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Niqab in Camden: where are the Muslim voices?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 27 September, 2014 - 17:20

Picture of a white woman wearing a white headscarf and separate face-covering, with an embroidered 'border' under the eyes.The niqab is not just a fashion statement | @guardianletters | World news | The Guardian

These two letters appeared in today’s Guardian in response to an article in yesterday’s edition by Gaby Hinsliff, a former politics editor at the Observer, which argued that people who wear unusual or disapproved-of clothing, including niqaab, should not be denied an education even if banning niqaab could be justified in other contexts. The second letter raises the issue that the veil could make it difficult for deaf fellow students or teachers to interact with this girl; the first is just the standard, uninformed white woman’s opinion about what the niqab ‘represents’:

However, she wilfully ignores what it means to cover schoolgirls’ faces: the face-veil is no more just “a scrap of fabric” than a gag is, it is an iconic manifestation of an ideology which holds that women’s faces are analogous to their genitals as a source of shame which must be hidden from all men other than their husbands.

If it is a fashion choice, it is that of Isis, the Taliban, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, who – along with our Saudi allies – brutally enforce this particular deletion of women from public life. Tolerating misogyny is one thing, but it is depressing that a certain patronising mindset seems to cover its own liberal face so it cannot see and challenge it.

Neither of the names below these letters are Muslim ones. It appears that when it comes to discussing a young Muslim woman’s education, their voices should not be heard. It is the same every time this ‘controversy’ arises, and when there is purportedly a Muslim woman’s opinion offered, it is almost always a secular one, often a “Muslim in name only” (e.g. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown). Experiences of niqab are often by women who “tried it on” for a few weeks and reported that it was a hellish experience, particularly because they experienced more public hostility than they usually do (the connection between this and attempts to ban it, and the erasure of Muslim women’s voices from the discussion, is never made). A few years ago, the Guardian printed interviews ([1], [2]) with a teacher in Loughborough, Rahmanara Chowdhury, who wore niqab (and taught “interpersonal skills, teamwork, personal development” to teenagers), but such opportunities for real Muslim women to speak are rare. A few years ago I published an interview with a young woman I knew who had worn niqab to school in Canada from age 17 (although she has since stopped wearing the niqab); you can find that here. I personally knew a young woman who wore niqab at my sixth form college in the early 1990s; she attended some of the same classes as me and was in my tutor group. Her attire did not cause any trouble or inconvenience to anyone and it did not seem to hinder her from participating in classroom discussions, etc.

The niqab has nothing to do with any ‘ideology’; it has to do with Islam, and forms of it have been found in Muslim societies since the beginning, although the niqab worn today was probably invented more recently (and is a lot more practical than wrapping a large head-wrap around one’s face). Calling something an ‘ideology’, of course, makes it sound less legitimate and more threatening, a practice popularised by the likes of Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz. It does not “hold that women’s faces are analagous to their genitals”; even according to the opinion that holds that women covering their faces in public is mandatory, women can show their faces to other women and to close family members. (Others hold that they can actually show their faces to other men, but not show them in public mixed situations.) Neither men nor women are allowed to show their genitals to anyone except their spouses, or to medical staff when necessary.

The comparison with ISIS etc is also ridiculous. The Taliban, as is well-known, enforced the Afghan burqa, which bears no resemblance to the niqab and which is almost unknown among Muslim women anywhere beyond Afghanistan and neighbouring parts of Pakistan. Boko Haram kidnap girls and kill boys; ISIS murder peaceful people so as to provoke a war. The vast majority of women who wear the niqab in the UK and elsewhere are in no way connected to any of these groups. In fact, not all the jihadist preachers who have been active in the UK have said that niqab is compulsory, while some who opposed al-Qa’ida and related violence have said it is. Women in many countries where niqab is normal go to school and college, work, run businesses, drive and vote (with the obvious exception of Saudi Arabia).

As for the concern for deaf students or teachers in the college, it is not known whether there are any deaf people in her classes and if there are, it is possible that she may agree to take it off if they cannot communicate with her any other way. (The same was the reason why Jack Straw asked a woman to take her niqab off during a constituency surgery, but this detail got lost in the controversy which led to an explosion of hostility against women who wear the niqab; it has since become quite rare outside a couple of ‘safe’ Muslim areas such as Whitechapel. I have not seen one in Kingston for years; it was common among Muslim students when I briefly studied there in the early 2000s.) It is a red herring which has been raised as an excuse, and I have not heard of campaigners for deaf people’s rights, or disability campaigners in general, make any issue of this. If you are not deaf, you can still hear what she is saying — you just have to listen. It is disappointing that a newspaper which is aimed at educated and intelligent people, with a cover price to match, prints ill-informed and prejudiced drivel like this and silences the people affected. Women should not be paying the price for acts of terrorism perpetrated by a minority of male Muslim extremists; the niqab has never been proven to be a factor in any terrorist incident here.

