Swedes rally after series of arson attacks on mosques

Elham Asaad Buaras

Thousands of Swedes participated in anti-Islamophobia and anti-racism demonstrations in their country’s major cities on January 2 following three arson attacks on mosques. The crowds in Stockholm gathered outside the Royal Palace in the Old Town hold banners reading: “Don’t touch my mosque”.

Anti-Islamophbobia campaigner Yasin Ahmed said he was “surprised and thrilled” that so many people had turned out for the event.“They are not only attacks on mosques but also against Swedish democracy. I am a Swedish citizen first and I am also a Swedish Muslim seeking to protect my rights and to show solidarity with others to deal with this Islamophobia.”

There have been at least a dozen confirmed attacks on mosques in Sweden in the last year and a far larger number are believed to have gone unreported.Spokesman for Sweden’s Islamic Association (SIA), Mohammed Kharraki, said, “We want to send the message that these attacks on mosques… are a problem for all of society and not just Muslims.” “People are afraid, they fear for their safety,” added Kharraki.

“We’ve seen through history that people use violence as a way of polarising society against minorities.”
Culture and Democracy Minister, Alice Bah Kuhne, said that Sweden should still be seen as “a paradise” for immigrants from different nations despite the current tensions.

Police are searching for suspects linked to the third arson attack against a mosque in a week, which took place in Uppsala on January 1 amid growing tensions over the rise of a far right anti-immigration movement.

The mosque has since been covered in paper hearts from people pledging their support to Muslims.
“People saw a man throwing something burning at the building,” said a police spokesman, adding that the mosque in eastern Sweden did not catch fire and that the suspect had left behind “a text on the door expressing contempt for religion.” SIA posted a photo online of the main door of the mosque, which was emblazoned with the slogan “Go home Muslim shit”.

The attack in Sweden’s fourth-largest city came just three days after arson attack at a mosque in Eslöv in the south.On Christmas Day, five people were injured when a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a mosque in Eskilstuna, west of the capital Stockholm.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven led condemnation of the latest attack. “The most important thing now is that everyone distances themselves from this,” he said.
“In Sweden no one should have to be afraid when they practice their religion,” he added, saying the government would increase funding for securing places of worship.

The attacks come as debate intensifies in Sweden over immigration and the integration of asylum seekers in the country, which is expected to receive more than 100,000 asylum applications this year, breaking all previous records.

The far right Sweden Democrats – which doubled its support to 13 percent in September elections – came close to bringing down the Social Democrat-Green Government in protest over the coalition’s liberal refugee policies. The Party’s support in opinion polls has risen to around 16 percent.

However in an eleventh hour accession on December 27, the Gvernment and centre right opposition parties bartered denying the Sweden Democrats influence over major policy – including over immigration.
Kharraki said the arson attacks could be carried out by “Sweden Democrats people who are angry because they’ve been pushed aside.”

“They think Muslims are the problem,” he said, while “mainstream political parties have taken a stand against racism and Islamophobia.”

A spokesman for the Sweden Democrats said there was no reason to consider the attacks to be politically motivated. “This is not political, it’s criminal. It’s criminals doing this and it’s a police matter, not a political question,” said Henrik Vinge.

Anti-Islam protesters swarm anti-Islamophobia conference in Texas

Elham Asaad Buaras

An anti-Islamophobia conference in Dallas, Texas, US, was met with demonstrators holding American flags and signs railing against Shari’a.

Attendees of the Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate conference on January 17 were met with protesters carrying signs with slogans that called Islam the “enemy of freedom” and who told the attendees they were “not welcome” in their country.

Some of the protestors took issue with Shari’a, while others targeted the public school system for allowing the event to be held at one of its buildings in the area northeast of Dallas.
“We pay our taxes to that school, and I don’t want them here,” said one woman holding a “God Bless America” sign.

The event drew a heightened police presence and also some counter-protesters who also turned up outside, carrying their own signs with messages that read: “Jesus is not a hater.”

The event featured a panel of prominent speakers, including Georgetown University Professor John Esposito and Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid from Chicago.

It is one of many events planned by organising group, Sound Vision, which has scheduled conferences in several cities around the country as part of the “Stand with the Prophet” tour.

The group has already held events in a number of cities, including Boston and Chicago, and aims to raise money for a strategic communication center to help eliminate negative public opinion of Muslims.
“I go to Muslim countries, and I speak all over the United States,” Esposito said during his speech.
“What’s interesting to me is that this is the first time that I’ve been in a situation that I’ve come to speak and I’ve seen this level of hate.”

Pig’s head hung on Austrian mosque

Elham Asaad Buaras

A part of a pig’s head and some pork tripe were attached to the door of a Kocatepe mosque in Vienna’s 21st district on December 25.

The head of the Turkish-Islamist Union in Vienna (ATIB), Fatih Karadaş, condemned the attack saying that “this is not an attack against Muslims but the whole of humanity. We, as Muslims, will preserve our calm and collective attitude.”

Pig tripe attached to the door of Kocatepe mosque in Vienna

This is not the first incident of its type, as Austria’s Muslim community has been attacked several times this year in similar hate crimes. An Imam Hatip school in Vienna was also similarly vandalised. A pig’s head was left in front of the school’s door during Ramadan in early October.

