a third believe Muslims are taking over the country. In addition, 37% of British people who were surveyed admitted they would support policies to reduce the number of Muslims in the country. Is it any wonder that more and more Muslims feel alienated?

.... The final piece in the jigsaw is regulation. Clause 12 of the Editors’ Code of Practice says: “Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion … must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.” The problem is that this protection only extends to individuals and not to groups, which is why Katie Hopkins was able to get away with her infamous comments comparing refugees to “cockroaches”.

The arguments about censorship and free speech are complex – but Jonathan Heawood of the Impress Project, an independent monitor of the press, believes the Editors’ Code should incorporate Lord Leveson’s suggestion that this clause is broadened to include groups. This would allow representative groups to hold the media to account for using “Islam” or “Muslims” where it was not “genuinely relevant” to the story.

We are equal members of society and demand fairness, not favours. Avoiding daily smears, group libel and the violent consequences is not too much to ask of the nation’s editors. [2294 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 426 votes] Maybe a little integration might help the Muslim population, just a thought.

[2ND 420] The day Muslims recognise women as having the same rights as men - equal before the law is the day I will treat them as anything other than very observant participants of mass delusion and fantasy

[3RD 371] The followers of Islam are writing their own headlines! Forty years ago Muslims use to rub along with the people of other faiths. They lived side by side as neighbors, now they cant seem to live in harmony with anyone out of their own tribe or family. Stop blaming the messenger for writing the headlines you created!

[4TH 338] Muslims and Islam do not demand fairness; they insist on submission. The aim of promoters of Islamic values is the subjugation of Christian and other mores. The establishment of a caliphate and of Sharia law here in the UK and in other European countries is a clearly stated long term aim of its activists.

Religiosity has long been looked on with a fishy eye in the West; its track record of causing division and misery based on trivialism is well documented and the democracies have long largely compelled those that would advance the cause of religion to do so on their own time and to their own adherents.

French and US school system secularism are good examples of this. Here in the UK you can have faith schools just so long as they don't exclude or select on the basis of faith and teach the national curriculum.

It is important that the press and other opinion conduits be allowed to "tell it like it is"; Islam represents a clear danger to our Western way of life, to the values that we have fought so very hard to share.

We should not listen to the weasel words of the apologists; there is nothing in Islamic teaching of even the remotest value or relevance to life today in the 21st century and we should oppose its spread with as much energy and determination as we can muster.

We must not permit the promotion of Islam because it is just another set of crackpot beliefs. It isn't. It's an all or nothing social and political system that cannot co-exist with any other.

If we allow our awful politicians to add opposition to Islam to the increasingly long list of thoughts that are "crimes" we will live to regret it.

[5TH 304] According to the largest survey of its kind in the UK, over a quarter of children aged between 10 and 16 believe Islam encourages terrorism,

Which means that about 75% don't believe it.

Which isn't bad considering during a very recent high profile act of terrorism - Charlie Hebdo attack - the attackers/terrorists loudly proclaimed it was because of Islam supposedly being insulted. Plus, many other terrorists attacks like 9/11 and 7/7 are due to terrorists who loudly proclaim themselves to be Muslim.

Perhaps instead of lecturing news editors you should be lecturing terrorists to not assign their acts to Islam?

[6TH 303] It would also help their cause if they came out strongly against the terrorists. With the horror in the Middle east we barely hear a wimper from Australian Muslims.

[7TH 268] 1. Why did The Guardian, the BBC, and other mainstream publications for years fail to report on the amazingly widespread phenomenon of predominantly Asian men grooming white girls? Because of an anti-Muslim bias?

2. When the most horrific regime in modern history-the Islamic State-is not only butchering people with mind-boggling depravity, but has recruited more British Muslims than are enrolled in the British army, how is it possible that even our Islamo-fearing media could fail to use the word 'Islamic' in a negative context.

3. I notice that your study doesn't say anything about whether the stories are true.

4. Why on earth would the media go out of their way to write stories that use 'Islam' in a positive sense? Should they be writing 'Islamic distance runner Mo Farah wins again,' or 'Muslim man rescues cat from a tree.'

