The roles of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Grenfell Tower tragedy

The fire at Grenfell Tower killed more than 80 people. Many Muslims lived in and nearby the tower. Muslims residents and neighbours were instrumental in saving lives. The fire occurred after midnight. While many in the area were asleep, Muslims were often awake for the observances of Ramadan. Muslim residents awoke people in other flats and Muslim neighbours were among the first on the scene to assist. Muslim organisations, such as Muslim Aid, continued to be active in relief efforts.

The next evening volunteers held an iftar to allow Muslim victims and volunteers to break their fast. Many were working hard to support each other despite their fast.

Racial and economic discrimination may have contributed to the causes of the fire, as “it’s difficult to imagine this disaster–caused by a huge dereliction of duty and refusal to listen to residents’ concerns–befalling a community of white Britons.” Grenfell Tower was social housing provided by the government for people who require housing assistance.

Black and South Asian survivors felt that the government did not act as though they had a right to complain about the terrible safety conditions of the building prior to the fire.

Anger after Muslim women denied service at French restaurant

Social media users have expressed anger after a video posted online appeared to show two Muslim women in France being told to leave a restaurant by a man, reportedly the boss, who called all Muslims “terrorists”.

“Terrorists are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists. This sentence says it all, analyse it,” the man said in the video released on Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place the night before at the Le Cenacle restaurant in Tremblay-en-France, an area in the suburbs of Paris.

“People like you, I don’t want them here,” he continued, “you are imposing yourself here […] get out.”

The women, one of whom appeared in the video wearing a headscarf, said they would leave.

Reports in France said that the man apologized on Sunday to a group of young people and members of the local Muslim community who had gathered outside Le Cenacle to ask him to explain his comments.

The restaurateur reportedly said one of his friends had died in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.

In a message on Twitter, Laurence Rossignol, the French minister for families, children and women’s rights, said she had ordered an investigation and called for sanctions against the “intolerable behavior” of the restaurant’s boss.

France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended the ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet, pending a definitive ruling.

The footage of the incident at the restaurant has been shared widely on social media, garnering many reactions of concern for increasing Islamphobia in the country.

In response to the incident, the Committee against Islamophobia in France said it would bring “psychological and legal assistance” to both women.

“What kills me in the scandalous video #Cenacle is the indifference of other clients,” the committee’s director, Marwan Muhammed, said on Twitter.

Suspected Jihadi Maher H.: “I provided assistance in Syria.”

Maher H (20) is suspected of terrorist actions in Syria. He is the first one to stand trial. He claims he has provided (humanitarian) assistance; organizing package with food, clothing and medicines, but he doesn’t name the organization he was working for. Explaining a picture of himself posing with a kalashnikov he stated it is not allowed to show off your good deeds in Islam.

Imad el O. was convicted today for wanting to take a 16 year old girl to Egypt and Syria. Imad el O. claims they didn’t want to go to Syria, but to Egypt to study and to marry. His lawyer stated that the girl wanted to go with him, because she didn’t want to live with her parents anymore.

Briton sentenced to life in prison for drug smuggling

March 18, 2014

 

Khadija Shah, a 26-year-old British woman of Pakistani descent, was sentenced to life in prison in Pakistan on Tuesday after being convicted of trying to smuggle 63 kilograms of heroin out of the country. According to reports, Shah was arrested at the Islamabad airport in May 2012 after the heroin was discovered in several suitcases in her possession. She has claimed that she was carrying the cases for someone else and was unaware of their contents. Her lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, said they would appeal the conviction — given by the Special Narcotics Court in Rawalpindi — next week.

Maya Foa, the director of legal charity Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said the conviction was “a terrible outcome” for Shah and her baby girl, who was born in prison; Shah was six-months pregnant at the time she was arrested. Foa urged the British government to “ensure that Khadija gets the urgent assistance she needs to appeal her sentence so that her baby doesn’t grow up behind bars.” A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they were aware of the case and providing Shah and her family with “consular assistance.”

 

Source: http://tribune.com.pk/story/684256/british-pakistani-woman-given-life-sentence-for-drug-smuggling/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AAfPak%20Daily%20Brief&utm_campaign=South%20Asia%20Daily%20Brief%203-19-14

Second British pensioner faces blasphemy charges in Pakistan for reading from Koran in public

January 31, 2014

 

The family of a second British man facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan said yesterday that he is entirely innocent and called for more to be done to allow him to return to the UK. Masud Ahmad, 72, is currently on bail in Lahore after he was allegedly tricked into publicly reading from the Koran – an act which is forbidden for members of the minority Ahmadi sect to which he belongs. He now faces three years in jail. Mr Ahmad had been released from prison on bail and was now in secure accommodation pending trial although it was not known when the case would be heard and he faced a long and uncertain wait.

Following his arrest in November more than 600 people protested outside the police station. Under Pakistan law it is an offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim. Each year dozens of members of the sect are charged with breaching religious laws whilst they and other minorities are also at risk of outbreaks of sectarian violence in the country if they are deemed to have committed blasphemy.

The quietly-spoken widower was arrested after he was recorded on a mobile phone reading from the Koran by two men posing as patients. Amnesty International said he was maliciously targeted because of his religion.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We will continue to provide consular assistance to both Mr Ahmad and his family.”

