Man who stabbed an Asian man in revenge for ISIS receives a community order

Michael Hilton, 33 stabbed an Asian man (Photo: Northumbria Police)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Sunderland man who stabbed an Asian man in revenge “for the ISIS beheadings” will not be jailed after a judge sentenced him to an 18-month community order and supervision last month.

Michael Hilton, 33, has spent the past 16 months in prison on remand while being assessed by psychologists. Newcastle Crown Court heard he has already spent more time in custody than is appropriate for his offence.

Hilton randomly attacked a 32-year-old Asian man in his car, stabbing him in the neck with scissors. Hilton later telephoned the police and said, “They should not be beheading people” and “God told me to do it”.

Hilton claimed he had been hearing voices telling him to attack Muslims “in the name of all the people beheaded by ISIS”.

The court heard the victim had been waiting outside a Tesco shop in Sunderland with friends in his car, when Hilton approached and asked for a light.

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said: “The injured party, not being a smoker, looked to the rear passengers in the car and discovered no one had a lighter.

When his back was turned Hilton stabbed him with the scissors. The court heard the victim had to undergo a series of Hepatitis B injections after the attack and was left traumatised.

The victim who wishes to remain anonymous was left with a scar and is now wary of strangers, the court heard.

He said he found Hilton’s ISIS remarks “deeply disturbing,” adding: “There is no need for a complete stranger to make such racist remarks towards me in relation to race or religion.”

The judge said Hilton’s psychological problems can be managed with the aid of probation service. Hilton, who admitted racially aggravated assault, has previous convictions and has served time in prison in the past for violence.

Muslim family removed from flight for ‘how they looked’

Nadine Osman

A United Airlines pilot asked a Muslim family to leave a Washington bound plane before it took off, citing “safety” issues.

Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, her husband and three young children were about to take off a  flight from Chicago when the pilot asked them to get off the aircraft.

The family had earlier asked the air stewardess for five-point harness safety seats for their children.

Two videos filmed by Shebley shows a cabin crew member and then the pilot asking the family to leave.

Shebley asked the pilot whether it was a “discriminatory” decision. The pilot replied it was a “flight safety issue”.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to United Airlines on the family’s behalf demanding disciplinary action against the staff involved.

“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security’,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab. “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security.”

Shebley wrote on Facebook: “Shame on you ‪#‎unitedAirlines for profiling my family and me for no reason other than how we look and kicking us off the plane for ‘safety flight issues’ on our flight to DC for the kids spring break. My three kids are too young to have experienced this.”

Another Muslim woman and a Northwestern University chaplain, Tagera Ahmad, were denied a can of diet coke onboard a United Airlines flight in May as the flight attendant said she “may use it as a weapon”.

The airline apologised multiple times to Shebley’s family after they got off the plane and were rebooked on another flight.

United Airlines said the family was rebooked “on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations” and said the airline has “zero tolerance for discrimination”.

Men arrested for placing pig’s head in Muslim school

Elham Asaad Buaras

Two men were arrested and bailed until April 29 after a severed pig’s head was cable-tied to the gates of a Portsmouth Muslim school.

A Nazi swastika had been drawn on the head, which was left at the gates of the Madani Academy on January 21. An offensive term had been written about Allah on it. Shocked parents and staff discovered the head after arriving at 8.30am.

Madani Academy’s Head Teacher, Muhammad Luthfur Rahman, told The Muslim News, “We tried not to expose the incident to our pupils.”

But he said it was not the first time the school has been targeted by Islamophobes. “We have experienced similar attack twice over the past three years; once on an occasion where a pig’s head was stuck on the gate and another incident where a bucket of pig’s blood was poured over the entrance door,” he said.

He thanked “local MPs, politicians, city council, Hampshire constabulary and people of Portsmouth for their support towards us.”

In a statement to The Muslim News a Hampshire police spokesman confirmed that, “A 22-year-old-man and a 24-year-old man, both from Portsmouth, were arrested on suspicion of racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress-words/writing.”


Moeen quizzed for 40 minutes’ by Border Force officials

Nadine Osman

The England cricketer Moeen Ali says he was stopped by border officers on his return to the country from the T20 world cup in India.

Ali arrived at Birmingham Airport on April 9 afternoon, but was detained by the UK Border Force for 40 minutes.Ali took to Twitter to complain that he was never stopped when he was travelling through airports with the rest of the England team.

Describing the experience as “hard times”, he was supported by fellow English cricketers Adil Rashid and Owais Shah, the latter saying “your beard might have something to do with it”.

Ali wrote: “Have never been stopped at the airport when travelling with a team in uniform, but travel alone and get stopped for 40 minutes!! Joke.”

