20 July 2016

Kelvin MacKenzie, we’re sick of your toxic propaganda. Fatima Manji is admirable

If anyone had steam coming out of their ears this past week, it was Kelvin MacKenzie. The human pressure cooker could not contain his indignation at having to watch Channel 4 news reporter, Fatima Manji, cover the tragic attack in Nice. In an article for the Sun newspaper, MacKenzie wrote that “I could hardly believe my eyes” when he saw the British Muslim correspondent who wears a headscarf doing her job.

Not only is it malicious to single out a news reporter in this way, MacKenzie’s abhorrent rant attempts to equate Manji’s headscarf to terrorist atrocities and to female slavery: “Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male-dominated and clearly violent religion?” he spouted. [2690 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 712 votes] The headscarf is a symbol of religious oppression, no matter how the liberal left try to twist and turn to deny it. No amount of apologia will change that.

[2ND 610] People just don’t like hijabs and what they represent. They’re tolerated, and rightfully so, but not embraced.

[3RD 537] ANOTHER COMMENT SAID: “So we should tell Muslim women that we don't like it so they must not wear it?”

They are free to wear them, the same as others are free to criticise Islamic attitudes to women.”

[4TH 416] 84 men, women and children were murdered by a muslim maniac invoking ISIS and thus Islam as a justification. The first thing viewers see on C4's report is an obviously Muslim presenter. Isn't it just common sense that this would create a hurtful impression and thus be grossly insensitive?

[5TH 352] Why is she admirable?

[6TH 317] The headscarf is the symbol of Islamic culture. The same culture which is the source of violent terror, the same culture where a large percentage of its members are terror apologists or blame all its' problems on the West. How about an Imam goes on TV after an attack like this and instead of defending Islam (which has created so many wonderful countries today!), apologised for the terror emanating from Muslim communities.

[7TH 284] I will celebrate when Muslim women in Britain (and Europe... or anywhere) don't feel the need to wear religious headscarves.

It's obvious that the headscarf in Britain is a symbol of self-imposed division and separation from British society and identity. That 2nd/3rd/4th generation Muslims are wearing such garbs is utterly depressing. [Guardian Cif] Read more

18 July 2016

TV host Sonia Kruger calls for end to Muslim migration to Australia

The TV presenter Sonia Kruger has called for an end to Muslim immigration to Australia, saying she agrees with the US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on immigration.

The host of Channel Nine’s The Voice and Today Extra was discussing the massacre in Nice when she said she agreed with the views expressed by the Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, who argued in a column “the more Muslims we import, the more danger we are in”.

“Personally I think Andrew Bolt has a point here,” Kruger said to Today’s Lisa Wilkinson on Monday. “There is a correlation between the number of people in a country who are Muslim and the number of terrorist attacks.

“I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving, who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics.

“Personally, I would like to see it stop now for Australia. I want to feel safe and I want to see freedom of speech.”

Kruger was backed by Channel Nine which released a statement citing “freedom of speech”. [The Guardian] Read more

17 July 2016

Call to end 'guardianship' system for Saudi women

.... Even so, there is more that the government could be doing. For instance, if a woman is unhappy with her male guardian it is extremely difficult to have someone else appointed in his place unless the woman can show that she has been beaten or prove that her guardian is incapable (e.g. through old age).

As with most reform issues in Saudi Arabia, however, the underlying problem is the royal family's reluctance to confront the religious establishment in any serious way. Unless it does so, change is likely to remain painfully slow. Going into battle with the clerics would be a dangerous move, however, because the royal family's main claim to legitimacy is its religious credentials. [al-bab.com] Read more

16 July 2016

Pokemon Go is ‘un-Islamic’, Muslim cleric says

A Muslim scholar has suggested that the hugely popular Pokemon go is prohibited by Islam.

Abbas Shuman, who is deputy head of the Al-Azhar Islamic institution, said the game was a ‘harmful mania’ which was similar to drinking alcohol.

Gulf News reports that the Egyptian cleric said the game ‘makes people look like drunkards.’

‘This game makes people look like drunkards in the streets and on the roads while their eyes are glued to the mobile screens leading them to the location of the imaginary Pokemon in the hope of catching it,’ he said.

‘If such a game can deceive youngsters, I do not know where have gone the minds of adults, who can be hit by a car while being busy searching for Pokemon.’ [Metro.co.uk] Read more

What France thinks of multiculturalism and Islam

In the aftermath of a devastating attack in Nice, France, Poland's interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, told reporters that the blame lay with the embrace of multiculturalism. “Have we not learned lessons from previous attacks in Paris and Brussels?" the Financial Times reported Blaszczak as saying. "This is a consequence of the policy of multicultural politics, and political correctness.”

