Aggregator

Muslim group urges chair of Birmingham central mosque to resign

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 February, 2016 - 17:31

Muhammad Afzal, Birmingham lord mayor hopeful, allegedly dismissed concerns about domestic violence and forced marriage

One of Britain’s leading Muslim women’s groups has called on the leaders of Birmingham central mosque to resign after she said they dismissed the group’s concerns about domestic violence and forced marriages.

The mosque’s chairman, Labour councillor Muhammad Afzal, who had been lined up to become Birmingham’s lord mayor, withdrew from the running on Monday evening after the head of the Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWN), Shaista Gohir, complained to the mosque about comments she said Afzal and vice-chair Muhammad Sarwar had made to her.

Related: Shaista Gohir: ‘I wish the words shame and honour could be deleted’

Continue reading...

Modesty And The Muslim Athlete

Muslim Matters - 2 February, 2016 - 06:18

Ummah Sports

First, we must acknowledge the hypocrisy: That is, how college and pro football players can make a play that sends thousands of fans in the stadium — along with millions watching on TV — into wild celebrations and cues elaborate dance routines from a squad of cheerleaders … but those same players are sometimes penalized and (at the pro level) even fined if they join in the celebration and dancing.

College football conferences have explored the idea of penalizing schools whose rowdy fans tear down goalposts in the name of celebration, and some have in recent years adopted monetary punishments to deter such actions. So in other words, while a mob of football fans endangering lives and destroying property on the field might get in trouble, a single football player who strikes a “Heisman” pose or does the “Nae Nae” dance in the end zone probably will get in trouble.

How does that look if you're an athlete? Basically, everyone else in the building is free to revel in your accomplishment to the point where they could actually hurt themselves and others — but you will get punished for not being above the fray.

A recent instance of this double standard happened during Week 10 of the NFL season, when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scored a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans and launched into a one-man dance that went on just a little too long for the liking of Titans linebacker Avery Williamson. With referees and players trying to separate the two, Williamson — who had done his own dance after sacking Newton earlier in the game — confronted the QB to let him know he didn't appreciate the celebration. Newton, of course, responded by dancing some more.

The main story line from Panthers-Titans could have been Carolina (who will be playing in this Sunday's Super Bowl) getting the victory to remain one of just two undefeated teams in the league at the time, or Newton adding to his 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player resume this season, or Newton winning the QB duel with Tennessee rookie sensation Marcus Mariota. Instead, the dominant narrative became Newton's TD dance and the reaction to it.

That narrative has somehow endured all the way to Super Bowl week, in which Newton's personality has been a more popular media angle than his play on the field.

Newton was not penalized on the field or fined by the NFL for his post-TD routine. But soon after that game, a fan from Tennessee wrote a letter to Newton that was republished in the Charlotte Observer, chastising him for his actions and accusing him of setting a bad example for her 9-year-old daughter and other kids who watch football. The fan even blamed Newton for inciting boorish behavior in the stands by visiting Carolina fans and for the equally boorish responses by Tennessee fans. Because if you've ever been to a football game, you know that alcohol- and adrenaline-fueled fans only act like animals when a player on the field makes them do it.

In an ironic twist, as arguments were (and still are) being made among fans and media about whether the NFL should take stronger steps to thwart Newton and other players from offending public sensibilities with dance moves and “in your face” celebrations, the Panthers' next opponent after the Titans was the Washington Redskins.

So while the NFL spends the days between games deciding whether to punish its players for dancing — like Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, who was fined this season for a pelvic thrust during an on-field celebration — the league continues to promote and profit off a team whose nickname is a racial slur. Priorities?

Even though I tend to defend athletes who are being subject to unfair admonition or undue criticism, I can't exactly stand up and advocate for college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays to turn into weekend-long episodes of “Soul Train.”

I am Muslim, after all, and modesty is a big part of Islam. And serving up Chris Brown moves with a side of Soulja Boy after scoring a touchdown is not modest.

U.S. Olympic fencer and fashion designer Ibtihaj Muhammad

U.S. Olympic fencer and fashion designer Ibtihaj Muhammad

When we talk about modesty as it relates to Muslims, it should be clear that modest does not always translate to boring, bland or unreasonably restrictive.

