Glasgow murder of Asad Shah spurred by sectarianism in Pakistan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 August, 2016 - 17:07

Division between Ahmadiyya community and orthodox Muslims may have driven Tanveer Ahmed to kill shopkeeper

A sectarian dispute in Pakistan was played out in Glasgow when Bradford taxi driver Tanveer Ahmed stabbed shopkeeper Asad Shah to death in a religiously motivated murder.

Simmering hatred towards Britain’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community spilled over into violence the day before Good Friday this year when Shah was murdered in his shop by Ahmed, who remained defiant even as he was sentenced on Tuesday.

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Family of boy arrested over homemade clock sues Texas school officials

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2016 - 18:54

Federal lawsuit on behalf of Ahmed Mohamed says his civil rights were violated as school’s actions prompted death threats and forced family to leave US

The family of a Muslim boy who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Texas school officials and others, saying the incident violated the 14-year-old boy’s civil rights, prompted death threats and forced them to leave the United States.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested at his suburban Dallas high school in September and charged with having a hoax bomb. He says he brought the homemade digital clock to school to show his English teacher.

Related: Ahmed Mohamed and his clock shed light on barriers Muslim scientists face

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The perils of ‘flying while Muslim’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2016 - 18:12
Last week a British woman was detained after reading a book about Syria on a flight. Her case highlights the paranoia and discrimination faced by Muslim passengers. So, who’s to blame – airlines, governments or a culture of fear?

On March 26 this year, Hasan Aldewachi was on his way back from a science conference in Vienna, and looking forward to seeing his family. As he took his seat on the flight to Gatwick, he sent his wife a text message to let her know the plane was delayed. A woman sitting across the aisle got up and left her seat. Moments later the police arrived.

The Iraqi-born Sheffield Hallam student was asked to leave the plane and held for four hours. After his phone was confiscated, he was left at the airport with no onward ticket or refund. The reason? His message was in Arabic.

Related: The 'No Fly List' operates in secret, and its power to exclude is vast | Jeffrey Kahn

Related: Treating Muslim children as terror suspects does not make Britain safer | Homa Khaleeli

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Ukip's Lisa Duffy wants to ban Muslim veil in public venues

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2016 - 09:01

Leadership hopeful also wants to close down Islamic faith schools and prohibit sharia courts in Britain

A Ukip leadership candidate is calling for a ban on Muslim women wearing a veil in public buildings, shopping centres and on buses and trains.

Lisa Duffy will also demand the closure of Islamic faith schools until the problem of Islamist terrorism is dealt with, as well as a “complete and comprehensive ban” on sharia courts in the UK.

Related: Ukip leadership candidates: the golliwog fan, the Putin admirer and the semi-professional wrestler

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As a psychiatrist I've seen how culture affects views of mental illness

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2016 - 07:45

Persuading one south Asian family that their mentally ill daughter was not possessed by a demon showed me NHS staff need greater cultural awareness

“I am already dead! I have been buried.” said a young south Asian girl on the psychiatric ward. Prior to her admission she had stopped going to school, and instead isolated herself in her room spending hours on the internet searching for her grave. She was not eating much and losing weight. There had been occasions when she wandered off at night. With poor eye contact and slow speech, she added: “I can feel the worms crawling inside my body.”

After an assessment she was found to have developed a severe form of depression with Cotard syndrome (a rare mental illness in which the affected person holds the delusional belief that he or she is already dead). She wanted me to let her access the internet so she could view her grave online. Her family thought that the girl was possessed by a jinn (a demon in Muslim culture). The family wanted to take her to a spiritual healer, away from the hospital, but we were concerned about her wellbeing.

Related: How can mental health services deliver better care for black patients?

