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US envoy decries lack of response from Islamic world to China's attacks on Uighurs

11 June, 2019 - 00:00

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have been silent in the face of the mass incarceration of Muslims in Xinjiang

The US envoy on religious liberty has said he is “disappointed” at the response of governments in the Islamic world to China’s mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims, suggesting they had been threatened by Beijing.

Sam Brownback, ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said some majority-Muslim states did not want to draw attention to their own human rights record. He was hopeful that the more Muslim populations around the world heard about the imprisonment of an estimated more than 1 million Uighurs, the more they will put pressure on their governments to speak out.

Related: 'If you enter a camp, you never come out': inside China's war on Islam

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

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Aung San Suu Kyi finds common ground with Orbán over Islam

6 June, 2019 - 06:12

On a rare trip to Europe, Myanmar leader and Hungary PM discuss issue of ‘growing Muslim populations’

From her failure to speak out against ethnic cleansing to imprisoning journalists, the reputation of Aung San Suu Kyi in the west has taken a battering in recent months.

But the leader of Myanmar has found a new ally in far-right, staunchly anti-immigrant Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán.

Related: From peace icon to pariah: Aung San Suu Kyi's fall from grace

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Washington urges Riyadh to end military crackdown in Sudan

5 June, 2019 - 16:03

As nations jostle for influence across Horn of Africa US diplomat David Hale urges Saudis to help end repression

The thorny question of Saudi Arabian political influence across the Middle East and Africa is back in the spotlight again with Washington taking the unusual step of effectively telling Riyadh to end Sudan’s military crackdown.

In an unusual public statement the US state department revealed that its undersecretary for political affairs, the diplomat David Hale, had phoned the Saudi deputy defence minister, Khaled bin Salman, to ask him to use the country’s influence to end the brutal repression against peaceful protesters by the Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) in Sudan.

Related: At least 60 killed in Sudan crackdown, say protest groups

Related: Hemedti: the feared commander pulling the strings in Sudan

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'Every day brings a new massacre': Eid offers no respite for Idlib

4 June, 2019 - 16:47

War-weary citizens mark end of Ramadan as Assad regime continues to bombard province

Sara Akhtib loves her new Eid outfit. It was made by her mother: a flowing gold and black dress embroidered with black flowers on the hem.

Like the rest of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Tuesday, the 21-year-old student was celebrating the end of Ramadan. However, instead of visiting relatives, Akhtib, her parents and three younger brothers did not leave the basement below the family home. The Syrian president’s warplanes were still in the sky and it was too dangerous to go outside.

Related: Stop the carnage: doctors call for an end to Syria hospital airstrikes

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Faith institutions urged to lead way in healing 'collective trauma'

3 June, 2019 - 17:36

UN deputy and NGO chief say political failures have left a global void that needs filling

Faith institutions must show strong moral leadership to heal people’s “collective trauma” and fill the void left by international political failure, according to the UN’s deputy head and the leader of one of the UK’s major NGOs.

Amina Mohammed, the UN’s deputy secretary general, who is a Muslim, and Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, the chief executive of Christian Aid, have called for faith-based organisations to take a lead in facing up to global challenges such as poverty, inequality, migration and the climate emergency.

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'You get used to the gunfire' – filming the Libyan women's football team

31 May, 2019 - 14:48

Denounced on TV, they train at secret locations watched by armed guards. We meet the woman from Hastings who made a fascinating film about Libya’s guttsiest football squad

‘Just what our country needs!” rails the imam sarcastically on Libyan TV. “A women’s football team! And what’s more, they chose tall, young beautiful girls for the team – and for months their legs will be exposed.”

Women’s football may be getting its moment in the spotlight with the World Cup about to kick off. But, as the absorbing new documentary Freedom Fields reveals, the Libyan women’s national team has some way to go. As well as that imam, the film also features this statement from extremist group Ansar al-Sharia: “We strongly refute what the supporters of immoral westernisation are doing under the pretext of women’s freedom. This might lead to other sports with even more nudity, such as swimming and running.”

Related: Lights, camera, revolution: the birth of Libyan cinema after Gaddafi's fall

They’ve busted the barriers of political and class differences. They’ve also become pretty strong and kick-ass

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You are what you Eid: Ramadan for vegans

30 May, 2019 - 10:00

Muslims are coming to the end of a month of fasting, which in Britain often means evening meals featuring heaps of meat. But there is a plant-based option

The final days of Islam’s month of fasting are with us. And as Ramadan draws to a close, so does “Veganadan”, in which a growing number of Muslims adopt a plant-based diet for four weeks. I am keen to eat less meat in Ramadan, but it can be a challenge when you are invited to iftar, the meal with which Muslims break their day-long fast, and there is only meat on the table. After 18 hours without food (an extra 40 minutes if you are in Scotland), hosts like to lay on a generous banquet, and a typical iftar spread includes an array of lamb samosas, kebabs and roast chicken.

