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Islamic extremism a 'deadly' problem for charities, William Shawcross says

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 April, 2014 - 06:36

Chairman of Charity Commission says it will come down hard on charities found funnelling cash to extremist groups

Islamist extremism is the "most deadly" problem charities face, the chairman of the sector's watchdog has said.

William Shawcross, who took on the role at the Charity Commission in October 2012, said it was "ludicrous" that people with convictions for terrorism or money laundering were not automatically disqualified from setting up charities or becoming trustees.

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Reuters: Besieged Muslims face murder, starvation in C.African Republic

Loon Watch - 19 April, 2014 - 20:36

An internally displaced Muslim boy stands in front of his mother who is carrying another child in Boda Besieged Muslims face murder, starvation in C.African Republic

By Emmanuel Braun (Reuters)

BODA Central African Republic (Reuters) – In normal times, the rickety wooden bridges at each end of the red-dirt main street in Boda were gateways to shops and a bustling market in the diamond-mining town in Central African Republic.

Today, they mark the fine line between life and death for hundreds of Muslims living under siege, encircled by Christian ‘anti-balaka’ militia fighters bent on chasing out the country’s Islamic population.

“We live in a prison,” said Adou Kone, a tailor. “Everything is blocked, nothing comes in. It’s very expensive to buy food … Our life is at a critical stage.”

Boda illustrates the chaos that has gripped Central African Republic since late 2012 when a battle for political power degenerated into clashes between Muslims and Christians that have forced about 1 million people from their homes.

If they stray beyond either bridge, Muslims in Boda say they would be killed, like thousands of other victims of tit-for-tat violence that continues despite the deployment of French and African peacekeepers.

French flags hang from some shacks and a handful of French armoured vehicles sporadically patrol the town, 115 km (70 miles) west of the capital Bangui. In the Muslim neighbourhood, a banner praises French troops – recognition that their plight would have been far worse without the deployment.

The crisis abruptly ended a proud history of Muslims living in harmony alongside the majority Christian population and has prompted warnings of genocide in the former French colony.

“We can wait for 10 years for them to leave – and if they don’t leave, we will still be there, holding our positions,” said Captain Dopani Firmin, the ‘anti-balaka’ chief in Boda, wearing a red Paris St Germain football shirt.

“We cannot accept to live together with Muslims, long-term,” Firmin said. “It’s our right to kill Muslims.”

ETHNIC-RELIGIOUS CLEANSING

In a sign of the mounting sectarian violence, fighters from the Muslim Seleka rebels shot dead the priest of the northern town of Paoua, a church official in Bangui said on Friday. The attack came two days after Seleka gunmen briefly kidnapped the bishop of the nearby town of Bossangoa.

Virtually all Muslims have fled Bangui since Seleka, who seized power in March 2013, were forced to step aside in January. The United Nations has since reported a “cleansing” of Muslims from the country’s west. [ID:nL1N0M31ZW]

The United Nations Security Council this month authorised a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission to be deployed in September, recognition that 6,000 peacekeepers from the African peacekeeping force (MISCA) and France’s 2,000-strong Sangaris force had failed to stamp their authority on the country.

But the operation will take time to roll out and assaults on Muslims in Boda and elsewhere are taking a heavy toll.

“While we await the deployment on Sept. 15, it is essential that we reinforce MISCA and Sangaris, whose numbers are insufficient to stabilise this country,” Abdou Dieng, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR, told a news conference.

The United Nations says over half the population of 4.5 million people needs humanitarian aid but donors have provided less than 30 percent of the $550 million needed for emergency relief. Dieng said attacks on aid workers outside Bangui had also complicated the delivery of aid, amid fears the impending rainy season would worsen disease and malnutrition.

 

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France: Mosque Vandalism Follows Far-Right Election Victory

Loon Watch - 19 April, 2014 - 19:43

France Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

(The Local)

A mosque in the Paris suburbs said on Friday it had filed a complaint with police after slices of pork paté and a threatening letter were stuffed into its mailbox.

Authorities at the mosque in Mantes-la-Ville, a town of 19,000 in the western suburbs of Paris, said the incidents reflected a “worrying climate” after the town last month elected a mayor from the far-right National Front.

