BBC Responds to Criticism of Panorama Documentary

8 May 2013


The Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the institution which was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama documentary on sharia councils in Britain, has criticized the BBC for its undercover reporting and for editing the footage out of context.


The documentary features an undercover BBC reporter posing as a woman complaining of domestic abuse, and shows members of the Islamic Sharia Council staff urging her to go to the police only as a last resort. The documentary alleges that some women who turn to these sharia courts are not aware that their rulings on such matters as child custody disputes are not legally binding. The Islamic Sharia Council has challenged the impartiality of the BBC investigation, asserting that the Panorma crew had a “pre-determined agenda and stereotype of how shariah councils operate.”


For its part, the BBC has rejected accusations of impropriety, saying in a statement to the Guardian, “Panorama fully stands behind its investigations into the workings of some of Britain’s Sharia Councils.” The documentary, entitled: “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” has garnered the attention of many British politicians and was heavily referenced in a recent parliamentary debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom.


Muslim Council vows action to stop children being groomed for sex

The Muslim Council of Britain has said it will take action to prevent girls being “groomed” for sex. Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of the council said people were sometimes reluctant to speak out – but they have a “religious duty” to do so. He said the council was working with groups including the NSPCC, police and Muslim organisations to educate people. The action comes after high-profile sex abuse cases involving Muslim men in Rochdale and Derby. “This is an appalling and abhorrent kind of behaviour which is totally unacceptable regardless of race or religion,” said Sheikh Mogra, the MCB’s Assistant Secretary General, on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

East London Mosque opens doors to non-Muslims

A Mosque in East London is opening its doors to non-Muslims in an attempt to promote a better understanding of Islam and what goes on inside the building. Members of the local community are invited to take a look inside the mosque, observe prayers and ask questions about the religion. In response to a video appearing online earlier this year showing men shouting homophobic abuse at another man in east London, telling him to “get out of here” as “it is a Muslim area”, the East London Mosque condemned the actions of the self-styled ‘Muslim patrol’. “We felt like because this was an issue right on our doorstep we had to speak out about that one.” One of the members of the mosque said that “Some people want to ask simple questions like whether as non-Muslims they’re allowed to come in the mosque. Others make pretty broad requests like ‘what is Islam?“. According to the report an increasing number of mosques were holding similar events. Following the influence of groups like the English Defence League wanting to vilify mosques saying they are full of fundamentalists who don’t want to engage with mainstream society the members of the mosque feel they have a role to play in changing that view.


‘El País’ places Spain in the target of Islamic Terrorism

18 March 2013

The newspaper El Pais has put Spain in the spotlight of Islamic terrorism after broadcasting a video of the alleged torture of an Iraqi detainee in 2004 at the military base in Diwaniya by soldiers of the Spanish Armed Forces.
The Ministry of Defence has pledged to investigate the veracity of the video that, if true, would be the first proven case of abuse of the Spanish Army in an international mission.
The spread of this video does not benefit Spain at all, as it is again targeted by Islamic terrorism. It seems that the journal has taken this material from the so-called ‘Wikileaks papers’.

French Council of the Muslim Faith commends French President

14 January 2013


In a communiqué released by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the organization praises the French President’s avoidance of the term ‘islamist’ and ‘islamism’ in his recent speech, announcing French support to the Malian government’s battle against armed rebels.


The CFCM salutes the President’s precaution and brings to attention the significance of language as a tool of producing as well as fighting prejudice and abuse against Muslims.  Whilst President Francois Hollande’s careful usage of language finds praise, the organization however also points out to the widespread disregard towards misleading and confusing language and vocabulary by a number of French politicians and the French media industry.

New helpline for Muslim women may be Canada’s first

News Agencies –  November 15, 2012


Months before the Muslim women’s helpline was launched, the phone at the Mississauga-based Women’s Resource Centre started ringing. In October 2012, after months of research, training and fundraising, the Women’s Resource Centre launched what is believed to be the country’s first helpline specifically for Muslim women. Confidential and anonymous, it’s meant to be a place to which women can turn for emotional support, peer counselling and referrals.

In its first few weeks, the helpline has already received dozens of calls from women across the GTA, with concerns ranging from marriage and relationships to information on shelters and food banks, and in a few cases, abuse.The helpline is staffed by 13 counsellors and is open for two hours a day, five days a week.

