Europe has taken “too many” migrants, says exiled Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (Photo: Christopher Michel/Creative Commons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism Tenzin Gyatso has said that: “Germany cannot become an Arab country,” and warned Europe risks losing its identity by taking in too many migrants.

The Dalai Lama said refugees should only stay temporarily and return home to rebuild their countries when the conflicts have ended.

Gyatso, who has lived in exile for over 50 years, said: “When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering. A human being who is a bit more fortunate has the duty to help them. On the other hand, there are too many now.”

He said: “Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.”

He added that, “From a moral point of view too, I think the refugees should only be admitted temporarily. The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries.”

The 14th Dalai Lama has lived in exile since fleeing to India at the age 23 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Far-right Pegida supporters unknowingly protest against German national team

Elham Asaad Buaras & Ali Mitib

Supporters of the far-right anti-Islam German group Pegida were left red faced after expressing outrage at the use of non-white children’s faces on Kinder bars – only to be sarcastically informed the Italian confectionery group Ferrero had in fact used childhood photos of the football national team.

Kinder bars have since 1983 used an image of a blond-haired, blue eyed boy, but unbeknown to Pegida supporters this was changed in time for the European Championships for photos of the German team. Among them are images of Jerome Boateng, whose father is from Ghana, and Ilkay Gundogan, whose parents are Turkish immigrants.

On May 19, the Bodensee branch of the movement posted one of the packaging images featuring Boateng and Gundogan on their Facebook  page with a caption: “They don’t stop at anything. Can you really buy them like that or is this a joke?”

Other Pegida supporters quickly chimed in with misguided outrage including a comment from Sebastian Gollmer, who wrote: “They’re trying to pass this s*#t off as normal, poor Germany.” Another user, Michael Shepherd said: “This is nothing but a fake, no?!?!?”

One commenter responded: “Do the Turks and other countries use pictures of German children on their sweets or groceries? Surely not.” Others called for a boycott of the chocolate bars, which are produced by the Italian manufacturer Ferrero. One wrote: “If that’s the case, I won’t be buying it anymore.”

The Facebook page was then inundated by Germans ready to mock the group’s evident ignorance of the marketing campaign.

One Facebook user mockingly asked, “Should I tell them or not?”

One noted that the marketing campaign was linked to the upcoming European Football Championship, while another, quoted in the Guardian, wrote, “Dear folks, firstly Ferrero is an Italian manufacturer, and secondly, where do [you] think they get the cocoa from to make the chocolate with?” Twitter users also got in on the act with many white and non-white Germans taking opportunity to show their support for the Kinder campaign by posting pictures of themselves as children under the hashtag #cutesolidarity.

Others trended #backfire mocking the far-right group’s confusion and ignorance. All in good humour, one user tweeted: “I want to see the faces of PEGIDA on toilet paper packaging!”

The German satire magazine Titanic was quick to react, posting a ‘PEGIDA-Edition’ spoof of the chocolate bars sporting childhood photos of Adolf Hitler and Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right Norwegian man who killed 77 people in a 2011 terrorist rampage.

In response to the comments of Pegida, Robert Grindel, the head of the German Soccer Association (DFB) said the Pegida supporters’ comments were distasteful. Grindel said: “The German national soccer team is one of the best examples of successful integration and millions of people in Germany are proud of this team because it is as it is.”

Such was the furore over Pegida’s blunder that Ferrero later issued their own statement on Facebook.

“We at Ferrero would like to distance ourselves from any form of xenophobia or discrimination, we don’t accept or tolerate this in our Facebook communities either,” the company wrote. Following the backlash, the Bodensee Pegida told their supporters on Facebook that it was “best just not to answer.”

“We’ve really dived into a wasps’ nest here,” the group said in a post. By Wednesday May 22 the Bodensee PEGIDA Facebook page had been deactivated.

Islamophobic hate crime doubles in Scotland

Ali Mitib

According to newly released figures by the Scottish Government the number of Islamophobic hate crimes in Scotland has almost doubled in the space of a year.

The Government report Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland in 2014-15 shows that in June last year there was 134 hate crimes, which were determined to be derogatory to Islam. This is an 89 percent increase in comparison to 71 hate crimes in 2014/15.

