Bollywood star Shah Rukh stopped at US airport for third time

Nadine Osman

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan expressed his disappointment at being “detained” by US authorities at Los Angeles International Airport on August 11. It is unclear why he was detained, or for how long.

In 2012, Khan was detained for 90 minutes at the White Plains airport near New York.

In 2009, he was stopped for two hours at Newark airport. He was released after India’s embassy intervened. The experience prompted the 50 year-old to tweet to his 20 million followers that although he fully respects, “security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.”

The US Ambassador to India, Rich Verma, apologised for the detention tweeting,“Sorry for the trouble at LAX @iamsrk. We are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Your work inspires millions, including in the US.”

To which Khan responded, “No trouble sir, respect the protocol & not expecting 2 b above it. It’s just a tad inconvenient. Thx for ur concern.”

Although there was no comment from immigration officials, the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary on South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal, tweeted to Khan, saying she was “sorry for the hassle”, adding that US diplomats also face this situation.

Some Indians wondered why one of Bollywood’s biggest stars is routinely detained at US airports. An Indian Government minister said at the time that this “policy of detention and apology by the US cannot continue”.

US customs and border protection authorities later expressed “profound” apologies for the incident. Khan had later made light of the incident and joked about it. “Whenever I start feeling arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom,” he told a gathering of students at Yale University.

‘Burkini’ pool party cancelled after organisers receive death threats

Nadine Osman

A ‘burkini’ swimming pool party in Pennes-Mirabeau, South France, was cancelled after the organisers received death threats.

A joint decision was made to call off the event in an effort to “calm the situation” and preserve public order after a heated reaction from residents.

However, the local mayor Michel Amiel announced he intended to prohibit the event “on the grounds it is likely to cause public disorder”.

The event was organized for September 10 as an opportunity for women to swim in private for eight hours while wearing covered swimming costume.

The party organisers Smile 13 announced in a facebook post: “It’s with astonishment and regret that we have noted the extent of this controversy. The situation has become surreal, from insults, incessant journalist requests, and death threats to members of the team. ”

The statement continued, “Our group is an open and tolerant one, including women from different backgrounds regardless of their religious and clothing choices.”

Amiel announced he had discussed the proposed party with the Speed Water Park venue with regards to the “extreme ideological positions” he believed Smile 13 were taking.

Smile 13 confirmed one of its members had been sent an envelope containing bullets, and condemned those who had sought to threaten the event. The group wrote a lengthy Facebook post criticising the “narrow-minded polemicists and politicians” who had attacked the party, before appearing to delete its Facebook account.

Smile 13 added it planned to take legal action against those who had sent the death threats.

Muslims who refused to become FBI informants appeal no-fly list

Elham Asaad Buaras

Three American Muslims who were placed No Fly List by the FBI in retaliation for their refusal to become informants appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit against the FBI on July 29.

The No Fly List was created by the US Government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  In June a top lawmaker revealed to the Washington Times that the FBI list contains about 81,000 names, but fewer than 1,000 of those are “US persons”.

The list has been criticised on civil liberties grounds, due to ethnic, religious, economic, political and racial discrimination. It has also raised concerns about privacy and government secrecy.

FBI agents told Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari their named would be removed from the list if they agreed to serve as spies in Muslim communities – not because the Government suspected involvement in crime, but simply because the Bureau was interested in collecting information on American Muslims.

Last summer, only days before the first major court hearing in their case, the men received letters from the TSC confirming their removal from the list and effectively conceding what  they never posed a security threat of and that the FBI only listed them to coerce them into spying on their faith community.

Later, the judge dismissed their claims to seek damages for the harm they suffered as a result of being placed on the list.

As a result of their placement on the No Fly List the trio were unable to see wives, children, sick parents, and elderly grandparents overseas for years. They lost jobs, were stigmatised within their communities, and suffered severe financial and emotional distress.

In a statement to The Muslim News the Senior Managing Attorney for the Center for the Constitutional Rights, Shayana Kadidal, said: “Unless there are consequences for constitutional violations, there is nothing to prevent them from recurring in the future.”

“Though our lawsuit forced the Government to undo our clients’ abusive placement on the No-Fly List, removing people from the list alone cannot repair the harms they suffer while on it.”

Prior to lawsuits challenging the No-Fly List, the Government operated the list in near-total secrecy and never told people why they were on it or gave them a chance to dispute their placement. Despite some reforms made under the pressure of litigation, the procedures governing who is placed on the list and how to challenge their placement remain gravely deficient, and the lack of transparency and accountability still leaves the No-Fly List, and other watch lists, ripe for abuse.

“FBI agents target vulnerable American Muslims on a regular basis, including those with financial, immigration, or criminal issues,” said CLEAR Staff Attorney Naz Ahmad. “Because our clients had none of those vulnerabilities, FBI agents had to create one before they could exploit it.”

In dismissing the case, the district court reasoned that even if the federal agents had violated the Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 currently does not afford a damages remedy for the specific type of religious and speech retaliation the men suffered. However, most other courts have ruled that it does, and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel agreed in a published opinion in 1994.”

Another list maintained by the FBI, dubbed the “TSA selectee list” because it triggers higher scrutiny but doesn’t ban flying, has some 28,000 records, of which fewer than 1,700 are Americans.

Mosque arson attack raises fears while French PM threatens freedom of worship

Mohammad Mahdi Karim

Alarms have been raised as the fears of anti-Muslim attacks in France have intensified in the wake of an arson attack on a mosque, located in Muret, a suburb of the French town Toulouse.

In a call for unity, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, claimed the extremists were trying to “set the French people against each other and attack religion in order to start a war of religions.”

However, the socialist French leader warned that, “if Islam doesn’t help the Republic to fight those who challenge public freedoms, it will get harder for the Republic to guarantee this freedom of worship.”

Police opened an ‘arson inquiry’ after French firefighters battled a blaze that was instigated with feverous Islamophobic sentiments following the brutal murder of the elderly priest by two teenagers.

The fire was started in the early hours of the morning at the construction site of the mosque, and the attacks appeared to be deliberate according to local French police. “Elements let us imagine that the fire can be deliberate,” the prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau told the French newspaper Le Parisian on July 27. No one was hurt.

The project was due to be completed by 2017. The roofs and doors were damaged as police saw traces of burglary around the area. Christophe Borgel, MP of Haute-Garonne “strongly condemned the crime against a Muslim place of worship” and assured the leaders of the mosque “all his solidarity”.

The fire came a week after Father Jacques Hamel was murdered allegedly by Daesh extremists. The Normandy town of Saint Etienne du Rouvray was in shock following the murder of the elderly priest who ‘was selfless and generous.’

Hundreds gathered at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray’s Yahia Mosque, including three Catholic priests, for a minute’s silence to honour slain priest Jacques Hamel. Strong bonds already existed in this small community. The Catholic Church donated the land on which the Yahia Mosque stands. The new priest in charge of the parish Father Auguste Moanda told worshippers to strengthen those bonds.

Francois Clavairoly, head of the French Protestant Federation, who held talks with President Hollande and other religious leaders said: “It is obvious that posting security outside every place of worship in this country is absolutely inconceivable.”

France’s Government has been lobbied by the centre-Right Republicans to up security by calling for more extremists to be detained following the attacks in France. The socialist Government has also been criticised for failing to act on its intelligence with reports that the missing suspect of the Normandy church attacks was notified as a threat the previous week.

The centre of attention has now come to helping the 2,200 mosques and 54,000 churches in France keep safe. Security has been notably increased at the Basilica of Saint-Denis, a church situated next to Muslim estates in Northern Paris, is where many former French Monarchs are buried.

