We should celebrate that we are a multi-cultural nation, says Michael Gove

Britons should celebrate the fact that their country is a “multi-cultural nation”, senior Conservatives have said. The comments came after research said that the party had to do more to attract black and ethnic minority voters if they wanted to win next year’s general election. Michael Gove, the Education secretary, issued the call and suggested that Britain was a “stronger country” because of its history of immigration.

 

He said: “The answer to our problems is not to denigrate success but to celebrate it; the answer to our problems is not to chip away at wealth creators with new taxes and new burdens, but to do everything possible to liberate them to create more jobs and opportunities for all.

 

The comments from Mr Gove, who is close to Prime Minister David Cameron, were backed by other senior party members.

 

Alok Sharma MP, the Conservatives’ vice chairman for black and minority ethnic issues told has stated that people would react positively to Mr Gove’s remarks.

 

David Green, from the right of centre think-tank Civitas, said Mr Gove had confused “multi-ethnicity” with “multi-culturalism”. He said: “Michael Gove has confused a multi-cultural society with a multi-ethnic society. We have become a multi-ethnic society, but we’ve been successful because our dominant culture of freedom and democracy allows space for different lifestyles.”

Lee Rigby murderers sentenced to life in prison

February 26, 2014

 

The two religious fanatics who murdered Lee Rigby screamed a final act of defiance in court on Wednesday as they fought with guards and were dragged from the dock prior to receiving a whole-life and life sentence respectively for their killing of the 25-year-old soldier. In dramatic scenes Michael Adebolajo shouted “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is the Greatest” before being told he would die behind bars while Michael Adebowale joined the outburst, saying that “Britain and America would never be safe”. The pair were restrained and wrestled to the ground before being taken down to the cells. Their cries had been retaliation to the judge’s conclusion that their barbaric act had been a “betrayal of Islam”.

The judge said the 29-year-old Adebolajo had “no prospect of rehabilitation” as he handed him the ultimate sentence available. 22-year-old Adebowale’s defence team said a whole-life sentence would have been “inhuman” and he was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 45 years – saved from a whole-life tariff because of his age.

Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch made a PR error in the wake of the sentencing of Lee Rigby’s killers. Mensch tweeted: “One of the aims of #LeeRigby’s murderers was to stir up religious hatred and we must not allow them to succeed in their aim. #Islam #Peace” and trying to convince her followers she was in touch with British Muslims she tweeted:

“When I think of British Muslims I think of @Mo_Farah @SayeedaWarsi @RaheemJKassam @SunnyHundal @YasminQureshiMP &c not these fools #LeeRigby”

However Sunny Hundal was born to Sikh parents of Indian origin and despite having a beard, is not Muslim. He tweeted back at her “Erm, I’m not Muslim Louise. Parents are Sikh”. After Twitter users criticised her for her mistake, Mensch argued: “I’ve thought he was Muslim for ages. Based on his politics, tweets.” However this spawned the hashtag #tweetlikeamuslim with users tweeting things like “Crikey that’s a nice minaret”, whilst others tweeted “I’m not Muslim Louise.”

Sunny Hundal told The Independent that he is not a Muslim and that he plans to tweet like a Sikh from now on.

 

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10662836/Lee-Rigby-murderers-sentenced-to-life-in-prison.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10663351/Lee-Rigby-his-killers.html

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/26/lee-rigby-killers-michael-adebolajo-adebowale-whole-life-ruling

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-michael-adebolajo-and-michael-adebowale-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-9155196.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/louise-mensch-thinks-the-real-face-of-british-islam-is-a-man-of-sikh-heritage-9156788.html

Nigel Farage distances himself from MEP over ‘Muslim code of conduct’

February 5, 2014

 

UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage has disowned “insulting” proposals from one of his MEPs for Muslims to be asked to sign a peace charter. In a statement, Mr Farage said: “This was a private publication from Gerard Batten (Ukip MEP) in 2006 and its contents are not and never have been Ukip policy. No such policy proposals would have been accepted by Ukip in any case. Ukip believes in treating people equally.”

