Unesco adopts controversial resolution on Jerusalem holy sites

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2016 - 14:32

Israel claims document on Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex, listing Palestinian complaints over Israeli actions, deletes Jewish ties to sites

Unesco, the UN’s world heritage organisation, has adopted a controversial resolution that criticises Israeli actions around the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City – with Israel claiming it deletes Jewish ties to holy sites.

The final version of the resolution – which has sparked furious claims and counter-claims – passed easily on Wednesday after Israel pressed for a secret vote. Despite containing some softening of language following Israeli protests over a previous version, Israel continued to denounce the text.

Continue reading...

Heathrow: No free ride for Zac Goldsmith

Indigo Jo Blogs - 25 October, 2016 - 22:39

A village green in Harmondsworth behind which is a church; to the left is a pub, the Five Bells, and an old house is to the right. Cars are parked on roads outside the pub and house and a yellow litter bin is in the foreground.Today the government announced its preferred option for airport expansion in the south-east of England, and as had been expected, that was a third runway at Heathrow in west London. The other main option had been a second runway at Gatwick, to the south of London. This does not (contrary to the BBC’s report) mean that the plans have been approved, which means it will get built; there still has to be a debate in Parliament (where there may well be a free vote) and there are likely to be legal challenges. The Heathrow plan has long been opposed by Boris Johnson, currently foreign secretary, who represents Uxbridge which is in the same borough as most of the airport (Hillingdon), and Zac Goldsmith, who represents Richmond Park constituency to the south-east of the existing airport, parts of which suffer severely from noise from low-flying planes (having visited friends in nearby Isleworth, I know how disruptive this can be), and has ‘resigned’ in protest, triggering a by-election in which he intends to stand.

I’m against airport expansion in general; we already have four large airports surrounding London and we do not have as much land to spare as other large cities in Europe. On land grounds alone, Gatwick looked ideal, as there was already a strip of land to the south of the existing airport which could be used, and as it runs east to west, it will not result in significant noise blight nearby (the major towns in the area, Horley and Crawley, are to the north and south). It has better rail links than Heathrow, which has a slow Tube line and a branch line which only leads into London; Gatwick has fast rail links to both the City and West End, is served by Thameslink and a link to Reading, and the link to the West Coast Main Line could be reinstated if there was the political will. However, its road links are poorer; the road route to Gatwick from almost anywhere in the country passes via Heathrow. If Gatwick were extended, congestion on the southern and western parts of the M25 would increase, likely resulting in a need for another motorway link such as the long-abandoned ‘M31’ scheme. Pressure would also build to relieve congestion at the Dartford Tunnel, which already suffers huge tailbacks.

However, the Heathrow plan will extend the airport west of the M25, require the demolition of much of Harmondsworth village and the whole of Longford, on the north-western edge of the airport currently, and its flight path to the east will pass directly over the villages of Sipson and Harlington; it will require the demolition of a lot of airport-related industrial premises and require the demolition or rerouting of several major roads, including the A4. Quite apart from the carbon emissions, which will increase when the three runways are used to capacity (if one does not believe the promises of night-time flight bans, fewer delays and circumnavigations of the airport by planes that cannot land, and so on), the new runway will increase the area of London blighted by aircraft noise by a third.

The decision has led to the ‘resignation’ of Zac Goldsmith, triggering a by-election in his Richmond Park constituency, which includes part of Kingston where I live (I live in the Kingston and Surbiton constituency, represented by James Berry). Goldsmith was previously editor of the Ecologist and won the seat from the Lib Dems in 2010; they had previously held it since 1997 (Jenny Tonge until 2005, then Susan Kramer). He had a reputation as a progressive “green Tory” until he stood for mayor of London this year, during which he relied on Lynton Crosby to smear his Labour opponent, Sadiq Khan, with baseless stories of association with Muslim extremists, as well as courting Hindu and Sikh voters with anti-Muslim appeals.

On previous occasions where the sitting MP has triggered a by-election as a protest (e.g. Haltemprice and Howden in 2008), the main opposition parties have not fielded candidates. As this MP has a record of running campaigns based on bigotry, he should not be allowed a free ride. The Lib Dems have opposed the expansion of Heathrow airport for years and have the best chance of taking it from the Tories; this was one of their strongholds for years and they should field a strong candidate. The opportunity should not be lost to erase this stain.

