Chuka Umunna does a runner when others might blather

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 20:01
The shadow business secretary confuses Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan with unusual honesty about not having read Eric Pickles’ letter to Muslim leaders

On reflection, Chuka Umunna may now wish he had come better prepared. With most of Westminster talking of little else but Eric Pickles’ letter to Muslim leaders all morning, it was not unreasonable of Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan to ask the shadow business secretary if he thought it was patronising. But Umunna had not read it and was not going to pretend he had. Murnaghan looked amazed. “I can do you a few more minutes on David Cameron’s employment speech, if you like,” Umunna said helpfully.

This was not what Murnaghan had in mind at all. “We’ve already forgotten the prime minister’s fairly dull speech,” he said (in as many words). “Just give me a few words that will make a story. Patronising or not patronising, that is the question.” Realising that he was now the one being patronised, Umunna did a runner mid-interview.Ministers must often wish they could do the same during departmental questions in the Commons. But saying “thank you for asking me that question but, the thing is, I really haven’t mugged up on that. I know I should have done and I apologise for that, but I am not going to waste everyone’s time by blahing on non-committally about something I know nothing about,” isn’t an option.

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Charlie Hebdo protests continue across the Muslim world - video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 19:27
Protests against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo continue across the world with around 800,000 people rallying in Chechnya. The president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, condemns the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and says Europe has learnt nothing from the attacks. In Pakistan, a crowd gathers to burn effigies of the French president wrongly draped in the Italian flag. In Gaza, protesters carry Islamic State flags and pictures of the Kouachi brothers as they try to gain entry to the French cultural centre Continue reading...

What to do with the freedom to give gratuitous offence | Letters from Jeremy Corbyn, Lindsey German, Jurgen Schwiening, Anne Thackeray, Sabby Sagall and others

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 19:17

Religions, so Pope Francis declared (Report, 16 January) in response to the murderous attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Jewish shoppers, have a dignity that we must respect. He no doubt believes that to give religions such privilege would limit aggression and hate. The problem is that there can be no agreement as to what constitutes a religion that would thus be entitled to have its dignity protected. More importantly, many religions, like his own, claim to be the only gateway to God. On that basis, holy wars, the killing of “infidels”, “heretics” and adherents of the “wrong” religion were justified and declared a holy duty. “Deus lo vult” was the battlecry of the crusaders who, on and off for two centuries, massacred Albigensians, Muslims and Jews, and ransacked their homes. A few hundred years later the great reformer Martin Luther advised the German princes to follow the example of other Christian countries “for the honour of God and of Christianity” to drive out “this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews”.

It would have been more helpful had the pontiff supported the humanist view that every human being has an inherent dignity that must be protected. An attack on that is a blemish on our own worth and diminishes us as moral beings. To understand that, we don’t need any religion.

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FearBusters: Conquering Our Fears

Muslim Matters - 19 January, 2015 - 18:17

Sometimes I wonder and ask myself if the prophets were ever afraid? Was Moses 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) afraid when he was leading his followers away from the Pharoah's army and ended up stuck in front of the sea? How about Abraham, before he was tossed into a giant, blazing fire? What about Noah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)? Was he afraid of what people might think of him when he was building a ship in the middle of the desert? How about Jesus when his message was only accepted by a few loyal followers? Or his mother who found out she was pregnant even though she had never been with a man? What about Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), when he was facing physical and verbal abuse from his own people? Or when he and his followers were kicked out of their own homes and hometown, forced to start from scratch in a new city?

As human beings with emotions, they must have felt some sense of fear while facing these incredible obstacles, right? This curiosity regarding whether the prophets felt fear or not led me to a simple conclusion: What they felt during these critical times, I may never find out (until insha'Allah I can ask them myself in Jannah). However, what I do know for sure is that THEIR FAITH WAS ALWAYS STRONGER THAN THEIR FEARS.

You see the prophets understood this very powerful principle despite their fears. The strength of their faith always outweighed their fears, thus overcoming the daunting obstacles that life threw their way and ultimately fulfilling their greater purpose in life.

