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Israel reopens al-Aqsa mosque compound before Friday prayers

6 hours 56 min ago
Rare closure followed fatal police shooting of Palestinian suspected of having been the attempted killer of a rabbi

Israel reopened the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday before the weekly Muslim prayers, after a rare closure following clashes sparked by the killing by police of a Palestinian shooting suspect.

The streets of east Jerusalem were calm before midday prayers, following an Israeli clampdown on the shrine on Thursday.

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Al-Aqsa mosque closure sparks outrage amongst both Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem - video

30 October, 2014 - 18:34
The closure of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque sparks protests outside the holy site on Thursday. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the closure a 'declaration of war', while Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netenyahu, condemned Abbas's comments as incitement. The mosque has been closed to all visitors following an attempted murder of a far-right rabbi, Yehuda Glick Continue reading...

Israel closes Al-Aqsa mosque compound to all visitors

30 October, 2014 - 18:15
Closure of Temple Mount site denounced by Mahmoud Abbas as tantamount to a declaration of war

Israel on Thursday ordered the first full closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems Old City in 14 years, in a move denounced by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as tantamount to a declaration of war.

The closure of the religious site, venerated by both Muslims and Jews, came after anti-terrorist police shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man on Thursday morning who was suspected of having tried to kill a far-right Jewish activist the night before.

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Nigerian prosecutors may seek death penalty for child bride

30 October, 2014 - 17:20
Trial of Wasila Tasiu, 14, accused of murdering 35-year-old husband, sparks debate in Nigeria about underage marriage

Nigerian prosecutors said they may seek the death penalty against a 14-year-old girl accused of murdering her 35-year-old husband by putting rat poison in his food.

The trial of Wasila Tasiu, from a poor northern Nigerian family, has sparked a heated debate on the role of underage marriage in the conservative Muslim region, especially whether an adolescent girl can consent to be a bride.

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UAE's leading role against Isis reveals its wider ambitions

30 October, 2014 - 06:59

Emiratis, who have played a role in US-led attacks on Islamic State, are increasingly assertive in fightback against jihadism

Major Mariam al-Mansouri, a female pilot with the UAE air force, played the starring role in a publicity stunt last month when she was photographed in the cockpit of the F16 fighter she had flown in the first wave of US-led attacks on targets of the Islamic State in Syria (Isis).

Thumbs up and beaming for the camera, it was a striking image that combined empowered Muslim women, the Arab fightback against jihadi extremism and the pride of the small but wealthy Gulf state that is flaunting a new-found assertiveness and promoting its political agenda in a region in profound turmoil.

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Australians think Muslim population is nine times greater than it really is

30 October, 2014 - 02:47

International Ipsos Mori poll shows Australians are also wildly wrong in their estimations on teen pregnancy, immigrants and unemployment

How well do you know Australia? Take the quiz

Australians believe the proportion of Muslims in the country is nine times higher than it really is, according to a new international survey comparing public perceptions with actual data.

The Ipsos Mori poll conducted across 14 countries also showed Australians are wildly wrong in their estimations of the number of pregnant teenagers, unemployed people, immigrants and Christians in the country.

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Im a Muslim with a beard. Whats so scary about that? | Areeb Ullah

29 October, 2014 - 13:08
Since growing some rather impressive facial hair Ive noticed Muslims are more open to me, but others view me with suspicion

People stare. Sometimes, on the tube, they cross the carriage to create a space between us. There is something about me some people dont like, or it makes them uneasy. Its my beard.

My beard is about three and a half to four inches long now. I started growing it nearly a year ago; the result of a number of things coming together. One if I am honest was laziness. It also began not long after an incident at my university, Kings College London. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was guest of honour at a reception. I went along in traditional dress, thinking: This is Desmond Tutu. He fought against discrimination and oppression. I can be myself because everyone will be welcoming and open. Then I was stopped by security and they demanded to know it I had actually been invited. From then I just thought: Why not?

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The Tunisian election result isnt simply a victory for secularism over Islamism | Monica Marks

29 October, 2014 - 11:27
The battle between Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda is more complex than enlightened secularists versus backwards Islamists

A self-styled, secular, modernist party called Nidaa Tounes won against the Islamist Ennahda party in the Tunisian election this week. For many, the subsequent headline Secularist party wins Tunisia elections will seem more impressive than the fact Tunisia just completed its second genuinely competitive, peaceful elections since 2011.