France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population with more than 5 million in a population of around 66 million.

Dalil Boubakeur, the leader of the Grand Mosque in Paris, said the attack was a “blasphemous sacrilege which goes against all the teachings of our religion”.

This was the second time that the same mosque was set ablaze following a previous suspected arson attack in 2012. Mosques have long been the targets of many attacks following the fatal attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January of 2015. In response to the attacks 3,000 places of worship including synagogues, churches and mosques increased security.

Since then hate crimes have tripled with over 400 reports of attacks, criminal damage and harassment in 2015.

Nursery nurse who called toddler a terrorist struck off

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Scottish nursery nurse who racially abused a toddler and called another a “terrorist” was struck off last month.

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) ruled that Nikki Alexander was guilty of misconduct in June and July 2015 while working for the Busy Bees nursery in Edinburgh.
She was accused of swearing at children and causing one to hit their head.

The Body said Alexander had displayed “a pattern of concerning behaviour” which put children at risk.

On June 29, 2015, Alexander placed a child who was under the age of two “at risk of harm” by grabbing their arm and pulling on it, causing them to fall backward and bang their head.

The following month she was said to have shouted and sworn at several toddlers, calling one of them “bomber” and a “terrorist”, saying words to the effect of “go away and bomb somewhere else” and “go away you terrorist”.

The SSSC’s conduct subcommittee said: “Abusive behaviour by a social service worker, such as calling service users names, swearing at them, shouting at them and pulling them in a way to cause them to fall, is a breach of trust and confidence for social service users. Grabbing a service user by the arm and pulling them in such a way that made them fall over and bang their head constitutes physically abusive behaviour towards a young child, putting the child at risk of physical and emotional harm.

“Using discriminatory language is demeaning and devaluing towards the child and caused, or was likely to cause, embarrassment, humiliation and distress for the child.

“It is behaviour which put a service user at risk of emotional and psychological harm and is behaviour that is incompatible with the behaviour expected of a person registered with SSSC.”

Hate Crime Action plan fails to address Islamophobia

Ala Abbas

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has launched the Hate Crime Action Plan which calls on communities across Britain to “come together and stand united against those who use hate to divide us.”

Under the plan, which was launched on July 26, there will be a new assessment of the level of racist, religious and homophobic bullying going on in schools and a new programme to equip teachers to “facilitate conversations” when terrorist incidents happen at home and abroad. The new measures will also address the high incidence of hate crimes on public transport.

The Home Office will “launch a £2.4m scheme for protective security measures at vulnerable faith institutions” according to the Hate Crime Action plan. “New funding will be made available for the security of all faith establishments, including mosques.” The Jewish community get special allocation to protect their community. There will be a “commitment to the security of independent and state-aided Jewish faith schools, synagogues and other Jewish community sites with £13.4m of funding in 2016/17.”

No specific funds have been allocated to mosques and Muslim community sites, despite the number of hate crimes over the past year being disproportionately aimed at Muslims. According to the Metropolitan Police, Islamophobic hate crimes rose by 43 per cent in the last 12 months.

It is impossible to know the exact figures because of the problem of under-reporting. Islamophobic hate crime has seen the biggest percentage increase over the last 12 months compared to any other crime in the capital. The third highest percentage increase occurred in “racist and religious” hate crime, a category that can also include Islamophobic attacks.

This was acknowledged in a report by True Vision in February this year which found that race and religion are often interlinked when it comes to anti-Muslim hate speech.

Despite the huge spike in Islamophobic incidents over the past year, police action on hate crime has gone down. Official data from the Crown Prosecution Service has shown a 10 per cent decrease in police referrals of hate crime for charging in 2015/16.

According to a study of 40 police forces in England and Wales by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the total numbers of reported hate crimes soared by 20% over the past year (from 50,288 to 60,225), with 34 out of the 40 forces recording a rise in offences. Despite this increase, fewer cases have been dealt with than in the previous year. Just 27% of hate crimes recorded by police resulted in an outcome such as a charge, summons, caution or restorative justice in 2015/16, compared with 35% the year before.

When it comes to Islamophobic abuse online, there is a targeted campaign by mainly far-right groups. Imran Awan, a researcher at Birmingham City University, examined 100 different Facebook pages, posts and comments between January 2013 and November 2014 and uncovered nearly 500 instances of anti-Muslim hate speech.

The report entitled ‘lslamophobia on Social Media: A Qualitative Analysis of Facebook’s Walls of Hate’ identified “5 walls of Islamophobic hate” directed at Muslims online, which included seeing Muslims as terrorists and rapists, depicting Muslim women as threats to national security and suggesting all Muslims should be deported. The study also found that the pejorative terms “Muzrats, Paki, Peado, Rapists, Dirty, Scum and Filthy” were among the 20 most commonly used to describe Muslims during online tirades.

This abuse was intensified and triggered by events in the news. According to Awan, “the worry is that these online groups and communities will use this support to foster an offline extremist counter-narrative”.

Islamophobia rampant on Facebook, concludes academic study

Elham Asaad Buaras

Muslim women are a security threat and all Muslims should be deported: that’s the most commonly held anti-Muslim views posted on Facebook, according to a new study published last month.

The Birmingham City University study titled Islamophobia Online: Inside Facebook’s Walls of Hate, unearthed nearly 500 instances of anti-Muslim hate speech in 100 Facebook pages, posts and comments.

Among the 20 most commonly used words to describe Muslims during online tirades are pejorative terms like ‘Muzrats’, ‘Paki’, ‘peado’, ‘rapists’, ‘dirty’, ‘scum’ and ‘filthy’.

As part of the study on Facebook and Islamophobia (conducted between 2013 and 2014), researchers trawled for references to ‘Muslims and Woolwich’, ‘Muslims and Islam’, ‘Muslims and Extremism’, and ‘Muslims and Terrorism’, with the results covering dozens of pages of far-right groups including Britain First, the English Brotherhood and the English Defence League.

Associate Professor at BCU, Dr Imran Awan, who conducted the research found that there were five recurring ways in which Muslims were portrayed during abuse – which he defines as ‘the five walls of Islamophobic hate’.

Among these categories the most frequent abuse depicted Muslim women as security threats due to their clothing (76 instances), followed by the belief that Muslims should be deported (62 instances).

The view of Muslims as terrorists was the third most common (58 instances), with a war with Muslims (53 instances) and Muslims as rapists (45 instances) being the next most often repeated comments.

The analysis revealed that the appalling comments intensified following high profile events such as the Rotherham abuse case, the Trojan Horse scandal and the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.

These events also triggered an increase in abuse across the globe with the US and Australia seeing a large increase in inflammatory comments posted on pages like Ban Islam in Australia and Ban Islam in America during the aftermath.

Men were found to be much more likely to post abuse with 80 per cent of all comments coming from male users of the site.

The report comes in the wake of Facebook signing up to a new European Union code of conduct which commits it to review and remove online hate speech from its European sites within 24 hours.

Speaking to The Muslim News, Dr Awan who in 2014 conducted an extensive study of Twitter, said, “The aim of this study was to understand the nature of Islamophobia on Facebook and therefore to create a better awareness of the rise of online hate on social media.”

“Social media has been used to target all types of people which includes anti-Semitism, homophobia, gender based misogynistic abuse and so forth.  Islamophobia is also a part of this wider trend of online hate.”

He added that although “Facebook has acknowledged it must do more however its current policy needs to be re-examined with a look at how hateful messages are taken down and also the implications of changing its community guidelines to include racial and religious bigotry.”

