As #TreeofLife Shows, Trump’s Mainstreaming of Hate Puts All Minorities in Danger

altmuslim - 6 November, 2018 - 22:14
By Ibrahim Hooper The horrific anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which resulted in the loss of 11 precious lives, was the devastating yet inevitable consequence of the daily mainstreaming of racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant hate and Islamophobia by President Donald Trump and an extremist minority of his followers. […]

Why birthright citizenship should be defended

Indigo Jo Blogs - 4 November, 2018 - 23:30

Black and white picture of Jacob M Howard, a middle-aged white man sitting in a wooden chair wearing two dark coloured jackets over a white suit with a bow tie at the neck.Last week it was announced that Donald Trump favoured ending the automatic American citizenship of anyone born in the USA, which a number of conservative politicians claimed was constitutional although it clearly violates the 14th Amendment which would likely be upheld even by a conservative Supreme Court, whether Trump attempted to do it through an executive order (which is what he has threatened) or through legislation, because its wording is absolutely clear and unambiguous. While the announcement was greeted with scorn by pretty much every progressive and mainstream voice and with scepticism by many conservative ones (Trump is not known for his knowledge of the Constitution; he has recently claimed that if Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams becomes governor of Georgia, “your Second Amendment is gone”), I saw African-American Muslim friends saying they agreed with this on Facebook, largely because they believe immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East are often preferred over African Americans and this contributes to Black Americans’ poverty. The right to citizenship by birth is something that existed in the UK until the early 1980s when it was removed. The upshot has, as you might expect, been hardship and injustice for many innocent people.

Trump was, of course, wrong (or lying) when he claimed the US was the only country in the world that gave citizenship by birth; many countries in the Western world do, including Canada. In the UK, the new law is that anyone born to a British parent (mother or father) in the UK or overseas or to parents settled in the UK (i.e. with leave to remain, not illegal entrants or tourists) is entitled to citizenship. Previously, anyone born in the UK was a citizen, but people born overseas to a British mother and a foreign father were not. The upshot is that there are many older people who were born overseas to a British mother and brought to this country when those relationships broke up and find years later that they are not citizens, as well as British-born people, usually of Caribbean parentage, whose parents migrated here in the late 70s or 80s whose older siblings are British citizens but they are not. The state has also attempted to deport people born here, with no family in their parents’ home country, back to those countries (again, usually in the Caribbean). In some countries in Europe, you have multiple generations of people born in the country who are not citizens because the government uses a “law of blood”, i.e. race, to determine citizenship (so, for example, an “ethnic German” from Russia or Romania has a right to German citizenship but someone of Turkish origin whose grandparents migrated to Germany might not). Some countries devolve decisions about citizenship to local councils which reflect local prejudices, and others use a questionnaire which may require a Muslim to denounce parts of Muslim religious law to prove that he “shares local culture”.

A common justification for removing birthright American citizenship is that it prevents families establishing themselves by the back door through “anchor babies”. In fact, the US does not give parents of such children citizenship or even a visa; the government has deported such parents, giving them the choice of leaving the child in the USA or taking them with them, and the child will have the choice to return as an adult but the parents will not be able to return. So, there is no conflict and there is no such thing in reality as an “anchor baby”. The number of children allowed citizenship by this method must be fairly small, but it is invaluable as, if a parent’s citizenship status later becomes regularised or they have other relatives who are already legal immigrants or citizens, the child is not penalised by being removed to a country they have never known. The details of this ‘policy’, whether it will apply to legal as well as illegal immigrants, have not been fleshed out but removing birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants alone will not make a huge amount of difference.

It will not be a great advantage to African-Americans if birthright citizenship is removed. To take the UK as an example again, the state has been removing people’s citizenship if they have been convicted of crimes or are deemed ‘undesirable’ due to alleged (not necessarily proven) involvement in terrorism and they have citizenship, or the right to it, elsewhere. The reactionary writer Douglas Murray has demanded that Muslims automatically be deported to the home country of a parent or grandparent if they support not only terrorism in this country any attack on western troops anywhere in the world. In the case of African Americans, they enjoy a right of abode in Ghana (and possibly other countries in Africa) and this may be used as an excuse to deport any African American convicted of a crime or otherwise deemed undesirable. Only last year the US deported an American citizen (American father, British mother) to the UK as a condition of his parole as he was also a British citizen; he had killed his girlfriend at age 16 and had spent 40 years in prison.

