Burkini ban issued on French island of Corsica upheld by court

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 September, 2016 - 19:27

Judge said Tuesday that the ban issued by the mayor in the resort village of Sisco was legal because public order had been disrupted in the region

A court in the French Mediterranean island of Corsica has upheld a burkini ban issued by a local mayor, despite a higher court ruling outlawing such bans on the full-body swimwear worn by some Muslim women.

A judge in the Bastia court said Tuesday that the ban issued by the mayor in the Corsican resort village of Sisco was legal because public order had been disrupted in the region.

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France’s Burkini Ban Declared Illegal. Now What?

altmuslim - 6 September, 2016 - 17:52
Embed from Getty Images By Rim-Sarah Alouane If you’ve been following the ongoing burkini debacle in France, you may have concluded that since hijabs and niqabs are already banned in certain circumstances and since anti-Muslim sentiment continues to increase, that a national affirmation of the burkini ban would have been a fait accompli. However, the French [Read More...]

Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of 'murdering' pilgrims during hajj stampede

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 September, 2016 - 03:35

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says authorities in Mecca ‘locked up the injured with the dead in containers’, in further deterioration of diplomatic relations

Iran’s supreme leader has said Saudi Arabian authorities “murdered” Muslim pilgrims who were injured during last year’s hajj stampede, as Mecca prepares to host the annual event again.

“The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers — instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement on his website marking the anniversary of the disaster and calling for new management of the event. He offered no evidence to support the allegations.

Related: The Hajj crush: ‘It was the closest thing to hell on earth’

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Prevent strategy has more pros than cons | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 September, 2016 - 19:19

Tariq Ramadan (The politics of fear: how anti-extremism strategy has failed, 5 September) displays a complete lack of understanding of the Prevent programme that is designed to safeguard people who are vulnerable to radicalisation. The Prevent strategy has never conflated religious practice with radicalisation. Indeed, we are clear there is no single path to radicalisation, just as there is no single red flag that identifies it. In fact, Prevent’s multi-agency approach recognises that factors such as mental health, substance abuse and social circumstances are crucial factors. What is more, Prevent also deals with far-right extremism. Of course, this is difficult and challenging work, but the kind of grassroots education that Professor Ramadan calls for is already happening around the country. Civil society groups supported by Prevent ran 130 projects last year, reaching more than 25,000 people and countering radicalisation in numerous communities. For example, one such group – Kikit Pathways in Birmingham – succeeded in stopping two young men from travelling to Syria, even though they had tickets booked. We work with many other community groups, and mosques around the country, and more recently the NSPCC.

The UK is leading the world in preventing people being drawn into terrorism and many countries are starting to copy our approach. Irresponsibly fuelling the myths around Prevent makes this vital work harder and inadvertently helps those who seek to radicalise young minds. It is misleading and dangerous.
Ben Wallace MP
Security minister

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When is Eid al-Adha this year?

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 September, 2016 - 15:00

Fears that the Muslim festival could fall on September 11 have focused minds on the finer points of lunar calculations

You could almost say it’s an Eid tradition. Every time a Muslim festival approaches the question is the same – when is it, exactly? The Islamic calendar is a lunar one, which means holidays move around the seasons. For Eid an exact date is only calculated after a new moon is sighted. But this year the debate around when Eid al-Adha takes place has been more intense, thanks to fears it might have – for the first time since 2001 – taken place on 11 September, the 15th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Muslim groups in the US said they feared a backlash if Muslims were seen to be celebrating on the anniversary – especially after the recent killing of an Imam in New York and an apparent increase in hate crimes. Ibrahim Hooper from the Council of Islamic Relations told Reuters he was concerned it might allow “Islam haters to falsely claim that Muslims were celebrating on 9/11”. Mosques that host outdoor prayers on Eid were considering moving indoors amid worries about security. Now that fear has been calmed after Saudi Arabia’s religious authorities have declared the festival – which celebrates the sacrifice of theprophet Abraham – would land on 12 September.

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Morocco to give 600 mosques a green makeover

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 September, 2016 - 07:00

Mosques across Morocco will be fitted with solar energy systems in government scheme to boost clean energy awareness

Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.

If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.

