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Turkish minister concerned rise of Islamophobia in UK & Europe

Turkey’s EU Minister & Chief Negotiator Omer Celic forth from left meeting on Islamophobia UK
Photo: Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs Mustafa Aygun/AA)

Ahmed J Versi

Muslims are the new target group in the UK and Europe, Turkish EU Minister, Ömer Çelik, said in London on September 13. “Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and racism are on the increase and widespread in Europe,” Chief Negotiator for Turkish Accession to the EU told a small group of prominent British academics, politicians, civil society and media representatives.

Çelik  congratulated President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, of making “huge contributions trying to build bridges with the UK Muslims.” However, Arkush criticised Turkey for “giving support and logistical support to Hamas which is anti-Semitic” and terrorist organisation.

Çelik , defending Turkish policy on its relations with Hamas, said “we talk with Hamas and other organisations to bring peace between Israel and Palestine. We support a two-state solution. Hamas is a political party who won general elections in 2005.” Çelik  criticised Israel and other countries for not accepting the result of the elections and added that “we never support attacks on Israel.”

The reason for the increase in xenophobia in Europe is because of “the rise of far-right politics and populist nationalism”, the Minister said. “Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and anti-EU [ideologies] are, in fact, different realisations of the same distorted mentality,” Çelik  said.

Çelik  said European values such as democracy, human rights, equality, freedom and pluralism had been targeted by the far-right in their Islamophobic and anti-Semitic approaches. “Islamophobia is a crime against humanity,” he said. It is a global phenomenon and “genocide against Rohingya Muslims is due to Islamophobia.”

“Islamophobia fuels the politics of hate which can be seen in racism and sometimes violence targeting migrants, refugees and Muslims,” Çelik  said.

He argued that discrimination, marginalisation, attacks due to Islamophobia is responsible for radicalisation and “Daesh hands become stronger.”

Europe should work more with Turkey to fight terrorism, “which threatens our common democratic values,” Çelik  said. Europe works in a discriminatory way in towards terrorist groups, he said. “They applaud Turkey’s fight against Daesh but they do not show the same support in its fight against the PKK, which is a terrorist group too.”

Çelik  said “radicalism has nothing to do with Islam. No one can say Islam supports terrorism.”

Abraham faiths clean houses of worship in interfaith enterprise

Members from London’s East End Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities took part in the Abraham Initiative which involved cleaning and maintaining places of worship (Photo:Muslim Aid)

 

Elham Asaad Buaras

 

Abraham Initiative the brainchild of Muslim Aid Volunteers Officer Zakaria Hussain, who sought more contact between the three communities. He told The Muslim News, “We often see Imams meeting Rabbis and high church people in high-profile settings, but people like myself hardly ever have an opportunity to meet Jewish or Christian people socially.”

“This time of year it’s Qurbani, the period that Muslims focus on the theme of sacrifice, so we are asking our Abrahamic brothers and sisters to sacrifice time for the upkeep of our precious holy places.”

President of Nelson Street Synagogue in Tower Hamlets, Leon Silver, said. “I see very good relationships between communities in the East End, and I often give talks at Muslim and non-Muslim schools about Judaism, but I also see misconception, hatred and prejudice between Muslims and Jews, which comes from lack of familiarity and social contact. The more we get to know each other, the more we will see how Muslims and Jews have many similarities,” he says.

Reverend Alan Green of St John at Bethnal Green Church said the Abraham Initiative “will show the good relationship that already exists between our communities in this area and will build on that to make it even better.”

Half the volunteers from the three Abrahamic faiths worked on Nelson Street Synagogue, the other half on St John on Bethnal Green church on August 24.

LAPD urged to release Muslim mapping info

Nadine Osman

Muslim Advocates filed a brief in Los Angeles County Superior Court urging the court to order the LA’s Police Department (LAPD) to release information on its 2007 “community mapping” program.

The LAPD initially designed the program to target LA’s Muslim population, so that it could “identify [Muslim] communities . . . which may be susceptible to violent ideologically based extremism.”

Critics argued the LAPD project seemed based on the European experience of isolated Muslim enclaves a model that does not apply to the US, where the Muslim population is far more dispersed.

Although then-LAPD Chief of Police William Bratton announced in November 2007 that the LAPD would abandon the program, Muslim Advocates has spent years trying to get access to information about the LAPD’s plan to “map” law-abiding Muslims throughout LA.

In 2013, Muslim Advocates sent the LAPD a request for public records seeking details about how this program was proposed and enacted. After years of the LAPD refusing to search for and turn over the requested documents, Muslim Advocates filed this petition seeking court intervention.

In a statement to The Muslim News staff Attorney at Muslim Advocates, Juvaria Khan, said, “The LAPD’s failure to satisfy its record requests obligations”, is evidence “they’re trying to hide the details of this controversial proposal from the public.”

