British University In Veil-Ban Row

By Sakhr Al-Makhadhi in London Protesters say their rights as Muslims are being threatened Imperial College in London is battling controversy over the ban of the face veil on campus. The College in West London has banned the niqab as a security measure. But the hijab, which covers only the hair and has been banned in French schools, is allowed. Tony Mitcheson, the college secretary, said that the ban was needed “in light of security concerns raised by the terrorist incidents which occurred over the summer”, referring to the bombings in the capital on 7 July and the attempted bombings on 21 July. Abigail Smith, a spokesman for the college, said that it needed to be able to identify everyone on campus. “It’s not a blanket ban on religious dress – we’re just asking people not to cover their faces for security reasons,” she said. Hugo Charlton, a human rights barrister, said that the college was within its legal jurisdiction to implement such a measure. “I expect that the college does have a right, because this is private property,” he said. “But I expect that the courts would say that they need a good justification for it.” Protest denounced On Friday, about 35 students demonstrated against the measure. Ruji Rahman said the ban on face veils is the latest in a string of measures designed to drive Muslims out of Imperial. “I studied hard, I got into a top university and now I’m being asked to sacrifice that because of my religion,” she said. The president of the Student Union dismissed the demonstration as scaremongering. Sameena Misbahuddin said: “[The protest] is based on something that’s not true – it’s based on the banning of hijabs, which quite clearly is not the case.” Nevertheless, the Student Union is concerned that the Muslim community could feel targeted. “There’s religious discrimination that it could provoke, with the full-veil and half-veil [ban], it’s open to any sort of interpretation, it could be used any time the college wants to have a problem with someone,” Misbahuddin said. Misbahuddin will be taking those concerns to college officials next week. Scaring potential students The ban on the niqab and the subsequent demonstration has created controversy which seems to be scaring potential students away from Imperial. Smith told Aljazeera.net that a potential student had called her to ask if she would be able to wear her hijab at the college. “She was thinking about cancelling her application,” Smith said, adding: “And that’s very worrying.” That is a fear that Rahman shares. “We’ll end up getting no Muslim students coming to university – just like France,” she said.

Uk Reveals Anti-Terror Laws As ‘Suspects’ Seized

By Madeline Chambers and Matthew Jones British police said they would deport seven Algerians seized as national security threats, hours before the Government unveiled plans to hold terror suspects without charge for up to three months. A Home Office source said the men were former defendants, accused but never convicted, of involvement in a 2002 plot to manufacture the deadly ricin poison. The dawn arrests were the latest to follow four July 7 suicide bombings in London which killed 52 people and wounded 700 and prompted a Government crackdown on Islamist militants. Home Secretary Charles Clarke said they would not be deported to any place they would face torture. Human rights group Amnesty said the detainees must be allowed to challenge the deportation. One Algerian was convicted of charges relating to the ricin case in April but four others were acquitted and cases against the other three were dropped. The seven will be deported because their presence in Britain is “not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security,” a Home Office official said. Most controversial among the latest proposals is an extension of the time police have to detain terrorism suspects without charge to up to three months, from 14 days. “I want to do my best to protect the country and here are the police saying we need to extend the period of detention, well okay as long as there is judicial oversight,” Prime Minister Tony Blair said at a United Nations summit in New York. Police have long argued they need more than 14 days to cope with the volume of cases, the need to trawl through electronic evidence and work with overseas agencies. Clarke, however, raised concerns about his own plans in a letter to opposition parties, saying that there was “room for debate as to whether we should go as far as three months”. The Government is expected to push the plans into law this year. “The facts are that the modern world of terrorism requires a long time to ensure particular cases are looked at properly,” Clarke said. “I’m saying let’s extend 14 days. We are working on the basis that up to three months is the right time.” But civil rights campaigners say three months would be draconian. “These measures, coupled with faulty British intelligence, will increase the witchhunt against Muslims,” said Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission. The Government has already had to back down from a policy of detaining foreign suspects indefinitely without trial after it was ruled illegal last year by Britain’s highest court. Rights group Liberty said the plans would affect attempts to engage with ethnic communities. The Government also plans to outlaw the indirect incitement of terrorism and to ban organisations which glorify terrorism. Critics Say Such Measures Could Pose Definition Problems Despite resistance from security services, ways are being explored to allow the use of phone-tap evidence in court, bringing Britain in line with other European countries. The announcement came with the disclosure that scientists withheld vital evidence in the “ricin plot’ case that was used by Blair to justify the war with Iraq. Tests demonstrating that was no ricin found at a London flat linked to the case were not disclosed to police and Government ministers. The “plot” was cited by Blair and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the decision to go to war with Iraq. A breakdown in communication was blamed for the failure to pass the information on to Government. On February 3, 2000, Blair told MPs in the House of Commons that the “ricin terror plot” was “powerful evidence of the continuing terrorist threat”. Two days later Powell used the case to warn about the spread of terrorism to western countries. Tough Security Proposals – The ability to hold suspects for three months without charge. – A new offence of “glorifying” terrorism attacks in Britain and abroad, which will carry a five-year jail sentence. – It will not be an offence to glorify any events which happened more than 20 years ago, except those specified. The draft bill also creates an offence relating to the “dissemination of terrorist publications”, which is seen as a crackdown on Islamist literature.

