LONDON – Ninety-five percent of Muslim students are unhappy with British foreign policy, particularly on Iraq, and 66 percent feel it contributed to the London bombings, an opinion poll released on Wednesday said. Half of respondents to the poll for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies said they had experienced Islamophobia, and nine out of 10 objected to the way Muslims were portrayed in the media. The figures were based on feedback from 250 students, with 500 responses expected by next week. Federation president Wakkas Khan said the results undermined Prime Minister Tony Blair’s assertion that the London bombings were unrelated to his decision to take Britain into the Iraq conflict. It is important now for Mr Blair to accept that foreign policy is a serious concern and to start to do something about it rather than being seen to brush it aside, he said. Fifty-six people were killed, including four apparent suicide bombers, when three Underground trains and a double-decker bus were targeted on July 7 in the worst terrorist attack ever on British soil. Three people have been charged with attempted murder, and a fourth is awaiting extradition from Italy, in connection with a failed attempt on July 21 to repeat the attack.
By Kristin E. Holmes PHILADELPHIA — The veil shrouding spouse abuse in Muslim families is being torn away by some mosque leaders — putting them at the forefront of efforts by American Muslims to stem domestic violence. The Philadelphia clergy council — known as the Majlis Ash’Shura of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley — has adopted a tough policy of public shunning of Muslims who abuse their spouses or abandon their families. Under the initiative, adopted in May, offenders will go on a list circulated among area Muslims. They will be banned from future marriages in communities that adhere to the policy. Fellow Muslims will be discouraged from patronizing any businesses they own. “We need to take a public stand,” said Imam Isa Abdul-Mateen, secretary of the Majlis Ash’Shura, an association of 30 imams. “We want people to know that this will not be tolerated.” In coming months, the council will address issues such as the criteria for putting names on the list and safeguards to protect spouses who step forward. Domestic violence appears no more prevalent in Muslim communities than elsewhere, but Islamic advocacy groups and others have tried to push the problem into the open. With the new policy, Philadelphia leaps over other Muslim communities that are just starting to confront the issue, said Maha Alkhateeb, project manager of the Peaceful Families Project, a Virginia-based nonprofit that addresses domestic violence among Muslims. A striking aspect of the initiative is that it was started not by female advocates but by the male leadership, said Amina Wadud, author of “Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text From a Woman’s Perspective.” “This is setting a new precedent, globally.” The Rev. Marie Fortune of the FaithTrust Institute in Seattle, a leading domestic-violence policy center, said she knew of no other religious community in the country that had “so specific and rigorous” a policy. Within Muslim families, domestic violence remains largely a taboo subject, Alkhateeb said. Some Muslims deny its existence in a faith in which men are supposed to be protectors of women and children. Some immigrant families are too focused on building a better life to deal with the issue. Activists also cite a widespread reluctance to air problems and expose fellow Muslims to public scandal. As a consequence, there is little data on the extent of the problem. One study, done in 2000, surveyed 500 Arab women in Dearborn, Mich., and found that 18 percent to 20 percent said they had suffered spouse abuse, a rate similar to that in the general population. Approximately 98 percent of the sample was Muslim, said Anahid Kulwicki, a professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., who did the study. There are signs that Muslims are awakening to the problem. A group of imams signed a pledge to fight domestic violence at a recent Peaceful Families conference in Washington. A turning point in Philadelphia may have come in 2001 when a city police officer killed his wife and then himself. Both were Muslims, and the incident shook the Muslim community, said Taalibah Kariem-White, of Germantown, a domestic-violence expert who lectures nationally on the issue. The policy applies to both men and women. Though there are few female batterers, Mateen envisions the sanctions applying to women who make or threaten false claims to police or vindictively deny a man visitation with his children.
