16 January 2017

Muslim cleric accused of performing forced marriage of child bride sacked

A Melbourne Muslim cleric accused of performing the forced marriage of a child bride has been sacked.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage at Noble Park on September 29 last year.

Omerdic, imam of the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park mosque, was stood down after his November arrest, according to a statement from the Islamic Council of Victoria on Monday.

He was later sacked after an internal investigation and a new imam appointed, the statement said.

“Mr Omerdic is no longer the imam of the Noble Park mosque and has no role with the society,” it said. “Further, Mr Omerdic’s marriage celebrant licence has been revoked.” [The Guardian] Read more

14 January 2017

Austria's far-right Freedom Party calls for ban on 'fascistic Islam'

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPO) on Saturday called for a law banning "fascistic Islam" and Muslim symbols, comparable to an existing law banning Nazi symbols, saying Islam could wipe out European society.

Austria needs "a law which prohibits fascistic Islam", Heinz Christian Strache told several thousand supporters at the party's new year meeting in Salzburg.

"Let us put an end to this policy of Islamisation... otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end," Strache said, in an apparent reference to the course pursued by the coalition government.

The junior coalition party OVP called on Wednesday for halving the number of asylum applications accepted this year to around 17,000.

Strache responded by saying: "We need zero and minus immigration." [Reuters] Read more

Saudi Arabia's religious authority says cinemas, song concerts harmful

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority has called cinemas and singing concerts harmful and corrupting, in a move that could complicate government efforts to introduce cultural reforms to the conservative kingdom.

The comments by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, published on his website, said cinemas and round-the-clock entertainment could open the door to "atheistic or rotten" foreign films and encourage the mixing of the sexes.

Cinemas and public concerts are already banned in the conservative Islamic kingdom. But the government promised a shake-up of the cultural scene with a set of "Vision 2030" reforms announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz last year.

The head of the government's General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani, stirred debate last week when he raised the possibility of opening cinemas and staging concerts this year. [Reuters] Read more

13 January 2017

Pakistan: Senate committee to debate how to prevent misuse of blasphemy laws

A PAKISTANI Senate committee is set to debate how to prevent the country’s blasphemy laws being applied unfairly, despite opposition from religious conservatives who support legislation that carries a mandatory death penalty for insulting Islam.

Senator Farhatullah Babar told Reuters that the Senate Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a member, will start discussions on blasphemy laws as early as next week, based on recommendations from a 24-year-old report.

He said it would be the first time in decades that any parliamentary body had considered a formal proposal to stop the abuse of the blasphemy laws.

According to Babar, the committee would consider a proposal making it binding to investigate complaints before registering a case, to ensure “genuine blasphemy” had been committed and the law was not being used to settle scores, as critics say it is. [Asian Correspondent] Read more

Melbourne imam faces court over girl's forced marriage to older man

A charge sheet tendered to Melbourne Magistrates Court alleges Mr Omerdic performed the ceremony at the Noble Park mosque on September 29 last year.

The 62-year-old fronted court on Friday and had his bail extended to return on February 3.

The 34-year-old man who was allegedly married is charged with the same offence as the imam, and also one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

He appeared before the court via video link, and was remanded in custody to the same date.

He began crying while the magistrate discussed the case with him.

The girl was in court. [The Age] Read more

Melbourne Muslim cleric charged over forced marriage of child

A Melbourne Muslim cleric and another man have been charged over the forced marriage of a child.

Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage at Noble Park on 29 September last year.

Omerdic appeared in the Melbourne magistrates court on Friday, along with Mohammad Shakir, 34, of Springvale.

Shakir is charged with sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and being a party to a forced marriage.

A DVD of the ceremony being conducted at a mosque may form part of the evidence, the court was told.

Omerdic’s bail was continued and Shakir was further remanded in custody until the case resumes on 3 February. [The Guardian] Read more

'Everyone will be Muslim because of our stupidity': Catholic leader says Europe will become an Islamic state because of the migrant crisis

An important figure in the Catholic church has warned that everyone in Italy will 'soon be Muslim' due to the country's 'stupidity'.

Italian Archbishop, Monsignor Carlo Liberati, said that the growing number of Muslim migrants in Europe and increasing secularism will lead to Islam becoming the continent's foremost religion.

The Bishop Emeritus of Pompeii said: 'In 10 years we will all be Muslims because of our stupidity. Italy and Europe live in a pagan and atheist way, they make laws that go against God and they have traditions that are proper of paganism.