Birmingham Airport officials confirmed Ali had been stopped by UK Border Force agents, but suggested this was because he had “exceeded his duty-free allowance”.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office declined to comment the cricketer’s case specifically.

Over 2,000 hate crimes reported near mosques

Nadine Osman

Police investigated more than 200 reports of hate crime near mosques in one year – with one Midlands community leader claiming an increase in the incidents over the past six years.

More than 2,000 incidents have been reported over the last 15 years with the numbers hitting a record high in 2015.Statistics released on March 27 revealed police were called out to mosques and surrounding areas 235 times last year alone.

There were 197 call-outs in 2014, which accounted for the second largest number of crimes during the last 15 years, revealing an upward trend in such attacks.

The numbers, which hit a record low of 130 in 2002, had remained around the 140 to 170 region over 10 years.The spike in 2015 meant the numbers had risen by more than 100 incidents within 13 years, with the figures also showing a continued steady rise since 2012.

Dudley Muslim Association spokesman, Amjid Raza, said: “We have noticed a rise in such crimes during the last five or six years.“It is having an impact on the Muslim community, especially when there are major terrorist attacks across the world.

“Muslim women wearing hijabs are particularly targeted and when something like the incident in Brussels happens we actively encourage the community to walk round in pairs.“But we work very closely with the police and more people are willing to actually report such hate crimes these days because they have grown in confidence. There are multiple factors for a rise in such crimes but we think more people are willing to come forward and see action taken.”

An attack on the Bait-ul-Ata Mosque in Willenhall Road, Wolverhampton, was one such ‘hate crime’, which happened in August last year. A man reached over the gates at the front of the mosque to hurl a missile before returning a few minutes later with handfuls of other items.

Security was increased at the mosque in the wake of the attack, which now has round-the-clock surveillance with someone sleeping in the building each night to deter further vandalism.West Midlands Police said the figures, which totaled 2,390 since 2001, related to searches for incidents where the word ‘mosque’ had appeared in the location details, which meant the crimes may have occurred near a mosque rather than within or at the places of worship.

Police Commissioner David Jamieson said: “The number of hate crimes in the West Midlands is monitored closely. West Midlands police take reported incidents of hate crime very seriously and work closely with Mosques and other organisations to ensure that hate crimes are reported and investigated.”

Anger as racist who assaulted Muslim female doctor escapes prison sentence

Nadine Osman

A Muslim doctor has voiced her disappointment after a Nottingham man who had racially assaulted her walked away from court with a fine and volunteer work.

Aiden Fletcher was ordered to pay £500 Dr Syeda Jafari, 33, after admitting racially assaulting her on October 29, 2015. He headbutted her in a city street while she was with friends before telling her to “Go back to your country.”

Jafari, who works in the A&E at the Queen’s Medical Centre, needed treatment for concussion.

On March 14 Nottingham Magistrates’ Court handed the 23 year old six-month prison term, suspended for two years and was ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work, as well as paying the compensation and £280 costs.

The mother of three, who has donated the compensation money to an anti-hate crime charity, says she is “disappointed” her attacker escaped a custodial sentence. “I can’t keep a penny out of this sort of person. The money will be going to charity, of course. I just hope he has learnt his lesson. I am feeling a bit low because of the sentence,” added Jarafi.

Deputy District Judge, David Gostling, told Fletcher: “This was a disgusting offence and your aunt describes you as ‘fantastic’. That’s not the word I would use. You headbutted this doctor, a lady out with friends. This was drunken oafish behaviour with racist remarks.”

The judge said he “agonised” over whether to send Fletcher to prison but decided against that because a report said he cares for four children. He criticised Fletcher for initially pleading not guilty and only changing his mind on the day of the trial.

The judge added: “You were so drunk you could not remember what happened. You decided they [four female witnesses] needed challenging in the court. That is pretty despicable.”

Kate Hartley, prosecuting, said the women were on the street after dark trying to find the home of a friend whose mother had just died in Pakistan. While they were talking, Fletcher headbutted the doctor and made the remark.

Three other women were left shocked by the attack and Jafari said: “I had never been treated like that before in my life. My dad was extremely worried for my safety after that. My dad has since died with the feeling that his daughter was not safe.”

The court heard that Fletcher had been drinking because he attended his cousin’s funeral that day.

Fletcher must attend 40 sessions with probation officers to face up to his actions. He had one previous conviction, an offence of affray in 2011.