Britain Sets Ground Rules For Banning Foreign Extremists

By Alan Cowell LONDON Charles Clarke, the British home secretary, published a catalogue of terrorism-related offenses on Wednesday, setting the ground rules for Britain to ban or deport foreigners accused of fomenting hatred, violence and extremism. The list is directed primarily at firebrand Muslim clerics and scholars suspected by the government of inspiring violence among British Muslims, like those who carried out the London bombings in July. The announcement by Clarke, Britain’s most senior law enforcement official, followed a promise from the British prime minister, Tony Blair, earlier this month to take action, including closing mosques and barring clerics, to forestall future terrorist attacks. The measures announced Wednesday seemed slightly less sweeping than first promised by Blair. A Home Office statement said Clarke had decided not to include a catchall definition of unacceptable behavior as being “the expression of views that the government considers to be extreme and that conflict with the U.K.’s culture of tolerance.” In a statement, Clarke said the new regulations covered the expression of views which “foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs” or which “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.” The list also banned actions to “foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts” or to “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence” in Britain. The new regulations cover several means of expression “including writing, producing, publishing or distributing material; public speaking including preaching; running a Web site; or using a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth leader,” the statement said. It was not immediately known who was most likely to be affected by the measures. Clarke said a “database of individuals around the world who have demonstrated these unacceptable behaviors will be developed.” Since Blair threatened to expel foreign-born militants earlier this month, the government has rounded up 10 men it plans to deport, including Abu Qatada, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent accused by European investigators of being a spiritual guide to Al Qaeda. Britain also barred Omar Bakri Mohammed, born in Syria, from returning to Britain from a visit to Lebanon. The government said it was negotiating with various nations, including Jordan, for guarantees that militants sent back to their own countries would not be tortured or abused. “Individuals who seek to create fear, distrust and division in order to stir up terrorist activity will not be tolerated by the government or by our communities,” Clarke said. By publishing the list, “I make it absolutely clear that these are unacceptable behaviors, and will be the grounds for deporting and excluding such individuals” from Britain. Some civil rights groups challenged the measures. The “announcement fails to answer the fundamental question; will the government’s deportation plans result in suspects being sent to countries with a known record of torture?,” said James Welch, the legal director of a civil rights group called Liberty. “What has always separated us from the terrorists is that we do not torture people or send them to be tortured – that is the standard we need to maintain.” But the regulations drew a broad welcome from the opposition Liberal Democrats because it included provisions for appeal. “It is good that the home secretary has seen sense on the deportation rules,” said Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs. “We broadly welcome the use of powers to deport people, as long as the individuals involved have a right to appeal and the case for deportation is reasonable.” Clarke said the measures would not limit free speech. “These powers are not intended to stifle free speech or legitimate debate about religions or other issues,” he said. “Britain is rightly proud of its openness and diversity and we must not allow those driven by extremism of any sort to destroy that tradition.”