She added, “The LAPD’s failure to comply with this records request prevents communities from learning about potentially discriminatory policies public bodies may be undertaking. It is vital that the public have this information in order to prevent the LAPD, or any other law enforcement agencies, from trying to adopt such an ill-conceived and discriminatory program. Given today’s rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, we must continue to stand strong in the struggle for transparency.”

Canadian election caused rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes

Harun Nasrullah

The Federal elections in Canada caused a whopping 60 per cent spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes. New data released in June by Statistics Canada show there were 159 anti-Muslim incidents reported to police that year, up from 99 in 2014.

National Council of Canadian Muslims Vice-Chair, Khalid Elgazzar, called 2015 a “difficult year” for Muslim Canadians, as two terrorist attacks in France inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment and former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, made a woman’s right to wear a veil at citizenship ceremonies a “central issue” of the election campaign.

“The Canadian Muslim community bore the brunt of the sinister political rhetoric surrounding the federal election which painted Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers as well as being anti-women,” said Elgazzar.

He stopped short of blaming the Conservative campaign for the rise in hate crimes, but said the campaign rhetoric was “a factor.”

Elgazzar said many victims of hate crimes do not report to police because they are fearful of further victimization or don’t think the police will do anything. He called on governments at all levels to boost funding for police investigations and data collection to better understand the scope of the problem. Farhat Rehman, of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said there must also be more money spent on education to curb the “disturbing” trend.

“All levels of Government need to step up with more resources and act quickly to allocate urgently needed funds to school programs and agencies involved in education, public awareness and prevention of conflict and violence in our communities,” she said.

The Statistics Canada data show the number of incidents targeting Jewish people declined to 178 in 2015, compared to 213 the previous year. There were a total of 1,362 incidents motivated by hate based on race, ethnicity or religion, 67 more than in 2014.

Anti-Muslim hate crime on the rise in Germany

Elham Asaad Buaras

Germany’s Interior Ministry has revealed that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the country surged significantly in the second quarter of this year.

At least 16 Muslims were injured in anti-Muslim hate crimes between April and June, up from two incidents in the first quarter. In the second quarter, German police recorded 192 Anti-Muslim hate crimes, only one of which resulted in an arrest – a fact Muslim advocate group Millî Görüş (IGMG) branded “unacceptable.”

IGMG Secretary-General, Bekir Altaş said in a statement, “The legal deterrent effect is virtually zero. Islamophobia must be fought decisively.”

Altaş also called the figures “frighteningly high,” and a “clear alarm signal” to German leaders. “Lawmakers are urgently called on to take appropriate measures.”

Altaş also said that the real number of crimes was likely to be far greater, as most of them went unreported. “Muslims often get the feeling from the police that their concerns are not taken seriously, in many cases, an Islamophobic motivation is not even ascertained – even when there is clear evidence. Here too, the lawmakers need to set investigative standards.”

Triggered by far-right and populist propaganda, Germany’s 4.7 million Muslims have endured a rise in Islamophobia and xenophobia.

The Left Party warned that Muslims are now facing a more serious threat as far-right groups are not hesitating to use violence.

Civil rights activist Taner Aksoy argues that anti-Muslims hatred has “always existed” in Germany but that it “previously, was just ‘xenophobia’ anti-Muslim hate did not arise suddenly (overnight). Rather, a transformation has taken place in the debate about migrants. After the turn of the millennium, the national debate shifted from ethnic issues to religion. Turks and Arabs are now seen as Muslims.”

He adds, “Over the past few years, an anti-Muslim attitude has emerged worldwide, reinforced by certain global events: attacks carried out in the name of Islam; the negative portrayal of Islam in the media; the rise of a ‘new right-wing’ movement across Germany; anti-Muslim campaigns have hit the streets and all this feeds Islamophobia in Germany.”

Left Party lawmaker Martina Renner accused far-right populist movements and parties of encouraging hate crimes with their rhetoric. “The rise in anti-Muslim crimes is part of a general shift to the right which is being expressed as well as strengthened by the parties like the AfD,” said Renner.

The far-right nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), has adopted explicitly anti-Islamic rhetoric since the European refugee crisis began in 2015 when more than 800,000 mostly Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq arrived in Germany.

The AfD’s top candidate, Alexander Gauland, said that “Islam as a cultural, religious entity has no place in Germany.”

The party is currently polling around eight percent in German opinion polls. Parties need to achieve a 5 percent threshold of the vote to enter the Bundestag or German Parliament.

A study by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2015 showed that 57 percent of non-Muslim Germans perceived Islam as a threat while 61 percent said Islam was not compatible with Western society.

Anti-fascists call for greater scrutiny of far-right terrorism

2014 National Action members defaced Mandela statue (Photo:  Wikimedia Commons)

Nadine Osman

Anti-fascists groups have called for far greater scrutiny and action against far-right terrorism following the arrests of serving members of the British army on terrorism offences on September 5.

The five people were arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, related to suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, National Action, formed in part by ex British National Party (BNP) young members.

