Evening Standard urged to move event from Brunei-owned Dorchester

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 April, 2019 - 17:37

Hotel is subject to boycott over sultan’s policy of punishing gay sex with death by stoning

The London Evening Standard is facing calls to move an awards ceremony to be held at the Brunei-owned Dorchester after the country imposed new laws punishing gay sex and adultery with death by stoning.

The newspaper, whose celebrity columnist Rob Rinder urged readers to join a boycott of the luxury hotel, is due to hold its annual New Homes awards at the five-star Mayfair establishment next month.

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There is a thread running through Sri Lanka's cycles of violence | Farah Mihlar

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 April, 2019 - 15:29

Sri Lanka’s minorities – including its Christians and Muslims – have paid a high price for the state’s failure to protect them

As mass burials for some of the Christian worshippers killed in the Easter Sunday bombings take place today, claims that the attackers were local Islamic extremists have left Sri Lanka’s Muslims – who make up 10% of the population – devastated. Although details are scant, and doubts exist about the official government account, a senior minister announced on Monday that the attackers belonged to a new fringe jihadist group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, that military intelligence had been aware of but had not acted against. Even amid news that Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, it is still unknown whether the bombers were homegrown or connected to international terror groups.

Related: Islamic State claims responsibility for Sri Lanka bombings

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The Guardian view on religious freedom: protect believers | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 April, 2019 - 18:30
Across much of the world, millions of people are persecuted for their beliefs

The massacre in churches in Sri Lanka forms part of a global pattern of religious persecution and hostility. To target Christian churches on their holiest day of the year is not only an attempt to kill as many families as possible, but also to maximise the shock and demoralising effect of the attack, a tactic familiar from the sectarian wars in Iraq. If this atrocity was perpetrated by jihadis, as seems likely, it is also an attempt to bring about a clash of civilisations.

This is not the pattern of most religiously inspired murder, not least because it is an assault by a minority on a larger population. Usually, persecution is carried out against minorities: Christians are persecuted to a greater or lesser degree across much of the Muslim world, from Sudan to Pakistan, as are atheists. Christians and Muslims are attacked in India. Some of the most savage persecution is directed at small and isolated groups. In that light, the Yazidi minority of Iraq are probably the worst persecuted people in the world, at the hands of Islamic State, which systematically murdered, raped and enslaved them as part of a religiously motivated genocide. Christians and Muslim minorities are brutally repressed by atheists in China, where up to a million and a half people may have been herded into “re-education” camps, and by Buddhists in Myanmar; the Ahmadiyya sect is persecuted by other Muslims in Pakistan.

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Brunei defends death by stoning for gay sex in letter to EU

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 April, 2019 - 13:30

Kingdom’s mission to trade bloc calls for tolerance and understanding over penal code

Brunei has written to the European parliament defending its decision to start imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex, claiming convictions will be rare as it requires two men of “high moral standing piety” to be witnesses.

In a four-page letter to MEPs, the kingdom’s mission to the EU calls for “tolerance, respect, understanding” with regard to the country’s desire to preserve its traditional values and “family lineage”.

Related: The Guardian view on Brunei and stoning: don’t leave it to celebrities to act | Editorial

Related: ‘It’s dangerous to go out now’: young, gay and scared in Brunei

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What ‘lessons’ will be learned from the Amy el-Keria case?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 18 April, 2019 - 17:09
Picture of Amy el-Keria, a young white girl with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing white top with black stripes, standing in front of a stage curtain and singing into a microphone.Amy el-Keria

Yesterday the Priory Group, which owns a number of private mental-health units in the UK which treat patients on contracts from the NHS as well as their ‘flagship’ private unit in Roehampton, was fined £300,000 over the death of a 14-year-old girl, Amy el-Keria, in their hospital in Ticehurst, East Sussex, in November 2012. Amy, who had a recent history of self-harm and suicide attempts, was found hanged in her room which was assessed by an untrained staff member to have “medium risks” with a number of ligature points, an assessment which was not followed up. The court heard that staff did not promptly call 999 or a doctor and were not trained in CPR, that the hospital’s lift was too small to accommodate the ambulance service’s stretcher and that nobody from the hospital accompanied Amy in the ambulance. The company had an operating profit of £2m in 2017 and claimed that the most recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, published in January, had rated the hospital as ‘good’. Inquest, which supported the family, released this statement. (Jess Thom, AKA Tourettes Hero, has published a number of articles on Amy, whom she knew, starting with this one.)