So much of the world remains ignorant to the basic tenets and pillars of Islam, but one thing even the FOX News crowd knows is that Muslims are — or at least strive to be — modest in our daily lives.

“Every deen (religion) has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty,” Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said.

The most visible embodiment of modesty in Islam is in how Muslims dress and how Muslim men and women interact with the opposite gender.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! God is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their chests, and not to reveal their adornment.”
–Qur'an 24:30

But modest dress is not limited to a black niqab covering a woman from head to toe, or a full-length thobe and kufi for a man. And modest interaction between Muslim men and women does not mean no interaction at all. Those forms of dress and methods of interaction are more cultural and traditional than religious, as the major Islamic schools of thought have not come to a consensus on exactly how men and women should dress and exactly how they should interact with the opposite gender. Much is still up for interpretation, and as is the case with people all over the world regardless of religion, culture and tradition helps shape an individual's look and behavior.

Muslim women around the globe — some with hijab headscarves, some without — dress in some of the most colorful and vibrant fabrics and prints you can imagine, and it still falls under the halal definition of modesty. Muslim men and women around the globe are making our planet a better place as we speak through positive and productive interactions in schools, mosques, workplaces and community organizations, all within the bounds of modesty.

Modest also does not equal meek or timid. There are Muslim rappers who perform with the same intensity as Tupac Shakur; Muslim authors who are as bold as Eve Ensler; Muslim filmmakers as daring as Michael Moore.

And there are Muslim athletes who celebrate like Cam Newton.

Well, maybe not quite like Cam Newton.

Naseem Hamed, the former featherweight world champion boxer who retired in 2002 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015, is perhaps the most flamboyant Muslim athlete in history — and probably the second-most brash after fellow Hall of Fame boxer Muhammad Ali.

Nicknamed “Prince,” Hamed was known for his extravagant walks to the ring and explosive knockouts. In between those famous entrances and exits, he was known to clown opponents in the ring and constantly play to the crowd, as if he was celebrating a victory before he'd finished the fight.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In a 2009 column for Boxing News 24, writer Matthew Thomas Potter speculated if a deeper religious conviction was among the factors in Hamed's relatively early retirement from the sport before the age of 30:

Hamed was becoming more deeply and openly religious as his career progressed, he often surrounded himself with religious symbolism, and consigned himself to promoting his Islamic faith; a faith that was under scrutiny after the September 11th attacks. It was not an easy time to be a Muslim in America; it was more difficult still for a high profile sports star, known for flaunting that faith at every given opportunity. Perhaps Hamed felt it was the correct decision to withdraw from the limelight, as his religious convictions became increasingly passionate, studious and all consuming.

Did Hamed find it impossible to continue in a violent sport as he evolved in his deen as a man of peace? Or did he perhaps find it impossible to put on the cocky and flashy yet undeniably marketable and immodest “Prince Naseem” persona as he drew closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)?

Even for those less outrageous than Hamed, there is often a compromise that must be made by Muslim athletes who want to compete and also want to adhere to Islamic rules of modesty.

Muslims should dress in clothing that does not display one's awrah (private parts) to those who are not permitted to see it. But athletes in football, baseball, wrestling, gymnastics, and track and field, to name a few, could simply by the norms of their sport regularly wear uniforms and apparel that don't follow those Islamic rules of modesty.

Muslim athletes who resist the norms of some sports and do compete in halal apparel — e.g. full sleeves and headscarves for women, longer shorts and bigger jerseys for men — may be putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage by wearing bulkier or more restrictive apparel than their more aerodynamically-clad competitors.

And then there are Muslim athletes who are not being restricted in competition due to their apparel, but are instead restricted from competition due of their apparel and their desire to be modest on the field of play.

FIBA, basketball's international governing body, still has a rule in its book (currently under review) that prohibits players from wearing headgear on the court aside from a headband during international competition. Which means Muslim women cannot wear hijab headscarves during events like the Olympics or the FIBA World Cup, just like Jewish men cannot wear yarmulkes and Sikh men cannot wear turbans. While some teams and players have challenged the rule, and some officials choose not to enforce the rule, it has effectively prevented many Muslim women from achieving their Olympic dreams and has cost some Muslim women their basketball careers.

