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As Gaza Lies in Ruins, The NY Times Blames the Victims

Israel’s attacks on Gaza ended a year ago, but the strip remains an expanse of rubble and devastation. Who’s to blame for this outrage? The New York Times has an answer: everyone but Israel.

Jodi Rudoren comes up with this response in a story that aims to whitewash Israel’s brutal treatment of Gaza by blaming the Palestinian victims along with the international community for the lack of rebuilding. It is all summed up in the story’s subhead, “Political Infighting and Lack of Funds Stymie a Reconstruction Mechanism.”

Her article takes pains to present the process as a collaborative project between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations, and she is hazy about Israel’s role, describing it as nothing more than “involvement in approving projects and participants.”

Rudoren furthers her efforts in a single paragraph that absolves Israel completely: “[The Palestinian minister of housing], other Palestinian leaders and United Nations representatives all said that Israel had done its part in reasonable time and allowed cement into Gaza. Empty coffers, they said, are the primary problem.”

Times readers, however, never learn the direct quotes or the names of the “leaders” and “representatives” that would help substantiate this claim, nor does Rudoren explain what “Israel’s part” actually refers to here.

In fact, Israel controls everything that goes into Gaza, from people to foodstuffs to building material, and the agreed-on process for rebuilding the strip—the “reconstruction mechanism” referred to in the subhead—is built solely on Israeli demands. (Israel also blocks Gaza traffic by sea and has the full cooperation of the Egyptian government on that border as well.)

Although the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority have roles in the process, Israel determines who gets building materials, what they get and in what amounts. As Harvard-based Gaza expert Sara Roy notes, the two major documents outlining the reconstruction process “read like security plans, carefully laying out Israeli concerns and the ways in which the United Nations will accommodate them.”

Roy adds, “Israel will have to approve all projects and their locations and will be able to veto any part of the process on security grounds.” Moreover, she writes, “No mechanism for accountability or transparency will apply to Israel.”

Without doubt, Palestinian bureaucracy, donor fears of yet another attack on Gaza and other factors come into play in reconstruction efforts, but Rudoren ignores the major element, which is the Israeli blockade.

Her story, in fact, never refers to the eight-year blockade of Gaza and makes only vague mention of Israeli “control” of the enclave. Readers are left without any relevant context.

Rudoren’s article also omits other details that would place Israel’s role in a different light: the fact that by July of this year it had allowed the passage less than 1 percent of the construction materials needed to adequately house Gaza residents or that as of May, a total of 20 schools (kindergarten to college level) completely destroyed by Israel had yet to be repaired.

Readers never learn, for instance, that aid agencies in Gaza were forced to rely on temporary building materials as the Israeli-mandated process kept concrete, cement and steel supplies to a trickle. They also never learn the sequel to this chapter: that Israel stepped in to squelch the effort just as it was gaining momentum.

The project was run by Catholic Relief Services, which began using lumber to build temporary homes for the displaced residents this year, and media reports in February and March stated that 70 had been built and 40 families had moved into the new houses. CRS had plans to construct more than 100 additional wooden homes, but in April the program came to an end when Israel suddenly banned all lumber for housing.

Here we can see how Israel actually operates in the opaque rebuilding process mentioned in Rudoren’s piece. Times readers, however, never learn of this sad narrative nor of many others that would reveal how Israeli actions are destroying the economy and depressing the living conditions in Gaza.

And yet, the Times story would have us believe that Israel has “done its part” in the reconstruction of Gaza, ignoring the obvious: that Israel alone has complete control of its borders with the strip, and if Israel so willed, Gaza residents would have moved out of the rubble long ago.

Barbara Erickson


Filed under: Gaza reconstruction Tagged: Gaza, Israel, Media Bias, New York Times, Palestine, Palestinian Authority, United Nations

Sydney siege gunman was not seen at mosques, imam tells inquest

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 August, 2015 - 10:18

Man Haron Monis was also unlikely to have been given the titles of Muslim scholarship he claimed, senior imam tells the inquiry

Related: Sydney siege inquest recap – episode 13

None of the Muslim clerics consulted by a senior Australian imam ever saw Man Haron Monis at their mosques, an inquest has heard.