Nobody who is not in Trump’s core vote should trust his intentions or those of his conservative allies (some of whom were saying that removing birthright citizenship was unconstitutional a couple of years ago) on this. It is consistent with Republicans’ use of, say, a minority of fraudulent voters as an excuse to impose identity checks which make it more difficult for poorer voters to vote, because they are less likely to vote for them. It will not just be so-called anchor babies that suffer; it will be anyone they deem undesirable. It will be a stepping stone to making citizenship a kind of glorified visa rather than a confirmation that your home is your home, and it will be used as a vehicle to entrench voter suppression. No Muslim, certainly, should be cheering a proposal like this on; injustice to a group of people you resent will not mean justice for you, especially when perpetrated by a common enemy.

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Pittsburgh and anti-Semitism in context

Indigo Jo Blogs - 3 November, 2018 - 19:00

Three memorials to victims of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, consisting of names (Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger) written on white hexagonal stars, with flowers, hearts and stars placed at the feet of the stars, with the word "hope" visible on one of them.Last Saturday, a racist gunman attacked a synagogue near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and killed 11 worshippers, including four Holocaust survivors, a married couple and two disabled brothers in their fifties; also killed was a doctor named Jerry Rabinowitz who was described by a former patient as the most effective AIDS doctor in Pittsburgh in the 1980s and early 90s who would treat patients with respect and without fear which a lot of doctors would not. This came at the end of a week in which two elderly Black people (one man, one woman) were murdered in a grocery store in Kentucky and pipe bombs were sent in the mail to a number of Democrat politicians including the Obama and Clinton families as well as some wealthy or celebrity democrats including the actor and director Robert De Niro and the financier at the centre of many far-right conspiracy theories, George Soros. I have nonetheless come across attempts on Twitter to take the event out of context, to emphasise that this was an anti-Semitic attack, to claim that the victims were Jews killed just because they were Jews rather than because there is a rising tide of hatred and of white-supremacist violence.

One example was a rabbi who quoted a tweet that called the attack an example of hatred and gun violence and said she would have ‘liked’ it but for the lack of any mention of anti-Semitism; another was a Facebook post by the Brighton-based writer David Bennun which started by asking “Why do people always kill Jews, for being Jews, wherever there are Jews?” and gave two possible answers (I have quoted sections from it rather than the entire post):

One: In every place that Jews live, but for their own homeland (and even there much of the outside world looks upon them as interlopers), as well as in places where they do not or can no longer live, they are the eternal Other. Perceived as in but not of that place (“despite having lived here all their lives”); not like Us; forever under suspicion. The poisoners of wells, the thieves of children’s blood. … This is the racist conspiracy theory known as anti-Semitism. It takes many forms, and there is no type of zealous political ideology, of the left or the right, in which it does not sooner or later flourish.

Two: Jews somehow bring it upon themselves. A view encapsulated in the words of beloved children’s author Roald Dahl: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity . . . I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” In this view, which is invariably held by people who, you understand, haven’t a racist bone in their body, it is always, of course, terribly regrettable that these awful things should be done to Jews by these awful people - but if only the Jews hadn’t provoked it through whatever it is that Jews do.

Except that in this case, the attacker gave his reason: because he blamed the organisation that ran the synagogue for bringing in ‘invaders’, i.e. immigrants. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered”, he also said, possibly referring to the caravan of refugees from Honduras making its way on foot northwards through Mexico (which had been alleged, without any evidence, by US Vice President Mike Pence to include people of Middle Eastern origin), or possibly referring to the “white genocide” trope common on the far right, that multiculturalism and mixed relationships dilutes the ‘purity’ of the “white race” and is thus effectively genocide. He also claimed that it was “filthy evil Jews bringing filfy (sic) evil Muslims into the country”. So, he was an anti-Semite, but his anti-Semitism was one of a number of other prejudices he had.