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/second-british-pensioner-faces-blasphemy-charges-in-pakistan-for-reading-from-koran-in-public-9099929.html

Elderly British schizophrenic sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

January 25, 2014

 

A British pensioner with a history of severe mental illness has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws. Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unaware that he is ill following a stroke, was convicted at the end of a trial in Rawalpindi in which it was alleged he claimed to be the prophet Mohammed. During the case, which was heard without a jury, the judge forcibly removed his independent lawyers from the court and appointed a state counsel on the defendant’s behalf.

His treatment has been severely criticised by human rights organisations which have long campaigned against Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation which, according to Amnesty International, has created a climate of fear and murderous vigilantism in the devoutly Muslim country where allegations of religious crime are routinely used to persecute minorities.

Mr Asghar’s lawyers and his doctor are desperately concerned for his wellbeing after he attempted suicide following his incarceration in 2010. His condition is getting worse and he requires complex daily medication as well as psychological and social care but is instead sharing a crowded cell with other prisoners. The conviction is now being appealed although it could take five years before it is heard.

Dr Jane McLennan of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh – a leading authority on psychiatric illness in older people – said that to properly analyse his behaviour she would be required to repeat her patient’s claims – potentially running the risk of being considered blasphemous herself. Thus the very nature of the charges in Pakistan makes it difficult for a mental health professional to indulge in a full discussion of the proper diagnosis.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We strongly object to the use of the death penalty and will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family during this difficult time. We have continuously made representations to the Pakistan government on behalf of Mr Asghar and we will continue to do so. We are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and we are dedicated to doing all we can to prevent the execution of any British national.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/death-sentence-for-british-pensioner-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-9083235.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-lawyers-denied-access-to-severely-mentally-ill-british-pensioner-facing-execution-in-pakistan-over-blasphemy-9086318.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10595398/British-schizophrenic-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10594765/British-man-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html

30-Year Prison Sentence in Plot to Bomb U.S. Bank

A Bangladeshi man who tried to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, only to discover that the bomb was a fake and that he had been under constant federal surveillance, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday.

The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 22, came to the United States in January 2012 on a student visa with plans to carry out a terrorist attack, carrying instructions on how to make a bomb out of household items, as well as audio recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical cleric killed by an American drone strike in 2011. Mr. Nafis tried to find assistance and camaraderie on the Internet, but his efforts led him instead to an F.B.I. informer, who in turn introduced him to an undercover agent.

The agent met repeatedly with Mr. Nafis beginning last summer. In a sting operation, months long, Mr. Nafis developed his plot from a vague idea to a detailed plan to bomb the financial district, an attack that he hoped would “shake the whole country,” according to recorded statements he made during the investigation.

Two accused of plot to kill Muslims with X-ray weapon

A Ku Klux Klansman working for General Electric and an accomplice are facing terrorism charges in Upstate New York for allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other “enemies of Israel,” federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. They were due in federal court in Albany on Wednesday.

Crawford, an industrial mechanic with GE, claimed the “Hiroshima on a light switch” device could fit in a van, be triggered remotely and deliver lethal doses of ionizing radiation that would kill its targets as they slept, the complaint stated. Feight allegedly agreed to build the electronic controls.

In April 2012, authorities were notified that Crawford had gone to an Albany-area synagogue and and contacted a local Jewish organizations “seeking out individuals who might offer assistance in helping him with a type of technology that could be used against people he perceived as enemies of Israel” and the United States. He called these perceived enemies and Muslims “medical waste” and “scumbags.”

Crawford told an informant he planned to buy or build a battery-powered, industrial-strength X-ray device and hoped to land a part-time job in a metal shop with X-ray tubes, according to the complaint.

A year later — April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — Crawford said in an e-mail exchange monitored by the FBI that he had found a power supply. He railed against President Obama, whom he derided as “your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief,” for “bringing the muzzies here without background checks.”

Women May Be Stranded in Morocco Despite Dutch Residency

19 November 2011

 

The Moroccan Women’s Association Netherlands and the Support Re-emigrants Foundation have reported that around 80 Moroccan Dutch women a year report being stranded in Morocco during a visit from the Netherlands. The women, who previously emigrated to the Netherlands and obtained Dutch residency through marriage, are taken to the country under false pretenses by their husbands and then left behind without passport or residence permit. Often they are accompanied by their children. The reporting organizations suspect that the number of cases is higher than reported; there is currently no law under which the women can appeal to the Moroccan police for assistance, and the Dutch police are unable to intervene in Morocco.

180 Moroccan Imams sent to France for Ramadan

Au Fait Maroc – August 26, 2011

 

180 imams have arrived from Morocco to assist in the gatherings around the month of Ramadan, a tradition that has taken place over a number of years according to CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) leader, Mohamed Moussaoui. 25,000 copies of Qur’an edited in Morocco have come with these holy leaders. Many will go to the newly opened Mosque of Strasbourg whose 8.7 million euro cost was partially funded by the government of Morocco, assistance which is possible because of the exceptional legal status of the Alsace-Moselle region.