Racism on the rise in Britain

27th May 2014

The proportion of Britons who admit to being racially prejudiced has risen since the start of the millennium, raising concerns that growing hostility to immigrants and widespread Islamophobia are setting community relations back 20 years.

New data from the authoritative British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, shows that after years of increasing tolerance, the percentage of people who describe themselves as prejudiced against those of other races has risen overall since 2001.

The data is in stark contrast to other indicators of social change such as attitudes to same-sex relationships and sex before marriage. By those measures, the UK has become a more accepting, liberal country.

The shadow justice minister, Sadiq Khan, said the findings should come as a wake-up call. “This is clear evidence that we cannot be complacent about racial prejudice. Where it manifests itself, it blights our society. Those in positions of authority must take their responsibilities seriously. It also falls to us to address the underlying causes.”

Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Integration doesn’t happen by accident – you have to work at it. If we want to avoid a slow descent into mutual bigotry, we need to drop the dogma, stop singing kumbaya to each other, weigh the evidence without sentiment, recognise the reality, and work out a programme – both symbolic and practical – to change the reality.”

Campaigners say the new findings are in part a result of a decade that included 9/11 and the subsequent “war on terror”, rising inequality and increasing hostility towards immigration. The BSA survey data shows different levels of prejudice stemming from age, class and gender, with older men in manual jobs most ready to admit to racial prejudice.

So what has driven the apparent growth in prejudice? Prof Tariq Modood, from Bristol University, said the findings suggested many people were conflating anti-Muslim sentiment and racial animus. “I don’t think there is any doubt that hostility to Muslims and suspicion of Muslims has increased since 9/11, and that is having a knock-on effect on race and levels of racial prejudice.”

Prof Bhikhu Parekh, the Labour peer who in 1998 chaired the ground-breaking Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, said the data revealed a country increasingly ill at ease with itself.

The BSA survey data shows wide variance in levels of prejudice throughout the UK. In combined figures for 2012-13, 16% of people questioned in inner London admitted to racial prejudice. Outer London and Scotland emerged as the next most tolerant areas, at 26% and 25% respectively. Other regions – including Wales – hovered around the 30% mark. The West Midlands emerged as the place with the highest level of self-reported prejudice at 35% – a difference deemed statistically significant. The BSA survey shows that the West Midlands has the highest proportion of people – 36% – who say they are a little or very prejudiced against people of other races in the UK.

‘People grab our veils, call us terrorists and want us dead’: What it’s really like to be a Muslim woman in Britain

6th May 2014

“It is something I have got used to since 9/11. From being called Osama Bin Laden to Paki-terrorist I have heard it all,” Zab Mustefa, a British Muslim journalist, who specialises in women’s rights and culture.

“Either you’re with us. Or you’re with the terrorists,” announced the then president of the USA George W Bush in a sombre tone at a press conference following the attacks. And many people decided that all Muslims were against ‘us’. Everything was under scrutiny. Their style of dress, their beliefs, their way of life. People that had never even read the Qur’an believed they had more knowledge than Islamic scholars.

A report from the University of Birmingham, ‘Maybe we are hated: The experience and impact of anti-Muslim hate on British Muslim women’, says Muslim women are repeated victims of anti-Muslim hate. It cites verified figures from Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which show attacks on Muslim women account for 58 per cent of all incidents reported to it. Of those, 80 per cent were visually identifiable (wearing hijab, niqab, or other clothing associated with Islam).

Zab Mustefa also said “I feel unsafe, my husband told me not to go into London, both of us were worried that I may be attacked or have my hijab pulled etc. He was also really angry with me when I didn’t tell the police, as he said they ought to know that Muslim women are being harassed. I was just shocked because it wasn’t the expected type that you see on EDL marches. It was ‘educated’ people.”

It’s not even solely white British people who make these comments – it’s also fellow ethnic minorities, although the really angry rhetoric has come from white British people. Sadly with so much Islamophobic rhetoric being used, in some cases by politicians looking to score points by feeding people’s fears, this problem may get even worse.

 

TAGS: Issues in Politics, Islamic Practice and Jurisprudence, Youth and Pop Culture, Public Opinion and Islam in the Media

‘Anti-Semitic’ charity under investigation

24th May 2014

A leading Islamic charity is being investigated by the official watchdog amid allegations that its leaders promote anti-Semitism and have called for homosexuals and female adulterers to be stoned to death. The Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), which claims it works with two major British charities, lists among its advisers two preachers banned from the UK for extremist views.

Now the commission has announced a full-blown investigation after identifying a number of “regulatory issues” over its organisation of events and how it chooses speakers and preachers for them.

The investigation — likened by the commission to a police inquiry — coincides with a devastating 44-page report into IERA by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), an organisation set up to combat Islamist extremism.

