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Canadian Imam receives death threat

Nadine Osman

An imam in Canada has received a death threat and calls for the Dar-Al Tawheed Islamic Centre near Toronto to be burned down.

Imam Ibrahim Hindy said he received an email threatening his life on April 14, the email included an image of a lynching.

Hindy is a member of a school board’s multi-faith group in Mississauga, a city just outside of Toronto.

Last month, a board meeting was the focus of a violent demonstration against a school allowing Muslim students to pray on Fridays. Pages of the Qur’an were torn and strewn on the floor by one man during the meeting.

Hindy has spoken out to defend the school board but he said he never expected he would be the target of such hate.

“I never imagined that it would take off and that people would attack me with such vitriol,” he said.

“People started attacking me online and from there I received a death threat in my email address. They were also on social media, people talking explicitly about burning down the mosque where I work at,” added Hindy.

Hindy said he contacted police, who promised patrols around the mosque. A spokesman for Peel Regional Police said that police are investigating the incident.

Peel Regional Police Constable Harinder Sohi said, “We are treating this incident very seriously and have allocated the appropriate resources which include increased patrols at the Islamic Centre.”

Following the violent outbreak at the school board meeting in March, rules were enacted to safeguard staff and students. Attendees must now sign-in, provide identification and agree to be recorded on video, school board officials said.

Schoolgirls trigger Islamophobic attack on a mother and daughter

Paul Anderson and Joanna Farrer were found guilty of racially aggravated assault (Photo: Metropolitan police)

Nadine Osman

A 12-year-old girl launched a brutal Islamophobic attack on a Muslim mother and her daughter that left one of her victims too scared to leave her house. The schoolgirl, who is now 13, and cannot be identified and her accomplices Paul Anderson, 37, and Joanna Farrer, 38, were found guilty of racially aggravated assault after targeting their victims in Eltham Hill, south-east London on April 13.

A fight broke out after the youngster abused and swore at the 42-year-old Muslim mother, who was waiting for her 23-year-old daughter to collect her at 8 pm on May 5 last year. When her daughter confronted the child, she launched a tirade of racial abuse and kicked the woman in the stomach – pulling her hair.

She then grabbed hold of her top and ripped it before punching the victim in the face.The injured woman backed away and called the police, but the teen soon returned with
Anderson, Farrer and another unidentified woman.

Anderson punched the mother in the face, causing her to fall to the ground – while one of the women tried to rip away her headscarf. He then turned on the daughter – hitting her on the nose and kicking repeatedly once she fell on the ground.

The vicious attack only ended after the desperate mother managed to flag down a passing ambulance causing the thugs to flee.

The suspects were identified with the help of a taxi driver who witnessed the assault. Following the trial at Woolwich Crown Court, Anderson, from Brockley, and Farrer, from Eltham, and the girl, were found guilty of two counts of religiously aggravated actual bodily harm.

Anderson was jailed for three years and four months and ordered to pay £2,000 compensation to the victims. Farrer will be sentenced on April 21, while the schoolgirl will be sentenced at Bromley Youth Court on a date to be set.

In a statement to The Muslim News Detective Inspector Melanie Pressley, of Greenwich Community Safety Unit, said the “brutal and completely unnecessary attack” would have continued had one of the victims not flag down an ambulance.

She added, “I am delighted we have been able to secure these convictions due to an excellent investigation by Detective Constable Nwosu and show that hate crime will not be tolerated in our community and we will seek out and bring offenders before the courts. It is shocking that the instigator of this attack was just 12 years old and I hope having a conviction to her name at such a young age will be a wake-up call and encourage her to change her ways.”

Bangladeshi and Pakistani women suffer multiple discrimination

Amira Al-Hooti

Several factors come into play when it comes to the pay gap. Where gender is concerned, ethnicity is also a significant factor, with Bangladeshi and Pakistani women in the UK suffering from the ‘largest aggregate (i.e. including full-time and part-time workers) gender pay gap at 26.2%’ according to Fawcett Society.

“This analysis reveals a complex picture of gender pay gap inequality. Black African women have been largely left behind, and in terms of closing the pay gap, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are today only where White British women were in the 1990s,” said Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers.

This highlights how the status of an individual’s identity can determine their inferiority in the workplace where they may face multiple discrimination. This may be particularly common amongst Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslim women who wear the hijab, which is a visible representation of their faith.

Despite this, the report found that some women from certain ethnic groups have made progress in that they have reversed the pay gap, now earning more than men of the same ethnic background as them. This was found amongst the Black Caribbean, Chinese and Irish women.

Sociologists Barron and Norris theorised what is known as the dual labour market. One of these markets known as the primary labour market is made up of people from higher social class backgrounds, usually men of British white backgrounds, and those who acquire high levels of qualifications, compared to the secondary labour market which typically composes of those of lower class backgrounds, women and ethnic minorities. The difference between being in one of these labour markets compared to the other is simple: being in the primary labour market would mean you can enjoy higher pay, increased benefits and better conditions, compared to lower pay and less secure jobs in the secondary labour market. The pair of sociologists concluded that ethnic minorities are overrepresented in the secondary labour market.

On the other hand, sociologist Charles Murray argues that it is not possible for a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities to form the secondary labour market, as that they do not attempt to enter the labour market.

However, the pay gap is not the only concern. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent organisation, determined to eradicate poverty in the UK in aim for a ‘prosperous UK’ where ‘everyone can thrive and contribute’, analysed statistics from the 2001 and 2011 England and Wales censuses. They found that ‘In terms of unemployment, the overwhelming picture is one of continuing ethnic minority disadvantage compared with the White British majority group’.

