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Far-right Dutch MP cancels Muhammad cartoon competition

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 August, 2018 - 22:05

Geert Wilders drops plans for controversial contest in November following death threats

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has cancelled a planned contest inviting people to submit a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad following death threats and large-scale protests in Pakistan.

“To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead,” the far-right opposition politician said in a written statement on Thursday night.

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Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands sparks Pakistan protests

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 August, 2018 - 10:04

Islamist leader says ‘only jihad’ is sufficient to punish ‘blasphemous’ Wilders stunt

Hundreds of Islamists are planning to march on Islamabad to demand Imran Khan’s new government sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands over a “blasphemous” cartoon competition.

The protest march on Wednesday, organised by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a political party dedicated to the punishment of blasphemy, presents the first major test of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration. Last year, a similar protest by the TLP shut down the capital for almost a month.

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Iranian activist jailed over hijab protests goes on hunger strike

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 August, 2018 - 05:00

Farhad Meysami accused of having badges saying he was against the compulsory hijab

Human rights activists in Iran have said they are worried about a man on hunger strike who was reportedly jailed for protesting against rules requiring women to wear a hijab.

Farhad Meysami, 48, a doctor and publisher before becoming a civil activist, was arrested in his office in July and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Do you think wearing a badge that says "I am against forced hijab" is a crime?

Iranian authorities do.

They've arrested human rights defender Farhad Meysami & charged him w/national security offences for supporting Iranian women's campaign against this degrading practice. pic.twitter.com/I8YNzsAv8F

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Aung San Suu Kyi stays silent on UN report on Rohingya genocide

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 August, 2018 - 13:24

Myanmar leader uses first appearance since damning verdict to discuss literature

The world was waiting for her to speak. But the day after a damning United Nations report concluded that genocide had occurred in Myanmar under her watch, Aung San Suu Kyi used a public appearance to discuss only poetry and literature.

Arriving at the University of Yangon 24 hours after the publication of the UN fact-finding mission’s report, which concluded that the Myanmar military had carried out a genocide of the Rohingya in Rakhine and were responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, the Myanmar leader chose to stay silent on all issues of politics and made no mention of the UN.

Related: The Guardian view on atrocities in Myanmar: hold the guilty to account | Editorial

Related: The principles that made Aung San Suu Kyi an icon are what undid her | Mary Dejevsky

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No turban, no sermon, just books for kids: meet Iran's travelling cleric

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 August, 2018 - 05:00

Book lover Esmail Azarinejad is a far cry from the Iranian theocrats who rail against America

“It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy,” the Iranian cleric reads aloud. He has taken off his clerical robe, put aside his white turban and is trying to entertain a group of children in one of Iran’s poorest villages.

In between phrases, he troops back and forth to make sure everyone is listening. “Are you with me?” he asks. “What did Bear want to do?” The children, who are painting their school walls, reply: “Bear had a story to tell.”

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Book Review: A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré

Inayat's Corner - 27 August, 2018 - 14:26

I recall first hearing about George Smiley back when I was in Primary school. Alec Guinness was portraying him at the time in the now classic BBC TV adaptation of John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. George Smiley, the Cold War era English master spy. A thoroughly decent, professorial sort – he would surely have been an Oxford Don had he not been recruited into the “Circus” – who enjoys his visits to the British Museum and is pained by the frequent unfaithfulness of his wife. How could you not adore him?

Smiley was first introduced to the world in 1961 in Le Carré’s novel Call for the Dead. In 2009 Radio 4 produced dramatisations of all eight novels that had featured George Smiley up until then. These are available for purchase as part of a single collection via Audible and are highly recommended. And now, with Le Carré in his mid-80’s, we surely have in A Legacy of Spies what must be the final novel that will feature our hero.

A Legacy of Spies begins with George’s right hand man and protégé, Peter Guillam, now long retired and living in his ancestral home in Britanny, France. One morning, Guillam receives a letter from his former spymasters in London requesting his immediate return to assist with some legal inquiries.

It transpires that two of the protagonists who died in very tragic circumstances in the 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Alec Leamas and Liz Gold, had earlier sired a child each, and they are now intent on forcing the Intelligence establishment to admit that they – including Guillam – had deliberately used their parents as fodder to protect a British mole in the East German hierarchy. It is an ingenious plot device that allows Le Carré and us to revisit some of the dark scenes back in the fevered atmosphere of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

This allows for the pages of Legacy to be adorned with a cast of familiar characters including Control, Bill Haydon, Jim Prideaux and many others. It does mean that the reader will require knowledge of the plot of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to fully appreciate the nuances offered by this latest Le Carré offering. And if that means that more readers will now have to become students of George Smiley – well, that can only be a good thing.

