CAIR Calls for Hate Crime Probe of Vandalism Targeting N. Calif. Mosque

Loon Watch - 20 November, 2014 - 20:00

Why was a mosque targeted with a Star of David and the number 26?

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 11/20/14) — The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) today called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate vandalism targeting a local mosque as a possible hate crime.

CAIR-SFBA said vandals spray-painted a Star of David and the number 26 on a door of the Islamic Center of Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif.


“Given ongoing violence in the Middle East, coupled with the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in American society, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this vandalism,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo.

CAIR recently reported a number of apparent hate attacks on Islamic institutions in the United States, including shots fired at a California mosque and a firebomb attack on a mosque in New Mexico.

NYPD Can No Longer ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ Whether It Was Spying on Muslims

Loon Watch - 20 November, 2014 - 19:52


No more evasion for the NYPD?

The Village Voice

The NYPD has been going to the legal mat recently to protect records that might shed light on a now-infamous spy program targeting Muslims in the New York City area.

In a bid to prevent the release of documents possibly related to the program, the NYPD broke out the big guns, adopting a controversial legal strategy — called a “Glomar response” — pioneered by the CIA in the 1970s.

If you’ve ever read a Tom Clancy novel or watched (sigh) HBO’s The Newsroom, you’ve heard someone — usually a sinister federal agent of some stripe — say that they can “neither confirm nor deny” whatever horrible thing they’re being accused of doing.

The phrase has entered the popular lexicon in all kinds of contexts, but it actually grew out of a specific federal lawsuit.

When a reporter sought documents related to a secret CIA operation in 1975, the feds worried that turning them over would reveal important security information. More than that, the CIA believed that if they explained why they were legally allowed to withhold the records, they would inadvertently reveal that the records — and therefore the double-secret program itself — actually existed. (Spoiler: It did.)

Prior to that time, in order to deny a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, the government at least had to cite a specific “exemption” to explain the refusal. The Glomar response was therefore a novel approach. But the court bought it, and since then it’s become a routine if not particularly common tool at the federal level.

(The rest of the back story is pretty fascinating too. This Radiolab segment will fill you in on the saga of a sunken Russian submarine, a company called Global Marine — whence “Glomar” was born — and a whole lot of Cold War shenanigans.)

That whole thing went down in the federal courts, and has never really been accepted at the state level before the NYPD successfully tried it in October. (We wrote about that case, which is being appealed, back when it happened.)

The suit we’re concerned with today, which is similar to the October case, was brought on behalf of Samir Hashmi, a student at Rutgers University, who believes he and the Muslim student group he belonged to were targeted for NYPD surveillance a few years back.

It’s not exactly a wild claim. The Associated Press revealed in 2011 that a wide swath of Muslim organizations — and in fact entire communities — were targeted for surveillance by the department’s highly secretive “demographics unit.”

The approach taken by the NYPD raised serious constitutional concerns, and also some jurisdictional ones. NYPD officers were found to be operating in New Jersey without the knowledge of local authorities, and while we commend them for taking the trip — we’d certainly rather remain anywhere that is not New Jersey — that also posed some problems in the legal realm.

The AP reporters who broke the story, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, ultimately received a Pulitzer Prize for their work, and though the NYPD initially denied the whole shebang, they were ultimately forced into a tacit admission after disbanding the unit that never existed.

In 2012, Hashmi sought records that might show if he was, indeed, being watched by the police, and the department tried to use the Glomar response to shut down the lawsuit. It was a creative approach, because Glomar is rooted in federal jurisprudence, and Hashmi was suing in state court.

But on Monday, the judge nixed the NYPD’s claim, and said they had to follow the state Freedom of Information Law.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, which advocates for a robust FOIL, says the judge got it right in this instance, and that introducing Glomar as an option for New York agencies would “do damage” to the statute. As the judge pointed out, it’s really up to the legislature to determine whether the law should be altered to contain a Glomar-like provision.

