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Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood wasn't an Islamist, says ex boss

28 March, 2017 - 20:48

Killer was open about violent past but showed no interest in local radical groups, says Luton language school director

Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood was an “apolitical” man who showed no interest in radical Islam in the two years he lived in Luton, his former boss said.

Farasat Latif, a director at language school Elas UK where Masood worked between 2010 and summer 2012, said he knew Masood as a charming, friendly and professional employee who was open about getting his life back on track after a violent past.

Related: Westminster attack: Khalid Masood's wife 'saddened and shocked'

He did not fit to me as a potential extremist in any way, shape or form

Related: The mystery of Khalid Masood’s journey into violence and terror

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Fredi Kanouté: ‘Muslims have to prove they are not terrorists before talking’ | Paul Doyle

28 March, 2017 - 17:43
The former Sevilla and Mali striker is proud of his faith and would rather be known for working with orphans than his footballing achievements

Fredi Kanouté jokes that he has joined a rock band but none of the motley crew he is touring with claims to be a professional musician. Instead the former West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Sevilla striker shares stages around the world with extraordinary characters such as Emi Mahmoud, a former Darfur refugee and Poetry Slam world champion, and Dr Rouba Mhaissen, the economist and development activist ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the planet’s most influential people under 30.

Related: Skilled, determined and broke: Africa's female football pioneers

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What do many lone attackers have in common? Domestic violence | Hadley Freeman

28 March, 2017 - 15:30
Desperate attempts to profile Khalid Masood after the Westminster attacks blame Islam, Kent or even drunk teenagers, but the common thread in terrorism is often misogyny

The reactions to Khalid Masood’s attack last week played out with script-like predictability: rightwing commentators tried desperately to blame the actions of this Kent native on immigration, while the media pored over whatever anecdotes they could find from neighbours and schoolmates. All The Day Today cliches were ticked off: he was “always polite”, he came from “a normal family”, he once “got drunk” as a teenager.

This kind of desperate profiling plays to people’s desire to believe we should be able to spot terrorists. But while rent-a-gobs flail around naming and shaming Kent and drunk teenagers, it is telling how rarely one feature common to many “lone wolf” attackers is called out: a history of domestic abuse.

Before Katie Hopkins gets excited, this isn’t evidence of a misogyny unique to the Muslim culture, or Muslim killers

Related: Don’t heed the hysterical voices of ‘patriotism’. Britain isn’t broken | John Harris

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Exploring the links between religion and violence | Letters

27 March, 2017 - 18:45

The problem remains with all religions that literal interpretations of sacred texts, favoured by fundamentalists, leave vulnerable people open to exploitation by those whose purpose is evil (Well-trodden path from criminality to extremism, 25 March). Clearly, mainstream Muslim leaders must challenge such aberrations. But seeing the pictures of the young Khalid Masood at school, Keir Starmer’s words “if you want a really effective criminal justice strategy, you don’t build bigger prisons, you invest money in young kids” (Interview, 25 March) ring out most effective.
David Murray
Wallington, Surrey

• Though now a lapsed, recovering, Catholic, from 1947 to 1965 I was fully versed daily by priests, monks and nuns in Christian lore and practice. Contrary to your editorial (27 March), we were commanded to “turn the other cheek” and to pray for, not to slaughter or even harass, non-believers. Medieval Christians did mercilessly torture and murder selected heretics in order to steal their assets; but that was politics as usual, not religion.
Noel Hodson

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Should we blame Islam for terrorism? | David Shariatmadari

27 March, 2017 - 16:18
It’s a question even liberals can find themselves asking after attacks such as the one in Westminster. But the answer can’t be yes – and here’s why

Since the Westminster attacks, many people seem to have been getting stuck on the following question, as they do after most acts of jihadi violence: “Is there something special about Islam? Something that lends itself to terrorism?”

I’m not just talking about the Katie Hopkinses of this world (they have already decided to privilege gut feeling over actually finding out, so this piece isn’t really for them). Or even the Roger Scrutons: on Radio 4’s Start the Week on Monday, he said: “We do need to have a discussion about the Qur’an … how do we deal with those difficult suras [chapters] which are full of these tetchy pronouncements.” It sits at the back of progressives’ minds too, the kind of people who think it’s not good to generalise, and that there are definitely lots of nice Muslims, but still …

Related: Enough of the language and politics of fear. We remain a calm, sane and robust society | Nicci Gerrard

Related: Iran 1979: a time of revolution – in pictures

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The Guardian view on religion and violence: context is everything | Editorial

26 March, 2017 - 19:33
There are no religions that are entirely pacifist because there are no societies entirely free of conflict. What matters is how the holy books are read

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the Ukip peer, has complained three times in the House of Lords that he cannot access the website called the Religion of Peace from there, and has been told three times that it is classed by parliament’s internet service as a racist hate site – and, in the opinion of the deputy speaker, that is exactly how it should be classified. It is indeed a site dedicated to the proposition that Islam is a uniquely violent and hateful religion. It is hardly surprising that a former leader of Ukip should draw nourishment from such a poisoned well. But behind the name there lurks a serious question, which goes to the heart of integration: how seriously should we take the warlike scriptures of any religion?