But how many of us don't follow in their examples? How many of us allow our fears to get the best of us and hold us back from living out our greater purpose in life and achieving all the great things that we have the potential to achieve?

This series of articles is about that dirty 4 letter word that I think all of us should despise and fight with all of our mental, emotional and spiritual strength:  FEAR.


Here are some of the negative results of living a life in which our fears are stronger than our faith:

Fear cripples us; it prevents us from seeking to do and become more. Fear encourages sameness which oftentimes means stagnation and lack of growth. Fear causes us to not actively seek to live out the best version of ourselves.

  • Fear is almost always not real. What I mean by that is that our fears our self-created and don't actually exist. Think about it….often times we fear things that won't and can't cause harm to us. It's all in our heads, but since it's in our minds it becomes our reality.
  • Fear is a tool that shaytaan uses to limit our ability to do great things. It is a tool he uses to keep us under his influence or the influence of things both tangible and intangible (substances – the fear of giving them up; negative thoughts etc.) rather than be completely free, which is the state that we enter into when we fear only God.
  • Fear is an emotion that highly successful people overcome. Look back at the example of the prophets that I mentioned earlier. In my business, I work with highly successful people day in and day out, and one of their shared qualities is that they do not let fear influence their decision making.
  • Fear is something that Allah removes from the hearts of those who have faith and follow it up with good action. Therefore, if we have true faith in Allah's words then we trust Him and know that he has removed fear from our hearts. Allah mentions the word khawf in that form 26 times in the Qur'an (based on my limited research on the topic), more than 20 of those are assuring the believers that Allah removes fear from us. Here's an example of one of those verses:5_69

“Indeed, those who have believed [in Prophet Muhammad] and those [before Him] who were Jews or Sabeans or Christians – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (5:69)

  • Fear in some cases can keep us from doing the right thing. Allah mentions an example of this from the story of Moses 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in the Qur'an:83

“But no one believed Moses, except [some] youths among his people, for fear of Pharaoh and his establishment that they would persecute them. And indeed, Pharaoh was haughty within the land, and indeed, he was of the transgressors.” (10.83)

As you can see from this verse, it was ONLY the few young people that did not have fear in their hearts who made the right choice of following Moses rather than the Pharoah.

These are just some examples of how fear can negatively impact our lives.

In this series, I will address 8 of the most common fears that we human beings have, and offer some simple principles on how to overcome these fears. The fears that I will discuss in this series are the following:

Fear of Poverty Fear of Criticism Fear of Poor Health Fear of Loss of Love Fear of Change Fear of Old Age Fear of Death Fear of Failure

As a personal and professional coach, I help people overcome their fears on a daily basis, so I have quite a bit of experience with this topic. I love seeing people overcome their fears and get the most out of their lives. If there's one thing that I've seen time and time again destroy the dreams and aspirations of people, it's their own fears and doubts.


I'm a self-proclaimed FEAR BUSTER! For those of you who are old enough to remember the movie Ghost Busters, you can go ahead and start singing the song in your head now, but just exchange the word “Ghost” for the word “Fear”.

I've tried to always push the limits of my life and overcome my own personal fears and doubts. I have taken many risks in my life, some led to great results and others not so much. However, the one thing that I have consciously done is to make sure that I don't let my fears stop me from seeking to live out my best life possible and to achieve the greater purpose for what I was created to do/accomplish.

Read 21 Lessons in Leadership from Prophet Muhammad [saw] By Adnan Jalali

I ask Allah to bless us with faith that is much stronger than our fears. I ask Allah to help us overcome our fears and not let them limit us and what we accomplish in our lives.

Let's do this….


To be continued.

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Muslim Women’s Network chair: ‘A lot of women suffer in silence’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 17:35
As the head of a national charity for Muslim women, Shaista Gohir is determined to give voice to those who need it to fight against abuse, persecution and inequality

“We had a lady call because her neighbour’s daughter kept coming round to her house,” Shaista Gohir, chair of the national charity Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWN), tells me. “She couldn’t understand why this 13-year-old Muslim girl wanted to spend so much time with her. Finally, she had a long chat with the girl, who told her that when her parents went out her older cousins would come round. The cousins had been sexually abusing this girl for two years.”