When I am at home, iftar tends to be a more vegan affair: a fresh fruit salad of mangoes, raspberries, blueberries and honeydew melon sprinkled with chopped dates, for example, along with a platter of peas fried lightly with cumin seeds, followed by yellow dal and aubergine curry.

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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The Hour of Lynching: vigilante violence against Muslims in India – video

24 May, 2019 - 13:01

Rakbar, a Muslim dairy farmer, was murdered by a Hindu mob who thought he was taking a cow to be slaughtered for meat. His wife, Asmeena, must undergo an intense iddat (mourning in purdah) and their daughter, Sahila, is forced to abandon school to take care of the household. While the family falls apart, the hate machinery of rightwing Hindu nationalists – politicians and lynch mobs – works overtime to legitimise the killing. Set in a remote village in India, The Hour of Lynching sheds light on a global problem: communities turning on ‘the other’ – sometimes with extreme violence

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What happened when I met my Islamophobic troll

23 May, 2019 - 06:00

In 2017, I started getting regular messages from an anonymous Twitter user telling me my religion was ‘evil’. Eventually I responded – and he agreed to meet face to face. By Hussein Kesvani

In 2017, I started to receive messages from a Twitter user who called themself True Brit, telling me that my religion was “Satanic”, “barbaric” and “evil”. Bearing a profile image of the St George’s cross and a biography that simply read “Anti-Islam, stop Islamic immigration now”, True Brit often spammed me with pictures taken from anti-Muslim websites, blogs and Facebook groups. Sometimes they would be cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad as a sexual deviant. Other times, I would be sent memes I had seen circulating in rightwing communities online, depicting groups of south Asian men who had been arrested for child sexual grooming, or alleged Syrian refugees who were, supposedly, secret members of Isis. One meme showed a man with a long beard, in battle camouflage, brandishing a pistol in one hand and holding the hand of a woman wearing niqab. In bold white writing below the image were the words “EUROPE IN 2020”.

True Brit never said anything directly to me to begin with. I had seen social media profiles like this one, and much worse, for years. Like those accounts, True Brit had few followers – 65 in total. Their activity on Twitter predominantly consisted of retweets from rightwing news sites such as Breitbart and Fox News. They frequently posted videos of online celebrities who were popular on anti-Muslim forums and Facebook groups, including Milo Yiannopoulos, a rightwing “provocateur” who has referred to Islam as “the real rape culture”, and Paul Joseph Watson, a UK-based YouTuber and editor of the conspiracy-theory website, who produces weekly videos about the “dangers of Islam” in the west, with titles such as The Truth About Islamophobia and Dear Gays: The Left Betrayed You For Islam. True Brit was also a fan of the British rightwing commentator Katie Hopkins, who in 2015 likened Syrian refugees to cockroaches, and who until recently produced anti-Islam videos for Canadian far-right outlet The Rebel Media.

Related: The dark history of Donald Trump's rightwing revolt | Timothy Shenk

Related: Why we are addicted to conspiracy theories

Related: One man’s (very polite) fight against media Islamophobia

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Ilhan Omar breaks Ramadan fast with Democrats in historic first for Congress

21 May, 2019 - 19:09

The breaking of the fast was the first to be organized by three Muslim members of Congress and be attended by party leadership

US congresswoman Ilhan Omar had just won her primary in Minnesota last year, putting her on track to make history, when she found herself in a meeting with Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi, then the House minority leader, pointed out that Omar had a smooth path to victory in the reliably Democratic district. She then asked Omar to name the one thing that worried her, to which the Somali refugee turned politician responded: her headscarf.

Omar recounted her exchange with Pelosi at the first ever congressional Iftar on Monday before roughly 100 Muslim Americans who had gathered for the event – a moment of history for Congress.

Omar was joined by the two other Muslim members of Congress – representatives Rashida Tlaib and André Carson – who all shared some of the challenges they faced on the basis of their identity as part of an institution still struggling with diversity.

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Five more years of Narendra Modi will take India to a dark place | Kapil Komireddi

21 May, 2019 - 05:00

If the Indian prime minister is returned to office, his sectarian politics will make bigotry the defining ideal of the republic

Indian elections are a marvel to behold. The rules stipulate that no citizen should have to travel more than 2km to vote. So the state goes to the voters. Carrying oxygen tanks, election officials scaled the Himalayas to erect a voting booth in a village in Ladakh, 4,500 metres above sea level. In western India, a polling station was set up for the lone human inhabitant of a wildlife sanctuary. In eastern India, officials trekked for an entire day to reach the sole registered voter, an elderly woman, in a remote village. By the time voting closed on Sunday, some 600 million people had cast their ballots, 10 million of them for the first time.

