Muslim woman ‘has face veil ripped off in racist attack’ outside London university

A Muslim woman from a university’s Islamic society was racially abused and had her face veil ripped off in a “disgusting” attack outside campus buildings, it is claimed.

The group of students were running a stall outside the Strand campus of King’s College London as part of its Discover Islam week yesterday afternoon at 1pm when they were confronted by two men.

In an altercation lasting around 30 minutes, one woman had her niqab pulled away and suffered a string of racist taunts, it has been claimed.

One of the students running the stall wrote on Facebook afterwards that she was “absolutely sickened” by the “disgusting display of racism and Islamophobia”.

Speaking on behalf of the women, Hareem Ghani, a member of the university’s Islamic Society, said the men kept asking: “Why are you wearing that on your face?”

Ms Ghani said: “It escalated from there and one of them reached out to the sisters and pulled off her niqab.

“Security were called but they only responded 15 minutes afterwards.”

New French Report Shows Rise in Attacks on Muslims, Sustained Targeting of Jews amid rising tolerance (report)

May 6, 2016

France’s National Human Rights Commission (CNCDH) recently released a report on the fight against racism in France. The CNCDH reported 429 anti-Muslim threats and attacks in 2015 – a striking 223 percent increase from the previous year, and 808 antisemitic threats and attacks in 2015 – a five percent decrease from the previous year.

The reported surge in anti-Muslim threats and attacks is attributable in large part to backlash from the terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists in France last year—most notably, the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January, and the Paris attacks in November. The attacks and consequent backlash fall within a bigger picture in which extremism is often fostered by exclusion and discrimination against French Muslims.

The CNCDH’s troubling figures are consistent with a Human Rights First report released in January, Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Countering Antisemitism and Extremism in France, which explores how antisemitic violence, left unchecked, leads to the persecution of other minorities and an overall increase in repression and intolerance. The findings suggest that the cycle of violence where hate is met with hate has widespread negative consequences.

All people are equally endowed with fundamental rights and freedoms, and the French government is responsible for respecting and protecting these rights for Jews, Muslims, and other groups alike. This is one of the reasons Human Rights First monitors the increasing power of far-right political parties and warns against their intolerant rhetoric as a significant immediate threat to minority groups.

Although Human Rights First is heartened by any decrease in antisemitic attacks, the five percent decrease that CNCDH reports should not yet be assessed as a positive trend in combating antisemitism. The overall level is still high. The 808 antisemitic attacks in 2015 account for 40 percent of all racist actions in that year. Yet the Jewish population accounts for only one percent of the total population. The French government should remain vigilant in its mission to combat antisemitism, in addition to the growing Islamophobia. Elected representatives and civil society should be better equipped to speak out against all hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents.

Addressing the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism in March, U.S. Special Envoy Ira Forman encouraged European governments to adopt a working definition of antisemitism as a tool with which to equip policy makers and civil society in order to more effectively identify and punish antisemitic acts. As anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise, Human Rights First urges European governments to address the severity of the situation for both Jews and Muslims, and to equip civil society with the skills and resources to better identify, respond, and speak out against hate-motivated attacks on all religious minorities.

Human Rights First encourages continued reporting on hate crimes and appreciates the work of CNCDH and other efforts by the French government to shed light on the gravity of the issue in France today. It is important to have accurate and up-to-date data to inform policy decisions. The reporting of racist, hate-motivated crimes is the first step to combating their prevalence.

Link to Report:Racisme 2015 Report

French PM calls for ban on Islamic headscarves at universities

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has sparked controversy by suggesting the Muslim headscarf should be banned in universities and that a majority of French people think Islam is incompatible with the values of the Republic.

The Socialist, under pressure over contested labour reforms and growing street protest movements, reopened the divisive question of whether students could be banned from wearing headscarves at French universities.

In a long interview with the daily Libération, he was asked whether headscarves should be banned by law from universities and replied: “It should be done,” conceding that the constitution made it difficult.

But other Socialist ministers immediately contradicted him. “There is no need for a law on the headscarf at university,” said Thierry Mandon, the higher education minister. He said students were adults, and as such they “have every right to wear a headscarf. The headscarf is not banned in French society.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the education minister, said she did not support banning headscarves from universities, adding that students were young adults with “freedom of conscience and religious liberty” to do as they please. “Our universities also have a lot of foreign students. Are we going to ban them access because in their culture there’s a certain type of clothing?” she said.

