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Pastor of church providing school scripture describes Qur’an as a ‘virus’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 July, 2017 - 19:00

Liberty Baptist Church referred to education department after Keith Piper posts YouTube videos saying Islamism is a cancer that must be destroyed

A government-approved provider of school scripture has been referred to the New South Wales Department of Education after its pastor described the Qur’an as “a virus” and said Islam was “culturally incompatible with western Christian values”.

Keith Piper, the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in the Sydney suburb of Cherrybrook, has uploaded videos to YouTube that call for a ban on Muslim immigration, describe Islamism as “a cancer [that] we must destroy” and say the Qur’an is “a virus infecting the brains [of Muslims]”.

Related: NSW Labor left faction agitates to remove scripture classes from public schools

Related: Religious education in NSW schools 'inappropriate' but government vows support

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A 20-year-old is not a baby!

Indigo Jo Blogs - 23 July, 2017 - 18:49

Picture of Rashan Charles, a Black teenage boy wearing a baseball cap (most of it cropped out), a short-sleeved white T-shirt with a black 'puffer' waistcoat over it. He has a long metal chain round his neck and his arms are folded.Yesterday a young man called Rashan Charles was killed in an encounter with the police in London, and the footage has been posted on social media with the hashtag “Justice for Rash”. The footage shows him being pursued by police into the back of a shop, and then seized and held on the floor (initially by one officer who is later joined by another) for a minute or two; he is seen swallowing something or trying to, and was pronounced dead later in hospital. At the moment, we do not know why they sought to arrest him. It’s being automatically assumed that ‘Rash’ was innocent and was stopped simply because of his race; the NUS Black Students group has posted a tweet claiming he was ‘murdered’ well before all the facts about the incident have come out, which I think is rather irresponsible for an organisation of their profile. What really took me aback about this campaign, though, was seeing tweets referring to Rashan as a child, or even “just a baby”. That’s a ridiculous thing to call him.

I’m well aware that there is a tendency (observed particularly in the USA) to treat Black children as older and more mature than they really are, and to treat them as a threat, as much as an adult would be, from the first signs of puberty or even earlier. There is one story about a white school inspector asking a girl aged about 8 about what she used to do when she was a little girl, and the girl responded “I still am a little girl”. But 20-year-olds are not little girls, or boys, let alone babies. They are adults: they can drive, vote, work in a full-time paid job, serve in the armed forces, get married, have children. Both my parents were married at that age (they still are). The age of majority has been 18 in this country for more than 45 years.

‘Child’ can of course be a term of affection, even for adults, and there are plenty of songs addressing a love interest as ‘babe’ or ‘baby’. I remember being in a summer job in the late 1990s, and my work colleagues included a Muslim lady of about my age who wore hijab and long skirts and a white Welsh lady in her 70s, and when I referred to the former as a woman to the latter, she said, “she’s not a woman; she’s a child!”. But it can also be an insult, a way of belittling someone or dismissing something they are trying to tell you. When I was much younger than 20, being classed as a child meant having no rights, not being taken seriously and having to take orders off abusive people, and was a status I was eager to slough off as soon as I could, and it is one reason why I am uneasy about considering people in their mid-teens as children (in regard to matters of sex or personal responsibility, for example) now. In recent years it has become fashionable to point to the “developing brain” and to excuse teenagers’ erratic behaviour on such grounds, ignoring the particular pressures that come from the artificial, institutional school environment and from only having others of the same age and stage of development as friends (and slightly older people dominating and being the role models), as well as the lesser degree of personal responsibility young people often have now. Academic work has become easier, while fewer young people have paid jobs, either because of college or unemployment. Marriage in the early 20s is relatively rare now.

So we are not giving a 20-year-old any credit by reducing him to a child or a baby, especially when (as is the case here) he already has a child of his own. There have been attempts to link police-related deaths here to those in the USA, where the number vastly exceeds ours and has included children as young as 12 and very obviously innocent people, and some of the activism here (particularly the setting-up of a “Black Lives Matter” group and holding road-block protests at Heathrow) strikes me as “me-tooism”, wanting some of the action and the instigators wanting to make themselves leaders on the back of it. It appears that Rashan Charles died struggling while resisting arrest; why he did that may become clearer in the coming weeks, but it is a criminal offence in itself and the community need to accept that Rashan Charles likely had some responsibility for that situation. He was a grown man, clearly suspected of being in the process of committing a crime, and was treated accordingly.

