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Pauline Hanson: Please Explain! – a hard-hitting exposé of history repeated

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 August, 2016 - 06:56

There are many standout moments in this SBS documentary that shines a light on ‘a hare-brained and bizarre woman’

Bizarre, weird, strange, odd, awkward: all these words are used to describe the leader of the resurgent One Nation party in the documentary Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!, which aired on Sunday on SBS.

But there was one moment – shrewdly selected to promote the show on social media – that hit me harder than the rest.

Related: Pauline Hanson takes centre stage again but this time we should listen not lampoon | Margo Kingston

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

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 August, 2016 - 00:37

Leader of the Catholic church says all religions have a ‘small fundamentalist group’ and that faith was not the only cause of terrorism

Pope Francis has said it was wrong to identify Islam with violence and that social injustice and idolatry of money were among the prime causes of terrorism.

“I think it is not right to identity Islam with violence,” he told reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome after a five-day trip to Poland. “This is not right and this is not true.”

Related: The Guardian view on Pope Francis in Kraków: what religions are really about | Editorial

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The loser of Sagamihara

Indigo Jo Blogs - 31 July, 2016 - 15:26

An aerial shot of a group of buildings, including two large Z-shaped and one smaller L-shaped building, plus a small outdoor swimming pool, some gardens and a car park and surrounding roads.Last Monday a former employee of Tsukui Yamayuri-en, a care centre in Sagamihara, Japan broke into the centre during the night and murdered 19 disabled residents. We do not know the names of the victims and no photographs have yet been published, but they were aged between 19 and 70 and included ten women and nine men; 26 more were injured, 13 of them severely. The murderer had previously sent a letter to the Speaker of the lower house of the Japanese Parliament, claiming that he “may be able to revitalize the world economy and I thought it may be possible to prevent World War III” by euthanasing people with multiple disabilities because they “can only create misery”. He mentioned how he might carry out the killings and then demanded a sentence of no more than two years, a new identity on release, plastic surgery and financial aid of 500M yen ($5M). He was committed to a mental health facility when the letter came to the attention of the police, but was only held for two weeks, until early March.

The incident was the main story on the news here in the UK on Tuesday evening. By the same time the next day, it had dropped off most of the news outlets (such as the BBC News app) and the murder of a priest in Rouen, France, by two self-proclaimed “Islamic State” operatives, had taken its place and the investigation into that is still making headlines while the massacre in Sagamihara has dropped right out of the news; only a few stories have been published anywhere since Tuesday although there is a letter in the Japan Times castigating the “Keystone Koban Kops” for not taking the killer’s threats seriously. There may be more reporting on it in the Japanese-language media; it’s not, unlike English, a language widely spoken outside its home territory. The fact that the murder of a single priest in France can push the murder of 19 disabled people entirely out of the news within 24 hours strikes many people as obvious disablism but also as obvious racism; this was in our back yard, the victim a respected, elderly white man killed in a church; they were foreign, disabled and their names, if published, would not mean anything to people here.

Many disability bloggers were quick to connect this incident to wider disablist attitudes, to films like Me Before You and media stories that romanticise the deaths of disabled people, and to other killings of disabled people where the killer got a lenient sentence. I believe this case should be classed along with other spree killings that targeted particular groups, where the motive is personal to the killer even if they latched onto a wider prejudice or grievance. This is nowhere clearer than in the Orlando shooting, which was initially presumed to be an ISIS terrorist act or at least motivated by homophobia stemming from his Muslim background, but the killer’s personal grudges against other gay men and, it seems, gay Latin men in particular became clear as more details emerged. That process has not happened with this killing; we have not heard a great deal about his online activities, or his record while working at the home (only that he was disciplined once for poor attitude) — in particular, if there was ever inappropriate behaviour. The perpetrator of the Dunblane school massacre in 1996 had run youth clubs where complaints had been made about his behaviour, in particular, taking semi-naked pictures of boys and expecting boys to sleep with him in his van while a Scout leader; he complained in the years before the massacre that such “rumours” had led to the failure of his business. The perpetrator of the Montreal Polytechnic Massacre in 1989, in which fourteen women (one staff member, the rest students) were shot dead, came from an abusive family background, had failed to join the Army or to complete two college courses, and blamed feminists for ruining his life.

