The Guardian World news: Islam

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British Museum to explore Islamic world's impact on western art

16 July, 2019 - 17:09

Major exhibition aims to show Orientalism in a different light and its legacy today

An art tradition sometimes dismissed as perpetuating lazy stereotypes about the east will soon – the British Museum hopes – be seen in a different light thanks to a major exhibition exploring how western artists have been inspired by the Islamic world.

The museum has announced details of a show that will have the tradition of Orientalism at its core.

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The Guardian view on atheism: good without God | Editorial

15 July, 2019 - 18:37
If organised mainstream Christianity is on the way out, what will replace it?

The latest British Social Attitudes survey paints a picture of organised religion’s continued decline; the more organised it tries to be, the faster it slips. The Church of England, which is established in the sense that it has a formal constitutional role, now claims the allegiance of just 1% of people under 24. Even among the over-75s, only a third identify as Anglican. More than half of British people now say that they have no religion; about two-fifths are Christians of one sort of another; 9% are Muslims.

Across Europe and North America there is a steady rise in the number of “Nones” – people who do not identify with any religion at all. The Pew Global Forum suggests there will be 1.3 billion of them worldwide by 2060, but this figure nonetheless represents a relative decline. The great majority of the present-day Nones are found in east Asia, and especially China, where Christianity and traditional religion are both experiencing phenomenal growth. Meanwhile, demographic growth among Christians and Muslims in the global south suggest that Nones in the world will decline from 16% to 13%.

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Muslim community shuns women released from prison, says report

15 July, 2019 - 17:18

There is a ‘much more forgiving attitude’ towards Muslim male offenders, say former convicts

The Muslim community in Britain shuns women who have been to prison while forgiving convicted men, “no matter what they’ve done”, according to a report.

Female former prisoners told researchers, Muslim experts in the criminal justice system, that they suffered a “conspiracy of silence” after being released from jail, having to hide or move away in order to not bring shame on their families.

Related: Most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative, major study finds

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Boris Johnson claimed Islam put Muslim world 'centuries behind'

15 July, 2019 - 16:00

Anger as 2007 essay lamenting ‘no spread of democracy’ in Islamic world comes to light

Boris Johnson has been strongly criticised for arguing Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west, in an essay unearthed by the Guardian.

Writing about the rise of the religion in an appendix added to a later edition of The Dream of Rome, his 2006 book about the Roman empire, Johnson said there was something about Islam that hindered development in parts of the globe and, as a result, “Muslim grievance” was a factor in virtually every conflict.

The real Boris Johnson

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Where is the outrage about the Tory party’s Islamophobia? | Owen Jones

10 July, 2019 - 18:56
This form of bigotry is acceptable now in Britain. So much so that it’s rife in our governing party

What Tory members think matters. Their party is in government. They select parliamentary candidates who go on to vote on legislation and become ministers, and they exert pressure on them through local Conservative associations. They are now electing the nation’s prime minister. So when evidence of racism is uncovered among their ranks, it should be regarded as a national scandal.

Recent polls conducted for Hope Not Hate by YouGov – which has a solid record when looking at party members – is horrifying. It found that 60% of Tory members believe Islam “is generally a threat to western civilisation”, with less than one in five dissenting; that 54% hold it to be “generally a threat to the British way of life”; and 43% do not want a Muslim as prime minister. Two-thirds believe the lie that parts of Britain are under sharia law; another 45% believe in the racist nonsense that there are no-go areas for non-Muslims; and 40% want to limit Britain’s Muslim population. Among the most chilling findings was that 42% believe “having people from a wide variety of racial and cultural backgrounds” has damaged British society, with just 39% dissenting.

Related: Most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative, major study finds

Related: What happened when I met my Islamophobic troll

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Most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative, major study finds

9 July, 2019 - 07:00

Mail on Sunday named worst offender amid growing scrutiny of Tory Islamophobia

Most coverage of Muslims in British news outlets has a negative slant, according to a major analysis by the Muslim Council of Britain, which concludes that news stories in the mainstream media are contributing to Islamophobia.

The study found the Mail on Sunday had the most negative coverage of Islam, with 78% of its stories featuring Muslims having negative themes – above an already-high industry average of 59%.

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The Guardian view on religious liberty: the freedom to be wrong | Editorial

8 July, 2019 - 18:43
You can believe what you like if you do not act to harm others

Conservative religious believers, of whom there are perhaps 4 billion in the world today, mostly Christians and Muslims, still suppose that homosexuality is sinful. Sometimes their belief is an expression of genuine hatred; sometimes it is an unconsidered expression of belonging in a prejudiced society. In countries where this is a generally accepted prejudice, they probably don’t think about it much. In countries where gay people are accepted and affirmed as equals, fundamentalists have to think more carefully. Some retain their beliefs but place them in a context where homosexuality becomes merely one sin among many others – most of which the believer shares – and nothing to get worked up about. Others turn homophobia into a central point of doctrine, and fight against equality for gay people.

