Amir Khan: The two-time Muslim world champion boxer on Muhammad Ali, training during Ramadan

Loon Watch - 1 December, 2014 - 21:13

Amir_Khan Oscar Quine interviews Amir Khan: The two-time Muslim world champion boxer in The Independent. Amir Khan: The two-time world champion boxer on Muhammad Ali, training during Ramadan

What did your mum say when you started boxing?

I started at the age of eight. When I was younger I was very hyperactive so my dad took me to a boxing club in Bolton. Mum and my grandma were really happy I was going there. They didn’t want to see me get hurt, but they knew I was a tough kid.

Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

Not really, I just do my prayers before I fight. And I ring my mum before I leave the hotel for the venue because she never comes to the fight.

As a Muslim, is it tough training through Ramadan?

It’s always very hard but your body gets used to it after a couple of days. Normally I just take the month off. If I do a little bit of training it’s going to be very late, at the time I’m allowed to eat.

Are there any particular books from which you’ve drawn your philosophy in the ring, à la Sun Tzu’s Art of War?

It’s documentaries for me, mainly. I watch documentaries about Muhammad Ali and Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard. That inspires you because you see what they did in their career and I’m going through exactly that myself – you learn off them when they say “Look, we did this wrong” or “If we did this, it would’ve been different”, so you work out how not to make the same mistakes.

Is there any particular fighter you look up to?

I love Muhammad Ali. I think he was a great fighter and a great person outside the boxing ring. What he did, sticking to his religion and helping others out – he was a people’s champion.

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British Muslims Face Worst Job Discrimination of Any Minority Group

Loon Watch - 1 December, 2014 - 20:42


via. Independent

Muslims are facing the worst job discrimination of any minority group in Britain, according to new research which found that they had the lowest chance of being in work or in a managerial role.

Muslim men were up to 76 per cent less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. And Muslim women were up to 65 per cent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts.

Muslims were the most disadvantaged in terms of employment prospects out of 14 ethno-religious groupings in the UK, researchers Dr Nabil Khattab and Professor Ron Johnston found using data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey of more than half a million people. Skin colour made little difference to the figures.

Dr Nabil Khattab, of Bristol University, said the situation was “likely to stem from placing Muslims collectively at the lowest stratum within the country’s racial or ethno-cultural system due to growing Islamophobia and hostility against them.

“They are perceived as disloyal and as a threat rather than just as a disadvantaged minority,” he added. “Within this climate, many employers will be discouraged from employing qualified Muslims, especially if there are others from their own groups or others from less threatening groups who can fill these jobs.”

Dr Khattab said the “penalties” for being Muslim got worse when applying for better-paid managerial or professional jobs.

“If this persists, it could have long-term implications for the cohesion of the UK’s multi-ethnic, multicultural society. The exclusion of well-qualified black and Muslim individuals could undermine their willingness to integrate in the wider society,” he said.

For women, Muslim Pakistanis and a “Muslim other” group were 65 per cent less likely to have a job, with Muslim Indians 55 per cent, Muslim Bangladeshis 51 per cent and white Muslims 43 per cent less likely. For men, the “Muslim other” group was 76 per cent less likely to be in work, followed by Muslim Bangladeshis (66 per cent), white Muslims (64 per cent), Muslim Pakistanis (59 per cent) and Muslim Indians (37 per cent), the Social Science Journal study found.

White British men and women of no religion were, respectively, 20 and 25 per cent less likely to have a job than Christians. Black Christians with Caribbean origins were 54 per cent and 48 per cent less likely.

The only ethno-religious group with better work prospects than white British Christians were British Jews, with women and men 29 and 15 per cent more likely to be employed.

Of those in work, the researchers found only 23 per cent and 27 per cent of Muslim Bangladeshis and Muslim Pakistanis, respectively, had a salaried job. White British Jews had the highest rates, with 64 per cent in salaried jobs, followed by Hindu Indians and white Christian Irish on 53 and 51 per cent respectively. White British Christians, white British of no religion and black Christian Africans were all above 40 per cent.

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Muhammad: the truth about Britain’s most misunderstood name

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 December, 2014 - 19:31
It is undeniably popular among Muslims, but it is not the most common boy’s name in Britain. So why do so many Muhammads choose to go by another name?

The Muhammad myth is a popular one. For at least four years there have been numerous news reports declaring that Mohammed is the most popular boy’s name in the country. Or maybe Mohamed. Or should that be Muhammad? Look more closely, though, and there is more to the rise of Muhammad than meets the eye. From Mo Farah to Mohamed Al Fayed and Muhammad Ali, there is no shortage of high-profile people named after the prophet of Islam. In Muslim families, the name is bestowed with abandon by new parents. Even Muslim men who don’t use the name sometimes have it tucked away.

