Riots in London – British Muslims’ Reactions to the Death of Three Young (Muslim) Men

11./ 12./ 13.08.2011

Earlier last week, the UK was shaken by a number of serious riots that ripped across London, before spreading to other cities, such as Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool. On Wednesday, the riots resulted in the deaths of three young South Asian Muslim men in Birmingham, who had tried to protect their property from looters. The three men were fatally hit by a car that drove through the line of defense. On Thursday, the West Midlands Police arrested three men from Birmingham, aged 16, 17, and 26, on suspicion of murder of the three Muslim men.

 

While the deaths of the three men has heightened tensions amongst some parts of Britain’s multi-ethnic communities, the local Muslim community in Birmingham decided to react with prayer rather than more violence. This was mainly due to an appeal made by Tariq Jahan, father of one of victims in Wednesday’s hit-and-run attack. Jahan, who – as Channel 4 reports – has been heralded as one of the heroes of the riots, repeatedly called on people to not seek revenge for his son’s death and to not march in protest of the killings (albeit this march was intended to be peaceful). Not only did Jahan call on Muslims to find solace in their religion, he also called for peace and an end to the riots. As the Daily Mail reports, Jahan’s speech reminded British society of the “true meaning of decency”; similarly, the Independent describes it as “extraordinary” and very much in contrast to the overheated rhetoric chosen by politicians and the press. This description especially applied to the following abstract of the speech:

 

I don’t blame the Government, I don’t blame the police. I don’t blame anyone.

I’m a Muslim. I believe in divine fate and destiny, and it was his destiny and his fate, and now he’s gone.

And may Allah forgive him and bless him.

Tensions are already high in the area. It’s already bad enough what we are seeing on the streets without other people taking the law into their own hands.

My family wants time to grieve for my son. People should let the law deal with this.

Today we stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stand united.

This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of society.

I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, clam down and go hom – please.” (As published by the Daily Mail)

 

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s events, the local Muslim and Sikh communities have united and, as the Birmingham Mail reports, openly demonstrated this unity by guarding each others’ places of worship.

Will Islamophobia be a key feature of 2012 presidential race?

It’s not just Herman Cain…

As you may have heard, Cain, the longshot GOP presidential candidate, told Think Progress last week that if elected president, he would not consider any federal appointments of Muslims. Cain explained: “There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government.”

This wasn’t Cain simply being entrapped by a wily questioner. Cain had expressed similar anti-Muslim sentiments in an interview with Christianity Today a few days earlier.

Appealing to your base’s id is a tried-and-true method dark horse candidates use to garner attention. This is why Donald Trump has spent the last couple of weeks expressing doubts about the president’s birthplace. But frank expressions of anti-Muslim animus are also coming from mainstream GOP contenders.

All of this makes it fair to ask whether some of this anti-Muslim sentiment reflects opposition to Obama generally, and whether dislike for Obama, combined with the mistaken belief that he is a Muslim, has actually contributed to the mainstreaming of Islamophobic conspiracy theories on the right. If so, pandering to Islamophobia may be an easy way for a Republican candidate to communicate his or political instincts to the base, and thus may become an enduring and unalterable feature of the 2012 presidential race that will only intensify as the campaign develops.

French Football Coach Laurent Blanc keeps job after race controversy

French Football Coach Laurent Blanc keeps job after race controversy

News Agencies – May 12, 2011

France football coach Laurent Blanc has kept his job after being cleared of wrongdoing in the racial discrimination controversy. The French Football Federation said that it “renews its entire confidence in Laurent Blanc”. Blanc attended a meeting in November at which federation members discussed the idea of a quota for players with dual nationality in youth academies. The majority of the players in question are of black or Arab origin. FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy said: “The [FFF’s] federal council has taken note that no discrimination was ever put in place.”

Blaquart used the word “quotas” in the meeting, while Blanc has admitted he also made comments which could “offend some sensibilities”. Influential French great Zinedine Zidane, have offered him their support. Blanc is rebuilding the France team following their disastrous showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa under former coach Raymond Domenech.

New film, “Halal Five-O,” opens in France

New Agencies – February 23, 2011

Revealing a side of France that’s seldom depicted in homegrown commercial movies, the couscous cop caper Halal Five-O (Halal, police d’Etat) will likely be remembered as a cultural studies artifact rather than as a successful comedy. Written by and starring Eric Judor and Ramzy Bedia the script showcases the team’s sketch comedy roots by going from one outré gag to another, using anything from a slice of ham to a talking extraterrestrial in order to draw a laugh. Yet such laughs are few and far between, though the writers and first-time director Rachid Dhibou deserve some credit for using humor as a means to attack racial stereotypes prevalent in France today.

