The decision of Germany’s largest gun club to disbar a title-winner over his Muslim religion came back to bite members after their bid for UNESCO cultural heritage status was suspended.
Mithat Gedik was crowned Schützenkönig
Last July, 33-year-old Mithat Gedik was crowned Schützenkönig (marksman king) by his local club in Werl, North Rhine-Westphalia – only to have his title withheld because the organization’s ancient statute meant that non-Christians were ineligible to claim the crown.
The Federation of Historic German Marksmanship Brotherhoods (BHDS) club then granted him the prize as an ‘exception’ after the case was taken up and condemned by anti-discrimination authorities.
Because the actions of the BHDS did not reflect “accessible and open fostering of tradition”, its application to receive UNESCO World Heritage status was suspended citing a letter sent to Europe’s main shooting association, the EGS.
The BHDS condemned the ruling.
BHDS spokesman, Rolf Nieborg, said, “We have espoused Christian values for more than 800 years, not just in Germany but in many other European countries.”
“We expect the same tolerance from them as they expect from us,” he said.
Strictly speaking, Gedik is not even allowed to be a member of his shooting society because section two of its statute dates that it is an “association of Christian people”.
Gedik, who was born to Turkish parents and grew up in Germany, studied Catholicism at school and lives with his German wife and four children in Werl.
He also volunteers at the fire department and is on the board of his local shooting club, all of which made it “incomprehensible” to him that such a situation should arise in the 21st Century.
The BHDS then convened a special meeting at which it made an exception in Gedik’s case, allowing him to keep his title. But he was disbarred from competing at the county shooting championships, despite winning his town’s competition.
Stockholm imam receives death threats
Elham Asaad Buaras
The imam at Stockholm’s largest mosque received death threats and a white powder was sent to the religious centre on February 6. President of the Islamic Association of Sweden, Omar Mustafa, said, “The police have taken several steps and we have contact with them. We hope that they clear this up very quickly.”
The death threats were reported to have been made after a package containing white powder was sent to Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque near Medborgarplatsen in central Stockholm.“I can’t go into detail but it was a direct death threat which the police have taken seriously,” Mustafa said.
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque near Medborgarplatsen
The powder turned out to be harmless although police said that security at the mosque has been strengthened. The mosque has previously been targeted in a white powder attack and Muslim leaders have advised all mosques in the country to be extra vigilant.
Muslim school vandalized
Ahmed J Versi
Vandals sprayed painted anti-Islamic graffiti on an entrance and back walls of the Islamic School of Rhode Island in West Warwick on February 13. President of the school’s Board of Trustees, Hilmy Bakri, said that racial slurs were spray-painted on the school, with the words, “Now this is a hate crime” and “pigs,” along with expletives referring to Prophet Muhammad and to Allah.
Vandals sprayed painted anti-Islamic graffiti on an entrance and back walls of the Islamic School of Rhode Island in West Warwick on February 13
On Facebook, the Islamic School said the defacement “is not something that we take lightly,” and that evidence has been supplied to local law enforcement as authorities investigate. The perpetrators went “beyond normal vandalism” and wrote “senseless, hateful comments,” West Warwick Police Captain Donald Archibald.
“I find it very upsetting,” said Rabbi Sarah Mack, of Temple Beth-El in Providence. “The Muslim community in Rhode Island is very open and peaceful.” The independent School opened 11 years ago for students of all cultures and backgrounds. Of Rhode Islanders with a known religious affiliation, less than one percent is Muslim, according to a 2008 Pew study.
Man confesses to arson at Houston Islamic center
Elham Asaad Buaras
A Houston man has apparently confessed to arson in a fire that destroyed a building at an Islamic center on Friday February 13, officials said.
Officials at the Quba Islamic Institute mosque and school say there became aware through media reports that 55 year-old Darryl Ferguson had been arrested and charged with first-degree felony arson in connection with the blaze that erupted before morning prayers in the storage area of the mosque and Muslim school.
However mosque officials say they have not been notified by authorities of the arrest.
Imam Ahsan Usman Zahid told The Muslim News the Institute in southeast Houston, Texas, was also forced to cancel classes the following Monday and Tuesday “due to violent threats received on Facebook page and in interest of the safety of our children.”
“We think the fire is connected to the rise of Islamophobic crimes that are unfortunately dominating society these days.” said Zahid.
Investigators with the Houston Fire Department ruled an accelerant was used in the fire.
Worshipers described the incident as particularly troubling following the Chapel Hill murders of three young Muslim American students.
Officials said the blaze burned the extension at the back of the main building. Mosque officials say $200,000 worth of damage was caused. The building was closed at the time of the fire, and no one was inside. No injuries were reported.
Muslim boy ‘assaulted’ by Swedish police found in Denmark
Elham Asaad Bauras
A nine-year-old boy who went missing after a controversial altercation with guards at a train station in Sweden on February 9 has been found safe in Jutland, Denmark.
Danish police found the child who has been at the centre of a week-long controversy in Sweden on February 13. A 12-year-old boy who was believed to have traveled with the 9-year-old had not yet been discovered, although police said they believed he was in the same area.
The boy who believed to be Moroccan was ferociously manhandled by a security guard in Malmö train station. A video uploaded by one of the witnesses on Youtube shows the guard sitting on the boy’s chest while pressing his gloved hand violently over the boy’s mouth and nose.
The guard then violently slammed the boy’s head against the stone floor. The boy appears to be gasping for breath and through tears and with a desperate voice he yells out the Shahada, an Islamic declaration uttered when someone believes they are near death.
Witnesses say the boys, who are accused of trying to get on the train without ticket, did not seem to understand Swedish, and therefore could not communicate with the security guards.
The same source added that three police officers arrived later at the scene and handcuffed the boy. When the police officer released the boy, the latter spit in the guard’s face.
When several witnesses came to explain what really happened, the police officers did not seem interested in hearing the testimonies.
A second guard is shown in the same video clip restraining an older boy on a bench at the station. The boy then went missing, setting off a massive police search across southern Sweden. The news came as police were continuing to investigate the security guards’ conduct in the incident.
Malmö police spokesman Mats Karlsson said that the nationality of the boys remained “unclear” to the police, but said it was understood that they had been living at a home for child refugees who had travelled to Sweden unaccompanied.
There has been speculation in the Swedish media that the pair have relatives in Sweden and may have been at the station searching for their parents or other family members.
“We are trying to find out and gather as much information as possible…but as this is an investigation involving children we cannot reveal that much about our investigation,” said Karlsson.
IMKANDER Association which assists refugees wrote to Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven calling for the prosecution of the officials. “No matter what their crime is, treating children at that age, is in breach of “human rights and human dignity and is unacceptable”.
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
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 #foxnewsfactsstarted 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
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.”
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.