Possibly Related Posts:

Challenging Domestic Violence in Tunisia

Loon Watch - 25 October, 2016 - 19:07


Yes, it’s true that laws too often in some majority Muslim nations restrict and discriminate against the rights of women, as do certain societal and cultural norms. At the forefront of upending such discriminatory practices are Muslim women politicians from the Ennahda party.

via. The Guardian

Almost half of women aged 18-64 – 47.6% – had experienced some form of violence, according to a 2010 survey. There is little evidence that the situation has improved since the uprising that ended the dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and led to a democratically elected government.

However, this month Tunisia’s parliament is debating a bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women. Championed by Ennahdha, a conservative reformist party with Islamic roots and a clutch of dynamic female MPs and officials, the bill is expected to be passed by the end of 2016.

The proposed law, which would be incorporated into other legislation and government policies, would introduce sweeping definitions of gender-based violence, covering psychological and economic harm in both the public and domestic spheres. Marital rape would be outlawed and there would be an end to impunity for rapists if their victims are under 20 and they subsequently marry them. Penalties for sexual harassment at work would be increased and police officers and hospital staff trained in gender issues.

The scope of the bill may challenge western stereotypes of Islam, but Mehrezia Labidi, an Ennahdha MP and chair of the parliamentary women’s committee, said: “We see no contradiction between Islam and protecting women’s rights. We have a progressive reading of Islam.”

Sayida Ounissi, 29, another Ennahdha MP and secretary of state for entrepreneurship in the coalition government led by the secular Nidaa Tounes party, said: “It’s good to have conservatives like us saying violence against women is not acceptable. Some conservatives might argue that the state should not interfere in the private space [of the family], but when a person’s physical integrity is harmed, the state needs to step in.”

Tunisia may have a better record on women’s rights than other countries in the region, “but we compare ourselves to international standards”, she added.

Continue Reading

The Art of the Qur’an – landmark exhibit shows holy book as text and work of art

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2016 - 18:18

First major exhibit on the Qur’an in the US, at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, displays manuscripts over a period of almost a millennium

The last significant survey of Islam’s holy book in the west was held at the British Museum in London in 1976. Into that void comes the first major exhibit on the Qur’an in the United States, The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, at the Sackler Gallery in Washington DC. On display are more than 60 richly decorated manuscripts that span nearly a millennium, cover a vast area of the Islamic world and encompass an array of styles and formats, from simple sheets of parchment to large bound tomes.

The exhibit offers “an unparalleled view of some of the greatest [Islamic] calligraphy, illumination and binding”, said museum director Julian Raby. “Above all, we convey the sense of how artists from north Africa to Afghanistan found different ways to honor the same sacred text of Islam.”

Related: Artist Sophia Al-Maria: 'People hate Islam, but they're titillated by it too'

Continue reading...

Fears battle for Mosul could open new front in wider Sunni-Shia conflict

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2016 - 12:36

Confusion and denial over Turkey’s role in battle against Isis reflects Iraqi anxiety over predominantly Sunni country’s intentions

The risk that military operations to expel Islamic State terrorists from Mosul in northern Iraq could morph into a new frontline in the wider conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam has intensified with Turkey’s disputed entry into the fray.

Binali Yıldırım, Turkey’s prime minister, confirmed reports that Turkish troops based in the contested Bashiqa area outside Mosul were firing on Isis positions with artillery, tanks and howitzers. Yıldırım said the bombardment followed a request from Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Related: Turkish and Kurdish soldiers join forces to gain advantage in Mosul push

Related: ‘We usually cry when we watch the news’: anguish of Iraq’s Yazidi families

Continue reading...

From the US army to al-Shabaab: the man who wanted to live under sharia law

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2016 - 11:00

Craig Baxam left the military to practice Islam in Somalia but ended up imprisoned for murky terrorism-related charges, a case that exposes the conflict between religious fundamentalism and the US national security apparatus

Craig Baxam was lost. He thought he was in a town in northern Kenya called Marareme, though really he didn’t have a clue. He then got on a bus headed to Garissa, towards the Somali border, but was puzzled by the way the other passengers referred to it as “Arara”.

