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Ramadan is an Opportunity in Culinary Diplomacy

altmuslim - 9 June, 2018 - 19:38
The first time I fasted in Ramadan I wasn’t a Muslim; I was a curious young woman who had recently experienced a very short but very impactful trip to Morocco during the blessed month a few years earlier. I learned that the Islamic way of fasting was quite different — detailed and comprehensive — in […]

Football while fasting: life in the Ramadan Midnight League | Nick Miller

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 June, 2018 - 14:00

An idea to help people who might not otherwise feel able to play during Ramadan is gathering momentum in Birmingham

Just after 10pm on a warm Friday evening Obayed Hussain stands outside the Aston Villa academy building, the North Stand of Villa Park looming behind him. He is wearing a white jubbah, the traditional robe worn by Muslim men. Just before going inside he removes it to reveal a Birmingham FA tracksuit underneath.

A bit more than an hour later the first of around 100 or so people, mostly young men, arrive to play and watch football, which they will do until around 2am. It is not the most obvious time for recreational sport but this is the Ramadan Midnight League. Conceived by Obayed and executed with the help of Villa and the local and national FAs, this is an initiative designed to help those who might not otherwise feel able to play during their Ramadan fast.

Related: Transfer window 2018 – every summer deal from Europe's top five leagues

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How Fasting Connects Us All – Remembering the Past

altmuslim - 9 June, 2018 - 04:00
This is day 24 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. Assalamu’Allaykum, Ramadan is a time of reflection and connecting with Allah (swt). However, through fasting we are not just connecting with Allah (swt); we are also linked to everyone that has fasted before us. In the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us “O you who believe! […]

Turkey condemns Austria's 'racist' move to close mosques

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 June, 2018 - 11:11

President’s spokesman attacks plan to shut seven mosques and expel up to 60 imams

Turkey’s presidential spokesman has lambasted Austria’s decision to expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and shut seven mosques as an “anti-Islam” and “racist” move.

“Austria’s decision to close down seven mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country,” İbrahim Kalın said after Vienna announced the move in a crackdown on “political Islam”.

Related: Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent?

Related: 'It's been looming over us for decades': Austrian voters on the far-right

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The Pursuit of Stillness in Ramadan, in Life

altmuslim - 7 June, 2018 - 22:41
This is day 23 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. Ramadan, as my husband says, is a time to “get right.” It is when we are meant to turn down the din of the world, quiet the chatter in our minds, listen to our heartbeats. Much is made of our fasting, the abstention of all […]

All eyes on Ramzan Kadyrov as Chechnya hosts Egypt in World Cup

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 June, 2018 - 15:05

Chechen leader is step closer to political goal of being Putin’s link to Middle East with arrival of Egyptian team

The Tunisians were first to visit, followed by the Iranians, and then the Saudis. But it was the Egyptians, led by the Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah, who snatched up the dubious grand prize: a World Cup training base in Chechnya.

Once devastated by civil war, Chechnya is now the focus of intense international scrutiny over its crackdown on political opponents and gay people in this region in Russia’s North Caucasus.

Related: The darker side of Grozny's push to be the Dubai of the North Caucasus

Related: We must get justice for gay and bisexual men murdered in Chechnya | Letters

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Preaching against plastic: Indonesia's religious leaders join fight to cut waste

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 June, 2018 - 01:26

Nation’s two largest Islamic organisations will call on network of 100 million followers to reduce plastic waste and reuse bags


Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest marine polluters, has decided to get religious – literally – about reducing plastic waste.