My grandfather and uncle are both Muhammads, which is relatively restrained. One of my friends has a father, father-in-law and brother all called Mohammed – and she has now given it to her son as a middle name. In other cultures, it might hint at an unforgiveable lack of creativity, but my friend says she would not consider allowing it to skip a generation.

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Pomp and the Circumstance of Our Youth

Muslim Matters - 1 December, 2014 - 07:28

By Ahmed Khalifa

A few weeks ago I attended my high school graduation ceremony, and as I was sitting there staring into the bright lights on the stage, reflecting on the magnitude of such a rite of passage in one's life, the principal was calling the names of my peers one by one to receive their diplomas. I couldn't help but have my mind overflow with memories of what had transpired. As the principal continued calling the names of the graduates, the extended social circle of that graduate would begin to cheer ecstatically. So I began to question; why do these people clap ever so joyously? Was it because the graduate had solidified his or her identity? Or was it because they had succeeded at assimilation and conformity? And then I posed those questions to myself.

In that very setting I was inspired to put pen to paper and write about the trials and obstacles that I endured, which I believe are common to most Muslim youth who live in a minority Muslim society. Firstly, to point out immediate action our community leaders may implement, and secondly, to provide tips for the youth on how to overcome such trials.

The two most influential factors affecting our Muslim youth are shamelessness in western society and their immediate peer group.

Shamelessness is Rampant

As our beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

There are two types of people who will be punished in Hell and whom I have not seen: men having whips like the tails of cows and they will be beating people with them, and, women who will be dressed but appear to be naked, inviting to evil; and they themselves will be inclined to it. Their heads will appear like the humps of the Bactrian camel inclined to one side. They will not enter Jannah and they will not smell its fragrance which is perceptible from such and such a distance.” [Muslim; 2128]

The meaning of, “women who will be dressed yet appear to be naked” as explained by imam Al-Nawawi and others is that they will be semi-nude; part of their body will be covered whilst the other will remain exposed. Some scholars also mentioned that the meaning is: women will wear see-through and transparent clothing in a way that the color of their body will be visible. (Sharh of Nawawi on Sahih Muslim, P. 1603)

Some of the early scholars of hadith encountered some trouble and confusion on what approach they would take to interpret such a hadith, as they had never witnessed such a description. Meanwhile, if you ask a layman of our times, such a description would resonate and be very familiar. The context makes it very clear that the earlier generations did not face as high a degree of fitnah as we are facing, which makes it imperative, now more than ever, to focus on this issue.

In a society obsessed with self-image, some may resort to such measures in order to fit in, or even stand out. One can only imagine, without explanation, to what limits these practices are pushed in a system becoming more and more lenient with regards to dress code, due to the societal push of “freedom of choice”. This may give you a glimpse of what kinds of pressures are faced by Muslim teens in a hyper-sexualized high school environment.

In a study conducted on American teens in May 2013 results presented that 61% of Americans have had sexual intercourse by the age of 19; on average young people have sex for the first time at about 17 years of age, but don't marry until their mid-20s (Note: these statistics only represent sexual intercourse, not any other type of relations.)1

Based on personal experience, out of the entirety of high school peers that I've met throughout my duration of time enrolled in secondary studies, the amount of people that I can confidently say were not involved in any sort of sexual activity I can count on my own two hands, as most people are quite open about their shamelessness.

Friends are Everything

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stated in the sound hadith:

A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4833]

Humans are naturally impacted by the people around them, in front of their parents or teachers their behavior differs from when they are in front of their friends or peers. It is essential that we surround ourselves with people that will impact us in a way that is always pleasing to Allah, and which will help maximize our potential.

Under the umbrella of friends, a mentor is also included. To have someone there who you can relate to, that you can come to at anytime and ask for advice, explain situations, and seek religious guidance from is essential, because if you were to ever drift off into darkness, that certain person can hold up the torch and light up the path for you. If not you may be stuck in the dangerous wilderness and possibly pull others who are looking for you, in with you.

Action Items for Community Leaders 1. Revive Youth Marriage

The nature of the environment we live in would make it quite unrealistic for most to be financially able to establish and support a family while still in the process of completing secondary and post-secondary studies.

This phenomenon exists because certain cultural practices of Muslims have led them to set very high expectations for a potential spouse for their child, believing that this will provide their child with a more secure and comfortable future. These parents are unwilling to negotiate any kind of an agreement until those expectations are met. We need to work as a global community to rid our beloved Muslims of this cultural stigma, as it does not comply with the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

As stated by our beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the sound hadith:

There are three, all of whom have a promise of help from Allah: 'The Mujahid who strives in the cause of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime; the man who gets married, seeking to keep himself chaste; and the slave who has a contract of manumission and wants to buy his freedom.'” [Sunan An-Nasa'i 3120]

And also as stated in the sound hadith:

If there comes to you one with whose character and religious commitment you are pleased, then marry (your daughter or female relative under your care) to him, for if you do not do that there will be Fitnah in the land and widespread corruption.” [Sunan Ibn-Majah: 1967]

Muslim communities worldwide need to brainstorm and start creative initiatives in support of those youth who have the intention of marriage. That initiative may be as significant as a trust fund for more resourceful communities, or as minor as a place for a Mahr (dowry) donation box at our masajid in less populated Muslim communities. This is definitely a need, which requires much due attention.

