The Guardian World news: Islam

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Updated: 4 hours 31 min ago

Death in Syria: a man on a mission of mercy

8 hours 14 min ago
As one family mourns a man who left to join an aid convoy, a campaign group urges a rethink on returnees from Syria

The last texts of Kamran ul-Haque to his elder brother tell a story of a young man fearful yet thrilled by the prospect of war in Syria. I might be going on a mad mission very soon. Theres a place that has been heavily attacked and bombarded, he wrote.

The 29-year-old east Londoner, who had been in the country since December last year, had spent months ferrying the dead and injured to field hospitals in the country in his own words, bloody, gruesome work far from his old life as an Indian takeaway delivery man in Whitechapel, east London. [They] need me here and my ambulance to take people out. Very risky mission but I love the feeling.

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Afghan newspapers blasphemy causes protests after rebuking Isis and Islam

24 October, 2014 - 16:47
Comment piece in Afghanistan Express launched by technical error also attacked Taliban and said Islam is parochial religion

A newspaper columnist condemning Islamic State (Isis) and the Taliban triggered demonstrations in several Afghan cities on Friday, with protesters denouncing the article as blasphemous and calling on the government to punish the publication.

In Kabul, a crowd of approximately 500 people, including clerics and several members of parliament, gathered in front of the Eid Gah Mosque, the citys second largest house of worship.

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Prisoners Pictures review exploring science and propaganda amid conflict

24 October, 2014 - 13:48
A photography exhibition in Frankfurt examines first world war propaganda attempts to stir revolt among Muslim soldiers

Of all the exhibitions on the first world war, Prisoners Pictures, at Frankfurts Historisches Museum, is one of the smallest, but also the most unusual. Starting from a collection of 15 photographs of African prisoners of war held in Germany, it explores the connections between science and propaganda during the conflict. The pictures were found at the Frobenius Institute, named after a leading German ethnologist, but no one knows why they were taken.

The portraits five Africans and five Algerians were taken full-face and in profile. The quality is so good that in one of them the photographer and camera can be seen reflected in the subjects eye. Such scientific precision and the ambiguity surrounding the pictures reflect how the German authorities perceived their captives.

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The Ottawa shooting response reveals fault lines in the battle between two Canadas | Elamin Abdelmahmoud

23 October, 2014 - 17:20

Were self-congratulatory and skeptical about multiculturalism simultaneously, but recent events threaten our better selves

There are two stories about Canada. They are both real and they are at odds with each other.

The first is the story epitomised by Canadian anchor Peter Mansbridge on Wednesday. Tired as he may have been after leading the CBCs coverage when first two soldiers were deliberately run down in Quebec Monday and then during Wednesdays tragic shooting in Ottawa, he maintained his respectful tone and earned praise for not jumping to any conclusions about the shooter.

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My brother wanted to be a jihadi and society is creating many more like him | Robb Leech

22 October, 2014 - 11:00
Extremism of any kind is a symptom of an unhealthy society and, in order to eradicate it, we should look to treat its cause

As Isis continues to dominate our collective consciousness, most recently with the crucifixion of a 17-year-old boy, the government appears to be fumbling in the dark for new ways of stemming the blood from an old wound which refuses to heal; only they seem to be thinking about bigger plasters, which probably wont do the trick. Meanwhile, somewhere in the UK, another jihadist is born.

I documented the birth of one particular jihadist in my BBC3 film My Brother the Islamist. The film charted my attempts to reconnect with Rich, who happened to be my stepbrother, to try to understand the new world he had become a part of. Ultimately the shared journey drew us closer together, but a year later he would be arrested for attempting to join the Taliban in Pakistan.

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Canadian soldier killed by convert to Islam in hit and run

21 October, 2014 - 20:24
Martin Couture Rouleau shot dead by Quebec police after driving his car into two soldiers in act linked to terrorist ideology

Terrorist ideology inspired a recent convert to Islam to drive his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, before he was shot dead by police, authorities said on Tuesday.

Quebec police spokesman Guy Lapointe said the act was deliberate and that one of the two soldiers was in uniform. There were no other suspects.

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War-torn Mali plans to build university in Timbuktu

21 October, 2014 - 19:43
Snowflake-shaped campus in Sahara to draw on citys Islamic heritage, as Bono backs plans to revive Tuareg music festival

It is famously remote, a byword for the impossible-to-reach. In recent times, it has been occupied by jihadis who took pickaxes to the tombs of its medieval saints and burnt or stole thousands of its manuscripts. Now, Timbuktu may be the setting for a $80m (£50m) university in the Sahara.

