The Moazzam Begg case shows how Muslims are criminalised | @guardianletters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 19:14

On 1 October, Moazzam Begg was released after seven months in detention because of allegations arising from his time in Syria which included charitable and investigative work (Report, 2 October). Days before a much-delayed court hearing, all charges have been dropped. Begg has been a role-model and mentor to many, young and not so young, and this new period of detention has caused great distress among those who look to him for inspiration. The manner in which he has been targeted and detained with, ultimately, no evidence being brought against him in an open court will confirm the view that this is a concerted campaign of intimidation, designed to scare Muslim communities away from active engagement in public life. While we celebrate his release, we remain concerned that he has spent another lengthy period in detention because of laws that are fundamentally unjust.

We write to express our extreme concern about the use of allegations of terrorism and the arrest and detention of charity workers to slur and curtail the work of Muslim charities and organisations such as Cage, Interpal, Ummah Trust and HHUGS, including through closing bank accounts, lengthy investigations into charitable status and, at the extreme, the arrest and detention of high-profile campaigners.

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When schoolgirls dream of jihad, society has a problem. Look at France | Nabila Ramdani

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 18:30
Dont underestimate the role of the burqa ban in turning teenagers into would-be militants

Teenage angst can cause all kinds of unfortunate behaviour, but when schoolgirls tell their parents they want to join the fight in Syria and Iraq, then society has a serious problem. Alarmingly, this is increasingly happening in France, as young Muslims express their desire for jihad. Worse still, an estimated 100-150 young women and girls have actually joined groups such as the self-styled Islamic State (Isis), travelling to a war zone to devote their lives to setting up a highly militarised caliphate and, if necessary, dying for the cause.

The situation has been replicated in Britain, but in smaller numbers, and women tend to be far less hateful of the country where they were often born and raised. There are no verified figures on either side of the Channel, but anecdotal evidence suggests that, in France, alienation from society is a far greater incentive to join a conflict than it is in Britain.

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Jonathan Freedland on antisemitism: Britain's Jews don't necessarily support what Israel does video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 16:06
The Huffington Post UK's Mehdi Hasan and the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland discuss Islamophobia and antisemitism at a Guardian Live event at the Royal Institution in London on 15 September. Here, Jonathan speaks about the separation of Jewishness and Zionism and how Britain's Jews should not be held accountable for the actions of Israel, with which they do not always agree

Guardian Live is our series of events, debates, interviews and festivals exclusively for Guardian members. Find out about future Guardian Live events here Continue reading...

Mehdi Hasan on Islamophobia and antisemitism: You won't change people's minds with data, facts and figures video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 16:06
The Huffington Post UK's Mehdi Hasan and the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland discuss Islamophobia and antisemitism at a Guardian Live event at the Royal Institution in London on 15 September. Here, Mehdi speaks about the challenges of tackling bigotry when the tools of a usual argument facts, case studies, statistics do not work in the face of conspiracy theories

Guardian Live is our series of events, debates, interviews and festivals exclusively for Guardian members Find out about future Guardian Live events here Continue reading...

Burqa furore no way to walk Australia's tightrope on race

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 10:23

Contradictory messages have left the Muslim community feeling more marginalised and the guardians of national security defiant

For all the shouting over the Abbott governments plan to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, it is now clear that it was not necessary to change any law.

In the debate over Muslim dress this week, we have seen our fair share of offend, insult and humiliate the three provisions which were to have got the chop before the government decided it needed to get the Muslim community on side for the sake of the national security laws.

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Headscarf ban turns Frances Muslim women towards homeworking

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 10:00
Headscarf ban in French public service jobs turns many Muslim women towards self-employed e-trading

Every day Meryem Belmokhtar turns her tidy sitting-room into a workshop. She lays out the equipment on the table, puts on rubber gloves and dips into various jars to make up 250g bags of sweets. Each packet is marked with her logo, featuring a stick of barley sugar.