Priory Group is one of the biggest private healthcare operators in the UK and its units have featured in a number of the cases I have followed over the past few years. These included the stories of Claire Dyer and Claire Greaves, both of whom were in secure units operated by Partnerships in Care before and after Priory took them over in December 2016. The abuses that go on in these places were summarised in a previous post. I currently follow a lady whose teenage daughter, who has Asperger’s-type autism and was admitted informally to another company’s unit last summer, was transferred to a “low-secure” unit in south-east London in February. This essentially has a “lowest common denominator” approach to eliminating self-harm, removing everything that could possibly ever be used for that purpose, right down to pens and pencils (the unit’s school has an art class, but they are only allowed to paint with their fingers!). She has no access to music or any electronics (there is a TV, but they are not allowed to hold the remote control). The bathing and toileting area is open to view by anyone who might peer into the room.

Not all of these things are down to self-harm prevention; some stem from forensic restrictions, although in some cases there is justification for removing someone from the Internet for the benefit of their mental health. But there is no justification in imposing these restrictions on everyone in a unit, not all of whom have committed crimes (if any of them have) and not all of whom are at immediate risk for self-harm or suicide, for months at a time. Some of the things deemed to be “means of self-harm” are also the means of having a life, after all. People write stories, songs, poems, letters. In one case, an iPad was necessary so that the person in the secure unit could talk with her deaf sister using sign language; this was withheld for weeks. Ironically, some of these things are what people do to take their mind off their situation and they may lessen their urges to harm themselves; this case highlights the futility of some of the restrictions these units impose.

The criticism of Priory’s care in the case of Amy el-Keria was that she had the means to harm herself despite the known risks. The danger is that, fearing financial repercussions, the companies that run these units will simply impose restrictions on all their patients which might not be necessary and will make life more miserable for everyone. I noticed a similar thing after the inquest into the death of Nico Reed, who had cerebral palsy and died in an NHS-run care home (the same trust whose negligence led to the death of Connor Sparrowhawk in 2013) and one of the immediate factors was the failure to check on him every 20 minutes; however, his family also said that, when moved to this facility, the physiotherapy which had kept him healthy throughout his childhood disappeared, they mislaid the book that he needed to communicate and when they visited, he appeared withdrawn and scared which he never previously had done. His family were putting plans in place to bring him home when he died. It should not get to the point where it is necessary to check on someone every 20 minutes when they are trying to sleep; how then can someone get uninterrupted rest?

These things are sometimes necessary, at peak crisis points, to protect someone at risk of a medical crisis or self-harm, but they should not be used on a blanket basis for prolonged periods. The regimes in these units are already often miserable and needlessly restrictive; a new tranche of restrictions will make them less effective at resolving people’s mental health problems and act as a deterrent to them from seeking help in the event of a future crisis. The mother of the girl mentioned earlier tweeted the other day that she already regretted asking for help as there is no way of getting her daughter out of the clutches of these people once admitted, even if voluntarily. The way of life (it should not be a ‘regime’, a term generally used to refer to prison or a dictatorship and has associations with oppression) on a ward should not be dictated by a company’s need to minimise its liabilities but should be therapeutic first and foremost.

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Malaysia investigates women who discussed their 'dehijabbing'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 April, 2019 - 14:34

Move by Islamic authorities condemned as attempt to ‘intimidate women activists’

Three women in Malaysia who held an event discussing their decision to stop wearing the hijab are being investigated by Malaysian Islamic authorities.

The event, hosted over the weekend at the Gerakbudaya bookshop in the Petaling Jaya area, was held to mark the launch of Unveiling Choice, a book documenting the author and activist Maryam Lee’s decision to stop wearing the hijab.

Related: 'I lost consciousness': woman whipped by the Taliban over burqa without veil | Haroon Janjua

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Trump's attacks on Ilhan Omar aim to stoke fears ahead of the 2020 election

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 April, 2019 - 13:56

Trump and Republicans are using Omar to drive a wedge within the Democratic party and ‘foment hatred of Muslim Americans’

When Ilhan Omar became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress in November, the American Muslim community saw her victory as a symbolic rejoinder to Donald Trump.

Omar’s remarkable journey – from a Somali refugee camp to the Minnesota state legislature and the hallways of the US Capitol – stood out among a historically diverse class of freshman lawmakers. The sight of Omar’s hijab on the House floor, made possible only by a rules change that for the first time in 181 years allowed religious headwear inside the chamber, reinforced the immediacy of her impact.

