The Guardian view on the public flogging of a Saudi liberal | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 19:39
The lesson of this monstrous sentence: you can beat a man, but you cannot beat his ideas

When Raif Badawi is flogged tomorrow afternoon, the cane will not only fall on a brave man who has committed no crime in any rational understanding of law. It will also fall on the hopes, the dreams and the decency of those watching from afar, including humane Muslims everywhere. This barbarous punishment is aimed at us quite as much as it is aimed at the immediate victim. The dreadful theatre of a public flogging is an act of propaganda, with a simple, clear message: that the corrupt and frightened rulers of Saudi Arabia can still punish anyone who dares to talk or think freely in their kingdom.

Mr Badawi is being flogged as a Muslim. Had he been a Christian or an atheist, he would have been killed for apostasy under Saudi law. He saved – or at least prolonged – his own life by reciting the Shahada, the Muslim confession of faith, in court in 2012. We can assume that a man so courageous and straightforward was being sincere in his profession. It is quite possible that he will anyway die during the infliction of the truly monstrous sentence of 1,000 lashes – doled out, 50 at a time, on Fridays – which was passed on him last year. Originally, he had been sentenced to 600 lashes, but a higher, or, on a moral scale, a lower court changed this to 1,000.

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Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan visits Boko Haram stronghold

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 19:38
First presidential visit since March 2013 to Maiduguri, where Islamist group was founded in 2002, shrouded in secrecy

Nigeria’s president made a surprise visit to the country’s troubled north-east on Thursday, which is in the grip of escalating Boko Haram violence that threatens next month’s election.

Goodluck Jonathan arrived in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, shortly before 3pm and was met at the airport by the state governor Kashim Shettima.

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Jihadists are not the only ideologues. We are all ruthless about our beliefs | Tim Lott

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 19:30
It’s easy to be fragile, fractious and quick to anger – we’ve got to learn to listen to those we disagree with

What is the connection between a multi-millionaire and an Islamist terrorist? The answer struck me as I watched Jacques Peretti’s documentary The Super-Rich and Us this week.

Peretti catalogued how the rich and privileged live in a world of fantasy – of symbols, just as religious fanatics do. They amass money, pointlessly – far more than they can ever spend. They store it among the bricks and mortar of empty houses in London, in tax havens, in gold and jewels. What is the point of all this money? How many expensive meals can they eat, how many luxury cars can they drive, how many of their homes can they live in?

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Arab cartoonists pen their response to Charlie Hebdo affair

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 17:19
Leading caricaturists across the Middle East question the meaning of free speech while attacking Israel and Arab leaders

Arab cartoonists are hitting back over the Charlie Hebdo affair with satirical works of their own questioning the meaning of free speech in the west while attacking Israel and the perceived double standards that are applied to Muslims.

Leading caricaturists across the Middle East condemned last week’s killings in Paris but the magazine’s publication of another image of the Prophet Muhammad has been criticised in several countries which denounced the murders. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey have all now banned the new issue of the magazine.

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How France can really ‘protect all religions’

Indigo Jo Blogs - 15 January, 2015 - 16:49

François HollandeFrance ‘to protect all religions’ (BBC News)

The French president, François Hollande, has announced that France “will protect all religions” and that Muslims are the “main victims of fanaticism” in a speech at the Arab World Institute:

Speaking at the Arab World Institute, he said:

Islam was compatible with democracy and thanked Arabs for their solidarity over terrorism in Paris.

“French Muslims have the same rights as all other French,” he said. “We have the obligation to protect them.

“Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic acts have to be condemned and punished.”

Mr Hollande said that radical Islam had fed off contradictions, poverty, inequality and conflict, and that “it is Muslims who are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance”.

Speaking as a Muslim (though not as a French citizen) who has benefited, to some degree, from living in a democracy, I have to say that a democracy is only as good as its voters and that sometimes laws are needed to make sure some voters can’t trample over others’ rights. In the UK, the moderately wealthy can trample over the poor; in the USA, the whites have always done the same to the blacks, to one degree or another, and in France, and much of mainland Europe, the majority population always rides roughshod over any visible minority, whether it’s Jews, Roma, Muslims or anyone else.

Muslims do not need the French state to protect Islam. Allah protects His religion. There are always millions of people at any given time who have memorised the whole Qur’an, for example. We don’t need them to build mosques for us. We can do that ourselves.

