Wednesday, 31 March 2010

'Prevent' and 'Contest' - opinion

Phyllis Starkey, Guardian, Comment is Free, Mishandling Muslim communities, 30 Mar 2010 "Another serious problem threatening Prevent is a view that information collected for the purposes of project monitoring in fact amounts to "spying" on Muslims. Community mapping efforts required to target project delivery have become confused, in the minds of both those in local authorities and voluntary organisations delivering the programme and those at whom it is aimed, with the kind of "intelligence gathering" undertaken by the police (to combat crime) or the security services (to pursue terrorism suspects)."

Monday, 29 March 2010

Library loans

Telegraph, Hardline Muslim clerics' books still publicly available, 29 Mar 2010 "Works by the jailed preacher Abdullah al-Faisal and the controversial Islamic leader Bilal Philips are available to borrow from the controversial Tower Hamlets council in East London."

Quilliam Foundation Report, 'Reprogramming British Muslims'

David Sapsted, The National, UK’s Islam Channel under investigation, 28 Mar 2010 "Britain’s most popular Muslim TV channel is to be investigated by the government’s broadcasting watchdog after being accused of promoting extremists.

"The Office of Communications (Ofcom) took action after an in-depth survey of the programmes on the Islam Channel by the Quilliam Foundation, a moderate Islamic think tank based in London."

The press release is here:

"The report, based on Quilliam’s recording and monitoring of the channel’s output over a three-month period, found that there were several key problematic trends in its output:

"- Promotion of backward attitudes to women. The Islam Channel’s presenters and preferred guests repeatedly promote socially conservative, Wahhabi-influenced views of women, which see female freedom as a threat to social harmony.

"- Intolerance towards other sects and religions. Religious preachers featured on Islam Channel programmes such as IslamiQA repeatedly make derogatory remarks to the followers of other forms of religious expression and urge viewers to reject the practices of non-Muslims and non-Wahhabi Muslims alike.

"- Promotion of extremism. The Islam Channel has also promoted extremist individuals and groups, for instance, by advertising recorded lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the pro-al-Qaeda preacher, on the channel and allowing members and supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir to host religious programmes. The Channel also uses the phrase ‘human bombs’ to describe suicide bombers."

The Talal Rajab, Quilliam Foundation report, 'Reprogramming British Muslims' are here [pdf link]. I haven't read this report yet. Expect plenty of opinion to be generated online

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"Women, Weddings, War and Me"

BBC Three, Women, Weddings, War and Me "This documentary tells the intimate story of a young woman returning to Afghanistan. In Kabul, she sees the modern face of the country through her cousin - one of only a handful of female lecturers at Kabul University. But even her cousin accepts that her marriage will be arranged."

I'll have to wait for the repeat - this is not on iPlayer. There are some repeats lined up. The trailer (55 seconds) is powerful ...

"Top 20 most influential "pro-Islamic" political bloggers"

Alan Travis, Guardian, Government names most influential 'pro-Islamic' bloggers, 23 Mar 2010 "The Home Office's counter-terrorism communications unit has named its top 20 most influential "pro-Islamic" political bloggers.

"The list forms part of a mapping exercise carried out on behalf of the Home Office to estimate and track the scale and influence of Islamic bloggers in Britain."

The report (pdf) is here I haven't had a chance to read this report yet, so will reserve comment. The data was compiled in April 2008, so there has been a delay in the information emerging into the public sphere.

Some details on the Home Office Research, Information and Communications Unit activities are here The author is David Stevens of Nottingham University, who has previously published related works:

# STEVENS, D., 2009. In Extremis: A Self-defeating Element in the 'Preventing Violent Extremism' Strategy. Political Quarterly, 80(4), 517-526.

# STEVENS, D. and O'HARA, K., 2009. The Devil's Long Tail: Religious Moderation and Extremism on the Web. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 24(6), 37-43.

"Understanding Islam in UK better"

Times of India, Understanding Islam in UK better, 23 Mar 2010 "It was a reflection of the Muslim community in Britain. And the impression left was that of a progressive and broad-minded lot. An interaction programme with British Muslims at Al-Ameen College on Monday provided an insight into the community."

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Opinion piece: "Universities must take action on Muslim extremism"

Independent, Opinion piece: Rosie Waterhouse: Universities must take action on Muslim extremism, 18 Mar 2010 "I think the niqab should be banned at university. Some of my colleagues agree with me; others don't. But the issue should be debated. Should universities be more vigilant in monitoring Islamic societies and the literature they disseminate?"

