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Muslim women kicked out of California restaurant sue for discrimination

4 May, 2016 - 21:41

Seven women allege they were told to leave Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach for wearing headscarves but business claims they violated limited seating policy

Seven Muslim women who were kicked out of a southern California restaurant are suing the business for discrimination, alleging that they were singled out for wearing headscarves in an area that advocates say has seen an increase in hate crimes.

The women, six of whom were wearing hijabs, say they were ordered to leave Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach on 22 April, ostensibly because they were violating a policy limiting seating to 45 minutes – even though video they took as they were exiting shows that there were open tables throughout the restaurant.

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German founder of Pegida fined €9,600 for Facebook posts

3 May, 2016 - 18:27

German court found posts by Lutz Bachmann calling refugees ‘cattle’ and ‘scum’ counted as racial incitement

The founder of the German anti-Islam protest movement Pegida has been hit with a €9,600 (£7,600) fine for a Facebook post branding refugees “cattle”, “scum” and “trash”.

A Dresden court on Tuesday ruled that Lutz Bachmann’s posts counted as racial incitement since they had stoked hatred against refugees on a public forum.

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What do American Muslims think of the election and its presidential candidates?

3 May, 2016 - 17:36

Brian Vines went to mosques and protests to learn about gender, surveillance and the differences between Republican and Democratic Muslims in New York

There are 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, and Muhammad, or one of its variants, is the most common name in the world. In America, 3.3 million people identify as Muslim, according to a recent Pew study. While former GOP contender Ben Carson would “absolutely not agree” with the US being run by a Muslim president, we wanted to know what some Muslims living in New York City thought about the remaining candidates … and who they view as “God’s candidate”.

Related: Who is God's candidate? Jewish voters speak out ahead of New York primary

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The British government has already forgotten the great dangers of propaganda | Piers Robinson

3 May, 2016 - 14:11
The covert counter-terrorism strategy targeting Muslim communities is a worrying development. Is it necessary and justified?

As titles go, the Research Information and Communication Unit (Ricu) seems bland enough to go unnoticed and innocuous not to raise alarm should it come to attention. The truth, however, seems less benign.

Revelations by the Guardian indicate that the Ricu, the Home Office’s “strategic communications” agency, has been involved in covertly supporting grassroots Muslim organisations in order to propagate “counter-narratives” designed to combat extremism. They also indicate that the British government has been involved in spreading propaganda aimed at bolstering the impression that there are “moderate armed opposition” groups in Syria.

Propaganda can at times be justified, but it always comes at a price, sometimes a very high one

Related: Inside Ricu, the shadowy propaganda unit inspired by the cold war

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The Muslim vote: balancing faith and politics in a divisive election – video

3 May, 2016 - 13:00

In an increasingly hostile election season in which many US Muslims have taken to the streets to rally against Donald Trump, Muslim Republican leaders have their work cut out for them to keep voters loyal. In this second episode of Who’s God’s Candidate?, BRIC-TV chief correspondent Brian Vines talks to Republican and Democratic Muslims alike and asks how their faith helps them determine their vote

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Decent Tories must speak out against their party’s Islamophobic mayoral campaign

3 May, 2016 - 11:48

As I condemned Ken Livingstone’s remarks, so Tories should take a stand against the repugnant anti-Muslim smears targeting Labour’s Sadiq Khan

Speak out now, decent Tories, or forever be damned for your complicity. Zac Goldsmith is gratuitously exploiting anti-Muslim prejudice in order to win this Thursday’s London mayoral election. His campaign has secured its place in the history books, joining a political hall of shame along with the Tories’ infamous racist 1964 Smethwick byelection and the homophobic Liberal Bermondsey byelection campaign in 1983. There are no excuses. Lifelong Conservative Peter Oborne has described Goldsmith’s campaign as “the most repulsive I have ever seen as a political reporter”. Former Conservative candidate Shazia Awan has denounced the campaign as “racist”. “This is not the Zac Goldsmith I know,” says Tory Baroness Warsi. “Are we Conservatives fighting to destroy Zac or fighting to win this election?” A number of erstwhile Conservative voters have contacted me to share their revulsion. For other Tories not to follow their lead leaves them sharing the blame.

