Global backlash grows against Trump’s immigration order

A global backlash against U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration curbs gathered strength on Sunday as several countries including long-standing American allies criticized the measures as discriminatory and divisive.

Governments from London and Berlin to Jakarta and Tehran spoke out against Trump’s order to put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily ban travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the move would help protect Americans from terrorism.

In Germany – which has taken in large numbers of people fleeing the Syrian civil war – Chancellor Angela Merkel said the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for the measures and “does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion”, her spokesman said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country welcomed those fleeing war and persecution, even as Canadian airlines said they would turn back U.S.-bound passengers to comply with an immigration ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” he tweeted.

Atheist Afghan man granted asylum in UK to protect him from ‘religious’ persecution

January 13, 2014


An Afghan man is understood to have become the first atheist ever to secure asylum in Britain on religious grounds. His case was accepted by the Home Office on the basis there was a risk he could face persecution in Afghanistan for having rejected Islam.

Although he was brought up a Muslim, since living in the UK he has gradually turned away from it and is now an atheist. The young man – who does not want to be identified for fear of being rejected by the Afghan community in Britain – fled to the UK from a conflict involving his family in Afghanistan.

He first claimed asylum in 2007 when he was just 16. The claim was rejected but he was granted discretionary leave to remain until 2013 under rules to protect unaccompanied children.

The case was taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a pro bono service provided by students and supervised by practising lawyers from the University of Kent’s Law School, alongside local solicitors and barristers. A submission to the Home Office argued that the man’s return to Afghanistan could result in a death sentence under Sharia law as an “apostate” – someone who has abandoned their religious faith – unless he remained silent about his atheist beliefs.

Sheona York, who supervised the case, said: “The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we consider every application on a case by case basis.”


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Christianity at risk of extinction in areas of persecution, says Warsi

November 15, 2013


Christianity is in danger of extinction in some countries because of persecution in areas where its followers are in the minority, a British government minister has said. Christians were being driven out of regions in countries such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root, said Lady Warsi, who has responsibility for faith communities.

She raised her concerns and called on politicians in countries such as Pakistan to “set the tone” for tolerance of religious minorities. Lady Warsi told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I’m concerned that the birthplace of Christianity, the parts of the world where Christianity first spread, is now seeing large sections of the Christian community leaving, and those that are remaining feeling persecuted.

She said 83% of countries had constitutions guaranteeing freedom of religion, but did not implement those provisions. “There’s an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights Council resolution on the treatment of minorities and tolerance towards other faiths. But we need to build political will behind that.

Asked whether Lady Warsi’s warning of the possible extinction of some Christian communities was correct, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told Today: “I think in some parts of the Middle East that is probably true.


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Woolwich murder aftermath: Theresa May praises British-based Islamic group

Home Secretary Theresa May has condemned “all forms of extremism” as she praised a British-based Islamic group for its commitment to peaceful co-existence and charitable works. Mrs May said there had been an increase in attacks directed against Muslim communities since the “horrendous” murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last month. Mrs May was speaking at an event in the House of Commons marking the centenary of the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK. The branch of Islam was founded in the late 19th century in India, but its leader has been based in Britain since 1984 as a result of persecution in Pakistan, where they are officially declared non-Muslims. Mrs May said the Ahmadiyya were subjected to persecution in Pakistan and threats in the UK.

Extremists in GermanyRight-wing Agitators versus Islamist Fanatics

They agitate, they incite, they are relentlessly intolerant: Salafists and those hostile to Islam continually whip each other into a frenzy with their mutual hatred. But no matter how much cold calculation the rightist rabble-rousers bring to their provocations, the law must protect them from persecution. A commentary by Hans Leyendecker

Islamists and Islam-haters are different in many ways, yet they also have much in common. They are blinded by hatred, they incite, they provoke, they want to escalate the conflict at any price and they are relentlessly intolerant.

Ever since radical militant Salafists and the Islam-hostile right-wing populists from the fringe party Pro NRW had at each other in May 2012, fighting in the streets and injuring 29 policemen in the process, it was only to be expected that this would not be the end of the violence.

The news that a group of extremist Salafists was allegedly planning the assassination of Marcus Beisicht, the head of Pro NRW, and other members of the far-right party does not come as a complete surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing. Is a religious war in the offing, to be waged with knives, guns and explosives?

Pitiful provocateurs

There is no doubt about it: Beisicht and his splinter group are pathetic provocateurs. They have sought out every possible opportunity to sow hatred and challenge Islamist fanatics to a fight by holding anti-Islam rallies and displaying Mohammed caricatures outside mosques. They wanted to provoke an escalation and coolly calculated that the fanaticism of their opponents would play into their hands.

Beisicht, a lawyer, is their mastermind. He has represented the right-wing party The Republicans on the Cologne City Council and defended a neo-Nazi who was indicted for sedition and using anti-constitutional symbols – in short, he is no ordinary populist.

He is a radical who enjoys playing the “persecuted innocent”, as Karl Kraus once dubbed agitators of his ilk. Beisicht complained early on about death threats and a fatwa that Islamic scholars had allegedly decreed against him. Now, a few crazed backroom Islamists have apparently done just that.

The state must protect the right-wing firebrands

But no matter how coldly calculating and idiotic the plans hatched by the agitators on the extreme right may be, the rule of law must nonetheless protect them from persecution. No religion, no confession of the supposedly true faith justifies attacks. Holy warriors are not blood-stained saints but criminals.

