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France’s Jessica Houara

Muslimah Media Watch - 28 July, 2015 - 21:52
This article, co-authored by Laurent Dubois (@soccerpolitics) and MMW’s Shireen Ahmed, previously appeared in Sports Illustrated. A recent special issue of the French Surface Football Magazine includes this portrait of national team player Jessica Houara-d’Hommeaux. The photograph is an invitation, even an incitement. In contemporary France, the discussion about and policing of what Muslim women do and don’t wear is a [Read More...]

Tariq Jahan on his son’s death in the 2011 riots: ‘Each morning we die again’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2015 - 17:29
Four years ago, his son was one of three men hit by a car while defending local businesses in Birmingham. He was praised after immediately calling for calm but – with no one convicted for the killings – his anguish is worse than ever

Abdul Wahid is racing round the room when his mother calls him over to look at the family photos on the coffee table. “Who’s that?” she asks the three-year-old. The boy shouts happily, “My daddy!” But it is a face he has never seen in the flesh; his father was killed months before he was born in the riots that swept through England in August 2011.

Abdul Musavir, 30, was guarding local businesses in Birmingham with his brother Shahzad Ali, 31, and 19-year-old Haroon Jahan, when they were hit by a speeding car and thrown three metres in to the air. Their deaths sparked fury in the community they had been defending, and police feared there would be riots. Instead, just hours after finding his dying son in the street, Haroon’s father, Tariq Jahan, called for calm. He told the crowds who wanted action, if not revenge, “Black, white, Asians – we all live in the same community … step forward if you want to lose your son. Otherwise, calm down and go home – please.”

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London mosque chairman demands removal from banks' terrorism blacklist

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2015 - 17:11

Mohammed Kozbar ‘astonished’ to see Finsbury Park mosque described as terrorism risk on World-Check database used by banks worldwide

The chairman of Finsbury Park mosque has demanded to be removed from a confidential terrorism blacklist used by UK high street banks, warning that it “alienated and demonised” members of the mainstream Muslim community.

Mohammed Kozbar said he was “shocked and astonished” to find the north London mosque described as a terrorism risk on a confidential database used by 49 out of the world’s biggest 50 banks.

Related: Terrorism, fines and money laundering: why banks say no to poor customers

Related: HSBC shuts accounts of Muslim organisations, including Finsbury Park mosque

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The Oddly Sociopolitical Marie Claire Article on Muslim Women and Stereotypes

Muslim Matters - 27 July, 2015 - 22:51

Marie Claire Magazine's article titled “10 Muslim Women Shatter Stereotypes by Showing Off Their Style” has been getting a lot of attention from Muslims on social media. While the target audience is probably a non-Muslim one, some American Muslim women have taken a critical eye to the piece and are confused by the article, wondering, “How does this shatter stereotypes about Muslim women like me?”

But what stereotypes about Muslim women do Americans hold that need shattering in the first place? The article's tagline claims that these women's fashion sense “[banishes] the idea of the oppressed Muslim woman.” The article further claims that these women, “stand up for their autonomy every time they get dressed.” There isn't much expository substance other than that in this article, and I fail to see the connecting thread between all ten of the women featured, besides that they are “fashionable.” What does being “well-dressed” have to do with shattering the stereotype of the oppressed Muslim woman? Are being “oppressed” and “unfashionable” synonymous, while being “independent” and “fashionable” synonymous here? Are these notions of oppression and a lack of agency being oddly conflated with Muslim women observing a “traditional” or “conservative” Islamic dress code, or lack thereof?

The major reason why this article is making a splash in social media within American Muslim circles is that the author, an American Muslim fashion blogger herself, is trapped into taking on the burden of representation for all Muslims. This happens by the mere virtue of her being an American Muslim writing in a country in which “whiteness” is the invisible ruler against which all minorities are measured. (There would be a whole slew of other potential problems if the author of this post was not an American Muslim woman). What ends up happening is that it seems as if the author is given a megaphone and allowed to speak on behalf of all Muslim women in the United States and beyond, and so, it would inevitably cause a fuss online.

