Study finds British Muslim schools’ uniforms policy often require girls to wear the hijab

The National Secular Society found that 59 out of the 142 Islamic schools that accept girls have a compulsory hijab policy. Hijab refers to Islamic standards of modesty, but is being used in the articles summarised below specifically to refer to the hair-covering practice of girls. Three of the schools which require hijab receive state funding. The National Secular Society opposed these school polices and say it is duty of the British government to protect the liberty of these students.

The organisation wrote a letter raising concerns about this issue. The letter is co-signed by feminists from “Muslim backgrounds, ” including activist Sara Khan and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

The Bradford Council for Mosques responded to this finding saying that wearing the hijab should not be compulsory for school uniforms. Spokesman Ishriaq Ahmed said, “People should have choices without the fear of being criticised…No child should be forced to do anything.”

The controversy over required hijab in dress codes follows closely after a controversy over allowing girls to wear hijab. The Sunday Times surveyed primary schools in England and found that 20% of primary schools “allow the hijab” in their uniform policies.

Gina Khan, a Birmingham children’s rights advocate, criticised the policy, saying, “Schools…need to support Muslim girls to have free choices, not to be set apart from other children.”

On the other side, Toby Howard, the Bishop of Bradford and an inter-faith leader, said, “this is a matter of religious identity not sexualisation.” The concern about sexualisation arises from the practice of starting to wear a headscarf post-puberty. But Howard noted that is not necessarily the case, as girls may choose to where the headscarf to “look like their mums.”

Muslims question whether girl’s killing in Virginia was road rage, not hate crime

Islamic leaders are questioning Virginia detectives’ insistence that the beating death of a teenage Muslim girl appears to have been a case of road rage, saying the attack looks all too much like a hate crime.

Nabra Hassanen, 17, was bludgeoned with a baseball bat early Sunday by a motorist who drove up to about 15 Muslim teenagers as they walked or bicycled along a road, Fairfax County police said. A Hassanen family spokesman said all the girls in the group were wearing Muslim headscarves and robes.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there is a strong possibility the crime wouldn’t have happened if the teenagers weren’t Muslim.  CAIR called on Muslim communities to increase security during the holy month of Ramadan in light of the young woman’s murder and a string of other attacks in America and in Britain.

Female Doctor denies genital mutilation; judge keeps her locked up

A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls denied the allegations through her lawyer Monday, insisting that she conducted a benign religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.

It’s the first time someone has been charged with violating a U.S. ban on genital mutilation.

Shannon Smith, defense lawyer of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, explanation emerged during a hearing to determine whether Nagarwala would stay locked up without bond, following her arrest last week. After hearing arguments, a judge said she was a threat to the public and refused to release her.

“They were the last in a long line of children cut by the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said of the two girls who were accompanied to the Livonia clinic by their mothers.

France’s Council of State suspends burkini ban

Mayors do not have the right to ban burkinis, France’s highest administrative court ruled Friday. The Council of State’s ruling suspends a ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, and could affect cities around the country that have prohibited the full-length swimsuit.

More than 30 French towns have banned burkinis, which cover the whole body except for the face, hands and feet. Officials say banning the burkini -worn mostly by Muslim women- is a response to growing terror concerns and heightened tensions after a series of terror attacks.

Human rights activists argue that burkini bans are illegal, and that pushes to outlaw the garment are Islamophobic. They hailed Friday’s ruling as a significant step.

“By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand,” Amnesty International Europe Director John Dalhuisen said in a statement.

But it’s unclear how other towns with burkini bans will respond to Friday’s decision. If mayors continue to enforce and enact such decrees, they could face similar legal challenges.

No matter what, battles over the burkini in the court- and in the court of public opinion-are far from over.

Friday’s decision was an initial ruling by the Council of State while it continues to prepare its more detailed judgment on the legal issues in the case.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said he supports banning burkinis. And former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who plans to run again for president, has said he would immediately enact a national ban of the swimsuits.

Critics of the bans say they discriminate against the women they claim to protect.

“These bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation,” Dalhuisen said. “Not only are they in themselves discriminatory, but as we have seen, the enforcement of these bans leads to abuses and the degrading treatment of Muslim women and girls.”

Three British schoolgirls flee to Syria to be “Jihadi Brides”

Three British schoolgirls from London disappeared from their homes in February and were en route to Syria when police were alerted. From left: Kadiza Sultana (16), Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (both 15).
Three British schoolgirls from London disappeared from their homes in February and were en route to Syria when police were alerted. From left: Kadiza Sultana (16), Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (both 15). (Photo: BBC)

The police hunt for three British ‘jihadi brides’ who ran away from home to join Islamic State fighters has intensified in a bid to stop them crossing the Turkish border into Syria. The three students from Bethnal Green Academy in east London, were at the centre of an increasingly desperate international hunt to find them before they managed to enter territory controlled by fighters from IS, also known as Isil. The family of one of the girls urged Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and Amira Abase, 15, to come back home, warning on Saturday that their lives would be in danger in Syria.

