The Guardian World news: Islam

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Australia will segregate Muslim women in parliament. We are gripped by 'security' madness | Richard Ackland

1 hour 46 min ago

Muslim women wearing the niqab or burqa will be made to sit in a glass enclosure in Australias parliament house. Thats the latest episode in two months of anti-terror theatre

Burqa and niqab-wearing women will now be confined in a segregated enclosure, should they wish to view parliamentary proceedings in Canberra. Normally an innocuous viewing area for school children, the glass box now seems more like the holding area for war criminals at the Hague.

The speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the Senate president Stephen Parry are still weighing the case to go one more step, and ban face coverings from parliament house altogether.

Since 1947, Australia has provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 multilateral peace and security operations ... When leadership is needed, we step up.

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Parliamentary burqa rules 'treat Muslim women as second-class citizens'

2 hours 46 min ago

Visitors wearing facial coverings will be forced to sit in a separate area of the public gallery shielded by glass panels

The Australian parliament will force visitors wearing facial coverings to sit in a separate area of the public gallery shielded by glass panels.

Critics argue the new security rules send a signal of intolerance to the Australian public.

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Tony Burke: racist abuse 'not in our name' video

3 hours 56 min ago
Labor MP Tony Burke speaks out in response to prime minister Tony Abbott's support for banning the burqa from the Australian parliament, condemning the spate of incidents of racial abuse and Islamophobia in Australia. 'We need to send a message loud and clear that prejudice is not in our name,' Burke said. Continue reading...

Tony Abbotts burqa comments divisive and harmful, says Labor

8 hours 34 min ago

Prime minister told parliament he finds attire confronting, sparking indignation from opposition MPs

Tony Abbotts comments that he finds the burqa confronting are divisive and harmful, and should not be coming from a prime minister, Labor opposition members have said.

Asked about potential moves to ban the garment in parliament house on Wednesday, Abbott replied that it was not the business of government to tell people what they should or shouldnt wear, however Ive said before, I find it a fairly confronting form of attire and frankly I wish it werent worn.

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Instant Islamists, instant threats, and instant experts. This terror has appeared out of thin air | Antony Loewenstein

8 hours 35 min ago

The young converts who join Isis are inexperienced in the complexities of Islam; so are the instant experts and reporters who write about them. We learn about faith by taking time

Nav K. Samir converted to Islam two years ago. Hes a young Sydney-based writer from an Indian background who recently featured in the successful new Facebook campaign, Australian Muslim Faces. Born into a Hindu family, Samir was attracted to the spiritual and intellectual life of Islam. At the age of 23, after six years of considering the switch, he became Muslim.

I met him earlier this year at the Lebanese Muslim association in Sydney and spoke with him recently about why he thinks a small number of young Muslims are attracted by the Isis message.

People who didnt know the religion as much. People who were converts, because converts would probably have problems with their parents at home, so they were more likely to stay in our company.

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Mays anti-terror plans will be open to abuse | @guardianletters

1 October, 2014 - 19:32

I dont think that I will be the only one alarmed by Theresa Mays proposals. Oh yes, theyll be welcomed in some quarters, but if I read them correctly, they represent the most draconian attack on freedom of speech in my lifetime (Editorial, 1 October). Added to the annihilation of our internet and telephonic privacy, they could take us into the Russian and Chinese domain of dissenter control. The argument that they are needed because of an ever-increasing terrorist threat fails against, for instance, the Northern Ireland troubles experience, where, deprived of, in Thatchers words, the oxygen of publicity, IRA recruitment thrived. And where will the censorship end? Investigative journalists, editors, actors, dramatists, criminalised for broaching the subject? Of particular concern is exactly what will qualify as extremism. Will it just be jihadist preachers and Holocaust deniers, or will it be the ultra-left, anybody who is seen as undermining or opposing the status quo? Will protests against bombing in Iraq or Syria now be banned? Will it, like other similar legislation in the past, such as the Terrorism Act, be abused? Who can be confident it wont? Relevant questions in my view. Taking away freedom on the pretext of preserving freedom, curbing democracy on the pretext of defending democracy, are not only contradictions, they are arguably a route to a totalitarian state.
James Calhoun
Tarragona, Spain

Instead of hand-wringing and knee-jerk reactions, Theresa May, Muslim Womens Network, counter-terrorism experts and Bristol police (Report, 30 September) should look at our own country and its warmongering. Army cadet corps; armed forces recruitment adverts; Help the Heroes events; the media glorifying our brave lads... all acting as recruiting agents for the state and radicalising vulnerable youngsters into thinking killing these nasty people abroad is their patriotic duty. Our foreign policy may alienate some British Muslims, but our whole culture is geared to creating a militaristic state bent on war as a distraction from the misery at home.
David Wheatley
Margate, Kent

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Tolerance, religion and secularism | @guardianletters

