Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship over handshake refusal

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 August, 2018 - 01:47

Couple also ‘showed great difficulty in answering questions asked by people of the opposite sex’

The Swiss city of Lausanne has blocked a Muslim couple’s bid to become Swiss nationals over their refusal to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.

The municipality said it refused to grant the couple’s citizenship application over their lack of respect for gender equality, Lausanne mayor Gregoire Junod said.

Related: Swiss ruling overturns Muslim pupils' handshake exemption

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Why did I just lose 25 followers?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 17 August, 2018 - 13:41

A male linnet, a small brown bird with a patch of red on its breast, sitting on a twig.The other day I logged onto an unfollower tracker and discovered that I’d lost 19 followers, which is rather unusual (I often lose a few over the average week, often suspended accounts — which are not named — or people who had followed me expecting me to follow back, then unfollowed when I did not, and sometimes people who had unfollowed because of a disagreement or blocked me). I checked who the unfollowers were and many of them were names I recognised from years ago: two in particular belonged to one person who has used various accounts and blogs over the years to blog particular aspects of her experience of spinal cord injury; others were just people who had fallen off Twitter and not bothered to close their accounts. I posted to both Twitter and Facebook asking why this had all happened and got a reply to the effect that people had just found better things to do with their lives than tweet or had pruned their social circle to get rid of the dead wood. But judging by which accounts these were, this could not have been the case.

A lot of people lost a large number of followers at the same time and a lot of people are asking why — some obviously think they annoyed someone or that a whole bunch of people have decided they don’t want them in their lives anymore. No. Twitter, for some reason, removed a whole bunch of moribund accounts from your followers list but for some reason did not just suspend them, which is what you might expect them to do. They really need to inform their users when they do something like this, as it may coincide with an argument, relationship break-up or some other event and some people have mental health problems that make them sensitive to these sorts of things. A lot of people think it’s ‘sad’ to use an unfollower tracker but in this case knowing who unfollowed me and being able to tell others is quite useful.

(And this would be a good place to announce that I am trying to get off Twitter and migrate to the open-source social media platform Mastodon. This is because, apart from the well-documented problems of Twitter suspending people for no real reason while allowing Nazis to prosper unchecked, they have also decided to cripple third-party Twitter clients such as Tweetbot and Tweetings which offered a straightforward chronological timeline rather than Twitter’s ‘curated’ one with numerous interpolations. I can be found as and you can join any Mastodon server and follow me. My Twitter account is, however, going to remain active for the foreseeable future.)

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Manchester police investigate arena bomber's links to imam

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 August, 2018 - 19:45

Salman Abedi attended mosque where sermon was given about mujahideen

Police in Manchester are investigating claims that an imam at a British mosque attended by the arena bomber delivered a sermon advocating armed jihad six months before the attack.

Greater Manchester police (GMP) said they had been passed footage from the BBC purporting to show an imam at Didsbury mosque praising mujahideen fighting abroad – a term commonly used for Islamist guerrilla fighters.

Related: Police chief rebukes BBC over Manchester bombing documentary

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Boris Johnson and the burqa both causing concern | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 August, 2018 - 17:41
Readers respond to Guardian articles by Matthew d’Ancona, Emine Saner and Polly Toynbee

Two cheers for Matthew d’Ancona’s spirited and precise nailing of the clear and present danger represented by Boris Johnson’s targeted attack on Muslim women (Boris Johnson has created a moment more divisive than ‘rivers of blood’, 13 August). His comparison with the impact and consequences of Enoch Powell’s speech is both apposite and timely. Further, Mr d’Ancona is right to point out that the rise and rise of social media makes Johnson’s dog-whistling even more dangerous than Powell’s.

But Johnson’s intervention did not appear in social media first but as a column in the Daily Telegraph – within days of resigning his cabinet position, and against the rules laid out by parliament’s advisory committee on business appointments. Since then the paper has made Johnson’s column the main driver of its news.