Then there was this tweet, by the Labour MP Jess Phillips:

So to her, this attack is representative of rising global anti-Semitism, not rising violent armed racism in the United States. Clearly this is to put the attack in the same context as the so-called anti-Semitism observed in the Labour party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, an allegation largely based not on violence against Jews or anyone advocating it but attacks on Israel in response to its oppressions of the native Palestinians. So, let’s be clear: this man was not inspired by Jeremy Corbyn; he belongs to the American Far Right, is a white supremacist, and did not act out of solidarity with Palestinians.

It has to be remembered that the United States is not Europe and has its own history of racism and any understanding of American racists, including neo-Nazis, is incomplete without that history. The United States used to be a legally white-supremacist country in which Blacks were first slaves and then, in much of the country after they were freed, subjected to a legally-enforced regime of discrimination. Violent racists linked to organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan occupied positions of power such as in the police, judiciary and the legislature. Although the remnants of the KKK and other white-supremacist organisations from that time have since merged with the neo-Nazi fringe, they were not always anti-Semitic; the Confederacy had a Jewish secretary of state, Judah P Benjamin (previously a US Senator from Louisiana). Although anti-Semitism became established among segregationists in the 20th century, their principal targets were African-Americans. They wanted to preserve, as much as possible, the “old order” in which the white aristocracy ruled and Blacks were powerless and did menial work for them. After they lost the Civil Rights battle, mainstream right-wing politicians began to appeal to racist white voters using coded terms for (particularly poor) Black people; references to welfare queens and appeals to “law and order”.

In the modern western world, there are two distinct strands of white supremacist thinking: the fringe, traditionalist one inspired by Hitler which remains anti-Semitic, and the mainstream one that defends the current white-dominated world order represented by Trump and the newly elected fascist president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, which numbers Jews among whites and is aggressively pro-Zionist. There are people, particularly on the political Right, who are not known for taking a strong stand against racism, particularly police racism and hostility to immigrants, who will sanctimoniously condemn anti-Semitism, especially alleged Left-wing anti-Semitism; also note how, when Iowa congressman Steve King was questioned about his connections to white supremacists in a public meeting, he angrily pointed to his lifelong support for Israel and demanded that the questioner be removed. In the UK, although their anti-Semitism was never a secret, the National Front of the 1970s exploited hostility towards immigrants from the Commonwealth; anti-Semitism was not emphasised as it was not a vote winner, and after Nick Griffin (a known Holocaust denier) became leader, open anti-Semites such as John Tyndall were manoeuvred out of the party as he realigned it to attack Muslims, and to a lesser extent non-white immigrants; Griffin attempted to court Jews, though he had little success as they knew his history. The BNP have dropped into obscurity but the fringe right represented by UKIP and the “football lads” element aggressively targets Muslims for hatred and is also pro-Israel.

If the Pittsburgh attack was against a backdrop of rising global anti-Semitism, then someone explain why the major anti-racist protest movement of the past few years was called Black Lives Matter, not Jewish Lives Matter. The reason is that Jewish Americans were not being shot or choked to death in the street by the police or, occasionally, white vigilantes (occasionally it was the learning disabled or mentally ill). Anti-Semitism exists, but there is no stereotype of Jews that would lend itself to justifying arbitrary police violence against an unarmed civilian, often a child. We know Donald Trump has friends who are anti-Semites and blamed the attack partly on poor synagogue security when places of worship the world over have their doors open, especially when they need to let worshippers in, but we also know he is supported by the mainstream, conservative Right which has strong memories of being allied to the Jewish Right during the Bush years, that he has Jewish close relatives and that he has taken a firmly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian stance while in office. Any violence is not going to come from the State.

And frankly, there are some who give the impression that they think anti-Semitism is not morally equivalent to other prejudices and some who say so explicitly. For example, last May Melanie Phillips (who may be seen as a fringe voice within the Jewish community but is a regular fixture on British TV and radio), on a panel along with Dawn Foster on Sunday Politics, claimed that Islamophobia was a term which “covers legitimate criticism of the Muslim community; any criticism of the Muslim community is considered Islamophobic”. She then claimed that there was no comparison with anti-Semitism (which she also claimed was endemic on the Left, not only the Corbynite wing of the Labour Party but also the Liberal Democrats as well), which was not like other forms of racism and for which there was “never any excuse” and was “a unique derangement”, “based on lies and demonisation”. The implication is that other forms of racism can be rationalised as based on fears over jobs, crime or demographic change, and can or even should be accommodated, while anti-Semitism is a derangement and any rationalisation of it is anti-Semitic in itself.

