The Guardian World news: Islam

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Iraqi Christians in Mosul told by Isis to convert to Islam or be executed

8 hours 6 min ago
Thousands of Christians flee largest city in northern Iraq after Isis gives stark choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or face death

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world's oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its "criminality and terrorism".

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Families of abducted girls fight Boko Haram and a supine government

11 hours 1 min ago

Distraught parents cling to hope, 100 days after Islamist rebels kidnapped nearly 300 of their daughters from a school in Borno state

Samuel Yaga was describing his missing daughters dream of becoming a doctor when the air went from his lungs. One hundred days after Sarah was abducted, the raw emotion still has a tendency to detonate unexpectedly. Could a child who would always fall asleep clutching a book survive so long in the grip of a sect whose opposition to western education has led them to burn schoolchildren alive, he wondered.

It would be better if we had a body to bury, he began, then took a deep, shaky breath.

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Muslim Council of Britain rejects findings of Trojan horse report

23 July, 2014 - 21:05
Religious body insists that claims that Islamists were plotting to take over Birmingham schools are 'patently absurd'

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned education authorities "not to be sidetracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators", as it rejected many of the findings of a government-commissioned report that found a co-ordinated effort by extreme Muslims to take over some Birmingham schools.

The MCB said the report, written by Peter Clarke, the former Met counter-terror chief, was guilty of "conflating conservative Muslim practices to a supposed ideology and agenda to Islamise secular schools".

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For Arab Christians and secular Arab nationalists, Isis may be the death knell | William Dalrymple

23 July, 2014 - 16:47
In a Middle East rebuilt on intolerant ideologies, there is likely to be little place for beleaguered minorities

The past decade has been catastrophic for the Arab world's beleaguered 12 million strong Christian minority. In Egypt revolution and counter-revolution have been accompanied by a series of anti-Copt riots, killings and church burnings. In Gaza and the West Bank Palestinian Christians are emigrating en masse as they find themselves uncomfortably caught between Netanyahu's pro-settler government and their increasingly radicalised Sunni neighbours.

In Syria most of the violence is along the Sunni-Alawite fault line, but stories of rape and murder directed at the Christian minority, who used to make up around 10% of the population, have emerged. Many have already fled to camps in Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan; the ancient Armenian community of Aleppo is reported to be moving en masse to Yerevan.

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Uproar over Hindu nationalist MP 'force-feeding' Muslim during Ramadan

23 July, 2014 - 12:42
Angry scenes in Indian parliament over footage of Rajan Baburao Vichare trying to push chapati into fasting man's mouth

India's parliament erupted in anger on Wednesday after television footage showed a hardline Hindu nationalist politician apparently trying to force-feed a Muslim man during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Opposition Congress MPs launched raucous protests, saying the politician in question had violated the man's religious beliefs by aggressively trying to shove a chapati or piece of bread into his mouth.

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How outsourcing terror cases to the US can inadvertently result in a fair trial | Arun Kundnani and Jeanne Theoharis

23 July, 2014 - 07:00

The UK government tried to disappear Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad to the US, but the basic rules of evidence were unexpectedly applied

Days after Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad were extradited to the US in 2012, the home secretary, Theresa May, began her speech to the Conservative party conference by asking : Wasnt it great to say goodbye? For the government, it must have been a relief to have outsourced the problem, when the pair were flown to the US, 3,500 miles away.

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Radical preacher back in Melbourne after deportation from Philippines

23 July, 2014 - 03:59

Police question Musa Cerantonio, but Isis supporters offensive' social media posts not found to breach Australian law

Radical Islamic preacher Robert Musa Cerantonio has arrived in Melbourne after being deported from the Philippines.

Cerantonio, who was under surveillance by Philippines police for five months before his arrest two weeks ago, landed at Melbourne airport early on Monday morning and was met by Australian federal police (AFP) officers.

