December 19, 2013
Young urban gang members have been targeted by charismatic preachers for conversion to a radical form of Islam, in a development not being properly addressed by the Government’s security programme, community leaders claimed in the wake of the Woolwich trial.
The case of two black Muslim converts, both from criminal backgrounds and with a highly tuned sense of grievance, has highlighted concerns that efforts to prevent radicals are focused too much on universities and so-called middle-class converts.
Michael Adebowale was a member of a gang at the time of his conversion at the age of 17, police confirmed, but his path to radicalisation remained unclear. MPs found that converts to Islam were at particular risk of radicalisation. In April, Richard Dart, a white security guard converted by Anjem Choudary – former leader of the now-banned al-Muhajiroun group – was jailed for six years for plotting to attack soldiers at Royal Wootton Bassett.
“In the urban environment, being Muslim carries a bit of street cred. It’s the urban religion of choice,” he said. “It’s about religion sticking two fingers up at the establishment. It’s an attractive mix. It validates criminality.”
“These kids’ constant experiences are of being victims, and then the radicalised movement comes along and offers them the opportunity to be heroic,” said Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, which works with vulnerable children in the capital. “The radicalisers are identifying the most vulnerable kids… They’re showing them videos that are getting progressively worse, alleged atrocities by the British. Then they’re sending them to training camps abroad.”
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-uks-street-gangs–are-the-next-breeding-ground-for-new-brand-of-extremist-9016698.html
The family home of a man convicted of attempting to recruit two undercover police officers to fight British soldiers in Afghanistan is set to become the first to be seized in the UK under terrorism laws. Forfeiture will now begin after the Court of Appeal rejected a challenge against his conviction by bookstall owner Munir Farooqi who received four life sentences in September 2011 for inciting jihad.
The decision means the Farooqis’ house in Longsight, Manchester, will be the first to be subject to seizure proceedings under the Terrorism Act of 2000 which entitles the courts to take property owned or under the control of terrorists at the time of an offence.
The family and their supporters have fought a vigorous campaign to highlight their case claiming three generations will be left homeless and penniless if the property, which is not registered in Munir Farooqi’s name, is forfeited.
They have argued that they are being collectively punished for a crime they did not commit. Farooqi’s son Harris, 29, who lives in the £200,000 house with six other family members, was acquitted of terrorism offences at the trial. His father ran an Islamic book stall on Longsight market.
Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Steve Heywood said the majority of the offences had taken place at the Farooqi home – one of three properties owned outright by the family. Stating: “This is unequivocally not about punishing family members, but demonstrating that if a convicted terrorist who was planning to recruit people to kill our soldiers abroad used a property to carry out this sort of criminality that it should be seized and any monies raised use to fund the on-going fight against terrorism,”
One is the utter criminality cloaked in the guise of politics or religion by a few deranged individuals on the periphery of the Muslim community who are putting the whole community on the dock. The second is the violent response from far right activists combined with a divisive narrative from some columnists that poisons ordinary people’s mind against the Muslim community. Both are dangerous and they feed on each other. The author argues that in order to defeat this twin menace we need to be careful of our words and language; they matter, especially if they come from senior public figures. The root cause that separates people in any society is ignorance leading to fear of unknown. The local communities across the country generally get on well with one another, due to the fact that there is less ignorance of each other’s lives and more public interaction in their daily life. They are served by the local police, religious or community centres and other civic organisations. But, nationally and regionally, we very much need to find creative ways to bring our diverse people together. Pragmatic political decisions by our politicians, more constructive input from our media and judicious commentary from powerful individuals are what we need today to spread the message of realistic hope and allay the fear of the other; we all have a duty to dispel myths surrounding other communities. This needs a clear strategy and inclusive approach by people in authority – political and civil, Muslims and non-Muslims, religious and non-religious.
Damian Green, Police and Criminal Justice Minister, said men linked to sex crimes such as female genital mutilation and selling underage girls for sex must learn to obey Britain’s laws and customs. “If you come and live in 21st-century Britain then you obey the laws and observe the conventions of 21st-century Britain. And the law says that exploiting children for sexual purposes is a serious and disgusting crime,” Mr Green told The Times. He added: “The age of consent may be puberty in other parts of the world, but it is not in this country. And in this country it is not acceptable to regard anyone else as being in some way less than human because they may not share your religious views or your race. “We are all equal under the law. If you are abusing children sexually then that’s criminality and I am not prepared to accept, as a plea in mitigation, the argument that in some parts of the world this would be regarded as acceptable. It’s not acceptable in Britain in 2013.”
The sex ring in Rochdale sparked a national debate over the role of largely Asian men in grooming white girls, and what impact cultural background had on the campaign of abuse being able to continue for so long.
Police and social workers were accused of not investigating the gang for fear of being branded racist, and instead toeing a ‘politically correct’ line.
Men of Pakistani heritage are significantly over-represented among those convicted of group street-grooming crimes, according to The Times. It has also been claimed some interpretations of Islam leads men to believe what would be morally wrong with a Muslim girl is permitted with a non-Muslim victim.
