November 7, 2013
A Muslim cleric who preaches that gay people are worse than animals is at the centre of a fierce “free speech” row after being invited to speak at universities across the country. Mufti Ismail Menk was due to visit six universities – Oxford, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow – next week. But the speaking tour was cancelled after student unions and university officials expressed concern about his views. The Zimbabwean cleric, who studied in Saudi Arabia, has described same-sex acts as “filthy,” “wrong” and synonymous with “acts of immorality”. He has been recorded as saying: “With all due respect to the animals, [gay people] are worse than those animals.”
Mr Menk was believed to have been invited by the universities’ Muslim students’ associations, many of whom were still advertising the event on their Facebook pages this afternoon. Glasgow University Muslim Association described the event as a “wonderful opportunity” on social media.
Cardiff University Islamic Society changed its Facebook photo to a picture of Mr Menk. University of Leicester’s Islamic Society described him as “entertaining, yet very pious” on its social media page. Leeds University Union Islamic Society withdrew its invitation two days ago after realising his views.
The National Union of Students said Mr Menk’s “reported comments are very concerning”. Ruth Hunt of Stonewall said: “Universities should always remain mindful that they have a duty to protect all of their students and to ensure balance in university discourse.”
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/universities-cancel-muslim-clerics-speaking-tour-over-concerns-about-his-antigay-views-8927902.html
1 April 2013
The Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA) is a step closer to establishing Scotland’s first Islamic secondary school after it completed the £400,000 purchase of Abbotsford House, a B-listed Victorian building in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. If the project is successful, the building will be renamed The Islamic Institute and will offer secondary education to boys and girls in addition to housing a nursery. The GCEA currently has no plans to pursue public funding for the project.
This is not the GCEA’s first attempt to found an Islamic secondary school in Glasgow. Last year, the group failed to complete the purchase of the abandoned Holmlea Primary School in Cathcart for the same purpose. The successful purchase of Abbotsford House has prompted some to question the need for an Islamic school and to warn of the possible community divisions such a project might engender.
3 December 2012
Glasgow City Council has been working hard to promote racial and religious equality in Glasgow, in order to foster better relations between religious groups residing in the city. In the wake of the anti-Islamic movie, Innocence of Muslim, the City Council has discussed plans to support Glasgow’s 30,000-strong Muslim community and protect faith groups from similar behavior.
Madihah Ansari, a student at Glasgow Caledonian University, is joining the efforts to promote religious understanding in Pollokshields. She has introduced ‘New to Islam’ classes for the city’s recent Muslim converts, Madihah is taking the chance to share the message of her religion with those who have only a basic understanding of Islam.
The classes are held at Madrasa Taleemul Islam on Nithsdale Road, on weekly basis and give all attendees an insight into the world’s fastest-growing religion.
While returning from holiday, Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf was selected for security checks from among returning passengers at Edinburgh airport. The Scottish Herald reports that checks according to Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (the so-called “skin color check”) had previously angered Muslims so much that they threatened to boycott Scottish airports in favor of flying from Manchester to avoid what they perceive as harassment.
The Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief has been badly damaged by a fire which police say was started deliberately. Owners of the Islamic Relief store said the incident followed threatening phone calls made during its Gaza emergency appeal in January. Politicians and leading Islamic figures condemned the attack as “despicable” and said it was lucky no-one was injured as there are flats above. Around £80,000 worth of damage were caused in the suspected racist attack.
Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief’s humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia”. Two men, aged 26 and 34, have now appeared in court charged in connection with the fire.
In a meeting with the Muslim community in Glasgow, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband explained the aims and objectives of the United Kingdom’s foreign policy and addressed the community’s concerns. He said Pakistan’s domestic problems, not the presence of United States and British forces in Afghanistan, were the cause of terrorism in the country. Military rules, preventing strengthening democratic institutions, and various lingual, ethnic and sectarian problems were some of the causes of internal terrorism, Miliband argued.
Commenting on the British Muslim community, Miliband said the most important thing was that the British Muslim community considered themselves British, and they felt a passionate commitment to their faith as well as their country.
Abu Qatada, an extremist cleric held in a high-security jail in Worcestershire, has smuggled messages out of prison to his followers. Besides praising the Mujahidin and the “martyrs of Hamas”, he also claims his treatment is helping to radicalise a new generation of young British Muslims:
“A new generation of the Muslim youth has been raised, and especially amongst our brothers who originate from the Indian subcontinent, who were no longer mesmerized by the English authority, nor regarding the English values — rather they hate it and they know its enmity towards them, so they have become enemies towards it as well.”
He furthermore writes about meeting Bilal Abdullah, a doctor jailed for the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow in 2007, who says he was heavily influenced by Abu Qatada’s taped sermons. Abu Qatada was detained under emergency anti-terror laws in October 2002 and is currently being held pending deportation to Jordan, where he has been convicted in his absence for involvement in terrorist attacks.
A doctor accused of attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow has told “astonishing lies”, jurors have heard. Bilal Abdulla, 29, claimed he did not know Kafeel Ahmed, 28, was planning a suicide attack when a Jeep was driven into a building at Glasgow Airport. Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC told Woolwich Crown Court Mr Abdulla gave a “simply absurd” account of the June 2007 attack on the terminal building. Dr Abdulla denies conspiracies to murder and to cause explosions. In cross-examination, Mr Laidlaw said Dr Abdulla had given a “lying account” of events which “shifted the blame” for the attacks to Ahmed. It is claimed the pair planted two failed car bombs in central London the day before they drove the jeep, packed with gas canisters and petrol, into the airport. Mohammed Asha, 28, also an NHS doctor, denies funding the attacks. Mr Abdulla told the court of his changing political and religious views as an Iraqi Sunni Muslim after the two conflicts in his home country. He said: “It was after the political problems with the Shia (another branch of Islam) started and seeing the massacres that have taken place in Iraq that my views definitely hardened, like all the Sunnis of the region.”
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First Minister Alex Salmond attended the Young Scottish Muslim Awards at Celtic Park, Glasgow, which recognises the contribution the Muslim youth make to their community and Scotland. Mr. Salmond presented the award for Male of the Year to journalist Hassan Ghani, who studied at Stirling University and this year produced the widely acclaimed documentary The Disappeared.
Praising Mr. Ghani for his work, judges said: “He is a young journalist, dedicated to his profession as well as his Deen, and combining both he produced the powerful TV documentary, The Disappeared, which focused on those – up to 20,000 in Pakistan – caught in the War on Terror.”
The award for Female of the Year went to Safa Yusuf, who was described as a very active volunteer for Islamic Relief and for Muslim student associations at both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
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Reports about the possible establishment of first-ever Sharia courts in Scotland are sparking debate among proponents and critics of a paralegal legal system. “Those using Sharia law are fully entitled to religious freedom as long as it doesn’t conflict with criminal law,” said Aamer Anwar, a civil rights lawyer in Glasgow. The Church of Scotland said that it would welcome the possibility of introducing sharia courts, provided they meet three crucial standards – that they not break fundamental tenants of the Human Rights Act, that it not preclude recourse to the courts, and must respect the rights of women. The move is receiving opposition by several quarters in Scottish society.
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