Lee Rigby murderers sentenced to life in prison

February 26, 2014

 

The two religious fanatics who murdered Lee Rigby screamed a final act of defiance in court on Wednesday as they fought with guards and were dragged from the dock prior to receiving a whole-life and life sentence respectively for their killing of the 25-year-old soldier. In dramatic scenes Michael Adebolajo shouted “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is the Greatest” before being told he would die behind bars while Michael Adebowale joined the outburst, saying that “Britain and America would never be safe”. The pair were restrained and wrestled to the ground before being taken down to the cells. Their cries had been retaliation to the judge’s conclusion that their barbaric act had been a “betrayal of Islam”.

The judge said the 29-year-old Adebolajo had “no prospect of rehabilitation” as he handed him the ultimate sentence available. 22-year-old Adebowale’s defence team said a whole-life sentence would have been “inhuman” and he was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 45 years – saved from a whole-life tariff because of his age.

Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch made a PR error in the wake of the sentencing of Lee Rigby’s killers. Mensch tweeted: “One of the aims of #LeeRigby’s murderers was to stir up religious hatred and we must not allow them to succeed in their aim. #Islam #Peace” and trying to convince her followers she was in touch with British Muslims she tweeted:

“When I think of British Muslims I think of @Mo_Farah @SayeedaWarsi @RaheemJKassam @SunnyHundal @YasminQureshiMP &c not these fools #LeeRigby”

However Sunny Hundal was born to Sikh parents of Indian origin and despite having a beard, is not Muslim. He tweeted back at her “Erm, I’m not Muslim Louise. Parents are Sikh”. After Twitter users criticised her for her mistake, Mensch argued: “I’ve thought he was Muslim for ages. Based on his politics, tweets.” However this spawned the hashtag #tweetlikeamuslim with users tweeting things like “Crikey that’s a nice minaret”, whilst others tweeted “I’m not Muslim Louise.”

Sunny Hundal told The Independent that he is not a Muslim and that he plans to tweet like a Sikh from now on.

 

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10662836/Lee-Rigby-murderers-sentenced-to-life-in-prison.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10663351/Lee-Rigby-his-killers.html

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/26/lee-rigby-killers-michael-adebolajo-adebowale-whole-life-ruling

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-michael-adebolajo-and-michael-adebowale-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-9155196.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/louise-mensch-thinks-the-real-face-of-british-islam-is-a-man-of-sikh-heritage-9156788.html

One mosque, many faiths

November 19, 2013

 

We all sat in a circle, surrounded by the tranquility of a richly decorated mosque in Washington, D.C. We were for once away from all schisms- of religion, faith and nations. Ten American students, a Pakistani professor and an Indian journalist- we all sat in a circle to explore the space where divides end, and our unity begins.

For these students at American University, the experience was a novel one–for most of them, it was their first ever visit to a mosque. Our group was a concoction of identities – Native Americans, Roman Catholics, Moroccan Jews, and me, a Sikh from the Indian side of Kashmir.

The visit was scheduled to give students an experience of a mosque and to clear misperceptions about clashes of faiths. We chose to visit the Islamic Center in D.C., a mosque designed by an Italian architect and constructed in the 50′s. The imam at the center led us through the prayers and explained the three categories in Islam- aMuslim, who may or may not be truly spiritual; a Momim, a believer who practices his belief faithfully; and the highest category of a Muhsin, who is benevolent, charitable and a humanitarian to all mankind. For him, spreading education or ilm met with the highest category- a reason why he often addressed Professor Akbar Ahmed as Muhsin. Imam Abdullah M Khouj, who is from Mecca, became a Hafiz, or someone who memorizes the entire Koran, at the age of 11. He clearly held high reverence for scholarship and service, perhaps even greater than just practicing beliefs.

In the mosque, under the magnificent bronze Egyptian chandelier, we sat together in a circle as teachers and learners. We discussed why women pray in separate spaces, why religions have sectarian divides. We explored how humility and submission are at the core of spirituality, how various faiths were connected with a common thread.

