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Government policy will seal the mouths of Muslim pupils | Owen Jones

9 hours 56 min ago

Legislation to tackle radicalisation runs the risk of silencing and alienating children in our classrooms

If you care about children’s development and combating extremism, this is a story that should alarm you. A teacher at a London state school largely catering for Muslim girls runs an activity each week: pupils suggest items in the news to talk about, and the class has a discussion. But a week after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, nobody brought it up. When the teacher spoke to students, she found out why: “Our mothers told us, ‘Don’t talk about that – they’ll put us on a register.’”

The teacher in the story didn’t think any of her students would have said they supported the terrorists, but thought some students might have said drawing the prophet Muhammad should be illegal; others might have felt less strongly. But the opportunity to have the discussion was lost because these pupils thought they would be criminalised.

Once again the British state is helping build the sort of extremism it is publicly combating

Related: Teaching proper Islamic principles will help stem extremism | Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

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Uniqlo teams up with UK-based designer for 'modest' fashion range

17 hours 27 min ago

Stylish hijabs, long dresses and rayon blouses among collection designed by Hana Tajima on sale online and in Singapore

Clothing retailer Uniqlo has teamed up with a UK-based fashion designer to launch a new “modest wear” collection, including a range of hijabs.

The range, designed by Hana Tajima, features stylish hijabs in a variety of colours and prints, headbands, long dresses and rayon blouses which aims to “cater to ladies who embrace modest fashion” as well as being “carefully designed to suit contemporary tastes”. The items will go on sale on Friday from the store’s website and outlet in Singapore.

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As atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, our ‘leaders’ are failing us | Nazir Afzal

30 June, 2015 - 13:00
With Muslims both the victims and perpetrators of terrible crimes, the dearth of representative voices in the UK to speak up for our faith has never been clearer

The atrocity in Tunisia, at a hotel I once stayed in, is terrifying and deeply depressing. Muslim communities in the UK feel the pain of those who have lost loved ones. This is Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, and the fact that people have committed murder supposedly in Islam’s name has shocked us to the core.

For it is Muslims who are the biggest victims of Isis. They fight the jihadists in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and it is they who hourly die brutal deaths at the hands of Isis. The soul-searching of Muslims in the UK and beyond is now at fever pitch – the question they ask constantly is: what more can they do?

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These lone wolf terrorists are not holy warriors | Nabila Ramdani

30 June, 2015 - 08:30
Nowadays any vengeful inadequate can claim a link with global terror. All it takes is a selfie and a flag for instant international infamy

With a grotesque matter-of-factness, suspected “Islamic terrorist” Yassine Salhi blamed “problems at home and at work” for beheading his boss last Friday. Salhi used a knife in the attack at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in eastern France, before driving his delivery van into chemical canisters in an unsuccessful bid to blow up a factory.

Seifeddine Rezgui, who gunned down at least 38 people on a tourist beach in Tunisia on the same day, managed to get hold of an automatic weapon, but his profile was similar to Salhi’s. Neither man had a criminal record, and each was described by friends and neighbours as “normal”. There is no evidence of either travelling abroad to train for combat, and both had provoked little interest from the security services. They were thought to be “self-radicalised”, rather than members of a wider cell.

Nowadays anyone can claim a link with Isis or al-Qaida and their dark crimes. All it takes are a few shouted slogans

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Jails and universities obliged to prevent radicalisation as new act becomes law

29 June, 2015 - 22:31

Counter-Terrorism Act, which also applies to NHS trusts, schools and further education institutions, comes into force

Local authorities, prisons, NHS trusts, schools, universities and further education institutions will this week be placed under a new statutory duty to prevent extremist radicalisation taking place within their walls.

The requirement was imposed by this year’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, and Home Office ministers have pointed out that the wide-ranging powers come into force in the week that David Cameron demanded “a full spectrum response” to the killing of as many as 30 British tourists in Tunisia.

Related: Tunisia attack: David Cameron pledges 'full spectrum' response to massacre

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Tunisia attack: what the British national newspapers say

29 June, 2015 - 09:17

Headlines reflect a mixture of emotion, defiance and fear as leader writers strive to come to terms with yet another Islamist outrage

One story dominates the front pages, and many inside pages, of today’s national newspapers: the murderous attack in Tunisia. With 30 Britons among the dead, that is to be expected.

