‘Occult-obsessed killer’ opened fire at Muslims during prayer

Zurich Police secure the area in front of the Islamic centre where a gun man has in jured several people on December 19

Amira Al-Hooti

A 24-year-old Swiss man fired at Muslim worshippers in a mosque in Zurich on December 19.

Three Muslims were injured in the Islamisches Zentrum [Islamic Centre]. The condition of the wounded worshippers aged 30, 35 and 56 were said to be improving post-surgery according to Zurich State Criminal Police chief, Christiane Lentjes Meili.

The Swiss man of Ghanaian origin committed suicide around 300 metres away from the mosque just after he allegedly shot at Muslim worshippers.

The motives of the alleged attacker are not known, however, the police have said it was not a terrorist attack. “There’s no indication of any kind of terrorist connection (to Islamic State) or an Islamic radicalisation of the suspect,” said Meili.

The Swiss police have denied any links of the perpetrator with the right-wing stating that he had a deep obsession with the occult. Meili revealed that “corresponding symbols have been found at his home”.

However, the Islamic Council of Switzerland insisted that politicians and the media must now “finally take Islamophobia seriously”. The Islamic Council added that “Islamophobia is pushed back to the margins of society, where racism and anti-Semitism once were relegated.”

Many people took to twitter condemning the attack that took place in Switzerland’s largest city. On the day of the attack @TurtleAndOposum tweeted ‘people forget to mention the “terrorist” attack in Zurich, Switzerland, was ON a mosque! Fire was opened ON praying Muslims. #Zurichshooting’. The tweet received a whopping 64 re-tweets and 52 likes.

In a referendum on February 28, that campaigned for the expulsion of “foreign criminals” the popular far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) conspicuously displayed images of a white sheep kicking a black sheep off of what appears to be the Swiss flag. The image declared ‘Finally create security’ in German. The images were dispersed in numerous forms such as posters, newsletters, leaflets and animated billboards.

However, the initiative was rejected with 58.9% voting against dismissing “foreign criminals”. The SVP responded by saying that “according to statements made by the federal administration and those opposed to the initiative, the legislation approved by Parliament, which should be immediately put into action, will allow for the expulsion of over 3,800 foreign criminals.”

Swiss media say the mosque is attended by people from North Africa, Somalia and Eritrea. In 2009, a nationwide vote backed a constitutional ban on new minarets.

Chinese Muslims face further infringements of basic rights as authorities demand passports

Stand Up For Uyghur Rights Washington demonstration against Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to the US, September 25, 2015 (Photo: Elvert Barnes/elvertbarnes.com)

Meng Yihua

A few weeks ago, the Uyghur Muslims experienced further discrimination, as the regional police ordered an arbitrary recall of their passports indefinitely, curtailing the citizens’ freedom to travel.

Over 10 million Uyghurs in China will be affected by this policy, which had already been implemented in various counties across Xinjiang since last April.

The Uyghurs are a group of ethnically-Central Asian Muslims who live primarily in Xinjiang, northwest China, a resource-rich region whose demography – and the beliefs and culture associated with it – have been giving the national Government cause for concern in recent years. In attempts to suppress the region’s ethnic minorities, and maintain control of the region’s valuable resources, the Government has been implementing discriminatory policies that repress religious and cultural freedoms, further angering the citizens and leading to violent uprisings in response.

The policy calls for all Uyghur citizens to hand their passports into local police stations for “examination and management”, with the official deadline given as February 2017. However, in one district, Kumul, the police notice was issued on October 15, setting the deadline for passports to be returned by October 18. To add to the frustration, Xinjiang residents living in the rest of the country have received notices that they must relinquish their passports in person, and are thus forced to travel back to their local police in Xinjiang to do so. Anyone failing to return their passports within the deadline faces the risk of being barred from leaving the country at all.

One policeman in Aksu said that anyone who requires their passport has to obtain special permission to have it temporarily returned by applying to the police station. As it stands, the application process for passports and travel documents is already difficult and many are denied.

Since June this year, new regulations in Yili prefecture in Xinjiang requires residents to provide DNA samples, fingerprints, voiceprint samples and a 3D body scan image in order to receive their passports, police-issued exit permits, and other travel documents, including travel passes to Hong Kong and Taiwan. The policy came into effect on June 1, just before the start of Ramadan, during which month civil servants and children are already banned from fasting.

In April 2015, Yili had already ordered its residents to hand their passports in, and it was officially declared that no new ones would be issued. Liu Qing, a New York based rights activist argues that collecting DNA is an example of one of the Government’s many attempts at heightening the sense of fear; this was in response to the widely-offered claim that the new rule is part of Beijing’s effort to maintain social order and prevent future terrorist attacks. The President of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association (UAA), Ilshat Hassan, said that the policy has two main purposes: the first is to delay the Uyghurs from obtaining passports, and the second is to give them the sense that they are under threat. This is because their voice would still be recognisable if they were abroad and speaking to media. Moreover, these restrictions have made it more difficult for Uyghurs to go for Hajj, or indeed to book any overseas trips.

Sophie Richardson, Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared that “seizing the passports of an entire region violates both Chinese and international law”. HRW point out that China is a signatory to the covenant on civil and political rights, within which it is stated that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own”.

Beijing claims that all the policies are in the interests of security; evidence of the necessity for such measures is offered by pointing to the violence from extremist groups. However, independent experts doubt the threat and point instead to China’s economic interest in Xinjiang as a resource-rich region, leading to their tough security measures.

