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Caravan of Love takes its peace message to Indian families touched by hate

15 hours 56 min ago

As tide of caste or religious violence rises, one activist is taking his message of peace around India, meeting families of people killed in hate crimes

A police escort is a must when travelling in the Karwan-e-Mohabbat, or “Caravan of Love”.

Its leader, Harsh Mander, can see the irony. The caravan – an air-conditioned coach emblazoned with a banner proclaiming a message of love – is traversing seven Indian states in two weeks with a “call to conscience” for India’s Hindu majority.

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Trojan horse: the real story behind the fake 'Islamic plot' to take over schools – podcast

18 September, 2017 - 12:00

In 2014, documents alleging a conspiracy to Islamise Birmingham schools were leaked to the media, sparking a national scandal. The papers were debunked, but the story remains as divisive as ever. What really happened?

Read the text version here

Subscribe via Audioboom, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Acast & Sticher and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

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I’ve always been an Arab. It was only when I moved to the US I realised I was ‘brown’

17 September, 2017 - 13:00

It has been a bumper year for Islamophobia in the US. At times, it feels as if all I can do is keep my head down and ride out the storm

On 26 May, a white supremacist stabbed two people to death in my adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon. Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche confronted their killer when they saw him shouting Islamophobic slurs at a pair of teenage girls on a city train. In response, he slashed their throats and ran.

The man who committed this crime did so because he felt entitled to harass Muslims. And he knew at least one of the young women sitting in front of him was Muslim, not because he had any meaningful understanding of her religion, but because he saw the garment covering her hair.

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The best weapon to de-radicalise Isis returnees? Our own humanity | Sanam Naraghi Anderlini

15 September, 2017 - 17:15
Extremists coming back from Syria must not be seen as one-dimensional, Bond-movie bad guys. Our task is to remember that perpetrators can be victims

With relentless air strikes and ground attacks against Islamic State in Syria, hundreds of their foreign fighters and supporters are massing on the Turkish border, trying to get out. Of the at least 20,000 foreign fighters estimated to have been in Syria, 2,500 were thought to be Europeans, of whom 850 were British. Many may have died, but those who remain are likely to try to return home at some stage. For many people, that will be a frightening thought.

Related: Hundreds of Isis defectors mass on Syrian border hoping to flee

If we fall victim to this sort of thinking, we become that which we abhor and fear

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Muslim fostering row: Careless press must be held to account | Tay Jiva

15 September, 2017 - 09:12

Astounding claims in the reporting of this case are much more harmful than placing a child with a family of a different faith

Late last month, the Times made some rather astounding claims that Tower Hamlets council had placed a five-year-old white, British Christian girl into the care of a niqab-wearing Muslim family who didn’t speak English. As a qualified children’s social worker with more than 20 years’ experience, I suspected the story was exaggerated. My suspicions were confirmed within the next few days as the council claimed there were numerous errors in the reporting of the case and a court order was published.

For the last two years, I’ve managed an adoption and fostering recruitment project for the Penny Appeal. We’ve had more than 250 applicants from all over the UK in the past six months. The project targets Muslim adopters and foster carers because our preliminary research found that of the 3,000 Muslim children entering foster care every year, approximately half spend time living in non-Muslim homes. In fact, our research found that of the 70 Muslim children placed into foster care by Tower Hamlets in 2015, 14 were placed into non-Muslim homes. Our concerns about the availability of Muslim carers was shared by the Department for Education, which provided £200,000 in December 2016 to expand our the project.

Related: The Muslim fostering row is a culture war in action | Gaby Hinsliff

Related: Furore about child’s Muslim foster carer ‘a threat to service’

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The Newest Americans: portraits from the 'most diverse' US university

14 September, 2017 - 11:00

Photoville, a collection of 75 exhibitions, focuses on the lives of the incredibly varied student and faculty population of Rutgers University, in New Jersey

Marisol Conde-Hernandez has been out and proud as an undocumented Latina ever since she can remember, growing up in New Jersey. Now she wants to be the first undocumented immigrant in the state to be allowed to register as a lawyer.

Related: Art created by immigrants removed in travel ban protest – in pictures

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A Sinner in Mecca review – Islam, homosexuality and the hope of tolerance

10 September, 2017 - 13:29

In a book subtitled ‘A Gay Muslim’s Hajj of Defiance’, Parvez Sharma’s pilgramage leads him to consider Isis, Wahabbism and the true nature of his faith

Parvez Sharma is a proud gay Muslim whose first film, A Jihad For Love, was the first ever made about Islam and homosexuality. It made him the subject of death threats throughout the Arab world.

Related: Gay Muslim film-maker receives online abuse for hajj documentary

In my nightmares, my ihram would fall off in Mecca, subjecting unsuspecting pilgrims to my un-Muslim penis

Related: Gay pride only goes so far in India | Parvez Sharma

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National party votes against banning burqa in government buildings

10 September, 2017 - 01:58

North Queensland MP George Christensen, who brought the motion to the federal conference, argued it was needed for security reasons

The Nationals have voted down a motion to ban the burqa and other facial coverings in government buildings and other public spaces.

