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60 investigations into British soldiers accused of unlawful killings during the war in Iraq have been dropped
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By Silkie Carlo
Policy Officer @ Liberty (Technology and Surveillance)
Safe and Sound: The case for targeted surveillance
Go back just a few years and it’s doubtful you or your friends expected you were being spied on – persons of interest just because you’re people. Of course, thanks to Snowden and subsequent legal challenges by Liberty and others, we now know all too well that secret surveillance of the entire population has been the status quo for over a decade. The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a once-in-a-generation chance to finally shape our spying laws for the better – but the Government didn’t get the memo. As it stands the Bill will actually extend this mass snooping, leaving us less free and less safe.
Unlawful laws – an oxymoron of continental proportions Liberty is fighting for a targeted system of surveillance, whereby only those reasonably under suspicion are monitored by the state. In fact, the alternative appears to be illegal. In April 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union declared that the EU Data Retention Directive was invalid. The Directive was struck down because it required the retention of every individual’s communications data, regardless of who they were, rather than being limited to what a judge assessed as being strictly necessary for fighting against serious crime. The European Court of Human Rights has also recently published two judgments bolstering this decision. In both Zakharov v Russia and Szabo and Vissy v Hungary the Court ruled those respective laws unlawfully breach the claimants’ fundamental right to privacy because the surveillance is not limited to criminal suspects. Fifty billion for the price of twenty The Government is using the Draft Bill to legitimise what it now calls ‘bulk interception’ powers. Use of these powers requires a warrant, but our private communications are no safer for it. Bulk warrants can authorise snooping
on whole networks and even entire populations. It’s understood that the Agencies currently handle 50 billion communications each day – and in 2014 these interceptions were governed by just 20 warrants! By its nature bulk collection is reckless and incapable of differentiating confidential correspondence. This means, despite vague reassurances to the contrary from Ministers, that journalists, lawyers and MPs receive the same protection as everyone else – none. It’s true that only “external communications” (outside the UK) can be intercepted in bulk. However, that phrase is now meaningless as the internet has rendered geographical distinctions irrelevant. An external communication actually occurs whenever any part of the action takes place overseas, like when a person uses a foreign email server such as Gmail or connects to Facebook. If the warrant exists – and the evidence says it will – you will be spied on. ‘Targeted surveillance’ in name only Even if bulk interception was axed from the Draft Bill, its ‘targeted’ powers simply act as an alternative means of suspicion-less surveillance. The Bill widens the scope of targeted warrants from covering a single person or premises to groups carrying out a “particular activity”, or organisations or premises plural. So warrants can authorise the ‘targeted’ surveillance of people who aren’t even known to exist at the time. Furthermore, these thematic warrants allow data gathered from bulk interception to be trawled for people conducting a “particular activity” who can then be subject to harsher ‘targeted’ surveillance. This could create many thousands of so-called targets – a far-cry from the suspicion-led measures necessary to protect our human rights. “People die first”
So what do we get for this loss of privacy? Nothing. There is no convincing evidence that mass surveillance is vital to save lives. The Government’s own argument is somewhat contradictory, involving scenarios based around known threats – which, absurdly, actually demonstrate the genuine targeted surveillance Liberty is calling for. On the contrary, there’s a wealth of expert testimony suggesting mass surveillance actually makes us less safe. Dame Stella Rimington – former head of MI5 – has stated that, with too much information, Agencies “can’t sort out from it what they need to know and what they don’t need to know”. FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley has said harvesting such huge quantities of data makes it harder to spot terrorists. The result – says Bill Binney, former technical director of the National Security Agency (NSA) – “is that people die first, even if historic records sometimes can provide additional information about the killers”. The case is simple – whether or not you have anything to hide, you stand to gain nothing and lose a lot. Safe and Sound The Investigatory Powers Bill will extend the already unacceptable practice of speculative mass surveillance, sacrificing everyone’s privacy while simultaneously putting us at further risk of harm. There is another way. It involves creating a dynamic, targeted system with surveillance conducted only for tightly defined reasons, like investigating serious crime or preventing loss of life. Where communications data retention and interception warrants target individuals on the basis of suspicion. But it is possible for the Government to keep us safe and protect our human rights. Sign Liberty’s Safe and Sound Eight-Point Plan today – the more voices we have, the harder we are to ignore.
