The Guardian World news: Islam

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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

BBCs Mishal Husain calls for social media campaign to combat Isis

6 hours 48 min ago
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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Greens want to counter extremism among youth using outreach body

10 October, 2014 - 23:29

Christine Milne announces legislation to create a centre for social cohesion to help counter radicalisation, crime and gangs

Australians at risk of disengaging from the mainstream and becoming attracted to violent extremism would be targeted by a new national outreach body under a proposal suggested by the Greens.

The party plans to present legislation to parliament to create what it has called the Australian Centre for Social Cohesion. This body would oversee preventative programs to address social exclusion and stop young people from becoming radicalised.

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Voters support Australian action in Iraq, but say 'it makes us less safe'

10 October, 2014 - 22:39

Poll also finds 40% oppose new counter-terrorism laws and more than 60% think terrorism hysteria puts Muslims at risk

Australians back the federal governments decision to join the military effort against the militia group calling itself Islamic State, but believe doing so will make us less safe, according to a new poll.

However the poll found strong opposition to new anti-terror measures that could see whistleblowers and journalists jailed for reporting abuses of power, with more than four in 10 saying the laws went too far.

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Salman Rushdie: hate-filled rhetoric of jihadi cool is persuading British Muslims to join Isis

10 October, 2014 - 16:02

The writer argues that those who have horribly mangled the language of religion are targeting modernity

Rushdie shares award with Syrian free speech advocate

Salman Rushdie has attacked the hate-filled religious rhetoric that persuades hundreds, perhaps thousands of British Muslims to join the decapitating barbarians of Isis, describing it as the most dangerous new weapon in the world today.

Speaking at the award of the PEN/Pinter prize, Rushdie said he dislikes the word Islamophobia greatly. But it is right, the author argued, to feel phobia towards the oppression of the people of Afghanistan by the Taliban, towards the oppression of Iranians by the ayatollahs, and towards the death of people in Iraq today. What is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.

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Message from PEN Pinter prizewinner: My plea for Syria | Mazen Darwish

10 October, 2014 - 14:09
My hope is for a new social contract that frees my country from tyranny and terrorism and saves its children from sectarianism

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of the audience: for a long time Ive wished that one day I might set foot in London, so that Id perhaps be able to touch the soul of that great city and discover the traces left by John Locke, Shakespeare, and the men who drafted the Magna Carta. Maybe Id be able to learn, from them, how to progress towards civilisation and modernity with utter constancy and rationality. So I cannot express strongly enough how proud I am that my name is present among you in London this evening, even if I am not there myself, and especially given that this has been made possible by PEN. PEN is an organisation that has earned my respect and appreciation by proving, in a short period of time, the great credibility of its commitment to its civilised goals and values. So, I am sincerely grateful for the huge honour of being given this years International Writer of Courage Award.

Allow me to take advantage of controversial writer Salman Rushdies presence among you this evening to tell him this: although we may have deeply disagreed with your views, we committed an unforgivable sin in the Arab world when we responded with indifference to the fatwas and calls for your death. So indifferent were we that we colluded even if just by our silent complicity in excluding and eliminating difference, while acting as if the whole thing had nothing to do with us. And so here we are today, paying the high, blood-soaked price of that collusion, and finding ourselves the main victims of the obscurantist ideology now infiltrating our homes and our cities. What a great shame that it has taken us all of this bloodshed to arrive at the belief that we are the ones who will pay the price for preventing those with whom we disagree from expressing their views and that we will pay with our lives and our futures. What a shame this much blood has had to be spilled for us to realise, finally, that we are digging our own graves when we allow thought to be crushed by accusations of unbelief, calling people infidels, and when we allow opinion to be countered with violence. The disastrous consequences of this are clearly evident today across the Arab world, and especially in Syria, my country, where the ugliest forms of fascism and the dirtiest kinds of barbarism are practised in the name of both patriotism and Islam in equal measure.

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Australia's terrorism laws 'could criminalise preaching from Qur'an'

9 October, 2014 - 03:42

National imams council tells parliamentary committee that Muslim preachers on social justice could face charges

Preaching from parts of the Quran calling on Muslims to defend their land could fall foul of Australias new counter-terrorism laws, senior Islamic clerics fear.

The Australian National Imams Council said the proposed broadening of the offence of advocating terrorism to include those who promote and encourage violence would have serious implications on free speech and will have a chilling effect on legitimate religious and political debate.

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In the studio with First Dog on the Moon: burqa madness video

8 October, 2014 - 23:30
Guardian Australia's resident marsupial cartoonist First Dog on the Moon guides us through his process of coming up with the cartoons we know and love. With burqa madness taking its toll on Canberra, will First Dog make it through the morning or will our punishing politicians take their toll on him? Continue reading...

Muslim youth summit told female genital mutilation is not part of Islam

8 October, 2014 - 21:00
Two-day event in Gambia, backed by Guardian, hears Islamic scholar say FGM is not demanded by the Quran or hadith

A youth summit of more than 100 young Gambians has been told by an Islamic scholar that the practice of female genital mutilation is not Islamic. Hama Jaiteh told the Muslims gathered at the first youth summit on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Banjul, Gambia, that Islam was being used to shield an evil intention [that is] harmful to a persons development.

The event was arranged to help build up a legion of young people ready to tackle the practice across the nation.

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