'Sisters' play

Michael Billington, Guardian, Theatre Review: Sisters, Crucible Studio, Sheffield, 16 Mar 2010 "What I like about the play is that it scuppers windy generalisations and opens our eyes to the multifariousness of Muslim experience." Great review, I hope this play tours a bit closer to home for me.

The Telegraph also liked it: Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph, Sisters at the Sheffield Crucible Studio, review, 17 Mar 2010 "Truth be told, there’s such a diversity of opinion crammed into this richly absorbing show, and a refusal to collect the material into a neat unified position, that the best response is to soak it all up, insights, inconsistencies, grievances and all. The dominant mood of the evening, directed by Ruth Carney, is one of festive and gossipy conviviality. The cast of five, including Street herself, often address the audience directly and roam about with plates of tasty pakoras as well as jam tarts, while Paul Wills’ design, with its suspended mass of framed photographs, draws us into the bustling, cosy home of one Sheffield family, “the Khans”. There is fun, there is much laughter and there are more than a few shades of the BBC comedy The Kumars at No 42."

Here's the website for Sheffield Theatres, Sisters

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2010

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2010

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Report:: "Islamic Studies provision in the UK"

Islamic Studies provision in the UK, Authors: Lisa Bernasek, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. Gary Bunt, Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies. Researchers: Lisa Bernasek, Erika Corradini, Sally Rouse (HEFCE, 2010)

"This report presents an analysis of data on the provision of teaching in Islamic studies at UK higher education institutions. It is based on data collected for 1,101 modules in Islamic studies and related disciplines identified at 110 of 161 institutions investigated.

"The desk-based research, commissioned by HEFCE, investigated teaching in Islamic studies at all 156 degree-awarding bodies listed by the then Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, as well as at four Muslim institutions and one other institution providing modules that lead to degrees validated by publicly funded institutions."

I co-wrote this report. Here's a pdf version. Also see HEA, Islamic Studies Network

Sahil Saeed 'safe and well'

Daily Mail, Kidnapped British boy Sahil Saeed found 'safe and well' in Pakistan after 12 day ordeal, 16 Mar 2010

Halal food dispute

David Sapsted, The National, Halal dispute over Kentucky Fried Chicken, 14 Mar 2010

"A trial involving the sale of halal poultry at dozens of outlets of a fast-food chain across Britain has left groups of Christians and Muslims embroiled in two very different controversies.

"On one hand, non-Muslim groups are setting up internet petitions against KFC’s move to sell halal-only products in the trial at 74 of its outlets across the country. On the other, Muslims themselves are questioning whether, in fact, the poultry being sold is truly halal."

Monday, 15 March 2010

Prison gangs allegations

Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph, Muslim gangs imposing sharia law in British prisons, 15 Mar 2010 "Non-Muslim inmates at the high-security Long Lartin jail have been forced by the gangs to stop playing "Western" music and take down pictures of women from their cells, according to one former prison officer there. Prisoners at the jail, although allowed to cook their own food, are not allowed to prepare pork for fear of offending the Muslim inmates, the officer said."

East London Mosque

Express, East London Mosque, 14 Mar 2010 The Express had to issue an apology for their coverage on East London Mosque (ELM): "We would like to make clear that ELM works tirelessly to promote religious and social tolerance and to oppose violent extremism in all its forms."

Cornwall Islamic Centre

BBC News, Islamic studies centre opens in Cornwall, 14 Mar 2010

Direct link: Cornwall Islamic Centre

'Sharia' dispute resolution

Afua Hirsch, Guardian, Fears over non-Muslim's use of Islamic law to resolve disputes, 14 Mar 2010

Related links: One Law for All
Muslim Arbitration Tribunal
Hamilton Burns

"Campaigners have voiced concerns over a growing number of non-Muslims using Islamic law to resolve legal disputes in Britain despite controversy over the role of sharia law."

Friday, 12 March 2010

Islamic Gardens in the UK

Cardiff University, Islamic Gardens in the UK

"The aim of this project is to investigate the need, value and viability of establishing Islamic Gardens in the UK, based on Islamic ecological principles.

"The research will offer recommendations for ways in which these gardens could incorporate ideas of environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation"

Sahil Saeed

BBC News, Anguish for family of Pakistan kidnap boy Sahil Saeed, 11 Mar 2010 "Relatives of a five-year-old boy kidnapped in Pakistan have spoken of their anguish after reports he had been found turned out to be false."