Baxam was far from home, spoke no local language and knew little about the region he was traveling through. If he were successful in reaching southern Somalia, his destination, things would almost certainly get worse for him: the war-torn country, where he planned to live according to his faith, remains one of the most inhospitable and perilous on Earth.

Related: Somalia: one man’s terrorist is another man’s carpenter

As a mother, it bothers me that I lent my son to the army and they didn’t give him back to me

Baxam saw himself dying in Somalia. It might be from malaria or from being hit by a rocket. Only Allah could know. Baxam never intended to return from Somalia, he was ‘looking for dying with a gun in my hand’. He would be happy to die defending Islam; being mowed down or hit with a cruise missile. If someone dies defending Islam, they are guaranteed a place in Jannah [paradise].

Continue reading...

Sir Sigmund Sternberg obituary

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 October, 2016 - 17:39
Businessman and philanthropist who founded the Three Faiths Forum, a dialogue group of Christians, Muslims and Jews

Sir Sigmund Sternberg, who has died aged 95, was one of Anglo-Jewry’s most active members, present at seemingly any important communal occasion – a banquet addressed by the chief rabbi, a meeting called in honour of an Israeli prime minister, or, most likely of all, representing Britain’s Jews at an interfaith occasion.

At almost every appearance, the decorations he wore seemed to multiply: because of his work for inter-faith relations, he was constantly being presented with medals, from countries ranging from Argentina to Ukraine.

Continue reading...

A waste of a life

Indigo Jo Blogs - 22 October, 2016 - 23:29

Nicky Reilly with a bloodied face, being led away by two police officers, one male (off picture) and one female, after the 2008 Exeter bomb blastLast Wednesday, Nicky Reilly, who attempted to blow up a restaurant in Exeter with a home-made bomb which exploded in the toilet, injuring only himself, died in Manchester prison (otherwise known as Strangeways) where he was serving a life sentence for the attack, having been recently been moved from the Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire. The circumstances of his death have not been revealed, but we can assume it was not murder as this would have been made public. According to local press reports, Reilly converted to Islam at age 16 and was, according to his mother, a “peaceful follower of Islam” for several years before he was radicalised over a period of weeks in his early 20s by two so-called friends believed to have been in Pakistan and changed his name to Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Rashid Said-Alim, supposedly in reference to the 9/11 attackers (although all but the last are very common Muslim names); the two men apparently went through every last detail to make sure he got it ‘right’, which he of course didn’t.

I never had any contact with Reilly, so I don’t know how he presented to those he chatted to online and those he met in the kebab shop who encouraged him to carry out the bombing, but he had Asperger’s syndrome (note: that is not a condition people ‘suffer’ from) and was reported to have an IQ of 83, and I think it unlikely that they were entirely unaware of his impairments; he had been in contact with mental health services since the age of nine because of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and multiple suicide attempts and had been sectioned after one such attempt, and had had a difficult school and family life as a child. People in his condition are easy prey for various types of exploitation; besides the well-documented “mate crimes” in which people pretend to be friends to an individual with learning disabilities and then abuse or even kill them, there are cases of criminals using their eagerness to please others, their need for friendship and approval, to induce or coerce them into helping with criminal activities (e.g. letting their flat be used to store drugs). Whoever encouraged him to carry out the bombing played on his vulnerabilities.

I thought at the time that his sentence was unduly harsh, given his fragile mental state and the fact that he was not part of any major terrorist organisation, the device was crude and the bombing did not injure, let alone kill, anyone. The starting point for a tariff (that is, the minimum amount of time that must be served in prison) for an actual murder, a deliberate act in which someone was killed, is 12 years; his was 18 years. This was three years longer than that received by Roshonara Choudary, a young woman not thought to have learning difficulties, for stabbing the MP Stephen Timms in May 2010, two years later. Such inconsistencies are not uncommon in English sentencing for serious crimes; consider the fact that Adam Johnson, a footballer, received six years for sexual acts (not intercourse) with a 15-year-old girl, while Jeremy Forrest, a teacher, received a five-year sentence for running off to France with a 15-year-old girl who was his pupil and, as he later admitted, having sex with her. Much as with the sentences passed during the 2011 riots, often savagely harsh in response to trivial thefts that did not involve violence, the judge appears to have ignored usual mitigating factors (using his clean record against him, for example) and his disability.

