‘Islamic State’ is a slur on our faith, say leading Muslims

A coalition of imams and organisations representing British Muslims call on David Cameron and others to stop using phrase which they say gives credibility to a terrorist organisation. They argue that the prime minister and media should stop legitimising the terror group rampaging through Syria and Iraq by describing it as Islamic State. Use of the jihadis’ preferred title, they argue, gives credibility to the Sunni militants and slurs the Islamic faith.

Signatories to a letter to David Cameron, including Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain, admit that UK Muslims need to do more to dissuade their young men from being misled into taking part in the group’s “hatred and poison”. “We shall take every opportunity to continue to say clearly and loudly ‘not in our name’ and ‘not for our faith,’ ” they write. In a letter seen by the Observer, the signatories add: “We believe that it would send a powerful message in Britain and around the world if you would join us, as our prime minister, in leading a national debate to seek a suitable alternative way to refer to this group and further challenge its legitimacy and influence.”

We should celebrate that we are a multi-cultural nation, says Michael Gove

Britons should celebrate the fact that their country is a “multi-cultural nation”, senior Conservatives have said. The comments came after research said that the party had to do more to attract black and ethnic minority voters if they wanted to win next year’s general election. Michael Gove, the Education secretary, issued the call and suggested that Britain was a “stronger country” because of its history of immigration.

 

He said: “The answer to our problems is not to denigrate success but to celebrate it; the answer to our problems is not to chip away at wealth creators with new taxes and new burdens, but to do everything possible to liberate them to create more jobs and opportunities for all.

 

The comments from Mr Gove, who is close to Prime Minister David Cameron, were backed by other senior party members.

 

Alok Sharma MP, the Conservatives’ vice chairman for black and minority ethnic issues told has stated that people would react positively to Mr Gove’s remarks.

 

David Green, from the right of centre think-tank Civitas, said Mr Gove had confused “multi-ethnicity” with “multi-culturalism”. He said: “Michael Gove has confused a multi-cultural society with a multi-ethnic society. We have become a multi-ethnic society, but we’ve been successful because our dominant culture of freedom and democracy allows space for different lifestyles.”

Mohammad Asghar case: 28,000 people sign a petition calling for the release of the mentally ill Scot on death row in Pakistan

February 20, 2014

 

More than 28,000 people have backed a petition calling for the release of a mentally ill Scottish man sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. Demands for Mohammad Asghar to be freed on humanitarian grounds have intensified since The Independent published an open letter today from politicians, academics, human rights campaigners and Islamic scholars appealing for clemency.

Mr Asghar, who has a history of mental illness and is thought to be a paranoid schizophrenic, had been detained under the Mental Health Act in 2010 shortly before he flew to Pakistan. Once there he became caught up in a dispute with a tenant who went to the police with letters written by Mr Asghar in which he claimed to be the Prophet Mohamed.

The online petition to David Cameron and Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, urges them to “intervene in the strongest possible terms to help save the life of a vulnerable British man”. The letter’s signatories raised concerns about the failing health of the 70-year-old grandfather and urged the Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, to intervene stating: “We respectfully urge you to consider using your discretionary powers as President to pardon Mr Asghar and to allow him to be released from jail so he can receive his treatment and be reunited with his loving family.”

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mohammad-asghar-case-28000-people-sign-a-petition-calling-for-the-release-of-the-mentally-ill-scot-on-death-row-in-pakistan-9142349.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mohammad-asghar-case-an-open-letter-to-pakistan-president-mamnoon-hussain-9139630.html

David Cameron describes death of Dr Abbas Khan in Syrian prison as ‘sickening’ as doctor’s body is flown back to UK

December 22, 2013

 

David Cameron has written to the mother of a British doctor who died in custody in Syria, describing his death as “a sickening and appalling tragedy”. Dr Abbas Khan, 32, was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death this week. His relatives have said he was the victim of a political murder, but the Syrian government have called his death suicide. His body was flown back to the UK today and will undergo a post-mortem examination. In a letter dated December 20, the Prime Minister told his mother, Fatima Khan, that he and his wife Samantha were “so very sorry” to hear of her son’s death.

He branded the regime’s treatment of Dr Khan “despicable” and claimed it was “utterly unacceptable” that the UK was not able to support him.

The orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November 2012 in the ancient city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it transported his body from Damascus to the Lebanese capital Beirut, where it was received by his mother Fatima Khan and British officials.