 

Xinjiang drivers to be tracked or face being refused to fill up fuel

Meng Yihua

China has mandated all cars in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang to install Government-issued tracking devices, in attempts to “ensure social security and safety and promote social stability and harmony”, as stated on the Bayingolin Government website.

On February 19, officials in Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture convened to discuss policies as part of the Government’s nationwide stability maintenance programme. This is the latest in a series of hard-line surveillance measures, after years of violent episodes across Xinjiang, which the Government blames on “Islamic militants”. Rights groups and international observers, however, insist that the blame for the violence and unrest should be laid at the Government’s feet itself. In recent years, Uyghur Muslims have complained about discriminatory measures against their religion and culture, including night-time police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions against Islamic practices, such as fasting during Ramadan and even forbidding them to keep beards. Moreover, in 2015 Uyghur shopkeepers were urged to sell alcohol and cigarettes, or face being shut down.

Dr James Leibold, a Xinjiang expert at La Trobe University in Melbourne, has described this as an increasing transformation of the region into a police state.

The new policy orders all drivers to install Beidou – a satellite navigation system developed in China, at a cost to them of 90RMB annually (approximately £10), and they have until June 30 to comply. Anyone who fails to comply by the end of June will be turned away from petrol stations, and will also be unable to sell their car on the second-hand market.

The official justification given by the state-run Global Times newspaper is that this programme will be able to help car owners locate their vehicles quickly if they are stolen by terrorists. The Bayingolin Government’s Weibo channel said that the order stems from the reality that cars are the primary mode of transport for terrorists, as well as a “frequently chosen tool to conduct terrorist attacks”.

This new measure is planned to be rolled out across the whole of Xinjiang, starting with Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, home to approximately 1.2million people. Despite the name implying that Mongolians comprise a significant proportion, they are in fact only 3% of the population, with 59% of them Han and approximately 35% Uyghur, according to official statistics.

The Bayingolin Prefecture said the aim was “comprehensive supervision” of all of the one to two million vehicles in the region, and that the aim was “to prevent theft, but also primarily to maintain stability”. A police official was quoted saying that it was so that drivers “can be tracked wherever they go”.

Chen Quanguo who previously oversaw the Tibetan Autonomous Region, which also suffers from ongoing issues relating to ethnic tensions, was appointed as the new party chief for Xinjiang last year, and he has attempted to initiate many of the more hard-line policies since his appointment. Last year saw a 30,000 increase in the number of police officers in Xinjiang; in June, Xinjiang residents were ordered to provide samples of their DNA when applying for travel documents, and authorities have also been investing in facial recognition technology to monitor citizens’ movements.

In the second half of February, Chinese security forces staged large-scale rallies in cities with significant Uyghur populations, such as Hotan, as well as Xinjiang’s capital – Urumqi, as demonstrations of force. Thousands of paramilitary units and police offers were paraded through city streets, as well as dozens of armoured vehicles. One rally in Urumqi involved at least 10,000 security officers and hundreds of vehicles.

Mr Bequelin, the East Asia Director for Amnesty International, said that the Beidou installation policy was an “indiscriminate, quasi-totalitarian” measure that would generate a deep resentment and in turn become “a real time bomb for China”.

 

Muslim Africans face discrimination in Germany, says UN panel

Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Ricardo Sunga (Photo Evan Schneider/UN)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Muslims of African descent face discrimination, Afrophobia and racial profiling in Germany, but their ordeal remains largely invisible to the wider society, a UNs expert panel reported on February 27 at the end of its first fact-finding visit to the country.

“Muslims of African descent are facing increasingly difficult times in the enjoyment of their rights due to increased Islamophobia and Afrophobia,” said Ricardo Sunga, who chairs the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. While praising Germany’s promotion of human rights and diversity, Sunga expressed concern over widespread problems faced by Africans and said Muslim Africans often become victims of discrimination in the workplace or in schools.

Referring to discrimination against Muslim women due to their Muslim dress (hijab) Sunga said, “Muslim women of African descent face further discrimination when it comes to access to the labour market,” he said.

“Many Muslim students of African descent describe their experiences in school as traumatic as they experience not only anti-Black racism but also anti-Muslim racism,” he also added. The UN’s expert group visited Germany last month to monitor the human rights situation of people of African descent in Germany, whose population estimated at 800,000.

He also explained that institutional racism and racist stereotyping by the criminal justice system has led to a failure to effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators of racist violence, racial profiling and hate crimes against people of African descent.

“The repeated denial that racial profiling does not exist in Germany by police authorities and the lack of an independent complaint mechanism at federal and state level fosters impunity,” said Sunga. The panel visited Berlin, Dessau, Dresden, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg from February 20 to 27, to gain first-hand knowledge on discriminatory practices affecting people of African descent in Germany.

“There is a serious lack of ethnicity-based disaggregated data, and an incomplete understanding of history, which obscure the magnitude of structural and institutional racism people of African descent face,” Sunga said.

During the eight-day mission, the human rights experts engaged with representatives of the German Federal and State authorities, representatives of national and provincial human rights institutions and civil society. The delegation welcomed ongoing efforts by the administration to address racial discrimination faced by people of African descent.

The Working group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

Companies can ban employees from wearing the hijab, rules the European Court of Justice

Nadine Osman

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that employers can ban Muslim employees from wearing the headscarf (hijab), but only if they bar all other religious and political symbols.