He added that distinguishing between offensive yet legal and illegal hate speech “is a major issue because not everything on Facebook is necessarily illegal because of the CPS strict threshold and therefore some of the abuse did not fall into this category.”

The perils of flying while Muslim

With the number of Muslim passengers being kicked off flights sky rocketing for the most ludicrous reasons, this syndrome is dubbed “flying while Muslim” or in some cases, flying while looking Muslim. The Muslim News looks back at just some of the jaw-dropping, bizarre and absurd explanations Muslim passengers have been given for their ordeals.

Wednesday August 3, 2016 at Miami Airport, USA

PROFILED: Voice of America journalist and a government worker
Removed from an… American Airlines flight to Washington for.. DISCUSSING A DELAY | Niala Mohammad and her friend had been grounded for about five hours in Miami, they and other passengers were not allowed to buy food or drink. Her friend and a white male passenger seated behind her started talking about the delay. A flight attendant approached her friend and said: “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.” He also accused her of “instigating” objections from others and threatened to remove her from the plane.

The friend took a picture of the flight attendant to try and ID him as he was not wearing a badge and did not give them his name. They were then told that taking a picture was a federal offence and were asked to delete the picture. A customer relations rep came on board and asked the two women to follow her off the plane, where they were greeted by armed air marshals. They told the women that the male flight attendant had felt threatened by them.

The male passenger they had talked to on board the plane was not asked to leave.Niala Mohammad said: “Although we were encouraged to document the incident to AA customer relations, we still experienced insult and embarrassment as two minority Muslim-American women…For being such a “threat” to an AA attendant, it’s telling that the Miami-Dade police officers joked with us and posed for a picture with the “pretty harmless airplane menaces.”

 

 

Tuesday July 26, 2016 at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

PROFILED: American couple of Pakistani decent returning from an anniversary trip
Removed from a… Delta Air Lines flight to Cincinnati for.. SWEATING, WEARING A SCARF AND USING A PHONE | Nazia Ali had finished sending a text message to her parents and was putting on her headphones when a crew member approached her and her husband, Faisal. The flight crew member had complained to the pilot that she was uncomfortable with the couple. The woman was wearing a head scarf and using a phone, and the man was sweating, she allegedly told the pilot.
The couple, who have three young children under the age of five, were removed from that flight and booked into a hotel by the airline overnight. The children were being looked after by the couple’s parents. The couple was interrogated again by a US customs agent at the airport the next day. When Faisal asked what they had done wrong, the agent said: “You have done nothing wrong, unfortunately this is the way the world is right now. It is Delta’s word against yours.”

 

July 25, 2016 Doncaster Airport, UK

PROFILED: A Muslim NHS worker from Leeds
Quizzed by police for.. READING A BOOK ON SYRIAN CULTURE | Faizah Shaheen, who helps prevent teenage mental health patients from becoming radicalised, was returning from her honeymoon in Turkey when she was stopped by police. The 27-year-old was pulled over because a fortnight earlier a cabin crew member from a Thomson Airways flight had reported her for having a suspicious book. Police questioned her for 15 minutes under anti-terror laws and told her the suspicions related to the holiday book she had been reading – Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, an award-winning book comprised of short stories, poems, songs, cartoons and photos from Syrian authors and artists.
Faizah Shaheen said: “I fight for different causes and then to be victimised and experience this first-hand made me realise how bad it is. Instead of reminiscing about our honeymoon I am left talking about this experience. ”

 

June 15, 2016 at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, USA

PROFILED: White non-Muslim bearded male
Removed from an… Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle for.. BEING BEARDED/UNFIT TO FLY | Mark French alleges he was informed that he was unfit to board his flight as his beard sparked a complaint from another passenger who claimed to find him “Arabic and scary”. He says he was approached by security in a waiting area and was told he would not be able to board his flight. French claims that he was told he was “unfit to fly” until he was clean shaven despite his beard appearing to be little more than stubble. – Alaska Airlines denies these allegations and insists that French was loud and disruptive in the boarding area, which was why he was deemed unfit to fly.

 

May 4, 2016 at Philadelphia Airport, USA

PROFILED: 40 year old Italian Ivy League professor
Removed from an… American Airline flight to New York for.. DOING MATH | Guido Menzio, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, was working on a math equation while waiting for the plane to take off. But a passenger somehow mistook the equation for Arabic or some sort of code for a terrorist attack. The woman, initially told a flight attendant that she was feeling too ill to travel but when they escorted her off the plane, the woman told the crew she had actually been feeling suspicious of Menzio and wanted to be booked on another flight, but it was Menzio who was escorted off the plane. He was informed that his seatmate had suspected he was a terrorist specifically bringing up his “cryptic” notes in the unrecognisable script.
Guido Menzio said: “What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of Trump’s voting base.”

 

April 6, 2016 at Los Angeles LAX Airport, USA

PROFILED: 26 year old college student of Iraqi origin


Removed from a… Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland for.. TALKING IN ARABIC | Prior to takeoff, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi had called his uncle in Baghdad to tell him about a function he attended the previous evening, featuring UN, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. He and his uncle shared a customary inshallah, [God willing]. According to Southwest Airlines a nearby passenger overheard the conversation and felt alarmed by his “potentially threatening comments”.

The woman told staff that she heard him say “Shahid,” meaning martyr. He was approached by an Arabic-speaking employee who asked him why he was speaking the language on the plane, and escorted him out to security personnel at the gate. Three FBI agents took him to a private room where they questioned him about his family, particularly his father, Khalid, a former diplomat who had been killed by Saddam Hussein’s the regime.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi said:

 

April, 2016 at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy

PROFILED: British man of Eritrean descent
Removed from an… easyJet flight to Gatwick because.. A PASSENGER “DIDN’T FEEL SAFE” | Meghary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was in his seat awaiting take-off, when the captain had explained they were delayed for 20 minutes because of a fault with luggage, so when a cabin crew member asked if anyone called Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was on board, he assumed it had something to do with the luggage.

But when he came forward, he was greeted by Italian armed police who marched him to the airport’s station where they interrogated him for more than 15 hours. Officers told him a woman had felt threatened by his presence on the plane.Meghary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis said: “They [easyJet] have apologised to me on a few occasions but it’s not about me and easyJet. It is way bigger than that.”

 

April 13, 2016 at Chicago O’Hare Airport, USA

PROFILED: American woman of Somali origin
Removed from a… Southwest Airlines airline to Seattle for.. SWITCHING SEATS | Hakima Abdulle was told to disembark the plane after she asked the man next to her whether she could move to the aisle seat, and he had agreed. A flight attendant then approached her and said they were not allowed to swap seats, despite the airline’s policy of unassigned seating. Abdulle asked why she could not switch.

The flight attendant asked her to get off the plane. When police asked the flight attendant at the gate if there was any reason why Abdulle had been taken off the plane, she replied “no” and that she “did not feel comfortable” with the passenger. Abdulle was rebooked on a flight to Seattle several hours later.

 

Saturday March 26, 2016 at Vienna Airport, Austria

PROFILED: UK-based Iraqi scientist


Removed from an… easyJet flight to Gatwick for… TEXTING IN ARABIC | Hasan Dewachi, 32, was kicked off his flight because a passenger suspected he was a terrorist when she saw him texting in Arabic. Dewachi, who has lived in the UK for six years and is studying for a master’s degree in biochemistry, was texting his wife about his journey when he was approached by a cabin crew and told to disembark.