The man shot dead on an Underground train in south London on Friday was not connected to attempted terror attacks on the capital, said police. The statement came as it emerged that police have been given secret new shoot-to-kill guidelines in recent weeks. The dead man was named as Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year old electrician from Brazil. Mr Menezes, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been working legally in Britain for three years. This is a tragedy. The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets, Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, told Sky News on Sunday. The shooting happened in Stockwell on Friday morning when armed plain clothes police officers shot a man as he tried to board a train at the Underground station. He had emerged from a house under surveillance following Thursday’s attempted bomb attacks on three Tube trains and a bus. New shoot-to-kill guidelines for armed police and surveillance officers confronting suspected suicide terrorists advise them to shoot to the head and not the body in case the suspect has a bomb. Sir Ian on Sunday admitted the police had a shoot-to-kill policy to deal with suicide bombers and that it would continue. Somebody else could be shot. But everything is done to make it right,” he said. Friday morning’s shooting at Stockwell came as the hunt continued for terrorists behind bomb attacks that have killed more than 50 people. Over the weekend police questioned two men arrested in connection with the attacks. The admission by the police that the dead man was not connected to the terror attacks will stoke debate over counter-terrorism tactics and the implication that police were operating a so-called shoot-to-kill policy against suspected terrorists. On Friday night the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission called for a public enquiry into the shooting in Stockwell. This is an extra-judicial killing by police who have been trained in shoot-to-kill, it said. The police now face inquiries into their actions that could hit morale, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the Stockwell shooting. Sir Ian said the force was confronting what he called its greatest operational challenge ever. They faced previously unknown threats and great danger, he added as he appealed for the understanding of all communities. Sir Ian said the dead man had been challenged and refused to obey police instructions. Police raided at least three addresses in London on Friday and made two arrests. Police Issue Pictures Of Four Bomb Suspects Police released closed circuit TV pictures of the four suspects and sought public assistance as forensic work continued on what appeared to be home-made explosive devices used on Thursday. A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said on Friday night a special project group had developed operational tactics to help police respond swiftly and effectively to such threats. The guidelines were secretly developed in consultation with police forces including Israel, Russia and the US.
LONDON: British Muslims said they feared police were operating under a shoot to kill policy after a man was gunned down at an Underground train station Friday following a new wave of bomb attacks, reports AFP. The Muslim Council of Britain called on police to explain why the Asian man, reported as a suspected suicide bomber by Sky News, was shot dead at Stockwell station in south London. Police have confirmed that officers pursued and shot a man who was pronounced dead at the scene, but have offered no explanation for the shooting. The incident came a day after another apparent wave of would-be suicide bombers hit London’s mass transport system, two weeks after four suspected Islamists blew themselves up on trains and a bus, killing 56 people. No one was injured in Thursday’s attacks after the bombs apparently failed to go off. A Muslim Council spokesman said Muslims were jumpy and nervous and feared reprisal attacks. I have just had one phone call saying _What if I was carrying a rucksack?’, said Inayat Bunglawala, referring to the rucksack bombs used in the London attacks. It’s vital the police give a statement about what occurred (at Stockwell) and explain why the man was shot dead, Bunglawala said. We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot-to-kill policy. Stockwell is one stop south of Oval station, one of three Underground stops targeted on Thursday, together with a double-decker bus. Witnesses told Sky News that police shot the man five times at close range after shouting at him to stop. There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear, Bunglawala said. Police on Friday sealed off the home of a Muslim convert identified as one of the suspected July 7 suicide bombers after a suspected attempt to burn the building. Officers were called to Germaine Lindsay’s home in Aylesbury, a town just outside London, shortly after 6:30 am (0530 GMT) after reports of a strong smell of petrol in the street, officers said. UNB from London adds: Although there have not been any repercussions, Bangladeshi Britons in East London got worried after the latest attempt at bombings in their neighborhood in the British capital today. A sense of anxiety and worry is there among the Bangladeshi British community following today’s attempted bombings as many of them felt that if the situation deteriorated, their businesses might be affected or racial tensions might surface. About security in the Bangladeshi-dominated East London after the incident near Oval in Southeast London, UNB correspondent Shafiqul Islam found the entire London City was put on high alert. All modes of transport are being checked at various points while several subway lines were suspended, says firsthand accounts of the tightened security measures. After the terror attempt near Oval, this correspondent went near the area after an hour of the incident; but he all roads were found closed. However, people resumed their normal life and business. AFP continues: Police briefly threw a cordon around a mosque in east London on Friday, a day after apparent attempts to carry out suicide bombings in the British capital, BBC News 24 television reported. The East London Mosque, on Whitechapel Road, one of the biggest and most modern in the capital, was surrounded by police officers, some of whom were armed, a woman at the scene told the all-news channel by telephone. Not long afterwards, it said the police had stood down, as the focus of attention remained on an Underground subway station in south London where a man-a would-be suicide bomber, according to reports-was shot by police.
