Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on royal visit to Saudi Arabia

The Prince and Duchess were in Saudi Arabia as part of their Middle East Tour. Camilla met 30 women recently made MP’s by King Abdullah, stating “they were ‘blazing such a trail’ for women’s rights”. With one reportedly responding “You coming here is an endorsement of what is happening”. The visit will also bring up Saudi Arabia’s human rights record which is seen as a priority for the royal visitors. The execution of seven prisoners convicted of armed robbery last week and their claims of torture, trials without representation the most recent to occur. Both will attend separate segregated banquets. “The Duchess attending a women-only banquet thrown in her honour by HRH Princess Hessa Bint Trad Al Shaalan, the King’s second – and favourite – wife of four, who acts as his official consort.” With Prince Charles attending a similar all male function thrown in his honour by the King of Saudi Arabia.

 

Iraq: 10 years later

16 March

Iraq: 10 years later

In this piece the Financial Times’ Middle East editor Roula Khalaf gives an account of the last ten years of Iraq. Together with the analysis of the inevitable political and economic consequences of Iraq’s most recent history, the article also looks into how the religious populous of the country is rebuilding and re-contextualising itself after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Looking specifically at the contemporary political situation and how this is both influenced by and influences the religious communities in Iraq.

Muslims Students angry over the closure of the prayer room at City University

22 February 2013

City University has recently announced its decision to shut down the Muslim prayer room at the campus. The decision followed a statement from the university saying it needed to be sure of the “appropriateness” of what was being discussed in sermons as authorized university events. It said it also needed to be assured that all “students eligible to deliver” prayers and sermons “are considered equally and given the opportunity to do so”.

 

“The university could not continue to condone an activity taking place on its premises where it cannot exercise reasonable supervision,” the statement added.

Suspicions surrounding the content of the sermons followed a report released three years ago by Quilliam Foundation. The report claimed that hard line views and a confrontational atmosphere were being encouraged.

 

However, Muslim students argued the report was baseless and there was no evidence that hard line views were being spread. In order to campaign against the decision, Muslim students formed a group called Muslim Voices on Campus, calling on the university to reverse its decision.

 

“All of our sermons are open, we welcome all students and all staff… But when you start submitting your sermons to be monitored and scrutinized then there’s a chance for it to be dictated what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.”

 

There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in European countries.

Three Muslims convicted for bomb plot

British born Muslims Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted last week for plotting to launch bomb attacks across Britain.

 

Inspired by the online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last year by a US drone attack, the trio planned a huge series of explosions at crowded shopping centres and railway stations across Britain.

Judge Justice Henriques said: ‘You were seeking to recruit a team of suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11.

According to the police, the bomb plotters had the means, the will and the know-how to carry out mass murder in the biggest terror attack on the British mainland ‘in a generation’.

Naseer was found guilty on five counts preparing for terrorism, Khalid was convicted of four, and Ali was convicted of three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19 2011.

Although willing to cause havoc in the UK, the operational capabilities of the convicts are highly disputed by the media. Despite the long surveillance period the police report admitted that the trio did not identify any targets. More importantly, despite their attempts they could not get hold of any explosive.

The trio is expected to receive the highest sentence.

Muslim MPs come under pressure over the gay marriage voting

16 February 2013

 

Recently passed gay marriage law which enabled gay couples to marry in religious institutions have angered Muslim community since homosexuality is banned under the Islamic law. However, their feelings have become stronger after the voting in the Parliament since five Muslim MP voted in favor of the gay marriage. Muslim MPs came under harsh criticism from Muslim groups, some of those accused the MPs with “apostasy”.

 

It has been also reported that some of the MPs have received death threats over the vote. According to Daily Mail, Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary has received death threats after voting in favour of gay marriage. Police have told Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, that the threats are credible enough that he should review the security around him and his family following the Commons vote.

 

Mufti Muhammed Aslam Naqshbandi Bandhalevi, who is the head imam of the Jamia Islamia Rizvia mosque in Bradford, has issued a fatwa, or ruling, declaring Mr Khan an ‘apostate’ from Islam and said he should ‘repent before Allah’.

 

Hizbut Tahrir Britain said “some people hold up these MPs as examples for young Muslims to follow yet nothing could be further from the truth”.

 

British MPs are not taking Islamophia seriously

8 February 2013

Dr Leon Moosavi, who is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool, took on MPs’ lack of seriousness regarding Islamophia, in an article published on the University of Liverpool website. In the article he demonstrates his point by referring to the recent Early Day Motion attempt in the Parliament.  MP Keith Vaz tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament suggesting that Islamophobia be recorded by police forces across Britain so that it can be better understood.