A member of Poland's controversial right-wing Law and Justice Party, Blaszczak's point may be in bad taste. However, many around the world probably agree with it.

It's certainly hard to disagree with the idea that France seems to be more embracing of multiculturalism than Poland. In a recently released study by the Pew Research Center that was conducted early this year, just 24 percent of French people were found to believe that diversity made France a worse place to live. A higher proportion, 26 percent, said it made France better, while 48 percent said that it didn't make much difference. [The Washington Post] Read more

Hanson tells PM she ‘won’t back down’ on Islam

.... She told the prime minister, who before the election said she was unwelcome in Australian politics, she wanted to work with the government to “get good legislation for the people”.

“But I also told him I will not back down on my issues to do with Islam,” she said.

“We have a right to protection in this country.

“We cannot back away from these views and we cannot just ignore a religion or an ideology that does not and is not compatible with the Australian culture and way of life.” Ms Hanson said Mr Turnbull assured her border security was “very big on his agenda” and the pair will meet when she travels to Canberra.

She added: “I just want you to know I have got the ear of the prime minister now on your behalf because I’m working for you and it’s very important, as I said to him, that we all work together to find the right answers.” [news.com.au] Read more

15 July 2016

Newt Gingrich calls on US to deport all Muslims who follow Sharia law

In the wake of the truck attack in Nice, France on 14 July when a driver rammed into people celebrating Bastille Day, former House speaker Newt Gingrich has demanded that the US start testing Muslims and deport those who supported Sharia law.

During an interview with Fox News, Gingrich attacked the American ruling class for not having the guts to take stronger action against Muslims and blamed them for the attack in southern France, wherein 84 people were killed. "This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary," he said and added, "We better rethink the rules, or we're going to lose the war."

The possible choice as vice president for presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump felt the need to set in place stricter rules to monitor activity of Muslims in the US. "You have to monitor the mosques," he said. "Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? You've got to look at the madrassas (schools of Islam) – if you're a school which is teaching Sharia, you want to expel it from the country." [International Business Times] Read more

We need to tackle attacks like the one in Nice from the root

.... Here is a different suggestion: do everything you can to stop people called Mohammed committing mass slaughter in Europe on a bi-monthly basis. Get the hatred out of the mosques and the books, get the bigotry out of the community and the slightest tolerance of it identified as a major part of the problem.

Of course most Muslims can’t do anything themselves to stop somebody like last night’s attacker carrying out such a deed, but they can at least have the decency to look like they’re taking part in the kind of criticism and introspection the rest of us would take part in if someone sharing even a jot of our identity had carried out such an attack.

It’s not a wholesale solution, but it would be a start. [The Spectator] Read more

Please stop saying the Nice attacks have nothing to do with Islam

In the wake of the Nice attacks people are already saying: "But the terrorist wasn't pious. See! It has nothing to do with Islam."

Please stop.

Your good intentions towards us Muslims are only making the problem worse. This is as dangerous as saying it is everything to do with Islam.

The Crusaders weren't pious. But they had something to do with Christianity, right? Right? That something was the desire impious religious peasants had for martyrdom and the religious promise of redemption that Pope Urban II gave them.

Now switch out white Christians with brown Muslims and kindly cease with this bigotry of low expectations. This has something to do with Islam.

.... So please stop denying the nature of jihadism. Please stop ignoring the narratives which drive these attacks. Instead of aiding extremists who insist Islam today is perfect, perhaps you should aid us beleaguered reformist Muslims who are attempting to address this crisis within Islam against all the odds. [The Telegraph] Read more

Sympathy should be our only response to the Nice terror attack

.... A Nice truck driver does not remotely threaten the security of the French state, any more than such acts do the security of America or Britain. The identification of the nation state with random killings of innocent people has become a political aberration.

The implication that leaders can somehow prevent such attacks by armed response is a total distraction from the intelligence and police work that might at least diminish their prevalence. It nationalises and institutionalises public alarm. It leads governments into madcap adventurism abroad and “securitises” the private lives of citizens at home.

