Report on foreign funded Islamist Extremism in the UK

The right-leaning, British, foreign-affairs think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, published a report on foreign funding of Islamist Extremism. The report is summarised below.

The UK government’s 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy acknowledged the role of foreign funding of Islamist extremism. In 2017, the UK formed a commission for countering extremism which did research on funding of extremism but has kept its findings secret, leading to a lack of publically available information.

Foreign funding to promote Islamic extremism in the UK has gone to religious institutions which host extremist preachers and distribute extremist literature. There is also concern about Islamist material in British independent (private) schools from the right-wing, Saudi, Salafi-Wahabi tradition.

Saudi Arabia has actively promoted its Wahabi version of Islam, including through providing funding to Muslims in Western countries. In the UK,  there are two major institutions that help distribute Wahabi ideas, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the Muslim World League (MWL). Both organisations have hosted speakers affiliated with the controversial political organisation (sometimes labelled ‘terrorist group’), the Muslim Brotherhood. Bookshops linked to Saudi-funded mosques may also be distributing Salafist literature.

Full scholarships to the University of Medina encourage British young Muslims, hoping to become religious leaders, to go to this Wahabi institution instead of to South Asian seminaries.

The report concludes with a critique of British government policy. The UK is said to be doing less than other European countries, as reports of funding risks have not been published nor has there been a clear response to them. It is suggested that the UK could criminalise funding to certain institutions or funding from particular countries.

Being Muslims and gay in the UK

Amrou Al-Kadhi, who identifies as a gay agnostic Muslim, responded to the first same-sex Muslim British marriage by expanding on the experience of other sexually diverse Muslims. Al-Kadhi reflects on the experience, from a young age, of being “forced to imagine myself in the pits of hell” for all sins including homosexuality.

When Al-Kadhi’s parents’ discovery that Al-Kadhi was gay, their relationship fell apart, mostly because of fear of judgement from extended relatives.

Many Muslims in the UK see being Muslim and gay as “an utter irreconcilability.”

Al-Kadhi notes that Christian communities have had the same conflict; however, the British public is not as shocked when Christian communities have started to accept gay people as it is when talking about Muslims.

The author recognises a spiritual connection to the world related to Islam but has been push out of “Muslim” communities. A friend, Umber Ghauri, identifies as Muslim and calls for recognition of gender progressiveness in Islamic history.

Al-Kadhi calls for celebrating gender and sexual autonomy in all faiths.

Historical high number of Muslims elected in UK elections

In the British elections earlier this month, 16 Muslims were elected to the British Parliament, a dozen of these Members of Parliament (MPs)  from Pakistani backgrounds.

Labour party Muslim MPs include Khalid Mehmood, Shabana Mehmood, Rozeena-Allin Khan, Yasmin Qureshi, Naz Shah, Imran Hussain, Afzal Khan, Mohammed Yasin and Faisal Rasheed, Roshanara Ali, Rupa Huq, and Tulip Siddique.

Conservative Muslims MPs in the new parliament include Nusrat Ghani, Rehman Chishti, and Sajid Javed, the communities minister.

Scottish National Party politician, Tasmeena Sheikh, lost her seat. Liberal Democratic and Conservative parties had reduced the number of Muslims running for election.

This increase was not affected by the fact that the  Liberal Democratic and Conservative parties had reduced the number of Muslims running for election by nearly half.

 

Over 130 imams in the UK Refuse to Perform Funeral Prayers for the London Attackers

 

More than 130 imams in the Uk have refused to perform the traditional  prayer for the terrorists of the London attack – and have called on other religious authorities to do the same. This is an excerpt of their declaration:

“(..)we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

Over 130 Imams & Religious Leaders from diverse backgrounds refuse to perform the funeral prayer for London attackers in an unprecedented move

London Bridge Attacker profiles

Three men perpetrated the attack last Saturday night in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas. All three men have been identified by Scotland Yard.

The most recent attacker to be identified is 22-year-old, Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba. Prior to the attack, he had been living in East London and working at a restaurant. Although the Italian police previously prevented him from travelling to Syria via Istanbul to allegedly join ISIS fighting, they did not share this information with British intelligence and Zaghba was not known to British authorities. He was born in Morocco and lived there most of his life.His mother lives in Italy, as she is separated from his father.

One of the other attackers, Khuram Butt, was known to police and MI5 but police had no understanding of this attack. Butt appeared in a Channel 4 TV documentary called, “The Jihadis Next Door” and was banned from his East London mosque for interrupting a sermon. He was born in Pakistan but came to the UK as a young child; he has been living in Barking, East London. He had a baby and a toddler. Butt was athletic and an Arsenal fan. He angered when he saw women cycling in his area. He played with neighbourhood children often. Butt worked for Transport for London and for a fast food restaurant.

Rachid Redouane, 30, is the third terrorist profiled in the article. He identified as Moroccan and Libyan; however, he sometimes also used the name Rachid Elkhdar. At the time of his death, he was carrying an Irish ID card, which may have helped him obtain permission to enter the UK. He lived in Dublin previously for part of 2015 and possibly 2016. He was not known to police. He was a pastry chef. He married Charisse O’Leary in 2012, a British citizen who ever converted to Islam. Recently, the couple split after disagreements over raising their now 17-month-old daughter.

German Muslim leaders react to the attacks in the UK

Muslim representatives in Germany have condemned the recent attacks in Manchester and London.