Belmokhtar, 39, lives in Compiègne, northern France, and manages the Candine Halal website (a pun on candy in English and dine, religion in Arabic), which markets the usual chocolate-coated marshmallow bears, preserved cherries and acid drops, except that hers contain no pork gelatine and are halal. In other words, they comply with Islamic dietary rules.

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Egypts vegetarians dread the arrival of Eid el-Adha the festival of sacrifice

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 09:32
While much of the country relishes a feast of meat, the millions of animals that must be slaughtered cause many city vegetarians and vegans to want to escape

The cows have been fattened, the knives sharpened, and across Cairo sheep and goats are being tethered outside the homes of the wealthy. Egypts Muslims are preparing for Eid el-Adha the feast of the sacrifice on Saturday.

It is a highlight of the Egyptian year when millions of animals are slaughtered in honour of the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (known as Abraham in the Old Testament) to kill his son Ishmael.

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Abdellah Taïa: 'In Arab countries, homosexuality is a crime. This has to change'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 07:30

Taïas new film, Salvation Army, which follows a young gay man growing up in Morocco, is based on his own difficult upbringing

In the middle of the night, as Abdellah Taïa squeezed into a packed room with some of his eight siblings, a group of drunken men from his small village in Morocco gathered outside the house. Abdellah, come down, come down, they called. We want to fuck you, come, come.

Taïa, in his early teens, could clearly hear the ominous shouts. So did everyone else in the house. He was afraid and was ashamed when, as a little boy, he was teased and called a little girl, or even zamel (faggot).

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Friday Links | October 3, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 3 October, 2014 - 07:00
This week, the execution of an Iranian woman was postponed for ten days. Reyhaneh Jabbari was scheduled to be hanged last Tuesday for killing the man who tried to sexually abuse her. Online abuse aimed at Pakistani women often turns into violence in the “real” world; activists are calling on social media companies to be more [Read More...]

Not in my name campaign organiser warns of danger of political rhetoric

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 06:33

Campaign in which Muslims state their opposition to Isis is refocused on Australians uniting against racism and bigotry

A campaign to unite Australians against hatred, racism and bigotry and say not in my name has drawn bipartisan support, but the organiser warns that political rhetoric is part of the reason its needed in the first place.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, president of the Youth Without Borders organisation, said the European not in my name campaign, in which Muslims publicly state their opposition to the actions of Islamic State (Isis), resonated with her because it was about taking ownership a little bit.

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Tony Abbott has not asked for burqa ban to be reversed, Speaker's office says

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 05:37

PM says he has asked Speaker to rethink ban on facial coverings, such as the niqab, in parliaments public galleries, but Speakers office denies such a request has been made

The prime minister and the Speakers office appear to be at odds over the burqa ban, after Tony Abbott said he had asked the Speaker to rethink the decision while the Speakers office suggested that they had received no request to overturn the ban on facial coverings.

No request has been received by the PM or his office, a spokesman for the Speaker said at midday.

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First Dog on the Moon on ... the 'burqa' controversy - cartoon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 October, 2014 - 04:59
The government announced that visitors with 'face coverings' had to sit with schoolchildren if visiting parliament and then backtracked. There's a word for that ...

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Moazzam Begg Freed From Prison Due to “Insufficient Evidence”

Loon Watch - 2 October, 2014 - 23:26

Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo Bay detainee, fierce critic of the UK and US governments and their War on Terror policies has been released from prison after being detained on “terrorism charges” for the past seventh months.

It is clear that Begg is being persecuted to intimidate those who put a spotlight on the abuses of the UK and US governments actions in the so-called War on Terror. It is an attempt to persecute those who dare speak out!


The charges – which were connected to the conflict in Syria – were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service after “new material” emerged.

Leaving prison, Mr Begg, 46, said he had “wanted his day in court” and claimed his detention was “unlawful”.

The Muslim Council of Britain called for an “urgent investigation”.

Mr Begg, from Birmingham, was arrested with three others in February.