Brian Kilmeade says of Rep. Ilhan Omar, "You have to wonder if she is an American first."

Then says, "In the name of religion, they kill Americans and still do it on a daily basis."

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Ramy review – sharp comedy series examines Muslim American life

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2019 - 15:37

Comedian Ramy Youssef navigates a life between two different cultures in a sensitive, funny and occasionally ingenious show

“I don’t know what I’m doing, man,” says Ramy, the alter-ego of 28-year-old comedian Ramy Youssef, to a stony kebab shop owner, also an elder at his north New Jersey mosque. Ramy is confused, recently jobless, stinging from a date with a Muslim woman that he botched by locking her into a chaste, wife-and-mother focused stereotype. He admires his parents – immigrants from Egypt and Palestine – and their unshakable faith in God; he has sex before marriage and will likely try mushrooms someday. “And I believe in God. I really do, man – there’s too many signs,” he reaches for words as the elder smokes. “I mean, one time this girl texted me two minutes after I jerked off to her Facebook photo.”

Related: Fosse/Verdon review – showbiz miniseries is stylish but scatterbrained

Ramy starts on Hulu on 19 April with a UK date yet to be announced

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Progressive Muslims, Jews and Christians must stand together for LGBT rights | Michael Segalov

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 April, 2019 - 10:00
Reporting of the Parkfield school protests has focused on the Muslim community, but homophobia is rife in all faith groups

Struggling to come to terms with being gay as a child is by no means an experience unique to those who grow up religious. For as long as being straight remains the dominant sexuality (and, despite the best efforts of the “homosexual agenda”, it looks like that’ll forever be the case), being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer still means working out what it means to be something other, something different; a journey of self-acceptance we all embark on if we can.

If you happen to be born into one of the Abrahamic religions, however, you are presented with a unique obstacle on that path. You’re not just dealing with friends, family, and a society that continues to be far from accepting, but have the added complication of God – who hasn’t traditionally been understood to be the greatest of queer allies – to contend with too.

Related: The culture war over ‘LGBT lessons’ is based on distortion. Here are the facts | Janeen Hayat

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Secular lobby advocates equality as religious leaders weigh in on election

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 April, 2019 - 23:15

Campaign aims to remind candidates that majority of Australians don’t want religion to dictate social policy

The tussle between secularism and religious freedom will enter the federal election fray this week.

The National Secular Lobby is launching a campaign aimed at jolting a complacent secular majority to consider the impact of religious exemptions and privileges that are flying under the radar.

Related: Greens propose supporting Labor climate policy in environment deal

Related: Political parties' postal vote mailouts spark concerns voters could be misled

Related: Josh Frydenberg on back foot over Adani at Kooyong election forum

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The Great British School Swap review – racial harmony? It's child's play

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 April, 2019 - 22:00

Pupils from Asian and white-majority areas are put into a classroom together in a well-intentioned social experiment that fails to get to the root of prejudice

Amina, a brown-skinned, teenage, Muslim pupil from Saltley academy, a secondary school in a predominantly brown-skinned Muslim area of Birmingham, thinks white people have different accents. “They’re like: ‘Ew, yew fucking plonkah!’” Her friends, of similar ethnic and religious heritage, think white people have “really messy houses”, they “don’t give a shit” and have “alcohol bottles everywhere”. They “have their feet up watching TV with a bowl of popcorn on the sofa”. There also seems to be a consensus that white people go to “naked beaches” a lot.

White-skinned Lucas from Tamworth Enterprise, a secondary school in a predominantly white area of Birmingham a few miles away, thinks Muslims “worship a god called Allah and their prophet is Muhammad Ali”. He is doing better than Lauren, who thinks Islam may be a country, and Dan, who reckons Mecca is a YouTuber. They and their friends think Muslims wear burqas, smell of curry, shop at Primark and can be “horrible and nasty people”.

She is clearly wrestling with herself and the received wisdom with which she has grown up

Related: School Swap – The Class Divide review: reality TV that’s light on the reality

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Facebook allowed violent posts by man charged with Ilhan Omar death threat

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 April, 2019 - 14:28

Site took no action to remove posts by Patrick Carlineo alluding to violence against Muslims and US officials, until Guardian review

Facebook allowed a man charged with threatening to kill congresswoman Ilhan Omar to post violent and racist content for years, and took no action to remove his posts when he was arrested.