2. Build a Healthy Environment

Our communities need to progressively work towards achieving a healthy, innovative, welcoming environment, where Muslim youth may meet each other and grow together. Such a place should be equipped with qualified professionals to provide support to our youth regardless of their past, ethnicity, or socio-economic class. The facility should be cutting edge. The local Muslim Youth Center should impress enough to be deemed as “the place to be” for all teens.

We need to begin making Da'wah to those youth distant from the Muslim community, and we need to establish sequential programs aimed for the progression of the consistent comers. We need to be sure to listen to their suggestions and ideas, and provide them with deserved positions on our boards. We should never underestimate their capabilities due to their age. Elect those from the youth to work for the youth, as they know themselves best.

Tips for the Youth

As discussed earlier, marriage is one of the obvious steps that may be taken as a protection, but in some cases marriage is, unfortunately, an unrealistic ambition. For that specific demographic, below are listed precautionary tips which will help you stay steadfast in the face of Fitnah:

1. Fasting

The best advice that can be given is the advice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in which he mentioned in the latter part of a hadith:

And whoever cannot (get married) then he should fast, for it will be a restraint (wija') for him.'” [Sunan An-Nasa'I 3209]

Fasting is a great habit to develop as an act of worship because when one fasts they prohibit themselves from the essential desires of the body (ie, food), so it suppresses the cardinal desires.

2. Set Schedule

Set a schedule for yourself that revolves around the remembrance and 'Ibaadah of Allah 'Aza wa Jal, (ie, school, homework, daily prayers, daily Qur'an memorization /recitation, volunteer at local masjid/Islamic Center). Constantly renew your intention for all of your affairs – that the sole purpose is to ultimately attain the pleasure of Allah Jalla wa 'Ala. A mind busy with the remembrance of Allah will not have time for the devil's temptation.

3. Social Media

Filter out your connections on social media. All it takes is one post or picture to serve as the devil's arrow. If you find it too difficult to do so and believe that people will be offended, de-activate your account.

4. Social Circles

You are a product of the company you keep, so keep track of your immediate circle of influence.


If we were to look at the history of Muslims in the west in a metaphorical sense, we would come to the realization that the Muslim body is well into its youth stages as we have begun to witness an influx in population in multitudes of minor and major cities alike, much like one grows physically in their youth. One must know that the adolescent stage is ever so critical because often times in that very stage the direction is chosen of what kind of life will be led, both on a personal, and metaphorical level.

In order to ensure that the direction we take as a Muslim body is positive, we must ensure that the decisions our youth are making are positive. They are the torch-bearers of our future and they will dictate our success or failure. The years of complacency towards this very important demographic of our community must come to an end if we ever hope to rejoice in their successes.

Ultimately, the responsibility is on the youth's shoulders. No matter how much effort is put in to persuade you one way or the other, or how many hours of nourishment, the lifestyle you decide to lead is your choice, and that decision is one for which you will definitely be accountable.

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The Latest on the Headscarf “Situation” in Switzerland

Muslimah Media Watch - 1 December, 2014 - 06:00
The Swiss federal government gives a lot of leeway to cantons, cities and even schools and professional associations (for those of you who remember the Sura al Shawk case, where the original decision of basketball association, Probasket, was allowed to stand by the courts) to decide their hijab policies on a case-by-case basis. So despite [Read More...]

Larry McQuilliams: According to Media He’s a “Gunman,” Not A “Terrorist”

Loon Watch - 1 December, 2014 - 02:10


“Terrorism” is a meaningless word, in our day and age it essentially translates to “Muslim” in most people’s mind. That is why an individual such as Larry McQuilliams, who attempted to burn down the Mexican consulate and attacked Austin police with gunfire, can be described simply as a “gunman” and not a “terrorist.” This, despite the fact that his attack was described as “politically motivated,”

USA Today says the situation appears to be a politically-motivated attack that is anti-government and linked to immigration.

White guys who aren’t Muslim will get a pass, we know this and it will continue. What if they were Muslim?

(Reuters) – A man apparently upset about U.S. immigration policy was fatally shot on Friday after firing more than 100 rounds of ammunition at buildings including the Mexican consulate, a U.S. courthouse and police headquarters in the Texas capital, police said.

Police identified the gunman as Larry McQuilliams, 49, an Austin resident with a criminal history.

