Terror expulsions policy lacks basic safeguards

Better Human Rights Protections Needed in National Security Removal Cases:The lack of safeguards in France’s policy of expelling foreign residents with alleged links to violent extremism undermines human rights and alienates communities whose cooperation is critical to the fight against terrorism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

In France and other European Union countries, the forced removal of foreigners suspected of extremism is increasingly seen as a tool to counter violent radicalization and terrorist recruitment. Since September 2001, the French government has removed more than 70 individuals it describes as “Islamic fundamentalists,” including at least 15 who were Muslim clerics (or imams). However, the French policy lacks adequate safeguards against human rights violations, including torture. Appeals based on risk of torture or other human rights grounds do not automatically suspend removal.

On May 11, the United Nations Committee Against Torture condemned France for expelling a terrorism suspect, Adel Tebourski, to Tunisia despite credible evidence that he faced a risk of torture upon return. This is the second such finding against France by the UN body in the past four years.

“France is entitled to remove foreign nationals who threaten national security, provided it respects human rights in the process,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But as the recent UN anti-torture committee decision makes clear, France’s safeguards in these cases aren’t up to scratch.” (HRW)

Blair unveils plan to train more imams in Britain

Tony Blair has unveiled plans for a new generation of Muslim imams, trained in the UK, to help counter extremism. In an attempt to reduce the number of overseas clerics teaching in British mosques, Mr Blair announced funding would be available for those studying in the UK. Overseas clerics have been accused of fuelling radicalism and failing to understand modern multicultural Britain. Some speak poor English and struggle to engage effectively with young people born and brought up here.

Blair Praises the “Authentic Voices” of Islam

By Jane Perlez LONDON: As part of his series of farewells, Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday addressed a government-organized conference on Islam and declared that the “authentic voices” of the religion should be given a stage over the voices of extremism. Blair, who has said he will take a special interest in interfaith affairs when he leaves office at the end of the month, said that the true meaning of Islam had been hijacked by extremists. “The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use, in times gone by, of torture – to force conversion to Christianity – represents the true teaching of Christ,” he said. Muslim leaders from Egypt, Indonesia, Bosnia, Western Europe and the United States joined a carefully selected group of British Muslims at Lancaster House in London for a two-day program that was organized by the government in conjunction with Cambridge University.

British academics reject government plan to monitor Muslim students

A union of British academics voted unanimously to reject a government plan to tackle Islamic extremism in universities, likening the initiative to “witch hunts” that would single out Muslim students. The University and College Union, which represents more than 120,000 British academics, agreed to the motion Wednesday at its inaugural conference in Bournemouth in southern England. The motion calls for members to “resist attempts by government to engage colleges and universities in activities which amount to increased surveillance of Muslim or other minority students and to the use of members of staff for such witch hunts.” (…)

Campus extremism request rejected

By Hannah Goff {Lecturers have voted unanimously to oppose government plans urging them to fight against extremism on campuses.} They had been asked to monitor and report suspicious behaviour amongst Muslim students. But at the University and Colleges Union annual conference in Bournemouth, delegates rejected the demands, saying they amounted to spying on students. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said student trust would be undermined by fears of a “quasi-secret service”. In November, the government warned of what it described as the serious threat posed by radical Muslims and issued guidance to colleges and universities calling on them to monitor student activity.

Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.

The Pew Research Center conducted more than 55,000 interviews to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The resulting study, which draws on Pew’s survey research among Muslims around the world, finds that Muslim Americans are a highly diverse population, one largely composed of immigrants. Nonetheless, they are decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes. This belief is reflected in Muslim American income and education levels, which generally mirror those of the public.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, Muslim Americans have a generally positive view of the larger society. Most say their communities are excellent or good places to live.
  • A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71% agree that most people who want to get ahead in the United States can make it if they are willing to work hard.
  • The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are highly assimilated into American society. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society. And by nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
  • Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims in the U.S. were born elsewhere. A relatively large proportion of Muslim immigrants are from Arab countries, but many also come from Pakistan and other South Asian countries. Among native-born Muslims, roughly half are African American (20% of U.S. Muslims overall), many of whom are converts to Islam.
  • Based on data from this survey, along with available Census Bureau data on immigrants’ nativity and nationality, the Pew Research Center estimates the total population of Muslims in the United States at 2.35 million.
  • Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.
  • A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government “singles out” Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring. Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, and many doubt that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks.

Pew Center poll page

Download PDF of report

Poll reveals Muslims as model citizens

Contrary to popular stereotypes, Muslims in London have almost twice as much confidence in the Government as the general public and are noticeably more trusting of the judicial system, elections and the police. More than half identify very strongly with Britain, and about four in every five believe that it is important for integration to master the English language, get a better education and find a job. The findings, to be revealed tomorrow, are the result of an independent survey of Muslim attitudes by the Gallup Organisation, and point to a much more hopeful outlook for integration than recent reports of extremism, alienation and a ghetto mentality have suggested.

Winning Hearts and Minds: Working Together to Defeat Extremism

In a speech by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly MP at the Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, she said: “Britain is a country that draws strength from its diversity. Britain’s proud record of respect compares favorably with any country. Far right extremism has never really got a serious foothold here. This is because, at crucial times in our history, the vast majority have come together to speak out against hate and division. But today, alongside the far right, we face another threat that seeks to undermine our shared values, to divide our communities”
The British Government’s strategy for addressing extremism has the following components: Coalitions Against Extremism Uniting Against a New Challenge A New Approach: A Security Response is Not Enough Four Strands – 1. Promoting shared values. – 2. Supporting strong community and national leadership. – 3. Strengthening the role of faith institutions and leaders. – 4. Supporting local solutions. Partnership

Muslim Majority Schools ‘pose security threat and should be closed’

An influential government education adviser said today that schools dominated by Muslim children should be closed and replaced with ‘multi-faith’ academies to integrate pupils. Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said the concentration of ethnic minorities and religious groups in certain schools had created a ‘strategic security problem’. He said that allowing significant numbers of ethnic minority children to lead virtually separate lives was fuelling extremism and harming academic standards. The call for forced integration came as a Government commissioned report is this week set to recommend that values such as justice and tolerance should be at the centre of citizenship classes for secondary pupils.

American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion

Vivid, dramatic portraits of Muslims in America in the years after 9/11, as they define themselves in a religious subculture torn between moderation and extremism

There are as many as six million Muslims in the United States today. Islam (together with Christianity and Judaism) is now an American faith, and the challenges Muslims face as they reconcile their intense and demanding faith with our chaotic and permissive society are recognizable to all of us.

From West Virginia to northern Idaho, American Islam takes readers into Muslim homes, mosques, and private gatherings to introduce a population of striking variety. The central characters range from a charismatic black imam schooled in the militancy of the Nation of Islam to the daughter of an Indian immigrant family whose feminist views divided her father’s mosque in West Virginia. Here are lives in conflict, reflecting in different ways the turmoil affecting the religion worldwide. An intricate mixture of ideologies and cultures, American Muslims include immigrants and native born, black and white converts, those who are well integrated into the larger society and those who are alienated and extreme in their political views. Even as many American Muslims succeed in material terms and enrich our society, Islam is enmeshed in controversy in the United States, as thousands of American Muslims have been investigated and interrogated in the wake of 9/11.

American Islam is an intimate and vivid group portrait of American Muslims in a time of turmoil and promise.