As Legacy proceeds, Guillam keeps asking “Where’s Smiley? Is he still alive?” No one seems to provide a definitive answer. And when we finally do meet him, it is an encounter that fully does justice to him. We find him in a library, of course – where else? And what is he up to? Well, “…an old spy in his dotage seeks the truth of ages.” Smiley defends the Service as you would expect. They were not the same as their enemies.  “We were not pitiless, Peter. We were never pitiless. We had the larger pity.”

And what does the old spymaster now value at the end of a long life after duelling with some pretty merciless foes?

“I’m a European, Peter. If I had a mission – if I were ever aware of one beyond our business with the enemy, it was to Europe. If I was heartless, I was heartless for Europe. If I had an unattainable ideal, it was of leading Europe out of her darkness towards a new age of reason. I have it still.”

At a time when the achievements of Western civilisation and the insights provided by science are cheapened and derided by a host of global actors including an ignoramus US President on the one hand and closed minded religious fanatics and Brexiteers on the other, identifying Europe and reason as important goals to fight for is eminently  worthy of our beloved spy master. This is a magnificently fitting tribute from Le Carré to his most memorable creation.

Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 August, 2018 - 06:00

Faith is on the rise and 84% of the global population identifies with a religious group. What does it mean for the future?

If you think religion belongs to the past and we live in a new age of reason, you need to check out the facts: 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. Members of this demographic are generally younger and produce more children than those who have no religious affiliation, so the world is getting more religious, not less – although there are significant geographical variations.

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Anti-Boris Johnson campaigners allegedly attacked in Oxford

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 August, 2018 - 10:35

People calling for MP to quit over burqa remarks claim physical and verbal assault

Campaigners protesting in Oxford against Boris Johnson’s remarks about women wearing the burqa were allegedly attacked by two men, in the latest in a series of apparently Islamophobic incidents across the country.

Two men shoved and shouted at people calling for Johnson’s resignation at a stall in Oxford town centre last Friday, according to the campaigners. They then tried to kick the stall over, threw books on the floor, tore up newspapers and tried to take a megaphone.

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News Corp bites back after Uhlmann's spray on Liberal leadership | The Weekly Beast

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 August, 2018 - 00:34

Sharri Markson calls Uhlmann’s attack ‘disgusting and outrageous’. Plus: questions over ABC series on convicted baby killer Keli Lane

When Nine’s chief political correspondent, Chris Uhlmann, said News Corp and 2GB’s Alan Jones and Ray Hadley were “bullies” and “players” who were “waging a war” on Malcolm Turnbull, prominent media players agreed with him, including ABC 7.30’s Laura Tingle and the Conversation’s Michelle Grattan.

Must watch, brave and correct https://t.co/aNkKFam3fX

.@CUhlmann and @SharriMarkson go head to head on how Australian media impacts politics. #9Today pic.twitter.com/dQ15lHrgfh

Related: NSW to review sexual consent laws after searing Four Corners testimony

Related: ABC cuts begin to bite in the depleted newsrooms of Sydney | Weekly Beast

No Alan, pretty sure you can’t use that expression. pic.twitter.com/B6X42t8GPH

Margin Call: Rupert Murdoch and John Howard were received like rock stars at the 75th anniversary of the @TheIPA last nighthttps://t.co/5QE0cBQTRx pic.twitter.com/ZX1GFNIWIL

Related: Radio Birdman: brutally honest doco cements legacy of volatile Sydney punk band

Remember when Guy Pearce hosted Countdown with @kylieminogue & @JDonOfficial? Share your favourite ABC memories with us using #ABCyours https://t.co/VwCnt5LZea pic.twitter.com/RpjAB6Wgac

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Mosque where terrorist taught stripped of responsibilities for children

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 August, 2018 - 13:54

Charity watchdog installs manager at London mosque where Umar Haque worked

The trustees at an east London mosque that employed a dangerous extremist who attempted to build an army of child jihadists have been stripped of safeguarding responsibilities by the charity watchdog.

The Charity Commission has installed a specially appointed interim manager at the Ripple Road mosque to take over procedures for the protection of children, as the regulator investigates its links to the convicted terrorist Umar Haque.

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Woman jailed in Indonesia for complaining that call to prayer is too loud

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 August, 2018 - 04:27

Islamic groups criticise blasphemy sentence imposed on ethnic Chinese Buddhist who asked mosque to turn it down

Indonesia’s largest Islamic bodies have denounced the jailing of a Buddhist woman in Sumatra, after she complained about the volume of the adzan, or call to prayer, from her local mosque.

The Medan district court sentenced Meiliana, a 44-year-old ethnic Chinese Buddhist, to 18 months in jail after she reportedly asked the mosque to turn it down.

