Muslim Liberal Democrat candidate in UK elections suspended for anti-Semitic remarks

Ashuk Ahmed, once honoured in the House of Lords for among the most “inspirational role models for British Muslims,” is no longer the Liberal Democratic candidate for the Luton South constituency. Ahmed was suspended because of pre-2014 anti-Semitic Facebook posts.

The Liberal Democrats claim to have suspended Ahmed immediately after receiving notice of the offensive content. The content included claims of Zionist control and a repost from an American hate group, AshkeNazi, which claims a “takeover” of America by Ashkenazi Jewish people.

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

Seven-year sentence for Laurel man who tried to join up with al-Shabab terrorist group

January13, 2014

 

A 26-year-old Laurel man was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison after he admitted traveling to Africa to try to join the terrorist group al-Shabab and trashing his home computer so federal investigators could not track him, authorities said.
Craig Baxam was arrested by Kenyan authorities in December 2011, and he soon told FBI agents of his haphazard plan to elude them and connect with al-Shabab because he wanted to live somewhere that rigorously adhered to sharia, or Islamic, law, court papers say. He pleaded guilty to a charge of destroying records that might be used in a terrorism investigation and received the seven-year sentence as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, authorities said.

Federal investigators have long worked to root out so-called homegrown terror suspects, and Special Agent Stephen E. Vogt, who heads the FBI’s Baltimore division, said in a statement that Baxam’s case “highlights the FBI’s highest investigative priority, the prevention of terrorist acts.” But the resolution of the case seems to demonstrate that Baxam did not precisely fit the bill of a would-be terrorist.

Baxam was not convicted of the initial charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and his attorney, Linda Moreno, said he never advocated specific violence, nor did he procure weapons or attend any terrorist training camps.
A 2005 graduate of Laurel High School who was born in Takoma Park, Baxam had experience in the Army and admitted to investigators that he was willing to commit violence, according to the criminal complaint against him. But he said that he felt offensive jihad was questionable, and his main use for violence would be to defend al-Shabab’s Somali territories from potential invaders, according to the complaint.

Moreno said that the violence he spoke of was only hypothetical, “based on interviews with the FBI where the FBI asked him what if this happened, what if that happened, what if the following.”

“Craig wanted to live and practice his religion in a country where he felt that Muslims were not oppressed,” Moreno said. “This was not a terrorism case.”

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/seven-year-sentence-for-laurel-man-who-tried-to-join-up-with-al-shabaab-terrorist-group/2014/01/13/539c5d8a-7c80-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.html

UK anti-Muslim hate crime soars, police figures show

December 27, 2013

 

Hate crimes against Muslims have soared in the UK this year, figures show. Hundreds of anti-Muslim offences were carried out across the country in 2013, with Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recording 500 Islamophobic crimes. Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London, in May.

But the figures could be much higher as nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims. Some forces admitted they did not always record the faith of a religious hate-crime victim.

Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had dealt with 840 cases since April, with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March. This compared with 582 anti-Muslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013.

Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, has called for police forces to improve monitoring of Islamophobic crimes.”There are three problems we come across,” Mujhal said. “Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the language of Islamophobia thrown at victims in any incidents. Secondly, there is very little training on how to ask relevant questions to pull out anti-Muslim cases. Thirdly, recording processes are not in line with each other. One force will allow an officer to flag an incident as anti-Muslim, another force will flag it as religious hate crime. There is no uniformity.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “As set out in CPS guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, content has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law. In order to preserve the right to free speech the threshold for prosecution must be high and only communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false are prohibited by the legislation.”

A justice ministry spokesman said: “These are despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities. The courts already hand out tougher punishments where race or religion are found to be aggravating factors. The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for these appalling crimes is higher than ever before.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/27/uk-anti-muslim-hate-crime-soars

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/islamophobia-surge-revealed-in-antimuslim-hate-crimes-9026873.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.

McCain Slams Fox’s Kilmeade for Objecting to ‘Allahu Akbar’: Like ‘Christian Saying Thank God’

Arizona Senator John McCain pushed back against Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade, and their earlier guest Laura Ingraham, strongly announcing that he was not “bailing out” PresidentBarack Obama, and that the Syrian Free Army was not comprised of Muslim extremists, but moderates whom the U.S. should be arming.

Host Brian Kilmeade played a clip of Syrian rebels yelling, “Allahu Akbar” after shooting down a fighter jet, and wondered if McCain, who had met with Syrian rebels, was comfortable supporting an army that might contain “Muslim extremists.”

