Report on racism in the British criminal justice system finds surge in Muslim prison population

Labour MP David Lammy authored a report which found a surge in the Muslim prison population and found lack of data on why this population has surged. The report was commissioned by David Cameron in 2016. There has been a 50% rise in the share of prisoners who are Muslim in only ten years. Muslims are only 5% of the overall British population but 15% of the prison population.

Lammy notes that the trend is difficult to trace back to its origins because data is not collected on the religious identities of defendants while still in trial. So, it is unclear if the disparity arises in arrests or in sentencing.

Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman David Isaac stressed that the lack of explanation should signal that “we need more transparent data published.”

Dr Zubaida Haque, a researcher for the think tank The Runnymede Trust, said terror convictions cannot account for the size of the rise. Dr Haque also raised concern about Islamophobia within the prison system and in the criminal justice system more broadly.

British leaders are concerned about anti-Muslim sentiment following the Parsons Green Attack

Some British leaders and public figures have responded to the recent terrorist attack in the London Underground in relation to British Muslim communities.

The former head of the UK’s domestic security service, Eliza Manningham, criticized the Islamophobic related to the recent attack on the London Underground at Parsons Green.

Manningham said that Donald Trump had used the incident to promote the Muslim ban, which has negative consequences for security. Trump linked the two concepts in a tweet. Manningham said, “If you ban that particular ethnicity and religion wholesale — which he hasn’t quite done, but he’s more or less done — why would you as an American Muslim, or a Muslim somewhere else in the world, offer to an American government with that [President] at the head, intelligence that might be life-saving?”

She brought attention to the (paraphrased) 2011 words of a Muslim security agent who said that he was inspired to work for MI5 because he could save lives, counteracting the wickedness sometimes done in the name of Allah.

Sean O’Grady, the managing editor of the British newspaper the Independent, writes that blaming refugees for terrorism is counter-productive, leading to further radicalisation. He notes that many newspapers focused on the foster-care status of the attackers, which reinforces the idea that “terrorists are in the midst of these refugees.”

Terrorists are linked in this discourse to Islam. While there is some connection to Islam, O’Grady says that Islam is generally peaceful and the focus on a single violent action is unreasonable. He points out that terrorism occurs through many means and is not dependent on the presence of refugees.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General, Harun Khan, condemned the attack and asked for anyone with information to assist the police. Khan also alluded to the dangers of Islamophobia following the attack, saying, “We do not yet know the identity or motivation of the attackers, but whatever it is, we must not allow them to achieve their ultimate aim – to drive a wedge between fellow citizens in our society.”

Road Rage Cited in Killing of Muslim Girl in Virginia

The Fairfax County Police Department are blaming “road rage” as the mostly likely reason, instead of a hate crime, in the killing of a Muslim teenager in Virginia whose body was found in a pond later.

Nabra Hassanen, 17, was killed on Sunday after she and a group of nearly 15 friends encountered a driver, Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, about 3:40 a.m., the police said in a statement.  The group of teenagers had been at a late-night event at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, Va., and were headed back to the mosque after a trip to a fast-food restaurant.

Mr. Torres was arrested at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday and charged with the murder after the Ms. Hassanen’s body was found.

The commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, Raymond F. Morrogh,  who is prosecuting the case, said Mr. Torres was arraigned on Monday and was jailed without bond.  Hate crime charges could still be filed as the investigation progresses, he said earlier on Monday, adding, “I wouldn’t rule it out until I see all of the evidence.”

The news of the young girl’s murder emerged against the backdrop of the British attack of a mosque in London.

Union of French Mosques condemns Manchester attack

The Union of French mosques released the following statement regarding the recent Manchester attacks:

“The Union of French Mosques (UMF) condemns with the greatest vigor the terror attack carried out in Manchester, Monday May 22, leaving 22 victims, including children and a little 8 year old girl, as well as teenagers. Many of those hurt are in critical condition and for some, the injuries are life-threatening.

The UMF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and hopes for a prompt recovery for those hurt, and wishes to express its support for and solidarity with the British people.

Only a few days before Ramadan, a symbol of peace, sharing, solidarity and compassion, the terrorist group Daesh carried out this craven and despicable act against all of humanity, which is a new affront to Muslims around the world and their faith.”
Paris, May 23, 2017

Union of French Mosques condemns London attack

The Union of French Mosques strongly condemns the attack carried out in London on June 3, 2017, leaving seven victims and 50 wounded, of which four were French. Among those hurt, 21, including one Frenchman, are in critical condition. The UMF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and hopes for a swift recovery for those wounded and reaffirms its support for and solidarity with the British people who have faced these last months, with courage and dignity, against a despicable and cowardly terrorist fury.

