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Federal government revokes $19m funding for Sydney's Malek Fahd Islamic school

8 February, 2016 - 22:01

Education minister Simon Birmingham says the school failed to respond adequately to concerns about financial management and governance

The federal government has pulled funding to Australia’s largest Islamic school after the education department revoked its approval.

The Malek Fahd school in Greenacre in southwest Sydney has had $19m in federal funding revoked.

Related: Government accuses six Islamic schools of breaching Education Act

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A warm welcome at Woking’s Shah Jahan mosque | Letters

8 February, 2016 - 19:20

Your report “Mosques open doors for tours, talks and tea” (6 February) reminded me that when I was at school nearby decades ago I was told that the Shah Jahan mosque in Woking was our only mosque. Actually it was the only purpose-built one, built in 1889 by a Jew, Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, for visiting Muslims from India. Your report might suggest that the doors are not open at other times but when I visited one afternoon last year not only was I able to enter the beautiful mosque but was asked if I’d like some lunch.

The Liverpool mosque was opened a few months earlier, but in a converted house, by William Quilliam, a Liverpool solicitor from an Isle of Man family. He converted to Islam, took the name Abdullah and rose to some eminence as Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam Bey. He translated parts of the Qur’an into Manx Gaelic and while it is hard to imagine this flying off the shelves it is interesting to think of local interest in Islam so long ago. There were a number of prominent converts including the Right Hon Lt Col Lord Headley who became Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farouq.

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London mayor race: fibs, fur and fantasies fly as Zac Goldsmith awakes

8 February, 2016 - 08:25

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has been making the running but his Tory rival may now be picking up the pace

Who kissed Sleeping Beauty? After months of campaign slumber Zac Goldsmith, Conservative mayoral candidate and organic Dish of the Day, finally woke up late last week in a London television studio. Until then, his main rival for City Hall, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, had been outrunning, outflanking and generally outdoing him on every front. But when, for the first time, Goldsmith engaged Khan directly, face to face, on ITV London’s Late Debate, he at last looked switched on and more like the electoral Prince Charming his party hopes he is. Confident and calm, he called Khan’s bluff a few times. He also talked plenty of trash. Both men are now bullshitting freely. Wellies on. Let’s wade in.

The risk with Khan’s campaign is that he over-promises or, to be exact, seems to be doing so. This gives Goldsmith an opportunity to depict him as an untrustworthy, dreamworld lefty, which is the top and bottom of his strategy. The Tory has been assisted by an internal Transport for London (TfL) briefing note which found its way to BBC London. According to this document, Khan has hugely underestimated the cost to TfL of his proposed four-year freeze on public transport fares. Goldsmith recited an entire paragraph from the Lynton Crosby red scare manual he’s clearly been diligently cramming. I quote:

This transport stuff we are hearing from Sadiq Khan is fantasy nonsense, it’s Corbyn madness. It simply does not add up and if you were to create the kind of efficiencies in TfL you [Sadiq] are talking about it would require you to take on the very unions that are backing, running and controlling your campaign.

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'Speed-dating' with a twist: got questions for Muslim women? Here's where to go

7 February, 2016 - 23:50

Hana Assifiri invites ‘generous and brilliant’ women to her Morroccan deli in Melbourne every fortnight for those who want to ‘ask a Muslim anything’ in a bid to create a more cohesive society, one conversation at a time

Hana Assafiri knows how to harness the power of women. When she opened the now renowned Moroccan Soup Bar in North Fitzroy, Victoria, more than 15 years ago, she employed impoverished women struggling to break free from a cycle of poverty and domestic violence, teaching them the skills to provide affordable and nourishing food to their communities.

Having recently opened an off-shoot of the vegetarian restaurant in Brunswick East, called Moroccan Deli-Cacy, Assafiri has once again surrounded herself with women, this time in a bid to dispel myths around Muslims and to create a more cohesive society, one conversation at a time.

Related: A testing year for Australia's social cohesion as multiculturalism debate grows louder

I wondered whether Muslim women wearing a hijab ... compromised feminism. And what I’ve learned is of course it doesn’t

Related: Sydney Muslims feel at home despite very high racism exposure, survey finds

The Muslim women here ... are generous and brilliant, and sadly they haven’t been in the limelight

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Visit My Mosque day: questions from prayers to beards answered

7 February, 2016 - 17:47

More than 250 non-muslims visit East London Mosque as it invites public inside to find out more about Islam’s teachings

The beard issue came up early. One of the first questions fielded by Juber Hussain at East London Mosque’s open day was from a young man in a leather jacket sporting a Motörhead logo, who wanted to know why Muslim men grew facial hair.

Smiling, and running a hand over his own impressive growth, Hussain observed that everyone seemed to be at it these days, not just Muslims – including his questioner. But he said that for Muslims it was a way of emulating the prophet Muhammad, who was believed to have worn a beard.