And in August, a pig’s head was impaled on a fence at a construction site for a new Muslim school.

Muslims are forbidden from eating pork or touching pig carcasses.

The planned school has been unpopular in Austria, with Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz saying the idea “is completely the wrong approach”.

Another mosque called Eyüp Sultan, located in the town of Telfs, was repeatedly vandalised with graffiti. An elderly Muslim woman was attacked in a bank, apparently the victim of a hate crime motivated by religious intolerance. In September, a Muslim woman was attacked by another woman on a train, apparently because the former was wearing a headscarf.

In August two elderly Muslim ladies wearing headscarves were attacked in Favoritenstrasse. Police were reportedly slow to respond to this incident, and only began questioning suspects days after.

Austria’s Islamic Religious Community Association said that Muslims often experience discrimination in Austria but that “it is not well documented”.

Spokeswoman Carla Amina Baghajati said that the Association plans to start collecting data on all religiously motivated incidents. However, she said she did not believe that the police lacked sensitivity to the issue.

Islamophobic attacks in Birmingham mosque, university and shops

Elham Asaad Buaras

West Midlands Police have said they are linking two Islamophobic vandal attacks in south Birmingham. A series of Muslim-owned shops and businesses are reported to have been attacked by men armed with guns and hammers.

Islam must die graffiti daubed on University of Birmingham walls

A number of Swastikas and ‘Islam must die’ graffiti were daubed on walls at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston and a mosque in Selly Oak overnight between January 16 and January 17. Police said the graffiti has since been removed from the old university gym, in Edgbaston Park Road and the Jahalabad mosque, in Dartmouth Road.

Students have raised their concerns that religions and minority groups, particularly Islam and Judaism, are being targeted. Jewish students have expressed concern over the graffiti, with many seeing it as anti-Semitic as well as Islamophobic.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked at this Islamophobic campaign, which condemns all Muslims without justification. This is a prime example of racist propaganda, designed to stir up hatred and only serves to alienate Muslim students from the rest,” said a spokesman for the University’s Islamic Society.
The University of Birmingham has removed the graffiti.

A spokesman for the University told The Muslim News, “The University of Birmingham is a community of 150 nations situated in a vibrant multi-cultural city. While we respect the right of all individuals to exercise freedom of speech within the law, we will actively challenge discrimination of any kind and strive to strike a balance that protects these freedoms and ensures vigilance against any forms of potential extremism or discriminatory behaviour.”

In a statement to The Muslim News West Midlands Police Sergeant for Edgbaston, Pete Sandhu, said: “Mindless hate of this kind has no place in 21st century Birmingham and work is underway to find the person responsible. Evidential photographs have been taken and CCTV which may have captured the vandal is currently being reviewed.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it is monitoring unfolding developments in Birmingham where a series of Muslim-owned shops and businesses are reported to have been attacked by men armed with guns and hammers.

“Whilst detectives are not yet able to be certain of a link between the attacks, we hope that these remain isolated incidents and do not escalate to the levels seen in France, which saw a spike in anti-Muslim attacks across the country following the recent brutal murder of journalists at the French publication, Charlie Hebdo.”

In a statement to The Muslim News MCB called for “calm as the police authorities conduct their investigations, and encourage mosques and British Muslims to be vigilant, report any attacks to the police and take the necessary steps to protect your institutions. In the meantime it is important for all communities to come together in solidarity, support and vigilance.”

Turkey’s president tells Europe to tackle growing Islamophobia

Elham Asaad Buaras

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on January 6, warned the EU it should tackle “Islamophobia” amid rising anti-Muslim protests. Erdogan said Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe, complaining that racist organisations won sympathy in some Western societies with “each passing day”.

“The Islamophobia, which we constantly draw attention to and warn of, represents a serious threat in Europe. If the issue is not dealt with seriously today, and if populism takes European politicians captive, the EU and European values will come into question,” he said.

His comments came a day after controversial German group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident or PEGIDA rallied 18,000 people in Dresden for a demonstration against “Islamisation” of Europe and “criminal asylum seekers.”

Many people ignored a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel to snub such street protests.
PEGIDA movement began with just a few hundred in October.

Extreme right-wing parties have grown in popularity across Europe in the past decade, surfing on anti-immigrant sentiments amid widespread discontent over the dismal economic situation.

Thousands also joined counter-demonstrations in several cities against PEGIDA. Ten thousand people joined a Muslim community rally against Islamophobia in Berlin where Merkel said her Government would do everything in its power to fight intolerance amid a growing anti-Islamic movement in the country. Merkel used the occasion to deliver her strongest condemnation yet of PEGIDA.

“What we need to do now is to use all the means at our disposal…to combat intolerance and violence,” Merkel said.

“To exclude groups of people because of their faith, this isn’t worthy of the free state in which we live. It isn’t compatible with our essential values. And it’s humanly reprehensible. Xenophobia, racism, extremism have no place here,” she added.

Bahray, a 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim man, was killed in a knife attack in the same day in the eastern German city of Dresden. Saxony’s Left Party Deputy Juliane Nagel pointed that the potential Islamophobic background of the murder should be taken into consideration.