LONDON (AFP) – British Muslims said they feared police were operating under a “shoot to kill” policy after a man was gunned down at an Underground train station following a new wave of bomb attacks. Muslims said the shooting deepened their anxiety about a violent backlash against their community in the wake of two sets of bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants, including one that killed 56 people on July 7. The Muslim Council of Britain demanded police explain why an Asian-looking man, reported as a “suspected suicide bomber” by Sky News, was shot dead at Stockwell station in south London on Friday. Police have confirmed that officers pursued and shot a man who was pronounced dead at the scene, but have offered no explanation for the shooting. The incident came a day after another apparent wave of would-be suicide bombers hit London’s mass transport system, two weeks after four suspected Islamist suicide bombers on trains and a bus killed 56 people. No one was injured in Thursday’s attacks after the bombs apparently failed to go off. A website statement purportedly from the Al-Qaeda terror network claimed responsibility for the attacks Friday but this has not been confirmed. A Muslim Council spokesman said Muslims were “jumpy and nervous” and feared reprisal attacks. “I have just had one phone call saying ‘What if I was carrying a rucksack?’,” said Inayat Bunglawala, referring to the rucksack bombs used in the London attacks. “It’s vital the police give a statement about what occurred (at Stockwell) and explain why the man was shot dead,” Bunglawala said. “We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot-to-kill policy.” Witnesses told Sky News that police shot the man five times at close range after shouting at him to stop. Others described seeing many heavily armed plainclothes officers in unmarked cars at the scene. “There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear,” Bunglawala said. The shooting is the latest in a series of incidents which have threatened to create a rift between Britain’s large Muslim community and the rest of the population in the wake of the terrorist attacks here this month. Some radical British Muslim preachers have blamed the government’s Middle East policy and the British-backed invasion of Iraq for the outrages, although the vast majority of British Muslims have condemned the bombings. “Unless British foreign policy is changed and they withdraw forces from Iraq, I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of attacks, just the way it happened in Madrid and the way it happened in London,” radical British Muslim preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed told the New York Times this week. The government is drafting a range of tough new laws to crack down on Islamic extremism and those who advocate terrorism, including setting up special intelligence units to monitor Muslims nationwide. Prime Minister Tony Blair called Tuesday on Britain’s Muslim community to confront the “evil ideology” behind terrorism following a meeting with leaders from Islamic groups. In another incident Friday, armed police briefly threw a cordon around a mosque in east London, while the home of a Muslim convert identified as one of the suspected July 7 suicide bombers was sealed off after a suspected arson attack. Analysts said the officers involved in the Stockwell shooting did not appear to be operating according to normal procedures. “These guys may have been some sort of plainclothes special forces,” said terrorism expert Professor Michael Clarke. “To have bullets pumped into him like this suggests quite a lot about him and what the authorities, whoever they are, assumed about him.” Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University said the shooting had parallels with the “very strong” methods used by Israeli security forces and US troops in Iraq. “The kind of tactics the Met (Metropolitan police) appear to have used this morning are very similar to the very tough tactics that the Israelis use against suspected suicide bombers,” he said. “It’s like a bad dream,” Mr. Zafar said. “Someone, crazy guys, make brainwashing.” He added, “We need protection. Like, every week, two times a week, all youngsters in community should go together, and someone is teaching them, ‘This should no happen again.’ ” So far, there is little research and less agreement on how well Muslim newcomers are assimilating as Americans, say scholars like Mr. Skerry, who is associated with the Brookings Institute, and Robert S. Leiken, the director of Immigration and National Security at the Nixon Center. “The whole issue of assimilation and integration in relation to terrorism is extremely complicated,” Mr. Leiken cautioned, noting that more terrorists have turned out to be social winners from an educated middle class, rather than impoverished losers. “Integration may be going well, but there are people who assimilate as critics, as revolutionaries.” There is general agreement, he said, that since 9/11, larger numbers of young Muslims in the United States feel victimized, resentful and alienated, but that is where the consensus ends. “Some people hold that Muslims are integrating in just the same ways that other American immigrants have integrated,” he said. “Others see a process of radical Islamicization.” Once children born to Pakistani, Egyptian or Iraqi immigrants might simply have found a dual identity in a hyphenated bridge to their parents’ national origins. But Mr. Skerry, who has been interviewing such immigrants across the country, said events since 9/11 – special registration programs, the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq – almost require even secular families in this second generation to construct an American identity as Muslims. Partha Banerjee, director of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network, an immigrant advocacy organization, warned of a growing sense of political exclusion among such immigrants, who are facing an anti-immigrant backlash with virtually no elected officials from their own ethnic group. Income statistics in New Jersey hide sharp disparities, he noted, like the chasm between suburban sahibs in places like Somerset, the nation’s most affluent county, and poor Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in crowded Jersey City households. “Violence and terrorism really have no place in a civilized society and I’m not condoning any type of excuse for it,” Mr. Banerjee stressed. “But the fact remains that if you just exploit and abuse people without giving them their rights, you run the risk of creating a danger in your own society.” In Jersey City, where more than a third of residents are foreign-born, there are no hard-edge ethnic enclaves. A policeman pointed out the second-floor mosque where Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind sheik, used to preach and plot to blow up New York landmarks; it sits over a Chinese takeout restaurant now. A short walk from Mr. Zafar’s shop on Newark Avenue on a recent Friday morning, Haitian families in starched finery entered an old movie palace for a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the beauty parlor nearby, everyone was speaking Spanish. And down the block, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese immigrants of different faiths flocked to Patel’s Cash and Carry for sacks of rice advertised in an all-American way: “Buy two, get one free.” Fauazia Modak, 26, a Muslim immigrant from Bombay, paused in her shopping to protest what she said were harsh government immigration policies that seemed to blame all Muslims for the crimes of a few. Then she smiled at her son Mizan, just under 2. “I don’t think the children over here would be brainwashed,” she said, leaning over his stroller. “I want him to be religious, but I want him to respect all religions. Not just his religion, not just his country.”