Related: Visit My Mosque day: British Muslims offer tours and tea to public

Related: Tea, Citizen Khan and other good reasons to visit your local mosque | Remona Aly

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Christian college professor to step down after saying Muslims worship same god

7 February, 2016 - 14:38

Tenured political science professor Larycia Hawkins to ‘part ways’ with Wheaton College following a confidential agreement, says joint statement

A professor at an evangelical university near Chicago who got into trouble after saying Muslims and Christians worship the same god will leave the school, according to a joint statement released by Wheaton College on Saturday night.

Related: Christian college moves to fire professor who said Muslims worship same god

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Pegida's 'costly hate rallies' have no place in Birmingham, say MPs

7 February, 2016 - 12:29

Anti-Islam group’s protests waste police time and attract little support, say politicians and community leaders

“Costly hate rallies” have no place in Birmingham, MPs from the city have said, after the founder of the anti-Islam group Pegida UK pledged to stage a protest in the city on the first Saturday of every month.

Approximately 200 demonstrators gathered for the inaugural Pegida rally at Birmingham International rail station on Saturday – half as many as police expected.

Related: 'Like a poison': how anti-immigrant Pegida is dividing Dresden

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What's it like being a Muslim during the US presidential elections?

6 February, 2016 - 19:33

Are you a Muslim living in the US? Share your experiences with us, and tell us how you think the presidential candidates are handing issues that matter to you

Barack Obama used his first presidential visit to an American mosque on Wednesday to call for writers and producers to create more rounded Muslim characters on television.

If you’re a Muslim living in America, we want to know what you think of Obama’s comments, what it’s like living in the US, and what you think of the presidential candidates’ views of Islam.

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Pegida UK supporters stage anti-Islam silent march in Birmingham

6 February, 2016 - 18:38

Low turnout as 200 protesters gather at industrial estate as similar rallies take place across Europe

Supporters of the anti-Islam group Pegida staged a silent march in Birmingham standing against what they called “the most dreadful, subversive, violent ideology” as clashes broke out at twin rallies in France and the

About 200 demonstrators gathered for the inaugural Pegida rally in the UK – half as many as expected by police – which took place on an industrial estate miles from the city centre.

Related: Pegida: what does the German far-right movement actually stand for?

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Visit My Mosque day: British Muslims offer tours and tea to public

5 February, 2016 - 12:44

Dozens of mosques to open their doors this weekend in effort to explain religion ‘beyond the hostile headlines’

Dozens of mosques around the country are to open their doors to non-Muslims this weekend in an effort to counter negative perceptions of Islam and educate people about the religion.

More than 80 mosques are taking part in the second Visit My Mosque day, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). A similar event last year, involving 20 mosques, attracted hundreds of visitors for tours, talks and tea.

Related: Tea, Citizen Khan and other good reasons to visit your local mosque | Remona Aly

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Timbuktu marks rebuilding of mausoleums destroyed by Islamists

4 February, 2016 - 23:37

Desert city in Mali formally receives keys to shrines to Muslim saints after they were rebuilt with Unesco funding following damage in 2012

Timbuktu has celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to the UN cultural agency, Unesco.

The desert city formally received the keys to the shrines to Muslim saints at a ceremony on Thursday in the Djingareyber mosque. Five head of cattle were ritually sacrificed just after dawn before a reading of the entire Qur’an and the handing of the keys to the families in charge of the shrines’ care.

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Cloak and dagger bid to save Lawrence’s effects | Letters

4 February, 2016 - 19:12

In a climate in which teachers may feel unable to express their concerns about the impact of counter-radicalisation measures on the growth and development of young people, David Anderson’s intervention feels like a breath of fresh air (Watchdog says Prevent is alienating Muslims, 4 February). In imposing this new duty on schools, nurseries and social services, the government has paid scant regard to the “best interests of the child” principle of the UN children’s rights convention. Discussion on the effectiveness of the Prevent duty, of its proportionality and its unintended consequences, should be welcomed by all those concerned about security, and all those concerned about children.
Liz Fekete
Director, Institute of Race Relations

• There is a curious link between the writer Elizabeth Jane Howard, championed by Hilary Mantel (Review, 30 January), and Lawrence of Arabia (Report, 3 February). In her autobiography, Elizabeth Jane Howard says that her mother-in-law, Lady Kathleen Kennet (previously Scott), once let her have breakfast dressed in Lawrence’s Arabian headgear. Is the headgear included with the robes recently sold by the Scott family, and, if not, what became of it, I wonder?
Elizabeth Manning
Malvern, Worcestershire

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Marco Rubio's comments about Muslims actually make a lot of sense

4 February, 2016 - 18:48

The Republican candidate was not pleased that Obama visited a mosque this week. Neither were many of the Americans that Rubio wants to vote for him

Barack Obama’s decision to visit a mosque on Wednesday (his first such visit as president) was not popular with Republican candidate Marco Rubio – nor among many American voters if public polling is anything to go by.

Addressing voters in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Rubio said:

Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam.

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Bloodthirsty terrorists and duplicitous spies: does TV have a Muslim problem?

4 February, 2016 - 16:57

President Obama has called for Muslim characters who aren’t related to national security, so where are they and why can’t US television seem to get it right?

