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'Haifa is essentially segregated': cracks appear in Israel's capital of coexistence

19 April, 2018 - 07:00

For decades, Haifa has been Israel’s model of what a ‘mixed’ Jewish-Arab city could be. But as the country’s 70th anniversary nears, the strain is showing

Ben-Gurion Boulevard climbs from the bustling port on Haifa’s Mediterranean shore up Mount Carmel towards the famous Bahai shrine, its gleaming golden dome surrounded by lush terraced gardens. On the south side of the palm-lined road, on a spring lunchtime, the Fattoush restaurant is packed with customers chatting noisily in Arabic and Hebrew over Levantine and fusion salads, cardamom-flavoured coffee and exquisite Palestinian knafeh desserts.

Fashionable eateries like Fattoush are one reason why Israel’s third largest city and its biggest “mixed” one, as officially classified, is held up as a model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Not everyone agrees with the concept, of course, and the “c” word is often qualified, placed in inverted commas, or simply dismissed as propaganda. Official figures say Arabs make up 14% of Haifa’s 280,000-strong population; unofficial estimates are closer to 18%, swelled by students and commuters from nearby Galilee. Public spaces, at least, are open to all. And the ever-present Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, usually, softer-edged than elsewhere in the country.

I can’t tell you that all Jews love Arabs and vice versa, but people do feel safe here

Related: The contested centenary of Britain’s ‘calamitous promise’

Co-existence is not equality. Speaking the same language and eating hummus together doesn’t mean Jews and Arabs are equal

The whole country is based one separation in a very profound way

Related: 'This land is just dirt': a rooftop view of Jerusalem

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Morrissey denounces halal meat as 'evil', and attacks May, Khan, Abbott and more

17 April, 2018 - 14:24

Ex-Smiths frontman claims ‘halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of Isis’, and throws his support behind far-right For Britain party

Morrissey has made an extraordinary – even by his standards – series of pronouncements in a new interview published on his website, attacking halal meat producers, Theresa May, Diane Abbott and Sadiq Khan, among others.

The former Smiths frontman – already infamous for his statements on race, animal welfare and more – criticised halal meat production, the Islamic method of animal slaughter. He claimed that “halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of Isis”, and described it as “evil”. He also described Jewish kosher food production as “very cruel”, and called for it to be banned.

Related: I started something I couldn't finish: the Smiths reunion that wasn't

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The race to get the Outer Hebrides’ first mosque ready for Ramadan

16 April, 2018 - 16:30

On the Isle of Lewis, support for the project is flooding in from Muslims and non-Muslims alike

A couple of weeks ago, Aihtsham Rashid was standing in front of a derelict building in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, considering the scale of the task of turning it into the first mosque in the Outer Hebrides.

“This could take years,” the Leeds-based builder told crestfallen members of the town’s Muslim community as they gazed at the crumbling walls, sagging roof and broken windows, and weighed up logistical problems of supplies and labour.

Related: Outer Hebrides to get its first mosque after crowdsourcing campaign

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Canada mosque shooter says he was motivated by Trudeau welcoming refugees

13 April, 2018 - 20:19

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to killing six in Quebec attack, cites prime minister’s comments following Trump’s travel ban

The man who shot and killed six men at a Canadian mosque told police that his attack was motivated by Justin Trudeau’s message of welcome to refugees following Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty last month to six charges of first degree murder and now faces up to 150 years in prison for the attack in which 19 other people were injured.

Related: Quebec community rallies for mosque attack hero: 'He sacrificed his legs for us'

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Outer Hebrides to get its first mosque after crowdsourcing campaign

9 April, 2018 - 16:05

Leeds businessman Aihtsham Rashid has raised more than £63,000 to renovate derelict building in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

The Outer Hebrides is to get its first mosque in time for the start of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in May.

A Leeds businessman has raised more than £63,000 through donations from across the world to renovate a derelict building in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

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Antisemitism on the left and Jeremy Corbyn | Letters

5 April, 2018 - 17:57
Israeli ambassador Mark Regev and other readers respond to recent articles on an issue that has dominated recent headlines

Owen Jones’s contribution to the discussion of left antisemitism (Labour’s mission is to transform Britain. It can’t let bigotry get in the way, 4 April) tackles several important issues, yet overlooks the elephant in the room: the obsessive and irrational hatred of the Jewish state.

When pro-Palestinian social media pages are awash with anti-Jewish vitriol, including neo-Nazi type Holocaust denial, we are looking at raw antisemitism dressed up as political concern.

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Thanks, but a ‘Love a Muslim Day’ isn’t enough to counter Islamophobia | Shaista Aziz

4 April, 2018 - 16:44

The rising tide of bigotry against Britain’s Muslim communities needs tackling head-on – and Theresa May should take the lead

Twenty-four hours on from the “Punish a Muslim Day” and the well-meaning but deeply reductive framing of “Love a Muslim Day”, the UK’s Muslim communities and no doubt the police and authorities are breathing a huge sigh of relief that this designated day of hate passed off without major incident.

