The Guardian World news: Islam

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Islamabad’s infamous Red Mosque faces protest over school massacre

18 December, 2014 - 18:59
Failure of clerics to condemn killings leads to remarkable protest outside mosque seen to symbolise ‘Tabilan mindset’

Anger in Pakistan at the massacre of 141 people in a school in Peshawar hit Islamabad’s infamous Red Mosque on Thursday as protesters condemned its hardline clerics over their failure to fully condemn the killings.

By the standards of civil protests in Islamabad the turnout of nearly 200 was sizeable. But it was the location, which one protester said symbolised “the Taliban mindset”, that was remarkable.

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Terrorists’ carnage is not in our name | Letters

17 December, 2014 - 19:22

This latest act of terrorism by an Islamic militant has to be the last straw for any moderate and civilised Muslim (Three dead in Sydney cafe siege, 16 December). Enough of this madness, this murder and mayhem.

This senseless and inhuman carnage, this slitting of throats, the indiscriminate blowing-up of innocent men, women and children and general blood-letting has set Islam back in the dark ages and has shamed every right-thinking Muslim on the planet. It is we who really pay the price in our daily lives for the havoc they create around the world.

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Before he flew the black flag, Monis was just a desperate man with a violent past | Yassir Morsi

16 December, 2014 - 22:52

Modern Islam is a potent grammar for capturing and expressing grievance. Lone wolves like Sydney Siege gunman Man Haron Monis must tap into its symbols to sustain their fantasies

The gesture that turned the Sydney siege from a gunman’s crime into an act of terrorism was the unveiling of the Islamic flag across the Lindt cafe’s window.

The human loss was sad enough. Now the siege has become an episode in a global war, announced by white calligraphy on black fabric.

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Sydney siege: Abbott refuses to blame Islam for Man Haron Monis's actions

16 December, 2014 - 22:41

Prime minister says hostage taker was a ‘deeply unstable person’ rather than representative of Islamic community, telling the ABC: ‘we don’t blame the pope for the IRA’

Tony Abbott has refused to link Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis with Islam, pointing out: “We don’t blame the pope for the IRA and we don’t blame the Catholics living next door for the folly and madness of some people who may claim Christian motivations.”

The prime minister was repeatedly asked by the ABC AM presenter Chris Uhlmann whether it was necessary to have a more “honest” discussion with Islamic community leaders about the “significant minority” in their community attracted to extremism.

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Germany’s ‘pinstripe Nazis’ show the immigration debate is overheated | Simon Jenkins

16 December, 2014 - 10:52
Hyping every crime involving a Muslim as a security threat is unhelpful – government and the media must behave responsibly

Rightwing parties are on the rise across Europe. Should we worry? Such movements have come and mostly gone for decades. They draw strength from immigrant surges and economic woes. The Pegida rallies – Germany’s “pinstripe Nazis” – now drawing thousands of marchers to German cities, are specifically anti-Muslim. But are they different from similar movements in France, Sweden, the Netherlands or Britain?

Any expression of racial hatred from Germany is bound to be alarming, but every nation has its political fringe. That the rallies are well-dressed and called a “stroll” is neither here nor there. Comments made by participants might be arrestable offences in Britain, but the sentiments are familiar to fringe politics everywhere, and laws and arrests will never curb them.

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Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis: the unlikely violent extremist

16 December, 2014 - 07:42

He may have been unnerving but few expected the erratic Monis to be involved in anything like a marathon siege with a bloody end
• Rolling coverage
• Sydney siege: magistrate gave Man Haron Monis bail saying he did not pose risk to public
• Islamic leaders say Australians have risen above fear in wake of Sydney siege
#illridewithyou: hashtag offers solidarity with Sydney’s Muslims
• Richard Ackland: We’re entitled to ask why a firmer grip wasn’t applied to Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis

Man Haron Monis unnerved many of the people he knew in the 18 years he spent in Australia. But few believed he could be responsible for anything like the marathon siege that ended with two dead hostages early on Tuesday morning.

Indeed the competing identities he claimed – self-styled peace activist, an alleged ayatollah, a firebrand sheikh, a carpet seller, and briefly, a nightclub bouncer – are difficult to reconcile and stretch credulity.

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Islamic leaders say Australians have risen above fear in wake of Sydney siege

16 December, 2014 - 03:14

Broader community ‘has come out in solidarity’ with the online show of support for Muslims, despite threats by rightwing groups and isolated verbal attacks
• Following continuing coverage here
#illridewithyou: hashtag offers solidarity with Sydney’s Muslims
Catch up with our coverage so far

Australian Islamic representatives have expressed optimism that the Sydney siege will not trigger an escalation of physical and verbal attacks on Muslims, despite sporadic threats made during the unfolding crisis.