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Yes, Black lives matter. But so do other people’s journeys

Indigo Jo Blogs - 7 August, 2016 - 23:02

Image of a protest at a roundabout outside Heathrow Airport, in the background of which is a sign saying "Welcome to Heathrow". There is a banner saying "Black Lives Matter" and in the foreground is the stationary traffic held up by the protest, including cars, a tipper truck and two buses.Last week I was working at a site just north of Heathrow airport, the quickest route to which is down the Heathrow spur and off at the bottom. On Friday morning I was returning from a delivery run to Neasden and turned off the M4 at junction 4, to find a queue of stationary traffic in the spur road. After a couple of changes of the lights I was able to get back on the M4 and got to my workplace via the Colnbrook junction instead. By the time I left the site for my next run, the traffic had built up back to the Hayes exit and into secondary roads around the airport (like Sipson Road, which runs alongside the spur). It transpired that the road was closed because a group of “Black Lives Matter” protesters had blocked the bottom of the spur by lying down on the road and unfurling a banner reading “This is a crisis”. Although police opened one lane, the blockage of that road remained in place for several hours and traffic was still being diverted via Hayes in the late morning.

Although I wasn’t seriously inconvenienced, that was really a matter of luck that I didn’t arrive at junction 4 20 minutes or so earlier (and that delay was because I was late for work). The people who were stuck in that queue were there for hours and some of them, I don’t doubt, missed their flights or were late for work. I looked at my Twitter feed during a spare moment and there were a lot of BLM sympathisers claiming that they did not care about those people’s discomfort, that protest necessarily causes inconvenience, and that if black lives matter less to you than your holiday then they clearly don’t mean much to you at all, making the protest all the more justified, with a few quotes from Martin Luther King thrown in. These included people I know as well as some well-known journalists and writers such as Ava Vidal, Bridget Minamore and Samantha Asumadu of Writers of Colour.

These arguments show ignorance. They assumed that all the people they held up were middle-class white people off on business or their holidays. Some of them were on their way to work. One or two of them might have been late once too many times, perhaps because they had too many childcare issues to make it into work on time consistently. Not all of those who missed their flights could have just jumped on another flight later; that depends on the conditions attached to their tickets, but those who could were probably the wealthier travellers. Some of them who had to come back another day might have missed their last chance to see a dying relative abroad. Some of those caught up in the jams might have missed visiting hours to see a relative in a hospital away from home. Some of the travellers were probably disabled and had assistance booked which might not have been present on any later flight, and some of those probably needed to get to a toilet before the flight they expected to get on. (The same was probably true of some of the children.) A friend told me that her disabled daughter had in the past been hospitalised as a result of being caught up in protest-related delays, and was rounded on when she pointed this out in regard to last Friday’s protest. Not all the travellers were white and not all of them were British citizens.

A few years ago I remember reading a story about a Muslim couple who were on their way to Dubai via Manchester airport. They were held for several hours for a security interview, and were eventually released as there was no grounds to hold them other than their religion and, no doubt, their dress, but they missed their flight — and were not able to reschedule, meaning they missed their holiday all because of a malicious and prejudiced decision by border staff, and did not get a refund. This is what would have happened to at least some of the people held up by the protest on Friday, all because a bunch of people they did not know decided to involve them in something they had nothing to do with, without warning and without their consent.

BLM boasted that they were going to “shut down” London and other major cities on Friday. They did not “shut down” Heathrow. The M4 spur road is the main access to the tunnel leading to terminals 2 and 3 (you can also access it from the A4 or the perimeter roads); terminals 4 and 5 and the cargo terminal, as well as airport maintenance, car rentals etc., are accessed from the M25, A30 and/or the perimeter roads. They did not even block the route leading from the nearby Harmondsworth immigration removal centre to the tunnels. They just held up a bunch of innocent travellers or people who were going to drop off or pick up relatives or friends from the airport.