Related: Antarctica: plastic contamination reaches Earth's last wilderness

Related: Man begins six-month swim through 'Great Pacific garbage patch'

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A Tale of Two Iftars

altmuslim - 6 June, 2018 - 23:33
The White House and other government agencies have held Ramadan iftar dinners for decades, but Trump’s version will flip the previous model on its head. Many Americans don’t realize that for a few decades now, the White House, State Department and other government institutions have regularly held Ramadan iftar dinners — fast-breaking meals for Muslims […]

To Know Oneself is to Know God

altmuslim - 6 June, 2018 - 19:35
This is Day 22 of the #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. A quarter of the world’s population, or around 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, are currently in a time of Ramadan. In Ramadan, we’re fasting during the day from sun up to sun down. In Chicago where I live, this means that from around 3:45 a.m. […]

Bernard Lewis obituary

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 June, 2018 - 15:37
Controversial historian of the Middle East and expert on Islam who was an influential adviser to the Bush administration

Both erudite and controversial, the scholar Bernard Lewis, who has died aged 101, conveyed the complexity of the Middle East with supreme confidence. His general books on Muslim-Christian relations over the centuries introduced students to a field that now defines the centre of international debate.

In 2003 he was consulted by the Bush administration, though recommended the encouragement of revolution in the north of Iraq rather than invasion. British-born, he had been based in the US since the 1970s and became a familiar commentator on American TV after 9/11.

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Man arrested over fires at mosque and Sikh temple in Leeds

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 June, 2018 - 13:10

Police say fires are linked and being treated as arson and hate crimes

A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a mosque and a Sikh temple in Leeds were set on fire, in what police have described as linked hate crimes.

The 42-year-old was arrested at an address in the city on Tuesday night after fires were started at the front doors of two buildings early that morning.

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Muslim groups will be absent as Donald Trump hosts Iftar dinner

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 June, 2018 - 11:00

Trump broke a White House tradition celebrating the end of Ramadan last year but despite a U-turn American Muslims have little enthusiasm for breaking bread with the president

As Donald Trump hosts his inaugural Iftar dinner as president on Wednesday to mark the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in the nation’s capital will hold a counter event just steps away from the White House.

The lack of enthusiasm among American Muslims over Trump’s unexpected decision to hold a White House Iftar underscores the community’s contentious relationship with the US president.

Related: The fight for the right to be a Muslim in America

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Carpe Meam – Seize the Soul in Ramadan and Beyond

altmuslim - 6 June, 2018 - 00:18
This is Day 21 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. Sometimes I find myself missing the ways I used to love and know God as a child. Things were simple back then; I was innocent, young and so acutely aware of Allah that I felt it in my bones. Other times, I find myself banking […]

Green light for gridlock

Indigo Jo Blogs - 5 June, 2018 - 19:18

A timber-framed red-brick house behind a red-brick wall topped with greenery, accessed by a stony track with a tall wooden gate.Today the government gave its backing to plans to expand Heathrow airport in west London by building an extra runway to the north-west of the existing site, with all the necessary access roads and buildings and so on. This will absorb parts of Sipson, most of Harmondsworth and all of Longford as well as a number of industrial areas that currently sit around the airport perimeter and feed the airport with freight and food. The plans also include the re-routing of some local main roads, the closure of others, the tunnelling of a section of the M25 and the wholesale re-routing of the airport’s current taxiways, which currently form a hexagon around the central island where the old terminals are. A map of the new scheme can be found in this PDF) on page 25. This is more than just an expansion; it looks like a total reconstruction of the whole site.

Living in south-west London and having to drive through the Heathrow area on a regular basis both while commuting and while making runs, the amount of traffic disruption this will cause both during construction and after should be a huge red flag. My usual route from Kingston to reach the M4 or to get to places like Iver or Slough (where a lot of my work comes from) is along the Staines By-pass and then up Stanwell Moor Road and then west along the A4, which has no junction with the M25. However, the northern end of Stanwell Moor Road and a large section of the A4 (Colnbrook By-Pass) are being demolished; the A4 is to be re-routed via a new northern by-pass that starts at the Sipson junction (just east of where the M4 spur road ends), runs east of Sipson towards West Drayton and then west, past what remains of Harmondsworth, to rejoin the existing road outside Colnbrook village, while local traffic from the south is to be redirected through the industrial area of Poyle and part of Colnbrook village, which will no doubt become a major cut-through for anyone wishing to avoid the queues at junction 15 (for the M4). I can currently get across this area without touching the M25, which will not be the case when this is all built; everyone will have to go across junction 14 to get over the M25. This roundabout is frequently very congested and will get even more so when construction begins.

