A father who tried to hire a hitman to carry out the “honour killing” of his son-in-law has lost a bid to have his prison term cut. Mohammed Arshad, 51, was jailed for seven years after being found guilty in 2003 of incitement to murder. The devout Muslim from Dundee took the action after his daughter married without his permission. Appeal judges said they were not convinced that the former justice of the peace received an unfair sentence. A local Islamic group had asked the court to impose community service. Arshad, a highly respected member of the Muslim community in Dundee, had an appeal against his conviction refused in March this year, but he has continued to challenge the length of the sentence. He put a price of _1,000 on son-in-law Abdullah Yasin’s head shortly after he married his daughter Insha in 2001. ‘Previous good character‘ Arshad objected to the marriage and had not given his permission for it to go ahead. However, he was caught after the “hitman” he approached turned out to be a Tayside Police detective. Arshad argued that his seven-year sentence was excessive and failed to take into account his previous good character and his state of health when he carried out the crime. A petition submitted to the court by the Tayside Islamic and Cultural Education Society, signed by more than 150 people, claimed Arshad was an honoured member of their community and asked judges to consider allowing him to serve his sentence in the community. Lawyers claimed Arshad was affected by ongoing depression, which was a “significant factor” in prompting him to act as he did. ‘Grave offence’ However, the judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh rejected the arguments, ruling that previous good character and the fact that he was unlikely to repeat the offence were not key mitigating factors. Lord Macfadyen and Lord Penrose stated in a written judgement: “We find nothing that persuades us that the sentencing judge erred in selecting a period of seven years’ imprisonment as the appropriate punishment for the appellant’s crimes. “What is of the greatest significance is that, when circumstances arose in which the appellant felt that his religious and cultural attitudes had been offended, he was prepared on that account to commit the extremely grave offence of incitement to murder. “We would add that we do not consider it appropriate in the circumstances to accord material weight to the views expressed in the petition which was laid before us.”
ROME (AP) – The editor of an Italian monthly has apologized for any offence to Muslims over a humorous caption for a drawing showing the Prophet Muhammad in hell, Italian news reports said Sunday. The journal Studi Cattolici (Catholic Studies), which offers a variety of opinions on cultural issues, ran the caption and drawing in its March issue. Italian news agencies Sunday quoted the journal’s editor, Cesare Cavalleri, as “apologizing, as a Christian,” for any offence. Milan daily Corriere della Sera said that the journal had run a caption next to the drawing, which was inspired by Dante’s depiction of Muhammad in hell in his Divine Comedy. The Union of Italian Islamic Communities said it had protested the caption. The organization’s secretary, Roberto Piccardo, declined to comment on the reported apology. Cavalleri was quoted as saying the vignette “was interpreted as being anti-Islam when, if anything, it was a denunciation of a cultural identity crisis in the West,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Cavalleri as saying. “In any case, if, contrary to my and the author’s intentions, someone felt offended in his religious feelings, I willingly apologize as a Christian.” News reports said Cavalleri is a member of Opus Dei, a conservative religious organization that had the favour of the late pope John Paul. Opus Dei on its website said that while it had no responsibility for the magazine, “we desire to apologize for any offence that was made.” Muslims make up a small percentage of people in predominantly Roman Catholic Italy. Earlier this year, a minister in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government was forced to resign after wearing a T-shirt with a caricature of Muhammad on state TV. The incident was blamed for rioting in Libya against Italian interests.