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The politics of fear: how Britain’s anti-extremism strategy has failed | Tariq Ramadan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 September, 2016 - 06:00
With Prevent, the government couldn’t be further from winning the fight against radicalisation

The British government, like its European and US counterparts, has been struggling to find an effective strategy to counter “radicalisation” within Muslim communities. When programmes like Prevent were established, they quickly came under heavy criticism, both for their approach and for their poor results. Over a decade on, it is clear not a single anti-radicalisation scheme, either in Europe or the US, has proved effective.

There are several reasons for this. To begin with there is the terminology employed. Religious radicalisation is described as a process through which individuals pursue a continuing trajectory, leading from a “moderate” understanding and practice of religion, to an increasingly violent or extremist involvement. Nothing could be further from reality.

Acts of violence do not take place in a political vacuum

Related: 'You worry they could take your kids': is the Prevent strategy in schools demonising Muslim children?

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“Not exactly Mother Teresa”

Indigo Jo Blogs - 4 September, 2016 - 17:12

Mother Teresa, an elderly white woman wearing a white headscarf with blue stripes at the front, with an Indian woman wearing glasses and a white headscarf to her right.So, today the Pope led a ceremony in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican to canonise Mother Teresa, the nun who ran a chain of institutions for the sick, dying and destitute around the world, most famously in Kolkata, India, on the basis that two miraculous cures of sick people have been attributed to her intercession since her death in 1997. Teresa, born Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, now in Macedonia but then part of the Ottoman Empire, had worked in India since 1929 when she joined the Irish-based Loreto order and was sent to teach in Darjeeling in northern Bengal (now West Bengal). She moved to Kolkata in 1946 and founded her Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Growing up in the 80s, especially growing up Catholic, Mother Teresa was seen as the epitome of selflessness and charity. It was common to hear it said of someone — especially a man — that they “aren’t exactly Mother Teresa”, meaning their motives are partly or wholly selfish. I once heard someone in a TV sitcom remark that someone “made Noriega look like Mother Teresa”. There were, of course, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Catholic men and women teaching or nursing as part of religious orders at that time, although the number was in steep decline but Teresa’s order had a glamour that orders that ran Catholic schools in England did not. At that time, nobody seemed to be asking questions about the conditions in her institutions, or about the backstory about Kolkata being a wretched city full of slums, or about the idea that she worked with “untouchables” that nobody else would touch.

I remember mentioning this on a mailing list about a band I was into in the 90s, and this was after Christopher Hitchens exposed what was really going on in Teresa’s homes both in Kolkata and in New York. Someone responded, “when was the last time you healed an ‘untouchable’ in India?”. Well, I’ve never been to India and I’m not a doctor or a nurse (neither was he, or Teresa). But ‘untouchables’, despite the religious doctrines surrounding their status — that they are people who sinned in previous lives and so were punished with a lowly status in this life — are simply poor people who do dirty menial jobs, although members of these castes can nowadays be in high-paying jobs but are still treated as unclean by higher castes. There is no taboo in western countries about contact with bin men or toilet cleaners, be it shaking hands, sharing crockery or cutlery, caring for them or treating them when sick, and Mother Teresa would have had no such hang-ups, so it is difficult to see why this makes her more of a saint than any other Catholic religious who lived a life of service or for that matter any nurse or carer, religious or otherwise.

Teresa’s reactionary politics, which were shared with the pope she served under, have been adequately discussed elsewhere, but I was astonished that anyone defended her, and continued to propagate her reputation as a living saint in particular, when the conditions in her facilities were exposed. There is simply no excuse for an institution run by the Catholic church to lack basic hygiene and to be reusing syringes, or for a hospital for the dying run by an arm of a very wealthy organisation to fail to provide pain relief, and for this state of affairs to be carrying on for years. It is well-known that the Catholic church are quite capable of running schools, hospitals and care homes which observe good standards of hygiene, both in the developed and developing worlds, yet they allowed this mess to carry on for decades until it was exposed by outsiders.

Mother Teresa was not solely responsible for the sorry state of her homes in the mid-1990s and before. The Catholic church hierarchy, both in Europe and in India, were. So were the media who spread her fame without asking questions, accepting stereotypes about India and Indian people (especially in cities) being dirty, poor and caste-ridden so as to accept a clinic or ‘home’ for poor, “untouchable” Indians being dirty or lacking basic amenities. But it leaves her as the executive of a chain of inadequate if not abusive institutions — a bit like, say, Katrina Percy with added Christian piety and with ready access to the media for her opinions on things that had nothing to do with caring for the poor (who can forget her advice to the victims of the Bhopal chemical disaster — “forgive, forgive”?).