Speaking from outside prison after his release, he said: “Not once but twice in my case this government has been involved either in directly detaining me or indirectly detaining me and on both occasions it’s been unlawful.”

Mr Begg also said handling of his case “shows a knee jerk reaction”, adding: “It shows little has changed since the beginning of the early days in the war on terror. There isn’t an appetite, there isn’t a desire to try to really understand what’s taking place.”

West Midlands assistant chief constable Marcus Beale walked out of the Old Bailey and told journalists that his force accepted that Moazzam Begg was an innocent man.

Be in no doubt, this result is a catastrophic blow to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and other agencies who had sought to pursue the former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

There are many people in positions of authority who do not like Moazzam Begg – but he has been a tireless campaigner for what he says have been injustices in the “war on terror”.

This entire affair has therefore damaged relations between the British security services and some Muslim communities. Moazzam Begg’s supporters have said for months that he did nothing wrong when he went to Syria. They will feel vindicated by today’s formal acquittal.

Grey line

Insufficient evidence

Mr Begg’s trial was due to start on Monday, following a hearing at which he had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

But at a pre-trial review on Wednesday morning lasting just five minutes prosecution lawyers told the court that the CPS had decided there was insufficient evidence to continue with the prosecution.

Mr Begg was appearing via video link from Belmarsh. He spoke only to confirm his name and made no reaction when the judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, formally acquitted him of all charges.

He had been charged with attending a terrorist training camp in Syria between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013.

He was also accused of possessing documents for a purpose connected to terrorism and terrorist funding.

In a statement, West Midlands Police said new evidence had come to light which had “a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case”.

“Police and lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the new material, previously not known to the police investigation, and concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of gaining a conviction.”

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: “I understand this is going to raise many questions.

“However, explaining what this newly revealed information is would mean discussing other aspects of the case which would be unfair and inappropriate as they are no longer going to be tested in court.”

He added: “From the beginning this case has challenged the relationship between West Midlands Police and some of the communities we serve.

Muslim Council of Britain

“I would like to reassure them and Mr Begg that at every stage of this investigation my officers acted in the best interests of the public and of justice.”

‘Populist rhetoric’

The Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement: “Clearly there are now questions to be asked as to why he was arrested in the first place and, equally importantly, whether the current imprecise definition of ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ is leading to miscarriages of justice.”

It added: “Today is a good day for British justice and the upholding of the rule of law in this case.

“What remains deplorable is the inclination of some of our political leaders to lapse into populist rhetoric when there are terrorism-related arrests, without waiting for due process.”

The BBC’s June Kelly said that this had been “a controversial case from the start”.

“Moazzam Begg is the most high-profile of all the arrests that have taken place in relation to alleged terrorism in Syria,” she said. “Since his release from Guantanamo Bay, he’s been a vocal commentator, campaigner and activist.

“His supporters say he made no secret of the fact that he had been to Syria.”

‘Defamed and vilified’

Asim Qureshi, research director of campaign group Cage, where Mr Begg works as an outreach director, said: “This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community.

“The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim that has been to Syria has increased in intensity.

“We hope that Moazzam’s release is a sign that the government are now willing to adopt a more measured strategy in relation to anti-terrorism policy and avoid the attempt to criminalise all dissent and crush any organisation that stands up for the rule of law and justice.”

Mr Begg was held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for nearly three years. He had been detained in Pakistan in January 2002 and taken to Bagram internment centre in Afghanistan, where he was held for about a year before being transferred to Guantanamo.

He was not charged with any offence while in US custody.


Megyn Kelly: Fox News Preaches Anti-Muslim Blood Libel in Wake of Oklahoma Beheading

Loon Watch - 2 October, 2014 - 23:15


By Mooneye

At Fox News, Islamophobia protrudes from the top, Roger Ailes, down to the bottom feeders like Eric Bolling, “The Five” crew, Megyn Kelly, etc. Remember, Ailes is the same guy who put “‘Fox News on lockdown’ after ‘observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb.’ He turned out to be a janitor.