For three hours, Imad Rababe helped slit the throats of more than 100 goats and lambs at his white cinderblock slaughterhouse near Hagerstown, murmuring a quick blessing to Allah with each flick of his sharpened knife then immediately hoisting the animals by their feet on hooks to drain the blood. It’s a tough business, Rababe said. Turnover is high among his eight employees, most of them Muslim immigrants who could not find other jobs. In addition to teaching them the Islamic style of slaughter, Rababe must also shop for livestock, drum up business, track orders and collect payments — often using his limited English to communicate with customers who do not speak Arabic. But as the Washington area’s Muslim population grows, so do Rababe’s moneymaking opportunities. Because the Koran instructs mankind to eat meat that is “halal,” the Arabic word for lawful, devout Muslims are willing to pay a premium for the type of product Rababe sells at his Hamzah Slaughter House LLC in Williamsport. These days, more than 140 of the region’s restaurants and grocery stores advertise themselves as halal, according to Zabihah.com, a Web site that posts reviews of halal food establishments across the country. When Rababe, a native of Lebanon, arrived in the United States in 1978, only a few did. Now at least three major halal meat suppliers serve the region, including Rababe, who says he slaughters 500 to 700 animals a week for his wholesale and retail customers. “Look, I’m not from Harvard. I have no high school education, no nothing,” said Rababe, a practicing Muslim who learned the trade from his father in Lebanon. “But this is the business I know best. It serves the Muslim community, and it makes me financially comfortable.” The fledgling halal business remains far less established than the kosher trade, its Jewish cousin, and there are no reliable estimates of how much halal meat is sold in the Washington area. But it is no longer relegated to traditional kabob houses or ethnic grocery stores either, as new immigrants and others seek out products consistent with their religious practice. Pizza Roma in College Park serves pizzas with halal meat toppings, and Double A Burgers & Shakes in Springfield Mall offers “homemade, halal burgers hot off the grill.” Some Giant Food and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores stock frozen halal chicken nuggets and other products from Al Safa Halal Inc. in Canada. Even the White House does its part, ordering halal for visiting Muslim dignitaries. “For decades we conformed because we really didn’t have much choice” when it came to meeting Islamic dietary needs, said Muhammad Chaudry, president of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a nonprofit group in Chicago that certifies halal meat. “That’s changing.” Mohammad Abdul-Mateen Chida, owner of Halalco Supermarket in Falls Church, recalled how he slaughtered his own chickens when he arrived in the United States in the mid-1960s, for lack of better options. A decade later, when he started selling meat at Halalco, he scoured the region for a place that would allow him to slaughter animals for his retail customers. He ended up slaughtering cattle in Baltimore, goats and lambs in Manassas, and chickens near Frederick. But it wasn’t an easy sell, he said. Most plants scoffed at disrupting their production lines for a low-volume slaughter that would generate little money for them, Chida said. “Now there are so many places I trust to do these things for me,” Chida said. In Islam, the Koran bans followers from eating swine, carnivores and birds of prey no matter how they are slaughtered. Muslims are allowed to eat other animals that meet two requirements, said Imam Mahmoud Abdel-Hady of Dar al-Taqwa mosque in Columbia: They must be slaughtered from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned as the animals are killed. From the hadith — compendiums on how the Muslim prophet Muhammed lived– Muslims are also taught that animals must be well rested, fed wholesome foods and handled in a way that minimizes suffering during slaughter, Abdel-Hady said. That is why the butcher must use a sharp knife and prevent one animal from witnessing the slaughter of another, he said. It is undesirable to sever the animal’s neck because preserving the spinal cord is less painful to the animal and maintains the convulsive movements necessary to rapidly drain its blood — another requirement, according to the Islamic Center in the District. The time involved and the labor-intensive requirements boost the price of halal meat, said Jim Williams of Midamar Corp., a Muslim-owned halal meat company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Midamar has 92 customers in the Washington area. Some cuts of halal beef can be as much as 20 cents a pound more expensive than the mass-produced beef slaughtered by the conventional “stun and stick” method, Williams said. Adding to the price is the cost of hiring a company to certify meat as halal. The