Butlin’s apologises for encouraging families to boo Muslim baddie wrestler

Red Coats urged families at the Superslam Wrestling show to heckle bearded baddie ‘Hakim’ who entered the ring waving what was later revealed to be the flag of Saudi Arabia (Photo Creative Commons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Butlin’s were forced to apologise for an Islamophobic wrestling show at their Skegness camp on April 2. Butlin’s Staff (Red Coats) urged families at the Superslam Wrestling show to heckle bearded baddie ‘Hakim’ who entered the ring waving what was later revealed to be the flag of Saudi Arabia .He went in to fight against ‘good guy’ Tony Spitfire who sported Union Jack shorts and carried an England banner.

Red Coats also encouraged the audience to yell “En-ger-land” as the villain crept behind Tony Spitfire.
“Horrified” dad Christian Cerisola, 41, who was in the audience with his wife Frances, 39, and their daughters Amelia, 8, and Esme, 6, said: “I understand wrestling needs goodies and baddies but this was very awkward and embarrassing. Where was the moral compass in all this? My gut feeling was one of deep discomfort.

“My wife was shocked as well and we left before the next fight. I think it sends out the completely wrong message to families and children who were watching that we were encouraged to boo the guy who is not English. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable.”

Cerisola took to Twitter to described how one section of the show as “a horrific race hate-filled ten minutes of everything wrong on racial stereotypes”.

He added, “So we brought the kids to @Butlins this w/e. Rough round the edges, but loads for them to do. It was all going well. They asked to watch the wrestling last night. Harmless bit of fun, we thought. But no. I felt I was dropped into the middle of a Britain First rally.

“Out came ‘Hakim’. The Islamic flag waving baddie. “BOOOOO”, we were told. Then came Union flag trunk wearing Tony Spitfire. Yes Tony Spitfire, ladies and gents. “En-Ger-land” he thumped over and over. A horrific race hate-filled ten minutes of everything wrong on racial stereotypes. How did this get past the sense checkers?”

In response to Ceriso’s tweets, Butlin’s said, “Yesterday’s wrestling was a deviation from the agreed content and we’re conducting a full review with our supplier as to why. We’d like to assure you and all guests this was a totally unacceptable one-off which is contrary to Butlin’s values. It won’t happen again.”

But on April 4 Ceriso added: “One thing that disappointed me was the Butlin’s told me I was the only one who complained.” Cerisola said one of the managers called him after he started tweeting and told him they were as “horrified” as he was.

A description of the Superslam Wrestling show on the Butlin’s website states: “Get ready to boo the bad guys and cheer your favourites as the atmosphere is always electric and guaranteed to have everyone on their feet enjoying themselves.”

Skegness Butlin’s resort Director, Chris Baron, said the section in the show was “not agreed content.” He said; “We had a wrestling company in on Saturday who did a show we are not happy about. That part of the show was not agreed. It was not funny or acceptable. It is a company we have used for years and years.

“For some reason they tweaked that part of the show which we did not know about. Our entertainment manager picked it up straight away.”

Trump supporter to spend 90 days in jail over plot to bomb Muslims

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Donald Trump supporter charged with possessing an explosive device and threatening to kill Muslims will spend just 90 days in jail and serve three years probation after accepting a plea deal with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

William Celli, 55,  from California, pleaded guilty to a charge that he attempted to violate the free exercise of civil rights.

In exchange for his guilty plea the has dropped a charge of making criminal threats as a hate crime.

Celli was arrested on December 20, 2015, days after he yelled “I’m going to kill you all!” outside the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County.

Abdur Rahman, a member of the mosque for 19 years who was present at the time, said Celli was screaming: “I’m going to kill you all” from a Burger King parking lot across the street. Rahman said that Celli “didn’t look like a crazy person”, but “was a little agitated and taking video of the congregants”.

Celli continued “ranting and cussing” for about 10 minutes, Rahman said, before leaving and telling another congregant “I will come back”. Police arrived at the mosque about three hours after Celli departed, according to Rahman, and took a report.

After police got a tip that Celli was building homemade explosives with the intent of targeting local Muslims, they executed a search warrant at Celli’s home.

There, they found a suspicious device and detonated it.

Police were first warned about Celli more than two weeks ago, when one of his Facebook friends raised the alarm about anti-Islamic postings he had uploaded along with an image purporting to show a homemade device.

The postings included the claim that members of his local mosque celebrated the Paris attacks and the suggestions that all Muslims in America should be sent back to their “country of origin”.

As part of his plea deal Celli is not allowed to have an active Facebook page.

Celli’s arrest in December came amid a frightening surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric after terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. In the month leading up to his arrest, the number of hate crimes against Muslims in the United states tripled.

And on December 8, just two weeks before Celli’s arrest, Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the US.

“We welcome the jail time handed out in this case and are appreciative of the cooperation and support from law enforcement and the district attorney’s office shown to the local Muslim community,” Zahra Billoo, executive director at the San Francisco-Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“At a time when attacks on mosques and Muslim individuals are at an all-time high, this will send a message that such actions will have consequences.”