There are no religions whose message is entirely pacifist, any more than there are societies without conflict. Any world religion will contain sacred texts that have seemed to urge its followers on to murder. Christianity, quite as much as Islam, can call on texts that seem to make the slaughter of unbelievers mandatory. So can the enlightenment ideologies, which have to some extent superseded religions in the west. The Marseillaise is a bloodthirsty anthem, and in our own time the horrendous cruelty of colonial and post-colonial wars was often justified in the name of spreading freedom and democracy.

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The 712-page Google doc that proves Muslims do condemn terrorism

26 March, 2017 - 17:00

When a classmate told 19-year-old Heraa Hashmi that “all terrorists are Muslims” she began to compile a dossier of all instances of Muslims condemning terror attacks

It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.

Related: UK Muslim leaders condemn 'cowardly' London attack

Related: Why it's wrong to demand that Muslims condemn Isis

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Women's March activists to gather in tribute to Westminster victims

26 March, 2017 - 12:10

Organisers of Donald Trump protests invite women to wear blue and hold hands on bridge where attack took place last week

Women wearing blue will gather on Westminster Bridge in London to hold hands in silence after the attack on Westminster last week.

The action by the organisers of the Women’s March will see women from diverse communities across the UK gather across the length of Westminster Bridge in solidarity with those affected by the incident, which left four people dead and more than 50 injured.

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The week in radio: The Great Egg Freeze; Heart and Soul: Inside the Mosque Ruled by Women; Can the Centre Hold?

26 March, 2017 - 07:00
Fi Glover takes an illuminating personal journey. Plus, the female imams shaking up Copenhagen

The Great Egg Freeze (Radio 4) | iPlayer
Heart and Soul: Inside the Mosque Ruled by Women (World Service) | iPlayer
Can the Centre Hold? (Radio 4) | iPlayer

Ah, how lovely it is to hear Fi Glover presenting a documentary. Or, indeed, to hear Fi Glover presenting anything on the radio. Her scripts are witty and deft; her delivery quick, light, clear; her questions intelligent and warmly polite. When Eddie Mair gets it right on PM, as he does so often, he reminds me of Glover.

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Enough of the language and politics of fear. We remain a calm, sane and robust society | Nicci Gerrard

26 March, 2017 - 00:05
The emotive and intemperate response to the attacks in Westminster serves only to divide us further and to collude with the very people who seek to terrorise

Words matter. “Maniac who knifed Britain in the heart”, read the Sun headline; “terror rampage”, according to the Express; London is a “city of monkeys” where liberals “actually think multiculturalism means we all die together”, wrote a Mail columnist who I’ll not bother naming.

No. Last Wednesday, a wretched, angry man, brought up in Kent and with a history of violence and a string of criminal offences behind him, drove over Westminster Bridge. His victims were an unarmed police officer; a woman from Spain with a British passport, who had two children and worked at a sixth-form college; a man from Utah, who was in London with his wife celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary (it was their last day in Britain and his wife is still in hospital with serious injuries); and a 75-year-old man, a retired window cleaner, from Streatham, south London.

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The lies of the right that debase civilised society | Nick Cohen

25 March, 2017 - 18:00
Instead of using a horrific terror attack to bolster prejudice, politicians should consider how Muslims in the west should be treated

After every attack, there is a pause while ideologues sniff the wind. If it is an Islamist easterly, the worst elements of the right know what to do. They score points with corpses, make weapons from wounds and say violence was a logical consequence of immigration and multiculturalism, policies they already opposed, and, for this is often overlooked, would have continued to oppose regardless of whether there were terrorist attacks.

Far from shocking them into fresh thinking, “shocking” violence confirms what they already knew. They are comfortable with it, as people always are comfortable with information that can be moulded to confirm their prejudices.

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Sayeeda Warsi: ‘Where are my grandkids going to call home? What world will they grow up in?’

25 March, 2017 - 06:00

The former cabinet minister and lawyer talks about her tough upbringing with four sisters, and how Muslim family life is the home front in the government’s misguided anti-radicalisation plans

‘You can’t call me that!” Sayeeda Warsi splutters, and I can’t help but smile. After all, this is the 45-year-old Yorkshirewoman and Britain’s first Muslim woman cabinet member, who prides herself on plain speaking. So far in our interview she has admitted to having “humdingers of rows” while in government, and blasted “lazy policymaking” on counter-terrorism. But she is still aghast when I describe her as “going rogue” since she resigned from the government over Gaza policy in 2014.

Let’s just say Lady Warsi – who was put on an Islamic State “kill list” last year – has been quite outspoken in the intervening years, slamming Zac Goldsmith’s divisive London mayoral campaign, condemning David Cameron for “demonising Muslims” and branding the campaign to leave the EU xenophobic. Yet, given the chance to write a warts-and-all-memoir of her time in cabinet, she has instead produced a densely argued book on British Muslims and how they are positioned as the latest “enemy within”.