Army members Alex Deakin, 22, Mark Barrett, 24, and Mikko Vevhilainnen, who is 32 and originally from Finland, were all accused of being members of National Action on September 11.

A fifth person – a civilian – was also arrested on the same charge. One of the soldiers was detained by the Royal Military Police in Cyprus.

The arrests were planned and intelligence-led. The Army said it had supported the operation. Four of the men are being held at a West Midlands police station.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the man detained in Cyprus had been held at the island’s British Dhekelia base before being transferred to RAF Akrotiri, from where he will be flown to the UK.

National Action describes itself as a “National Socialist youth organization” and says its movement is aimed at the “broken right-wing”.

The official register says it was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which “conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities”.

Its online material contains extremely violent imagery and language and it condones and glorifies those who have used extreme violence for political or ideological ends, the Home Office says.

That included tweets in 2016 about the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was stabbed and shot by Thomas Mair. One such tweet said there were “only 649 MPs to go”.

Charity Hope not Hate has repeatedly warned that National Action has continued to operate insisting that authorities needed to remain vigilant.

“We maintain that in spite of any police action against individuals carried out today, the group still continues under a number of different names and guises.”

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) say despite almost a third of those monitored under the Government’s Prevent scheme believing in far-right ideologies, National Action remains the only far-right group to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation, added to the list of over 70 groups in December 2016.

UAF Joint Secretary, Sabby Dhalu, said the arrests provide “evidence that much greater prominence must be given to the fight against far-right terrorism.”

She also spoke of “double standard” in the approach to terrorism committed by non-Muslims and Muslims.

“There is a clear double standard in the way we treat terrorism in this country: Media headlines and Government announcements focus almost exclusively on terrorist activity by those claiming to be Muslims, while around a third of all suspected terrorist activity is coming from the far right,” said Dhalu in a statement to The Muslim News.

“The murders of Jo Cox and Mohammed Saleem and the outrage in Finsbury Park show that this is far from being a minor threat. Rather than demonising Muslims and contributing to Islamophobia, we call on politicians and the media to take the growing threat of far-right violence and terrorism as seriously as it does ISIS-type terrorism.”

Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of UAF, said: “After being defeated at the ballot box and on the street, the far-right is increasingly turning to violence and terrorism.

“Outrages such as the murder of Jo Cox, the murder of Mohammed Saleem and numerous attacks on mosques including Finsbury Park, show that the threat is real and must be taken seriously.

“National Action is a despicable, pathetic group of Nazis who use Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and threats of violence to intimidate all who oppose their sick ideology. They are only a tiny part of the growing threat of far-right terrorism which must be prioritised and defeated.”

In August The Times reported that about 40 neo-Nazis are being investigated by police amid fears that they are plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims around the country. “The extremists are understood to be operating in “far-right hotspots” predominantly in Yorkshire, including Leeds, Dewsbury and Batley, according to police intelligence sources familiar with the investigations.”

Charlie Hebdo accused of stirring anti-Muslim hatred

Nadine Osman

Controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has caused a new storm with front cover blaming terrorist attacks in Europe on Islam. A cover illustration depicts two blood-drenched pedestrians after being hit by a speeding van, with the caption: “Islam is the religion of peace eternal.”

It has become one of the top trending topics on Twitter in France, with users describing it as “Islamophobic”, “dangerous”, “racist” and “disgusting”. Social Media users also accused it of stirring up hatred against Muslims by linking Islam to terrorism.

Socialist lawmaker and former minister Stephane Le Foll said Charlie Hebdo risked fanning anti-Muslim hate crime and called the front page “extremely dangerous”.

“To say that Islam is a religion of peace by implying that it is, in fact, a religion of death is extremely dangerous when you’re a journalist, you need to exercise restraint because making these associations can be used by others,” said Le Foll.

The cover comes shortly after terrorist attacks on Las Ramblas in central Barcelona and another vehicle incident in the Catalan town of Cambrils that killed 15 people and injured 100 more.

In an editorial Charlie Hebdo’s Editor, Laurent Sourisseau, said experts and policy-makers are avoiding asking hard questions out of concern for moderate Muslims.

“The debates and questions about the role of religion and in particular the role of Islam in these attacks have completely disappeared,” he wrote.

However, Marseille-based anti-bigotry activist Nadiya Benzema told The Muslim News, “This is beyond a question of political correctness, it’s about the dehumanisation of minorities because satirical or not journalism is a powerful tool with which people’s approach to others is formed. This type of journalism can and does fuel anti-Muslim hate crime.”

US Muslims concerned about their place in society under Trump

Hamed Chapman

The plight of Muslims in the US has been exacerbated by the election of President Donald Trump, new American research has found.

The early days of Trump’s presidency have been an anxious time for many Muslim Americans, according to a Pew Research Center survey. They perceive great discrimination against their religion think their fellow Americans do not see Islam as part of mainstream US society.

The findings come despite US Muslims still clinging to the American dream, believing that hard work generally brings success in the country and are satisfied with the way things are going in their own lives – even if they are not satisfied with the direction of the country as a whole.