By Kate Holton London – The far-right British National Party (BNP) said on Wednesday it planned to distribute a campaign leaflet featuring the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which have enraged Muslims around the world. A spokesman for the fringe party, which has no seats in parliament but a handful on local councils, said its use of the images was not intended to cause offence, but illustrated how Islam and Western values do not mix. The party says it is not racist, but its leader Nick Griffin and another activist are due in court on race hate charges in October. Claims that Islam and Western values do not mix The 12 cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper and were later reprinted in other European countries, have sparked violent protests across the Islamic world. Many Muslims believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet. At least 50 people have been killed during demonstrations around the world, and a Pakistani Muslim cleric last week offered rewards amounting to more than $1-million (R6,1-million) to anyone who killed any of the Danish cartoonists. The cartoons have not been published in Britain. About 15 000 Muslims staged a peaceful protest against the drawings in London last week. A demonstration earlier in the month provoked outrage because masked men held up placards calling for the beheading of those who insult Islam, and praised the London bombings last July which killed 52 people. The content of the leaflets can already be seen on the group’s website and the leaflets will be circulated ahead of local elections in May. ‘Mild and inoffensive’ The leaflet asks “Which Do You Find Offensive? A cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb for a turban or Muslim demonstrators calling for terrorist attacks on Europe and the ‘extermination’ of non-Muslims?” “By showing you just how mild and inoffensive the cartoon is, we’re giving you the chance to see for yourself the huge gulf that exists between the democratic values that we share, and the mediaeval views that dominate Islam, even supposedly ‘moderate’ versions,” the leaflet said. The party spokesman said the BNP wanted the cartoons to provoke debate. “We published the cartoon not to offend individual Muslims – that’s most important – but to make a stand for freedom,” he said. Ian McCartney, chairman of the ruling Labour Party, condemned the leaflets as “straight out of the Nazi textbook”. The BNP commands a fraction of the support of far-right parties elsewhere in Europe but has several seats on local councils, mainly in poorer areas with large ethnic populations.
Daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten has been forced to hire security guard to protect employees from angry Muslims, after it printed a series of cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed. Death threats have forced daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten to hire security guards to protect its employees, after printing twelve cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed. The newspaper has been accused of deliberately provoking and insulting Muslims by publishing the cartoons. The newspaper urged cartoonists to send in drawings of the prophet, after an author complained that nobody dared to illustrate his book on Mohammed. The author claimed that illustrators feared that extremist Muslims would find it sacrilegious to break the Islamic ban on depicting Mohammed. Twelve illustrators heeded the newspaper’s call, and sent in cartoons of the prophet, which were published in the newspaper earlier this month. Muslim spokesmen demanded that Jyllands-Posten retracted the cartoons and apologised. ‘We have taken a few necessary measures in the situation, as some people seem to have taken offence and are sending threats of different kinds,’ the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, told national broadcaster DR. The same day as the newspaper published the cartoons, it received a threatening telephone call against ‘one of the twelve illustrators’, as the caller said. Shortly afterwards, police arrested a 17-year-old, who admitted to phoning in the threat. Since then, journalists and editors alike have received threats by email and the telephone. The newspaper told its staff to remain alert, but then decided to hire security guards to protect its Copenhagen office. ‘Up until now, we have only had receptionists in the lobby. But we don’t feel that they should sit down there by themselves, so we posted a guard there as well,’ Juste said. Muslim organisations, like the Islamic Religious Community, have demanded an apology, but Juste rejected the idea. He said the cartoons had been a journalistic project to find out how many cartoonists refrained from drawing the prophet out of fear. ‘We live in a democracy,’ he said. ‘That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures. Religion shouldn’t set any barriers on that sort of expression. This doesn’t mean that we wish to insult any Muslims.’ Juste’s opinion was not shared by _rhus imam Raed Hlayhel, who gave an interview to the internet edition of Arabic satellite news channel al-Jazeera to protest the newspaper’s cartoons. Hlayhel told al-Jazeera’s reporter that he considered the cartoons derisive of Islam, and described one of the drawings as showing Mohammed wearing a turban-like bomb, and another as brandishing a sabre, with two burka-clad women behind him. Hlayhel said he did not understand how such illustrations could be printed with reference to freedom of expression, when Denmark did not tolerate the slightest sign of anti-Semitism. Al-Jazeera concluded that the drawings seemed bizarre.
