The London School of Economics (LSE) has apologised to two students who were forced to cover up T-shirts depicting a cartoon of Jesus and the prophet Muhammad.
Christian Moos and Abhishek Phadnis were representing the students’ union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) at the university’s fresher’s fair in October, when they were told that displaying a depiction of Muhammad, prohibited under Islamic law, may constitute harassment of a religious group.
After security staff threatened them with expulsion from the fair, the two students agreed to cover up the T-shirts. The students then submitted a formal complaint, which has prompted LSE to issue an apology from its director, Prof Craig Calhoun, acknowledging that, “with hindsight, the wearing of the T-shirts on this occasion did not amount to harassment or contravene the law or LSE policies”.
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/students-win-lse-apology-over-ban-on-tshirts-depicting-prophet-mohamed-and-jesus-christ-9018476.html
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/lse-university-apology-students-atheism-tshirt-religion-jesus-muhammad
Muslim organisations are to ask the director general of the BBC to explain the decision to broadcast an interview with an extremist preacher with close links to one of Lee Rigby’s killers. In the latest criticism of the decision to give a prominent slot to Anjem Choudary on Radio 4’s Today programme, the organisations are to demand a meeting with Tony Hall to discuss the BBC’s editorial policies. The groups are furious that Choudary was interviewed the day after guilty verdicts were returned on Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale for the Woolwich soldier’s murder. They will be sentenced in January.
Shunned by the Muslim community, Choudary’s views are condemned by all of its leading organisations. Despite his extremist views, he was given the most high-profile slot on Today, shortly after the 8 o’clock news on Thursday morning. “It was a massive error of judgment and it does so much damage,” said Julie Siddiqui, vice-president of the Islamic Society of Britain. “Why him? He has no legitimacy in the Muslim community.” She said Choudary’s views would foster negative views that would harm faith relations and, as a result, a number of Muslim groups would be writing to the corporation in a bid to understand why it gave the preacher such prominence. “He’s not going to radicalise young Muslims, but what he is doing is reinforcing prejudices that are out there,” Siddiqui said.
Choudary pulled out of an interview with Panorama, which had gathered evidence of his close and recent links to Adebolajo. But he was not asked about this on Today. “We need to understand how this was allowed to happen,” Siddiqui said. “We need to articulate to the BBC the anger and disappointment that he was given this platform.” Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think-tank, said: “The BBC has an editorial responsibility to explain the choices it makes.”
A BBC spokeswoman said: “We believe it is important to reflect that such opinions exist and feel Choudary’s comments may offer some insight into how this crime came about.”
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/dec/22/bbc-interview-preacher-muslims
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/radical-preacher-anjem-choudary-not-deserving-of-bbc-time-9018878.html
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/10529802/BBC-criticised-for-giving-extremist-preacher-Anjem-Choudary-airtime.html
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10530865/Weve-heard-enough-from-Anjem-Choudary.html
December 20, 2013
Two former soldiers who firebombed a mosque following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby have each been jailed for six years. Stuart Harness, 34, and Gavin Humphries, 37, made petrol bombs and threw them at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre while being filmed on CCTV cameras they thought were turned off.
They were jailed today by Judge Mark Bury at Hull Crown Court after admitting arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered at an earlier hearing.
He jailed a third defendant, Daniel Cressey – who denied aiding and abetting the other two but was found guilty by a jury – for three years.
Judge Bury said: “Whatever your feelings of outrage were, you should have allowed justice to take its course. Instead you carried out a retaliatory act of throwing petrol bombs at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre. As is usual in these cases, the victims had nothing to do with the events that so enraged you. They were entirely innocent law-abiding Muslims who were practising their religion in a peaceable way.”
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/six-years-for-former-soldiers-who-firebombed-mosque-after-lee-rigby-murder-9018507.html
December 17, 2013
Up to 11,000 fighters from more than 70 nations have joined the struggle in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, almost doubling estimates made earlier this year.
The number of individuals from western Europe taking up arms has tripled to up to 1,900 and includes up to 366 from Britain, according to research by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ISCR) at King’s College, London. The number reported from France has quadrupled while Belgium has the highest per capita rate.
Syria is becoming as big a magnet for Muslim fighters as Afghanistan was in the 1980s when an estimated 35,000 foreigners joined the mujahedeen ranks against Soviet invaders.
But the greater cause was more probably the deepening involvement in the war of Shia fighters from Lebanon and Iraq on the side of Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shia Islam and who is backed by Iran, the major Shia power. “For radical Sunnis, if you see this Syrian government supported by Shia Iran and Hezbollah, it becomes almost a civilizational conflict, almost as if America has intervened in the Middle East,” said Prof Neumann.
The ISCR said that from late 2011 to December 2013 between 3,300 and 11,000 individuals had gone to Syria to fight against the Assad government. It estimated that the likeliest number was 8,500. By that estimate, foreigners make up about ten per cent of the forces ranged against Assad, though other reporting has said they are among the most active in combat.
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10523203/Number-of-foreign-fighters-in-Syria-nearly-doubles.html
December 19, 2013
Young urban gang members have been targeted by charismatic preachers for conversion to a radical form of Islam, in a development not being properly addressed by the Government’s security programme, community leaders claimed in the wake of the Woolwich trial.
The case of two black Muslim converts, both from criminal backgrounds and with a highly tuned sense of grievance, has highlighted concerns that efforts to prevent radicals are focused too much on universities and so-called middle-class converts.
Michael Adebowale was a member of a gang at the time of his conversion at the age of 17, police confirmed, but his path to radicalisation remained unclear. MPs found that converts to Islam were at particular risk of radicalisation. In April, Richard Dart, a white security guard converted by Anjem Choudary – former leader of the now-banned al-Muhajiroun group – was jailed for six years for plotting to attack soldiers at Royal Wootton Bassett.