The BLM sympathisers on Twitter also accused their critics of using the “tone argument”, i.e. that causing inconvenience harms your cause and that you might be a bit more effective if you were a bit “nicer” and less strident — another argument that dates back to the US civil rights movement and is commonly thrown at anyone who takes exception to foul language or other unpleasant behaviour by activists online. But it’s not about the effectiveness of your movement. It’s about the fact that you took an action that could have caused huge losses to people who did not have money to throw down the drain, and who might have saved for the whole year or more, or whose children had been expecting a holiday and who now had to be entertained otherwise, or expecting to see relatives they rarely saw since their family split up, or something. You just had no right to do that. It’s not the same as being stuck in a jam caused by a well-organised protest where, for example, buses are curtailed or diverted temporarily and people are forewarned. People knew there would be a demonstration in east London; nobody knew about this until it happened. The right to protest for everyone is put at risk if people cause vastly disproportionate disruption with a frivolous protest.

And some of the responses from their supporters boiled down to “boo hoo”. Well, if I was stuck in that jam and missed my flight, I might have said the same if the police had arrived mob-handed an, bundled these idiots into vans and drove them away in under a minute, which they could easily have done. The fact that they allowed this drama to go on for hours shows that they are more disciplined and less brutal than they are often thought to be, and certainly much less so than the American police whose actions prompted the real Black Lives Matter movement — not the me-too British version.

To get around the obvious fact that the police killing situation is not quite the same here as in the USA, where the wave of police and vigilante killings of mostly innocent Black men, women, young people and children that prompted the protests that became Black Lives Matter started after the most recent contested police killing in the UK in 2011, sympathisers point to a slew of other racial issues such as the treatment of refugees and the failure of doctors to diagnose skin cancer in Black people (which Ava Vidal tweeted about). I know of many people with chronic or life-threatening conditions, some of whom were misdiagnosed with either trivial or psychological conditions and denied proper treatment or their liberty for months or years on the basis. Most weren’t Black. Most were women and girls. Medical prejudice and misdiagnosis is not principally a race issue.

I support BLM in the USA. The British version seems to be an attempt to dominate the discussion on racial justice (note that they chose Whitechapel, a Bengali area, as the focus for their London protests). They justify themselves with a mixture of historical injustices and modern issues which do not solely affect Black people, including the treatment of refugees and unjust immigration laws. These things do not justify causing serious disruption to travellers in the name of “Black lives matter”, even if you use “Black” to mean any non-white person (which I suspect the African-Americans who coined the term didn’t). In case they haven’t noticed, the British (or rather, English) public voted six weeks ago to leave the EU, jeopardising the right of hundreds of thousands of (mostly White) EU citizens, and particularly those from eastern Europe, to live in this country. Nobody is threatening the same to Black people who are British citizens.

Of all the groups of people who are getting it in the neck right now, Black people per se are quite far down on the list below Muslims, disabled people and other presumed benefit claimants, and immigrants (and anyone who looks or dresses like them), all of whom are routinely the focus of hostile press coverage. There was simply no justification for this action and the people responsible should be held fully accountable for any losses incurred as a result.

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The Investigation that revealed nothing

Indigo Jo Blogs - 6 August, 2016 - 20:01

Picture of a girl, a man and a woman (all white) standing in front of a window. The girl (Sam) has curly hair and is wearing a black top with a white or light grey stripe across the upper chest and a red and white tartan knee-length skirt. The man (Russell) has a light-coloured shirt with no tie, and a beige pair of trousers. The woman (Carole) has short blonde hair and is wearing a white, red and black striped dress and a black jacket and is holding a bag in her left hand. The man's arms are round both the other two.Last Thursday night, the last in a four-part series called The Investigator showed on ITV. The series attempted, or purported, to investigate the death of Carole Packman, who disappeared in 1986 after attempting to leave an abusive marriage to the man who killed her, Russell Packman (now Causley), who had moved his girlfriend Patricia Causley (whose surname he took) in with her and their daughter Samantha. Russell was jailed for his murder on circumstantial evidence despite no body ever having been found; he has always proclaimed his innocence, until briefly during the making of this programme. As a result of Causley’s attempts to gain parole, Samantha and her son Neil had asked that he reveal where the body is buried and Mark Williams-Thomas, who boasts that he broke the scandal over Jimmy Savile, offered to help. The result was a series that revealed almost nothing, treating things that were already known as revelations, and appeared to be manipulated by Russell Causley, reading out letters ostensibly from him first confessing to the murder and detailing how he had done it, then changing that story, before finally retracting his confession.