Police said they were investigating whether McQuilliams died of a self-inflicted wound or from a shot fired by a mounted officer who was bringing horses into a stable near police headquarters. No one else was injured in the incident, police said.

“The sergeant was right there getting ready to put the horses away for the night,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “As he held two horses with one hand, he discharged at least one round with a single-handed shot.”

McQuilliams also tried to set fire to the Mexican consulate, police said.

In a statement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern and condemnation of the incident.”

Acevedo said the targets indicated the attack may have been over U.S. immigration policy.

“When you look at the national debate right now about immigration, that … comes to mind. Sometimes our political discourse becomes very heated and sometimes very angry,” Acevedo told reporters.

President Barack Obama this month imposed the most sweeping U.S. immigration changes in a generation, easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million illegal immigrants.

Police said they received a call at 2:22 a.m. about shots being fired in downtown Austin. No bombs were found on the suspect or in his vehicle, Acevedo said. Police examined McQuilliams’ home in north Austin and said “the residence has been secured and is safe.”

(Editing by Will Dunham)

Pope Francis prays alongside Grand Mufti in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 November, 2014 - 20:07
Pope treads carefully in footsteps of predecessor in ‘moment of silent adoration’ to mark religious cooperation during Turkey visit

In a gesture designed to highlight his commitment to inter-faith dialogue, Pope Francis conducted a silent prayer alongside a senior Islamic cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Saturday. Facing Mecca, Francis bowed his head in prayer for several minutes while standing next to Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran. The Vatican described the gesture as a “moment of silent adoration” of God.

Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict, caused dismay among many conservative Catholics and some Muslims when he appeared to pray in the same mosque on his visit to Turkey eight years ago. The Vatican felt compelled to publish a statement saying that Benedict had merely been in meditation, though he later acknowledged that he “certainly turned his thoughts to God”.

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The stupidity of feminism part 1,553: throwing Billy-no-mates under the bus

Indigo Jo Blogs - 29 November, 2014 - 16:27

A yellow road sign showing a bus, a person with his foot out, and a person falling under the busA letter to … the girl who accused me of rape when I was 15 | Life and style | The Guardian

I knew when I saw this piece in today’s Guardian Family supplement that it would provoke a torrent of outrage from feminists that the matter of false accusations of rape by women and girls is even being discussed. (Incidentally, in the Saturday pages in the main section, there is another article on how Legal Aid Cuts are putting victims of domestic violence in danger, something the paper has covered at length.) Sure enough, within an hour I saw a series of tweets from a radical feminist claiming that what the boy did is rape even if it wasn’t, because the girl was 13 and drunk.

The tweets went:

At this point, you will notice that she ignores the fact that the boy was 15, and not in law an adult, as the words “young man” seem to imply. The article states that, in fact, both the author and the girl were drunk, as was their friend. Who was more drunk, and whether they were drunk enough to impair their liability, is not stated in the article. It could be that the girl was more drunk, or that they were all very drunk or a bit drunk. Someone (some adult) should not have allowed them access to so much alcohol, or perhaps they bought it from a shopkeeper who was negligent in selling it to them, or perhaps they stole it; we don’t know. We know that if a woman is so drunk as to be insensible, then having sex with her (regardless of one’s relationship with her) is rape, but this girl was not so drunk that she could not remember it only a few hours later. Her contention appears to have been not that it was rape because she was 13 and drunk, but that he actually raped her. Note: that word ‘raped’ I used was English, not legalese.

Neither can 15-year-olds, male or female, and the 2003 Sexual Offences Act removed the anachronistic doctrine that it was always the male that was committing the crime, whether or not he was below the age of consent or indeed younger than the female. The Victorians did not even consider the possibility that a 13-year-old boy would want to have sex, or that any female would want to have sex with him. We know that the girl was a year and four months younger than the boy. He was probably the year above her at school; as he was in care, however, his education may have been sufficiently disrupted that he was in the same year as she was. As anyone who has been in a British secondary school (that is, anyone who was not home-schooled throughout their education), young people will more often know what year group someone is in than what their age is. He will have seen her as a peer. They were both in the same legal age range, i.e. from 13 to 15; below the age of consent, but above the age (12 and below) where sex is actually classed as rape — even then, however, the law was not envisaged to be used against people just above that age, but far above it (e.g. a 16-year-old having sex with a 12-year-old, let alone a person in their 20s doing the same).

No they’re not, because British law does not classify sex with someone under the age of consent as rape. It never has done; that’s American law (or rather, the law in some US states). In any case, the fact that the law does not recognise consent does not mean it does not exist. Teenagers under the age of consent consent to sex, usually with others of the same or similar age, every day. It just so happens that the law and police practice recognises gradations of maturity: children under 13, minors under 16, young people and adults over 16, people over 20 in a position of trust. Even so, fiction is fiction, even when written in stone.