Americans view Muslims as the most discriminated

Elham Asaad Buaras

Eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) believe Muslims in the US face discrimination – with 57 percent saying they face “a lot” of discrimination, according to the latest Pew Research.

The 2016 Election survey carried out from November 30 to December 5 showed that the majority of Americans also say that homosexuals and blacks (76 percent), Hispanics (70 percent) and women (60 percent) face at least some discrimination.

Fewer Americans say Jews (44 percent), evangelical Christians (42 percent) or whites (38 percent) face “a lot” or “some” discrimination.

The shares saying there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims and blacks have increased since 2013. At that time, when asked a somewhat different version of the question, 45% said there was a lot of discrimination against Muslim Americans; today, 57% see a lot of discrimination against Muslims in society.

The research also shows discrepancies in perceptions based on political affiliation with Democrats being much more likely than Republicans to say Muslims (89 percent), blacks (88 percent), gays and lesbians (86 percent) and Hispanics (82 percent) face a lot or some discrimination in society today. By contrast, Republicans are somewhat more likely than Democrats to see discrimination against evangelical Christians and whites.

Over the last three years, the public has become more likely to say blacks and Muslims face a lot of discrimination in society.

The increased perception of Muslims being discriminated against is backed by recent events.
An advocacy group reported that nearly 900 incidents of hate and intolerance were recorded across the US in the days following November’s presidential election, mainly targeting minority groups in the country. “I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a tremendous, tremendous undercount,” said Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

The group recorded almost 900 cases of harassment and intimidation in the 10 days following Donald Trump’s election, which was cheered by white supremacists and others fired up by his rhetoric disparaging immigrants, Muslims, and women. Most incidents involved graffiti or verbal harassment, although a small number were violent physical altercations. Slightly more than half of the cases were anti-immigrant or anti-black. The incidents were reported in nearly every state in the country, led by California with 99 cases.

The FBI also reported that hate crimes against Muslims in the US surged 67 percent in 2015 – the highest level since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The bureau’s Uniform Crime Report documented 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes, up from 154 in 2014.

Wilders guilty of incitement against Moroccans

Anti-Islam political leader Geert Wilders (Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

Controversial anti-Islam political leader Geert Wilders was convicted on December 9 of inciting discrimination and of insulting a group for saying that the Netherlands would be safer with fewer Moroccans.

But no penalty was imposed on Wilders, whose Party for Freedom is leading in polls ahead of the general elections in March.

The three-member judiciary panel found that Wilders violated Dutch law with his remarks on March 19, 2014, but it elected not to convict him of inciting hatred and rejected the prosecutors’ request to fine him €5,000 (£4,180).

Wilders was found to have violated laws on inciting discrimination and group offense when he led a crowd at a political rally around the time of municipal elections in The Hague by chanting, “Fewer, fewer” to the question “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?”

If the Party for Freedom wins the most seats in the elections, Wilders could become prime minister, and he would then have to form a coalition government with other willing parties.

Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, leader of the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, said a year ago that he would refuse to join such a coalition unless Wilders retracted his comments about Moroccans.

Wilders, whose defense team said he would appeal the decision, was not present when the verdict was read by the chief judge, Hendrik Steenhuis.

Spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service, Frans Zonneveld, said, “The most important thing is that he is found guilty of group insult and inciting discrimination. For now, we’re very satisfied that he has been found guilty of these two charges.”

The judges said that Wilders’s comments at the rally had further polarized Dutch society by using “nationality as an ethnic designation” and that mutual respect was imperative in the “pluralistic” Netherlands.

“He said that he was supported by millions of people and therefore was not to blame of offending a group,” Judge Steenhuis said. “It’s important to answer the question of whether he was guilty of this. That question is answered in our court system. We state that you cannot offend groups of people and discriminate against them.”

Wilders has repeatedly made vitriolic and inflammatory remarks about Islam, the Qur’an, immigrants and Dutch minority groups.

“I still cannot believe it, but I have just been convicted because I asked a question about Moroccans,” said Wilders.

Neo-Nazi swastikas spray painted on Stockholm mosque

A mosque located not far from Stockholm was vandalised with Neo-Nazi emblems and a sacrilegious message ‘kill Muslims’ (Photo: TT)

Amira Al-Hooti

A mosque located not far from the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, was vandalised with Neo-Nazi emblems and a sacrilegious message ‘kill Muslims’ scrawled near the entrance of the mosque “on all three walls” according to police spokesman Sven-Erik Olsson’s statement.

“This is not something one would expect… It’s hard to understand what is going on in society, both internationally and in our own country. I don’t recognise Sweden anymore,” Mustafa Tumturk, a representative of Stockholm’s Muslim community and one of the founders of the mosque in 1985, told Swedish news agency, TT.

Rouzbeh Djalaie producer of Sveriges Radio took to twitter to say, “This morning the mosque in Bredäng was attacked. Someone threw firecrackers and painted swastikas and racist expressions”. The fireworks had reportedly been set off after morning prayers. All of the worshippers, aside from one, had left the mosque by this time. Although he was not physically injured by the incident, he was left feeling uneasy.

The Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, said, “Everyone in Sweden has the right to practise their religion. Those who try to hinder and launch attacks have no place in Sweden.”

The Neo-Nazi supporting perpetrators still remain unidentified to the Swedish police since the start of the investigation. “As the Government, we will try our best to find the perpetrators of this attack” stated the Swedish minister in response to the recent attack.

