Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims

Omar Suleiman, a Muslim American imam from Dallas and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, is taking on the world’s largest search engine to stop it from spreading hate.

Suleiman and his team have been publishing reports on controversial topics in Islam ― like jihad ― in the hopes of influencing the search algorithm. His goal is to flood the search results with accurate information on Islam.  Basic searches for words like “Muslim” and “Islam” return reasonable results with links to reputable sites. But more specific terms, like “sharia,” “jihad” or “taqiyya” ― often co-opted by white supremacists ― return links to Islamophobic sites filled with misinformation.

The same thing happens with the autofill function. If a user types in “does islam,” the first suggestion that pops up to complete the query is “does islam permit terrorism.” Another egregious example occurs when a user inputs “do muslim.” The autofill results include “do muslim women need saving.”

 

“The Jihad wears Prada, an Analysis of Jihadist Conversions in Europe”

In his French-written study, published in the Cahiers de l’Institut Religioscope in August 2016, Olivier Moos looks at home grown jihadism in Europe and the reasons why some young Muslim Europeans join ISIS.

The diversity of itineraries

A historian at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and at the Ecole des Hautes etudes en sciences sociales (France) , Olivier Moos, points out the diversity of itineraries and the impossibility to find any decisive variable to explain the enrollment in jihadi groups. Particularly in terms of social background, since many profiles challenge our most common preconceptions. For example, many jihadis do not belong to the most economically marginalized fringes of their society; not all of them have a previous criminal experience; 20 to 30 % of jihadis (depending on the country) are converts, thus have not been raised in Muslim-practicing families, etc .

No “chemical formula”, but some trends

However, and to quote Olivier Moos: “If it is impossible to know in a exhaustive manner, like for a chemical formula, what drives an individual to embrace an extremist thought or to carry on a terrorist action, it is however possible and necessary to circumscribe a certain number of aspects of this phenomenon”.

Thus for the author, some tendencies can be identified. More than politics and ideology, young Muslims that turn to jihadism are above all motivated by a research of status and identity. This process is more emotional than rational.

Moos pays special attention to the “branding” of the Islamic state – which explains the reference to “Prada” in the study’s title.. – and shows how the propaganda of the so-called “Islamic state” functions as a counterculture par excellence. If ISIS is so seductive for its targets, it is also because its propaganda and the urban/”ghetto” subculture share an aesthetics of violence and of transgression.

 By Farida Belkacem

Source :

Olivier Moos, « Le djihad s’habille en Prada », Cahiers de l’Institut Religioscope, n°14, August 2016 : http://www.religion.info/pdf/2016_08_Moos.pdf

What makes a young British woman turn to Salafism?

Salafism is now thought to be the fastest growing Islamic faction in the UK. Salafism, often referred to as Wahhabism, is an ideology commonly associated with Isis and often features in the news, usually as a label applied to jihadis who’ve committed atrocities abroad. This has led many to assume that home-grown followers – who first began to emerge in the 1980s – pose an active threat to society. In Britain, however, the vast majority of self-described Salafis are explicitly anti-violence – indeed, their leaders have been among the most vocal in their condemnation of terrorism.

They also expressly prescribe obedience to the law of the land, so you won’t hear them calling for sharia law to take its place. In other respects, Salafism is arguably one of the most puritanical and conservative brands of Islam: it advocates strict gender segregation, for instance, face veils and rules that govern practically every aspect of day-to-day life. There’s even a Salafi etiquette for going to the lavatory (while saying a special prayer, enter the bathroom with your left foot forward, then exit with your right; do not greet anyone while on the loo).

And any modern dilemmas that haven’t already been covered will be ruled on by male scholars thousands of miles away – usually in Saudi Arabia. Nor may a woman disobey her husband – who is entitled to take up to four wives – unless he’s trying to interfere with her religious duties. Theoretically, he’s within his rights to demand sexual intercourse whenever he wants (unless she’s menstruating), as well as to forbid her from going out to work.

So why would any young British woman choose to become Salafi? What makes her want to stop going out raving with her mates – as many did before donning the niqab – and to live by rules that make 1950s housewives seem liberated? To find out, I spent nearly two-and-a-half years participating as much as possible in the highly segregated activities of Salafi women’s communities in London. Had they been brainwashed? Or forced into niqabs and seclusion? And how did they reconcile the strict rules they had to follow with life in modern Britain?