Fatwa Stirs Debate Among U.S. Muslims Some Contend Anti-Terror Edict Meaningless

By RACHEL ZOLL AP religion writer As they issued an edict condemning religious extremism, American Muslims hoped to silence complaints from outsiders dating back to the Sept. 11 attacks that the community has done too little to confront terrorism. But as soon as last week’s statement was released, sharp criticism came from another source – within the U.S. Muslim community itself. Several American Muslim academics now say that the edict, or fatwa, was so broad it was meaningless, and should have denounced specific terrorist groups including al-Qaida. Critics also said the declaration seemed geared more toward improving the faith’s image rather than starting an honest discussion about Islamic teaching. “The bulk of the Islamic tradition as it exists does stand against these lunatic, savage attacks on civilians,” said Omid Safi, a Colgate University religion professor and chairman of the Progressive Muslim Union, an American reform group. “But I would be more inclined to say there are elements of extremism in many parts of our tradition. Rather than simply saying these are not a part of Islam, I would acknowledge that these trends are there and do away with them.” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group which endorsed the fatwa, said no specific groups were named because “it would have been a laundry list.” “I think you can safely regard anyone listed on the State Department list (of terrorist groups) as included,” Hooper said. That list includes the Islamic militant group Hamas, which many Palestinians believe is waging a legitimate fight against Israel. “It’s not likely that someone who is already considering some act of terrorism would be dissuaded by this, but you never know if you’re going to prevent someone from going on the ideological road that would lead them to this activity,” Hooper said. Muslims around the world have been under renewed pressure to denounce terrorism following last month’s deadly bombings in Britain and Egypt, along with the drumbeat of insurgent attacks on civilians and coalition troops in Iraq. The U.S. fatwa, written by the Fiqh Council of North America, an advisory committee on Islamic law, said nothing in Islam justifies religious extremism or terrorism targeting civilians. The council further declared that Muslims were obligated to help law enforcement protect civilians anywhere from attacks. Fiqh Council chairman Muzammil H. Siddiqi said the edict applied even when a Muslim country has been taken over by a foreign power. In Britain last month, two groups of Muslim leaders separately denounced the July 7 London attacks, but one said suicide bombing could still be justified against an occupying power, while another said it could not. “Occupation is wrong, of course, but at the same time this is not the way,” Siddiqi said. But Abdullahi An-Na’im, who specializes in Islamic law and human rights at Emory University, said the American fatwa was misleading. He said the scholars could not say “in good faith” that Islamic law, called Shariah, required Muslims to assist an invader. “What is Shariah’s position on an invasion or occupation of a Muslim country by a non-Muslim country? Put bluntly in those terms, I don’t think that any credible scholar could say this is legitimate,” An-Na’im said. “If the same group of scholars were asked to issue a fatwa over the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, which is the underlying thing, what would that fatwa be and how would Americans feel about it?” The debate is complicated by the fact that Islam has no ordained clergy or central authority, like a pope, who can hand down definitive teaching. Islamic leaders with conflicting views regularly claim they are authorized to issue the edicts. An-Na’im pointed out that Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has issued fatwas promoting violence against what he sees as Muslim oppressors; An-Na’im wondered why any Muslim would feel bound, then, to follow the American declaration denouncing it. Muqtedar Khan, a political scientist at the University of Delaware and author of “American Muslims,” said it appeared the main aim of the U.S. fatwa was protecting U.S. Muslim leaders and organizations from criticism. And the edict may have fallen short of even that goal, he said. “They should have been at least specific about events, if not individuals or organizations. They did not condemn al-Qaida or (Osama) bin laden. It would have had more punch to end all these claims that American Muslims are not doing enough to end terrorism if they had,” Khan said. Disagreement over the declaration was inevitable – American Islam is a diverse mix of millions of immigrants and U.S.-born converts. Also, there is no major center of Islamic learning in the United States, and some Muslims even questioned whether the 18 scholars who issued the fatwa had the classical training required to interpret Islamic law, Safi said. Yet even critics acknowledged something constructive could develop from the fatwa, despite its shortcomings. They hoped it would prompt Muslims to undertake a thorough examination of Islamic teachings and traditions to make a convincing case against terrorism. Said Safi: “There should be a follow-up conversation about what you do with the medieval legacy of how jihad (struggle) is undertaken, rather than saying these things are never a part of Islam.”