Review: 'Britain’s Islamic Republic'

Ruqaya Izzidien,, Britain’s Islamic Republic, 9 Mar 2010 "United Kingdom’s Channel 4 last week aired a program about the Muslim takeover of Britain. I should have known that Dispatches: Britain’s Islamic Republic would be just another opportunity for one of our channels to showcase the anti-Muslim talent we have to offer, but nevertheless, I tuned in."

Camberley mosque, Camberley mosque plans rejected, 11 Mar 2010 video

Tahir ul Qadri 'Fatwa' update

Carla Power,, Can a Fatwa Against Terrorism Stop Extremists?, 12 Mar 2010

Tom Evans, CNN, Amanpour, Islamic scholar who condemned terrorism: 'I am not afraid', 12 Mar 2010

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

School dinners

Express, First non-Muslim school to serve strict Halal food, 10 Mar 2010 "A SCHOOL has become the first non-Islamic primary in Britain to get strict accreditation for serving Halal food, it emerged yesterday.

"Although it is a non-faith school, 95 per cent of pupils at Daisyfield Primary School in Blackburn, Lancs are Muslim."

Camberley mosque meeting webcast

BBC News, Camberley mosque row meeting to be webcast, 10 Mar 2010 "A special meeting to decide whether to build a mosque in Camberley is to be broadcast on the internet."

Tower Hamlets

Abul Taher, London Evening Standard, Muslim councillor defies hate campaign after death threats over 'western' appearance, 10 Mar 2010 "A Muslim councillor says she has changed the way she dresses after receiving death threats because of her “western” appearance, but insists she will not quit politics."

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Islamic Forum of Europe

Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph blogs has been making comments during the past week on the Islamic Forum of Europe via his blog, mainly under the header 'Islamist Blogpost of the Day'. The Islamic Forum of Europe's blog presents its own perspective, and has also commented on Andrew Gilligan's posts, for example Azad Ali, I tell you there is a wolf there, there is!, 5 Mar 2010. This looks like it might run on for some time.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Friday, 5 March 2010

Islamic Forum of Europe

Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph, We must not be afraid of taking on Islamic extremists, 5 Mar 2010 "The East End has one of the best local papers in Britain, a genuine mirror of its community. But curiously, this week's issue seems to have missed a story which has been making some serious waves in that very community. One of the local MPs, Labour's Jim Fitzpatrick, was quoted in The Sunday Telegraph, and on national television, as saying that his party had been infiltrated by a secretive, fundamentalist organisation, the Islamic Forum of Europe – which he compares to the Militant Tendency in the 1980s."

See Islamic Forum of Europe website for their perspective:

Wilders in London

AP, Victorious Dutch anti-Islam politician back in UK, 5 Mar 2010 "Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside of Britain's Parliament on Friday, ahead of the viewing of an anti-Islam film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose strong showing in a local elections sparked concern that his anti-immigrant views have become widely accepted in the Netherlands."

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tahir ul-Qadri 'fatwa'

Dominic Casciani, BBC News, Islamic scholar Tahir ul-Qadri to issue terrorism fatwa, 2 Mar 2010 "Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, from Pakistan, says his 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, completely dismantles al-Qaeda's violent ideology." Awaiting updates on the Minhaj-ul-Quran site, which I have discussed in previous writings.

"Britain's Islamic Republic" [on TV]

Dispatches, Britain's Islamic Republic, 1 March 2010 "Dispatches investigates a fundamentalist Islamic group headquartered in Britain, and its claims to have placed its 'brothers' in positions of political power here.

"Using undercover recordings, investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan reveals the group's ambitions to create a worldwide 'Islamic social and political order,' and the concerns of a mainstream party that they are being 'infiltrated'; and talks to the Muslims who want to stop it."

I haven't seen this one yet (it's available online in the UK).

The taboids got excited by this:

Daily Star, The Islam Tendency, 1 Mar 2010, "Muslim extremists are plotting to take over the Labour Party and turn Britain into an Islamic state, it was claimed last night.

"Labour minister Jim Fitzpatrick said they have been placing people within local branches to gain control of key party positions."

The local papers also covered this:

Evening Standard, Tower Hamlets accused of being infiltrated by Islamic extremists, 1 Mar 2010

Coincidentally, Dispatches' reporter Andrew Gilligan had a piece in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Ian Blair's deal with Islamic radical, 1 Mar 2010 "The activist, Azad Ali, was accepted by the Met as a trusted interlocutor. The force also agreed to give him information on forthcoming anti-terror raids. – Mr Ali has previously justified the killing of British troops in Iraq, believes al Qaeda is a "myth," and has praised a key mentor of Osama bin Laden. "