Especially the events of Manchester gave rise to expressions of shock and anger, as the targets of Salman Abedi’s suicide bombing that left 23 dead had been a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande and its mostly very young audience.

Responses of the large associations

Germany’s largest Islamic association, Turkish-dominated DİTİB, issued a press release condemning the attack and any other form of terrorism, as well as expressing the organisation’s condolences to the families of the victims.

The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), Aiman Mazyek tweeted: “In deep sorrow I look to #Manchester. We pray for the bereaved, injured, their relatives. Many child victims to be feared – terrible.”

Bekir Altaş, secretary general of the Islamist-leaning Islamic Community Millî Görüş (IGMG) also took to twitter: “#PrayForManchester! Aghast and shocked! In our hearts we are with all victims and their relatives.” The chairman of the Islam Council (IR) issued a similar statement.(( http://www.islamiq.de/2017/05/23/religionsvertreter-trauern-mit-manchester/ ))

Rehashing a well-rehearsed ritual

Representatives of Germany’s Church communities also voiced their condemnation of suicide attack in Manchester. Shortly afterwards, on May 23, the leading Catholic and Protestant clergymen of Berlin held a private vigil with the Great Imam of Al-Ahzar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, commemorating the victims.(( http://www.bild.de/regional/aktuelles/berlin/grossimam-und-bischoefe-gedenken-der-terroropfer-51881922.bild.html ))

At the same time, these statements did not – and in some sense could not – go beyond the by now well-rehearsed tropes of outrage that are being used after every attack. The demand that Muslims and their representatives must dissociate themselves from the suicide bombing hung in the air, and they duly complied.

This is not to claim that these demands the corresponding statements of Muslim leaders were made in bad faith. Yet it does underline the fact that there is little by way of a genuinely meaningful public conversation on attacks such as the ones that occurred in Manchester and London. Instead, in an involuntary expression of their helplessness, all sides continue to shelter behind the familiar ritualistic assertions.

Muslim Liberal Democrat candidate in UK elections suspended for anti-Semitic remarks

Ashuk Ahmed, once honoured in the House of Lords for among the most “inspirational role models for British Muslims,” is no longer the Liberal Democratic candidate for the Luton South constituency. Ahmed was suspended because of pre-2014 anti-Semitic Facebook posts.

The Liberal Democrats claim to have suspended Ahmed immediately after receiving notice of the offensive content. The content included claims of Zionist control and a repost from an American hate group, AshkeNazi, which claims a “takeover” of America by Ashkenazi Jewish people.

London terror attacker profiled

Khalid Masood, age 52, attacked London, driving a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbing a police officer who was guarding parliament. 

Masood was not born into a Muslim family. His birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao. He was born in Kent to a 17-year-old mother. In school, he was interested in football and parties. 

Masood has two daughters with Jane Harvey, his partner with whom he lived in the mid-1990s. He also has a son with another woman.  

Most of his noted criminal acts occurred before his conversion to Islam.  He was convicted for criminal damage at the age of 18. He also had convictions for assaults, weapon possession, and disturbing public order. At least two of his convictions were for knife-related assaults.

It is unclear exactly when he converted to Islam. In 2004, he married a Muslim woman, Farzana Malik but they separated a few months later as a result of Masood’s abusive actions. By 2005, he was living and working in Saudi Arabia, where he earned qualification to teach English. A few months after returning to the UK from Saudi Arabia, he began to teach English to language learners in Luton.

It is also unclear when he was radicalised; however, he spent time in 3 prisons and told a friend that he had become Muslim in jail. 

In the most recent years, he has been moving around the UK with a notable lack of stability. In about the past 5 years, he has lived in Luton, Forest Glen in East London, and Winson Green in Birmingham. Some of that time was spent incarcerated.

At his death, he was married to Rohey Hydara who did not know of the attacks in advance. His wife and mother have both expressed their condolences to the families of the victims and anger at Masood’s actions. 

British Muslims respond to London terrorist attack

Muslims in the UK are condemning Wednesday’s terrorist attack.

A Muslim convert, Khalid Masood, killed 4 people on and near Westminster Bridge in London. Police believe that Masood was inspired by international terrorist organizations; Daesh (the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Muslim Council of Britain was one of the first organisations to issue a response to the attack on Wednesday, offering condolences for the victims’ families and condemning the attack. The organisation issued an extended statement on Thursday.

Muslim leaders also participated in a conversation with other faith leaders to discuss responses to the attack. Specific mosques, such as Finsbury Park, have added their strong condemnations of the attack.

London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, spoke about how Londoners should not allow the attack to divide them and spread hatred.

Muslim Members of Parliament, Naz Shah and Yasmin Qureshi, and a community leader who was in Parliament at the time of the attack, Muddassar Ahmed, have also launched a campaign to support victims and their families financially. The project, Muslims Unite for London, has already raised about £18,000.

 

In a second Scottish independence referendum, young Muslims would be likely to vote for independence

Scottish Muslims are likely to support independence from the UK due to British anti-terrorism policies, according to a qualitative study by scholars at Newcastle University. The UK government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy, which aims to stop Muslims from becoming radicalised, has been heavily criticised for encouraging Islamophobic suspicion.

Based on interviews and focus groups that included more than 600 Muslim Scottish participants, the researchers concluded that Muslims see Scottish nationalism as more inclusive than other types of nationalism. Its multicultural focus may provide ways for Muslims to engage politically.

The minority of Muslims who support continued union with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland cited economic and security factors.