When we were about to leave, I turned to Imam Khouj and told him that the holy text of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, repeats the name Allah 46 times. Our professor reiterated that the fifth Sikh Guru asked a Muslim Sufi saint, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone of the Holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Here we were, a Pakistani professor, an Indian journalist and 10 American students, attempting to find bridges between faiths. My mind raced back to the raging battles between nations, to the gunfire on the borders, to attacks on places of worship, to condemnation in the name of faith. Far away from these clashes, here we were as a small group, dissolving divides that we had known, finding common spaces.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/11/19/one-mosque-many-faiths/

CAIR Joins 50th Anniversary March on Washington Rally

In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

On the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is time to reflect on Dr. King’s words and examine where we stand as a nation on the issues of justice and mutual understanding.

The opening service Wednesday included Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Sikh, and other Christian faith leaders celebrating King’s legacy.

Other speakers are the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral; Catholic Archbishop Donald Wuerl (wurl) of Washington; Rabbi Achonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly; Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America and others.

Dr. King’s struggle for justice must be carried on by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, because that is what he taught and demonstrated through his life’s work.

Fifty years after the “I have a dream” speech, stubborn remnants of racism and bigotry linger in the forms of voter suppression campaigns, racial and religious profiling and the targeting of undocumented immigrants.

Dr. King’s dream is deferred every time an American is discriminated against, profiled or mistreated because of the color of their skin, their faith, their gender, or their legal status.

Bigotry is also rearing its ugly head in a relatively new form, that of Islamophobia, the hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia — whether expressed in the form of unconstitutional anti-Islam bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide or spewed by anti-Muslim hate bloggers — is just the latest manifestation of the same intolerance faced by Dr. King and other civil rights leaders of his time.

Like other forms of intolerance, Islamophobia is a threat to our nation’s values and to the social tapestry that continues to draw people to our shores from every nation on earth.

As American Muslims join coalitions in defense of their rights and the rights of Americans of all backgrounds, we must learn from the words and experiences of Dr. King.

 

Where Is Islamophobia Heading in the U.S.?

Army veteran Wade Michael Page killed six people and then himself one Sunday morning at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wis., as number of people gathered there for services last August.

The attack is being treated as a hate crime and is considered by the FBI to be domestic terrorism. Teresa Carlson, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation into the attack, told reporters that “the agency is looking into [Page’s] ties to the white supremacist movement.”

So, after the shameful, bloody shooting, we have been discussing hate crime and religious discrimination.

Daryl Johnson, a former analyst for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told the Huffington Post that Homeland Security has neglected to form a domestic terrorism unit to eliminate this type of attack. “Hindsight is always 20-20, but if DHS had a domestic terrorism unit today, we would definitely have sent out a warning, a threat assessment [to] Muslim-Americans being attacked. I know this was a Sikh temple, but he mistook them for Muslims,” Johnson indicated. Despite constant reports of increasing violence against mosques, “not a single intelligence report has warned these communities. … Someone’s not connecting the dots,” Johnson added.

On CNN News, Carol Costello connected the shooting with Islamophobia and pointed out that this is a national problem that needs to be discussed seriously. She also said that “many observers say Sikhs have been unfairly targeted ever since 9/11, but that implies Muslims can be fairly targeted. Well, they are targeted.”

Yes, since 9/11, Muslims have been targeted. As you may remember, a mosque was destroyed by a fire in Missouri. The residents of Murfreesboro, Tenn., have been fighting to keep a mosque from opening. In Washington, D.C., U.S. Representative Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has held a series of congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization — including inside the military — and has claimed extremist Muslims influence the US government.

Religious leaders welcome FBI hate crimes reporting

Fbi IslamFor Raed Jarrar, the FBI’s decision Wednesday (June 5) to begin tracking hate crimes against Arabs is a battle won in a larger war.

“This is just one part of fixing the system, because unfortunately many hate crimes against Arab Americans have not been noticed,” said Jarrar, spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

In addition to its decision on tracking anti-Arab hate crimes, the FBI has agreed to track crimes against a number of religious groups it has never before tracked. The new categories include reporting crimes committed against Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Christians.

“I think having these additional categories is wonderful,” said Samir Kalra, director and fellow at the Hindu American Foundation. Though there were intense efforts to include Hindus, Sikhs and Arabs in the statistics, these other groups weren’t advocated for as heavily.

The original recommendation signed by more than 100 members of Congress called for the FBI to add Sikh, Hindu and Arab hate crimes to the data collected under the agency’s crime reporting program. The program now tracks religious hate crimes against Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and atheists/agnostics.