In the past, figures on the right, including the former president Nicolas Sarkozy, have suggested headscarves should be banned from higher education.

But university leaders have consistently expressed strong opposition to any ban, saying students should be able to do as they please and that discriminating against students in headscarves is illegal.

The issue of Islamic head coverings has long been a highly contentious political issue in France, which has some of the hardest-hitting legislation on headscarves in Europe. In 2004 it banned girls from wearing headscarves in state schools, along with other religious symbols such as crosses or turbans. In 2011, Sarkozycontroversially banned the niqab (a full-face Muslim veil) from all public places. State workers in the public service must by law be impartial and neutral, and so cannot show their religious belief with an outward symbol such as a headscarf.

In December last year, the French national consulting body, the Observatory of Secularism, found it would be “neither useful, nor appropriate” to legislate on the wearing of religious symbols – including headscarves – at universities.

Valls also came under fire for telling Libération: “I would like us to be able to demonstrate that Islam, a great world religion and the second religion of France, is fundamentally compatible with the Republic, democracy, our values and equality between men and women.”

Asked if he was therefore implying that Islam had so far not shown itself to be compatible with French society and values, he said: “Certain people don’t want to believe it, a majority of French citizens doubt it, but I’m convinced that it’s possible.”

Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory on Islamophobia and a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, expressed exasperation that the prime minister was suggesting Muslims in France had not already demonstrated that their religion was totally compatible with life in France.

“We’re fed up of being stigmatised … [and] of this populist discourse which is worse than the far-right,” he told BFM TV.

Patrick Mennuci, a Socialist MP in the Bouches-du-Rhone, tweeted of Valls’s comments on the headscarf in universities: “Why open a debate that doesn’t exist? Let’s concentrate on real problems.”

A Twitter hashtag sprung up called #VraisProblemesUniversite (real problems at University) in which people suggested issues that were more important to debate.

With only a year to go until the 2017 French presidential election, François Hollande’s Socialist government, headed by Valls, is under increasing criticism from both the right and the left. Opposition to labour reforms has led to the government to back-track in order to attempt to appease young people after students and high-school unions took to the streets to protest.

Hollande’s poll ratings have dropped dramatically and he is now the least popular French president on record, with some on the broader left raising doubts over whether he can successively run again for another presidential term next year. The tough-talking Valls, once a popular interior minister, has also seen his popularity drop to its lowest levels, with an approval rating of 22% in a recent Elabe poll for LesEchos.

Since the Paris attacks in November, the Socialist government has led a hard line on security, surveillance and justice issues. Valls, a former mayor of the town of Evry outside Paris, recently warned that radical Salfists were“winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France. He said Salafists represented one percent of Muslims in France but their “message” was the only one that ended up being heard.

CAIR Leader Pictured on ISIS Hit List of Western Muslims

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/13/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on federal and state law enforcement authorities to offer protection to American Muslims, includingCAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad, on a hit list of Muslim leaders in the West published today by the terror group ISIS.

In the latest issue of its online magazine Dabiq, ISIS lists a number of Muslim leaders and activists in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia to be targeted. CAIR’s Awad is pictured in the article about the hit list, but is not named specifically.

Awad may have come to the attention of ISIS because of CAIR’s repeated condemnation of the terror group and because he coordinated the release of a 2014 open letter signed by more than 120 international scholars of Islam and Muslim leaders refuting ISIS’s ideology.

CAIR, along with the Fiqh Council of North America and a number of national and local Muslim scholars and leaders, released that letter at a National Press Club news conference in Washington, D.C.

In a statement reacting to being pictured on the ISIS hit list, Awad said:

“Our life and death are in the hands of God.

“I believe this threat is a reflection of the outstanding work CAIR does in opposing the anti-Islamic message and brutal actions of ISIS and other terror groups.

“The best response to such threats is to continue challenging extremism, whether it is espoused by organizations like ISIS or by Islamophobes who seek to demonizeIslam based on that group’s brutality.

“When extremists of all stripes attack our efforts to promote tolerance and mutual understanding, we know our work is having a positive impact.