Gohir says she convinced the neighbour, who was worried the parents might marry off their daughter if they found out about the abuse, to call social services. “But she still felt bad about not telling the girl’s parents herself. In the end, she told the father and he believed his daughter.

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Eric Pickles is "absolutely right" to send letter to Muslim leaders, says David Cameron - video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 17:25
David Cameron says communities secretary, Eric Pickles, is "absolutely right" to send a letter to Muslim leaders, in which he asked them to "explain and demonstrate" how faith in Islam can be part of British identity. Cameron says the letter is a reasonable, sensible and moderate request to help deal with the issue of radicalism. He says anyone who has an issue with the letter "has a problem" Continue reading...

Up to 800,000 Chechens protest over cartoons of prophet Muhammad

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 17:12

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he would die to protect prophet’s name in wake of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘vulgar’ images

Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Russia’s Chechnya region on Monday against what its Kremlin-backed leader called the “vulgar and immoral” cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published by French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Mixing pro-Islamic chants and anti-western rhetoric, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov criticised Europe to chants of “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) as the protesters stood along the main thoroughfare of Chechnya’s capital, Grozny.

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Cameron backs Pickles’ letter to Muslim leaders

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 13:37
Prime minister says it is right to call on Muslims to help deal with radicalisation, but Islamic leaders object to being singled out

David Cameron has said it was right for Eric Pickles to write a letter to Muslim leaders in which he asked them to “explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity”.

In a letter sent to more than 1,000 Islamic leaders (pdf), Pickles stressed that he was proud of the way Muslims in Britain had responded to the Paris terror attacks, but said there was more work to do in rooting out extremists and preventing young people from being radicalised.

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UK Muslim Council raises objections to Eric Pickles letter to Islamic leaders

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 09:13
Communities secretary’s letter appears to suggest ‘Muslims and Islam are inherently apart from British society’, says council

The Muslim Council of Britain has raised objections to a letter from the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, asking Muslim leaders to “explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity”.

In a letter sent to more than 1,000 Islamic leaders (pdf), Pickles stressed that he was proud of the way Muslims in Britain had responded to the Paris terror attacks, but added that there was “more work to do” in rooting out extremists and preventing young people being radicalised.

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Open door: The readers’ editor on… the Guardian’s values and Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of Muhammad | Chris Elliott

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 January, 2015 - 08:59
We did not use offensive images the magazine had published before the killings at its offices, but we did show the cover it produced afterwards. I think we struck the right balance

Two decisions were key to the Guardian’s coverage of the killings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris – one not to reproduce offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that the magazine had published before the killings, and the second to show the front cover of the magazine produced afterwards, which also featured an image of Muhammad.

Both decisions divided readers. One wrote: “The publication [of the Charlie Hebdo front cover] was a completely wrong decision and … can do nothing but cause further insult and distress and increase tensions in an already volatile situation. Shame on you.”

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Nigeria is failing its citizens over Boko Haram | Letters: Sami Akaki and others

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2015 - 19:33

The question raised in your headline (Why did the world ignore Boko Haram’s Baga attacks?,, 12 January) implies the usual western conspiracy and/or neocolonial design, which is often used by some of my fellow Africans to explain away our failure to sort out our own problems. While we strongly condemn the terrorist attacks in both France and Nigeria, the question about Boko Haram should be aimed directly at the Nigerian authorities and the African Union, who have the primary responsibilities for maintaining peace and security in Nigeria and the continent respectively.

On paper at least, Nigeria and Africa are fulfilling their responsibilities, as demonstrated by the April 2014 report by the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute, which showed that whereas military spending continues to fall in the west, it is rising everywhere else, especially in Africa, where the figures “increased by 8.3% in 2013, reaching an estimated $44.9 billion”.