'All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam.'

He added: 'We have a weak Christian faith. The Church nowadays does not work well and seminaries are empty.

'Parishes are the only thing still standing. We need a true Christian life. All this paves the way to Islam. In addition to this, they have children and we do not. We are in full decline.' [1319 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 6415 votes] We know. Would you please explain it to our political classes as they cannot grasp what is happening at all.

[2ND 4893] Finally somebody says what we are all thinking !!!

[3RD 4356] I remember my Great-Grandad saying this when I was little. I can hear him now, 'that lot will take over the world one day'.

[4TH 3788] Only saying what everyone else is thinking.

[5TH 3272] Say it as much as you want none of our leaders are listening but we agree with you that's us in Australia [Daily Mail] Read more

12 January 2017

Dutch human rights institute defends bus driver hand-shake ruling

The Dutch human rights institute has rejected criticism of its recent decision about a potential bus driver refusing to shake hands with women, saying respect for religious differences is a key value in society.

The institute was responding to angry comments made by The Hague city councilors about its backing for a Muslim man who had applied for a job as a bus driver but later said he would not shake the hand of female passengers. The bus company then cancelled the interview.

VVD councillor Queeny Raijkowski told the Telegraaf earlier this week the decision was ‘political correctness gone too far’. Christian Democrat councilor Sander van Waveren said: ‘Shaking hands is the norm in the Netherlands and if you do not do this, you put yourself at a disadvantage.’

In its ruling, the institute said it had to weigh up interests between discrimination on grounds of sex and discrimination on grounds of religion. The bus company’s demand is legitimate for the sake of client-friendliness but a refusal to shake hands is no obstacle to doing the job, the council said. [DutchNews] Read more

11 January 2017

Muslim and blind – the stigma of having a guide dog

A blind Muslim man has told BBC 5 live about how he had to overcome cultural barriers when he got a guide dog.

Growing up, Mohammed Rasid thought the Islamic tradition of seeing dogs as unclean meant he couldn’t have a guide dog, but the charity Guide Dogs helped explain the benefits to him and his family.

Speaking to Emma Barnett, he explained there are certain rules he has to observe: “If you get saliva from a dog on your clothes, they have to be thoroughly washed before you can pray.

"Some of my family and people in the community aren’t happy that I have a guide dog, but they’ve calmed down." [BBC] Read more

Italy to train Muslim imams on country's constitution to improve integration and fight terrorism

Muslim imams in Italy are to be enrolled on a course educating them about the national constitution, in a bid to improve integration and fight radicalisation.

The Italian government hopes the course will help "create a climate of tolerance," and is set to urge all non-Catholic religious leaders in the country, as well as prospective foreign workers, to enrol.

Costing around €92,000 (£80,000), the training is being funded by the Interior Ministry with the aid of the esteemed University of Bologna.

The syllabus is expected to contain Italy's constitutional principles and the "rights and duties inherent in our democratic societies". Topics covered will include freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to practice and worship individual faiths. [International Business Times] Read more

School forced to apologise after dozens of Muslim children are served up ice-cream containing forbidden pork gelatin

A school has been forced to apologise to parents after dozens of Muslim school children were served up ice-cream containing pork.

The mix-up was only flagged up after some children at the school had already eaten the ice cream.

Instead of the usually Halal-friendly dessert, the school were sent ice-cream laced with pork gelatain by a supplier.

The issue was raised at Lodge Primary School in Birmingham - but is understood to have affected a number of schools across the city.

A letter has now been sent to parents apologising for what happened, Birmingham Mail reported .

The mistake was only noticed after some pupils at the school, which has a large Muslim intake, had eaten the ice-cream.

The dessert was a new addition to the school’s menu, which was introduced last week. [Daily Mirror] Read more

How an obscure U.S. policy effort could hurt American Muslims

U.S. lawmakers have introduced a measure calling for the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest Islamist organizations in the Middle East, to be designated a foreign terrorist organization, and for the first time in recent years they are optimistic it will get signed into law.

The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, introduced this week by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) in both chambers of Congress, advocates for the designation on the grounds that the Muslim Brotherhood espouses “a violent Islamist ideology with a mission of destroying the West.”

.... Former House speaker and Trump adviser Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said he thinks that unlike Obama administration, the Trump administration will go ahead and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, severing all diplomatic interaction and opening up the opportunity to go after people in the United States.