Related: Sydney siege: prosecutor accused of being unprepared to oppose Monis bail

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Islamic Council of Queensland condemns insulting video of mosques

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 August, 2015 - 09:38

The video tour made by a far-right group has been condemned by the Islamic Council of Queensland, which says local Muslims are being terrorised

The Islamic Council of Queensland has condemned a contemptuous video tour of Brisbane mosques by a far-right group as the latest incident in a “concentrated campaign” of harassment that was “terrorising” Muslims.

Council spokesman Ali Kadri said the video, posted online by the Australian Defence League on Monday, had fanned fears among congregations already uneasy about hate mail and the presence of unknown people in mosque carparks for hours at night.

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Working Ourselves Out of a Job

Muslim Matters - 24 August, 2015 - 07:42

Voices

Muslim Voices Matter

My name is Ruth Nasrullah. I am a convert to Islam, a journalist, a blogger, a New Jersey native living in Houston, Texas. I have a masters degree in journalism and a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction. I was one of the first seven bloggers on MuslimMatters back when it was an itty-bitty blog and it is my honor to return to what is now an international, award-winning web magazine.

From 2013 to 2015 I served as the Communications Coordinator for the Houston office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). While with CAIR I heard from colleagues that our goal should be to “work ourselves out of a job” – in other words, to create a world so just that no one need fight for basic civil and human rights.

Is that possible?

America is a paradox, a nation that has historically allowed injustices yet has also succeeded in correcting them. Ours is a country founded in slavery that now has a black president. Ours is a country where legal segregation was transformed by the Civil Rights Act.

America is also a nation built on a bedrock principle of fairness. When the majority of Americans see issues clearly they make fair judgments and decisions. The key to sustained freedom is to bring a message of truth to the public, loosening them from the grip of bigoted ideologies. It is only through a vapid rhetoric that a presidential contender can be hailed as a leader even after proudly declaring that he has bought influence with a prominent member of the opposing party. But I'm getting ahead of myself by talking about Donald Trump.

As we face increasing anti-Islam sentiment it is our obligation and privilege to share the message that will make a difference, as we are compelled as Muslims to do. Hence Muslim Voices Matter.

This column will insha Allah be a platform to explore issues around politics and government, civil rights and social justice, xenophobia and security.

It will not be a complaint column, nor will you hear my own opinion every other week. I hope to prompt an informed conversation about the state of American justice, especially in spheres where Muslims are impacted. I want to hear the voices of MuslimMatters readers of all religious, national and political backgrounds.

What kind of stories will you read here?

I wrote recently about an incident that's typical of recent protests against planned Islamic centers. The outcry against a Muslim cemetery in a north Texas town demonstrates hallmarks of Islamophobia in action: blind bigotry; propaganda spread by community leaders; repetitive and uninformed anti-Islam rhetoric; and, importantly, the muting of citizens who support Muslims, whose voices are often not as loud as the detractors'.

The phenomenon of businesses – primarily gun shops and ranges – declaring themselves “Muslim-free” is spreading across the country, from Arkansas to New Hampshire. Make no mistake: refusing service based on religion is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. In a time when some of the Act's provisions face erosion, the public must be reminded that “Muslim-free” is illegal and is as unacceptable as the “whites-only” and “no Irish need apply” policies of the past.

There is good news too, which we can celebrate and learn from. For instance, so-called “anti-shariah” bills (now known in many states as “anti-foreign-law bills”) have been successfully protested in several states, including Texas, where I was proud to personally see the grassroots efforts to fight these bills, two of which died in this year's Legislature.

Here are some of the topics I plan to examine going forward:

  • Propaganda: what is it and how is it used against Muslims?
  • Use of planning and zoning regulations to prevent development of Islamic centers and cemeteries
  • What contemporary Muslims can learn from the historical civil rights struggle
  • Election coverage
  • Ways in which Muslims can successfully engage in politics
  • Positive and negative media engagement by Muslims

I look forward to having some robust conversations. Muslim voices do matter. Let's hear them.