1 October, 2014 - 16:07

Karen Armstrongs article (Secularism a violent history, 25 September) is a classic piece of whataboutery, since the point at issue is whether religions are likely to provoke violence, not what supposedly secular regimes may have been guilty of. The key difference is that a secular philosophy of government can evolve (and has evolved) towards being more humane, more tolerant of diversity and less inclined to interfere in peoples personal moral choices. By contrast, too many people who proclaim a deep commitment to religion are convinced that they have a handle on absolute truth, which therefore gives them the right to harass and bully others or even to kill them. Add to this an obsession with religious purity, a passion for the worship of authority and a rejection of any type of thinking which wasnt part of their faiths supposed golden age and you have exactly the sort of fundamentalism which we see in Islamic State, ultra-orthodox Judaism and those Christians who are so keen to persecute homosexuals. Yes, Karen, the problem is religion.
Roger Fisken
Bedale, North Yorkshire

I read Karen Armstrong with pleasure and admiration. I was taught (perhaps incorrectly) that the word religion was derived from the Latin ligare, to bind, and had the meaning of a bonding together. During the war there was a strong feeling that we really were bound together, and people went to church. We prayed for peace, also for victory. My young ears often heard these words: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. So many of the ideals we believe in and fought for are part of our Christian heritage. Since the war we have somehow lost this bonding, and church services are seldom occasions that celebrate togetherness. But there is still plenty of spiritual wickedness in high places to wrestle against, and secularists should not lightly dismiss our Christian heritage.
Philip Pendered
Tonbridge, Kent

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Tony Abbott finds burqa 'confronting' and would not oppose parliament ban

1 October, 2014 - 04:45

PM says: I wish it was not worn but we are a free country ... and it is not the business of government to tell people what they should and shouldnt wear.

The prime minister has made it clear he would not oppose a parliamentary ban on the burqa, saying he found it confronting and, although people should be free to wear what they want, the rules of secure buildings needed to be obeyed.

The issue of banning the burqa in Parliament House was raised last week by the Liberal senator Cory Bernardi as the government introduced national security reforms to the parliament.

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NFL says Husain Abdullah should not have been penalised for praying

30 September, 2014 - 16:43

Flag thrown after Kansas City Chiefs player dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception in Monday night game

The NFL said on Tuesday that Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception.

The leagues rule book prohibits players from celebrating while on the ground, but spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email on Tuesday that the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play.

Outcry over Chiefs player Husain Abdullah's post-touchdown prayer penalty -

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US anti-Islam ad showing murdered journalist James Foley to be taken down

30 September, 2014 - 16:31

Controversial blogger Pamela Geller to remove ads from New York City buses and subways after protest from Foley family

An anti-Islam ad depicting American journalist James Foley immediately before he was beheaded is being removed from New York City buses and subway stations, after a protest from his family.

A picture of Foley from immediately before an Islamic State (Isis) militant beheaded him was one of two pictures used in an ad by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a rightwing group run by blogger Pamela Geller.

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Anti-Islam, but pro-gay? How mosque opponents tie themselves in knots | Connor Tomas O'Brien

30 September, 2014 - 08:12

Wherever Islam spreads, homophobia follows thats the rhetoric mosque opponents use against their leftwing foes. The real issue is the bigots own inconsistency

The left seem to be very stupid, I suppose, Mike Holt says. The Queensland-based former One Nation candidate is bemused when I ask him why he believes some progressives support both the expansion of rights to LGBT people, and the building of mosques in regional Australian centres.

Holt is one of the key figures in the anti-mosque campaign. He takes credit for launching the Concerned Citizens of Bendigo organisation that emerged to fight the construction of a mosque in that town, but denies any involvement with the near-identical Facebook pages that have cropped up in the wake of announcements to build mosques in Maroochydore, Kalgoorlie Boulder, Kalgoorlie, and Currumbin.

hoping that the LGBT movement is going to ride in like a knight in shining armour to save the day is exactly that: wishful thinking ... it also fails to recognise the seemingly bizarre alliance between Islam and homosexuality that is fostered by political correctness.

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Family of Abdul Numan Haider have been sent death threats, police say

30 September, 2014 - 06:33

Police condemn threats and say family of teenager shot dead by police in Melbourne must be left alone to grieve

The family of a teenager shot dead by police in Melbourne last week have received death threats, police said on Tuesday.

The parents of Abdul Numan Haider, who stabbed two officers outside Endeavour Hills police station last week before he was shot, were threatened over the weekend. Haider,18, was being investigated by a terrorism task force, and had had his passport cancelled.

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Schoolgirl jihadis: the female Islamists leaving home to join Isis fighters

29 September, 2014 - 20:52

Hundreds of girls and women are going missing in the west, reappearing in Iraq and Syria to bear children for the caliphate

Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East, causing increasing concern among counter-terrorism investigators.

Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadis, bear their children and join communities of fighters, with a small number taking up arms. Many are recruited via social media.