Amid the emotion and the fear, there is fact: 30 Brits are dead (Daily Mirror); Tunisia attack: police on alert amid fears UK toll will hit 30 (Guardian); “And still the death toll climbs” (i); Terror police on alert amid fears of UK attack (Times); and David Cameron: now the fightback begins (the Daily Telegraph’s report on an article written by the prime minister for the paper).

“Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani theologian, recently issued a fatwa against suicide bombers, stating that they should be ostracised, not lauded as martyrs.

He has suggested that British Muslims hold a mass march for peace to protest against the terrorists and everything they stand for.

“Whether it’s through social media, Islamist forums or direct contact with hate preachers, IS’s poisonous ideology is inspiring too many British Muslims.

Home secretary Theresa May is right to demand that Muslim families report their children to the police if they fear that they’re becoming radicalised. It sounds brutal. But if they don’t, they risk becoming the parents not of oddballs intrigued by radicalisation, but of cold-blooded terrorists.”

“Contrary to the fashionable talk about ‘the vast majority’ of moderates, 40% of Muslims in Britain want to see sharia law formally established here while 30% of Muslim students on British university campuses desire a caliphate and think that killing in the name of Islam is justified.

Far from taking the fight to extremism our political class has allowed it to flourish. The vital work of our security forces has been undermined by human rights legislation and by anxiety about accusations of so-called Islamophobia.”

“If democracy fails or the economy craters in Tunisia, all that will remain of the Arab Spring will be war, autocracy and the obscenity of the so-called caliphate.

The only significant difference between north Africa before and after its experiment with plural government will be that the region is now an even more lethal incubator of extremism than it was.”

“It is a reason to stand by Tunis come what may. Its brave experiment with democracy is too important to fail.”

“Our world is effectively shrinking and, as our physical horizons are reduced, it is hard not to believe that our mental horizons will not suffer the same fate.”

“The terrorists’ version of Islam is a twisted distortion. Real Islam stresses hospitality. Tunisians have shown what that looks like when it is fortified with courage.”

“Confronting the bloodthirsty fascists of the so-called Islamic State requires bravery so we should cheer the Tunisians making a stand. So as we mourn, let us welcome a glimmer of hope – supporting those in north Africa and the Middle East, most of them Muslims, in the frontline against Islamist wickedness.”

“While the overwhelming majority of British Muslims abhor the terrorists – some in the Islamic community can do more to condemn and root out extremism.”

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A ghost city revived: the remarkable transformation of Hebron

29 June, 2015 - 07:00

Twenty years ago, the Old City of Hebron – one of the most important religious sites to Jews and Muslims alike – was crumbling, as curfews and restrictions reduced the Palestinian population to just 400. Then the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee started work

When the Israeli army barricaded the entrance to Usama Abu Sharek’s home in Hebron, he and his family were forced to climb over walls or clamber through windows on their way in and out of their 500-year-old property.

The barricades were to allow hardline Jewish settlers to reach their houses without having to encounter their Palestinian neighbours. But by then the Abu Shareks were the only Palestinian family left in their immediate vicinity of Hebron’s Old City anyway.

We had to go back to using horses and donkeys. Sometimes they even arrested the donkeys

Related: Palestine's abandoned parliament – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 46

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Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui: from breakdancer to Islamic radical

28 June, 2015 - 20:20

Video on Facebook shows killer breakdancing in 2010, as lack of foreign travel raises questions about how he obtained gun and who trained him

The dancer leaps into an athletic backwards somersault off a chair, then stumbles as he lands. The camera follows him as he comes back to inspect the broken seat of the chair with a shrug, a light-hearted blooper reel ending to a video of a seriously committed breakdancer.

Five years later, the same man was shown in a very different kind of video: chilling footage of him running along a beach in Sousse shortly after his massacre of more than three dozen foreign tourists.

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French terrorism suspect took selfie with slain victim

28 June, 2015 - 03:43

Canadian authorities become involved after it emerges image was sent via WhatsApp to a Canadian mobile number

The main suspect in the beheading of a businessman that French authorities are calling a terrorist attack took a “selfie” photo with the slain victim and sent the image via WhatsApp to a Canadian mobile phone number, officials said on Saturday.