.... The formal label “would put pressure on the groups that have been willing to affiliate with the Brotherhood,” he added, naming CAIR as one such group. “It would certainly put them on the defense psychologically.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Islam never admits its brutal past and present. Always good at blaming others and play the victim. Quran teaches arrogance that not to admit crime and genocide committed by the name of Allah.

Mohammed was also a warlord and Muslims love to glorify Mohammed's disgrace life. Most civilized countries admit darkness from the past and moving forward but it is forbidden for Islam to admit its brutal and barbaric past.

[ANOTHER] Yes it is terrorist and even declared so by Arab Emirates, Saudi, Bahrain, Syria, Russia, Egypt. It is known terrorist underground and is a danger to USA and Canada with its nice/guy BS. Their pledge is "Allah is the objective, the Qur'an is the constitution, the Profit is the leader, Jihad is the Way, death for the sake of Allah is our wish."

It was put together by Banna 1928 in Egypt where most MB are, though today QATAR is a big producer, supporter and many moved into Syria to fight after Morsi was kicked out for his ideology and support of their crimes. (alsoTurkey, Jordan, Malaysia) USA has become so naive, so ignorant, I do not understand it Especially since I am on the Left and not religious.

I am open minded and since I did not know much about Islam at all, in 2008 I decided to find out all I could about it and how its people really thought, felt, what various sermons preached in US and in Middle East.

I have found out much, talked to many and I can say with conviction that it does not belong here and will be corrosive & MB is definitely terrorist and Also will work to change by politics, thinking Democracy means Mob Rule. I think Cruz is a nut case but on this he is Correct and should be supported for our Countries sake. [The Washington Post] Read more

10 January 2017

Morocco 'bans the sale and production of the burka'

Morocco has banned the sale, production and import of the burka, according to local reports.

Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.

There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to "security concerns".

It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.

A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that "bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes".

The burka, which covers the entire face and body, is not widely worn in Morocco, with most women favouring the hijab, which does not shroud the face. [BBC] Read more

Switzerland: Court rejects Muslim parents’ human rights objection to daughters’ compulsory mixed swimming lessons

.... The court emphasised, however, that school played a special role in the process of social integration, particularly where children of foreign origin were concerned.

It observed that the children’s interest in a full education, facilitating their successful social integration according to local customs and mores, took precedence over the parents’ wish to have their daughters exempted from mixed swimming lessons and that the children’s interest in attending swimming lessons was not just to learn to swim, but above all to take part in that activity with all the other pupils, with no exception on account of the children’s origin or their parents’ religious or philosophical convictions.

The court also noted that the authorities had offered the applicants very flexible arrangements to reduce the impact of the children’s attendance at mixed swimming classes on their parents’ religious convictions, such as allowing their daughters to wear a burkini. [Council of Europe] Read more

Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules

Switzerland has won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obliging Muslim parents to send their children to mixed swimming lessons.

It said authorities were justified in giving precedence to enforcing "the full school curriculum" and the children's "successful integration" into society.

The ECHR acknowledged that religious freedom was being interfered with.

But judges said it did not amount to a violation.

The case was brought by two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, who refused to send their teenage daughters to the compulsory mixed lessons in the city of Basel.

Education officials, however, said that exemptions were available only for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls had not reached at the time.

In 2010, after a long-running dispute, the parents were ordered to pay a combined fine of 1,400 Swiss Francs ($1,380, £1,136) "for acting in breach of their parental duty".

They argued that such treatment was a violation of article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. [BBC] Read more

Court rules Muslim girls MUST swim with boys after Government says integrate or leave

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said school bosses are justified in enforcing the "full school curriculum" and children's "succesful integration" into society.

Although the court recognised religious freedoms were being interfered with, judges said there was no violation.

The landmark case comes after two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, from Basel refused to send their teenager daughters to mixed swimming lessons.

Education bosses said exemptions were only available for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls hadn’t reached at the time.

The parents were ordered to pay a fine of around 1,300 swiss francs (£1,100) for “acting in breach of their parental duty" after a long-running fued in 2010.

Therefore they argued this was a breach of article nine of the ECHR, which covers the religious rights.

However the ECHR held unanimously, that there had been "no violation of Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights". [Daily Express] Read more

09 January 2017

Minister's call for public office headscarf ban angers Muslims

.... Kurz's proposal was also rejected by the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiOe), which said in a statement that such a measure would be a completely false signal and be "anti-integrative" and "discriminatory."

