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.”

 

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

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, Muslim Communities Secretary Sajid Javid argues that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism.

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.

Manchester mosque organises ‘peace walk’ with children and families

The North Manchester Jamia Mosque organised a ‘peace walk’ to show Muslim revolution at terrorist attacks in the name of Islam and to respond to criticism that the Muslim community has not done enough to combat extremism.

The march was in response to the terrorist attack in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. The targeting of children in this attack was particularly important to the organisers of the march, so many Muslim children marched in response. Hundreds of families participated. The march concluded with a vigil and flower-laying at the area outside of the Manchester Arena.

Quebec Mosque Attack Forces Canadians to Confront a Strain of Intolerance

QUEBEC — In a world often hostile to migration, Canada has stood out, welcoming thousands of refugees fleeing war and seeking a haven. It has been a feel-good time for Canada, proud of its national tolerance.

On Sunday, that was upended when a man walked into a mosque and started shooting, killing six people and wounding eight. The man accused of being the gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, was charged with six counts of murder on Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an act of terrorism, and there was a collective outpouring of remorse and empathy. But the attack also forced Canadians to confront a growing intolerance and extremism that has taken root particularly among some people in this French-speaking corner of the country.

“Certainly Islamophobia has been increasing for some time,” Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said by telephone from Montreal.

But he said the attack was nonetheless shocking. “It is overwhelming, unthinkable,” he said.

Muslim cleric banned in Pakistan is preaching in UK mosques

A Pakistani Muslim cleric who celebrated the murder of a popular politician is in Britain on a speaking tour of mosques. The news has alarmed social cohesion experts who fear such tours are promoting divisions in the Muslim community.

Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri has been banned from preaching in Pakistan because his sermons are considered too incendiary. However, he is due to visit a number of English mosques, in heavily promoted events where he is given star billing.

Qadri publicly praises Mumtaz Qadri who in 2011 murdered his employer, Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani politician who spoke out against the country’s blasphemy laws. Qadri was executed earlier this year but to his tens of thousands of supporters he remains a hero who defended their interpretation of Islam.

Mumtaz Qadri was a key influence on Tanveer Ahmed, the Bradford taxi driver who in March stabbed to death Asad Shah. Shah, a member of the Ahmadi Muslim community who ran a convenience shop in Glasgow, was targeted after messages he put out on social media including an Easter greeting to Christians.

His was one of several recent high profile murders in which a Muslim from one community was killed by a Muslim from another community for holding what they considered to be “blasphemous” views. In February, a former Sufi imam in Rochdale was murdered by two Islamic State supporters whom they claimed was practising “black magic”. In May, a Sufi Muslim leader was hacked to death near the north Bangladeshi town of Rajshahi in what police said was an attack by Islamic extremists.

Qadri, considered by many scholars to hold moderate views except on blasphemy, was due to speak at the Falkirk Central mosque in Scotland, but his invitation was withdrawn after a public outcry. However, the Observer has established that he is due to appear at several mosques in England.

The Sunday Post in Scotland reported that Qadri has been labelled a “firebrand” by the authorities in Karachi and barred from preaching his incendiary sermons. He was accused of acting in a manner “prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order”. He was banned from addressing crowds in October, according to a legal document seen by the Post.

Haras Rafiq, chief executive of the Quilliam Foundation, said Qadri was the type of preacher who presented new challenges for promoting cohesion in Britain’s Muslim community.

“These are people who may not be extremist in the way that we know Isis or Boko Haram are extremist,” Rafiq said. “But when they apply the blasphemy law to justify the killing of other Muslims for not being the right Muslims then we have a huge challenge. Anybody who supports the murder of another person is dangerous.”

‘Political correctness’ allowing Islamist extremism to flourish in British prisons, report warns

Political correctness in prisons is allowing extremism to flourish because guards are too afraid of confronting Muslims, a report has found.

A review into Islamist extremism in the British justice system has found that “cultural sensitivity” towards Muslim prisoners is preventing staff “challenging unacceptable extremist behaviour and views”.

The report, by Ian Acheson, a former prison governor, warns that supervising staff are being “pressured” to leave prayer rooms during collective worship.