The human rights campaigner and lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “The rise in attacks is extremely alarming but hardly surprising when sections of the media and politicians have deliberately smeared a whole community, giving the green light for such racist attacks to take place. Sadly they have created an atmosphere where Muslims are seen as fair game.”

The figures show a slight increase of hate crimes as a whole. The Scottish Government report on the figures was unable to attribute the rise to any single event or pattern and “appears to reflect a general rise in the reporting of these types of changes”.

While racially motivated hate crimes have fallen to 3,712 and is at its lowest level since 2003-4, religiously aggravated hate crimes have rise 3 percent to 581 instances.

Roman Catholicism is the most targeted religious group as it accounts for 51 percent of the recorded hate crimes. This is followed by Protestantism with 24 percent and Muslims with 23 percent.

The recently released figures also showed a 14 percent rise in disability motivated hate crimes and a 20 percent rise in hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “There is no place in Scotland for any crime motivated by prejudice, be it racial, religious, homophobic or any other form of intolerance.

“While I am concerned at an increase in the number of charges on last year, including the rise in alleged offences against Islam, it does indicate an improvement in the willingness of the public to report these crimes, and that should be welcomed.”

Chief Superintendent Barry McEwan, of Police Scotland, said: “Tackling hate crime is a priority for Police Scotland and we are committed to rooting out crimes motivated by prejudice.”


Bulgarian town bans niqab

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Bulgarian town has banned the wearing of the niqab (full face veil) in public including while driving. Councillors in Pazardzhik home to a Roma Muslim minority voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ban in April in all administrative buildings, schools, shops and on the street.

The Council justified the measure on security grounds insisting the niqab impedes identification. Fines of 300 leva (£114) can be levied, rising to 1,000 leva for repeat offenders.

Bulgaria’s centuries-old Muslim community, dating back to conversions during Ottoman times, makes up around 13 per cent of the 7.4-million population of mainly Orthodox Christians.

Muslim women in Bulgaria generally wear just a simple scarf to cover their hair, but recently there has been a rise in the number of women in Pazardzhik wearing the niqab. The junior partner in Bulgaria’s ruling coalition, the nationalist Patriotic Front, recently proposed imposing a nationwide ban on the full-face veil with fines of between 200 and 1,500 leva.

The bill which is yet to be put to vote in the legislature also proposes jail sentences of up to three years and fines of up to 5,000 leva for anyone who incites others to wear a niqab.

Belgium, France and Latvia have already banned the niqab.

Pig’s head left at Quebec Mosque

Kowther Elmi

Just before 3am in late June a worshipper attending morning prayers found a pig’s head gift wrapped with a card stating “bon appétit”, outside the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec in Canada. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard described the act as “despicable” and the Mayor of Quebec City, Regis Lebeaume, said that this was the act of a “cretin”.

In recent times Islamophobic attacks are on the rise in Quebec with multiple cases of mosques being attacked and of Muslims being physically as well as verbally attacked. In 2013, Quebec Muslim Badia Senouci was verbally assaulted in public by a stranger who reportedly told her to remove her hijab and that the Government would soon be forcing her to remove it anyway as the proposed Quebec Charter of Values which included the ban of all religious symbols in public institutions. When Senouci’s son attempted to defend her, the perpetrator spat in his face.

The proposed charter also prompted an attack on Montreal Mosque which was splashed with what was belie Islved to be pig’s blood. A year later in 2014 another Muslim woman was verbally harassed and the perpetrator also attempted to remove her hijab.

In 2014 a halal butcher shop in Sherbrooke was attacked and a person had put holes through store glass, left paper crosses outside and left notes with the statement “No to Islam” written in French. The most recent attack was in December 2015 where a pig’s head was left outside a mosque as well as leaving a voicemail on the mosques answering machine.

Shortly after the discovery of the pig’s head, Quebec City police were notified and the city’s police constable, Etienne Doyon, said to reporters: “It’s very important for people to be able to practise their religion freely; that’s why this incident is being regarded so seriously.”

Mohamed Yangui, the head of the Islamic centre that was targeted called this incident “a waste of time, money and energy, we have high definition cameras. We will certainly find the person who did this.” Despite this, the police have yet to make any arrests regarding this case as investigations continue.

Uproar at Hindu nationalist ‘Muslim-free’ remark

Nadine Osman

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, Sadhvi Prachi’s anti-Muslim remark created uproar in Legislative Council with opposition National Conference and Congress demanding the Upper House condemn her.