French investigators were working to determine the recipient’s identity, but weren’t able to immediately confirm media reports that it was an unspecified person now in Syria, where the Islamic State has seized territory, security officials said.

Related: French terrorist attack: mystery of ‘calm and gentle’ man who beheaded his boss

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French terrorist attack: mystery of ‘calm and gentle’ man who beheaded his boss

28 June, 2015 - 00:08
France struggles to comprehend yet another Islamist terrorist outrage as hunt gets under way for those who radicalised the killer

“Again,” they were saying in Lyon on Saturday, with an air of incredulity. “It’s happened again.”

Just six months after the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery shop, France finds itself struggling to comprehend another atrocity in its midst. The severed head of a businessman hung on a factory gate on Friday brought the horror of Isis-style beheadings in Syria, Libya and Iraq to a quiet corner of the Rhône-Alpes region.

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It’s not the religion that creates terrorists, it’s the politics | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

27 June, 2015 - 09:30
The radicalisation hypothesis steers us away from the real causes of terrorism – and enables the west to maintain its denial about a role in helping create it

The word “radical” has always been an overly capacious term, easily filled with whatever meaning the speaker wants to pour into it. There is the radical right, the radical left, even the radical centre, whatever that means. Traditionally associated with the 18th-century English struggle to extend the franchise and with the cause of freedom, it has been one of those words no modern politician can do without. Google any of the current crop of parliamentarians adding the words “radical vision” and see what I mean. They’re all at it, all claiming it. Unless, of course, you put the word Islamic first. And then it immediately becomes a bogey word.

“How do we stop young Muslims becoming radicalised?” is the question we now continually ask. But it’s a deeply misleading question because it points us in the wrong direction. Why? Because it contains a hidden assumption that it is radical ideas, specifically Islamic theological ideas, that are the root cause of turning a young lad from West Yorkshire into an Isis suicide bomber in Iraq. According to the radicalisation hypothesis, it’s conservative Islam and the dangerous ideas contained in the Qur’an that motivate murderous behaviour.

We want to tell ourselves that we are secular and enlightened and so have no part in all of this bloodshed

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After Tunisia, Kuwait and France we should not be afraid to call evil by its name | Jonathan Freedland

26 June, 2015 - 19:35
The sheer sadism of Islamic State cannot be explained by politics alone. It comes from something deeper and darker

In France, in Tunisia, in Kuwait – horror upon horror, in a single day. It played out like some kind of gruesome auction, each atrocity bidding against the others for our appalled attention. The opening offer came near Lyon, where a factory was attacked and, more shocking, a severed head was found on top of a gate, and a decapitated body nearby. The French president said the corpse had been inscribed with a message.

From the Tunisian resort of Sousse, holidaymakers tweeted terrified pictures from their barricaded hotel rooms, describing how they had fled from the beach after sounds they had assumed were a daytime fireworks display turned out to be the opening gunshots of a massacre. From Kuwait City, as if to top the rival bids, a suicide bomber walked into a mosque packed with 2,000 people and pressed the button that he hoped would send scores to their deaths.

A battle is under way for civilisation, that should unite the great religions of the world against this tiny death cult

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Mike Baird's Muslim engagement could work where Tony Abbott is failing

26 June, 2015 - 04:16

NSW’s and Victoria’s deradicalisation programs seem similar to the federal government’s offering, but Muslim leaders say there is a world of difference

Speaking at a Ramadan dinner on Monday, the New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, recalled the “desperate, terrible times” last December when a gunman took hostages in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe. He remembered the sense of unity that swept the city in its aftermath.

“One of the most incredible things was standing there with young Muslim leaders,” Baird said. “They said to me, they’ve never felt more a part of this state than they did in those days. What a credit that is. What an incredible thing happened amongst us.”

Related: Former commissioners attack Victoria police efforts to deradicalise teenagers

Related: Muslim leaders' 'fear of security agencies' is preventing counselling against extremism

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National Express investigates claim of driver's 'racist and Islamophobic' tirade

25 June, 2015 - 19:32

Student Yusra Ahmed alleges that she and three friends were barred from the coach in a row over whether they were bringing takeaway curry on board

National Express has launched an investigation after a Muslim woman claimed she was racially abused by one of its bus drivers.