Indeed, in a region wracked by extremism and civil war, the secularists victory will strike many as further proof that Tunisia is moving forward and is the sole bright spot in a gloomy region. Some may prematurely celebrate, yet again, the death of political Islam, arguing that Tunisians achieved through the ballot box what Egyptians achieved through a popular coup, rejecting the Brotherhood and its cousin-like movements once and for all. We should exercise caution, however, in labelling Nidaa Touness victory part of a seamless sweep of democratic achievements, or seeing Sundays vote as a clear referendum against all varieties of political Islam.

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Burqa ban would inflame tensions and fuel extremism, Asio report says

28 October, 2014 - 23:50

The security implications of any such ban are likely to be predominantly, if not wholly, negative, 2011 report states

Far from being a security benefit, banning the burqa would likely inflame tensions and fuel extremist propaganda, according to an Asio report published in 2011.

The report, obtained by Fairfax Media, said that while the burqa can be used to conceal the identity of an individual or material carried on the body, this is also true of other items of headwear and clothing.

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Most Arab states share Isiss ideology. Theyre trying to have it both ways | Brian Whitaker

28 October, 2014 - 18:40
Isis may be more brutal but many Arab governments are on the same ground asserting the superiority of Islam

Compulsion in religion is the ideological foundation stone of Isis and Islamist movements in general. Believing they have superior knowledge of Gods wishes for mankind, such groups feel entitled even required to act on his behalf and punish those who fail to comply with the divine will. In doing so, of course, they do not claim to be seeking power for themselves but merely trying to make the world more holy.

Bombing Isis and banning Islamist movements may suppress such movements for a while but it does nothing to address the ideological problem. Unless the question of compulsion in religion is tackled head-on, and in a serious way, they will resurface later or similar groups will emerge to replace them.

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Bahrain court suspends main Shia opposition group a month before election

28 October, 2014 - 14:56
Al-Wefaq cannot organise rallies, issue statements or use its offices in ruling that came after it announced poll boycott

A Bahraini court has issued an order suspending the activities of the countrys main Shia opposition group, less than a month before parliamentary elections are to be held, the group and a defence lawyer have said.

The ruling against al-Wefaq means the group effectively cannot operate for three months in the Gulf-island kingdom. The ruling on Tuesday prevents it from organising rallies and press conferences, issuing statements or using its offices, lawyer Abdullah al-Shamlawi said.

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Teenage jihadi from Brighton killed in Syria

28 October, 2014 - 13:29
Jaffar Deghayes, 17, whose brothers also joined Jabhat al-Nusra militants, is 25th known British jihadi to be killed in the conflict

One of the youngest British jihadis known to be fighting in Syria has died, his family have confirmed.

Jaffar Deghayes, from Saltdean, Brighton, was 16 when he left to fight alongside his two elder brothers, Abdullah and Amer, and friend Ibrahim Kamara.

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Football fans and far-right groups clash with Cologne police video

27 October, 2014 - 17:44
Football hooligans and neo-Nazis clash with riot police in central Cologne during a march against Salafism, a strict form of Islam. Local press reports say drunken protestors hurled bottles, rocks and fireworks at police, injuring at least 40. Anti-fascists hold a smaller counter-demonstration outside Cologne Cathedral Continue reading...

Citizens of Mosul endure economic collapse and repression under Isis rule

27 October, 2014 - 15:56
Many Sunnis were glad to see the Iraqi army go when Islamic State took over but for many the situation is now far worse

Conditions inside Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State (Isis) control, have dramatically deteriorated, residents say, with severe shortages of food and water, no functioning public institutions, and the local economy in a state of near collapse.

In a series of interviews, locals in the Iraqi city paint a bleak picture of life under Isis rule. They say that discontent with the militants who swept into Iraqs second city nearly five months ago is growing. Most public institutions have stopped working and provide no services. Almost all private sector activity and government-funded construction projects have been put on hold. Thousands of workers have been rendered jobless.