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Rochdale’s Muslim Community Say They Face ‘Unprecedented and Unacceptable’ Racism

Loon Watch - 20 November, 2014 - 19:34


Manchester Evening News

Members of the Muslim community say they are facing ‘unprecedented and unacceptable’ racism in Rochdale – and are calling on all parts of society to take a stand against Islamophobia.

A group of local leaders have come together to speak out about the rise in violence and discrimination they say Asian people have been subjected to following the town’s grooming scandal.

They say the ‘excessive’ focus on the ethnicity and religion of non-white sex offenders has led to the ‘stigmatisation’ of their community – meaning that Islamophobia is now an ‘acceptable norm’.

The group, a coalition of local leaders under the name of Rochdale Muslim Community, say they now want to work with people in the town to eradicate the hatred.

In a statement passed to the M.E.N., they said: “It has become evident to anyone that follows events in the media that Islam is being portrayed negatively and that Muslims living in Britain are bearing the brunt of discrimination and violence.

“There is little doubt that this has resulted in not only the community feeling vilified but could potentially breakdown social cohesion within society. Irresponsible comments from senior local and national politicians are aiding the negative portrayal of the Muslim community.

“Time and time again some politicians and the media have attempted to equate issues such as grooming and the Muslim community as being one and the same.

“It is only natural that this sort of misinformation will stigmatise the whole of the Muslim community. This has meant that casual xenophobia towards Muslims has now become an acceptable norm.”

Their stand comes after a group of Asian taxi drivers went on strike in Heywood after their boss revealed his firm, Car 2000, would supply a white cabbie on demand. The drivers described how their cars had regularly been attacked or vandalised following the town’s grooming scandal.

In 2012, nine men from Rochdale were jailed for grooming girls and sharing them around the north west for sex.

But the coalition of the town’s Muslims said, while the paedophile gang was often refereed to as ‘Asian’, the ethnicity and religion of sex offenders such as Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith has never been mentioned – even though they too used positions of trust to abuse young children.

The group’s statement added: “Unfortunately, we are now facing a situation where a disdain of the Muslim community is something which is deemed acceptable.

“We do not wish to go back to a situation where discrimination against minorities becomes the norm. We believe that all segments of society have a duty to stand up against Islamophobia in all of its guises no matter how subtle or apparent.

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Ayatollah Khamenei frees Iran blogger

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 November, 2014 - 17:15
Iran leader releases Hossein Derakhshan, suspected of spying for Israel and given prison term of 19 years for ‘insulting Islam’

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on Thursday pardoned the blogger Hossein Derakhshan after his six years in prison for spreading propaganda, insulting Islam and cooperating with hostile countries, Iranian media reported.

Iranian bloggers credit Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who lived in Tehran before moving to Toronto in 2000, with launching a blogging revolution in the Islamic republic by publishing instructions on the subject in Farsi. No reason was given for his release.

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Muslim preachers in France may be forced to take diploma

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 November, 2014 - 15:13
Foreign imams could be obliged to hold an officially recognised religious qualification before being allowed to preach

Foreign Islamic preachers will be obliged to take an officially recognised diploma before being allowed to work in France, under measures being considered by the French government.

The new rules, if adopted, would affect more than 70% of imams and Muslim community leaders in France and are aimed at combating the spread of Islamist extremism and the radicalisation of young people.

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I was a teenage Europhile – but the EU’s sadistic austerity and lack of democracy changed my mind

Mahdi Hassan - 20 November, 2014 - 11:15

Fast-forward 15-odd years and my wild-eyed teenage Europhilia is a source of much embarrassment.

 GettyMay’s European Parliament elections did nothing to prompt a response to the EU’s “democratic deficit”. Photo: Getty

This is a free preview of this week’s New Statesman, out today. Get your copy now.

“Any chance of a retweet?” the Conservative MEP and ardent Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan asked me on Twitter a few days ago. He was highlighting a video that singles out British politicians and business leaders who called for the UK to join the euro back in the late 1990s. The video is entitled, rather provocatively, Wrong Then, Wrong Now.