Islamist prisoners are also attempting to prevent searches by “claiming dress is religious” and are also getting access to extremist literature that is available in chaplaincy libraries or from individual prisoners.

Mr Acheson’s report concluded that extremists are “exploiting…staff fear of being labelled racist”.

It also warned that “charismatic Islamist extremist prisoners [are] acting as self-styled ‘emirs’ and exerting a controlling and radicalising influence of the wider Muslim prison population”.

The Government has said that it will implement a number of the report’s recommendations.

Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary, has already announced that the most dangerous extremists will be locked up in isolated high-security prisons within prisons to prevent them from radicalising other inmates.

On Monday, she will also announce that governors and prison officers will be given new training to “prevent influential extremist prisoners exerting control and radicalising others”.

Scrutiny of the issue resurfaced last week when it was revealed that Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s most prominent Islamist clerics, faces years in jail for drumming up support for Islamic State.

Choudary, one of the UK’s most notorious hate preachers, was convicted earlier this year. He will serve 10 years in jail after being found guilty of pledging allegiance to Islamic State.

French burkini ban sparks debate in UK

The ban on the burkini swimsuit on French beaches has triggered disdain in English-speaking countries, where outlawing religion-oriented clothing is viewed as hampering integration.

Commentators have condemned the ban as an absurdity, and one questioned how a burkini could be more offensive than “middle-aged bum crack” bursting out from Western beachwear.

Experts said the debate raised questions about the French one-size-fits-all model of integration.

In Britain, the full-face veil is not an uncommon sight in towns and districts with big Muslim populations, but does not stir as strong a reaction as in France.

Defenders of the policy say a common arena without religious connotations helps avoid sectarian conflicts and encourages equality.

As a result, the burkini — like the burqa before it — has come under fire in France. Some say it channels radical Islam and oppresses women.

“It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on enslavement of women,” French PM Manuel Valls said of the burkini.

Such views are contested in Britain on the grounds of tolerance.

Britain’s best-known example of burkini-wearing was not by a Muslim but by TV chef Nigella Lawson, who hit the headlines in 2011 when she wore a black version of it on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.

A BBC look at the issue found women in Britain speaking in favour of the burkini and saying it aided integration.

“The burkini allows me the freedom to swim and go on the beach, and I don’t feel I am compromising my beliefs,” Aysha Ziauddin told the broadcaster.

Maryam Ouiles said: “It’s outrageous that you would effectively be asked to uncover some flesh or leave. People are always complaining that Muslims should integrate more, but when we join you for a swim that’s not right either.”

Commentator David Aaronovitch said only warped minds would impose a burkini ban.

“The idea that full-length clothing provokes attacks on the wearer displays a poisonous logic,” he said.

“No problems are solved by this French absurdity. Only new ones created.”

Valls explains ‘pact’ he wants to build with Islam in France

Prime Minister Manuel Valls advocated the construction of a pact with the Islam of France aimed to join forces to combat the phenomenon of radicalization. In an interview with the weekly Journal de Dimanche, Valls estimated that “Islam has found its place within the Republic”, but with the rise of extremism we have the urgency to “build a true covenant.”

Referring to radicalization, he said that “this infernal mechanical pushes individuals, sometimes very young- men, women, Muslim or converted recently- to take up weapons and use them against their countries.”

The French authorities have been concerned for months about the increasing level of radicalization in a part of the population, especially the youths, a phenomenon that is evident in the increasing travels to the Middle East to join terrorist groups like IS.

However, other analysts draw attention to the socio-economic conditions leading to radicalization, since there is a large group of socially marginalized youths in France and Europe.

Halal food tax proposed in France to fund mosques

Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), outlined plans for a new foundation that would help reduce foreign benefactors amid concerns over extremism.

The idea has been supported by politicians on both the right and left, although there are doubts where such a tax could be implemented.

“The idea has existed since the CFCM was founded,” Kbibech said.

“We have reached the first step with the signing with of a religious framework in the CFCM’s halal charter, which defines the criteria of halal in France.

“In autumn we will discuss the second part, which is the financial contribution of halal organisations to worship.”

