Birmingham college bans the burka

Religious veils have been banned at Birmingham Metropolitan College for ‘security’ reasons, provoking anger among Muslim students and staff. As the niqab veil leaves only a small gap for the eyes, college management has deemed it a risk, stating that individuals should be ‘easily identifiable at all times’ so that all students can study in a ‘safe and welcoming learning environment’. Other clothing to be removed on the college grounds includes hoodies, hats and caps.

 

The ban has sent shockwaves around the Muslim community, with one 17-year-old girl calling the decision ‘discriminatory’ and ‘disgusting’. Another student explained that she and her Muslim peers had offered to show their faces to security men so that their IDs could be checked, but that her suggestion had been rejected.

 

“We have a very robust Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College, but to ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe,” principal and chief-executive Dame Christine Braddock told the Birmingham Mail.

 

A protest against the ban, due to take place on Friday at 2.30pm, has been organised on Facebook with a statement reading: “Muslim women already face many challenges in society leading to marginalisation and discrimination. We are under-represented in education and subsequently in public life and in the workforce.

Avicenna Scholarship for Muslim students

Talented Muslims students are given the opportunity to finance their studies through the Avicenna-Studienwerk, which was established in March 2012. Two students called Matthias Meyer (University of Konstanz) and Beschir Hussain (WHU and Columbia University) had the initial idea to create a foundation for Muslim students. The association was founded in March 2012 by researchers and students in Osnabrück. The director of the Institute for Islamic Theology Bülent Ucar spoke about a historical step towards recognition and equality of Muslims in Germany.

Selected undergraduate students receive 670 Euros per month and doctoral students receive 1050 Euros per month. The Mercator foundation is supporting the Avicenna-Studienwerk with 1 Mio. Euros for the duration of five years. The Ministry for Education and Science will support the Avicenna-Studienwerk with another 7 Mio. Euros.

The average rate of Muslims in Germany is about 4.6% to 5.2%. However the Muslim representation rate is just below 3% at German Universities.  The aim of the Avicenna-Studienwerk is to create equal opportunities for talented Muslims to participate and engage in German society.

Teaching Ramadan – news and resources round up

It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and that means the start of Ramadan – this year in July for the first time since 1980 – and most of the UK’s three million Muslims, including older children, will be fasting from dawn to sundown and focusing on being better Muslims and people. Ramadan is a great opportunity to find out more about Islam in RE lessons and beyond and also a chance for everyone to practice a little introspection. Fasting is a powerful way to empathise with those in need and give thanks for our food, and some non-Muslim students may like to practice their own controlled fasts during the Ramadan period in support of their Muslim friends. The following news stories, multimedia, teaching resources and recommended websites will help students understand the meaning behind Ramadan and how this important festival works.

New Reports from the Andalusian Observatory

21 June 2013

 

The Andalusian Observatory presented at the library of the Central Mosque of Abu-Bakr in Madrid, the Annual General Education Report Annex (2012), the 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents in Spain and the Special Report on Islamophobia incidents.

Annual General Education Report Conclusions:

  1. The Muslims students represent approximately 3% of the total of students in Spain;
  2. 35% of the Muslim students are Spanish and 65% are immigrants (50% Moroccan and 15% of other nationality);
  3. 95% of the Muslim students does not have religious classes at school;
  4. 90% of the Islamic Religious teachers are unemployed.

 

The 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

  1. The Spanish society in general accepts the Muslim presence, while a remaining percentage (which varies according to different places), does not accept it.
  2. The opening of Mosques, in some localities, is involved in polemics, obstacles and Islamophobic opposition and hostility.

 

The 2012 Special Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

 

  1. Muslims related concepts are still used in an abusive and indiscriminate way by the media.
  2. Negative stereotypes (public disorder, ideological extremism, problems of coexistence, violence, terrorism, etc) disseminated by political platforms, and amplified by the media, are causing fear in the Spanish population.
  3. The State needs to be more active in the normalization of religion and also in promoting greater social cohesion.
  4. The report gives descriptions of islamophobic incidents in Spain

 

In 2003 the ‘Andalusian Observatory’ was born as an autonomous body of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain. It is a non-profit ‘institution for observation and monitoring of the situation of Muslim citizen and Islamophobia in Spain “.
http://www.ucide.org/es/content/observatorio

Reports:

isj_2012

ia2012_1

estadalumnos12-p

Using a Would-Be Subway Bomber to Justify Sweeping Surveillance

Najibullah Zazi, coffee vendor, is such a useful captured terrorist.