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The Guardian view on Michael Gove's legacy: undergoing modification | Editorial

22 July, 2014 - 20:10
The new education secretary, Nicky Morgan, says she is continuity Gove. But she has prepared the ground for retreat

Michael Gove sat in unaccustomed silence in the chief whip's place on the end of the government frontbench in the Commons yesterday. His face was impassive as his successor Nicky Morgan began picking up the pieces of his school reforms after the collision of practice and ideology revealed by the Trojan horse affair. Ms Morgan claims that she is continuity Gove. She says she has no intention of undoing his revolution: only days into the job, and months out from an election, she could hardly be expected to say anything else. But the logical implication of her statement yesterday in response to Peter Clarke's report into extremism in Birmingham schools could be seen as just that. The fundamental weakness identified by Mr Clarke was lack of oversight, the flip side of the very autonomy so treasured by the former education secretary.

Mr Gove's decision to send the former Met counter-terrorism chief to investigate the Trojan horse affair was a deeply flawed response to allegations that a small group of Muslim extremists was running an entryist plot in some schools. Perhaps Mr Gove imagined that the move would distract attention from the systemic weakness of his reforms. It did not. The draft of the Clarke report obtained by the Guardian last Friday found that the city's academies, lacking proper oversight, were in a state of what the draft called benign neglect, "vulnerable to those without good intentions". It is indicative of the resistance to the message at the report's heart that in the final version published yesterday the phrase "benign neglect" is missing.

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Muslims aren't shocked to discover we are watched. But we won't be scared | Laila Alawa

22 July, 2014 - 11:15

Can revelations about 'sting' operations move the government beyond 9/11-era discrimination? Because you can't stop terrorism by alienating a generation of people

Even after immigrating as a child from Syria, for a new life, I learned to view my new government with a certain level of suspicion. My parents drilled into my head the understanding that law enforcement and government officials were there to protect "the community" but whether that protected community would be mine, well, that felt like an open question in the United States after 9/11.

Our parents had to caution my siblings and I to be wary of strangers at the various mosques and community centers that we frequented, just in case those strangers might try to convince us to participate in radically-informed activities. My father himself was no stranger to the odd men who would appear out of nowhere, spout plans to commit "jihad" against the "horrible American government" and then disappear entirely once they discovered that nobody else was particularly enthusiastic about their quest.

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Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots

21 July, 2014 - 14:30

Human Rights Watch documents 'sting' operations
Report raises questions about post-9/11 civil rights

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

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Sudanese editor beaten up after calling for closer ties with Israel

21 July, 2014 - 08:13

A gang of armed, masked men stormed the headquarters of the Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, beat up its editor-in-chief, Osman Merghani, threatened other employees, and then stole their computers and cell phones.

Merghani, who was repeatedly struck by the gun butts, was unconscious when taken taken to hospital, reports the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (Anhri), which denounced the attack.

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Findings of the Kershaw report into Birmingham's 'Trojan horse' schools

18 July, 2014 - 23:30
Report suggests governors were disruptive but council failed to respond and Ofsted did not 'identify dysfunction'

A number of "key individuals, predominantly men of Pakistani heritage ... are encouraging and promoting certain Islamic principles in schools in the Birmingham area, and the evidence suggests a pattern of these individuals moving between schools in the area". This included governors, deputy headteachers, teaching staff, trustees and parents, with some swapping between roles or holding a number of different posts across several schools.

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Convert, pay tax, or die, Islamic State warns Christians

18 July, 2014 - 23:19
Insurgents issue ultimatum to Iraq's dwindling Christian population to abide by 'dhimma' contract or face the sword

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq's dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement issued by the Islamic State (Isis) and distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul. The al-Qaida offshoot that led last month's lightning assault to capture swathes of northern Iraq said the ruling would come into effect on Saturday.

In the statement, Isis said Christians who wanted to remain in the "caliphate" declared earlier this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a "dhimma" contract a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as "jizya". "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," the announcement said.

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Fears of Islamophobia gave activists free rein in Birmingham schools

18 July, 2014 - 20:45
Scathing report prompts call for rethink of schools oversight as MP threatens to name council officials who took no action

A group of fundamentalist "activists", mostly men of Pakistani origin, infiltrated the management of at least 10 schools in Birmingham, sometimes breaking the law in order to introduce Muslim worship and sex segregation, according to a highly critical report.

