British amateur boxer ‘killed fighting jihad in Syria’

February 13, 2014

 

An amateur boxer has become the tenth known Briton to have died fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. On Thursday police were searching the house where Anil Khalil Raoufi, 20, a mechanical engineering student, lived with his family in a suburb of Manchester. Police said they were assessing how Britons were being drawn into travelling to Syria and “how to prevent others doing the same”.

Neighbours of the family, who were not at the property yesterday, spoke of their shock as police carried on searches at the family’s detached home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Didsbury.

Raoufi’s father runs two restaurants on Manchester’s “Curry Mile” and his mother, Kamala, is a housewife. They are believed to have come to the UK from Afghanistan around 10 years ago. Their eldest son is a pharmacist and they also have a daughter and a young son, aged around nine.

He also railed against news articles calling ISIS extremists, and in one posting expressed pride that two boys “not older than 14” had joined him at a training camp. “We’re not like barbaric Victorians who sent their children up their fireplaces to die sweeping chimneys for a few shillings. Islam breeds heroes,” he said.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was aware of reports of Raoufi’s death but could not confirm them.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10636842/British-amateur-boxer-killed-fighting-jihad-in-Syria.html

Nick Clegg will not drop Lib Dem candidate Maajid Nawaz who tweeted a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus

January 30, 2014

 

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the liberal Democrats) has said he will not drop a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who sparked widespread protests among some Muslims by tweeting a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. Maajid Nawaz says he has received death threats since posting the image earlier this month, while a petition calling for him to be ditched as Lib Dem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn in next year’s general election has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and a rival petition in his defence has more than 7,000.

Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio that he would not personally have tweeted the controversial cartoon of a stick figure of Jesus saying “Hi” to a stick figure called Mo, who replies “How you doin’?”But it is important to show respect to people of all faiths, beliefs and religious persuasions when discussing religious matters. But the Lib Dem leader said: “He is not going to be dropped as a Liberal Democrat candidate. He has the right – as any Muslim, non-Muslim or anyone of any faith or none in this country has – to say things even if that causes offence to other people.

Mr Nawaz, the co-founder of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, posted the image after appearing in a BBC television debate about religious tolerance which featured two students wearing it on T-shirts. He said that he was sending out the “bland” cartoon to show that, as a Muslim, he did not feel it was a threat to his faith and to demonstrate that “Muslims are able to see things we don’t like, yet remain calm and pluralist. My intention was not to speak for any Muslim but myself – rather, it was to defend my religion from those who have hijacked it just because they shout the loudest”.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-maajid-nawaz-who-tweeted-a-cartoon-of-the-prophet-mohammed-and-jesusclegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-9095691.html

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/28/speaking-islam-loudmouths-hijacked

Elderly British schizophrenic sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

January 25, 2014

 

A British pensioner with a history of severe mental illness has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws. Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unaware that he is ill following a stroke, was convicted at the end of a trial in Rawalpindi in which it was alleged he claimed to be the prophet Mohammed. During the case, which was heard without a jury, the judge forcibly removed his independent lawyers from the court and appointed a state counsel on the defendant’s behalf.

His treatment has been severely criticised by human rights organisations which have long campaigned against Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation which, according to Amnesty International, has created a climate of fear and murderous vigilantism in the devoutly Muslim country where allegations of religious crime are routinely used to persecute minorities.

Mr Asghar’s lawyers and his doctor are desperately concerned for his wellbeing after he attempted suicide following his incarceration in 2010. His condition is getting worse and he requires complex daily medication as well as psychological and social care but is instead sharing a crowded cell with other prisoners. The conviction is now being appealed although it could take five years before it is heard.

Dr Jane McLennan of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh – a leading authority on psychiatric illness in older people – said that to properly analyse his behaviour she would be required to repeat her patient’s claims – potentially running the risk of being considered blasphemous herself. Thus the very nature of the charges in Pakistan makes it difficult for a mental health professional to indulge in a full discussion of the proper diagnosis.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We strongly object to the use of the death penalty and will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family during this difficult time. We have continuously made representations to the Pakistan government on behalf of Mr Asghar and we will continue to do so. We are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and we are dedicated to doing all we can to prevent the execution of any British national.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/death-sentence-for-british-pensioner-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-9083235.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-lawyers-denied-access-to-severely-mentally-ill-british-pensioner-facing-execution-in-pakistan-over-blasphemy-9086318.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10595398/British-schizophrenic-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10594765/British-man-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html