And it is also gun violence. In the UK we also have violent racists, but the worst racist incident in recent times anyone can think of was the murder (by stabbing) of a single Black teenager (Stephen Lawrence) in 1993 by a gang of five white, racist youths. They used a knife because the average person has no access to anything more powerful (you need a legitimate purpose, e.g. hunting, grouse/pheasant shooting or pest control, to get a licence for firearms); if they had been able to obtain the automatic weapons anyone with an axe to grind can get hold of in the USA, they could have killed many more people and so could others. We have also seen family murders committed using firearms, but massacres are extremely rare here. Much as with any of the numerous school and workplace shootings that have taken place in the USA, it is a legitimate opportunity to talk about the need for gun control and, especially, the control of automatic and assault weapons (or anything that can be modified to serve that purpose). It’s not countries that do not have racism that do not have racist massacres; it’s countries with gun control.

Last Saturday’s massacre was horrific. Of course it was. The synagogue that was targeted was chosen not only because it was a synagogue but because it had a history of helping refugees. There may well be more racial violence in the USA in the coming years, as well as in Europe where racist ‘populists’ are on the march in many countries. But it’s pretty nauseating to hear people emphasise the anti-Semitic aspect of this, and demand that it not be “lumped in” with gun violence or hate, when it took place against a backdrop of rising violence against minorities in general rather than Jews in particular. I agree with the editor-in-chief of the Jewish magazine Forward, Jane Eisner, who wrote in last week’s email newsletter, in regard to the comment of an imam who said he was relieved when he discovered that the killer was not a Muslim:

Isn’t that what it’s like to be a targeted minority in America? How often have we as Jews had the same reaction — pride when one of us wins another Nobel Prize, finds a new cure, invents another amazing device? And then how often do we cringe in fear when one of us is found to be a crook, a murderer, a predator, a detriment to society?

America has been a violent place for African Americans since its inception, and for other minorities for centuries. Jews have been relatively immune — privileged by the fact that so many of us are white, educated, prosperous, unthreatening, willing to fit in.

America might be a less safe place for Jews now than it seemed two weeks ago. But it was never safe for many other visible minorities, and while I do not doubt that there will be more of the same and some of it directed at Jews, Jews will not be the major target of whatever racial violence may ensue over the next few years in both America and Europe. The major targets will be Blacks, Muslims, refugees and other non-white immigrants.

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Pakistan works to stop Asia Bibi leaving after blasphemy protests

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 November, 2018 - 19:41

Administration accused of signing Bibi’s ‘death warrant’ in deal with hardliners

Pakistan’s government has been accused of signing the “death warrant” of Asia Bibi after it said it would begin the process of preventing her leaving the country.

Bibi, a Christian farm labourer, was acquitted of blasphemy on Wednesday. She had spent eight years on death row after she drank from the same cup as a Muslim, prompting false allegations that she insulted the prophet Muhammad.

Related: The release of Asia Bibi is a small step towards a more open Pakistan | Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

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Israeli ad featuring model ripping off face veil draws criticism

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 November, 2018 - 16:01

Video shows model Bar Refaeli removing niqab as ‘freedom is basic’ slogan appears on screen

One of Israel’s most prominent models, Bar Refaeli, has been criticised for appearing in an advert in which she rips off a face veil to the slogan “freedom is basic”.

The Israeli clothing brand, Hoodies, posted the video online this week, which opens with a Hebrew caption reading: “Is Iran here?” while zoomed in on Refaeli’s face, which is covered in a black niqab.

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Muslims and Voting – What Does Sharia Have To Do With It?

altmuslim - 1 November, 2018 - 19:22
So, does sharia advocate for American Muslims to try to enact Muslim rules of behavior as the law of the land? Are we supposed to be pushing for a national ban on alcohol, for example, or to require attendance at Friday prayers? The answer is no, but to understand why, we need a little Sharia 101.