Obama, Biden attend inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral

Some 2,200 guests filled the Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday morning for the inaugural prayer service, a tradition as old as the country itself.The service is meant to provide a spiritual boost to the newly sworn-in president. Prominent national clergy — from the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh traditions — will offer prayers to Obama, who is accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Jill Biden.“The reason we come together to pray is because we want the best for our country,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of the Washington Catholic  archdiocese, as he entered the cathedral early Tuesday. “We pray for our president, we pray for our vice president. We pray for our leaders as we move forward.”Among those participating in the service at the cathedral are: Wuerl; the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America and leader of the Sterling mega-mosque All Dulles Area Muslim Society; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of rabbis from Judaism’s Conservative movement; and the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Police: Anti-Muslim bigot beat Sikh cab driver

A Federal Way man accused of viciously beating a Sikh cab driver while shouting anti-Muslim slurs now faces a hate crime charge.

King County prosecutors contend Jamie W. Larson attacked the cab driver during an Oct. 17 ride after commenting on the man’s turban.  According to charging documents, Larson, 48, tore out chunks of the man’s beard during the assault, which also loosened one of the driver’s teeth.

According to charging documents, the STITA Taxi driver arrived at the Auburn police station to retrieve Larson. During the drive to Larson’s Federal Way home, Larson began questioning the driver about his turban.

Larson then attacked the driver while making anti-Muslim comments, a Federal Way detective told the court. The driver was able to stop the car in the 1200 block of Southwest 301st Street, where police found him injured and Larson attempting to return to the parked taxi.

During the attack, Larson pulled out parts of the driver’s beard and punched him repeatedly, according to charging documents. Police report the attack left the driver dazed and with a loose tooth.

Imams and other non-Christian chaplains terminated in Canadian jails

News Agencies – October 5, 2012

 

The Canadian federal government has decided to end its contracts nationwide with minority-faith chaplains who had been working part-time in the country’s federal prisons.

Full-time chaplains who remain will be expected to provide spiritual guidance to inmates of all faiths. Finance minister Vic Toews ordered a stop to the tendering of new contracts last month after he announced that he was “not convinced” all chaplaincy services were an appropriate use of taxpayer money.

 

The email cited a memo from Don Head, commissioner of the correctional service, who said the government had decided to move exclusively to a “full-time chaplaincy model with continued reliance on the voluntary support of our community partners.” Renewal options for all part-time contracts “will not be exercised.”

 

According to corrections data, in the last fiscal year, 36 per cent of inmates identified themselves as Catholic, 18 per cent as Protestant, five per cent as Muslim, four per cent as native spiritual, two per cent as Buddhist, one per cent as Jewish and one per cent as Sikh. Twenty percent said they were non-religious, seven per cent said they belonged to “other” religious groups, and six per cent answered “unknown.”

CAIR Issues Report on August Spike in Anti-Mosque Incidents

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/18/2012) — A national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today issued a preliminary report on a spike in anti-mosque incidents that occurred in late August following a massacre of Sikh worshippers in Oak Creek, Wis.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that in the 13-day period between August 6 and August 18, there were eight incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. As a comparison, in the first seven months of 2012 there were 10 such incidents.

CAIR’s report comes one day before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights plans to hold a hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism. It comes just after a mosque in Virginia was vandalized in an apparent bias incident.

California governor signs law protecting Sikhs, Muslims, from workplace bias

California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers to backroom jobs out of public view based on their wearing of turbans, beards and hijabs, under a law signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“This bill, AB 1964, makes it very clear that wearing any type of religious clothing or hairstyle, particularly such as Sikhs do, that that  is protected by law and nobody can discriminate against you because of that,” Brown told some 400 Sikhs and supporters at a rally of the North American Punjabi Assn. on the steps of the Capitol.

Brown also signed SB 1540, which requires the state Board of Education to consider a new history framework for schools that the governor said will include “the role and contributions of the Sikh community in California.”

The new law restricts employers from segregating an employee from customers and the public as a means of accommodating the employee’s religious beliefs. It clarifies that employers must accommodate a worker’s religious practices unless it creates “significant difficulty or expense” for the employer.