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Unlawful killings in Iraq war dropped www.pi-media.co.uk
I February 2016
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Almost 60 investigations into British soldiers accused of unlawful killings during the war in Iraq have been dropped, defence ministry officials said. The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), set up to investigate allegations by Iraqi civilians of abuse by British soldiers between the US-led invasion in 2003 and 2009 when British combat troops left, has decided not to proceed in 57 cases. The military’s prosecuting authority stopped one additional case, the defence ministry said. It follows an announcement by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron of proposals to stop returned soldiers “being hounded by lawyers over claims that are totally without foundation”.
Cameron accused lawyers of creating “an industry trying to profit from spurious claims lodged against our brave servicemen and women who fought in Iraq”. However Nicholas Mercer, the army’s former chief legal advisor in Iraq, said 326 cases had already been settled “on merit”, at a cost of £20 million ($28.5 million, 26.4 million euros), suggesting widespread problems. “One of the allegations is that there was systemic abuse of Iraqi prisoners after they were captured,” Mercer told Channel 4 news. “Clearly this isn’t just one or two bad apples, as they have been characterised, this is on a fairly large and substantial scale.” He accused Cameron’s
government of “hijacking this to have a go at lawyers who are bringing cases against them”. Currently, IHAT lists 1,329 vases under investigation, including allegations of ill treatment while in detention, unlawful killings and accusations of assault. Proposals to curb lawsuits deemed “spurious” include requiring claimants to have lived in the United Kingdom for 12 months, and curtailing so-called “no win, no fee” arrangements by which lawyers are only paid if the lawsuit is successful. In December 2012, the Ministry of Defence announced that it had paid £15.1 million ($21.5 million, 17.6 million euros) to more than 200 Iraqi people who had accused British troops of illegal detention and torture.
Hate crimes on UK railway networks rising 4
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A new report has revealed that race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks have risen by 37% in the past five years. This means an average of more than five reported incidents of abuse or harassment a day. According to the report by the British transport police (BTP), covering railway services in England, Scotland and Wales, including London underground, recorded 1,993 hate crimes in 2015, an average of 5.5 per day. The crimes have been racially or religiously motivated.
The report also noted that excluding incidents where the race of the victim was not stated, more than three-quarters of incidents recorded in 2015 involved non-white victims: 36% were perpetrated against black victims, 33% against those of Asian origin, 3% involved mixed-race victims and 3.5% were against those of another race. BTP went on saying that the number of race hate crimes resulting in a prosecution fell between 2011 and 2015, from 704 to 663. Meanwhile, most of the hate
crimes last year were carried out by white people, who accounted for 73% of suspects. In 2015, black suspects accounted for 17% of incidents where the race of the suspect was stated, compared with 14% in 2011. The most common type of hate crimes recorded in 2015 involved racially or religiously motivated harassment, alarm or distress. Muslims have always been among the main victims of hate crimes across the UK. According to statistics by Metropolitan Police, Muslims in London faced a 70% increase in Islamophobic attacks in 2014-15. A total of 816 hate crimes against Muslims had been recorded in the 12 months to July 2015. The number stood at 478 over the same period in 2013-14. Islamophobic offences are defined by Met “as any offence which is perceived to be Islamophobic by the victim or any other person.” AntiMuslim attacks range from cyberbullying and assaults to extreme violence.
UK knew of Gitmo torture: says ex-spy
A former senior British intelligence officer has revealed that the UK was aware of the torture of inmates at the notorious US military prison in Guantanamo Bay. The former spy is seeking permission to present evidence to a forthcoming parliamentary inquiry that British officials saw detainees being tortured in December 2002, the Sunday Times said quoting senior security sources. Details of torture were disclosed during meetings held at the London headquarters of Britain’s MI5 in 2002 and the evidence is believed to include claims that British officials witnessed inmates being chained, hooded, waterboarded and subjected to mental abuse by CIA officials, the report said. No one was immediately available to comment at Britain’s Interior
Ministry which handles media queries relating to MI5. A report by the US Senate published in 2014 said the CIA used sexual threats, waterboarding and other harsh methods to interrogate terrorism suspects in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. A former British inmate at Guantanamo said last month that British security officers witnessed him being tortured by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Another former British prisoner at the camp said in 2014 he
underwent psychological torture included execution threats and light deprivation. The prison in Guantanamo, in Cuba, was opened in 2002 to house foreign terrorism suspects but has drawn international criticism from human rights activists and many foreign governments.