The money raised would go towards paying imams’ salaries and funding the construction and operation of mosques, which cannot receive state support under French law.

The proposal came after Manuel Valls called for a ban on foreign funding for Muslim places of worship amid concerns over extremism following a string of terror attacks.

“There needs to be a thorough review to form a new relationship with French Islam,” he said.

“We live in a changed era and we must change our behaviour. This is a revolution in our security culture…the fight against radicalisation will be the task of a generation.”

Nathalie Goulet, a French senator for Orne who conducted a report on the issue, said the creation of a central and transparent foundation was a priority but cast doubt on a halal tax.

“Legally, it is not possible to reduce a tax on a religious item,” she said.

“And technically, a ‘halal tax’ would be impossible to implement because there is no unity around the concept of halal.

“What would be possible is that representatives of the religion themselves introduce a private fee for service at the time of slaughter, to be set by the community, collected and sent to the foundation.”

There has been continued controversy over the sale of halal food in France, with a supermarket in Colombes ordered to sell pork and alcohol or face closure this week.

Why Zac Goldsmith’s “extremism” attacks on Sadiq Khan were wrong

As the dust settles on Sadiq Khan’s victory in London’s mayoral election, attentions are turning to Zac Goldsmith’s campaign and his aggressive focus on his rival’s past encounters with Muslim hardliners. A Guardian op-ed under the headline “Forgive and forget Zac Goldsmith’s racist campaign? No chance” has been shared some 25,000 times. In the Spectator, Toby Young argued: “Zac Goldsmith has nothing to be ashamed of”. Both pieces make some good and some bad points. But I sympathise more with the first. Here is why.

To begin, some concessions. Elections are a rough-and-tumble business. Candidates should expect their characters and suitability for office to be challenged; their weaknesses to be daubed in primary colours on 10-meter high billboards. And within reason, that is good. It flushes out bad ideas and unsuitable candidates for the benefit of an electorate that has better things to do than worry about the nuances of their every policy.

The themes on which Mr Goldsmith so contentiously challenged Mr Khan are hardly irrelevant. In the past year Islamist terror attacks have hit the two European capitals closest to London. Labour clearly has ingrained problems of anti-Semitism and has form when it comes to tolerating conservative practices (like gender-segregated civic events) among its British Muslim supporters. And it is true that Mr Khan has links to certain reactionary Muslims, some of whom have expressed extremist views. His new role gives him influence over London’s schools, the front-line of the government’s anti-radicalisation “Prevent” strategy. It also gives him oversight of the Met police, as well as powers of patronage and discretionary spending which Ken Livingstone, his Labour predecessor, deployed in part to the benefit of conservative Muslims.

Yet to be valid and responsible, Tory “questions” about Mr Khan’s connections needed to do three things. Given the tensions surrounding the subject, each had to kill any suggestion that Labour’s candidate sympathised with extremism. Each needed to specify in clear and concrete terms how his past encounters affected his suitability to be mayor. And each needed an appropriate degree of prominence in a Conservative campaign that had, itself, big questions to answer about its man’s plans for transport, housing and policing.

Mr Goldsmith failed each one of these tests. First, he played up ambiguities as to what, precisely, his rival had done wrong. When pushed, he insisted that he was not trying to portray Britain’s most prominent Muslim politician as an extremist. Yet his campaign seemed to imply as much. By routinely calling Mr Khan a “radical” it blurred the Labour candidate’s support for Jeremy Corbyn, his party’s far-left leader, with his links in British Islam. A spoof Tory leaflet published in the Private Eye, a satirical magazine, captured the “I’m not racist, but…” character of these insinuations: “Think about it. Funny name, Khan, isn’t it?” The Conservative candidate was surely too worldly not to have realised how reckless this was, at a time when political outfits from the Trump campaign to the AfD in Germany were questioning Muslims’ basic compatibility with Western democracies and societies.