His reaction comes after, Gerard Batten, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee, told The Guardian that he stood by the “charter of Muslim understanding” which he co-authored in 2006. It calls on Muslims to reject parts of the Koran which he claims promote “violent physical jihad”.

The Conservative leader in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall, left a letter on Mr Batten’s empty seat at the Parliament chamber in Strasbourg, offering him a guarantee that he had no intention to commit acts of violence or promote extremism. “Do you have a form I can sign already?” asked Mr Kamall. “I am anxious to assure you that I have no intention of mounting any attacks on unsuspecting infidels, nor of attempting to radicalise you or anyone else. If the forms aren’t ready yet, perhaps you would take this note as my guarantee? My wife and family would be most reassured to know you will allow me to stay in Britain, especially since I was born here. Please feel free to drop into my office to discuss this over a cup of tea. I promise you will be entirely safe.”

Mohammed Shafiq, the Chief Executive of Muslim think-tank the Ramadhan Foundation, said that suggesting that one particular community should be required to sign a “loyalty pledge” against violence was “offensive and an insult to all decent people”.

Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford, who speaks for the party on justice and human rights, said: “Gerard Batten’s comments rip apart Ukip’s pretence to be Eurosceptic but not racist. His offensive blanket stereotyping of Muslims as jihadists speaks volumes about Ukip’s extremism and should warn voters that voting Ukip means associating with hatred and Islamophobia.”

Rehman Chishti, the Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham, said Batten’s position was “shocking”, particularly the “charter of understanding” suggestion that parts of the Qur’an should be rendered “inapplicable”. “If Nigel Farage had any credibility, he would quite clearly not allow this individual to stand for office in Ukip,” he said.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s shadow London minister, also said he was “appalled at the ignorance that Gerard Batten appears to have shown when speaking about the faith that I and hundreds of thousands of British Muslims practice”.

Mary Honeyball, a Labour MEP for London, said that Batten “represents the ugliest side of Ukip. Batten’s views overlap with the far-right. The idea that Muslims should be singled out in the way he suggests is a relic from a darker, more prejudiced time.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ukip-leader-nigel-farage-rejects-muslim-charter-9109806.html

The Guardian:http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/05/nigel-farage-ukip-mep-batten-muslim-code-conduct

Dutch Politician Posts Anti-Islam Sticker

December 20, 2013

 

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has recently generated public controversy after posting a sticker on the door of his parliamentary office resembling a Saudi Arabian flag and reading “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.”

The government condemned the sticker, with deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher calling it ‘disgusting’ and aimed only at hurting people. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans stated that, “Insulting their religion is not the way to combat extremism but plays into extremists’ hands… the Dutch government is distancing itself from this.”

Lobby group Landelijk Beraad Marokkanen, led by former GroenLinks MP Mohammed Rabbae also issued a complaint against the sticker.

Following the attention to the sticker, Wilders established an email account to field comments, islamsticker@gmail.com. He later claimed that Gmail had blocked the account.

 

Dutch News (1): http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/12/government_condemns_wilders_an.php

Dutch News (2): http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/12/gmail_blocks_wilders_anti-isla.php

School children as young as 8 told they would be labelled ‘racist’ for missing school trip

November 22, 2013

 

Parents have criticised a school after children as young as eight were told they would be punished for racism if they did not attend a religious workshop about Islam. Angry mums and dads were sent a letter by Littleton Green Community School, in Huntingdon, Staffordshire, warning their children would be considered racist if they did not go on the school trip.

The visit to Staffordshire University – for Year 4 and Year 6 pupils – had been arranged as part of the children’s “cultural education” on November 27. Headteacher Lynn Small wrote to parents and said if kids did not attend a “racial discrimination note” would be made on the pupil’s records and would remain there for their school careers. On top of that, they were also ordered to pay £5 towards the cost of the trip.

