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HSBC: the bank that likes to say no to Muslim accounts | Giles Fraser

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 hours 2 min ago
Finsbury Park mosque and other Islamic groups have been told they no longer satisfy HSBCs risk appetite. How will the bank brand this one?

It is the worlds local bank or so it tells us. With advertising dominating the departure lounges of international airports, HSBC styles itself as global in reach and personal in service. But recent letters to a number of Muslim organisations and individuals informing them, without any intelligible reason, that the bank no longer wants their business, raises questions about both claims.

On 22 July, the Finsbury Park mosque, in north London of Abu Hamza fame got a letter out of the blue telling it that the bank was going to close its account because it was no longer within its risk appetite, whatever that is supposed to mean. It is absolutely not based on race or religion the bank insists, though no reason other than the Orwellian risk appetite comment is given for the move and no contact was made by the bank before the letter dropped through the mosques letterbox.

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Army rabbi exhorted “God’s army” before they massacred Palestinians in Shujaiya

Loon Watch - 10 hours 37 min ago

Rontzki Army rabbi exhorted “God’s army” before they massacred Palestinians in Shujaiya

By Ben White (Electronic Intifada)

Prominent settler and former Israeli army chief rabbi Avichai Rontzki delivered a “messianic, fiery speech” to Israeli forces prior to the devastating massacre of the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya, it was revealed today.

An account of the speech appears in a new piece by Nahum Barnea, a prominent journalist at Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, and is based on remarks made by a soldier present at the time.

The soldier related that before their invasion of Shujaiya, troops were gathered to “listen to the words” of Rontzki, who “praised the miracle of God’s army.” According to an article last week in Kipa, a religious-Zionist oriented news site, Rontzki has been performing reserve duty and “encouraging the combatants on the ground.”

The Electronic Intifada has already reported on the phenomenon of groups of Jewish mystics offering support to the Israeli forces currently shelling Gaza, as well as the Israeli army commander who declared “holy war” on Palestinians.

“Damned”

The anonymous soldier in Barnea’s article also recounts a similar event prior to the Shujaiya massacre:

We got close to Kibbutz Nahal Oz and then they gathered us together. You know how it is in the army – when told to gather, you gather. Waiting for us was a bunch of Breslev Hasidic Jews singing “Messiah, Messiah,” dancing and bouncing around. We formed a circle around them, and a bunch of fighters danced with them in ecstasy

Israel’s ground assault on the Gaza Strip began late on Thursday 17 July, with tanks receiving orders “to open fire at anything that moved.”  Over the next few days, the Shujaiya district of Gaza City was subjected to intense and indiscriminate bombardment, including 600 shells fired by an artillery battalion and 100 one-ton bombs dropped from the air.

Rontzki’s speech to Israeli soldiers recalls his time as Israeli army chief rabbi, when, in 2009, he told religious students that troops who “show mercy” towards the enemy in wartime will be “damned.” During Israel’s so-called “Operation Cast Lead” massacre in 2008-09, the army rabbinate under his leadership distributed inflammatory publications that referred to the massacre as “a war on murderers.”

Rontzki was one of the founding members of Itamar, a fanatical Israeli settlement colony near Nablus, where has also led a yeshiva, or religious seminary.

Israel now, Ireland next: Dublin embassy in propaganda pics storm

Loon Watch - 29 July, 2014 - 23:41

Israeli-embassy-Twitter-images Israel now, Ireland next: Dublin embassy in propaganda pics storm

An Israeli spokesman has confirmed that offensive images featuring European national icons were sent from his embassy’s official social media accounts.

Dublin was not the only city to come into the Israeli propaganda sights. A montage of pictures also showed the Mona Lisa in Paris wearing a niqab and carrying a rocket launcher. Michaelangelo’s David was shown in Arab headgear and wired up as a suicide bomber with a warning to Italy, while Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid was shown holding a gun.

The Israel In Ireland Facebook and Twitter accounts have been blasted for sharing the series of controversial posts.

An embassy spokesman told the Irish Sun: “Yes they were sent from the official Facebook but they were taken down, I don’t know why. Often things get deleted for space reasons but it wasn’t taken down because of any complaints.”

But disgusted online viewers called on the Government to take decisive action.

One said: “Feckin’ Facebook has taken more action against Israel in Ireland than our own Govt! Useless, spineless cowards. Further disgusting imagery from the Israeli Embassy in Ireland @IsraelinIreland.” Another fumed: “A disgusting piece of propaganda incitement attempt by @IsraelinIreland – embassy in Dublin. Simply disgusting. #GazaUnderAttack.”