One such example is Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a record-setting high school basketball player from Massachusetts who went on to star at the University of Memphis and Indiana State University. In her freshman year at Memphis, Abdul-Qaadir made history when she became the first NCAA basketball player to wear a hijab headscarf during a game. After graduating from ISU in 2014, Abdul-Qaadir was exploring the possibility of playing professionally when she learned of the FIBA rule.

So even though the former all-conference point guard is certainly talented enough to play for some team in some league somewhere, Abdul-Qaadir has not played competitively since the end of her college career due to a discriminatory rule that is essentially punishing her being Muslim.

The international governing bodies for soccer and weightlifting only recently lifted similar anti-hijab rules. But how much damage was done before those decisions? How many athletes missed their prime years of being able to compete on the world's stage? How many would-be athletes never seriously pursued these sports because they were told these sports would not accept their religion?

One sport that appears to break every Islamic rule of modesty (and more) is bodybuilding.

Competitive bodybuilders leave little to the imagination with what they wear on the performance stage — which makes sense in that the goal of their sport is to sculpt the perfect body and then show it off to be judged. Our most negative stereotypical bodybuilder is not only immodest, but also vain, self-centered and obsessed with their appearance. And for a Muslim bodybuilder being viewed that that lens, are they really finding time to pray five times when they spend all day in the gym? And are they really fasting during Ramadan when they typically eat five or six meals per day with a large caloric intake?

Ahmed Arifi, a recreational bodybuilder who runs MuslimBodybuilding.com and has been featured on Ummah Sports — and a man who debunks many of the negative stereotypes about bodybuilders — is among those who practices bodybuilding as an activity but chooses not to compete because he believes that would go against his religion.

“It felt tempting (to compete) but it is not halal,” Arifi says. “I know many Muslims who compete and are successful at it and they are great guys, but it is clear that mixing on stage with the opposite gender and being stared at by both genders while wearing competition underwear is unacceptable Islamically.”

And yet competitive bodybuilding is very popular in Muslim-majority countries like Afghanistan, Oman and Bahrain, to name a few. The way they get around it is to eliminate gender-mixing in competition. Any male bodybuilding competition in those countries is a no-females-allowed event.

In countries where Muslims are the minority, however, controlling the interaction between men and women in the sports arena is more difficult and therefore presents dilemmas for some Muslim athletes and misunderstandings between them and non-Muslims over the issue of modesty.

Moroccan soccer star Nacer Barazite

Moroccan soccer star Nacer Barazite

In November 2015, Moroccan soccer star Nacer Barazite drew the ire of fans and media in the Netherlands when he refused to shake the hand of a female reporter after a match. For non-Muslims who are raised in societies where shaking hands is a sign of respect regardless of gender, Barazite was only furthering another negative stereotype — that Muslim men disrespect and look down on women. But in reality, a Muslim man not shaking hands with a woman who is not related to him is (for Muslims) a sign of total respect and modesty.

Beyond dress and the interaction between genders, modesty is also about how one behaves when things are going their way.

Webster's Dictionary's second definition of modesty reads: “The quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.”

But its first definition reads: “The quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities.”

Meanwhile, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur'an: “And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” (31:18)

This may lead one to believe that Muslims cannot celebrate anything. That belief is no doubt strengthened by the fact that even the West many Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays. So what room is there for a devout Muslim to have any fun in something as simple as sports?

Idris Tawfiq, a British teacher and lecturer who was a Catholic priest before converting to Islam, wrote in a column for Qur'an Reflections:

Let us be crystal clear: Islam does not forbid us from having clean, wholesome fun. What it is opposed to, however, is making fun of others.

Islam is balanced and encourages Muslims to search for sources of healthy fun, as it does not want us to paint ourselves with a dismal gloomy appearance, no, not at all.

The list of the different ways of having fun is endless, from playing board-games to climbing trees, to cycling and swimming, to visiting relatives and friends, cooking together, or just pondering over a crossword puzzle.

Different people of different times and ages have to be creative in looking for decent forms of entertainment. At the same time, it is important to avoid extravagance, laziness, idleness and luxury.