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The art of making a jihadist

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 July, 2017 - 09:30
We know about jihadists’ dedication to violence, but that’s not the whole story, says expert Thomas Hegghammer. There’s a hidden culture of poetry, music and storytelling that sustains their ideology

When Jihadi John, the Islamist terrorist who gloried in decapitating hostages, was exposed as Mohammed Emwazi, a spokesman from Cage recalled the west Londoner bringing “posh baklava” to the advocacy group’s offices. He described the knife-wielding murderer and gloating torturer as “a beautiful young man… extremely kind, gentle and soft-spoken, the most humble young person I knew”.

One of the people who inspired Emwazi was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, renowned for leading the group that beheaded and tortured many western hostages in Iraq, including the British engineer Kenneth Bigley. Zarqawi was known as the Sheikh of the Slaughterers, but he was also referred to as He Who Weeps A Lot, for his habit of crying during prayer.

Humour is unevenly distributed in the movement – a few can be funny, but the average level of self-irony is very low

The jihadists have rushed to embrace all forms of new media for its international propaganda capability

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Polygamy and being Muslim

Indigo Jo Blogs - 22 July, 2017 - 22:43

A graphic showing a man in the middle wearing a tuxedo and bow tie, and a woman on each side, both wearing wedding dresses of different styles though both white.Earlier a Facebook friend (an African-American Muslim woman) posted a status that Black Muslim men should just accept that most Black Muslim women hate polygamy and that “no amount of guilting and shaming is going to change that”. This provoked a big debate about why this is and what it says about Black Muslim women and their attitudes, but there were a number of men insisting that it meant they did not accept what God had made lawful in Islam, and accused them of shirk (idolatry/polytheism, in the sense of thinking you know better than God). The sister who posted the status said there were particular “circumstances that make polygyny worthy of consideration” for African-American Muslim women, but didn’t spell out what these were.

It’s never been any secret that polygamy has been going on in Muslim communities both in the UK and USA “on the quiet” for decades now. The law does not recognise it, meaning that if a man in a multiple marriage dies intestate, at most only one of the wives (the one whose marriage was registered) has any rights; the others are simply regarded as mistresses or girlfriends. It is debateable whether the practice is even legal or not; no government has seen fit to prosecute anyone (the authorities in the USA went after Mormon offshoots, but other crimes were being committed such as tax fraud), but it may be only a matter of time (and one scandal) before they do. Governments in Europe take a much dimmer view, and people have been stripped of citizenship in Germany and Switzerland after being naturalised because their polygamous marriages are deemed incompatible with the way of life of the country they are trying to settle in (or were born in).

It’s also been widely known for a long time, among Muslims included, that women are often opposed to polygamy, especially for themselves. Among Muslims there is evidence of this in even the first generation of Muslims and there are rulings on what a woman can and cannot do to protect herself from it (particularly as a first wife) going back at least to the Four Imams (the originators of the four major schools of Islamic law, who were all second- or third-generation Muslims). Essentially they ruled that a woman cannot stipulate that her husband cannot marry again (i.e. the second marriage is still valid) but can stipulate that if he does, she can release herself from the marriage. So there is no reason for anyone to say that a woman who does not like the idea of polygamy for herself is selfish or arrogant, much less accuse her of thinking she knows better than God or not being a proper Muslim.

We — both white and black Muslims who are converts and not immigrants — come from a culture in which the ideal is a love-based marriage of one man and one woman. If a woman has grown up in a family in which her parents had been married since before she was born, and most of those she knew had similar families and she felt sorry for those who didn’t, because their parents were divorced or one of them had died, she is not going to expect to be one of a man’s four wives (even if he is rich); she is going to expect a marriage similar to her mother’s. In case anyone has not noticed, polygamy is rare even among Muslim immigrant families, not least because they know it is against the law even if it is accepted in the Shari’ah, but also it is not all that common in the country where they come from. So then, why should a woman who converts to Islam expect a lesser deal in marriage than either her non-Muslim sisters or cousins or Muslim women brought up in Muslim families?

More than once I’ve got the impression that there are quite a few male converts to Islam who believe it can “restore their manhood”, and take from it a sense of entitlement towards women. Polygamy is only one of the results; you also get men who marry women on the basis of promises that they break after marriage (or had no intention of keeping); in one case, for example, the man (a white convert) promised to allow the wife to continue studying, then demanded that she leave college after they married. It spoke volumes that all the people in that thread lecturing about “shirk” were men (although I have come across women lecturing other women in this vein in the past). On top of this, there is regularly talk of polygamy being necessary to “prevent zina” (out of marriage sex), a consideration which is never used as a justification for polygamy among any other community, which links to the idea that converts from a western background aren’t as pure as other Muslims, and if they are still virgins when they marry, it was not for want of trying. The upshot is that we are commonly expected to settle for less than a born Muslim looking for marriage, whichever our sex or race, and selling it in terms of “reviving a Sunnah” does not take away the insult.