Half of Muslim Americans felt it has become harder to be Muslim in the US in recent years. Almost the same number, 48%, said they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months.

When questioned, three-quarters of US Muslims perceived a lot of discrimination against them just because of their religion. Almost two-thirds, 62%, did not believe that Americans see Islam as part of mainstream society. Trump’s election had made their plight worse, 68% said.

But alongside these reports of discrimination, a similar – and growing – share (49%) of Muslim Americans say someone has expressed support for them because of their religion in the past year. And 55% think Americans in general are friendly toward US Muslims, compared with just 14% who say they are unfriendly.

In 2011, only 4% believed that Barak Obama was unfriendly towards Muslims. This number had grown to a staggering 74percent  this year under Trump. During the six year period, the number of American Muslims dissatisfied with the way the country was going grew from 38percent  to 64%. Half of Muslim Americans say it has become harder to be Muslim in the US in recent years. And 48% say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months.

Despite the concerns and perceived challenges they face, 89% of Muslims say they were both proud to be American and proud to be Muslim. Eight-in-ten say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives.

The survey, the third carried out  US Muslims by Pew, showed that a large majority of US Muslims continue to profess faith in the American dream, with 70% saying that most people who want to get ahead can make it in America if they worked hard. Coming from at least 75 nations – the vast majority are US citizens that tended to be younger and more racially diverse than the general population.

Two-thirds (65%) said that their religion was very important in their lives. The survey also showed that Muslims largely share the general public’s concerns about religious extremism and expressed even greater concern than non-Muslims (66% vs. 49%) about extremism carried out in the name of Islam around the world. Muslims are much more likely to say targeting and killing civilians for political, social or religious reasons is never justifiable (76% vs. 59%).

About a third of Muslim Americans say they are either very worried (15%) or somewhat worried (20%) that the Government monitors their phone calls and emails because of their religion. However, overall Muslims actually are less likely than other Americans to think the Government is monitoring them: About six-in-ten Muslims (59%) say it is either very likely or somewhat likely that the Government monitors their communications, compared with 70% of the general public.

Man not charged under terror law over threat to blow up ‘Islamic’ bookshop

David Moffatt threatened to blow up an ‘Islamic’ bookshop (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A man who threatened to blow up an ‘Islamic’ bookshop and “kill the Muslims” has been sentenced to only 100 hours of unpaid work on August 3. David Moffatt, 39, made the remarks after entering a shop in Cricklewood Broadway, Brent, north London, on May 23.

Moffatt, of Ivy Road, Brent, north London, was identified and arrested at 11.30pm after calling police to claim he had been threatened. When the allegation was put to him, he said: “I’m not anti-Muslim, I’m Catholic.”

Moffatt pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated harassment at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on July 28. Moffatt was also ordered to pay £620 in costs and a victim surcharge of £85. The police neither arrested him under terrorism act nor did the CPS charge him for terrorism offence.

In a statement to The Muslim News Detective Inspector Madeline Ryder, from Brent’s Community Safety Unit, said: “Hate crime is unacceptable and Brent’s Community Safety Unit is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, supporting victims and their families and bringing perpetrators like Moffatt to justice.”

Three women make Islamophobia claims against Canada’s largest energy company

Naveen Gharyal

One of Canada’s largest energy companies has launched an investigation after three Edmonton residents who were fired from a Husky Energy maintenance project in Lloydminster launched a human rights complaint against a contractor over incidents of alleged Islamophobia.

Amino Rashid, 24, and two former colleagues who are also Muslim, told CBC that they were dismissed after reporting two separate incidents, only days apart. Rashid said two men scolded her for wearing a hijab and told her to take off her “hoodie”. One of those workers allegedly told her that “there are people who feel uncomfortable” about her hijab.
The incidents are believed to have occurred at Husky Energy’s upgrader in Lloydminster, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, on May 31 and June 3, the same day the trio were dismissed from Newcart Contracting Ltd.

Rashid, who works as a safety checker in the oil sands during the summer to cover living costs and student loans at York University in Toronto, said: “I was shocked, because usually in a situation like that you fire the person who was the one who was being the bully. You don’t fire the victim. You don’t fire the person who was trying to stand up for themselves.”
She said when she was hired, supervisors confidently told her neither Newcart nor Husky had an issue with her hijab.

Rashid and her former co-workers filed complaints with the Alberta Human Rights Commission and they have also complained to Husky Energy. However, these actions will not solve their immediate concerns. Rashid fears that she could lose her home in Toronto, and might not be able to return to university this year and said: “Losing this job derailed my life and possibly my future.”

Soon after CBC News contacted Husky about the case, the energy giant launched an investigation. Spokesperson Mel Duvall commented: “Given the seriousness of these allegations, we will be investigating with the contractor to ensure all of Husky’s policies and procedures were being followed.”