“Punish a Muslim Day” started off last month, with a number of anonymous letters arriving at the homes of Muslims in the north of England, the Midlands and east London. Four Muslim MPs received it, including at least one copy being received in parliament, leading to a security alert. The letter boasted of horrific “rewards”, encouraging people to carry out attacks on Muslims, including torture, burning down mosques and throwing acid in Muslims’ faces. It is still not known who was behind them, although counter-terror police are investigating,

Related: UK communities take action against 'Punish a Muslim Day' letter

Islamophobia is now mainstream and is part of our daily public and political discourse

Related: Jeremy Corbyn attacks Islamophobia during mosque visit

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UK communities take action against 'Punish a Muslim Day' letter

3 April, 2018 - 13:40

Letter called for day of attacks on Muslims but people have hit back by showing love and solidarity

Communities across the UK have been responding to violent threats contained in a letter promising that 3 April would be “Punish a Muslim Day”.

The phrase was coined in an anonymous letter distributed to some homes and businesses last month, with recipients in east London, the Midlands and Yorkshire. The letter suggested people could win “points” for a range of activities aimed at Muslims, including removing a headscarf from a woman or beating a person up. Muslim MPs were also sent the letter.

3rd of April has been planned as a "PunishAMuslimDay" To help our community feel safe, we have organised the #ProtectAMuslimDay initiative. We have organised volunteers from around the UK to help you if you feel unsafe on the day, call: 07985606148 or 07985601849. More info

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Hijab ban attempt is 'racism dressed up as liberalism', teachers' conference told

1 April, 2018 - 13:15

Union votes to challenge Ofsted chief’s linking of hijab to sexualisation of young girls

Efforts to ban young girls wearing the hijab at primary schools were “naked racism dressed up as liberalism”, a teachers’ union conference heard as it unanimously backed a motion accusing school inspectors of inappropriate behaviour.

The National Education Union’s annual conference in Brighton voted to challenge statements by Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted and the chief inspector of schools in England, over the issue of girls as young as five wearing the hijab in state schools.

Related: East London primary school backs down over hijab ban

Related: Inspectors to question primary school girls who wear hijab

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Teaching union criticises Ofsted chief over hijab ban for young girls

30 March, 2018 - 17:57

Amanda Spielman’s comments on young Muslim girls wearing headscarf could increase race attacks, says NEU

The country’s largest teaching union has criticised the head of Ofsted, accusing her of pressuring schools into banning the hijab worn by young girls, amid a claim that the watchdog’s position could lead to “increased physical and verbal attacks” on Muslim girls.

The motion to be debated at the National Education Union (NEU) meeting in Brighton over the Easter weekend takes aim at recent remarks by Amanda Spielman and her concerns over Muslim girls as young as five wearing the headscarf.

Related: East London primary school backs down over hijab ban

Related: Schoolgirls wearing a hijab is a path to extremism? Now that’s a leap | Samira Shackle

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MPs condemn Leave.EU tweet on Labour antisemitism

29 March, 2018 - 19:09

Tweet claims Labour ‘can’t be bothered’ to deal with antisemitism because party is ‘so reliant’ on Muslim votes

MPs have issued a formal protest over an Islamophobic tweet by the Leave.EU campaign that implied Labour could not be bothered to deal with antisemitism because there were more votes in supporting Muslims.

Is it any wonder that Labour can't be bothered to deal with the disgusting antisemitism in their party when they are so reliant on the votes of Britain's exploding Muslim population? It's a question of maths for these people, not justice!

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I hope any Conservatives involved with now withdraw. Worst kind of dog whistle.

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Prevent let the Parsons Green bomber through the net. That can’t happen again | Ian Acheson

28 March, 2018 - 09:00
Our counter-terrorism strategies are modelled across the world, but after this clear failure, they need an overhaul

Ahmed Hassan’s murderous intent on a tube train at Parsons Green was thwarted by good luck, rather than the elegant architecture of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy. This ought to be a cause for serious concern. The Iraqi teenager was very well known to authorities at the time of his terrorist attack last September. During the trial it emerged that he was being managed by the Prevent strand of our national strategy Contest.

Prevent is a paradox. It is the most publicised yet least understood weapon in our counter-extremism tool box. A combination of inexplicable paralysis by government and relentless opposition by a small number of ideologically motivated pressure groups such as Cage has distorted both its objectives and its operation.