Since we do not know the cause of his death other than that it was not murder, there is a distinct possibility that it was suicide. Reilly had recently been transferred from Broadmoor hospital, where his mother had said he had been treated very well (and where she had been allowed to see his room, very rare now even in low-security units for people with learning disabilities), to HMP Manchester, formerly Strangeways, which a recent inspection (PDF) had noted was overcrowded, where black, minority-ethnic and Muslim prisoners were much more negative about their relations with staff than other prisoners, and facilities for prisoners with disabilities were inadequate. The transfer may have been in response to his and another Muslim patient’s attack on a member of staff in a dispute over changes to Muslim prayer arrangements; however, it seems odd to transfer a vulnerable patient to a far-away prison over an offence much less than the one that got him sent there. His learning disabilities had, after all, not changed. It would also not be the first time a learning disabled offender was housed among a general prison population, male or female, and such prisoners are common targets for bullies.

This was a tragic waste of a life, of course partly by Reilly himself but also by those who bullied him as a child, those who exploited him after he became Muslim and by those who punished him out of proportion to the effects and the background behind the crime, treating him as a competent and sophisticated terrorist when he was neither. His imprisonment or treatment should have been aimed at rehabilitating him to a purposeful life in the community well within 10 years, rather than keeping him locked up indefinitely and thereby destroying him. This should be the same for all offenders with learning disabilities who, alongside those with challenging behaviour that leads them into the mental health system, are being failed with lethal consequences.

Possibly Related Posts:

Become an Informed Voter: Learning More about Candidates and Issues

altmuslim - 21 October, 2016 - 21:52
This is the third in a four-part series focusing on the 2016 election cycle and how American Muslim communities factor into the political process. Click here for part one and here for part two. By Altmuslim Staff With less than 20 days to go until voting on November 8 in the 2016 presidential election, many voters are looking [Read More...]

On The Četnik Atrocities Against Muslims

Loon Watch - 21 October, 2016 - 21:08


The Balkan Muslims and the Muslims of Eastern Europe have faced many trials and tribulations over the years. Their communities have been targeted for systematic destruction several times.

Recently, I came across the interesting work and writings of Ćamil Jusuf Avdić, a pioneering Muslim scholar in America, in a nice volume called: “A Heritage of East & West: The Writings of Imam Ćamil Jusuf Avdić.”

In the process of reading some of the his writings I encountered a shocking fact that hitherto I have not read before. It relates to the destruction and murder of 200,000 Bosnian Muslims during World War II. I reproduce below selected passages dealing with the crimes perpetrated by the Četniks and their leader, General Draža Mihailović.

“The Četniks were paramilitary, pan-Serbian units, whose duty, in the beginning, was for the struggle against the Turks, and afterwards against all Muslims in the Balkans, as well as against Croats and Bulgars, Hungarians and Germans. They were both national and religious fanatics. Colonel Mihailović was promoted by King Peter to the rank of general and minister of war to the Yugoslav government in exile. This title and post was a reward for his ‘heroic’ exploits against Muslim children, women and old men, as we shall see. The Western Allies also raised him to the rank of a ‘hero’ due to the propaganda of the Yugoslav government-in-exile. We shall prove here through objective argument what the real plans and actions of this man were, and against whom the Četniks were directed. Firstly the order du jour of Draža Mihailović issued on the 20th December 1941, No. 370, wherein he stated the need to, ‘Create a common frontier between Serbia and Montenegro by cleaning the district of the Sandžak of Novi Pazar of its Muslims, and ridding Bosnia-Hercegovina of all Muslims and Catholics.’


Following this declaration Mihailović let loose his force of Četniks to put into execution his orders. Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Sandžak became a hell for the unarmed and abandoned Muslim masses. More than 200,000 were killed in a most inhuman and horrible manner; villages and hamlets became graveyards; thousands and thousands of refugees fled to Sarajevo and other great cities.” (p.52-55)


Subscribe to The Revival aggregator