The roles of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Grenfell Tower tragedy

The fire at Grenfell Tower killed more than 80 people. Many Muslims lived in and nearby the tower. Muslims residents and neighbours were instrumental in saving lives. The fire occurred after midnight. While many in the area were asleep, Muslims were often awake for the observances of Ramadan. Muslim residents awoke people in other flats and Muslim neighbours were among the first on the scene to assist. Muslim organisations, such as Muslim Aid, continued to be active in relief efforts.

The next evening volunteers held an iftar to allow Muslim victims and volunteers to break their fast. Many were working hard to support each other despite their fast.

Racial and economic discrimination may have contributed to the causes of the fire, as “it’s difficult to imagine this disaster–caused by a huge dereliction of duty and refusal to listen to residents’ concerns–befalling a community of white Britons.” Grenfell Tower was social housing provided by the government for people who require housing assistance.

Black and South Asian survivors felt that the government did not act as though they had a right to complain about the terrible safety conditions of the building prior to the fire.

Grand Mosque of Paris calls on Muslims to vote Macron

“The Grand Mosque of Paris and its National Federation (FGMP) calls on France’s Muslims to vote en masse for the candidate Emmanuel Macron who, regarding Republican values and the strict application of laïcité, personifies the route to hope and confidence in the spiritual forces and citizens of the nation” said Dalil Boubakeur, the mosque’s rector.

Before the second round “which will determine the future of France and its minorities, all Frenchmen must remain united against the threat of dangerous xenophobic beliefs in order to sustain national unity,” Boubakeur added. The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) also tweeted for “Republican mobilization,” before the second round of elections.

Attacks on Muslim Americans Fuel Increase in Hate Crime, F.B.I. Says

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. reported Monday that attacks against American Muslims surged last year, driving an overall increase in hate crime against all groups.

The data, which is the most comprehensive look at hate crime nationwide, expanded on previous findings by researchers and outside monitors, who have noted an alarming rise in some types of crimes tied to the vitriol of this year’s presidential campaign and the aftermath of terrorist attacks at home and abroad since 2015.

That trend appears to have spiked in just the last week, with civil rights groups and news organizations reporting dozens of verbal or physical assaults on minorities and others that appear to have been fueled by divisions over the election.

In its report on Monday, the F.B.I. cataloged a total of 5,818 hate crimes in 2015 — a rise of about 6 percent over the previous year — including assaults, bombings, threats, and property destruction against minorities, women, gays and others.

Attacks against Muslim Americans saw the biggest surge. There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims last year, a jump of about 67 percent over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hospitals urge Muslims to donate organs

Hospitals in the West Midlands are urging Muslims to consider donating their organs for patients waiting for transplants. Muslims needing an organ donation, such as a new kidney or liver, wait on average a year longer than non-Muslims.

This is due to a lack of donors coming forward from a matching ethnic background. The reason for the lack of suitable ethnic donors is uncertainty over whether Islam condemns or condones the practice of organ donation.There is much confusion, in part because there is nothing in the Koran which can be referred to, and because scholars have differing opinions.

The shortage of donors is not just a British problem. In April, Islamic scholars came together at Karachi University in Pakistan to discuss the issue. Figures from the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation show that there are fewer organ transplants from deceased people in Muslim-majority countries, compared with the rest of the world.

For some states of course, that could be down to a lack of investment in medical facilities. For others, it is a religious matter.

Dr Adnan Sharif warns waiting lists for organs are getting longer
Dr Adnan Sharif warns waiting lists for organs are getting longer

British Army seeks to recruit more Muslim troops

British Muslims share information about Islam during Islam Awareness Week at the army's headquarters in Andover. (Photo: Library, UK Government/Armed Forces)
British Muslims share information about Islam during Islam Awareness Week at the army’s headquarters in Andover. (Photo: Library, UK Government/Armed Forces)

More must be done to recruit soldiers from ethnic minorities and in particular the Muslim community, the Head of the British Army has admitted. General Sir Nicholas Carter, who took up the role of Chief of the General Staff last year, said that ethic minority representation in the military is “nowhere near where it needs to be”.

“We have to do more. My highest priority is ensuring we continue to have the best possible talent throughout our Army,” he said. Figures released by the Ministry of Defence reveal there are only 480 Muslims serving in Army.

That is only 0.54% of the total regular force of 88,500. Moreover, not all of those Muslims are British – some joined from Commonwealth countries. Overall, all ethnic minorities – including black, Asian, Sikh, Hindu and Fijian people – make up less than 10% of the force.