CAIR added in a statement that after Celli’s arrest, the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County, like other mosques in the Bay area, has stepped up security and hired more private guards.

Ex Dundee councillor charged after ‘Islamophobic texts’ claims

Nadine Osman

Dundee police confirmed on April 5 that a former councillor has been charged following claims he sent Islamophobic texts to a fellow SNP member.

Craig Melville resigned as a Dundee City Councillor in February after allegations against him emerged.
It is alleged the 35-year-old sent a series of messages to an unnamed woman within the party a day after the Paris terror attacks.

One text allegedly said: “It’s not personal I just f***ing hate your religion and I’ll do all in I’m life do defeat your filth.”
Another said: “And in your favour we live in an uneducated left lift loopy left wing society who is more interested in claiming benefits and being ignorant to the threat of your horrible disease which is a make believe c*** in the sky.
“Horrible murdering Islamic c***s.”

A third message apparently referred to the SNP’s International Development Minister, Humza Yousaf, who visited the Greek island of Lesbos in October to see the plight of Syrian refugees.
It said: “And Muslim politicians in the UK have a duty to speak out and educate.

“That should be their number one priority, not staged photos taking refugees off boats and writing patronising messages of support. Had to unfollow [sic] that c***.”

He had previously served as a councillor for Maryfield and was chair of the environment committee.
A police spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland can confirm that a 35-year-old man has been charged and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.”

At the time a SNP spokeswoman told The Muslim News the party “condemns Islamophobia in the strongest possible terms and we will not tolerate it in our party. Craig Melville has been immediately suspended from the SNP and from his employment. ”

Meanwhile, a separate investigation by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life for Scotland into Melville has been dropped. A spokesman for the Commissioner said: “I can confirm there is no ongoing investigation relating to a complaint about former Dundee City Councillor Craig Melville.”

Islamophobes jailed for 46 years for murder of pensioner

Islamophobes jailed for 46 years for murder of pensioner

Dale Jones and Damien Hunt, both 30 and from Rotherham, South Yorkshire were found guilty of the unprovoked killing of 81 year old Mushin Ahmed (Photo: South Yorkshire Police)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Two men have been jailed for killing a Muslim pensioner as he walked to morning prayers. Dale Jones and Damien Hunt, both 30 and from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, were found guilty of the unprovoked killing of 81 year-old Mushin Ahmed and were jailed for a combined term of 46 years.

Jones was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life with a minimum of 32 years, while Hunt was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter for which he was jailed 14 years on February 29.

Ahmed was in traditional dress and walking to early-morning prayers at his local mosque in Rotherham, when the pair attacked him on August 10 last year. The pensioner suffered severe head injuries. He died 11 days later in hospital.

Jones had followed Ahmed repeatedly calling him a “groomer” before him and Hunt launched into their attack on the helpless pensioner near a bus stop, a court heard.

The court heard Hunt was the first to punch Ahmed to the ground before Jones began kicking and stamping on the elderly frail man.

Sheffield Crown Court was also told how there were at least three “really heavy stamps” on Ahmed’s face in the continuous and vicious attack.

Jones and Hunt then fled the scene, leaving a bloodied but barely conscious Ahmed lying on the ground. He died in hospital 11 days later due to brain injuries.

Justice Stephen Males QC branded Jones a “racist thug” who had not shown “the slightest remorse for the suffering” he had caused.

He said: “It is a shocking thing in modern Britain that a man should be attacked and beaten and kicked to death just because of the colour of his skin, but there is no doubt that this is what Mr Ahmed suffered.”

The court had heard a member of the public found Ahmed at around 5.25am and flagged down a passing police car.

DNA was recovered by detectives which matched Hunt and CCTV footage recovered from the local community showed a group of men in the area with the duo among them.

South Yorkshire Police’s DCI Victoria Short, branded the attack “brutal and unprovoked assault”.

“’His family and friends have been left absolutely devastated by his death yet they have conducted themselves admirably and with tremendous strength throughout our inquiry, which should be commended.”

Speaking about Ahmed’s “horrific injuries” Short said: “Jones in his anger stamped on Mr Ahmed’s head so hard that we were able to recover a shoe print from his skin – this extreme violence is nothing short of sickening and highlights just how dangerous these individuals are.

“Hunt and Jones have never given an explanation for their own vicious actions that evening, but the court heard how Mr Ahmed was assaulted because of the colour of his skin, a fact that is as disturbing as it is despicable.

“To cause harm to another human being because of their race, ethnicity, or religious belief is simply beyond reproach, I will never understand how anybody can treat another person in such a callous and inhumane manner.”

