Cameron's government and British Muslims: a difficult relationship

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 15:05

Prime minister’s drive to integrate Muslim women into society is latest intervention to draw criticism from Muslim groups

David Cameron’s warning that migrants who fail language tests may have to leave the UK as part of a drive to integrate Muslim women into society has prompted criticism from Muslim groups.

The Ramadhan Foundation accused the prime minister of “disgraceful stereotyping of British Muslims” . It is the latest in a series of moves by Cameron and his government that have offended some members of the UK’s Muslim community.

Related: Muslim women to be taught English in £20m plan to beat 'backward attitudes'

Too often we hear the argument that radicalisation is the fault of someone else. That blame game is wrong – and it is dangerous. By accepting the finger-pointing – whether it’s at agencies or authorities – we are ignoring the fact that the radicalisation starts with the individual.

The government is aware of how disengaged it is from large sections of the British Muslim community. So advisers would have known how this intervention, with its misguided emphasis and call to action, would at best fall on deaf ears, and at worst further alienate.

My concern is that this call to Muslims to do more, without an understanding of what they already do now, will demoralise the very people who will continue to lead this fight.

The British Muslim community will be able to do that better with a government stood alongside it and collaborating with the community … Sadly, over the past six or seven years, there has been a policy of disengagement with British Muslim communities.

It is incredibly odd and incredibly worrying that over time, more and more individuals, more and more organisations, are considered by the government to be beyond the pale and therefore not to be engaged with … Unfortunately, the coalition government carried on that policy. It is now time to end that policy of disengagement and start speaking to the British Muslim communities, and empowering them to do more.”

We have seen the Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools in Birmingham. Concerns about religious supplementary schools. Widespread allegations of corruption, cronyism, extremism, homophobia and antisemitism in Tower Hamlets. Hate speakers invited to speak at British colleges and universities. Segregation by gender allowed at universities and even endorsed by Universities UK.

Charities and the generosity of the giving public abused by extremists. Examples of sharia law being used to discriminate against women. Thousands of ‘honour’ crimes committed every year. And hundreds of British citizens who have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Continue reading...

Isis will fail to emulate Islam’s great conquests. Here’s why | Peter Frankopan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 12:35
After the prophet Muhammad’s death his Arab followers swept all before them to east and west – but then, theirs was a kind, tolerant and respectful faith

Fifteen centuries ago, Arab armies fanned out from the Middle East in search of conquest. For some who took part, the incentives were material – rich prizes were on offer from cities that paid tribute, surrendered or were sacked. For others, it was the spiritual rewards that appealed most: spreading the words that had been handed down to the prophet Muhammad, and which were later recorded in the Qur’an.

Related: Shocked by the ‘cubs of the caliphate’? Of course you are – that’s Isis’s plan | Charlie Winter

Related: As Isis attacked Jakarta, I didn’t know how to react | Bonni Rambatan

Continue reading...

Cameron’s alienated the people he must ally with: Muslim women | Deborah Orr

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 11:58
The PM’s rhetoric won’t just upset Muslim women – it has an anti-women tone in general

You’d think, from the way politicians tend to frame the issue, that there were legions of misguided voters passionately intent on protecting the right of controlling men to isolate their wives from all influence but theirs. David Cameron, in 2016, sounds no different to David Blunkett in 2002, when he insists that immigrant women must be empowered to learn English, or else. Except that they don’t say “migrant women”. They say “Muslim women” when speaking of the “alarming picture of forced gender segregation, discrimination and social isolation”. Misogyny, it seems, is only a problem when it’s Islamic misogyny.

Related: Cameron: migrants on spousal visas may have to leave if English doesn't improve - Politics live

Related: David Cameron criticises BBC for use of 'Islamic State'

Continue reading...

Migrant spouses who fail English test may have to leave UK, says Cameron

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 09:54

David Cameron says no guarantee that people who enter UK on spousal visa can stay if they fail to improve language

Migrants who fail language tests after two and a half years in the UK may be forced to leave, David Cameron has said, as he unveiled plans to encourage greater integration of Muslim women.