I politely declined Hannan’s request, sheepishly confessing to him that . . . er . . . I happened to be one of those people who were “wrong then”. In my defence, I was a mere undergraduate, rather than a Peter Mandelson or a Richard Branson, but I did nevertheless agitate for British membership of the single currency in countless articles, essays and public debates.

Fast-forward 15-odd years and my wild-eyed teenage Europhilia is a source of much embarrassment. Today, Europe is only marginally more popular with the public than ebola; hard-right parties are sweeping to victory in European elections in the UK, France and Denmark; and the eurozone has only narrowly dodged a triple-dip recession. With all this going on, it’s pretty difficult to mount a credible defence of the single currency or, for that matter, the EU itself.

Let’s start with the euro. What on earth were we thinking? How could anyone with the faintest grasp of economics have believed it was anything other than sheer insanity to yoke together diverse national economies such as Greece, Ireland, Germany and Finland under a single exchange rate and a single interest rate? And, lest we forget, without a US-style system of fiscal transfers or culture of labour mobility to compensate?

There were dissenting voices. Big-name US economists, from the Princeton University liberal Paul Krugman to the Harvard conservative Martin Feldstein, warned that the euro would be an “invitation to disaster” and an “economic liability”. An internal EU report later summed up the view of US economists on the euro project as: “It can’t happen, it’s a bad idea, it won’t last.”

Then there’s the fiscal self-flagellation of recent years, unnecessarily “inflicted in the service of a man-made artifice, the euro”, to quote another US economist, the Nobel Prizewinner Joseph Stiglitz. Has there ever been a better advert for the failure of austerity? Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, in particular, have been brutalised by the fiscally sadistic policies demanded by the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission – and backed by the dead-eyed deficit hawks in Germany. In Greece, malaria returned for the first time in 40 years; in Spain, students in Catalonia had their toilet paper rationed; in Portugal, soup kitchens proliferated; in Ireland, suicides among men rose sharply. While the eurozone continues its orgy of self-harm, the broader EU is in the midst of an unprecedented and existential political crisis: a crisis of democracy, accountability and legitimacy, with citizens feeling ever less connected to the decision-makers in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Did May’s European Parliament election results – described as a political “earthquake” by the French prime minister, Manuel Valls – convince the continent’s leaders, both elected and unelected, to take a step back and try to tackle the EU’s “democratic deficit”? If only. Despite turnout declining in every single set of European parliamentary elections since they were first introduced in 1979 – and despite the European Commission’s polling suggesting that trust in EU institutions, at 31 per cent, is at an all-time low – members of the EU elite march on towards “ever closer union”, incompetently, indifferently, in denial.

Consider Viviane Reding, the former EC vice-president. In a recent interview with me for my al-Jazeera show Head to Head, she urged her former colleagues on the (unelected) EU commission to behave “like [an] army” and a “government” moving forward at “full speed”. “You cannot have 28 [member states] doing whatever they want,” Reding told me.

It’s as if the European elections never happened. As Bertolt Brecht once put it, “Would it not be easier . . . for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?” Or as the new EC president, Jean-Claude Juncker, pompously proclaimed, in reference to the 2005 French referendum on the EU constitution: “If it’s a Yes, we will say, ‘On we go,’ and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We continue.’”

That isn’t a description of democracy that I recognise. To talk of a “democratic deficit” at the heart of the EU project would be a gross understatement. If the EU were a nation state and tried to join the EU, it would probably be rejected for not being democratic enough.

So, where have all of its progressive critics gone? The left across Europe has been seduced by the EU’s promise of workers’ rights – forgetting that you can’t enjoy those rights if you don’t have a job to begin with. Mass unemployment is now a fact of life across swaths of the EU and, especially, the eurozone. More than half of young people are jobless in both Greece and Spain, yet unelected Eurocrats still want more growth-choking austerity.