The landmark ruling came amid legal disputes in Belgium and France over the right for Muslim women to wear the hijab at work. Two employees in Belgium and France had brought the case to the ECJ after being dismissed for refusing to remove their hijab.

The Belgian woman, Samira Achbita, had been working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious symbols, while the French claimant Asma Bougnaoui, an IT consultant was told to remove her hijab after a client complained.

Announcing its verdict on March 14 the ECJ ruled that employers prohibiting, “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination. However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.”

The G4S dispute, which started in 2006, was based on an “unwritten rule” banning employees wearing signs of their political or religious beliefs, but the company’s workplace regulations were updated after Achbita started wearing a hijab.

Although they apply to all religions, the ECJ said it was “not inconceivable” that such rules could be deemed discriminatory for indirectly targeting Islam over other religions.

Bougnaoui a design engineer for Micropole, was asked to stop wearing her hijab to maintain neutrality after a client’s complaint but refused and was dismissed.

The ECJ referred the case back to the French Court of Cassation to establish whether the move was a “genuine and determining occupational requirement” and whether there were any formal rules in place that meet non-discrimination requirements.

The court’s advocate general recommended that companies should be allowed to prohibit hijab as long as a general ban on other symbols was in place last year.

Their advice in the French case was that a rule banning employees from wearing religious symbols when in contact with customers was discrimination, particularly when it only applied to the hijab.

The court’s ruling has been widely slammed by Muslim and human right groups across Europe. France’s anti-Islamophobia group Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) called the verdict an “economic and social death sentence” on Muslim women who are “already widely discriminated during the recruitment phase.” A spokesman for CCIF said the court sent “the worst message to tens of millions of European Muslims, at a time when the rhetoric of terrorists on all sides seeks to spread the idea of a divide between Europe and Muslims.”

That sentiment was echoed by the Muslim Council of Britain who branded the ECJ’s ruling “sad day for justice and equality”. In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the council said, “At a time when populism and bigotry are at an all-time high, we fear that this ruling will serve as a green light to those wishing to normalise discrimination against faith communities. Many will be worried that this action will prevent Muslim women who choose to wear the scarf from securing jobs. And it sends a message that we cannot accept a plural society that recognises and celebrates religious differences. This is a backward step which people of all faiths and none should speak out against.”

Amnesty International “urged nations states to react against the decision”, which gives “greater leeway to employers to discriminate against women and men on the grounds of religious belief”.

Samina Ansari, CEO of Amina Scottish National Muslim Women’s Organisation stated: “Annually we work with over 500 Muslim women through our employability projects in Glasgow and Dundee, and are aware of the precedent and negative impact that such a ruling will have on further penalising and denying Muslim women that wear hijab, from aspiring to or accessing employment opportunities, climbing up the career ladder or continuing in specific roles. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that is promoted in the West, and yet to restrict this very freedom, of wearing the hijab, you are oppressing women that are active citizens, integrated and contributing to society, fuelling the continued undermining of this already discriminated community group”.

Government asked to intervene in the case of British Muslim teacher denied entry to US

Juhel Miah was banned from flying from Reyk javik, Iceland to New York with his students (Photo:Twitter)

Nadine Osman

The Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokeswoman asked the Government to intervene in and follow-up the case of a Swansea-born Muslim teacher who was denied entry to the US during a school trip on February 16.

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece asked Foreign Office (FCO) Minister, Baroness Anelay, in the House of Lords on February 27, what the FCO is doing in the case of Juhel Miah, who was travelling with his students and other teachers from Llangatwg Comprehensive school in Aberdulais, Wales. He was banned from flying from Reykjavik, Iceland, with his entourage to New York by security personnel.

“It seems that he was blocked in Reykjavik from boarding a plane for no other reason than that he is a Muslim…Are these sorts of cases being monitored and followed up, and what representation is being made about this outrage? ” asked the Peer.

Baroness Anelay did not address whether the FCO “followed up” the case but explained it is “not always notified when somebody holding a British passport is denied entry or, indeed, detained upon entry. We can only be sure of knowing about it if they notify us, given that the US does not commonly hold those records and there is no international rule that any country must do so.”

Miah, 25, who is not a dual national, said he was made to feel like “a criminal” and was so worried by his ordeal that he did not eat or sleep for two days. He said that shortly before the flight was due to leave he was approached by an official who told him he was barred from flying.

“Everyone was looking at me, as I was getting my luggage; the teachers and kids were confused. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was being escorted out. It made me feel like a criminal. I couldn’t speak, I was lost for words,” Miah said.

“We got to the airport, and as soon as we got to check in, the lady behind the desk read my passport and then straight away said ‘you’ve been selected for a random security check’. She took me to a room, made me stand on a stool, asked me to take my shoes off, jacket off, checked under my foot, got a swab to brush over my hand and bag, my clothing and school hoodie. They gave me the all clear and then I went. The search was about five minutes. There were five or six people in the room, two searched me.”

He was taken to a hotel. “I was waiting for two hours for a room. It was horrendous. There were holes in the sheets, a dirty bag under the bed, the light wasn’t working and only the lamp was working. My phone battery was dying so I went to my suitcase, and that’s when I realised the padlock was missing. It had gone. I was so paranoid, I was scared, I didn’t sleep or eat for two days.”

“I am not getting an explanation for what happened.”

Neath Port Talbot Council has written to the US Embassy demanding an explanation. A Council spokesman described Miah’s ordeal as “an unjustified act of discrimination”.