Man Haron Monis, long viewed as a fringe figure in Sydney’s Islamic community, held 17 people hostage in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place. Monis, along with two hostages, died in the shootout that ended the siege.

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Iowa food supplier charged with falsely selling $4.9m worth of beef as halal

15 December, 2014 - 20:58
  • Major indictment also charges Midamar’s directors with conspiracy and fraud
  • Founder, father of firm’s two directors, pleaded not guilty to charges last week

A food supplier for several years falsely marketed beef to Muslims around the world as meeting strict halal standards, exporting products that were not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, federal prosecutors allege in a major fraud indictment.

Midamar Corp, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sold at least $4.9m in beef to customers in Malaysia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and elsewhere that did not follow the halal practices promised in its labeling and advertising, according to the indictment returned on 5 December by a grand jury.

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Aid worker in Yemen: 'kidnapping is seen as a very easy way to make money'

15 December, 2014 - 12:00

International Medical Corps’ Jon Cunliffe talks about the challenges of keeping his staff safe in a ‘forgotten country’ and leaving his family at home

The thing that worries me most is making sure all the staff (national and international) are safe. It’s the single biggest responsibility I have. If something goes wrong I know I will take that burden very personally, and in this increasingly insecure environment there’s a real possibility this could happen. I have to know I’ve always been doing the best I can to keep people as safe as possible. We have such a wide range of people working here; young people coming to work abroad for the first time, married people with children, people who are retired – but all of them have loved ones. Keeping them safe for their loved ones is the most important thing I do.

Yemen is very much a forgotten country, but it currently has one of the largest humanitarian emergencies in the world. It has the largest presence of al-Qaida, a crumbling government, a strong independence movement in the south of the country, and an increasing reliance on tribal systems. Additionally, it has a mixed Shia-Sunni Muslim population and in recent months the power balance between these two groupings has changed as Shia rebels have swept down from the north of the country.

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What is the significance of the Sydney siege flag?

15 December, 2014 - 09:55

Footage of hostages in a Sydney siege shows them holding up a black and white flag bearing an Islamic creed

Sydney siege: five hostages flee cafe as police provide update – live

One of the first acts of the gunman who seized a cafe in the heart of Sydney was to force hostages to display a black and white flag bearing the Islamic creed, or Shahada.

To non-Muslims, the flag might immediately evoke Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Khorosan Group, or other violent jihadi groups who have claimed the symbol in recent years.

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The evangelical giftwrapping of Islamophobia marches on | Giles Fraser

12 December, 2014 - 17:02
It’s depressing that a decade after I wrote about a Christian charity’s thinly disguised Islamophobia, they’re still at it

It’s a simple idea. Find an empty shoe box. Fill it with toys, toothpaste or school crayons. And allow Operation Christmas Child to fly it out to some of the neediest children in the world. It’s the sort of thing that you can do together as a family. And it’s a pretty good way to introduce our children to how fortunate they are in comparison to others – not a bad lesson at Christmas.

Given this, it is unsurprising that hundreds of UK schools have become involved. Schools like Childwall Church of England primary school in Liverpool, which has put together 124 shoe boxes, with two of the children donating £25 of their pocket money towards the cost of sending the boxes to their grateful recipients. Last week, one warehouse in Hull packed off nearly 6,000 boxes, with local students and firefighters helping out to pack the lorry. And they are all part of an overall global effort in which over 113m such boxes have been distributed since OCC began in 1990.

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Egypt’s atheists number 866 – precisely

12 December, 2014 - 16:36
Secularists laugh off regional polling research cited by Egyptian government clerics

Religion still leads the way in post-Morsi Egypt

No one in Egypt can agree on how many people live in Cairo, let alone the precise ratio of Muslims to Christians. But senior government clerics are quite sure of one thing: there are exactly 866 atheists in Egypt – roughly 0.00001% of the population.

This suspiciously precise figure means Egypt harbours the highest number of atheists in the Arab world, according to claims by Dar al-Ifta, an official wing of government that issues religious edicts, citing research released this week by a regional polling group. Morocco came in second, with supposedly only 325 atheists. Yemen is meant to have 32.

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Indonesian news editor accused of blasphemy over Isis cartoon

12 December, 2014 - 12:56
Jakarta Post chief Meidyatama Suryodiningrat faces up to five years in prison after sketch prompts outcry from Islamic groups

The chief editor of a leading English-language newspaper in Muslim-majority Indonesia has been named a suspect in a blasphemy case after the publication of a cartoon about the Islamic State (Isis) group.