He was questioned and had his phone confiscated for examination, he was later cleared but the flight had already left without him, the married father-of-two was abandoned at the airport without a flight and without a phone.Hasan Dewachi said: “I feel racially discriminated against. It is as if they have forgotten I am not only a customer but a human being as well.”

 

Sunday March 20, 2016 at Chicago O’Hare Airport, USA

PROFILED: Muslim American family of Arab decent
Removed from a… United Airlines flight to Washington for… FLIGHT SAFETY (NO ELABORATION) | Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, her husband and three young children were about to take off when the pilot asked them to get off the aircraft. The family had enquired earlier whether the air stewardess could provide five-point harness safety seats for their children. Two videos filmed by Shebley show the air stewardess and then the pilot asking the family to leave. Shebley asked the pilot whether it was a “discriminatory” decision.

The pilot replied it was a “flight safety issue” but were not given any details. Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley said: “Shame on you ‪United Airlines‬ for profiling my family for no reason other than how we look and kicking us off the plane for “safety flight issues” on our flight to DC for the kids spring break. My three kids are too young to have experienced this.”

 

Tuesday March 8, 2016 at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta Airport, USA

PROFILED: Imam
Removed from a… Delta Air Lines flight to Toronto for… USING THE TOILET | Despite being a Delta Platinum Elite member and approved by the US Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which expedites low-risk air passengers through security procedures, Syed Muhammad Abbace Ayleya was escorted off the flight and told little more than that his use of the airplane toilet was “doubtful”.

The airplane left the gate, but then returned to the gate about five minutes later. A Delta employee boarded the plane and escorted Ayleya back to the terminal, where he was met by two officers. He was only told that “the crew was doubtful about the way you were using the restroom”. Syed Muhammad Abbace Ayleya is suing Delta Air.

 

Thursday February 25, 2016 at London Luton Airport, UK

PROFILED: 40 year old Christian, Nigerian-born Briton mistaken for Muslim


Removed from an.. easyJet flight to Amsterdam for… RECEIVING A PRAYER MESSAGE | Pastor Laolu Opebiyi, was using WhatsApp to arrange a prayer call session with friends, as the flight was waiting to take off . But he was pulled off the flight by two firearms officers after a fellow passenger read the message over his shoulder and alerted cabin crew, who raised the alarm with police.It is thought the man misread the name of Opebiyi’s prayer group “ISI men” – which stands for “iron sharpens iron” from a Bible quote – as Isis.

The business analyst was taken into questioning by police and quizzed about his Christian faith and where he attends church.Laolu Opebiyi said: “Someone felt I was a terrorist because they saw the word ‘prayer’ on my phone and now I stand in uncertainty about my freedom of movement in and out of the United Kingdom”.

Friday February 5, 2016 at Manchester Airport, UK

PROFILED: British charity worker and anti-extremism campaigner
Removed from a.. Thomson Airway flight to Marrakech for… NO REASON GIVEN | Ahmed Ali, 39, was about to fly with his pregnant wife for a belated honeymoon when he was told by a flight attendant that he had to disembark from the plane.

He was then taken by officers from Greater Manchester Police and questioned under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act. Ali said he will be making official complaints to the airline and the police about the incident which he says the incident caused his wife to have panic attacks.

Saturday January 2, 2016 at Athens Airport, Greece

PROFILED: Two Israeli Arabs
Removed from an.. Aegean Airlines flight to Tel Aviv for.. BEING ARAB | Israeli passengers forced the cabin crew to remove two Israeli Arabs from the flight before allowing it to take off. The Jewish Israeli passengers decided that the two Israeli Arab passengers on the flight constituted a security risk. After bringing their concern to the attention of the crew, they prevented the flight from taking off by standing in the aisles. The two Israeli Arabs finally acceded to crew requests that they disembark, in return for a hotel room and compensation.

 

Sunday December 6, 2015 at Charlotte Douglas Airport, North Carolina, USA

PROFILED: American Muslim
Removed from an.. American Airline flight to Detroit because… A FLIGHT ATTENDANT FELT UNCOMFORTABLE | Mohamed Ahmed Radwan had boarded when a flight attendant used the loud speaker to say “Mohamed Ahmed, Seat 25-A: I will be watching you” when he asked her why she singled him out, she reportedly responded that he was being “too sensitive”. When he then reported the incident to another cabin crew member, he was told he must leave the plane as he had made her feel “uncomfortable”.

 

Tuesday November 24, 2015 at Newark Liberty Airport, New Jersey, USA

PROFILED: Contributing editor at The New Inquiry
Removed from a.. United Airlines flight to Istanbul for… BEING THE ONLY VISIBLE MUSLIM | On the flight of about 200 passengers, 30-year-old Kameelah Rasheed explained that the only thing to single her out was that she was ’the only visible Muslim person’ on board due to her hijab.Initially she was allowed on flight after undergoing security checks and questioning by customs officers. However, she was forced to leave before the plane could take off and was interrogated by an FBI agent for over two hours.
Kameelah Rasheed said: “It was an attempt to humiliate and ostracise me.”

Friday May 29, 2016, Chicago

PROFILED: Director of Interfaith Engagement and associate chaplain at North-western University
Altercation in a Washington bound United Airlines after… a MUSLIM PASSANGER WAS WAS DENIED AN UNOPENED SODA CAN BECAUSE SHE COULD USE IT ‘AS A WEAPON’ | When Tahera Ahmed requested a soft drink she was handed an opened one. She asked for an unopened can for hygienic reasons but was falsely informed by a flight attendant that it is against United Airlines policy to give people unopened canned beverages.

When Ahmed confronted the flight attendant with the fact that the man seated next to her was handed an unopened can of beer the attendant said ‘It’s because you would use it as a weapon.’” Ahmad said she then asked the other passengers, “Did you all just witness this discrimination?” and she claims another passenger muttered “you Muslim” and told her to “shut the f**k up”.

Tahera Ahmed said: “This isn’t about me and a soda can, it’s about systemic injustice that is perpetuated throughout our community.”

If you or anyone you know as been subject to racial or religious profiling please contact: info@muslimnews.co.uk | or call 44+(0)20 8863 8586 (office hours UK time) | +44 (0) 7768341325 (all other times) – Compiled by Elham Asaad Buaras – (c) The Muslim News 2016

Japan’s Supreme Court upholds blanket surveillance of Muslims

Turkish Mosque at Yoyogi Uehara in Tokyo (Photo: Emrank/Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

Japan’s Supreme Court has upheld the Government’s blanket surveillance of the country’s 15,000 Muslim community.

The court struck down the second appeal by Japanese Muslim plaintiffs against what they perceive as an unconstitutional invasion of their privacy and freedom of religion.

A 2010 leak of 114 police files revealed nationwide surveillance of Japanese Muslims. The files revealed that mosques, halal restaurants and Islam-related organisations across Tokyo, were being monitored.

Within a few weeks of the leak, the data had been downloaded 10,000 times in 20 different countries from a file-sharing website.

A group of 17 Japanese Muslims, mostly from Middle Eastern and North African countries, decided to sue the Japanese Government for infringing on their constitutional rights. Among the plaintiffs is Muslim convert Mohamed Fujita.

Fujita told Al Jazeera: “They made us terrorist suspects; we never did anything wrong – on the contrary.”

The Supreme Court finally dismissed the case after two appeals on May 31.The plaintiffs were awarded ¥90 million ($880,000) as compensation due to violation of their privacy by the leak.