I don't really see what this article is trying to do, and I wouldn't have even found it of much relevance to me personally if it weren't for the unfortunate stab taken at stereotypes of Muslim women. This article strays from its designated context of fashion magazine and hints at a sociopolitical message. It would have been so much better to simply title this post as “10 Muslim Women Showing Off Their Style” or “10 Muslim Fashionistas to Follow,” and just left it at that. Because this article throws itself into an agenda concerned with more than just different philosophies of putting together an outfit, other Muslim women feel implicated in what is being said.

Moving on to more important issues, I want to find out where Nafisa Rahman got that blue and yellow dress…

On Jeremy Corbyn: no, it’s not about purity

Indigo Jo Blogs - 27 July, 2015 - 22:03

Black and white picture of Jeremy Corbyn, standing in front of a lectern addressing the 2014 People's AssemblyThe Labour Party are currently holding their leadership election following the resignation of Ed Miliband after he lost the general election in May. The four candidates are Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn, the last being the only left-wing candidate who has been widely ridiculed as a throwback to the early 80s and a certain election loser. Meanwhile, the others are being condemned as closet Tories at worst and uninspiring Blairite functionaries at best. As Corbyn is deemed the most likely candidate to lose the 2020 election, there has been a campaign to encourage Tories to join the party as “supporters” so as to get a vote in the leadership election. That the party’s rules allow this is pretty stupid; most parties (including, for example, the Tories at the time David Cameron was elected leader) do not allow new members to vote.

One of the themes that has been constantly repeated in the criticism of Corbyn and his supporters is that he represents a retreat to idealism, to the ‘freedom’ of being a principled opposition rather than having to make compromises to win and keep power, and a “delusion” that the party lost because it was not left-wing enough. Examples include Saturday’s piece in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland, in which he claims that the Corbyn ‘tribe’ cares about “identity, not power” and about being true to themselves; Andrew Rawnsley in Sunday’s Observer suggests that the current debate reflects a party which has already resigned itself to losing the next election. Much as in the coverage of Lib Dem party members who opposed their MPs’ caving-in to the Tories’ coalition demands in the last parliament, we have the same language of maturity and of ‘sensible’, ‘realistic’ compromises versus ‘protest’ — a dirty word — and opposition. Freedland even talks of Blair and others who “tried to sit the kids down” and persuade them that Corbyn will never get elected.

Both raise the spectre of the 1980s, with Rawnsley opining that although 1983 was “a mathematically more severe defeat, in some ways Labour’s predicament is worse today”. How is it? In the 1980s Labour faced an infiltration from Militant; there is no such threat today; Militant are a spent force even on the hard left and even Socialist Worker are a shadow of what they were in 2005, let alone the 1980s, as a result of the rape scandal. There are still a few Marxists knocking around, but they are not regarded as the threat that they once were because the USSR no longer exists and cannot fund Marxist entryist groups abroad. So, the press can throw around a few insults but they cannot make left-wingers in the Labour party out to be a threat as they could in the 1980s; and as nobody under 40 remembers the early 1980s (or anything of the Cold War) anyway, the insults have much less resonance than they used to. The world is a totally different place, and it is not Corbyn’s supporters who are living in the past.

Rawnsley accuses Miliband of taking the party to the left “on the basis that the party’s 13 years in office were essentially a terrible mistake” while conceding that Blairites are “not being more vigorous or persuasive in defending their record”. But that’s the whole point. The Blairites have not learned the lessons of the mistakes of Blair’s time in office and in some cases regard them as Blair’s good points. Thatcher and Major fought two wars between them, both of which were popular and generally considered to be just wars. Blair (and Brown) also fought two, both of them (Iraq in particular) unpopular affairs which dragged on for years and did not achieve much. Blair scraped a win in the 2005 election, having won a landslide in 1997 and a respectable majority in 2001. The tendency to centralise everything and to slap down local leaders who make too much noise was already in evidence in the mid-1990s, and is what lost the confidence of Scottish voters in Labour (and in turn, costing the confidence of many English ones).