U.K. To Ban Incitement To Religious Hatred; Hindu, Muslim Groups Welcome The Measure

By Hasan Suroor LONDON: Ignoring protests from secular groups and Opposition parties, the British Government has decided to go ahead with plans to make incitement to religious hatred an offence. A bill to this effect was introduced in the Commons amid fears among writers, satirists and rights activists that it would stifle free speech, but leaders of Hindu and Muslim groups welcomed it saying they needed protection against attacks on temples and mosques. Currently, the law protects ethnic groups against racial hatred but there is no protection against incitement on religious grounds. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill seeks to ban “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.” A breach of the proposed law would be punishable by fine or a prison term. Novelists Hanif Kureishi and Monica Ali joined the chorus of criticism against the bill calling it a recipe for self-censorship. “What I’m certain of is the damage to freedom of speech that will come about as a result of self-censorship – it already exists and will be dramatically increased,” said Ms. Ali, the Bangladeshi-born author of Brick Lane. “Invitation To Censorship” Mr. Kureishi, who is of Pakistani origin, feared that the bill would “stifle” even legitimate criticism of religion. Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said despite its “good intentions, the move was an invitation to “censorship”. But spokesmen for the Hindu Council and the Muslim Council of Britain said such a law was needed in a climate where religious groups were often targets of attack. ? The Home Office Minister Paul Goggins sought to allay fears that it would curb freedom of expression saying it would not stop debate on religion or prevent people from “poking fun” at religion as feared by satirists and comedians.

Rights Report Attacks British Anti-Terror Laws

PARIS (Reuters) – A top European human rights watchdog said on Wednesday Britain’s anti-terrorism laws breached European standards and could force London to opt out of parts of the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite improvements, Britain still tended to see human rights as an obstacle to the criminal justice system, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil-Robles said in a report. He welcomed a decision by Britain’s top court which forced Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government to drop a measure allowing detention of foreign terrorist suspects without charge. But problems remained with the law that replaced it. The 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act allows Britain’s Home Secretary (interior minister) to issue “control orders” against terrorism suspects, which restrict their freedom of movement, where they live and with whom they may communicate. “The Act acknowledges some … of these restrictions may be incompatible with Article 5 (of the European Convention on Human Rights) on the right to liberty, in which case the possibility of derogating from the UK’s obligations under this article is foreseen,” the report said. Control orders replaced the criminal justice system with a parallel system run by the executive. Special laws might be necessary to counter the risk of terrorist attack but judicial guarantees should always be applied, it added. Andrew Bell, a spokesman for the British government, said London welcomed the report and would “give careful consideration to the issues and recommendations.” In London, the minister responsible for the modernisation of the criminal justice system, Baroness Scotland, defended Britain’s far-reaching anti-terrorism laws. “Those control orders are proportionate,” she told Channel 4 television news. “What we are doing is limiting the ability of those individuals who’ve been identified as potentially causing a risk to our country… “I absolutely do not accept that we are in any way exaggerating the threat,” she said. “What are the alternatives? What is being suggested that we should put in place to keep our country safe?” Some British Muslims, who say they have borne the brunt of laws which give police extra powers to stop and search suspects, welcomed Gil-Robles’ report. The British Islamic Human Rights Commission commended it “for clearly shaming the UK as a nation which, rather than improving, is rapidly digressing from the most basic of human rights obligations”. “The British government … continues to oppress the minorities in Britain through a general policy of fear,” IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh said. “Fear of terrorism, fear of asylum seekers, fear of Muslims and general fear of ‘the Other’.”