Prachi, leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist, had said, “It is time to make India Muslim free”.

Prachi said on June 7 she was working on getting rid of Muslims from the country. “Now that we have achieved the mission of making a Congress-free India, it is time to make India, Muslim-free. We are working on that,” she said.

As the House started its proceedings, National Conference Legislative Council Member, Dr Shehnaz Ganaie, waved newspaper copy pointing towards Prachi’s inflammatory statement.

She demanded that the House officially condemn the “anti Muslim” statement of VHP leader.

“Statements like these are creating sense of insecurity among Muslims in India. Are not we Muslims part of the country? Does it mean we don’t have to live in this country? Such communal statements must be condemned in strong words,” said Ganaie.

She was soon joined by other opposition legislators including her party colleagues Sajad Kichloo, Showkat Ganie, Qaiser Jhamsheed Lone and Congress MLCs including GN Monga who demanded that the House should take strong notice of the VHP leader’s remark and unanimously condemn her statement.

The opposition legislators created ruckus in the House, while BJP legislators accused Ganaie of trying to vitiate peace in the House.

“Don’t try to vitiate peace here,” BJP MLC Vibodh Gupta said while pointing towards opposition legislators.

In the meantime, the BJP MLC Ashok Khajuria stood up from his seat and demanded that the house should condemn the statement of Hizb Commander Burhan Wani.

“If you demand statement of Sadhvi Prachi should be condemned then Militant Burhan’s statement should be also condemned in the House,” he said while pointing toward the opposition legislators.

However, the ruckus continued for 5-7 minutes following which the Minister of Education, Naeem Akhtar, intervened to pacify the opposition legislators.

Akhtar said that whosoever has made “anti-Muslim” statement is wrong.

“Muslims are the important part of India and this country is incomplete without them,” he said.

“There is no need to divide us. There are number of problems we are facing and have to resolve,” he said.
Controversial Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi had in the past branded Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan as a “Pakistani agent”, who should be sent to that country, after he protested against “extreme intolerance” in the country.
“Shah Rukh Khan is an agent of neighbouring country Pakistan as he reflects their (Pakistan’s) ideology. Such a man should go to Pakistan,” she said to reporters.

Tory councillor suspended for allegedly saying Khan will treat white people “like dirt”

Elham Asaad Buaras

Merton Councillor and former GLA candidate David Dean has been suspended from the Conservative Party for allegedly making racist comments about newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

His suspension follows a complaint from a Putney resident, after a recording was made of Dean telling him that, if Khan became Mayor of London, “as a white man… you will be a pariah in your own town. He will treat you like dirt.”

The comments were allegedly made a week prior to the mayoral election on May 6, when Dean was out canvassing for Zac Goldsmith and for his own GLA seat for Merton and Wandsworth, after the resident in question expressed doubts about voting Conservative.

Leader of Merton Conservatives, Councillor Oonagh Moulton, said: “I can confirm that David Dean has been suspended from the party, and therefore from the group, pending an investigation into a matter that occurred during the GLA campaign. He remains suspended from the group for the moment, until the investigation is completed. ”

The Dundonald ward councillor lost the previously Conservative-held GLA seat to Labour’s Leonie Cooper by one per cent of the vote.

Dean denied he was racist and said: “It was a bit of banter. Whoever has recorded this clearly doesn’t like the Conservatives. There is a context to this and I need to talk to my party.”

However, Cooper said: “I am shocked that someone would say something so offensive – even as banter it is unacceptable.“I have never previously been contacted during a campaign by Conservatives telling me they were embarrassed and ashamed, and planning to abstain or vote for me and Sadiq, so I can well believe some people said so directly to David Dean.

“His response is disgraceful, and trying to pretend it was just banter makes it worse.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “As soon as we became aware of his comments he was immediately suspended from the party, pending an investigation.”

Muslims interrogated for praying

Kowther Elmi

A passenger alerted security on June 16 at Wellington station in Medford, Massachusetts, US, after witnessing “suspicious activity” on the train, which turned out to be two Muslim passengers praying.

Heavily armed Transit Police approached the two Muslims at the station and after interrogation found that all the Muslims had done on the train was praying.