Sweden’s democratic party, which is said to have Neo-Nazi roots, has now become one of the most popular parties across the country holding anti-immigrant views. However, with the Swedish Government welcoming refugees into the country, 245,000 in 2014 and 2015, there has been a surge of attacks against mosques and refugee centres.

In October police suspected arson was behind a fire which damaged a Muslim prayer room in Malmo, southern Sweden. An investigation by the Islamic Cooperation Council in Sweden last year revealed seven out of 10 mosques in the country had been attacked.

Hate crimes with xenophobic/racist motives made up the largest proportion of hate crimes in Sweden with 558 hate crime reports with an Islamophobic motive in 2015 (8%).

The Government released a National Plan against racism and hate crimes in November 2016. The Government said that Sweden “will be a country free of racism and hate crimes”. They will aim to use the plan as a “tool to prevent and combat racism and polarization in society and create conditions for an equitable and cohesive Sweden”.

Dutch parliament approves partial niqab ban in public

Nadine Osman

MPs in the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly (132 out of 150) for a partial ban on face veils from some public places. The ruling Liberal-Labour coalition is denying there is a religious motivation behind the law, claiming the bill is necessary for public safety and health.

The legislation approved by the lower house on November 29, must now go before the Senate for approval before becoming law. It follows similar bans imposed in France and Belgium and comes amid rising tensions in Europe with Muslim communities.

Anyone violating the law in schools, hospitals or public transport could incur a fine of €405 (£340), however, safety equipment such as helmets or full-face protection while working is excluded from the ban.

In an official statement, the Government commented that the law was needed owing to the “necessity to be able to interact face to face, for instance in places where public services are performed and safety must be guaranteed.”

“The Government sees no need to impose the ban on all public spaces,” it added.

Backing the ban is founder and leader of the controversial far-right anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders, who is leading opinion polls for March elections. Speaking in parliamentary debate fellow PVV politician Machiel de Graaf asked, “How do we even know there’s a woman under this Islamic textile? It might as well be a well-trained jihadist who completed his training in Raqqa of course,” he said.

According to the public newscaster, NOS, only about 150 women in the Netherlands wear the niqab.

MP Tunahan Kuzu, who vehemently fought against the draft legislation, said freedom of expression allowed people “to be who they are and dress how they want”.

“It is reprehensible to exclude these women and isolate them because of a subject anxiety among certain citizens,” he said.

Several women attended a parliamentary debate dressed in full veils. One of them, Karima Rahmani, argued that women who wore such garments were already required to produce ID themselves in certain public places.

“When we go to the town hall we have to identify ourselves, as well as at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where we have to remove it,” said Rahmani.

“The obligation to identify oneself is already provided for in the law.”

The Government’s advisory State Council body had said it believed issues around the niqab could be solved “without invoking legislation”.

“From time-to-time, there’s discussion about it… but it’s not really a big social problem,” it said in a letter published in 2015.

That view is shared by many Muslim women in the country. Speaking to The Muslim News 39-year-old housewife Oumaima Soufiane called the new legislation, “a highly politicized move…It is irrational to legislate integration. Are French Muslims now more integrated because of the ban, are the streets of Paris and Nice now safer?”

Maysoon Rami a teacher in Rotterdam told The Muslim News, “The number of women who wear the niqab is so minuscule it begs the question ‘what is the point?’ Muslim women are integrated fully functioning members of Dutch society.”

29-year-old MA student Nehir Akgün from Haarlem outside of Amsterdam was also baffled by the legislation but thinks the legislation is an attempt by mainstream politicians to jump on to the populist far-right politics bandwagon sweeping Europe and the United States.

“I don’t wear it [the niqab] and don’t know anyone who does. The passing of this law gives the illusion we have a niqab epidemic; this country has always been inclusive and embraced multiculturalism. The coalition Government wants to pacify the far-right so they introduce unwarranted laws,” she told The Muslim News.

France introduced a ban on women wearing the niqab in 2011, or risk a €150 fine, resulting in some 1500 arrests in the past five years. The European Court of Human Rights in 2014 backed the French ban, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breached religious freedom. Belgium and some parts of Switzerland have followed France’s lead and similar bans are being considered in other European countries. This summer some French towns also controversially banned ‘burkinis’, the full-body swimsuit.

German Chancellor backs niqab ban

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said “full veil is not appropriate” in Germany (Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

In what is being called an astonishing pre-election u-turn, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called for a niqab ban after saying the “full veil is not appropriate” in Germany.

Speaking at Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party conference on December 6, Merkel said that the niqab should be outlawed. “The full veil must be banned, wherever legally possible. Showing your face is part of our way of life,” she said. This was the first time the audience responded with extended applause when she mentioned this and Sharia law.

She also attacked Sharia law. “Our laws take precedence over honour codes, tribal customs and sharia,” she said.

The speech comes after Merkel stressed her determination to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s huge migrant influx as she seeks a fourth term as chancellor.

Merkel said she would back a nationwide ban just months after revealing that she believed the niqab was a barrier to Muslim women becoming integrated into German society.

However, the  Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland (ZMD) aka the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said chancellor should be focusing her attention on discrimination, not a niqab ban to improve integration.

ZMD, President, Aiman Mazyek told The Muslim News, “you can count the number of people who wear Burka or Niqab on one hand, we expect with less than 100 people in Germany.”

Mazyek insists that the proposed ban does not solve the integration problems “the discrimination against the integrated Muslimas [Muslim women] with headscarf are overlooked.”

