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'Our meeting is the message': Pope Francis embraces senior imam

13 hours 26 min ago

Meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is first between leader of world’s Catholics and highest authority in Sunni Islam since 2000

Pope Francis has embraced the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque at the Vatican in a historic encounter both sides hope will lead to greater understanding and dialogue between the two faiths.

The meeting between the leader of the world’s Catholics and the highest authority in Sunni Islam marks the culmination of a significant improvement in relations between the two faiths since Francis took office in 2013.

Related: Islam and Christianity share 'idea of conquest', says Pope Francis

Related: The idealists of Lesbos: volunteers at the heart of the refugee crisis

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Channel 4 Muslims documentary cleared after Islamophobia risk claims

23 May, 2016 - 11:22

What British Muslims Really Think prompted 200 complaints saying it ‘risked increasing Islamophobia’ and used misleading information

Channel 4’s controversial documentary What British Muslims Really Think will not be investigated by media regulator Ofcom despite more than 200 complaints.

The hour-long programme presented by Trevor Phillips, a former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, promised to be a “rigorous survey of the views of British Muslims”.

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'No Muslims allowed': how nationalism is rising in Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar

23 May, 2016 - 03:11

Concerns grow that Buddhist extremism may flourish unless country’s new democratic leaders counter discrimination against minorities

At the entrance to Thaungtan village there’s a brand new sign, bright yellow, and bearing a message: “No Muslims allowed to stay overnight. No Muslims allowed to rent houses. No marriage with Muslims.”

The post was erected in late March by Buddhist residents of the village in Myanmar’s lush Irrawaddy Delta region who signed, or were strong-armed into signing, a document asserting that they wanted to live separately.

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Cameron repeats criticism of Trump's 'dangerous' Muslim ban

22 May, 2016 - 12:47

British PM says he stands by his claim that plan to ban Muslims from entering US is ‘divisive, stupid and wrong’

David Cameron has said Donald Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims arriving in the US is “dangerous”, and he is not willing to withdraw his criticism of it.

The British prime minister said he was sticking to his earlier claim that the proposal was “divisive, stupid and wrong” but he would be happy to meet the presumptive Republican presidential candidate if he travelled to the UK before the US election.

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Gay Muslims are essential in the global fight against Aids | Samra Habib

19 May, 2016 - 15:41

An organization of Muslim countries has forbidden LGBT groups from the UN Aids conference. But our voices must be heard

Three days ago, I sat in a cafe in Brussels to interview a transgender Muslim woman named Raeesa. She’s from Mali. I was invited by a couple of Belgian not-for-profit organizations for an exhibition and to speak about my work, which consists of archiving the stories of queer Muslims around the world, many of whom are refugees who had to leave their native Muslim countries because their lives were in danger.

It is my goal to document the lives and stories of queer Muslims like myself because often, we’re told that our lives don’t matter because of who we are, and because many are subjected to daily violence, humiliation and erasure. Like Raeesa, many of us flee and seek asylum in countries that offer protection to LGBT refugees.

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Sadiq Khan makes his debut LBC appearance as mayor of London – video

18 May, 2016 - 12:46

Speaking on Wednesday on his first LBC radio phone-in since his election as mayor of London, Sadiq Khan stands by his invitation to presumed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to visit him and his family in London. He also maintains that Trump’s views on Islam are ignorant. Khan also comments on the Garden Bridge and using positive role models to tackle radicals

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Geelong mosque destroyed in suspicious fire after witness hears loud bang

17 May, 2016 - 23:36

Police launch arson investigation into gutting of mosque housed in old church in Geelong, Victoria

A mosque in Geelong, 75km south of Melbourne, Victoria, was destroyed in a suspicious fire on Wednesday morning.

Police say the fire was reported at 2.15am after a nearby resident heard a loud bang. The resident went to investigate and saw the mosque alight.

Related: Mosque opposed by far-right political groups likely to be blocked

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Islam and Christianity share 'idea of conquest', says Pope Francis

17 May, 2016 - 12:08

Pontiff condemns ‘ghettoisation’ of migrants and hails Sadiq Khan’s election as first Muslim mayor of London

Islam and Christianity share an inherent “idea of conquest”, and those who refer to Europe’s roots as Christian often veer into colonialism, Pope Francis said in a wideranging interview about the the migration crisis and the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together harmoniously.