The Jakarta Post’s Meidyatama Suryodiningrat could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty. He is the latest person to face action under the country’s tough blasphemy laws, which have been criticised by rights groups as overly harsh and outdated.

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Sudan's political opposition unites under new call for democracy

11 December, 2014 - 16:27

Two of its signatories have already been arrested and the government says it is ‘treason’, but the Sudan Call signals a crucial shift in the political landscape, says Monim Eljak

There have been many false dawns in Sudan’s political landscape since Omar al-Bashir and his party came to power in a military coup 25 years ago. But a low-key ceremony in Addis Ababa last week to unveil a new political agreement, known as the Sudan Call, may yet prove to be a turning point.

Crucially, the call unites the core of a formerly fragmented political and armed opposition on issues of national governance for the first time, calling for a peaceful and popular democratic transformation.

#Sudanese opposition, UNP, NOC, SRF & civil society sign the Call for #Sudan Agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia pic.twitter.com/MfeNPPw0DT

UNP 3rd rally, mobilising support for #Sudan Call, Kosti, White Nile State pic.twitter.com/5uPzhk7g7q

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Somalia sexual offences bill hailed as vital step towards lasting change

11 December, 2014 - 10:42

Legislation addressing rape and other sexual violence – often committed by armed forces – will be presented to cabinet by year end

The first bill to define and address sexual offences in Somalia is expected to be presented to the cabinet before the end of this year, updating legislation that has been in place since 1930.

The bill will define rape as a crime against a person, rather than a crime against morality, as it characterised at present. It will criminalise gang rape and introduce legislation against child marriage, human trafficking, sexual harassment and offences committed against vulnerable groups such as internally displaced people.

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Jihadi attacks - November's 5,000 deaths broken down by country, victim and terror group

11 December, 2014 - 05:59

Islamic State and Boko Haram behind most deaths, suggesting jihadism is moving from terrorism to more conventional fighting forces that try to gain or hold territory, report finds

More than 5,000 people, mostly civilians and overwhelmingly Muslims, were killed in jihadi attacks in November, according to a study documenting the toll of Islamist violence worldwide.

About 60% of these deaths were caused by the militant groups Islamic State and Boko Haram, suggesting a transformation in the nature of jihadi groups from terrorists to “more conventional forces that are fighting to gain or hold territory against state armies”, the report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and the BBC, said.

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Islamophobia is racism, pure and simple | Yassin Musharbash

10 December, 2014 - 13:53
The Dresden protests are illegitimate and the attitude of German politicians towards false fears of ‘Islamisation’ needs to change

Islamophobia is on the rise in Germany. That is troubling enough. But what’s even more concerning is that many of those whom I would define as Islamophobic feel very good about it. They see themselves not as racist or xenophobic, but as defenders of democracy and human rights against the adherents of a religion they believe is incompatible with both.

Over the past few years the advance of Islamophobia can be easily observed. Anti-Muslim websites such as Politically Incorrect have expanded and become more aggressive, cherry-picking reports of crimes by Muslim perpetrators in order to confirm their prejudices; books with a clear anti-Muslim agenda – such as that of Thilo Sarrazin, a former Berlin finance senator – have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, including claims that Muslim immigrants are “dumbing down” Germany; parties such as Pro Köln, which hysterically warn of an “Islamic land grab”, have been founded.

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Ayad Akhtar, master Muslim ironist

10 December, 2014 - 13:44

Fresh off a Pulitzer for Disgraced, Akhtar returns with a mordant play that explores similarities between free-market and Islamic fundamentalism

Ayad Akhtar’s new play The Invisible Hand opened this week at the New York Theatre Workshop. When the lights come on, you see a man sitting in a chair while close to him stands a bearded guard with a Kalashnikov strapped to his back. The seated man is an American banker being held by jihadists somewhere near Karachi. In the opening scene, the prisoner is holding out his hands for the other man to clip his nails, which the latter accomplishes not without some tenderness.

If the 20th century was marked by travel – planes in flight – then the events of 9/11 ushered in the age of the burning aftermath. At least in the imagination of the west, the idea of free movement is now mocked by the nightmare of confinement. This is a specific fear: a dread vision of a man being held hostage by murderous zealots in an alien land, with beheading likely to follow.

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Israel indicts Texas Christian for plot to attack Muslim sites in Jerusalem

9 December, 2014 - 16:23

Israeli officials say they have indicted a 30-year-old American Christian from Texas for plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem

A 30-year-old American Christian from Texas has been indicted in Israel for plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Ministry of Justice said on Tuesday that a court had indicted Adam Everett Livix in connection with the plot.

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