Superintendent Richard Sullivan claimed the incident as a “non-event” and that the passenger was suspicious because the duo “appeared Middle Eastern” and were involved in “suspicious activity”.

Even though General Manager of the station, Frank DePaola, claimed that the Islamophobic incident took place due to “heightened sensitivity on everyone’s part” following the Orlando shooting, in reality it was due to the national policy of “See something, Say something”. This policy is about raising awareness of terrorism and related crimes.

The next day an Islamophobic graffiti was found on a Red Line train stating, “Muslim trash, go home!”

Former Boston Police Commissioner, Ed Davis, said that these “heightened suspicions” are “unfortunate but understandable” and advised American Muslims “if it’s time to pray, pick a place that isn’t so closely watched”.

Spokesman of Council on American-Islamic Relations Ibrahim Hooper, (CAIR), said: “It’s really up to the person who makes the initial report to make a report based on actual evidence and not on prejudice.”

DePaola maintained that the incident was “resolved in a very gentle manner”. Hooper asserted that CAIR would investigate to ensure transit cops followed the proper procedure as “praying should not be regarded as suspicious”.

Pensioner fined for “vile and gratuitously offensive” letters to Muslim MP

Nadine Osman

A Scottish pensioner who sent “vile and gratuitously offensive” letters to MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh about her faith has been fined £500 on June 8.

David Crozier, 68, from the Shetland’s was ordered not to contact the SNP Ochil and South Perthshire politician for five years.

He previously admitted sending messages containing offensive and abusive comments aggravated by religious prejudice.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told the court the only reason Crozier corresponded with the MP, a practising Muslim, in May last year was her faith.

The anonymous letters were passed onto police, who contacted the office of local MP Alistair Carmichael to see if they had received any correspondence from the man.

The Liberal Democrat’s team recognised the handwriting, which led police to Crozier.

Crozier initially told police that he was “expressing an opinion and exercising his right to freedom of speech” in the letters.

The fiscal added that the MP was left fearful for her safety while attending public events after receiving the letters.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Crozier took to letter-writing to “let off steam” as he could not send emails or speak to friends in the pub.

Sheriff John Rafferty said that while Crozier had a right to express his opinions to politicians, his letters to Ahmed-Sheikh were “vile and gratuitously offensive” and had caused “considerable upset”.


Police probe Islamophobic incident on Finsbury Park Mosque

A bag of pork sausages was thrown over a fence into Finsbury Park Mosque in the early hours of May 26
(Photo: Finsbury Park Mosque)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Finsbury Park Mosque officials have voiced their frustration at the repeated Islamophobic attacks on their inner London mosque after a bag of pork sausages was thrown over a fence into the mosque in the early hours of May 26.

The Metropolitan police have described as the incident as a “hate crime” and released a CCTV image of a man who they wish to speak to in connection with the incident, which took place around 2am.

The man was wearing a beanie hat and rain jacket and he appeared to have a well-grown beard.

Mosque Chair, Mohammed Kozbar, told The Muslim News: “The community are very angry and frustrated. It is very offensive and is an Islamophobic attack and this is not the first time it happened.

“Our demand is to capture the offender and bring him to justice so he can be an example to others who may think to do similar things in the future.”

“We as the mosque management and the local Muslim community worked hard in the last few years to transform the situation here from a hostile to a cohesive atmosphere, therefore, the community deserve better.”

“We received a lot of support from our partners and the wider community and this shows that all communities are united against such a heinous attacks which aim to divide the communities.”

In a statement to The Muslim News Detective Inspector Ralph Coates of Islington Community Safety Unit said: “We take hate crime extremely seriously as we know how destructive these offences can be, both to individuals and to communities.

“I would urge anyone who recognises this man or has any information that will help the investigation to contact police.”

In November last year, a man set fire to a jerry can of petrol and threw it into the grounds of the mosque. Kozbar says there have been no other recent attacks “but from time to time we receive some phone calls from some abusers and idiots which ignore.”

No one has been caught yet for that incident.

Ozil under fire for not singing German anthem

Frauke Petry, leader of the German far right anti-immigration party slammed Mesut Ozil recent pilgrimage to Makkah on May 22  (Photo: Mesut Ozil/Twitter)

Ali Mitib

German footballer Mesut Ozil faced criticism from the German far right groups for refusing to sing the national anthem during a friendly exhibition match.