Pork or nothing, French mayor tells Muslim schoolchildren

Elham Asaad Buaras

A mayor in a north-western town in France has introduced a “pork or nothing” code at school, even for 27 students who will get no meat substitute.

The rule applied from January 1 in the town of Sargé-lès-Le Mans, and may apply to Jewish pupils as well – though there aren’t any in this particular school.

Marcel Mortreau bases his decision on the “principle of Republican neutrality.”
“The mayor is not required to provide meals that respond to religious requirements. This is the principle of secularism,” said Mortreau.

His rules were supported by the Town Hall on the grounds that the food providers face extra work if they have to deliver meat substitutes. The initiative has been supported by some public school officials.
“We didn’t open school canteens for partisan, religious, philosophical, cultural reasons,” said Eric Le Moal, Director of a public school in Lezignan-Corbieres in the Aude, which also passed the one-dish policy last year.

Muslim parents and pupils expressed their fury at the mayor’s decision, especially due to the fact that a second meal doesn’t cost any extra.

“Eating two starters is not the same as eating a meat dish. Meat is something the body needs to work and to think. I need meat, it’s important,” a pupil, Tarik, told Europe1 radio.

Tarik’s mother Yasmine called the new policy “discrimination” and voiced her anger that she has to tell “a small child that “you will eat less today because there’s pork on the menu.”

“You hear comments like, ‘if you don’t like it, take your children home.’ It hurts,” she added.
The parents and children were supported by some high officials including the Mayor of Paris Jean Tiberi who said that the move aims to “stigmatize Muslims.”

German mosque vandalised with swastikas

Elham Asaad Buaras

A mosque under construction in Dormagen, Germany, was spray painted with swastikas and Islamophobia graffiti. The act of vandalism comes as anti-Islamic demonstrations continue to grow across Germany.

The perpetrators are reported to have entered the building site late December 20. As well as the symbol associated to Nazis, the vandals also wrote slurs such as “off with you to the concentration camp!”

The attack on the mosque has coincided with the rise of the controversial “anti-Islamisation” PEGIDA movement in Germany. The group has been holding a series of demonstrations in cities throughout the country in December.

Head of Neuss district police, Hans-Jürgen Petrauschke, said he was horrified by the racially motivated crime. There is “no place for the spread of xenophobia or the glorification of the Nazi past in the Rhein-Kreis Neuss area,” he told reporters.

State security from Düsseldorf have begun an investigation into the crime and have also announced an reward of €1,500 for information leading to the arrest of the vandals.

Generally, anti-Islamic sentiment has become far more vocal in Germany in recent weeks, especially in the eastern German city of Dresden. PEGIDA, which loosely translates as “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” held their largest demonstration to date, with over 18,000 people taking to the streets in protest.

Some observers fear that the protests are a sign that Islamophobia is becoming increasingly socially acceptable in the country. A number of violent incidents, including an arson attack on a hostel for immigrants in Bavaria, have raised fears about the far-right in the country.

Muslim inmate forced to attend church service

Aishah Ali

A Muslim woman is suing an Ohio jail for forcing her to attend a Christian church service. Sakeena Majeed alleges that the corrections officers ordered her to attend the services every Friday or face solitary confinement.
She filed a lawsuit on December 18 and claims that other officers “openly chastised and mocked” her beliefs despite contending that she is a practising Muslim. The lawsuit claims that Majeed suffered emotional distress and humiliation.”

The 24-year old was sentenced for 60 days in Cuyahoga County Corrections Centre in April 2014 after having an altercation with a police officer in Cleveland, US. She was one of roughly 50 inmates who were housed in “trustee pods” according to the suit. This allowed them to travel freely through certain particular sections of the jail.

Majeed’s Attorney, Matthew Besser, told Los Angeles Times: “At this point, it’s too early to know exactly how widespread the practice is, and has been, and whether it had occurred in other portions of the jail.”

“The only evidence I have here is that it occurred in the trustee pod. Our understanding is all the inmates in the pod were forced to go, some were willing and happy to go, and others less so.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It states that the jail violated her constitutional rights and other inmates in the low-security are witnesses. It alleges that defendants broke a federal law that prohibits jails and prisons from placing a burden on inmates’ ability to worship as they please.

Attorney Besser said other inmates, Christians and non-Christians alike were forced to attend the services too, “The Government can’t tell people which god to pray to, or whether to pray at all.”
Sakeena Majeed was released from the jail in June 2014.

Fox News blunder sparks viral backlash

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Fox News terrorism ‘expert’ who claimed that Birmingham is “totally Muslim” and closed to non-Muslims triggered a viral reaction with many people taking to social media to ridicule his dazzling error.

The twitter hashtag #foxnewsfacts started trending nationwide with users posting photos of Mecca Bingo, the Queen wearing a headscarf and bearded football manager Roy Keane to mock the bizarre statement made by Steve Emerson on the right-wing US network.


The storm started when Emerson, who regularly briefs the US Government and Congress on terrorism, was participating in a Fox News discussion on January 11 in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris. “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones,” he told millions of viewers. “There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” “You know what it sounds like to me, Steve?” said the show’s concerned host, Jeanine Pirro. “It sounds like a caliphate.”