British Muslim Youth, a Rotherham-based group launched in 2011, told The Muslim News allegations that Pakistani sex offenders were being sheltered by “political correctness” has played into the hands of far-right groups and fuelled a significant rise in Islamophobia in South Yorkshire.

“The sad story of Mushin Ahmed happened as actions conveyor belt themselves towards this tragic murder taking place. It started by excuses and pernicious lies stating the vile criminals that exploited children as young as 13 in Rotherham, were sheltered by political correctness because they were Pakistani men,” said the group’s founder Muhbeen Hussain.

He told The Muslim News; “This [narrative] drove far-right demonstrations and bigoted agendas to exploit the already tense situation in Rotherham. The fact became that Islamophobia hate crimes within the town were on a rise.”

Islamophobic crimes on the rise in Europe

Nadine Osman

Legal ambiguity allows increased Islamophobic offenses to go unpunished across Europe, according to the Belgium-based think tank Thinkout.

Thinkout’s Baker Gunes said certain legal loopholes in Europe did not punish people who commit Islamophobic crimes.

“In most places you cannot open a case personally [over a complaint of Islamophobic crime],” he said, adding that certain new legal arrangements for such crimes should be made.

Azra Junuzovic, who is the Deputy Chief of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Unit under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on February 19 that intolerance and discrimination against Muslims posed a serious problem.

Junuzovic also said discrimination against Muslims is on the rise, according to recent research.

More than 40 million Muslims live in Europe, according to the US-based think tank Pew.

Man fined over email to SNP MP

James Learmonth, 68, emailed MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (top), telling her to “Feel free to bomb the Muslim bs to oblivion.” (Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

A Scottish man who urged his Muslim SNP MP to support air strikes in Syria has been fined £500 last month for couching his “grossly offensive terms”.

James Learmonth, 68, emailed Ochil and South Perthshire MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh on December 1 last year before a Commons vote on the issue.

He was lobbying the MP to vote in favour of military intervention. The email was not opened until December 18, well after the vote.

Addressed to Ahmed-Sheikh, 45, a practising Muslim, it read: “Dear Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Feel free to bomb the Muslim bs to oblivion.”

Prosecutor Gail Russell told Alloa Sheriff Court: “It wasn’t seen by Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh but the office worker who read it found its contents to be racist and offensive, and forwarded it to his senior manager.”

SNP officials reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police, and Learmonth, a retired staff nurse, was interviewed by police in Scotland.

Learmonth, of Donaldson Avenue, Alloa, pleaded guilty to sending an email that “contained grossly offensive remarks” from his home to Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh’s constituency office in the Clackmannanshire town.

Defence agent Toni Pentecost said Learmonth sent the email on a day that a British woman had lost her life in the conflict.

Pentecost said: “Mr Learmonth accepts he is free to express his political views and to ask his MP to vote in accordance with his wishes but the language he used on this occasion was unacceptable.

“He was very angry that the British lady had lost her life, and he was blinded by his anger and his frustration on the day he sent it.”

She said Learmonth “accepted with hindsight”that the email would be been offensive to someone receiving it.”

Niqab wearing King’s student assaulted outside campus

King’s College London, Strand campus where a student wearing the niqab was assaulted

Nadine Osman

Police arrested two men for “using racially aggravated threatening words and behaviour” after a student’s niqab [full face veil] was pulled off outside the King’s College London (KCL), Strand campus on March 4.

Witnesses say that 20 minutes into the scuffle KCL security stood “idly by” and discouraged others from intervening.

Mohamed Abdullahi, Student, said, “I had to put myself in harm’s way to protect the Muslim women who were being verbally and physically assaulted after King’s security just stood there and were being non-responsive.”

Fatima Ali who was present when the attacks took place said, “Security only called the police when the animal rights activists said the men were being aggressive but not when someone complained about a Muslim woman’s niqab being pulled down.”

Eyewitnesses told the student publication Roar! that the men approached the Islamic Society stall and began throwing leaflets before reaching for the Muslim woman’s niqab.

King’s have said in a statement and an email sent to all students that “two security managers and a senior member of staff arrived on the scene and positioned themselves between both parties and attempted to defuse the situation. The two men were asked to leave the area but they refused. The police were called by security at 1.10pm and arrived at 1.50pm.”

However, other eyewitnesses insisted that King’s security personnel went back inside the Strand building after the incident began. The female Muslim students were outside the Strand campus with stalls as part of the Discover Islam Week initiative organised by KCL Islamic Society.

In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that they were, at approximately 1:10am , “to report of two males making racially aggravated and homophobic comments in Strand, WC2. Officers attended and two men, aged 39 and 41, were arrested under section 4 of the Public Order Act.”