“Lastly, there are no theological objections against non-wearing a Niqab or a Burka. There is at most a religious opinion by a minority for it. Nevertheless we, as the ZMD, do not share this opinion from our theological view explicitly,” said Mazyek

Previously, Merkel has stopped short of calling for a ban on the niqab, saying: “This is a question of finding the right political and legal balance.”

The move comes only a week after MPs in the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly to ban the niqab from some public places, the latest such move in a European country.

The legislation must now go before the German Senate for approval before becoming law. It follows similar bans imposed in France, Latvia [only three people are known to wear the niqab in the country], Bulgaria, Spain, and Belgium.

In her first party address since announcing she would run for a fourth term as Chancellor next year, Merkel also pledged to strengthen the forces of law and order while speeding up the sclerotic deportation process of failed asylum seekers.

A poll conducted a week before her speech showed the CDU was up 2 points to 37 per cent.

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Man arrested over racist stickers featuring Mayor of London

Elham Asaad Buaras

Police have arrested a 46-year-old man on December 2 after racist mock Pokémon stickers appeared in Underground Train Stations and Bus stops across London. The stickers, created under the name ‘Pakémon’, were spotted by “disgusted” commuters across the capital in November. They mimic the popular card and phone game where players are awarded points for collecting Pokémon based on their rarity.

The cards show high-profile Muslims, including the Mayor of London who is branded “the most dangerous Pakémon”. One sticker, which includes a picture of Sadiq Khan, reads: “He believes that Londoners should learn to accept Islamic terrorism while he is mayor.”

The creator offers “200 terror points” to anyone who collects the offensive sticker of Khan – dubbed “Hamaskhan”. The stickers are branded with the slogan “gotta catch and deport them all” – mimicking the cartoon’s famous “gotta catch ‘em all” tagline.

Former member of the self-styled ‘Muslim Patrols’, Jordan Horner who attempted to enforce Sharia Law on London’s streets and ISIS terrorist Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John – dubbed “Beheadatron” are also featured.

A spokesman for the British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed the arrest to The Muslim News. “A 46-year-old man from Sutton, London has today been arrested by British Transport Police on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. The arrest, which was supported by officers from the Metropolitan Police, is in connection with the appearance of racist ‘Pokémon’ style stickers on the London Underground and at bus stops throughout the capital,” said the spokesman in a statement.

BTP also urged Londoners to report further sightings. A spokesman said: “British Transport Police is committed to preventing incidents of hate crime and prejudice and all incidents of this nature are investigated thoroughly. Everyone has the right to travel on the rail network without fear or intimidation. Racially or religiously motivated crime will simply not be tolerated.”

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, told The Muslim News: “Hate crime, in all its shapes and forms, will not be tolerated in London and there is absolutely no place for these abhorrent stickers anywhere in our city.”

NYC transit worker pushed down station stairs and called terrorist

Grand Central Terminal

Nadine Osman

A New York City transit worker was pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a terrorist, authorities said.

The assault took place on the morning of December 5 as the 45-year old who wears the hijab was heading to work on the train station. The suspect followed her off the train and shoved her down the stairs, police said.

The suspect allegedly called the victim a “terrorist” and said she shouldn’t be working in the city. She was treated at a Manhattan hospital for ankle and knee injuries. Authorities say passengers intervened, and police are looking for the offender.

The assault marked the latest in a string of incidents in which Muslim women are seemingly attacked because of their faith.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) NY Director of Strategic Litigation, Albert Fox Cahn, told The Muslim News, “We are grateful to see that witnesses had the courage to intervene in the most recent attack.”

He added, “The only way our city and state will overcome this wave of hatred is if New Yorkers step forward whenever we see our neighbours being threatened. It’s incumbent on all New Yorkers to stand firm in the face of hate.”

The attack comes just a day after Christopher Nelson, 36, was arrested and for allegedly assaulting an off-duty Muslim NYPD officer and her 16-year-old son.

Man who screamed ‘EDL’ as he threatened to stab police fined

Elham Asaad Buaras

A man who shouted ‘EDL’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’ and pushed a woman to the floor as police chased him has pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated threatening behaviour at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court.

The officers were called to the Cambridge Hotel in Claire Hill, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on August 19 where Andrew Batty, 27, who was high on drink and drugs was acting strangely. Batty, knocked wheeled bins over and pushed a woman to the floor.

They discovered him inside the premises, sat on the floor and trying to set fire to his clothes.
Bill Astin, prosecuting, said: “Mr Batty seemed to be under the influence of drink and drugs and they were concerned about his mental state.

“He ran away, they gave chase and eventually he was stopped by police, shouting things like: ‘Come on, I’ll stab you with my knife’. Then he continued to shout ‘EDL, EDL and ‘Allahu Akbar’.”

English Defence League (EDL) is a right-wing anti-Islam organisation. Batty hurled racist abuse at some men walking past and spat at the police officers after being placed in his cell. He said he couldn’t remember the incident because he was on drink and drugs.

Batty told District Judge Michael Fanning that he was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine and his problem was getting worse. He claimed that he didn’t have a problem with people of a different race to him.

Judge Fanning told him: “You can’t behave in this way. We’re trying to clear up society and when people shout the things you were shouting it undermines these efforts.” Batty was fined £240 and ordered to pay £85 costs and £30 victim surcharge.