This time, the murderer has not shot himself dead afterwards but turned himself in to the police, so he is awaiting trial and perhaps details have been withheld to avoid prejudicing his trial. If we take his letter to the Speaker of Parliament at face value, we may suspect he is mentally ill, given that he believed he could prevent World War III and seriously expected the government to look after him after a very short term in prison. It is reported that he had marijuana in his system when hospitalised in February and the staff treating him believed he had cannabis-related psychosis. But he clearly still held these views up until last week, so perhaps that was a ruse to avoid going to prison (which in Japan are very harsh places) or getting the death penalty. It’s also possible that he wanted to provoke outrage, to make himself infamous because it was easier than making himself famous. In this he succeeded, albeit only for a day before ISIS pushed his act off the front pages (at least outside Japan).

A few months ago I saw a video by one Max Stossel called Stop Making Murderers Famous (it’s designed to be watched on a phone) which called for such killers not to be named and their life stories not to be broadcast in the media in the wake of a spree killing. He suggested simply referring to them as “the dumbass”, so as not to glorify them or give credence to their grievances and thereby encourage anyone else who may have similar ideas. I agree. These men’s ideas are not that important; if they had any coherence, they could have found more productive ways to express them than in a note to be found after a mass shooting and subsequent suicide. They are losers and inadequates; we never hear of people with successful lives, relationships and careers shooting a large number of strangers for no reason. And if the status of disabled people were so much better, if a lot of people didn’t think they would be better off dead, if there weren’t resentment at disability benefits and stories attacking ‘scroungers’ in the popular media, the mass killing genie would still be out of the bottle and there might still be some loser who had a grudge and wanted to “make his mark” because he couldn’t do so by positive means, and chose them as a target.

But he will probably focus on another group of people instead, and the risk to disabled people’s safety would continue to come from the same sources it has always come from — abusive carers and school and neighbourhood bullies, as well as callous officialdom — so the cries of “why wasn’t there tighter security?”, which can be perfectly well answered with “because it wasn’t a prison”, can only lead to institutions throwing up fences and making life more restrictive for their disabled residents, empowering the real abusers while keeping out only the imaginary ones. A lot of people may have shared his prejudices, but the loser of Sagamihara will hang, or at least spend decades in prison; meanwhile, disabled people still suffer harassment and abuse every day and sentences are usually not harsh, and that’s when they are convicted. Whether this is more or less true in Japan than here I do not know, and there has been little in-depth coverage of that situation this week, perhaps because of the drop-off in coverage of the massacre since the Rouen murder. There is a danger of indulging in “stable-door logic”, taking extraordinary measures to prevent a repeat of this atrocity at the expense of people’s quality of life, when it was an isolated event and when disabled people are in danger, it is usually from those they know and who have power over their lives.

There is to be a memorial for the victims of the Sagamihara massacre outside the Japanese embassy in London on Thursday (4th August), from 4pm. The embassy is 101-4 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT. Nearest Tube station is Green Park, which has lifts to platforms. Organised by Eleanor Lisney and Dennis Queen; see their Facebook page.

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Turkey to shut military academies as it targets armed forces for ‘cleansing’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 July, 2016 - 02:18

Western allies rattled by scale of crackdown on more than 60,000 people after failed coup in Turkey

Turkey will shut its military academies and put the armed forces under the command of the defence minister, Fikri Isik, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday in a move designed to bring the military under tighter government control after a failed coup.

Isik told broadcaster NTV the shake-up in the military was not yet over, adding that military academies would now be a target of “cleansing”.