Rashid’s distress at her unfair treatment is deeply upsetting as she says: “I wanted to just go home and cry, for somebody to just be so disrespectful and not even care at all, it’s inhumane.”

But when Rashid and her former colleagues confronted Newcart managers about their dismissal, what they said to her shocked her even more. The managers explained how they are “Starting to cut back on people, and it was randomly selected that it turned out to be you guys.” When Rashid continued to question him, he tried to shut down the meeting.

“This conversation’s over. You were eligible for re-employment for the next shutdown but because of how you’re acting now, you’re not. So what Chad said about hoodies he didn’t realize.” After hearing the manager referring to their hijab’s as ‘hoodies’ the women cut him off and rejected to the use of the word ‘hoodie’. But despite this, the manager ended the meeting and wanted to say nothing more to the dismissed women who then had no other choice but to leave.

After Rashid shared her story, she was angered to learn that her family members had also faced discrimination on oil sands worksites, but didn’t feel they could speak up. She said companies need to address racial and religious divides through education, and respond swiftly to hate-based incidents to send a message that it won’t be tolerated.

“I wish I could just put them in my shoes and show them how it feels for something like that to happen to you,” said Rashid. “That’s why I’m speaking up right now because it’s wrong and I’m not going to tolerate it.”

Tennessee man sentenced for conspiring to burn down mosque

Naveen Gharyal

An ex-Congressional candidate from Tennessee has been sentenced to nearly 20 years behind bars on June 15 for plotting to burn down a mosque in upstate New York. He ran for federal office in 2014, finishing with less than ten percent of the vote in the eastern Tennessee district.

Robert Doggart, 65, was sentenced by the US District Court in Chattanooga, where he was convicted in February of attempting to recruit about 10 people to commit arson and infringe civil rights.

Doggart was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in April 2015 after saying in wiretapped telephone calls that he planned to recruit an armed force and travel to Islamberg, a rural town that is home to a small Muslim community in Hancock, New York, about 130 miles north-west of New York City. Doggart discussed his plan with an FBI informant in Nashville, saying the plan was to target and burn down a mosque and a school, along with a range of other buildings in the town.

The racist and ruthless man was prepared to go to any length with his planned attacks on innocent Muslims in Islamberg. “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage,” Doggart said on one of the recorded calls, according to the statement.

The US Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the sentence and said in a statement: “People of all faiths have the fundamental right to worship freely, and this administration will not tolerate attempts to violate that right.”

Now, the 65-year-old is facing one count of solicitation to commit arson, one count of solicitation to commit a civil rights violation and two counts of threat in interstate commerce. However, he is not facing any terrorism charges and has been under house arrest since his initial capture. Lawyers representing the Islamberg community claim a loophole in federal law allows defendants such as Doggart to escape terrorism charges.

Lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud conceded that there is a gap in the law and “frankly, there is nothing on terrorism unless it’s connected to a foreign element.”

According to the Patriot Act, prosecutors can only charge a defendant with domestic terrorism if he or she had the intention to ‘intimidate’ or ‘coerce’ a civilian population, or influence the policy of a government to affect the conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

However, Matul-Wadud claimed, the requirements are less severe for pursuing terrorism charges if the alleged act has a foreign element to it, for example, ties to international terror networks such as Isis or Al-Qa’ida. Doggart was accused of plotting to burn down a mosque in Islamberg, a predominantly Muslim community in upstate New York.

Swimmer fined for wearing burkini

File image of a ‘burkini’ (Photo: Giorgio Montersino/Wikimedia Commons)

 Nadine Osman

A swimmer has spoken of her shock after receiving a €490 cleaning bill for wearing a burkini in a French swimming pool on July 21. The woman, identified Fadila, was getting in the pool while on holiday with her husband Karim and her children in La Ciotat, Bouches-du-Rhone, Marseille, when a member of staff reportedly told other guests to get out.

Fadila says she was allowed to swim the previous day without incident. Fadila says it was not until July 24 that they were informed the owner received a call from officials insisting that a veiled woman had entered the pool with her clothes “and that they had come to see me out and that I had refused, I was left speechless because nobody had stopped me or said anything,” Fadila told the United Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

She added, “I was disappointed, shocked, wounded by the fact that someone could be so hypocritical and wicked because of a burkini.”

Karim was then contacted by the site’s owner, who allegedly told him to keep his wife away from the swimming pool.

The couple said they were asked to pay €490 the cost, the owner says of getting the swimming pool emptied and cleaned. The fee also included compensation for damages because the site would be out of use for two days, a claim the family contest insisting that the swimming pool was never emptied and was functional the next day.

The CCIF claims Fadila’s was specially designed for swimming and therefore could not have caused a hygiene issue.

The couple refused to pay the bill to which the owner allegedly reacted by taking the money from their account without issuing an invoice.

CCIF said Fadila’s burkini could not have caused a hygiene issue as the swimsuits are specifically adapted for swimming. Last summer, fines were imposed on women wearing burkinis in the southern French town of Cannes.