What has happened in France is tragic and calls for human sympathy. Beyond that, there is nothing we can usefully do – other than make matters worse. [Simon Jenkins, 3000 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 527 votes] What will happen next:

1) A lame hashtag will be set up by people who think taking action begins and ends in a re-tweet

2) There will be some sort of solidarity march, some aimless gathering to make people feel good about not actually doing anything.

3) World leaders will condemn the attack whilst simultaneously making sure never to mention wahabi islam and its main supporters.

4) The mainstream liberal media will offer up a somber tone & recant tales of the lost lives of the innocent dead but will simultaneously run small editorial articles by multiculturalist puritans who will tell us how although they are horrified by the attacks their concerns now lie with the possible reprisals on muslims.

5) Reprisals will amount to someone throwing a bag of pork scratchings into a mosque car park & a muslim being called a terrorist on the tube.

6) The media will begin running articles about how muslims feel unsafe in Europe because of our intolerance, we are tacitly reminded to feel bad about ourselves.

7) We await the next attack.

My sincere condolences to all those that lost loved ones and thoughts to those fighting for their lives in hospital . RIP to those that died.

[2ND 487] Isn't this almost identical to the article that appeared after the last attack, and the one before that, and the..

[6TH 318] "But there is no defence force on Earth that can defend a crowd from a madman in a truck."

Unless they identify him and his intentions before hand and stop him. Clearly it hasn't happened in this case but to suppose it can never happen is just silly.

[3RD 430] And it seems highly likely that he wasn't just a madman but a particular type of madman. Denial of the problem is a big part of it.

[4TH 345] Please, stop telling people how they should feel about, or react to this.

[5TH 328] Let's not notice the elephant in the room, pt. 94 [Guardian Cif] Read more

Republicans, Democrats sharply divided over Muslims in America: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Many Americans view Islam unfavorably, and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are more than twice as likely to view the religion negatively as those backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of more than 7,000 Americans.

It shows that 37 percent of American adults have a "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" view of Islam. This includes 58 percent of Trump supporters and 24 percent of Clinton supporters, a contrast largely mirrored by the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats.

By comparison, respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism, 16 percent for Judaism and 8 percent for Christianity. [Reuters] Read more

14 July 2016

What’s Up Down Under

Pauline Hanson is a well-known political figure in Australia whose general anti-immigrant stance has recently become much more focused on Muslim immigration. After years in the political wilderness, on July 2 Hanson was elected, as a Senator, to the Australian Parliament. This has greatly alarmed Muslims and their apologists.

The comments on her unexpected victory were hysterical in tone, deploring her “racism” and “bigotry” and her “spreading racist and Islamophobic vitriol and abuse which threatens and marginalizes” and so on and so predictably forth. Her party, One Nation, includes in its platform a ban on new mosques and on halal certification, and a policy of zero-net migration (where the numbers of migrants who are admitted to Australia match the number of permanent departures each year).

One Nation is not the only party making such proposals; three other smaller parties, for example, have included a ban on halal certification in their platforms. But what has been supported only by One Nation, and deserves respectful attention, is Hanson’s proposal that a Royal Commission be appointed to study Islam.

Royal commissions are ad hoc formal inquiries into matters of great significance, usually staffed by retired judges; Hanson wants one set up to determine whether Islam is a “religion or an ideology” or, in her forthright formulation, “Let’s determine if it is a religion or a political ideology trying to undermine our culture.” [New English Review] Read more

Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes

The arrangement was the result of dialogue between parents and teachers at the school, who held meetings with representatives from Norway's Refugee Board (flyktningetjenesten) and interpretors, according to Nordlys.

"If [parents] wish for their daughters to wear burkinis, bought with their own money, then that is okay, but they must having swimming lessons in the same way and together with all the others," Espen Hay, head teacher of Finnsnes School, told Nordlys.

"We made it clear to parents that religion does not provide exemption for participation in swimming lessons. It is important for us that no students miss out on the opportunities everyone else has," Hay continued. [The Local] Read more

Refused Berlin handshake: Religious freedom or sexism?

In Germany and Europe, shaking hands is perhaps the most common way to greet colleagues and acquaintances. But the greeting has recently led to awkward moments and accusations of cultural insensitivity on one hand and gender bias on the other.

Most recently, a Shiite Muslim man did not accept a letter of apology that his children's former school had sent after "misunderstandings that led to you ... feeling hurt in your religious freedom, personality or any other way" after he had refused to shake hands with a teacher.