The spokesman said he was denied travel to the US “despite being issued with a valid visa for travel. Mr Miah is a popular and respected teacher at Llangatwg comprehensive school. He is a Welsh Muslim.

“We are appalled by the treatment of Mr Miah and are demanding an explanation. The matter has also been raised with our local MP. No satisfactory reason has been provided for refusing entry to the United States – either at the airport in Iceland or subsequently at the US Embassy in Reykjavik. Mr Miah attempted to visit the Embassy but was denied access to the building. Understandably he feels belittled and upset at what appears to be an unjustified act of discrimination.”

A Council spokesperson told The Muslim News: “We understand that the Foreign Office is in discussion with the US authorities and are awaiting the outcome. The Council continues to support the school and Mr Miah”.

Neath Port Talbot Council pointed out that UK Government advice states: “We have confirmed with the US government that British passport holders (regardless of country of birth or whether they hold another passport/nationality) aren’t affected by the executive order.”

The Council said Miah’s experience casts serious doubts on whether either of the statements could be relied upon.

The Muslim Council of Wales (MCW) slammed “the latest in a series of incidents in which Muslims have been denied access to the US, which do in fact predate Trump and his Muslim ban”. They also described Miah’s ban as a case of “outright Islamophobic discrimination”.

Trump’s travel ban was unveiled at the end of his first week in office. In its original form, the order temporarily suspended all travel to the US for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya for 90 days. The order was put on hold by the courts and a revised version has not yet been signed.

Neath Labour AM, Jeremy Miles, said he was appalled to hear about the incident. He said he would be raising the issue with the Welsh Government to ask them to make representations to the British Government.

On the February 10, a US appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, both assured British Muslims they will not be affected by the travel ban. The FCO has refused to comment on Miah’s case.

Lohan profiled and asked to remove headscarf at Heathrow

Lindsay Lohan was asked to remove her headscarf by security staff in Heathrow airport (Photo: Glenn Francis/PacificProDigital.com)

Nadine Osman

Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan said she was “racially profiled” at Heathrow airport recently.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on February 22, the 30-year-old actor who is studying Islam, said she was requested to remove her headscarf by security staff queuing for a flight to New York, having lately returned from Turkey.

“I was wearing a headscarf and I got stopped at the airport and racially profiled for the first time in my life,” she said. “She opened my passport and saw ‘Lindsay Lohan’ and started immediately apologising but then said, ‘Please take off your head scarf.’”

Lohan said that she was “scared” by what such interventions might mean for others. “How would another woman who doesn’t feel comfortable taking off her headscarf feel?” she said. “That was really interesting to me.”

The interviewer asked if the incident “freaked her out”, so which Lohan replied: “It did, I’m from New York, I was born and raised there so I was a little intimidated.”

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport told The Muslim News: “Heathrow respects the cultural and religious needs of all passengers travelling through the airport. We work hard to provide our passengers with great service while ensuring everyone remains safe and secure.”

A Home Office spokeswoman added: “Those who land at a UK airport to catch a connecting flight would usually have their documentation checked.”

Ali Junior stopped again after testifying about first airport detention

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s son Ali Junior was detained and questioned twice in the space of two months (Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s son was again detained and questioned at an airport in Washington before being allowed to board a flight to Fort Lauderdale after meeting with lawmakers to discuss last month’s airport detention incident.

On February 7, Muhammad Ali Junior, 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, 67, were stopped at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after returning from Jamaica. They traveled to Washington on March 8 without incident to speak to members of a Congressional subcommittee on border security about that experience. When Ali attempted to board a JetBlue Airways flight home to Florida March 10 he was again detained for 20 minutes.

His Attorney Chris Mancini said Ali spoke to Department of Homeland Security officials by telephone and showed his driver’s license and passport before he was allowed to board. “Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS,” said Mancini.

Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was on the same flight, tweeted a photo with Ali after he was allowed to board and wrote: “On way home on domestic flight Muhammad Ali Jr. detained again … Religiously profiling son of ‘The Greatest’ will not make us safe.”

Speaking about his first detention Ali Junior, said he felt “violated” after he was detained by immigration officials at a Florida airport and questioned about his religion in a case he insists was of unconstitutional profiling. Returning from a Black History Month event in Jamaica with his mother Khalilah Camacho Ali, the pair were pulled aside and separated from each other on February 7 at the immigration checkpoint at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Khalilah who was Muhammad Ali’s second wife was released a short time later after showing a photo of herself with her ex-husband, Mancini said. But Ali Junior was not carrying a photo of his world-famous boxer father.

Ali Junior was detained for almost two hours, despite showing them his passport and driver’s license as well as telling customs officials that he’s the boxing legend’s son and a native-born US citizen; the younger Ali said he was made to feel like an outsider in his own country.

“I am a US citizen… [but on that day] I felt like an immigrant,” he said. Officials first asked him his name. “Then they asked me, ‘Who gave you that name?’ That is how I was born, with that name. My father and mother named me,” he said. Despite telling agents he was the son of Muhammad Ali, he was asked about his religion.  “I said I am a Muslim. He [the official] said ‘OK’,” Ali Junior said. “I guess they didn’t believe me so they took me to another room and he asked me again the same questions,” he said.

Ali Junior said he waited in the room for about two hours before he was told: “You’re free to go”. No one offered an apology. He said he felt his rights had been violated. “I believe it will happen again, knowing that Donald trump is president,” he said.

