First British Muslim man to have a gay marriage attacked online

A Muslim man, Jahed Choudhury, and his husband, Sean Rogan, were married last week in the West Midlands. The couple wore traditional Bangladeshi attire during their registry office ceremony. The family of Choudhury was not present for the ceremony because of their disapproval of gay marriage.

The online response from Muslims has been mostly negative. When Pink News, a gay news outlet, posted a story about the couple by BBC Midlands, non-attributed comments read, “Islam Forbids This…they can’t be Muslim If they are Gay” (sic) and “It’s like eating meat and calling myself a vegetarian.”

Other comments on the story expressed the irreconcilability of the two identities with the metaphor “oil and water doesn’t mixed” (sic) tweeted Muslim man, Rasheed Aashiq. Twitter user, Saeed Nagi Nagi, said the ceremony missed Muslim elements such as nikkah (an Islamic marriage contract), dua (a prayer), and an imam (religious leader). These elements may not have been available to the couple because of their genders.

Responding to The Independent’s story on Twitter one Muslim man, Mansoor Khan (@Mansoor_Javed), said, “just putting asian costumes doesn’t make it a Muslim marriage, there is no concept of gay marriage in Islam” (sic). Another twitter user, Haithem Khalil (@KhalilHaithem) said, “They are not Muslims, we don’t have gays and lesbians” (sic).

The couple was frustrated and upset by the online abuse but hope to show others that being Muslim and gay are not incompatible.

 

First British Muslim man to have a gay marriage attacked online

A Muslim man, Jahed Choudhury, and his husband, Sean Rogan, were married last week in the West Midlands. The couple wore traditional Bangladeshi attire during their registry office ceremony.

The online response from Muslims has been mostly negative. When Pink News, a gay news outlet, posted a story about the couple by BBC Midlands, comments read, “Islam Forbids This…they can’t be Muslim If they are Gay” (sic) and “It’s like eating meat and calling myself a vegetarian.”

Twitter responses to The Independent’s story about the couple included one Muslim man saying, “just putting asian costumes doesn’t make it a Muslim marriage, there is no concept of gay marriage in Islam” (sic). Another said, “They are not Muslims, we don’t have gays and lesbians” (sic).

Other comments on the story expressed the irreconcilability of the two identities with the metaphor “oil and water doesn’t mixed” (sic). Others said the ceremony missed Muslim elements such as nikkah (an Islamic marriage contract), dua (a prayer), and an imam (religious leader). These elements may not have been available to the couple because of their genders.

Being Muslims and gay in the UK

Amrou Al-Kadhi, who identifies as a gay agnostic Muslim, responded to the first same-sex Muslim British marriage by expanding on the experience of other sexually diverse Muslims. Al-Kadhi reflects on the experience, from a young age, of being “forced to imagine myself in the pits of hell” for all sins including homosexuality.

When Al-Kadhi’s parents’ discovery that Al-Kadhi was gay, their relationship fell apart, mostly because of fear of judgement from extended relatives.

Many Muslims in the UK see being Muslim and gay as “an utter irreconcilability.”

Al-Kadhi notes that Christian communities have had the same conflict; however, the British public is not as shocked when Christian communities have started to accept gay people as it is when talking about Muslims.

The author recognises a spiritual connection to the world related to Islam but has been push out of “Muslim” communities. A friend, Umber Ghauri, identifies as Muslim and calls for recognition of gender progressiveness in Islamic history.

Al-Kadhi calls for celebrating gender and sexual autonomy in all faiths.

London hate crime raises questions about media coverage

Guardian correspondent, Masuma Rahim, writes that the limited media coverage of acid attacks against South Asians is a symptom of larger media biases and the absence of minority representation in the news industry.

Rahim is, in particular, responding to a hate crime by a white man, John Tomlin, against two South Asian, Muslim relatives. Resham Kahn, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, was sitting in traffic with her cousin, Jameel Mukhtar, when Tomlin attacked. Both cousins have survived but suffered severe, life-changing injuries and disfigurement.

Mukhtar expressed frustration at low media and investigative police response. He claims these institutions would have labelled this attack as a terrorist attack if the religion/ethnicity of the victims and attacker were reversed.

Rahim writes that this attack and other similar ones should be taken more seriously as an issue that affects the whole of society and not just a minority.

Muslim volunteers at Grenfell Tower harassed by Britain First

Britain First leader, Paul Golding, posted an angry video claim he and his activists had been “abused” outside the East London Mosque. According to videos posted by the mosque, the right-wing populist organisation was harassing Muslims during a fundraiser to help those affected by the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, coinciding with mid-day prayers.

In the videos, Golding is shown to be blocking traffic and saying, “this used to be our area, it will be our area once again.”

Reflection on news outlets calling an attack “terrorism” after Finsbury Park

Guardian journalist, Paul Chadwick, responds to concerns about what should be considered terrorism. He said he started calling the incident a terrorist attack early but it was not premature.