Anti-terrorism laws targeting Muslims ahead of the London Olympics

29 June 2012


According to the media reports, the arrests were based on a tip-off after men were seen behaving suspiciously close to the Olympic venue. The two suspects were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and held at a central London police station.


However, the police have been under heavy criticism for allowing police to exercise excessive powers thus leaving scope for abuse. In addition, the great majority of those who have been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 have been released without charge.


On the other hand, David Anderson QC, The Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is working towards ensuring that Muslims are not wrongfully arrested during the Olympic Games in London amidst fears that the police may abuse their powers under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Report: U.S. Mosques ‘Healthy and Growing,’ Active in Interfaith and Outreach Activities

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/20/12) –- The second installment in a series of reports based on the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 released today indicates that Islamic houses of worship are “healthy and growing” and are engaged in a high level of educational, interfaith and outreach activities.

A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations sponsored the comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States from which the latest report, titled “The American Mosque 2011: Activities, Administration and Vitality of the American Mosque,” was compiled.

To view the entire report, click here.

To conduct the survey, researchers counted all mosques in America and then conducted telephone interviews with a sample of mosque leaders. (The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.)

Major findings of the report released today include:

* Full-time Islamic schools have experienced significant growth in the past decade.

* Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of mosques indicated that they have hosted an open house for their neighbors of other faiths in the past 12 months.

* The majority of mosques (70 percent) use only English for the main message of the khutbah (sermon).

* The vast majority (88 percent) of American mosque leaders say domestic abuse should be addressed.

* In terms of social services, mosques compare very well with other religious congregations. For example, surveys show that only 26 percent of congregations of other faith traditions are involved in providing some type of health programing as compared to 45 percent of mosques. Only 29 percent of other religious congregations are involved in community organizing activities, while 47 percent of mosques are involved in these types of activities.

* A majority of mosque leaders (71 percent) agreed that their mosque is working for social justice. African American mosques are the most likely (87 percent) to be active in social justice.

* The role of the religious leader (Imam) is becoming more professionalized.

* The percentage of mosques unaffiliated with any national organization has increased significantly over the past few decades.

The report also outlines challenges faced by American mosques, including:

* Mosques need support and inspiration in establishing and strengthening weekend schools and youth activities.

* Mosques need to be made more women-friendly.

* The American Muslim community needs its own institutions to increase the number of American-born Imams and to supplement the training of Imams from abroad.

The first report based on the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011, released earlier this year, showed that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since 2000 and that Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement. A third report on women in American mosques is forthcoming.

SEE: The American Mosque 2011

Sponsors of the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 include: The Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).

The U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 is part of a larger study of American congregations called Faith Communities Today (FACT), which is a project of Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, a multi-faith coalition of denominations and faith groups.

Irish ‘ready for Islam’, Bin Laden told

Newly released papers seized at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad suggest that American-born al-Qa’ida operative Adam Gadahn considered Irish people to be particularly receptive for Islam. In a letter to an unknown recipient of January 2011, he suggested issuing a message specifically addressing the Irish people, inviting them to convert to Islam. Irish sympathies for the Palestinian cause, a growing disillusionment with the Catholic Church, following the revelation of clerical child abuse, and the economic crisis, Gadahn identifies as grounds for a possible openness of the Irish people to Islam. As “the most religious in atheist Europe”, they would rather adopt another religion than embracing secularism, he argues.

Allegations of Physical Abuse in Madrassas

18./ 19.102011

An investigation by BBC Radio 4’s “File on 4” has discovered that Britain’s madrassas faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the last three years. However, only ten of them were dealt with in court, with successful prosecutions in only two cases (as identified by the BBC). While corporal punishment is still legal in part-time education settings in England, including madrassas, if lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week, the revelations of both physical and sexual abuse in Britain’s madraddas are alarming and call for more formal regulations of the schools that are attended by more than 250,000 Muslim children every day.  According to the BBC, the cases of abuse reported may only be the tip of the iceberg, as many families are either pressured by their communities not to make a formal complaint or to withdraw complaints if they were made. Mohammad Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, considers the figures to be “very alarming and shocking” and said the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.