Second, the Goldsmith campaign failed to pin down what this had to do with Mr Khan’s suitability to be mayor. The claims it raised publicly (and the more lurid ones it quietly briefed to journalists) fall into three categories. Some had to do with his background as a civil liberties lawyer; like his links to Suliman Gani, a radical imam, his “association” with whom included angry clashes over gay marriage and Mr Khan’s involvement in a bid to boot Mr Gani out of his mosque. Other crimes like having a sibling-in-law who had flirted with conservative Islam—a transgression of which Tony Blair is also guilty—pointed to Mr Khan’s Muslim family background. The third category involved his characteristic blend, hardly unique among politicians, of naiveté and electoral opportunism. Into this final basket can be counted his role on the not-impeccable Muslim Council of Britain, his defence of Recep Ergodan’s Turkey and even those unproven suggestions that he played up his Liberal Democrat opponent’s Ahmadi (a persecuted minority within Sunni Islam) identity when fighting to keep his south-London parliamentary seat in 2010. Instead of differentiating between examples, or offering their own additional categories, Mr Goldsmith’s campaigners ground them together into a rough paste of “unanswered questions” and “extremist associations” that that they smeared all over Mr Khan.

Third, Mr Goldsmith gave such observations an undue prominence in his campaign, especially towards the end. London house-prices are on track to hit £1m by 2030 and are wrecking the capital’s social mix. On this, the Tory candidate had nothing substantive to say. On transport and policing his offer was almost as inadequate. But he seemed obsessed with Mr Khan’s relationship with his co-religionists; devoting his giant op-ed in the last Mail on Sunday before the election not to any of the bread-and-butter problems affecting Londoners but to a garbled mess of an argument that smudged together Mr Corbyn’s economic leftism, Labour’s anti-Semitism problem (of which the party’s candidate for the London mayoralty had been perhaps the foremost critic) and Mr Khan’s background, faith and personal traits.

There is a broader point here. Politicians are human and thus possess hinterlands, blind spots and inconsistencies. By definition they have an overdeveloped appetite for approval that prompts them to feign sympathy, delve into parts of society where they would not otherwise venture and humour certain audiences when they ought to avoid or upbraid them. How many Conservative or Labour candidates, confronted on the doorstep by an elderly voter ranting about “the coloureds”, would call him what he is—a racist—to his face? Moreover, no politician can exist in a hermetically sealed vacuum. Britons broadly accept that in their rulers. Some politicians have wealthy backgrounds that might inhibit their understanding of material insecurity, or religious backgrounds that make them intolerant of alternative lifestyles. Many are closer than is politic—or at least reflective of the median voter’s experiences—to bankers, strikers, bible-bashers, imams, die-hard environmentalists or other representatives of esoteric social segments.

Yet as a rule we tolerate, indeed often welcome, such florae in Britain’s civic life because their tendrils extend deep into its society. Mr Goldsmith, who has links to plenty of people unsuited to setting the agenda in City Hall, exemplifies this. His father was a hardline Eurosceptic accused of being corporate raider. His former brother-in-law, Imran Khan, has all sorts of links to Islamism through his political career in Pakistan. The magazine Mr Goldsmith edited, the Ecologist, carries articles opposing economic growth, cheering on activists who break the law and looking approvingly on third-world insurrectionists. Such connections are among the factors cited when journalists describe him, approvingly, as an “independent minded” MP.

None of this compares directly to Mr Khan’s links to Muslim radicals. But while that subject is more troubling than, say, ecological extremism, should it be treated so differently? I venture (as I did in a column in January) that the very problems of British Islam make it all the more pressing to draw its representatives into the country’s politics. Can Britain combat the self-exclusion of some of its Muslims, the anti-Semitism that infects their politics and the radicalisation of the most naive among them without prominent Muslims in public life who have first-hand experience of these problems and their causes? Can the establishment support a new generation of moderates—including the liberal, telegenic imams to whose rise Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Jewish Board of Deputies, drew my attention only last week—while dismissing Mr Khan?

It is hard to imagine a successful, liberal Muslim politician who, as she advanced from her neighbourhood to the national stage, never crossed paths with the sort of reactionary that so dominated Mr Goldsmith’s criticisms of Mr Khan. And who, given British politicians’ inclination to indulge their audiences, publicly challenged every last Islamic conservative that she encountered. Which poses the question: if London’s new mayor is the “wrong” sort of Muslim to hold a major public office, what does the “right” one look like?