I haven't seen many articles that say, comparably, 'Christian men rescue stranger from drowning.' We have already seen this year an amazing rash of BBC stories and programs that beat us about the face with Islamic themes and try to get us excited about Islamic holidays, while doing nothing comparable for, say, Lent or any Hindu holidays.

5. The Guardian's own Steve Bell is on record saying that Islam is about the only subject he doesn't feel comfortable lampooning. That is the exceptional treatment you should be worried about.

6. I don't know anybody who doesn't know that 'jihad' is used to mean 'personal struggle' as well as 'war on the infidel.' Muslims tell us this ad nauseam, while simultaneously trying to eliminate 'crusade' (meaning good cause) from the vocabulary because of its associations.

I could go on..

[8TH 252] ".... the regular association of Islam and Muslims with crime and terror in the media and on the internet is vital to the spread of Islamophobic rhetoric."

Is the association truly without basis?

[9TH 233] I agree with your comment, Islam is not just a religion, its a social, religious political belief that most in do not understand, and the West ignore it at our own peril, because this incompatible faith is hell bent on colonizing Europe!

[10TH 228] This is essentially the same article that has been appearing on this site for years. It pushes the narrative of victimhood. It does not address the suffering caused worldwide by zealots in the name of Islam - including the suffering of their fellow-Muslims.

Some Muslims are wreaking havoc worldwide. Should the press ignore this? Look the other way? [Guardian Cif] Read more

Militant group publishes global hitlist of bloggers, activists and writers

An Islamic militant group in Bangladesh has issued a hitlist of secular bloggers, writers and activists around the world, saying they will be killed if its demands are not met.

The list will raise fears that Islamic militant violence within the unstable south Asian country could take on an international dimension.

The targets in the list include nine bloggers based in the UK, seven in Germany, two in the US, one in Canada and one in Sweden. Some are Bangladeshi citizens living overseas. Others are dual nationals or citizens of the western nations. [1605 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 376votes] Another great article about the benefits of religion and the way it enriches peoples lives.

[2ND 219] A COMMENT SAID "Don't tar all Muslims with the same brush. For every Islamic extremist there are thousands of decent Muslims. Should we blame all of Christiandom for the crimes of the IRA and UDF?"

It's NOT the people it's the ideology that worries people. Even the moderates' views on matters such as homosexuality, apostasy, criticism of "prophets", women's rights etc are not compatible with western democracy.

[3RD 218] What is really baffling is that despite ample evidence that religion is causing unimaginable heartache and misery to millions of people, supposedly enlightened papers like this one continue to offer them its unconditional support. Utterly mystifying! [The Guardian] Read more

'We're going to be the majority soon!' Furious Muslim parents taunt New Jersey school board over religious holiday closure

Tempers flared at a school board meeting in New Jersey when a room crowded with Muslim parents learned that schools will remain open during Thursday's religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Several of the Muslim parents and children screamed in rage and openly wept when the board announced its decision.

At one point, a young woman in a purple head scarf took the microphone and told them: 'We're no longer the minority, that's clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon.

A Jewish parent who attended the meeting said some people in his community felt they were being discriminated against because the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were not on Jersey City's official school closure list.

Meanwhile just across the Hudson River in New York City, schools will be closed for Eid Al-Adha for the first time as a result of a change put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March.

The Jersey City Board of Education had originally proposed to close local schools on September 24 to allow Muslim children to observe the holiday.

The City Council unanimously voted in favor of the closure two weeks ago.

However, during the contentious four-hour meeting held last Thursday, the board voted to keep Jersey City schools open so as not to cause disruptions for non-Muslim families, reported NBC New York. [Daily Mail] Read more

Meet three people targeted for being 'atheists', and a Muslim leader condemning their beliefs

Bonya Ahmed is herself a writer and was also married to perhaps the most famous atheist killed this year, Avijit Roy - the moderator of a popular online blog called "Free Thinking," which defended secular and humanist ideas.

She and her husband were attacked together in February. Bonya lost fingers and was scarred, but lived. Her husband was hacked to death with machetes in a manner that followed the same gruesome pattern of later killings. They had returned home from the US, where they lived, to the Dhaka Book Fair.