The incident left him so badly shaken. Ali Junior said he experienced emotions similar to those after his father died in June 2016. “It makes me feel like I was at my father’s funeral. I don’t know what to think. I was lost for words,” he said, but added, if his father were alive he would have told him: “You are a Muslim and speak”. “I felt like I was religiously profiled, I felt violated,” said Ali Junior.

Mancini said, “From the way they were treated, from what was said to them, they can come up with no other rational explanation except they fell into a profiling program run by customs, which is designed to obtain information from anyone who says they’re a Muslim It’s quite clear that what triggered his detention was his Arabic name and his religion,”.

US Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Daniel Hetlage, confirmed that Ali Junior was held for questioning by customs officers, but said: “it wasn’t because he’s a Muslim and it wasn’t because of his Arabic-sounding name.”

The Agency said that its officers process more than 1.2 million travellers daily with “vigilance and in accordance with the law.” It said it does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

“We treat all travellers with respect and sensitivity…integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles,” insisted the Agency. During his detention, Ali Junior was asked repeatedly about his lineage and his name, “as if that was a pre-programmed question that was part of a profile,” Mancini said.

Ali Junior and his mother have been frequent global travellers. The family connects their treatment to President Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict immigration after calling during his campaign for a ban on Muslims entering the US.

“This has never happened to them before. They’re asked specifically about their Arabic names. Where they got their names from and whether they’re Muslims. It doesn’t take much to connect those dots to what Trump is doing.” Mancini said.

Muslim school sign vandalised with neo-Nazi emblem

Nadine Osman

A sign for a Muslim school in Illinois was defaced with far-right symbols sometime between January 15 night or morning January 16.

Police were called by officials at the Islamic Center of Peoria (ICP) at Charter Oak Road, at about 10:25 am.

The numbers 1488 were painted on a sign for Daarul Uloom Islamic School in pink paint. 1488, is a numerical Nazi emblem.

The number 14 is a reference to 14 words white supremacist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”, while the number 88 either refers to those 88 words from Mein Kampf, or for ‘Heil, Hitler’, as H is the 8th letter of the English alphabet.

In a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for ICP confirmed the “incident has been reported to the police of Peoria and the sign ‘Alhamdolellah’ [thank God] has been cleaned.”

“At this moment, the ICP has requested from the police more patrols especially during the second and third shifts. The ICP is also looking into adding security cameras at the entrance of the facility with adding more warning signs that the ICP facility is monitored by video surveillance,” said the spokesman.

He added, “The Islamic Center will continue to build stronger relationships with the community at-large, specifically with our Christian and Jewish neighbours, as we continue to strive for peace and unity.”

The Islamic Center received support from the wider community. “Support and help from the Peoria community have been tremendous and touching. Outpouring calls, messages and gifts have been received over the past 24 hours. Alhamdolellah, receiving such a support is a blessing and a mercy from Allah SWT first and foremost,” said President of the Center, Mohammed Daoud.

Ex-con sentenced to 30 years for setting fire to Florida mosque

Nadine Osman

An ex-convict Messianic Jew who set fire to an Orlando mosque was sentenced to 30 years in prison on February 6. Joseph Schreiber pleaded no contest to setting fire to the Islamic Centre of Fort Pierce on September 11, 2016.

The 32-year-old was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution, although damages exceeded $100,000. The damage to the mosque was so extensive that its leaders recently announced that it will have to move.

CCTV footage from the mosque showed Schreiber driving up to the mosque on a motorcycle and approaching the building while talking on a mobile phone. He carried a bottle of liquid and some papers and left when there was a flash.

The first 911 calls were made about 45 minutes later after the fire had spread to the attic. It took about four-and-a-half hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured in the fire.

At his sentencing, he said that he was not motivated by hate, but by anxiety that there might be another attack like Omar Mateen’s assault on a gay nightclub, Pulse, which saw 49 people murdered and 53 injured in July last year. Schreiber made the remarks in a letter that he read to the court.

In the letter, Schreiber also called on Muslim communities “to make peace with America, make peace with Israel and stop the attacks.”

Despite his claims that he was motivated by anxiety, prosecutor Steve Gosnell said Schreiber told police he believed Muslims “are trying to infiltrate our government” and that “the teaching of Islam should be complete, completely illegal.”

He also posted on Facebook last July that “All Islam is radical” and that all Muslims should be treated as terrorists and criminals.

Last September, a former inmate who served time with Schreiber at the faith-based Lawtey Correctional Institution, described Schreiber as being a ‘couple cans short of a six-pack.’

Ralph Alfonso said Schreiber joined a Messianic Jewish group he led because he was looking for a place to fit in.

He said Schreiber sometimes would say something negative about Muslims, but “we would tell him that’s not what we believe, that it is not godly.”

Australian Muslim MP subject to “vile” racist and sexist abuse

Amira Al-Hooti

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Upper House Greens Party MP, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, an environmentalist who holds strong values of social justice has been subject to “vile” abuse on the basis of being a Muslim woman, saying that this came from “certain people who don’t believe I belong to this country, maybe because of my colour or the religion that I belong to,”

Faruqi escaped from Pakistan in 1992 with her husband and their young son, finding their way to Australia, a safe haven away from an “oppressive regime” in her birth country.

According to The Insider, the official New Matilda blog, Faruqi highlighted the effects of such hateful messages and what it could result in, saying that “on the one hand, it’s quite distressing for myself and my staff to see all these really violent messages. On the other hand, I think there’s also a real danger of us becoming normalised to it.”