However, the presiding judges did not make a judgment on police profiling and surveillance tactics which a lower court had upheld as “necessary and inevitable” to guard against international terrorism.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Junko Hayashi said: “We were told we don’t have a constitutional case, We’re still trying to figure out how it is not constitutional.”

Whistleblower Edward Snowden said Muslims in Japan “are more likely to be targeted… despite not having any criminal activities or associations or anything like that in their background, simply because people are afraid.”

On July 13 a Muslim association in the city of Shizuoka confirmed it has received threats of physical harm following a terrorist attack earlier this month in Bangladesh, in which 20 hostages including Japanese and Italians were killed.

An official of the Shizuoka Muslim Association said it had received four handwritten letters in Japanese stating, “I feel sorry for the Japanese and Italians in Bangladesh” and “Be careful from now on because I will beat you with a bat from behind!”

The letters are believed to have been written by the same person, the official said.The Association requested local police to strengthen patrols around the building where it is based.

Muslim doctor shot and stabbed outside mosque

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Muslim man on his way to morning prayers was shot and stabbed outside a mosque in Houston, Texas, on July 4.

Spokesperson for the Madrasah Islamiah Masjid Noor mosque near Bellaire, Mohammed Imaduddin, said the victim was a doctor, who had parked along the street before walking towards the mosque for the morning prayers.

Witnesses said the victim was approached by three masked men on foot before being stabbed without warning.One of the individuals pulled out a gun and shot him, before the three attackers fled from the scene.

“It is very scary right now given the current political climate,” said Imaduddin, adding that there were children outside at the time of the incident.

“From what I hear, this is the third incident this week in the Houston area involving a Muslim getting shot. This is a community place, we have kids that come here, we have people young and old come here.”

Investigators say the doctor was shot twice, and will remain in ICU for 24 hours, but is expected to survive his injuries.  There is no known motive known for the attack.

The incident comes the day after another Muslim man was beaten up outside a mosque in Florida.

Muslim girls’ Swiss citizenship denied for refusing to swim with boys

Elham Asaad Buaras

Swiss authorities rejected the naturalization application of two Muslim girls who refused to take school swimming lessons because boys were present. The 12 and 14 year-olds who live in Basel, had applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied on June 28.

The girls said their religion prevents them from participating in compulsory swimming lessons with males in the pool at the same time. Their naturalization application was rejected because the sisters did not comply with the school curriculum, Basel authorities said.

President of the naturalization committee, Stefan Wehrle, said, “Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized.”

Under Swiss rules naturalization can be denied citizenship, even if the applicants are employed, have lived in the Switzerland for long durations and are fluent in one of the national languages – German, French or Italian.

Local councils make initial decisions on naturalization applications. If they decide a candidate is not an upstanding member of the community, the application will be denied and not forwarded to canton (state) and federal authorities for further processing.

In April, members of an immigrant family in the Basel area were denied citizenship because they wore sweatpants around town and did not greet passersby – a sure sign that they were not sufficiently assimilated, the naturalization board claimed.

Another recent case sparked widespread outrage in Switzerland when two Muslim brothers refused to shake hands with their female teacher, also citing religious restrictions. Shaking hands with a teacher is a common practice in Swiss schools.

After that incident was widely publicized, authorities suspended the naturalization request from the boys’ father, an imam at the Basel mosque.The swimming case involving the two girls is the first to deny naturalization applications for not complying with a school program, setting precedence for future cases, Wehrle said.

In 2012, a family was fined $1,500 for forbidding their daughters to participate in swimming classes. The matter eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled that no dispensations from swimming lessons should be made on religious grounds.

 

[Photo: Mosque of the Olten Turkish cultural association at Wangen bei Olten. By Nadf Public Domain]

Islamophobic booklet pushed through doors in Aston

Camel’s in the Tent were put through dozens of doors in Aston, Birmingham

Elham Asaad Buaras

West Midlands Police have confirmed they are investigating after an anti-Muslim booklet titled Camel’s in the Tent were put through dozens of doors in Aston, Birmingham, on June 27.

Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood contacted the police following complaints from residents who received the flyers by the American evangelical fundamentalist Christian Jack Thomas Chick. Police were treating the alert as a race hate crime and officers were studying CCTV footage in a bid to find out who was responsible for the literature. The Labour MP described the booklet as “frightening”.

“They are vile and a disgusting piece of literature designed to frighten the people in my constituency and cause fear and create division in our society. I have been liaising with residents and have reported the matter to police,” said Mahmood.

The details emerged as a cross-party statement was issued by Birmingham Council councillor Waseem Zaffar saying the city welcomed new arrivals from all over the world. He said: “Our city is warm, friendly and welcoming and no-one will come here and spread hate. We are united on this.”

Insp Will O’Connor, neighbourhood policing inspector, said: “We have received complaints about leaflets delivered to several addresses in the north Aston area.

“The act has been recorded as a racially aggravated offence, namely distributing material intended to incite racial hatred. These have been seized and we have also secured some CCTV covering the area which will be examined in the hope it will show who is responsible.” Chief constable Dave Thompson promised “zero tolerance” on hate crime after the UK voted to leave the EU.

Man rubs fake poo on four-year-old Muslim girl

Zainab Hassan

A four-year-old girl was attacked by a group of 20 men, one of whom rubbed fake poo on her face. The event took place outside the Royal Exchange in Corn market, Cornmarket, Worcester, at around 4pm on July 19.

The unidentified girl was been said to have been walking through town, with her grandmother and mother, when a group of 20 men attacked her and began rubbing fake poo in her face. Additionally it has been reported that they tried to rub poo on the mothers face as well. The child’s uncle Tayyib Nawaz said that his niece is now “too scared to go back to Worcester city center.”

“My mum, my sister with her 18-month-old son in a pushchair and her daughter, aged four, were walking through town and some ‘man’ thought it would be cool to try and rub fake poop in my niece’s face,” said Nawaz. “Then he tried to do the same to my mum too, which received a load of cheers. Now my niece is too frightened to even go back into town. Nobody intervened. Absolutely disgusting.”

Onlooker Terry Clarke said he evicted the men once he realised what had happened. “I had a couple of women come in and tell me what had happened, they had tried to rub the poo in an Asian woman’s face,” he said.

“That was the last straw. I went over there and told them they needed to leave, and the guy started giving me a mouthful – but I said enough’s enough.” The mother of the girl believes they were attacked because of their hijabs and Asian clothes.

The suspect has not been named but is reported as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s with light brown hair, approximately 6ft tall with an average build and “chubby cheeks”.

 

Ethnicity did not play a part, in passenger eviction says Alaska airline

Mark French says he was kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight en route to Seattle from Dallas, because his beard frightened another passenger (Photo: Facebook/Mark French)

Kowther Elmi

A passenger on a flight to Seattle from Dallas alleges he was informed by Alaska Airlines that he was unfit to board his flight as his beard sparked a complaint from another passenger claiming to find him “Arabic and scary”.

Mark French was approached by security while in a waiting area and was told he would not be able to board his flight.

The passenger’s sister, who he was on his way to visit, Maria French was among one of the many who vocalised their anger on Facebook as she wrote:

“I am so angry. My brother Mark French was supposed to be arriving here in Seattle today, but Alaska Airlines just kicked him off the plane because someone complained that he looks ‘Arabic and scary’. I have no words. Just so angry I feel sick”.

Other comments on the airlines actions have included; “Kicking someone off a flight because they look Arabic is racist” and “Shame on you Alaska Airlines”.