On May 30, the principal of Berlin's private Platanus school had a meeting with the father of one the elementary students she was teaching. The man, an imam from eastern Turkey, refused to shake her hand, at which point, he has claimed, she ended the meeting with him and his son, called him misogynistic and said he should adapt to German culture. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

13 July 2016

EU court split on headscarf bans

The EU's top court faced a dilemma Wednesday after a top legal officer said it was discriminatory for a firm to tell an employee to remove a Muslim headscarf, contradicting an earlier opinion in a separate case.

The latest case concerns a woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who was dismissed from her job as an IT consultant in France after clients complained about her wearing a headscarf.

The European Court of Justice said one of its advocates general, Eleanor Sharpston, "considers that a company policy requiring an employee to remove her Islamic headscarf when in contact with clients constitutes unlawful direct discrimination."

The senior lawyer, whose opinion must be considered by the court when it makes a final ruling at a later date, found "nothing to suggest that Ms. Bougnaoui was unable to perform her duties as a design engineer because she wore an Islamic headscarf."

"Indeed, (her employer's) letter terminating her employment had expressly referred to her professional competence," it added. [Arabtoday] Read more

May’s Sharia Law review ALREADY under fire as new PM set for Number 10

Earlier this year the Home Secretary sparked controversy when she told Britons they could benefit from the teachings of Sharia - despite the courts being renowned for forcing women to stay with abusive men.

May made the comments when she announced a review in forthcoming weeks, into whether the rulings of the almost 100 Sharia courts in the UK, contradict British law.

But the review has already been branded a “whitewash” while more than 200 individuals and human rights groups have signed a letter asking her to scrap the chosen panel, and start again.

Those behind the letter have claimed the appointment of an Islamic scholar as chairman, and two imams in advisory roles, impairs their ability to make an impartial assessment and the whole review will be compromised.

Gita Sahgal, the director of Centre for Secular Space was among the signatories, as well as former head of Amnesty International’s gender unit, the playwright Julia Pascal and the Iranian-born human rights activist, Maryam Namazie. [EXPRESS.CO.UK] Read more

12 July 2016

Muslim face veil ban for workers is not discriminatory, Austrian court rules

Preventing an employee from wearing a veil is not discriminating against them, one of Austria’s highest courts has ruled.

In the landmark decision, Austria’s Supreme Court (OGH) said that if clothing prevents communication, an employer may legally dismiss them.

The decision was made in the case of a woman who already wore an Abaya, which is an Islamic overgarment, and headscarf, but who was fired after she told her boss she wanted to wear a veil covering her face.

In addition to her claim of unfair dismissal, the woman says her employer made discriminatory remarks about her because of her islamic clothing. Her boss reportedly said she was undergoing an “experiment in ethnic clothing” and she wearing a "disguise". [The Independent] Read more

Anti-Muslim sentiment on rise in Europe due to migration and Isil as continent rejects multi-cultural society

Europe is rejecting the idea that multi-culturalism is beneficial to society following a year in which the migrant crisis and Isil-inspired terror attacks have boosted anti-Muslim sentiment across the continent, a new Europe-wide survey has shown.

The data from Pew Research, the leading non-partisan US social attitudes survey company, will serve as another sharp warning to Europe’s political elites about the growing strength of grassroots sentiment over the migration issue.

It also highlights Europe’s stark political and geographical divisions, with Hungary, Poland and Greece all showing themselves to be fiercely anti-Muslim, while a rising base of Right-wing parties are hugely more anti-Muslim than supporters on the European Left.

When asked if diversity had made their country “a better place to live” only 33 per cent of Britons agreed, mirroring sentiment across the EU where more than 70 per cent of people in 10 EU countries surveyed said multi-culturalism made their country either a “worse” place to live, or made “no difference” at all. [The Telegraph] Read more

Christian man charged with blasphemy in Pakistan 'for insulting Muhammad' in Whatsapp poem

A Christian man is on the run in Pakistan after he was charged with blasphemy when a Muslim friend accused him of insulting Islam in a poem.

Nadeem Masih is alleged to have sent a poem to his friend on WhatsApp that was derogatory about the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic holy figures.

"Police have registered a case on blasphemy charges against Nadeem James and are searching for him as he has fled his home," a local law enforcement official told AFP, according to The Express Tribune. [The Independent] Read more

11 July 2016

The UK women seeking divorce through Sharia councils

The use of Sharia councils in the UK to settle disputes using Islamic religious law has been criticised for discriminating against women. With rare access, the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme looks at what takes place inside one such council.

"Is it not possible to forget all the things he has done to you?" one of three Islamic scholars asks Yasmeenah - not her real name - in a side room of Birmingham Central Mosque.