However, up until now, only 24 out of 650 MPs have signed the EDM for Islamophobia to be recorded by police forces. To put that neglect into perspective, Dr Moosavi mentions that, 90 MPs have signed an EDM against turtle farming and 73 MPs have signed an EDM calling for elephant protection. The Islamophobia petition has only managed to receive as many MP signatures as a petition against dog attacks on postmen.

Plans to open Chipping Norton Mosque was cancelled after threats

The Muslim Community of Chipping Norton came under shock after winning a permission to build a mosque. It has been reported that the landlord received a threatening phone call and cancelled the deal. He said: “Someone rang up and said if you go ahead with the mosque then it will get very hot. They were saying they would burn it down. I have got people in the flat above [the proposed mosque]. I cannot take the risk.”

One of the applicants, Tahirul Hasan, who is also a Chipping Norton town councillor, said: “It is absolutely shocking. I did not expect this from our local community.”

Mr Hasan added he was worried about his own safety, especially as he is a taxi driver who receives late call-outs to remote locations.

Senior Muslim Police officer resigns over discrimination

05 February 2013

 

Dal Babu, one of the most senior police officers in the UK police force, has resigned after 30 years in the service in protest against the prevailing bias against the recruitment of officers from ethnic minorities. His resignation came after refusal of his request to be promoted to chief officer rank.

The high-ranking officer has been a prominent and eloquent spokesman for Muslim police officers with wide public exposure. He was also awarded an OBE in recognition for his efforts to encourage the soaring public confidence ratings in the London borough of Harrow which he runs.

In spite of holding a master’s degree and speaking four languages, he was considered unsuitable to assume chief officer rank because his media interview skills were not deemed good enough. He was also refused a place on the strategic command course for the next generation of chief constables.

In 2003 Dal Babu had won a case against the Metropolitan Police force after claiming that he failed to win promotion and faced discrimination because of his faith. The tribunal heard that Babu was interviewed for promotion. He was failed on one competency, decision-making, but did not feel the assessment reflected his performance. He was also concerned that the centre did not have prayer facilities, even though these were available in other police buildings.

When he decided to take his case to a tribunal he gained access to the documents used in his assessment and was able to prove his marking had been unfair. The Met tried but failed to have the case struck out on a legal technicality.

Only 2.8 percent of police leadership is from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. This year, there are no black or minority ethnic officers on the course and chief officers admit the service is in the grip of a diversity crisis.

Muslim NGO scores a major victory against “strip search” body scanners

4 February 2013

 

UK based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) finally succeeded in its campaign against “strip search” body scanners that are expected to be introduced in the UK airports. It was a government measure to prevent a terrorist strike similar to 9/11; the scanner was thought to be more efficient in detecting explosive material.

 

However, a number of faith and civil liberties groups, especially Muslims, globally objected the scanners on several grounds. These included the breach of civil liberties, health issues, the explicit nature of the body scanners and storage of images taken by the scanner. In addition it has been argued that the scanners could not detect plastics and liquids which had been given as a reason for their introduction.

 

IHRC has been a leading campaigner against the scanner and it supported the legal action by a former a IHRC employee against the government’s policy on scanners. The legal action had been given the right to proceed to a full judicial review.

 

Upon the decision of the court the UK government announced the cancellation of the plan to install the scanners.

 

The Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh considered the decision as “a massive victory for the Muslim community:

“IHRC has campaigned and lobbied against airport scanners, which cost £100,000 each, since their introduction and contributed to government consultation on the issue as early as 2010.  With continued campaigning and action by IHRC, this decision by the British government is a massive victory for the Muslim community and all who believe in civil liberties.”

Report describes the participation of UK Muslims in governance

31 January 2013

 

One of the most comprehensive studies to date on UK Muslim-government relations, entitled “Muslim Participation in Contemporary Governance”, describes how British Muslims have been taking part in governance in the three policy fields of equality, diversity and cohesion; faith sector governance; and security. It describes how modes of Muslim representation have developed into a broader ‘democratic constellation’.

 

The report, published by Centre for the Study and Citizenship at University of Bristol, included an analysis of public policy since 1997, a total of 112 interviews with key policymakers and Muslim civil society actors, and in-depth local case studies of Birmingham, Leicester, and Tower Hamlets, London.

 

According to the report, Muslims have become increasingly visible in governance recently. This inevitably led to the debates regarding “Muslim identities, alliances, rights, claims-making and the place of Muslims and Islam within the West.” The report highlights that the current visibility of Muslims in British politics is also a result of the increasing activism of Muslims.

click here for full report