The airline however, in response to the outpour of over 100 comments on the situation on social media, denies these allegations stating that “ethnicity did not play a part” and that “there is more to the story but as per company policy we do not share details about passengers”. French claims that he was told he was “unfit to fly” until he was clean shaven despite his beard appearing to be little more than stubble.

A spokesman from Alaska Airlines clarified to The Muslim News that the reason French was deemed unfit to fly was because he was “loud and disruptive in the boarding area”.

While French was contacted by Alaska Airlines with an offer to re-book his return flight for the same price, he says that it was not enough to erase the humiliation of being treated like a terrorist all because he had a beard. According to French’s sister Maria, French “was going to shave before going back”.

This type of discrimination seems to be picking up speed what with a similar situations occurring on other airlines. Such as a situation in November wherein a United Airlines flight attendant would not give Tahera Ahmad an unopened can of coke as she could “use it as a weapon”. This same flight attendant did however; give another passenger an unopened can of beer despite claiming that company regulation prevented her from providing passengers with unopened cans. Ahmad also faced virulent verbal abuse from another passenger.

Anti-Muslim street preachers arrested in Bristol

The moment Avon and Somerset police arrested four Christian preachers for disturbing the peace (Photo: Screenshot)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Four Street preachers were arrested after delivering a series of anti-Muslim and homophobic sermons at Bristol’s main shopping centre on July 6.

The men affiliated with the US-based Cross Encounters Ministries were filmed clashing with Broadmead shoppers as they shouted that “all Muslims will burn in hell” and “Allah does not exist”. Their comments sparked a crowd to stop and the arrival of the police.

Witnesses say the four had also called gays “disgusting” and divorcees sinful and had refused to stop their preaching on the request of the police.

 

In the video footage a police officer is heard telling the one of the preachers, “You are causing a disturbance now, you are not welcome.”

The crowd begin chanting “go home, go home, go home” to the men. The police officer then warns the man he will receive a dispersal notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act – meaning he will have to move away from the area and not return for 24 hours.

The officer then asks the preacher’s name, to which he replies Michael, but refuses to give his surname.

Michael then says he will not leave the area and the officer warns he will be arrested if he fails to do so.

The preacher then begins to shout about “love” and is taken away by the officer with his hands behind his back – to the delight of the cheering crowd.

Shoppers start clapping, whistling and shouting woo as a PCSO says he will be seizing some of the preacher’s demonstration boards.

In initial post on the Cross Encounters Facebook page said four “brothers” were arrested in Bristol after open-air preaching, but the later update said they were not members.

“No, these men are not members of Cross Encounters Ministries,” said the post, which is understood to have been written by the group’s founder Tony Miano.

“They are much more important. They are far too important to be relegated to membership in a little, unimportant, para-church ministry nestled within a church in Southern California.”

It goes on to explain the men are not members, but “brothers in Christ’ and “heralds of King Jesus’.”

The post then adds: “It would be too great an honor for me to claim these men as somehow being under my leadership, as somehow being members of my ministry–especially since I am unworthy to carry their backpacks.

“My regret: that I was not providing the bass part in harmony with their hymn singing, in their jail cell. My regret: that I was not there with and for them during their momentary light affliction.

“My regret: that Cross Encounters Ministries has received so much as a drop of ink or a moment of attention instead of all of it going to these my faithful brothers who counted the cost that day in Bristol, and instead of all of it going to the glory of King Jesus.

“My joy: to count each of these men as brothers. My joy: to be allowed even a moment’s time in their company and in their gospel partnership.”

Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that four men were arrested following the incident on Wednesday, at around 2pm.

A spokesman told The Muslim News: “Somerset Police received a number of calls complaining about four men who were speaking in Broadmead, Bristol at lunch time on Wednesday 5 July.”

“Their comments were allegedly anti-Islamic and homophobic and people told us they were told people were feeling harassed, alarmed and distressed. Callers also told us that a crowd of around 50 people were there and they were concerned for the men’s safety.”

“Officers attended and asked the four men to disperse. They did not do so and shortly afterwards they were arrested for racially/religiously aggravated public order offences.”

“A 51-year-old man from Bristol, a 50-year-old man from New York and two men from Taunton aged 52 and 63 were later released on police bail pending further enquiries.”

EU lawyer backs French engineer sacked for wearing hijab

Nadine Osman

A senior lawyer for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a French engineer who was dismissed for wearing the hijab should have been allowed to cover her head at work. Eleanor Sharpston, one of the senior Advocate Generals at the ECJ, found in favour of Asma Bougnaoui who lost her job with Micropole SA, a French IT consultancy, in June 2009.

The British lawyer advised that Bougnaoui’s dismissal amounted to discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

Bougnaoui, who had worked for Micropole for a year, was fired without warning. After she had travelled to a meeting with clients at a big French insurance firm, the insurance firm complained to her superiors that her headscarf had “embarrassed” some of its staff. The insurance company also demanded “no headscarf next time”.

Micropole asked Bougnaoui to comply with the request for no hijab on her next visit. When she refused she was dismissed, and she challenged her dismissal in the French courts.

A French industrial tribunal and an appeals court compensated Bougnaoui over the fact that she was fired without prior warning but ruled that her dismissal was founded on a “real and serious cause”. Micropole had said it felt her wearing a headscarf hindered the company’s development because it meant the company could not properly interact with its client.

The French supreme court had asked the ECJ to examine the case. The ECJ was asked to advise on whether a requirement not to wear the hijab when providing IT consultancy services could be regarded as a “genuine and determining occupational requirement”, therefore falling outside the scope of the prohibition on discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief provided for by a EU directive.

But Sharpston, said the EU directive should be interpreted strictly and that Bougnaoui’s dismissal amounted to direct discrimination on those grounds.

Strip searched Muslim woman to sue Chicago police

Itemad Almatar, is to sue Chicago police for religious and racial profiling (Photo: Chicago.com)

Nadine Osman

A Muslim woman is to file a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department after she was cleared of reckless conduct and resisting arrest on June 29.

Surveillance footage captured by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) from July 4, 2015, shows Itemad Almatar among a group of passengers walking up stairs at a Chicago train station, when five police officers approached, two of the officers come from behind and shove her to the ground. Three more officers watch as she’s searched on the stairs.

“They threw me to the stairs, and grabbed my bags. They kicked me, hit me, took off my hijab,” Almatar said. The officers then grabbed her backpack, which was filled with food to end her Ramadan fast, she says, but never told her why.

“They asked me why I put my food inside my bag, why I’m Muslim, why I’m fasting, why I’m wearing these clothes, why I cover my body,” she told CBS Chicago.

She was then arrested and charged with reckless conduct and resisting arrest. Imam Malick Mujahid, a Muslim community leader in Chicago, said she was strip searched at the police precinct.

“At the same time men were allowed to see her naked. This is the ultimate horror you can do to a Muslim woman,” Mujahid said.

Attorney Aaron Goldstein said police violated her rights when they arrested her. “There’s a Constitution, and the Constitution says you can’t just grab people for no reason whatsoever,” Goldstein said.

Prosecutors argued in court that police officers first yelled “Stop,” but defense attorneys pointed out that video of the incident shows no one in the crowd appearing to react as if a police officer had just yelled.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department told CBS Chicago that it is not clear what, if any, action was taken internally.

Spike in post-Brexit hate crimes linked to divisive rhetoric

Kashmir Meat Poultry, a halal butchers shop in Walsall, West Midlands, had a Molotov cocktail thrown inside
(Photo: Facebook)

Ala Abbas

There has been a spike in the reporting of racists and xenophobic incidents since the EU Referendum on June 23. By the Friday after the referendum, True Vision, the police-run site to combat hate crime, had recorded a fivefold increase in reports from the public. There were 331 incidents in the week following the Referendum, compared to the weekly average of 63.