Architects drawings of Timbuktu university show a design in the shape of a snowflake, with roads radiating outwards from a central hub. The campus would be sited away from the town on the road between Timbuktu and Kabara, the historic trading port on the river Niger where goods were transferred from camel to canoe, and will contain a library and large central auditorium as well as lecture theatres and accommodation.

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BBCs Mishal Husain calls for social media campaign to combat Isis

21 October, 2014 - 09:19
Today programme co-host wants Muslim scholars to use internet to refute arguments put forward by extremist group

BBC presenter Mishal Husain has called on British Muslim scholars to use social media to combat extremism

The Today programme co-host is one of the most high-profile female Muslim broadcasters in Britain.

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Ali Mazrui obituary

20 October, 2014 - 15:36
Kenyan political thinker who was unafraid to confront contentious issues

The Kenyan political thinker Ali Mazrui, who has died aged 81, was best known in the west for writing and presenting a groundbreaking television series, The Africans: A Triple Heritage (1986). In the nine-part documentary, co-produced by the BBC and the US Public Broadcasting Service in association with the Nigerian Television Authority, Mazrui set out to explore wide-ranging aspects of African culture and society from the inside. Episodes focused on subjects including nature, the family, exploitation, conflict and political instability.

The common theme of the series was the impact on the continent of three distinct influences: indigenous African culture, Islam and Christianity. Drawing on a thesis first put forward by the Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah, Mazrui argued that this mix of non-traditional religious ideals and sentiments had made it difficult to identify an authentically African way of doing things. He painted a forceful picture of the damage done by colonialism, and touched on issues such as the potential benefits to Africans of closer links with the Arab world and the possibility that black Africa would soon possess nuclear weapons.

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'Burqa ban': Bronwyn Bishop backs down on parliament segregation

19 October, 2014 - 22:10

Speaker and Senate president reverse decision to force visitors wearing facial coverings to sit in separate area of public gallery

Backdown over parliament house burqa ban politics live

The presiding officers of Australias parliament house have backed down from a controversial decision to segregate Muslim women wearing facial coverings such as burqas or niqabs in the public galleries.

The speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, and the Senate president, Stephen Parry, met on Sunday to reconsider the interim access arrangements announced just over two weeks ago.

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Humiliation replaces fear for the women kidnapped by Isis

19 October, 2014 - 18:32
Widow with child sold for marriage after raiding Isis militants shot her husband and took them into captivity

They sold Amsha for $12. Other girls and women went for more, much more. But Amsha had a small son and was pregnant with her second child. She had already seen Islamic State (Isis) militants execute her husband in front of her. Now the terror of that crime and the fear of captivity was to be replaced by the indignity and humiliation of being traded like cattle.

A 50-year-old man with a dark beard came to buy me, she recalls. From that day on, I didnt want to live any more.

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'Violent' Muslims? 'Amoral' atheists? It's time to stop shouting and start talking to each other | Reza Aslan and Chris Stedman

19 October, 2014 - 13:30

The logic of blanket statements falls apart when youre confronted with the diversity of the religious and nonreligious experience

Lost in the venomous arguments that have recently been flying back and forth between Muslims and atheists on HBO and on op-ed pages, in the United States and beyond is just how much these two marginalized, underrepresented groups have in common.

According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least favorably viewed religious or ethical groups in the US. Both communities are severely underrepresented in the general population roughly 2% of Americans identify as atheists, compared to 1% for Muslims. Both face rising levels of animosity from the general public. And both tend to be defined by the loudest voices within their communities.

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The Lahore courts decision to uphold Asia Bibis death penalty is far from just | Samira Shackle

18 October, 2014 - 09:00
Unless influential people oppose Pakistans harsh blasphemy laws, theres no hope for her or many others facing execution

In November 2010, Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death in Pakistan. Her crime was allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad during an argument with some Muslim neighbours. The case caused an international outcry; politicians and international human rights organisations took it up; lawyers appealed. Today, the Lahore high court upheld the death sentence.

Bibis case shone a spotlight on Pakistans harsh blasphemy laws. The existence of blasphemy laws is not itself unusual. All over the world, different countries restrict what citizens can say about religion; Britain had a blasphemy law until 2008. What is exceptional in Pakistan is the extremity of the penalties, and the light burden of proof. Blasphemy carries a maximum penalty of death, yet the law sets out no standards for evidence, no requirement to prove intent, no punishment for false allegations and, indeed, no guidance on what actually constitutes blasphemy.

