London Islamists’ “March for Shari’a” cancelled due to security fears

Demonstrators calling for shari’a law to be imposed in Britain cancelled a march on October 31 in central London amid security fears. Anjem Choudary, leader of the radical Islamic sect Al Muhajiroun, said organizers Islam4UK had been forced to cancel the planned “March for Shari’a” from the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square because of security concerns.

The Islamic Society of Britain, which was planning to join other organizations in staging a “dignified, non-violent” counter-demonstration, hailed the cancellation as a “great success”. A spokesman said: “Pressure from all sections of the community, including Muslims, has resulted in the Muhajiroun and the hot-heads rethinking their position. They realized very few people would turn up to support them and they would attract only very negative publicity.”

In central London, only about 30 protesters gathered at the base of the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus. They were holding placards which read: “Islam will not dominate”, “Free speech will dominate the world”, and “March for England”. Tehmini Kazi, director of British Muslims For Secular Democracy, said the protesters wanted to “reclaim the public spaces for British Muslims”. The group was against everything that Mr. Choudary stood for, she said.

The planned march by radicals from Islam4UK had provoked massive debate among many representatives of society, Muslim and non-Muslim, and also caused right-wing racist groups to plan demonstrations.

Two Canadians arrested tied to controversial U.S. mosque

Two Canadian men wanted by the FBI in connection to a radical mosque in Detroit were arrested by authorities. Yassir Ali Khan, 30, and Mohammad Philistine, 33 – also known as Mohammad Al-Sahli and Mohammad Palestine were wanted following the death of the leader of a fundamentalist Islamic group, who was killed in a shootout with FBI agents after a raid on a warehouse in Dearborn, Mich. The pair were picked up without incident by Windsor police and RCMP’s Immigration Task Force. The Windsor police tactical squad surrounded a house in the southern Ontario city earlier this week to arrest 30-year-old Mujahid Carswell, also known as Mujahid Abdullah, a third man wanted in connection to Detroit mosque. It was Carswell’s father, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in the shootout with FBI agents.

U.S. authorities allege Abdullah and his followers were part of a Sunni Muslim group with the mission of establishing a separate Islamic nation within the United States.

British government anti-terrorism strategy “spies” on innocent Muslims

The government program aimed at preventing Muslims from being lured into violent extremism is being used to gather intelligence about innocent people who are not suspected of involvement in terrorism. The information the authorities are trying to find out includes political and religious views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information. Other documents reveal that the intelligence and information can be stored until the people concerned reach the age of 100. This has been published in a report of the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) by Arun Kundnani, entitled “Spooked: How not to prevent violent extremism”.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, branded it the biggest spying program in Britain in modern times and an affront to civil liberties. The intelligence is being gathered as part of the strategy Preventing Violent Extremism — ‘Prevent’ for short. It was launched three years ago to stop people being lured to al-Qaeda ideology and committing acts of terrorism.

The government and police have repeatedly denied that the £140m program is a cover for spying on Muslims in Britain. But sources directly involved in running Prevent programs say it involves gathering intelligence about the thoughts and beliefs of Muslims who are not involved in criminal activity.

Mysterious disappearance of Canadian convert in Pakistan

In October 2008 a Canadian Muslim named Beverley Giesbrecht was kidnapped in a remote region in northwestern Pakistan. Since then, her whereabouts and wellbeing are unclear. Giesbrecht has been held captive by a Muslim group since Nov. 11. She is somewhere in northern Pakistan or in Afghanistan.

A former magazine publisher and advertising saleswoman, Giesbrecht left all the trappings from her former life in West Vancouver and started calling herself Khadija Abdul Qahaar. The last direct contact that her closest friend in West Vancouver had with Ms. Giesbrecht was in July. According to one source who spoke this week to the National Post, a video of Ms. Giesbrecht in captivity surfaced last month. It is the third video to appear since her abduction last year, but the only one not to have been broadcast on television or on the Internet.

African-Americans still attracted and converting to Islam

Despite the string of recent terror arrests in the US, the Muslim faith continues to convert many average African-Americans, who say they are attracted by Islam’s emphasis on equality, discipline and family.

But American black Muslim Sekou Jackson admits the life is not without its challenges. “It’s kind of a double whammy to be African-American and Muslim,” said Jackson, who studies the Navy at the National Academy of Science in Washington. “You’re going to be judged.”

“The unique history African-Americans have faced, we’re primed for accepting Islam,” said Jackson. “When someone comes to you with a message that everyone is equal, that the only difference is the deeds that they do, of course people who have been oppressed will embrace that message…it’s a message of fairness.”