North Queensland federal MP George Christensen, who brought the motion to the federal conference, argued it was needed for security reasons but also noted the party was “bleeding to the right” on issues such as this.

Related: Pauline Hanson wears burqa in Australian Senate while calling for ban

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Of course British Muslims are being held back. This is an Islamophobic country | Shaista Aziz

8 September, 2017 - 16:18
With Muslims constantly spoken of or portrayed in a negative way, it’s no wonder we struggle to get jobs and be socially mobile

The government’s study into the social mobility challenges faced by young British Muslims once again shines a troubling spotlight on how race, class, Islamophobia and patriarchy within Muslim communities – and wider British society – is impacting the life chances and quality of life for a significant section of the British population.

It also further highlights the deepening fractures in our society. It is not inconsequential that the report from the government’s social mobility commission has been published days before the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent normalisation of anti-Muslim rhetoric in so much of our political, social and media discourse.

Related: Islamophobia holding back UK Muslims in workplace, study finds

Related: 'I don't see how you can succeed': discrimination faced by would-be teacher

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The Guardian view on the Rohingya in Myanmar: the Lady’s failings, the military’s crimes | Editorial

7 September, 2017 - 19:23
The killing and abuse of civilians is a crime against humanity. Aung San Suu Kyi must speak out – but this violence is the army’s

Aung San Suu Kyi’s long silence over the desperate plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar has been shameful. With tens of thousands now fleeing atrocities in Rakhine state, the Nobel peace prize winner’s aura of moral sanctity lies in tatters. The Muslim minority are denied citizenship by a government which claims, against the evidence, that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. After decades of discrimination, matters got much worse. Since 2012 the Rohingya have endured not just immiseration and the denial of basic rights and services – many live in internment camps – but three major waves of violence by government forces and Buddhist Burman nationalists. Myanmar’s de facto leader has turned a blind eye.

Speak up, people have urged her. Do something. So far her words and actions have been as bad as her reticence. The government has blocked access to United Nations human rights investigators and aid workers. A post on her Facebook page blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” about the current violence. Whether she shares the widespread prejudice towards the Rohingya is a moot question: she does not challenge it. Perhaps the populist Islamophobic forces thriving elsewhere encourage such indifference. On Wednesday, shortly after she met Narendra Modi – no stranger to condoning and exploiting vicious Islamophobia – India’s prime minister said his country shared Myanmar’s concerns about “extremist violence” in Rakhine state.

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Differing views about foster children’s needs | Letters

7 September, 2017 - 18:39
The Daily Telegraph’s Allison Pearson responds to a Guardian column that referred to her piece about a young girl placed with Muslim foster parents

Your columnist Nesrine Malik (Can’t talk about Muslims? It seems we do little else, 5 September) claims I wrote in my Daily Telegraph column that I was “deeply uneasy about this Muslim foster family”. That is untrue. The quotation marks are around the headline to my piece, which I didn’t write. I said I was uneasy at the sight of a five-year-old girl in Tower Hamlets given into the care of a woman who wears a burqa, which covers her whole body and face. I also said I consider the burqa to be an extremist garment, which makes the wearer unable to interact with wider society. Therefore, I would not want a child of any religion or ethnicity fostered by someone who wears one. Plenty of people agree.

Foster carers of all kinds do a wonderful job, but social workers are bidden to place children in environments that are sensitive to their needs. The little girl was reported to be crying and complained that Arabic was spoken in the home where she was placed. She was reluctant to return to her foster family. I’m not surprised. A carer in a burqa is hardly a tolerant role model for a British child in the 21st century. Courageous Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are fighting to cast off the life-limiting garment which a misogynist belief system imposes on them. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that a London local authority should endorse it.
Allison Pearson
Daily Telegraph

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'I don't see how you can succeed': discrimination faced by would-be teacher

7 September, 2017 - 06:01

Fatou, who has a degree in childhood studies, thinks her Muslim religion played a part in her rejection from jobs

Fatou came to the UK from Guinea when she was 16. She dreamed of a successful career as a banker or doctor and had worked hard to gain qualifications, which she had to redo in the UK. She completed her GCSEs and gained a degree in childhood studies from Leeds Metropolitan University.

“My tutor suggested I look at teaching qualifications and I thought ‘why not?’” she said, describing how she ended up achieving QTS (qualified teacher status) in early years education with a good grade.

Related: Islamophobia holding back UK Muslims in workplace, study finds

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Islamophobia holding back UK Muslims in workplace, study finds

7 September, 2017 - 06:00

One in five Muslim adults in full-time work compared with 35% of overall population, Social Mobility Commission says

Muslim men and women are being held back in the workplace by widespread Islamophobia, racism and discrimination, according to a study which finds that Muslim adults are far less likely to be in full-time work.