The attack comes in the wake of statistics released by Scotland Yard showing that hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 70 percent in the last year.

According to Scotland Yard’s figures Westminster borough [where the Strand campus is located] had the highest number [54] of Islamophobic incidents last year.

Co-founder of the anti sexual harassment campaign ‘It Stops Here’, Hareem Ghani, said, “There is no point for King’s to champion initiatives like ‘It Stops Here’ and commit to stamping out sexual harassment if they cannot extend the same courtesy to Muslim students – especially “visibly” Muslim women who face the brunt of these attacks.”

Islamic Society President, Issa Ruhani, said, “We call for an investigation into this incident. Had this been any other student group, would the response of the College Security be the same? We feel that there has been a failure in the duty of the College to protect students, especially in this climate of widespread Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence.”

In 2014 the Muslim prayer room signs at Guy’s Campus were defaced.

King’s issued an update statement the following day reassuring students that they will “be reviewing the incident, including the CCTV evidence, to establish precisely what happened and further improve student safety on campus.”

Student interrogated for wearing “Free Palestine” badge, under Prevent strategy

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Muslim teen from Luton says he was branded an “extremist” by his teachers and forced to endure a police interrogation for wearing a “Free Palestine” badge to school last summer.

Rahmaan Mohammadi has accused Challney High School for Boys of over–reacting when they referred him to Prevent, the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy during a meeting of Students not Suspects, a campaign group, at Goldsmiths Students’ Union in London.

The police were alerted about the 17-year-old, who was ruled by police not to be at risk of being radicalised earlier this month, shortly before a new law, requiring schools to refer young people at risk of radicalisation to the authorities, came into effect last September.

Teachers were concerned about Mohammadi wearing badges and wristbands declaring support for Palestinians, asking permission to fundraise for Palestinian children and reading in class a pro-Palestine leaflet written by a group called Friends of al-Aqsa, which recently had its bank account closed by the Co-op.

When Mohammadi addressed Students not Suspects, he shared the stage with Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee and Director of Cage.

In his address Mohammadi claimed that he had been told by teachers not to talk about Palestine in school.

He also alleged that a staff member had asked his 14-year-old brother to “advise Rahmaan to stop being radical or he would be referred to the authorities”.

The school said it was unable to comment on individuals but that it had a “clear and robust safeguarding policy”.

Mohammadi said, “Prevent creates paranoia. In school . . . if a senior member of staff was walking past, we would whisper to each other saying, ‘What if they’re listening to our conversation?’ That’s how paranoid it makes you.”

Recalling how two officers from the Bedfordshire police counterterrorism intelligence unit arrived at his family home, he said: “When police come to your house and say, ‘I want to speak to you’, with this massive folder with your name on it, that’s intimidating. It makes you feel alienated.”

Muslim women thrown off plane for “staring” at flight attendant

Nadine Osman

Two Muslim women were escorted by armed police from a plane in LA after a member of cabin crew reported them for “staring” and filming a safety briefing.

The incident on Saturday March 5 was filmed by a fellow JetBlue passenger. Despite their apparent concerns, the aircraft took off from Boston uneventfully, however, as the plane landed in LA police officers boarded the jet where the hijab wearing women were singled out.

The 1 minute 18 seconds video of the women being escorted off Flight JB487was posted on YouTube by Mark Frauenfelder whose friend Sharon Kessler captured the moment on her mobile phone.

Frauenfelder said is friend posted details of what happened on her Facebook account.

Kessler wrote: “It was a terrible moment, honestly these women sat quietly, watched movies — it felt like overkill from this flight attendant.”

Frauenfelder spoke with his friend who said the flight attendant “casually relayed to a coworker that she didn’t appreciate being stared at – she did not seem rattled or scared – just smug. Then – after we landed – she announced that the authorities would be boarding the plane and to remain in our seats with seat belts.”

In a statement to The Muslim News JetBlue said one of the women appeared to be filming certain in-flight procedures which can present a security issue.

“Our crewmembers’ first priority is the safe and secure operation of our flights, and as a security precaution, are asked to be aware of anyone who may be filming or taking photographs of inflight procedures or the flight deck area,” said a spokesman for the airline.

“If a crewmember believes a customer may be filming safety procedures, the crewmember may report it for further review. In this instance, our crewmembers acted in accordance with security procedures. We appreciate our customers’ patience and cooperation, and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Armed police remove man on flight over ‘prayer’ message on phone

Nadine Osman

A Nigerian-born man was escorted off Amsterdam bound plane by armed police at London Luton Airport after a passenger mistook him for a Muslim after reading a message on his mobile phone about “prayer”. After being cleared of any wrongdoing Laolu Opebiyi, who is actually a Christian, was not allowed back on to the flight after the easyJet pilot refused him re-entry.