“I have a problem helping those people if they’re screaming that after a hit,” Kilmeade said.

McCain was flabbergasted. “You have a problem with that? Would you have a problem with an American, a Christian, saying ‘Thank God? Thank God?’ That’s what they’re saying. Come on. Of course they’re Muslims. But they’re moderates, and I guarantee you that they are moderates. I know them and I’ve been with them. For someone to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ is about as offensive as someone saying ‘thank God.’”

 

Jets’ Aboushi Faces Aspersions for Being Palestinian

On the night of June 29, two months after he was drafted by the Jets, Oday Aboushi stood before more than 700 people at the El Bireh Society convention in Arlington, Va., and discussed his journey to the N.F.L.

Aboushi shared what it was like growing up in Brooklyn and Staten Island as one of 10 children. He spoke about graduating from the University of Virginia in three and a half years. He discussed his 2009 visit to refugee camps in the West Bank, how that trip inspired him even more to succeed and to represent his community.

“It was the classic American success story,” said Sarab Al-Jijakli, the president of the Network of Arab-American Professionals, who was in the audience that night.

Aboushi’s appearance at the convention, a three-day gathering of Palestinian-Americans that was described by another attendee as a “cultural networking event,” produced an outcry from some online who charged Aboushi with being a Muslim extremist. An article on the Web site FrontPage Mag suggested that he had terrorist ties. A column on Yahoo Sports, since removed, said he held anti-Semitic views. An employee of MLB.com on Twitter compared Aboushi to Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end charged with murder, before later apologizing.

Waves of support for Aboushi started rolling in on Thursday, and on Friday, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement condemning the attacks on his character and applauding him for taking pride in his culture. The Jets also backed Aboushi, an offensive lineman they selected in the fifth round.

In a statement, Aboushi said he was upset that his reputation had been tarnished by people who did not know him, but that he was proud of his Palestinian heritage and to have been born and raised in the United States.

Woolwich murder sparks anti-Muslim backlash

There has been a large increase in anti-Muslim incidents since the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, an inter-faith charity has said. Faith Matters, which runs a helpline, said they had received 162 calls since Wednesday’s attack, up from a daily average of six. A number of people have been charged after allegedly offensive comments were made on social media websites. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said the nature of the incidents ranged from attacks against mosques, graffiti, the pulling off of Muslim women’s headscarves and more general name calling and abuse. He told BBC Radio Five Live: “What’s really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They’re coming in from right across the country. Captain Afzal Amin, a former army officer, warned against associating the actions of the attackers with British Muslims. “Secondly, some of them are quite aggressive very focused, very aggressive attacks. “And thirdly, there also seems to be significant online activity… suggesting co-ordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate.”

Radstock Town Council Deems St George’s Cross Offensive to Muslims

15 May 2013

 

The town council in Radstock, Somerset, voted not to fly St George’s flag on the town’s civic flag pole because the flag’s association with the crusades and the “hijacking” of the cross of St George by far right organizations may make it an offensive symbol to local Muslims. Instead, the council decided to purchase a Union Jack and to design a flag specifically for Radstock. Eleanor Jackson, a Labour councilor, has called for dropping the flag for 20 years.

 

Many, including Nasima Begum, spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain, disagree with the decision made by the council. Said Ms. Begum, “St George needs to take his rightful place as a national symbol of inclusivity rather than a symbol of hatred.” Similarly, the vice-president of the Royal Society of St George labeled the decision “nonsense.”

 

In April, a multi-faith coalition issued a call to “reclaim” St George from far right organizations, arguing that St George has no place in extremist right wing politics. In acknowledging the association of St George’s Flag with right wing extremist groups, the Radstock town council has angered many who argue that St George, having lived before the advent of Islam, should not be associated at all with anti-Muslim politics.

 

SF Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Condemning Islamophobic Bus Ads

MUNI-press-conf(SAN FRANCISCO 3/21/13) — On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the content of Islamophobic advertisements placed on San Francisco buses.

Board President David Chiu sponsored the resolution, introduced at last Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution is the first of its kind in the nation, sending a clear message that San Francisco’s elected leaders stand against hate and Islamophobia.

The group underwriting the ads, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has sued several U.S. cities for the First Amendment right to place the ads. The group’s founder, Pamela Geller, has been designated an anti-Muslim hate extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, and at the request of 75 organizations and 35 leaders who spoke out following the first round of ads in August, the resolution calls for the proceeds from the offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities.

CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Asian Law Caucus is a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.