The Israeli Embassy in Ireland has been slammed for previous outrageous social network posts. In December 2012, it was forced to remove a Facebook update which suggested that if Jesus lived in the modern world he would “probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians”.

More than 1,050 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers, two civilians and a Thai migrant worker have died as rockets and shells have flown across the Israeli Gaza border since July 8.

Sinn Fein foreign affairs spokesman Sean Crowe was shocked by the latest images. He said: “On one hand it’s childish and lacks maturity, but when you consider 1,050 people have been killed, it’s wrong to be making light of the situation.

“This is such a sensitive time, you would think an embassy would treat it as such and would send out messages of reconciliation, not fan the flames. I can’t understand why anyone would take time to post stuff like this.”

Irish Sun, 28 July 2014

Anger as Islamic charity with Bradford base has its bank account shut down

Loon Watch - 29 July, 2014 - 23:32

Ummah-Welfare-Trust-2

Muslim Americans have also been experiencing their bank accounts being shutdown without justification.

Anger as Islamic charity with Bradford base has its bank account shut down

An Islamic charity with a base in Bradford has been told that its bank account is being shut down, although it has yet to be told why. Now Bradford West MP George Galloway says he will “demand” to know the reason that HSBC has decided to shut the account of the Ummah Welfare Trust.

The registered charity, which has an office on Manningham Lane, believes HSBC has taken the action because some of the money it collects goes towards humanitarian projects in Palestine. It was this week given notice that its accounts were being shut in two months’ time. Although the account closure is not expected to hit the charity too hard, members feel it was morally wrong, and are calling for a boycott of the bank.

The trust had its account with Barclays bank shut in 2008.

Shoyeb Mayat, of the Bradford office, said: “We have no idea why they made this decision. We are in the middle of our busiest time for donations. During Ramadan we get 70 per cent of the donations we get each year.”

The group provides emergency relief in 20 countries across the world, including Pakistan, Palestine and India. It said the money goes towards providing medicine and grants to vulnerable people and children whose families have been killed or injured.

Mohammed Ahmed, one of the charity’s trustees, said: “From a commercial perspective it doesn’t make sense because charities like us are some of the most stable customers. We do have alternate banking in place, so this won’t effect our operations but we find it quite offensive that a bank would go out of its way to do this to a legitimate charity.”

Respect MP Mr Galloway said: “I will be contacting HSBC and asking them to reinstate the Ummah accounts and to demand to know the reasons why they want to terminate them. I’ll bet this doesn’t happen to any Jewish or Israeli charities. I will also be raising questions in the House about this and hopefully I all get together with the officers of Ummah over the weekend.”

A statement from HSBC said: “We are not able to comment on any customer relationship. In general terms, decisions to end a customer relationship are not taken lightly, but are absolutely not based on the race or religion of a customer. Discrimination against customers on grounds of race or religion is immoral, unacceptable and illegal, and HSBC has comprehensive rules and policies in place to ensure race or religion are never factors in banking decisions.”

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: “This is an independent business decision made by the bank. Neither the charity or the Charity Commission are aware of the reason for this action. The Charity Commission’s regulatory concern is ensuring that another provider is identified, the charity can still operate and funds are not at risk. We remain in contact with the charity.”

Telegraph & Argus, 28 July 2014

See also “HSBC issues notice to Ummah Welfare Trust to shut down account”, 5 Pillarz, 24 July 2014

“Concern at closure of Ummah Welfare Trust bank account”, Muslim Charities Forum, 25 July 2014

And “HSBC to close bank account of Muslim charity working in Gaza”, Civil Society, 25 July 2014

Eid Mubarak! + MMW Hiatus for August

Muslimah Media Watch - 29 July, 2014 - 15:12
All the best Eid wishes to you and your loved ones from the MMW team!  If you missed any of our Ramadan posts, you can find them all here. Muslimah Media Watch will be going on hiatus for the month of August, as several of our writers are traveling or otherwise in need of a [Read More...]

Claire Dyer: Transfer postponed!

Indigo Jo Blogs - 29 July, 2014 - 14:45

Selection of pictures of Claire and family at the Race for Life in Swansea last Sunday; participants are all in pink, as is usual

Update 14:55: There is to be a court hearing this Friday; Claire will not be moved before then.