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'Food-deprived, pulling all-nighters': A-levels during Ramadan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 August, 2018 - 13:45

Pupils at at Tauheedul Islam school in Blackburn on how they juggled fasting and exams

It was a tough exam season for this year’s A-level cohort, who sweated in airless assembly halls during the hottest summer in decades. Arguably, it was even tougher for the students of Tauheedul Islam girls’ high school in Blackburn, who also had Ramadan to contend with.

This year’s month of fasting coincided with the exam period, prompting some girls to stay up late feasting after sundown and others to set their alarms for 2.30am for a very early breakfast. “All our exams were in Ramadan and it was so hot,” said Sara Ziglam, 19, who got As in Arabic and psychology and Bs in biology and chemistry: “We were food-deprived, pulling all-nighters.”

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EU concerned over detention of human rights lawyer in Iran

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 August, 2018 - 18:23

Nasrin Sotoudeh faces charges such as espionage as Tehran continues to stifle dissent

The European Union has expressed serious concerns about the continuing detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer who is serving a five-year jail sentence.

Sotoudeh was arrested in June amid a crackdown on defence lawyers representing cases deemed sensitive to the country’s national security.

Related: 'Desperate to find a way out': Iran edges towards precipice

Related: Iran urged by UN to respect environment activists after wildlife campaigner death

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Who wears the burqa?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 15 August, 2018 - 15:13

A woman walking along a mud road wearing a blue full-length burqa which covers the whole of her body from head to foot. There are bushes behind her and mountains in the background.In an earlier entry I discussed the unhelpful ‘defence’ of niqaab that only a few thousand women wear the garment. However, a side argument is that only a few hundred wear the burqa, the garment best known from Afghanistan which covers the whole body including the eyes and face. I saw Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain make this argument on Twitter this morning. I find this a very dubious claim. I would imagine that the number wearing the Afghan burqa in the UK is closer to zero, if not actually zero. The burqa is a garment specific to rural Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan; only a minority of British Asian Muslims are Pashtun. The garment is not widely available here, it is not the Sunnah, and it is not practical. The niqaab is widely available both in shops and online and is practical in the sense that it can easily be flipped up when the wearer needs to show her face (there is also a layer that can cover the eyes which can also be flipped up or down; if you see a woman with her whole face covered, this is probably also a niqaab).

There is another garment called the burqa; this is worn in the United Arab Emirates and covers parts of the face. It consists of a cloth veil stretched over a metal frame. There are parts of London where there are lots of Muslims from wealthy parts of the Gulf and I’ve walked around those places very frequently; I’ve never seen an Emirati burqa either.

Also, the Evening Standard website yesterday published a piece about a study which claimed that British Asians received worse treatment after terrorist attacks: some 40% of British Asian Muslims said they experienced a “rise in negative treatment” and 26% of Sikhs, and just under a third said people had been abusive to them while 11% said they had been excluded from events. The picture they use to illustrate the report is of a woman in niqaab, and stock images of women in black niqaabs have been used to illustrate reports of ‘trouble’ involving Muslims for years (whether it’s terrorism, the spread of “radical ideologies” or whatever discontent of any kind). This insistence on linking niqaab to extremism of any sort is part of what generates hatred towards Muslim women in particular and the number of women wearing it declined after media campaigns targeted at it, not immediately after major terrorist attacks.

The impact on Sikhs has been widely observed both here and in the United States; Muslims in some parts of the world wear turbans and pictures of well-known terrorists wearing them have appeared in the media often. I have come across Muslims who wear a certain type of turban, but the majority of people who wear them in western countries (albeit a different style without a cap underneath) are Sikhs and there have been many violent attacks on Sikhs by people who mistook them for Muslims.

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Australian party leader hails speech calling for 'final solution' on Muslim migration

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 August, 2018 - 10:04

Politicians unite in condemnation of Fraser Anning’s speech, but his party leader Bob Katter says he backs him ‘1000%’

Bob Katter, the veteran Queensland political maverick, has lauded an inflammatory speech by his Senate representative, Fraser Anning, declaring the contribution “absolutely magnificent” and “everything that this country should be doing”.