Parents have criticised the school’s “ludicrous” threats and accused the school of trying to blackmail them. Stacy Waldron, 26, who has an eight-year-old daughter at the school, said: “I feel my child will be racist if I don’t allow her to go. “This is my choice, not hers, and she shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

Mum-of-four Tracy Ward added: “I was shocked by the letter. To be told my kids have got to attend this workshop is disgusting. “Everyone should have a choice but that’s my opinion and I don’t want a stain on my kids’ record as a result. “They are not old enough to be called racist.”

Her sister Donna, whose daughter also attends the school, said: “It’s not our religion. We should have a right to stop our children going.”

Around 100 pupils across four years were expected to take part in the course – which would have involved them being shown Islamic artefacts. But after parents contacted the school they were then forced to make an embarrassing U-turn and withdraw the threat after council chiefs intervened.

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson slammed the original move – labelling it “bonkers”. He said: “The idea of attaching a ‘racial discrimination note’ to children’s education records saying it will remain on their file for the duration for their school career seems unfair, particularly when it is no the child’s decision whether or not he or she attends.

Defending the decision Mrs Small said that exposing the pupils to other faiths was part of the school’s statutory duty. She said: “We are a mainly Christian school, but we have to cover at least one other religion as part of the national curriculum. This visit is part of that. “They would not be taking part in any religious practices. We have had similar workshops on a variety of religions in the past – including one on Islam with no problems at all and the children have absolutely loved it. “We have pupils and teachers at the school who belong to the Islam faith and it is right for the children to understand and appreciate their faith as well as their own.”

A spokesperson for Staffordshire County Council said: “This is a school matter and the council was only contacted once the letter had been sent.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10468353/School-children-as-young-as-8-told-they-would-be-labelled-racist-for-missing-school-trip.html

Should Muslim veils be lifted in schools?

Photo by Peter Stitger for Capsters.com
Photo by Peter Stitger for Capsters.com

To some, it can seem intimidating. To others, it is outdated and oppressive. Yet to those whose faces are shrouded beneath it, it can be a liberator, symbolising religious modesty in an increasingly secular West. To others still, it is nothing more than a piece of cloth. The future of the veil, Liberal Democrat minister Jeremy Browne told this newspaper, must be urgently reconsidered. “There is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil. We should be very cautious about imposing religious conformity on a society which has always valued freedom of expression.”

 

The matter is garnering political momentum. Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, has proposed a private member’s Bill that would make it an offence for a person to wear “a garment or other object” intended to obscure their face. Backing his proposal is Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes. Writing in this newspaper yesterday, she described veils as “deeply offensive”.

 

Striking the right balance – between an outright ban and leaving the issue to the discretion of schools – is difficult. Official guidance on facial coverings in schools – from the niqab, a veil in which the eyes are visible, to the burka, a full body veil in which the eyes are covered by mesh – was updated last year. Though the Department for Education has conspicuously avoided legislation, it backs head teachers who ban veils “on the grounds of health, safety and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

 

Now public opinion in Britain is swinging. A recent YouGov poll of 2,205 adults found that 67 per cent supported a complete sanction on wearing the burka. Proponents of a ban say schools in multicultural areas are calling out for clear restrictions on facial coverings, which, they argue, can impede learning, socialising and jeopardise an institution’s security policy.

Birmingham college reverses decision to ban Muslim face veils after protests

A college has abandoned its ban on Muslim face veils after a storm of local protest, a planned demonstration and the involvement of the prime minister. Birmingham Metropolitan College climbed down late on Thursday despite David Cameron and the Department for Education endorsing its right to have such a policy. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, had said he was “uneasy” about the move. A Muslim women’s group called the original ban “disproportionate” and challenged the college to justify why it had considered it.