Related: Zac Goldsmith denies 'dog-whistle' tactics in antisemitism row

Related: Zac Goldsmith deserves to lose the mayoral race – and be put out to pasture | Suzanne Moore

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New anti-extremism powers to be included in Queen's speech

3 May, 2016 - 09:07

Legislation expected to include measures to ban groups, close down premises and gag individuals

David Cameron is expected to announce plans to crack down on extremism in the Queen’s speech, including powers to ban organisations, close down premises and gag individuals.

The legislation follows publication of the government’s counter-extremism strategy which also promised a full investigation into the application of sharia law in the UK.

Related: Government hid fact it paid for 2012 Olympics film aimed at Muslims

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Saudi Arabia gives women the right to a copy of their marriage contract

3 May, 2016 - 07:38

Kingdom’s justice ministry announces move to ‘protect the rights of the woman’, ending practice of only supplying document to husbands

Saudi brides will now get a copy of their marriage contracts, a privilege that was previously exclusive to men in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the kingdom’s justice ministry has announced.

According to a directorate issued by the justice minister, Walid al-Samaani, clerics who register marriage contracts will now have to hand a copy to the bride “to ensure her awareness of her rights and the terms of the contract”.

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'There was nobody to help me stop my son joining Isis'

2 May, 2016 - 06:00

Families of foreign jihadis killed in Syria are helping a deradicalisation programme to bring young men back from the brink

Scrolling through photos on her mobile phone, Saliha Ben Ali stops at a picture of her son, Sabri, as a three-year-old sitting on Father Christmas’s lap. Santa’s white-gloved hands envelope Sabri’s small torso and that of the little boy sitting to his right. Both lads stare straight ahead, looking slightly bewildered. “To think, they were the only guys who were scared of Santa Claus that day,” Ben Ali recalls. “Now both of them are dead.”

Sabri died in Syria aged 19, fighting for Isis, sometime between August 2013 and 8 December that year, when an unknown man telephoned Ben Ali’s husband to tell them he had been killed. She is still haunted by the 10-second phone call in which the man said “congratulations, your son is a martyr”.

Related: Mothers of Isis recruits find healing and resolve through support network

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Zayn Malik - saviour of Muslim teenagers | Urmee Khan

30 April, 2016 - 10:00

The former One Direction star speaks to an aspirational generation of British Muslim kids who want to please their parents and carve out their own identity

Muslim teenagers in Britain, so we are told, are caught between extremism and integration. Thousands of pounds have been spent on projects such as Prevent – arguably a total waste of money. Teenagers don’t care what some crusty MPs and self appointed “community leaders” think. Things are grim.

Related: Zayn Malik and the pains of being a Muslim pop star

Related: Zayn Malik: Mind of Mine review – downbeat sex jams drive assured rebrand

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‘My crime was wearing a turban’: Sikh man arrested on US bus pursues justice

30 April, 2016 - 00:46

Daljeet Singh, a political asylum seeker from India, was detained for 30 hours by police after a fellow passenger alleged she heard him discussing a bomb

It is an iconic American experience, a first long-distance trip in a Greyhound bus through parts of the southwest made famous by Route 66.

When Daljeet Singh took the journey, though, he saw an altogether more dystopian vision of America: one in which it feels like a prejudiced and paranoid place where to be perceived as “Arabic” is to be viewed as a potential terrorist.