But by far the biggest New Labour flaw is its timidity, which is what led us into the Iraq war and into accepting humiliations like the 2003 extradition treaty, and it is really what stops the supposed Blairites from defending Blair’s own legacy. Let’s remember that when Blair was in office, there was no serious criticism of his and Brown’s handling of the economy except from people who were regarded as cranks. (The New Statesman carried adverts for books like Gordon is a Moron which predicted a dire economic future, but I don’t recall these books ever getting a review.) It’s generally understood that the deregulation of the banking industry both here and in the USA is what led to the failures of major banks that led to the 2008 crash or “credit crunch”, but despite a change of government, there has been no move to seriously reform the finance industry to prevent another crash. Now, we hear supporters of Liz Kendall, as on the BBC Breakfast programme the other day, claim that Labour have to convince the public that they can be trusted with the economy, which means going along with every ideological Tory benefit ‘reform’ and never challenging the lie, repeated so often in the media that people assume it is true, that Blair and Brown governed as socialist spendthrifts.

The neo-Blairites are very inventive in thinking for reasons why Labour supporters might want a leader who stands for social justice rather than just getting into power. It must be about purity, or identity, or about reducing one’s role in evil rather than reducing evil (which requires power, and thus compromise). Labour supporters usually did not join the party to change the colour of the government or to put some particular individual in office for its own sake. Red does not equal socialism. In the USA a “red state” is one that voted for Bush and then McCain, and in China the ruling party calls itself Communist (and flies a red flag) but implements capitalism, albeit in some respects state capitalism. They joined the party to fight for social justice, for people to have an opportunity to better themselves, for workers’ rights, for better education and healthcare. With three of the four current leadership candidates, people see these things slipping further out of reach as they refuse to defend even their former leader’s legacy and oppose Tory plans to shrink the state. The best we can hope for from them is that they will mind the shop for the Tories when they are down, maybe for ten or fifteen years or so, until the Tories regroup, as they did in the last term of Blair and Brown’s government. And it’s not much to hope for.

It could be true that Corbyn is unelectable. It could be that by 2020, the Tories might be discredited enough for any donkey with a red ribbon to win the election; this is, after all, why governments usually change (those elections in the 1980s were not only Labour losses; the Tories won, because enough people were satisfied with them — something critics of Labour so often fail to take account of). But if the so-called modernisers (who aren’t really all that modern, as Paul Bernal notes) fear Corbyn, they had better start offering a serious alternative. Much like the Liberal Democrats, they need to stop blaming voters and start looking at what they are doing wrong. They may win back a few extra votes in Middle England now, but their supporter base is drifting off in favour of disaffection or UKIP.

Image credit: “The People’s Assembly National Demonstration Jeremy Corbyn MP 21 June 2014 124” by DAVID HOLT from London, England - The People’s Assembly National Demonstration Jeremy Corbyn MP 21 June 2014 124. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Gay hanging in Iran: Atrocities and impersonations

Loon Watch - 27 July, 2015 - 21:36

gay_hanging_Iran

A must read on lies and how the media/activists will push them. (h/t: J)

A Paper Bird

I.

Everybody on earth knows that last week a deal on Iran’s nuclear program was announced.  Everybody also knows that this apparent step toward peace launched a new stage in an old war: of propaganda. Proponents praise the possibility of a historic opening. Opponents — who include Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Republican Party — warn of disaster.  Both sides want to expand their constituencies. In Western countries, gay communities — small but politically influential — are more and more the target for just this courtship and recruitment.

The right-wing pundit Amir Taheri greeted the nuclear deal with a storm of tweets and screeds condemning it. One 140-character charge drew special attention.Taheri tweetAnyone’s first reaction would be some version of “My God.” It sounded horrible.  I wrote to Taheri asking for more information — and so, judging from Twitter, did at least three other people.

But the story quickly began to show cracks. Taheri didn’t reply to me, or anybody. I sat down that night with a Farsi-speaking friend and began searching for the story in the Iranian press: under the youth’s name, under various other key words. It didn’t turn up anywhere. I wrote to the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), a diaspora-based group of LGBT Iranian activists with which I’ve worked closely over the years. They searched the media as well and found no sign of it. They also reached out to contacts in Isfahan. On Friday morning, they told me no one there had heard of the story, either.