Most of the women, I discovered, had come from less observant Muslim backgrounds, though a substantial number were converts from other religions. All seemed well-equipped to make a rational decision: the vast majority were either current or former students, or else actively planning to go to college or university. I’d begun my research by respectfully donning a headscarf – though I never pretended to be Muslim – and attending the women’s religious study circles, Friday prayers and other community events, with the permission of the leaders. But gaining the trust of people who already felt constantly under scrutiny as potential “extremists” was no easy task.

I’ve witnessed for myself how Salafi preachers convey a sense of simplicity and authenticity. At every lesson I attended, the teachers rarely strayed from quoting or paraphrasing the words of the scriptures or of famous Islamic scholars. In fact, the phrase “I think” is banned from the Salafi teacher’s lexicon: all points must be framed by the Qur’an, hadith or words of a respected scholar. Even the rules that shape their lives are presented as rooted in “authentic” Islamic texts. They may be harsh in a 21st-century context, but they leave no room for doubt. And that’s the attraction: complete and utter certainty. Having such a clear sense of purpose in life was undoubtedly fulfilling for the women I interviewed. “Subhanallah [glory to God]!” said Maryam, a university student in her mid-twenties. “I feel more at peace and tranquil, in that I am trying my utmost to implement the religion because I have evidence to support me.”

For a Salafi, there’s no need to familiarise yourself with centuries of Islamic scholarship and debate, or to investigate the practices of the many other Muslim groups. By simply following Salafi teachings, it is claimed, you can be assured of God’s blessing – and hopefully a place in Paradise. As one woman, Wafa put it: “It’s as simple as ABC.”

The other women I interviewed made similar remarks, though all had unique stories to tell. Among them were Afro-Caribbean converts, the daughters of Somali refugees, former gang members, second-generation Pakistanis and people with various other mixed backgrounds. Some had previously been supporters of Islamist and jihadi groups, but had eventually become disillusioned and started seeking alternatives. I even met a former Catholic nun, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, two Poles and a Sikh convert. All had decided to embrace Salafism and live by its rules. Far from converting because of family pressure, as is often assumed, most women had parents who were, at best, puzzled by their daughters’ new lifestyle.

Muslim women kicked out of US cafe accused of ‘civilizational jihad’ by lawyer

Soondus Ahmed and other plantiffs and attorneys representing the women hold a press conference in Laguna Beach. A group of Muslim women who claim in a lawsuit they were kicked out of a California restaurant for wearing headscarfs have been accused of “civilizational jihad” by a lawyer for the restaurant, which has launched a countersuit.

The seven women, six of whom were wearing hijabs, were kicked out of Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach in April.

They claim that they were targeted for ejection because of their hijabs, though the cafe denies that, claiming that they were violating a policy which limited seating time to 45 minutes, and have also claimed that there were other women wearing headscarves present who were not thrown out.

David Yerushalmi, the lawyer representing Urth Caffe, said that one of the owners of the cafe, Jilla Berkman, is also a Muslim.

He said that the discrimination suit was “an extortion”, called the women’s lawyers “ambulance-chasers”, and said that he planned to bring a suit against both the plaintiffs and their legal team for malicious prosecution. The countersuit that he has brought in this case, however, is for trespassing.

Yerushalmi is a controversial figure, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit advocacy group which collates information on hate groups and extremists, as an “anti-Muslim activist who is a leading proponent of the idea that the United States is threatened by the imposition of Muslim religious law, known as Shariah”.

“Ideally, he would outlaw Islam and deport its adherents altogether,” the SPLC’s profile of Yerushalmi adds.

Asked about the SPLC’s characterization of him, Yerushalmi said that he “represents a lot of Muslims”.

“I represent Muslim Americans, running from jihad and seeking asylum. If you want to say I’m an anti-jihad lawyer, you’re 100% right,” he continued. “Am I anti-Sharia? Yes, I am. Am I anti-Muslim? Not if he doesn’t have a gun in his hand shooting at me.”

Yerushalmi alleged that the suit against Urth Caffe was part of a wider “civilizational jihad” waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which aims, he said, “to weaken western civilization”.