Yesterday Catherine Dyer, mother of Claire who I have been writing about for some time, told us that her daughter was to be transferred to a medium-secure hospital unit near Brighton tomorrow (Wednesday). Claire is autistic and displays challenging behaviour (ie., self-injury, hitting others and property), particularly in stressful situations, as is fairly common with autism. However, the family say they have only experienced a few such incidents over the last few years, mainly because they keep her occupied, which the assessment and treatment unit she is currently in does not. Claire has been out or home with her family on most days since being sectioned last September, which is otherwise unheard-of for someone held under Section 3. This will not continue when she is transferred, and visits will be much less frequent as it’s a five-hour journey.

What is even more worrying is that her destination is a mental health facility, not one that specialises in learning disabilities. There are two medium secure units in Sussex; one is The Dene, outside Burgess Hill, which caters for women only, including those referred by the courts because of offending behaviour, including homicide. The other is Hellingly, near Hailsham (much closer to Eastbourne than Brighton), run by the NHS Sussex Partnership, a mixed unit which also houses male sex offenders. The family have not revealed which unit she is being sent to, but unless there’s one being kept a huge secret, it must be one of these two.

That the so-called responsible clinician at Swansea is willing to send a vulnerable woman hundreds of miles away to such a wholly unsuitable place suggests that he wants to get rid of her by any means necessary and cares nothing about her best interests. Mark Neary has suggested that there may be a financial motive (if she remains out of area long enough, the local health trust in Sussex picks up the bill, not the health board in Swansea); I suspect that also, the target of getting long stayers out of ATUs can be more easily be met by moving the more difficult cases to secure units rather than discharging them home or finding care home or bespoke housing placements for them (you might recall that previously, Claire was offered such an arrangement, but would have to wait for it to be built).

Claire’s supporters have been contacting various charities to see if people can use their influence to get this move stopped. The Sussex Partnership responded to my tweet (and several others’) by posting a link to their help page; if you’re familiar with Claire’s case (and only then), you might like to contact them or the email contact on The Dene’s website to try and get them to see sense. One thing is certain is that Claire does not fit the profile of person that these units take, something they may quickly find out if she is moved there. She’s an autistic person who needs moderate supervision and stimulation, not months or years in a lock-up. As for this psychiatrist at Swansea, he should be facing a fitness-to-practise hearing because of this – his conduct has been damnable.

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Just 16 hours' notice for the 40,000 flocking to Eid festival in Birmingham

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2014 - 20:02
Muslim families celebrate but many say mood is sombre following 'Trojan horse' scandal and events in Gaza

Organising a festival for 40,000 people is no mean feat, what with the toilets, retrieving lost children and the ever present threat of rain. But those behind Birmingham's mammoth Eid al-Fitr bash on Monday had an extra headache to contend with: uncertainty about when the celebration would actually take place. It went right down to the wire. Only at teatime on Sunday, when scholars in Saudi Arabia spotted the new moon, were they able to announce that the jamboree believed to be the biggest ever in the UK would take place the following morning.

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Rights and wrongs of the Trojan horse affair in Birmingham | @guardianletters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2014 - 19:59

The new secretary of state for education, Nicky Morgan, makes various pledges following the Trojan horse reports on Birmingham schools. Several of her pledges are valuable. The basis for them, however, is unsound. Peter Clarkes report is not forensic, as Nicky Morgan claims (Report, 22 July), but a biased mix of uncorroborated smear, anecdote, hoax and chatroom gossip.

It reflects neoconservative assumptions about the nature of extremism; ignores significant testimony and viewpoints; implies the essential problem in Birmingham is simply the influence of certain individuals; discusses governance but not curriculum; ignores the concerns and perceptions of parents and young people; and is unlikely to bear judicial scrutiny. The Trojan horse affair has done much damage in Birmingham, both to individuals and to community cohesion.

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How are you celebrating Eid 2014?

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2014 - 11:06

As Ramadan ends, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid-al-Fitr. Are you? Share your photos and stories

When is Eid 2014?

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the islamic holy month of Ramadan and the first day of the new month of Shawwal.

Eid-al-Fitr begins after the first sighting of the new moon. Muslims traditionally gather to pray, give charity and break their fast with family or friends. In many countries it is a public holiday and schools and government offices close.

"Seek assistance through patience and prayer" (Al Baqarah 2:45).

