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Californian man who spoke of becoming Isis martyr in Syria jailed for 30 years

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 hours 34 min ago

Nader Elhuzayel, 25, convicted of trying to become a foreign fighter, using stolen checks to fund his travel to Syria

A southern Californian man convicted of trying to become a fighter for the Islamic State terrorist group has been sentenced to 30 years prison.

Nader Elhuzayel, 25, of Anaheim was sentenced by US district judge David O Carter on Monday.

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We can’t build a progressive political agenda without tackling bigotry | Jeff Sparrow

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2016 - 04:19

Much has been written on how to combat racist rhetoric and attitudes. Yes, we need a different kind of politics but that depends on defeating racism

The fringe becomes mainstream not by slow increments but by sharp lurches – or, more exactly, gradual acceptance manifests itself through dramatic breakthroughs, as quantity gives way to quality.

Last week’s Essential Poll, with its finding that 49% of Australians support banning Muslim immigration, represents one of those moments.

Related: Progressives can attract Hanson supporters. But not by insulting them | Peter Lewis

There is a progressive political agenda that can resonate with all these disengaged and distrustful people, while at the same time taking the heat out of their fear and insecurity.

It’s about such unfashionable ideas as income distribution, workplace bargaining rights, industry development and corporate responsibility.

Related: First Dog on the Moon's reverse-racist history of Australian racial intolerance

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A few weeks back on Android

Indigo Jo Blogs - 25 September, 2016 - 21:16

A white Nexus 5X seen from front and back. The back has the light sensor, camera, fingerprint sensor, and Nexus and LG logos. The front has the speakers, and the screen which shows an aerial view of a beach with houses fronting it, with various application icons.Over the summer, my iPhone broke down. The charging point initially stopped charging when the Lightning plug was not plugged in at exactly the right angle, but one morning while I was out driving and needed to charge, it just wouldn’t. I took my phone to the local Apple Store in the afternoon after work, and they told me they couldn’t fit me in that afternoon and that I’d have to come in first thing Saturday morning. As I needed a phone and couldn’t guarantee that they’d be able to fix my iPhone, which was out of warranty, I went and bought a Nexus 5X from the local Carphone Warehouse. It’s a 32Gb in, I think, aqua blue (which was the only colour they had left). The next morning, I went into the Apple Store and they did manage to get my iPhone charging again, and I put the Nexus back in its case intending to sell it.

About a month ago, the new version of Android, v7 Nougat, came out and I decided to give it a go on the Nexus. While using the Nexus (which came with version 6, Marshmallow) briefly, I had a taste of my former frustrations at the quality of the Twitter apps, which may seem trivial but it’s a large part of what I use my mobile phone for. I wasn’t willing to use the official app because of certain limitations (I wanted traditional Mentions and Retweets columns, not “Interactions”) and the competition all has serious drawbacks including infrequent updates and bugs (e.g. timeline updates and streaming which leave gaps which won’t fill). But I was also reminded of the flexibility: being able to install direct dial buttons and other widgets on the home screen, which you just can’t do on iOS (though the process for doing this on Android really needs to be simplified). To access any contact, you have to go into the dialler (where you can add them to the Favourites list) or the Contacts app.

So, once my iPhone was repaired, I put the Nexus back in its box and into my cupboard and contemplated selling it on eBay. But then along came Nougat which the reviews told us was a major release, and I got it out again and upgraded it (after installing several sets of monthly security updates, which Google should really make available in one download so that the user only has to go through the process once). The Nougat update itself was fairly quick (much quicker than an iOS upgrade) and once it was over I went through the usual set-up routine (you use your Google account for the Play Store which supplies the apps but not, unlike its equivalent on the Mac, OS updates and upgrades).

I decided to give my Nexus a few weeks’ proper use as my regular phone and put the iPhone away, so I put my SIM into the Nexus and added my regular contacts (relatives and job agency offices) to my home screen. I also transferred all my audio files over to the device (which was easy as Apple now stores iTunes files as MP3, not AAC, so it’s just a question of finding the files and using Android File Transfer to transfer them folder by folder). I paired the phone with my car and with the sat-nav I use when driving trucks. The sat-nav paired without much effort, but the car took a lot more effort, failing several times, telling me it was already paired when it wasn’t. When I finally managed it, however, I found the Nexus vastly more reliable in its Bluetooth pairing than the iPhone. In particular, it reconnects very quickly when a connection goes down. With the iPhone, when it first meets a device it’s paired with, it pairs automatically, but you have to manually reconnect whenever the connection goes down (e.g. when you turn the car engine off). That doesn’t happen with the Nexus, which automatically reconnects.

