Controversial benefit event for Muslims in Birma cancelled due to alleged hate preacher

The Dutch Muslim foundation Rohamaa which organizes humanitary projects in Muslim countries such is Birma and Syria has cancelled a controversial benefit event in the Dutch municipality of Rijswijk. The event was discredited become alleged “hate imams” would speak at the event. According to the municipality of Rijswijk “the foundation has said that the charitable goals of the meeting – because of current happenings and negative media coverage – has been drawn into the background.” The municipality has called the organization’s canceling the event “a very brave decision.”

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders has retracted the visas of the three imams that were to preach at the event. Rohamaa has reacted “baffled” by this decision. “The retraction was executed on the bases of information more detailed information by the NVTC [National Coordination of Counter-Terrorist Measures and Security, ed.] and is fitting in the context of the action program jihadims,” the minister said in a reaction.

The total of seven speakers that were invited to the program had background from Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Nigeria, and Belgium. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not want to extrapolate on the identity of the speakers for whom the visas were retracted.

Survey shows Muslim population is fastest growing religion in Canada

May 8, 2013

By Jordan Press

 

OTTAWA — The Islamic centre in Saskatoon is experiencing growing pains. Friday services have been split in two so local streets aren’t clogged with traffic. City officials and nearby residents are working with the centre to answer questions like where to put more parking?

“We have been experiencing this kind of steady increase for a while,” said Amin Elshorbagy, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

“We can see this in terms of the need to expand our infrastructure. Most of our Islamic centres are becoming very crowded.”

Across the country, the Muslim population is growing at a rate exceeding other religions, according to Statistics Canada. It is even growing faster than the number of Canadians identifying as having no religion, though just barely, according to the National Household Survey released Wednesday.

The Muslim population exceeded the one million mark, according to the survey, almost doubling its population for the third-consecutive decade.

However, the survey results should be taken with caution. Experts say the voluntary nature of the survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, leaves gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to such surveys, such as new immigrants.

Experts believe the data provide a fairly good, broad picture of Canada, but data on smaller groups may have less reliable information.

As mosques become more commonplace and more women wear the niqab, there are growing debates about religious accommodations.

“We need to sit down as Muslims, not as a community because there isn’t one community, and decide what we want to be accommodated and what we want to give up,” said Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

That internal debate in the Muslim community sometimes gets sidetracked, largely because of the backdrop of violence done in the name of religion, which Canadian Muslims regularly condemn.

“It is an additional pressure and a big one on the Muslim community,” Elshorbagy said.

“We need to be extra nice just because we’re Muslims. We need to go beyond certain limits, which is very unfortunate for people like me,” he said. “Sometimes the media will call something Islamic terrorism — once you call it Islamic, you’ve brought me into the picture even though I haven’t done something wrong.”

And with their numbers now reportedly over the one million mark, the pressures are likely to mount.

“Polling has shown that Canadian Muslims are proud to be Canadian, more so than the average Canadian,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Canadian Muslims very much want to integrate and be part and parcel of the society.”

One-on-one, non-Muslims may have favourable views of their Islamic colleagues, but that feeling doesn’t always extend to the wider Muslim population, said Pamela Dickey Young, a professor of religion and culture at Queen’s University.

“It isn’t like Canadian Muslims have not tried to educate the Canadian populace…but for some reason there’s still that edge with it that some Canadians have problems getting over,” Dickey Young said.

Muslims now represent 3.2 per cent of the country’s total population, nudging up from the two per cent recorded in 2001.

Immigration has largely fuelled the increase, with the largest share coming from Pakistan over the past five years, according to Statistics Canada.

But the survey provides no breakdown of type of Muslims living in Canada, as the survey didn’t ask respondents, for instance, whether they were Shiite or Sunni.

“People keep blocking us into one cohesive mass and we’re not that at all,” Hogben said.

 

National Post: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/08/survey-shows-muslim-population-is-fastest-growing-religion-in-canada/

 

Islamic converts threatened to ‘kill non-believers’ in vigilante patrol

November 11, 2013

 

Two Islamic converts threatened to stab members of the public and “kill non-believers” as they roamed the streets of east London in the early hours of the morning. Ricardo McFarlane, 36, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons joined a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” attempting to impose Sharia Law. Alongside a ginger-haired white convert called Jordan Horner, 19, the pair confiscated alcohol and berated non-Muslims for their alleged anti-Islamic behaviour as well as uploading YouTube videos criticising inappropriate dress.

Last month Horner, who wants to bring Sharia law to Britain, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and two charges of using threatening words and behaviour.

Today the prosecution accepted pleas from MacFarlane to affray and the 23 year-old to using threatening words and behaviour. Both men refused to stand in the dock as they pleaded guilty.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10

More American Jewish Students Take Up Study of the Arab World

October 18, 2013

 

Miriam Berger studied Arabic at Wesleyan University, lived twice as a student in Jordan, did thesis research in the West Bank and, after graduation, worked in Cairo. And like many of the Americans she has met each step of the way, she is Jewish.