The police hunt for three British ‘jihadi brides’ who ran away from home to join Islamic State fighters has intensified in a bid to stop them crossing the Turkish border into Syria. The three students from Bethnal Green Academy in east London, were at the centre of an increasingly desperate international hunt to find them before they managed to enter territory controlled by fighters from IS, also known as Isil. The family of one of the girls urged Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and Amira Abase, 15, to come back home, warning on Saturday that their lives would be in danger in Syria.

MPs have now called for an inquiry into the effectiveness of border controls in stopping British youngsters travelling to the region with the intention of joining IS. Counter-terror experts estimate that as many as 50 young Muslim women and girls have made the journey from Britain to Syria and it emerged on Friday that Shamima, Kadiza and their friend were close to a 15-year-old girls from their school who travelled to Syria last December.

It remains unclear how the girls became radicalised enough to take the step of travelling to Turkey with the intention of joining what they regard as their “brothers and sisters” in IS. However on February 15 – two days before boarding their flight – Shamima used the social media site twitter to get in touch with 20-year-old Aqsa Mahmood, a privately educated woman from Glasgow who joined IS and married one of its fighters.

Last night Yasmin Qureshi, a Labour member of the home affairs committee said more needed to be done urgently to dissuade young Muslims from “the illusion” that they are helping their religion by joining Isil.

The Union of French Muslim Democrats Presents Eight Candidates

Established in November 2012, The Union of French Muslim Democrats (UDMF) claims more than 900 members and 8,000 supporters. Most are Muslims who do not identity with the current political parties and who are “fed up” with bipartisan politics. This year, the party will present eight candidates in departmental elections in Lyon, Nice, Pas-de-Calais, and others.

Directed by Najib Azergui, the party hopes to promote Islamic finance, an alternative form of traditional finance, as a method to avoid future economic crises. The party also hopes that certain “tragic chapters” in French history (Algeria, colonization, etc), which are “silently passed by” in certain schools, will be made part of their curricula. They also hope to provide Arabic classes, which are “unfairly banned” in secondary schools.

The party most notably defends the right for girls to wear headscarves in schools, as well as civic and philosophic education to teach students to “think and debate.”

Dutch Minister wants school to work on the prevention of radicalization

Jet Bussemaker, minister of Education, says that teachers should be more aware of their ‘social role’. School is the place where different groups from society get in contact with each other and if signs of radicalization are being seen, the school should take action. For example when a boy decides he doesn’t want to sit with girls anymore.

In the same sense the minister doesn’t agree with schools that have plans to replace the lowest levels of education (The Dutch schooling system knows roughly 3 levels of education) to a different location. Cause school is the place where different groups, low- and high educated people can meet each other. Teachers have an important task to bring these people together and to make sure appreciation for each other will occur.

Bloomberg: “Muslim Groups Seek To Revive New York Police Surveillance Suit”

Sophia Pearson for Bloomberg: “Muslim groups seeking to revive a lawsuit over a New York City Police Department surveillance program of mosques and businesses faced tough questions from appeals judges about terrorism and skepticism from an attorney for the city about the program’s very existence.

Several Muslims sued New York in June 2012 in Newark, New Jersey, federal court claiming police singled them out for their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs included a U.S. soldier and a teacher at a Muslim school for girls. Both said their career prospects would be hindered as a result of the spying.”

IS “fishing” for teenage girls in Spain

A view of the Principe District in Ceuta. Ceuta is inhabited by majority North Africans and is increasingly a hotspot of recruiting activity for ISIS. (Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP)
A view of the Principe District in Ceuta. Ceuta is inhabited by majority North Africans and is increasingly a hotspot of recruiting activity for ISIS. (Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

The Islamic State captures teenage girls in Spanish Muslim communities through propaganda disseminated through social networks. Ceuta is the area most affected by this trend. In one of the known cases a girl from the region (just under 14 years old) tried to travel to Iraq through Turkey, but was intercepted in Melilla. She wanted to join the jihad and marry some extremist fighter. In total there have already been at least five cases of successful ‘fishing’ of minors in Ceuta.

According to experts, the contents spread extremist movement militants are designed to ‘catch’ specifically to adolescents with traditional values, many are fascinated by very simple causes, others consider it a culmination of their practice of Islam. At their age, they perceive it as an adventure and want to participate in it.

In turn, to the extremists, the virgin girls are a key point in their strategy. Although its function is merely reproducing, the idea is to contribute to the expansion of radicalism through the repopulation of the ‘infidels’ nations.

 

How the Islamic State is recruiting teenage girls

Two Austrian teeangers, 16-year-old Samra Kesinovic (left) and her 14-year-old friend Sabina Selimovic, ran away from home to join ISIS.
Two Austrian teeangers, 16-year-old Samra Kesinovic (left) and her 14-year-old friend Sabina Selimovic, ran away from home to join ISIS.

In an editorial with The Washington Post, Professor Mia Bloom describes how IS is using social media to recruit and radicalize teen girls through social media. Further, there is a need to balance the security of the United States (preventing the return of dangerous foreign fighters) with allowing young people who made a mistake a way back home and back to their families.