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Amir Taheri lies a lot. Eight years ago, Jonathan Schwartz called him “one of the strangest ingredients in America’s media soup,” adding, “There may not be anyone else who simply makes things up as regularly as he does, with so few consequences.” An arch-conservative protege of the Pahlavis, an editor of the Tehran daily Kayhan under the Shah, he repeatedly fabricates stories about Iran to please right-wingers in his adoptive West. Most famously, in 2006 he claimed in Canada’s National Post that a new dress-code law in Iran would impose special clothes on religious minorities, including yellow badges for Jews. Many conservatives swallowed the story; even the Canadian Prime Minister repeated it. But it was a complete falsehood, and after a huge furor the National Post retracted it and apologized: “It is now clear the story is not true. … We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused.” (The Post also noted that Taheri went “unreachable” after his fiction was exposed, rather as he did on Twitter.) Undeterred, in 2008 Taheri concocted a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini, complete with a fake citation of an invented source; American neoconservative luminaries duly repeated it. In 2002, Taheri claimed that “Osama bin Laden is dead …. the fugitive died in December and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan.” The list of his duplicities goes on and on. In 1989, an academic reviewing one of Taheri’s books

detailed case after case in which Taheri cited nonexistent sources, concocted nonexistent substance in cases where the sources existed and distorted the substance beyond recognition when it was present. … [The reviewer] concluded that Nest of Spies was “the sort of book that gives contemporary history a bad name.”

Larry Cohler-Esses condemns Taheri as a “journalistic felon,” part of a “media machine intent on priming the public for war with Iran.”

There are ample grounds for skepticism about stories Taheri spreads.

But skepticism doesn’t make headlines. Propaganda’s best friend is the ambition of the press. On Thursday, a reporter for the UK-based Gay Star News also tweeted to Taheri.

Morgan to Taheri tweet

Taheri didn’t answer him, either. I know this because the reporter didn’t wait for a source. About 25 minutes later, his story — “GAY TEEN, 14, ‘HANGED FROM TREE’” — topped the website of  Gay Star News, and it said Taheri hadn’t told them anything. In other words, their entire account was based on one single tweet with no evidence behind it. This tweet was special, though. The topic of gay killings in Iran has shown its passionate drawing power over a decade, its ability to keep queers clicking. GSN wanted the clicks for itself.

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CVE Critics are Right, and CVE is Still Necessary

altmuslim - 27 July, 2015 - 15:30
By Junaid M. Afeef & Alejandro J. Beutel The Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in January 2015 seemed to renew the Obama Administration’s push for implementing countering violent extremism (CVE) as an alternative paradigm to the excesses of the War on Terror. However, many civil liberties groups, including several within the American Muslim community, have [Read More...]

Is Islamophobia Real?

Muslimah Media Watch - 27 July, 2015 - 14:40
A few weeks ago, I was meeting a friend of a friend for the first time. Now usually, my name gets transformed into Tamsin, or Tasmeem, or Tasmeen (the last two have quite unfortunate meanings in Arabic). In this case, the person I was introducing myself to said “Oh, like that creepy ISI woman.” I [Read More...]

Why must Britain’s young Muslims live with this unjust suspicion? | Leila Aboulela

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 July, 2015 - 11:30

In Britain, young Muslims are made to feel that they are on the wrong side, forced to constantly explain and apologise for extremism in which they have no part

At Eid prayers in a rainswept Aberdeen this month, the imam gave thanks to Allah Almighty for the blessings of life in Britain. We had successfully completed a month of fasting while Muslims in China were banned from observing Ramadan and in other parts of the world, many fasted through distressing circumstances of poverty and war. In the sports hall that was booked for the prayers, we listened to the imam in our rain-splattered best clothes before heading for our first morning coffee in a month and the candy floss on sale for the children.

Older, first-generation immigrants understood the logic of Britain being better and freer than “our own home countries”. But the young who were born and grew up in Britain would say that it is hard work being a British Muslim.

Before even being exposed to radicalisation, young Muslims are talked down to and told off

Related: I’m a Muslim woman, Mr Cameron: here’s what your radicalisation speech means to me | Siema lqbal

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Alleged Isis nurse Adam Brookman charged with terrorism-related offences

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 July, 2015 - 03:36

Australian federal police to allege Brookman willingly provided support to Isis while he was in Syria

A Melbourne nurse accused of working for Islamic State in Syria has been charged with terrorism related offences in Melbourne.

Adam Brookman was extradited to Victoria to face court after being arrested at Sydney airport on Friday night.

Related: Adam Brookman, alleged Isis nurse, also did guard duty, court documents say

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