 

Question why the New York Police Department sends undercover “crawlers” to monitor mosques and Muslim students, and the department’s partisans point to Mr. Zazi. How do you think, they ask, we caught that Queens kid who was ready to blow up subway cars in 2009?

Last week, the Obama administration laid its own claim to Mr. Zazi’s scalp. Under fire for covertly harvesting phone calls and e-mails of millions and for peering under our electronic covers, they pointed by way of self-defense to the imprisoned terrorist.

Islamic boarding school fire in Bromley treated as suspicious by police

Police are investigating a fire started by intruders at an Islamic boarding school on the south-east outskirts of London as suspicious, amid continuing fears of reprisals after the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Two boys were treated for smoke inhalation after fire broke out at the Darul Uloom Islamic School in Chislehurst, Kent, on Saturday night.

In a statement the police urged the public to remain calm and not to speculate on the cause of the fire. It said extra police had been deployed to other “potentially vulnerable” buildings in the area. It but did not elaborate.

 

Darul Uloom Islamic School is about six miles (10 kilometres) from Woolwich, where Rigby was killed last month. It is a £3,000-a-year, boys’ boarding school, was established in 1988. Students wear salwar kameez and skull caps, typical of Pakistan, and study a mixture of the national curriculum and Islamic studies. The school was established in 1988. Its website says it aims to “prepare Muslim students to be good Muslims and responsible citizens; to embed in the student a sense of discipline; to enable them to grow up to become upright, respectable and worthy citizens of their respective countries.”

 

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police chief commissioner, said: “These are difficult times for London’s communities. The Met is now investigating suspicious fires at two locations within the Islamic community which have happened in the past few days. Fortunately no one has been hurt, but we know that fires can often prove fatal.

 

Four teenagers have been arrested over the fire which saw 182 staff and pupils evacuated and two treated for smoke inhalation. The four – two aged 17, and two aged 18 – were arrested on suspicion of arson late last night, the Metropolitan Police confirmed. They are currently in custody at a south London police station.

 

The incident is the second suspected arson attack perpetrated against a Muslim institution in the capital after graffiti reading “EDL” was found at a burned out Islamic Community Centre in Muswell Hill. Met Police investigators are still trying to establish the causes and circumstances of the school fire. They appealed for calm and asked people not to speculate as to the cause of the fire.

Segregation on Campus: Is it discrimination or inclusiveness?

The segregation by gender of Muslim students has been in the news this week, after a pressure group claimed the practice was widespread. Reyhana Patel, herself a Muslim, believes that gender segregation can actually be empowering for her and her sisters. A report published this week by the group Student Rights argued that student Islamic societies (ISOCs) are promoting discrimination by encouraging segregated seating at university events. The study showed that 46 segregated events were promoted at 21 university campuses across the country between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating is a practice that is encouraged in several faiths and at ISOC events across the country this ritual remains voluntary with many of those attending opting to sit with their gender counterparts. Does voluntary segregation promote gender discrimination, as argued by Student Rights, or does it provide a more inclusive society as counter-argued by many Muslim women? And should institutions have the right to force mixed seating? Voluntary segregation promotes inclusiveness and contributes greatly towards Muslim women participation in British Society – by allowing Muslim women to participate in campus activities without compromising their religious beliefs. It appears that Student Rights is now using gender as the new cloaked dagger to bash the Muslim community in an increasingly intolerant attempt to prove that Islam is incompatible with western society. What the group also failed to highlight in their so-called ‘expose’ was that at the heart of ISOCs across the country, females are the driving force to the operational success of these groups with many at the fore of empowering other Muslim students. Take for example, a recent women-only empowerment workshop, organised by FOSIS and the NUS, which provided training to equip female students with the skills needed to establish real change in their university and wider community. The sad fact is that the more groups like Student Rights continue to complain about Muslims doing things ‘differently’ and being ‘the other’ – they only serve to convince others of their own intolerance and illiberal ways. The down side of all the above, of course, is that segregation and the ‘disappearance of women’ actually got a lot worse in Muslim societies during the period of European colonisation – when the colonial master (having defeated the armies) demanded access to the most intimate parts of their conquered society – the family and the women. How ironic that that the trendy lot in Student Rights should be carrying on with this noble colonial impulse.