This is a political and economic scandal, not to mention a human tragedy. And progressives should be saying so. But the left in the UK has ceded all the Eurosceptic terrain to the xenophobes and the “Little Englanders”, to Ukip and the Tory right. We were wrong then. Let’s not be wrong now.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer at the NS and the political director of Huffington Post UK, where this column is crossposted. His “Head to Head” with Viviane Reding will be broadcast on al-Jazeera English on 28 November

Mecca: The Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar review – ‘The pilgrimage is now an adjunct to the retail’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 November, 2014 - 07:30
The House of Saud will not like this book, which argues that the holiest site in Islam has become a centre of brash consumerism and architectural folly

Mecca is the shrine of Islam, with the Ka’bah, a cube of black stone, at its centre. Growing up in Punjab and London in the 1960s, Ziauddin Sardar turned to the Ka’bah not only when he prayed in its direction five times daily, but also to interrogate himself morally. “There was never a doubt,” he writes in a sentence that shows the amplitude of the Muslim identity, “that I must always look to Mecca if I was to amount to anything worthwhile in the world”, and in another, suggestive of the human need both for solitude and togetherness, “to be at Mecca is the taproot of individual identity and the common link of an entire worldwide community”.

In the early seventh century Mecca was the locus for the only miracle on which all Muslims concur – the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad – and after that the city contrived to be both conceptually vital and geographically marginal to the earthly empires founded in his name. A Mecca-less Islam would have no justification and an otherwise icon-hating creed would be without its icon, the Ka’bah. And so the life of the city, conveniently located far from the interstices of Eurasian history, in scalding, wind-whipped western Arabia, became the alternative life of Islam itself.

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French Isis fighters filmed burning passports and calling for terror at home

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 November, 2014 - 01:56

Emergence of video showing four men comes as France reels from the identification of two of its nationals partaking in a mass beheading in Syria

A film released by Islamic State (Isis) shows jihadi fighters burning French passports and calling on others to bring terror to the streets of the European country.

Released by one of Isis’s main media outlets, Al Hayat, the video shows four men who purport to be from France, including three who deliver messages in French to camera.

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Halal products may be funding Islamist extremism, claims Nationals MP

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 November, 2014 - 00:42

Abbott government backbencher George Christensen says it’s ‘outrageous’ his grocery dollars are going towards a ‘religious tax’

Consumers who buy halal products could be funding Islamist extremism, an Abbott government backbencher claims.

In an opinion article titled Terror in the Tucker Box, Nationals MP George Christensen questions whether shoppers who buy goods with the halal logo are funding a push for Sharia law – or even backing terrorists.

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Schools accused of failing to protect children from extremism

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 November, 2014 - 23:02
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw is to say seven schools in Tower Hamlets must take more action to protect students

An outstanding state secondary school and a group of independent Muslim faith schools in London’s east end are to be criticised for safeguarding failures and branded as inadequate after Ofsted inspectors raised a string of concerns over protecting pupils from extremism, the Guardian has learned.

Among the issues highlighted were sixth formers at one school posting links to Islamist extremist matter via a Facebook page claiming to be associated with the school and separate entrances for boys and girls at the same school.

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China Targets ‘Wild Imams’ In Mass Public Sentencing

Loon Watch - 19 November, 2014 - 18:54

Imam calls on Muslim Uighurs for their afternoon prayer with home-made iron loudspeaker on roof of Kuqa Mosque second biggest mosque in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

(Reuters)China has jailed almost two dozen people including “wild imams” who preach illegally in the western region of Xinjiang where the government says Islamists are waging a violent campaign for a separate state, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.

The 22 suspects were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 16 years at a mass public sentencing in Xinjiang on Monday, the state-controlled China News Service reported.

As well as the imams, or Muslim religious leaders, those sentenced included religious leaders who engaged in religious activities after being sacked, as well as those who broke the law while at their posts, it said.

Others were accused of inciting ethnic hatred, using superstition to destroy the law, and picking quarrels and provoking trouble, it said.

Xinjiang is home to a mostly Muslim minority group known as Uighurs.

China has vowed to crack down on religious extremism, which it blames for a string of violent attacks this year in Xinjiang and elsewhere. Exiles and activists say Chinese controls on the religion and culture of the Uighur people is more a cause of the violence than well-organized militant groups.