This is fairly typical of the feminist pattern of conflating legal doctrines that suit them with fact. Look at any feminist article on abortion, for example (and some of them demand abortion on demand right up to term), and you will find repeated in every one of them the legal doctrine that “a fetus is not a person”, i.e. they are not a legal person who can sue or be sued. That does not mean it is morally acceptable to kill them for no reason, especially if they are developed past the point where the mother can be relieved of her pregnancy without the loss of the child’s life; this is why the law as it stands does not allow it. However, some legal doctrines do not suit them. The law held until recently that women were not persons, and that slaves were not persons. It also held until much more recently that rape was not rape if the attacker was the woman’s husband. It is rather amusing to watch them picking legal doctrines from times and places that suit them and then presenting them as facts or as moral absolutes.

I pointed out to Claire OT the fact that the “young man” was 15 and also drunk. She replied “And?”, as if his minor status did not matter; as if girls got a “child pass” but boys did not, when a girl knows full well she can get pregnant and a boy knows no better than she does (and has less reason to, and boys, despite being physically bigger, generally mature more slowly). She then tweeted:

The police did not pursue a case because they did not believe there was enough evidence, having heard both the girl’s story and his. They may also have believed that if they did put the case to trial, and the girl was lying, there was a chance of a miscarriage of justice if the girl put on a good enough performance. (He also notes that both of them could have been charged with having sex underage or with an underage person, but the police did not even take this action. In other words, if the man’s story is true, and there is no reason other than prejudice to believe it is not, both he and she were committing a criminal offence.)


Since I actually believe the man’s story, and it was published anonymously and gives no details as to where the event happened (I believe it was the UK as indicated by certain phrases, e.g. ‘binge drinking’, but it does not even give this detail explicitly), I suspect the ‘victim’ will neither know nor care. Who’s to say she reads the Guardian? Perhaps she got what she wanted out of making this accusation, as she moved schools and caused this boy a lot of hardship for several months and made him unable to hold down a relationship so far. It’s also possible that she thought she could get away with it, or get what she wanted out of it, because the boy was in care (we do not know if she was or not). It’s worth noting, however, that social workers appear to have concluded that he was not a threat to the girl also being fostered (or maybe they moved her instead). If they had, they would have moved him, and very likely into a much less favourable placement and in another area.

Claire OT’s attitude towards this boy’s age is another example of her cavalier, mix-and-match attitude towards the law. The law states that he was a child, and that sex with him was also illegal, including for the girl (unless, of course, he forced her), as she was above the age of criminal responsibility. She clearly thinks there should be a harsher law for boys in this regard than for girls, despite the well-known differences in maturity that I have already mentioned. I happen to think that young people that age are capable of taking more responsibility for their actions than we give them credit for, and that (for example) the chorus of disapproval at the naming of the boy who killed the teacher this year was misguided, as he knew what he was doing and planned his action, and there is no evidence that he had been bullied or otherwise abused, least of all by this teacher. However, when boys that age maliciously abuse children aged 11 or 12, we call it bullying and it rarely results in criminal charges. There is no such thing as consensually putting someone’s head down a toilet. Adults do not always teach people this age that they must not have sex until they are 16, let alone that boys must not have sex with girls their own age or slightly younger because it’s rape, because it’s not. They say it’s illegal, but if you must, make sure you use a condom or some other contraception but it’s better to wait. The exception, perhaps, is in some religious schools, and these may be getting fewer due to the present government’s clampdown on old-fashioned views being disseminated in these schools, particularly by Muslims.

I have no doubt that this woman’s attitudes are shared by dozens of feminists online and off. If you want to know why feminists are commonly regarded as stupid and illogical, you need to look no further than the logical fallacies they deploy. Besides the mix-and-match, convenientist legal absolutism I have already mentioned, there is also the matter of “particularising the general”: because most accusations of rape are true, this one is as well. In this case, they read an account by a man who was accused as a teenage boy of rape by another teenage girl and without even hearing the girl’s story, or anyone else’s, they assume he is lying. Since they are fond of filling in gaps in the story with details they have made up, I will take the same liberty here. The man’s explanation (that she regretted having sex and feared her parents finding out, so she cried rape) is one plausible explanation, but it’s also possible that this girl and her male friend could have conspired against this boy as a malicious stunt, to get Billy-no-mates care boy thrown out or at least isolated and have a good laugh at his expense. In this, they seem to have at least partly succeeded.