But the inescapable conclusion remains that Teresa was canonised today because she was famous, while others who did far better jobs in caring for poor or sick people or educating children, and who were far better ambassadors for their faith than Teresa (not that I share it) ended up being, remain unrecognised. The people who still venerate her, and who turn out to watch and cheer as Pope Francis makes the declaration, have chosen to ignore the facts and celebrate the myth of Mother Teresa.

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Saudi Arabia tightens up hajj planning to avoid repeat of 2015 disaster

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 September, 2016 - 16:30

Electronic wristbands among measures to keep expected 2 million pilgrims safe from crowd crushes and extremist threat

A year after the worst hajj disaster in a generation, Saudi Arabia is issuing pilgrims with electronic bracelets and using more surveillance cameras to avoid a repeat of the crush that killed hundreds of people and damaged already strained ties with Iran.

The Muslim pilgrimage, which starts on Friday and will bring 2 million people to Islam’s most sacred sites in Mecca, will also be a focus of concerns about militant violence after a suicide bomber killed four soldiers in early July in the nearby city of Medina, Islam’s second holiest.

Related: Iranian pilgrims won't attend hajj amid row with Saudi Arabia

Related: Saudi Arabia under pressure to improve safety at Mecca after fatal hajj crush

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UK courts should be able to issue Islamic divorces, sharia expert says

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 September, 2016 - 15:27

Elham Manea advises MPs on measures to protect women such as mandatory registration of religious marriages in civil law

British courts should be able to issue Islamic divorces via a specialised unit set up to protect the rights of Muslim women, a leading expert in sharia law will advise a House of Commons inquiry.

In recommendations to the home affairs select committee, Elham Manea, associate professor in Middle East studies at Zurich University, will also argue for mandatory civil marriages alongside religious ceremonies, and say imams who violate the rules should be given harsh sanctions.

Related: MPs launch inquiry into sharia courts in UK

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Hundreds at New York mosque mourn woman murdered in 'hate crime'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 September, 2016 - 12:30

Nazma Khanam’s death comes just weeks after two men were shot in the back of the head after midday prayers, rocking the Queens Bangladeshi community

Hundreds of people gathered at a mosque in Queens, New York, on Friday to mourn a 60-year old Bangladeshi woman murdered in what they say was a hate crime.

“I saw my mother’s dead body two days ago,” said Naimul Khan, son of the slain Nazma Khanam. “It was very difficult for me and my family,” an emotional Khan added.

Janaza for sister Nazma Khanam at Jamaica Muslim Center

Shamsul Alam Khan, 75, briefly spoke to media about the slaying of his wife, Nazma Khanam.

This was not a robbery and though we do not know all the facts, the reality is this is happening too often

Related: New York Muslims divided over calls for surveillance in wake of imam's murder

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Meet Generation M: the young, affluent Muslims changing the world

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 September, 2016 - 08:00

Burkinis, misery memoirs and people on camels: the caricatures of Islam don’t leave much room for modernity. The author of a new book argues that this image is absurd – and that a new demographic is about to flex its economic muscles

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case they’re wrong. In the foreground is a young woman with fuchsia lipstick, Jackie O-style sunglasses and a colourful headscarf. Behind her is a young man, with a hip, trimmed beard, headphones jammed in his ears and one hand casually resting in his pocket.

Related: Why we wear the burkini: five women on dressing modestly at the beach

Related: Stylish cover-up: inside International Modest fashion week

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Police officer investigating killing of Samia Shahid arrested

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 September, 2016 - 23:24

Officer investigating death of Bradford-born Shahid held on suspicion of suppressing evidence and allowing suspects to flee

The local policeman who first investigated the suspected “honour” killing of a British woman in Pakistan has been arrested on suspicion of suppressing evidence and allowing key suspects to flee the country.

Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh, the head of a special team set up to investigate the death of Bradford-born Samia Shahid, said Aqeel Abbas, the station house officer of Mangla police station, was detained on “hard evidence of obstructing justice”. “He helped people escape the country who were wanted in the case of Samia,” he said. “Despite clear instructions, he let them go.”

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