I February 2016
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Summer exams will not be fitted around Ramadan, confirm boards
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the major exam agencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said there had been a “clear misunderstanding in some parts of the media” over the 2016 exam schedule after it announced that the timetable had taken Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, into account. In a strongly worded statement the council said the timing of Ramadan had been considered in the same way as other events – such as the Queen’s diamond jubilee in June 2012 – and that the timetable was not open to change.
Some media outlets, including the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Telegraph, suggested that the timetable was still in flux as a result of the discussions held between the exam boards, the exam regulator Ofqual and Islamic leaders, which appears to have raised concerns that crucial exam dates could change. The reports followed comments by the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, that discussions were under way over “delaying the exam timetable”. But the JCQ said: “There has been a clear misunderstanding in some parts of the media as to how
the GCSE and A-level timetable is set and the impact religious events, such as Ramadan, Easter and Passover, have on it. It is important to note that the timetable for 2016 was drafted over a year ago, is published and won’t be changing. “Each year the timetable is reviewed to ensure it meets the current needs of students, schools and colleges. This review includes a consultation and considers comments from a wide range of stakeholders including schools, colleges and religious groups. However, each year there are only minimal changes. “In such a large, complex system where there is a large number of candidates taking examinations and a diverse range of subjects available, it is not always possible to meet each and every request. Exam boards will always aim to be as fair as possible to all. If a small change can be made for any one group that does not impact negatively on most students, it will, quite rightly, be considered – but these are made before the timetable is published.”
A former British official says expecting Muslims to simply abandon their culture to suit Britain is “the deepest form of disrespect.” Speaking at a meeting of the Policy Exchange think tank, Former British Equality and Human Rights Commission Chair, Trevor Phillips says Britain’s Muslims are a unique community, adding it is important to grasp that people won’t change their view simply because they are repeatedly told to do so. “Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of
us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect,” he said. He called integration a two-way street in which more than one side must adapt to change. “Part of the integration process is for the rest of us to grasp that people aren’t going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us,” he said. Muslim organizations have expressed concern on many occasions about the worrying level of Islamophobia in the UK. Last year, more than 60 Imams,
Muslims community leaders and rights activists called on the British government to stop demonizing Muslims. In an open letter to the government, the signatories accused it of criminalizing Islam in an attempt to deflect attention from crises in the economy and health service. The signatories also slammed criminalization of “legitimate political discourse and criticism of the stance of successive governments towards Muslims” and condemned crackdown on dissenting voices in Muslim community.
“Urging Muslims to adapt, disrespectful”
I February 2016
I February 2016
UK drops refugee “food voucher” wristband policy www.pi-media.co.uk
The British government faced questions in parliament over revelations that asylum seekers were forced to wear coloured wristbands in order to claim food at a centre in Wales. Jo Stevens, the shadow justice minister and Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said that after speaking to the operations manager at Clearsprings Ready Homes, which has a contract with the Home Office
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
to accommodate newly arrived asylum seekers, the manager had said the firm would stop issuing the wristbands. The Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) likened them to the yellow stars Jewish people were made wear in Nazi Germany, but the company using the wristbands said it was only a practical measure to allow migrants to claim meals. “We have raised the matter many
times with the Welsh Government. It harks back to the Nazi regime with people being forced to wear a Star of David and stand out,” said WRC policy officer Hannah Wharf. “It’s absolutely appalling, it is treating people like lesser beings. It is treating them like animals lining up to feed.” “Volumes of people in initial accommodation sites, including Cardiff increased quickly,” a Clearsprings operations director told The Guardian newspaper. “Full-board clients are required to show their wristbands in order to receive meals in the restaurant.” Jo Stevens, the justice spokeswoman for the opposition Labour party, said that she would raise the issue in parliament. Stevens announced on Twitter that the wristband requirement would “cease”, after she spoke to a Clearsprings representative.