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From Financing Homes the Sharia Way to Brokering Real Estate the Modern Way

Muslim Matters - 19 November, 2014 - 17:00

The “Guidance” brand is synonymous with leadership and authenticity in the world of Islamic Finance. As a subsidiary of Capital Guidance, a 40-year old investment company, Guidance Financial Group (“GF Group”) was conceived over 10 years ago to focus on the Islamic financial services sector. Its subsidiary, Guidance Residential, became a highly respected and recognized institution in the Islamic home finance industry and is today's leading US provider of Sharia-compliant home financing.

To build on this success, earlier this year, GF Group launched its second U.S. subsidiary to also be mainly focused on the housing industry. The new company, Guidance Realty Homes, is a premier real estate brokerage that is rapidly growing with new offices in San Diego, Orlando, and the Greater NYC area.

Although far from being a household name just yet, Guidance Realty Homes is an innovative, technologically savvy and incredibly service-oriented real estate brokerage that promises consumers three things; convenience, simplicity and savings. That's because Guidance Realty Homes is committed to a new and better way to buy and sell homes in today's technology-driven real estate market.

Gone are the days when real estate agents printed a stack of listings from the MLS and handed them to their buyers for review. These days, a vast majority of buyers use their computers, smartphones or tablets to find their dream homes. Realizing the critical importance of harnessing the power of technology, Guidance Realty Homes launched earlier this year a powerful property search website and mobile app designed to allow buyers to view, share and save online listings.

The site also allows buyers to calculate what their estimated mortgage payments would look like on each property and furthermore pre-qualify for financing using its sister company, Guidance Residential. With just a few clicks, clients can now pre-qualify for financing, let their agents know they have added properties to their virtual list of “favorites” and begin scheduling their showings.

“We are empowering buyers to do their own research,” said Hussam Qutub, President of Guidance Realty Homes. “By creating a profile our clients can choose to receive regular listing alerts, or they can be proactive by having the most advanced search tools right at their fingertips.”

The app allows buyers to gain a thorough, accurate picture of the neighborhood they're considering with dozens of local area data points, such as gas stations, schools, public transportation, restaurants and more. The website,, offers walkability scores, commuting scores, school ratings and dining scores.

“With this level of transparency and education, all at a click of a mouse, buyers are beginning to make some decisions – mostly in the initial phase of the process – without involving a real estate agent,” Qutub said.

There's more. All this access puts buyers in the driver's seat and subsequently affords them a discount in the form of a rebate equaling a half a percent of the purchase price paid from commissions at closing. “That rebate to us represents the fact that technology has begun to assist us in serving consumers in the initial phase of the process,” Qutub said. He adds “we believe that buyers who get involved in the vetting and filtering process deserve a financial reward that can help them offset some of the expenses associated with moving in to that new house”.

Following that same spirit, Guidance Residential, has begun offering buyers who use the site and its agents a $350 appraisal credit when financing online with them. “Everything is done electronically now, including documentation,” Qutub said. “We use e-signing, which makes the whole process as simple and straightforward and cost-effective as possible. We believe it can be a pleasant and much more user-friendly experience.”

And clients agree. Since Guidance Realty Homes launched in February of this year, the company has served numerous buyers and sellers in New York, California and Orlando. Plans call for further expansion into more markets in Texas; Illinois; and Washington, D.C.

Buyers are not the only ones being wowed with discounts. Sellers are also experiencing the unique difference Guidance Realty Homes offers. “We go above and beyond with sellers, beginning with a fantastic online tool that allows them to access a very accurate valuation of their home,” Qutub said. “This gives a very detailed valuation using the best assessment tool on the market.”

Once a client decides to sell, his/her listing agent presents a highly detailed and targeted marketing plan that includes professional high-definition photography, submission of property to the MLS, open houses, and best of all a discounted listing fee. Even with a listing, Guidance Realty Homes says their service is never diminished and their agents, led by seasoned brokers, are highly committed to helping sellers pocket more of their equity for perhaps the next major purchase.