The French state needs to protect Muslims in France. If Hollande is serious, he should do all of the following:

  1. Repeal the ban on Muslim girls wearing the hijab to school, at whatever age.
  2. Repeal the ban on Muslim women wearing the face veil in the street
  3. Abolish all bans on the hijab in public spaces and on identity cards, passports etc.
  4. Ban all local authorities, state bodies and businesses from discriminating against Muslim women on the grounds of their fees
  5. Similarly, ban the same bodies from trying to make Muslim children and young people eat haraam food

If Hollande is serious about protecting all French citizens, regardless of religion, he should show that he will have no truck with racism, xenophobia or chauvisism of any kind. This includes white feminists who think they know what’s best for all women, what makes femininity, freedom or anything else. As long as Muslims in France are daily confronted with bigotry and cultural white supremacist ideology, and as long as their women and girls are molested while white women cheer it on, they will know that France, its Republic and its culture have nothing to do with them.

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Controversial Charlie Hebdo motions upset NUJ members

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 14:59

London magazine branch to debate attack on cartoonists and Islamophobia

The National Union of Journalists has done much to improve its reputation over the past number of years during a particularly difficult period of staff cutbacks at newspapers and broadcasters.

You might be forgiven for thinking the days when it gleefully strayed into political territory were long over. But elements of its old Trotskyist militants remain, as an emailed circular to members of its London magazine branch illustrates.

This branch notes: The shocking murder to 10 journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists.The murders come amid an atmosphere of rising Islamophobia across Europe and the UK.

The role of much of the media in stoking Islamophobia. Sadly Charlie Hebdo has played a part in doing this in France.

“The demonstration in Paris of more than 3 million people shows the strength of feeling arising from the attacks on the journalists at Charlie Hebdo.

The killings of journalists, other workers and two police officers is a tragic event, as are the deaths of the four hostages taken at the Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris on the same day.

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This cruelty to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is a cruelty to all Muslims | Deborah Orr

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 11:09
The Saudi regime is showing that it demands a greater degree of obedience among Muslims than is expected of westerners

People all over the world have expressed horror at Saudi Arabia’s brutal treatment of the blogger Raif Badawi. This young man was sentenced to 1,000 lashes because he supports secularism. He received the first 50 lashes last Friday. He is to get 50 more each Friday for another 19 weeks. His wife says she doubts he will survive tomorrow’s onslaught.

Badawi’s “crime” was to run a blog, Free Saudi Liberals.

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The threat to France’s Jews | Natasha Lehrer

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 08:00

Last week’s attacks have stoked fears among the Jewish community at a time when increasing numbers are leaving. What does it mean for France?

Rough-hewn and reminiscent of one of Giacometti’s lonely figures, the weathered bronze soldier in the middle of a tiny, shady square in the heart of Paris stands stiffly to attention, with the jagged blade of his broken sword pointing like a dagger up to the sky. The statue’s disproportionately tiny head, topped with its disarmingly jaunty military hat, looks almost comical. Called Homage to Captain Dreyfus, it was created in 1986 by the political satirist Louis Mitelberg, known as TIM, and intended for the courtyard of Paris’s École Militaire, the official headquarters of the French army. It was there that Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, was subject to a military humiliation in 1895, his insignia ripped from his uniform and his sword broken in front of a crowd of thousands of jeering Parisians shouting “Death to the Jews!”

But in 1986, the army, whose upper echelons still contained officers unwilling to accept Dreyfus’s 1906 rehabilitation, was not amused by the bitterly mocking tone of Mitelberg’s bronze soldier, standing to attention at the behest of an army of fools. With the backing of President François Mitterand, the army refused to accept the statue when it was completed, and it languished in storage until it was erected two years later in the Tuileries gardens. There, with pleasing historical symmetry, it was placed within spitting distance of the statue of another famous French Jew, three times prime minister Leon Blum. But in 1994, Dreyfus, or at least his statue, was moved again, this time to the Place Pierre Lafue, off the Boulevard Raspail, where it still stands. It is regularly daubed with offensive graffiti, a reminder that antisemitism still thrives even in the smartest and most sophisticated of Parisian enclaves. A full size replica of the statue stands in the courtyard of Paris’s Museum of Jewish Art and History.

Last year, for the first time ever, more Jews moved to Israel from France than from any other country in the world

Half of all racist attacks in France take Jews as their target, even though they number less than 1% of the population

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China says fake pilgrims sent to Mecca

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 January, 2015 - 07:33

Officials accused after ‘unqualified’ people from heavily Muslim province of Xinjiang went on tightly regulated trips

China is investigating 32 officials from the western region of Xinjiang for graft linked to pilgrimages by Muslims to Mecca, state media said on Thursday.