“I think it’s good to take back some control as well as expose it for what it is. I know so many other people – especially a lot of Muslim women – who are in the public eye who receive similar messages, so we can’t really ignore it.”

This led her to initiate Love Letters to Mehreen, with the very bullies leaving racist and sexist messages on social media as her muse. “So every few weeks we pick a particularly hate-filled message and I respond to it in a humorous way, and that has really taken off. I think people do appreciate that we are exposing these issues and, of course, it is quite cathartic for myself and my staff as well,” Faruqi revealed according to the BBC in Sydney.

She captioned the assortment of photos in her Facebook album as ‘A curated collection of the racist and sexist filth I receive here in the office, with just a touch of sass.’

One of the love letters read, “You should be racially profiled. People who look like you are responsible for terror worldwide. Why are you not in a kitchen making sandwiches anyway?” to which she entertainingly responded “Sandwiches!? Have you even seen my cooking videos?”

With this post, she attached a link of her cooking video, the third in her Cooking with Mehreen series, whereby she cooked a traditional South Asian dessert served on Eid. The responses on her video were positive with only one person commenting on the level of sugar used saying ‘That is a lot of sugar. Definitely not-sugar-to-taste. Should come with a warning. Happy Eid.’

Faruqi came out with a collection of mugs with some of her Love Letters printed on them. All of the proceeds went towards an NSW organisation called Seekers Centre, who according to their Facebook page, ‘provides practical and personal support for people seeking asylum living in the community’.

On a recent arrival to Los Angeles International Airport, Faruqi believes to have been racially profiled. The Pakistani-born who was granted citizenship in Australia 22 years ago tweeted ‘After fingerprinting etc, we were asked how we ‘got’ Aussie passports & marched off to the interview room for grilling. Welcome to America.’

Thousands protest Austria’s face-veil ban

Elham Asaad Buaras

Thousands of Muslim women marched in the capital of Austria against the coalition Government plans to ban full-face veils (niqab) in public.

The ban is part of a package of changes hammered out by the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) to avert the collapse of their coalition Government and the rise of the far-right Freedom Party ahead of parliamentary elections next year.

Sebastian Kurz, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration and ÖVP MP went a step further and appealed for a ban on headscarves (hijab) for civil servants.

The protestors took part in the rally on February 4 calling for the ban to be abandoned.

The women marched under the slogan ‘My body – My right of self-determination!’ with many carrying placards declared that wearing a veil is a personal choice.

The plan is to introduce the ban on the niqab in public places within 18 months.

France passed a similar ban more than six years ago, and last month German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on the full face veil.

President of Muslim rights advocacy group IGGiÖ, Ibrahim Olgun, criticised the proposed ban, saying that it would “pull the rug” from under efforts to create a functioning relationship between the Government and the Muslim community.

Other new policy goals they have agreed include expanding Austria’s CCTV network and a compulsory “integration year” for asylum seekers, during which they would have to commit themselves to learning German and working for a charitable organisation.

Police officers and court officials are also banned from wearing headscarves in order to appear “ideologically and religiously neutral’, the coalition agreement states.

The document stated: “Those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society.”

Teacher wins anti-hijab case in Germany

(Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

A German court ruled in favour of a teacher who was denied a teaching job at a public school due to her wearing the headscarf (hijab).

The Regional Labor Court in Berlin-Branderburg ordered Berlin’s city-state government to pay €8,680 (£7,395) in compensation to the woman who had filed a lawsuit against the Education Ministry. Judge Renate Schaude ruled on February 9 the ministry’s refusal to give her the teaching post discriminatory.

In 2015, Germany’s Constitutional Court had annulled a general ban on teachers wearing headscarves and ruled that a ban could only be imposed if the hijab threatens the peaceful environment at a school. The judge ruled the woman’s hijab did not pose a threat to peace at the school she wanted to work in Berlin.

Despite the Constitutional Court’s decision in 2015, a number of German states, like Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Berlin, are reluctant to allow teachers to wear the hijab, often citing the provisions of their “neutrality laws”.

The city-state Berlin’s neutrality law prohibits public employees, including teachers, police and justice workers from wearing religious clothing and symbols. However, the hijab ban has been lifted in many states like Bremen, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Europe, and among the four million Muslims, most of whom are of Turkish origin. Although several German states ban headscarf for teachers, the country has no law banning students from wearing headscarves.

Sunderland man admits assault on Muslim woman

Elham Asaad Buaras

A 55-year-old man has admitted pulling a face veil (niqab) off a woman in a Sunderland shopping centre before yelling “you are in our country now, you stupid f***ing Muslim”.

Peter Scotter, who has 66 previous convictions for 157 offences, including actual bodily harm, and racially aggravated criminal damage, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault and of racially aggravated harassment.

Ruling on February 6 Judge Stephen Earl said he would sentence him later, once he has heard more details about the diagnosis of a cancerous tumour under Scotter’s tongue.

At a previous hearing, the court heard how Scotter of Beach Street, Sunderland, left his victim terrified when he attacked her in July.

Laura Lax, prosecuting, said the victim was waiting with her nine-year-old son for her husband outside a store in Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre when a man “purposefully” walked towards her and grabbed her niqab.

The force he used almost threw her to the ground, and the niqab came away from her face, exposing her and causing her pain to the neck.

She remembered being scared but was so shocked she could not remember what was said, magistrates were told.

The niqab was damaged, but she has since repaired it herself.