Yasmeenah has been in an arranged marriage since the age of 15, and says her husband has emotionally and physically abused her throughout the relationship.

She has come to this Sharia council - one of an estimated 30 established councils across the UK, often referred to as Sharia "courts" - in the hope the scholars will grant her a divorce from her Islamic marriage, or nikah. [BBC] Read more

Refusing to recognise polygamy in the West: a solution or a soundbite?

.... These calls for changes in the current approaches to bigamy and polygamy come at a time when the UK government has launched a review of Sharia courts and their practice. I hope the review panel take note of the recommendations made by Dr Manea and hear evidence of the harms and consequences arising from polygamous marriage practices. I would like to sound one final note of caution.

Polygamy and the abuses arising from it must be addressed but we cannot allow polygamy to be used as so many other issues have of ‘othering’ communities. We also cannot let it be used as an excuse to deny those seeking refuge from countries where their marriage has legal, valid status to be denied a place of safety or demonised on this basis. [openDemocracy] Read more

Pupil's refusal to shake hands with teacher leads to walk out

When the teacher at the Kurt-Tucholsky School extended her hand to congratulate a Muslim student on passing his Abitur exams (the German A-Level equivalent), the student declined, offering his wrist instead.

He explained to her privately that his actions weren't due to a lack of respect, but for religious reasons, local media reported.

However, when he went on to refuse to shake the female headteacher's hand, some members of staff felt he had crossed a line. Several teachers wanted the student to be sent out from the event, but headteacher Andrea Lüdtke refused.

Five teachers decided to boycott the rest of the event and there were "intense discussions" among teachers and students, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported.

Lüdtke told the local paper that the student was a committed and enthusiastic pupil in religious studies as well as in other subjects, adding that he was "in no way" extremist. [The Local] Read more

Half Europeans fear, resent refugees: survey

About half of Europeans fear the arrival of refugees raises the risk of attacks in their countries, a survey published on Monday found, and many, especially in the east, see them as a burden on their economy.

Washington-based Pew Research Center found the share of people believing that "refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in our country" was, among others, 46 percent in France, 52 percent in Britain, 61 percent in Germany, 71 percent in Poland and 76 percent in Hungary.

The Hungarian and Polish governments have led criticism of European Union efforts over the past year to distribute asylum seekers around the bloc, mostly from Syria and Iraq.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who oversaw a welcome in Germany for about a million refugees last year, said on Monday that Islamist militants had used the wave of arrivals to infiltrate Europe. Some of those involved in Islamic States attacks in Paris and Brussels are believed to have come from Syria.

Asked whether refugees were a burden because they took jobs and benefits, respondents in the 10 states surveyed gave diverse answers, from 31 percent of Germans who agreed to 82 percent of Hungarians. In Italy, 47 percent thought refugees more to blame for crime than other groups, a little more than in Sweden and Hungary. Only 13 percent of Spaniards thought that, however. [Reuters] Read more

10 July 2016

A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began

For most of his adult life, Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi worked among the bearded enforcers of Saudi Arabia. He was a dedicated employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — known abroad as the religious police — serving with the front-line troops protecting the Islamic kingdom from Westernization, secularism and anything but the most conservative Islamic practices.

Some of that resembled ordinary police work: busting drug dealers and bootleggers in a country that bans alcohol. But the men of “the Commission,” as Saudis call it, spent most of their time maintaining the puritanical public norms that set Saudi Arabia apart not only from the West, but from most of the Muslim world.

A key offense was ikhtilat, or unauthorized mixing between men and women. The kingdom’s clerics warn that it could lead to fornication, adultery, broken homes, children born of unmarried couples and full-blown societal collapse. [NYTimes.com] Read more

09 July 2016

Sharia courts review branded a 'whitewash' over appointment 'bias' concerns

.... Pragna Patel, director of the charity Southall Black Sisters, questioned the choice of imam advisors over those who advocate for women victims of sharia councils. She said: “This review is effectively pre-determined. It is saying let’s identify bad practice and see what we can do to make it compatible with UK law but this is not about splitting hairs between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Islam.

She added: “We should be asking why are parallel legal systems flourishing and what harm are they doing? The abuses can only be addressed in a framework of human rights.”

In their letter, campaigners said there was “considerable evidence” to show that sharia courts are violating women’s rights with respect to marriage, divorce, custody of children, property and inheritance. [The Independent] Read more