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Germany’s anti-Islamic movement Pegida is a vampire we must slay | Timothy Garton Ash

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2015 - 18:20
As suspicion of Muslims grows in Germany and France, the danger of a vicious spiral is palpable. We need to counter this xenophobia now – before it is too late

No, no, surely not. On top of everything else, not that. Three days before a young Eritrean was murdered in Dresden, a swastika was daubed on the door of his flat. On the evening he was stabbed to death, last Monday, the xenophobic movement already known around the world as Pegida had held its largest demonstration so far in that lovely city on the River Elbe. And it’s not just Germany. As a foiled Islamist terrorist plot in Belgium follows hard on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, politicians on the xenophobic, anti-immigration far right are looking to pick up votes across Europe. There is a real and present danger of a downward spiral in which radicalised minorities, Muslim and anti-Muslim, will drag anxious majorities, non-Muslim and Muslim, in the wrong direction. Only a conscious, everyday effort by each one of us will prevent it.

The Dresden case is fortunately, thus far, not typical of Germany as a whole. Dresden sits at the scenic heart of a quite unusual corner of the former East Germany. Unlike most big west German cities, it has a low level of immigration, and little experience of living with cultural difference. In communist times, this corner was known as the “valley of the clueless”, because its inhabitants could not receive West German television broadcasts. Reports suggest that, so far, most of the participants in the Pegida demos have been middle-aged, and therefore shaped by a sheltered life in the old East Germany.

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No, not “regrettable errors”. Lies. #FoxNewsFacts

Indigo Jo Blogs - 18 January, 2015 - 17:15

Image of a St Patrick's Day parade in Birmingham, showing at its centre a white woman and two girls playing drums, with various other white people wearing Irish flags and similar regaliaFox Correction: “We Have Made Some Regrettable Errors On-Air Regarding The Muslim Population In Europe” | Video | Media Matters for America

Fox News, on which a number of ludicrous and obviously false claims about British and French cities, that there were zones and “whole cities” where non-Muslims cannot go, have been made since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, has put out an “apology” in which they “apologised” for things that actually weren’t said. You can see the video at the above link, but here’s a transcript:

A correction now: over the course of this last week, we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France. Now this applies especially to discussions of so-called no-go zones, areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren’t allowed in, and police supposedly won’t go. To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals solely on the basis of their religion. There are certainly areas of high crime in Europe, as there are in the United States and other countries, where police and visitors enter with caution. We deeply regret the errors, and apologise to any and all who may have taken offence, including the people of France and England.

The impression I got when I saw the clip of Steven Emerson claiming that whole cities in the UK, including Birmingham, had become no-go areas for non-Muslims was that he meant non-Muslims were simply scared to enter, rather than that they are officially designated Muslim areas closed to non-Muslims. Birmingham is Britain’s (not just England’s) second city and has a population of over a million, more than half of which is White British (very few of them converts to Islam; as of 2011, the Muslim proportion of Birmingham’s population was 21.8%). So for Fox News to ‘clarify’ by claiming that they know of no evidence that there are formal Muslim-only areas in Europe really does not dispel the impression that Emerson and others have given.

The idea of Muslim no-go areas has been a common theme of Islamophobic scaremongers for years, and very often they play on the ignorance of a foreign audience. Areas where there are large concentrations of Muslims, where (for example) Muslims feel comfortable to wear traditional dress rather than western dress, and women often wear the niqaab, are presented as “no-go areas” where non-Muslims cannot go without fear. In fact, the area in London most commonly cited (the central part of Tower Hamlets) is crossed by several major commuter rail lines and two main roads out of central London, and also borders the Docklands and contains Banglatown, an important centre of the Indian restaurant industry, which often caters to non-Muslims and serves alcohol. Similarly, when John Reid was heckled by al-Muhajiroun during a speech in east London (in which he told Muslim parents to watch for signs of radicalisation in their children), the media was full of talk of how there should be “no no-go areas”, but in fact what was meant was “how dare you threaten us in our own neighbourhood” (see earlier entry).