IERA was founded by Abdurraheem Green, a Muslim convert, who is the charity’s chairman. He has been caught on camera preaching at Hyde Park Corner, calling for a Jewish man to be removed from his sight. “Why don’t you take the Yahoudi [Jew] over there, far away so his stench doesn’t disturb us?” he can be heard to say.

In a 2006 internet posting, according to the CEMB report, he described gay people as “vile” and “evil”. The report also says he suggested in a blog that women who commit adultery should be subjected to a “slow and painful death by stoning”. Two of the charity’s advisers are Bilal Philips and Dr Zakir Naik, have both been banned from entering the UK by Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

Maryam Namazie, from the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, said the organisation should be stripped of its charitable status. “Clearly, the Islamist far-Right should not be granted charitable status but instead classified as a hate group – perpetrating hate against gay people, ex-Muslims, women, Jews, non-Muslims and the majority of Muslims who do not subscribe to their values.”

Ukip embroiled in new row over Islamophobia

15th May 2014

Ukip (UK Independence party) has become embroiled in yet another Islamophobia row after it emerged that one of its candidates has urged Catholics that they “must be ready to die” for their faith which is “the only countermeasure” to the “world domination” of Islam.

The candidate John Kearney is standing in Basingstoke. In a blog dedicated to his Catholic beliefs, he accused Muslims of having “contempt for human life” and said last year: “The real threat now comes from militant Islam who persecute the Church and martyr Christians in a way that reminds us of the early Church.” He also alleged that Britain is “a country run by sexual perverts who delight in child abuse”, something he partly blames on Muslim teachings.

His views emerged as Ukip was fending off criticism over candidate Heino Vockrodt, standing in Brent, who described Islam as a “totalitarian ideology” that is “against everything modern Britain stands for”. He added that parts of the borough resembled Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Islamic radicalisation a ‘significant threat in prisons’

12th May 2014

The head of the prison and probation service has said there is a significant threat of Islamic radicalisation behind bars. Michael Spurr, the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service of England and Wales (Noms), told BBC1’s Panorama: “There is a significant risk, given the fact that we manage some very dangerous people. Our job is to minimise that risk becoming a reality – that somebody in prison becomes radicalised and commits a terrorist offence.”

Over the past 10 years, the number of Muslims in prisons in England and Wales has doubled, reaching 11,729 in 2013. There are about 100 al-Qaida-inspired Islamist terrorists behind bars.

Jordan Horner, who has taken the Islamic name Jamaal Uddin, claims in the programme that he has converted other prisoners during his time in prison. Speaking for the first time since his release from prison for trying to bring sharia law to the streets of London, he said: “The prison officers witnessed people become Muslim and in front of them I was giving them what we call shahada, an invitation and acceptance of Islam. They said I was trying to divide Muslims from non-Muslims, trying to get them to follow an extreme version of Islam.” He said he was transferred between three different jails in less than a year in an effort to disrupt his activities.

In December 2012, Horner was filmed at a protest alongside Michael Adebowale who, five months later, murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Female genital mutilation parties being held in UK, MPs told

6th May 2014

The cutting of girls at female genital mutilation “parties” is still going on in Britain and not just taking place abroad, healthcare experts have told MPs. The Commons home affairs select committee has heard that “cutters” – often older women – are flown into Britain for the events, at which as many as a dozen girls may be operated on.

Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, said that by the time the authorities could be alerted, the cutter would have left. “By the time the girls are cut, the woman ‘cutter’ is on her flight back to the country she came from. We can’t go after the cutter. We don’t know who she or he is. The parents have to be held responsible,” she said.

Professor Janice Rymer, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, shared Fyle’s belief that FGM was happening in Britain. Asked about its scale, she said: “We have no idea. We have no data but I am sure it is happening in this country.”

The MPs also heard evidence that 75 to 80 women were undergoing FGM reversal operations in Britain each year. The MPs heard from French legal experts that statutory reporting to the police was required in France and that those responsible for mutilating girls had been jailed for up to eight years.

The first person to be charged under Britain’s FGM laws appeared at the Old Bailey last week. Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, is accused of carrying out the procedure on a woman after she gave birth at Whittington hospital in Archway, north London, on 24 November 2012.

Scathing report could shut Muslim school for promoting Salafi beliefs

21st May 2014

Ofsted inspectors have harshly criticised an independent Muslim school for promoting Salafi fundamentalist beliefs and rated the school as inadequate, in a possible prelude to it being closed or taken over by the Department for Education. In their unpublished draft report, the inspectors said the school – the Olive Tree primary school in Luton – fails to prepare its pupils “for life in modern Britain, as opposed to life in a Muslim state”, and that its library contains books that are “abhorrent to British society” in their depiction of punishments under sharia law.