Slovakia adopts law blocking Islam from being recognised as a religion

Prime Minister, Robert Fico vowed not accept “one single Muslim” refugee into the country

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Slovakian Parliament adopted legislation on November 28 to effectively bar Islam from gaining official status as a religion.

The Slovak National Party (SNS), which is in coalition with the leftist-nationalist Smer-Social Democracy (SMD) party, sponsored the bill which requires a religion to have at least 50,000 members, up from 20,000, to qualify for state subsidies and to run its own schools. The change will make it harder to register Islam as there are only 2,000 Muslims in Slovakia according to the last census and no recognised mosques.

Weeks before Slovakia took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in May, Prime Minister, Robert Fico, who has fiercely opposed EU quotas on migrant resettlement from Greece and Italy, vowed not accept “one single Muslim” refugee into the country .

Fico told Slovakian news agency TASR: “When I say something now, maybe it will seem strange, but I’m sorry, Islam has no place in Slovakia. I think it is the duty of politicians to talk about these things very clearly and openly. I do not wish there were tens of thousands of Muslims.”

SNS Chair Andrej Danko who also called for steps to niqab ban and the construction of mosques said, “Islamisation starts with a kebab and it’s already under way in Bratislava. Let’s realise what we can face in five to 10 years. We must do everything we can so that no mosque is built in the future”. There was no immediate comment from the Islamic Foundation of Slovakia.

The law was approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament comprising both ruling and opposition parties. Lawmakers turned down a proposal by the opposition far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia to raise the religion membership bar to 250,000.

Obama urged to scrap de facto ‘Muslim registry’ before Trump takes office

The architect of NSEERS, Kris Kobach, who served in the Justice Department during President Bush’s administration and is now advising Trump, said that transition policy advisers were debating the merits of rebooting NSEERS.

Nadine Osman

Nearly 200 civil right organisations concerned by suggestions President-elect Donald Trump may reboot the defunct NSEERS program, used to register male Muslim immigrants, are asking President Barack Obama to completely abolish the tracking program.

In a letter submitted to the White House on November 23, 198 organisations including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, blasted the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS) for being “ineffective as a counterterrorism tool” and causing “tremendous harm” to immigrant communities.

NSEERS called ‘Special Registration’, was a program for registering and monitoring noncitizen visa holders (students, workers, and tourists) that President George Bush’s administration enacted a year after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The program requires males 16 years of age or older from 25 countries to be registered and fingerprinted. With the exception of North Korea, all the countries on the list were Arab or had majority Muslim populations. The program was widely referred to at the time as “Muslim registry.”

In April 2011, the Obama Administration “de-listed” the 25 countries and announced that males from those countries would no longer have to comply with the program. In April 2012, Department of Homeland Security released a memo on individuals impacted by NSEERS, granting limited relief to those who failed to comply if they can prove the noncompliance was not willful.

NSEERS flaws

NSEERS drew criticism from various civil and human-rights groups, members of Congress, and at least one committee of the UN. Specifically, NSEERS was censured for its focus primarily on nationals of Muslim-majority countries; its alleged inability to identify terrorist threats (it failed to achieve a single terrorism conviction from the 93,000 boys and men forced to register), and the strict legal and immigration consequences put in place for participant noncompliance.

The registration program also violated civil liberties through profiling, unlawful arrests, and detentions of individuals who were not even required to register.

ADC Legal & Policy Director, Abed Ayoub, said, “NSEERS has proven to be a failure and it is time to bring it to an end. Since its inception, numerous former Government officials, both Republicans and Democrats, have expressed concern and frustration with the program. Many of these same officials agree that the US Government should not engage in any program which is predicated on racial, ethnic and religious profiling. It’s time to close the book on NSEERS and end the program.”

Revival of NSEERS

Kansas Secretary of State and architect of NSEERS, Kris Kobach, who served in the Justice Department during President Bush’s administration and is now advising Trump, said that transition policy advisers were debating the merits of rebooting NSEERS.

Media outlets zoomed in on the papers the immigration hard-liner carried into his meeting with Trump, which was his “strategic plan” for the department in the first year of a Trump administration.

The paper read: ‘1 update and reintroduce the NSEERS screening and tracking system (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System) that was in place from 2002-2005. All aliens from high-risk areas are tracked.’

Trump supporters have floated a registry of Muslim immigrants as part of efforts to combat terrorism, but officials with his transition team have denied any such plans.

The heads of an anti-Semitism American NGO and America’s most prominent African-American civil rights group have vowed to register as a Muslim should Trump create a national database for the religion’s followers.

Trump’s Communications Director denied that Trump supports monitoring individuals based on their faith. Jason Miller told CNN Trump “has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false.”

However, during his presidential campaign Trump effectively told NBC’s Meet the Press his Muslim ban will be replaced with the word territory ban, “I’m looking now at territory. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim . . . . And I’m OK with that because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL said: “The new administration plans to force Muslims to register on some master list.”

Speaking at ADL’s Never is Now Conference in New York on November 17 Greenblatt, said, “As Jews, we know what it means to be forced to register. I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one-day Muslim-Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day this proud Jew will register as Muslim. Making powerful enemies is the price one must pay, at times, for speaking truth to power.”

President of African-American civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Cornell Brooks, was among those to second the pledge.

“As a proud Christian & a card-carrying member of the @NAACP, I’ll also register as a Muslim right behind @JGreenblattADL,” he wrote.

Greenblatt added Americans must reject all forms of discrimination regardless of which minority group it targets.

