UK minister issues warning against rise of Islamophia

24 January 2013

 

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a senior member of the Conservative Party and a

Minister of State for Faith and Communities, has said that more Muslims are victims of hate crimes now than at any other time in Britain’s history, showing a rise in Isalmophobia which needs to be dealt with effectively.

 

Citing figures from a recent You Gov survey, she presented her evidence. According to the poll results just 23% of people said that Islam was not a threat to Western civilization. Further, only 24% of the respondents thought Muslims were compatible with the British way of life – with nearly half of people disagreeing that Muslims were compatible. Finally, nearly half of people polled thought there would be a clash of civilizations between and Muslims and other Britons.

She further mentioned new figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers showing that between 50 to 60 per cent of all religious hate crimes reported to police in Britain are now perpetrated against Muslims.

“My fear is that seeing one community as the ‘other’ is a slippery slope that will enable extremists to advance their twisted interests unchecked, I don’t have to remind anyone what happens when an unfounded suspicion of one people can escalate into unspeakable horror.”

Two years ago Baroness Warsi was criticized for saying that that Islamophobia in Britain “had passed the dinner table test” but the latest police figures show that she was right in raising the issue.

Muslim speaks out against Muslim ‘vigilantes’

27 January 2013

 

Last week East London witnessed so-called “vigilante patrols” by a handful of “radical Muslim” men targeting women, gays and public drinkers. When the videos of harassment became available on YouTube, it caused widespread public outrage and the police launched an investigation and have arrested six people who were then bailed out.

 

According to the Independent, locals say the “patrols” have failed to spark the kind of inter-communal animosity they were hoping to achieve with their attacks. Yet the Muslim groups strongly condemned the incident calling it “abhorrent”.

Shaikh Shams Ad Duha, principle of  the Ebrahim College in East London, in a sermon at East London Mosque which was placed on YouTube and has been viewed 20,000 times in less than a week, lambasted the men in the video for being “complete bigots” who were contravening Islamic law, not enforcing it.

Muslim Council of Britain and other Muslim organizations have also condemned the “vigilantes”.

UK Muslims stage a protest against French intervention in Mali

13 January 2013

 

Around 60 Salafi Muslims gathered in front of the French Embassy in London to protest against French interventions in Mali. The protestors held placards reading “Ban Ki-moon Terrorist” and “French army, you will pay, the Muslims are on their way” during the demonstration on Saturday.

 

A speaker expressed his anger by saying that “We got rid of some of our dictators– Ben Ali, Mubarak, and al-Qadhafi. But now it’s time for the dictators in Mali, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, and all over Muslim lands to be removed and replaced by the shariah, by Islam,”rasouli_amir

Interview with Muslim Scholar Ziauddin Sardar: ”Muslims yearn for real debate”

Ziauddin Sardar is a leading British-Pakistani Muslim scholar and critic. In this interview with Susannah Tarbush, he talks about the magazine “Critical Muslim” he founded and which he sees as an “intellectual, cultural, philosophical and creative backup” for the revolutions of the Middle East

In January a year ago, a refreshingly different kind of Muslim publication, the quarterly Critical Muslim (CM), was launched in Britain. Published by London-based C Hurst & Co, CM takes the form of an attractively-produced paperback book of over 250 pages. Its stated mission is to be a quarterly of “ideas and issues showcasing ground-breaking thinking on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world”.

CM‘s founder and editor is leading Muslim scholar, critic and public intellectual Ziauddin Sardar. Born in Pakistan in 1951, Sardar grew up in London where he still lives. He is a prolific and much-read writer: since the late 1970s he has written some 45 books as well as numerous articles and essays. Sardar’s CM co-editor is the prominent British-Syrian novelist, critic and blogger Robin Yassin-Kassab.

To mark the first anniversary of CM‘s launch, Qantara interviewed Ziauddin Sardar on the quarterly’s concept, first year of publication, and future plans.

Pro-Islamic adverts taken down from London railway stations

12 January 2012

Muslim charity The Qur’an Project was displaying pro-Islamic posters in five major London Railway Stations – Waterloo, Victoria, Liverpool St, Marylebone and St Pancras International during the period 10 – 24 December 2012. The project aimed to tackle Islamophobia by educating people about Islam. The places had been reserved and they had agreed on the cost of the advert. However, the adverts were taken down by JCDecaux, the company who manages advertising in the UK railways.

In their letter to The Qur’an Project, JCDecaux gave the following reason: “…rail companies have pointed out that this is not acceptable and we should not have done so. As a consequence, we began the process of removing your posters from the rail stations over the weekend…”
The move has been considered to have Islamophobic motivations since JCDecaux and Network Rail have allowed similar campaigns for other religious groups over the last two years.