Queensland teenager Oliver Bridgeman denies joining al-Qaida affiliate in Syria

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 August, 2015 - 00:17

The UK-born 18-year-old says he is working for aid groups inside refugee camps in Syria and hopes to return to Australia ‘when I feel like my job’s done here’

Queensland teenager Oliver Bridgeman has denied any links to an al-Qaida affiliated militia in Syria, claiming he crossed into the war-ravaged country to “do what I can to help people”.

Speaking to Guardian Australia from an undisclosed location in Syria, the 18-year-old, who left Toowoomba in March, said he hoped to return to Australia one day, maintaining “I haven’t done anything wrong”.

Related: Queensland teenager who travelled to Syria influenced by ‘the wrong people’

When I feel like my job’s done here, I want to return home. Australia’s my country

Related: How US aid worker Kayla Mueller was taken hostage by Isis - and how attempts to save her failed

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Review: The World’s Worst Place to be Disabled

Indigo Jo Blogs - 23 August, 2015 - 10:00

The World’s Worst Place… is a documentary featuring Sophie Morgan, a British model and TV presenter who has been a wheelchair user since being paralysed in a car accident twelve years ago, travelling to Ghana to investigate the situation facing disabled people there. She had been told by Shantha Rau Barriga, director of disability rights at Human Rights Watch, that Ghana was the world’s worst place to be disabled and that she would have to see it herself to believe it. So off she went, with her brother, to see various examples of poverty and discrimination facing disabled people, including children, around the country. I’m late reviewing this, so it’s only available for the next week here; the presenter has written a piece for the Huffington Post about the investigation.

Sophie Morgan, a young white woman in a wheelchair, facing Adamson, a young black man in a wheelchair with one of his legs bent over the other.She starts off interviewing Adamson, a homeless wheelchair user in the capital, Accra, who sleeps in a market (where he cannot remain during the day) and begs from motorists on a busy highway during the day, making not enough money to pay for a lift back home, meaning he has to wheel himself. He had been begging for ten years, originally hoping to go back to school, and said nobody had come to ask how they were doing or appeared to care. Sophie then takes him to where the city’s minibuses pick up passengers, but none of them would even consider taking her or Adamson despite their being able to dismantle their wheelchairs (Adamson appears to have a modern, lightweight chair; others have quite sophisticated wheelchairs but others use skateboards or crawl on their hands; this will have caught the eye of many disabled people watching, and in a lot of developing countries, poor people who need wheelchairs have to make do with wheelbarrows, or nothing). Sophie asks Adamson why he remains begging in Accra, and he tells her that things are far worse in the countryside where he comes from. So, off she and her brother go to investigate.

In the countryside, she finds one or two places where disabled people are being rehabilitated and taught life and work skills, mostly run by private philanthropy or foreign religious organisations, but there are a huge number of ‘prayer camps’ around the country which claim to be able to heal people’s impairments through prayer and by casting out demons. At one of the charity-run centres, an American nun told her that people often take their disabled relatives to her centre last because they go to a prayer camp or traditional healer first, and in a case she saw, this delay meant that a child needed an operation that could have been avoided by earlier medical treatment. She met one young man named Francis who had been kept in a dark room for years because he had some kind of mobility impairment; he initially claimed that his friends sometimes came to visit, but when someone who had been standing at the door telling him what to say was found out and left, he revealed that he only had his mother for company. Since the programme was made, Francis has died, and questions should be asked as to why, as he did not appear to be emaciated or ill.

An African woman wearing a blue, Muslim-style headscarf and a long pink and turcquoise dress, with chains around her ankleShe attempted to visit one prayer camp, a vast and apparently well-run establishment, but her guides told her that the management had refused to allow her to meet any ‘patients’, so she had to leave. She then went to a more downmarket camp run by a supposedly Muslim female mystic (oddly named Madam Irene) where disabled people were chained by their legs to posts or trees. One man she met had been tricked into coming there by his family some weeks ago and had only been allowed to wash twice, but towards the end of that segment an old lady was shown being chained to a tree without any complaint. The ‘Muslim’ mystic’s employees told Sophie that if parents brought her a child who “doesn’t look human”, i.e. have deformities, she would give them some potion or other and leave the child until he or she “goes back to the spirits”, i.e. dies. Accompanied by a Mr Burima, who works to protect disabled children in Ghana, she visits a bridge over a river where disabled children are given poisoned Schnapps by a “fetish priest” and then dumped in a river. He says that rituals like these are performed every Tuesday and Friday, and the place where this happens is next to a busy road; a Schnapps container has been discarded in the bushes.

