Teacher admits campaign to install Muslim staff at schools

A senior teacher at the centre of an alleged plot by religious hard-liners to seize control of governing bodies has admitted that there was a campaign to install Muslims in leading roles at schools in Birmingham. Nearly 20 schools in the city are currently being investigated over claims that male and female pupils were segregated, sex education banned and extremist clerics praised in assemblies.

 

Speaking anonymously to Channel 4 News on Sunday night, the teacher admitted there was a campaign to assert more Muslim influence in schools, describing it as “a very positive thing”. He said: “This is about the proportion of representation and leadership on boards of schools that serve predominantly Muslim children. These teachers and leaders have a deeper understanding of the view of the population in these schools. I think the needs of Muslim children have been neglected for many, many years. There even school in areas with high Muslim population that do not serve halal meat, for example.”

In Washington, Muslims gather to get ‘Happy’ for the camera

April 22, 2014

 

A young man drummed on a bucket as a portable speaker played the uber-upbeat song “Happy,” Pharrell Williams’s anthem to joy and to the pure communal value of boogying in the street that has engendered countless copycat videos across the globe.

Because I’m happy — Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth . . .

Malik, 39, and Salma skipped through a gantlet of applause and cheering.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you . . .

Jamal, wearing a thobe, and Kareem, in jeans, performed a high-stepping routine of their own. Behind them and in front of them, husbands and wives, parents and children, and total strangers bounced and shimmied and twirled as curious passersby stopped to watch and the camera rolled.

They were brought together by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which advocates for U.S. Muslims, and which last week announced a plan to help steer susceptible members of their communities away from radical Islamist ideology, and Make Space, a Washington-area organization for Muslim professionals and youth.

The video comes on the heels of a version depicting British Muslims that has garnered 1.2 million YouTube views. Like that one, this will show Muslims old and young, male and female, wearing headscarves or letting their hair flow freely — all embracing the concept of happiness.

“It sort of happened in a grass-roots sense — a couple of days ago I posted on Facebook and we put the word out yesterday,” Hasan Shah, Make Space’s board chairman, said Tuesday. “It was something that everyone wanted to do, because it could be done within the boundaries of our religion. It’s not provocative, it’s not risque in any sense.” After all, he said, happiness “is neither Eastern nor Western, it’s universal.”

Still, the British version, called “Happy British Muslims” has been controversial in some circles, underlining the challenges Muslims can face when trying to create art in a Western context.

While many Muslims were elated by the video and wanted to copy it immediately, some said it violated Islam’s law or at least its spirit of modesty, particularly with women dancing and singing in public. Others felt it was humiliating and unnecessary to prove that members of the planet’s second-largest religion are, in fact, happy.

But the 50 or so Muslims who gathered at McPherson Square were hardly encumbered by these concerns — though the organizers did remind them to limit their gyrations to the upper half of the body.

The song’s contagious popularity seemed like a perfect vehicle for that, said Haris Tarin, the D.C. director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Since this song has gone viral, we thought, why not take advantage of it? It may be a little wacky, a little out of the ordinary . . . but it gives that idea of the American Muslims in the public square.”

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-washington-muslims-gather-to-get-happy-for-the-camera/2014/04/22/c2dd9108-ca34-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html

The FIFA permits the wearing of the headscarf; the wrath of French football

March 1, 2014

 

The option to wear the headscarf or turban has officially been approved within the practice of football, the FIFA announced on March 1st. At the request of certain Muslim countries, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which handles legal aspects of football, had agreed to a tentative trial allowing the headscarf on strict conditions two years ago. The headscarf question had become more prominent in recent years, with Iran having gone as far as pressing charges against the FIFA because its female players, prevented from covering their heads, had to forgo the London Olympics in 2012.

 

The French president of the FIFA, Jerome Valcke, said during a press conference that a trial had been undertaken and ‘a decision has been made: female players can have their heads covered while playing.’ The Board saw no valid reasons to ban it if strict conditions are met. The headscarf must be tightly fitted around the player’s head, be coordinated with the player’s uniform, not be attached to the maillot, must not have any loose parts, and must not constitute a danger to the player nor to others.

 

However, if the new authorization of head-coverings is valid for the whole world, it does not mean that it will be applied everywhere.

 

Two years ago, the Federation Francaise du Football (FFF) had  banned its players from wearing the headscarf, ‘in order to respect the constitutional precepts of secularism’ in France. The FFF reiterated that the principle of secularism remained valid including in regards to the participation of French selections in international competitions, and upheld the prohibition on all religious signs in the country.