The head of the association that runs the mosque, Abdelaziz El Jaouhari, said about a dozen mouldy slices of pork paté were discovered in the mailbox on Wednesday.

The next day, an anonymous letter arrived calling Muslims “cockroaches” and wishing “good luck” to the new mayor “because he has a lot of work to do for a good cleansing, in particular of the Muslim race”.

“There is no question this was a racist and provocative act. It is the first time in the 12 years of the mosque’s existence that it has been the target of this kind of racist attack,” the association said in a statement.

It said it had filed a criminal complaint for “provoking racial hatred or religious discrimination” with police.

The association said the incidents were “especially worrying” given the “worsening social and political context” in the town after the election of FN candidate Cyril Nauth in last month’s municipal elections.

Nauth won the town with 30 percent of the vote, becoming the only elected mayor from the FN in the Ile-de-France region that encompasses the French capital and its suburbs.

Allen West: ‘Radical’ Muslims waging ‘jihad’ in U.S. — by voting and obeying election laws

Loon Watch - 19 April, 2014 - 19:01

fox_ff_jihad_voting_140417c

One wonders: how does West propose stopping Muslims from their right to vote? (h/t: RazaInc.)

Allen West: ‘Radical’ Muslims waging ‘jihad’ in U.S. — by voting and obeying election laws

By David Edwards (The Raw Story)

Former Republican Congressman Allen West (R-FL), who is currently employed as a Fox News contributor, on Thursday warned that Muslims were organizing to “destroy” the United States by exercising their legal right to vote.

Fox News host Steve Doocy began a Fox & Friends segment with West by announcing that “radical Islamists are busy building a voting bloc to sneak the political agenda into the American system… Their goal: to wage jihad from within.”

West explained that a group of Muslim Americas had written a document in 1991, “and we come to find out it’s the blueprint, the campaign strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States of America.”

The former congressman pointed to groups like Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Society of Northern America as his prime suspects.

“They’re forming some type of political party, a voting bloc as they call it,” West said.

“In this country!” Doocy emphasized.

“That’s right! To institutionalize policies that favor them,” West agreed, adding that they wanted to “destroy America from within using a civilizational jihad, and that’s exactly what you see happening.”

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Hunt opposes segregation (when it’s Muslims doing it)

Indigo Jo Blogs - 19 April, 2014 - 08:43

Front page of the Birmingham Mail, showing the headline "Jihadist plot to take over city schools"BBC News - Hunt to warn against schools extremism in Birmingham

At a time when a “secret” report about a Muslim plot to take over schools in Birmingham and run them according to Islamic principles is looking increasingly like a hoax, Tristram Hunt, Labour shadow education secretary, shows up in Birmingham to “warn against religious extremism in schools” at the NASUWT (National Union of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers) conference:

Mr Hunt, addressing the teachers’ union conference in Birmingham, will say that he does not want a French-style separation of religion from schools.

But he will respond to what he describes as “allegations of infiltration, intimidation and the pursuit of a divisive religious extremism through systems of school governorship”.

Mr Hunt is expected to say: “We need to be clear about the duties which a state-funded school is expected to fulfil.

“We cannot have narrow, religious motives - which seek to divide and isolate - dictating state schooling.

“We cannot have head teachers forced out; teachers undermined; curricula re-written; and cultural or gender-based segregation.”

Has he not forgotten that a large proportion of British state schools are single-sex, and the majority of élite private schools, including his own school, University College School in Hampstead? Has he not forgotten that a large proportion of white, middle-class families prefer single-sex schools for their daughters, as they find that girls get less teacher-time as teachers tailor their lessons to keep the attention of boys, or rather certain groups of them, and that girls are subject to sexual harassment on school grounds? Has he not forgotten that a large proportion are run by either the Church of England or the Catholic church, and these schools have the right to discriminate in favour of children of church-going parents and to teach their religious doctrines as fact?

Does Hunt plan to force segregated schools in white-majority, affluent areas to integrate, or is this only a bad thing when it’s Muslims doing it? Shame on him and his party for using unproven and probably false conspiracy accusations as fodder for a political speech, and shame on NASUWT for allowing this. Perhaps they should change the “Women” part in their name to “White” to show they are open to race-baiting and communal trouble-making.