Related: Cameron: migrants on spouse visas may have to leave if English doesn't improve - Politics live

Related: Muslim women to be taught English in £20m plan to beat 'backward attitudes'

Related: Lords’ opportunity to ensure vulnerable young migrants in the UK are protected | Letter

Continue reading...

Muslim women to be taught English in £20m plan to beat 'backward attitudes'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 06:37

The scheme will help to counter extremism and confront a minority of men who have ‘damaging control’ over families, says David Cameron

Tens of thousands of Muslim women unable to speak English are to be given the chance to learn the language in a new government drive to build community integration and counter extremism.

Launching a £20m language fund, David Cameron called for an end to the “passive tolerance” of separate communities which left many Muslim women facing discrimination and social isolation.

Continue reading...

My Apologies D&G, It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Muslim Matters - 18 January, 2016 - 04:21

There have been two knee-jerk reactions in response to the release of Dolce and Gabbana's hijab and abaya collection: The Allure of the Middle East; First came the yay-sayers (for want of a better term) who with true Arab-style ululation lauded the fashion house for taking such a bold stance regarding highly politicised garb, that too during a particularly sensitive time. This category suddenly felt validated and instantaneously proud of their Muslim dress and identity. Then arrived the cynics, who took serious offense at this shallow attempt to represent Muslim women and their fashion needs with D&G's insignia and uncharacteristically-Muslim embellishments on what is traditional Muslim apparel. 'Ain't nobody got time fo dat,' so to speak.


The fact of the matter remains that D&G have themselves made no outright claim at either. While there is of course contention over the extravagance of the new line and how the overkill of ornamentation contradicts the simple modesty of what is Islamically expected of a Muslim woman's dress, anyone visiting a high-end shopping district in any of the monied petro-states of the Middle East will be instantaneously brought to the realisation that D&G (and numerous other high-profile, luxury names) know exactly what they're doing here. The hijab-abaya combination -previously a quiet representation of feminine modesty- is now the quintessential sartorial piece of the wealthy Gulf states – charmeuse, stonework, and all the (lace) trimmings. All D&G is trying to do is to capitalise on a market with a spending power that is estimated at more than $8.7 billion a year – and they are quite likely to succeed.


While the philosophy of orientalism is oft-associated with socio-politics and perception of world order, there is an increasingly discernible divide brought about by orientalists of the fashion industry.

The dichotomy is clear, if not obvious; The Asian and Middle Eastern dress (particularly those of womenfolk) has always been ingrained in Western psyche as quaint, traditionalist, and bound by the many social shackles that come with any country that is non-democratic in governance. The West on the other hand, are the prophets and prophetesses of vogue – visionary, current, and a representation of all that is free.

This would explain the great sense of social attestation we feel when deemed 'worthy' of the runway from the powers that be, following a move such as that of D&G's and many others before them, all the while ignoring the fact that we as Muslims too have fallen in line to strut the catwalk, becoming increasingly vulnerable to capitalist bait. There is nothing quite as oxymoronic as the label 'Muslim consumer.'

While my opinion is that D&G are faultless for having been honest about their intentions with this new gilded modest-wear collection, and that any claims of political stance and representation are inadvertent, this does bring to light however the increasingly worrying trend of Muslim marketability.

For Western brands have pounced many a time at capitalising on the exoticism of the ethnic. Let's not forget the instances we've misconstrued cultural appropriation for flattery, basking in the heady glow of social and sartorial attestation. Remember the 'dress-over-pants' rendition of the South Asian shalwar kameez that filled our fashion pages early last year? Also recollect Paul Smith's 'Robert sandals' – a not-so-subtle attempt at plagiarising the ubiquitous Peshwari chappal. Where were the fashion police when you needed them?

I digress. While cultural appropriation is a power dynamic worthy of a rave on its own, what truly needs to be lamented about is the devaluation of our dress, proportionate to its increase in bankability. Now I'm not one to over-extol the virtues of the hijab, but the headscarf and abaya are undeniably, a testament to all that is anti-capitalist and anti-establishment. By choosing to don the headscarf, the Muslim woman of the west –either consciously or unwittingly- signs up for a wilful disregard for modern convention in deference to her faith. Her attire revolves around what she feels is acceptable as an ambassador of Islam, and not what is dictated by a consumerist agenda.