This is why — contrary to another misconception about Muslims that is surprisingly common — Islam does allow its followers to play sports. Sports are healthy for the body and the mind, and are (mostly) a wholesome form of fun. Life lessons can be learned and lifelong bonds can be built through sports. Prophet Muhammad himself competed in archery, horseback riding, wrestling and running.

And at the highest levels, when the games we once played just for fun become big business — when confidence makes kings and egos can run amok — it should be known that there is still room for the modest Muslim athlete.

Water for Flint: Racial Politics Collide

Muslim Matters - 1 February, 2016 - 16:44
The Racial politics of Flint: Racial Politics Collide

When African Americans use the term “they” it almost always gets misaddressed as an indictment of white society, or even more cryptic, a collection of stoned-faced boogie-men tugging on the levers of the free-world. That catalog of definitions couldn't be more inaccurate. If the arch enemy of your people could be picked out of a racial lineup, fighting oppression would be elementary, thus rendering our dialogue here useless. But in the name of compounding more thought on to a crisis in Flint, Michigan, I choose to press forward. We are no doubt a nation of systems, mechanizations, and arrangements. So when I speak of “they” in the following series of lamentations and observations understand that the “they” I prosecute, are structures. Before we revert back to our condemnations of the third-world inadequacies in relief from nature's implosions, we should study the deliberateness of Flint's water crisis.

Governor Snyder's man-crafted apocalypse will never be severed from an American biography that begins with smallpox blankets, interludes with Tuskegee experiments and climaxes at Katrina. Detroit Government has pegged itself along a spiraling trail of American biochemical persecution. Somehow the pictures of babies clad in rashes disables my rage rather than charge it. Maybe because this time the blood has spilled from their palms onto their faces and bellies. Indifference is a methodical destroyer. Lead, in the hands of the intentionally indifferent, can be used to cripple generations. The city where I grew up bears testament to this narrative. Data on lead poisoning however, throws meat on the bones of a story too bleak to be true.

WuerkerFlint

Lead Poisoning is Slow Drip Genocide

Journalist Anna Maria Barry-Jester captured a snapshot of what was already damaging children in Baltimore, “Despite sharp declines, the city of Baltimore still has nearly three times the national rate of lead poisoning among children, and a look at the data reveals that, like like other health disparities, just a handful of neighborhoods are responsible for almost all of the city's cases over the last five years.” Skin rashes, abrasions among many outer displays of Flint's crisis will be fixed given time. But, parents will now have to work through raising children whose abilities to focus in class and control impulses have been stymied by lead adding to every obstacle presented by poverty. Videos of police shootings expose an insidious brand of state sanctioned torture. The cause and effect is seen immediately. Lead damage however, takes time to represent for what it is—slow drip genocide.

flint

It's been a year and half since the community of Flint began it's back and forth of crying out for help and being told that everything would be fine. Mismanagement doesn't nearly encapsulate the deliberateness of lead levels exceeding state of emergency level by thousands of percentage points. If our country's memory doesn't leave us in the dark, then Flint has etched it's name in stone in a well-known yet understudied cocktail of Black persecution. No matter how obdurate the opposing voices, again Blacks have paid the ultimate price for willful negligence. The devil's in the details, hell-on-earth in the data. Lead in water is measured in Parts Per Billion (ppb). Federal intervention is mandated at test levels of 15ppb. Water used to bathe infants daily has qualified at 300+ ppb in some homes.

“The testing of homes in Flint for lead, too, was insufficient and flawed, some experts say. Officials failed to focus on the many homes with lead service lines that were most likely to be tainted, instead looking at wider problems that would have muted the calls of alarm. The city authorities also urged, and state regulators allowed, methods of sampling that experts say had been shown to underestimate lead levels. Residents were advised, for example, to run their water before taking samples, a move that tends to flush out concentrations of lead particles that might have accumulated.” It's Not Black or White, it's Black and White

Despite being a city that is 56 percent Black, poor Whites in Flint have been swept along in the lead hurricane. If anything is to be gleaned from this catastrophe, let it be the colliding plight of African Americans and poor whites who have joined at the hip from time to time during this American saga, in suffering. In by far one the most dubious election cycles ever my cohort of millennials has experienced, what we are seeing in a city of 99,000 economically embattled citizens is tragic, and most necessary to understand the intersections of race/class subjugation. Water, a substance that binds us has now become a commodity that defines our need to examine how governments pit two communities against each other who undoubtedly have contrasting interests.