Image: Islamophobia Watch.

Anti-Muslim suspicion in Britain has a whiff of McCarthyism about it

Loon Watch - 19 April, 2014 - 00:29

Birmingham Central Mosque Anti-Muslim suspicion in Britain has a whiff of McCarthyism about it

By  (The Guardian)

Allegations that 25 schools in Birmingham are at risk of an “Islamic takeover plot” reached new levels of hysteria recently. An announcement was made that a counter-terrorism expert has been drafted in to conduct yet another investigation. The minister responsible, Michael Gove, has managed at a stroke to increase fear and suspicion between Muslim and non-Muslim in the city. The fact that the chief constable of West Midlands police, Chris Sims, has denounced the decision as “desperately unfortunate”, itself an extraordinary move, gives an indication of the scale of the concern.

So what was the evidence that provoked such a serious intervention and the accompanying media frenzy? A four-page document in which “plotters” outlined their dastardly plans to oust a headteacher for not being “open to our suggestions of adhering to strict Muslim guidelines”.

It made reference to a headteacher called Noshaba Hussain, whom the alleged plotters claim to have ousted from Springfield school only for her to be reinstated by the governors, and so “we have another plan in place to get her out”. But the school has confirmed that Hussain left the school 20 years ago. Other details point to the document’s inauthenticity and Sims – the most senior police officer in the region – has told the Guardian that it could be a hoax.

Governors at the schools concerned have strongly rejected the allegations. David Hughes, a governor at Park View school for 15 years, wrote an open letter to Michael Gove and condemned “the witch-hunt against the most successful school of its characteristics in Birmingham … under the pretext of concerns about extremism and threats to the education of our pupils”. Just last year Park View School hit the headlines for achieving an “outstanding” ranking from Ofsted despite a few years earlier being one of the worst performing schools.

Muslim governors challenging the narrative meet with accusations of denial and complicity. Many have worked hard for over a decade in partnership with teachers to turn schools around. Muslims feel under siege, while being accused of besieging an unwitting and overly tolerant majority who in turn will be fearful and mistrustful.

The real scandal is how scepticism over this “dodgy dossier” seems to have been thrown to the wind. What is more heartening is that local people are coming forward to stand in unity. The Rev Oliver Cross, who also happens to be vice-chair of governors at Regents Park school, one of the schools named as among those “infiltrated”, has categorically refuted the allegations and called the appointment of Peter Clarke a “disaster for community cohesion”. He says Birmingham Muslims are now “used to accusations of ‘Islamism’ or ‘extremism’ being hurled at them, not because such things exist, but for the simple crime of being Muslims”.

Different opinions may well exist among Muslims around schooling: the conservative-liberal spectrum of opinion is not unique to us. Since when do concerns by religiously conservative parents about teaching on homosexuality, girls and boys mixing, and the reciting of prayers, require anti-terrorist experts to get involved?

This latest investigation comes after the government announced that British affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood will be investigated, and the Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets was described in police reports as an “extremist”. When those who make criticisms of foreign policy get accused of creating the mood music for terrorism, there is understandable frustration and despair. Increasingly Muslims feel they just can’t win. On the one hand we get told we are not integrating enough and we should engage more in civic society. On the other, when we do, we get accused of having sinister agendas. There is more than a whiff of McCarthyism in the air. Chris Sims says he is concerned about the impact this will have on community cohesion. He is right to be.

Shadow education secretary warns against religious extremism in schools

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 April, 2014 - 00:14
Tristram Hunt's remarks to NASUWT conference follow claims of plot to take over schools and run them on strict Islamic principles

Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, will warn on Saturday that "the pursuit of a divisive religious extremism" as shown in an alleged conspiracy to take over schools in Birmingham threatens to undermine Britain's modern multicultural society.

Hunt's remarks to the annual conference of the NASUWT teaching union in Birmingham follow the uncovering of a dossier named Operation Trojan Horse, claiming to reveal a plot to overthrow teachers and governors insecular state schools in the city and run them on strict Islamic principles.