France’s highest administrative court later ruled that “burkini bans” being enforced on the country’s beaches were illegal and a violation of fundamental liberties. A spokesman for CCIF has confirmed to The Muslim News that Fadila will be appealing against her fine.

School sued for face veil ban

(Photo: Petar Milošević/WikiCommons)

Rida Shaban

A woman is taking legal action against her daughter’s school after she was told she was not allowed to wear a face veil (niqab) on the premises.

Rachida Serroukh, 37, accompanied her 11-year old daughter to Holland Park School in west London for a parent’s evening on June 13 but was told she had to leave the premises as her niqab violated the school’s health and safety policy. She is reportedly pursuing legal action against the school.

Serroukh, a single mother of three, was taken into a room by a member of staff and told she had to leave through the back exit as the niqab, was not permitted in the school’s policy.

The rule, despite being a legally exercisable restriction for pupils and staff, was not present in writing and had not been previously mentioned by the school.

Holland Park School has defended its stance claiming it was a health and safety concern and the school reserves the right to prevent individuals wearing face veils from their premises despite the restriction’s absence in the school’s policy.

The school argued in an e-mail to Serroukh that it was necessary to be able to identify anyone coming into the school.

However, Serroukh dismissed the safety concerns, saying she “had no problem with security at the school gate when I entered the school and nobody there had mentioned a policy” and that she uncovered her face when speaking to the female teacher who instructed her to leave. She also claimed, “I always lift my veil and show my photo ID when required to do so for security purposes.”

The distraught mother has expressed her discontent and has stated that the school’s “discrimination” has infringed upon British values of “diversity and multiculturalism”.

As a former alumnus and excelling pupil of Holland Park School, Serroukh was delighted that her daughter had secured a place at the prestigious academy in Kensington. Following a £80 million renovation in 2012, the school was dubbed the “socialist Eton”, sending expectations soaring further. Serroukh was looking forward to a venerated education for her daughter who had performed exceedingly well in her Year 6 SATs.

Following such high anticipation and eagerness, Serroukh was left shocked and disappointed by the school’s decision to abruptly remove her, and without providing any solid reasoning or any mention of this restriction.

Restrictions placed on Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab or niqab in Europe has been on the rise in recent years.

In 2010, Belgium became the first European country to vote to ban the niqab in public, with the first implementation of the ban taking place in France in April 2011. This sentiment has since been reciprocated throughout Europe with the European Court of Justice controversially ruling in March that employers can prevent staff from wearing visible religious symbols such as the hijab. Such legislation has been constantly opposed by human rights campaigners but continues to spread throughout Europe.

Although the UK has kept a relative distance from such restrictive policy, events like this threaten a steady move towards the repression of some Muslim women and the infringement of freedom of religion.

Couple detained on honeymoon ‘because the groom is Muslim’

Nadine Osman

A newlywed British couple’s honeymoon was ruined after they were detained at LAX airport in Los Angeles for 26 hours and then deported, apparently because the groom was Muslim.

Natasha Politakis, 29, and her new husband Ali Gul, 32, who is of Turkish descent paid £7,000 for a two-week trip to LA, Hawaii and Las Vegas in May, but Gul was stopped when he arrived at LAX.

The couple, from Enfield in North London, ended up having to spend more than a day in the airport before being refused entry and flown back to the UK.

While in the detention centre, they were refused a shower and had all of their possessions confiscated. They were only given their phones back when they were back on British soil.
When they tried to find out why they were detained, officials handcuffed them and marched them onto a flight back to London.

Although they were never told why they were denied entry, Natasha suspects it was because of her husband’s Turkish name and origin. Ali is British, however, and holds a British passport.

Politakis said she is “in utter shock that this has happened, we had just got married, we were on our way to our honeymoon as excited as anything, and never expected that we would be deported.”

She added, “We were treated like criminals and we had all the relevant documentation and answered all their questions. It’s not OK to treat people like that. As far as we knew before we left everything was fine, but as soon as we got there they wouldn’t let us in. We believe that since Trump was elected, they took one look at his name, thought he was Muslim and didn’t let him in.”

They’ve now been told that if they wish to complain they need to contact the US embassy, but they’ve struggled to get an appointment.

Politakis said, “We tried to talk to the embassy but they said just go on the website and there was no explanation there. We had visas, we had everything. We were treated like criminals.”

A spokesperson for the US embassy declined to comment specifically on the case, but said there were “more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility divided into several major categories, including health-related, prior criminal convictions, security reasons, public charge, labour certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds.”

Despite being issued a visa valid for 10 years the embassy said it was down to applicants to prove they were eligible to enter the US

The couple managed to book a last-minute holiday to Mexico instead, and are now in the process of trying to get their money back from their insurance.

“All we want is answers as to why our entire trip was ruined,” said Politakis.

Muslim motorist called ‘terrorist’

Nadine Osman

A British Muslim recorded the vile moment he was branded a “terrorist” by a businessman in the middle of Piccadilly Circus.