By Madeline Chambers and Matthew Jones British police said they would deport seven Algerians seized as national security threats, hours before the Government unveiled plans to hold terror suspects without charge for up to three months. A Home Office source said the men were former defendants, accused but never convicted, of involvement in a 2002 plot to manufacture the deadly ricin poison. The dawn arrests were the latest to follow four July 7 suicide bombings in London which killed 52 people and wounded 700 and prompted a Government crackdown on Islamist militants. Home Secretary Charles Clarke said they would not be deported to any place they would face torture. Human rights group Amnesty said the detainees must be allowed to challenge the deportation. One Algerian was convicted of charges relating to the ricin case in April but four others were acquitted and cases against the other three were dropped. The seven will be deported because their presence in Britain is “not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security,” a Home Office official said. Most controversial among the latest proposals is an extension of the time police have to detain terrorism suspects without charge to up to three months, from 14 days. “I want to do my best to protect the country and here are the police saying we need to extend the period of detention, well okay as long as there is judicial oversight,” Prime Minister Tony Blair said at a United Nations summit in New York. Police have long argued they need more than 14 days to cope with the volume of cases, the need to trawl through electronic evidence and work with overseas agencies. Clarke, however, raised concerns about his own plans in a letter to opposition parties, saying that there was “room for debate as to whether we should go as far as three months”. The Government is expected to push the plans into law this year. “The facts are that the modern world of terrorism requires a long time to ensure particular cases are looked at properly,” Clarke said. “I’m saying let’s extend 14 days. We are working on the basis that up to three months is the right time.” But civil rights campaigners say three months would be draconian. “These measures, coupled with faulty British intelligence, will increase the witchhunt against Muslims,” said Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission. The Government has already had to back down from a policy of detaining foreign suspects indefinitely without trial after it was ruled illegal last year by Britain’s highest court. Rights group Liberty said the plans would affect attempts to engage with ethnic communities. The Government also plans to outlaw the indirect incitement of terrorism and to ban organisations which glorify terrorism. Critics Say Such Measures Could Pose Definition Problems Despite resistance from security services, ways are being explored to allow the use of phone-tap evidence in court, bringing Britain in line with other European countries. The announcement came with the disclosure that scientists withheld vital evidence in the “ricin plot’ case that was used by Blair to justify the war with Iraq. Tests demonstrating that was no ricin found at a London flat linked to the case were not disclosed to police and Government ministers. The “plot” was cited by Blair and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the decision to go to war with Iraq. A breakdown in communication was blamed for the failure to pass the information on to Government. On February 3, 2000, Blair told MPs in the House of Commons that the “ricin terror plot” was “powerful evidence of the continuing terrorist threat”. Two days later Powell used the case to warn about the spread of terrorism to western countries. Tough Security Proposals – The ability to hold suspects for three months without charge. – A new offence of “glorifying” terrorism attacks in Britain and abroad, which will carry a five-year jail sentence. – It will not be an offence to glorify any events which happened more than 20 years ago, except those specified. The draft bill also creates an offence relating to the “dissemination of terrorist publications”, which is seen as a crackdown on Islamist literature.
By Jeff Edwards SCOTLAND Yard has tried to prosecute hate preachers 20 times in the past two years but only succeeded once, Britain’s top policeman revealed yesterday. But on the same day controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri said the Government and public share some of the blame for the July 7 terror attacks. Met chief Sir Ian Blair went on to criticise inadequate laws – and said it showed why tougher ones were needed, such as a new offence of praising terror atrocities. He said: “We have got to find effective new legal means of dealing with people glorifying terrorism and encouraging youngsters to carry out the sort of shocking atrocities we have just witnessed. We have got to find new ways to prevent and investigate terrorism.” Sir Ian added: “On 20 occasions in the last couple of years we have put different pieces of evidence to the CPS – sometimes about the same people. Only once have we been able to cross the boundary of incitement to murder.” He went on: “You cannot commit a criminal offence that does not exist. That is why we need a new offence. ‘Glorifying terrorism’ would do very well.” And the Met chief said it was vital police liaised closely with Britain’s Islamic leaders to “identify and stop vulnerable young men and women being drawn into terrorism”. Mr Bakri, a Syrian-born father of seven, said: “I blame the British Government, the British public and the Muslim community in the UK because they failed to make the extra effort to put an end to the cycle of bloodshed which started before 9/11 and on July 7 was devastating for everybody.” He condemned the July 7 attacks but said it was not enough to blame the four suicide bombers for what had happened. Meanwhile a British fanatical Islamic leader yesterday described those killed in the Tube and bus bombings as “specific targets against a specific nation”. Anjem Choudary, leader of the disbanded Al Muhajiroun, refused to condemn the 7/7 atrocities. Instead he blamed the British people for re-electing Tony Blair and his “lackeys” in mainstream Muslim groups. The parents of a New Zealand woman killed in the blasts paid tribute to her at a London service yesterday. Kathryn Gilkison – who flew to the capital after daughter Shelley Mather, 26, died in the King’s Cross Tube blast – described her as a “beautiful and vibrant young woman”. And a vicar whose daughter was also killed was given free rides by two taxi drivers as she travelled to London to mourn. Rev Julie Nicholson – whose daughter Jenny, 24, died at Edgware Road – had been heading to St Paul’s Cathedral with Jenny’s boyfriend James, 26, to observe the two-minute silence. CIRCLE Line Tube services should be running normally within two weeks, London Underground chiefs said yesterday. Full services should run on the Metropolitan line and Hammersmith and City lines from Monday.