Android has offered interchangeable keypads since its inception (or at least since I first started using it in 2009) and the default offering, although a bit clunky for my liking, still excels far beyond Apple’s stock keypad (which has offered multiple-choice predictive text only since 2014), which remains slow, largely because the choices appear with a sort of animation rather than just appearing, as on every other keypad. I installed SwiftKey, my preferred keypad both before and after I bought my iPad and iPhone, which on Android is far more flexible than its iOS equivalent; you can resize the keypad, you can long-press to get numbers and symbols, you have more options for speed typing and avenues for personalisation. On top of this, I’ve never had a keypad fail to appear when I need to type (e.g. when a text entry field appears or is activated by my touching it on the screen), which is a regular occurrence on iOS and is only solved by force-quitting the app. On Android, there is always an on-screen button that lets you swap keypads; there isn’t on iOS, where it is more needed. The iOS version of Swype is an even more limited, cut-down version of the Android equivalent, although it offers long-press symbols, unlike SwiftKey.

The user interface in general is a lot brighter than iOS’s. The Nexus’s resolution has improved a lot over the last few versions and the naked eye (mine at least) can’t tell the difference between it and Apple’s Retina screens. Both systems have moved towards a flatter interface, getting rid of button shadings and “skeuomorphic” designs (e.g. a note-taking app expecting you to write on a picture of a notebook) and third-party apps have mostly followed suit, but Google’s “Material Design” has used colour a lot more in all its stock apps (its headers are usually white on a coloured background) while Apple’s use mostly black on white or light grey. None of this is new to Nougat or recent versions of iOS, of course. Both recent iPhones and the Nexus 5X (based on an LG phone) have fingerprint sensors to unlock the device, and the Nexus’s is much more reliable — Apple’s fails if I don’t have absolutely clean hands, while the Nexus’s almost never fails (and if you think yours is failing, make sure that your finger is on the sensor, not the camera which is above it). The Nexus is bigger, and is thus a bit more difficult to operate one-handed; the iPhone lets you tap twice to access content at the top of the screen (it drops everything on the screen halfway down, with the bottom content disappearing), which isn’t the case on Android as far as I can tell. Android has the usual three buttons at the bottom, with “Back” on the left and “Home” in the middle; much less use is made of swiping on Android than on iOS. It took a bit of getting used to. The back button at the bottom is far more convenient than on iOS, where apps usually have the Back button at the top left.

That leaves apps. Android has access to one important and really useful app, namely the AquaMail email client, which offers nearly all the options you get on a decent desktop email client, which no iOS email client that I’ve found does. For example, you can’t choose where to put the quoted text in a reply on any iOS client (it was customary to put it at the top, and delete and interpolate as necessary). A lot of other Android apps leave a lot to be desired, however. Most are perfectly adequate but lack the polish of their equivalent on iOS, if there is even an Android version. There is no equivalent of TweetBot, and there are a lot of Twitter clients which have fallen into neglect largely because of Twitter’s token limit (TweetCaster being a good example). The Facebook client is not quite as polished as the iOS version, with some bugs and peculiar features in the user interface, although when I reported one of them, it was fixed a few days later. A common iOS problem is apps that are designed for older devices and the text and keypad are scaled up, which looks pretty ugly; Android had different form factors from the start, so apps aren’t built for fixed screen sizes. Android also features a contactless payment system which you have to link to your debit card, but my bank supports Apple Pay but not Android Pay (it has said it will in the last quarter of 2016; we shall see).

So, do I intend to carry on using Android? Yes. I much prefer its flexibility, its superior user interface and its vastly better Bluetooth handling. Although you can replace some stock Apple apps on iOS, you can’t set them as the default app for certain functions. Would I recommend that everyone switch? Not necessarily, as Nexus devices (which all but my first two Androids have been, and are the ones that get the regular updates straight from Google) are often in short supply and aren’t as powerful as, say, the Samsung G-series, yet the latter gets Android updates late if at all. The Nexus is a superb phone at just over half the price of the roughly equivalent iPhone, which in my opinion is poor value for money despite recent improvements. If Nexus was as readily available as the iPhone, it could easily give the iPhone a run for its money.