Mrs Khan, who has “110%” refuted claims that he committed suicide, broke down in tears when the coffin arrived. Mrs Khan has categorically denied claims made by Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad that he had killed himself. In the last few days the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released, and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/david-cameron-describes-death-of-dr-abbas-khan-in-syrian-prison-as-sickening-as-doctors-body-is-flown-back-to-uk-9020741.html

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/abbas-khan-body-flown-uk

Lockerbie bombing police to visit Libya for first time

December 21, 2013

 

Following talks in Tripoli with Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan, David Cameron said officers from the Dumfries and Galloway force had been granted permission to travel to the country. “I am delighted that the Dumfries and Galloway Police team will be able to visit your country to look into the issues around the Lockerbie bombing,” he told a joint news conference.

Although police investigating the murder of WPc Yvonne Fletcher – who was killed by shots fired from the Libyan People’s Bureau in London in 1984 – have visited three times since the revolution in 2011, similar access had not previously been given to the Lockerbie team. The only person to have been convicted of the attack, Libyan agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, died last year of prostate cancer, having been released by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds after serving eight years of a life sentence.

Dumfries and Galloway Police want to investigate whether anyone else was involved in the attack, while the families of some of the victims remain convinced that it was nothing to do with Megrahi and he was an innocent man.

Two hundred and seventy people died when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21 1988 – including all 259 people on board and 11 town residents – in what remains the UK’s worst terrorist atrocity.

In December last year, the Libyan administration said it was preparing to release all files relating to the bombing.

But Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which wants an independent inquiry to look again at the conviction, dismissed the prospect of further investigations. “As far as I am concerned, the conviction was a gross miscarriage of justice and the efforts the police and Crown Office are making to locate other Libyans who may have colluded in the bringing down of Pan Am flight 103 amounts to little more than eye-wash,” he said.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/independentplus/indyplus-more-lockerbie-bombing-police-to-visit-libya-for-first-time-9020156.html

David Cameron to unveil plans for £200m Islamic bond

October 28, 2013

 

David Cameron will pledge to make London one of the world’s “great capitals of Islamic finance” when he unveils Treasury plans to create a £200m Islamic bond by early next year. The prime minister will also unveil plans by the London Stock Exchange to launch the first Islamic Market Index.

The government moved on Monday night to offer assurances that the Islamic bond, or Sukuk, and the Islamic index would not encourage investments that discriminate against Israel. Boris Johnson was forced to order Transport for London to rewrite the contract for the Emirates Thames cable car in the summer amid fears that Israeli companies could have been blocked from involvement in the project as the United Arab Emirates does not recognise the state of Israel.

A government spokesman said: “The government’s decision to issue a Sukuk compliant bond is about making sure Britain is open for business – we will not open one door at the expense of another. While the Treasury is still working on the practicalities, we can confirm that the government would never exclude a supplier on nationality grounds.”

The Sukuk bond will comply with Islamic law and investment principles that prohibit lenders from charging interest.

On the Islamic index he will say: “The growth of Islamic finance means that there is an increasing demand for new ways of identifying Islamic compliant business activities. Again the City of London is leading the way – this time not just in Europe, but right across the world.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/29/islamic-bond-david-cameron-treasury-plans

Al-Madinah free faith school expected to be closed by the government

October 17, 2013

 

A controversial free school condemned in an official report as “dysfunctional” is expected to be closed by the government by the end of the year after ministers seemingly concluded that it is beyond rescue.

As Labour claimed that Michael Gove had suffered a devastating blow to his flagship free schools policy after the Al-Madinah school in Derby was labelled by Ofsted as chaotic, David Cameron said that he would not hesitate to close it.

Lord Nash, the schools minister, indicated that the Al-Madinah school was facing closure when he warned the chair of governors that the Ofsted report had confirmed his “very serious concerns” which prompted him to order the inspectorate to bring forward its report by two months. “The report is further compelling evidence of the breaches of the funding agreement I have required you to address,” he wrote. ” I am even more convinced of the need for very decisive and urgent action on the part of the trust to comply with all your obligations and remedy the serious failings at the school.”

The school, which has been placed in special measures, will face regular inspections over the next few weeks. The education department will decide on 1 November whether to terminate the school’s funding agreement, effectively forcing it to close. The school could technically continue if it can raise funds independently although it is thought it would be unable to do so.

The closure of the first free school since the launch of Gove’s controversial new policy will mean that the 412 pupils at the school, aged between four and 16, would have to be sent to other schools in Derby.

The move will raise questions about the money that has been spent on the school that is likely to have run into the millions. The average school is given £3,500 per pupil a year plus around an extra £700 for pupils from deprived backgrounds.