Xinjiang is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people. Hundreds of people have been killed there over the past two years in violence between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese that the government blames on Muslim separatists.

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Stop the Islamization of Germany: AKA The Doner Kebab Threat to Judeo-Christian Values

Loon Watch - 15 January, 2015 - 01:24

Angela Merkel joined a rally to show solidarity against anti-Mooslamic-Islamization freedom fighters, PEGIDA–I wonder why?


via. CBS News, By Mark Phillips

DRESDEN, Germany – Long before the terror attacks in Paris, anti-Muslim prejudice was on the rise in Europe. It was underscored Thursday during an anti-Islamic rally in Dresden, Germany.

“We are the people,” they chant. But this isn’t a chant about a society being united. This is a chant of exclusion.

They’re part of a movement protesting what they see as the threat to German culture from rising numbers of Muslim immigrants to their country. Chancellor Angela Merkel may have said Islam is part of Germany now, but not to these people.

They point to the events in France as justification. Felix Menzel runs a right-wing magazine that supports the anti-immigrant cause.

“Is there an ‘I told you so’ quality to this?” I asked.

“Yes that’s the scenario that they spoke about in the last weeks,” Menzel answered.

The weekly demonstrations have grown over the past months from a few hundred to somewhere around 20,000. But so has opposition to them. Other demonstrators tried to block the path of the anti-immigrant marchers, saying Germany should welcome Muslim refugees.

“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted. But the marchers simply moved around them.

There were calls for this demonstration to be cancelled out of deference to the victims in France and to let passions cool. But it went ahead anyway and it was big.

Werner Patzelt of Dresden University says the marchers’ sentiments are misguided.

“They stir up un-delicious opinions and feelings,” Patzelt told me. “Ugly is maybe the proper expression for what can be seen and felt.”

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Muslim groups donate $100K to prevent Detroit water shutoffs

Loon Watch - 15 January, 2015 - 01:04


Positive stories about Muslims in the media are few and far between, here is one which hasn’t penetrated national media but local outlets have been covering. In any case, I am sure the Muslims would tell you this isn’t about “hey, come look at how good I am,” but as the story mentions is being done to alleviate suffering with the “hope that this grant will encourage others to come forward with assistance since there is still great need.”

According 9and10news to “More than 31,300 customers have had their water shut off since January 2013.

Muslim organizations donate $100,000 to help prevent water shut-offs for Detroiters

Friday, 01.09.2015, 04:24 AM
DETROIT — The Muslim community of Michigan is stepping forward with a contribution to support Detroit residents who are facing hardship from water shut-offs. The Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC), in partnership with Islamic Relief USA (IR USA) –the largest Muslim charity organizations in the United States – is giving $100,000 to help the people of Detroit. 

More than 60,000 households in Detroit have faced the risk of water shut-off, creating great hardship for many. The grant will be divided evenly between the Detroit Water Fund in partnership with United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Wayne Metro Community Council, to be used in direct assistance to disadvantaged Detroit families struggling to maintain their water utilities or recover from water damage due to recent floods.  

The MMCC and IR USA hope that this grant will encourage others to come forward with assistance since there is still great need. 

The grant is part of a concerted effort by metro-Detroit Muslims to contribute to the city’s revitalization since Detroit has been an important part of American Muslim history and is recovering from difficult economic times. Other initiatives include the Huda clinic, which provides free medical and dental clinic to everybody; Zaman International, which provides food and material assistance to at risk-women and children; DREAM (Detroit Revitalization Engaging American Muslim), which reclaims and renovates homes for disadvantaged families; and the Ramadan Fight Against Hunger Food Drive and Oedhiya project, which distributes several tons of food annually to local food banks and community centers.

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Add faithophobia to my crimes: I have no respect for religions that have little respect for me | Suzanne Moore

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 20:00
Now is a time to remember that tolerance has to be reciprocal or it is not tolerance at all

Voltaire is being quoted everywhere at the moment, although some say his words were different to what we are being told. He actually wrote in a letter in 1770 to Abbot le Riche: “I detest what you write but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” And of course lives have been taken rather than given for writing what many detest.