Their activities were unimpeded by council officials who were fearful of allegations of Islamophobia, whoand who forced ousted teachers to sign gagging clauses rather than treating their complaints seriously as whistleblowers, Ian Kershaw, the authority's independent adviser, concluded.

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The Trojan horse plot shows we must clarify religions place in state schools | Usama Hasan

18 July, 2014 - 17:17
Isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice

In my youth I was a member of a UK organisation that called itself The Movement to Reform the Muslim Youth. Back then, we regrettably had an extremist mindset that was characterised by dreams of global domination for Islam. These would involve the re-establishment of a caliphate and the enforcing of a narrow, sectarian, xenophobic and puritanical theology.

This organisation went on to become Jimas, which has since come a long way and now embraces an ecumenical and inclusive philosophy. However, it also gave birth to a more reactionary offshoot that maintained the ultra-conservative Islamism and the original name of the organisation, led by Tahir Alam from Birmingham until its closure in 1995.

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The Trojan horse inquirys draft report shows Michael Gove had to go | Hugh Muir

18 July, 2014 - 10:01
It was Goves determination to shake up the educational blob that allowed ideologues to target Birmingham schools

A eureka moment. We spent 48 hours trying to understand why the prime minister was so easily able to abandon his friend, Michael Gove, and to park him not as party chairman, where he would have a primary role to drum up votes for the Tories, but as chief whip with internal responsibilities. We will be seeing him everywhere, in the flesh and on TV, and hearing him on the radio, it was said. After todays damning draft report on the alleged infiltration on his watch of Birmingham schools by ideologues and zealots, one wouldnt bet too much on him being omnipresent.

For the draft report, leaked to the Guardian, makes it clear that in his zeal to attack the blob, as he called the teaching establishment, he crafted and then lauded structures that paved the way for the virtual capture of a clutch of schools by extremists. Not terrorists. The review finds no evidence of terrorist proslytising or links to terrorist activity. But it claims to have unearthed ample evidence that schools were targeted by groups whose allegiance was to the propagation of their own particular strand of Sunni Islam and antipathetic to the beliefs and values of everyone who existed outside their own circle.

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Trojan horse inquiry: 'A co-ordinated agenda to impose hardline Sunni Islam'

17 July, 2014 - 19:21
Investigation finds Islamist plan would have confined pupils in Birmingham schools to 'intolerant monoculture' if left unchecked

An investigation ordered by the government has found a "sustained, co-ordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam" on children in a number of Birmingham schools.

A draft of the report, marked as sensitive, states: "Left unchecked, it would confine school hildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain."

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Leaked report reveals 'aggressive Islamist agenda' in Birmingham schools

17 July, 2014 - 19:21
Exclusive: Draft report from 'Trojan horse' inquiry uncovers evidence of coordinated plan to impose hardline Sunni Islam

Trojan horse inquiry: 'A coordinated agenda to impose hardline Sunni Islam'

A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city".

The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police's counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.

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British Jihadis' threat to UK is exaggerated, says report

17 July, 2014 - 16:48
British Jihadis are motivated by wanting to topple Bashar Assad dictatorship in Syria says group critical of British counterterrorism policy

Government and security officials have greatly exaggerated the dangers of British men fighting in Syria and returning to stage terrorist attacks in the UK, a report claims.

Most British "Jihadis" are motivated by wanting to topple the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad, says the report by Cage, a group critical of British government counterterrorism policy.

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Jihad, justice and the American way: is this a model for fair terrorism trials? | Sadhbh Walshe

17 July, 2014 - 15:19

The government stokes fear and fails to understand the Muslim world. But inside at least one courtroom remains an unusual precedent: context can be served

Plus: Briton Babar Ahmad gets 12 years for aiding Taliban

Sitting and waiting in US District Court here on Wednesday, you got the undeniable sense that something unusual was about to happen.

Here was the end of a terrorism trial with two men who had already pled guilty the British citizen Babar Ahmad to providing material support for terrorism by way of administering a website that called on Muslims to devote themselves to jihad, which he did, and the British-born Talha Ahsan to helping him, despite being a mailman for the site for five months in 2001 but both of whom still looked nervous in that familiar shackle-and-jumpsuit uniform of so many Muslim foreigners in this country over the past 13 years.

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