The back story to Bangladesh's blogger murders is complex, but here are the facts in brief: in recent years, a group of people who deny the existence of God, some using rational arguments and others using dark and satirical humour, has grown up on the Bangladeshi internet. Other internet bloggers are not atheists, but instead better described as secular campaigners: they use the internet to strongly argue that religion should be kept out of politics. [BBC] Read more

22 September 2015

There was nothing illiberal about Ben Carson’s ‘Muslim president’ comment

.... His answer was clumsy, but not essentially wrong. The US Constitution does indeed prescribe freedom of religion, and the lack of religious tests for office. But its motivation for doing so must be understood. It was concerned to establish a post-theocratic form of politics. The republic is defined in opposition to the idea that religious unity is necessary for national cohesion. That idea is the enemy.

The legitimate question is this: could a Muslim really uphold that anti-theocratic ideal? For that religion has, so far in its history, failed to reject the theocratic impulse. This is the ‘problem’ with Islam: not that it is violent (the vast majority of Muslims are no more violent than anyone else), but that it seemingly remains wedded to an essentially theocratic ideal. It is not illiberal to point this out. In real life, liberalism entails an honest appraisal of those forces that might kill it. [The Spectator] Read more

France FN leader Le Pen to stand trial over Muslim prayer row

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front, has been ordered to stand trial in October on charges of inciting racial hatred.

The charges relate to her comments made in 2010 comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.

The European Parliament paved the way for her prosecution in 2013 by removing her immunity as an MEP.

Ms Le Pen has defended her remarks and called the charges "intimidation".

She will appear in court in Lyon on 20 October, according to French media reports.

Lyon is where, in December 2010, Ms Le Pen told FN supporters that the sight of Muslims praying in the street was similar to the Nazi occupation in World War Two.

In her speech, broadcast by French media, she said that France had initially seen "more and more veils", then "more and more burkas" and "after that came prayers in the streets". [BBC] Read more

Carson: I can support a Muslim who denounces Sharia law

Ben Carson said Monday he could indeed support a Muslim for president -- despite words to the contrary on Sunday -- should they pledge fealty to the Constitution.

Carson, under fire for seeming to suggest that he couldn't support anyone who subscribes to Islam to lead the White House, issued a caveat to that position on Monday evening. In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, the Republican presidential candidate said there are some Muslims who could be president if they effectively renounced their faith.

"If someone has a Muslim background and they're willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion ... I would then be quite willing to support them," he said.

In a post on Facebook also on Monday night, Carson reiterated that position.

"I could never support a candidate for President of the United States that was Muslim and had not renounced the central tenant of Islam: Sharia Law," he wrote. "I know that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs. But until these tenants are fully renounced...I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for President. [CNN] Read more

21 September 2015

We took Huguenots, Jews, Vietnamese. So why not Syrians?

.... Are we no longer capable of such responses? Not one of those situations was fun or easy, and Britain’s response was by no means perfect; not every landing was happy; and there was always plenty of rancour. But Britain did, in its muddling-through way, help despairing people improve their lot. It could again.

The second lesson is simpler. Why spend taxpayers’ money on keeping a few thousand people out, when (apart from any moral consideration) they would only add dynamism to British life? And it would be a mistake to see them cynically as a new army of cheap labour. It is plain that this stream of refugees is full of digital-savvy, resourceful people. And if we asked some of them to visit our schools in order to point out, from bitter first-hand experience, that Isis has rather less glamour in real life than it does on the videos – well, how bad would that be? [1537 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 317 votes] We shouldn't accept economic migrants for a number of reasons:

1. There are too many. Potentially millions could come and that's no exaggeration as I think most people realise by now.

2. Sorry, but they are mostly Muslim. From experience in the UK and elsewhere, we know the majority do not integrate or appreciate British (European) values. 2-3rd generation British-Muslims still wearing headscarves and Islamic garb? Come on!

3. We have our own poor, homeless, unemployed and sick who need caring for and are infrastructure is already creaking.

4. Genuine refugees should be placed in neighbouring countries so they can return as soon as the conflict is over. EU can definitely fund these camps and help more.

5. It's just not fair on the native population no matter how sad some of the 'refugee' stories might be. These are our (European) homelands and the only ones we have.