Student Yusra Ahmed, 20, alleges that she and three friends were subjected to a “racist and Islamophobic” tirade by a driver who barred them from a coach from Manchester to Leeds in a row over whether they were bringing takeaway curry on board.

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Indonesia bids to muffle noisy mosques

25 June, 2015 - 13:14

Vice-president sets up team to sample loudspeaker noise, with view to getting country’s 800,000 mosques to emit ‘more harmonious, melodious sound’

Indonesia has set up a new team to reduce noise from mosques, an official said on Thursday, as places of worship go into overdrive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

There are about 800,000 mosques in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, but residents living nearby have long complained that their speakers are too loud.

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By scapegoating Muslims, Cameron fuels radicalisation | Seumas Milne

24 June, 2015 - 20:54

Ministers foster terror with their wars. Now they attack liberties at home in the name of British values

The anti-Muslim drumbeat has become deafening across the western world. As images of atrocities by the jihadi terror group Isis multiply online, and a steady trickle of young Europeans and North Americans head to Syria and Iraq to join them, Muslim communities are under siege. Last week David Cameron accused British Muslims of “quietly condoning” the ideology that drives Isis sectarian brutality, normalising hatred of “British values”, and blaming the authorities for the “radicalisation” of those who go to fight for it.

It was too much for Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative party chair, who condemned the prime minister’s “misguided emphasis” on “Muslim community complicity”. He risked “further alienating” the large majority of Muslims fighting the influence of such groups, she warned. Even Charles Farr, the hawkish counter-terrorism mandarin at the Home Office, balked. Perhaps fewer than 100 Britons were currently fighting with Isis, he said, and “we risk labelling Muslim communities as somehow intrinsically extremist”.

Related: Remember, prime minister: British Muslims hate Isis too | Sayeeda Warsi

Add in media hostility, Islamophobia and state surveillance of Muslim communities, and alienation can only spread

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The secret world of Isis brides: 'U dnt hav 2 pay 4 ANYTHING if u r wife of a martyr'

24 June, 2015 - 16:59

What draws western women to Islamic State’s violent jihad? Nabeelah Jaffer spent months talking to British and American ‘sisters’, before and after they travelled to Syria. How were they convinced by promises of a ‘perfect’ society and life as a martyr’s widow?

Karen sat in a hotel room in Istanbul, grappling with a difficult decision. She had spent about $3,500 (£2,220) on the round trip to Turkey from her home in the US but, when she had bought the ticket, she had had no intention of flying home. The return bookings were for appearance’s sake. Her SMS mailbox was filled with promises for the future: messages from an Islamic State fighter who had promised to marry her. But as she sat in that Istanbul hotel room, something didn’t feel quite right.

Her prospective groom’s insistence on absolute secrecy had not seemed strange at first. Karen had met him through the swarm of Isis-friendly social media. They started by chatting on Twitter and, then moved to encrypted messaging apps such as Kik, Surespot and Telegram. Paranoia runs through most of the online interactions – no one’s identity is clear, and anyone could be bluffing. But the hint of danger was part of the glamour and Karen thought she was being careful. She was in her late teens and had recently graduated from high school, where she had been a lonely girl interested in Star Trek and computer programming.

Related: For Isis women, it’s not about ‘jihadi brides’: it’s about escape

Related: Skyping with the enemy: I went undercover as a jihadi girlfriend

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

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Teaching proper Islamic principles will help stem extremism | Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

24 June, 2015 - 12:03
I have prepared the Islamic curriculum on peace and counter-terrorism to help tackle the distortions of religious teachings that lead to radicalisation

It is an unfortunate fact that through the actions of a minority, Islam and Muslims have become closely associated with terrorism. As a result, Muslim citizens or residents of western countries have come under increased scrutiny, with questions being raised about identity, multiculturalism and loyalty to the state. The emergence of Islamic State, a particularly brutal and bloodthirsty incarnation of Islamic extremism, has only intensified this scrutiny.

A growing number of young Muslim citizens of western countries are travelling to the Middle East to join this terrorist organisation. Muslims travelling abroad to fight what they see as jihad is not entirely a new phenomenon, but with the particularly brutal violence and beheadings committed by British citizens in recent months, the situation has reached a tipping point.

Many sections of the Muslim community, let alone non-Muslims, seem to have a poor understanding of extremism

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