As political leaders moved in lock-step to condemn Anning’s speech – which praised the White Australia policy, called for an end to Muslim migration, and invoked the term “final solution” – Katter, the leader of Katter’s Australia party, struck a starkly different note, declaring the speech had his “1,000% support”.

Straight from Goebbels’s handbook from Nazi Germany.

Related: Australian senator calls for 'final solution to immigration problem'

Related: Fraser Anning speech 'straight from Goebbels' handbook', says Pauline Hanson

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The origins of genocide lie in permissive bias and discrimination | Alex Ryvchin

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 August, 2018 - 07:11

The words Fraser Anning reserved for the Muslim community were once directed at Jews who had survived the Holocaust

There is much to find objectionable in Senator Fraser Anning’s first speech to the Australian Senate. The baffling, deplorable invocation of Nazi genocide by referring to immigration as a “problem” requiring a “final solution”, is particularly striking. But we mustn’t allow this conspicuous statement to prevent us from seeing the real animus and the real purpose of the speech. It is a call for a return to a darker time of policy-making on the basis of national origin, skin colour, and religion.

Anning fails to comprehend what it is that makes our country great and what it is that is truly worth protecting.

Related: MPs widely condemn Fraser Anning's 'final solution' speech

Related: The Coalition has been playing with fire on race, and this is their inferno | Katharine Murphy

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Classical scholars turn backs on Boris Johnson over burqa comments

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 August, 2018 - 19:18

Education charity Classics for All distances itself from high-profile supporter

The Ides of March may be long past but Boris Johnson has found himself, like Julius Caesar, under attack from an unusual direction – in Johnson’s case, the nation’s classical scholars.

Following his incendiary remarks about Muslim women wearing the burqa, Johnson has found his position on a charity promoting the study of classics under threat, after several members threatened to cut their ties if Johnson’s were not.

Related: Boris Johnson or the burqa? It’s a false choice – both dehumanise Muslim women | Polly Toynbee

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‘It has made us unsafe’: Muslim women on fear and abuse after Boris Johnson’s burqa remarks

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 August, 2018 - 17:34

Since the former foreign secretary likened women in niqabs to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’, there has been an increase in reports of anti-Muslim abuse. How does it feel to be victimised because of your dress?

‘Oh, there goes a letterbox.’ On Saturday, while Sidrah Sajad was out shopping in Manchester, where she lives, she heard a man – middle-aged, white – say this to a companion as she walked past. “I turned around and said: ‘Excuse me,’ and they just walked off,” she says. She was in a rush that day, but usually – because abuse happens fairly regularly – she likes to confront it. “I’m the sort of person who will engage. If someone is saying such negative comments, I like to approach them and give them the opportunity to talk to me, say: ‘Why would you say something like that?’” How did she feel? She sighs. “You know what, it’s ignorance. That person is not educated. Part of British values is trying to respect and embrace the norms of all the faiths. Even if we don’t understand it, we honour common ground. Every individual has a choice to live their life the way they want to, and we should respect that.”

It is just over a week since the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson likened women who wear the niqab – the face veil – to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in a column for the Daily Telegraph. Johnson said he was against a ban but his comments, whether throwaway or carefully calculated – including that the burqa and niqab were “odd” and “oppressive” – have had real-life consequences for many British Muslims. Women have spoken of feeling vulnerable, and some have been abused. The anti-Muslim hate-crime monitoring group Tell Mama has reported a spike in abuse against Muslim women since Johnson’s column appeared. In the week before the column was published, five women reported incidents against them (all were wearing the hijab, and none wore the niqab). In the week after the column, 14 women wearing the hijab and seven who wore the niqab reported abuse to the organisation.

Related: Boris Johnson’s burqa comments fuel violent crime against Muslim women | Dal Babu

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