In a speech at a mosque in Baltimore, Maryland, yesterday, President Obama declared that “our TV shows should have Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security”. As with anything that Obama says about Muslims that’s not related to vaporizing them with a drone strike, it didn’t go over too well with conservatives. That wasn’t much of a surprise, as any show of compassion or empathy from the president is seen by the rightwing as cowardice or worse, treason. What was surprising, however, was that Obama would point to television as a means of easing cultural and religious tension, when it’s often used for exactly the opposite purpose.

One could point to instances in which TV was the harbinger of a more just, equal society. Star Trek featured a landmark interracial kiss between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols in the late 1960s on NBC primetime. Sitcoms like Family Matters, Martin and The Cosby Show transmitted black culture across the country, into the homes of people who might not have ever met a black family otherwise. But TV can also be used to reinforce stereotypes just as often. NBC’s short-lived sitcom Outsourced got nuked by critics for its reliance on cliched characterizations of Indian people working in a call center. And every time a person of color pops up on an otherwise white show to play a criminal or cannon fodder for the bad guy, it further cements the idea that brown and black people are crooks or extraneous.

Related: 'Homeland is racist': artists sneak subversive graffiti on to TV show

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We welcome President Obama's words in his mosque visit. Now we need actions | Imam Khalid Latif and Linda Sarsour

4 February, 2016 - 12:15

American Muslims need meaningful reform to rebuild broken bridges. This can start with ending racial profiling and surveillance of Muslim communities

The majority of Americans have never stepped foot inside a mosque. Now, after seven years in office, Barack Obama has finally visited one on US soil. We hope others will follow suit. And we hope, most importantly, that the president’s words will be followed by actions.

Both of us are proud New Yorkers, parents, non-profit leaders and Muslims. On Wednesday we drove down to Maryland to participate in the president’s mosque visit. Obama has been absent from the Muslim community for many years. On the way down, we wondered what, if anything, he could do to make up for this and alleviate our concerns.

Related: Rubio criticizes Obama mosque speech for implying 'US discriminates against Muslims'

Related: Barack Obama uses mosque visit to call for rounded Muslim characters on TV

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Join us or die: the birth of Boko Haram | Andrew Walker

4 February, 2016 - 06:00
How the tattered remnants of an Islamist sect transformed into a relentless terrorist army that Nigeria cannot defeat

In February 2009, I was at a motor park in Maraba, a satellite of the Nigerian capital Abuja, looking for motorcyclists wearing dried vegetables on their heads. The Nigerian Police Force had recently tightened laws requiring drivers and passengers of motorcycles to wear helmets. In the case of motorcycle taxis – known as achabas in northern Nigeria – drivers would now have to provide helmets for their passengers. There was an uproar. Everyone knew that taking a trip on an achaba could be a dangerous thing; the drivers had a reputation for recklessness. But many Nigerians did not like the new rules.

Above all, the law gave the police an opportunity for extortion. One motorcycle taxi driver told me it was going to cost him 10,000 naira (around £40) to buy two helmets. As he made between 300 and 400 naira per day (less than £2), there was no way he could afford to obey the new law. Everyone knew what would happen. The police would set up flying checkpoints, near markets, motor parks and busy thoroughfares. They would swoop down on motorcyclists, flailing sticks and canes as the riders madly accelerated out of their traps.

In one part of the country this cat-and-mouse game between police and Nigerian motorists would have serious consequences

Related: Nigerian army storms Islamist sect's base

Related: Muhammadu Buhari: reformed dictator returns to power in democratic Nigeria

Related: Nigeria: Religious tensions put taxi drivers in Jos at a deadly crossroads

Questions still hang over the speed with which Yusuf was dispatched, and who exactly was served by his silencing

They said now I knew what they were and who they were, either I did what they wanted or they would kill me

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Rubio criticizes Obama mosque speech for implying 'US discriminates against Muslims'

4 February, 2016 - 03:46

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said at New Hampshire event that there is ‘discrimination of every kind’ in the US

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio criticized Barack Obama on Wednesday for giving a speech at a mosque that focused on discrimination against Muslims.

“I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done,” Rubio, a senator from Florida, said at a town hall in New Hampshire. “Always pitting people against each other. Always.”

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Barack Obama uses mosque visit to call for rounded Muslim characters on TV

3 February, 2016 - 23:14

President decries anti-Muslim rhetoric in US election campaign and urges TV drama to present ‘some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security’

Barack Obama used his first presidential visit to an American mosque on Wednesday to call for writers and producers to create more rounded Muslim characters on television.

Related: Anti-Islam group publishes addresses of Muslims and 'Muslim sympathisers'

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Obama thanks Muslims for keeping America ‘strong and united’ – video

3 February, 2016 - 19:43

Barack Obama makes his first visit to an American mosque while in office on Wednesday and condemns the ‘inexcusable political rhetoric’ that has been targeted at Muslims in the US, saying it ‘has no place in our country’. Obama says that ‘too often’ people have conflated acts of terrorism ‘with the beliefs of an entire faith’, and extends his thanks to American Muslims for the role they play in the country

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