The refrain from Hindu voters has been identical: Modi has failed us, yes, but he's at least put Muslims in their place

Related: India is voting: who is going to win the world's biggest election? – podcast

Related: Have India’s women seized their chance to vote for a safer, more equal country? | Mari Marcel Thekaekara

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Austria approves headscarf ban in primary schools

16 May, 2019 - 01:24

Law refers to ‘ideologically or religiously influenced clothing’ but Sikh and Jewish headwear not affected

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

The text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

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

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Yes, Islamophobia is a type of racism. Here’s why | Wes Streeting

15 May, 2019 - 16:22
Contrary to myth, the definition I helped devise isn’t a threat to free speech. Theresa May’s government must adopt it

On 15 March, a gunman walked into the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and opened fire. During the course of his killing spree there, and at the Linwood Islamic Centre, 51 people were slaughtered in their place of worship for no other reason than their killer had decided that their faith meant that they deserved to die.

Hatred against Muslims does not begin with the sound of gunfire breaking through the peaceful calm of a place of prayer. It begins with simple prejudice in our schools, our workplaces and our communities. More than 20 years since the Runnymede Trust published its seminal report, Islamophobia: a challenge for us all, it is on the rise.

Related: Government criticised for rejecting definition of Islamophobia

Related: Racism in political parties reflects pervasive prejudice in Brexit Britain | Rachel Shabi

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Film based on Christchurch mosque shooting in the works

15 May, 2019 - 13:09

Hello, Brother – named after a victim’s last words – was announced at Cannes film festival by Egyptian director Moez Masoud

A film about the Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people died, is to be directed by Egyptian film-maker and academic Moez Masoud.

According to Variety the film’s title will be Hello, Brother, the words spoken by 71-year-old victim Hati Mohammed Daoud Nabi, who opened the door to the gunman of Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died. The central characters are “a family facing death and destruction in Afghanistan who escape with their lives”.

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Fasts and late-night protein shakes: how Muslim athletes compete during Ramadan

15 May, 2019 - 09:18

The holy month began at the start of May this year. While some athletes find blending exercise and fasting tough, others say it helps them focus

For the better part of eight seasons, Hamza Abdullah played defensive back in the NFL. In each one of those seasons, thanks to the vagaries of the lunar calendar (which is roughly 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar year), the Muslim holy month of Ramadan fell either during the season or during training camp. Abdullah is a devout Muslim, which means he gives up both food and water during the sunlight hours of Ramadan. This was not an easy thing for a professional athlete to deal with, particularly during the sweaty grind of August pre-season training or the concentrated intensity of a three-hour game.

But in a way, this personal deprivation also became an opportunity for both Hamza and his brother Husain, who played defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. Ramadan provided an opening for the Abdullahs to share their knowledge of a religion that is often misunderstood in America. And it’s also how Hamza Abdullah inadvertently convinced one of his teammates to stop eating bacon.

Related: Football while fasting: life in the Ramadan Midnight League | Nick Miller

Related: Ramadan: ‘It will be a test but the peace you get is beautiful’

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Louis Farrakhan denies antisemitism – then refers to 'Satanic Jews'

11 May, 2019 - 13:52
  • Nation of Islam leader speaks in Chicago after Facebook ban
  • Christian and Jewish leaders in city condemn invitation

In a speech denying allegations of antisemitism, misogyny and homophobia after Facebook banned him from the social media platform, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan referred to “Satanic Jews”.

Related: Facebook bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and other far-right figures

Related: Netflix won't stream Louis Farrakhan film after 'internal miscommunication'

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Gun fired outside east London mosque during Ramadan prayers

10 May, 2019 - 03:09

Police say shot came from blank-firing handgun and have ruled out terrorism after incident at Ilford mosque

The Metropolitan police have launched an investigation after a shot was fired outside a London mosque during prayers for Ramadan.

Police said there were no injuries, and they believe the shot came from a blank-firing handgun, and significantly, they were not treating it as a terrorist incident.

The single shot was fired outside a mosque in Ilford in east London at 10.45pm.

The man with the weapon entered the mosque on the High Road in Seven Kings, but was “ushered out” by those inside, according to police. A shot was then heard.

The incident comes after 51 people were killed in the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand and nearly two years after a terrorist attacked worshippers close to the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, killing one person.

Related: Finsbury Park mosque worshippers shocked by New Zealand terror attack

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Tommy Robinson's offer of MEP salary rejected by charities

10 May, 2019 - 00:01

Women’s groups say pledge to donate hypothetical earnings to victims of grooming is insulting

Tommy Robinson’s pledge to donate his hypothetical European parliament salary to child victims of sexual grooming has been criticised as “an insult to survivors of abuse” by women’s groups who said he was “no ally for the children he claims to stand up for”.

More than 40 women and charities including the End Violence Against Women and Girls Coalition declared in a letter to voters and community leaders in the north-west that they would not accept money from the English Defence League founder, criticising Robinson for “factually incorrect messages about grooming”.

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