“Urth Caffe has decided to hire a lawyer who has made a career out of crusading against Muslims in America,” said Mohammad Tajsar, a lawyer representing the seven women. “Their decision to hire this particular gentleman frankly makes our case. It demonstrates that this organization has no regard for the very Muslim clientele that it claims it caters to.”

Tajsar said he was “dumbstruck” by the allegations made by Yerushalmi, and also noted that the legal filing – the countersuit for trespass – doesn’t attempt to legally assert the claims of abuse of lawsuit that Yerushalmi has made publicly against him and his clients.

“They haven’t countersued for abuse of process,” Tajsar said. “They have alleged abuse of process, but not filed for that, and the reason why is that it would be incorrect and patently frivolous. There’s a lot of bluster and attempts to paint our clients as politically-motivated without any basis in fact.”

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Los Angeles branch of CAIR, said that, contrary to Yerushalmi’s allegations, his organization was not involved with the case against Urth Caffe.

“I’m not privy to the details of the case, of their claim, and I would hope that a fair trial would allow us to know what happened,” he said. “But if anyone had any doubts about what happened on that day, those doubts are eliminated by the fact that the owners of Urth Caffe decided to retain David Yerushalmi.”

“There are 1.2 million attorneys in America, and for them to choose the most hateful, the most bigoted attorney, tells a lot about the values that Urth Caffe’s owners hold,” he added.

Shaker Aamer says Islamic extremists living in UK should ‘get the hell out’

The last detainee at Guantanamo Bay from the UK, who was released after 14 years in detention, has said that Islamic extremists living in the country should “get the hell out”. Shaker Aamer, 48, was held at the US military facility in Cuba on suspicion of terrorist activities but was never charged or tried. He was finally let go in October.

“How can you give yourself the right to be living here in this country, and living with the people and acting like you are a normal person, and then you just walk in the street and try to kill people?” Aamer asked in an interview with The Daily Mail.

“Even if there is a war you cannot kill just anybody, you cannot kill kids, you cannot kill chaplains, you cannot just go in the street and get a knife and start stabbing people. If you are that angry about this country, you can get the hell out,” Aamer, a father of four, said.

Aamer was never charged with any crime nor given a trial, despite being detained for 14 years.

The Paris attacks are an act of war – against Islam itself

The appalling attacks in Paris last night were, as Francois Hollande said, an act of war. They were Islamism’s declaration of war on free society – but, crucially, they represented something else. An act of war, by Islamists, upon Islam itself.

As Douglas Murray says, it is lazy and wrong to argue that these attacks had nothing to do with Islam. The repugnant creed of the Islamic State is certainly related to Islam – but it is also inimical to Islam. The scenes in Paris will shock Muslims world over; indeed, when we Muslims hear of gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” before committing the very acts of murder explicitly prohibited by the Koran, our repugnance is joined with a sense of desecration.

To assert that this Islamism is un-Islamic is not a kneejerk response to the atrocities we saw last night, and so many times around the world.

So this is a new ideology, a form of totalitarianism – and one that has its ideological source not in medieval Islam but 20th century fascism. They dress in the robes of ancient Islam, but the methods and the ideology are terrifyingly modern. The Islamic State, with is easy control of social media, is the most modern incarnation yet.

The Islamic State’s brutality against anyone it encounters – Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis or Syrians – has been a reminder to the Muslim world that Islamism is not just directed at westerners. It’s also a reminder of why the animus against Islamism is rising — holding out the prospect of real reform. Crucially, the jihadis are losing the argument. Ten years ago, a Pew poll found that 41 per cent of Pakistani Muslims said that suicide bombings were sometimes justified. Now, it’s down to 3 per cent.

This is the moment for the Islamic world to expose Islamism — but loosening its hold upon our faith falls upon those Muslims who value pluralism and pursue a civilised, enlightened Islam. The reformation many are calling for isn’t needed of Islam, but rather of Muslims — and specifically of Muslim leadership.

‘He was groomed’ Family defends Yorkshire teen who is UK’s Youngest suicide bomber

Talha Asmal, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was believed to be one of four suicide bombers who targeted security forces near an oil refinery in the town of Baiji.

