Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants. The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas. None of the six men, who work with disadvantaged youths at the Kentish Town Community Organisation (KTCO), has ever been arrested for terrorism or a terrorism-related offence.
They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.
Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.
A report entitled “Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words” written by unnamed civilian analysts and contractors for the US Central Command has said that words like ‘jihad’ and ‘Islamist’ are needed in discussing 21st century terrorism issues.
The report added that federal agencies which avoid such words are “soft-pedaling” the link between religious extremism and violent acts. The report is quoted as saying: “We must reject the notion that Islam and Arabic stand apart as bodies of knowledge that cannot be critiqued or discussed as elements of understanding our enemies in this conflict.”
The report counters a January 2008 memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which recommended avoiding using such terms as “jihadist,” “Islamic terrorist,” “Islamist,” or “holy war” saying that such terminology would create a negative climate and spawn acts of discrimination and harassment.
Bosnia’s first gay pride festival has been forced underground after 10 people were injured when protestors attacked visitors on the festival’s opening night. Dozens of people chanting “kill the gays” punched, kicked, and threw stones at people leaving the event. Islamic leaders were angry that the festival of pride, which includes art, films, and workshops about sexual minorities, is being held during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Lead organizers of the event said that they are not canceling the festival, but changing the format from public to private, hoping that this will deter some of the harassment and violence.
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The Irish Times
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a report this week outlining 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination, and harassment that occurred in 2007. These numbers reflect the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in the group’s report. The higher number is due in part to the inclusion of a new category related to mailed, faxed, and e-mailed messages of hatred or harassment. The study also found that discrimination in the workplace against the already employed increased by eighteen percent – with 452 cases reported in the United States in 2007, compared to 383 in 2006. Cases involving those seeking employment jumped a significant thirty-four percent.
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International Business Times
A month after the removal of six imams from a U.S. Airways flight spurred accusations of harassment, the federal government has given airport security trainers cultural awareness training about the Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. This year, an estimated 16,000 American Muslims are making the annual pilgrimage, called the hajj – including several hundred from Long Island. The grueling, five-day ritual, which began yesterday, is a religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
In France and even neighboring Germany the Muslim population has a massive presence, but after 9/11 they face the problem of massive insecurity. In France the controversy of headscarves, the Mohammed Cartoons in Denmark and the mistake of profiling many from the community in Paris has only led to more heartburn and more cause for concern. Localised riots after the deaths of two boys in a North African Paris suburb grew into a nationwide insurrection. It was waiting to happen as vast Arab and African populations had been restive after constant police harassment. The invisible minorities of Europe were tired of being victimised. Le Pen Openly xenophobic leader Le Pen shocked most, when he won more votes in the last Presidential election than the main opposition party led by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. A once tolerant France also banned religious symbols in schools and politicians in Germany and Belgium wanted similar laws. The rationale a necessity to secure the country from extremism and preserve its secular credentials. And that immediately invited the charge that it would only radicalize an already disillusioned and disenfranchised Muslim population. There are fears radical Islam of Osama’s kind is luring descendants of Muslim immigrants. Many say that’s because the governments here are unable to address issues like integration, especially at a time when anti-terror laws are becoming so stringent.