D&G (image)It is true that in the Middle East (the Gulf particularly) the abaya does not necessarily represent something as consequential in that it is more an expression of cultural symbolism than one of spiritual or ideological choice -which is perhaps what makes them all the more sought after by the likes of D&G in the first place- but the preservation of ideals and everything else the attire of Muslim women represents is a collective Islamic responsibility all the same.

Surely alarm bells should sound when fashion houses renowned for leaving less to the imagination with their seasonal revisions of what's in and what's not, take a sudden interest in modest-wear? We'd be naive to assume that genuine feel-good altruism is behind these highly-publicised shows of 'catering to the stylish Muslim woman.' Muslims around the world spent $266 billion on clothing and footwear in 2013 alone, amounting to more than the total fashion spending of Japan and Italy combined.  That figure is expected to reach $484 billion by 2019. Big brands like to make big money, and they will tap into wherever it is that profits them best. And they can't be faulted for that.

Rather, as hard as this is to swallow, the accusatory finger from the arm concealed in a bejewelled abaya sleeve points back at us. We have only ourselves to blame when we need a billboard to finally convince ourselves to endorse our own attire. We have only ourselves to blame when a global fashion house learns that Ramadhan, rather than being our holiest, most devotional month of the year, is instead 'a month of extravagant spending rivalled only by Christmas.' We have only ourselves to blame for allowing a designer label to be sewn onto the hem of a garment worth far more than all of this season's best fabrics combined.

We've surrendered our shields to the other side, only for us to have to buy them back, albeit much prettier, but stripped of purpose.

So let's spare D&G the tirade, and give ourselves the talking to we truly deserve.

Australia's refugee policies: a global inspiration for all the wrong reasons | Antony Loewenstein

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 January, 2016 - 00:28

Far from being an international pariah for the way it treats refugees, Australia’s policies are becoming envied and copied

Australia first introduced onshore detention facilities in 1991 at Villawood in Sydney and Port Hedland in Western Australia. Mandatory detention came in 1992. Bob Hawke’s government announced it was because “Australia could be on the threshold of a major wave of unauthorised boat arrivals from south-east Asia, which will severely test both our resolve and our capacity to ensure that immigration in this country is conducted within a planned and controlled framework”.

More than 20 years later, the rhetoric has only worsened against the most vulnerable arriving from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Policies that years ago seemed unimaginable, such as imprisoning refugees on remote Pacific islands, are the norm and blessed with bipartisan support.

Related: Cabinet papers 1990-91: Labor wrestled with rising asylum claims

Related: Is the Schengen dream of Europe without borders becoming a thing of the past?

Related: Tony Abbott urges Europe to adopt Australian policies in refugee crisis

Continue reading...

It’s only rape if it’s rape

Indigo Jo Blogs - 17 January, 2016 - 23:03

Last weekend David Bowie died, and amid the non-stop media tributes (which have been compared to the relentless coverage of Lady Diana’s death in 1997, although they can’t have really approached that — normal TV programming was stopped for most of that Sunday), there were a few dissenters who called Bowie a ‘rapist’ because he slept with a teenage groupie (or more than one) in LA some time in the 1970s. There is an unusually balanced view from Julie Burchill in the Spectator, who called Bowie’s behaviour ‘creepy’ but criticised feminists for their tendency to “strip women they do not agree with of agency, and seek to paint them as confused poltroons suffering from good old ‘false consciousness’”. A number of feminist blogs have no such qualms, however, with Louise Pennington (referred to in Burchill’s article) writing anoymously on a site called “Everyday Victim Blaming” about her own experience of sexual abuse as a (much younger) child and drawing dubious links between Bowie’s behaviour and that of Bill Cosby and Jimmy Savile. She has published two separate articles on her own blog also ([1], [2]). There have been a number of other articles expressing a similar viewpoint ([1], [2], [3], [4]), as well as a more balanced piece by Mic Wright here.