 

The President of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), Frederic Thiriez, deplored the ruling as a ‘grave mistake.’ ‘I regret the decision of the FIFA which undermines the principal of universality of football in which all players, male and female, are supposed to be subject to the same rules and match conditions. Whereas the Olympic chart bans all religious symbols, this decision goes against women rights and threatens the neutrality of football that is safe from religious and political conflict.’

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/sport/article/2014/03/01/la-fifa-autorise-le-port-du-voile-colere-du-foot-francais_4376137_3242.html

Major challenges for German Islam Conference

February 10, 2014

 

According to experts such as Islam Scholar Michael Kiefer, the German Islam Conference has not made progress, since it was found by former Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) in 2006. The initial success was the creation of an institutional connection to Islamic representatives and the foundation Islamic studies in schools.

Since then, the dialogue between State and religion representatives has gone through difficult obstacles such as the debate on selection processes through home affairs politicians and constitution protection authorities. The exclusion of extreme Islamic organizations like the Turkish Milli Görüs represented.

Further challenges are questions related to the understanding and representation of Islam in Germany. The current Minister of Interior Thomas de Maizière (CDU) seeks a pragmatic oriented approach to Muslim associations with a “goal-oriented” and “issues-driven” agenda. Muslim associations have welcomed the Ministers approach by sidelining security policy issues, focusing mainly on issues such as the recognition of Islam as a statutory body under public law.

Again, there will be questions related to the representativeness of associations. The growing Islamophobia will be a further challenge to the German Islam Conference. Critics fear the conference to remain an event of political symbolism. The politician Lale Akgün (SPD) claims more representative rights for women. Female teachers of Islamic studies, female Imams would be necessary to enhance a feminist view of Islam, deliberately strengthening a “liberal” Islam in Germany.

 

Qantara: http://en.qantara.de/content/changing-the-orientation-of-germanys-islam-conference-new-agenda-same-old-faces

France-Qatar Agreement

January 28, 2014

 

France and Qatar signed an agreement to regulate problems that had emerged in the Lycée Voltaire in Doha. The agreement stipulates that Islamic studies and Arabic will be implemented in the school, and separation between male and female students will be reinforced in its future secondary school.

The president of the school’s administration board declared, ‘our French friends have been understandings, since it is essential is to let French-speaking Qataris remain close to their language and religion.’

The school, founded in 2007 by the Mission Laique France, had already experienced conflicts over the nature of the curriculum with their Qatari counterparts disagreeing with some of the science and history books. The Lycée Voltaire, numbering a thousand students, is now run by Qatar.

 

Source: http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2014/01/28/97001-20140128FILWWW00408-le-lycee-francais-de-doha-conforme-a-l-islam.php

Shehneela Ahmed, football agent

January 26, 2014

 

The first Muslim woman to qualify as an FA-approved football agent, Shehneela Ahmed, has announced that she is on a mission to open up the sport to more female players and people from ethnic minorities. Her sentiments exactly. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Ms Ahmed, 42, who moved from Rochdale to London after graduating from Staffordshire University and also works as a duty solicitor, said: “This will have a big impact on my career as I intend to promote more people from the Asian background to encourage their children to take part in the sports industry.”

“After spending all day dealing with criminals, footballers are a doddle,” Ms Ahmed explained. Ms Ahmed, who received her license in September added: “I’ve had clients approach me, from players, managers and clubs, and I’ve had some really good feedback so far.”

With only eight of the 4,000 players in the Football League of Asian descent, you find Ms Ahmed is not resting on her laurels. “I want to prove to ethnic minorities and females that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” she said.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/i/page-3-profile-shehneela-ahmed-football-agent-9073254.html

 

‘Fox And Friends’ Warns Of YMCA Swim Class For Muslim Girls (VIDEO)

December 2, 2013

 

Fox News is warning viewers about a YMCA swim class for Muslim girls, suggesting that it’s a bad sign of the “minority becoming the majority.”

A YMCA in St. Paul, Minnesota recently teamed up with the St. Paul Police Department to offer a swim class for Somali-American girls. The class respects the girls’ religious beliefs, and Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported on the need for the program and its success.

Fox News saw it differently. “The minority becoming the majority at one community pool,” newsreader Heather Nauert said on Monday’s “Fox and Friends.” “Sharia law is now changing everything.”

“This means during the one hour class, the pool is being shut down,” she said. “The men’s locker room is being locked and female life guards are being brought in. Similar classes are now starting at towns across the Midwest. We’ll keep watching this story for you.”