Ahmed Hammad, 32, was riding through London’s West End with his Canadian pal Imran Baig on a motorbike when the suit-wearing pedestrian stepped out into the road and hurled the insult at them. The suited pedestrian walked out into the street and shouted ‘terrorist’ at Ahmed and his pal

Hammad said: “I was showing my friend around London because he was visiting from Canada. He was very disappointed. It was very offensive. I was shocked because he looked like he was going to work.”

The IT specialist added: “I think he got scared after stepping out into the road and just said it.”

Hammad says he reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police on July 24. He also says he has taken the video to the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

London has seen a steep rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes since the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge terror attacks earlier this year. The number of incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police in the week following the Manchester suicide bombing increased five-fold to 139.

Shopper rants at man over wife’s niqab

Kerrie Anne Turner launched an unprovoked vicious tirade against a Muslim couple on July 31 (Photo: Facebook)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A video of a woman going on an anti-Muslim rant at a niqab wearing woman and her husband in a west London supermarket has gone viral earlier this month.

The footage filmed by the husband on July 31 and uploaded to Facebook by a family friend has since been viewed thousands of times. The fracas erupted by the checkout of an Aldi supermarket in Feltham, Hounslow, captures a white middle aged woman berating the Muslim woman for her attire.

Their antagonist identified by the MailOnline as 48-year-old Kerrie Anne Turner from Feltham, starts the tirade by repeatedly saying the word “disgusting” after the husband asks her if she thinks “freedom of choice is disgusting? ”

He then tells her that he “thinks her attitude is disgusting” as she responds “no” before telling him that “you should not allow your wife to go around like that”.

The wife begins to interrupt by telling Turner “why should he be my boss, he’s not my boss.” While remaining calm, the husband says the ranting woman should educate herself but she responds by asking him if he knows the Qur’an.

She said: “You’re supposed to be a peaceful bloody person.” The husband tells the woman that she is the one who is speaking with “disrespect”. She then points at the wife to tell her, “You shouldn’t be around like that, you look like a bloody pillar box.”

Defending his wife, the husband says it is her choice to be dressed like that as the woman shouts “disgusting, absolutely disgusting”. The husband responds by telling her that “your attitude is disgusting” before she once again points at his wife and says “that is disgusting and should be banned.”

The video, which lasts for almost two minutes, starts to come to an end with the woman telling the husband to educate himself as he tells her “you should be a comedian.”
The argument continues in the fashion for around a minute until an off-screen voice, presumably a member of staff, tells the woman to calm down “otherwise you are going to get banned”.

Not one person inside the busy store intervened on the couple’s behalf or reprimanded the woman for her unprovoked outburst.

In a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed they were “aware of a video” and that “from the Community Safety Unit at Hounslow borough are investigating. There have been no arrests.”

Ex-cons 3 times more likely to get a job than applicants with Arabic names

Elham Asaad Buaras

A new report has found that job applicants with violent criminal records are 3.5 times more likely to be employed than those with Arabic names in the Netherlands.

Researchers sent out 520 applications for a 20-year-old male for low-skilled work in the construction, technical and logistics sector, the Volkskrant reports. The profiles were submitted with a mix of ‘obviously Dutch’ and ‘Arabic-sounding’ surnames and various degrees of criminal record, from a clean slate to sexual offences.

32% of applications that used a Dutch surname and no criminal record were successful, compared to just 9% of similar applications in a foreign name. The proportion was roughly similar for those with criminal records.

Applicants with a violent past and a Dutch name stood a better chance than those with an Arabic name but no history of violence. “I don’t want to generalise because it’s a sample that we took in 2013, but it’s certainly alarming,” said Chantal van den Berg.

Labour market economist Dr Stijn Baert of the University of Ghent, said the findings supported earlier research in Flanders that indicated employers were more likely to dismiss applications from people with a minority ethnic background or a disability than those with violent convictions.

He said anonymous applications would be a step in the right direction, but cautioned that the measure might be less effective in stamping out discrimination than its supporters believe. “At the second stage you’re no longer anonymous and at the first stage it rules out the possibility of positive discrimination.”

Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Lodewijk Asscher, called the findings “utterly disgusting”, adding “You must judge all people on what they can do and not on their origin.”

Man arrested after Muslim mum punched in front of her children

Naveen Gharyal

A man has been arrested after a mother was allegedly racially abused in front of her two children on June 11. Unemployed Davion Kelly, 31, from Handsworth appeared before Birmingham magistrates charged on June 17 with three counts of causing racially or religiously aggravated alarm or distress and four counts of assault.

Kelly is accused of punching 31-year-old Muslim woman in the face in Heathfield Road, in Lozells at 2.30pm.The victim was reportedly sat in her car with her two young children and was waiting for traffic lights to change when she was approached and assaulted.

It is claimed the woman was then “racially abused” through the open window before the man threw water over her.

Police probe after Muslim mother is punched in the face in ‘horrific racist attack’ in Birmingham
Police said a man from Handsworth was arrested at 6.30pm on Thursday on suspicion of racially aggravated assault.