A Pew survey estimated that 35 percent of all American Muslims are African-Americans, mostly orthodox Sunnis.

At the Quba Institute in Philadelphia, a black Sunni mosque, the worshippers are a mix of blue-collar workers, young college graduates, professors, law enforcement officers, and “regular people who are just trying to worship God and live a decent life,” said the imam, Anwar Muhaimin.

Marc Manley, a local black Muslim, said that many blacks who have struggled with crime, drugs or alcohol are drawn to Islam’s regimented lifestyle, which includes prayers five times a day.

“Especially in the urban context, it provides a vehicle for African-Americans to deal with those ills,” he said. “It provides a buffer or a barrier.”

Dutch court rules Muslim criminal may serve at Christian rehabilitation center

An appeals court has ruled that a Muslim man, undergoing treatment as part of a sentence for criminal fraud, may continue his program at a Christian rehabilitation center. The criminal moved into a Christian center in Leiden after a Middleburg district court suspended his prison sentence and ordered therapy for him to control his cocaine addiction.

While the man himself had no objections to the program and is able to conduct five daily prayers at the center, the Public Prosecutor objected to the treatment on the grounds that it infringed on the man’s religious freedom. An appeal court has ruled that he may continue his stay at the treatment center.

Texas Medical group denies hijab for potential Muslim employee; apologizes

A Texas woman was told in a job interview with CareNow that she would be unable to wear her hijab to work as part of the company’s “no-hat” policy.

“Being that I wear a head scarf to cover my hair as part of my religious practice, I felt very discriminated against. I have worked in many places that have a ‘no hat’ policy, and I have never been confronted with a problem regarding my head scarf. I can’t imagine this being an issue with an organization like CareNow. Please confirm if this is really a policy at CareNow.”

CareNow replied stating that the correct information had been given on the company’s denial of religious accommodation.

The Council on Islamic Relations CAIR called on the company to allow her to wear the headscarf, adjust the policy to accommodate religious symbols like the hijab, and formally apologize to the applicant.

CareNow President Tim Miller told the Associated Press, “I would apologize for any misunderstanding, definitely … but I don’t really feel like there is anything that we did that is wrong and our policy is wrong.” He then stated, “We apologize to Dr. Zaki for the misunderstanding. We will clarify our policy, and will continue our ongoing sensitivity training.”

“Care Now has made religious accommodations for employees in the past,” he said, adding that the company is interested in “sitting down with Dr. Zaki and discussing a job.”

FBI kills Michigan imam, Muslims urge “fair and just investigation”

A local imam in Dearborn, Michigan was killed by FBI agents. Luqman Ameen Abdullah 53, died in a shootout in the raid of a warehouse just outside the city, in Dearborn, where he stored goods. The raid was one of three in which federal agents said were intended to arrest Mr. Abdullah and 10 other men on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods, mail fraud and illegal possession of firearms. But the authorities said Mr. Abdullah, who had a lengthy criminal record and was forbidden to have a firearm, opened fire on the agents.

“I’m comfortable with what our agents did,” said Andrew G. Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit division of the F.B.I. “They did what they had to do to protect themselves.”

Abdullah’s mosque has defended itself against allegations that he was part of a radical group with an anti-government ideology.

American Muslim organizations hold mixed opinions on the imam and the incident.

While the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in Los Angeles and The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) are both calling for an investigation of the killing, describing it as “deeply disturbing,” the Islamic Center of America (an interfaith outreach project in the Midwest) is critical of the imam and his supporters.

French commission hears feminist collective on the burqa

Ismahane Chouder and Monique Crinon of the Feminist Collective for Equality (Collectif des féministes pour l’égalité) explained to the parliamentary commission led by André Geron that they say the burqa in France is hostile to women’s rights. However, Chouder and Crinon did not advocate a burqa ban, noting that “We have a tendency in our societies to punish the victims.” Both voiced a characterization of the burqa in the Republic as a “sign of stigmatization.”

Dutch broadcaster airs “Islam song” for children

Kinderen voor Kinderen (Children for Children), the children’s choir of Dutch public broadcaster VARA, has composed a song featuring Islam. The well known choir releases a CD every year that they subsequently sing on VARA. On Tuesday evening the annual performance included a song with the refrain “Allah Akbar”.

The song has drawn criticism from the Freedom Party (PVV). Telegraaf reports that party spokesperson Martin Bosma questions why the broadcaster is showing a song which repeats “Allah Akbar” 27 times. Bosma claims this is the third time that the public broadcaster is directing “Islam-propaganda” at children, and references events earlier this year around a children’s television show depicting the celebration of Eid al-Adha.