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.

New imam promises improved links with community

March 13, 2014

 

Nine months after two men tried to set fire to a mosque in Gloucester, a new imam has promised to improve links with the local community. Imam Hassan is among a growing number who were born in Britain, and teach Islam in the English language.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-26557453

Best Buy commercial points way to greater Muslim acceptance

January 24, 2014
(RNS) Viewers watching the American Football Conference championship game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots earlier this month may have seen a Best Buy commercial for a Sharp 60-inch television that seemed ordinary, but in one way was extraordinary.
The ad shows a young, clean-shaven salesman named Mustafa talking about the television, advising customers and relaxing at home watching movies and football with his friends.

“I’m never going to get these guys out of here,” he jokes to his girlfriend at the end.
While the commercial never identifies Mustafa as a Muslim, many might assume that given his name, a diminutive for Muhammad. For viewers used to seeing negative images of Muslims on television, the commercial was a rare exception.

“He has all the right stuff,” said Timothy de Waal Malefyt, a longtime advertising executive who now teaches at Fordham University in New York. “He has a girlfriend. He has Anglo friends. And he’s watching ‘Despicable Me’ and football. It’s very American.”

Muslims in commercials are still rare, but that could be changing as the acceptance of Muslims accelerates across America.

The Best Buy commercial, scheduled to run through Feb. 1, sparked a flurry of Twitter chatter after it debuted.

Best Buy spokesman Jeffrey Shelman said the ad featured actual Best Buy employees, chosen based on their tech knowledge and on-camera performance. As for Mustafa, he works one day a week at Best Buy’s El Segundo, Calif., store.

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/24/best-buy-commercial-points-way-greater-muslim-acceptance/

Tucker Carlson Confronts Islamic Preacher Who Wants to Implement Sharia Law

December 20, 2013

By Josh Feldman

 

Tucker Carlson filled in for Sean Hannity on his show Friday night, and he brought on Anjem Choudary, a Muslim preacher responsible for an effort to threaten Muslim-owned business to stop selling alcohol lest they receive 40 lashes. Carlson confronted Choudary about this stunt and his desire to implement Sharia law in England.

Choudary pushed back against Western “propaganda,” saying he is simply trying to encourage the following of Islamic law in a “den of iniquity.” Carlson shot back, “This isn’t Pakistan, this is Great Britain!”

He continued on to say that “troublemakers like you are thrown in prison in Pakistan,” and called him out for being a beneficiary of social services in the country he’s condemning as decadent. Choudary said the legal notice is actually “intended to provoke discussion” and warn of ultimate punishment in the afterlife.

Carlson concluded by asking, “Will you concede that your unwillingness to denounce violence makes your program repulsive to people in the West and decent people everywhere?” Choudary insisted that “we’re not threatening anyone with violence.”

 

Mediaite.com: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/tucker-carlson-confronts-islamic-preacher-who-wants-to-implement-sharia-law/

Almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, census figures show

January 10, 2014

 

Census figures reveal a ‘startling’ shift in Britain’s demographic trend with almost a tenth of babies and toddlers born in England and Wales being Muslim. The percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population. Less than one in 200 over 85s are Muslims – an indication of the extent to which birth rate is changing the UK’s religious demographic.

The figures show there were 3.5 million children aged 0-4 of whom 320,000 were Muslim. That proportion is more than nine per cent and compares with a total Muslim population among all age groups of less than five per cent.

Professor David Coleman, Professor of Demography at the University of Oxford said: “We have had substantial immigration of Muslims for a long time. Continuing immigration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India has been added to by new immigration from African countries and from the Middle East. Birth rates of Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin remain quite high, although falling. There seem to be very low levels of falling away from religion among Muslims.”

Christians remain the largest religious group among those aged 0-4, at 1.5 million, 43 per cent.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/one-in-ten-children-under-five-in-england-and-wales-is-from-a-muslim-family-census-figures-show-9050293.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10562574/Almost-a-tenth-of-babies-and-toddlers-in-England-and-Wales-are-Muslim-census-figures-show.html

Female genital mutilation ‘rising in soft-touch Scotland’

November 15, 2013

 

A BBC investigation has revealed concerns that young girls are being brought to Scotland to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) because the country is seen as a “soft touch”. Agencies claim that families from England and Europe have travelled to Scotland to have their daughters cut. They also said girls living in Glasgow and Edinburgh have undergone FGM in Scotland and the problem is increasing.

UK legislation to criminalise FGM was introduced in 1985 but since then there has not been a single prosecution. Scottish legislation in 2005 made it illegal to take girls abroad to conduct the practice. New Scottish government figures, seen by the BBC, revealed that between 1997 and 2011, 2,403 girls were born in Scotland to a mother from an FGM-practicing country.

The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests about FGM to each of Scotland’s 32 local councils and 14 health boards. The majority of health boards were unable to say how many cases they had encountered. Less than a third of the 32 councils had specific local guidelines on FGM and less than 10 cases had been referred to social work.

Anela Anwar, of Scottish charity Roshni, said: “Because Scotland has been lacking somewhat in a prosecutions, families are coming up from England and Wales into Scotland to have the practice carried out and that is certainly concerning if Scotland is now being viewed as a place that doesn’t take the issue of female genital mutilation seriously.”

Fatou Baldeh, of the Dignity Alert and Research Forum (DARF) in Edinburgh said: “The UK is behind and among the UK, Scotland is very poor in tackling FGM and supporting victims.”

She added: “Because it’s getting expensive to take a daughter back home and circumcise or mutilate them, women are putting together money and bringing over someone who can cut the girls and it’s cheaper.”

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) set up a national FGM helpline this year, and over the course of the first three months, there were 102 calls relating to girls at risk of FGM.