An African man wearing a tall hat, a striped grey tunic with red trousers, with his right arm resting on a stone surface next to himShe then visits a “fetish priest” on the pretext of a consultation so he might cure her of her disability. She brings him two bottles of Schnapps and about £40 as a gift, and he sprinkles some seeds on a stone surface so as to “consult the gods” about her disability. He tells her that she was born someone great, but when she tried to be great her efforts came to nothing; that when she was a child her family tried to use witchcraft on her but her “spirit is great” so they could not do this. To heal her would be no problem at all, he said. She then told him that she was in fact injured in a car crash and asked him about the children that parents brought to him. He revealed that he disposed of them in much the same way as described by Mr Burima. After this, she says to the camera that this man murders children and that she does not want to talk to “this lunatic” anymore.

Mr Dennis of the National Council for People with Disabilities, a middle-aged African man wearing a pastel yellow and blue shirtAfter visiting another rehab centre in the countryside, she comes back to Accra and visits a government building (the one place she has been in which has ramps at the entrance) hoping to meet the minister for health, but instead she gets to meet a Mr Dennis, the secretary of the National Council for People with Disabilities, who has no obvious impairment of his own. She asks him what the government is doing, and he tells her that a large part of their work is “awareness raising”, including talking to disabled people, some of whom have accepted the treatment society throws at them, which she criticises for blaming disabled people for others’ neglect. He calls the country’s Disabilities Act a “very nice document”, but says that a lot of the problems are down to its provisions “not being respected”. She then tells him that people are chained up in some prayer camps, and Mr Dennis tells her that they had done nothing about this. As for the “fetish priests” and why they get away with murdering disabled children, he excuses this by saying they could only be prosecuted when there was “clear evidence”, which there often is not. Clearly it seems that the government is not doing much to make sure that fine words are translated into action and to stop the neglect and murders. One suspects that these beliefs are not confined to rural villages but that some people in power might believe them (or at least, are reliant on such people’s votes), but this wasn’t put to him.

A lot was missing from this documentary. She did not look at the sitation for disabled people in Accra itself other than by talking to one homeless man; there are surely disabled people trying to work or attend school, who surely must face some challenges: not only lack of public transport, but lack of accessible buildings, including clinics and perhaps even hospitals, discrimination, old-fashioned education practices such as boarding schools, and so on, and that’s only for the middle classes. In the countryside, she looked at extreme examples of neglect and abuse, but not what everyday life for disabled adults: can they get educated, work, marry? And her manner, and the style of this documentary, grated on my nerves the same way as Stacey Dooley’s documentaries do. There is too much focus on her reactions to what she sees; good documentaries let the facts do the talking.

A light-skinned African man with scars on his face with a blue and white striped T-shirt with his left hand missing and the stump covered in bandages, in a hospital in TanzaniaBut as for the question raised by the programme’s title, surely the answer is no. Ghana cannot be the worst place to be disabled because it is a prosperous country with a fairly free press where there is no war going on. That she was able to take a camera round and interview people without government agents harassing them speaks volumes. That is not the case in many other parts of Africa, and the beliefs that justify the killing of disabled children are not confined to Ghana: the belief that children are capable of witchcraft, may be possessed by demons, or similar, is widespread. In Tanzania, for example, nearly 80 albinos have been killed since 2000 because witch-doctors believe their body parts have medicinal properties (there are numerous pictures available of living albinos with missing limbs, for the same reason); earlier this year more than 200 of these witch-doctors were arrested. In other parts of West Africa, including neighbouring countries to Ghana, there have been civil wars in the past few years. This surely makes life more dangerous for all disabled people, whatever their parents’ beliefs.