“No one has an excuse for excusing intolerance. We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love or how they pray,” he said.

Mayor of NYC praises Muslim officer who was threatened

Carmen Delrio with her granddaughter Kayleigh Arroyo, 1, police Officer Aml Elsokary carried the baby while helping Delrio out of the burning building. (Photo: NYPD)

Elham Asaad Buaras

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, has publicly praised a decorated police officer for her service after she was threatened for wearing a hijab while off duty.

Aml Elsokary who has been patrolling the street of New York for 11 years, was off duty when she noticed a man arguing with a teenager on December 3. When Elsokary intervened, the man allegedly turned to her and said: “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat, go back to your country,” before running off.

In a news conference on December 6, de Blasio said: “I was sick to my stomach when I heard one of our officers was subjected to threats and taunting, simply because of her faith.

“Now, it makes no difference to me whether she was off duty or on duty at the time. She serves this city. She is an example of everything we would want from our fellow citizens: a commitment to other, a commitment to service.

“[She has] a willingness to do something greater than herself and what does she get for it? Threats to her life and bigotry taunts.

“We can’t allow this. It’s unacceptable in this city. It’s unacceptable in this nation. And it’s important to put a human face to this story which is why I wanted you to meet Officer Elsokary.”

De Blasio added the 34-year-old was one of 900 Muslim officers serving in the NYPD. She was also praised for her actions on April 10, 2014, when she helped save a baby girl and an elderly man from a burning building in Brooklyn.

Police Commissioner James O’Neil said he first met Elsokary, “about two years ago after her rescue. I met her in the emergency room at Woodhull Hospital where she was being treated – she and her partner were being treated for smoke inhalation.”

“I’d just like to say – to thank you for everything that you do every day in the 9-0 in Williamsburg and for keeping the people of this great city safe. You and your partner did a tremendous job that day and you do a tremendous job every day”.

Elsokary said: “I help everybody no matter what your religion is. I’m born and raised here and I am here to protect you all. The department has supported me in wearing my hijab and I want to thank my Muslim officers for standing by my side.”

She also thanked the Mayor and the Commissioner for their “constant support.”

“The department has supported me wearing my hijab, stood with me by my side. I want to thank my Muslim Officer Society for also standing by my side and being supportive, and everybody that has contacted me” said Elsokary.

The NYPD arrested Christopher Nelson, 36, and charged him with menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment. His bail was set at $50,000.
According to NYPD Chief of Detectives, Bob Boyce, hate crimes are up by 35 percent since the election of Donald Trump.

De Blasio said: “She had to experience a man allegedly yelling at her, ‘Go back to your country.’ Well, this is Officer Elsokary’s country. She is an American. She is a New Yorker. She’s already at home.

“So I want the city of New York to see the face of this public servant, this crime fighter, this person who decided that her mission was to serve the rest of us.”

Council on American-Islamic Relations-NY, Executive Director, Afaf Nasher, told The Muslim News that, “While Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo both have publicly stated that hate has no place in New York, the number of bias-related attacks continues to climb.”

She added, “President-elect Trump must forcefully and repeatedly address the ugly hatred growing rampant throughout our nation. His rhetoric had encouraged hate, racism, and xenophobia, and innocent people are being assaulted across our country as a result.”

Man who called train passenger ‘terrorist’ & ‘bomber’ handed suspended sentence

Tony Browning, 33, activated a Metro emergency brake and subjected a bemused Sudanese man to a disgraceful ordeal in which he branded him a bomber (Photo: Northumbria Police)

Nadine Osman

A man from Sunderland who activated a Metro emergency brake after branding an innocent passenger an ISIS terrorist in March has been given a 9 month suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting racially aggravated harassment.

Tony Browning subjected the bemused victim to a disgraceful ordeal in which he branded him a bomber, ordered him to get off the train and threatened to hit him in front of passengers.

The 33-year-old fairground worker pressed an emergency stop button at Gateshead Stadium in Tyne and Wear as he made wild claims about the man having a knife or a needle.

The court heard Browning’s tirade of abuse happened on the Metro after it departed from Monument, Newcastle, in March.

Police were called and the Sudanese victim, who spoke little English, was handcuffed after he answered every question with “yes”, including when asked if he had a knife.

However, a search of the 25-year-old and the carriage revealed he was unarmed.

Judge Amanda Rippon told Browning: “You abused a young man on a Metro train in this city, who was doing no more than minding his own business, travelling as he was entitled to. You abused him not just generally, but racially, making reference to the colour of his skin, calling him a terrorist, accusing him of having a weapon and frightening him. This debacle was seen by other members of the public and it no doubt distressed them as well.”

She added, “You were calling him a smack head, a terrorist and telling him to get off the train, telling him you were going to hit him. The poor complainant ended up being handcuffed for a short time while police searched for a weapon you said he had, which he never did.”

Prosecutor Neil Pallister said the victim was unclear about what Browning was shouting when he approached him but knew he was swearing. Pallister said Browning “walked up and down the train, shouting” while other shocked passengers looked on.

One witness said Browning also shouted abuse at black passengers before he pressed the emergency brake at Gateshead Stadium. The court heard the victim now feels frightened to use public transport and worries about a similar situation happening again.

Aer Lingus removes man abusing Muslim passengers

Nadine Osman

Aer Lingus cabin crew were praised of their handling of a man who was verbal abusing Muslim passengers, it has emerged.