Lax told the court the victim said afterwards: “This incident has left me scared to go out and I don’t want to go into town again. I am disgusted my nine-year-old son had to witness this.”
Another witness heard Scotter shout: “Here, take that ****** off, you are in our country now, you stupid ******* Muslim.”

When a police officer arrived, Scotter was heard to say: “Our Britain, you live by our ******* rules” before hurling more racist abuse.

He continued to make derogatory comments when he was being interviewed after his arrest.
Scotter had been due to stand trial for the niqab offences next month.

Man who kicked pregnant Muslim woman causing her to lose twins, charged

David Gallacher, 37 (inset) been charged with racially aggravated assault on a pregnant Muslim woman (Photo: Facebook)

Nadine Osman

A man has been charged with racially aggravated assault after a Muslim woman was kicked in the stomach while pregnant with twins causing her to lose the babies.

David Gallacher, 37, will appear before a magistrates after a 34-year-old Somali woman, who was wearing a headscarf, was attacked as she walked close to a mosque in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire on August 6 last year. The woman was in the Co-op store when she was approached by a man who made racial remarks, Thames Valley Police said.

She was followed to her car, where the man then hit her 40-year-old husband over the head with a bag of ice and a bottle, before kicking the woman in the torso, causing her to fall to the floor, police said. Both were taken to Milton Keynes General Hospital. She later revealed she did not know she was expecting twins until medics told her she had lost them. The unnamed mother-of-four was forced to flee her home in fear as a result of the assault.

Gallacher was charged on February 6 with one count of assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, two counts of racially/religiously aggravated assault, three of assaulting a police constable in the execution of their duty and one of common assault.

Gallacher was arrested a day after police released CCTV images of the alleged assault.

In a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “The second incident relates to an incident on September 14 in Larch Grove, Bletchley, when three police officers were assaulted as they arrested a man.”

Gallacher has been bailed to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on March 14.

Solicitor fined for racially abusing mother and child

Alexander MacKinnon, 47, of Mansionhouse Road, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to the racially abusing an Asian woman and her four-year-old child

Nadine Osman

A solicitor has been fined over £1,000 on February 3 after hurling racist abuse at an Asian mum in front of her four-year-old son on a train.

Alexander MacKinnon, 47, of Mansionhouse Road, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to the racially aggravated public order offence. The incident, which happened on December 29 last year on a train from London Euston to Glasgow, was captured on video by the Glasgow-born victim.

The court heard how MacKinnon, who had been drinking and was seated in the first class carriage of the 2.30pm Virgin West Coast Train, shouted at a four-year-old child, telling him to be quiet.

When the child’s mother Sanaa Shahid asked him not to shout at her son, he replied with a barrage of racist abuse. MacKinnon told the pair: “You don’t deserve to be here. Bloody foreigners. Where were you even born?”

He asked why “didn’t she go back there” and insisted that she should not be in first class. Shahid, who works as a corporate lawyer, reported MacKinnon to a member of rail staff. The train manager was informed who told MacKinnon he would be taken off the train at Carlisle and met by police.

He responded by continuing his racist rant, accusing his victim of wasting police time by reporting the matter and adding that she shouldn’t be in this country. In the video, MacKinnon appears to be very drunk and can be seen drinking red wine straight from a bottle.

Solicitor fined after racially abusing Asian mother and child

MacKinnon told Sanaa Shahid and her 4-year-old son Zayn ” You don’t deserve to be here. Bloody foreigners. Where were you even born..”

Speaking on the phone to a friend, he says: “It’s my word against hers. I’m going to get off the train if it stops at Carlisle and wait for another…she doesn’t belong in this country. “Now she’ll accuse me of insulting her and discrimination.”

The train manager gets up and tells him: “It’s not just your word against hers, it’s mine as well because I heard it all.” MacKinnon responds: “Yeah, I wanted you to.” In the police interview, MacKinnon continued to be abusive and racist about his victim.

In a statement to The Muslim News, PC Mark Mellenthin said Shahid “was visibly distressed and shaken by MacKinnon’s frightening racist outburst. Thankfully the train manager stepped in before the abuse escalated.”

“People like MacKinnon must understand that abusive, racist behaviour like this has no place on the railway and will not be tolerated. Everyone has the right to travel in safety without fear of abuse like this, violence or intimidation.”

Shahid said the incident had also left her young son fearful. She said she was determined to speak up against racism. She told the programme: “I’m born and bred in Glasgow. I consider myself to be Scottish Pakistani. Everything has finished now, but if I was to travel down to London, if I go on public transport, it would still be in the back of my mind.”

She added, “I’m not scared to speak up, which is why I did speak up about all of this because no-one should accept this and no-one should make you feel like you don’t belong in your own country. But the thing that scares me is that there’s people out there that won’t know what to say. ”

“If this was to happen to my mum, my mum would maybe turn round and say to me ’just ignore it”.

 

Man fined for Islamophobic rant

Nadine Osman

A Bedfordshire man who threatened a 21-year-old security guard in an Islamophobic incident has been ordered by the courts to pay a £1,665 fine and £85 in compensation to the victim.

Anthony O’Farrell, 45, of Clophill Road, Silsoe, pleaded guilty to using religiously aggravated words intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress and possession of a Class B drug, at Luton Magistrates’ Court on January 5.

Uwais Akhtar was working as a doorman at MacDonald’s in Luton town centre at around 5 am on December 18 when he was approached by O’Farrell.

O’Farrell had been attending an event in Dunstable earlier in the evening and was noticeably drunk. O’Farrell walked towards Akhtar and called him a “Muslim c**t”.