The Kelly File, hosted by Megyn Kelly has a track record of demonizing Islam and Muslims so it’s unsurprising that she attempted to capitalize on the gruesome workplace murder in Oklahoma by Alton Nolen (Jah’keem Yisrael) to fan the flames of hate and suspicion against Muslims.

Nolen, recently converted to Islam and is said to have tattoos of Jesus Christ and other tattoos related to the Black Israelites, which indicates a propensity to experiment with religions. Instantly, questions have been raised about whether this may have been a “lone wolf attack,” however at the mosque Nolen frequented worshipers described him as “mentally disturbed.”

Many say Nolen was mentally disturbed and latched on to some extremist views.

While Fox has already proclaimed this a “terrorist attack,” law enforcement investigating the murder have not, considering the fact that Nolen’s attack came after he was fired from his job and stating they have “found no link to terrorism,” law enforcement is treating it as “workplace violence.”

It’s interesting to note, as Media Matters’ Eric Bohlert does that Fox News is picking and choosing its “terrorism” targets. In fact, there is an actual, clear cut, act of terrorism that is big news that Fox has barely reported,

Sounding the jihadist alarms, Fox News and the right-wing media are eager to label the ghastly crime an act of Islamic terror.

While that story continues to play out, it’s worth noting that an actual act of political terror remains in the news. It’s just not a priority for Fox.

On the night of September 16, 31-year-old marksman Eric Frein was allegedly laying in wait outside the Blooming Grove police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, preparing to assassinate state troopers. Shortly before 11 p.m., Bryon Dickson was shot and killed as he walked towards his patrol car. Moments later, as he approached the barracks to begin his overnight shift, trooper Alex Douglass was shot and seriously wounded by a bullet fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

But turn on Fox News and you don’t hear much about Eric Frein from the channel’s high-profile hosts. You don’t hear much about the anti-government zealot who murdered a cop, while trying to assassinate two. And you don’t hear evening hosts diving into Frein’s background trying to figure out what sparked his murderous streak.

In two weeks since the shooting, the Fox programs monitored by Nexis have mentioned Frein’s name in just six reports, and most of those were simply news updates that consisted of one or two sentences. Only one segment, which aired on On The Record With Greta Van Susteren, featured an extended conversation about the killing and the subsequent manhunt. In none of the six Fox reports however, were Frein’s vocal anti-government leanings mentioned, nor was there any suggestion Frein was a domestic terrorist.

Hosts Neil Cavuto, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have all ignored the shocking cop-killer story. In general, Fox has provided almost no commentary, no context, and certainly no collective blame for the execution.

By contrast, in the days since the Oklahoma killing, Fox programs monitored by Nexis have flooded the zone with coverage of the beheading, totaling hours and hours of coverage.  Most of Fox’s reports offered extended, overheated commentary, and most of them dwelled on the fact the killing may have been an act of terror.

Cavuto, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Megyn Kelly have all hosted extensive coverage of the killing, with Kelly and Hannity devoting nearly their entire September 26 and September 29 programs to the Oklahoma story (“Terror In The Heartland“), allowing guests to make all kinds of unproven connections between the crime and to Islam and, of course, to politicize the tragic killing.

Kelly has stooped so low as to have a man on her show with the pseudonym of “Noor,” whose identity was hidden, claiming unverified and patently fabricated “insider knowledge” of the mosque that Nolen frequented.

“Noor” parroted, word for word, the usual line of conspiracy theories, slander and hate that we have come to expect from fringe idiots like Pamela Geller and Deacon Robert Spencer. For all we know “Noor” may actually be the loony Christian White supremacist extremist David Gaubatz or his son, both have a history of fake “conversions” so they can then afterwards claim to have “infiltrated” Muslim mosques. It’s a way for them to make a living on the Right-Wing fearmongering circuit, along the likes of fake ex-terrorists/Muslims such as Ergun Caner, Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, etc.