The man who was targeting the Muslim passengers was removed from a flight from Dublin to Berlin on October 23.

“Before taking off, a passenger showed abusive behaviour against two other Muslim passengers,” wrote another passenger, Khalid Wafiq Kamel, on Aer Lingus’s Facebook page (see below). “The crew reacted promptly to stop him, and the offending passenger was removed from the flight.”

In a statement to The Muslim News Aer Lingus said its crew “are fully trained to deal with disruptive incidents that may arise on board our aircraft, and do so according to our operating procedures.”

Kamel, who is of Egyptian descent said the crew’s reaction “made my day,” adding: “As a Muslim, I felt safe and respected being in Ireland and on Aer Lingus. As one of the crew said, ‘We are all Equal’.”

Over 11,000 people had liked Kamel’s Facebook post as we publish, with the vast majority of comments reacting positively to his sentiment.

“Well done Aer Lingus,” said Theresa Corcoran, who replied to his post. “There is no place for racial hate in Ireland.”

“I have been here is this beautiful country for 15 years,” said another, Syed Ahmed. “I have so much love and respect for the Irish people the way I have been treated fairly in this country regardless of colour, race or religion.”

“We’re so sorry to hear that this took place, but we’re glad that the crew handled the situation well,” Aer Lingus’s social media team replied.

Muslim teaching assistant suing school for race discrimination over 9/11 video

Suriyah Bi, 24, was dismissed from the Heartlands Academy, when she raised concerns about 9/11 footage of people jumping to their deaths being shown to 11-year-old special needs children (Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

A 24-year old teaching assistant who was sacked by a Birmingham school for objecting to 11-year-old special needs children being shown graphic footage of the 9/11 attacks has turned down a compensation offer from the school and has vowed to fight the case in court.

Suriyah Bi, an Oxford University graduate, was dismissed from the Heartlands Academy, when she raised concerns about the footage of people jumping to their deaths.

Bi felt it was inappropriate for her class to see footage of the attacks on the World Trade Centre.

According to Bi, the class teacher had to log-in to her personal YouTube account to override the site’s age-appropriate warning, which said the video titled Can you imagine how bad it must be up there? was unsuitable for under-18s.

The following day, Bi raised the issue, along with several other unrelated concerns. Just over an hour later she was dismissed.

The school has offered Bi £11,000 in compensation for loss of earnings, 15 months after she was first dismissed.

But Bi has rejected the payout and is seeking an apology and is prepared to take the case to a full employment tribunal in December.

She said: “I raised what I felt was a valid concern. This video was incredibly graphic – bodies were falling from the building and there were close-up shots. It was not appropriate.”

Bi, who is studying for a PhD in human geography, was dismissed from the school on September 23, 2015, less than 2 weeks after she started the job. Bi later discovered that the staff had raised concerns about her background and questioned whether she should work in schools again.

A safeguarding checklist filled out three days after her dismissal obtained by The Guardian, said Bi had raised concerns about the footage only because it offended her as a Muslim.

Bi said: “That is simply not true. What happened on 9/11 was a crime and I as a Muslim do not agree with it. To even suggest that I only raised this because of my religion is deeply offensive. My only concern was for the children, their vulnerability and an attempt at safeguarding them.”

The same document also mentioned Bi’s position as head girl at Saltley School and questioned her suitability as a teaching assistant. The school was implicated in the “Trojan Horse” affair in 2013.

Bi said: “I was made to feel like an extremist because I wanted to protect these children. I was studying at Oxford during the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair. To imply that I may have been involved just shows the level of prejudice I have experienced from management at the academy.”

Birmingham MP Liam Byrne has called for the Education Secretary to investigate the case. He added: “At every step, an unaccountable academy giant has tried to shut down and smother Suriyah Bi’s voice – and then try to have her blacklisted. Yet Suriyah’s only ‘crime’ was speaking up for children.”

The case is due to start on December 5.

Polish men jailed for pelting mosque worshipper with bacon

Mateusz Pawlikowski (left) and Piotr Czak-Zukowski were each sentenced to eight months in prison at Blackfriars Crown Court (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Nadine Osman

Two Polish men who hurled abuse and pelted a worshipper with rashers of bacon at a mosque in north London were jailed on November 1.

Mateusz Pawlikowski, 22, and Piotr Czak-Zukowski, 28, threw the meat inside the Al-Rahman Mosque in Camden, London, as worshippers got ready for evening prayers at about 7pm on October 2.

The pair, who hurled expletives at one man before throwing rashers of bacon at him and onto the floor at his feet, was each sentenced to eight months in prison at Blackfriars Crown Court.

The court heard how distressed worshippers immediately alerted police to the incident.
The pair fled the scene but officers tracked them down and arrested them the following afternoon.

When officers searched Czak-Zukowski they found an empty packet of bacon in his pocket.

Pawlikowski and Czak-Zukowski, both from north London, each pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage and a racial and religious public order offence at an earlier hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.

They were remanded in custody until their sentencing over fears for their safety if they were bailed.

Speaking after the sentencing, DC Tracey McMath, from the Camden community safety unit, said: “The defendants showed a complete disregard for the faith and belief of others in this callous and highly offensive incident; and I hope their convictions highlight that we will not tolerate hate crime in any of its forms.