Related: Military coup attempted in Turkey against Erdoğan government

Related: Turkey's prime minister declares attempted coup is over

Related: Erdoğan v the Gülenists: from political allies to Turkey's bitter rivals

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Guess what? You can be a Muslim American and criticise our foreign policy | Moustafa Bayoumi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 July, 2016 - 20:22

Khizr Khan made a huge impact with his speech at the Democratic convention. But the choice of a man whose son fought as an American soldier is telling

Khizr Khan very nearly stole the show from Hillary Clinton at last night’s Democratic national convention. Khizr is the father of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq by a car bomb in June 2004 while heroically saving his fellow soldiers from almost certain death.

When Khizr spoke about his son’s sacrifice at the convention, the audience was completely rapt with attention. And when he lashed out directly at Donald Trump for his policies, those regarding Muslims especially, the audience burst into long and thunderous applause. With his slow and deliberate delivery and his repeated invocations of Muslim American patriotism, Khan’s speech was as masterly as it was memorable. He grabbed our hearts while grabbing Trump by the throat.

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My charity has received horrific anti-Muslim abuse. But the Met police don’t seem to care | Fiyaz Mughal

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 July, 2016 - 14:16
Officers around the country have been heroes in the cause of Tell MAMA, my organisation that monitors Islamophobia. So what’s the problem in London?

Over the last nine days my colleagues and I at Tell MAMA – an organisation which supports victims of anti-Muslim hatred – have been subjected to some of the worst harassment on our telephone lines in the four years since we first started. The extent of the racist, sexist and anti-Muslim abuse we have received has left the organisation unable to function. My colleagues have been subjected to monkey noises, abuse and general intimidation.

Related: Hate crime-fighting group Tell MAMA says Met failing to protect it

The Met lost many call logs we made of incidents – and considered the threat level to Tell MAMA staff to be 'low risk'

Related: Police blame worst rise in recorded hate crime on EU referendum

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Fallen Muslim American soldier's father scolds Trump: 'have you even read the constitution?'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 July, 2016 - 07:23

In response to Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants, Khizr Khan shames the Republican presidential nominee: ‘You have sacrificed nothing and no one’

‘We are not afraid’: Hillary Clinton accepts Democratic nomination

The father of an American Muslim killed in the US military in Iraq stunned the Democratic convention on Thursday night with a powerful challenge to Donald Trump, who he said had “sacrificed nothing and no one”.

Related: 'We are not afraid': Hillary Clinton accepts nomination at Democratic convention – live

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Hate crimes and attacks against Muslims doubled in California last year – report

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 July, 2016 - 01:32

Reported attacks and bias incidents are up significantly after deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino last year and Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims

Rasheed Albeshari and his friends were playing volleyball by Lake Chabot in northern California when they took a break to pray. The Sunday hangout at the popular park across the bay from San Francisco had become a weekly tradition for the group, but on 6 December, their afternoon prayers were quickly interrupted.

“Terrorists! … You have nothing but hate!”

Related: 'You were born in a Taco Bell': Trump's rhetoric fuels school bullies across US

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Bill Clinton’s #DNC Speech: Propagates “Good Muslim vs. Bad Muslim” Dichotomy

Loon Watch - 28 July, 2016 - 19:20

Former President Bill Clinton speaks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer on Tuesday in a roll-call vote of delegates on the floor of the convention. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times) XNYT328

Former President Bill Clinton speaks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

“If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you.” -Bill Clinton, DNC 2016

It’s not surprising that in his DNC speech, Bill Clinton, adopted and forwarded the simplistic “Good Muslim” vs. “Bad Muslim” dichotomy and was therefore widely criticized. Hillary supporters, those who have cared enough to respond, have argued that this is an over reaction because Bill had “good intentions.”