The M25 is to be covered over; the original plans include a re-routing of the motorway slightly to the west, with parts of the original alignment retained for some (not all) M25/M4 accesses, but the current ones have the M25 entering the tunnel just south of the unchanged M25/M4 junction. However, the closure of alternative routes from south-west London to the M4 will mean the road will probably have to be widened, with the addition of at least an extra lane for traffic going from the northbound M25 to the westbound M4, which as it is currently confined to a single lane, is frequently backed up well past junction 14. I am not sure if this has been factored in. And on top of this, this stretch of the M25 is one of the busiest and most congested in the country with queues of miles which start well before peak hours, particularly on the approach to the M4 junction from the south and the M3 junction from the north, and the tunnelling work and the increase in construction traffic as well as diverted traffic off closed roads will add to this considerably. The result will be felt all the way out into Hampshire as people trying to reach the M4 and M40 divert along local roads (e.g. the A322/A329 through Bracknell, the A327 from Farnborough to Reading, the B3349 from Hook to Reading) rather than sit through the jams on the M25, and certainly at the Dartford river crossing as traffic bound for the Kent ports diverts that way.

All this, of course, says nothing about the environmental impact of both more airports and more flights. Air travel is the most environmentally damaging in terms of CO2 emissions, with the emissions being discharged straight into the upper atmosphere where there are no trees to absorb them. The additional runway to the north will mean there is an additional corridor under which homes are blighted for hours every day by aircraft noise; this will include the villages of Sipson and Harlington as well as parts of Cranford and Heston, as well as Colnbrook and parts of Slough and Windsor to the west. Expansion supporters may say that flights on all three runways will be less frequent and that it will be operating at 64% of capacity rather than the current 98%, but we cannot assume that the same number of flights (472,000) will keep operating indefintely; ultimately, more flights will mean the airlines and airport operator will make more money, so they will demand the relaxation of any rules or laws designed to protect residents along all three corridors and eventually, the noise and disruption along the approaches to all three runways will be as bad as they are now.

Inevitably, someone will ask where I favour the building of a new runway, since “there has to be one”. Gatwick has a strip of land running parallel to its existing runway to the south, which could be used for expansion, and the traffic disruption will be that much less during construction as it does not pass over the M23 motorway, but in terms of improving infrastructure to in the south-east rather than the rest of the country, that option is even more extreme. Gatwick’s rail links to almost everywhere, including most of London, are inferior to Heathrow’s (particularly since the branch line off the Great Western was built), and the route to Gatwick from anywhere in the country except south London, the south-east coastal area and East Anglia passes via Heathrow. I am not convinced we need another major runway given that we have six or seven large airports in England, four of them around London, meaning a total of eight full-size runways (Birmingham, Manchester and East Midlands being the others). As for the threat of Heathrow losing its hub status, major road transport links pass through the site with trucks from all over Europe to all over the UK and vice versa, and the needs of everyone who works and passes through the area daily cannot be sacrificed to the demands of one (still very profitable) industry.

As for such things as the expansion of cargo facilities and the few green spaces that are to be built around the perimeter: as I said last October, cargo needs expanding with or without a third runway, as there are not enough spaces for the trucks that park at some of the depots (the Shoreham Road “Horseshoe” area in particular) and wait times sometimes run into hours, and the parks and recreation spots can be built without it. In any case, given the hugely ambitious nature of the plan, we might question whether it will all get done or whether the cost of the third runway and the infrastructure immediately surrounding it might mean that these things go on the back burner. None of the promises of the people proposing this can be relied on, and governments will not hold them to them. Questions like “if not here, where?” and “what about our precious hub status?” should not be more important than whether the area’s roads and businesses can tolerate the inevitable gridlock, or should be expected to.