I’m not entirely against polygamy; it is a Sunnah, it is something that is allowed and it is something the early Muslims practised, and it has some uses in this day and age but should not be the norm. Whenever people have tried to argue (on the basis of novel interpretations of the verses of the Qur’an which relate to it) that polygamy is in fact forbidden, I have always opposed that, but men need to respect the fact that Muslim women in this part of the world don’t want to partake in polygamy. Whatever the rights and wrongs, you won’t have a harmonious marriage (or a lasting one) if you strong-arm or trick unwilling women into polygamous marriages when they do not want to be in one.

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Aljazeera: Muslims return to CAR to find their homes are gone

Loon Watch - 21 July, 2017 - 21:13

There has been an extraordinary amount of violence perpetuated against Muslims in the Central African Republic. At one point all its Muslims had been ‘ethnically cleansed’ and all its mosques essentially destroyed. Ilisha series from a few years ago on CAR is a must read.

Now some of those who were driven out are returning “to nothing.”

Bangui, Central African Republic – M Babakir Ali cuts a lonely figure sitting on a plastic chair outside a rundown cafe in the PK5 district of Bangui.

Once the owner of five houses and 18,000 square metres of land in the Foulbe district of Pk13, on the outskirts of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Ali is now reduced to a pair of jeans and a short white sleeved shirt. The thin vertical stripes are faintly visible beyond the creases. He is a refugee in his own city.

“I left for Chad in January 2014 because of what happened on the streets of Bangui,” Ali says.

Ali says he watched as bodies of young Muslim men were dragged through the streets of the capital and then piled at a local mosque in what was to signal the changing fortunes for Muslims in the country.

He was right.

In early January, Muslims in the PK5, PK12, PK13 districts of Bangui were hunted down, mutilated, burned alive and left on the streets. Muslims in the towns of Bossangoa, Bozoum, Bouca, Yaloke, Mbaiki, Bossembele and others also fled, as Anti-balaka embarked on a reign of terror across the northwest and southwestern regions.

Ali gathered his family, and fled to neighbouring Chad, too.

With the unrest in Bangui lifting in 2016 as the country neared elections, he decided to come home.

But he knew he would face a new struggle on his return.

“I knew my houses and my land, that everything had been taken,” 45-year-old Ali says. “I knew I would be coming back to nothing.”

Ali speaks in short and abrupt sentences. The already battered plastic chair bends and shifts with his every gesture. There is a calm dissonance in his moist, jaundiced eyes even as he explains that his property was sold to a third party by a local chief.

“I am not the only one. So many from my district have returned, and have nowhere to go,” Ali says, looking away.

Read the rest…

City of Ghosts director Matthew Heineman: 'Imagine seeing people crucified – every day'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 21 July, 2017 - 18:41

Their families have been killed, they live in hiding, but a brave group of Syrians continue to defy Islamic State by reporting its atrocities to the world. The director of a new documentary explains how he told their shocking stories

The most remarkable scene in Matthew Heineman’s new film City of Ghosts – indeed, possibly the most remarkable scene in any documentary you’re likely to see this year – takes place in an unfurnished German apartment. Hamoud al-Mousa, a founder member of the citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) sits staring at a laptop, watching a video of his father’s murder at the hands of Islamic State militants. The killing has been filmed in the manner of a Michael Bay movie, bombastic and slickly edited. It is intended to strike fear into Hamoud – and any others willing to expose the many atrocities committed by the terrorist group. Hamoud however refuses to be cowed. “I watch the video a lot. It gives me strength,” he says.

Hamoud’s fortitude in the face of such brutality will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of RBSS. Formed initially to document the assault carried out by the Assad regime on their home city, the group turned their attention to Isis when the group took control of Raqqa in 2014 and declared it the capital of their new caliphate. Since then RBSS has, through social media postings and cameraphone footage, shone a light on a regime that is out of reach of western journalists. They have done so at enormous personal cost: several members of the group have been executed, as well as friends and family members. Hamoud’s father is just one of many victims.