Steven Emerson is not a junior reporter; he has been around a very long time and has spent much of that time stirring up hostility to Muslims. He is still most famous for trying to pin the Oklahoma City bombing on Muslims, when in fact it was the work of white right-wing extremists. His career should have been over with that ‘mistake’; that any network would still hire him reflects malice (journalists have been dropped from major networks and newspapers for much less). The claim itself can only have been a deliberate attempt to tell Americans that Europe is being taken over by Muslims and to shore up American support for Israel; if he had just heard that claim, he could have checked the truth of it by looking at the State Department travel advice, the Lonely Planet travel guide, or any other reputable source of information. David Cameron called him a “total idiot”, but really he relies on his audience being stupid, ignorant and too prejudiced to care about the truth of his claims.

Image source: Wikipedia; originally sourced from the Bongo Vongo account on Flickr. Published under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

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David Cameron disagrees with Pope Francis on responding with violence

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2015 - 13:25
PM responds to comments on provoking others by insulting faith, saying in free society there is right to cause offence

David Cameron has contradicted the pope over whether it is right to react with violence against insults to religious beliefs.

The prime minister told a US news programme that it was wrong to “wreak vengeance” if someone insulted your faith.

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The Observer view on Nigeria’s potentially explosive election | Observer editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2015 - 00:04
As perilous polls loom, Boko Haram still goes unchecked

Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, finally made it to Borno state last week, almost two weeks after the Islamist terrorist group known as Boko Haram seized the town of Baga and killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians. Jonathan, making a brief tour of the state capital, Maiduguri, congratulated the army on its work, notwithstanding its abject failure to prevent the massacre. “We thank you as a nation. Terrorism is a global phenomenon. We’re working day and night, trying to curtail this madness,” he said.

What Jonathan did not say was how he plans to break Boko Haram’s grip on 20,000sq km of territory spanning three north-eastern states or bring an end to the plague of murderous atrocities, suicide bombings, schoolgirl kidnappings and rapes it has unleashed.

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Moroccan man in France killed at home in front of wife in ‘horrible Islamophobic attack’

Loon Watch - 17 January, 2015 - 23:17


I wonder if there will be marches?

Moroccan man in France killed at home in front of wife in ‘horrible Islamophobic attack’

The father was attacked after the man forced his way into the home

Lamiat Sabin Saturday 17 January 2015

A Moroccan man in France was brutally stabbed to death 17 times in front of his wife at his own home by a neighbour in what is described as a “horrible Islamophobic attack”.

Mohamed El Makouli was confronted by a 28-year-old attacker who forced himself through the front door at around 1:30am on Wednesday, shouting “I am your god, I am your Islam”, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said yesterday.

The father of one, 47, was killed in the quiet village of Beaucet, near Avignon in southern France, while his 31-year-old wife Nadia tried to save him. She suffered wounds to her hands before she fled the scene with their child to call the police.

Observatory president Abdallah Zekri condemned the attack “as a horrible Islamophobic attack” and claimed that the victim’s partner was very clear about what the man had shouted regarding Islam.

He told AFP: “She is sure of what he [the attacker] said.”

The man was charged on Thursday with murder, attempted murder and possession of drugs before he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Montfavet. Police said yesterday that the claims of Islamophobia will be investigated when they start questioning the attacker.

He was reported to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia as he claimed he had heard voices and officials say that he was found at the scene in an incoherent state.

The attack is one of at least 50 Islamophobic incidences reported so far in the country

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Charlie Hebdo aftermath: we French must find how to keep this spirit of unity | Rachida Dati

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 January, 2015 - 18:30
Rachida Dati, the first Muslim woman to hold a key ministerial post in France, calls for a new stance on religion

In the immediate aftermath of the terrible attacks that have shaken our country, the French came together last week in a rarely equalled demonstration of national unity. Standing behind leaders who had come from all over the world, the French were, last Sunday, one in their condemnation of these barbaric acts and in the defence of our freedoms.

Cynics will argue that national unity was wishful thinking, as reports emerged of young people in schools refusing to stand for a minute’s silence in remembrance of the victims. But they were a minority, and they must be disciplined. Those who, on social media, praised the attackers for their barbaric acts were also a minority: they will have to answer in court for their atrocious behaviour. But the unanimous condemnation these dissident voices received serves to confirm what will now come to be known as the “spirit of 11 January”.

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