Muslim woman set on fire was not target of hate crime, New York police say

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 21:01

Officials say three other victims were approached in a similar manner and in the same proximity as the Saturday attack on a Scottish woman

Police do not believe the man who set a Muslim woman dressed in traditional religious attire on fire in New York was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, they said on Wednesday, after more women are revealed to have been targeted.

Three other women were also targeted in a similar area, at a similar time as the incident on Saturday, according to the New York police department.

Related: New York City police search for man accused of setting fire to Muslim woman

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Muslim marine says he was forced into clothes dryer in boot camp hazing

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 19:00

Marine said he was placed in dryer by a drunk instructor during marine boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina and asked if he was a ‘part of 9/11’

A Muslim marine said he was placed in a clothes dryer by a drunk instructor during marine boot camp and subjected to several anti-Muslim slurs, a new investigation has revealed.

The unnamed marine said drill instructors asked him if he was a “part of 9/11”, and was forced to remain inside the dryer while they grilled him about his faith.

Related: Up to 20 marines could face disciplinary action over Muslim recruit's death

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After the hajj: Mecca residents grow hostile to changes in the holy city

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 15:04

As millions of hajj pilgrims return home, Mecca’s two million locals are left struggling with the impacts of their changing city. Much of old Mecca has been razed and rebuilt to make room for growing tourism, forcing out residents

A prayer for Mecca: the city many hajj pilgrims don’t see – video

Millions of hajj pilgrims are preparing to head home, after five days performing ancient rites, revering a God omnipresent in the city of Mecca.

They have stoned figurative devils, they have slept in the world’s largest tent city, they have drunk water from the Zamzam well together: a heaving throng of nearly two million people from all over the world.

They are turning the holy sanctuary into a machine, a city which has no identity

Thirteen of Mecca’s 15 old neighbourhoods have been razed and rebuilt to make room for hotels and commercial spaces

Related: Behind the hajj: Ahmed Mater's photographs of a Mecca in flux

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Pauline Hanson: Australia ‘in danger of being swamped by Muslims’ – video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 11:56

Pauline Hanson, founder of Australia’s far right One Nation party, uses her maiden speech on her return to parliament on Wednesday to warn the country is in danger of ‘being swamped by Muslims’. Twenty years ago Hanson first entered parliament and gained international notoriety by warning that Australia was being ‘swamped by Asians’

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Pauline Hanson calls for immigration ban: 'Go back to where you came from'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 10:19

The One Nation senator uses her maiden speech to new parliament to reiterate fears about multiculturalism first aired in her infamous 1996 address

In her first speech to the federal parliament in 1996, Pauline Hanson warned “we are in danger of being swamped by Asians” – a line that became her political signature.

In her triumphant return to politics in 2016, the designated enemy has changed. “Now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims,” Hanson, the leader of the One Nation party, told the Australian Senate in her first speech on Wednesday.

Related: Comprehending Pauline is not the challenge. Engaging constructively with Hansonism is | Katharine Murphy

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Behind the hajj: Ahmed Mater's photographs of a Mecca in flux

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 September, 2016 - 10:07

The hajj pilgrims descend on a city that is massively reshaping itself. Saudi artist Ahmed Mater captures the grittier side of the holy city – the migrant workers, the tireless construction and the eye-opening sprawl

• Ahmed Mater’s new book Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Mecca is published by Lars Müller Publishers

A prayer for Mecca: the city many hajj pilgrims don’t see – video

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New York City police search for man accused of setting fire to Muslim woman

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 September, 2016 - 20:28

The incident occurred Saturday, when a female visitor to the city dressed in religious clothing says a man set her blouse on fire on Fifth Avenue

Police are currently searching for a man they believe set fire to a Muslim woman dressed in religious clothing, in what may have been a hate crime.

The New York police department released footage on Tuesday of a man wearing a backwards baseball cap and a vest, which was filmed minutes after the attack.

Related: A Muslim woman was set on fire in New York. Now just going out requires courage | Linda Sarsour

More information on the male suspect wanted for lighting a woman's clothes on fire:

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A Muslim woman was set on fire in New York. Now just going out requires courage | Linda Sarsour

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 September, 2016 - 17:24

We are facing the most hostile environment since the immediate aftermath of 9/11. All Americans must speak out otherwise there will be worse to come

Each year, I look so forward to Eid Al Adha – the holiest holiday for Muslims worldwide – but not this year. As I watched my daughters prepare for the celebrations with joy, I learned of a horrific crime. A 36-year-old woman dressed in traditional garb was set on fire on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She was the same age as me, walking in the city where I was born and raised. This comes at the heels of two Muslim women in Brooklyn who were physically assaulted by a woman as they pushed their babies in strollers.