And this — the fact that feminists recognised the vulnerability of the girl by simply being a girl, but not that of the boy by not having the support of his own family and being in a foster placement that could have been taken away from him at a moment’s notice — is why feminists’ influence on policy-making, and their role in the care of vulnerable people, should be kept to a bare minimum. The chorus of “I believe her!” every time a man is accused, or found not guilty, of rape speaks of naked prejudice, of women feeling entitled to make baseless assumptions about an event they did not see and have never examined in detail, but also raises the danger that a woman can make a false accusation of rape so as to dispose of an annoying man, or one she disagrees with, or one who is a rival to a friend’s ambitions, or for any other reason. It does not even have to result in a criminal conviction; it can easily lead to someone’s relationship or friendship network collapsing overnight, as people cut that person off as it is socially unacceptable not to. I do not think for a moment these feminists are not conscious of the power this situation would give them.

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Loon Watch - 28 November, 2014 - 22:06


How did this hilarious hashtag get started? HOPE Not Hate explains

UKIP Mistake Cathedral For Mosque

by: Simon Cressy | on: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 20:16

South Thanet UKIP branch have been left with egg on their face after making a huge mistake on the social network Twitter.

The BBC politics programme Daily Politics made a posting on their own Twitter feed that was attempting to demonstrate whether Nigel Farage had what it takes to become Prime Minister.

The BBC reporter Giles Dilnot posted a photo of two boxes, one labelled “Yes” and the other “No” and asked locals to take part in a simple opinion poll by posting a coloured ball in the appropriate box, with the results being revealed on the programme today.

South Thanet UKIP, the same area in Kent where Nigel Farage is aiming to become an MP in the general election next year to exception to the photograph posting a reply that said ” Perfect place to hold vote in front of a mosque in London. The BBC’s random means selective”

The BBC reporter attempted to explain that they might be wrong about their facts writing “You are SO wrong you might be embarrassed by that”

South Thanet UKIP asked Dilnot for the location and the BBC journalist was only too happy to oblige, informing the red faced Kippers that the photo was actually taken outside Westminster Cathedral !!

Here are some of the tweets

Fight fundamentalism by tackling poverty, urges Pope Francis

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 November, 2014 - 19:40
Pontiff calls for greater tolerance on visit to Turkey’s President Erdoğan, who has been criticised for authoritarian policies

Pope Francis has called for more religious tolerance and for fundamentalism to be tackled by relieving hunger, poverty and marginalisation, rather than by military interventions alone.

Speaking in the vast auditorium of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace in Ankara, he lauded Turkey for hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, and reminded the international community of their “moral obligation” to help care for the almost 2 million Syrians currently living within Turkish borders.

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Lord Pearson is right – but for the wrong reasons | Andrew Brown

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 November, 2014 - 11:45
Just like the Bible, the Qur’an contains the material for a violent political message. But it is only a dangerous book if we can’t discuss that

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a former leader of Ukip, is in trouble for saying that Muslims should “address the violence in the Qur’an and indeed in the life and example of Muhammad”. He is to be reported to the Lord Speaker for his remarks, which were described by a Labour MP as “diabolical”.

I don’t want to defend his unpleasant politics or even his character. Emotionally, Pearson’s message is thoroughly unsavoury. In narrow political terms, criticising the Qur’an is a way of suggesting to British Muslims that they are not properly British, and should be subservient semi-outsiders alongside Lithuanians and Romanians on the margins of humanity. Hence the outraged responses. There is absolutely nothing that any Muslim can or could say about the Qur’an that would satisfy Ukip that they were really proper English people. However, the emotional or nationalist message operates in an entirely different way to the intellectual one.

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What’s missing from Bubb’s tepid report

Indigo Jo Blogs - 27 November, 2014 - 22:18

Picture of the former Winterbourne View hospital, a red-brick building partly painted yellow, with cars at the frontThis week the long-awaited report by Sir Stephen Bubb into the care of people with learning disabilities and autism following the scandal of Winterbourne View in 2011 was published. Titled “Winterbourne View: Time for Change”, it offers ten recommendations to the NHS, local authorities, the government and regulators including a “charter of rights” for people with learning disabilities, giving them and their families a right to challenge decisions and to request a personal budget, and a programme of closure for “inappropriate” inpatient care facilities, and has prompted a surge of media interest, the best being this piece in yesterday’s Guardian. Also this week, the inquest into the death of Stephanie Bincliffe from complications of obesity in an assessment and treatment unit, after seven years in a padded cell which she never left, was published, and although it criticises the institution she was in (run by the private Huntercombe group) for having no plan to treat her weight gain or challenging behaviour, it cleared them of neglect despite the egregious denial of her human rights and liberty over an extended period. (More: Mark Neary, Housing & Support Alliance.)