Patrick Carlineo, of upstate New York, posted several entries to his Facebook page alluding to violence against Muslims and US officials including former president Barack Obama, a Guardian review found.

A photograph of a white man pointing a shotgun directly to the camera, together with the caption: “HOW TO WINK AT A MUSLIM”.

A graphic featuring a large photograph of a bullet, with text noting that American revolutionaries shot their British occupiers. Carlineo added, in his own words, that Obama was damaging the US and people had “better wake up and do something”.

A post about Obama and Eric Holder, then the US attorney general, in which Carlineo stated: “Hope you end up like the Kennedys”. John F Kennedy and one of his brothers, attorney general Robert F Kennedy, were both assassinated.

A meme that attacked “dictator Obama” for allegedly trashing the US constitution. The post included text that asked: “Is it time to remove the enemy by force?” Carlineo added in his own words: “It’s time”. This post was removed by Facebook after an inquiry by the Guardian.

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Trump continues attack on Ilhan Omar with 'hate statements' accusation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 April, 2019 - 17:19

Trump singled out Nancy Pelosi for defending the congresswoman, who has received death threats following his tweets

Donald Trump escalated his attack on congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Monday, saying she was “out of control” and criticizing Democrats for coming to her defense.

Related: To those who lost loved ones on 9/11, Ilhan Omar is simply not worth such outrage | Alissa Torres

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UK-based TV station fined for anti-Ahmadi Muslim hate speech

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 April, 2019 - 14:09

Guest on Urdu-language Channel 44 show made serious allegations, says Ofcom

A UK-based TV station has been fined £75,000 by Ofcom after broadcasting hate speech about the Ahmadi community, amid growing fears that the religious group is facing persecution.

Channel 44, an Urdu-language current affairs satellite channel, broadcast two episodes of a discussion programme featuring a guest who “made repeated, serious and unsubstantiated allegations about members of the Ahmadiyya community”, the broadcasting watchdog said.

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Assange should be nobody’s hero

Indigo Jo Blogs - 14 April, 2019 - 23:07
 Embajada" around it. Two people are holding cameras pointing at Assange from the left side of the balcony.Julian Assange, 2012

Now that Julian Assange has finally been evicted from his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, a whole lot of his old admirers seem to have taken a trip back down memory lane to 2011 when he leaked all the American diplomatic cables and briefly made himself a hero, to some. He was shortly afterwards accused of rape by two women in Sweden, leading to an extradition request which was assumed to be a cover for an American extradition demand even though, at the time, there was none. Friends including Vanessa Redgrave put up bail money for him (money bail is unusual in the UK) while he fought the arrest warrant; in an attempt to skip bail, he secured ‘asylum’ from Ecuador and, unable to leave the UK, took refuge in their embassy. Details of the rape accusations were made public and clearly indicated that this was a non-consensual sexual act (or at least that they gave consent to one thing and got quite another), and certain people, notably George Galloway, tarnished their reputation forever by defending him, in his case claiming that the women alleging rape were already “in the sex game”. (Contrary to some of the memories being shared on social media, it was not only men defending him back then; besides Redgrave, Naomi Wolf called for his accusers to be named while the Guardian published two letters from representatives of Women Against Rape, claiming the arrest warrant was politically motivated.) The people defending him have conveniently forgotten that this is only a fraction of his offending, and that most of it involves his conduct as head of WikiLeaks itself.

To put it simply, he began betraying his sources, and some of his sources were in a very vulnerable position. After the redacted versions of the 2011 cables were published, to much applause, he published the cables in full, in an easily searchable form, exposing informants in a number of countries, many of them dictatorships with powerful or unaccountable police forces to danger, including disappearance and torture. He published personal details about pro-democracy activists in Belarus, the last remnant of Communist dictatorship in Europe, which resulted in a number of them disappearing; he published the names of male and female rape victims; when asked about Afghans identified as assisting the American and British forces in their country and the risks to their safety, he responded that they were informants and if they were killed, they had it coming. He is closely associated with Israel Shamir, a Russian anti-Semite who admires both Putin and Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus; he refused to publish a cache of material that could have exposed Russian corruption and international interference as well as the 2016 Panama papers.