By Hasan Suroor LONDON: Ignoring protests from secular groups and Opposition parties, the British Government has decided to go ahead with plans to make incitement to religious hatred an offence. A bill to this effect was introduced in the Commons amid fears among writers, satirists and rights activists that it would stifle free speech, but leaders of Hindu and Muslim groups welcomed it saying they needed protection against attacks on temples and mosques. Currently, the law protects ethnic groups against racial hatred but there is no protection against incitement on religious grounds. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill seeks to ban “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.” A breach of the proposed law would be punishable by fine or a prison term. Novelists Hanif Kureishi and Monica Ali joined the chorus of criticism against the bill calling it a recipe for self-censorship. “What I’m certain of is the damage to freedom of speech that will come about as a result of self-censorship – it already exists and will be dramatically increased,” said Ms. Ali, the Bangladeshi-born author of Brick Lane. “Invitation To Censorship” Mr. Kureishi, who is of Pakistani origin, feared that the bill would “stifle” even legitimate criticism of religion. Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said despite its “good intentions, the move was an invitation to “censorship”. But spokesmen for the Hindu Council and the Muslim Council of Britain said such a law was needed in a climate where religious groups were often targets of attack. ? The Home Office Minister Paul Goggins sought to allay fears that it would curb freedom of expression saying it would not stop debate on religion or prevent people from “poking fun” at religion as feared by satirists and comedians.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has warned that racist crime in the country is rising because of the ongoing War on Terror. Figures published by the CPS and reported by The Indepnedent show prosecutions of racially aggravated offences have increased by 2,500 since race-hate laws were introduced in 1999. In the past two years, those prosecutions have jumped by more than 20 per cent. Last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions warned that a growth in race-hate crime and a sharp rise in the number of young Asian men being stopped by the police threatened to alienate Britain’s Muslim communities. The CPS said there was also evidence of inter-racial religious hatred crime. Between April 2003 and the end of March 2004, the CPS dealt with 4,728 racially aggravated cases and prosecuted 3,616 of them. The figures also suggest other cases are not being prosecuted because of difficulties getting witnesses to give evidence in court. The CPS has pledged to tackle race crimes more vigorously after a report by its independent inspectorate in May 2002 found prosecutors were wrongly reducing charges in more than one in four racist incidents. Charges of racially aggravated crimes were regularly downgraded to remove the race element, while in other cases prosecutors accepted defendants’ guilty pleas to the crime minus the racial aggravation. The conviction rate for all those charged remains high at 86 per cent compared to 85 per cent in 2002-2003. The breakdown of religiously aggravated offences mirrors racially aggravated offences. Public order was the predominant offence followed by assault, criminal damage and harassment. The majority of the charges were prosecuted in the magistrates’ courts. In magistrates’, crown and youth courts the overall conviction rate was 77 per cent on religiously aggravated charges and 86 per cent on all charges. (ANI)