A cover for a video tape of "Absolute Beginners", showing Bowie, Patsy Kensit and another male actor from the same filmI was never a huge Bowie fan; I was a child in the 80s, not the 70s, and most of the music I heard by him in the 80s was pretty boring (Absolute Beginners, the title track from the flop 1986 film he starred in, excepted) and his later output was even less inspiring to me (the NME in the mid-90s, when I used to read it, called his more recent albums at that time “careericidal” and suggested that many people regarded him as a “cretinous windbag”). Others found him inspirational, called him a hero and said that his songs were their companion at difficult times in their lives, particularly because of his take on sexuality and gender. For me, he was a generic 80s pop star; there are no memories to tarnish. But there is a good reason why the matter hardly came up in the tributes on the radio, which is that for most people, this issue does not overshadow his work.

It’s not an excuse, of course, that other sexual abusers were worse. But others were much worse, even those (like Jimmy Page) who involved themselves with the LA “Baby Groupies”. One could say that Bowie dipped his feet in those waters while others were up to their necks, persistently abusing both adults and children throughout their careers. However, the biggest difference is that the girl he had sex with, Lori Maddix, agreed to do it and expresses no regrets about it as an adult. Feminists often talk about how girls and women can be ‘groomed’ to accept sex with men who are much older than them and are clearly (to them) exploiting them, but it’s difficult to see how a middle-aged woman can still be ‘groomed’ forty years after the event. It’s not Lori Maddix who is calling Bowie a rapist; it’s others.

To call this ‘rape’, whatever the law says, is absurd, because rape clearly refers to sex which is forced or where the victim was not capable of agreeing (because of unconsciousness, intoxication or severe intellectual disability, for example). A law that says someone cannot consent does not mean they cannot in reality. Merely breaking a law, even a well-meaning one, is not the same as sexually assaulting anyone. Even calling it sexual abuse is dubious, because this term can refer to sexual assaults, including rape, but also refers to sex which may be submitted to because the victim is intimidated by their abuser’s power — they may be able to threaten to make their lives difficult, or they may be pretending to be friendly when others (in an institutional setting, for example) are openly (sometimes physically) hostile. It is not agreed to enthusiastically out of desire. It refers to situations where one party has power over the other to begin with.

I believe Louise Pennington about her own experiences, but her comparison of Bowie’s behaviour with those of Savile and Cosby does not carry any weight. Savile’s and Cosby’s victims came forward; they knew they had been raped or assaulted and said so, apparently without needing someone like Louise Pennington to tell them this is what they had experienced; Maddix said she had not been. Maddix sought out Bowie; Savile sought out his victims, some of whom were in an extremely vulnerable situation such as being incapacitated following spinal injury or surgery (or both), and some of whom were in other hospitals or special boarding schools. As is now known, authorities were reluctant to move against Savile because the money he raised was vital to the running of their institutions — in large part because government policy made them dependent on such benefactors. None of this was the case with Bowie.

Radical feminists, in my experience, aren’t capable of discussing these issues rationally, as I have made clear on two previous occasions. In the second of those links, we see a feminist of the same circle as Pennington call a 15-year-old boy a rapist for having sex with a 13-year-old girl (who, as I pointed out, may well have been in the year below him or even the same year at school; the age difference was nearer one full year than two). They expect the rest of us to believe them when they tell us that women do not lie about rape, but they proceed to call things ‘rape’ that are not, and to call women ‘victims’ who are not, and who do not claim to be. In truth, they believe women only when they stick to the script. As derided as expressions like “real rape” and “rape rape” are, no dictionary definition of rape includes “a sexual encounter that someone enjoys until someone who thinks they know better tells them it was rape”.