“Some books in the children’s library contain fundamentalist Islamic beliefs (Salafi) or are set firmly within a Saudi Arabian socio-religious context. Some of the views promoted by these books, for example about stoning women, have no place in British society,” the report argues.

But the school’s governors and trustees vehemently denied the findings of the inspectors, who had been forced to cut short their visit last week after being confronted by parents upset by their questioning of pupils about attitudes to homosexuality.

Farooq Murad, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, on Wednesday wrote to Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, asking him to clarify the watchdog’s policy on teaching about homosexuality in independent faith schools, in the wake of the Olive Tree inspection.

“We have a large number of books about different faiths, which the inspectors failed to notice, including The Diary of Ann Frank,” said Farasat Latif, the school’s chair of governors, who said the library also included works of fiction by authors such as Roald Dahl. Latif also denied the school was Salafist – a reference to the conservative form of Islam most associated with Saudi Arabia – although he said some members of staff might describe themselves that way.

The inspectors also criticised the mixed school – which had about 60 pupils – for inadequate attention to national guidelines on safeguarding and child protection, although it said pupils were well supervised and that staff appointments and record checks were followed correctly. The draft report criticised the Olive Tree school’s teaching, although it noted that pupils achieved good results in national standardised tests and were well behaved. It also praised the teaching of Arabic as “skilful”.

The report makes no reference to homosexuality, although the inspectors wrote: “Pupils’ contact with people from different cultures, faiths and traditions is too limited to promote tolerance and respect for the views, lifestyles and customs of other people.”

Lee Rigby’s sacrifice should be commemorated with a public memorial

12th May 2014

We were disappointed to read about the apparent decision to refuse a request for a public memorial to Fusilier Lee Rigby, and hope this can be reconsidered. Lee Rigby’s murder shocked our country. In its wake, we saw Britons from every faith and none come together, both locally and nationally, to mourn his death, to commemorate his service, and to reject the hatred of his killers.

Extreme groups such as the BNP and EDL did try to exploit the tragedy, but found very little public support, being widely seen as part of the problem too. The Rigby family, in their grief, were consistently strong voices in challenging the tiny, unrepresentative minority who sought to use his name to stir up hatred.

If the family’s desire is to have a memorial, neither they, nor the British public as a whole, should be denied the chance to commemorate Lee Rigby’s service and sacrifice in a proper way.

 

Signed,

 

Sughra Ahmed

President, Islamic Society of Britain

 

Mohammed Amin

Deputy Chairman, Conservative Muslim Forum

 

Sunny Hundal

Journalist

 

Dilwar Hussein

New Horizons in British Islam

 

Sunder Katwala

British Future

 

Nick Lowles

Hope Not Hate

 

Imam Ajmal Masoor

 

Stephen Pollard

Editor, Jewish Chronicle

 

Stephen Shashoua

Director, Three Faiths Forum

 

Julie Siddiqi

The Big Iftar

University student caught with 20,000 euros in knickers denies terrorism

19th May 2014

A university student who was caught with thousands of pounds worth of banknotes in her underwear at Heathrow airport has denied funding terrorism. Nawal Masaad, 26, is accused of trying to smuggle the cash to Turkey on January 16 this year, from where the prosecution alleged it would be taken by a contact to Syria. Notes totalling €20,000 (£16,300) in €500 notes were discovered wrapped in cling film in the young woman’s underwear when she was searched by airport security officers.

Prosecutors claim she was recruited by Amal El-Wahabi, 27, to take the money to Istanbul, where she would rendezvous with El-Wahabi’s husband, who the court heard was involved in terrorism in Syria.

Masaad, of Holloway, north London, and El-Wahabi, of north-west London, both deny “becoming concerned in a funding arrangement” and having “reasonable cause to suspect that it would or may be used for the purposes of terrorism”.

The maximum sentence for the offence, if convicted, is 14 years’ imprisonment. The pair are the first British women to be charged with terrorism offences related to the conflict.

Pakistani leader of the Catalan Federation of Pakistanis considered a radical Islamic

30 April 2014

The leader of the Pakistani CiU (Convergence and Union Party), Khalid Shabaz, aka Chuhan, is a radical Islamist who was arrested in 2011 by police for fraud and forgery of documents. Chuhan was also photographed on a recent trip to his country wearing traditional Pakistani dress (shalwaar kameez) and a machine gun in his hands, accompanied by a fellow carrying a rifle.

He founded the Catalan Federation of Pakistanis and now heads the Asian Area of another organization, Nous Catalans. Nous Catalans was recently targeted with connections to radical Islam. In fact, the former head of the Moroccan area of this organization and president of the Union of Islamic Centers in Catalonia, Noureddine Ziani, was expelled from Spain a year ago at the request of the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) after being considered “a danger to the security of Spain.”