Asia Bibi: anti-blasphemy protests spread across Pakistan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 November, 2018 - 16:31

Anti-blasphemy campaigners bring country to standstill in protest over acquittal of Bibi

Thousands of Islamist protesters have brought Pakistan to a standstill, burning rickshaws, cars and lorries to protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row on false charges of blasphemy.

Related: The release of Asia Bibi is a small step towards a more open Pakistan | Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

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Republicans more likely to view Muslim Americans negatively, study finds

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 November, 2018 - 16:30

Thinktank New America found 71% of Republicans surveyed said they don’t believe Islam is compatible with US values

While most non-Muslims in the US are accepting of Muslim Americans, Republicans are far more likely to have potentially negative views about them, according to data released Thursday.

New America, a thinktank working with the American Muslim Institution, conducted 1,165 interviews in four metropolitan areas prior to the 6 November midterm elections.

Related: Anti-Muslim rhetoric 'widespread' among candidates in Trump era – report

Related: Republican attacks take aim at non-white congressional candidates

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The release of Asia Bibi is a small step towards a more open Pakistan | Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 November, 2018 - 11:30
Her acquittal could signal a relaxation of strict blasphemy laws and create a better country in the process

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s supreme court acquitted Asia Bibi in an historic verdict, overturning the death sentence meted out to her over charges of blasphemy.

The court established that Bibi, a Christian, was falsely accused by Muslim women picking fruit with her on 14 June, 2009. The allegation stemmed from a quarrel over the fact that she had taken a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them, which in the eyes of her accusers she wasn’t allowed to touch.

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After Pittsburgh, the left must face down all forms of racism | Rachel Shabi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 October, 2018 - 16:57

Words can be deadly. With 11 Jewish people killed at a synagogue, leftists had better ensure theirs don’t ring hollow

In the wake of the tragedy of Pittsburgh, the murder of 11 Jewish people at a synagogue in America’s most deadly act of antisemitism, we have heard a repeated cautionary refrain: that words have consequences. Donald Trump’s White House denies that the president’s rhetoric has any impact on reality. But others have noted that the “apparent spark” for the Pittsburgh murders was a “racist hoax” inflamed by the US president, who in the run-up to the US midterm elections has been scaremongering over a Honduran caravan of refugees fleeing violence and travelling to the US border to seek asylum, feeding antisemitic conspiracy theories that it has been funded by Jews.

That words have consequences is known viscerally to anyone whose identity is felt to be contested. Minorities, migrants and LGBT communities know all too well the terrible power of words to animate unconscious biases and rouse animosities; to poke at prejudices, stir hatreds and seed divisions. Words aren’t the only factor, but they create a context. Language is core to the architecture of antisemitism: words have, in recent memory, created the conditions for appalling violence and, ultimately, genocide.

Related: Trump, 'purveyor of hate speech', not welcome in Pittsburgh, says former synagogue leader

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UK confirms reports of Chinese mass internment camps for Uighur Muslims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 October, 2018 - 11:56

Criticism is mounting over reports of mass camps in the western territory of Xinjiang

British diplomats who visited Xinjiang have confirmed that reports of mass internment camps for Uighur Muslims were “broadly true”, the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has told parliament.

Beijing faces mounting international criticism over its policies in Xinjiang, a far-western territory of China where researchers believe an estimated 1 million members of Muslim minorities have been detained in a network of camps.

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Stark east-west divide in attitudes towards minorities in Europe

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 October, 2018 - 14:00

Report also flags gulf in attitudes on nationalism, abortion, gay rights and more

Europe is starkly divided between east and west on attitudes towards minorities and social issues such as gay rights and abortion, data shows.

Despite the fall of the iron curtain and the eastward expansion of the EU, the attitudes of people in central and eastern countries differ significantly from those in western Europe, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center involving 56,000 adults.