If David Bowie had really been a serial abuser of women and girls, it’s highly likely that a large number of victims would have come forward in the last ten years or so. He has really not been the all-conquering superstar the tributes last week suggested; as noted in the Observer today, his early shows were played in concert halls and arenas, not stadia, and when his mother criticised his lifestyle, it was the NME that reported it, not the tabloids; the past 20 years or so, he’s been a forgotten has-been and if his music has been played (except shortly after album launches), it’s been his music from the 60s to the early 80s. He is too dead to atone for these actions now, but even when he was alive, his ‘victim’ said she had a great time and had no regrets. I am not saying people should approve of his behaviour, but it was not the pattern of his life and he did not make a career out of it. There would not be this degree of adulatory coverage of his career if that were the case. If Bowie had actually raped someone (adult or child), I would agree that he did not deserve any of this coverage, but as his ‘victim’ did not hold it against him, the public cannot be expected to either.

Possibly Related Posts:

Muslim cleric arrested in Pakistan for inciting teenager to saw off hand

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 January, 2016 - 16:54

Terror charges brought against Shabir Ahmed who accused Anwar Ali, 15, of blasphemy in mosque

A Muslim cleric has been arrested in Pakistan on terror charges after a teenage boy he accused of blasphemy responded by sawing off his own hand.

Anwar Ali, 15, performed the act of self-amputation with a scythe after attending a religious gathering in his local mosque last Monday.

Continue reading...

Martial Arts as a Means to Humility – #Connection with Belal Khan

Muslim Matters - 17 January, 2016 - 05:05

One of the best way to discipline children isn't to take it upon oneself, but, to outsource to a Sensei. If your child is acting up, then ask them, “how do you think Sensei would feel if I told them you were behaving like this?”

Martial arts has been an excellent tool for ages to discipline kids. It not only build discipline, but also humility. Through martial arts, one does build confidence, but confidence is something that if you have too much off, could lead to arrogance or recklessness. But if you don't have enough, you may suffer from self-esteem issues and also might become a pushover.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When I was in third grade, I came home from school getting bullied and I'd complain to my dad, and ask him to talk to the school principal. Instead, he enrolled me into martial arts classes at the local Tae Kwon Doe school.

It wasn't long before he got notices from school that I was beating up some kids.

Later we moved to another town where I was learning a form of MMA. But, three years later, that school got bought out by the largest martial arts franchise in America. At this point, all former students of the school that got bought out had to start over.

The school that got bought out although did MMA, focused primarily on traditional forms of Karate, and Tae Kwon Doe. However, the new school that did the acquisition, had it's roots in Karate, Muay Thai, and grappling, BJJ style.

During instruction, I'd always be falling back on what I was taught before. So, Sensei pulled me to the side and told me a story about an young master who sought out a grand master in a far away land. When he met him, he was given a cup of tea, but as he pour, it overflowed. And, so the young master said to the old grand master, you're pouring too much, and burning my hand.

The grand master replied, I have a lot to offer. If you want to learn from me, you better empty your tea cup.

And so, Sensei said to me, empty your tea cup.

For me, this was a lesson in humility. If you're really sincere in learning from people, leave what you already know to the side. Don't let existing knowledge get in the way from benefiting from others. Don't let knowledge become a source of arrogance.

Just because you know something, doesn't mean you can't learn something new.

Islamist attack on Burkina Faso hotel leaves dozens and more injured

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 January, 2016 - 22:00

Al-Qaida-linked terrorists murder foreigners from 18 different nationalities at hotel popular with UN and foreigners

Burkina Faso became the latest country to fall victim to Islamist extremism in attacks that left at least 28 people of 18 different nationalities dead and 33 injured. Four jihadists also died in the assaults, which began late on Friday night in a cafe and spread to two nearby hotels, all popular with foreigners and UN staff.

The militants claimed to be from the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb affiliated group al-Mourabitoun, the same group that took part in the storming of the Radisson Hotel in Mali’s capital city last November when 19 people died.

Continue reading...

Murderer Robert Craig Klimek Used “Stand Your Ground” Law To Get Away With Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

Loon Watch - 15 January, 2016 - 22:01


Ziad Abu Naim with his wife Lisa

By Emperor

In the US not only can you kill someone because you are motivated by racist hatred and get away with it, (especially if you are white) but you will also become a celebrity. This fact was brought home recently to most Americans when George Zimmerman murdered 17 year-old Trayvon Martin and proceeded to successfully use the “Stand Your Ground” defense to get away with murder.