The organisation's president Ibrahim Olgun said: "We urgently urge the withdrawal of this move, which threatens to undermine further cooperation between the IGGiOe and the Ministry."

The organisation feared the move would "hit the emancipated and educated women and push them into the kitchen."

Yet many political leaders from different Austrian states supported Kurz’s initiative.

State Governor of Styria Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said: "We must defend our values like freedom, democracy and equal rights." [The Local] Read more

Two Years on from the Hebdo Massacre, Freedom of Expression is More Imperiled Than Ever

.... Whether forcing students of the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to remove “Jesus and Mo” T-shirts or attempting to silence ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie’s speeches to students at Warwick University or Goldsmiths College, a climate of intimidation prevails. Amnesty International has also maintained complicit silence in offering no public support to those satirising or critiquing Islam in the UK even though it did take a principled opposition to the banning of the play The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged).

The Guardian’s topic-specific selective censorship (above) is consistent with the general approach of the UK media, as evidenced by the refusal of any mainstream media outlet to publish or show the Danish cartoons when the controversy exploded in 2005.

Taking offense has become the first refuge of the censor and the media meekly complies. Hasan concludes his chapter with a poignant citation from On Liberty, in which Mill reflects on the inconsistency in wanting free discussion while objecting to it being ‘pushed to an extreme’.

If the reasons for allowing extreme cases of free expression are not good then they are not good for any case at all, since free expression is intended a forteriori for those ideas which are up for debate, not for ones that are considered to be so certain as to need no further discussion.

Hasan concludes that restoring the freedom of expression enjoyed four decades ago will require courage and determination, as well as the participation of the mainstream media and academia. [Conatus News] Read more

India divorce: How 'triple talaq' destroys lives

A practice in India that allows Muslim men to divorce their wives in an instant is facing fierce opposition.

"Triple talaq" - divorcing by saying the word talaq three times - is legal for Muslims in India but controversial. It is banned across much of the Islamic world.

India’s Supreme Court is deciding whether triple talaq is unconstitutional, a move that could help thousands of women. [BBC] Read more

Austrian minister calls for headscarf ban for public servants

Austria's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz said on Friday he wanted to ban public servants, including school teachers, from wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Kurz, of the Christian Conservative People's Party (OVP), is working on a draft law with Muna Duzdar, a junior minister from the OVP's senior Social Democrat coalition partner who has an Arab family background and is Muslim.

If passed by parliament, the nationwide ban would be stricter than laws in France, where only the full body veil is illegal, or Germany, where the highest court in 2015 restricted lawmakers' scope to ban teachers from wearing the headscarf.

"Because there (schools), it's about the effect of role models and the influence on young people. Austria is religion-friendly but also a secular state," Kurz said, according to a spokesman.

Christian crosses, widespread in staunchly Catholic Austria, should be allowed in classrooms, Kurz said, referring to the country's "historically grown culture".

An adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in March companies should be allowed to prohibit staff from wearing the Islamic headscarf but only as part of a general ban on religious and political symbols. [Reuters] Read more

Some 60% of Belgians Consider Islam Incompatible With European Values – Poll

The survey, conducted jointly by the Soir newspaper, the RTBF broadcaster, the Survey&Action institute and the Ceci n'est pas une crise foundation, also indicated that seven out of ten Muslim Belgian respondents thought they are treated as foreigners, RTBF's La Premiere radio station reported.

In turn, the Soir newspaper published survey results showing that 77 percent of respondents no longer felt at home in Belgium, while 65 percent feared the recent influx of refugees. A total of 70 percent expressed the desire for a strong government to restore order in the country. Belgian citizens also have a tendency to overestimate the number of Muslims living in the country. The average respondent thought the share of Muslims amounted to 30 percent, while the real number comes to around 8.5 percent.

The survey sampled 2,400 people, including 400 Muslims. The margin of error does not exceed 2 percent. [Sputnik] Read more

Religious extremists ARE infiltrating other schools in the same way as in the Trojan Horse scandal, integration tsar Louise Casey warns MPs

Religious extremists are still infiltrating British schools in the same way as happened in the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham, MPs have been warned.

Government integration tsar Dame Louise Casey published a major review on community integration across Britain last month, revealing a shocking picture of 'ghettos' in some British towns.

Her investigation found segregation and social exclusion are at 'worrying levels' and are fuelling inequality in some areas of Britain.

