A recent Pew Study of 2,000 American adults indicates that Americans are increasingly concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism. In the survey, Pew found that 62% of Americans polled were “extremely” concerned about a global rise in Islamic extremism, while 53% are concerned about Islamic extremism within the United States. These are the highest numbers since 2007. [PDF DOWNLOAD OF PEW STUDY]
January 13, 2014
An Afghan man is understood to have become the first atheist ever to secure asylum in Britain on religious grounds. His case was accepted by the Home Office on the basis there was a risk he could face persecution in Afghanistan for having rejected Islam.
Although he was brought up a Muslim, since living in the UK he has gradually turned away from it and is now an atheist. The young man – who does not want to be identified for fear of being rejected by the Afghan community in Britain – fled to the UK from a conflict involving his family in Afghanistan.
He first claimed asylum in 2007 when he was just 16. The claim was rejected but he was granted discretionary leave to remain until 2013 under rules to protect unaccompanied children.
The case was taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a pro bono service provided by students and supervised by practising lawyers from the University of Kent’s Law School, alongside local solicitors and barristers. A submission to the Home Office argued that the man’s return to Afghanistan could result in a death sentence under Sharia law as an “apostate” – someone who has abandoned their religious faith – unless he remained silent about his atheist beliefs.
Sheona York, who supervised the case, said: “The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we consider every application on a case by case basis.”
Childline, a charity organization that offers services to children and teenagers, has released a report documenting various issues facing young people in the UK. Among the problems that they face are racist and Islamophobic bullying, which are on the rise.
Full report: Childline Report: Can I Tell You Something?
Childline website: http://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx
A former government adviser has hit out at the security agencies and the way they assessed potential extremist threats on British soil in the months and years before the killing of Lee Rigby.
Days after the conviction of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale for the murder of the Fusilier Lee Rigby, Jahan Mahmood, a former adviser to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) in the Home Office, has decided to speak out over warnings of potential extremist attacks on British soldiers in the UK that he believes went unheeded.
Mr Mahmood, a historian and former lecturer at the University of Birmingham, specialising in the martial traditions of Afghan and Pakistani diaspora communities, had contact with the OSCT between 2009 and 2010 on a volunteer basis. He remembered one particular meeting on 27 January 2010 at a mosque in Birmingham, which involved five young Muslim men as well as the director of the OSCT, Charles Farr, and what Mr Mahmood called “another OSCT civil servant”.
Mr Mahmood said: “One of the young men responded by saying he was angered by the death of women and children in Afghanistan and, if given half a chance, he would go abroad to fight British soldiers in Afghanistan. Another member of the group intervened and said: ‘Why do you want to go abroad when you can kill them here?'”
While there is no evidence to suggest that any of the five men were involved in terror activities of any kind, the exchange remained lodged in Mr Mahmood’s memory.
Mr Mahmood’s motivation for setting up the meeting was to explore the link between gang and jihadi culture. He said that some of the men were drug users. He said he set up the meeting after one of the young men, called Sabeel, and expressed concerns about the vulnerability of his peers and particularly the attraction of jihadist materials.
After the Government come into power in 2010, there was a change in the Prevent strategy that began under Labour and was modified in 2011 to tackle radical ideology first and foremost, rather than what Mr Mahmood described as the more important problem of grievances within the Muslim community.
28 people, including public officials, religious representatives and imams were awarded on Thursday in Lyon with a university diploma which validates their ‘knowledge on secularism’. The diploma was awarded by France’s Home Minister, Manuel Valls, who intends to expand this course to all religious representatives in the country. The course is financed by the French government and equals 200 hours of lectures on history, legal theory, etc., which are taught in University of Lyon III, the Catholic University of Lyon and the French Institute of Muslim Civilisation in Lyon.
Theresa May faces questions from MPs over why Britain granted asylum to one of the world’s most wanted al-Qa’ida terror suspects. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said he would be raising concerns with the Home Secretary over why Abu Anas al-Libi was given asylum ahead of his alleged involvement in the 1998 American embassy bombings in east Africa.
Al-Libi, who was captured by US special forces in Tripoli this weekend, reportedly arrived in Britain in the mid-1990s and lived in Manchester after being granted political asylum. Detectives are thought to have found an al-Qa’ida manual at al-Libi’s Manchester home which advised followers on how to execute terror plots.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the case would be raised with the Home Secretary when she appears before MPs. Stating: “This case raises serious questions about the motives behind asylum and national security decisions in the UK.