It is depressing to see Muslims fall over themselves to excuse this immoral individual who is really no friend of Muslims; we also see figures on the Left make excuses for him when he is no friend of theirs either. This is not someone who has been on the side of good, despite some flaws, and been persecuted by a powerful establishment. Such people exist, but he is not one of them. He is someone who did something we agreed with many years ago, and has since shown that he has no morals to speak of, that he believes he is above the rules that constrain everyone else’s behaviour. Even before the 2011 leaks, we knew that the Iraq war was without sanction in international law, that it was a war of unprovoked aggression, that it was motivated by personal grievances on Bush’s part and drew on a well of hatred among the American people and in their media following the 9/11 attacks; that its result was a disaster was already well-known. Whatever the truth of the rape accusation, he is a scoundrel and an anti-American or anti-British scoundrel is no less a scoundrel than one who is against anything else. If he had gone to Sweden to answer the rape accusations and been convicted, he might well have received a sentence considerably shorter than the time he spent holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, making a nuisance of himself to his hosts, as we now know, and serving the interests of Vladimir Putin and tyrants the world over. He is a criminal, even if the people demanding his arrest are not seeking justice for the people he has hurt the most.

Image source: Snapperjack. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) 2.0 licence.

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Ilhan Omar: White House escalates Trump attack over 9/11 comment

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 April, 2019 - 18:09

The White House escalated its assault on the Muslim American congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Sunday, after Donald Trump repeatedly tweeted video footage of September 11 and accused Omar of downplaying the terror attacks.

Related: Ilhan Omar: how Democrats responded to Trump's 9/11 attack

I think that it’s a good thing that the president is calling her out

This is about the fact that she looks a certain way, she is a woman of color, she happens to be of the Muslim faith

Related: Yemeni bodegas boycott New York Post over attacks on Ilhan Omar

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Muslim leaders should not serve Israeli propaganda

Indigo Jo Blogs - 13 April, 2019 - 00:08
A South Asian imam with a large black beard, wearing a brown turban with a white shawl around his upper chest, lays a wreath of red and white flowers in front of a monument to "the memory of the six million men, women and children who perished" (in the Holocaust). A line of nine or ten people, mostly men, including other imams stand behind him against a wall of large stones. A fire stands behind him with a jagged 'finger' pointing up out of it.An imam lays flowers at Yad Vashem

For a long while, Israeli sympathisers have been trying to nurture a generation of Muslim leaders and influencers who might try to sway Muslim opinion towards, as they see it, a more ‘balanced’ view of Israel than what Muslims in the west have, which mainly consists of stories about Israeli oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank, their bombings of civilian targets in Gaza and increasing intolerance of Arab citizens of Israel itself. In the USA, this has taken the form of the “Muslim Leadership Initiative”; more recently, an outfit called Journey2Jerusalem took a ‘delegation’ of Muslim imams from the UK on an all-expenses-paid tour of Israel and the West Bank, meeting local Muslims both within Israel and in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as Christian and Jewish leaders. They also visited Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial, the Western Wall in Jerusalem and “villages on the Gaza border”. The group included Dr Musharraf Hussain al-Azhari, the chief executive of the Karimia Institute in Nottinghamshire, armed forces chaplain Asim Hafiz, “Shaykh Ghulam Rabbani, considered one of the world’s most eminent scholars” and Shaykh Mohammad Asrar who “heads the largest mosque in Leeds”.

The tour, as reported in Jewish News (whose website is part of the Times of Israel website), began in Akko (Acre in English; neither that nor the Arabic name, Akka, are given in the report) where the local chief rabbi told them that “there is no need for a legal limitation on noise from muezzin (the Muslim call to prayer) in Israel – unlike the UK – because noise levels are determined by local religious leaders is discussion and dialogue”, as if they deserved a medal for not stopping the Muslims that managed to hang on in Israel after 1948 from issuing the call to prayer in their own city. Muslims do not give the call to prayer in public in much of the UK because we are a minority; in places where the numbers are strong, the call is issued on some occasions such as for Friday prayer.

The article claims that they visited Al-Aqsa and “prayed with large Muslim congregations after being shown around by an imam whose role is to look after mosques in the south of the country”. Most of us know that in fact access to Al-Aqsa is restricted and that Muslims are prevented from coming to pray there on Friday from surrounding Arab towns, and also that Arabs are being driven out of East Jerusalem by Israeli residency and building permit laws. So, this is something of a showpiece for Israel’s “tolerance” while mosques, Muslim graveyards and other sites are destroyed elsewhere in Israel (most recently the mosque in Safed turned into a wine bar, of all things). It goes on:

Speaking to i24 News, Hafiz said: “To come here and actually see that people are going about their daily lives, and people from the Jewish community do interact with the Muslim community here, the Arab community, is absolutely fascinating.”

