Trouble in paradise: The darker side of the Maldives

11 April 2013

 

Public lashings. Religious extremists seizing power. A gay blogger with his throat slashed. Few of the million annual visitors to the Maldives will recognize the hellish side of these heavenly islands. Following a miraculous recovery the blogger, now lives in exile in Sri Lanka. He misses home, but a country where it is illegal to be non-Muslim and violent forms of religious fundamentalism are on the rise is no place for a homosexual secularist, he says. Recent weeks have put a spotlight on Islamic fundamentalism in the Maldives after a 15-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather was sentenced to 100 lashes for “fornication”. A petition by the global advocacy group Avaaz has been signed by more than two million people demanding a tourist boycott until the flogging sentence is annulled. President Mohammed Waheed told The Independent that he strongly opposes the court ruling. “This case should not have come to the courts at all. We see this girl as a victim,” he said, adding that he has set up a committee to “understand what went wrong”. The author points out that few of the millions of tourists to the Maldives each year see this side of the country. Most are whisked off to uninhabited resort islands before even setting foot on the crowded, alcohol-free capital of Malé. But the Islamic hardliners are reportedly responsible for further incidents. They are blamed for a raid on the national museum last year in which a priceless collection of ancient Buddhist artefacts was destroyed. They are also thought to be behind the killing in October of a member of parliament who had spoken out against extremism.

CAIR-Chicago Wins Judgment for Muslim Center’s Freedom of Religion

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today welcomed the decision by District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer granting summary judgment to the civil rights organization’s client, Irshad Learning Center, an Islamic religious institution primarily serving the Iranian community.

Irshad Learning Center (ILC) applied for a zoning permit to use a former school in unincorporated DuPage County as a mosque and Islamic school. The DuPage County Board denied the permit without explanation in January 2010.

While the Zoning Board of Appeals (the first governmental entity to consider the petition) repeatedly recommended denying the permit, the County Development Committee supported ILC’s petition with various conditions.

CAIR-Chicago filed a lawsuit against the county and members of the board on behalf of ILC on April 8, 2010.

ILC’s complaint alleged violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as state constitutional and zoning law.

Leicester scout hut at centre of religion protests to reopen

A disused scout hut which had plans to turn it into an Islamic centre is to reopen as a community centre after a number of protests and petitions. A residents group had organised a series of protests and a petition, calling for it to be used for the wider community. The As-Salaam Trust who were originally due to move into the building said it was in the process of moving into another  nearby facility and was looking forward to getting settled after the disruption and turbulent recent months

British MPs are not taking Islamophia seriously

8 February 2013

Dr Leon Moosavi, who is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool, took on MPs’ lack of seriousness regarding Islamophia, in an article published on the University of Liverpool website. In the article he demonstrates his point by referring to the recent Early Day Motion attempt in the Parliament.  MP Keith Vaz tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament suggesting that Islamophobia be recorded by police forces across Britain so that it can be better understood.

However, up until now, only 24 out of 650 MPs have signed the EDM for Islamophobia to be recorded by police forces. To put that neglect into perspective, Dr Moosavi mentions that, 90 MPs have signed an EDM against turtle farming and 73 MPs have signed an EDM calling for elephant protection. The Islamophobia petition has only managed to receive as many MP signatures as a petition against dog attacks on postmen.

Opposition grows to religious freedom nominee

More than 1,800 people have signed a petition asking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to “reconsider” his appointment of Zuhdi Jasser, a prominent critic of U.S. Muslims, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

“How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ‘commissioner’ to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?” the petition writers ask in their appeal.

Jasser, a physician in Phoenix, Ariz., and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has angered many Muslim Americans for his work with groups they say demonize Muslims, and for supporting policies that they say infringe on their civil liberties.

Jasser narrated “The Third Jihad,” a documentary widely considered to be Islamophobic, and sits on the board of The Clarion Fund, which funded the film, and has received funding from organizations with anti-Islamic sentiments. He has also defended the New York City Police Department against attacks that it spied on Muslims, and testified on Capitol Hill on the problem of Muslim “extremism” in the U.S.

The petition is sponsored by www.Islamophobiatoday.com.

B.C. judge rejects petition for divorce settlement based on sharia contract

The Globe and Mail – July 26, 2011

 

The British Columbia Supreme Court has turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Huwayda Al-Masri had asked the court to compel her ex-husband Ossama Aziz to pay her a dowry of 500 grams of 21-carat gold, which is currently worth around $22,000. The dowry was set out in a Muslim mahr agreement, written in Arabic and signed by Mr. Aziz and Ms. Al-Masri at the time of their marriage in 1997. Ms. Al-Masri, who was 19 at the time of the wedding, was born in Tennessee. Mr. Aziz, then a 29-year-old student who had previously been married, was originally from Baghdad. He had Canadian citizenship at the time of the wedding.

The couple settled in British Columbia but later divorced. Believing that she could rely on the maher, Ms. Al-Masri did not contest the divorce application and did not receive spousal support. However, Mr. Justice Arne Silverman decided he did not have sufficient evidence to enforce the provisions of the marriage contract under Jordanian or Canadian law.

Judge Silverman reviewed four cases from Ontario and B.C., where the courts had upheld similar contracts and decided Ms. Al-Masri was not entitled to the dowry. “I recognize that there may well be national or cultural traditions in Jordan which would resolve the question of to whom a dowry should be payable,” he said. However, he did not have any evidence before him to resolve the issue, he wrote; he did not have any expert evidence with respect to Jordanian law. Ms. Al-Masri will be appealing the decision.

British Muslims support ban on radical Islamic cleric

The British Muslims have supported the UK Government’s decision to ban radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik from entering the country and said his preaching was contrary to the concepts of Islam which is a religion of peace and harmony. In this regard, a delegation consisting of leaders from various Islamic sects delivered a petition at the Downing Street voicing their concerns at Naik’s negative influence on followers particularly Muslim youth and the inaccurate knowledge those interested in learning more about the faith were receiving from his speeches.

Court decides Ashcroft can be sued

The full Western appeals court voted to let stand its earlier decision that former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is not immune from a civil action charge. The case is related to Abdullah Kidd, a Kansas-born Muslim convert, whom Mr. Ashcroft have had him arrested without probable cause. Ashcroft had petitioned the Court of Appeals for rehearing of his claim of immunity. The petition has been denied and Mr. Kidd can now proceed with his lawsuit charging former Attorney General with violating his Constitutional rights.

One member of Tabligh obtain the citizenship in spite of the opposition from CNI

The Spanish High Court has granted citizenship by residence to a Muslim who belongs to the Tabligh movement. In 2006 the Spanish Government had refused his petition of citizenship as a result of a negative report from the CNI (Spanish Center of Intelligence).

This governmental agency defines the Tabligh Islamic movement as intransigent with the freedom and against to the equality. The CNI considered his relations between this individual and the Tabligh organization as proof of his lack of integration in to the Spanish society.

Silencing Bosnia’s minarets

In the eastern Bosnian town of Bjeljina, 1,200 Serb residents signed the petition which calls for the reduction of the volume of the ezan (call to prayer) as it apparently creates a disruptive “noise” for the local Serb population. Harun Karcic, a graduate researcher at the Roberto Ruffili Faculty of Political Science thinks that this new move following a citizens’ petition demonstrates that Switzerland’s referendum has more far reaching implications than was first obvious.

“This move, which will most probably go unnoticed in most parts of the world, shows that the Swiss referendum and growing Islamophobia in Europe will have more serious consequences for Europe’s autochthonous Muslims than for the largely North African, Turkish and South Asian Muslim immigrants of Western Europe”, states Karcic among other things.