Some incidents have taken on a more violent and pre-mediated turn. In the week following the Referendum vote, a halal butchers in Walsall, West Midlands, had a Molotov cocktail thrown inside, which hit a worker and caused significant fire damage, although no one was seriously hurt. Xenophobic graffiti was daubed on the Polish Social and Cultural Association in West London and laminated cards reading: “No more Polish vermin” were posted through letterboxes in Huntingdon.

In Manchester, more than 20 elderly people had to be evacuated from the Hulme-based African Caribbean Care Group after a threatening phone call, and in Aston, dozens of Islamophobic leaflets were distributed through letterboxes.

An Eid event set to take place in Southampton this July, with thousands expected to attend, had to be cancelled by organisers amidst security fears, as the far-right organisation South Coast Resistance group were planning to hold a demonstration on the same day.

A Muslim pupil was asked to ‘go home’ on the Referendum day. Asghar Khan Tia, owner of Thanet Quality Foods in Northdown Road, Kent, said when his niece went into Upton Junior School, Broadstairs, pupils were telling her to leave the country and go home.

He said: “My niece is in Year 6 and she went into school the day the result was announced and other children were saying to her: ‘when are you going home’ and ‘you have to leave now’.

“My father came here in the 1950s, my niece is the third generation of our family living in Britain. I am worried for the children because these things can’t be allowed to happen.

“How are these small children getting this message and why are they saying it? It was a worrying thing.”

Mosques in Finsbury Park, Tottenham and Leyton received packages with powder in the envelopes on July 7. Peer Lord Nazir Ahmed also received a similar package at the House of Lords. It was found that the powder in all the packages was not noxious.

Two of the mosques had racist words, “P*** filth”, written outside the package. The Leyton mosque Noor Ul Islam found the powder in a package at 11.45 with the racist words, and they called the police. The mosque had to hold the midday prayers at the back of the mosque. By 4pm the counter terrorism police told them the powder was harmless. Chairman of the Mosque, Yusuf Hansa, told The Muslim News: “I was very concerned about it at the beginning as we thought it may be anthrax powder. We had to tell the worshippers not to panic. They didn’t understand why the police were there. I believe this was because of Brexit.”

Other mosques that received the packages were Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park and Masjid Ayesha, in Clyde Road, Tottenham.

This spike in the number of hate crimes has led to condemnation from the Prime Minister and a drive by the Mayor of London to be more vigilant. Arun Arora, a senior Church of England official, warned that the rise in hate crimes since the EU referendum could lead to fascism and that the UK faced a choice about what kind of country it wanted to be.

Media influence

In her study of all the UK print media, Professor Ruth Wodak, a specialist in linguistics and national identity, found that between 1996 and 2006, the print media merged migrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers into one and demonized them as “others”.

A study by the Reuters Institute found that in the first two months of EU referendum campaigning, three newspapers focused mainly on migration stories, and of all the Referendum stories in the print media, migration was the third most cited argument.

Since the start of the year there have been more than 30 splashes about migrants in the Mail and the Express and 15 in the Sun, according to research by Liz Gerard, a former Times night editor.

On June 21, the Sun ran a story on Turkey claiming that £675million was being spent on getting Turkey into the EU. Writing in favour of leaving the EU, the article goes on to say “Imagine how it might ease the burden on those areas already bearing the brunt of the uncontrolled influx of migrants . . . where pay is stagnant and public services buckling.

The Remain campaign is desperate to discredit the idea of almost 80 million Turkish citizens getting access to the EU because they know immigration could defeat them on Thursday.” The claim was not corrected despite the entire population of Turkey standing at 75 million.

On June 12, the Sunday Times ran a front-page story on leaked plans to open doors to 1m Turkish citizens, claiming that 1m Turkish Citizens could be granted visa free travel to the UK. The article goes on to talk about an alleged threat by the President of Turkey to “open the floodgates” to migrants currently held in camps in Turkey, if Turkey was refused a deal on “Visa liberalization”.

The Daily Telegraph on its front page screamed: “Visa-free Turkey ‘terror threat’” alleging that “Foreign terrorists and organised criminals are expected to seek Turkish passports to reach..Europe as soon as the visa waiver programme comes into force….Turkey’s 75 million citizens will have the right to enter the Schengen zone…” Note that the UK is not part of Schengen zone.

The Leave Campaign

When Sir John Major addressed the Oxford Union last May, he spoke of the risk of the Leave campaign leaders “morphing into UKIP” because of their emphasis on the immigration argument. He called immigration the Leave Campaign’s “trump card” and warned, “This is dangerous territory that, if handled carelessly, can open up long-term divisions in our society.”

Speaking in the Guardian earlier in June, former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said: “The Referendum was always about more than Europe; it was always about what kind of Britain we are and what we aspire to be. But some have attempted to hijack a decision on the future of Britain in Europe and turn it into a vote on immigration, and then on immigrants and those who support immigrants.”

Then Employment Minister and now promoted by Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, warned that 100,000 Turkish people will come to Britain every year if Turkey is allowed to join the European Union which will pose “security threat”.

In contrast to the anti-immigration rhetoric, Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn of the Remain campaign said the right approach was to tackle exploitation by unscrupulous employers, and boost public spending in areas where there is large-scale immigration, rather than throwing up barriers to free movement.

Sun columnist slammed for arguing Hijab wearing anchorwoman should not report terror attacks

Elham Asaad Buaras

Kelvin MacKenzie, former Editor of The Sun, has come under heavy criticism for arguing that a hijab wearing Muslim journalist should not have fronted Channel 4 News’ coverage of the Nice terror attack. Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow called him a “bigoted fellow”.

The article, which had prompted over 1,700 complaints to the press watchdog the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), said that it was not appropriate for a ‘young lady wearing a hijab’ to cover the killing of over 80 people by a Muslim.

Writing in his column on July 18 titled, ‘Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?’ MacKenzie argued Fatima Manji anchoring the story was somehow too close for comfort.

He asked if it was “appropriate” for Manji “to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim? ”

Despite acknowledging the fact Manji has been as a broadcaster for four years and was scheduled to anchor that on that day MacKenzie suggested Channel 4 should have appeased anti-Muslims who he said represent the “ordinary viewer”.

“Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male- dominated and clearly violent religion?,” he asks.

He not only suggests that Manji should have been kept off air but so should her employer. “It is coverage like this that raises a question mark over the future of Channel Four,” wrote Mackenzie, adding he hopes “the new Culture Secretary [gets rid of the broadcaster] ”.

Manji penned her rebuttal in the Liverpool Echo, where she argued Mackenzie’s offence at her doing her job is a smearing of “1.6 billion Muslims in suggesting they are inherently violent. He has attempted to smear half of them further by suggesting they are helpless slaves. And he has attempted to smear me by suggesting I would sympathise with a terrorist.”

She also said that it would be “dangerous” to regard MacKenzie and his supporters “as mere pantomime villains”.

“Their soapbox allows them to spread their ill-informed, irresponsible and malevolent invective to millions of readers. Racist and Islamophobic rhetoric has real consequences – lives have been lost and shattered in our own country.”

She also reminded readers that Mackenzie has a history with Channel 4 News, most famously over the lies published about the Hillsborough tragedy while he was Editor of The Sun.

“It took him 23 years to apologise and four more to claim he was ‘caught up’ in a government conspiracy to tarnish Hillsborough victims, only after being confronted by brave campaigners and responsible journalists, including my Channel 4 News colleague Alex Thomson and the tireless team at the Liverpool Echo,” wrote Manji.