In part 1, Williams-Thomas interviewed Carole’s daughter, Samantha, who told of her stylish and vivacious mother, describing her father as very strict and arrogant but she adored him anyway. Russell was described as a controlling husband who did not allow his wife to have many friends outside the family; neighbours, on the other hand, claimed that she could in fact have disappeared without trace. As Russell brought Patricia into their lives, having sold her flat and given the Packmans the proceeds, her parents made inappropriate demands on Sam, with Russell requiring her to act as look-out while he and Patricia had sex while Carole was in the house. On one incident, Russell dragged Sam out of bed and beat her severely; the next morning, she ran away and spent several weeks in care, but retracted her statement after her father pleaded with her over the phone. Carole attempted to leave the relationship, leaving her wedding ring and a note on a table; she was never seen again. People claiming to be Carole were seen in Germany and in Canada, as well as someone who walked into a police station in the UK with Russell claiming the same. The first two are known to have been Patricia, who used Carole’s passport and Canadian work permit. She denies that the third incident involved her.

Williams-Thomas devotes the second episode to Russell’s attempt to fake his own death, in which Patricia, a solicitor and another friend were to sail his boat from Guernsey to France and then report him missing, when in fact he had travelled back to England and never taken the boat. Williams-Thomas grilled the solicitor about lies he had told about the incident, when in fact he had already been convicted and served time for his role in the fraud. This was the incident that first put Russell in prison, and it was during his time in prison (where he dropped hints about the murder to other prisoners) that police began to suspect that Carole’s disappearance was in fact murder; he was arrested for that on release from his sentence for the fraud.

The last two episodes focus on Russell Causley’s ‘confessions’. He had not communicated with his daughter since being imprisoned for the murder and she did not know where her mother is buried; he started writing letters during the making of this programme, apparently piqued by Patricia’s decision to break off their relationship. He ‘revealed’ in one letter that he had indeed killed Carole, by hitting her over the head and then strangling her, and that he had burned in her body in his back garden on a bed of logs and fuelled also by petrol, that it had taken three days for the body to be reduced to ashes which were then distributed around various sites including a golf course. The police had dismissed the burning story as impossible; Williams-Thomas knew some experts who claimed that it was possible to dispose entirely of a body on a fire in this fashion. They ‘demonstrated’ it by burning a pig’s carcass on an expertly arranged bed of identical pieces of wood (not a heap of logs) in what looked like a warehouse (not a back garden), and it was indeed reduced to ashes and a few bone fragments in a few hours.

This, of course, does not prove that Causley’s explanation was true, as it was in laboratory conditions and conducted by experts; it is nowhere suggested that Russell Causley had ever disposed of any other body, and surely neighbours would not only have noticed a fire burning for three days but also noticed the unusual smell of meat burning. The site was then dug up by another group of experts who used a device that could supposedly identify where a fire had been, and who then analysed what they found in the soil. They did find bone, but it was animal bone.