Leader of the German far right anti-immigration party ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD), Frauke Petry, criticised the player and stated: “It’s a shame that Mesut Ozil, someone who so many children and young people identify with, does not sing the national anthem.”

Commenting on Ozil’s recent pilgrimage to Makkah on May 22, Petry accused the practicing Muslim, who is often photographed praying before games, of being a hypocrite as “He doesn’t live according to the rules of the Sharia” and also due to his association with women who do not wear an hijab.

The Head of the AfD in Saxony-Anhalt stated that Ozil’s visit to Makkah sent out ‘an anti-patriotic signal’.

Petry also suggested that Ozil was trying to promote a political agenda of putting his religion of Islam, which the AfD view as unconstitutional, before German identity through performing a religious pilgrimage but refusing to sing the German national anthem.

Ozil, a third generation German of Turkish descent, is not alone in refusing to sing the national anthem. German players, irrespective of ethnicity, descent and religion, have not strongly established tradition of singing along to the German national anthem.

In the past non-Muslims such as Lucas Podolski and Jerome Boateng have refrained from singing the national anthem.

The attack on Ozil has come a week after AfD Vice Chair, Alexander Gauland, provoked outrage by stating German people would not want Boateng (a German of Ghanaian descent) to be their neighbour.

The AfD anti-immigration policies are widely seen to be behind the party’s unprecedented success as demonstrated by the recent German regional elections in which 24.2% of the votes in Saxony-Anhalt and 15.1% of the votes in Baden-Württemberg were won by AfD. This is the best result a far right party has had since the Second World War.

Petry suggested that the rise of the AfD is due to the failures German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, particularly in the Chancellor’s stance on immigration and the refugee crisis.


Research finds Muslim women in the UK face ‘multiple discrimination’

Ala Abbas

Research published by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) found that Muslim Women faced “multiple discrimination” when it came to employment and were disproportionately the victims of religious and racial hate crimes.

The project, entitled ‘Forgotten Women: the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women’, was a joint effort between ENAR and feminist groups. It was carried out in 8 different European countries with the support of the European Union.

According to the service, threats and verbal abuse received by Muslim women in public spaces appear to be an “almost everyday experience”. The abuse, which is usually verbal, does sometimes turn physical, with the most common crimes reported being spitting, and the pulling of women’s hijab to remove it.

Based on the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines, spitting is a form of ‘common assault’. The report also found there to be a “significant problem” of under-reporting of such attacks, and a lack of knowledge as to what constitutes a hate crime.

Both Muslim men and women are the most frequent victims of religiously motivated hate crime compared to people of other religions. According to the report’s authors: “The challenges faced by Muslim women can be made particularly acute for those that are ‘visibly’ Muslim: wearing the hijab…increases the likelihood that a woman will be targeted for a hate crime.”

Issues of multiple discrimination faced by Muslim women were also apparent in the workplace, according to the report. A study found that ethnic minority applicants had to send 74 per cent more applications than their White counterparts to achieve an equal level of success. This is in addition to general inequalities faced by all women in the workplace, such as the pay gap, which sees women in full-time employment earning 14.2 per cent less than their male counterparts.

According to researchers, Muslim women suffered from a ‘Muslim penalty’ in the job application process, whereby outdated stereotypes about Muslim women’s gender roles became a barrier to receiving an offer of employment. Research cited in the report found that Muslim women who wore hijab at some interviews and not others, were more successful when they did not wear the hijab. 43 per cent of women surveyed felt they were “treated differently or encountered discrimination at interviews because they were Muslim”, and a high percentage of women felt that they had missed out on opportunities for progression because of religious discrimination, with the wearing of hijab being a factor in this.

According to research by Gallup, 32 per cent of the British public said it was necessary for Muslim women to remove the hijab if they wanted to integrate, compared to 24 per cent saying the same about the Jewish yarmulke, 18 per cent about the turban and 17 per cent about large crosses. A recent poll commissioned by the BBC found that 40 per cent of female Muslim respondents felt that ‘most British people don’t trust Muslims’. Only 29 per cent of male Muslim respondents felt the same way. 1 in 5 Muslim women said they did not feel safe as a Muslim in Britain compared with 10 per cent of Muslim men saying the same.