Related: City of Ghosts review – astonishing look at Syrian media-savvy freedom fighters

Making people in safe houses come alive was a huge challenge, so he filmed tearful reunions, snowball fights and dancing

These guys are fighting an ideology that has been indoctrinated into a whole generation of children across the world

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Boston to fight Islamophobia with viral 'how to' transport cartoon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 21 July, 2017 - 12:00

The work of a French illustrator on Tumblr has been picked up by US cities to encourage travellers to intervene in abuse

A viral online illustrated guide on how to respond to Islamophobic harassment has been adopted by US cities in a bid to make commuters more confident to intervene if they witness abuse.

Marie-Shirine Yener’s step-by-step guide first appeared on Tumblr in September, in response to what she described as “wave of Islamophobic hatred” in France. In it, the Paris-based illustrator, who goes by the alias Maeril, suggested supporting the victim by engaging them in conversation.

Nice to see BART finally displaying some useful advertising pic.twitter.com/KuKpdt0KLA

Boston is placing anti-Islamophobia posters around the city to show that all are welcome in Boston https://t.co/4ssVhjhdaC pic @lucymartiros pic.twitter.com/SiZVghGoSN

Related: 'Always give up your seat for a monk': the unspoken rules of public transport

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Muslim Kids and Bullying – They ‘May Live in America, but They are Not American’

altmuslim - 20 July, 2017 - 22:23
We welcome Jalal Baig – Altmuslim’s new columnist. His column, “The Opinionated Oncologist,” will appear in the third week of each month. By Jalal Baig From the beginning, Ali seemed aloof from the conversation that surrounded him. His friends, a full spectrum of boys spanning junior high and high school, bantered and pontificated on the NBA playoffs. It [Read More...]

Study Finds Militants Have Little Knowledge of Islam

Loon Watch - 20 July, 2017 - 19:01

Bangkok, Thailand – February 20, 2014 : Apple Iphone5s held in one hand showing its screen with Facebook and WhatsApp application icons.

Reports over the years have established that individuals who join militant organizations such as ISIS are either completely ignorant or have very little knowledge of Islam. Muslims have been pointing this out for ages. Now there is a study, this time out of Germany that confirms this fact once again.

via. Huffington Post

A group of German scholars at the Universities of Bielefeld and Osnabrück analyzed 5,757 WhatsApp messages found on a phone seized by police following a terrorist attack in the spring of 2016. The messages were exchanged among 12 young men involved in the attack. The attack itself was not identified in the report.

Deutsche Welle noted that the timeframe suggested it may have been a bombing at a Sikh temple in Essen carried out in April of that year by a group of German teens with reported links to Islamic extremism.

Researchers conducting the study said the young men’s conversations demonstrated little understanding of their professed faith and that the group constructed a “Lego Islam” to suit their purposes.

People don’t join these groups out of a commitment to Islam but usually because of a perceived or actual grievance, and the influence of a close circle of peers.

Muslim mother takes legal action against school over face veil ban

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 July, 2017 - 18:05

Rachida Serroukh claims Holland Park school in London has discriminated against her by not allowing her on premises in veil

A Muslim mother has launched legal action against her daughter’s school, after being told she could not wear a face veil on its premises.

Rachida Serroukh, 37, a single mother of three daughters, has begun a discrimination test case against the prestigious Holland Park school, dubbed the “socialist Eton”, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea after she was told she would not be allowed to wear a face veil at the school.

Related: Burqa bans, headscarves and veils: a timeline of legislation in the west

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Why the Manchester mosque will rise from the ashes | Giles Fraser: Loose canon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 July, 2017 - 17:07
Religion is often revived by persecution. Those bigoted yobs who torched the Nasfat Islamic Centre will never succeed in driving the Muslim community out

Last Saturday afternoon, the Nasfat family of mosques held a national peace rally in Trafalgar Square. The banners they waved said quite a lot about where they come from theologically: “Say no to extremism,” read one banner. “No to Boko Haram,” insisted another. There was even a union flag on the leaflet. But none of this made a blind bit of difference to the bigots who broke through the back window of the Manchester Nasfat mosque the very next day and set the place alight. Five fire trucks turned up, but there wasn’t much they could do: the place was gutted.

Bigotry is stupid, conducted by stupid people. The mosque leadership told me that the building had been attacked several times during the five years since it opened. A couple of severed pigs’ heads have been thrown in the mosque during worship. Their minibus has been torched. Even this week, as some of the community stood surveying the charred remains of their former place of worship, young white men jeered at them from passing cars. “We don’t want you here,” they shouted, gleefully laughing at what is left of their mosque.

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