The Government should not tell women what to wear, the Home Secretary has said amid ongoing debate over the use of full-face veils. Theresa May said it is for women to “make a choice” about what clothes they wear, including veils, although there will be some circumstances when it will be necessary to ask for them to be removed.
The ruling followed calls by Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne for a national debate on whether the state should step in to prevent young women having the veil imposed upon them.
Asked if parliament needs to issue formal guidance to courts and schools on whether women should be allowed to wear a veil, the Home Secretary told Sky News: “I start from the position that I don’t think Government should tell people, I don’t think the Government should tell women, what they should be wearing.
“I think it’s for women to make a choice about what clothes they wish to wear, if they wish to wear a veil that is for a woman to make a choice.” There will be some circumstances in which it’s right for public bodies, for example at the border, at airport security, to say there is a practical necessity for asking somebody to remove a veil. “I think it’s for public bodies like the Border Force officials, it’s for schools and colleges, and others like the judiciary, as we’ve recently seen, to make a judgment in relation to those cases as to whether it’s necessary to ask somebody to remove the veil.
“But in general women should be free to decide what to wear for themselves.”
Reactions on Friday around the world to developments in Egypt following clashes in which hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured:
European leaders spoke Friday about the need for a coordinated EU response to the violence in Egypt and agreed there should be a meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers next week. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an end to violence and a resumption of dialogue in Egypt. The German government statement said Merkel told Hollande that Germany, one of Egypt’s biggest trading partners, would “re-evaluate” its relations with Cairo in light of this week’s bloodshed. Hollande also discussed the violence with Italian Premier Enrico Letta and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah voiced support for Egypt’s military-backed interim government, saying the kingdom stands by the country in its fight against “terrorism and strife” — an apparent reference to deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. In a televised statement, Abdullah called for honest people and intellectuals “to stand firmly against all those who try to shake the stability of a country that has always led the Arab and Islamic worlds.”
Turkish officials kept up their criticism of the military government’s crackdown, with President Abdullah Gul saying that “all that happened in Egypt is a shame for Islam and the Arab world.” Turkey and Egypt recalled their ambassadors for consultations late Thursday as their relationship worsened.
About 1,500 people flooded the main avenue in central Tunis, many of them pouring out of the capital’s most important mosque. They gathered in a large square in front of the municipal theater, shouting support for the Egyptian people, especially supporters of Morsi, and condemning the Egyptian military and the U.S. The hour-long protest was peaceful.
In Little Egypt, Echoes From Home
Little Egypt, NYC: Reaction to recent events in Egypt.
Abu Qatada’s wife and five children left their taxpayer funded home in north-west London and were driven to Heathrow Airport by officials from the Home Office just after lunchtime. They then boarded the 5.05pm American Airlines flight to Amman, where Qatada is currently awaiting trial of terrorism charges.
The family’s departure signals a victory for the Home Office, which successfully secured Qatada’s deportation from Britain last month, following a decade long legal battle, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer in excess of £3 million. A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed that the family had left and said they had also abandoned their bid to be granted the right to live here permanently. Sources said the Home Secretary would also use the powers available to her to prevent the family from returning to Britain in the future.
Members of the extremist English Defence League had also held protests against the family’s continued presence in the UK. In a letter to an Islamic website, one of Qatada’s sons recently wrote: “Racist pressure groups in Britain hold demonstrations outside the house on a weekly basis between four in the afternoon and eleven in the evening. These demonstrators would scream and curse at us and at Islam.”
The Government has been accused of double standards in the way it responded to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby compared to the killing of an 82-year-old Muslim and explosions at three mosques in the West Midlands. Although the stabbing of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in April is regarded by police as a terrorist incident, Labour is concerned that it has not been discussed by the task force on extremism set up by David Cameron after the Woolwich killing in May. That was followed by explosions at mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, has written to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, recalling that Mr Cameron said the task force would look at new ways to support local communities and take a united stand against all forms of extremism. She added: “Like others, I had assumed the Prime Minister’s task force for tackling extremism would engage seriously with the West Midlands communities concerned. Its purpose was to ask questions about attacks, what more we can do to prevent extremism and to protect our communities. Clearly it needs to cover terror attacks on Muslim communities as well as Islamist extremism. So I think it’s really important the Taskforce considers these attacks and engages with the community now.”
Replying to Ms Cooper, the Home Secretary said: “These are of course terrible crimes which have the potential to cause fear and resentment across communities and we must continue to make clear that we will not tolerate extremism which attempts to divide us.”
The Security Minister acknowledged that there was “some fear and concern” in the community. He said: “Specialist advisers have been giving security advice to mosques, Islamic schools and community centres and there have been increased police patrols and community engagement plans.”