Image source: Wikimedia. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence.

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Cousin of slain Jordanian writer reacts to shooting – video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 September, 2016 - 16:23

Saad Hattar, cousin of prominent and controversial Jordanian writer Nahed Attar, reacts over his fatal shooting on Sunday, saying that his death is a ‘huge loss to the nation’. Nahed Hattar was shot tree times in the head outside Amman court, where he was on trial for posting a cartoon on Facebook which was deemed offensive to Islam

Read: Jordanian writer shot dead outside his trial for insulting Islam

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Jordanian writer shot dead as he arrived for trial for insulting Islam

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 September, 2016 - 12:16

Nahed Hattar shot three times in the head outside Amman court where was on trial over cartoon he shared on Facebook

A prominent and controversial Jordanian writer, who was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, has been shot dead outside the court in Amman where he was due to appear.

Nahed Hattar, 56, posted a cartoon on Facebook earlier this year that he said mocked jihadi attitudes, for which he was facing charges in Jordan of inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam.

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“Sunnis condemn the Saudis” isn’t news

Indigo Jo Blogs - 24 September, 2016 - 12:46

A group of imams in turbans and robes, with a small minaret with crescent and star symbols behindThe Independent carried a story last Thursday in which Robert Fisk claimed that “for the first time”, Saudi Arabia was under attack from both Sunni and Shi’ite scholars as some two hundred scholars, including the mufti of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib and mufti of Syria Ahmad Hassoun, as well as representatives from Kuwait, Libya, Jordan and Sudan, had met in late August in Grozny, Chechnya at a conference hosted by Putin’s infamous puppet-thug Ramazan Kadyrov and opened by Putin himself, issuing a statement that condemns Wahhabism as a “dangerous deformation” of Islamic belief and calling for “a return to the schools of great knowledge”, presumably meaning the four schools of law. Fisk claims:

Although they did not mention the Kingdom by name, the declaration was a stunning affront to a country which spends millions of dollars every year on thousands of Wahhabi mosques, schools and clerics around the world.

Wahhabism’s most dangerous deviation, in the eyes of the Sunnis who met in Chechenya, is that it sanctions violence against non-believers, including Muslims who reject Wahhabi interpretation. Isis, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are the principal foreign adherents to this creed outside Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Fisk claims that this story was ignored by the world’s media, with the exception of one Benjamin Barthe at Le Monde in France and “the former senior associate at St Antony’s College, Sharmine Narwani”, who wrote a piece on Russia Today about it. In fact, the world’s media have covered it, with the Wall Street Journal claiming that it reflects “a new fracture”, when in fact it represents an old one. Both Fisk and the WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov give the conference a historical importance that it doesn’t really have. Scholarly works condemning Wahhabism have been around for as long as the sect itself. There is a wealth of literature available in English, both translated works from Arabic (and other languages) and some written in English, criticising different aspects of Wahhabism: the rejection of the four maddhabs and Sufism, the misguided literalism about the attributes of Allah ta’ala, the odd positions in fiqh they adopt, and their attitudes towards people outside the sect — not always unbelievers, but always “astray”. The article Advice to Our Brothers, the Scholars of Najd is a good example of the former by a Kuwaiti scholar, and the articles by Abdul-Hakim Murad and Shaikh Nuh Keller on Mas’ud Khan’s website, mostly written in the 90s but the website is still maintained, are fine examples of the latter.

The RT article goes into much more detail than Fisk, but no more demonstrates the statement’s historical significance. The conference’s conclusion, for example states that “Ash’arites and the Maturidi are the people of Sunnism and those who belong to the Sunni community, both at the level of the doctrine and of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi’i, Maliki), as well as Sufis, both in terms of knowledge and moral ethics” — statements like this have been appearing in scholarly texts and articles for decades — on which Sharwani commented:

In one fell swoop, Wahhabism, the official state religion of only two Muslim countries -Saudi Arabia and Qatar - was not part of the majority Muslim agenda any longer.