Image credit: David Hawgood. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 2.0 licence.

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Jeremy Corbyn calls for investigation of alleged Tory Islamophobia

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 June, 2018 - 00:01

Labour leader, Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi and the Muslim Council of Britain press resistant home secretary

Jeremy Corbyn has called for an inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative party.

The Tories have been under pressure since the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called for an investigation, highlighting a range of claims including candidates and other representatives allegedly having far-right connections or sending offensive tweets.

The new home secretary is the first BAME holder of one of the great offices of state, a former investment banker and Margaret Thatcher devotee who is on the right of the Conservative party. His appointment will keep the balance of EU leavers and remainers in the top offices, but only just. Javid backed remain, but with some hesitation.

Related: Tracey Ullman angers Corbyn fans with antisemitism sketch

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Nurturing Intimacy During Ramadan

altmuslim - 4 June, 2018 - 21:26
This is Day 20 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. The holy month is a time for deepening the greatest of all love affairs It’s well after midnight and burning candles flicker in my dimly lit living room. Music hums quietly in the background. A love song carried through the vibrating cry of the reed […]

Faith groups stepped up in post-Grenfell confusion, says report

The Guardian World news: Islam - 4 June, 2018 - 00:01

Churches, mosques and others provided practical support while officials floundered

Faith groups were able to respond quickly and effectively to the Grenfell Tower fire because they were rooted in the community, had physical space to put at the disposal of local residents and were committed to long-term pastoral support, a report says.

Some faith leaders were angry or frustrated at the inadequacy of the official response, it adds. In the chaos of the fire and its aftermath, “the role of the diverse faith groups in the community stood out. Churches, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras all stepped up to the plate, responding practically, emotionally and spiritually to a moment of pain and confusion,” says the report, After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response, published by Theos, a Christian thinktank.

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The Tories haven’t just popularised Islamophobia – they’ve gentrified it | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 June, 2018 - 17:43

The lack of pressure on Theresa May to act is an alarming indication of where rightwing politics is taking Britain

The Conservative party has a problem with Muslims. It is not a few bad apples; not a few social media posts taken out of context. The problem has been growing unchecked for years, despite warnings by Muslim party members, and has now become so normalised that incidents are being reported with alarming frequency. Last week, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia following more-than-weekly occurrences in the party last month. In these past four weeks alone, Conservative party representatives and candidates have called Islam “the new Nazism”, posted a picture of bacon on a door handle as a way to “protect your house from terrorism”, and shared an article that called Muslims “parasites” who “live off the state and breed like rabbits”.

There will be few voters at the ballot box who will shun the Tory party because it makes fellow citizens feel unsafe

Related: The Observer view on Islamophobia in the Conservative party | Observer editorial

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He was a teenage terrorist. Now he's fighting extremism

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 June, 2018 - 11:00

Exclusive: Mohammed Khalid, at 15, was the youngest person ever prosecuted for terrorism offenses in the US. In his first interview since his release he talks about his new mission: fight extremism

The moment he was slammed against a wall by an FBI agent on the doorstep of his parents’ home and taken away in handcuffs, the distorted world Mohammed Khalid had constructed for himself came crashing down.

He was about to become notorious as the youngest person ever to be prosecuted for terrorism offences in the US and would be sentenced to five years in prison for his part in an online jihadist plot to kill an artist from Sweden who had drawn the head of the prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog.

The next person could be someone who is even younger than me. How to stop that from happening, that’s important to me

Related: Isis: the inside story | Martin Chulov

I think the United States gives you that avenue, if you do make a mistake you have a chance to reinvent yourself

Related: Terrorists ‘plot in shadows of the dark net’, report warns

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