Immersed in enormous suffering as a result of these crimes, France’s Muslims cannot find enough strong expressions to denounce the betrayal of their religion by criminal organizations that claim to act in their name. Faced with this suffering, the UMF calls on France’s Muslims to carry on their struggle, by all legal means, against extremists and followers of hate and violence.

The UMF calls on French Muslims to keep the victims of terrorism in their thoughts and to intensify their prayers, during this sacred month of Ramadan, for Peace in the World.

Paris, June 4, 2017

 

CFCM condemns Manchester attack

The French Council of the Muslim Faith released the following statement regarding the attack in Manchester:

“Two months after the attack on Parliament and Westminster Palace in London, the United Kingdom was once again hit on May 22 by a despicable terrorist attack in Manchester.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemns with the greatest vigor this craven and barbaric act that has caused over 22 deaths and left more than 60 wounded, of which there were many young people.

The CFCM extends its sincere condolences to the victims’ families and hopes that those who were wounded will make a swift recovery, as several were severely injured.

Following these tragic events that have touched the United Kingdom, the CFCM wishes to express its compassion and solidarity with the British people during these difficult times.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017.

The CFCM Board.

 

 

London Bridge Attacker profiles

Three men perpetrated the attack last Saturday night in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas. All three men have been identified by Scotland Yard.

The most recent attacker to be identified is 22-year-old, Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba. Prior to the attack, he had been living in East London and working at a restaurant. Although the Italian police previously prevented him from travelling to Syria via Istanbul to allegedly join ISIS fighting, they did not share this information with British intelligence and Zaghba was not known to British authorities. He was born in Morocco and lived there most of his life.His mother lives in Italy, as she is separated from his father.

One of the other attackers, Khuram Butt, was known to police and MI5 but police had no understanding of this attack. Butt appeared in a Channel 4 TV documentary called, “The Jihadis Next Door” and was banned from his East London mosque for interrupting a sermon. He was born in Pakistan but came to the UK as a young child; he has been living in Barking, East London. He had a baby and a toddler. Butt was athletic and an Arsenal fan. He angered when he saw women cycling in his area. He played with neighbourhood children often. Butt worked for Transport for London and for a fast food restaurant.

Rachid Redouane, 30, is the third terrorist profiled in the article. He identified as Moroccan and Libyan; however, he sometimes also used the name Rachid Elkhdar. At the time of his death, he was carrying an Irish ID card, which may have helped him obtain permission to enter the UK. He lived in Dublin previously for part of 2015 and possibly 2016. He was not known to police. He was a pastry chef. He married Charisse O’Leary in 2012, a British citizen who ever converted to Islam. Recently, the couple split after disagreements over raising their now 17-month-old daughter.

UK Communities Secretary says Muslims need to do more to stop radicalisation

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, UK Conservative Party politician, Sajid Javid argued that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism than that of other British residents. Javid is a Muslim himself and services as the Communities Secretary.

He argues against the “well-meaning” idea that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, saying that the Muslim community needs to do more “soul searching” to find the links between Islam and terrorism.

He believes the only people who can stop terrorism are young Muslims speaking out and showing that “this is not their fight and they want no part of it.”

 

Tariq Ramadan: Stigmatising Muslims is a counterproductive response to terror attacks

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim thinker and a professor at the University of Oxford, first argues that “it is important for us to be consistent in our condemnation of these criminal acts, and to maintain our support for all the victims, whoever they are, wherever they live.”

He argues for bringing all people together against senseless violence in the UK and globally. He warns that “to portray criminal acts as part of an ideological battle between extremist, anti-western Muslims and western people and values” alienates Muslims and ignores Muslim victims.

In his opinion, the demonisation of Islam contributes to radicalisation. More security is not the answer to the problem of terrorism. Rather, domestic policy needs to be meaningfully pluralistic and foreign policy should be based in economic and social justice. This includes recognising the British role in promoting  oppression abroad, including the effects of the Balfour Declaration on Palestinians and the effects of the invasion of Iraq on both Iraqis and Syrians.

In a second Scottish independence referendum, young Muslims would be likely to vote for independence

Scottish Muslims are likely to support independence from the UK due to British anti-terrorism policies, according to a qualitative study by scholars at Newcastle University. The UK government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy, which aims to stop Muslims from becoming radicalised, has been heavily criticised for encouraging Islamophobic suspicion.

Based on interviews and focus groups that included more than 600 Muslim Scottish participants, the researchers concluded that Muslims see Scottish nationalism as more inclusive than other types of nationalism. Its multicultural focus may provide ways for Muslims to engage politically.

The minority of Muslims who support continued union with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland cited economic and security factors.