In Britain, Christian Concern is a pressure group which has brought numerous lawsuits in an attempt to establish a right for its members to discriminate against gay people. Almost all of these have been lost. Last week, though, it won a partial victory in an important case at the court of appeal, even though the judgment dismissed most of the argument that the organisation had brought. The case concerned a trainee social worker originally from Cameroon, Felix Ngole, who was thrown off his course by Sheffield University in 2017 after some posts he had made in an argument in the comment section of an American news site two years before were drawn anonymously to the university’s attention. There is no suggestion that Mr Ngole had discriminated against gay people in practice, but the university took the view that “any expression of disapproval of same-sex relations (however mildly expressed) on a public social media or other platform which could be traced back to the person making it, was a breach of the professional guidelines” as the court summarised it.

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Prevent is stopping free speech on campus and demonising Muslims | Nadine El-Enany

1 July, 2019 - 12:51
New figures confirm that the government’s McCarthyistic counter-terrorism strategy is curtailing progressive dissent

Many staff and students at universities across Britain will have welcomed Liberty’s condemnation of the chilling effect the government’s counter-terrorism strategy is having on free speech on campuses. Recently published figures from the Office for Students showed that more than 2,000 events across Britain’s 300 or so higher education institutions have been affected by Prevent.

While some events were allowed to take place with conditions attached, 53 events or speaker requests on campuses were rejected altogether by university authorities. The demonisation of Muslims through the Prevent strategy has led to progressive dissent more broadly being curtailed.

Related: UK's Prevent strategy 'biggest threat to free speech on campus'

Related: An Islamophobic security agenda shouldn't mix with arts funding | Naz Shah

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Just 22 mosques given funding for hate crime security last year

30 June, 2019 - 17:51

Distrust of Prevent scheme among reasons cited for lack of uptake of government scheme

Widespread distrust of the Home Office’s counter-extremism strategy by British Muslims has been cited as one of the obstacles to mosques using a government scheme to protect places of worship from hate crime, after figures showed just 22 received funding last year.

The £375,413 awarded to the mosques under the scheme is a tiny fraction of the £14m provided by a separate government fund for assisting the Jewish community. Applications by 24 mosques failed.

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French city shuts down public pools after two women wear burkinis

27 June, 2019 - 17:00

Grenoble authorities say shutdown was requested by lifeguards at the pool

Despite the unprecedented heatwave sweeping across western Europe, lifeguards in Grenoble have shut down the city’s two municipal swimming pools after Muslim women went swimming in burkinis.

The women went to the pools twice at the initiative of the Alliance Citoyenne rights group to challenge a city ban on the full-body swimwear.

Related: Why we wear the burkini: five women on dressing modestly at the beach

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An Islamophobic security agenda shouldn't mix with arts funding | Naz Shah

26 June, 2019 - 17:02

Bradford literature festival speakers are right to withdraw in protest at Home Office funds. Muslims want meaningful engagement

  • Naz Shah is the MP for Bradford West

The last few days have seen a furore over the Bradford literature festival’s decision to accept funding from the Home Office. Some 12 speakers have pulled out of the event so far, in protest at the source of the money, the government’s “Building a Stronger Britain Together” fund, a scheme that supports projects that supposedly counter extremism. As a result of the row, reputational damage has been done to this award-winning festival.

Let’s be clear why this has happened: the government refuses to engage with Muslim communities in a meaningful way – unless it is under the auspices of counter- extremism or counter-terrorism. Why does funding offered to Muslim communities so often appear under this guise? We’ve also seen this in the form of the goverment’s terrible Prevent counter terror strategy, which is a toxic presence and is already under review.

Had this government cared, it would not continuously brush Tory Islamophobia under the carpet

Related: Does Bradford festival's counter-extremism funding warrant a boycott? | Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan and Saima Mir

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Pakistan plays down accusations of Christian persecution

25 June, 2019 - 14:02

Foreign minister says there are ‘individual incidents’ that can be compared to UK knife crime

Pakistan’s foreign minister has sought to dismiss accusations of Christian persecution, claiming there were “individual incidents” comparable to knife crime in the UK.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking during a visit to Brussels, said reports of religious minorities being targeted in Pakistan did not constitute a trend and the recent claims of Christian persecution were an example of “western interests” that “want to paint Pakistan in a particular way”.

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Nearly half of Tory members would not want Muslim PM – poll

24 June, 2019 - 15:14

Islamophobia survey finds just 8% believe it is a problem within the Conservative party

Nearly half of Conservative party members would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister, a survey into the scale of Islamophobia in the party has suggested.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, also found that more than two-thirds of Tory members believe the myth that parts of the UK are under Sharia law, and 45% think some areas are not safe for non-Muslims.

Related: Javid says new migration salary rules could vary region by region as May's £30k threshold shelved – live news

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Home Office thwarted return home of Isis suspect Jack Letts

23 June, 2019 - 09:02

Letts was disillusioned in Syria but his case officer was told to ‘back off’ by the government

British Islamic State fighter Jack Letts, whose parents were convicted of funding terrorism, wanted to return to the UK, but the Home Office pulled the plug on attempts to rehabilitate him.