OSCE Concerned At Dutch Climate Of Fear For Muslims

By Emma Thomasson AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Europe’s main democracy and rights watchdog expressed concern on Friday about increasing Dutch intolerance towards Muslims that was fanned by the murder last year of a filmmaker critical of Islam. Omur Orhun, ambassador on combating discrimination against Muslims for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was in the Netherlands to discuss the position of Muslim immigrants. “Holland was reputed to be a country of tolerance where integration, as compared to other European countries, had been achieved acceptably. But recent events have shown there is a problem,” he told a news conference ending a three-day visit. “Especially from representatives of some civil society organisations there were repeatedly feelings of fear expressed. Not claims of physical attacks or abuse, but a climate of fear.” Home to almost 1 million Muslims or 6 percent of the population, the country’s reputation for tolerance and social harmony was shattered by the murder last November of outspoken filmmaker Theo van Gogh and its violent aftermath. A Dutch-Moroccan man was charged with the killing, allegedly motivated by Van Gogh’s criticism of Islam. Dozens of mosques, and Muslim schools were attacked in apparent retaliation. Orhun, who met Dutch politicians as well as Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese migrant groups and human rights organisations, said the fact the government had invited him to visit the country showed it wanted to tackle the situation. “There is a problem in Holland as far as tolerance and non-discrimination is concerned,” he said. “But the situation is not tragic and the problem can solved with common sense and trying to build bridges.” The Turkish diplomat said tension was on the rise in many Western countries over Muslim immigrants and said he hoped to visit the United States, Germany, France and Britain soon. “There is mistrust and stigmatisation of Muslims and a growing fault line between the Muslim communities and the host societies,” Orhun said. Orhun recommended that Islam should not be politicised by countries that are home to Muslim migrants or by the immigrants themselves, who must also do more to distance themselves from radicalism and condemn violence committed in Islam’s name. Western governments could also do more to counter stigmatising of Muslim youths, for example by helping them get apprenticeships for jobs, he said. “The sense of being accepted would tend to decrease this radicalisation. Equal opportunities would also create lesser possibilities, lesser chances of radicalisation,” he said.