East Handsworth Councillor, Waseem Zaffer, told The Muslim News that it was an Islamophobic attack as the attacker said “You Muslim..”.

The Labour councillor visited the victim after the incident and said she was in a “state of shock”.
He said: “It’s a horrific attack. It happened in front of her two young children. She is a Muslim. It was an Islamophobic attack”.

Superintendent Mat Shaer from Birmingham Police said: “We will not tolerate any report of hate crime, these crimes are committed by a small minority of people and are not representative of wider communities”.

“There can never be any excuse for hate crime and I would encourage anyone who is a victim of hate to report it to police on 101 or online at www.report-it.org.uk. Clearly, 999 should be used if a crime is in progress or offenders are at the scene”.

Racist gang ask 13-year-old ‘are you a P**i?’ before assaulting him

Nadine Osman

A 13-year-old of Syrian descent was repeatedly and viciously kicked in the head by a gang of older teens during a brutal race hate attack that left him hospitalised in North Manchester General Hospital. Police are investigating the incident as a racially aggravated assault, which took place in Plant Hill Park, Blackley, on the evening of June 24. The child suffered severe swelling to the right side of his face, with a bruise on his cheek and lip.

Six youths, all white, reportedly circled their young victim in a north Manchester park before asking ‘Are you a P***?’ then battering him. The victim eventually managed to get to a friend’s house nearby and adults there alerted his parents.

In an interview with Manchester Evening News, the boy’s father said, “My son had gone to play there with two white friends. Then a group of kids have gathered around him. One has asked ‘Are you a P***?’. Before he could answer he was pushed to the ground and they started kicking him in the head. He managed to put his arms around his head for some protection. They kept kicking him until two of them broke it up realising they had gone too far. His two friends ran off because they were so scared. But one of them was knocking on doors trying to get help.”

He added, “There were no other injuries on his body – just his head. I think they intended to kill him. I don’t understand the culture behind this. The attackers must have been brought up in homes based on hatred. It is despicable what they did to him. My aim is for the perpetrators to be identified and charges brought against them.”

His father added the council needs to improve security including adding CCTV in the park. “The park is for the community not for gangs. I have lived in this country for 20 years. My son was born here. We have received a card and flowers from neighbours. We are part of this community. They are sad, sick people who have done this.”

The child’s mother said: “He is shaking and remains in pain. He has gone very quiet and does not want to talk about it. He is normally a very friendly boy.”

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “Hate crime will not be tolerated on the streets of Greater Manchester and it is important that people report any incidents so that they can be investigated.”

Muslim students harassed during Polish Holocaust trip

Elham Asaad Buaras

Group of German Muslim pupils say they were threatened with a knife, spat on and ejected from a shop during a Holocaust study trip in Poland last month, German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reports.

The Muslim majority group of 20 students from Theodor Heuss Community School in Berlin had visited World War II concentration camps in Treblinka and Maidanek but it was in the city of Lublin that they say locals subjected to a very hostile environment.

Their teacher Sabeth Schmidthals said, “These are very active students they go against the popular belief that youngsters or Muslim students are not interested in this topic.”

Sheida Nur, one of four girls wearing hijab, said: “I was spat on by a man in the street who then ran away.” She added that one police officer idly stood by during the abuse.

One of the boys in the group said, “We saw the policemen grinning. Then a Polish man explained that the police would not want to help us.”

Another girl was expelled from a shopping mall for speaking Farsi in a phone call to her brother. “They came up to me and asked me to leave. They said I was disturbing the people. I asked why. Just because I was talking in Farsi and I was a foreigner? They said ‘yes’.”

Another girl had an encounter with a woman who “came at us yelling ‘go away’. She then poured her drink on me and my camera.”

In a market, the hijab-wearing girls were turned away from a stall where they tried to buy water. In another incident, one of the girls was threatened by a man with a knife. “I thought he wanted to ask me something, but then I ran straight back to the hotel.”

The Poland trip was organised by the German Holocaust memorial body, the House of the Wannsee Conference aka Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz (GHWK).

The educational institute have voiced their concern in the wake of the allegations and say they are awaiting the feedback an investigation by the Polish Human Rights Commission.

GHWK Director, Dr Hans-Christian Jasch, told The Muslim News his organisation will continue organising trips to Poland, insisting they will “need to coordinate more intensively with our partners there and reassess the particular situation of groups.”

He added, “I’m especially shocked that this happened to youngsters in our care on this trip – indeed, on a trip dedicated to studying this very topic [racism]. Of course that’s particularly sad.”

The Polish prosecutor’s office confirmed that the number of hate crimes against Muslims had doubled from 2015 to 2016. Poland’s conservative government refuses to take in Muslim refugees claiming they would not fit in a majority Christian Catholic society.

During the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, Education Secretary, Jaroslav Gowin, said, “every (…) people have the right to protect itself from extinction”.

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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