The state must do everything in its power to contain the Salafists. This might include banning associations, conducting raids and continuous surveillance. In official reports, Salafism is generally described as a kind of instantaneous fomenter of terrorism, which is not quite the case. The majority of the 4,000 Salafists in Germany aim only to spread their faith; only a minority dream of inciting war.

It was a good sign that the major Islamic associations distanced themselves from this group in the past. Islamist extremists are the true enemies of Islam, because their actions spark regularly recurring discussions among the general populace that all Muslims are backward and violent. Islam is part of Germany, but the country must not let itself be provoked by fanatics and firebrands.

Hans Leyendecker

“Gay Muslims are Muslims too”


Rue 89

Tareq Oubrou, the imam of Bordeaux, opposes homophobia and the state sanctioned persecution of homosexuals in Muslim majority states. The imam wants to disassociate Islam with homophobia and anti-semetism by calling for more tolerance towards homosexuals in general, as well as homosexual Muslims.

Oubrou states that the practice of homosexuality isn’t approved by the Quran but gay Muslims are still Muslims in their own right. He argues that the seven Muslim majority states the practice of homosexuality with the death penalty base their jurisdiction upon unverified hadiths.

Right to Asylum: the Court of Justice of the European Union defines religious persecution and reinforces freedom of religion

September 5

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has issued an important sentence in favor of religious freedom. The sentence defines what type of infringement on freedom of religion justifies the granting of refugee status. According to this directive, Member States of the European Union should in principle grant refugee status to foreigners who face persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group in their country of origin.

The specific case concerns two Pakistani nationals belonging to the Ahmadi Muslim minority (a minority not recognized by the Muslim majority) and seeking asylum in Germany. According to the Pakistani Penal Code, the two were liable to up to three years imprisonment if they claimed to be Muslims, preached or tried to spread their religion. The German authorities have rejected their application on the ground that the restrictions on the practice of religion in public imposed on Ahmadis were not “persecution” in the eyes of the right of asylum. Both applicants then complained to the German administrative courts, arguing that the German authorities’ position was contrary to Directive 2004/83/EC.

By declaring that “certain forms of serious interference with the public manifestation of religion may constitute persecution for reasons of religion”, the Court corrected this interpretation, and admitted the possibility that two Pakistanis are given refugee status.


In America, Shiite Muslims Establish A Foothold

QUINCY, Mass. (RNS) Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini was 12 years old when his family fled Iran and settled in Los Angeles. Now 28, he sat with some 70 Shiite Muslims at the Iman Islamic Center on a recent Friday night, preaching about the Mosque of the Trash Picker in Iran, and a Turkish mosque peculiarly named “As if I have eaten.”

The variation in the proper way to pray is one among several differences that exist between Shiites, who make up about 15 percent of Muslims globally and in America, and the majority of Sunnis. Until recently, those differences mattered little in the United States, where the two groups bonded as Muslim minorities and prayed in the same mosques.

“There weren’t enough of either to justify the cost of building sectarian mosques, and because in general, early generation immigrants were less focused on establishing formal houses of worship,” said Andrea Stanton, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

That is changing, however, as American Shiites are increasingly establishing their own mosques. According to “The American Mosque 2011,” a survey sponsored by several Muslim American organizations, 7 percent of roughly 2,100 mosques in America are Shiite, and most have been built in the last 20 years.

One reason: Shiites have become numerous and financially strong enough to manage the expensive process of buying or building their own mosques. Another factor: the growth in Shiite populations as immigrants flee persecution in Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where Taliban gunmen recently executed at least 22 Shiite bus passengers.

Many Shiite Muslims say that while American mosques profess to be open to any and all Muslims, they tend to be Sunni in practice and can be hostile to Shiite beliefs and practices.

While American mosques once offered a reliable refuge from this persecution, Shiite immigrants who have come more recently have found some mosques unwelcoming to their creed.

Muslim group holds vigil outside of the outside the embassy of Myanmar in London

24 July 2012

Islamic Human Rights Commission, a London based NGO held a vigil outside of the outside the embassy of Myanmar in London to mark the International Day of Solidarity for the Rohingyas. On-going persecution of Muslims Rohingyas have angered Muslim groups around the world and led them to take actions against Myanmar.

Why Evangelicals Must Defend Muslims

Some Christians get excited when they discover that I’m half Indian or that I studied Islam in college. They’ll sometimes ask me to talk about how Christianity compares to other faiths. But I’ve learned that what they mean to say is: “Great, you’ve read books I’d never own so you can tell us how awful those other religions are, and you’re brown so you won’t be called a bigot!”

That’s pretty much what happened a few weeks after 9/11 when I spoke to a college group at a church. When the pastor learned about my background he said he’d like to throw me a few “softball” questions about Islam at the end of my teaching time. His softball turned out to be a curve ball. He asked me, “Islam is essentially a religion of violence, right?”

“No,” I responded. “Islam advocates peace, and most Muslims are very kind, peaceful people.”
The pastor looked annoyed from the back of the room. He tried again. “But doesn’t the Quran advocate killing Christians and Jews?”

I will continue to speak out in defense of my Muslim neighbors, and I will not stop calling the church to love them rather than fear them. Followers of Christ, perhaps more than any others, should advocate that all people be free to believe, worship, think and preach without fear of persecution. Because where this freedom exists not only are religious communities more likely to coexist in peace, but I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more likely to thrive.

As Christians, we cannot, and should not, demand that everyone share our beliefs. But we can, and should, demand that everyone share our freedom. For where this freedom exists, we can be sure that Christ will be lifted up and draw people to himself.