1500

What has happened in Flint will mean irreparable consequences. Wounds will fester long after the news cycle sails from the wind of another disaster that massages the sensation of onlookers. But, let the political unity that comes about from those harmed in Flint, be a beacon for this country. Everyday “they” remind us that Blacks are here alone. Every few seasons, they let poor and working class whites know that, we are in this together. In the next six months, cities will install new political voices responsible for governing this youthful nation. As those of us who are privileged to vote start to decided who we gift these positions, we ought to think about where our interests cross paths. Out of all of the contemporary plight in Michigan, I hope that “they” see a voting block emerge that locks the hands of Black, Brown and White, but for now just water for Flint.

Suggested Reads:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2004/Pollak-Article.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-lead-letters-20150821-story.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/flint-michigan-water-lead_us_56784055e4b0b958f657595c

Life Struggle: Moving Back Home After College

The Black Hijabi - 1 February, 2016 - 08:57

Hi Everyone! Sorry that it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been doing a lot of things lately and life has been pretty hectic. I went back to school full-time, I started working two jobs and I went to Mexico about two weeks ago. Anywho, I will be doing my best to post minimally once a week for you all.

For those of you who don’t know, I left school to be closer to home for a while, while the administration at college figured some things out and my grandmother was sick. However, I’m back on track and I am taking some courses back home before going back. As many of you may know (if you’ve left home to go to school), when you come back, things are not how you left. You have this new found sense of freedom and independence and have thoroughly come to enjoy not having to follow anybody’s rules or not having to answer to anyone. Enter, the power struggle. You want to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and however you want to do it (e.g. no mom, I do NOT care about how shiny the granite countertops are). Yes, that is a real argument in this household. If you’re like me, you are the oldest child. It is by every means, the worst position to be in for things like this. Being the oldest means you are the living experiment. The test run, the trial-and-error kid which is ridiculously stressful for all parties involved. My parents didn’t know how to deal with having an adult for a daughter and I didn’t know how to not be so independent. I think partially what makes the moving back home experience so uncomfortable is that you go away to school, you start to find yourself, you’re encouraged to spread your wings, blossom, and be you, and then when you come home you just feel so stifled, like you’re being contained in a box and you’re no longer allowed to be yourself, which is partially true in a way. Needless to say there have been several, and I do mean several growing pains. That by far I think is the biggest struggle any college student has coming back home to live with their parent. There are times where you’re so grateful that you don’t have to cook for yourself, or buy the groceries and its almost like the Heavens open up and you hear angels singing when they take you shopping. Then there are those times where you just hate everyone, stay locked inside your room and plot on how you’re going to move out in three months all while making $10.00 an hour (yes you somehow manage to convince yourself that eating Ramen for the next couple of years everyday straight will be worth it), and then you cry out of frustration. Be that as it may, my parents and I have gotten better at communicating, I’ve gotten better at following rules, and they have gotten better at recognizing that I’m an adult and that while I’m still their child (and apparently I always will be or something of that nature) that they have to let me make my own choices and decisions and trust that they have raised me well. They’ve learned to give me freedom, for which I am very thankful for. I must say God has taught me the importance of patience and increased my value for thorough communication throughout this short but oh so important journey because I would not have survived all this time at home (Love you Mom & Dad).

(Next Week: How has wearing the hijab been received by my both my family and my jobs)


The family building a refugee haven in the shadow of Isis

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 January, 2016 - 21:27

Tim and Sarah Buxton landed with their young family in Iraqi Kurdistan the day before Islamic State overran nearby Mosul. Today they remain there, building communities – not camps – for people fleeing extremist violence

On 9 June 2014 Queenslander and charity worker Tim Buxton landed with his wife, Sarah, and three young children in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a bold idea for the mountain town of Soran.