He was forced to wait for over three hours for the next flight on February 25. The businessman believes the passenger next to him assumed he was a Muslim and jumped to the conclusion that he may be a terrorist.

Opebiyi said that as they waited the plane’s departure, a fellow passenger asked him: “What do you mean by ‘prayer’?” Taken aback that he had been reading over his shoulder, Opebiyi explained that he was arranging to pray with friends.

The man then spoke with a cabin crew member where he was taken to the door of the cockpit and returned to tell Opebiyi that he was disembarking because he felt unwell. A few minutes later, two armed officers entered the plane and asked Opebiyi for his phone and for him to accompany them off the plane.

Opebiyi showed officers a copy of his Bible to verify he is a Christian, but the 40 year-old says he was forced to prove his Christianity more when, “They asked me which church I attend and how long I have been going there.”

Bedfordshire police officers also asked him if he ever thought about changing his religion.
They also asked him about the name of the conference call prayer group, which was ‘ISI men’ – an acronym for ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’, from the Bible quote ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’.

An officer eventually told Opebiyi that he was in the clear but that the pilot had said he should take another flight. He suffered further humiliation when an officer accompanied him to the easyJet desk to help him get on the next flight and seven other passengers from the 6.45am flight, who had left the plane because of security fears, also joined the queue.

Opebiyi said one of them spotted him and said: “If he is on the next flight, I am not getting on the flight.” He said the officer took the female passenger aside and explained the situation. Before Opebiyi boarded the 10.25am flight, the officer shook his hand and expressed sympathy for his ordeal, he said.

But he now fears he is on a watch list because when he returned the next day from his business trip, the electronic passport gate did not let him through and he had to speak to an immigration officer before proceeding.
“Someone felt I was a terrorist because they saw the word ‘prayer’ on my phone and now I stand in uncertainty about my freedom of movement in and out of the United Kingdom,” he said.

“Even if I was a Muslim, it was pretty unfair the way I was treated. I don’t think anyone, irrespective of their religion, should be treated in such a way,” said Opebiyi.

A Bedfordshire police refused to answer The Muslim News queries on why they pressed the passenger on whether or not he is a Muslim convert and why he was forced to prove his Christianity. Bedfordshire police did not address whether Opebiyi would have been arrested under terrorism charges if he was a Muslim.

“Officers attended and a passenger was removed from the flight as part of the enquiries. Officers notified easyjet that they were satisfied that there was no concern around the passenger travelling,” said a Bedfordshire spokesman.

EasyJet would not clarify to The Muslim News why Opebiyi was not allowed back on the flight once he was cleared by security. In statement a spokesman confirmed that, “Following concerns raised by passengers, the Captain of flight EZY2151 from Luton to Amsterdam on 25 February 2015 requested the assistance of the authorities who took the decision to disembark and question the passenger.

“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority which means that if a security concern is raised we will always investigate it as a precautionary measure.

“After questioning by the authorities, the passenger was cleared to complete his journey so easyJet arranged a later easyJet flight for him. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to the passenger. ”

Olympic fencer asked to remove hijab

(Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was asked to remove her hijab by a South by Southwest (SXSW) festival volunteer for an ID photo.

The 30 year-old who is poised to be the first US Olympian to wear a hijab, said she was told to remove her headscarf for a security photo at the SXSW festival on March 12 and then was given a credential with an incorrect name.

The world number 7 saber fencer become a prominent US athlete with sponsors such as Visa and American Airlines, tweeted the incident in disdain. She tweeted, “I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge. I can’t make this stuff up #SXSW2016.”

The incident does not look good for SXSW, which prides itself on being an annual cultural festival for music, independent films, and technology in Austin, Texas.

SXSW said in a public statement: “It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge. This was one volunteer who made an insensitive request and that person has been removed for the duration of the event. We are embarrassed by this and have apologised to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident.”

Outrage over Times ‘Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town’ headline

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Times newspaper has been condemned by the police over the headline to a story about the killing of local imam Jalal Uddin in Rochdale which the newspaper dubbed the “sex grooming town”.

The headline: ‘Imam beaten to death in sex grooming town’ appeared on February 20. The online headline has now changed to remove the final three words. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said on Twitter: “This is an awful headline, I hope @thetimes can apologise to Mr Uddin’s family and, indeed, the people of Rochdale.”

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, published an open letter to The Times on Twitter. In it he said: “The headline has no relevance to the horrific murder.”