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Man, 21, charged over entering Islamic school armed with knife

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2014 - 01:05

Police say accused went to Campbelltown police station on Saturday morning and was arrested

A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged after allegedly walking into an Islamic school armed with a knife in Sydneys south-west.

The man allegedly entered Al-Faisal College in Minto just after 2pm on Thursday, asked if it was a Muslim school and spoke to a female teacher before leaving.

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Muslim leaders fear anti-Islam violence could escalate to Cronulla-style riot

Loon Watch - 27 September, 2014 - 00:17

Australia-anti-Muslim-backlash

via. IslamophobiaWatch

Mounting incidents of anti-Muslim violence in Sydney will ignite a Cronulla-style riot if authorities don’t step in to quell tensions, Muslim leaders have warned. Community members have begun keeping logs of Islamophobic incidents and say some people are resorting to vigilante-style justice in the wake of counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and the fatal shooting of a terror suspect in Melbourne.

On Friday, police released CCTV footage of a man who they believe stormed into an Islamic school in Sydney’s south-west and threatened children with a knife the length of his forearm. Parents at Al-Faisal College in Minto said police swarmed to the school on Thursday afternoon after the man walked in, waving the knife around and asking if it was a Muslim school.

The incident came as police dropped their investigation into a separate assault claim by an Australian Defence Force member. The 41-year-old naval officer claimed on Thursday he had been assaulted by two Middle Eastern men outside his Bella Vista home at 6.30am but police deemed the report to be false. Defence force chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin issued an apology for the incident, particularly to the Middle Eastern community, for “any angst this has caused”.

Mariam Veiszadeh, who has launched Islamophobia Register Australia, said there had been a “surge in Islamophobic incidents” in Sydney. She said she has been urging police to act on the incidents before one erupts into large-scale violence. Community activist Rebecca Kay has also been keeping a log of violence such as cars being vandalised and people being abused in the street.

Ahmed Kilani, editor of the Muslim Village website, said community leaders met with state and federal police on Wednesday to warn them the atmosphere in Sydney was reaching boiling point. He said many people in the Muslim community were adopting a vigilante-style response. “The temperature is rising very quickly,” Mr Kilani said. “The fear is that something could very easily ignite an event like the Cronulla riots.”

Tensions are also rising in other states following counter-terrorism raids in Brisbane and the shooting of 18-year-old Numan Haider by police in Melbourne. In Brisbane, a man was charged on Friday after telling a Muslim woman to “go back to your country” and an Islamic centre was allegedly sprayed with menacing graffiti.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 2014

See also “Refugees threatened at Syd soccer training”, The Australian, 26 September 2014

And “Anti-Islamic teens threaten to behead Gold Coast man they mistook for a Muslim”, myGC, 26 September 2014

Brisbane mosque graffiti (2)

Brighton mosque laments deaths of two teenagers turned jihadis in Syria

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 20:43
Ibrahim Kamara, 19, died just months after Abdullah Deghayes, casting an unwelcome spotlight on the local Muslim community

Mothers in colourful headscarves shoo their children inside al-Medinah mosque as the call to prayer flows from a window above, while men enter via an adjacent entrance.

Worshippers at the mosque, on a hill overlooking the sea in Brighton, are shocked and saddened by the death of Ibrahim Kamara, a regular here until a few months ago.

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Protection From All Evil

Muslim Matters - 26 September, 2014 - 20:22

As-salaamu alaykum,

One of my great teachers, Shaykh Waleed Basyouni (may Allah protect him) and his friend were spending some time reading Qur'an over someone who was possessed with jinn. Subsequently, by the will of Allah, the brother who was possessed had been cured. As the three of them were walking, Shaykh Waleed suddenly said that he heard a lash, as if someone was struck with a whip, and the brother who had been possessed jumped a few steps forward. Shaykh Waleed immediately rushed to the brother and uncovered his back. He found a mark on his back due to the hit that he heard. (Note that the brother had been with the Shaykh for at least the last 24 hours, which allowed Shaykh Waleed to confirm that this mark was due to the hit he just heard.)

The Shaykh had recognized how angry the jinn was after the man was freed from them and later on as the brother was possessed once again and Shaykh Waleed continued to recite Qur'an on the brother, he spoke to the jinn and asked if it was them who had struck the brother on his back. The jinn said yes and when the Shaykh asked why, the jinn responded with a strange voice stating that he hated the man and was so angry. The Shaykh asked the jinn why he did not hit him and his friend Adel as they had been nearby. The jinn replied that he had wished to do the same to them but was unable to because the Shoyoukh had said a du'a for protection during the day, which made the jinn unable to reach or harm them.