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China 'ejects' US journalist known for reporting on Xinjiang repression

The Guardian World news: Islam - 22 August, 2018 - 17:30

Foreign correspondents condemn decision to deny visa to Megha Rajagopalan

China has “effectively ejected” an American journalist from the country, a journalists’ association has said, after she won a reputation for hard-hitting reporting on the country’s troubled western Xinjiang region.

Megha Rajagopalan, a correspondent for BuzzFeed, wrote on Twitter that she would be moving on to another beat after the foreign ministry in Beijing “declined to issue a new visa”.

Related: Beijing blasts 'anti-China forces' for claim of million Uighurs in prison camps

Related: ‘We’re a people destroyed’: why Uighur Muslims across China are living in fear

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Mehreen Faruqi warns against 'normalisation' of racism in first Senate speech

The Guardian World news: Islam - 21 August, 2018 - 08:52

Greens senator says condemnation of racism by major parties means nothing as long as they politicise race

Australia’s first female Muslim senator has used her maiden speech to warn of the dangerous “normalisation” of racism by media and politicians, linking it directly to the more blatant discrimination by the likes of Fraser Anning.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi on Tuesday condemned the use of “dog-whistling and race-baiting as an electoral tactic”, revealing she had been the subject of thousands of racist and sexist messages and letters during her time in New South Wales’ upper house.

Related: Mehreen Faruqi to become first female Muslim senator amid Fraser Anning outrage

Welcome to @MehreenFaruqi who is set to take over the education portfolio for @Greens. And thanks to @sarahinthesen8 for her work in the role!

Related: Outgoing Lee Rhiannon urges Greens to resist 'careerism and bullying'

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Curtis Cheng's son calls for end to political 'scapegoating' of Muslims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 August, 2018 - 22:52

Son of murdered police accountant says the actions of individuals ‘cannot be attributed to an entire group of people’

The son of murdered New South Wale police accountant Curtis Cheng has called for an end to political “scapegoating” of Muslims in Australia following last week’s speech by senator Fraser Anning calling for a ban on Muslim immigration.

Alpha Cheng’s father was shot in cold blood by a 15-year-old Muslim boy, Farhard Jabar, outside the NSW police headquarters in Parramatta in 2015. Two others were jailed for planning the attack and supplying the weapon.

Related: Fraser Anning and Bob Katter's anti-Muslim cry is about comfort, not survival | Yassir Morsi

Related: White supremacy was the mainstay of Australian federation. Little has changed | Paul Daley

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Muslimander TV: Are Asian lads lost, or is Mehreen Baig?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 19 August, 2018 - 18:28

A picture of Mehreen Baig, a young South Asian woman wearing a black top with a jacket of uncertain colour over it, walking along a fence, with a low sun to the side.Lost Boys? What’s Going Wrong for Asian Men (BBC iPlayer, available in UK only until about 12th September)

Last Sunday there was an hour-long programme on BBC2 purported to be about the problems facing young British Asian men in the UK. It was presented by one Mehreen Baig, a former teacher who previously took part in BBC2’s two-part documentary Muslims Like Us and has been a presenter on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live. Despite good reviews in the secular press, a number of my Muslim friends were deeply dissatisfied with the programme: Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan in a review on Al-Jazeera called it “a lazy reproduction of racist, culturally essentialist stereotypes approved by an ‘insider’” while Ahmed Hankir offers a perspective from an actual British Asian Muslim man. To their credit, the Daily Telegraph also published a critical review from a Muslim, Hussein Kesvani, which is paywalled but the headline summarises it: ‘Young Asian men’ are facing the same problem as other men: a crisis of masculinity. I recommend reading all these reviews.

My immediate response was similar to Kesvani’s: the first part of the programme focussed on an ethnic community which has suffered a similar fate to many white communities in the same part of the country, namely seeing the industries their men worked in (for generations, in the case of the mostly white coal mining and steel working communities, and came here to work in, in this case) destroyed since the 1980s because of a combination of globalisation and politically-motivated privatisation and industry rundown. The problems in some of those places are similar to those in the northern Asian communities — men who were brought up expecting to go into a particular job and are now at a loose end, often living in towns and villages which lack any other industry or meaningful work opportunities. Not every section of the Pakistani or even Mirpuri community in the UK has this sort of challenge, any more than all white men, so it is an unrepresentative group to base a documentary about “Asian men” on. Boys falling behind girls in academic achievement is a found in some of these other parts of society as well where boys were traditionally brought up expecting to go straight into manual work.