The report makes it clear that large portions of the British public are tolerant of the hijab, and the majority of Muslim women (87 per cent) want to socialise with both Muslim and non-Muslim people in Britain, showing that they are “deeply committed to contributing to and benefiting from British society”.

The report concludes that more needs to be done to tackle discrimination in the workplace by making the recruitment process more fair and transparent, especially at the interview stage. It also acknowledges that the Equalities Act 2010 is not being utilised fully by those who feel they are being discriminated against on the basis of religion and gender.


[Flag By Hoshie/Public Domain]

Academically achieving Muslim youths less likely to be employed, says employment charity

Elham Asaad Buaras

Muslim youths face significant disadvantage in finding work despite achieving an ‘above average level’ of academic qualifications, according to research by an award winning youth employment charity.

Elevation Networks (EN) analysed census data together with recently published research to highlight employment inequalities faced by young Muslims living in England and Wales.

The study found that the Muslim youth unemployment rate is the highest of any religious group; 15.4 percent of young Muslims were unemployed compared to 11.9 percent of all religious groups aged 16-24. Young Muslims were also far less likely to be offered employment than any other religious group of the same age, with young Muslim men being worse affected than women.

Despite the higher unemployment rate, young Muslims continue to outperform academically, with 16.3 percent of young Muslims holding a qualification of Level 4 – equivalent to a Higher National Certificate, certificate of higher education or above – compared to 14 percent of young people from all religions.

The study, which featured Muslim youth employment across England and Wales, found that young Muslims in the West Midlands were most likely to be unemployed than in any other region – 16.9 percent of Muslims aged 16-24 were unemployed compared to 13.3 percent for all 16-24 year olds.

EN Chief Executive, Barbara Kasumu, said: “Young Muslims face multiple barriers when transitioning from education to the labour market. Discrimination and racism still exist within recruitment and the workplace, while young Muslims are at a greater risk of being discriminated against because of negative religious stereotypes.”

She added; “We need to recognise that Islamophobia is very much a big issue in the UK. There doesn’t seem to be enough focus politically on dealing with the challenges that Muslim communities face.”

Young Muslim mothers were also more likely to be ‘economically inactive’ whilst caring for young children and less likely to be engaged with employment support and advice compared to other groups, leaving them at greater risk of being ‘locked out’ of employment.

EN called for action to improve the employment outcomes for high-achieving young Muslims suggesting, “Employment agencies in areas where there are high Muslim populations should receive cultural awareness training and be encouraged to employ people from Muslim communities.”

Developing greater awareness of vocational pathways to employment through apprenticeships among young Muslim groups as an alternative to the academic route is needed.

A campaign to encourage parents to stay economically active even if they chose to remain as carers beyond the 52 statutory maternity leave period, including activities such as volunteering and undertaking courses to develop new skills.

M G Khan of Muslim Youthwork Foundation, told The Muslim News, EN’s “helpful” research comes as “no surprise to many young Muslims looking for an entry into a professional field after university or college. The journey to this point often leaves individuals indebted to others in many different ways not least financially, to find only call centres are interested in employing them.”

Dr Khan a Tutor at Ruskin College, Oxford in Community Development and Youth Work said, “It is to the credit of young people that despite these obstacles faced by their peers and older siblings, that they still find the motivation to study and see it as their path to improving their lives and those of their families.”

Three arrested for assault on Hastings woman

Nadine Osman

Three men have been arrested on April 6 for assaulting a Muslim woman in Hastings on March 27. A 25-year-old woman was walking on Bohemia Road at approximately 11am when she was confronted by three men by the Hastings Museum opposite Falaise Road.

The woman crossed the road to avoid them but as she walked away one of the men grabbed her headscarf and pulled it off her head.

One of the men is thought to have filmed it on his phone.The men (aged 21, 22 and a 24-year-old) have been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault.

The three have been released on bail until April 19.

PC Ian Riches, of Sussex Police, said: “Although the woman was not injured she felt degraded and was emotionally affected by the incident, which we believe was racially motivated. “We are appealing to anyone who might have been in the area at the time and might have seen what happened to contact us.

Anyone with information should email quoting serial 409 of 27/03.

Muslim teen labelled ‘ISIS’ in school yearbook

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Californian Muslim student has spoken of her “disgust” and “hurt” after discovering her yearbook photo was captioned with the name “Isis Phillips”.Bayan Zehlif was taken aback when she looked in her high school yearbook.