“In the urban environment, being Muslim carries a bit of street cred. It’s the urban religion of choice,” he said. “It’s about religion sticking two fingers up at the establishment. It’s an attractive mix. It validates criminality.”
“These kids’ constant experiences are of being victims, and then the radicalised movement comes along and offers them the opportunity to be heroic,” said Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, which works with vulnerable children in the capital. “The radicalisers are identifying the most vulnerable kids… They’re showing them videos that are getting progressively worse, alleged atrocities by the British. Then they’re sending them to training camps abroad.”
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-uks-street-gangs–are-the-next-breeding-ground-for-new-brand-of-extremist-9016698.html
November 28, 2013
“They live in a permanent schizophrenia. At home they are criticized because they are westernized and on the street they do not feel integrated. ” It ‘s the definition that Army Captain Julian Holguin applies to the second generation of Muslims that are socially vulnerable and in danger of falling into jihadi networks.
He describes the frustration of these teenagers after the study he carried out in Murcia on the risk of radicalization of children of Moroccan immigrants.
The result of this survey, which has sampled 92 young people from 18 years , is that 6.5 % of respondents showed high risk of jihadist radicalization by a number of factors: social frustration, identity crisis, impulse, school failure and the lack of job prospects. When these circumstances occur there is a high risk of being recruited by Islamist groups. “They have experienced school failure, can not find a job and a sense of creeping political alienation . If you are captured by recruiters, they will come with the message that the West is against Islam and they see the war on terrorism as a battle against their religion.
Te Interessa: http://www.teinteresa.es/espana/inmigrantes-caldo-cultivo-yihad-Espana_0_1037897574.html
December 16, 2013
In response to the expansion of Salafi-Wahabi extremism across Europe, Spanish State security has deployed a dense network of agents throughout Catalonia that have woven a stealthy early warning system for detecting terrorist threats from radical Islamist groups that have arrived to gain new supporters in the Catalan community. Several “conferences” held by Salafists in Catalonia during 2013 confirm the growing importance of Islamic extremism in Catalonia.
The general situation is as follows: although there has not been any recent terrorist activities in Spain, the danger posed by extremists has not disappeared. Instead, the jihadist message grows, especially in Catalonia. For example, security forces in the Barcelona area have calculated that the number of extremists willing to promote elaborate, violent actions is in the hundreds.
La vanguardia: http://www.lavanguardia.com/sucesos/20131215/54396209083/centenar-yihadistas-catalunya-dispuestos-actuar.html
December 19, 2013
“For years we have denounced unauthorized mosques like those reported and discovered by residents of the Esquiline Bixio street. Unfortunately, there are not enough controls on unauthorized Islamic centers of worship in Italy.”
In a statement, the president of the ACMID (Association of Moroccan Women in Italy), Souad Sbai continued “I do not think that a Muslim should feel discriminated against by the lack of suitable places to worship. In Rome, there is the largest mosque in Europe, able to host more than 25 thousand people, and today, less than 400 faithful go there for Friday Prayer.”
According to the Association president, “surely it is important to protect those who profess their faith in a peaceful manner. However, clandestine mosques can hide centers of Islamist recruitment, especially at present, in which we are witnessing an advance of jihadist groups. Italy must remain vigilant and work to close unauthorized mosques.”
December 16, 2013
In Western Europe, religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon but a trend. This is the conclusion of a German study whose results were presented last week in Berlin at WZB, a center for research in the social sciences.
This comparative study between Muslims of Turkish or Moroccan origin and Christians is based on a survey conducted on about 9,000 people in six European countries, including Germany and France.
44% of Muslims polled believed in a return to the origins of Islam and that the rules dictated by their religious beliefs are more important than those of the country in which they live. Contrastingly, in the Christian population this was the case for only 4%.
To determine the extent to which Muslim and Christian fundamentalists are considered hostile to the other groups, the researchers asked them whether they agreed with the following three statements :
“I do not want to have a homosexual friend”
“You just cannot trust Jews”
“Western countries want to destroy Islam / Muslims want to destroy western culture”
The results of the survey showed that 60% of Muslims and 13% of Christians did not like the idea of having a homosexual friend. Muslims who do not trust Jews were 45% compared to 9% of Christians.
About 25% of Christians think that Muslims want to destroy western culture, while 45% of Muslims are convinced that Western countries want to destroy Islam.
In the conclusion, the study’s author, sociologist Rudd Koopmans, emphasizes, however, that the results should be relativized: “We must not forget that Muslims are a relatively small minority in western Europe. Considered in a relative manner, the levels of fundamentalism and hostility are certainly higher among the Muslims, but in absolute terms the Christian fundamentalists are just as numerous.”
Ticino Live: http://www.ticinolive.ch/2013/12/16/allarme-fondamentalismo-islamico-europa/
December 17, 2013
“Reports received from some schools in Turin show that performances of a classic children’s Christmas play will not be organized or there will be a play but without any reference to the Nativity and the Catholic religion, to avoid offending the growing number of Muslims who attend local schools. In all cases, individual headmasters make this decision.
“If this report is confirmed it would be a very serious matter” said the Northern League’s Roberto Carbonero in a letter to the City’s schools. “It is not acceptable to favor uncontrolled immigration over our citizens, our children, who now must give up their own traditions and their own culture. In our schools we should not be ashamed of the Catholic base of our society and our history.”
La Repubblica: http://torino.repubblica.it/dettaglio-news/19:29/4441798
Quotidiano Piemontese: http://www.quotidianopiemontese.it/2013/12/18/nelle-scuole-di-torino-niente-recite-di-natale-per-rispetto-dei-musulmani/#_