Subhana Allah. What was the du'a?

I was blessed to see Shaykh Waleed Basyouni after and he told me the du'a'a that he had read and that helped protect him by the will of Allah. This is what he said –

Rasoola Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to recite several du'a'as and supplications, whereby we can gain the protection of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala from all evil. He said in this authentic hadith in Saheeh ibn Majah:

“There is no person who says, in the morning and evening of every day: (بِسْمِ اللَّهِ) In the name of Allah (الَّذِي لاَ يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَىْءٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاءِ) with Whose Name nothing on earth or in heaven harms (وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ) and He is the All-Seeing the All-Knowing (ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ) 3 times (فَيَضُرَّهُ شَىْءٌ) and is then harmed by anything.”

Allahu akbar!

Remember to recite this 3 times in the morning and 3 times in the evening for protection from all evil.

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لاَ يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَىْءٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

Bismillaahil-lathi la yaDorro ma'asmehe shay'on feel-ArDe wala fees-samaa' wa who-wa As-samee'o Al-Aleem.

Do your best to share this with your friends and family. May Allah bless you and protect you.

Your Brother Majed Mahmoud

The post Protection From All Evil appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Education can inoculate young Muslims against radicalism | Giles Fraser

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 19:10
Making war is not the best way to respond to Islamic State

Remember mission accomplished? President George Bush, standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln proudly declaring victory in Iraq. That was more than 11 years ago and since then not a single day has passed without blood having been shed in that region. Remember the march against the Iraq war in London? A million people out with banners, desperately trying to persuade Tony Blair that war was a bad idea. This week, a few dozen assembled outside Downing Street to protest at the proposition that yet more bombing is the answer to Iraqs problems. I am reminded of Albert Einsteins famous definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The difference this time is that even the public is on board. And the theatre has extended to Syria too.

I suppose we think it is different now because its just air strikes we are going in for. But air strikes have limited operational effectiveness. Lots of satisfying sounding noise and power, yes. Like a King Kong roar. But the Islamic State fighters know that all they have to do is blend into the civilian population. And when the bombs rain down on the innocent as well as the guilty, a new generation of jihadi warriors is born. Last time it was al-Qaida, now it is Islamic State and next time they will be called something else. The bombs might help change the nomenclature but they do little to shift the underlying reality.

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The niqab is not just a fashion statement | @guardianletters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 19:06

Gaby Hinsliff would have us believe that she is tolerant of cultural fashion choices (Stop this bullying over what we can and cannot wear, 26 September). However, she wilfully ignores what it means to cover schoolgirls faces: the face-veil is no more just a scrap of fabric than a gag is, it is an iconic manifestation of an ideology which holds that womens faces are analogous to their genitals as a source of shame which must be hidden from all men other than their husbands.

If it is a fashion choice, it is that of Isis, the Taliban, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, who along with our Saudi allies brutally enforce this particular deletion of women from public life. Tolerating misogyny is one thing, but it is depressing that a certain patronising mindset seems to cover its own liberal face so it cannot see and challenge it.
Natalie Seeve
Liverpool

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Muslims urged to report Islamophobic attacks to police amid growing tension

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 09:53

Victoria police chief says verbal abuse and physical threats on the rise following the death of Abdul Numan Haider

Victoria police and Islamic leaders have urged Muslims to come forward with details of Islamophobic attacks, amid growing tension in the community and tightening security around events such as Saturdays AFL grand final.

Ken Lay, Victorias police chief commissioner, said that while police had not seen a noticeable rise in recorded attacks against Muslims, there had been an increase in anecdotal accounts of verbal abuse and physical threats.

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Friday Links | September 26, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 26 September, 2014 - 07:00
Another week, and more news on women and ISIS. In Iraq, ISIS has publicly executed women’s rights activist Samira Salih al Nuiami, after a “court ruling” which found she was an apostate. Mariam Al Mansouria, UAE’s first female pilot, has led air strikes against ISIS in Syria. One Syrian woman has filmed footage of life under [Read More...]

Family pleads for Mohammad Asghar, Briton on blasphemy charge in Pakistan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 04:54

Lawyer says UK government has failed Asghar, 70, who has been diagnosed with severe paranoid schizophrenia

The family of a British man shot in a Pakistan prison where he is being held on blasphemy charges is appealing for his safety.

Mohammad Asghar, 70, was apparently shot and injured by a prison guard at Adiala prison in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning.

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Brisbane Muslim prayer centre vandalism: man charged over messages

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2014 - 01:33

Police charge 34-year-old Rocklea man after walls spray-painted with the words evil and die

Police have charged a 34-year-old man over the painting of abusive messages on the walls of an Islamic prayer centre in Brisbane.