“I know this incident has had a significant impact on the community and commend the victims for speaking up. Hate crime is often a hidden crime and it is essential we stand together with policing partners, colleagues and groups to investigate all such allegations, support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”

Huddersfield man calls takeaway staff Al-Qa’ida terrorists

Nadine Osman

A man accused takeaway staff of being Al-Qa’ida terrorists has pleaded guilty to two charges of using racially-aggravated threatening behaviour last month.

Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard that Marvin Birch walked into a takeaway on Market Street in Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on September 19.

Prosecutor Bill Astin said that the 35-year-old demanded a lift but staff replied that they were very busy and there was a taxi rank around the corner.

He told the Huddersfield court: “He became aggressive, shouting and swearing and saying: “You f*****g Al-Qa’ida”.

“He was asked to leave, he called them P****s and a member of staff called police. The defendant was heard calling them Al-Qa’ida terrorists and called a police officer a white b*****d.”

Sonia Kidd, mitigating, said that her client, “understands that his language was inappropriate. He’s mixed-race himself, been subject to racism before and accepts what he did was wrong.”

District Judge Michael Fanning fined Birch, of Brunswick Street in Heckmondwike, a total of £400.

He must also pay £85 court costs and £30 victim surcharge. Slamming his behaviour as “stupid” Judge Fanning told him: “You have an Afro-Caribbean father and you’re not a racist.

“It begs the question why on this occasion you’ve treated people in this way. You spoke extremely offensive, derogatory terms to an Asian member of the community.”

Anti-terrorism posters likened to Nazi propaganda withdrawn

The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received complaints about the above poster which has since been removed

Elham Asaad Buaras

Anti-terrorism posters which sparked a racism row have been withdrawn earlier this month.The posters part of the British Transport Police’s new campaign to stop terror threats on the rail network were slammed for allegedly using anti-Semitic and racist imagery.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received 13 complaints by November 8. Passengers complained that the posters echoed those used to advertise a so-called degenerate art exhibition the Eternal Jew in Nazi Germany in 1937.

The artwork showed a suspicious-looking bearded man in the foreground and a woman behind him, with the caption: “See it. Say it. Sorted. Are they wearing a big coat to hide something?”

Chair of the Museum of Immigration and Diversity in East London, Susie Symes, said, “For anybody who is old enough to remember them or who’s studied them of who has ever seen images from the Nazi era, this is the same imagery,” she said.

“I’m sure these must have been completely unintentional, I don’t think they knew what they were doing.

“But the fact is it’s exactly classic. There’s two things. One is the imagery. The dark, large nosed, threatening stranger. And the contrast with the young white, innocent young woman and the dark skinned bulky man.

“And also the use of language, of ‘they’. It’s demonising a particular group.” The force has since decided to remove the posters after admitting they had caused “upset”.

Assistant Chief Constable Alun Thomas said: “The images on each of the posters in this campaign were specially created in order to avoid using photographs of any specific individuals or groups.

“However, we are aware that one particular image has caused considerable distress due to its similarities with offensive historic propaganda. It is highly regrettable that this image, and its connotations, were overlooked during the development of this campaign.

“We recognise and understand the upset that has been caused by this. We and our campaign partners have listened to the feedback we have received and this poster has now been withdrawn.”

He added: “There are clearly lessons for us to learn with regards to quality assurance and better audience research in any future campaigns.”

Britain First deputy fined for abusing Muslim mum in front of her children

Carrying a large crucifix Jayda Fransen is seen confronting Muslim woman during ‘Christian patrol’ in Bury Park High Street in Luton earlier this year. (Photo Britain First / IG).

Elham Asaad Buaras

The deputy leader of Britain First has been found guilty of religiously-aggravated harassment after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on November 2.

Jayda Fransen, 30, from London, was fined £1,0000 for shouting at Sumayyah Sharpe in front of her four young children during a “Christian patrol” of Bury Park in Luton in January this year.

Fransen admitted telling Sharpe that Muslim men force women to cover up to avoid being raped “because they cannot control their sexual urges”.

She added: “That’s why they are coming into my country raping women across the continent.”

Fransen denied the words were intended to be offensive. She was also fined £200 for wearing a ‘political uniform’ at the time.

District Judge Carolyn Mellanby fined her a total of almost £2,000 after adding £620 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge at Luton and South Bedfordshire Magistrates’ Court.
Mellanby said she believed the group had gone to the area “looking for trouble”.

“I have no doubt the words used towards her [Ms Sharpe], in her expression, represented everything against her and what she believes in,” she said.

“In other words, offensive, insulting, abusive and, in my judgment, intended to cause offence and alarm and distress to her religion.”

The court heard how around 20 Britain First members took part in the event at Bury Park, distributing branded newspapers which had a front page reading “World War Three has begun – Islam against the world”.

Sharpe, who was shopping with her kids, refused a newspaper from the extremist group.
Giving evidence Sharpe said at this point that Fransen crossed the road and confronted her.
Sharpe told the court: “She came across, shouting at me, saying ‘Why are you covered?’, and she said that quite a few times. I told her it was my choice that I cover.

“I then turned to the camera and I said, ‘Film me, I’m British, I’m a British Muslim. It’s my choice to wear this clothing and it’s my right’.”

In video footage shown in court, Fransen was seen brandishing a white cross as she told Sharpe that Muslim men made women cover themselves so that they were not raped.
Following the incident, Sharpe said she had to go home and explain the meaning of the word rape to her young children.

She also told the court her four-year-old son was now scared to leave the house in case they ran into the group.

After the verdict was read, a Britain First supporter was arrested on suspicion of common assault allegedly attacking a journalist.

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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