Akhtar said: “Out of nowhere, he called me a Muslim c**t. I was so shocked at this and didn’t know how to respond. I started to feel sick and disgusted.”

O’Farrell followed this insult a few seconds later by calling the young man a “terrorist”.

Akhtar said: “At this point, I told him to walk away. He refused, so I put my radio on and called it into the police. He then walked off, the council CCTV followed him up the street and he was arrested. What was done that day was not right. I mean, is it a crime to be a Muslim?”

When O’Farrell was arrested later that morning he was found to be in possession of a small amount of cannabis.

In a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “This was an extremely distressing incident for the 21-year-old victim, which has made him fearful of further attacks. We are really pleased with the sentencing which sends out a strong message to others that Beds Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts adopt a zero-tolerance approach to this type of behaviour.”

“Hate crimes are based on ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and have no place in our society, as everyone has the right to live free from fear or harassment. We hope this case will encourage others who have experienced Islamophobia or other hate crimes to come forward and report them.”

Passenger asked to leave the bus for listening to Qur’an aloud

Amira Al-Hooti

A man was told to leave a 105 bus service to Heathrow, in Southall, because he was playing the Qur’an on his phone out loud.

According to the Daily Mail, a witness on the bus claimed that the Qur’an recitation was “not loud at all”.  The same passenger also reported that “the bus driver asked the passenger to turn it off and he turned it off without questioning him”. Evidence from a video taken by a passenger of the aftermath of the incident, shows the driver saying “I can’t do it (drive the bus) safely with music playing” and a woman shouting “he’s turned it off”.

However, despite this, a quarrel had broken out between the passenger and the driver. The driver was insistent on having the passenger remove himself from the bus and was refusing to continue on his journey if the passenger was not going to comply with his order. The “music” as referred to by the driver was too loud making him feel uncomfortable whilst driving the bus.

The individual had allegedly responded by saying “why do I need to get off the bus when I’ve paid for my fare, you asked me to turn off the Qur’an and I did as you said.”

This, unfortunately, did nothing to alleviate the frustration of the driver as he had responded with threats to call the police if the individual remained on the bus. The man did not appear to be bothered by this claiming that he had rights. He called the driver “racist” as he had done nothing but play the Qur’an.

“It’s not even about the music it’s about your attitude,” said the driver defensively, contradicting his initial argument, according to the witness’ statement to the Daily Mail.

The police had been called regarding the incident. According to the passenger’s account, however, “they weren’t helpful at all” leaving it up to the driver to decide whether he “wants to drive the bus or not”.

However, TfL gave a different account of the incident to The Muslim News. They claimed that the driver had “politely asked the individual to turn the music off to which the passenger had responded by swearing at him and refusing to switch off the Qur’an.”

TfL added that the Qur’an was being played loudly contrary to the witness’ statement to the Daily Mail. “Had the driver been in the wrong”, TfL “would have taken action.”

According to TfL, the bus driver was permitted to ask the passenger to leave. This is because the driver might not be able to listen to commands from the bus depot and may also get “distracted which can be dangerous and disruptive”. As well as this, passengers may be unable to hear the bus stop announcements.

 

Shelvey banned for calling Wolves rival Romain Saiss a ‘smelly Arab c**t’

Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey has been urged to issue a public apology after racially abusing Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder (inset) Romain Saiss (Photo: Flickr)

Nadine Osman

Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey has been urged to issue a public apology after the full extent of the racially abusive language used against Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Romain Saiss was revealed.

On December 20 Sportsmail reported that the 24-year-old England player called the Moroccan a “smelly Arab” during a 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park on September 17.
An Independent Regulatory Commission found Shelvey guilty of racially abusing Saiss last month and he was banned for five matches, fined £100,000 and told to attend an FA education course. The FA have now released details of the private hearing.


Wolves players Dominic Iorfa, Matt Doherty and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all gave evidence against Shelvey. In it, they insist they heard Shelvey call Saiss “a smelly Arab c**t” and “a Moroccan pr**k”.

Shelvey insisted he had only ever said: “smelly breathed pr**k” and that he was reacting to being called a “bald c**t” having suffered from alopecia since childhood. Shelvey has decided not to appeal against the verdict but said he is “disappointed and frustrated with the outcome of the hearing”.

However, the Anti-racism charity Kick It Out has called on Shelvey to apologise. In a statement to The Muslim News Kick It Out said: “To bring closure to this incident so all parties can move on and to send out the right message, we hope both Newcastle United and Shelvey issue a public apology to the player concerned and his club, so that everyone can look forward to the remainder of the season.

“One such instance of discrimination involving players in the professional game is too many and shows there’s still work to do in tackling discrimination in football.

“We hope the FA’s education course benefits the player and teaches him about what is and isn’t acceptable language to use.”

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Shelvey had goaded Iorfa over the amount of money he earns, a practice in football known as “cashing someone off”. Shelvey accepted he had called Iorfa a “peasant” a number of times but says it was in response to being called a “f***ing pr**k”.

Newcastle Manager Rafa Benitez says the club stands by their player. “We support him because for me it was a very confused [sic] situation,” he said.

“The main thing is he knows that he has to be careful in the future and just concentrate on his football. Strange things happen on the pitch and everyone is referring to this issue but we continue to support him – we don’t support him in the way [of the alleged language] but that he was making a mistake. But what people say he said, maybe he didn’t say, so it is very confused [sic]. What we have to do is move on and start thinking about the future.”

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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