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Social care costs money

Indigo Jo Blogs - 28 October, 2018 - 10:51

Picture of Beth, a young white girl with curly hair wearing a knitted white jumper and a pink skirt, kneeling in front of a rose bushToday the Mail on Sunday published two long articles ([1], [2]) by Ian Birrell, a former speechwriter to David Cameron who has a disabled daughter, on the scandal of autistic people and people with PDA (pathological demand avoidance syndrome) trapped in institutions in the UK. This follows the outcry started when BBC’s File on 4 broadcast an interview with the father of a young woman named Bethany who had been in seclusion at St Andrew’s hospital in Northampton where her father could only visit her by talking to her through a hatch in a doorway; this has now been ended as a result of the publicity, though not before the local authority tried to take out a court injunction to prevent him talking about his daughter’s situation. Birrell’s articles include a brief run-down of a few people’s stories, most of them well-known to the activist community already and most of which have been in the media before. Birrell also claims credit for getting Beth moved out of seclusion into a “three-room unit” within St Andrew’s by saying that it took place after his article was raised in parliament and read by the health secretary, but fails to mention the File on 4 piece which actually brought Beth’s case to public attention.

Not all the cruelties mentioned in these articles have anything to do with money; some of them are just downright cruelty or the product of a rule-ridden and risk-obsessed culture in British mental health care. It is, for example, standard practice not to allow parents or other visitors to see the room their child or friend/relative lives in, ostensibly to protect their privacy and those of other patients. When they visit, they have to do so in a visitor’s room (if they are not allowed out with them). There have been cases of families coming to visit and being told that one family member cannot enter because they are under 18, resulting in them having to sit in the car for the entire period. In other cases, visits have been refused after the family has travelled for several hours to visit them because they are “not calm” or have not been for two hours or some arbitrary period. Some institutions make no attempt at person-centred care and some treat their patients with no regard for their dignity. This has nothing to do with money. The fact that the mental health sector has, over many years, failed to educate itself on autism and PDA so that it can treat people with these conditions effectively and without abuse, cannot be blamed on money either.

But the reason people are trapped in these places for extended periods often can. It has become very common to complain about the cost to the public purse of keeping people in these units particularly given the atrocious and neglectful treatment they receive, and Ian Birrell’s articles are no exception. But local authorities would have to foot the bill if they were not under NHS care (either directly or through a contract with a private provider such as St Andrew’s or a company such as Priory or Cygnet) and they have been starved of funds over many decades simply because people hate paying taxes and would rather complain about poor services, be it social care or bin collection, than pay for them. In some areas, councils have carried out consultations asking local people what they would be willing to pay more council tax for and the reply usually comes back as “nothing”, leaving the council to sell off assets such as playing fields and staff car parks in schools to raise money.

We’ve all heard of, for example, care home companies hiring staff at minimum wage, often who don’t speak English properly and who do not have proper training. If you are in contact with disabled people for long enough you will hear of some of them losing good carers because they cannot afford to live independently on a carer’s wage, or because more money is offered elsewhere. In some places people with personal budgets are ‘encouraged’ to put their staff on zero-hours contracts because offering a proper employment contract with holiday pay and so on costs extra money. I have heard of numerous cases where autistic people were discharged from hospital into a bespoke housing and care arrangement which fell apart months later, resulting in them having to be re-admitted, often hours from home; these things would be less likely to happen if carers were well-trained and well-paid. In the case of St Andrew’s, we heard that evenings and weekends were being covered by agency staff (who in Beth’s case were forbidden to open the door of her room, hence the ‘visits’ through the hatch) rather than full-time staff, and this was only remedied as a result of publicity. The same charity was able to pay its chief executive nearly £1m over two years and has 72 other staff on six-figure salaries, but cannot afford specialised nursing care for its patients outside of business hours. Why? Because private contractors have to tailor their bids for public contracts to be “cost-effective” so as not to cost the taxpayer more money than they absolutely have to because ultimately, no political party can contest a general election with the promise to put up taxes, and ideally want to be able to promise to reduce them.

The Tory party, which Birrell supports, and its supportive press such as the Daily Mail, has driven this trend towards cutting taxes at the expense of public services since the 1980s and the cuts that characterised David Cameron’s time in office have made it all the more difficult for local authorities to provide the care that elderly and disabled people need. Of course institutions need to be exposed if they are subjecting people to cruelty but the ultimate reason people are trapped in them boils down to central government policy and a culture of meanness and penny-pinching that has built up over several decades and that is something we do not see the Tory press complain about. One of the parents featured in this article asked on Twitter this morning “When will our most vulnerable be treated with love and care?” and the answer is: when people are willing to pay for it, when they realise that these are things that don’t only happen to other people, and when the same newspapers which complain about poor care and blame staff get honest with the public about the real reasons social care has been cut to the bone.

