Right-wing anti-Islamic protest in Birmingham

It was supposed to be a “peaceful” protest by a group opposed to Islamic law and what it perceives as radical Islam. Or at least that is how the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) would have liked Saturday’s demonstration to be received.

But many had their doubts. Chief among them, the West Midlands Police, which spent the previous fortnight meeting Muslim community leaders to ensure that they told their followers to stay away. Less than a month earlier, a visit by EDL supporters to the city ended in a feud between them and counter-demonstrators, mainly of Asian backgrounds, and 35 people were arrested.

About 100 EDL supporters descended on Birmingham on Saturday morning, some carrying signs reading “Islamic Extremists Out” and “Make Britain Safe”. Others screamed insults against Allah and Islam as they made their way to a nearby pub.

Soccer player Kanoute says that he has suffered racial and religious insults in Spain

Top Sevilla player Frederic Kanoute has admitted that he has suffered racial and religious insults from other players in the Spanish league because of his skin color and religion. Kanoute, who is from Mali and Muslim, commented in an interview with the ‘Don Balon’ magazine saying that people should not generalize Muslims. Kanoute said that he never felt that religion or skin color was an issue during his time playing for the UK, but they have become a subject of frequent insult in Sevilla.

Needs of Dutch Muslim youth explored in recent report

The report – “Youth and their Islam” – is from a study of Muslim youth in the Netherlands. Among the findings are that these young people do not believe they receive enough support to develop their faith, and that society does not give them room to practice “their Islam.” Among the specific needs that are not being met, the Muslim youth polled responded that counseling or coaching concerning receiving insults, more accessible mosques (including for women), educational support and meditation areas in schools and places of work. Respondents said that in general, they feel that it is possible to be a Muslim in the Netherlands, but that there is always a debate, negative treatment, and a feeling of not being accepted as full citizens. 

Al-Qaeda No. 2 insults Obama with racial epithet

In a message purportedly from Al-Qaeda’s No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, the speaker criticized president-elect Barack Obama’s foreign policy positions on Afghanistan and Israel, and condemned his worldview. Al-Zawahiri also stated that the president-elect has “a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits” him.

The message also made reference to Obama’s heritage, condemning the fact that while his father was a Muslim, Obama is a Christian. “You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America,” the message said.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the statement’s “threatening rhetoric and racial slurs.”

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Russian Newsweek warned not to incite ethnic, religious enmity

The Prosecutor’s Office in Moscow has warned magazine Russian Newsweek on the illegality and unacceptability of publishing stories instigating ethnic and religious hatred. “Issue 40 of September 29 – October 5, 2008 carried two stories entitled “He Who Comes with the Mosque” (a play on the phrase “He who comes to Russia with the sword will perish by the sword” and “Mosque Carriers,” in which Muslims and Christians are in opposition),” the prosecutor’s office said.

The articles in question contain captions satirizing the prophet Muhammad. Photos and inspiration were taken from the Danish newspaper ‘Jullands-Posten’ which caused worldwide protests and condemnation after publishing insulting material mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

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No ideological motives: Muslim jailed for stabbing Jewish cleric

A German-Afghan homeless Sajed Aziz, 23 was convicted and sentenced to three and a half years in prison for stabbing a rabbi in the stomach last year. Aziz was convicted in Frankfurt state court of serious bodily injury in connection with the September attack on Orthodox Jewish rabbi Zalman Gurevitch during an altercation on a Frankfurt street. For a longtime the public and officials were convinced about anti-Semitic motives of Aziz leading to the confrontation. The process, however, showed that the reality was much more banal. While ideological motives could not be verified, it was proven that the stabbing resulted from an escalating quarreling between the two, after Gurevitch confronted Aziz physically. Whereas Gurevitch claims that Aziz said some anti-Semitic insults before he decided to confront him, Aziz assured that he had greeted the Rabbi only with a Salam-Alaikum when passing. Both men are police-known hotheads, who had been involved in many quarrellings in the past. Gisela Friedrichsen reports.

Author’s ‘Satanic’ play debuts: No problems over contentious story

A German theater has brought Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to the stage, with no sign of trouble after authorities promised thorough security precautions. The Hans-Otto Theater in Potsdam says its version, which has 12 actors and ran for nearly four hours, is the first theatrical presentation of the novel. Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie to live in hiding for a decade. Theater director Uwe Eric Laufenberg had invited the author to Sunday’s premiere, but it had been unclear whether he would attend and Rushdie could not be seen in the audience. I think it is time for the Muslim world to say exactly what it finds so provocative about this book. Simply to say, _This book insults us’ is no longer enough at some point, Laufenberg said. He argued that the theatrical version could help to focus on the book’s contents and ease objections.

Protests continue in Afghanistan over Dutch film and Danish cartoons; demand troop withdrawal

Thousands of Afghanis demonstrated last weekend in Western Afghanistan, shouting slogans against Denmark and the Netherlands for alleged insults against Islam, concerning the re-printing of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers, and the upcoming release of an anti-Quran film by a Dutch lawmaker. An estimated 10,000 people took part in the protest, where shouts were heard of Death to Denmark for insulting our prophet” and “Death to the Netherlands for insulting our religion.” Protesters torched flags of each nation, and said that Kabul must sever ties with the Dutch and Danish governments, including the expulsion of their troops serving with a NATO-led force to tackle extremist insurgency.

Scholars call for international law to against religious insults

The re-publication of the Prophet cartoons by seventeen Danish newspapers last week was denounced by Muslims the world over. The controversy is not one of press freedom, but rather it feeds cycles of hatred and ignorance which only increase the gulfs between religions, according to the Prime Minister, Dr. Ali Mohammed Mujawr, in a support meeting organized by the Al-Eman University last Monday calling for defending the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). In his speech, Mujwar called for an international law that criminalizes religious insults and enforces mutual respect of religions, calling on all rationalists in the West to avoid such negative acts. This can only increase the instability in relations among Islamic and Western nations, said Mujwar. The publication of these cartoons has nothing to do with press freedom, a device used by some as a shield to insult others. This was an act that violates human values, laws and rights, satisfying only the devilish whims of those who put the cartoons to print, said Mujwar.