Us Muslims Sue Gov’t Over Border Detentions

US Muslims sued the US Department of Homeland Security, accusing the US border agents of rights violation and racial profiling. The suit, filed in US District Court on Wednesday, April 20, named Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff among four defendants in what the New York Civil Liberties Union called a case of profiling, according to Reuters on Thursday, April 21. The three men and two women said the agents who detained them as they returned from an Islamic conference in Canada violated their rights, held them, along with dozens of other US Muslims. They added that they were interrogated, photographed and fingerprinted against their will in December 2004. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs, who were later released without charge, were singled out after telling customs officials they had attended a “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” conference in Toronto. The suit does not seek monetary damages, but asks for a declaration that the government action was unlawful, an injunction against further enforcement of such policies and practices and erasing from all federal databases of information obtained from the plaintiffs, Reuters reported. The annual conference draws thousands of Muslims from Canada, the United States and overseas, AFP said. A May 2004 report released by the US Senate Office Of Research concluded that Arab Americans and the Muslim community in the US have taken the brunt of the Patriot Act and other federal powers applied in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Amnesty International said that racial profiling by US law enforcement agencies had grown over the past years to cover one in nine Americans, mostly targeting Muslims. ‘Most Humiliating’ Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union which is helping represent the plaintiffs, condemned what she described as the “over-zealous and counter-productive ethnic and religious profiling” encouraged by government security policies in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “They are engaging in profiling,” said Lieberman, adding that “the government detained people because they attended a conference that was perfectly legal, exercising their basic rights.” None of the citizens who were detained had done anything unlawful, nor were they charged with any unlawful act,” Lieberman told reporters. “You don’t lose your rights when you’re a Muslim. You don’t lose your rights when you cross a border, and you certainly don’t lose your rights by attending a religious conference,” she added. One of the plaintiffs, Sawsaan Tabbaa, an orthodontist from Buffalo in New York, said the experience at the border crossing “was the most humiliating I have ever gone through.” “It was unbelievable. I am proud of being American but I couldn’t believe my eyes something like this could happen.” Tabbaa said she had refused to be digitally fingerprinted on the grounds that she had done nothing wrong, but was physically forced into compliance. “I started sobbing like a kid,” she said. At the time of the incident, numerous press reports quoted Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokeswoman Kristie Clemens as claiming the government had “credible information” that Islamic conferences were being used to promote and fund terrorist activities. On Wednesday, Clemens said she was unable to comment on a specific case that was the subject of a lawsuit, but added that the “priority mission” of the CBP was to “prevent terrorists” and their weapons entering the country. “As we continue to pursue this mission, we will continue to work with all communities to protect the freedoms of all Americans,” she said. Islamic Leaders Vehemently Deny The Charges. Tabbaa’s son, Hassan Shibley, 18, said the border guards had initially insisted they were picked “at random”, but when he entered the processing room he saw that all the occupants were Muslim. “It was like I was walking into my local mosque,” Shibley said. Lieberman, whose organization filed the suit along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there was nothing about the RIS conference to raise suspicions. “If the government has suspicions about criminal activities they have every right and indeed the obligation to go after those suspicions,” Lieberman said. “This is a case of rounding up the usual suspects in derogation of their rights and in derogation of all of our liberties.” A recent nation-wide poll, conducted by the Cornell University, showed that at least 44 percent of the Americans backs curbing Muslims’ civil rights and monitoring their places of worship.

First Women-Only Mosque Opens In Amsterdam

A number of Dutch Muslim women opened Saturday, March 19, a women-only mosque in the metropolitan city of Amsterdam. Inaugurated by controversial Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El-Saadawi, the mosque is a part of a project carried out by the De Balie cultural center and the cultural development institute of the Forum organization, both financially backed by the government. The mosque is run by women from A to Z, with a woman leading the prayer and another raising the Adhan (call to prayer). The traditional curtains separating male and female worshipers in mosques disappeared from the novel mosque. Men were conspicuous by their absence though a few of them attended the inauguration ceremony out of curiosity and sat at the back. The project sponsors argue that it is a milestone as it will meet the “spiritual needs of Muslim women” and serve as a meeting point for “isolated” women away from male dominance. Saadawi took the podium, preaching against what she called the “oppression” of Muslim women and urging women to “resist” for equal rights with men. Saadawi faced an apostasy case in 2001 before an Egyptian court after she had been quoted by Egyptian newspapers as saying that hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, was “a vestige of a pagan practice” and that Islamic inheritance law should be abolished. A spokeswoman for the De Balie center, who requested anonymity, told IslamOnline.net that Saadawi has been selected because “she set herself up as a paradigm for women liberalization and their struggle to lift the oppression.” She, however, said that the mosque has nothing to do with the woman-led mixed-gender Friday prayer in New York City on March18 . IOL correspondents says the project fits within the government’s tendency to boost what it sees as “liberal” Muslims against “extremists”. Diverting Attention Ahmad Al-Rawi, the chairman of the Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe (UIOE), said things like the woman-led prayers and the new women-only mosque are western attempts to distract Muslims’ attention from pressing issues facing them in the West. “Muslims [in the West] should rather be preoccupied with educating the young generations about their religion and protecting them from moral aberration,” he told IOL. Rawi underlined that Muslim women in Europe are in no way inferior to their male partners. “They [women] play a leading role in our organization and face no discrimination whatsoever,” he added. Marzouk Abdullah, professor of Shari`ah in the Islamic European University in the Netherlands, urged Muslim women in Europe to display good intentions, cautioning them against committing wrongdoing unabashedly. “We can never deny them their right to form an assembly to raise the awareness of the rights and responsibilities of women under Islam, if they are really for that,” he told IOL. It is a sort of clich_ to say that women are oppressed under Islam, but it is a fact to say that immigrant women in the country – particularly Muslims – are being discriminated against, Dutch Muslim female lawyer Famille Arslan told IOL on Monday, March14 . She said that Muslim women in the Netherlands take the brunt of religious discrimination and racial profiling in the labor market because of their attire and names. Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands’s 16 million population. Turks represent 80 percent of the Muslim minority. There are some 450 mosques in the Netherlands,1,000Islamic cultural centers, two Islamic universities and 42 preparatory schools, according to recent estimates. Press reports have underlined that Dutch Muslims were subjected to religious discrimination and racist attacks on their places of worship in 2004.