 

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/fox-news-ymca-muslim-girls-sharia-law_n_4373268.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Muslim Women more likely to suffer Islamophobic attacks than men

November 19, 2013

 

Muslim women are more likely to be subjected to Islamophobic attacks than men, especially if they are wearing the niqab or other clothing associated with their religion, a study has found.

Maybe We Are Hated, a report on the impact of Islamophobic attacks, written by Dr Chris Allen, a social policy lecturer at the University of Birmingham, will be launched in the House of Commons on Wednesday. It is intended to look beyond the statistics and, for the first time, give a voice to the female victims of Islamophobia.

Allen interviewed 20 women aged between 15 and 52 about their experiences. Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, which commissioned the report, said: “This is the first time Muslim women’s voices have been given life in terms of anti-Muslim prejudice. We keep hearing people saying: ‘What are the numbers?’ We can understand that, but it’s important to recognise the actual impact on people.”

Tell Mama, a hotline for recording Islamophobic crimes and incidents, found that, excluding online abuse and threats, 58% of all verified incidents between April 2012 and April 2013 were against women and that in 80% of those cases the woman was wearing a hijab, niqab or other clothing associated with Islam.

According to Allen, some of the women said their experiences had made them question their Britishness, with one saying her husband wanted them to leave the country. He said a refusal to take Islamophobia seriously risked giving credence to the “clash of civilisations” narrative promoted by Islamists and the far right.

“It feeds into the rhetoric of the Islamists saying: ‘No matter how hard you try, you will never belong here, they hate you,” he said. “When it comes to Muslims, they won’t tackle these issues. It adds fuel to the fire.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/20/muslim-women-islamaphonic-attacks

 

Young Muslims and social networks

November 16, 2013

 

Social networks such as Facebook are becoming as popular among Muslim youth as among all parts of the society. However protecting data and youth privacy associations are concerned about the amount of misinformation distributed in the digital world. Conservative Muslims warn Muslim users to avoid visiting websites, which would lead to what is described in the Koran as “Fitna”, meaning the loss of faith.

German Salafists such as the populist Pierre Vogel use facebook to address young Muslims. Having more than 10.000 Facebook fans, they call female Muslims to upload photos with the the niqab only. Their face should is supposed to be covered in public.

According to Akif Sahin, a social media manager in Hamburg, Muslim youth are vulnerable to misinformation and negative influences diffused by extremists – especially as young Muslims search for guidance on their religious and cultural identity. This aspect is often abused by extremists, such as Islamist and Islamophobe groups, which would begin to agitate Muslims against each other.

 

Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/muslime-auf-facebook-keine-angst-vorm-fitnabook-a-933570.html

 

Mighty, Muslim and Leaping Off the Page – Marvel Comics Introducing a Muslim Girl Superhero

With most superheroes, when you take away the colorful costume, mask and cape, what you find underneath is a white man. But not always. In February, as part of a continuing effort to diversify its offerings, Marvel Comics will begin a series whose lead character, Kamala Khan, is a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City.

No exploding planet, death of a relative or irradiated spider led to Kamala’s creation. Her genesis began more mundanely, in a conversation between Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker, two editors at Marvel. “I was telling him some crazy anecdote about my childhood, growing up as a Muslim-American,” Ms. Amanat said. “He found it hilarious.” Ms. Amanat and Mr. Wacker noted the dearth of female superhero series and, even more so, of comics with cultural specificity.

When they told G. Willow Wilson, an author, comic book writer and convert to Islam, about their idea, she was eager to come on board as the series’ writer. “Any time you do something like this, it is a bit of a risk,” Ms. Wilson said. “You’re trying to bring the audience on board and they are used to seeing something else in the pages of a comic book.”

Kamala, whose family is from Pakistan, has devotedly followed the career of the blond, blue-eyed Carol Danvers, who now goes by Captain Marvel, a name she inherited from a male hero. When Kamala discovers her powers, including the ability to change shape, she takes on the code name Ms. Marvel — what Carol called herself when she began her superhero career.

“Captain Marvel represents an ideal that Kamala pines for,” Ms. Wilson said. “She’s strong, beautiful and doesn’t have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and ‘different.’ ”

As for Kamala, Ms. Wilson said the series was “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” Though here, she adds, that happens “through the lens of being a Muslim-American” with superpowers.

 

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/books/marvel-comics-introducing-a-muslim-girl-superhero.html?_r=0