Sent via GuardianWitness

4 July 2014, 15:35

Bunch of guys turn up spontaneously on Eid day and give out free Sweets and Balloon models to kids, making Eid fun after Ramadan

Sent via GuardianWitness

3 July 2014, 21:09

After a long day of handwork in scorching heat of 45 centigrade, Muslims waiting at a place in the city of Rawalpindi to break the fast with cold drink and dates... (courtesy: Fahim Kidwai, Rawalpindi)

The Prophet of Islam Muhammad (pbuh) has highly recommended Muslims to spend few moments in front of food prior to breaking the fast, thank God for all the blessing bestowed upon them and pray for health and well being of others.

Sent via GuardianWitness

12 July 2014, 23:01

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Crisis in Britain First – Dowson quits, Golding calls off mosque invasions

Loon Watch - 28 July, 2014 - 01:32

Britain-First-Thank-You-James Crisis in Britain First – Dowson quits, Golding calls off mosque invasions

Jim Dowson, the brains (and money) behind the far-right Britain First group, has resigned from the organisation and indeed from political life generally.

In a rambling resignation letter posted on the Britain First website, Dowson announces “my retirement from all political activities forthwith and my withdrawal from Britain First with immediate effect”, a decision that he attributes to “recent political and personal events and family health issues”.

In an accompanying statement, Britain First asserts that the state “persecution” Dowson has suffered in Northern Ireland has been exacerbated by a media campaign instigated by Hope Not Hate (described, bizarrely, as “the biggest far-Left group in the country”) that has sought to “portray James as the ‘evil genius’ behind the ‘far right’ in Britain”.

But another of Dowson’s motivations for leaving the organisation would appear to be his disapproval of the “mosque invasions” that Britain First has been carrying out over the past few months:

“The media have put him under enormous pressure recently regarding our invasions of mosques across Britain and understandably this has forced Jim to distance himself from these activities, notwithstanding the fact that these mosque invasions have cause considerable exposure of issues such as Muslim female genital mutilation, second class treatment of women, extremism and grooming gangs.”

Even Dowson, it seems, is embarrassed to be associated with a gang of thugs who think it’s brave to barge into places of worship and harass elderly Muslims.

Judging by his letter, Dowson regards such stunts as a poor substitute for addressing “the root cause of our Nation’s demise”, which he identifies as a declining birthrate that has “left indigenous Britain an aging and dying country”, along with the “destruction of the family unit”, all brought about by “the liberal secularization this nation has suffered through the rise of atheist socialism these past 50 years otherwise known as ‘cultural Marxism’”.

Dowson adds: “Of course militant Islam is a threat to our future, we know that but Britain First was set up to tackle ALL the major issues that affect our people not just militant Islam. Even if every single Muslim left the UK tomorrow we would still be utterly doomed as a nation and a people.”

Shortly after publishing Dowson’s resignation letter, Britain First chairman Paul Golding uploaded a video in which he declares that Britain First has suspended its “tremendously successful” mosque invasion campaign and will be moving on to other things, including a return to its so-called “Christian patrols“.

Golding concludes with the upbeat assurance that “we’re going to get bigger and more successful”. With Dowson no longer around to bankroll the organisation, you’d have to say that sounds over-optimistic.

Update:  See “Britain First founder quits over MOSQUE INVASIONS which attract ‘racists and extremists’”, Daily Mirror, 27 July 2014

Dowson told the Mirror: “No matter how many times I told him [Golding] I did not want decent Muslims intimidated, he just continued doing it. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I tried, you cannot escape from the fact that the group is being overrun with racists and extremists. I think he is fooling himself and lots of people that Britain First is a Christian group. Sadly, it has just become a violent front for people abusing the Bible. I think they’re becoming as much a problem as Anjem Choudary who they claim to oppose. They are just as bad as each other.”

Islamic State destroys ancient Mosul mosque, the third in a week

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2014 - 01:29

The Prophet Jirjis mosque and shrine, dating to the 14th century, join list of mosques blown up by militants in Iraq

Militants from the Islamic State group blew up a mosque and shrine dating back to the 14th century in Mosul on Sunday, local residents said, the latest casualty of a week in which half a dozen of the Iraqi city's most revered holy places have been destroyed.

Mosul residents said the Prophet Jirjis mosque and shrine was bombed and destroyed by the radical jihadist group. They spoke anonymously to the Associated Press for fear of reprisal.

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