He added, “We have strong relationships with communities in Rochdale and I have received much feedback about the outrage that the article has caused…

“Your headline and its irrelevance to this case have the potential to cause community tension. It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful law abiding Muslims and non Muslims living in Rochdale, who are shocked by this murder.

“Greater Manchester Police detectives remain open minded about the circumstances behind this murder. We have not ruled out that the murder may be racially motivated, but at this stage we don’t have evidence to suggest it is either. I would hope in the circumstances you issue an immediate apology and provide a response.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi described the headline as “appalling”.

Posting a link to the police’s letter on social media, Qureshi, who has previously voiced her opposition to how Muslims are often portrayed in the media, tweeted: “Important letter to Times editor on its appalling headline on the brutal and horrific murder of an Imam in Rochdale.”

This is not the first time the newspaper has ran a highly dubious headline involving Muslims in March last year the paper ran the provocative headline ‘Call for national debate on Muslim sex grooming’.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Uddin.

Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and appeared at Bury magistrates court on February 29.

Investigating officers arrested Syeedy along with a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of murder. The 17-year-old is on bail until 20 April.

The Times did not respond to requests for a comment.

Pig carcass with Merkel’s name found on mosque site

Nadine Osman

A dead pig with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s name scribbled on it was found on the building site of a mosque in the eastern German city of Leipzig, police announced on February 25.

The words “Mutti Merkel” were scrawled onto the carcass. “Mutti” is the German word for “mum” and is often used to refer to the German leader.

Merkel has come up against criticism from right-wing groups and within her coalition for an open-door policy that allowed 1.1 million migrants – many of them refugees fleeing war in the Middle East – into the country in 2015.

“To symbolically compare a person to a pig and to threaten the Chancellor with death is another low point and evidence of the coarsening political debate,” said local MP Holger Mann.

An investigation has been launched, but will initially focus on insults made to the Chancellor.

The mosque’s imam, Said Ahmad Arif, said he was puzzled by the act but remained defiant: “The mosque is being built.”

This is not the first time that the site has been targeted. In 2013, the severed heads of five pigs were found there after weeks of protests against the construction of a mosque.

Leipzig is situated in the eastern state of Saxony, where a recent spike in xenophobic attacks against migrants and refugees has prompted concern at a national level.

In the central state of Hessen, authorities in the town of Marburg had also launched an investigation after a teddy bear was found with its throat cut and smeared with red paint outside an accommodation for migrants.

Elderly Muslim stamped to death in vicious racist attack

Nadine Osman

A man racially abused an 81-year-old pensioner as he walked to a mosque in the early hours of August 10, before launching a vicious attack with his friend, a court has heard.

Dale Jones, 29, flew into a “raging fury” following a day and evening of drinking and taking drugs and accused Mushin Ahmed of being a “groomer”, Sheffield Crown Court heard on February 9.

Jones and Damien Hunt, 29, of Doncaster Road, Rotherham, punched, kicked and stamped on Ahmed as he made his way to prayers at the mosque in Rotherham, the jury was told.

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said: “Since his retirement (Mr Ahmed) had been a regular attendee at the mosque. He never made it to the mosque. On his way there, just after 3am, he was attacked and murdered.”

Robertson said Jones had become agitated, violent and aggressive due to an issue concerning his partner’s son’s father.

He had left the home he shared with his partner on Norwood Street, Rotherham, at 10am the previous morning and spent the day and night drinking Sambuca and Southern Comfort, and taking cocaine and diazepam, the court heard.

Robertson said: “He had got himself into a raging fury. A rage fuelled by drugs and alcohol.”A short time before the fatal attack, Jones racially abused an Asian taxi driver, the jury was told.

Around 10 minutes later, Ahmed emerged on to Doncaster Road, where Jones was with Hunt and brothers Kieran and Shane Rice. Robertson said: “Jones immediately accused him of being a groomer. No doubt his word for paedophile and no doubt an accusation made by Jones for no better reason than Mr Ahmed was Asian.”

The prosecutor said CCTV footage showed Jones and Hunt following Ahmed.

The Rice brothers said they then saw Jones punch and kick Ahmed in the head, the court heard.

Robertson said Jones saw a friend around an hour after the attack.When the friend asked how he was, he replied: “It’s a good job you’re not a Paki.” The barrister said: “A good indication of what motivated him to attack Mr Ahmed and a good indicator of how he felt about it.”

Ahmed was found by a passer-by two hours after the attack and was taken to hospital, where he died 11 days later, on August 21.Ahmed suffered extensive head and facial injuries and had the imprint of a trainer across the front of his face.

The imprint was believed to match that of the make of trainer worn by Jones on the night, and Hunt’s DNA was found on Ahmed’s broken dentures, the court heard. Both men deny murder.

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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