 

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24915967

 

Christianity at risk of extinction in areas of persecution, says Warsi

November 15, 2013

 

Christianity is in danger of extinction in some countries because of persecution in areas where its followers are in the minority, a British government minister has said. Christians were being driven out of regions in countries such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root, said Lady Warsi, who has responsibility for faith communities.

She raised her concerns and called on politicians in countries such as Pakistan to “set the tone” for tolerance of religious minorities. Lady Warsi told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I’m concerned that the birthplace of Christianity, the parts of the world where Christianity first spread, is now seeing large sections of the Christian community leaving, and those that are remaining feeling persecuted.

She said 83% of countries had constitutions guaranteeing freedom of religion, but did not implement those provisions. “There’s an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights Council resolution on the treatment of minorities and tolerance towards other faiths. But we need to build political will behind that.

Asked whether Lady Warsi’s warning of the possible extinction of some Christian communities was correct, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told Today: “I think in some parts of the Middle East that is probably true.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/15/christianity-risk-extinction-persecution-minority-warsi

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/persecution-threatens-extinction-of-christianity-in-ancient-homelands-warns-baroness-warsi-8941249.html

Report: A million British Muslims reject extremists on poppy wearing

November 7, 2013

 

One million British Muslims support wearing a poppy to mark Remembrance Day, showing just how marginal the views of “anti-poppy” extremists like Anjem Choudary are, writes Steve Ballinger.

Figures from the latest Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES), in an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) study published by the Oxford University Press, show that over half of Pakistanis and 46% of Bangladeshis in Britain say that they wear the poppy to mark Remembrance Day.

Using figures from the 2011 Census in England and Wales, British Future calculates that these findings equate to approximately 800,000 poppy wearers from these two communities alone, who make up two-thirds of Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims. This figure grows to over a million once the remainder of Britain’s Muslim community is considered, based on the EMBES study’s findings on poppy wearing among African, Indian and other British ethnic minority communities.

The figures show just how marginal the views of extremists like Anjem Choudary really are, with significant numbers of British Muslims supporting the wearing of poppies as an act of remembrance at this time of year.

The figures come as Muslim leaders joined Imams and the London Faith Forum this week to urge more British Muslims to wear poppies and support Remembrance Day.

They want to drown out the marginal views of extremists like Choudary, who in a statement this week said that those who sell poppies today will “burn in hellfire tomorrow.”

 

British Future: http://www.britishfuture.org/articles/news/million-british-muslims-reject-extremists-on-poppy-wearing/

Veils in court: judges to be given guidance, says lord chief justice

November 5, 2013

 

The most senior judge in England and Wales has disclosed plans to launch a consultation on whether veils can be worn in court as he warned the issue had become highly divisive.

At his first press conference since taking up his judicial post last month, the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, also suggested that in future criminal defendants might be able to take part in preliminary hearings from home via Skype or FaceTime video systems on their computers.

The former justice secretary, Ken Clarke, at the weekend stirred the controversy over the niqab by declaring that a fair trial could not take place if a defendant is “in a kind of bag”. In September, a judge ruled a Muslim woman would be allowed to stand trial while wearing a full-face veil but said she must remove it while giving evidence.

Thomas said: “The best way for dealing with this matter is to make a practice direction … The basic principle will be that it must be for the judge in any case to make his own or her own decision but we will give clear guidance.

Asked if he envisaged defendants appearing from home, he said: “I can see it happening for pre-trial hearings – whether one could go any further would depend – but certainly pre-trial hearing stage is one place we have to make changes.” We have to look at solutions that are innovative and will bring down the cost of litigation because we can’t afford to go on as we once did.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/05/veils-court-judges-skype-lord-chief-justice

Book review: ‘I Am Malala’ by Malala Yousafzai

October 11, 2013

 

Marie Arana is the author of the memoir “American Chica” and the biography “Bolivar: American Liberator.” She was also a scriptwriter for the recently released film about education in the Third World, “Girl Rising.”

Malala tells of that life-shattering moment in a riveting memoir, “I Am Malala,” published this past week even as she was being cited as a possible candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-written with Christina Lamb, a veteran British journalist who has an evident passion for Pakistan and can render its complicated history with pristine clarity, this is a book that should be read not only for its vivid drama but for its urgent message about the untapped power of girls.

The story begins with Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the son of an imam (a preacher of Islam), who was instilled from boyhood with a deep love of learning, an unwavering sense of justice and a commitment to speak out in defense of both. Like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, Ziauddin was convinced that aside from the sword and the pen, there is an even greater power — that of women — and so, when his firstborn turned out to be a bright, inquisitive daughter, he raised her with all the attention he lavished on his sons.

Malala was born in 1997, as her father was struggling to found his school against a sea of troubles: a deeply corrupt government official to whom he refused to pay bribes; a mufti who lived across the way and objected to the education of girls, a practice he denounced as haram, or offensive to Islam; and the vicissitudes of a fierce jihad, visited upon them from time to time in Taliban raids that evolved from harsh rhetoric to outright killings. By the time Malala was 10 and the top student in her father’s surprisingly flourishing school, radical Talibs had penetrated the valley all the way to the capital of Islamabad and were beheading Pakistani police, holding their severed heads high on the roadsides.

We know how this story ends, with a 15-year-old child taking a bullet for a whole generation. It is difficult to imagine a chronicle of a war more moving, apart from perhaps the diary of Anne Frank. With the essential difference that we lost that girl, and by some miracle, we still have this one. Disfigured beyond recognition by her assailant’s gun, Malala was rushed to Peshawar, then Rawalpindi and finally to Birmingham, England, where doctors reconstructed her damaged skull and knit back the shattered face. But her smile would never be quite the same.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-i-am-malala-by-malala-yousafzai/2013/10/11/530ba90a-329a-11e3-9c68-1cf643210300_story.html