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None of us should enjoy the right to have our beliefs shielded from abuse | Kenan Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 October, 2018 - 08:00

We live in sorry times if hurt feelings have now become a matter for the lawmakers

Should it be illegal to call the prophet Muhammad a “paedophile”? That was the question in front of the European court of human rights (ECHR) last week.

In 2009, an Austrian woman, known as ES, held “seminars” on Islam in which she likened Muhammad’s marriage to six-year-old Aisha to paedophilia. She was convicted of “disparaging religion”. In keeping with a history of supporting blasphemy laws, the ECHR upheld the conviction. ES’s comments, it ruled, “aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not a worthy subject of worship”. Presenting objects of religious worship in a provocative way capable of hurting the feelings of believers, it added, “could be conceived as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance”.

We should no more support secular versions of blasphemy laws than the old religious variety

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The Guardian view on China’s detention camps: now we see them | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2018 - 17:40
Courageous personal testimony and painstaking research are giving us an increasingly detailed and shocking view of the centres in Xinjiang where hundreds of thousands have been held without arrest, charge or trial

The courage of former inmates and relatives, and the diligence of academics, journalists and other researchers, has brought a terrible secret into plain view. As the evidence piled up of the mass extrajudicial detention of Muslim Uighurs, Kazakhs and others in China’s north-western region of Xinjiang, it was met with silence or denial from Beijing. When experts told a UN panel this August that as many as a million could be held, a Chinese official insisted that: “There is no such thing as re-education centres.”

Still the satellite imagery, public documents and frightening personal testimonies amassed. With a UN human rights council meeting approaching next month, China suddenly announced that under revised legislation, local governments in Xinjiang could “educate and transform” people influenced by extremism at “vocational training centres”. This does not make the detentions themselves lawful, says one expert on Chinese law: “People are simply taken away.” But Beijing is now actively promoting the programme as an altruistic attempt to improve lives as well as stabilising the region, preventing further violent attacks. State media has shown “students” in uniforms playing ping pong and folk dancing, and learning skills such as hairdressing. The chairman of the regional government enthuses that the centres are air-conditioned, offer nutritious free meals and show that “life can be so colourful”.

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Sinéad O'Connor sings call to prayer after converting to Islam – video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2018 - 12:42

Singer, who has taken name of Shuhada’ Davitt, posted a video of herself singing the Azan, or Islamic call to prayer. She made the announcement in a Twitter post in which she said she was ‘very, very, very happy’ and thanked her Muslim brothers and sisters for welcoming her

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Sinéad O'Connor converts to Islam, taking new name Shuhada' Davitt

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2018 - 10:23

The singer says she is ‘very, very, very happy’ and thanks Muslims for welcoming her

The singer formerly known as Sinéad O’Connor has converted to Islam, changing her name to Shuhada’.

She made the announcement on Twitter, saying her conversion was “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey. All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.”


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On Rape/Sexual Assault Tropes in Muslim Communities – An Islamic Response (Part II)

altmuslim - 25 October, 2018 - 03:27
Editorial Note: TRIGGER WARNING – This article contains explicit stories of sexual assault and trauma. This is part two of a two-part series on rape culture and sexual abuse within Muslim communities and will focus on other arguments used to blame victims as well as examining these arguments from the Islamic standpoint. Part one debunks […]

Rohingya genocide is still going on, says top UN investigator

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 October, 2018 - 20:42

Head of fact-finding mission says Myanmar’s leaders are denying abuse of Muslim group

Genocide is still taking place against Rohingya Muslims remaining in Myanmar and the government is increasingly demonstrating that it has no interest in establishing a fully functioning democracy, according to UN investigators.

Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said thousands of Rohingya were still fleeing to Bangladesh, and the estimated 250,000 to 400,000 who have remained following last year’s brutal military campaign in the Buddhist-majority country “continue to suffer the most severe” restrictions and repression. “It is an ongoing genocide,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Related: ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

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