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Guardian Live: Hatreds Old and New as it happened

29 September, 2014 - 17:21

Should Britains Muslims and Jews feel constrained by the events in the Middle East? Are Islamophobia and antisemitism at all time highs? The Guardians Jonathan Freedland and the Huffington Post UKs Mehdi Hasan came together to talk about the current atmosphere in the public sphere and what each community needs to do to be heard

Just weeks after the latest direct conflict between Israel and Gaza dominated headlines, The Guardian and The Huffington Post UK brought together Jonathan Freedland and Mehdi Hasan - two of Britains leading commentators to talk about the current atmosphere between British Muslims and Jews; their relationship prone to be held hostage to events happening in the Middle East.

Mehdi Hasan wrote for the Guardians Comment is Free section until he left his role as a senior editor the New Statesmen to become political editor of the Huffington Post UK in 2012. In his final article, he wrote about British Muslims feeling alienated from participating on the public stage because of the prejudice Muslim commentators, like himself, encountered:

I used to encourage Muslim students to get involved in the media or in politics, but I now find it much harder to do so. Why would I want anyone else to go through what Ive gone through? Believe me, Muslims arent endowed thicker skins than non-Muslims.

Each time I come across the kind of abuse he cites I mentally replace the word Islam with Judaism and Muslim with Jew. I know how I would feel if I was bombarded with long screeds denouncing Jewish faith and customs as sinister, alien, backward or bonkers, just as I know how I would feel if I were told Jews need to change their ways if they are to be accepted into polite society... So yes, Im glad to stand with Mehdi Hasan, even when we dont see eye to eye.

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Blasphemy laws are deadly serious we must stand up for Mohammed Asghar | Frankie Boyle

29 September, 2014 - 14:27
A 70-year-old Briton suffering from paranoid schizophrenia is facing a death sentence in Pakistan. This is no joke

It is part of my job description to be offensive. I can, if I wish, make a joke hoping that Alex Salmond, now he is at the end of his political life, lays 20,000 fish eggs and dies. I can make a joke pointing out that David Cameron told off Sri Lanka for human rights abuses committed with weapons Britain sold it like Ronald McDonald calling you a fat bastard.

The most I risk from saying such things is alienating a stranger. The same cannot be said of Mohammed Asghar. He is 70, and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh. When they discharged him he went to Pakistan, perhaps to escape what he thought were the undue restrictions on his liberty. Before he had been there long four years ago now, in 2010 he was facing a death sentence for blasphemy.

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Living with the Enemy? No, they're just an average Muslim couple | Jazz Twemlow

29 September, 2014 - 02:50

Railing against everyday Muslims for the crimes of extremists is like screaming at kids kicking a ball because of your (justifiable) hatred of Fifa, as one SBS program shows

Are you terrified? I am. I just punched a moth because I thought it might have been a terrorist in moth costume. Are you scared? Its now become easier for me to point out the few square millimetres of my trousers that havent been pebble-dashed by the excrement this government has been conjuring forth.

With the high terror alert, and increasingly draconian security laws, this has become the uniform of Team Australia: The Excremental Pantaloons of Fear (or was that a Harry Potter book?). The only way George Brandis could make the coalition any scarier would be to hire a clown in running make-up to sit in on parliamentary sessions. A clown played by John Malkovich.

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Australia and the veil: burqa-clad Muslim women feel fearful for their own safety | Zeinab Zein

29 September, 2014 - 02:10

My research into the everyday citizenship experiences of burqa-clad Muslim women revealed a widespread sense of personal insecurity and societal disempowerment

There has been a recent hash out of an old debate about whether Australia should ban Muslim women from observing Islamic practices of face veiling. The burqa, a head-to-toe whole body covering, has elicited calls for an outright ban in public places.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the act of wearing the burqa was publicly declared as un-Australian by a number of politicians and public commentators such as Fred Nile, Michaelia Cash and Michael Smith. These politicians and public commentators sought to align face veiling with the oppression of women and national security, based on claims it could be used for hiding weapons and devices that posed a risk to public safety.

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Isis and Syria: Western hypocrisies have been driving support for extremism | Nick Cohen

28 September, 2014 - 00:05
Western foreign policy is only shoring up the Syrian leaders brutal regime

After the military corrupted the English language with collateral damage, Id like to introduce the equally dainty and equally misleading collateral benefit. I hope you like the smooth way the euphemism oozes from the lips; the imperceptible subtlety with which it shuffles off responsibility.

The phrase implies, without being so crude as to say so out loud, that the west does not intend mass murderers to benefit from its wars any more than it intends civilians to die in its airstrikes. If when the accountants of violence make their reckoning, the dictators are as triumphant as the civilians are dead, that is no concern of ours.

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Man, 21, charged over entering Islamic school armed with knife

27 September, 2014 - 01:05

Police say accused went to Campbelltown police station on Saturday morning and was arrested

A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged after allegedly walking into an Islamic school armed with a knife in Sydneys south-west.

The man allegedly entered Al-Faisal College in Minto just after 2pm on Thursday, asked if it was a Muslim school and spoke to a female teacher before leaving.

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