Related: 'A duty to hate Britain': the anger of tube bomber Ahmed Hassan

Direct money now being spent on bollards to activities which will ultimately obviate their use

Related: Far-right referrals to Prevent programme up by more than a quarter

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The Paris attack suspect is in jail. But still he is inspiring others | Imran Armani

28 March, 2018 - 06:00
Salah Abdeslam is becoming a figurehead for would-be terorrists across Europe, as the latest French atrocity shows

Last Friday, 25-year-old Redouane Lakdim killed four people and injured 16 others after taking hostages in a supermarket in south-west France. It has since emerged that he was known to French intelligence services, who were concerned he was at risk of Islamist radicalisation. Lakdim himself was shot dead, but his motive for the attack shines a light on the continuing threat posed by another Islamist extremist, still being held behind bars.

Lakdim had demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor from the group behind the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. Abdeslam had evaded the security services for months, but was eventually caught hiding in Molenbeek, the suburb of Brussels where he lived and grew up.

In Molenbeek during the week of the hearing, I felt a degree of sympathy for him. One young man said: 'He has a point.'

(November 13, 2015) Paris attacks

Related: French supermarket siege: memorial service held for victims

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Austrian full-face veil ban condemned as a failure by police

27 March, 2018 - 12:49

‘Integration’ measure has resulted mainly in warnings for wearing smog masks or animal costumes

An Austrian ban on full-face coverings introduced as part of an “integration” policy aimed at limiting the visibility of orthodox Islam in public life has been criticised by police after it emerged that the law has mainly resulted in the issuing of warnings against people wearing smog masks, skiing gear and animal costumes.

Figures published by the weekly news magazine Profil on Monday show that 29 charges citing the “anti-face-veiling act” have been filed with police since the law came into force last October.

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Boko Haram kept one Dapchi girl who refused to deny her Christianity

24 March, 2018 - 05:00

Schoolgirl Leah Sharibu would not renounce her faith despite friends begging her to pretend to accept Islam

The only Christian girl among the Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month could have been freed along with her schoolmates but refused to renounce her faith, according to her mother.

Leah Sharibu refused to accept Islam, resisting the entreaties of her classmates to pretend to do so, her parents learned from snatched conversation with her friends.

Related: Boko Haram returns more than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped last month

Instead of photocalls, some Dapchi parents wanted​ to​ talk to the returned girls to find out what happened

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Mosques launch anti-radicalisation scheme as alternative to Prevent

22 March, 2018 - 17:55

Exclusive: Safe and Secure programme aims to address same issues as controversial government strategy but without stigma

An anti-radicalisation programme billed as an alternative to the government’s much-maligned Prevent strategy has been launched in mosques.

Related: I’m a doctor, not a counter-terrorism operative. Let me do my job | Adrian James

Related: As anti-extremism chief, I hear my critics – but I’ll listen to victims too | Sara Khan

Related: The latest Prevent figures show why the strategy needs an independent review | Miqdaad Versi

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Indian ‘cow protectors’ jailed for life over murder of Muslim man

22 March, 2018 - 14:06

Eleven men were part of mob that attacked Alimuddin Ansari, who was transporting beef

Eleven cow protection vigilantes in the Indian state of Jharkhand have been sentenced to life in prison for killing a Muslim man who was transporting beef.

They are thought to be the first people convicted for violence in the name of the cow.

Related: On patrol with the Hindu vigilantes who would kill to protect India's cows

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Muslims place greater importance on national identity, finds UK study

21 March, 2018 - 00:01

More than half see being British as important, compared with 44% of general population

Muslims in the UK attach more importance to being British than the general population, according to a report.

They also place greater emphasis on education, and identify more strongly with their religious identity than their non-Muslim peers.

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'Christianity as default is gone': the rise of a non-Christian Europe

21 March, 2018 - 00:01

Figures show a majority of young adults in 12 countries have no faith, with Czechs least religious

Europe’s march towards a post-Christian society has been starkly illustrated by research showing a majority of young people in a dozen countries do not follow a religion.

The survey of 16- to 29-year-olds found the Czech Republic is the least religious country in Europe, with 91% of that age group saying they have no religious affiliation. Between 70% and 80% of young adults in Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands also categorise themselves as non-religious.

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Richard Dawkins to give away copies of The God Delusion in Islamic countries

20 March, 2018 - 12:19

Author and the Centre for Inquiry planning free ebook versions of his books in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian following a ‘stirring towards atheism’ in some Islamic countries

Richard Dawkins is responding to what he called the “stirring towards atheism” in some Islamic countries with a programme to make free downloads of his books available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian.

The scientist and atheist said he was “greatly encouraged” to learn that the unofficial Arabic pdf of the book had been downloaded 13m times. Dawkins writes in The God Delusion about his wish that the “open-minded people” who read it will “break free of the vice of religion altogether”. It has sold 3.3m copies worldwide since it was published in 2006 – far fewer than the number of Arabic copies that Dawkins believes to have been downloaded illegally.

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