Research for the government’s social mobility watchdog, shared exclusively with the Guardian, found a strong work ethic and high resilience among Muslims that resulted in impressive results in education.

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United Patriots Front trio say beheading stunt during Bendigo mosque protest an act of free speech

5 September, 2017 - 05:13

Far-right nationalists tell Melbourne court that criticising an extremist practice is not intended to incite contempt, revulsion or ridicule for Muslims

Three men from a far-right nationalist group in Victoria have spoken in court about how a stunt beheading a mock dummy was an act of free speech rather than religious vilification.

The United Patriots Front leader, Blair Cottrell, 27, and supporters Neil Erikson, 32, and Christopher Neil Shortis, 46, are each representing themselves in the Melbourne magistrates court.

Related: Far-right United Patriots Front to form political party ahead of federal election

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Q&A: Winston Churchill accused of genocide by Indian politician

4 September, 2017 - 23:21

The ABC show’s panel from the Melbourne Writers Festival talked about questions of colonialism, Charlottesville and western judgment of Muslims

An Indian politician drew robust applause from the Q&A audience when comparing Winston Churchill to “some of the worst genocidal dictators of the 20th century” because of his role in a catastrophic famine in Bengal.

Shashi Tharoor’s emphatic critique of British rule in India resonated during a discussion in which global thinkers and authors debated the moral status of the west and responses to racial, gender and economic inequality in the era of Donald Trump.

Related: Churchill not entirely to blame for Bengal famine | Letters

Can you put a price on intangible values that were gained during the British rule in India? @ShashiTharoor & @PennyRed respond #QandA pic.twitter.com/rwn8UoLTwm

The problem is we only know what we are against, says @rcbregman. @mfullilove says it's a tragedy about Charlottesville #QandA pic.twitter.com/qAI57LanLf

Are freedom & religion mutually exclusive for women in some Islamic nations? @xoamani @PennyRed & @mfullilove respond #QandA pic.twitter.com/323L8Mv8Tm

Related: A Q&A with Tony Jones: 'Fiction frees you from the constraints of journalism'

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'We are an example to the Arab world': Tunisia's radical marriage proposals

4 September, 2017 - 11:09

Against strong opposition, Tunisia is pushing ahead with laws that will allow women to marry outside the Muslim faith and grant them equal inheritance rights

Tunisia is pressing ahead with ambitious proposals to reform the country’s laws on marriage and inheritance, despite widespread resistance from inside and outside the predominately Muslim country.

Last month, president Beji Caid Essebsi announced his intention to allow women to marry outside the Islamic faith, and to give them equal rights under the country’s inheritance laws.

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Pauline Hanson's burqa stunt could change Australian Senate's dress code

4 September, 2017 - 04:30

Committee may also give Senate president and deputy president power to suspend senators from chamber based on dress

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s burqa stunt could lead to an overhaul of the Senate’s dress code.

The Senate president, Stephen Parry, said on Monday he had written to the Senate procedure committee asking it to consider whether the dress code ought to be modified.

Related: Dealing with Pauline Hanson requires facts. That's why George Brandis got it right | Lenore Taylor

Related: Brandis stands up for decency after burqa stunt – but that's exactly what Hanson wanted | Katharine Murphy

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Same-sex marriage debate: conservative Muslims steer clear for fear of backlash

3 September, 2017 - 19:00

Community leader says they face being labelled extremists – even by Christian conservatives who support the no side

Muslim Australians who oppose same-sex marriage are afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled extremists, including by Christian conservatives who themselves oppose it, a Muslim community leader has said.

Ali Kadri, a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Queensland, told Guardian Australia that imams and community leaders “who represent the vast majority of the Muslim community” were staying out of the postal survey debate for fear of backlash.

Related: Postal plebiscite on marriage equality would cost 'up to $122m'

Related: Marriage equality postal ballot: here comes a yes campaigner | Bob Brown

Related: Public mood turns against marriage equality postal vote, poll shows

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Words still fail us when we attempt to talk about Muslims in Britain | Kenan Malik

3 September, 2017 - 00:05
Open, rational discussion is all too rare in the polarised ways in which we discuss millions of Britons. Instead, debates get trapped between hostility towards Muslims and a fear of giving offence

Court cases involving children being taken into care are inevitably messy. There are deep emotions involved and conflicting viewpoints. Parents are often angry, children confused and fearful. Those outside the process can find it difficult to discern the facts, as much of the decision-making takes place behind closed doors.

Given all this, it was perhaps inevitable that the explosive report in the Times last week – about the distress of a five-year-old girl in east London placed in foster care with a Muslim family – should unravel. What was not inevitable was the way in which it unravelled or the way that the story was framed to begin with. From the opening headline – “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” – this was a polemic in the guise of an investigation.

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