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Police Nab Man Who Allegedly Threatened To Kill Muslim Teen

Loon Watch - 18 April, 2014 - 18:58

muslim-hate-crime Police nab man who allegedly threatened to kill Muslim teen

Police have arrested the man who allegedly called a 15-year-old Muslim girl “a terrorist” and threatened to kill her on an MTA bus going through Kew Gardens Hills, authorities said.

Perry Germano, 50, allegedly blew a fuse when the teen’s bag brushed against him on board the crowded Q88 bus at about 9 a.m. April 7, cops said.

“F–k you! F–k your people! You Muslim! You’re a terrorist!” Germano allegedly screamed at the girlwhen the bus was near Kissena Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, sources said.

The teen, who was dressed in traditional Muslim garb, tried to calm Germano by blaming the bumpy ride, but he only grew more aggressive, sources said.

Germano allegedly shoved and spit on the girl before saying, “I’m not scared to hit you with my fist. I will kill you,” according to sources.

He darted off the bus when it was stopped on Kissena Boulevard, authorities said.

Germano was charged with attempted assault, aggravated harassment, and menacing, police said.

He has over 40 prior arrests dating back to the 1980s, including busts for petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

Pakistani cleric names Islamabad school library after Osama bin Laden

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 April, 2014 - 15:52
Maulana Abdul Aziz, controversial and hardline cleric, wanted to pay tribute to al-Qaida leader, 'the martyr'

A Pakistani cleric who runs an Islamic seminary for girls in the capital of Islamabad has named the school's newly built library in honour of Osama bin Laden, his spokesman and a school administrator have said .

The tribute is an unusual move, though there have been cases in recent years of Pakistanis naming their sons or even their stores and places of business after the terror network's late leader.

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Happy British Muslims: the video that made me dance for joy

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 April, 2014 - 14:56
A video of British Muslims bopping to Pharrell Williams' song Happy has already delighted hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers. Here's why I joined in

From Jerusalem to Jamaica, feelgood video homages to Happy by Pharrell Williams have spread like a fit of giggles on social media and now British Muslims have their own version.

The Happy British Muslims video was put together by a group of young British Muslims called the Honesty Policy, with a very simple aim: to spread positivity and a bit of empowerment along the way.

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Friday Links | April 18, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 18 April, 2014 - 07:00
The predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey has the highest number of female mayors after the March 30 elections, partly because of a quota for women in the popular pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). One of the new female mayors in this region is former child bride Berivan Kilic. The controversial draft law in [Read More...]

Police find no evidence of criminality by Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

Loon Watch - 17 April, 2014 - 22:51

Lutfur-Rahman-and-John-Ware Police find no evidence of criminality by Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

A police investigation into allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement by the mayor of a London council has found “no credible evidence of criminality”.

Lutfur Rahman, elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, east London, was accused by the BBC’s Panorama of more than doubling public funding to Bangladeshi and Somali groups from £1.5m to £3.6m in the face of recommendations from council officers. He denied the allegations, saying they had been motivated by racism and Islamophobia.

The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, sent inspectors into the borough to investigate Rahman’s activities, but Metropolitan police officers who reviewed the allegations found no evidence of fraud or other offences.

He will face no further action from police “at this stage”, but the force said it was appropriate for outside auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to continue their financial review of the council.

A Scotland Yard statement said: “On Friday 4 April the Metropolitan Police Service received three files of material from the Department for Communities and Local Government relating to the London borough of Tower Hamlets. These comprised material referred to the DCLG by a member of the public and by the BBC Panorama programme.

“The files have been reviewed by a team of officers over the past six days. In addition, officers have liaised with PricewaterhouseCoopers, who are conducting a full and wide-ranging audit of financial matters at the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

“There is no credible evidence of criminality within the files to provide reasonable grounds to suspect that fraud or any other offence has been committed at this stage. Therefore the MPS will not be investigating at this point in time and believe that it is appropriate for the material to be reviewed further by PwC and DCLG. We will continue to liaise with them should their audit uncover any evidence of criminality.”

PwC has been asked to report back to Pickles by 30 June. Tower Hamlets council, which says it has seen no evidence that its processes have been run inappropriately, welcomed the police statement.