In the Kelly File segment, “Noor” claims that members of the Oklahoma mosque are operating “stealth jihad.” That they will not promote terrorism in public but will in-doors, among congregants. “Noor” went on to forward the taqiyyah conspiracy theory, saying,

“There is a teaching in Islam, taqiyya, which is deception. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam even said, ‘war is deception.’ The reason they are so deceptive is that when they cannot do jihad physically, they attempt to do jihad by means of stealth: by endearing themselves to the media, endearing themselves to government, endearing themselves to the American people, to slowly work their way in.”

This is the equivalent to a blood libel being preached against Muslims in modern-day America, on a major national cable news network that has no scruples about airing false, slanderous and damaging statements regarding Islam and Muslims that have been proven to be lies and fabrications. In the past, Fox News has been implicated in inspiring hate crimes against Muslim Americans, this will only lead to more such crimes.

What should be done about Fox News?

Niqab concerns are real not racist | @guardianletters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2014 - 19:52

Andrew Stunell, Lib Dem MP for Hazel Grove (Letters, 29 September) is trying to blacken Jack Straws reputation by claiming his problem is with the niqab. I am profoundly deaf in one ear and have less than 35% hearing in the other; I wear a sophisticated hearing aid and I too have no problems with the phone, because it is held close to the ear (except for foreign accents and people who gabble). When it comes to interacting with people face to face, its very different. You need to see their mouth to confirm what you are hearing, otherwise you can come out with some hilarious clangers. If a person covers their mouth with their hand or a cup or behind a newspaper, it can cause difficulties. A niqab hides the mouth and muffles the voice as does a scarf worn across the face in winter. This is not a racist problem, this is a practical one.
Marie Blundell
Wigan, Lancashire

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Eid al-Adha: share your photos, videos and stories

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2014 - 16:38

How are you celebrating Eid al-Adha? Wherever you are in the world wed love to hear from you. Share your experiences via GuardianWitness

Muslims around the world will be celebrating Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) this weekend, which commemorates the prophet Ibrahims willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail in obedience to Gods command. The feast marks the end of Hajj (the sacred pilgrimage to Makkah which was established at the time of Ibrahim) and falls in the month of Dhul Hijah which is the final month of the Islamic calendar.

Goat, sheep and camels are amongst the animals that will be sacrificed (qurbani) with their meat then shared amongst family and friends as well as donations to those in need.

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Tony Abbott to backtrack over parliamentary burqa exclusion

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2014 - 13:25

It is understood that, following heavy criticism, the prime minister will ask for a rethink of plan to segregate burqa-wearers

Tony Abbott will ask the Australian parliaments presiding officers to reconsider a controversial decision to force visitors with facial coverings to sit in a separate glassed area of the public galleries.

Guardian Australia understands the prime minister will suggest a rethink of the gallery exclusion, which had been described by critics as a divisive move at a time of heightened community tensions.

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Australia will segregate Muslim women in parliament. We are gripped by 'security' madness | Richard Ackland

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2014 - 11:00

Muslim women wearing the niqab or burqa will be made to sit in a glass enclosure in Australias parliament house. Thats the latest episode in two months of anti-terror theatre

Burqa and niqab-wearing women will now be confined in a segregated enclosure, should they wish to view parliamentary proceedings in Canberra. Normally an innocuous viewing area for school children, the glass box now seems more like the holding area for war criminals at the Hague.

The speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the Senate president Stephen Parry are still weighing the case to go one more step, and ban face coverings from parliament house altogether.

Since 1947, Australia has provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 multilateral peace and security operations ... When leadership is needed, we step up.

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Parliamentary burqa rules 'treat Muslim women as second-class citizens'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2014 - 10:00

Visitors wearing facial coverings will be forced to sit in a separate area of the public gallery shielded by glass panels

The Australian parliament will force visitors wearing facial coverings to sit in a separate area of the public gallery shielded by glass panels.

Critics argue the new security rules send a signal of intolerance to the Australian public.

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