Related: Politicians to blame for rise of 'respectable racism', says Lady Warsi

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Khalid Masood was a convert with a criminal past. So far, so familiar

25 March, 2017 - 05:00

Attackers inspired by Islamic extremism have rarely lived puritanical lives, but one surprising thing about Masood was his age

So we now know that Khalid Masood, the 52-year-old Briton who carried out the Westminster attack in London, had a string of criminal convictions. His first was in 1983 for criminal damage and his last was in 2003 for a stabbing. He was also a convert to Islam. Neither fact should come as a surprise.

Attackers apparently inspired by Islamic extremist ideologies are, for all their righteous rage at others, rarely particularly puritanical in their personal lives. A man who earlier this month seized an automatic weapon from a police officer at Orly airport in Paris had traces of cocaine in his blood and a long criminal record, while the attacker who killed 86 in Nice last July had a history of heavy drinking, cannabis use and casual sex. Several key members of the network which killed 140 in Paris in November 2015 had been involved in drug and arms sales. Almost every high profile attack in Europe – and many in the UK - in recent years has involved someone convicted for petty or serious crime.

Related: Isis celebration over the London attack is a dance of defeat

Related: Westminster attack: picture emerges of terrorist's final hours

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Singapore teen blogger who criticised government wins asylum in US

25 March, 2017 - 02:02

Amos Yee left the city state with the intention of staying in US after being jailed for several weeks in 2015 and 2016

A teenage blogger from Singapore whose online posts blasting his government landed in him jail has been granted asylum to remain in the United States.

Amos Yee, 18, had been detained by federal immigration authorities since December when he was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare International airport.

Related: Singapore police arrest 17-year-old over critical Lee Kuan Yew video

Related: Saudi Arabian teen arrested for online videos with American blogger

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Pauline Hanson's Muslim ban 'what terrorists want', says Turnbull

24 March, 2017 - 03:00

Terrorists’ objective is ‘to get broader society to turn on Muslims at large’, says PM after One Nation leader calls for ban

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has suggested Queensland senator Pauline Hanson is doing what Islamist terrorists want by promoting a Muslim ban.

The prime minister was critical of the One Nation leader after she used the London terrorist attack to call on people to pray for a ban on Muslims.

Related: Look closely – Hanson doesn't really speak for ordinary Australians | Lenore Taylor

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Trump aide says London attack by UK-born man justifies travel ban

23 March, 2017 - 18:54

Sebastian Gorka says Westminster attack proves ban is necessary, despite the fact that the British-born attacker wouldn’t have been affected by it

A Trump administration official seized on the Westminster terror attack to justify the president’s blocked travel ban, which targets refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries, despite confirmation that the attacker was neither an immigrant nor a refugee.

Related: Westminster attacker named by police as Khalid Masood

Related: Watchdog investigating DHS for alleged misconduct by immigration officials at airports

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Trying to make sense of the London terror attack | Letters

23 March, 2017 - 18:30

Many of us rightly feel distress and moral outrage at the attack in London, leaving some innocent people dead, some with horrific injuries. That feeling is only human. Such deaths and injuries, much magnified, occur more or less daily in, for example, Syria, Yemen and Iraq – yet receive proportionately far less distress and outrage from us. That too seems to be human. Ought not that discrepancy to cause us some moral unease? Or does that question’s implication suggest a silly “citizen of the world” attitude which Theresa May rejects as being a citizen of nowhere?
Peter Cave

• “It is not an act of war,” you say in your editorial (23 March). Exactly. It was a disastrous error of judgment when the “war against terror” was declared. Until that point all governments had insisted acts of terror were criminal acts. Calling them acts of war helps to glorify the unjust, and lends unwarranted dignity to cowardly and pointless slaughter.
Pete Stockwell

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UK Muslim leaders condemn 'cowardly' London attack

23 March, 2017 - 18:01

Incident should not be allowed to cause divisions, they say, as faith leaders of all communities due to meet at Scotland Yard

British Muslim leaders have condemned the terrorist attack in Westminster, with many imams expected to express shock and horror at Friday prayers.

More than a dozen faith leaders – Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews – met officers at Scotland Yard on Thursday to discuss responses to the Westminster attack. Before the meeting, the Metropolitan police tweeted:

Related: Prayer is not wishful nonsense. It helps us to shut up and think | Giles Fraser Loose canon

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I'm no extremist, says school governor banned in Trojan horse row

23 March, 2017 - 16:51

Tahir Alam, former chairman of governors at Park View school in Birmingham, tells tribunal he believes in democratic values

A former chairman of governors at a state secondary school embroiled in the alleged Trojan horse controversy has told a tribunal that he would not describe himself as extremist or radical.

Tahir Alam told a care standards tribunal that he was a Muslim who believed in democratic values and held generally mainstream political views.

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Fired analyst speaks about Muslims' 'challenges' in FBI – video

22 March, 2017 - 13:18

Said Barodi, a former FBI analyst, discusses his firing, which he considers an example of the climate facing Arabs and Muslims within the bureau, which is overwhelmingly white. Barodi describes being in transit from Paris to the US in early 2016, when he believes he was racially profiled in an airport encounter with a homeland security officer

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