On Wednesday evening residents of the Rocklea home discovered vandals had spray-painted the walls of some temporary buildings with the words evil and die, as well as Muslims are evil and have no respect for our ways, and get the fuck out of our country.

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Islamic school in Sydney's south-west targeted by man wielding knife

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 September, 2014 - 23:19

Man reportedly entered Al-Faisal college in Minto and threatened a female teacher and student with a knife

An Islamic school in Sydneys south-west was targeted by a man wielding a knife.

Police were searching for the man who reportedly entered Al-Faisal college in Minto just after 2pm on Thursday, asked if it was a Muslim school and threatened a female teacher and student with a knife.

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Armed intruder threatens staff, students at Sydney Islamic school

Loon Watch - 25 September, 2014 - 22:21

Sydney_Muslim_School Armed intruder threatens staff, students at Sydney Islamic school

(Sydney Morning Herald)

Police have swarmed an Islamic school in western Sydney after reports of an intruder threatening staff and students with a knife.

Officers were called to Al-Faisal College in Minto on Thursday afternoon amid reports that an armed man had entered school grounds and was asking if it was a Muslim school.

Police said the man entered the school on Benham Road about 2.10pm, spoke with a female staff member and left a short time later. He was last seen on Kitson Road.

A crime scene was established by police.

Primary school students hid under their desks while those from the high school were gathered in a prayer hall as the school went into lockdown, one mother said.

The mother, who did not wish to be named, said she was greeted by a swarm of police when arriving to pick up her children.

“I am still pretty much in shock,” the mother said.

“I am keeping my younger two [children] home tomorrow, one doesn’t want to go back there.”

Mariam Veiszadah, spokesperson for Islamophobia Register Australia, said she had spoken to two parents from the school and a community leader who was in contact with the head of the school.

They had reported a man running onto school grounds, asking if it was a “Muslim school” and then pulling out a knife and threatening a teacher and students.

Ms Veiszadah said she believed the man didn’t manage to get inside the classroom because the doors were locked, but he later fled into an office and threatened female staff.

Ms Veiszadah said: “We are very shocked and saddened to hear about this incident. Distressed parents of affected students arrived at the school earlier today and found it surrounded by police officers and the SWAT team.”

The man has been described as being of Pacific Islander appearance, 20 to 25 years of age, and of an obese build. He was wearing brown khaki pants and a green shirt at the time of the incident.

Also on Thursday, a member of the Australian Defence Force told police he was assaulted and threatened outside his home in Sydney’s north-west.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

White Supremacist Eric Bolling Cashin’ In On Anti-Muslim Hate

Loon Watch - 25 September, 2014 - 22:10

Eric_Bolling

It’s Fox News, but you know what, they wouldn’t get away with this absurd, anti-Muslim and hate-filled rhetoric if there wasn’t an audience for it; fact is there are millions who pump their fists in the air and shout “‘Murica!” when they watch these programs.

As always, Eric Bolling and Hoenig, for that matter nearly the entire panel are a bunch of White supremacist pieces of shit.

The niqab is no reason to deny a girl an education | Gaby Hinsliff

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 September, 2014 - 20:47
A school in Camden has barred a pupil for wearing a veil. This is not how a liberal education should work

Gotcha, as the Sun is surely thinking. Once again, Ed Miliband has been done up like a kipper by the tabloid of choice for the struggling low-earners he seeks to represent. And this time its not for going along with one of its patriotic publicity stunts as when he posed with its World Cup front page but for refusing. Asked on a crazily busy day to be photographed wearing a Help for Heroes charity wristband, he failed to do so, and was duly patriot-shamed.

Admittedly, it could have been better handled. (If youre not going to play the Suns game, fine, but tell everyone why before it does preferably while declaring undying gratitude to war veterans and making a private donation.) But it was a cheap trick, reeking of that aggressive with-us-or-against-us patriotism that roams the streets looking for anyone who doesnt fall into step. Nobody should be bullied into wearing something to prove their allegiance to a country, whether its a bracelet or a red poppy or a saltire in face paint. And nor, arguably, should they be bullied out of wearing something.

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Maldives will censor all books to protect Islamic codes

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 September, 2014 - 13:58
In a move condemned by free speech advocates, the islands government moves to curb literature and poetrys adverse effects on society

Poetry and literature will have to be approved by the Maldivian government before they are published in the country, according to new regulations which have been described as a disaster for freedom of expression by free speech campaigners.

Published earlier this month, the regulations are intended to standardise all literature publicised and published in the Maldives in accordance with laws and regulations of the Maldives and its societal etiquette, and to reduce adverse effects on society that could be caused by published literature, according to an unofficial translation by lawyer Mushfique Mohamed shown to the Guardian.

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