Panorama alleged that Rahman doubled the recommended funding for Bengali-run charities in an attempt to buy influence. Pickles asked inspectors to focus on grant payments, the transfer of property by the authority to third parties, publicity spending decisions and contractual processes since the mayor was elected.

Rahman, who briefly led the council for Labour, fought the borough’s first mayoral contest in 2010 as an independent after being dumped by Labour’s national executive committee. He will seek re-election next month.

Before the Panorama broadcast, Rahman said he had acquired a dossier of internal documents passed on by a researcher who worked on the programme. She took copies of the production files including the script, research notes, translations and details about secret filming from a shared but secure database.

Rahman claimed these revealed “clear racist and Islamophobic overtones targeting the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Tower Hamlets” and that the broadcaster had breached its editorial guidelines. The BBC denied there was any racial, religious or political motivation to the documentary.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We continue to stand by the programme’s findings which uncovered serious concerns about the use of public money, which are still being investigated by the government. Our programme did not say there was evidence of criminality. The allegations relate to potentially unlawful expenditure, not to a criminal matter. For the avoidance of doubt, the Metropolitan Police were not investigating allegations made within the Panorama programme, and any such claims are misleading.”

Guardian, 16 April 2014

Modi cannot escape responsibility for communal violence | @guardianletters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2014 - 21:00

Meghnad Desai (Letters, 15 April) plays down the crimes committed by Narendra Modi and suggests that others, too, are sinners in the realm of communal violence. The Indian electorate, he says, knows all of this and should be allowed to choose without external critical comment. Desai sits as a Labour peer and in the past has not been so restrained, recording his willingness to go to war against human rights violations. Now he seems not to wish to speak out against them.
Gurminder K Bhambra
University of Warwick
John Holmwood
University of Nottingham

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Anti-Muslim suspicion in Britain has a whiff of McCarthyism about it | Salma Yaqoob

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2014 - 14:06
Allegations of an Islamic takeover plot of Birmingham schools are just the latest in a string of slurs against Muslims

Allegations that 25 schools in Birmingham are at risk of an "Islamic takeover plot" reached new levels of hysteria recently. An announcement was made that a counter-terrorism expert has been drafted in to conduct yet another investigation. The minister responsible, Michael Gove, has managed at a stroke to increase fear and suspicion between Muslim and non-Muslim in the city. The fact that the chief constable of West Midlands police, Chris Sims, has denounced the decision as "desperately unfortunate", itself an extraordinary move, gives an indication of the scale of the concern.

So what was the evidence that provoked such a serious intervention and the accompanying media frenzy? A four-page document in which "plotters" outlined their dastardly plans to oust a headteacher for not being "open to our suggestions of adhering to strict Muslim guidelines".

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Muslim students divided on sharia-compliant loans

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2014 - 09:42
The government is consulting on student loans that will not involve paying interest but some young Muslims don't see the point

Muslim students are divided about government moves to introduce student loans that comply with sharia law. While some have welcomed university minister David Willetts' recent announcement of an open consultation on the issue, others feel indifferent or oppose it altogether.

Muslim groups have been pressing hard for reform because the rise in tuition fees in 2012 brought with it the expectation that students would take out loans and pay them back, with interest, once they had well-paid jobs.

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Facebook removes page of preacher using social media to back jihadists

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2014 - 08:07
Muslim cleric Musa Cerantonio, the third most liked person by western jihadists in Syria, called for assassination of US politicians

A radical Australian preacher revealed to be using social media to encourage acts of terrorism has had his Facebook page taken down following a Guardian investigation.

The California company confirmed it took action to remove the page following revelations that Musa Cerantonio, an Islamic preacher from west Melbourne, was urging some 12,000 subscribers to "assassinate" US politicians.

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Book Review: I Am the Beggar of the World

Muslimah Media Watch - 17 April, 2014 - 07:00
Last month, I looked at Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy’s work profiling Afghan women poets particular form of poetry, the landay. Their work, as they presented it in an article on Slate, came across as nuanced and reflective (my own words) of Afghan women’s experiences. I was eager to review their book, I Am the [Read More...]

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