Traveling from Algeria to Paris to investigate the murder of one of their diplomats, the flamboyant Inspector Nerh-Nerh (Bedia) and his paranoid sidekick, Le Kabyle (Judor), find themselves competing against a tough commissaire and two detectives in a race to catch the killer.

French Football Star Accuses French National Team of Racism and Islamophobia

News Agencies – December 7, 2010

Chelsea football player Nicolas Anelka has accused French football of effective racism following the treatment of some of the country’s World Cup flops this season. When Anelka faced Marseille in September 2010 he was jeered throughout, leading the forward to suggest there was more to the treatment of some of the World Cup squad than met the eye.

“In difficult moments, we see what people really think. They said ‘Franck Ribery hit Yoann Gourcuff; Gourcuff is a good French boy, Ribery is a Muslim. It went too far. When the France team does not win, then immediately people start to talk about religion and race.”

And the striker, who received an 18-game ban from the national team for his part in the World Cup problems, revealed he was not very patriotic about his homeland and he would rather quit the team than sing the national anthem. “I am not ‘made in France’ – that is the place where I have had nothing but trouble.

Angle: Muslim law taking hold in parts of US

U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who in a dead-heat race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told a crowd of supporters that the country needs to address a “militant terrorist situation” that has allowed Islamic religious law to take hold in some American cities.

Her comments came at a rally of tea party supporters in the Nevada resort town of Mesquite last week after the candidate was asked about Muslims angling to take over the country, and marked the latest of several controversial remarks by the Nevada Republican.

“La Padania”, the Northern League’s newspaper, denounces choice of Muslim artist to design Christian banner

The Northern League opposes the decision of the city of Siena to sign an Italian Lebanese artist to paint the banner (“drappellone”) that will be awarded to the winner of the famous horse race held in Siena (Palio). This year the banner is dedicated to Our Lady of Provenzano and also the Virgin Mary, who plays an important role both in the Bible and the Quran. The Northern League’s regional representative considers the decision a scandal for supposedly disregarding the Christian, Italian and Tuscan tradition of one of the most famous and beautiful cultural events in the world.

Tensions erupt between Moroccans and Moluccans in Culemborg, Netherlands

A series of confrontations have erupted in recent weeks between Moroccan and Mollucan communities in the central Netherlands town of Culemborg.

Conflict between youths of the two communities began on New Years Eve and have continued, with police making several arrest, erecting physical barriers between the communities, and banning public gatherings of over three people for a period of two weeks.

Although tensions continue, the city held a march of reconciliation on January 7, which was attended by 250 people.

News reports address a number of sources for the conflict. NRC assigns the responsibility for the “race riots” to competition among young men, while Radio Netherlands Worldwide stresses ethnic divisions, though also noting that most Moluccans in the Netherlands are Christian while the Moroccan community is predominantly Muslim.

StatsCan Notes Decline in Hate Crimes Against Arabs and West Asians in 2007

The Canadian Statistical Agency, Statistics Canada has released data which claims that police services reported 785 crimes that were motivated by hate in 2007, down from 892 in 2006.

Statistics Canada says race or ethnicity continues to be the most common motivation for reported hate crimes. There were 185 religiously-motivated incidents in 2007, down from 220 in 2006. There were fewer incidents targeting Jews and Muslims. Incidents against Jews continued to account for about two-thirds of all hate crimes motivated by religion.

American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah

African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the U.S. Yet there are few sites in which African Americans and South Asian immigrants come together, and South Asians are often held up as a “model minority” against African Americans. However, the American ummah, or American Muslim community, stands as a unique site for interethnic solidarity in a time of increased tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants.

American Muslim Women explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African Americans and South Asian immigrants, drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America’s race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.

This ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslims in Chicago and Atlanta explores how Islamic ideals of racial harmony and equality create hopeful possibilities in an American society that remains challenged by race and class inequalities. The volume focuses on women who, due to gender inequalities, are sometimes more likely to move outside of their ethnic Muslim spaces and interact with other Muslim ethnic groups in search of gender justice.

American Muslim Women reveals the ways in which multiple forms of identity frame the American Muslim experience, in some moments reinforcing ethnic boundaries, and at other times, resisting them.

Jamillah Karim is Assistant Professor in religious studies at Spelman College.