In the final programme, Russell Causley wrote another letter, changing his story, claiming he buried the body in a ‘beautiful’ location he would not identify, so as not to disturb her peace. He claimed he had done this purely out of love for Patricia, a highly implausible story given that Carole had allowed him to move Patricia into their home. Then, towards the end (after Patricia’s solicitor had told them to expect another ‘significant’ letter from Russell), Russell retracted his confession entirely, claiming that he had no role in Carole’s death and that his only crime was to fall in love, as many men before him have done. Williams-Thomas also claimed to have demonstrated that Patricia was liable to be charged with a number of offences including perverting the course of justice, which he told us more than once had a maximum of life imprisonment; however, although an imprisonable offence, people have received only months for that offence, as it covers such acts as accepting a speeding ticket when someone else was behind the wheel. Dorset Police had said it would make a statement after the programme finished; the statement, in the event, merely said that they had investigated the case many times over the past 30 years, said thanks to ITV and that they could not comment while they considered their new information. Patricia Causley was interviewed under caution, at her own request, and has not been arrested.

And a detail that nobody watching could have failed to notice, but which went entirely unremarked, was that all of Russell Causley’s supposed letters from prison were printed from a computer, not hand-written. The idea that they were indeed from him was never brought into question, and it was never asked why he did not hand-write them, despite the fact that his access to computers would have been limited if he was allowed it at all (pen and paper are allowed in prison cells; computers were not, last I heard). Williams-Thomas mentioned when first revealing the content of Causley’s letters that he had received them through an intermediary whom he could not identify. I hope that when Dorset Police examines the scant evidence that Williams-Thomas’s investigation came up with, they investigate the provenance of those letters as there are people who have a motive for fabricating them. Lying to the police is a criminal offence as is lying in court; lying to a TV crew is not.

All in all, this was a disappointing investigation that revealed nothing of importance. Williams-Thomas allowed himself to be manipulated by Russell Causley more than once, perhaps out of desperation to make a sensational and revelatory programme. I found Williams-Thomas’s manner insensitive, on one occasion while interviewing Sam Gillingham about her father’s behaviour, suddenly breaking off and asking her “do you hate him?”, which clearly took Sam by surprise and which she found it difficult to answer. I don’t believe this is an appropriate way of interviewing an abuse survivor about her experiences; it’s the tactic of someone who wants to make entertainment at their expense. Much as he boasts of his history of exposing celebrity child abusers, he is clearly more interested in sensation than in sensitivity, and in this has allowed himself to be taken for a ride by either Russell Causley or someone else, producing an overlong series that promised much and delivered almost nothing. I know ITV stopped producing documentaries of the calibre of World In Action many years ago but this series should be embarrassing even to them.

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Shooters' body reviews membership of gun owner involved in violent video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 August, 2016 - 02:59

Queensland branch of Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia says ‘we will not tolerate anyone who brings the integrity of our sport into question’

Australia’s peak shooting body is reviewing the membership of a firearms holder who filmed a violent video of what appears to be an effigy of the grand mufti being shot and incinerated.

A series of videos filmed by Shooting Stuff Australia, an online group of gun enthusiasts, has alarmed gun control groups about increasingly violent rhetoric being used by some gun owners.

Related: Gun owners who made video of Grand Mufti effigy being shot face calls for ban

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Abdul Sattar Edhi: ‘The greatest thing Islam teaches is humanity’

altmuslim - 5 August, 2016 - 18:15
Embed from Getty Images By Salman Hasan Ali Adul Sattar Edhi, arguably the world’s greatest and perhaps least known humanitarian, passed away last month; he was 88 years old. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (“We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”). Some people called Edhi a saint, others called him maulana (Islamic scholar); but [Read More...]

French mayor attacks plans for 'burkini' pool party

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 August, 2016 - 15:48

Michel Amiel, mayor of Les Pennes-Mirabeau, says he may seek to ban private event because it is ‘threat to public order’

A French mayor is threatening to ban a private “burkini party” at an indoor swimming pool in Provence after describing it as a “provocation”.

Michel Amiel, the mayor of Les Pennes-Mirabeau, said he was “shocked and angry” after learning of the event.

Related: French Muslim student banned from school for wearing long black skirt

Related: Pork or nothing: how school dinners are dividing France

Related: France's false 'battle of the veil' | Naima Bouteldja

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