“I don’t see it as a contradiction at all,” said Ms. Berger, 23, who grew up near Philadelphia where she attended a Jewish day school. “I grew up hearing so much about the Middle East, how it was this dangerous place we can’t understand, but as I learned more, every day it felt like old ideas were being challenged, and I wanted to contribute to better understanding.”

In the United States, colleges and universities are riding a two-decade surge in Middle East studies, reflecting that region’s consistent pull on American economics and security. And while there are no definitive demographic data, students and professors say that in classrooms, or in undergraduate study-abroad and postgraduate fellowship programs in the Middle East and in Arabic, it is not unusual for one-quarter or more of the students to be Jewish.

These students say their interest grew because of their heritage, not in spite of it. They feel a desire, even a duty, to understand a region where Israel and the United States are enmeshed in longstanding conflicts, and to act as bridges between cultures — explaining the Arab world to Americans, and America (and sometimes Jews) to Arabs.

 

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/us/more-american-jewish-students-take-up-study-of-arabic.html

‘Muslim Patrol’ vigilante pleads guilty to assault and threats

October 18, 2013

 

A Muslim convert who was part of an east London gang of self-styled vigilantes calling themselves the “Muslim Patrol” pleaded guilty in court on Friday to assaulting two people in the street. Jordan Horner, 19, admitted two charges of assault and using threatening words and behaviour in January this year.

The group threatened to kill non-believers and “shank” them, meaning stab them. They also uploaded videos to YouTube criticising non-Muslims for being inappropriately dressed. Horner and his group allegedly said: “Why are you poisoning your body? It is against Islam. This is Muslim Patrol. Kill the non-believers.” One then told another to “go get the shank” in reference to a knife, but as the group of men started walking away Horner threw punches at two of them, hitting one in the jaw.

The actions of the “Muslim Patrol” were condemned by the East London mosque, which described them as “utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord”.

During that incident, he pushed one photographer outside the Walthamstow house of the radical preacher Anjem Choudary two days after Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich on 22 May. He also threatened to cut off the head of another photographer, before causing £3,000 of damage to her car.

He will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

 

The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/18/muslim-patrol-vigilante-guilty-assault

Abu Qatada will be able to preach while incarcerated at Jordanian prison

Abu Qatada will be able to preach while incarcerated, prison officials said at the Muwaqqar facility where the firebrand preacher is currently being held. Inmates are referred to as guests, “like we’re talking about a hotel where we provide them with services,” say staff at Jordan’s smartest prison, the Muwaqqar Rehabilitation and Correctional Center. “It is better for him here than in Britain” said Abd al Hamid Gamil AlKafawin, one of the prison officials. “Here he is treated just like any other guest, and has no restrictions imposed on him.” He is also allowed visits by his family three times a week; on Tuesday his mother and 8 of his siblings visited Abu Qatada, though they could only communicate by telephone from behind a glass screen.

 

Contrary to initial reports that he would be kept in solitary confinement, Abu Qatada is sharing a cell with 15 inmates. His cell, furnished by 12 bunk beds lining the walls, can accommodate up to 26. Many of the 950 inmates, including his current cellmates, are doing time for the same crime Abu Qatada is charged with; crimes against state security. If sentenced, Abu Qatada would remain here and be able to teach inmates, say prison officials. Although the position of sheikh is currently filled, the Salafist preacher is bound to find a keen following. Such a position would be paid; teaching is but one of several occupations available to inmates. Others include carpentry and agriculture.

 

The Adaleh Center for Human Rights, which the British government has appointed to oversee his wellbeing, visited the facility twice last year.

 

Abu Qatada will be a free man in Jordan soon, his family predict

Abu Qatada’s family said on Monday they expected to have him home within days and expressed their hopes court proceedings against the controversial cleric would progress smoothly so he could soon return to normal life. Close friends claimed the decade-long fight to deport Qatada from Britain is unlikely to end in a jail term, and said in their opinion he would almost certainly be cleared by the Jordanian courts.

His was twice convicted in absentia for conspiring to engage in terrorist activities in Jordan, and courts there sentenced him to life imprisonment. The same charges were repeated at the State Security Court on Sunday, where Qatada denied all allegations.  His co-conspirators were sentenced and later pardoned by the king. It is this precedent which makes Abu Hanieh optimistic his friend will be freed.  The exclusion of evidence obtained under torture, the prerequisite for Qatada’s return to Jordan, is another reason. “It’s usual to get evidence by torture here,” said Abu Hanieh, who has been imprisoned many times.

Abu Qatada deported from UK to stand trial in Jordan

Abu Qatada (guardian)Radical cleric Abu Qatada has appeared in court in Jordan after being deported from the UK. His plane left RAF Northolt at 02:46 BST for his home country, where he was formally charged with terror offences, which he denies. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “delighted” at his removal. Abu Qatada was first arrested in the UK over alleged terror connections in 2001. He was rearrested in 2005, when attempts to deport him began. The Palestinian-Jordanian cleric’s deportation was finally able to proceed after the UK and Jordan signed a treaty agreeing that evidence obtained through torture would not be used against him.