The military’s Islamic Religious Advisor welcomed General Carter’s comments.
“In my view, the values of the Armed Forces are fully compatible with the values of Islam as well as other faiths,” said Imam Asim Hafiz.

“Anybody wishing to pursue a career in the Services, Regular or Reserve, and is prepared to work hard can be assured of a very rewarding experience.”

Senior figures in the military and Ministry of Defence recognise that conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to negative perceptions of the military in Muslim communities. General Carter wants that to change through closer interaction and engagement with ethnic minority communities.

Iraqi religious persecution hits home in Nebraska

August 13, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — Iekhan Safar moved from Iraq to Lincoln for the same reason that hundreds of Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority, came to Nebraska’s capital city: to live near family, far from the dangers they’ve long faced as a persecuted group.

Lincoln has the largest concentration of Yazidis (yah-ZEE-dees) in the United States, and many of them brought their families to the U.S. after receiving visas for serving as translators during the first Gulf War. Now, the city is at the center of a frantic effort to draw attention to the group’s plight in northern Iraq, where Yazidis are fleeing from Islamic State militants to escape violence and attempts to convert them to Islam.

Yazidis in Lincoln say they’re grateful for the humanitarian airdrops and airstrikes against militants that President Barack Obama ordered last week, but fearful that their loved ones can no longer live peacefully in Iraq.

Uncertain of what to do, Yazidis staged a hastily organized rally at the Nebraska Capitol and the governor’s residence this month and reached out to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who along with four other congressmen sent a letter to Obama calling for immediate humanitarian assistance. They also sent five vans of people to Washington to appeal to the State Department, asking for food, water and protection for their relatives.

“Once a small group of relatives establishes a home base somewhere, it serves as a magnet for other families,” said Sebastian Maisel, a professor of Middle East Studies at Grand Valley State University in Michigan who has extensively researched Yazidis. “It’s the way that many communities from the Middle East like to live. They rely on a support network in the larger community.”

The dark side of University – Students attitudes towards Jewish and Muslim minorities

February 28, 2014

 

A German-Canadian study dealing with “antisemitic and anti-muslim attitudes and prejudices by students” was presented last week in the Jewish Museum of Berlin. One of the scholars conducting the study, the educational scientist Wassilis Kassis, explained the goals of the collaborative study, which took place between the University of Osnabrück and the University of Victoria in British Columbia (Canada).

As the „dark side of University”, the study describes a high percentage of anti-Muslim and antisemitic attitudes and prejudices among students of both Universities. Only a few number of students have distanced themselves to discriminating statements towards Muslims and Jews. In Osnabrück,  only 18% out of 1.000 students rejected statements such as “German women should not marry Muslims” or “Muslims provoke hostility against Islam through their behavior”. In summary, approximately 80% of respondents showed anti-Muslim prejudices at different degrees.

Approximately 40% of students of both Universities show antisemitic attitudes in “partly” or “fully” agreeing with statements such as “less Jews should be allowed to immigrate”. The study assumes antisemitism to be the entrance for expansion of hostile stereotypes against further minorities.

Wassilis Kassis is concerned about the reactions of the public by emails. Most writers have openly demonstrated their resentments or hatred against Islam and Muslims. So far, most assumptions rely on the thesis of education and social background as resistant factors towards antisemitic or anti-Muslim prejudices. Prof. Dr. Zick, Social- psychologist and leader of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Conflict and Violence Studies at the University of Bielefeld, urges to educate children at school to learn how to deal with conflicts without questioning the “other” identity.

The study is not yet published.

 

Migazin

http://www.migazin.de/2014/02/28/antisemitismus-islamfeindlichkeit-bildung-studenten-vorurteile/

Shehneela Ahmed, football agent

January 26, 2014

 

The first Muslim woman to qualify as an FA-approved football agent, Shehneela Ahmed, has announced that she is on a mission to open up the sport to more female players and people from ethnic minorities. Her sentiments exactly. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Ms Ahmed, 42, who moved from Rochdale to London after graduating from Staffordshire University and also works as a duty solicitor, said: “This will have a big impact on my career as I intend to promote more people from the Asian background to encourage their children to take part in the sports industry.”

“After spending all day dealing with criminals, footballers are a doddle,” Ms Ahmed explained. Ms Ahmed, who received her license in September added: “I’ve had clients approach me, from players, managers and clubs, and I’ve had some really good feedback so far.”