This awful case shows how fortunate it was that there was one doctor (and it was only one of three who had that power) who saw that Claire Dyer did not need to be in a secure unit and could be at home, and released her from section only three months after her transfer from Swansea. If she had remained there, the situation could have got worse very quickly as the strain of living in an institution full of strange people and rules hundreds of miles from home and seeing family only once or twice weekly began to take its toll. This has happened to many others, as the families of Stephen Andrade (held in St Andrew’s in Northampton; home is London) and Tianze Ni (held in a hospital in Middlesbrough; home is Scotland) have testified. The BBC had interviews with Stephanie’s mother and sister, and the mother said that Stephanie was extremely distressed by her situation; she believed she had been kidnapped and told her she had been ‘trapped’ and wanted to come home. She saw the staff as “the people who were holding her” which is why she attacked them when they came and went without letting her out. This casts doubt on the claims that they allowed to put on ten stone and left her in that wretched condition until she died just because any attempt to address her dietary issues would have triggered self-injurious behaviour. Frankly, the excuses don’t wash and I wonder how well-informed the coroner was to accept their opinions. If they could not care for Stephanie properly, they should have found whoever could, and wherever.

The Bubb report has been widely panned by the learning disability advocacy community. That community are trying to get a legal framework for making sure people with learning disabilities or autism do not end up in units unnecessarily, or sent a long way from home, or have their human rights infringed in other ways. That effort is known as the “LB Bill”. If you do a simple page search of Bubb’s report, you will notice that the letters LB appear only in the word “wellbeing” (three times) and “bill” only appears as part of the word “billion” (once). A key section of the proposed bill is to exclude autism from the Mental Health Act except when there are co-morbid mental health illnesses; no such provision appears in Bubb’s report. The problem with the MHA in regard to autism is fairly simple: it gives too much power to psychiatrists who are not often autism specialists (indeed, this fact is often used as an excuse to transfer patients, not necessarily to places where there are any autism specialists). It takes only two of them to section someone, and the process for getting someone off a section without their say-so is long and complicated, and the lapse and renewal of a section puts the process back to square one. It allows them to treat challenging behaviour with psychiatric medication, which causes weight gain, can lead to liver damage, and does not address the causes of their behaviour but only the symptom itself. The report does not suggest that there should be a discipline of autism specialist, which can replace the role of psychiatrist or at least greatly reduce it.

A key recommendation is that personal budgets be made available to the people who are at risk of being admitted to a unit, or are already in one. This seems to be a response to the continual complaints that bad institutional care is expensive — thousands or tens of thousands per week — but the report does not address the problems with personal budgets, such as that the person running it, if they choose to employ staff directly rather than using agencies, becomes an employer and is reponsible for paying their staff’s income tax and National Insurance, and that many local authorities make life difficult for people using them because they are convinced people are out to defraud the system, as Mark Neary has exposed in a number of blog posts since he started using one to pay for his son Steven’s care. It is time-consuming and a huge responsibility with a lot of legal pitfalls.

Another thing missing from the report is any proposal to improve the standards required of institutional care workers other than nurses, in terms of training or qualifications, as besides being abusive towards patients, the staff responsible for the original Winterbourne View scandal were clearly not of the necessary calibre and I suspect this could have been gauged in some cases with one face-to-face interview. While it’s true that a qualification does not make someone a good carer, anyone applying for a caring role should be able to present either a qualification or some evidence that they can care, have been a carer, or have an understanding of learning disability, autism or the responsibilities of the job. If their pay were increased, it might be possible to expect better standards of them.

Black and white picture of Connor Sparrowhawk, a young white man wearing a dark-coloured suit jacket with a white shirt underneathAlso missing from the report is any mention of making sure mental health services, for learning disabled people or anyone else, look after patients’ physical health as well. This was a major factor in the death of Connor Sparrowhawk (left): staff did not consider that a man with a learning disability also had a chronic physical condition (epilepsy) which could be life-threatening, despite having been notified of it by his family and despite it being common among people with learning disabilities. The CQC report also noted that medicines at that unit were not kept refrigerated and there was no battery in the defibrillator. A less serious incident of such neglect was the woman admitted to a secure unit who was not provided with the incontinence pads she needed, presumably because the unit, which did not cater for learning disabilities, rarely needed to deal with that problem (although I find that difficult to believe). This type of neglect is not restricted to ATUs or learning disability mental health care: only last night a woman who was admitted last week to a psychiatric ward miles from home (because the women’s ward at her local unit, the Orchard in Lancaster, has been reassigned for male use) had an asthma attack and was without her inhaler. It took two hours for staff to take her to the urgent care centre and although the care there was excellent, it could have been avoided if the ward could have provided an inhaler, or she had been in the local unit and able to access hers from home which was only 15 minutes away. Surely any hospital, and certainly any hospital ward which confines people, which nearly all psychiatric wards (including ATUs and including those that hold informal, i.e. non-sectioned, patients) do, should have the facilities to deal with an asthma attack as a severe one can kill in much less than 15 minutes.