Of course, rabbis, imams and priests interact with each other in Jerusalem as they do anywhere else there are mixed communities. The same happens in a lot of Muslim countries as well as in the UK. That does not change the power dynamic in Israeli and Palestinian society: that Arab residency in East Jerusalem is restricted and Jewish settlements there and in the West Bank are expanding; that Palestinians are harassed by settlers and soldiers and their business obstructed by checkpoints; that Israel has built a wall which cuts into the West Bank to link settlements and cut off Palestinians’ access to their own land and to other Palestinian towns and villages; that Israel restricts the Palestinians’ water supply; that Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens have no say in the government which rules their lives. Religious leaders having friendly chats do not change the fact that there is oppression.

All of the imams mentioned come from one particular school of thought whose leaders have a recent history of promoting the idea that they are the peaceful, spiritual side of Islam while other Muslims promote violence and segregation (in fact, they are also known to be the most staunch supporters of Pakistan’s blasphemy law and many of them will defend not only that law, and some of the well-documented unjust imprisonments that have resulted, but also the murder of people who oppose it). This sect is also notorious for the extremely harsh condemnations they issue towards Muslims who disagree with them, which have included proclamations that certain scholars are outside Islam, which also impugns the standing of those who follow them and those whose chains of transmission come through them. To illustrate this, I remember once entering a south London curry house to find the TV on, showing a shaikh shouting in Urdu, and I asked for them to turn it down, or off, as it was disturbing me while I was trying to read and eat my dinner. A man told me who the shaikh was, a name I recognised (not one of the men who went on this trip), and said he was “very tolerant of other faiths” — yet they are often extremely harsh towards other Muslims such as so-called Wahhabis (which in their usage does not mean what it means when most Muslims use it).

So, let nobody be in any doubt, even if you can find a group of imams to tour Israel and admire all the co-existence and ‘tolerance’, know that the rest of us are not deceived, that we do not accept the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the destruction of Muslim sites in the Holy Land and the oppression of our brothers and sisters there and we will continue to expose their propaganda for what it is. We do not respect a Muslim ‘leader’ who is not loyal to the Muslim community and who throws it under the bus for the sake of sectarian point-scoring or political advantage.

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The legacy of the Amritsar massacre lives on in India’s general elections | Amrit Wilson

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2019 - 08:00
A century on, the colonial policies that led to the killing of 1,000 people are playing out in a dangerously polarised election

On 13 April 1919, the day of the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi, British soldiers fired indiscriminately on unarmed men, women and children attending a peaceful public meeting in a walled park called Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar, Punjab. An estimated 1,000 people were killed and many more injured as they were shot in cold blood, even as they tried to escape.

In the years that have followed, those British politicians who have spoken of the massacre at all have portrayed it as a “monstrous” exception to the otherwise benign rule of the British Raj – arrogantly dismissing Britain’s long and bloody record of colonial repression in India. British descriptions of colonial history are rife with such convenient denials and reframings. Even that pivotal conflict India’s first war of independence, which started in 1857 and lasted two and a half years, was dubbed “the mutiny” and is still described as such in British history books.

Related: Theresa May expresses 'regret' for 1919 Amritsar massacre

Related: In India’s election race, Modi is not the strongman the world assumes | Ruchir Sharma

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China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 April, 2019 - 06:00

Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.

By Darren Byler

In mid-2017, Alim, a Uighur man in his 20s, returned to China from studying abroad. As soon as he landed back in the country, he was pulled off the plane by police officers. He was told his trip abroad meant that he was now under suspicion of being “unsafe”. The police administered what they call a “health check”, which involved collecting several types of biometric data, including DNA, blood type, fingerprints, voice recordings and face scans – a process that all adults in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang, in north-west China, are expected to undergo.

After his “health check”, Alim was transported to one of the hundreds of detention centres that dot north-west China. These centres have become an important part of what Xi Jinping’s government calls the “people’s war on terror”, a campaign launched in 2014, which focuses on Xinjiang, a region with a population of roughly 25 million people, just under half of whom are Uighur Muslims. As part of this campaign, the Chinese government has come to treat almost all expressions of Uighur Islamic faith as signs of potential religious extremism and ethnic separatism. Since 2017 alone, more than 1 million Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others, have moved through detention centres.

Related: 'If you enter a camp, you never come out': inside China's war on Islam

Related: ‘We’re a people destroyed’: why Uighur Muslims across China are living in fear

Related: Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign

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