 

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was glad that the government’s determination to remove him had been “vindicated”. “This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country,” she said. She added that she wanted to streamline such deportation processes in future. “I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport.

 

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mrs May said she had been provided with updates on the deportation throughout the night and that she had been “as frustrated as the public” about the estimated £1.7m cost and length of time it had taken to remove Abu Qatada, but that people would welcome the end result.

 

There was tight security as Abu Qatada arrived back in Jordan – where he grew up – for the first time in more than 20 years. He was immediately driven from Marka airbase to the state security court – a journey that would have taken just a few minutes. After the hearing his lawyer Tayseer Diab said: “The attorney general interrogated him today, and he directed a series of accusations towards him – he accused him of conspiracy to take part in terrorist acts. My client denied all the allegations, and he asserts that his return to Jordan was out of his own free will, in order to be with his family. The procedure was carried out well, and he received good treatment.”

 

Asked whether Abu Qatada’s wife and children would have the right to stay in the UK, Mrs May said they would have to decide what they want their future to be before the government gets involved.

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist by Victoria Brittain

The voluntary departure from Britain of Omar Othman, better known as Abu Qatada, is a triumph for the independence of the judiciary over this and previous governments’ high-profile attempts to send him to face a trial in Jordan, where the evidence against him was obtained by torture. Our judiciary has safeguarded a prominent political refugee who our society chose to persecute in a disgraceful way.

 

Since 2007 as many as 12 senior British judges in various courts have recognised the torture origins of the evidence against him, which successive prime ministers and home secretaries have, until a few weeks ago, publicly put all their political weight into ignoring. The US, aided by the UK, on behalf of its key ally Jordan, went so far as to kidnap UK residents Jamil el-Banna and Bisher al-Rawi on a business trip in Africa, torture them in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, and take them to Guantánamo in order to interrogate them about Othman. When those men sued the British authorities for what they had done, parliament was persuaded to create secret courts to adjudicate on secret defences.

 

The British judges’ success is that the Jordanian government has now made a change in its law that applies only to Othman and no one else. In his case the burden of proof is now on the prosecutor to show that any statement made against him in court was not produced by torture or any other form of ill-treatment – a reversal of the previous situation. In addition, his safety in Jordan is enormously enhanced by the new conditions agreed, which include his detention in a civilian facility, the exclusion of the Jordanian intelligence service from any access to him, monitoring by an independent human rights body, and a commitment that Britain will be contacted if there are concerns.

 

But the most recent phase of this long saga has left poison in our society. The home secretary, prime minister, mayor of London, countless MPs – including senior Labour party figures – have led the media in reckless and prejudiced comments, making Othman the most demonised individual in Britain.

 

The mantra of the home secretary, Theresa May, that “this is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist”, has been repeated so often that the facts have been forgotten. No one suggests Othman is physically dangerous himself. No one has charged him with anything, except the Jordanians with the torture-tainted evidence. No one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s. At that time he aligned himself with Islamic revolutionary movements opposing regimes that have now fallen, or which barely cling to power.

 

Our security services and politicians turned this man into an Islamic counter-terrorism myth. If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books. His children have excelled at school, with help and encouragement from his daily phone calls from prison.

 

I have been a friend of Othman’s wife and daughters for some years, and have had many opportunities to talk to him in prison and when he was at home on bail. I’ve been struck by his dignity and lack of bitterness over his family’s treatment, and I believe that, rather than being scapegoated, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth and healing the wounds in our divided society.

Abu Qatada extradition battle has cost taxpayers £1.7m, says Theresa May

The Home Office’s long legal duel with the radical cleric Abu Qatada has cost taxpayers £1,716,306, Theresa May has told MPs. The figure includes £647,658 in legal aid for the terror suspect and more than £1m in government costs, the home secretary disclosed in a letter to the all-party Commons home affairs committee. But the overall bill would have been nearer £2m if more than £200,000 had not been used from Abu Qatada’s frozen assets, according to officials. The bill, run up since 2005, was revealed as the formalities were being finalised for a legal treaty with Jordan which would allow Abu Qatada’s deportation. Ministers are hoping this can be ratified at Westminster by next Friday and the cleric put on a plane as soon as possible afterwards. Home secretaries have been trying for years to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted in his absence in 1999 of terror charges related to bomb attacks. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission previously heard that a USB stick understood to belong to Abu Qatada’s eldest son contained “jihadist files” made by the “media wing of al-Qaida”.

The Jordanian parliament has approved a treaty with the UK designed to trigger the removal of radical cleric Abu Qatada, the Home Office has said. The agreement, unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May in April, aims to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the terror suspect at a retrial. The agreement has been approved by both houses of the Jordanian parliament but must still be signed off by the country’s King Abdullah. The UK Government expects the treaty to be ratified in Britain by June 21.