Speaking to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, the Argentinian pope also hailed the election of Sadiq Khan in London, saying that a Muslim mayor personified the idea of integration within Europe.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Q&A: do not subject Muslims to bigotry of low expectations – video

17 May, 2016 - 02:27

On the ABC’s Q&A program, Somali-born author and human rights campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali says it’s ‘perfectly fine’ to question and criticise any religion, including Islam. The program was criticised on social media for discussing Islam without having a practising Muslim on the panel. The panel was selected as part of the the Sydney writers’ festival and featured international authors.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Q&A: the West must stop seeing Muslims only as victims

16 May, 2016 - 22:01

Somali-born author says critics of Islam must be less squeamish about criticising practices carried out in Muslim countries such as forced marriage

It is becoming increasingly difficult to criticise Islam and Muslims in western countries such as Australia, the Somali-born author and human rights campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, because “we only see them [Muslims] through this prism of victims and victimisation”.

It was “perfectly fine” to question and criticise any religion, including Islam, Ali said on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night.

Related: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – review

Sigh. Why isn't there a Muslim on the panel? How about talking to Muslims not just about them? Come on. #QandA

And those are legitimate issues that Ayaan raised which need to be addressed but they are not religious practices. #QandA

At this point, I'm annoyed that we are always discussed & not part of the conversation. Wish @RandaAFattah or @YMorsi was on #qanda tonight

Rape, domestic violence occur beyond religion & geographic boundaries #Qanda

#QandA What chance do we have to be a good society when the govt cuts arts funding as if our culture/soul was just a dessert to be skipped?

I'm expecting some questions about arts cuts tonight, 65 organisations had funding cuts reported last week #qanda #UJ16

What is the panel's opinion on the extreme cuts in the arts in australia? #question #qanda

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‘Is Bangladesh turning fundamentalist?’ – and other questions I no longer wish to answer

16 May, 2016 - 18:52

Bangladesh is not the story of a secular country that has turned to radicalism: it is the story of a country that has, against all odds, survived, even flourished

I am a novelist. I look around at the world and I make up stories about people, families, lovers and friends. More often than not, the stories take place in Bangladesh, where I was born. When I close my eyes and think of home, it’s the peaty smell of the monsoon, the harsh light of the equatorial sun, the clashing sounds of the capital city, Dhaka, that come to mind.

But, more often than not, people do not ask me about the peaty smell of the monsoon. The questions are about other things, the bigger things, such as religion, politics, the unaccounted bodies of the dead, the history that makes the present. I do not resent these questions – I understand why people ask them; after all, the headlines tell a particular story, and sometimes, we look for an interlocutor – someone to bridge the gap between here and there.

Related: Isis claims responsibility for killing of Hindu priest in Bangladesh

Related: If Bangladesh lets zealots extinguish its brightest minds, it is no democracy | Raad Rahman

Related: World view: temple of light, Bangladesh

Related: Girls' football in Bangladesh - in pictures

Related: Bangladesh executes leader of largest Islamist party

Related: Domestic violence in Bangladesh - in pictures

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Five anti-Muslim protesters and 400 peace supporters meet at New York rally

16 May, 2016 - 16:14

American Bikers United Against Jihad spent months calling for people to join the event in Islamberg, but in the end supporters far outnumbered protesters

A motorcycle group’s plan to “raise awareness” of the threat of homegrown jihad by riding to an all-Muslim New York town backfired on Sunday, when only five motorcyclists showed up. Hundreds of people, meanwhile, flocked to the town to show their support for its residents.

Related: Islamville, South Carolina's all-Muslim town, faces Trump effect: 'We feel unsafe'

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Suspected Islamist militant arrested over Bangladesh gay activist murders

15 May, 2016 - 07:50

Magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan and fellow activist Mahbub Tonoy were hacked to death in Dhaka by at least six men carrying machetes and guns

Bangladesh police have arrested a suspected Islamic militant over the hacking to death of two gay rights activists, part of a spate of murders of intellectuals, writers and religious minorities, an officer said on Sunday.

Xulhaz Mannan, editor of a magazine for Bangladesh’s gay and lesbian community, and fellow activist Mahbub Tonoy were murdered in a Dhaka apartment last month by at least six men carrying machetes and guns.