Related: Southwest Airlines draws outrage over man removed for speaking Arabic

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Despite the murals, Belfast is not Bethlehem with rain | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

28 April, 2016 - 18:39
In a city of peace walls, Catholics feel occupied, Protestants that they’ve an ancient claim to the land. So both appropriate the narratives of the Israel-Palestine conflict

The Short Strand housing estate is a fiercely republican enclave in predominantly loyalist east Belfast. In these tightly packed streets, several thousand Catholics hunker down in an area of tens of thousands of Protestants. Close by one of the major routes of Orange Order marches, the Short Strand has long been a flashpoint. It was here that the IRA fought one of the first battles of the Troubles, resulting in three dead and 26 wounded. And there are still problems, with what some rather stupidly call “recreational rioting”. Stones and worse are regularly thrown over the peace wall separating the communities.

On a good day, the estate seems unremarkable – except for a huge mural that runs alongside a strip of wasteland next to the shops. “Short Strand supports Gaza,” it reads. Beside it the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, sits in a Gaza-shaped bath of blood, wielding a meat cleaver at drowning Palestinians as Barack Obama tries to avert Ban Ki-moon’s attention away from the massacre.

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Whatever they do, Muslims can’t win in our society | Ian Birrell

28 April, 2016 - 12:59

British people pride themselves on being inclusive and fair. Yet we tolerate Britons being discriminated against – if they happen to follow Islam

It is enough to make you feel proud to be British, citizens of a nation that loves little better than to boast about its brilliance at subsuming new cultures into our supposedly tolerant society. In the space of just a few days a Muslim woman clad in a hijab cooked the Queen’s 90th birthday cake, a Muslim footballer was voted player of the year for the first time and a Muslim woman notched up the unprecedented hat-trick of being the first black, female and Islamic student president.

These small steps forward should have been starbursts of pride, signs of rapid evolution in a modern nation embracing diversity. Instead suspicion clings to this community, with double standards that demand integration then treat its members so differently to others.

Muslims are just the latest group of immigrants to be subjected to profound suspicion

Related: I’m the new NUS president – and no, I’m not an antisemitic Isis sympathiser | Malia Bouattia

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Why so many Iranians have come to hate the hijab

28 April, 2016 - 09:00

Over the years the state crackdown on women’s dress has become more of a show to placate the country’s hardline base. Our correspondent shares stories from her personal repertoire illustrating the point

As summer approaches, police in Tehran have once again begun to crack down on Iranians who fail to comply with the country’s Islamic dress code. This year, besides the customary uniformed morality police, 7,000 undercover agents are reportedly also on the case. I was spared the early years of the Islamic Republic, but my mother recalls how diligent she had to be to avoid giving the morality police – or anyone else with the authority to judge appearances – any pretext to find fault with her, as jail sentences for “protesting” were all too common for dress-code transgressors.

It was a hot day in the early 1980s and my parents were going to an international exhibition in Tehran. As my older sister, then a baby, lay in her carriage, my mom wheeled her into the room filled with female agents who were in charge of checking the women’s compliance. They would ask some to fix their hijab, passing tissues to others to wipe off their makeup. As one agent finished scrutinizing my mother, she looked at my sister in the carriage.

Related: Iranian fashion: between the veils

Related: Iran's morality police: patrolling the streets by stealth

Related: How the hijab has made sexual harassment worse in Iran

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Warsan Shire: the Somali-British poet quoted by Beyoncé in Lemonade

27 April, 2016 - 15:00

She was London’s Young Poet Laureate, becoming a voice for its marginalised people – now her work has been recited by the queen of pop

She writes of places where many Beyoncé fans rarely go, the portions of London where the faces are black and brown, where men huddle outside shop-front mosques and veiled women are trailed by long chains of children. Warsan Shire, the Somali-British poet whose words are featured in Beyoncé’s new globe-shaking Lemonade album, is a bard of these marginalised areas – she was even named the first Young Poet Laureate for London at 25.