Muslims are trying to coming to terms with Evolution Theory

9 January 2013

 

The Deen Institute held a major event in London to bring together the views of various Muslims on the theory of evolution. Muslim scholars and scientists asserted their own opinions on the theory in order reach an agreement regarding compatibility of the theory with Islam. The participants also debated on Islam’s compatibility with science.

Muslim women’s group launches a campaign against domestic violence

8 January 2013

 

Muslim women’s charity Amina, based in Scotland is to launch a campaign to tackle domestic violence in the Muslim community.  There has been a widespread misconception among the certain sections of the Muslim community that Islam warrants husbands to beat up their wives. The group however, is planning to use Islamic teachings and clerics to challenge the misconception. Smina Akhtar, from the group stated that: “We have women coming in, phoning our helpline, time and time again and saying: ‘My husband said it’s okay, he told me the Koran says it’s okay’. We’re quite surprised that Muslim women are often not educated, even in Islam, because Islam does not condone violence.”

 

Organizers are asking people to promise to oppose all sorts of violence against women and girls and, crucially, to talk about the problem so that it cannot remain hidden.

 

Muslims ask for exclusion from gay laws

17 December 2012

 

Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is an umbrella organization that represents 500 mosques across the UK, has strongly criticized the new government initiative to pass a law which would allow gay marriages to take place in religious establishments. According to the law however it is illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to conduct same-sex weddings.

 

The MCB statement found the law “utterly discriminatory” as it does not provide a similar exemption for Muslims. Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the MCB said:

 

‘We find it incredible that while introducing the bill in the House, culture secretary Maria Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming, “fairness to be at the heart of her proposals”… It is not just the ‘Church of England and Church in Wales’ who “explicitly” stated strong opposition’ as Mrs. Miller says, the Muslim Council of Britain along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation… no one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law. It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions.’

Ministers expect the legislation to take up to 12 months to get through Parliament.

Conservative Party MPs, including ministers, will get a free vote amid private fears that at least 40 per cent of Tory MPs oppose the plans. Labour has also granted its backbenchers a free vote, in a surprise move.

uk-gay-muslim-500 photo by Andrew Hodges

UK Census 2011 reveals increasing Muslim presence in the UK

01 January 2012

 

Since the data of the UK Census 2011 was revealed last month, the public has been debating the increasing presence of British Muslim community.  The data has revealed that the Muslim population in Britain has almost doubled in ten years so that Muslims make up 50 percent of the residents in some British towns. Since the last census in 2001, the Muslim population in England and Wales increased by 80 percent (1.2 million), from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011, making it the second-largest religion in Britain.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that conducted the census, the multiplying of Britain’s Muslim population has occurred for several reasons.

The ONS said one of the reasons for the massive growth in the number of Muslims in Britain is the rising number of Britons who are converting to Islam.

 

Many analysts believe that the true number of Muslims in Britain may be much higher than indicated by the census data. This is because the religion question was the only voluntary question on the 2011 Census and 7.2 percent of people did not answer the question.

The increasing proportion of Muslims has inevitably led to a significant presence of Muslims in the public. In this regard, a study published by UK think tank Henry Jackson Society points out the increasing representation of Muslims in the media.  According to the study, which monitored statements of religious groups and media coverage of religion in the UK, the most prolific spokespeople over the last decade were the Muslim Council of Britain. This group made more interventions in the national discussion than any other faith group or leader, including even the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who came a close second.

 

UK Census 2011

17 December 2012

 

The outcome of the UK Census 2011 was published last week. The census data revealed a sharp rise in the Muslim population. The Muslim population in the UK has significantly risen between 2001 and 2011 from 1.5 million to almost 3 million. Hence, Muslim proportion has increased from 2% of the population to 5%. In some towns, Muslims make up almost 50% of the population, and in large cities like London and Manchester they make up around 14% of the population.

 

Muslim populations in Manchester (over 100,000), Birmingham (plus 96,000), Bradford (plus 55,000) and most of the inner London boroughs, notably Newham (plus 64,000), Tower Hamlets (plus 58,000) and Haringey (plus 52,000). Tower Hamlets remains the local authority district with the greatest proportion of Muslims – 34.5%. The 2011 census estimates that there are now 2.7 million British Muslims, with nearly 40 per cent of them — a million — living in London.

 

The census data also revealed a sharp increase in foreign-born residents: 7.5million residents of England and Wales were foreign-born in 2011 Just 44.9 per cent of Londoners are White British. Further less than 90 per cent of country is white for the first time ever. According to the census data Christianity has been in decline: Around 59 per cent British people now call themselves Christian and a quarter say they have no religion.

 

Muslim Council of Britain Welcomed the Census 2011 results, and commented that “the growth in number points to the fact that Muslims play a significant part in the increasing diversity of Britain.”

Julian Bond, director of the Christian Muslim Forum, said the figures reinforced the need to “think about the best possible way to engage with Islam and think about whether people should be having days off for Eid, how Ramadan is accommodated and how religion is taught in schools”.