Manji spoke of “kind messages from friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even those I have never met, expressing solidarity and anger at his words.”

The National Union of Journalists defended Manji. Its General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “To suggest that a journalist is incapable of reporting on a terrorist outrage because of the colour of her skin, her religion or the clothes that she wears says all you need to know about the contemptible views of Kelvin MacKenzie.”

Adding that, “His feigned moral outrage is the language of racial hatred and bigotry, and sadly just the latest incoherent ramblings of a pundit who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. Journalism in the UK needs more diversity, not less.”

Among the many journalists to voice their dismay is senior live blogger for The Guardian Claire Phipps who reminded Mackenzie that Manji was merely doing her job “and she’s bloody good at it”.

A baffled former literary editor of The Australian Miriam Cosic asked, “Why did The Sun pose such a silly question about a colleague’s regular job? #journalism #islam”. A question echoed by Labour MP for Ilford North and Treasury Select Committee member, Wes Streeting, who tweeted “Why is this even a thing? Oh, Kelvin MacKenzie.”

Big Questions and BBCRadio5Live presenter Nicky Campbell called the column “extraordinary”, while Labour’s Deputy Chair,  Jonathan Ashworth MP went further calling it “vile”.

Clearly enraged The Independents political correspondent, Jon Stone asked, “what the f#@k is this racist garbage”.

In the House of Commons, Shadow Secretary for Education and Women and Equalities, Angela Rayner, asked Education, and Women and Equalities Secretary, Justine Greening regarding the Islamophobic article: “I was dismayed and upset by The Sun columnist, Kelvin Mckenzie’s disgraceful Islamophobic attack on the Channel 4 news presenter, Fatema Manji. Will the minister join me in making it clear that all parties in this house regard those comments as totally unacceptable and that being the case will the minister also join me in urging Mr Mckenzie to make a full public apology and urge The Sun and other media to be more responsible in who and what they allow on their media outlets.”

Greening replied: “This isn’t the first time Mr Mckenzie has written and said things that are deeply controversial and to many people in our country feel deeply offensive. Frankly I think it is for him how he wants to respond to the wave of criticism he’s received since writing that article. From my perspective, I’m proud that we live in a country where men and women are equal and that includes women having the right to be able to wear what they want and to be able to get on in their jobs, what they want to be able to wear, that includes newscasters and journalists in my view. So we need to make sure that we have some kind of consensus around not rising to the bait of people like Kelvin Mckenzie and I hope that we can frankly give his comments the derision that they deserve.”

However, Greening did not even acknowledge that this was an Islamophobic attack!

Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, said: “The Minister has put the a in his place pretty comprehensively.”

In a statement to The Muslim News, Channel 4 News spokeswoman said MacKenzie’s comments “are offensive, completely unacceptable, and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred.

“It is wrong to suggest that a qualified journalist should be barred from reporting on a particular story or present on a specific day because of their faith. Fatima Manji is an award-winning journalist.

“We are proud that she is part of our team and will receive, as ever, our full support in the wake of his comments.”

Fatima Manji made an official complaint to IPSO on July 21.

Manji became the UK’s first hijab-wearing TV newscaster on one of the country’s major channels in March.

Undeterred  MacKenzie continued his attack on Channel 4 News and Manji, using his column on July 25, he threatened to complain to Ofcom that a newsreader wearing the hijab during a report on terror attacks breached impartiality guidelines.

He also said he “may ask Sun readers who share my concerns to email Ofcom as well”.

The move prompted Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, to accuse MacKenzie of “shameless self-promotion”. Farron said his continued pursuit of the issue was “beyond belief” and a complaint would be a “waste of Ofcom’s time”.

“Kelvin MacKenzie’s threat to submit an Ofcom complaint following his own bigoted remarks is beyond belief,” he said. “If he had an ounce of decency, he would have apologised profusely for the offence he caused Fatima Manji and would seek to be more tolerant in future.

“For him to continue to drag this out is nothing more than shameless self-promotion at any cost, as well as complete waste of Ofcom’s time.”

(updated edition)

Muslims in China face contradictory policies

Students at Fudan University in Shanghai break their fast
(Photo: Meng Yihua/The Muslim News)

Meng Yihua

A few weeks before Ramadan, the Chinese Government prohibited the presence of religion in nursery schools in the northwestern province of Gansu, after a video posted online showed a young girl reciting Qur’anic verses in her classroom. The Government claims that such education laws are in place to protect children, and Gansu’s Education Department condemned activities which “harm the mental health of youth”.

Approximately 1.6million Muslims live in Gansu, home to the third largest population of Muslims within China, following Xinjiang and Ningxia. The video, reportedly filmed in Linxia, Gansu, was found to have been uploaded to YouTube as early as 2014, however it went viral on social media only recently. The Education Authorities state that many people have been “infuriated” by the video, and reiterated Government policy of the absence of religion in all public schools. In the video, the young girl is wearing a black hijab and is sitting in a classroom with other students also dressed in Islamic attire. Although the Chinese Government is officially atheist, authorised religions are permitted; however, religious activities are banned in schools. The Education Department of Gansu province made a statement strictly banning religions from campuses.

In some parts of China, such as Xinjiang, where Islam is widespread and dominates the local Uyghur culture, the Government has also enforced religious restrictions on young people even outside of school. Wearing burqas in public was banned in Xinjiang last year, and for the past few years, Xinjiang Muslims working in the public sphere were ordered not to fast during Ramadan.

The Chinese Government claims it faces a threat from “Islamic” militants in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asian countries and Pakistan, and has seen numerous violent upsurges in recent years. However, defendants argue that the unrest in the region stems from discontented local Uyghurs who are frustrated by the Government’s erosion of their culture and religious freedoms. The Governmental restrictions on religious practices are only seen in regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet, where the Government has concerns that religion could be used to promote a non-Chinese cultural identity or independence.

Much of the rest of China faces little or no resistance to practicing religion freely.

Kawsu Barrow, 27, a Muslim student from Gambia who spent Ramadan in Shanghai, says “This is my first time witnessing Ramadan outside of my country and I was so surprised that Ramadan was so amazing here because of the impression we normally hear about religion in China”.

At Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the multiple halal canteens on campus opened its doors before sunrise every morning and at sunset to provide free suhoor and iftaar for the Muslim students. Barrow says, “For the 30 days, I have eaten different foods provided for free for both iftaar and suhoor”, and he admits that this has been one of his finest Ramadans. Some local Muslim restaurants would also provide free suhoor  and refuse to accept payment.

An undergraduate student from Xinjiang studying in Shanghai, who wished to remain anonymous, says it is communal gathering for religious purposes that is forbidden, citing the iftaar we are currently eating together as an example. “Children under 18 are forbidden from going to mosque” he continues, which is in line with the prohibitions issued in Gansu in attempts to remove religion from the lives of youth.

Authorities have been increasing controls on religious practices in Xinjiang in recent years, particularly during Ramadan, but before the start of the blessed month this year, the Government announced that there would be no interference in the region. A Government report on religious freedoms in Xinjiang said, “Whether to close or open halaal restaurants is completely determined by the owners themselves without interference,” however this totally contradicted local policies, before Ramadan even started. For example, officials in the city of Khorgos, near Kazakhstan’s border, ordered ethnic restaurant operators to guarantee regular business hours during Ramadan; and as usual, students, civil servants and party members in many cities were banned from fasting and taking part in religious activities.

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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