But let’s not pretend we need to send a camera crew around a third-world country to find horrific examples of abuse of disabled people. If you’re experiencing long-term severe neglect, is it worse to be kept in a room at home where family can easily see you and bring you the same food they eat, or to be confined to a locked, padded room in a hospital 50 miles from home for seven years? No, we don’t have fetish priests dumping children in rivers, and this may be a fairly good place to be a middle-class person with an uncomplicated disability, but our care of people with complex disabilities, with mental health problems and learning disabilities (particularly if combined), while it may be more technologically advanced, is still often abysmal and they still die unnecessarily young, and unlike Ghana, we do not have the excuse of poverty.

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Jon Ritzheimer’s Militia Pals Moonlighted As Drug, Cash ‘Rip crew’

Loon Watch - 23 August, 2015 - 04:40

Arizona Special Operations Group

“Deatherage and Frazier are members of a militia called Arizona Special Operations Group, The ASOG also provided security for Jon Ritzheimer.”

By Morgan Loew, PHOENIX (CBS5) –

Three members of a border militia group are behind bars, charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine. They were caught in an FBI sting operation, involving an undercover agent, a plot to steal drugs and money from cartel smugglers, an offer of murder for hire and a high speed chase through the streets of Phoenix.

The FBI arrested Parris Frazier, Robert Deatherage and Erik Foster on July 22, following a seven-month investigation.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Customs and Border Protection agents first made contact with Frazier during a traffic stop in January. The complaint states that the agents mentioned that they had recently lost contact with an informal source, who was giving them details about illegal activity. Frazier reportedly stated that he would like to make contact with that informant in order to help the Border Patrol.

Two weeks later, an undercover FBI agent made contact with Frazier, claiming to be the Border Patrol’s source.

The complaint states:

“Frazier said he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash), but they preferred the cash loads going south. Frazier told the UCE that if he provided decent intel on stuff going south (bulk cash), Frazier would give the UCE a percentage of whatever is taken.”

The complaint states that over the course of the next six months, the undercover agent made contact with Frazier several more times, and set up fictitious drug and cash “rips” that were monitored by the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI. At one point, Frazier reportedly offered to kill anyone the undercover agent wanted “taken out.”

The complaint describes instances where authorities set up scenarios in which Frazier and his team believed they were stealing cartel cash.

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Embracing The Art Of Khidma

Islamicate - 22 August, 2015 - 19:41

Many of us have come across the term khidma at some point. It’s pretty much the same word in Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, and I am reliably told, in many other languages too. Literally, it means to be in service to God, people, and nature, through acts of devotion, virtue and benefit. The khadim is the one who offers khidma (plural: khudamaa). To be a khadim one must meet the standard of khulafa al-ard[i] (trustees/stewards of the Earth). That is, to be of “people of incredible virtue, goodness and love, who give themselves wholly to the highest ideals and seek to create a world in which all people have the opportunity to actualise their fullest human potential in every domain of life, from the most mundane to the most transcendent.”[ii] Acts of khidma have the rare quality of leaving a sweet taste. It’s not surprising why. Khidma takes well-meaning intentions and accuracy to the level of truthfulness, selflessness, and sincerity, in, for instance, “preserving peace,” “improving conditions” and “holding people to account.”

“Preserving peace” to the khadim is about finding ways to reconcile between people and a discourse of justice, diplomacy and healing for those wronged or downtrodden. “Improving conditions” is to be a source of ease for others and helping them to meet their needs or overcoming predicaments and struggles – whatever they may be. “Holding people to account” is to offer well-reasoned and unassuming honest words. Truth, though necessary at times, can often be a bitter pill to swallow. But the khadim has a graceful manner (adab) and insight (hikmah) into the right time and place for things that makes truth a little easier to absorb.