This charitable interpretation is expected as many see the current presidential race as an existential fight for the future of America and any criticism of Hillary or her husband, especially in the context of the campaign will be viewed as an attack. For my part I view Bill Clinton as a wily politician, who is aware in this instance of what he was saying and doing. He doesn’t see anything wrong or untoward in the mentality that lead him to utter the words he did. Ironically, it was a statement that could also easily have come out of the mouth of Donald Trump. So instead of differentiating himself from Trump and being inclusive of Muslim Americans, he ended up reinforcing prejudice and stereotypes.

By Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

[T]he worst moment of the speech came near its end, when Clinton began to riff about the different kinds of people who should join Hillary’s effort. “If you love this country, you’re working hard, you’re paying taxes, you’re obeying the law and you’d like to become a citizen, you should choose immigration reform over someone that wants to send you back,” he said. Fair enough. Under any conceivable immigration overhaul, only those undocumented immigrants who have obeyed the law once in the United States—which includes paying taxes—will qualify for citizenship. Two sentences later, Clinton said that, “If you’re a young African American disillusioned and afraid … help us build a future where no one’s afraid to walk outside, including the people that wear blue to protect our future.” No problem there. Of course African Americans should be safe from abusive police, and of course, police should be safe from the murderers who threaten them.

But in between, Clinton said something dreadful: “If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you.” The problem is in the assumption. American Muslims should be viewed exactly the same way other Americans are. If they commit crimes, then they should be prosecuted, just like other Americans. But they should not have to prove that they “love America and freedom” and “hate terror” to “stay here.” Their value as Americans is inherent, not instrumental. Their role as Americans is not to “help us win” the “war on terror.”

Whether Clinton meant to or not, he lapsed into Trumpism: the implication that Muslims are a class apart, deserving of special scrutiny and surveillance, guilty of terrorist sympathies until proven innocent. I think I understand where the formulation came from. In the 1990s, one of Clinton’s key New Democratic innovations was his insistence that with rights, come responsibilities: To receive government assistance, welfare recipients must work. If people commit crimes, the government will punish them harshly.

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Rudy Giuliani suggests Muslims on US watchlist should wear GPS bracelets

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2016 - 17:29

Former New York City mayor, who is advising Donald Trump on national security, says electronic tags should be considered for those on terrorism lists

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has suggested the US government should put electronic monitoring bracelets on Muslims who are on the federal government’s terror watchlist.

“I would think that’s an excellent idea,” Giuliani told NJ.com. “If you’re on the terror watchlist, I should know you’re on the terror watchlist. You’re on there for a reason.”

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Father Jacques Hamel died as a priest, doing what priests do | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2016 - 13:19
The sacrifice of the mass is the non-violent absorption of human violence. This is what Father Jacques was celebrating as he was murdered in Rouen

When I was first ordained a priest, I would say my prayers every morning in front of three undistinguished stained-glass windows. And every morning, I would argue in my head with the theology those windows were promoting. On the left, Abraham held up a curly knife, preparing to cut the throat of his son who is strapped to an altar. In the middle, Christ hanging on the cross, dripping blood. On the right, a priest, in full liturgical kit, stood behind an altar, hands outstretched over bread and wine. The coloured glass was insisting that these three scenes were intimately connected, that the mass/holy communion/eucharist, whatever you call it, is essentially a sacrifice – and not just some stylised community get-together.

As Pope John Paul II put it in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the eucharist is “the sacrifice of the cross perpetuated down the age. This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ … left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there”. Catholic Christianity, like that of temple Judaism before it, is a religion of blood and altars.

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Egypt's Islamic scholars reject government-issued Friday sermons

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 July, 2016 - 02:33

Prominent Muslim authority says giving clerics pre-written sermons would hamper rather help efforts to tackle extremism

In a rebuke to the Egyptian government, the country’s top religious scholars have rejected new government measures to standardise Friday sermons, saying such a step would “freeze” the development of religious discourse.

The Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s most prominent institution, said in a statement on Wednesday that giving clerics pre-written Friday sermons would eventually “superficialise” religious clerics’ thinking.

Related: Generation revolution: how Egypt’s military state betrayed its youth | Rachel Aspden

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