[2ND 284] Hugenots integrated and assimilated.

Jews, Hungarians, Vietnamse have [mostly] integrated and assumed the British way of life.

Some traditions/cultures do not want to adapt to the host society, but believe that their culture/tradition is superior and that the host society should adapt to their way of life – or at least accommodate it - even when it is in utterly contrary to our established values and way of life.

[3RD 231] We took Huguenots, Jews, Vietnamese. So why not Syrians?

What religion were the Huguenots? What religion are Jews and the Vietnamese? Have there been any Jewish, Huguenot or Vietnamese terrorist attacks? Are there any cities in Europe that are circa 20-30% Huguenot, Jewish or Vietnamese (a la Marseilles and Birmingham)? Was there widespread concern that Europe might one day become majority Huguenot, Jewish or Vietnamese at the time?

[4TH 224] Our island is over populated.

[5TH 223] Were the Vietnamese, Jewish & Huguenots throwing rocks & poles chanting "God Is Great" with their fists in the air? No didn't think so.

[6TH 214] A COMMENT SAID: "Speaking as a Hugenot, I can only agree"

Your ancestors came as 50,000 people over the course of two centuries Vs a current rate of 500,000+ over the course of two years. It's hardly the same situation.

[7TH 187] "We took Huguenots, Jews, Vietnamese. So why not Syrians?"

Because they're likely to import their sectarian violence. As has been seen previously with immigrant Muslim communities, they frequently fail to integrate into the host country and its culture, and tensions between them and other ethnic groups seems to inevitably follow.

Of course, the disastrous Iraq war was a major reason for the current conflicts in Syria and Iraq, so the UK (and other countries involved) are morally obliged to take in a certain number of carefully screened, genuine refugees.

But to open the gates to all and sundry - many of whom seem to be economic migrants rather then refugees - could have long-lasting detrimental effects to the UK and other European countries.

[8TH 186] Numbers, my dear man, numbers. And why do editors insist upon showing us pictures accompanying such articles of women and children when the vast, vast majority of these illegal immigrants are young males? [Guardian Cif] Read more

American Muslims fear a new wave of Islamophobia

uslim Americans responded with a mix of frustration, exasperation and anger to what many see as a growing wave of Islamophobia fueled by two of the Republican Party’s most popular presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

At the Islamic Institute of Orange County, which houses a mosque and a school in Anaheim, in southern California, tensions were already mounting since a group of white men screamed at mothers and children arriving at the center on this year’s anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, calling them cowards who did not belong in America.

Many of the country’s 2.8 million Muslims say such tensions could become uglier during a presidential race that they fear is already tapping a vein of anger and bigotry.

“It’s pretty troubling that someone running for president would make those claims,” Zuhair Shaath, Palestinian-American, said of Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who on Sunday said Muslims were unfit for the presidency of the United States. [Reuters] Read more

Stephen Harper 'playing a very divisive game' with niqabs, Tom Mulcair says

Stephen Harper is "playing a very divisive game" with his government's effort to impose a ban on niqabs during the citizenship oath, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Monday, just days before a French-language debate in Quebec — a province in which identity politics continues to drive a wedge between voters.

"I'm not about the politics of fear and division. Mr. Harper is going to always go after that. If he senses that there's something there that can divide Canadians one against the other, he'll do it," said Mulcair during a morning campaign stop in Nova Scotia.

The comments came after a reporter asked how Mulcair felt about Muslim women who want to wear a niqab or another type of face covering while taking the oath of citizenship. [CBC News] Read more

Ben Carson’s Comments Stir Anger Among Muslims

Emotions in the Muslim community remained roiled on Monday by Ben Carson’s assertion that followers of Islam are not fit to serve as president of the United States.

Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, has been under fire for comments he made Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when he said that Islam was not consistent with the Constitution.

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Mr. Carson said when asked about the relevance of a president’s faith. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”

At a news conference organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Monday, Muslim advocates called for Mr. Carson, who is black, to leave the race and expressed outrage that someone who had benefited from the civil rights movement would make such an incendiary statement. [NYTimes.com] Read more

20 September 2015

The refugee crisis is waking old fears in central Europe

.... Undoubtedly, the expansion of the European Union has increased its internal heterogeneity, but when the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, mentioned that Muslims are already part of the culture of many EU countries, these were words that were not given the same welcome in all countries.