For sure, the art of khidma cannot be neatly taught in bestselling self-help manuals alone. Hope is not lost however. If our intention (niyyah) is to remember God—which by the way should be the pivot at every step of the way for Muslims—naturally, we will seek to mine the Quran and Sunnah (or perhaps keep the company of the khudamaa) to learn the art of khidma. If we struggle to make this connection—a leap of faith, knowledge and lived experience—it is perhaps to be expected that, to different degrees, we obscure God’s command to tread gently on Earth, to be forgiving, truthful and just, and to say “no” to the excesses of worldly life etc. We’d also struggle to see how God commands us “to know one another,”[iii] or to understand that the ahsanul qasas (“beautiful stories”), as in the case of Prophet Yusuf and his brothers, “…are signs for anyone who wants to ask.”[iv]

Yet these are the very things that we usually overlook. And hence the narratives that might quite possibly inspire us towards khidma remain deeply buried. Instead, we feel that social, political or scientific rationalism are in themselves sufficiently empowering and solving. Whilst they are no doubt relevant, far from providing refreshing perspectives, it seems that we trap ourselves in their intrinsic limitations or, worse still, selectively use them to legitimise our own self-conceit. It’s no wonder we struggle to even listen to others, least of all to take their advice. Nor do we realise that the words we use in being socially and politically engaged impact us both in this world and the next.

Why? The unfortunate reality, deep down, is that we crave immediate results, thinking on one hand that we achieve through our own abilities, whilst, on the other, somewhat lazily, remain unwilling to make the sacrifices or to put the effort in. Here, power, money and idealism whisper seductively, and it’s usually when we’re least minded to serve others that we listen. In the course of which we struggle to see how our own journey back to God, and that of our “flocks,” are interlocked into the very same existential spaces and contexts that we remain so detached from. The outcome is that we become far too reactionary. We convince ourselves that problems are “out there” and not “in here” – a case of seeing the speck of dirt in our brothers’ eyes, but forgetting the splinter in our own.[v] Feelings of inadequacy or lack of trust and control that this creates lures us to confront power than seek ways to mutually work with it within our quite vast—though often largely unexplored—freedoms. What’s more, we feel unbashful in complaining when the very power that we rushed to confront now exerts itself against us. It is quite sadly the very disheartening paradigm that we bemoan, yet fail to see how we are so easily seduced by it.

The challenge for anyone working for positive change within their own spaces and contexts, then, is surely to make that extra bit of space and time to at least contemplate taking things to the level of khidma. After all, the imperative to show compassion and love to people is a Prophetic one.[vi]

 

[i] Al-Quran, 2:30.

[ii] A useful definition by Fethullah Gulen, see A Dialogue of Civilization by Jill Carroll, Tughra Books, 2007, p55. Wider reading of this concept is worthwhile.

[iii] Al-Quran, 49:13.

[iv] Al-Quran, 12:7.

[v] See hadith reported by Ibn Hibban.

[vi] See hadith reported by Al-Tirmidhi: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Most Merciful, thus whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him.”

Fear-free healthcare, revisited

Indigo Jo Blogs - 22 August, 2015 - 18:16

Picture of Emily Collingridge, a young white woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a cream colour T-shirt wiht a long necklace of ornaments and a thick braceletBack in 2012, I published on this site a manifesto of sorts, calling for healthcare in the UK to be free of fear. Back then I was heavily involved in ME activism and three people with severe ME had died, notably the author and charity volunteer Emily Collingridge. These days my activism is mostly in the area of learning disability, but the same problems which provoked that article exist in this area too: where people need to go into hospital, neither they nor their family can be confident that they will not encounter prejudice against their condition, hard-set beliefs, abuse, neglect or isolation from their friends and family.

The readmission of Maisie Shaw, the young girl from Hull who was the focus of a campaign to re-open an adolescent unit in Hull earlier this year, who was suddenly released in June, to a hospital in Manchester last week (there are press reports, but I’m not linking them as they give details of precisely what led up to this, which I don’t think should be in the public domain) reminded me of those ideas, as I was immediately apprehensive: would she be bullied? Would she end up there much longer than expected, as has happened to other young people? Two of my friends have been suffering mental health crises in the past couple of weeks and I have had the same fears for them (one of them more than the other).