Birmingham is home to just over a million people, of which roughly 46 per cent identify as Christian and just over 20 per cent identify as Muslim, according to the 2011 census. Emerson, author of six books and a documentary on ‘Jihad in America’, has been forced to issue a groveling apology to Brummies and has pledged a donation to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Emerson compounded the incident when three days after the initial gaffe he compared his ordeal to waterboarding. Appearing on Sky News to apologise for what he called his “sloppy research”, Emerson said, “Hearing it over when you played it was like waterboarding, I guess,” he said.

The apology did not stop Prime Minister, David Cameron, of branding Emerson “a complete idiot”, adding he choked on his porridge when he first heard the gaffe, “I thought it must be April Fool’s Day”.

Journalist Richard Adams tweeted a photograph of Roy Keane, former assistant manager of Aston Villa who now sparks a large beard, writing: “Dangerous bearded fanatics have a history of running Birmingham’s sporting institutions.” Cricket writer James Marsh posted a picture of bearded England star Moeen Ali with the caption: “Terrifying photo of how a typical Muslim from Birmingham guards the city gates against infidels.”

One tweeter sent out a photo of a Meccano box, adding: “British toy manufacturer threatened with fatwa after writing Mecca-no on construction kit boxes.” Mark Ferguson wrote: “The Vicar of Dibley was reproduced for transmission in Birmingham as The Imam of Dudley.” And BBC DJ Nihal joked: “Ozzy Osborne was part of a Muslim sleeper cell known as Black Shaheed. Ozzy short for Osman.”

Professional comedians also got in on the trend. Al Murray tweeted: “Ming the Merciless is named after the centre of Birmingham.” Politician Tom Copley weighed in with a pun, writing: “Birmingham has a chain of fast food restaurants called Burqa King.”

Another joker, Wes White, started a petition on Change.org with the title “Let non-Muslims back in to the city of Birmingham.” He wrote: “Birmingham had loads of non-Muslims in the last time I was there, so this is a real shock. We call upon the city of Birmingham and other non-specified British cities to once again allow non-Muslims to roam their streets.”

Most residents of the city have stood up for their home, praising its diversity and denying that there are significant problems between the different races living there.

Fox News apologized four times on January 17.

Islamophobic slur painted on house in Belfast

Elham Asaad Buaas

A Belfast Muslim was left distressed when his home was daubed with sick Islamophobic graffiti on January 16.

Adil Sadar and his brother Asim say they were left badly shaken by the slur which insulted Allah, but added they know it’s not indicative of their community in Donegore Gardens.

Adil said he and his brother keep to themselves and he believed the attackers were reacting to recent terrorist attacks around the world which have included the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Asim said his car windows had been smashed in the past.

“It should not be happening, it is very unpleasant,” he said. “I don’t know who is responsible but there are often groups of young people hanging around drinking and doing drugs. I hope the police find out who did this.

“I will stay here for now but if things like this continue to happen and if I feel uncomfortable then I will think about moving.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor for the area Bill Manwarring said he suspected the attack was a result of recent events in Paris and further afield.

“This sort of incident is shocking. Intolerance like this leads to violence and aggression. There is no justification for such hatred. It frustrates me that bigots like this can create such a fear-factor in communities,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s Matt Garrett said the attack was “despicable and cowardly”, adding that those responsible should “hang their heads in shame”.

In June Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson was forced to make a public apology over controversial remarks about Islam.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader sparked a storm of criticism after publicly backing the evangelical protestant preacher, Pastor James McConnell, who on May 18 attacked Islam as a “doctrine spawned in hell” and said he did not trust Muslims.

On May 25, Robinson said he too would not trust Muslims for spiritual guidance but would trust them to “go down the shops”.

UK Muslims face worst job discrimination

Elham Asaad Buaras

Comprehensive research into figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found Muslims are facing the worst employment discrimination of any group in the UK Labour market.

Using data from the ONS’ Labour Force Survey of more than 500,000 people the research published in the Social Science Journal study found that Muslims in the UK had the lowest chance of employment. Race made little difference to the figures.

The report found Muslims were the most disadvantaged in terms of employment prospects out of 14 ethno-religious groupings in the UK and that the “penalties” for being Muslim deteriorated when applying for professional jobs.

Researchers Dr Nabil Khattab and Professor Ron Johnston found Muslim men were up to 76 per cent less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. And Muslim women were up to 65 per cent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts.

Dr Khattab, of Bristol University, said the situation was “likely to stem from placing Muslims collectively at the lowest stratum within the country’s racial or ethno-cultural system due to growing Islamophobia and hostility against them.

“They are perceived as disloyal and as a threat rather than just as a disadvantaged minority,” he added. “Within this climate, many employers will be discouraged from employing qualified Muslims, especially if there are others from their own groups or others from less threatening groups who can fill these jobs.”

For women, Muslim Pakistanis and a “Muslim other” group were 65 percent less likely to have a job, with Muslim Indians 55 percent, Muslim Bangladeshis 51 percent and white Muslims 43 percent less likely. For men, the “Muslim other” group was 76 percent less likely to be in work, followed by Muslim Bangladeshis (66%), white Muslims (64%), Muslim Pakistanis (59%) and Muslim Indians (37%).

White British men and women of no religion were, respectively, 20 and 25 percent less likely to have a job than Christians. Black Christians with Caribbean origins were 54 percent and 48 per cent less likely.