extra costs help explain why the four companies that slaughter 80 percent of federally inspected cattle in this country — Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., Excel Corp., Swift & Co. and National Beef Packing Co. — do not do religious slaughter, Williams said. “It slows down their production lines,” he said. “The plants doing a kosher or halal slaughter have to get a premium for their meat because they can’t slaughter as many animals in a day.” Abdul Baig, owner of Pizza Roma in College Park, said the higher price of turkey ham, beef pepperoni and halal chicken breasts cut into his profit, but he said he hopes that as demand for halal grows, so will his pocketbook. He converted to halal agreements slowly after buying the restaurant five years ago. “If I’m going to practice my religion this is all part of it,” said Baig, a Muslim from Pakistan who, for religious reasons, also does not sell alcohol. “I cannot sell food that is not halal or sell beer and then go home and start praying. I cannot earn money from something that is not allowed.” The halal business is fraught with marketing headaches, many stemming from well-founded apprehension among Muslim consumers about the authenticity of products marketed as halal. In 1997, the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service fined Washington Lamb Inc. in Springfield $15,000 for fraudulently mislabeling and selling ordinary meats as halal, after the owner pleaded guilty to related charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, according to the agency. Because of similar problems, California, New Jersey and four other states have enacted laws fining anyone who sells or advertises meat as halal when it is not. A group of Muslims in Virginia is pushing for similar legislation in their state, said Habib Ghanim Sr., president of the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce, which distributes information about halal meat and non-meat products from its offices in the District and Silver Spring. The group has 30 members, mostly meat and poultry companies, Ghanim said. Part of the problem is that there is no standard authority to certify halal meat and poultry. Slaughterhouses that sell halal meat are inspected by the Agriculture Department, but the agency oversees only food safety issues. Certification is left to dozens of individuals or groups, some more reputable than others. Then there are issues open to interpretation. Can the slaughterhouse pipe in recorded prayers to make the lines move faster? If halal meat is not available, would a prayer before eating suffice? Can a company’s meat be halal if its owner or workers are not Muslim? “It’s a very sensitive topic, and there are many issues that need to be resolved,” Ghanim said. “The final responsibility is on the person selling it who claims it to be halal. Ultimately, it is between him and his creator.” Al Safa, the Canadian company that supplies frozen halal products to area stores, initially was involved in controversy when word got out that its owner is an orthodox Jew. But, according to many Muslims who sell Al Safa products, the company overcame doubts when it hired Muslims to do its marketing and slaughtering. Al Safa also adopt
ed an open-door policy under which anyone can visit its facilities unannounced, said Steve Hahn, the company’s vice president. The policy includes the three plants where its Muslim slaughter teams work. “We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of [mostly Muslim] visitors to witness our slaughter” since Al Safa started selling halal products in 1997, Hahn said. But it will probably take time for halal meats to gain a foothold in conventional supermarkets because many halal-meat shoppers feel more comfortable shopping in ethnic stores, Hahn said. Giant, which carries Al Safa products in only 15 stores nationwide, said that the line sold well when it was introduced about two years ago but that sales waned when coupon offers and other promotions ended. Malik Abbas, owner of Pakeeza Market in Gaithersburg, said reputation plays a key role in the halal marketplace. Before he opened his store about three years ago, he would drive far from his home in Gaithersburg to butchers he trusted in Baltimore or Virginia. “My wife would prefer to stay hungry if she can’t find the halal meat,” said Abbas, a Muslim from Pakistan. But Abbas said many of his customers are not necessarily driven by faith. Some come because they swear halal meat has a different taste, he said. Others come because they believe halal meat is more wholesome. Sayeed Quraishi, a retired scientist at the National Institutes of Health, comes to Pakeeza Market because of the mutton chops. They’re hard to find elsewhere. But if he is in the mood for chicken, he picks up Perdue. As Abbas wrapped up Quraishi’s mutton chops, six in one-pound packages, Quraishi apologized to his friend for his bluntness. “You will probably go to heaven,” Quraishi told Abbas. “And I will be your servant.”