But is it? Saudi Arabia still has oil money and is still able to finance the publication of books, to pay imams, to finance mosque construction and maintenance the world over, while mainstream Sunnis have struggled to do a lot of these things. Imams in many mosques in the west are still underpaid, mosques themselves are often architecturally underwhelming, translations and printing often of poor quality, and publishing houses for high-quality original books and translations have come and go over the years I’ve been Muslim. She notes that the Muslim Brotherhood, “bank-rolled” by Qatar, was also specifically excluded, yet they also still command the loyalty of millions of Muslims worldwide and their figures still run Muslim organisations and are often trusted as leaders (they issued this statement which accused the conference of “igniting fires of discord among Muslims around the world”). One conference isn’t going to change that, especially when it says nothing that has not seen said many times before and it’s financed and hosted by an ally of the Assad regime. (According to the Italian-based site AsiaNews, the conference also resolved to open a new TV station to counter al-Jazeera; there are plenty of Muslim satellite TV stations already, so what makes them think this will have any more credibility than those, or al-Jazeera, just because it’s linked to Putin, Kadyrov or Assad?)

The media often make a big deal when an Islamic scholar issues a “fatwa against terrorism”, and ignores the fact that many other scholars had done the same many times before. A good example was the fatwa (or article or speech, as a fatwa is a legal opinion given in response to a question about a specific situation) condemning suicide bombings issued by Dr Muhammad Tahir al-Qadri, the leader of a group called Minhaj al-Qur’an which is based in Pakistan, which was trumpeted by the London Evening Standard in 2010 despite many such opinions having been given in the past (including by Wahhabis, such as the Saudi scholar Ibn Uthaymeen but also mainstream scholars such as in this example [PDF] from 2005) and despite Qadri’s influence being much less than the Standard made out. It gives the impression that Muslims had taken that long to condemn suicide bombings or terrorism more generally, when in fact they had not and the non-Muslim media had simply not listened or done their jobs properly, or had been invested in furthering a story that Muslims were complicit.

So, even though some of the scholars have a big international following, the conference and its communiqué are tainted by being hosted and financed by mass-murderers and their allies. Many Muslims the world over shy away from scholars who are closely linked to governments, both secular and religious, which bomb and starve Muslims, which bomb aid convoys, which reduce whole ancient Muslim cities to rubble, and which persecute Muslims for openly practising their religion. Many Wahhabis are apolitical, and they are not going to be convinced to change their beliefs on the names and attributes of Allah by a religious edict issued by people with these sorts of connections. For the rest of us, we knew all this anyway. Maybe the media did not fall over themselves to report this, but then, it’s not news.

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Unity gives Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for worship

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 September, 2016 - 07:00

Eight religious leaders brought their congregations together for eight days in one room. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum looked upon a crowd sitting attentively before her. “We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening,” she said with a soft smile. “Today we all do something very brave.”

Related: Want peace between Israel and Palestine? The Iran Deal is a good guide | Wardah Khalid

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Philadelphia: Car Firebombed In Possible Islamophobic Hate Crime

Loon Watch - 23 September, 2016 - 12:46

muslim_car_firebomb_philadelphia

If the allegations of the victim and witnesses bears out then this is one of the most horrific incidences of Islamophobic hate crime this year. (h/t:J)

Via. The Mirror

An explosive believed to be a firebomb has been thrown into a car – allegedly while the driver was still sitting inside.

It is also believed that the victim alleged the suspect shouted ‘There you go, Muslim’, before throwing the device into the vehicle.

The car has been almost completely destroyed by the suspected bomb after it set on fire .

It has been reported that the incident took place in North Philadelphia this morning at approximately 5am.

The video was recorded by a witness, going under the username @FeministaJones, who said: “Heard a huge explosion. Didn’t know what it was. Then heard a man yelling saying his skin was burning.

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First Dog on the Moon's reverse-racist history of Australian racial intolerance

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 September, 2016 - 07:22

A recent poll found that 49% of Australians are opposed to Muslim immigration. Way back in 1943, Gallup found that 51% of Australians were opposed to any “coloured immigration”

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Bill Shorten: Turnbull must be clear he is not on side of people ‘doing Isis’s work’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 September, 2016 - 07:15

Labor leader says far right is repeating comments by ‘crazy fundamentalists’ in Syria about Islam being incompatible with western values

Bill Shorten says Malcolm Turnbull needs to make it clear he is not on the side of people intent on “doing Daesh’s dirty work” in Australia.