The 23-year-old – known as “Jihadi Jack” – who joined Isis as a teenager, had discussed leaving Syria in 2016 with a counter-radicalisation expert until the UK government took him off the Letts case, the Observer has learned.

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Six pull out of Bradford festival over counter-extremism funding

20 June, 2019 - 15:36

Writers and activists quit literature festival over funding by Home Office programme

Six writers and activists have pulled out of the Bradford literature festival (BLF) in protest after it emerged it received funding from a government counter-extremism programme.

The group withdrew from planned appearances after learning that the 10-day event, which was founded in 2014, has accepted money provided as part of the Home Office’s counter-extremism strategy for the first time.

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Uighur author dies following detention in Chinese 're-education' camp

19 June, 2019 - 13:42

PEN America condemns death of Nurmuhammad Tohti, who had been held in a Xinjiang internment camp, as a grave example of China’s violations of free expression

The death of the prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti after being held in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps has been condemned as a tragic loss by human rights organisations.

Radio Free Asia reported that Tohti, who was 70, had been detained in one of the controversial “re-education” camps from November 2018 to March 2019. His granddaughter, Zorigul, who is based in Canada, said he had been denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was only released once his medical condition meant he had become incapacitated. She wrote on a Facebook page for the Uighur exile community that she had only learned of his death 11 days after it happened because her family in Xinjiang had been frightened that making the information public would make them a target for detention.

Related: Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang

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'Disappointing and deluded': Imam lambasts Tory hopefuls on Islamophobia

19 June, 2019 - 03:03

Teacher Abdullah Patel singled out Boris Johnson, who forgot his name, and urged candidates to accept role in stoking hate speech

The imam who questioned Conservative leadership candidates about Islamophobia during Tuesday’s TV debate has called responses from the MPs “disappointing and deluded”.

Abdullah Patel, who is also deputy head of a primary school in Gloucester, asked a question via videolink from Bristol about the impact of Islamophobia, saying: “Do you accept words have consequences?”

Related: TV debate brought home a terrifying truth: one of these men will be PM | Jonathan Freedland

Have to thank @MuslimCouncil and @MatesJacob because it was their detailed document which gave me the backing to ask the Q on #BBCOurNextPM

My name is Abdullah btw @BorisJohnson pic.twitter.com/08eFuwo5Ku

5/@Jeremy_Hunt used the chance to speak about how he can't be racist because he has an immigrant wife, and @RoryStewartUK forgot that this is also OUR country. The only positive from the debate was @sajidjavid making them all commit to an independent investigation into...

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Follow Me, Akhi by Hussein Kesvani review – how social media is changing liberal Islam

18 June, 2019 - 09:00

A thoughtful and witty account of how British Muslims interact with the online world

In 2014, as around 2 million Muslims gathered in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca to perform the hajj, Islam’s largest annual pilgrimage saw the launch of a new practice. Young and devout Muslims standing in front of the Great Mosque and other locations around Old Mecca began posting self-portraits to Twitter. The hashtag #HajjSelfie went viral within hours.

While most religious clerics adopted a diplomatic silence on the inevitable arrival of cameraphones during major religious gatherings, a handful of Muslim scholars spoke out. One Jeddah-based scholar said photography contravened the spirit of the hajj. “Taking such selfies and videos defy the wish of our Prophet,” he said, with sincerity. An Islamic Studies teacher said worshippers were ruining their prayers by “humble-bragging”.

In 2018, women used #MosqueMeToo to share stories of sexual assault and abuse in places of worship

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Quebec law banning hijab at work creates ‘politics of fear', say critics

17 June, 2019 - 17:42

Civil liberties groups vow to challenge new law that bans public employees from wearing religious symbols

Civil liberties and Muslim groups have vowed to challenge a new law in the Canadian province of Quebec that bans some public sector employees from wearing religious symbols during work hours, arguing it triggered the “politics of fear”.

Critics said the long-expected Bill 21 that was passed by the predominately French-speaking province’s legislature on Sunday mainly targeted Muslim women who wear hijabs.

Related: 'It’s part of who I am': proposed Quebec law could push hijab-wearers out of jobs

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The EU's Islamophobia is getting worse – Britain must fight this from within | Yasmin Qureshi

17 June, 2019 - 12:45

The EU abets Aung San Suu Kyi and Viktor Orbán, while also failing to challenge China’s abuse of its Muslim populations

The European elections last month were widely seen as a test of the EU’s resilience. Many were relieved that far-right parties did not do as well as feared. However, nationalism is still on the rise across the continent, and the EU is not an innocent bystander.

A meeting of two Islamophobes earlier this month brought this home to me. That day, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi met with her Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán. At the top of their agenda was the danger of “continuously growing Muslim populations”. No surprises there. While Aung San Suu Kyi is complicit in the genocidal “ethnic cleansing” of some 1.1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees into Bangladesh, Orbán spearheaded the abhorrent fiction that the Jewish philanthropist George Soros is funding the mass migration of Muslims to Europe.

Related: The far right may not have cleaned up, but its influence now dominates Europe | Cas Mudde

Related: Far-right fundraising not taken seriously by UK, report finds

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