Baig compares two very particular sub-sections of the British Asian community, the other being Ugandan Asians which she generalises as being of Gujarati origin, when in fact there is an actual Gujarati community in the UK which is made up of both Muslims and Hindus. East African Asians (who are not all Ugandan) are a mixture of Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians and offshoot sects from Islam such as Isma’ilis (the Damjis, the family Yasmin Alibhai-Brown comes from, are Isma’ilis). She presents the Ugandans as being somewhat less reverent than the Bradford Mirpuris, showing them drinking beer and a male comic dressing as a woman to make fun of Asian women. The implication is clearly that Ugandans are better integrated because they are less religious than Mirpuri Muslims, but there are other factors. Many of them were merchants in Africa who maintained contacts with each other when they moved here; Mirpuris were farmers who moved to the UK to work in textile mills, and this lack of entrepreneurial background and acumen may explain why so many are attracted to the multi-level marketing (MLM) ‘businesses’ Baig shows them involved in and does not make any attempt to investigate — they are, in fact, a scam with much in common with Ponzi or pyramid schemes, as they rely on attracting new participants rather than selling products or services, and any such scheme will collapse when there is nobody new to attract. There must, in other words, be many more losers than winners.

A picture of Mehreen Baig and two Asian men looking at a view of Bradford through a fence.Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan calls Mehreen Baig a native informant; her stance puts her firmly in the “Muslimander” tendency I mentioned in a post about the Boris Johnson affair — the type that ‘justifies’ the nonsense they talk about Muslims or Islam by saying “I’m a Muslim, and …”. She is relying on outsiders taking her word because she is “one of” the people she is peddling broad-brush stereotypes of. Her Twitter feed in the days after the programme aired illustrates this: it was full of retweets of positive reviews and well-wishing from various media friends and thank-yous from her. She was not interested in engaging with Muslim critics of her work, and in fact she blocked some of them including Suhaiymah. This was not a very representative picture of British Asians or the problems they face, and it did not even begin to consider racism or media and public hostility focussed on terrorism, which has been a given in discussion of “the Asian problem” since at least the 2001 riots: the problem is always Asian failure to integrate, brides from the village back home, sons treated like princes and girls like domestic skivvies, Asian-majority schools; it’s never racism, the fact that discrimination in the job market is rife, that some of the schools are just no good, not that they’re majority Asian.

The programme also had an irritatingly Dooleyesque quality: too much of it was focussed on Baig’s own reactions to what she saw, many of them banal — she once noted, for example, that the young people she met were fond of looking at the view, which showed only Bradford; it is actually quite a striking view and the city is set in a lot of the kind of natural beauty that people travel from all over the country to Yorkshire to see. A good documentary maker lets the subject matter do the talking rather than stamping their face and opinions all over it. I don’t think Asian Bradford boys are any more lost than any other group of boys from low-income backgrounds in England, and particularly the north of England, but they are certainly more stigmatised and this programme did not even begin to explore that.

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In the Cape Town enclave that survived apartheid, the new enemy is gentrification

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 August, 2018 - 07:59
Picturesque Bo-Kaap was for decades the home of Muslim residents. Now, as some cash in on soaring house prices, others want to hold on to their history

Sunday morning in Cape Town. Two days of rain have washed the dust from the air. Table Mountain is etched against a clear blue southern winter sky. Seagulls wheel on an ocean breeze. In the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood of the city, the famous painted houses shine postcard perfect. Children play on cobbled streets. Men in prayer caps watch, deep in conversation, prayer beads clicking.

Yet the apparent calm is misleading. In recent weeks angry young men have burned tyres in the streets of Bo-Kaap. There have been marches and demonstrations. The immediate spark for the anger? Plans to build hotels, luxury apartments and shops. The deeper cause? Fear that gentrification will destroy the community.

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Labour suspends ex-MP over remarks on antisemitism row

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 August, 2018 - 21:00

Scot Jim Sheridan accused Jewish community of colluding with ‘Blairite plotters’

Labour has suspended a former MP who accused the Jewish community of colluding with “Blairite plotters” to damage the party, as a poll for the Observer found that more than a third of voters believe that the party is prejudiced against British Jews.

Jim Sheridan, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North until 2015, was suspended after apparently writing in a Facebook post that has since been removed: “For all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer, due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long-suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”

Related: It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to take on his critics with a major speech. Here’s what he should say | Gary Younge

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Muslim women call for more equality in running UK mosques

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 August, 2018 - 13:00
Activists challenge lack of prayer spaces and exclusion from management roles

Muslim women in Scotland are campaigning to be given more equal facilities for praying and to be involved in running mosques.

Scottish Mosques For All was set up to highlight the importance of including women in decision-making. More than a quarter of mosques in the UK have no facilities for women and, in the remainder, access is often restricted and the space they are given inadequate.

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Hajj 'nap pods' being introduced for pilgrims to Saudi Arabia

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 August, 2018 - 06:06

The sleep stations – based on Japan’s famous capsule hotels – will offer clean sheets and air-conditioning


Saudi Arabia plans to introduce sleep pods, reminiscent of Japan’s famed capsule hotels, in the western city of Mina in the coming days, as an estimated two million Muslims gather for the six-day hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Related: Saudi Arabia to open border with Qatar to let pilgrims attend hajj

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