“It is incumbent on state and federal law enforcement authorities to provide protection to American Muslim leaders who seek to counter ISIS’s message of hate.”

Awad said CAIR has reached out to appropriate government agencies.

CAIR and other American Muslim organizations have consistently and repeatedly condemned terrorism in all its forms, including that carried out by ISIS.

 

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

To request legal assistance from CAIR’s Civil Rights Department, fill out the intake form at:https://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.html

Two Projects Share a Goal: Challenge Stereotypes of Islam and Arabs

Those who visit “Wondrous Worlds: Art and Islam Through Time and Place” at the Newark Museum may also be interested in a screening of “A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans,” an award-winning documentary currently on the festival and screenings circuit.

Then again, they may not be.

Grouping together Islam and the Arab-American experience is precisely what the curators of the exhibition and the executive producer of “A Thousand and One Journeys” hope people will not do.

Myth-busting is a goal of both undertakings, whose paths converge only in that they hope to engage New Jersey audiences.

In addition to the misguided notion that all Arabs are Muslim, Mr. Kasbo addresses other pet-peeve fallacies in the film, including the idea that Arab-Americans come from unsophisticated cities.

“Aleppo is as cosmopolitan as New York, but people think it’s backwoods. It’s ridiculous,” he said of Syria’s largest — and currently war-torn — city.

Muslim House Candidate Says Reid Told Him Not to Run

WASHINGTON — A Democrat running for Congress in Nevada claimed Tuesday that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid discouraged him from running because he is Muslim.

Jesse Sbaih said the comments from his fellow Nevada Democrat came during a meeting the two of them had at a Las Vegas casino last August to discuss Sbaih’s candidacy.

Sbaih said that Reid told him that, “to be blunt,” his Muslim religion would preclude him from winning the race.

Reid’s spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman, denied the allegation and accused Sbaih of lying. “Reid told him he couldn’t win but that had nothing to do with his religion, this is now Jesse’s version of events,” Orthman said.

Campaign Rhetoric on Muslims Harms U.S. Security Efforts: Homeland Security Chief

WASHINGTON — Harsh rhetoric about Muslims by Republican candidates in the U.S. presidential election campaign is undermining national security efforts, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday.

Asked about comments by Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Johnson told MSNBC in an interview that singling out a specific community hampers government efforts to build the connections needed to thwart possible attacks.

“Inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,” he said.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, called for police to patrol American Muslim neighborhoods following the Brussels bombings. Billionaire businessman Trump has continued his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The rhetoric has polarized the U.S. electorate and prompted criticism, particularly from Democrats, including President Barack Obama.

The incredibly gracious way Muslims welcomed a man who had drunkenly shot their mosque

Ted Hakey, a former Marine, knelt in prayer, his forehead on the floor, beside his Muslim neighbors inside their Connecticut mosque last Saturday. The enormity of that gesture was lost on no one.

It was only several months earlier, on the night of the terror attacks in Paris, when Hakey, 48, went to a local bar and downed 10 drinks. In the early morning, he went home, drank some more and loaded his 9mm handgun and an M14 rifle. He went into his yard and fired rounds at the side of the mosque next door.

But rather than hate him back, Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque, wished he had been a better neighbor by making an effort to get to know Hakey and his wife. Perhaps then, he reasoned, Hakey would not have harbored so much anger.

A fencing mask hid her hijab. Now, this U.S. Olympian wants to be heard, and seen

One of the most prominent faces and impassioned voices of this summer’s U.S. Olympic team will be hidden behind a mask. There’s irony there, for sure. The mask, after all, is what attracted Ibtihaj Muhammad to fencing in the first place.

Muhammad tried other sports: volleyball, softball, tennis. The other kids teased her for looking different, for wearing a headscarf called a hijab on her head while competing. “I wanted to find a sport where I could be fully covered and I didn’t have to look different,” she said. She gravitated toward fencing because the mask was the great equalizer: Slip it on and all competitors look the same.  Accustomed to anti-Muslim attitudes, she tries to avoid hateful social media messages as best she can and is particularly cautious when traveling. But when she encounters bluster about where Muslims should or shouldn’t live, it’s tougher to tune out — or make sense of.