Related: Founder of Bangladesh's first and only LGBT magazine killed

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Muslims are not a ‘different’ class of Briton: we’re as diverse as the rest | Kenan Malik

15 May, 2016 - 00:06
Trevor Phillips, the former Equality commissioner, is wrong to view Muslims as forming a nation within a nation

“‘It shows it is possible to be Muslim and a westerner. Western values are compatible with Islam.” So said Sadiq Khan after his victory as London mayor. Trevor Phillips, former chief of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, takes a much bleaker view of Islam’s place in western society.

Last month he presented a Channel 4 documentary – What British Muslims Really Think – based on an ICM poll of Muslim attitudes. The poll revealed a deep well of social conservatism.Just 18% of Muslims thought that homosexuality should be legal, four in 10 thought wives should always obey their husbands, almost 90% wanted to prohibit mockery of the prophet. Phillips wrote of “a chasm opening between Muslims and non-Muslims” and “the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future”. Last week, he developed his thesis in a pamphlet for the thinktank Civitas. In Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, he argues that Britain’s “superdiversity” has combined with the authorities’ laissez-faire attitude to make integration much more difficult.

Many non-Muslim liberals take conservatism as a hallmark of Muslim authenticity

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What the rest of Europe thinks about Londoners picking a Muslim mayor

14 May, 2016 - 10:00

People living outside the UK give their views on Sadiq Khan’s win and whether a Muslim would be elected where they live

As Europe grapples with the rise of anti-immigration parties, Sadiq Khan’s appointment as the first directly elected Muslim mayor of a western capital city is important. According to those who responded to a Guardian callout, people living in the rest of Europe welcome the choice Londoners have made.

“Sadiq’s appointment sends a great message to the world. It reflects Britain’s state of mind which, as a French person, I think is more open-minded than France,” said 18-year-old Mathilde from the south of France. “It tells me that Londoners see above the religion or the race of a person.”

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Elderly Buddhist monk hacked to death in Bangladesh, say police

14 May, 2016 - 06:40

Latest in spate of murders of religious minorities and secular activists in Muslim-majority nation

An elderly Buddhist monk was found hacked to death on Saturday in Bangladesh, police said, the latest in a spate of murders of religious minorities and secular activists in the Muslim-majority nation.

Related: 'Anyone could become a target’: wave of Islamist killings hits Bangladesh

Related: If Bangladesh lets zealots extinguish its brightest minds, it is no democracy | Raad Rahman

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Stylish cover-up: inside International Modest fashion week

14 May, 2016 - 00:02

New event in Turkey aiming to showcase the best of conservative wear was awash with spring colours

International Modest fashion week opened on Thursday in Istanbul as Turkey sought to make a name for itself as a creative hotspot for conservative wear around the world. Seventy designers are taking part in the two-day event hosted by Modanisa, an online retailer of Muslim fashion, at a railway station flooded with spotlights for the occasion.

“[We want] to create mainstream fashion out of modest fashion and to energise Islamic communities to produce [clothing] for Muslim women,” Modanisa CEO Kerim Ture said. “They want to have their rules but they also want to look chic.”

Related: French fashion mogul Pierre Bergé hits out at 'Islamic' clothing

Related: Muslim Lifestyle Expo in London highlights largely untapped market

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Budget tax cut: religious groups urge those earning more than $80,000 to donate $6 gain to charity

13 May, 2016 - 23:47

Muslim and Christian organisations set up website where donors can pledge their $6 every week to one of 10 high-profile charities

Two young Australians, representing a Muslim and a Christian organisation, have joined forces to call on people who earn $80,000 who got the $6 tax cut in the last budget to donate it to charity.

Fahim Khondaker, of the Islamic Council of Queensland, and Brad Chilcott, of the Activate church, have set up a pledge website where donors can pledge their $6 tax cut every week to one of 10 high-profile charities.

Related: Beware tax cuts for 'Middle Australia'. Above-average earners benefit most

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Man pleads guilty to pulling off Muslim woman's hijab during US flight

13 May, 2016 - 22:18

Gill Parker Payne of North Carolina was given a federal misdemeanor charge for grabbing woman’s headscarf on Southwest Airlines flight in December

A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge after authorities say he grabbed a Muslim woman’s hijab on a Southwest Airlines flight in December and pulled it off.

Federal authorities say 37-year-old Gill Parker Payne, of Gastonia, North Carolina, entered the plea Friday. He was charged with using force or threat of force to obstruct a Muslim woman in the free exercise of her religious beliefs.

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