In evidence to the communities committee, Dame Louise today told MPs it had been 'easy' during her probe to find troubling examples in schools.

She said many bore a resemblance to the Birmingham Trojan Horse scandal where Islamists infiltrated and took over three schools.

Dame Louise told MPs today: 'Yes, it is happening elsewhere.'

She added: 'In terms of some of the things seen in what's called the Trojan Horse, we did not find it very difficult to find things like segregation of girls, what I would describe as anti-equal opportunities or anti-liberal values.' [53 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 957 votes] We know. Now do something?!

[2ND 923] Then do something, we did in Australia, took away funding

[3RD 770] .....because we let them. It's as simple as that.

[4TH 706] Our Career Politicians are not interested in the Country or its values that is plain, What are we the People going to do about it, Its no use blaming them they are more interested in their Duck Islands and getting into the House Of Lords than our Culture and Future. Its Pathetic.

[5TH 703] WoW surely this is serious enough for at least one of our pathetic politicians to have the courage to do something,anything.!!!!!! [Daily Mail] Read more

08 January 2017

Austrian integration expert calls for burqa ban on public sector, Muslims offended

Heinz Fassmann, an Austrian expert who is consulting the government on integration, has called for a ban on the burqa to be enforced throughout the country’s public sector. Speaking to the newspaper ‘Die Presse’, Fassmann bravely said, “When asked whether teachers in public schools should be allowed to wear a headscarf, I would clearly say: No”.

Fassmann went on to say that “you run the risk of importing certain religious conflicts into the civil service” if the burqa continued to be legal. It should be emphasised that the burqa facilitates violence and terrorism due to its ability to provide the wearer with a form of disguise. Even ISIS banned the burka because it allowed a female assassin to kill two of its soldiers.

He also said that it should be permissible for teachers to wear crosses or other symbols associated with Christianity, despite promoting the ban on the burqa. And rightly so, as Christianity defines Austrian heritage and should be prioritised by the government in order to ensure the continued preservation of this heritage.

Christian values are of immense importance to the Western world because of the latter’s inextricable connection with the former. Other religions are simply new entrants to Austria, thus justifying the special position afforded to Christianity. [The Unshackled] Read more

The danger of admitting you're an atheist Muslim

You can be a lapsed Catholic. You can be a cultural Jew. You can be a Buddhist who believes more in dharma than in divinity.

But being an atheist Muslim isn't so easy. In some parts of the world, it's an admission that could cost you your life.

"People tend to lose a lot. It's not just a matter of changing your mind or saying that you think differently. And as I write in the book, in some of these societies, changing your mind can literally mean losing your head. Your government's going to come after you. Your family comes after you. Society comes after you. And that's apart from just your own internal fragmentation of what you thought your identity was."

Ali Rizvi was raised in a Shi'a Muslim family, but for him, religion always raised more questions than answers.

.... He still holds fast to some Islamic traditions, like celebrating Eid or singing nohas (mourning songs) to his baby daughter, but the concept of a "cultural Muslim" isn't actually recognized within Islam – in fact, apostasy is considered a major sin.

In his new book, The Atheist Muslim, Rizvi recounts his journey growing up in a Muslim family in Pakistan and the Middle East, moving to Canada and eventually becoming an outspoken critic of his religion. [CBC/Radio-Canada] Read more

Fighting intolerance a challenge for Indonesia's moderate Muslims

.... Yahya says Indonesia has a history of recontextualising Islam. Proof of this, he says, is Indonesian scholars accepting in the 1940s that Indonesia would be a pluralist state based on Pancasila rather than an Islamic state.

"You cannot find in the orthodoxy of Islam any elements that support the decision to legitimise a non-Islamic republic. But Islamic leaders at the time did that."

Yahya says the fact Ahok was elected deputy governor in 2012 also illustrates Indonesia's culture of tolerance. "That should be a proof that Jakarta Muslims are ready to have a Chinese Christian to be governor of Jakarta," he says.

"But the problem is that supremacist view is still there in the orthodoxy of Islam. It is, to us, un-negotiable that this view of orthodoxy should be reformed."

This year Nahdlatul Ulama will hold a conference in East Java which Yahya says will try to set a road map for the reform of Islamic teachings.

"We ... need a powerful social movement to drive Muslim people to move toward the direction of reform. In Indonesia we have Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, the two largest [Islamic] organisations, that should play a role in this matter." [The Sydney Morning Herald] Read more