The only ethno-religious group with better work prospects than white British Christians were British Jews, with women and men 29 and 15 percent more likely to be employed.

Of those in work, the researchers found only 23 percent and 27 percent of Muslim Bangladeshis and Muslim Pakistanis, respectively, had a salaried job. White British Jews had the highest rates, with 64 percent in salaried jobs, followed by Hindu Indians and white Christian Irish on 53 and 51 percent respectively. White British Christians, white British of no religion and black Christian Africans were all above 40 percent.

Dr Khattab added: “The main components of this discrimination are skin colour and culture or religion. But colour is dynamic, which means white colour can be valued in one case, but devalued when associated with Muslims. Equally, having a dark skin colour – Hindu Indians, for example – is not always associated with any significant penalty.”

The latest research is supported by other investigations into Muslim discrimination in the market place.

A 2004 research by the BBC found that the white job candidates – John Andrews and Jenny Hughes – were successful in getting interviews 23 percent of the time while for Muslim applicants with the names Fatima Khan and Nasser Hanif, the success rate was just 9 percent.

In France, a Christian citizen is two-and-a-half times more likely to get called for a job interview than an equally qualified Muslim candidate, according to a 2010 research by political science professor David Laitin.

Laitin used the faux resumes to apply for 300 advertised job openings, making Khadija and Aurélie compete for one set of positions and Marie and Aurélie compete for another. For every 38 call backs received by Khadija, Marie got 100 call backs – two-and-a-half times more than Khadija.

UKIP member mistakes Westminster Cathedral for mosque

Elham Buaras

UKIP became the butt of online jokes after a member running one of its regional twitter accounts mistook Westminster Cathedral for a mosque earlier last month.

The embarrassing twitter exchange between the BBC and the UKIP member prompted the party to announce that its member is no longer on twitter.

A Tweet by UKIP’s South Thanet Branch was ridiculed online

UKIP’s South Thanet Branch replied to a tweet from the BBC’s Daily Politics show on November 25, deriding the shows location the tweet read; “Perfect place to hold a vote in front of a mosque in London. The BBC’s random means selective.”

In reply BBC reporter Giles Dilnot tweeted: “You are SO wrong you might be embarrassed by that.”

However, UKIP South Thanet demanded the location of the building, at which Dilnot pointed out it was being held in the most famous Cathedral Britain, Westminster Cathedral.

The mistake has prompted a flurry of activity on twitter, with the #NotAMosque and #ThingsThatAreNotMosques trending nationwide to point out other things that are not mosques, including Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a turnip, the Teletubbies, a Moose and a Mosquito.

UKIP’s South Thanet Branch Chair Martyn Heale said: “The twitter account was run by a long-standing member of the branch but someone else is now running it. That member is no longer on twitter. It may have caused a bit of offence to somebody somewhere but people make mistakes and the person responsible will probably apologise.”

Irresponsible comments on grooming is fuelling Islamophobia

Elham Asaad Buaras

A coalition of Muslim organisations, activists and professionals from Rochdale and the surrounding area come together on November 19 to raise awareness about the rise of Islamophobia following the town’s grooming scandal.

In a press conference which included members of Manchester Muslim Forum, Project Madinah, Rochdale Association of Private Hire Drivers and Rochdale Islamic Society, the coalition said the community is facing “unprecedented and unacceptable” rise in racism and Islamophobia in Rochdale following the conviction and subsequent report into the ‘Rochdale sex trafficking gang’.

In 2012, eight Britons of Pakistani descent and one Afghan were found guilty of exploiting girls, who were all white, in sexual activities in Rochdale and Derby in return for drugs and alcohol. The gang lured girls with gifts, alcohol and drugs before passing them around to have sex ‘with several men a day, several times a week’ in flats, houses, cars, taxis and kebab shops.

Inflammatory comments by politicians and the media on child grooming has led to the rise in Islamophobic attacks such as the one on father-of-five Javad Iqbal, say Rochale’s Muslim community

The group say disproportionate focus on the ethnicity and religion of non-white sex offenders has led to the stigmatisation of the Muslim community and is fuelling Islamophobia.

The Rochdale coalition referred to the double standards apparent in the media coverage of grooming with ethnicity and religion being identified as causal factors in the case of Asian Muslim criminals but not in regard to white offenders such as Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith.

Many Asian drivers say they have been “found guilty by association” and Rochdale Association of Private Hire Drivers (RAPHD) and Rochdale Islamic Society say there have been cases of drivers being harassed by the public.

RAPHD point to an incident on October 26 when a taxi driver was left scarred for life following an unprovoked stabbing. Father-of-five Javad Iqbal needed six stitches after the Islamophobic attack. He was assaulted after dropping off a punter in the town just before 2am. The 48-year old from Deeplish, Rochdale, had to go to hospital and his Toyota Avensis was damaged during the incident. It was the second stabbing of an Asian Muslim taxi driver in the borough in October.

Rochdale Muslim Community Press Conference on Islamophobia

And earlier this year the boss of a minicab company was forced to reverse a policy to offer white drivers on request following a protest by Asian Muslim drivers who complained they were ‘treated like paedophiles’.

In a joint statement the group said it not only held far-right groups but local and national politicians as well the media responsible for normalising Islamophobia and racism in the aftermath of report.