British Lords Defeat Anti-Terror Law

In a humiliating defeat for British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, the House of Lords voted against the controversial anti-terror law, inflicting a series of blows on proposals to give the Home Secretary extensive powers over suspect terrorists. The Lords voted Monday, March 7, by 249 to 199 against the controversial bill, demanding judicial oversight of the extensive powers the government originally suggested be given to the Home Secretary, which ranges from electronic tagging to curfews and freedom of association, Reuters reported. “They have to be better than the awfulness of what is in this bill,” Helena Kennedy, a senior lawyer and peer in Blair’s Labour Party, said. The proposed law allows the government to place so-called control orders on persons it deems “terrorism suspects” on mere suspicion, imposing measures such as electronic tagging or even a form of indefinite house arrest without trial. If approved, the law would give the government powers unprecedented in peacetime to curtail the activities of both British citizens and foreign nationals’ suspects. It would replace an earlier law allowing “foreign terror suspects” to be jailed without trial, which Britain’s highest court of appeal struck down late last year after ruling it contravened human rights obligations. Adamant to pass the laws as they stand, Blair had rejected Conservative proposals to put a time limit on the measures, which sparked fears it would erode the country’s long-established human rights by targeting people on “mere suspicions”. “Reasonable Grounds” Giving the controversial bill the thumbs-down, the British Lords demanded a higher standard of proof before any restriction of movement could be imposed. In this regard, two amendments of the bill were pressed for by two members of the Liberal Democrats Party, according to the BBC News Online. One raises the standard of proof for making a control order from “reasonable grounds” for suspicion to a requirement that a judge must be satisfied on the “balance of probabilities” such an order is justified. Another introduces a requirement for the director of public prosecutions to deliver a statement to the court saying there was not reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution before an order was made. “Sunset Clause” “The speed with which this legislation is going through this House and has already gone through the Commons, I believe, is evidence enough that we need such a clause on the face of the bill,” said Lord Kingsland, the Shadow Lord Chancellor. He stressed that the opposition to the controversial legislation would also try Tuesday to introduce what he termed a “sunset clause”, which would see the bill lapse on November 30. Home Office minister Baroness Scotland, however, said the “sunset clause” would not be an appropriate step. “This Bill Should Not Be Seen As A Very Short Stopgap.” The Government’s failure to see off the opposition to the bill may force ministers to consider further concessions or risk losing its entire anti-terror bill. Scotland revealed Sunday that if the anti-terror proposals are rejected by the Lords, Blair plans to use the so-called Parliament Act to force them on to the statute book. It added that invoking the Parliament Act over house arrest plans would “expose ministers to renewed controversy at a time when they are desperately trying to rally opposition parties and their own MPs behind them”. Muslims in Britain are complaining that they are maltreated by police under the Terrorism Act for no apparent reason other than being Muslim, citing the routine stop-and-search operations. Senior British parliamentarians admitted last August that anti-terrorism laws are being used “disproportionately” against the Muslim minority.