Expansion of the EU eastwards meant an incorporation of countries whose values might not be entirely in line with the European “norm”. What we are seeing now is in part an expression of that tension, a need to balance the EU’s security interests on the one hand and the interests of the development of democracy and protection of human rights on the other. [611 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 211 votes] "According to the Gatestone institute, most who manage to come to the EU are young men aged 16-20 years. They make up 80% of all arrivals to Germany."

This, in two sentences, is the crux of the problem. This group is where, invariably, all future problems with the "refugees" will have their origin.

Just say "no" to the lot.

[2ND 171] Seems that some countries read and learn from history, most of the people I know who vigorously defend Islam, do not even know what Halal means and seemingly get their knowledge of the Crusades from watchin Robin Hood prince of Thieves. This enforced and misguided opinion that all cultures are equal or that we can all live happily together is damn right ridiculous. I challenge anyone who thinks it isn't, to sell up and move to Bradford.

[3RD 159] Muslims have been here for generations and still have not integrated successfully. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Sacrifice festival – Around 600 Muslims demonstrate in favour of ritual slaughter

European legislation may force slaughterers to stun animals before they are slaughtered, except for religious rites and on condition the animal is slaughtered at a registered abattoir. Permanent abattoirs in Flanders and Wallonia are the only ones performing the ritual slaughter of sheep without stunning them first this year. Temporary abattoirs in the Brussels region will be tolerated this year.

Mustapha Chairi, president of the Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB), has criticised the fact that the European legislation has been applied without any discussion beforehand. He mentioned another part of the Muslim problem: “Aïd is an important moment of conviviality for Muslims, who only have this festival and Ramadan. It took several years to solve the problem of temporary abattoirs. [The Brussels Times] Read more

Westminster university Islamic students' society dominated by ultra-conservative Muslims

The Islamic students’ society at the London university attended by the militant known as Jihadi John is dominated by hardline, ultra-conservative believers who refuse to speak with female Muslim staff members, according to an independent report into inclusion among students at the institution.

Complaints about the conduct of the University of Westminster Islamic society, some from other Muslims, tended to be ignored or underplayed because staff and student unions officials were worried about appearing Islamophobic, found the inquiry.

Members of the society itself acted as “apostles of a self-contained faith, concerned very largely with matters of religious orthodoxy and perceived heresy”, according to the four-strong inquiry panel, who included the historian Lord Kenneth Morgan and Fiyaz Mughal, a former adviser to Nick Clegg on interfaith matters.

Their report found university officials tacitly tolerated a “sometimes hostile or intimidatory” attitude to women on the campus, calling this “totally unacceptable”. Islamic society committee members would refuse to engage with female Muslim staff, the panel were told, obliging these to seek help from male colleagues to communicate with the group. [The Guardian] Read more

Anger after Saudi Arabia 'chosen to head key UN human rights panel' - Wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi says move amounts to "a green light to flog him"

The United Nations is coming under fire for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role even though the Kingdom has “arguably the worst record in the world” on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.

Critics, including the wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1000 lashes for blogging about free speech – say that the appointment is “scandalous” and means that “oil trumps human rights”.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who is leading an international campaign to free her husband, said on Facebook that handing the role to Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was effectively “a green light to start flogging [him] again”. [The Independent] Read more

19 September 2015

Extremists to be purged from charity boards under new law

The Government is to purge “extremist” trustees from every charity in England and Wales in a crackdown that could affect thousands of people.

A leaked draft of the Home Office’s new counter-extremism strategy, seen by the Telegraph, says new legal powers for the Charity Commission to sack trustees will be used far more widely than expected.

In a paper in May on how it would use the powers, now being created in a bill before Parliament, the commission made no mention of extremism being grounds for disqualification.

However, the leaked counter-extremism strategy, due to be published this autumn, states that “once the legislation is enacted, the Charity Commission will take action against all trustees who meet the definition of extremism set out in this document.” [The Telegraph] Read more