In Texas this past June, a Muslim man, Ziad Abu Naim, was murdered by Robert Craig Klimek, who like Zimmeran, was acquitted by a grand jury when his lawyers focused on using the “Stand Your Ground” defense.

A killing of a Muslim man in what some are calling road rage, and others a hate crime, is bringing renewed attention to the deadly consequences of Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.

The shooting occurred in Houston on June 26, 2015 when Ziad Abu Naim and his wife, Lisa Aimone, were driving to visit with one of Naim’s business clients on the way to his mosque for Friday prayers. After turning left at a four-way intersection just a block from their home, Abu Naim’s vehicle almost struck another vehicle, driven by Robert Craig Klimek, another Houston resident.

Moments later, as described by Leah Caldwell in a Jan. 4 report for Texas Observer, Abu Naim was on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound:

“[Klimek] made a right turn and pulled alongside Abu Naim’s Porsche SUV. Both men rolled down their windows. Aimone sat forward in her seat to catch a glimpse of the man in the other car, and that’s when she heard it: “Go back to Islam!” Abu Naim opened the door and stepped out of the car. Aimone kept her eyes on his back. Within a few seconds, she heard a single gunshot.”

Abu Naim never recovered consciousness and died in a Houston hospital three days later. Klimek told police he shot Abu Naim after Abu Naim reached inside his vehicle and punched him multiple times, while Aimone insists there was no time for any blows before the fatal gunshot, and that the shouted words point to a possible hate crime.

Cowardly murderer Robert Klimek

Cowardly murderer Robert Klimek

The right-wing press was in an orgasmic state while reporting the murder of Abu Naim. What makes the right happier than: 1.) A Muslim killed, and 2.) A white guy doing it and getting away with it like in the “good ole’ days ” of lynchings and Jim Crow?

On top of all of this lets remember that Robert Klimek has a history of anti-Muslim rants on Facebook. Yet for some “reason” the prosecution decided this fact was not worthy of pursuing.

Prosecutors also ignored Aimone’s demands that the killing be investigated as a hate crime. Although Caldwell’s investigation found years of anti-Muslim rhetoric posted online by Klimek, Aimone said officials were “dismissive” of the possibility, and added, “It was almost like too much work for them to find something to see if it was a hate crime.”

If the roles were reversed you can bet that Abu Naim would be smeared as a terrorist and an extremist. The prosecutors would move heaven and earth to interpret any Muslim-y pic or post on Abu Naim’s social media as proof that he was an extremist. The right-wing media would be going nuts, blaming Obama and calling for us to bomb Agraba.

This of course is nothing new, racial bias permeates every inch of our justice system. MintPress quotes Prof. Tamara Rice Lave of the University of Miami School of Law on how the expansive Texas Stand your ground law encourages violence against minorities and the double standards involved.

“‘If somebody’s in the car, the ignition is on, the foot is on the gas pedal, then they can easily drive away,’ she said. ‘If it was a white, upper-class mother getting out of her car and approaching a car, [and she were shot], do I think there would be an indictment? Yes, there would be. It makes a difference who the victim is.’”

This is America.

Patience, Patience, You'll Go to Paradise! review – Muslim women taste freedom

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 January, 2016 - 22:30

Hadja Lahbib’s insightful documentary focuses on Belgium’s Muslim community, where the older generation is making new connections

The subject of Belgium’s Muslim community is now a contentious one: a matter of jihadism and terrorism on the nightly news. This gentle, insightful documentary from Belgian-Algerian film-maker and journalist Hadja Lahbib takes a different slant, though it forms a different puzzle-piece of the larger picture.

Her film is about older north African-born Muslim women and their experience of life in Belgium. As submissive wives and mothers, they were told to be patient because their reward would be in a better place. But now that their husbands have died and no longer exert their iron control, this grandmother/widow generation is experiencing a piquant new freedom, and a gentle new connection with daughters and granddaughters. (Elsewhere, outside this film’s scope, younger Muslim men have different experiences.)

Continue reading...


Subscribe to The Revival aggregator