As if this news wasn’t enough, we also learned that a mosque in Fort Pierce, Florida, which Omar Mateen reportedly used to visit, had been set on fire. They had to cancel their planned holiday celebrations as a result. How could I enjoy the day without thinking of them? Instead of celebrating as planned, the community in Florida has to explain to their children why someone would intentionally set their place of worship, their sanctuary, on fire the night before the highest holy holiday.

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Many US Catholics don't have a positive view of Muslims, finds study

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 September, 2016 - 11:00

Of 1,027 Catholics polled, only 14% said they had favorable views of Islam and one in three said they had either very or somewhat unfavorable views

Only 14% of American Catholics have a favorable view of Muslims and Catholic media outlets tend to have a bias against Muslims, a study has found.

The findings, carried out by the Bridge initiative, a multi-year research project that focuses on Islamophobia at Georgetown University, conducted research on how mainstream and Catholic media consumption correlates to respondents’ perceptions of Islam.

Related: Pope Francis says it is 'not right' to identify Islam with violence

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Rowan Williams and 200 faith leaders call for revised refugee policy

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 September, 2016 - 00:01

Open letter calls for government to ‘offer sanctuary to more refugees’, particularly relatives of those already in Britain

More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to Theresa May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter’s demands.

Related: ‘It is a disgrace to Europe’: former child refugee Lord Dubs on the Calais camp

Related: Forgotten inside Greece’s notorious camp for child refugees

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Hajj Reflections: Finding Peace in the Chaos

altmuslim - 12 September, 2016 - 00:00
  By Naureen Aqueel I was 27 years old, and I was writing my will. I was apologizing to friends and family if I had ever done anything to hurt them. I was thinking over my life. It was an eerie feeling as I imagined the possibility of dying and never returning to my apartment. [Read More...]

Hajj and the Single Woman

altmuslim - 11 September, 2016 - 19:49
By Laura P. Hajj season is always somewhat bittersweet for me. For a number of years after I converted, I didn’t have enough savings to contemplate going on hajj. More recently, as my financial situation improved for the better and as I remosqued, I began to look more seriously into what would be necessary to [Read More...]

Modi should have been Keith Vaz’s undoing

Indigo Jo Blogs - 11 September, 2016 - 17:29

A picture of Narendra Modi, an elderly South Asian man with a white beard wearing a long black jacket, and Keith Vaz, a middle-aged, bald South Asian man with glasses, wearing a white shirt and an orange/brown patterned tie, with a black jacket over the top, in the Palace of Westminster.Last Sunday some of the tabloids led with a story about Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, paying male prostitutes, asking them to bring ‘poppers’ and offering to cover the cost of cocaine. As a result of this he has resigned from his chairmanship of the Home Affairs select committee, a position he has held since 2007. On blogs and social media there has been widespread condemnation of the story for being an intrusion into his private life and for the ‘whorephobic’ judgement against his use of ‘sex workers’ and their occupation. Some feminists have countered that his role on the select committee included overseeing an inquiry into how the law on prostitution should be reformed; an interim report recommended that soliciting and brothel-keeping be decriminalised. I believe his downfall should have come sooner, and that there is an element of hypocrisy in this issue also.

A little over two weeks ago, I heard Vaz on BBC London (available for the next 12 days) talking about how social media and other online hosting companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc should do their bit to “root out” terrorist radicalisation, and should ensure that any time a video that encourages support for terrorism or “radicalism” appears on their site, it should disappear immediately. This demand presents obvious difficulties; it would require YouTube to watch every video, or at least every video uploaded to any supposedly suspicious account, and even then, new accounts are easily set up and can be notified to the intended audience through forums over which YouTube has no control. However, Vaz is no stranger to radicalisation, as he attended and helped to finance an event at which the star attraction was a political extremist from a movement which is associated with mob violence and mass murder. That man is Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India and former chief minister of the state of Gujarat.

A reminder: in February 2002, with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power in Gujarat, in response to a fire on a train in which 59 people, mostly Hindu pilgrims coming back from the disputed temple in Ayodhya (the one for which a Hindu mob destroyed a mosque in 1992), were killed, there were three days of violence in which, according to official figures, 790 Muslims and 250 Hindus died; there have been estimates of the Muslim death toll that are up to 2,500, however. The violence continued sporadically for months afterwards and targeted Muslim women and children in particular, with hundreds being raped and/or burned to death. Muslim homes and businesses were targeted in a way that indicates they must have had state help, as they included businesses with names suggestive of Hindu ownership. There was widespread destruction of mosques and Muslim shrines; 230 mosques and 274 dargahs are thought to have been destroyed.