“I am extremely saddened, disgusted, hurt and embarrassed that the Los Osos High School yearbook was able to get away with this,” wrote the Year 12 student on Facebook. The school told Zehlif that the incident was a typo and a student named Isis Phillips was previously enrolled during the current academic year but has since transferred.

“I beg to differ, let’s be real,” said Zehlif, who posted a picture of the offending yearbook photo and name on Twitter.
All 27 comments on her post have been in her defense, with users writing that they are “so completely appalled” and “this is so beyond disgusting”.

Superintendent of Chaffey Joint Union High School District, Mat Holton, said Zehlif was incorrectly identified as another student. He also said that both families have been contacted and the school will investigate the yearbook staff.

“If they find that a student acted irresponsibly and intentionally, administration will take appropriate actions,” Holton told the Los Angeles Times. “The school will assure students, staff and the community that this regrettable incident in no way represents the values, or beliefs, of Los Osos High School.”

Susan Petrocelli, the school’s principal, offered an apology, and also characterized the incident as a misprint.
“LOHS is taking every step possible to correct & investigate a regrettable misprint discovered in the yearbook,” Petrocelli wrote on Twitter. “We sincerely apologize.”

The Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that “it’s unlikely” that Zehlif will return to class “until the issue is resolved appropriately.”

“We join with the family in their concern about a possible bias motive for this incident and in the deep concern for their daughter’s safety as a result of being falsely labeled as a member of a terrorist group,” CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said. CAIR called for a “thorough investigation” of the incident.

Islamophobia in France on the rise

Abdul Adil

Islamophobic attacks in France are on the rise, French Council of Muslim Faith President, Anouar Kbibeche, said on May 16.

Speaking at the 33rd French Council of the Muslim Faith conference in Le Bourget, Kbibeche said: “The increase in Islamophobia has come after attacks in France last year.”

“Attacks on Muslim sanctuaries have gone up despite increase in security measures. A small mosque in Ajaccio has recently been damaged. Apart from this, a number of attacks have also been launched on individual Muslims.”

The Council’s Vice-President, Ahmet Ogras, urged Muslims to participate in the politics.

“We are elements of this society as Muslims in France. We should be able to express our opinions and join political parties. We need to increase power of representation of Muslims by expressing ourselves,” Ogras added.

Union of Islamic Organisations of France President, Amar Lasfar, said: “We extend our helping hands to everybody whatever their religion, culture and values are, in the name of togetherness and a prosperous future.”

In January, President of France’s Collective Against Islamophobia Abdallah Zekri, said anti-Muslim acts increased to 905 in 2015 from 704 in 2014.

Zekri said these were the highest level of attacks since the Collective was established in 2011.

Prosecutions of hate crimes fall in London despite increase in reporting

Elham Asaad Bauras

The UK’s largest police force had been accused of failing victims of Hate Crime after released figures revealed a dramatic fall in prosecutions.

The number of people facing police action for Hate Crimes in London has dropped by 13 per cent in the past five years, despite the number of recorded offences rocketing 72 per cent during the same period.

The figures, obtained by the Evening Standard, reveal racist or religious hate offences almost doubled over the last five years from 7,989 to 14,111 or more than 38 offences a day. However, the number of prosecutions and other police action fell from 3,343 to 3,056 in the same period

Campaigners described the new figures as a “wake-up call” for the Metropolitan Police. The data shows that the total number of hate crimes recorded by the Met jumped from 9,455 in 2011 to 16,296 last year.

However, the number of offences that led to police action fell from 3,931 to 3,418. It means that the Met acted in 41 per cent of cases in 2011 – but only 21 per cent in 2015.

In December, the Met revealed that the number of Islamophobic incidents in the capital significantly spiked in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. There was also a record 146 attacks on Muslims last month, with 122 in the fortnight after the Paris terror attacks.

Figures showed there had been 557 Islamophobic hate crimes in 2013; 624 in 2014; and up to November 24, 2015, 878. Incidents may involve a physical attack, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, insults or hate mail.

In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the Met said among the range of factors that contributed to the rise in hate crimes are world events “a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime and an improved awareness of staff in identifying these offences.”

The police also say most of the increases in hate crimes are non violent offences adding that “sanction detection rates have fallen, as many of these non violent offences present less evidential opportunities. However, we are committed to improving our total number of sanction detection rates and successful prosecutions.”