By Dilpazier Aslam A schoolgirl who yesterday won the right to wear the Islamic shoulder-to-toe dress in school said the landmark ruling would “give hope and strength to other Muslim women”. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Shabina Begum, 16, described the court of appeal verdict against Denbigh high school in Luton as a victory for all Muslims “who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry”. After a two-year campaign by Shabina, Lord Justice Brooke found her former school had acted against her right to express her religion by excluding her because she insisted on wearing the jilbab. The ruling, overturning a high court decision which dismissed her application for a judicial review last year, will affect every school in the country. Almost a year after the French government banned “conspicuous” religious symbols, including the hijab, in schools, the judge called on the Department for Education to give British schools more guidance on how to comply with their obligations under the Human Rights Act. “I really feel like screaming out of happiness,” said Shabina, who was represented at the court of appeal by Cherie Booth QC. “I don’t regret wearing the jilbab at all. I’m happy that I did this. I feel that I have given hope and strength to other Muslim women. “I also feel a bit sad when I think why couldn’t this judgment have been made two years ago? In the end it’s my loss. No one else has lost anything.” Shabina had worn the shalwar kameez [trousers and tunic] from when she entered the school at the age of 12 until September 2002, when she decided it was against the tenets of her religion. When Denbigh refused her request to wear the jilbab, she was excluded, becoming the reluctant poster girl of a campaign that has been reported in 137 countries. “I thought it would be acceptable to wear because most people at the school are Muslim,” she said. “Then when I was refused I thought a month maximum. Then it just carried on. I get recognised when I go out and other people point to me. They say, ‘Are you that girl?'” Denbigh high school, which has a 79% Muslim intake, said it had lost on a technicality and the school was proud of its multi-faith policy. It said in a statement that it takes into account the cultural and religious sensitivities of pupils. Girls at the school were permitted to wear skirt, trousers or a shalwar kameez and headscarves, which complied with school uniform requirements. The statement said: “The policy was agreed by the governing body following wide consultation with the DfES, pupils, parents, schools and leading Muslim organisations.” The local education authority, Luton borough council, said all schools would now be advised to take pupils’ religion into account when imposing dress rules. Shabina, who was forced to switch to a school that did not prevent Muslim girls from wearing the jilbab, said her campaign had taken its toll. “I can’t be normal with friends if I do not go to school with them. I feel like my social skills have really been lacking. I do not really have many friends at my new school.” At times, even some of her peers cast doubt on her case. “Some of my friends said to me, ‘It’s not an obligation, why are you going to get yourself excluded because of it?’ I said that it is – look at verse number 3.59,” she said referring to the Qur’anic passage which she believes obliges Muslim women to cover their bodies bar their hands and face. In April last year Shabina’s mother died, a month before she lost her case at the high court. Excluded from school and fighting a daunting legal battle, she said the 12 months leading up to her mother’s death were the worst of her life. Her initial defeat did not come as a complete surprise. “Our solicitors told us we only had a 5% chance of winning the case because it’s a radical judgment. They would prefer the court of appeal to do that. After I heard that I felt like I had nothing else to lose.” In a statement after the judgment, Shabina added: “Today’s decision is a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry.” She said the school’s decision has been “a consequence of an atmosphere that has been created in western societies post-9/11, an atmosphere in which Islam has been made a target for vilification in the name of the ‘war on terror’.” She told the Guardian: “I hope in years to come policy-makers will take note of a growing number of young Muslims who, like me, have turned back to our faith after years of being taught that we needed to be liberated from it. “Our belief in our faith is the one thing that makes sense of a world gone mad, a world where Muslim women, from Uzbekistan to Turkey, are feeling the brunt of policies guided by western governments. I feel I’ve made people question the jilbab issue again. “Both France and Britain are calling for freedom and democracy, but something as simple as the jilbab still takes two years to get okayed.”
The president of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Organizations, Mansur Escudero, gave his endorsement yesterday to the policy to allow gay marriage. However, he protested to the executive who also regulates polygamy as a marriage option, which is allowed in countries where the Islam is the majority religion. Escudero says that the question already was broached in 1992, when the agreement of cooperation between Islam and the Spanish government was negotiated. One of the warnings contained in the report approved yesterday by the CGPJ is therefore coming true, that it is now possible that other minority groups also want to see legalized in Spain their particular forms of coexistence.
Even the most religiously traditional Muslims believe they should participate in American politics, according to a newly released study of one of the largest Muslim communities in the nation. The survey of Detroit-area Muslims is the latest to show that the isolationism that once pervaded the immigrant Muslim community is dissipating. Muslims ranked protecting their civil rights as a top public policy issue, according to the study.