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Isis is a monster created by many countries. It requires an international solution | Abolhassan Banisadr

27 October, 2014 - 11:46
Although Isis is a product of the wests policy of domination, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf Arab regimes are also culprits

Isis could not have emerged without support from western powers and their regional allies. These facilitated the travel of jihadis from 80 countries into Syria, funded them, and then trained and armed them. So long as these jihadis were committing crimes in Syria against Syrians and Assads regime (which, to be clear, bears responsibility for the ongoing disaster there), western governments turned a blind eye. After all, at the time Isis was doing the bidding of the same neoconservatives and liberal interventionists who had decided that the overthrow of Libyas despot, Gaddafi, should be followed by the overthrow of Assad. This would then enable them to go for the main prize, the Iranian regime. However, Isis became a problem for the west when, following the pattern established by al-Qaida and the Taliban, they turned their guns against western interests in the region and tried to capture the oil fields of the Kurdish region, which was not part of the plan.

Although Isis is a product of the wests policy of domination, it is also a Sunni version of Khomeinism. It was Ayatollah Khomeini who sanctified and glorified violence under the garb of religion, and the heinous crimes committed by his regime set precedents for Isis. These include the beheading of opposition leaders and others, the execution of prisoners and the injured (which, after the June 1981 coup against me, reached 300-400 a night and climaxed in 1988 when the regime executed more than 4,000 prisoners who had already been sentenced and were serving prison terms).

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Iranian women and the hijab, the persistent stereotype - video

27 October, 2014 - 10:43

A documentary explores the complex relationship of women with Islam in their society, still as contentious as ever

I chose the photos for this video from the internet by searching the words Iran, women, and youth. I mixed these images with photos I found on book covers and magazines. I tried to see what was available to the average person in the public sphere about Iran. I borrowed some photos from two great photographers, Newsha Tavakolian and Abbas Kowsari, who generously opened their archives to me. The rest are my own personal and family photographs.

Power of Cliche is a work from 2006. I thought it had passed its expiry date. But the issue of Iranian women keeps being revisited. The cliche continues to resonate, even though we are experiencing a shift in the way Iranian women are used to represent Iran.

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Mecca: The Sacred City review an important study of one of the great religious sites

26 October, 2014 - 10:00
Ziauddin Sardar tells the story of Mecca with rare insight and passion

In the history of religion, and in the wider story of mankinds yearning to understand its place in the universe, Mecca is almost as important a site as Jerusalem, yet in English it is still virtually unwritten. There are a few Victorian travelogues, it is true Sir Richard Burton disguised in his walnut greasepaint and turban, etc but for every book on Mecca there are several shelves on Jerusalem; for every study of the Hejaz, there exists a groaning library on the Holy Land. Luckily, Ziauddin Sardar has now admirably filled the gap.

The holy precincts around the Kaaba contain stories stretching back to the very beginning of time, writes Sardar. Adam, remembered in Islam as the first prophet, is said in Arabian tradition to have visited the city and to be buried there. It is also believed by some to be remembered as a place of pilgrimage in the Bible, under its earlier name of Baca: Blessed are those who have set their hearts on pilgrimage, reads Psalm 84. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs.

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The Pompey jihadis: how did one English city produce six young fighters for Isis?

26 October, 2014 - 00:05
As another Briton dies in Syria, residents ask whether Portsmouth radicalised bad boys who flew out to join Islamic State

Outside Jami Mosque, among the swirling brown leaves, Abdul Jamani reckons the mundanity of life among the terraced streets nearby helped to propel the lads to the battlefields of Syria. Theres not that much to do around here, they probably wanted excitement. Whatever they were after, it was nothing to do with Islam, says Jamani, aged 38, who helps out at the Bengali restaurants that line Albert Road.

Portsmouths Jami Mosque and Islamic Centre was attended by the al-Britaini Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys, also known as the Pompey Lads. The group of six, caught on CCTV as they strode jauntily through Gatwick airport ahead of a Thomas Cook flight to Turkey on 8 October last year, ended up fighting for Islamic State (Isis). One is now in a British jail, four of them are dead one confirmed killed on Tuesday and another announced yesterday in the Isis offensive on the Syrian town of Kobani, where the remaining member of the group is presumed to still be fighting.

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Australian youth in Isis video a victim of 'brutal betrayal of his own religion'

25 October, 2014 - 08:37

Scott Morrison spoke of the terribly sad and tragic tale of the Sydney teenager at National Mosque Open Day in Lakemba

The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, says a young Australian who appeared this week in propaganda video by the militia group Islamic State is a victim to the most barbaric and brutal betrayal of his own religion.

Morrison was among more than 4,000 visitors to the Lakemba mosque on Saturday as part of the first National Mosque Open Day.

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Death in Syria: a man on a mission of mercy

25 October, 2014 - 00:28
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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