With only eight of the 4,000 players in the Football League of Asian descent, you find Ms Ahmed is not resting on her laurels. “I want to prove to ethnic minorities and females that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” she said.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/i/page-3-profile-shehneela-ahmed-football-agent-9073254.html

 

Amsterdam to Encourage Ethnic Minorities to Vote in Local Elections

January 10, 2014

 

Amsterdam’s city council plans to spend 400,000Euros encouraging ethnic minorities to vote in the upcoming local elections. Turnout in local elections is usually 50% and the city council wants to see an increase to 65%. To do this the city is planning a ‘specific approach to target specific groups’, says mayor van der Laan. Some parties oppose the move, and D66 campaign leader Jan Paternotte commented “City council money should be used to reach all Amsterdammers, not just ethnic minority voters.” The campaign has been spearheaded by a member of the Labour party, which has a high level of support among people with Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese backgrounds.

 

Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/01/local_elections_amsterdam_earm.php

Canadian Muslims encounter increasing hostility: Siddiqui

October 13, 2013

By Haroon Siddiqui

 

Jews have historically been falsely accused of wielding too much power. Now Canadian Muslims are, especially in Quebec.

A national poll has taken a measure of bigots who exaggerate the power of those they dislike. Nearly a third of Canadians believe Muslims have too much influence in their province. In Quebec, 43 per cent think so. This is ironic, given that Canadian Muslims report feeling under siege and helpless to stop the demonization directed at them because of Muslim mayhem elsewhere in the world.

A second poll corroborates the increasing hostility toward Muslims — again, more so in Quebec.

The findings come amid an ugly debate in Quebec over its plan to ban religious symbols and clothing, especially the hijab, for those on the public payroll. And there are increasing incidents of hijabi women being harassed — not just in Quebec but in Ontario and elsewhere.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, as it is in the U.S. and Europe. The 2011 national census estimated the Canadian Muslim population at 1,053 million, up 73 per cent since 2001. In Quebec, it is 243,500.

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival that marks the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, a gathering of about three million, including an estimated 1,500 from Canada.

Forum Research Inc. asked a representative sample of 1,527 Canadians about theirperception of the power of minorities.

Thirty per cent say Muslims have too much power. Twenty-one per cent think that about the Sikhs. And 18 per cent each say that about Jews and “Asians” (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.)

In Quebec, suspicion of Muslims and Jews is much higher. While 43 per cent think that Muslims are too powerful, 32 per cent think that of Jews. Tellingly, more separatists think that way than others. “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia common among Indépendendistes,” reads the headline on the Forum findings.

“If the Charter of Quebec Values is an example of the Parti Québécois practising dog whistle politics, it appears there are plenty of ears tuned to that particular frequency,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum.

I presented him with an argument: The poll merely quantifies the bigotry that’s always present in society; that he asked leading questions (“Do Muslims have too much influence in your province?”); and that respondents mouth off against whatever group is in the news negatively.

Bozinoff had a crisp answer: “Respondents had a right to say no but a great many didn’t. It was an IVR (interactive voice response) poll — people were pressing 1 and 2 on their phones in response to questions. There was no human being influencing them.

“The results are shocking but informative.”

An Angus Reid poll asked a sample of 2,025 Canadians — divided into Quebec and the rest of Canada — their views about different faiths.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t like Islam. In the rest of Canada, 54 per cent don’t.

Next on Quebecers’ hit list is Sikhism, disliked by 43 per cent, followed by Judaism, disliked by 41 per cent.

In the rest of Canada, 39 per cent view Sikhism negatively, 29 per cent Hinduism and 22 per cent Judaism.

Who holds the most negative views? Both polls point to the old, the less educated and the less wealthy.

Forum also shows that across Canada, Conservative supporters are more likely, 36 per cent, than supporters of other parties to presume that Muslims are too powerful. In Quebec, 47 per cent of PQ and 53 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters think so.

Angus Reid shows that younger and university-educated Canadians hold more favourable opinions of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

We may shrug off all this as a passing phenomenon.

After all, similar views have been held in the past against Catholics, Japanese, blacks and, especially, Jews. Over time, prejudices shift toward newer minorities, including by those who had once been victims of just such prejudice.

Or it may be that more people these days are willing to admit their biases and do so with a stridency we used to think of as un-Canadian.

Still, Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid says that leaving aside Quebec, the results do suggest that the rest of Canada, while more open-minded than Quebec, “may be operating under a veneer of acceptance rather than actual acceptance” of religious minorities.

For sure, Canada is not immune from post-9/11 fear of Muslims. We see that in the crude public discourse, especially in right-wing media and among some politicians, especially in Quebec, who feed at the Islamophobic trough.

 

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/13/canadian_muslims_encounter_increasing_hostility_siddiqui.html