“We have increased specialist investigators within our 32 London borough community safety units by 30 per cent, with more than 900 specialist member of staff dedicated to investigating all hate crime and we have reviewed our hate crime policy, placing extra focus upon evidence gathering and technology to help us achieve better outcome rates.”

“We are acutely aware that all areas of hate crime are still under reported and we are working hard with our partners to address this, so more people feel confident to come forward, either to police, via a third party or online.”

Islamophobic graffiti attack on County Tyrone home

Nadine Osman

Mid Ulster councillors have condemned an Islamophobic incident on an unoccupied house in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The words “Muslim scum” were spray-painted on the wall at the front of the property at Oaks Road in Dungannon.

Independent Councillor, Barry Monteith, described the act which is believed to have occurred sometime between May 3 night and the following morning, as “deplorable”.

He said: “No one should be targeted because of their religion. Our country, of all countries, should know that this type of action is unacceptable. In more recent times that area has become quite popular with the different nationalities that have come to Dungannon over the last 15 years.”

Sinn Fein Councillor, Dominic Molloy, said he was not aware of any previous issues in that part of the town, where a lot of migrant workers live.

“I condemn any racism in the area and call on people to desist, and anyone who is aware of any perpetrators should be going to the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland]. There’s very little tension in the area. There’s a big mix of people who live and work alongside each other and there’s been no issues in the past particularly in that area.”

A spokesman for Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed the incident has yet to be reported to police.

Chief Inspector Stephen Humphries added: “We would encourage all incidents of this nature to be reported to us as soon as possible. Police in Dungannon take hate crime seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us. Our message is very clear: in order to prevent hate crimes occurring, people need to report it to police.”

Growing Islamophobia in Europe is feeding extremists, says Labour MEP

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Security and Defence Committee has claimed that the rise Islamophobia in Europe is playing into the hands of extremist groups like Daesh.

Labour MEP for the North West of England, Afzal Khan, made the remarks last month during a session he chaired as part of the European Parliament’s capstone de-radicalization of Muslims conference.

Speaking at the opening of the “way forward” session of the conference, Afzal Khan MEP said: “The challenge of radicalization is an issue that affects us all. And as such, it requires a common response and common solution. This has never been just about Muslims. It is about the whole of our European society, and includes our fellow citizens, Muslims and non-Muslim.”

“The prevailing European narrative at the moment is that of Muslims as outsiders, of Muslims as different. Growing Islamophobia in Europe plays into the hands of ISIS and other extremist groups who radicalize Muslims. As ISIS grows, so does the far right, each using fear and terror to advance their agendas. We must stop this vicious cycle.”

The European Parliament’s capstone de-radicalization of Muslims conference, was hosted by Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament and Antonio Tajani, the Parliament’s Vice-President in charge for religious dialogue.

The conference focused on the challenge European Muslims face fighting radicalization, and presented several successful projects and initiatives from EU Member States. The conference brought together a large number of European officials, policy makers, civil society representatives and religious leaders.


[Photo: European Parliament MEP Afzal Khan. Photographer: Keith Etherington/Creative Commons]

Austrian right-wing extremist arrested for mosque vandalism

Elham Asaad Buaras

A right-wing extremist was arrested in Austria earlier this month after he allegedly placed two pig heads on a fence at an Islamic centre and smeared blood across the walls of its new mosque. 46-year-old Thomas K, who is known right-wing extremist, is alleged to have arrived at the mosque being built in the southern city of Graz at night allegedly carrying two pigs heads, police said.

The gruesome act was discovered by members of the Graz Islamic Centre.

“They were sitting in the clubhouse watching football and so hadn’t noticed what was going on outside, When they left the building, the police were there, as a passer-by had informed them,” said spokesman for the centre, Aldin Bektas.

“He put the pig heads on the construction site and smeared the minaret with blood,” police spokesman Leo Josephus said.

He is thought to be unemployed and a vocal member of the far-right group Partei des Volkes (Party of the People). It is not the first time that pig heads have been placed at a large Islamic centre site. In 2012 six bloody heads appeared but it was not clear who left them there.

Last month, the interior ministry said there was a 54 percent rise in extremist and racist incidents in 2015, ranging from vandalism and assaults to fanning hatred against foreigners.

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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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