The next morning, the city of Mosul, a bare 150km away, fell to Isis, whose fighters swept east on a seemingly inexorable wave of military successes.

We didn’t go there to provide a new model of a refugee camp but it’s kind of landed in our laps

These groups of families that had fled together, we wanted to keep together

These people have suffered a lot, and for a long time

Continue reading...

Discord intensifies at Syria talks after dozens killed in Damascus blasts

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 January, 2016 - 19:12

Isis-claimed attack near Shia mosque leaves dozens of people dead, while airstrikes and sieges across the country continue to afflict civilians

Fifty people were killed and dozens more injured on Sunday in coordinated bombings near a Shia Muslim shrine in Damascus as Syrian government and opposition officials exchanged accusations at long-awaited UN peace talks in Geneva. The attacks were claimed by Islamic State (Isis).

Syrian state media said the first blast was caused by a car bomb and then two suicide bombers blew themselves up near the revered Sayyida Zeinab mosque in the south of the capital, a site of pilgrimage for Shia Muslims from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. Broadcasts from the scene showed footage of burning buildings, a huge crater in the road, and charred and wrecked vehicles.

Related: Portraits of Syrian refugee families – and an empty place for the missing

Related: Syrian children need an education – rich countries must give $1.4bn to fund it | Malala Yousafzai and Muzoon Almellehan

Continue reading...

Neil Prakash, Australia's most senior operative in Islamic State, reported dead

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 January, 2016 - 05:33

An Isis recruiter has been quoted as saying Prakash’s death was ‘posted on Telegram’, an encrypted messaging service used by Isis since last year

Neil Prakash, Australia’s most senior operative with Islamic State, has died, according to reports circulated within the ranks of the terrorist organisation.

The killing of the Melbourne man, who was among a select group of online recruiters of foreign jihadists in Syria and Iraq, has been described in closed communication channels used by Isis, News Corp reported.

Related: Radicalisation in Australia: Muslim leaders work to dissipate 'fixation' with Isis among youths

Related: Neil Prakash listed for targeted financial sanctions over Isis affiliation

Related: Revealed: How I saw Farhad Jabar change a week before he became a killer

Continue reading...

Tareena Shakil's father says her joining Isis was a 'mistake'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 January, 2016 - 19:01

Mohammed Shakil says 26-year-old is ‘the perfect daughter’ and family will appeal against her conviction for encouraging acts of terrorism

The father of the first British woman to be found guilty of joining Islamic State has described her as “the perfect daughter” and said it was a “mistake” for her to travel to Syria. Tareena Shakil, 26, told her family she was going to Turkey on a beach holiday with her toddler son, but secretly fled across the border to Syria.

During a two-week trial, the jury heard that Shakil, from Birmingham, said she wished to become a “martyr” when she left the UK in October 2014, but also claimed she only travelled to Syria because she wanted to live under sharia law.

Related: Tareena Shakil: 'I don’t want sympathy … it was my decision to go to Syria'

Related: Hundreds of Britons caught trying to join jihadis, says foreign secretary

Continue reading...

Happy hour and drinks are still flowing in the Gambia, the newest Islamic state

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 January, 2016 - 09:00

Little has altered since country’s name changed to reflect its identity, but critics warn of the risks of mixing Islamism with poverty and repression

It may be the world’s newest Islamic state, but on the Gambia’s beaches it was business as usual. Dreadlocked, muscular young men offered their company to middle-aged female tourists, the sweet scent of marijuana hung on the ocean breeze, bars advertised happy hour cocktails, and bared breasts turned pink in near-equatorial sunshine.

Few of those escaping the cold and damp of a northern European winter appeared to be aware of President Yahya Jammeh’s surprise proclamation last month that the tiny African country he has ruled with an iron grip for more than 20 years would henceforth be known as the Islamic Republic of the Gambia.

Related: The Gambia now an Islamic republic, says President Yahya Jammeh

Related: The reckless plot to overthrow Africa's most absurd dictator - Podcast

Related: The Gambia bans female genital mutilation

Related: The Gambia faces battle to deter its young people from migrating abroad | Louise Hunt

Continue reading...

Pages

Subscribe to The Revival aggregator