The arguments go back and forth between those who think Charlie Hebdo should not have published its latest cover image of Muhammad and those – and I am one – who think that they are publishing anything at all is amazing and heartening. The image of a crying man does not offend me. I am not a Muslim but I see that the cover has been read as yet more provocation, even an undoing of the unity of the marches in Paris and other cities. To certain scumbag preachers it is “an act of war”.

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Charlie Hebdo poster burned amid global Muslim protests

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 19:09
Protest in the Philippines and Turkish website ban come as Muslims accused magazine of reckless provocation

A Charlie Hebdo poster was burned in the Philippines on Monday as 1,500 people staged a protest march against the depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the cover of the magazine a week after the deadly attack on its offices.

The publication of the “survivors’ issue” of the weekly on Wednesday caused ructions in the Muslim world where the paper was accused of reckless provocation and insulting the prophet.

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French-born Muslim receives death threat over London 'Je suis Charlie' sign

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 18:07

Adel Defilaux placed sign outside his coffee shop in east London, but was then threatened by a man who said supporters of the Paris victims deserved to die

A French-born Muslim has received a death threat over a “Je suis Charlie” sign he placed outside his coffee shop in east London.

Adel Defilaux, 32, put the sign up in response to the killings of 17 people in Paris last week .

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Panorama: an parade of irrelevance

Indigo Jo Blogs - 14 January, 2015 - 17:55

John Ware and the director of British Muslim TV, climing a flight of stairs.So, on Monday night BBC’s Panorama responded to last week’s massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices by dusting off a 25-minute feature on “British Islam”, in which John Ware, who had fronted a previous ‘investigation’ into Muslim leadership which used secret filming and promoted the wholly unrepresentative Taj Hargey as the answer to everything that is wrong with Muslims in Britain, used the “Happy Muslims” video and various other snippets of one or two Muslim scholars saying offensive things to promote the idea that the root of terrorism is a “them and us” attitude among Muslims, rather than genuine violent extremism or western foreign policy. No attempt was made to prove a link between the massacre in France and the state of the Muslim community here, probably because there isn’t one. (You can see it here until next year if you’re in the UK.)

Interestingly, the programme didn’t even investigate the claim that one of the attackers had been ‘mentored’ by someone who ‘had connections’ to the Finsbury Park mosque, which until 2005 was run by genuine, violent extremists originally led by Abu Hamza until he was arrested. They were not just violent in terms of supporting armed extremist groups around the world; they were violent to other Muslims in various mosques, starting fights and, in one case in the mid-90s that I am aware of, disrupting weddings on the grounds that alcohol was being consumed (in a mosque, of all places — it wasn’t). However, the Finsbury Park mosque community more closely resembles, in terms of the backgrounds of its members, the French Muslim community than the British one. The majority of Muslims in France are north and west African; most of ours are South Asian, with other minorities (notably Somalis) dotted around.

Second, there was no investigation of real conflicts between sectarians and other Muslims in the UK. There is, for example, currently a fight to prevent a major mosque in north-west London being taken over by Wahhabis who are registering new members in large numbers to oust the presently mainstream committee. This is all over social media and any thorough investigation into conflicts in the British Muslim community would have revealed it, and people willing to talk about it (though perhaps not to John Ware). Of course, that a mosque in Britain which has a history of promoting a moderate version of Islam was under threat does not really concern the programme-makers; they are really only interested in telling non-Muslims that Muslims hate them.

The programme claimed that what it called “non-violent extremism” served as some kind of conveyor belt to terrorism, in the words of one of the interviewees, taking them to the door. “Extremism” no longer means promoting hate or hostility; it means ideas that are contrary to what mainstream society believes, particularly as regards the status of women, homosexuality or popular culture in general. The programme offered the notorious “Happy Muslims” video from last year as an example of how “good Muslims” behave, dancing to one of the year’s biggest pop songs. Lots of Muslims objected to that video and the culture of conformity and bullying surrounding it; the branding of people who objected to the demand that we approve of and share a video which was un-Islamic in many elements, besides being an irritating and banal song written and performed by someone whose other material was objectionable; the programme went along with the dominant view that these people were just puritans and killjoys. (They featured a video criticising it by a group of Muslim women in niqaab, but that seems to have been taken down.) This may sound appealing to some white, middle-class viewers, but it sets up a situation where Muslims can be found at fault for being too different, particularly when it could possibly cause any social difficulty. There is already an attack on halal slaughter by the self-styled animal rights lobby; it could be extended to portray Muslims as self-isolating by refusing non-halal meat, as well as social functions where it is going to be served. The upshot is that Muslims are only allowed to be Muslims in the sense of private belief and worship; in other words, kind of like another form of Christianity but with slightly different terminology, as far as outsiders can see. And that’s not Islam.