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Together we can conquer hatred | @guardianletters

17 October, 2014 - 18:59

Tomorrow afternoon a memorial service will be held for David Haines, one of the three Britons kidnapped by Isis in Syria. David and Alan Henning travelled to Syria to help their fellow man by delivering vital humanitarian support to those who needed it most. Their desire to help was not driven by their religion, race or politics, but by their humanity. David and Alan were never more alive than when helping to alleviate the suffering of others. They gave their lives to this cause and we are incredibly proud of them.

We are writing this letter because we will not allow the actions of a few people to undermine the unity of people of all faiths in our society. How we react to this threat is also about all of us. Together we have the power to defeat the most hateful acts. Acts of unity from us all will in turn make us stronger and those who wish to divide us weaker. David and Alans killers want to hurt all of us and stop us from believing in the very things which took them into conflict zones charity and human kindness. We condemn those who seek to drive us apart and spread hatred by attempting to place blame on Muslims or on the Islamic faith for the actions of these terrorists.

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As Ebola epidemic tightens grip, west Africa turns to religion for succour

17 October, 2014 - 18:48
Fears evangelical churches that hold thousands and services promising healing could ignite new chains of transmission

Every Sunday since she can remember, Annette Sanoh has attended church in Susans Bay, a slum of crowded tin-roofed homes in Freetown. Now as the Ebola epidemic mushrooms in the capital of Sierra Leone, Sanoh has started going to church services almost every night.

I believe we are all in Gods hands now. Business is bad because of this Ebola problem, so rather than sit at home, I prefer to go to church and pray because I dont know what else we can do, said Sanoh, a market trader. At the church she attends, a small building jammed between a hairdressers and two homes, she first washes her hands in a bucket of chlorinated water before joining hands with fellow church members as they pray together.

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Saudi Arabia faces outcry over death sentence for Shia faith leader

16 October, 2014 - 19:01
Nimr Baqir al-Nimrs conviction for sedition adding to unrest and promoting sectarian hatred, says Human Rights Watch

Saudi Arabia is facing an international outcry and accusations of promoting sectarian hatred after a Shia Muslim religious leader from the countrys volatile eastern province was sentenced to death.

Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who led protests in Qatif at the height of the Arab spring in 2011, was convicted on Wednesday of sedition and other charges in a case that has been followed closely by Shias in the kingdom and neighbouring Bahrain.

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Female British Muslims as vulnerable to radicalisation as men, study shows

15 October, 2014 - 17:38
Research into early stages of process follows reports of girls and women travelling to Syria to join Isis fighters and have children

British Muslim women and girls are just as vulnerable to becoming radicalised as their male peers, according to the author of a study into the early stages of the process.

The news comes amid reports of girls as young as 14 travelling to Syria from the west, to marry Islamist fighters, bear their children and join their communities.

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Shia rebels seize control of port city and province in Yemen

14 October, 2014 - 13:56
Development suggests Houthis, who have overrun capital, may attempt to carve out mini-state within country

Shia rebels who recently overran Yemens capital seized control of a key port city on the Red Sea and a province south of Sanaa on Tuesday.

The development indicates that the rebels, known as the Houthis, may be determined to carve out a mini-state within Yemen, taking advantage of the weakness of the central government and the disarray in the army and security forces.

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Are British Muslims facing the same fate as the Irish in Britain once did?

13 October, 2014 - 14:35

Remember the Birmingham Six, the Maguire Seven, the Guildford Four and Judith Ward? Behind the campaigning numbers were 18 innocent people who collectively spent scores of years in British jails after being falsely convicted of terrorism offences.

Their sin was to be Irish (or, in Ward's case, to have spent time in Ireland) during that 1970s period when the Provisional IRA was bombing targets in the UK.

"Some past high-profile terror arrests have been based on intelligence that turned out to be inaccurate, and have led to accusations that police and MI5 have ramped up the nature of possible plots".

"Muslims have to prove their British credentials with a display of loyalty that their Britishness is not taken for granted until they do so. You are a shady Muslim first, and a citizen second...

It is a way to sneak into plain sight an increasingly popular view that Muslims are an enemy within, and, as Islamic State allegedly reaches British shores, the idea that British Muslims are their allies."

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World 'deserves' a caliphate, says Isis advocate Ismail Al-Wahwah

11 October, 2014 - 00:45

Bankstown sheik tells lecture in Sydneys west that capitalism has failed and an Islamic State caliphate is the way forward

A hardline Islamic leader from a group advocating an Islamic State caliphate says Muslims should be ready to make sacrifices to achieve it.

We believe this world deserves a new world order, Ismail Al-Wahwah declared at an event headed by the controversial Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation.

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