Although Modi has never been charged with involvement in the massacre, it is widely acknowledged that there was state complicity and also that there was involvement by members of the government in fanning the flames of violence. Modi himself had proclaimed that the fire on the train had been an act of terrorism rather than communal violence; local newspapers and members of the government had claimed that it was carried out by the Pakistani intelligence services with local Muslim complicity, and also that Muslims had kidnapped and raped Hindu women. A senior local police officer made a sworn statement that Modi, during a meeting the night before the riots, had said that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger and that the Muslims needed to be taught a lesson; a Gujarat government spokesman, Bharat Pandya, “told the BBC that the rioting was a spontaneous Hindu backlash fuelled by widespread anger against Muslims”, such as in Kashmir and “other parts of India”. In December 2002, there were elections in which BJP candidates won in all the constitutencies affected by the riots, including some implicated in the violence, and their election won them immunity from prosecution.

In the years following the riots when Modi was still governor of Gujarat, he was prevented from travelling to a number of countries, including the UK and the USA, until 2012 because of suspicions over his involvement in the violence. Following his election as prime minister of India in 2014, it seems his record has been forgotten as economics trumps human rights. For example, Sky News made the following remarks last November, just before his visit:

Mr Modi was the was the chief minister of the progressive state of Gujarat for 13 years.

But his term was marred by one of the worst communal riots - in 2002 more than a 1,000 people were killed - mainly Muslims.

Tens of thousands more were made homeless.

Mr Modi is criticised for not doing enough to prevent the pogrom and although he has not been indicted by any court his role is furiously debated.

Gujarat is a ‘progressive state’ in the sense that it has followed free-market orthodoxy rather than the state capitalism that dominated India’s politics until the 1980s. This term really doesn’t mean much; in the past it meant building industry and infrastructure rather than reinforcing human rights and equality (some segregationist leaders in the Deep South in the mid-20th century were progressives in that sense). There has been widespread discrimination against Muslims in Gujarat in the years since the riots, starting with the firing of thousands of Muslims after the riots and the boycotts against those who tried to return home. Muslim neighbourhoods have been designated “disrupted areas” and denied amenities and subject to harsher policing; there are documented incidents of local police referring to Muslim neighbourhoods as Pakistan and claiming that Muslims “identify themselves as residents of Pakistan”. As of 2014, tens of thousands of Muslims displaced by the riots were still living in “relief colonies”, i.e. refugee camps. Gujarat is India’s equivalent of Mississippi or Alabama and Modi is its George Wallace, Theodore Bilbo or Strom Thurmond.

This man held a rally at Wembley Stadium in November 2015 (technically: “the Europe India Forum (EIF) [hosted] a reception in honour of Prime Minister Modi at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Friday 13 November 2015”). There was a crowd of 60,157 and Modi was introduced by then PM David Cameron, whose wife Samantha was dressed in a scarlet sari; the programme contained an introduction by Lance Price, a former speechwriter to Tony Blair, which according to the Telegraph likened Modi’s “superstar quality” to that of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Blair himself. Keith Vaz, a Labour MP, was also in attendance, and boasted in an article for the Guardian that he was “proud to contribute [his] pay rise for the month of November” to help finance the event, including to help people to attend as “it is important that nobody should miss out”. His article did not mention the 2002 pogroms once. (The Guardian also printed a an article by Aditya Chakraborty opposing the visit.)

Most self-respecting British mainstream politicians would not even consider sharing a platform with a foreign politician with a strong link to political or communal violence, to fascism and to hatred. Many ordinary Muslims would not dare attend, yet tens of thousands of Hindus board coaches from all over the country to hear this Nazi and still have their jobs and freedom. There would be widespread condemnation if any MP had boasted of helping to bring the likes of David Duke or the Hamas leaders in Gaza to this country or of financing their rally. More to the point, the venue might well refuse their custom, as Muslim organisations that tried to book such things as halal days at popular tourist resorts have discovered. I appreciate that we have economic ties with India that we cannot afford to simply break, but to enthusiastically endorse a politician on whose watch hundreds or thousands of people were murdered and raped and had their businesses, homes and places of worship destroyed is taking realpolitik too far, to put it mildly. Just meet him in Downing Street and talk business.