John Ware and an Asian man holding a piece of paper, with an old-style red British phone box behindThey also attacked Muslim satellite TV, the Islam Channel in particular, for cultivating a sense of victimhood or “grievance narrative” among Muslims, and for using slogans like “Voice of the Voiceless, Voice of the Oppressed”. Well, when the British media routinely cast Muslims in a bad light, when a publicly funded broadcaster puts out a hit job on Muslims in Britain when something happens involving Muslims in another country, when talk shows are full of jabbering bully-boy hosts like Nick Ferrari, manipulators like Vanessa Feltz, and bigots whose bigotry is rarely effectively challenged, perhaps a channel is needed to give a voice to those excluded by the mainstream media. In the middle of this is a segment on the murder of Lee Rigby, as if Muslim anger about western foreign policy will necessarily lead to murders in the street, and as if Muslims shouldn’t talk about it in case it does. Even the police said that the two men’s intentions were not known even to al-Muhajiroun, let alone to better established groups.

Britain’s Muslims are in many ways in a stronger position than those in France. The religious mainstream is based in traditional Islam, albeit a divided version of it which is heavily laden with Indian and Pakistani culture, but it does heavily rely on scholarship, not on ill-informed opinion. It is not compromised by having to survive in a dictatorship and do deals with politicians, as the scholarship in many Arab countries is: I have never heard it said of an Indian or Pakistani scholar (however much he may be criticised for anything else) that you cannot trust him as he’s in President or General so-and-so’s pocket. This is important in keeping some young religious people away from genuine (violent) extremists, who often call mainstream scholars sell-outs or infidels. Of course, neither mainstream conservative religiosity nor the “grievance narrative” of the likes of the Islam Channel will satisfy some people, whose grievances are fed by stories in the mainstream press. They believe it, if it fits their prejudices.

In short, it’s an unnecessary programme designed to stir suspicion against Muslims for something that Muslims in Britain have nothing to do with. It neither established, nor attempted to establish, a link between the Charlie Hebdo attack and British Muslims. There has not been a single successful terrorist attack in the UK since 2005 and only two attacks on individuals (the MP Stephen Timms, who survived and Lee Rigby), both committed by individuals, not groups. They provided no evidence that the concerns they raised had anything to do with terrorism, only speculation. Its message was “a good Muslim is one who isn’t too Muslim”: one who waves Union Jacks on demand, dances to pop songs and doesn’t think too much about foreign policy. Well, this type of Muslim who will sell other Muslims out for the camera will always be a minority.

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Chipotle's pulled pork stunt is ham-fisted, internet claims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 17:07

Restaurant chain denies claims its decision to take pork off the menu at some restaurants was done out of deference to Islamic dietary restrictions

The restaurant chain Chipotle was working on Wednesday to dispel an internet rumor that it had removed pork from its menu out of deference to Islamic dietary restrictions.

Chipotle stopped selling pork at about a third of its outlets this week after concluding that part of its supply chain had failed to meet its progressive animal husbandry standards.

@robyncook7 Nope. We’re not able to source enough responsibly raised carnitas currently, but we will bring it back when we can. -Rusty

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Muslim leaders appeal for calm as Charlie Hebdo special hits the streets

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 10:44
Decision to put cartoon of prophet on front cover condemned as first edition since Paris attacks is instant sellout

• Where can you buy a copy of Charlie Hebdo?

Muslims have reacted warily to Charlie Hebdo’s defiant cover depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The French satirical weekly was accused of deliberately mocking the Islamic faith and warned that it could fuel further sectarian unrest.

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Nigel Farage criticises FGM and sharia courts in UK

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2015 - 10:26
Ukip leader calls for more ‘interculturalism’ and says some Muslims failing to fit in with UK’s Judeo-Christian culture

Nigel Farage has hit out at sharia courts, female genital mutilation and sexual grooming gangs following the Paris terror attacks, suggesting they are further evidence that some Muslims are failing to fit in with the UK’s “Judeo-Christian culture”.

He made the comments after previously saying there were “no-go areas” for non-Muslims in France and ghettos of immigrants from which the police had withdrawn in the UK. The Ukip leader has been accused by some of his rivals of trying to exploit the Paris attacks, carried out by Islamist extremists, to make a political argument against multiculturalism.

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