Beyoncé reads parts of Shire’s poems, including For Women Who Are Difficult To Love, The Unbearable Weight of Staying (the End of the Relationship) and Nail Technician as Palm Reader in interludes between songs in her 12-track, hour-long video album that premiered this week. Truly, Shire was a brilliant choice for Beyoncé’s unapologetically black and female album: like the people and places from which they are woven, Shire’s poems – published in a volume titled Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth – are laden with longing for other lands and complicated by the contradictions of belonging in new ones. In Conversations about Home, she writes: “I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can’t afford to forget”, and: “They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket.”

Related: 'Beyoncé is not a woman to be messed with' – Lemonade review

Related: How Beyoncé's Lemonade became a pop culture phenomenon

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Bangladesh's pluralism is at risk if Sheikh Hasina does not stop extremists

26 April, 2016 - 15:52

Murders of gay activists and secularists highlight culture of impunity, with Hasina and Awami League accused of failing to act

The government of Sheikh Hasina Wazed is under growing pressure in Bangladesh to end an apparent culture of impunity after a series of brutal murders of secular writers, bloggers and liberal intellectuals by radical Isla mists.

A torrent of protest followed the latest killings, on Monday night, of Xulhaz Mannan, editor of the country’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender magazine (LGBT), and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, an actor and fellow gay rights activist. Critics have accused the Awami League government of failing to act effectively to stop the carnage.

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

Related: 'I must survive to seek justice,' says widow of murdered Bangladesh blogger

Related: Bangladesh's PM rejects claims of repression: 'I do politics for the people'

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

26 April, 2016 - 05:43

Saarban Islamic Trust partly blames Islamophobia after report recommending rejection on planning grounds

A proposal to build a mosque in a suburb 40km south-east of Melbourne’s CBD is likely to be rejected over concerns about the scale of the development and its impact on the environment.

A special meeting of the City of Casey council will be held on Tuesday night to discuss a council report that recommends councillors not approve the application from the Saarban Islamic Trust for a 470-person mosque on the vacant rural site in Narre Warren. The mosque has been the subject of vehement opposition from far-right political groups.

Related: Battle over Bendigo: fear and bruised feelings in city that said yes to a mosque

Related: Gold Coast mosque: opponents celebrate after court rejects plan

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Sydney teenager charged with Anzac Day terrorism plot pleads not guilty

26 April, 2016 - 02:52

Police allege the 16-year-old boy, who was reportedly participating in a deradicalisation program, was trying to obtain a gun to use in an attack

A 16-year-old western Sydney boy has pleaded not guilty to trying to source a gun for use in an Anzac Day terrorist attack.

The Auburn teenager, who cannot be named, was arrested on Sunday afternoon after police reportedly intercepted encrypted messages they allege show the boy was trying to obtain a firearm.

Related: Malcolm Turnbull: multiculturalism and tolerance will combat terrorism

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The Muslim Council of Britain is failing Ahmadis like Asad Shah | Tahir Nasser

25 April, 2016 - 16:18

These are difficult times in the UK for Ahmadi Muslims as some seek to demonise us – and the MCB is an enabler

In 2013, I organised an event at University College London for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association UK titled Innocence of Muhammad. The aim of the event was to portray the true and peaceful character of the prophet of Islam, in light of the wild and violent responses of some Muslims to the slanderous video, The Innocence of Muslims. Unfortunately, towards the end of the event, a prominent member of the university’s Islamic society entered and distributed leaflets calling for the social boycott and “capital punishment” of Ahmadi Muslims.

As an Ahmadi myself, I am sadly familiar with such harassment. This minority community of Islam faces persecution in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, and we are often treated with open hostility by many orthodox Muslims in the UK. The reason can seem arcane to those not of the Muslim faith: Ahmadis, who believe in their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the expected Messiah and Mahdi of Islam, differ from the mainstream belief that prophethood ceased after Muhammad, as orthodox Muslims believe is laid out in the Qur’an.

It couldn’t be any clearer that Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is a hate organisation dedicated to the demonisation of Ahmadi Muslims

Related: Shunned for saying they're Muslims: life for Ahmadis after Asad Shah's murder

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