Currently, Guidance Realty Homes is focused on growing their three branches. The brokers in charge of the three offices are not only qualified local real estate experts but are active members of the Muslim community. The Orlando office is lead by Tariq Saleem, an award-winning broker and designated Realtor who has serviced the real estate industry of Central Florida for more than a decade. In San Diego, the broker is Nasser Alameddin who is a seasoned real estate professional with over 20 years of experience in the business. Last but certainly not least, the New York City office, located in Queens, is led by Sami Kabir who has more than a decade of real estate expertise under his belt.

Guidance Realty Homes Advantages

BUY FOR LESS: Buyers save 0.5% off the purchase price

SELL FOR MORE: Sellers keep 0.5% of their listing price

$350 appraisal credit for buyers when financing online with Guidance Residential

The Guidance Realty Homes app allows buyers to gain a thorough, accurate picture of the neighborhood with many of local area data points, such as gas stations, schools, public transportation, restaurants, and many more

The website,, offers walkability, commuting, and dining scores as well as school ratings

The post From Financing Homes the Sharia Way to Brokering Real Estate the Modern Way appeared first on

Are we really much better than the Greeks?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 19 November, 2014 - 11:10

Brightly painted wooden cage-like cells, photographed in a care home in GreeceLast Friday there was a story on the BBC website on a state home for both children and adults with learning disabilities in Greece, in which some of the inmates, who have conditions including Down’s syndrome and autism, are kept locked in cages for most of the time, have no access to personal possessions and rarely leave the centre. Other abuses have been documented over the past ten years, including people tied hand and foot to their beds and one 16-year-old boy who died and was found to have swallowed bandages as a result of poor supervision. A modern centre for people disabilities exists in the area was built with EU money and currently houses the head of an association for people with disabilities and their families, but has no residents as the Greek state has no money to staff it. The director of this centre has not been paid for a year.

I don’t think anyone in the UK should be feeling superior about this revelation. What’s puzzling is the continual surprise that this is happening in Europe in 2014, when this sort of thing has been happening in both western and eastern Europe throughout the modern era. Europe is not as civilised as we middle-class people like to think; there have been two genocides in Europe in living memory. We sat up and took notice of the Romanian orphans in 1989, but that was because we could blame Ceausescu and Communism; the Greeks were always on ‘our side’ (in fact, Ceausescu was pro-western and had enjoyed favoured trading relations with the west for years, despite Romania nominally being a Warsaw Pact country) so we did not look too closely at what went on outside the tourist resorts. We were more concerned about Mount Athos not admitting women than about disabled children being tied to beds.

There have been some horrific abuses of people, adults and children, with learning disabilities in Britain this century, let alone last. We pretend that Winterbourne View was unique, but the conditions that let it happen, including the low pay and status of carers which results in low recruitment standards, still persist. The CQC recently published a report titled “Three Lives”, one of them being that of a young autistic woman held in a cell in an NHS unit for nine years, her meals being passed to her through a letterbox, nobody going in or out, until inspectors discovered her situation and ordered her release. We are not told how many of the people in that Greek care home are local, but when learning disabled people in this country need (or are thought to need) specialist care or accommodation, they are often sent hundreds of miles from home, and often the conditions they find in these places make their condition worse. In the USA the authorities have tolerated a place that uses electric shock treatment to force autistic children and young adults to comply with their rules and to make them work. Abuse and even neglect can happen when there is plenty of money. It apparently cost more than £12,000 a week to keep the young woman in the CQC report in that bare room.

Part of the reason why such conditions persist in Greece is that the country has not seen the same level of activism and self-advocacy around disability that Britain and the USA have, and that mental disability in particular is greatly more stigmatised there than here. Greece joined the then EEC in 1986 and had been a dictatorship into the 1960s, but the same is true of Spain and Portugal and the same abuses are not reported to be going on there. If we want to improve conditions for disabled people in these homes, perhaps we should set up some kind of distress fund, much as was done for the Romanian orphans in the 90s, but we should certainly lobby the EU, and the dominant economic powers within it, not to impose austerity at the expense of the most vulnerable in the poorer parts of the EU, who after all are not responsible for the bad decisions made by those who ran their countries.