Vaz demanded that Internet companies root out radicalisation, by which he meant Muslim radicalisation, yet he rides the wave of Hindu extremism, no doubt among thousands of his constituents, and says nothing about the major sporting venue that hosted him and were paid for it. Modi is part of a movement that is violent, fascist and totalitarian and uses mob violence targeted at civilians, actions every bit as heinous as those of the “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria, even if he manages to remain at arm’s length from the ‘action’. It will take only one real or imagined provocation from Muslims to provoke another, much more serious wave of violence as his government now rules India, not just one state, and the adulation of British politicians gives him credibility. It is therefore with some satisfaction that I witness the downfall of Keith Vaz. If hobnobbing with fascists was enough to bring down a politician, nobody would have cared about his carrying on with male escorts.

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How we learned all the wrong lessons from 9/11 | Moustafa Bayoumi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 September, 2016 - 16:57

This past Labor Day, the United States bombed six different countries. The tragedy’s 15th anniversary is a chance to reflect on how we can change course

I was in New York City 15 years ago, when the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack of its history. I remember that horrible day as vividly as if it were yesterday. September 11 was a Tuesday bright with sunshine, which meant that you could easily see the plumes of smoke and ash as they enveloped downtown after the attacks. It didn’t take long for countless handmade posters to appear on poles and walls around the city, urgently and tragically asking about the whereabouts of people who had suddenly gone missing. The unmistakable smell of burning hung in the air for weeks. It seemed like everyone, myself included, was in shock, and we were all mourning the dead.

But these were anxious times, too. I recall the sense of dismay I felt that morning when watching the first plane hit and how that morphed, when the second plane came less than twenty minutes later, into a gut-wrenching realization that this was no accident. If the terrorists turned out to be Muslim, I thought at the time, the future could become very difficult for Muslims in the United States.

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Welcome home and happy birthday

Indigo Jo Blogs - 10 September, 2016 - 22:18

Josh Offer-Simon, a young white boy with short hair, cuddling a small brown dog.Back in February, I featured the story of Joshua Offer-Simon, who was at the time being held in a hospital unit in Birmingham. He had been under section for two years as a result of challenging behaviour stemming from a mixture of ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome and a mild learning disability, during a time when his father was in hospital following a life-changing injury. He was first held in Manchester, where he ended up not leaving his room for several months, and was then transferred to the same unit in Birmingham where Josh Wills had spent three years. He did make progress in Birmingham, but there were safeguarding issues and the management attempted to transfer him to a secure unit in Norfolk, which refused to accept him. Three weeks ago, after attempts to find a residential placement for him failed, he was released from his section and returned to his family; today is his 14th birthday, his first in three years that he has spent at home, with his family, instead of in an institution.

Also in the last month or so, one of the young people featured in last April’s Seven Days of Action, Jack (day 2), has been released home, this time more by accident than by design. Jack was in the same hospital as Josh and had been spending three nights a week at home with his mother, ostensibly in preparation for release. He was released in early June, to a placement fairly near his mother’s home; however, the placement and the company which ran it turned out to be entirely unsuitable. Quite apart from the fact that he wanted to be at home and felt as if he was in another hospital, and it was run like one, down to things like electricity being turned off overnight (and his three nights at home a week had ended), staff also allowed him to spend much of his money on drink and on electronic gadgets, such as phones, that he did not need; his mother often found him drunk when she visited, and often could not take him out. The placement broke down in late July when the service provider pulled out. Initially he was found temporary accommodation but when social services failed to find him another placement, they asked his mother if she would have him at home. Of course, the answer was yes.

I am not going to pretend that Josh’s and Jack’s lives at home have been plain sailing since they came home. Jack, in particular, has health problems stemming from poor care and overuse of drugs when he was in the unit, and had to do community service because the police were called about an altercation with another resident while at the placement. Josh’s father wrote the week after he was released that Josh kept asking why he had no friends and saying he just wanted to be normal. Both families will need support; it is often lack of support in the community that leads to people ending up back in hospital, including difficulty finding schools or refusal to accept them, in the case of adolescents (I know of two teenage girls who ended up being sectioned in the last year or so as a result), and lack of activities outside the home in the case of adults.

It’s particularly disturbing to me that someone can be sectioned because a school finds them difficult to handle, or because they cannot be found a school. Many children with autism find school to be stressful places, especially with the noise and unpredictability of large numbers of children and the low level of adult attention. How someone behaves in that environment, much as with how they behave in the unfamiliar environment of a hospital, is no reflection on how they will behave at home. What happened to Josh could have happened to any child with behavioural difficulties of any sort. It is why the mental health laws need to be changed so that the manageable behaviour of someone with a learning disability do not lead to them being institutionalised for years.

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