They cited a Parliamentary debate on child sexual exploitation when Conservative MP for Keighley, Kris Hopkins, made reference to “gangs of Muslim men” involved in “raping white kids” and suggested that “sexist behaviour by Muslim men towards women” was to blame.

“Irresponsible comments from senior local and national politicians are aiding the negative portrayal of the Muslim community. Time and time again some politicians and the media have equated issues such as grooming and the Muslim community as one and the same. It is only natural that this type of misinformation has meant that casual Islamophobia towards Muslims has now become an expectable norm,” said the group.

The group pointed to statements by the Crown Prosecution Service’s lead on child sexual abuse, Nazir Afzal, assertion that the ethnicity of the perpetrators varies depending on location.

Afzal, who decided to bring the case to trial, pointed to the fact that “the vast majority of offenders are British white male,” he said, setting the number at somewhere between 80 and 90%. “We have come across cases all over the country and the ethnicity of the perpetrators varies depending on where you are…It is not the abusers’ race that defines them. It is their attitude to women that defines them.”

He also noted the amount of media attention devoted to child sex abuse cases is inconsistent. “A few weeks after the Rochdale case, we dealt with a case of 10 white men in North Yorkshire who had been abusing young girls, and they were all convicted and they got long sentences. It didn’t get the level of coverage,” he said.

Afzal said that gender, not race, was the key issue: “There is no community where women and girls are not vulnerable to sexual attack and that’s a fact.”

Rochadale’s Muslim community also strongly refuted suggestion found in the report, and reiterated by Home Secretary, Theresa May, on September 2, that a culture of ‘political correctness’ had contributed to the authorities’ decision to turn a blind eye to the abuse.

Local businessman and activist Kasim Javed told The Muslim News,“This unsubstantiated conclusion implies that grooming is a hidden problem within the Muslim community than it is in the wider society and is exactly the type of discourse that is reinforcing the stigmatisation we are challenging.”

He added; “Political correctness didn’t stop irresponsible speech by the politicians or media, why would it impede law enforcement? This is a mundane excuse to deflect criticism away from local authorities and throw it back on to the Muslim community as though we are to blame for the inaction of authorities in addressing the social ills of Britain. ‘Political correctness’ hasn’t deterred any hate speech against Muslims up to now.”

MP calls for the cleansing Netherlands of Islam

Freedom Party MP, Machiel de Graaf, asked all mosques in the Netherlands to be shut down

Elham Asaad Buaras

A member of Dutch anti-immigration Party has called for the Netherlands to be “clean” of Islam, during a Parliament debate on integration.

Freedom Party MP, Machiel de Graaf, asked all mosques in the country to be shut down. “We want to clean Netherlands of Islam,” he said.

De Graaf also accused the Muslim communities of wiping out Dutch society by giving more birth. His remarks drew harsh criticism from members of social democratic parties attending the debate.

While Labour Party Deputy, Roos Vermeij, urged the right-winger to retract his words, Democrats 66 Deputy, Sten van Weijenberg, stressed his statements were dangerous.

De Graaf’s party, which is led by right-wing politician Geert Wilders, has been a vocal critic of Muslims and immigrants living in the country, but his words mark the first time that the request for the complete closure of mosques has been expressed.

The debate also came as Turkey warned Dutch authorities about aggressive and racist policies toward the Turkish community living there.

Earlier this month, two lawmakers of Turkish descent from the Labour Party were expelled after refusing to support their party’s critical remarks about a number of Turkish organisations that were accused of being “too focused on promoting Turkish and Islamic identity.”

Former UKIP leader criticised for linking Qur’an to Rigby murder

Former UKIP leader, Lord Malcolm Pearson Muslims to “address the violence” in the Qur’an

Elham Asaad Buaras

Former UKIP leader, Lord Malcolm Pearson, is to be reported to the Speaker of the House of Lords by a Muslim MP after he called on Muslims to “address the violence” in the Qur’an following the publication of the report on the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

UKIP defended Pearson who led the anti-immigration party from 2009 to 2010 but Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Pearson’s remarks showed that UKIP is a “party of Islamophobes”.

Speaking about the findings of the report by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee on November 25, Pearson argued that the Prime Minister’s insistence that Rigby’s murder was a betrayal of Islam was wrong.

The Tory defector told peers: “Rigby’s murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur’an to justify their atrocity Therefore, is the Prime Minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam?” Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Qur’an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?”

Birmingham Perry Barr MP Mahmood said Pearson’s speech lifts the: “veil of Farage when he tries to say he believes in all the communities and would work together with people as a serious party. This is not a serious party. This is a party, in this instance, of Islamophobes and people who just generally can’t understand and tolerate the different heritages and cultures that we have in the UK.

“Virtually everybody has condemned – and I, again, for the record condemn – the atrocious attack on Lee Rigby. Obviously he hasn’t read the Qur’an. Islam is about submission to the Almighty. It is not about war against anybody else.”

Mahmood vowed to make a complaint formally to the Lords Speaker. While Labour MP for Bolton South East, Yasmin Qureshi, said: “These are lies. Trying to say this comes from some text in the Qur’an or there is some justification in the religion – it isn’t there. To suggest that Muslims should be apologising and somehow having to take responsibility for the actions of a handful of people is absolutely diabolical. This is nonsensical rubbish.”

