Leading Muslim Tells British Faithful: Abandon Hijab

LONDON (AFP) – A leading moderate Muslim in Britain advised women against wearing the Islamic veil for safety reasons in the aftermath of the London bombings. “A woman wearing the hijab in the present circumstances could suffer aggression from irresponsible elements. Therefore, she ought not to wear it,” said Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams and head of the Muslim College in London. The Egyptian-born leader made the call amid fears that Muslims could be targeted in a backlash over the July attacks. London’s Metropolitan Police said faith hate crimes were up 600 percent on the same period last year after the attacks. “In the present tense situation, with the rise of attacks on Muslims, we advise Muslim women who fear being attacked physically or verbally to remove their hijab so as not to be identified by those who are hostile to Muslims,” said Badawi. The July 7 attacks were perpetrated by four British Muslims. They blew up themselves and 52 others in three blasts on the London Underground and one on a bus. A repeat attempt by another gang of four men failed when the bombs failed to detonate fully. Badawi said the Koran justified removing the hijab, as it instructed women to dress so they could be “identified and not molested”. “The preservation of life and limb has a much higher priority than appearance, whether in dress or in speech,” he added. Badawi was denied entry to the United States with no explanation a week after the deadly attacks but accepted an unreserved apology offered later. He was due to speak in New York on the law and Islam.

Us Muslims Launch Ad Campaign Against Terror

WASHINGTON: American Muslims have launched an advertising campaign to denounce acts of terrorism after bombers believed to be British Muslims killed at least 54 people in attacks on London. Any effort by terrorists to hide their criminal activities under the mask of religious piety is being categorically and unequivocally rejected by mainstream Muslims, said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said the television ad, which will air nationwide by July 19, is an attempt to detach Islam from the heinous acts of a few Muslims. Police believe the attacks are linked to Al Qaeda, the Islamic militant group behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the Madrid train bombings last year. Backlash is a concern … but it’s not our main motive, said CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed. Our main motivation lies with making sure our position is clear where Islam stands on terrorism. The 30-second public service spot, called Not in the Name of Islam, features two American Muslim women and religious leader Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. We often hear claims Muslims don’t condemn terrorism and that Islam condones violence, they say. As Muslims, we want to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam are betraying the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. We reject anyone – of any faith – who commits such brutal acts and will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals. Islam is not about hatred and violence. It’s about peace and justice. The director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, John Voll, welcomed the campaign. I think Americans, especially these days … are justified in being fearful of the suicidal violence attempts by extremist fanatics in many different traditions, he said. It is counterproductive for Americans to then focus their fear on the people who are probably their closest allies, and that is average, mainstream Muslims.

Post-9/11 Workplace Discrimination Continues

By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY Nearly four years after the terrorist attacks, Muslim, South Asian and Arab-American employees continue to report discrimination on the job. Compared with the first two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the number of employees saying they’ve been discriminated against as a form of backlash because of the attacks has declined. But charges continue to come in, indicating that Arab-American and other workers still feel discriminated against. “People are being called ‘terrorist’ at work, things of that sort,” says Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director at Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “A lot of cases continue to go on. People have been called Osama bin Laden, told they are going to mosque to learn how to build a bomb.” Nearly 280 claims of discrimination in the workplace were received by CAIR in 2004, and the workplace was the second-most-common location for an alleged incident. The first was government agencies. At the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 980 charges alleging post-9/11 backlash discrimination have been filed through June 11 since the 2001 attacks. Most involved firing and alleged harassment; the EEOC specifically tracks “backlash” cases, where employees claim discrimination relating to 9/11. Likewise, religious bias charges are higher today than before 9/11. From Sept. 11, 2001, through June 11, the EEOC received 2,168 charges of discrimination based on an employee’s Muslim religion. That compares with 1,104 such charges in the same time span before the attacks. The agency has obtained more than $4.2 million on behalf of employees alleging post-9/11 backlash. The EEOC has filed lawsuits against employers such as MBNA America Bank, the Plaza hotel in New York, Alamo Rent A Car and construction giant Bechtel. Some Recent Eeoc Cases: – A lawsuit alleging the New York Plaza hotel and Fairmont Hotel Management discriminated against Muslim, Arab and South Asian employees was settled last month for $525,000. A 2001 lawsuit claimed that Plaza employees were called “terrorist,” “Taliban” and “dumb Muslim.” It also alleges that managers wrote “Osama” and “Taliban” instead of employees’ names on key holders. Fairmont Hotel Management managed the hotel, which has since been sold. “As a company, we are committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination or harassment,” says Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of human resources at Fairmont, in Toronto. – In March, upscale seafood restaurant Pesce agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging bias against the store’s general manager. According to the lawsuit, a former co-owner openly speculated that the manager’s Egyptian name and appearance were the reasons Pesce had seen earnings drop in the months after 9/11. The manager was fired. Pesce, which has since been sold to new owners, declined to comment. – The EEOC filed a lawsuit last year against an MBNA subsidiary in Philadelphia claiming in part that offensive comments were made to Indian and black employees after 9/11, including an Indian employee who was called “Osama bin Laden.” The case is pending. MBNA says there is no merit to the claim.

Dutch Mulling Limits On Freedom Of Expression

Many Dutch Decision-Makers Wondering Whether Reactions, Particularly Criticism Of Muslims, Did Not Go Too Far. By Isabelle Wesselingh Reeling from the slaying of a controversial filmmaker by a suspected Islamic extremist and a resulting backlash against Muslim institutions, the traditionally tolerant Dutch are mulling the limits of freedom of expression. “It is important today that we have a debate on freedom of expression: What are its limits, what is the meaning of tolerance, to what degree can you provoke someone and in this context I think it is important to look at what is being done abroad,” Foreign Minister Ben Bot told foreign correspondents here Monday.