Bloggers Steve Broach and Chris Hatton have also drawn attention to its lukewarm attitude towards the rights of people with learning disabilities: it proposes a “charter of rights” but this does not include new rights but merely re-emphasises existing ones, nor does it propose any means of enforcing them, such as legal aid which is being cut. The report proposes a “right to challenge” decisions, but these rights already exist such as the right to judicial review, but as the Dyers found out in July, it is difficult to make a case to challenge a clinical decision even when it is plainly against the patient’s best interests. Section 2.2 says “the review triggered by this right to challenge would only recommend admission/continued placement in hospital if it concluded that the assessment, treatment or safeguarding could only be effectively and safely carried out in an inpatient setting”; however, it may be that a judge is easily persuaded that this is the case or indeed biased towards accepting clinicians’ or social workers’ opinion. The right to challenge does not equate to the right to overturn an unwanted decision that is not in one’s interests.

Picture of Claire Dyer, a young white woman wearing glasses, red sound blockers, a light blue and white striped T-shirt and a purple jacket, standing next to a fence behind which is a male deerThe media coverage of this report continually cut to footage from Winterbourne View in 2011 with the words “viewers may find some of these scenes disturbing” or words to that effect. The thing is that not every kind of abuse of the human rights of disabled people would necessarily make shocking footage, much as torture would, but long-term imprisonment of a political prisoner would not, but is still a major violation of their human rights. Neglect, lack of control and long-term misery do not make headlines or shocking images, but that is the best some NHS trusts and private care companies can offer Britain’s learning disabled people and the opportunities for challenging them are limited. They have a right to control over their lives, to personal freedom, to family life and to freedom from abuse, and when they need to be cared for, they have a right to be cared for well. This report does not really investigate why these are not happening for many people, is not really based on listening to those affected and those who love and care for them, and will not lead to well-entrenched rights and robust mechanisms to resist bad decisions. It’s great that the report, and perhaps Stephanie Bincliffe’s inquest, has brought individual cases of bad care and long-distance placements into the public eye for a day or so, but the people affected need to be listened to. They are all behind the LB Bill. Let’s not settle for this tepid report.

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Baby blues

Single Muslim Mums - 27 November, 2014 - 10:54

It is 2004 and I am not a single mum, yet…
However, I am a new mother to a baby girl who is 9 weeks old mashallah but who I feel is a stranger to me and who I feel doesn’t like me and whose needs I cannot meet. I feel like I can identify with single mothers because I am in a new area, alone and depressed with no-one to confide in, struggling to cope. Is this really my life?

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I crave for conversation: my husband comes home from work late and then gets ready to go to his course he attends and so he barely has a minute to spare. He tells me quite unhelpfully to “go and get some exercise and think positively”. I feel like screaming: I can feel it building up inside me threatening to explode out of me with such a force that I fear the whole street would hear me. However, I just nod silently – accepting that he won’t ever understand me nor try to.

As I flick aimlessly through the channels I see an advert asking people to donate money to children dying of starvation and I thank Allah that I don’t have to watch my child dying of hunger in my arms but SubhanAllah it still does not ease my depression. I feel isolated from the world; I feel like I will be told to just be happy – that I have more than most and should be grateful. My husband has said it to me on many an occasion. I don’t know how to begin telling the world that depression is not born from being ungrateful, for me it came from feeling different like I wasn’t normal. I knew I should feel some other way than I did but I still couldn’t change it. Keeping to myself, pushing my family away and being lost in fantasies that were unrealistic – I ended up losing myself too.

I feel like I cannot be helped, feel trapped, think of running away and leaving the baby with her dad. He seems to be a natural parent: knowing all the right ways to soothe her and what to say and enjoying her. It makes me jealous and it makes me bitter and resentful even towards my baby. Why doesn’t she love me or need me? I quickly try to shun these thoughts away: good parents do not think things like this or think bad thoughts about their babies. Babies are a gift and a blessing I keep chanting to myself as the baby screams and wails with colic pain. I feel like tearing my hair out, I feel like screaming at the world: WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME, WHY CAN’T YOU SEE I’M FALLING APART?!! I want to beg my mum to come over and stay to keep me company but she already told me it was too far and that she can’t take me and my husband screaming at each other. My family told me I rely on her too much and so I’m trying to wean myself off her, because I don’t know the difference between asking for help and depending on someone so utterly that I then feel I cannot manage without them.

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One rare day my husband is home with a day off and offers to look after the baby whilst I go to my GP appointment. The sense of elation I feel as I step out the house is amazing: I remember how carefree and happy I used to be. I remember how I was always giggling and bubbly and full of hope. I wonder where that girl has gone and when she was replaced by a bitter old hag and I have to force myself to return home afterwards because I am so so tempted to walk away and just keep walking. My GP talks to me about anti-depressants but I remember the scare stories told to me about my family: that it will turn me into a zombie who feels nothing, that it will affect my baby who I feel is already traumatised that she has me for a mum and so I smile and say I will be ok and nod saying I do get help and yes I am talking to my husband about things and he is very supportive and caring. I lie through my teeth.

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