The college had originally said students must remove all hoodies, hats, caps and veils to ensure individuals were “easily identifiable” as part of keeping a “safe and welcoming learning environment”.

 

The multi-campus college, which teaches more than 9,000 16- to 19-year-olds as well as thousands of adult learners, said media attention caused by the protests might detract “from our core mission of providing high quality education”. A petition against the policy had gathered 8,000 signatures and hundreds of students had planned to demonstrate against the policy on Friday. City councillors and MPs had also protested.

 

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: “This change in policy is enormously welcome. The college has made a wise decision to rethink its policy on banning veils for a group of women who would have potentially been excluded from education and skills training at the college had the ban been enforced.”

 

Aaron Kiely, national black students’ officer for the NUS, said: “I’m delighted that the petition attracted so many signatures in such a short amount of time, which affirms just how outrageous the decision to enact this policy was.”

 

Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, said: “The complete ban of the face veil on campus by the Birmingham Metropolitan College was a disproportionate response because female students who wear the veil are not only very small in number but were also willing to show their face when required so their identity could be verified.

 

Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, will introduce his private member’s bill to ban the wearing of face coverings in public for a second reading in February next year.

Three years ago he told the Independent: “I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other’s face.”

 

Jack Straw, then leader of the Commons, suggested in 2006 that wearing a veil might hinder community relations.

Muslim girl’s veil banned at Irish school

An 11-year old girl due to attend a new school in Dún Laoghaire, south of Dublin, is not allowed to wear the hijab at the school premises. The local MP has asked the Minister of Education, Ruari Quinn, to intervene on the behalf of the girl, arguing: “As the school is funded by the State, the minister has an obligation to ensure all children are treated equally and free from discrimination based on religion and dress.”

The Minister of Education, however, in response to a parliamentary question, refuses to intervene citing the 1998 Education Act according to which policies around school uniform and dress are solely determined by the board of management of individual schools.

Channel 4 chief rejects criticism over call to prayer Ramadan broadcast

Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham has rejected criticism that the broadcaster’s decision to air the Muslim call to prayer at 3am was “patronising”. Abraham told MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday that the daily broadcast fit “absolutely” with its public service remit and that it has attracted 181,000 viewers – almost triple its usual audience at 3am. Conservative MP Angie Bray questioned whether Channel 4 was “patronising” Muslims by airing the ritual at 3am, when most of the nation is asleep. Abraham countered that the timeslot is “just a practicality” of the three-minute call to prayer.

 

Terror police investigating nail bomb attack at mosque

The homemade device exploded near the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton, West Midlands, shortly after 1pm – when up to 200 worshippers would normally have been in the area for Friday prayers. However, the prayers had been moved back an hour because of Ramadan and no one was injured in the blast. The bomb, which was left on a disused railway line behind the mosque, showered the area with nails and other debris. Police were last night treating the explosion as a terrorist incident and were investigating whether there are any links to a small explosion near a mosque in nearby Walsall last month.

 

Residents in Tipton believed the attack had also been timed to coincide with the day of the funeral of Drummer Rigby in Bury. The soldier died in an alleged Islamic terror attack in Woolwich, east London, in May. Adrian Bailey, the local MP, said: “Given that it is Drummer Lee Rigby’s funeral today and previous attacks at mosques across the country, it certainly seems that this may have been connected in some way.” A nail bomb had exploded shortly after 1pm, when the mosque is usually at full capacity, but fortunately, as it is Ramadan, prayer times have changed and the devastation and potential loss of life that may have been suffered was avoided.

 

“People were evacuated and a cordon was put in place while officers worked with the army bomb disposal experts and specialist officers and it’s likely that this is an attack given the factors and evidence found already. This includes the loud bang, reports of smoke, the finding of nails and the location of a mosque. From this, we can draw the most likely conclusion that there was a serious explosion and that somebody sought to create a devastating amount of damage. The police are treating this as a terror attack, but we are still working to establish if this is connected to any other incidents that have occurred.”