The family of the 17-year-old said they were “utterly devastated and heartbroken” after he detonated a vehicle fitted with explosives in the north of the country. They claimed ISIS militants had preyed on his “innocence and vulnerability” and that “Talha was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager. He never harboured any ill-will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.”

The family said he came “from a close-knit, hard-working, peace-loving and law-abiding British Muslim family” which unreservedly “condemns and abhors all acts of violence wherever perpetrated”. They said despite him never exhibiting any extreme or radical views, he had been exploited by extremists on the internet “in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him”.

Unbeknown to them and completely against their will, they said he travelled to Iraq via Turkey and fell under the spell of Isis handlers who are “too cowardly to do their own dirty work”.

Talha Asmal, 17, is thought to have detonated a car bomb in Iraq, similar to the one pictured
Talha Asmal, 17, is thought to have detonated a car bomb in Iraq, similar to the one pictured

British al-Shabaab jihadist Thomas Evans ‘killed in battle’ in Kenya

A young British man was among those killed in a botched raid by al-Shabaab fighters on a Kenyan army base at the weekend.

Thomas Evans, a 25-year-old from the Buckinghamshire town of High Wycombe who went by the name of Abdul Hakim after converting to Islam, was among the dead fighters judging by photographic evidence, said Colonel David Obonyo, a spokesman for the Kenyan military.

Up to 100 al-Shabaab fighters are thought to have walked across the border into Kenya, but the pre-dawn raid on the army base at Baure, in Lamu county, encountered unexpectedly fierce resistance.

Evans – one of around 50 British jihadists who are believed to have travelled to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab – is thought to be among three Western men who featured in a March 2015 video by the militants showing the preparations for the offensive on Mpeketoni last year and the attack itself. Eyewitnesses at the time reported seeing a white man in command speaking fluent English and some Arabic.

‘Recruiter’ of UK jihadis: I regret opening the way to Isis

The “godfather” of the British jihadi movement, who recruited dozens of young men to fight in foreign wars, has said he now regrets opening the way for people to join terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Abu Muntasir, 55, who lives in Suffolk, was one of the first influential propagandists in the UK for a radical Islamist message. Active in the 1980s and 1990s, he helped to radicalise “thousands” of young Muslims, encouraging many of them to travel to fight in wars in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Burma, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Among the first to invite speakers to the UK from abroad who preached violence and hatred to disaffected Muslims, he distributed speeches from hate preachers Ali al-Timimi, now serving a life sentence in the US for inciting terrorism, and the late Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a controversial CIA drone attack in Yemen that also left his children dead.

Abu Muntasir in Deeyah Khan’s television documentary: “If people want to call me a coward, fine – I’m a coward.” Photograph: ITV
Abu Muntasir in Deeyah Khan’s television documentary: “If people want to call me a coward, fine – I’m a coward.” Photograph: ITV

Speaking to the Observer, Alyas Karmani said that to tackle the numbers of young people leaving the UK for Syria, Iraq and Libya, it was important that the debate should change to understanding the human elements at play. “It’s not about ideals – 90% of them never subscribe to the ideals – it’s other factors that are a draw. This is the new rock and roll; jihad is sexy. The kid who was not very good-looking now looks good holding a gun. He can get a bride now, he’s powerful. The Isis gun is as much a penis extension as the stockbroker with his Ferrari.

Humza Arshad, British Pakistani Comedian, Takes On Jihadists

Humza Arshad pokes fun at Pakistani accents and emotional soccer fans. He jokes about his weight, his voice and his own mother. But mostly, he laughs at jihadists. Mr. Arshad, 29, is no ordinary comedian. A practicing Muslim in hip-hop gear whose YouTube videos have drawn millions of views, he is the centerpiece of the British government’s latest and perhaps cleverest effort to prevent students from running off to Syria and joining the Islamic State. Since March, Mr. Arshad has been on tour with the counterterrorism unit of the Metropolitan Police. They have already taken their double act (“Ten percent message, 90 percent comedy”) to more than 20,000 students in 60 high schools across London.

 

Now Mr. Arshad, who says he first discovered stand-up as a 10-year-old watching American shows like “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam,” hopes to take his act across the Atlantic: At the end of the month he is headed to New York and Los Angeles to meet with Hollywood studios and television networks — and hold exploratory talks with American schools on his counterextremism work.