He says events can be called terrorist attacks if they involve “serious harm to random innocents, a location and/or victims with symbolic resonance, apparent intent to generate widespread fear, and a political purpose.” A political purpose means aims at pressuring government or intimidating populations, often stemming from nationalism, racism, or religious fanaticism.

He argues that journalists do not need to wait for courts and official pronouncements to call something “terrorism.” Based on witness reports, journalists on the scene at Finsbury Park decided to call the incident a terrorist attack.

In the case of the Guardian, at 2:01am, about two hours after the attack, the live blog contextualised the event by referencing recent terrorist attacks. The crime correspondent arrived on scene at 3:07am. The correspondent reported at 3:54am that counter-terrorism police were there and at 4:45 am reported that the Muslim Council of Britain described the incident as a terrorist attack. At 5:15am, Prime Minister Threresa May classified the event as “a potential terrorist attack.”

 

Local Community shares concerns about delay in labeling the Finsbury Park Attack as Terrorism

Finsbury Park area residents were frustrated that the police and media took several hours to start calling the Finsbury Park attack a terrorist attack. One person died in the attack and 10 people were injured.

Emma Salem, a 15-year-old resident, said, “I feel like if it was a Muslim man, whether or not they know who it is or whatever, it’s straight away classed as a terrorist attack. But because this was a white man I feel like the media especially try and cover it up. ”

Some of the anger was based on misleading information, as viral social media comparisons between headlines between Finsbury Park and certain Muslim-perpetrated terrorist attacks did not take the timing of headlines into account.

The media also focused on an alleged history of Islamist extremism in Finsbury Park. This also angered residents, as any such past problem is largely seen to have been actively and successfully resolved.

Racist right-wing social media glorifies terrorism against Muslims after the Finsbury Park Attack

The far-right group, Britain First, posted about the Finsbury Park Mosque terrorist attack on its Facebook page. Many of the responses to the post tried to justify the attack on Muslims.

One respondent said, “The muslims are asking for it [sic]”. Other comments followed similar themes of victim blaming.

Others praised the terrorist, Darren Osborne, who was called a “patriot” and “hero” on the social media site. Others critiqued the small death toll from his attack.

The person who reported the threatening comments to the Home Office was concerned that these threatening comments against Muslims would not be treated with the same seriousness as similar (or milder) comments made by alleged Islamist extremists.

Under the Terrorism Act of 2006, these Facebook comments could be considered a crime because they may amount to an “encouragement of terrorism.”

 

France, Britain to jointly combat online terror threat

The UK and France are moving ahead with a joint plan to fight terrorism, online hate speech, and to crack encrypted data.

Speaking together in Paris on Tuesday, President Macron and UK prime minister Theresa May said the two countries were renewing their counter-terrorism cooperation.

The plan includes possibly imposing fines on social media giants for not taking down flagged online hate speech quickly enough. They also spoke about prying apart encrypted messages, which posed broader questions on civil liberty and cyber security.

But Macron said they first wanted to make sure internet operators “delete any content promoting hatred and terrorism in any way.”

May echoed Macron’s views and said that while cooperation between their intelligence agencies was strong, more should be done to tackle the online threat.

“We are launching a joint UK-French campaign to ensure that the internet cannot be used as a safe space for terrorists and criminals,” she said.

May said the plan was to get companies to develop tools to identify and automatically remove the offending material. “Our campaign will also include exploring creating a legal liability for tech companies if they fail to take the necessary action to remove unacceptable content,” she said.

France currently has no laws for mandatory encryption backdoors, but instead allows for government hacking to access pre-encrypted data.

A 2015 Intelligence Act gives French intelligence officers blanket immunity to hack computers abroad and also enables them to break into systems at home. In 2016, the French version of a French-German joint statement on counter-terrorism also called for a ban on unbreakable encryption. The German version did not. The UK can already compel the removal of encryption via its 2016 investigatory powers act. The British government also has the power to hack anyone’s computer.

Pressure has been mounting for EU legislation on granting police forces access to encrypted data, with French and German ministers calling for an EU bill before the end of the year.

 

Historical high number of Muslims elected in UK elections

In the British elections earlier this month, 16 Muslims were elected to the British Parliament, a dozen of these Members of Parliament (MPs)  from Pakistani backgrounds.

Labour party Muslim MPs include Khalid Mehmood, Shabana Mehmood, Rozeena-Allin Khan, Yasmin Qureshi, Naz Shah, Imran Hussain, Afzal Khan, Mohammed Yasin and Faisal Rasheed, Roshanara Ali, Rupa Huq, and Tulip Siddique.

Conservative Muslims MPs in the new parliament include Nusrat Ghani, Rehman Chishti, and Sajid Javed, the communities minister.

Scottish National Party politician, Tasmeena Sheikh, lost her seat. Liberal Democratic and Conservative parties had reduced the number of Muslims running for election.

This increase was not affected by the fact that the  Liberal Democratic and Conservative parties had reduced the number of Muslims running for election by nearly half.