Picture of Nico Reed, a young white boy with ginger hair wearing a blue jumper and dark blue tracksuit bottoms, standing in a blue standing frame with a brown leather harness on.Today is also the third anniversary of the death of Nico Reed, a young man with severe physical disabilities who died in a supported living ‘home’ run by the NHS trust, Southern Health, which also ran the hospital unit where Connor Sparrowhawk died in 2013. Nico was prone to vomiting at night, and choked to death in bed; he died because he was not checked on in good time (although the physiotherapy which had kept this in check while he was at boarding school had also been discontinued; the inquest did not cast its net as widely as this). When Nico’s mother first told her story last year, she said that when Nico’s therapies stopped and his swallowing and choking problems returned, he became “thin, depressed and frightened”. Professionals were warning that Nico’s life was in danger; one physiotherapist even visited Nico in her own time to perform the therapies he needed, because she was so concerned about his welfare.

Nico’s mother has posted a week of blog entries leading up to the anniversary; today’s features a video in which she talks about how she was treated by the NHS trust after Nico’s death.

When I was involved in ME activism, the Syrian civil war was just starting, and hospitals in Syria were known stamping grounds for the country’s secret police; if you were a dissident, you might not survive an admission to hospital. In this country, along with many an advanced democracy, it is not your political views but a poorly-understood condition or behaviour the staff find challenging (whether it really comes under the category of “challenging behaviour” or not) are what could turn a hospital from a safe place to a frightening and dangerous one. This is because of attitudes among some professionals, and their power and lack of accountability. All these things must change if hospitals are to become genuinely safe places for people with chronic and mental health conditions, places where one need not fear that those who are meant to help you might become your enemy or your tormentor.

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The brutal fight of Bangladesh’s secular voices to be heard

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 August, 2015 - 07:00

Niloy Chakrabarti was only the latest atheist blogger to be hacked to death in the country this year. The government crackdown on ‘blasphemers’ has sent others into hiding. What is the future for the country’s liberal writers?

In February 2015, Avijit Roy and his wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, travelled from their home in Atlanta, Georgia, to Dhaka, the capital Bangladesh. This was their home town, and they were attending the annual Ekushey book fair, which runs all month. They had been unable to attend in 2014 because Roy had received death threats after the publication of his book The Virus of Faith, which criticised religion.

The couple were familiar with controversy. They ran a Bengali-language web forum called Mukto-Mona, or Free Minds, promoting rationalist thought, and had been threatened by Islamic fundamentalists. During their trip to Dhaka, they avoided being out late at night, varied their routines and checked in regularly with relatives. For the first 10 days, the strategy seemed to work.

Related: Avijit Roy, the blogger who wouldn't back down in the face of threats

Related: Bangladesh blogger killed by machete gang had asked for police protection

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White supremacist convicted in plot to kill Obama with 'death ray' device

The Guardian World news: Islam - 21 August, 2015 - 22:17
  • KKK member Glendon Scott Crawford also wanted to harm Muslims
  • Jury unanimously finds man guilty of all three charges against him

A New York white supremacist was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of plotting to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called “Hiroshima on a light switch” to harm Muslims and President Barack Obama.

After less than three hours of deliberation in US district court in Albany, New York, the jury unanimously found Glendon Scott Crawford guilty of all three charges against him.

Related: Men built X-ray gun to shoot Israel opponents – FBI

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On Motherhood: 22 Things on Having Two Babies Under Two

altmuslim - 21 August, 2015 - 21:45
By Fatimah Popal 1) Don’t call your daughters a princess. They’ll believe you only to realize years later it was all a lie. I am not living in a palace full of chefs, an au pair or two, gardeners, chauffeurs, butlers and maids, or personal dressers. Instead, I am the commoner providing these services to [Read More...]

Environmental activism is taking root in Islam | Adam Khyas for the Conversation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 21 August, 2015 - 12:46
A group of Islamic scholars have called on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to take action on climate change. Religious principles support them

Muslims have a religious duty to take action against climate change, according to a declaration released by a major group of Islamic scholars, faith leaders and politicians from 20 countries. The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, launched in Istanbul, is aimed at the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims and suggests mosques and Islamic schools should immediately take action.

In using religious authority to call for stronger climate-change policies at the UN summit in Paris this December, the Islamic declaration follows a similar intervention by the pope earlier in the year.

Islam teaches an inter-connectedness between the environment and human beings

Related: Islamic leaders issue bold call for rapid phase out of fossil fuels

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