A current teacher at Al-Madinah said the atmosphere in the school was tense on Thursday after it was surrounded by media asking for comment on the Ofsted report. The teacher said there was no surprise that the report was so scathing but that the media was wrong to focus on the Islamic practices at the school, such as alleged segregation of boys and girls and asking female teachers to cover their heads. “This is not about Islam at all. The problem here is poor management, poor financial management, a lack of proper governance and a lack of focus on teaching and learning – not Islam,” said the source.

The Ofsted inspectors agreed, reporting that “failures in leadership and management are at the heart of the school’s dysfunctional situation.” The inspectors placed the blame firmly at the governors’ door, saying: “Despite their commitment to the vision for the school, the governors have failed the parents of this community who have placed their trust in them.”

 

The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/17/al-madinah-free-school-faces-closure-government

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/16/faith-school-dammed-by-ofsted-dysfunctional

Moving in the right direction on Somalia

David Cameron, speaking to the BBC Breakfast show, described the reason for sending aid to countries like Somalia, was essentially to keep Somalis out of Britain. By investing, the Prime Minister claimed, “we can stop them ending up on our shores”.

However as the author critiques the prime minister he highlights that there are many better reasons for investing in Somalia than preventing immigration. We might start in 2010, when the failure of rains, coming on top of two decades of absent government, lead to a famine that over the next two years would kill 258,000 people, roughly 5 per cent of the population. Or you might instead emphasise the need to build security and quell Islamic jihadist group Al-Shabaab, who have issued threats against Britain in the past. Then again, though Mr Cameron would be loath to admit it, you could argue that the main reason we invest in Somalia is in fact to fund Islamic extremism. It was revealed this weekend that £500,000 worth of supplies from the Department for International Development has been stolen by Al-Shabaab. We’ve been here before. In 1993, so much aid was ending up in the hands of Somali militants that it contributed to the US-led ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the country, a disastrous failure which ended after Black Hawk Down.

That DfID have owned up to this latest loss, albeit quietly, is a fine thing. They must learn from it. Mo Farah (a Somali-born distance runner for great Britain recently took the 5,000m and 10,000m world title in Moscow – and is seen by some as the greatest British athlete of all time) is currently campaigning to stop Barclays shutting down its money-transfer services to Somalia, a service upon which 40 per cent of the country is said to rely and through which £100m is sent from Britain every year. Since the UK government is not perfect at helping Somalia, closing a route through which Somalis can help themselves seems crazy. Farah’s campaign should be backed to the hilt.

David Cameron: We will ‘drain the swamp’ which allows Muslim extremists to flourish

The Prime Minister told MPs he would do more to tackle the “conveyor belt to radicalisation” which is poisoning the minds of young Muslims. He told MPs: “it is not simply enough to target and go after violent extremists after they’ve become violent. We have to drain the swamp in which they inhabit.” This meant stopping young Muslims becoming radicalised on university campuses and preventing extremists from taking over Islamic centres. He said: “It means going through all of these elements of the conveyor belt to radicalisation and making sure we deal with them.” Mr Cameron added: “But it is clear that we need to do more. When young men born and bred in this country are radicalised and turned into killers, we have to ask some tough questions about what is happening in our country.”

Woolwich murder probe: suspect Michael Adebolajo held in Kenya in 2010

One of the suspects in the Woolwich murder case was arrested in Kenya in 2010, the Foreign Office has confirmed. It said Michael Adebolajo was arrested there and it gave consular assistance “as normal” in the circumstances. He was believed to have been preparing to fight with Somali militant group al-Shabab, a Kenyan government spokesman told the BBC, and was later deported. Confirmation of Michael Adebolajo’s arrest in Kenya in 2010 -preparing, according to the Kenyan authorities, to train and fight in Somalia – raises troubling questions. British security officials have had long-standing concerns about the risk of young men travelling to join the militant group, al-Shabab, and returning to pose a danger on the streets of the UK.

Earlier this month, when David Cameron hosted a conference on Somalia he said the challenges of terrorism and extremism “matter to Britain – and to the whole international community.”

So you might have expected Michael Adebolajo to have been firmly on the radar of the security services when he returned to the UK. They will now be under renewed pressure over exactly what they knew about him, and whether more could have been done to prevent the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab is affiliated to al-Qaeda and is thought to have 7,000 to 9,000 fighters. It killed 76 people in a double bomb attack in Uganda as they watched the 2010 World Cup.