A UKIP spokesman defended Pearson insisting he was: “Calling on Islamic scholars to treat the Qur’an as Christian scholars treat the Bible – to use it as a subject for debate and discourse around the core message. He is talking about how Islamic scholars are constrained by the comprehension that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God unencumbered by human frailty, unlike the Bible. In contrast the apostles are human and like all human beings are prone to error.”

This is not the first time Pearson made controversial comments about Islam, last year he said he feared “the dark side is moving strongly within Islam.”

He spoke of a growing Muslim communities re set against integration and “thousands of home-grown potential terrorists; we see Sharia law running de facto in our land; and we see a birth rate several times higher than ours, to which our democracy is already exposed.”

Rightwing media attack Affleck for defending Islam

Elham Asaad Buaras

America’s right-wing slammed Hollywood A-lister Ben Affleck for his defence of Islam on a US talk show. Affleck accused TV host Bill Maher of and “racist” depictions of the religion during a televised debate.

Appearing on HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher, the Oscar-winning actor and director Affleck reacted furiously to claims by Maher that Islam manifested as “the only religion that acts like the mafia” and which would “f@#king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book”.

Atheist author and philosopher Sam Harris also angered Affleck after suggesting: “We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. It’s intellectually ridiculous.”


Maher backed up the author, telling Affleck that he was wrong to state that fundamentalist beliefs were only held by “a few bad apples”.

Affleck responded: “Hold on – are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam? It’s gross and racist. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, you shifty Jew!’ Your argument is, ‘You know, black people, they shoot each other.’”

He added: “How about more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punch women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you’re saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.”

The actor’s comments won him praise on Twitter, but conservative US radio and TV outlets have since made Affleck a target.

Rich Lowry, Editor of the conservative National Review magazine, laid into the actor for an alleged refusal to accept “frank truths about the Muslim world” in an article published on October 7.

“He kept on insisting it is just a few bad apples who think this way,” wrote Lowry. “At one point, he tried to wave Maher and Harris off with a condemnation of the Iraq war, positing an implicit moral equivalence between an overly idealistic war of liberation and the stoning of apostates.”

On Fox News, guest Dr Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy referred to the actor as “Imam Ben Affleck”.

On the Fox & Friends show on October 7 Jasser said Affleck was “defending the theocrats, the status quo.”

While America’s Newsroom contributor David Webb accused Affleck of living in a “unicorn-like world” and suggested Islam was “an intolerable religion”.
Meanwhile, presenter Greg Gutfield of the Fox show The Five described Affleck as a “Caliphate crusader”.

On October 6 regular Fox guest Laura Ingraham asked what it might take for liberals such as Affleck to “wake up” to Isis atrocities in Iraq and Syria.

Four men jailed for throwing a pig’s head into mosque

Andrew Warner, Travis Crabtree, Thomas Ashton and Steven White

Elham Asaad Buaras

Four men were jailed on November 17 for throwing a pig’s head into Blackpool Central Mosque just two days after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

Preston Crown Court was told Thomas Ashton, 21, Andrew Warner, 31, Travis Crabtree, 25, and Steven White, 28, dumped a carrier bag containing the pig’s head in the car park of Blackpool Central Mosque in Lancashire. Ashton was given ten months prison, Warner seven months, Crabtree 14 months and White was given eight months.

The men were imprisoned despite a plea of clemency from the Mosque’s Imam who called on the judge in the case not to jail the four men who
admitted religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Ashfaq Patel said: “I don’t think they should be put behind bars.”

Clare Thomas, prosecuting, said a volunteer discovered the pig’s head in a bag outside the mosque, after receiving a Facebook message that an unpleasant package had been sent there. She said: “Parents and children had started to arrive at the mosque. Some of them saw the head and felt offended and angry.”

Investigating police found taunting messages on White’s Facebook, which read: “They will be fuming.”

Judge Knowles said: “People are and must be free to worship as they please and without this kind of foul attack on them and that which they hold sacred. Public order must be preserved. What you four did must be denounced”.

Barrister for the four men denied their clients were racists, saying it was ‘a prank that went horribly wrong.’

Welsh councillor denies using Islamophobic word

Elham Asaad Buaras

A councillor in Wales has denied his use of the term “muzzy” on his Facebook was an Islamophobic slur. Mike Harris, an independent Torfaen councilor, posted “Once a Muzzy!” alongside an article on Hamas reportedly executing informers.

Anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate posted his remark on their blog on August 26.
The post provoked more than 70 angry comments on the group’s Facebook page.
One reader branded his comments “unbelievable” and “unacceptable”, while another accused him of being “racist”.

The Muslim Council of Wales, called on Harris and all “councillors to refrain from using such inflammatory and divisive language in the future.”


Cllr Mike Harris used the term “muzzy” in a post on Facebook – but he denies the comment was an anti-Muslim slur

Harris has denies that his post was intended as a racist slur but that he was using the word in its proper meaning as set out in the dictionary, “Unable to think clearly; confused”.

While referring to the picture accompanying the article, which shows the executioners carrying guns, he said: “They are executing people so they must be confused and not able to think clearly or muzzy as it says in the dictionary.”

