The Toronto Star – July 28, 2011
Ali Dirie, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell who is scheduled to be released from prison this fall has renounced his right to a parole hearing. Dirie was among 18 people named in 2006 for plotting to cause bloodshed and panic in Canada by bombing nuclear power plants and RCMP headquarters and attacking Parliament. The Somali-born Dirie was arrested in 2005 and was already in prison when police moved in on the group in 2006, but he continued to recruit and work for the group while behind bars.
Dirie is scheduled to be released in October. He was scheduled to appear before parole officials in mid-August. Last year Dirie said that while he opposed Canada’s military role in Afghanistan, he had come to realize that a violent response was unnecessary. While he still believed in jihad, he said he favoured a political and peaceful version to get his point across instead of using terrorist acts like blowing up buildings.
The Toronto Star – July 25, 2011
About 100 protesters, many from groups such as the Jewish Defense League, the Christian Heritage Party and Canadian Hindu Advocacy, came to the Toronto District School Board to protest its approval of formal Friday prayer services for Muslim students at Valley Park Middle School.
Previously those students had left their school to attend prayers at a nearby mosque on Fridays. Bringing an imam into the school was a means of preventing some of the approximately 300 Muslim students from failing to return to classes after those prayers, said school board director Chris Spence. It also meant they don’t have to cross a busy street. Valley Park has been holding the prayers in the cafeteria for three years and there have been no complaints within the school community of about 1,200.
Speaking to reporters inside the board office, Spence said schools have an obligation to religious accommodation. But, “accommodation is fluid. It’s not written in stone,” said Spence, who added the board is feeling its way on the difficult issue.
The Globe and Mail – July 26, 2011
The British Columbia Supreme Court has turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Huwayda Al-Masri had asked the court to compel her ex-husband Ossama Aziz to pay her a dowry of 500 grams of 21-carat gold, which is currently worth around $22,000. The dowry was set out in a Muslim mahr agreement, written in Arabic and signed by Mr. Aziz and Ms. Al-Masri at the time of their marriage in 1997. Ms. Al-Masri, who was 19 at the time of the wedding, was born in Tennessee. Mr. Aziz, then a 29-year-old student who had previously been married, was originally from Baghdad. He had Canadian citizenship at the time of the wedding.
The couple settled in British Columbia but later divorced. Believing that she could rely on the maher, Ms. Al-Masri did not contest the divorce application and did not receive spousal support. However, Mr. Justice Arne Silverman decided he did not have sufficient evidence to enforce the provisions of the marriage contract under Jordanian or Canadian law.
Judge Silverman reviewed four cases from Ontario and B.C., where the courts had upheld similar contracts and decided Ms. Al-Masri was not entitled to the dowry. “I recognize that there may well be national or cultural traditions in Jordan which would resolve the question of to whom a dowry should be payable,” he said. However, he did not have any evidence before him to resolve the issue, he wrote; he did not have any expert evidence with respect to Jordanian law. Ms. Al-Masri will be appealing the decision.
July 27, 2011
French researcher Professor Vincent Geisser has said that terrorism attacks in Europe are a result of the climate against Muslims. Geisser, who said that Europe expresses its societal ills through Islamophobia, warned that there is a risk that Norwegian-like individual acts against Islam might become widespread in Europe. According to Geisser, professor at the Aix Political Sciences Institute of France, populist right-wing politicians like French President Nicolas Sarkozy also has a role in legitimization of anti-Islam rhetoric.
July 24, 2011
Members of ANELD (L’Association nationale des élus locaux de la diversité), an advocacy group representing elected local officials from ethnic and religious minorities, have stated that it’s time for France to compile statistics on its ethnically diverse population. The organization deals with issues related to ethnic diversity in France, including employment, equal rights and discrimination. Ethnic statistics are forbidden by the country’s constitution and frowned upon as a way of forcing people to identify with a set ethnic group. However, critics say these numbers are necessary given the country’s increasingly diverse ethnic landscape.
It is not the first time the issue has arisen over the past decade. The controversy over ethnic statistics last surfaced in 2009, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed the Committee for the Measurement of Diversity, arguing that efforts to help minorities were hampered by a lack of data, and that he wanted to find a way to “measure the diversity of society.”
Members of ANELD are due to meet with the French commissioner for equal opportunities, Yazid Sabeg, to discuss a possible census. They say they plan to raise the issue of discrimination as a major topic in France’s forthcoming presidential election.
Last week, various posters appeared in London and other British cities, declaring some areas “Sharia Law Zones”. Distributed by members of the Muslims against Crusades group, the posters inform “You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced”. Alongside this slogan, pictograms warn there should be no alcohol, no drugs or smoking, no porn or prostitution, no music concerts and no gambling in these zones. As the Daily Mail reports, hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who runs the militant Islam4UK group, has already claimed responsibility for the campaign. As reported earlier, the posters are part of the plan to establish an Islamic Emirate in the long term. According to the Daily Mail, Scotland Yard is working on removing the posters and identifying those responsible for putting them up.
About 50 Islamists, who want to establish Sharia law in the UK, participated in a protest march in Waltham Forest, carrying black flags and chanting slogans like “democracy is hypocrisy”, “Sharia for UK”, and “Secularism go to hell”. The march is a response to the anti-Muslim comments made by Anders Beivik, who killed 77 people in Norway on July 22nd. Amongst the protesters are members of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) and the extremist group Waltham Forest Muslims (WFM).
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, 24, was jailed for 12 years for urging fellow Muslims to attack and kills British MPs who had voted for the war in Iraq. As the Guardian reports, Ahmad, an IT graduate, posted threats and material inciting religious hatred on the US-based website RevolutionMuslim.com, including a full list of MPs who had supported military action in Iraq. Ahmad called on Muslims to imitate Roshonara Choudhry, who was jailed last year for stabbing and attempting to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms. In addition, he posted links to a Tesco website listing cheap knives. Judge Royce, sentencing Ahmad to 12 years in jail, noted that Ahmad “became a viper in our midst willing to go as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system”. This position, according to Joyce, was “alien to what we stand for in our country”.
The Guardian also reports that Ahmad was radicalized as a teenager and became an active contributor not only to RevolutionMuslim, but also to Islam4UK and IslamicAwakening websites.
While returning from holiday, Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf was selected for security checks from among returning passengers at Edinburgh airport. The Scottish Herald reports that checks according to Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (the so-called “skin color check”) had previously angered Muslims so much that they threatened to boycott Scottish airports in favor of flying from Manchester to avoid what they perceive as harassment.
The far-right political groups „Pro Deutschland“ (pro Germany) and „Freiheit“ (freedom) are planning two anti-Islam events in Berlin. Pro Deutschland is planning on holding what they call an „Anti-Islamicisation Congress“ at the end of August. They expect around 1000 participants, amongst others members of the Belgian right-wing Vlaams Belang and the Austrian FPÖ. As the highlight of the event, Pro Deutschland has organized a demonstration, moving from Berlin’s „Potsdamer Platz“ to the „Brandenburger Tor“. The political party „Freiheit“ is planning an Anti-Islam event scheduled only a week later. They invited various speakers, amongst others the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders. Various associations and parties have already announced their protest against these events. In particular in light of recent events in Norway, they consider such plans to be a crude provocation.