The opposition leader told reporters on Friday that Islamic State’s “crazy fundamentalists” in northern Iraq and Syria regularly made arguments Islam was incompatible with western democratic liberal values, “and now in Australia we have got people who are doing Daesh’s dirty work by repeating the same allegations, except from the far right”.

Related: Race discrimination commissioner criticises Pauline Hanson for stoking division

Related: Pauline Hanson says 49% support for ban on Muslim immigration is too low

Related: Muslim immigration poll result due to poor leadership, says Tanya Plibersek

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Muslim Family’s Apartment Set On Fire

Loon Watch - 22 September, 2016 - 22:18

muslim_family_targeted

via. Arab American News

MARYLAND – A widowed Muslim mother and her two children are the targets of hates crimes in an apartment complex, after unknown culprits left hate-graffiti and then returned on another day and lit their home on fire.

The incident took place in Windsor Mill.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday said the family was targeted in a series of incidents, and called for a thorough investigation.

Family members are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Cpl. John Wachter, a spokesman for county police, said someone entered the apartment in the unit block of Fallridge Court on Sept. 6 and set fire to something on the stove.

Wachter said “offensive writing on the wall” led police to classify the incident as a possible bias crime. It wasn’t reported what was exactly written, but it included reference to ISIS.

CAIR said the graffiti had been scrawled before the fire was set, during a series of break-ins that began Aug. 20.

After the Muslim woman contacted police on numerous occasions following a series of break-ins, they told her “there’s nothing we can do” and suggested she install security camera.  Her children are only ages 9 and 12.

They have since moved in with family in Bel Air because the woman was too afraid to stay at the apartment in Windsor Mill.

“She’s been pretty traumatized by this whole incident,” said Zainab Chaudry, Maryland outreach manager for CAIR., adding that the family believes the perpetrator is someone with access to the apartment .

Authorities also suspect that the culprits of the crime may be residents of the apartment complex, as someone would need to have a code to enter the building.

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From tin sheds to temples: the past, present and potential of the Australian mosque

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 September, 2016 - 22:18

Mosques have crucial roles to play in overcoming fears about Islam and supporting progressive values within the faith

I presented a slide of an Afghan cameleer’s mosque to a conference of art historians last year, noting that this was Australia’s most distinctive contribution to Islamic architecture. Some of them laughed.

It was, after all, little more than a corrugated iron shed, stained and dented, a humble outback structure that serves its purpose and makes no claims to magnificence. Our “Afghan” mosques – made by skilled cameleers and traders from Afghanistan and beyond – are unique to Australia and they are remarkable. But should these 19th and early 20th-century regional buildings define our concept of a typically Australian mosque today?

Related: Bendigo mosque: high court throws out request to hear appeal

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Code of race ethics proposed for parliament to counter rise of One Nation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 September, 2016 - 21:00

Exclusive: Labor weighs plan to invite parliamentarians to sign up to a set of principles respecting diversity and truthfulness

Labor is preparing to launch a proposal to invite all federal parliamentarians to sign up to a code of race ethics, echoing an initiative advanced by the ALP and the Australian Democrats during the period Pauline Hanson was last in parliament.

The code is yet to clear Labor’s caucus processes, but the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has told Guardian Australia it would be an important gesture for the 45th parliament. “It would send a message about what sort of parliament we want to be,” he said.

Related: We can't eradicate racism but telling its targets to grin and bear it isn't good enough | Tim Soutphommasane

There’s a real danger that we are normalising what might otherwise be unacceptable ideas

Related: The debate about 18C doesn't have to be a left-right slanging match | Gay Alcorn

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North West Infidels Promoting Racism And Xenophobia In Local Communities

Loon Watch - 22 September, 2016 - 20:53

north_west_infidels

(h/t:Mend)

via. The Times

Racist stickers saying “rapefugees not welcome” have appeared on lampposts and bus stops in a coastal town.

The anti-immigration stickers, which are being investigated by police, show the logo of the North West Infidels, a far-right group.

The images display the popular man’s name Muhammad and list defamatory statements underneath. A sticker at the Market Place in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, portrays refugees as chasing a woman with knives.

Local residents expressed anger at the signs. One said that she had reported the “awful” stickers to police and the council but more were appearing.

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