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The Guardian view on the Jerusalem killings: this must not become a holy war | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 November, 2014 - 19:25
The murders in a synagogue were a truly appalling act of violence. Now Israeli and Palestinian leaders must act to prevent their conflict becoming a battle of Muslim against Jew – because religious conflicts can never be solved

No one can look at photographs of Tuesday’s scene at Jerusalem’s Har Nof synagogue without shuddering. The sight of prayer shawls and prayer books drenched in blood stirs the bitterest memories. They are the images of a pogrom. Reports of the event confirm that impression. The murmuring hush of morning worship was broken by what witnesses say was a frenzied attack, the two Palestinian assailants – cousins from East Jerusalem – lashing out with weapons that included guns, knives and a meat cleaver. The floor of a house of prayer was turned red.

People of all faiths – and even of none – will find something especially appalling about this act of violence. Any place of worship is meant to be a sanctuary; that much is understood universally. Inevitably, however, this attack has struck a particular and deep nerve in the Israeli – and Jewish – psyche. Attacks like this were precisely what the creation of the state of Israel was meant to prevent. Israel was to be the one place in the world where Jews could pray in peace and safety. Synagogues in London, Paris or New York have grown used to having a security presence on the door. Now there are calls for the same precaution to be taken in Israel, a bleak thought for a country established to be a safe haven.

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British Muslims feel paralysed by Iraq and Syria conflicts, activist tells synod

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 November, 2014 - 16:29
Fuad Nahdi, first Muslim figure to address Church of England body, says two religions should learn more about each other

The vast majority of British Muslims feel “paralysed” by events in Iraq and Syria, the first Islamic figure to address the General Synod has said.

Fuad Nahdi, an interfaith activist and journalist, told the Church of England body that younger, weaker Muslims were reacting with frustration and in some cases anger to the conflicts in which members of both faiths had been killed.

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Stability and Sustainability: Interview with Dr Hawa Abdi

Muslimah Media Watch - 18 November, 2014 - 10:00
It is a calm and cool afternoon in Nairobi, Kenya, when I catch up with Dr Hawa Abdi over Skype. After working hard in Mogadishu’s difficult circumstances with her two physician daughters Deqo and Amina Mohamed, she sometimes comes to Nairobi to rest and relax. Speaking over a passable internet connection, our conversation is peppered [Read More...]

Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully before and must do so again | Fuad Nahdi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 November, 2014 - 08:59

I hope my presence as the first Muslim to address the General Synod shows that followers of these great religions can be allies

Today I’ll be the first Muslim to address the General Synod of the Church of England. It is a blessing and an honour, and I am humbled by this historic opportunity. But the journey from Noor mosque in my native Mombasa, Kenya, to Church House has been a long and meandering one – full of trials and adventure, but ultimately worth it.

A couple of days ago, Humera, my wife of more than 25 years, asked what would make me consider my life a success. Recovering from a long bout of debilitating illness, I was trying to figure out what would be the best way to pursue the new lease of life that had been granted to me.

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Iran fears Isis militants are part of wider Sunni backlash

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 November, 2014 - 05:00

With Islamic State militants just kilometres from the country’s western border, and increasingly radical anti-Shia militants to the east in Pakistan, Gareth Smyth examines Iran’s Sunni problem

Nearly ten years ago, a story circulating in Tehran had Mohammad Khatami say of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his successor as president, “No matter how extreme you are, you will always be in a queue behind Ousama [bin Laden].”

This may well have been an urban folk tale, but it highlighted a fear that Ahmadinejad’s assertive Shi’ism was not in Iran’s best interests. Rather than spread Iranian influence, unleash a revolution of the world’s dispossessed, or liberate Jerusalem from the Israelis, Iranian radicalism carried the danger of a backlash from Sunnis Muslims, who are around 80% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, while Shia are 10-15% and a majority in only Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain.

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