Fox News Attacks Muslims Relentlessly In Wake Of Boston Bombing

In the days following the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News has become a haven for talk about the extreme threats posed to the United States by Muslims. Day after day, the network’s hosts and pundits have warned about an Islamic menace which is poised to take down the country. At the most extreme has been “Fox News liberal” Bob Beckel, whose call on “The Five” to bar or severely restrict Muslim students from coming into America seemed to startle even Dana Perino, George Bush’s former spokeswoman. Beckel stuck by his comments on Tuesday, saying that some of the 75,000 Muslim students in American schools are likely to harbor terrorist ambitions. “It’s a risky situation,” he said. “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade has also suggested putting “listening devices” in mosques, and wondered aloud why there can’t be more racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs. He said this despite widespread reports that bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was actually shouted down at a mosque when he began making radical statements. There was also Ann Coulter, who called for Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife to be jailed for wearing a hijab, as well as a host of other virulently anti-Muslim commentators; and the state senator who has been calling for Dzokhar Tsarnaev to be tortured. Bill O’Reilly got in on the act on his show, shouting down the head of the Council on American Islamic Relations when he tried to point out that people like the Tsarnaevs are not representative of all of Islam. There were no signs that the campaign was letting up on Wednesday, as “Fox & Friends” took up the question of the “infection” of “radical Islam” in America.

Muslims Students angry over the closure of the prayer room at City University

22 February 2013

City University has recently announced its decision to shut down the Muslim prayer room at the campus. The decision followed a statement from the university saying it needed to be sure of the “appropriateness” of what was being discussed in sermons as authorized university events. It said it also needed to be assured that all “students eligible to deliver” prayers and sermons “are considered equally and given the opportunity to do so”.

 

“The university could not continue to condone an activity taking place on its premises where it cannot exercise reasonable supervision,” the statement added.

Suspicions surrounding the content of the sermons followed a report released three years ago by Quilliam Foundation. The report claimed that hard line views and a confrontational atmosphere were being encouraged.

 

However, Muslim students argued the report was baseless and there was no evidence that hard line views were being spread. In order to campaign against the decision, Muslim students formed a group called Muslim Voices on Campus, calling on the university to reverse its decision.

 

“All of our sermons are open, we welcome all students and all staff… But when you start submitting your sermons to be monitored and scrutinized then there’s a chance for it to be dictated what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.”

 

There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in European countries.

Prince George’s Co. school lets Muslim students out of class to pray

The growing number of Muslim students seeking accommodations to practice their religion in public schools has stirred debate about the long-contentious issue of prayer in America’s public institutions.

But a Prince George’s County high school principal believes she has found a way to accommodate Muslim students: She gives those with parental permission and high grades a pass out of class every day to pray.

At Parkdale High School, about 10 Muslim students get out of class for about eight minutes each day to pray together on campus, said Principal Cheryl J. Logan. Another student is working hard to raise his grades so he too can join the group of students, who belong to the school’s chapter of the Muslim Students’ Association, she said.

When Muslim students began praying during the school day at Parkdale, she said, some Christian teachers got upset and told the students that “it was a Christian school.” She said she explained to the students that public schools are not religious, but are legally allowed to accommodate students to practice their religion in some ways.

According to Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum who writes and speaks on religious liberty and religion in American public life, the accommodations that Logan is providing to the Muslim students are “certainly permissible” under the U.S. Constitution though probably not required.

Religious accommodations in public schools vary depending on state law, he said. Some states have passed laws that allow schools to “simply treat everyone the same way and not give exemptions or special accommodations for religious reasons.”

Last November, the Montgomery County Board of Education told leaders of the county’s growing Muslim community that it would be impossible to add an Islamic holy day to the school calendar. There are Christian and Jewish holidays on the school calendar because it was determined long ago that even if class stayed open on those days there would be too many students and teachers taking the day off anyway to operate viable classrooms.

And in some schools, female teachers and students are not allowed to wear Islamic head scarves, or have been harassed for doing so, according to the American Civil Liberties Association.