A council spokesman confirmed that the council has been contacted by members of the public regarding the post and have referred the public to the Public Service Ombudsman.

He explained that individual councillors are responsible for their postings on social media and are subject to a Code of Conduct, some aspects of which apply to a councillor even when he/she is not acting on council business.

He added: “Complaints that a councillor may have breached the Code should be made to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman will decide whether or not to investigate.”

The Ombudsman confirmed that it has not received a complaint on the issue.

In 2012, the public services ombudsman’s office received complaints after Harris wrote on Facebook that he would rush an act through Parliament to “reclassify all immigrants as being illegal immigrants.”

The public services ombudsman concluded there was no evidence of a breach of the code of conduct.

McDonald’s manager arrested after launching racist tirade at Somali customers

Elham Asaad Buaras

A West African McDonald’s manager was arrested over a racist tirade against Somali customers. The victims say he told them: “All you fu@#ing Somalians are the same.” Yasin Farah, 27, and his friends went to the restaurant in south east London, for breakfast at 5.30am on November 2. He said the manager of the restaurant, who is understood to be black and had a West African accent, quickly turned on him and four friends.


Yasin Farah, Abdi Mahamud and Mohamoud Duhod were subjected to racist tirade by a West African McDonald’s manager

Farah, of Penge, said the manager jumped on the till and straight away was aggressive with the group.

“He was saying to my friend: ‘Can you not read, can you not see? What do you want for your breakfast?’ I didn’t understand why he was asking if he could read, so I jumped in and starting saying ‘just let him order his breakfast’.

“Then he started telling us to get the ‘fu@k out of the restaurant. You are a low life, get out of the restaurant, all you fu@#ing Somalians are all the same.’”

Farah said: “Then all of a sudden he says I am a low-life. ‘You are a low-life, get out of the restaurant, all you fu@#ing Somalians are all the same.’”

“A lot of his colleagues were coming in, trying to calm him down. The customers were shocked, his response was completely out of proportion. His actions, his mannerisms, the way he was saying the things he said, made me want to take action. I called the police. At the end of the day he’s the manager, you cannot set that kind of example. No one is allowed to speak to anyone like that in today’s society.”

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the incident and are working with the individual and restaurant team to ensure this never happens again. All are aware of the severity of this and are following internal HR processes.”

A police spokesman said: “A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence under section four of the Public Order Act. He was subsequently issued with a police caution.”

Muslim woman broke arm in Islamophobic attack

Muslim woman broke arm in Islamophobic attackMuslim woman was left with a broken arm in an unprovoked Islamophobic assault in Melbourne last month

Elham Asaad Buaras

A middle aged Muslim woman was left with a broken arm in an unprovoked Islamophobic assault in Melbourne last month. The latest incident is one of many Islamophobic attacks sweeping Australia following anti-terror raids involving more than 800 police officers.

The 48-year-old woman, who was wearing a hijab [headscarf] had been shopping at Lalor shopping Plaza when she was attacked. The woman’s daughter, Abrar Ahmed, saw the incident unfold from her car.

“A man approached my mum and said, ‘You Muslims, go back to where you came from’,” Ahmed said.

“As my mum turned around to see who was yelling at her in such a disgusting way, she saw this really big guy. He pushed her on the ground. She landed in the middle of the road. When she fell on the ground she broke her arm. She heard her bone crack.”

Ahmed said Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women are on the rise in Australia. “A lot of other Muslim women, they have been going through worse assaults, they are being attacked in very different ways and they don’t have the courage to speak out.”

Federal member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said the current political climate is contributing to an increase of attacks on Muslim women.

“It can divide our community and some people end up on the receiving end of abuse. In this case, Muslim Australians – and especially women – tell me they are being harassed and assaulted,” he said.

Brunswick police Acting Senior Sergeant Ben Davies said police take all reports of Islamophobic attacks seriously. “I think sometimes people have a fear of reporting or think there is no point in reporting, so we are engaging with the community to encourage them.”

The Australian Muslim Women’s Association (AMWA) say the Government’s “draconian” policies is helping fester division.

“The Prime Minister’s constant reassurance that he is not targeting the Muslim community and that we need to work as part of team are completely opposite to his statements that divide the community between those who are on ‘the team’ and those who ‘the community’ needs to take responsibility for,” said AMWA’s Silma Ihram.

She told The Muslim News Tony Abbott is “conducting his own ‘shock and awe’ with a massive media presence when he sent in 800 heavily armed police to knock down the doors of 12 homes in two states, which only resulted in 2 arrests.”

She added; “This was a clear message to the Muslim community that any sign of disagreement or threat would result in serious measures. His latest anti-terror laws include draconian provisions against the press with 10 years jail for reporting any aspect of special operations, the right not only to gather meta data in mass surveillance, but to edit it (why?!?) with 73 passports already cancelled.”

AMWA say numerous community requests to the Government for dialogue about foreign policies and engagement with Australian Muslims “and numerous other requests are generally ignored.

Young Muslim men are feeling increasingly disillusioned and unhappy.
Even senior and conservative members of the Muslim community, including myself have been expressing frustration at the actions of the Government, their lack of response and their incredibly paternalistic short term, knee jerk reaction to these events.”



The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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