Preacher, described as ‘dangerously charming’, progressed from shoplifting to turning young men into jihadists. When Mohamed Hamid had his first brush with criminality, it saw him thieving a tin of sweetcorn and a packet of fishfingers. By the time he had finished, he had become one of Britain’s most prominent recruiting sergeants for Islamist extremism.
But while the man who told once told a police officer arresting him during a row in London’s Oxford’s street that his name was “Osama Bin London” insisted he dealt only in theology, his real stock in trade was providing the ideological groundwork for terrorism.
In his early 30s, he became a crack addict. After a redemptive trip to a mosque, Hamid rediscovered a version of his faith and opened an Islamic bookshop in the Clapton area of east London as well as attending rallies at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
It was at this point that he became increasingly radical and voluble, becoming involved with the coterie surrounding notorious cleric Abu Hamza. The judge in his trial, Mr Justice Pitchers, told him: “Mohammed Hamid, you are, in my judgement, dangerous. You can be quite genuinely amusing and charming. You also have real knowledge of the Koran and Islamic teaching. However, that is only one side of you.”
“You used your charm and knowledge of the Koran to influence others to terrorism… You continue to be a danger, not directly from your own actions, but from your ability to persuade others by criminal actions to commit terrorism offences themselves.”
WASHINGTON — An FBI review of agent training material critical of Islam uncovered 876 offensive or inaccurate pages that had been used in 392 presentations, including a PowerPoint slide that said the bureau can sometimes bend or suspend the law.
The bureau has not released the material, but Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois described a few pages of it in a letter asking FBI Director Robert Mueller to institute five changes so that inappropriate FBI training on Islam doesn’t happen again. On Friday, the FBI confirmed the number of inaccurate or offensive pages and presentations.
The bureau also said the documents that are either offensive or inaccurate have been taken out of training presentations. Earlier this month, the FBI posted on its website a set of training principles which said that training must emphasize that religious expression, protest activity and the espousing of ideological beliefs “are constitutionally protected activities that must not be equated with terrorism or criminality” in the absence of other information about such offenses.
6 February 2011
In a recent interview, the Swiss Minister of Justice Simonetta Sommaruga has stated that the debate on immigration and integration in Switzerland needs to move beyond slogans such as “Foreigners Out!” or “Foreigners In!” Swiss citizens need to have a more engaged interest in politics, and not simply resort to “symbolic” initiatives, such as the minaret ban. Citizens have understandable reasons to feel uncomfortable, given globalization and a degree of criminality linked to foreigners, however the problem is especially when there is no contact between the two groups.
In general, Sommaruga states that there have been many mistakes made in past integration policies. In order to begin to correct these problems, Switzerland must not only attract more high-qualified workers, but also help less-qualified workers be more “fit” for the labor market, by encouraging integration and language-learning.
31 October 2010
The rise of right-wing populist parties in Europe is discussed in this interview with the Austrian political scientist Reinhold Gärtner. In Gärtner’s opinion, Muslims and Islam have come to be the main scapegoats in many European countries, just as Jews or Roma have been in the past. The juxtaposition of criminality, immigration, and Muslims appeals to peoples’ fears, though there is certainly a limit to this appeal.
Nonetheless, there is no single recipe for dealing with these parties. In Switzerland and Italy, integrating them into the government seems to have worked to a certain degree. Meanwhile, the case of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and its spell in government shows how this participation can also fail, as the party finds that the easy solutions which it preaches do not exist.
26 October 2010
Media commentator Rainer Stadler reminds us in this piece that migration, Islam, violence and criminality have become the daily bread and butter for the media. Whether concerning Tony Blair’s former sister-in-law, recently converted to Islam, or the ubiquitous claims of “failed integration,” the Swiss tabloid press has become more aggressive with regard to the political questions involving foreigners.
The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has recently come up with another trick: while rejecting the notion that talk show journalism has a significant effect on public debate on Tele Züri, politician Christoph Mörgeli prominently wore a tie sporting the SVP’s now-famous sheep placard (showing a black sheep getting literally kicked out of a Switzerland populated by white sheep).
26 August 2010
Bundesbank official Thilo Sarrazin faced increasing pressure from across the political spectrum due to his controversial views on Muslims and immigrants on Thursday, as calls grew for him to leave the Social Democrats (SPD) and his central bank post. Sarrazin’s new book, called Deutschland schafft sich ab – Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany – How we’re putting our country in jeopardy,” is due to be released on Monday. In the book, Sarrazin warns that Germans could become “strangers in their own country” because of integration. He plans to begin a book tour beginning next week.
“There is no other religion with such a flowing transition to violence, dictatorship, and terrorism,” he claimed, before making the equally provocative assertion that Muslim immigrants were “associated with taking advantage of social welfare state and criminality.”
Along with members of the Greens and the Left party, politicians from the conservative Christian Democrats are now calling for him to give up his seat on the central bank’s board. Members of his own party said Sarrazin was “abusing” the SPD’s name. Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the pro-business FDP party called Sarrazin’s theories “confused and unbearable.” “Germany is a country of immigration and we can be proud of the liberal values and openness of our society,” she said. The head of the Social Democrats in Berlin, Michael Müller, said it was possible the party would take new steps to kick the 65-year-old former Berlin’s finance senator out of the party. Sarrazin survived a previous attempt this year to revoke his party membership for previous controversial comments.