Ofsted will mark down schools where the veil hinders learning Ofsted inspectors will mark down schools as “inadequate” if they judge the wearing of a full face veil by pupils or staff is hindering learning, Sir Michael Wilshaw said. The chief inspector said he would give his full support to school and college leaders who decide to take a stand against the “inappropriate wearing of the veil”. The move has been heavily criticised by teachers unions as well as leaders from the Muslim community, who said it was Ofsted “flexing its muscles”. In a statement, Sir Michael said: “I am concerned that some heads and principals who are trying to restrict the wearing of the full veil in certain circumstances are coming under pressure from others to relax their policy. I want to assure these leaders that they can rely on my full backing for the stance they are taking. “I have also made clear to my
inspectors that where leaders are condoning the wearing of the face veil by staff members or by pupils when this is clearly hindering communication and effective teaching, they should give consideration to judging the school as inadequate. “I am determined to ensure that discrimination, including on the grounds of gender, has no place in our classrooms. We want our schools, whether faith schools or non-faith schools, to prepare their pupils equally for life in 21st century Britain. “We need to be confident our children’s education and future prospects are not being harmed in any way.” Responding to Sir Michael’s statement, the Department for Education (DfE) said it backed the chief inspector. An MCB spokesperson said: “We are a country that prides itself
in accommodation and fair play. It is a shame that the niqab – the full face veil that a minority of Muslim women wear – has become a polarising issue when it need not be. Accommodation can also be made around the niqab and Ofsted need not have resorted to the megaphone of the media to show that it is flexing its muscles.” The NUT also opposed the decision, with deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney branding it as a “punitive diktat” used to threaten schools. The Association for School and College Leaders said it was not the place for Ofsted to comment on dress codes. Leora Cruddas, director of policy at ASCL, said: “We do not think that it is the role of Ofsted inspectors to judge schools on uniform policies and dress codes. Inspectors should focus on what schools achieve rather than what people wear.”
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I February 2016
Young Muslim makes film to help in fight against prejudice Shay has linked up with the youth organization Fixers to make a fourminute film that will be broadcast soon on the ITV regional news. “When people hear the word Islam they automatically think terrorism,” he said. Shay, a former member of the Hartlepool Youth Parliament, says he had to deal with verbal and physical abuse growing up in Sunderland, where he lived until he was about 12. He said: “I’ve grown up in the North East and I do feel I stand out from the rest. “In Hartlepool, two per cent of the population is made up of ethnic minorities and 98 per cent is British
white. “The abuse I got growing up was verbal and it became physical. Recently, I think it’s got much worse, especially with what’s happening worldwide. “People are mistaking minority extremists for the majority of the Muslim community. It’s for that reason that I fear for my safety. “Everybody is human and we live in a multicultural society. We should appreciate that we’ve got so much diversity in this country.” In the TV film, Shay, who is studying law at Northumbria University, speaks about the prejudice he has faced and meets
Cameron threatens to deport Muslim women
a young woman who went through similar experiences. He also speaks to Dr Matthew Feldman, Professor of Contemporary History at Teesside University. Dr Feldman said: “Anti-Muslim hate crime seems to be growing. It is encouraging hatred and violence against Muslims in this country and it needs to stop.” Shay added: “If I make a difference on this issue it would feel like a dream come true. “I’d feel that I had accomplished what I set out to do and it would mean that telling my story had been worthwhile. “It would be the best thing I’ve done in my life.” Fixers is an organization that helps young people aged 16-25 to tackle issues they feel strongly about. ITV supports the project by screening broadcasts about youngsters’ campaigns.
UK apologized to Turkey for protests
Muslim women who fail to learn English to a high enough standard could face deportation from Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron announced. He also suggested that poor English skills can leave people “more susceptible” to the messages of groups like ISIL. Cameron’s comments came as his centre-right Conservatives launched a £20 million language fund for women in isolated communities as part of a drive to build community integration. Immigration rules already force spouses to speak English before they come to Britain to live with their partners. But Cameron said they would also face further tests after two and a half years in the country to make sure
their language skills were improving. “You can’t guarantee you will be able to stay if you are not improving your language,” he told BBC radio. “People coming to our country, they have responsibilities too.” Cameron’s government estimates that around 190,000 Muslim women in England -- about 22 percent -speak little or no English. There are estimated to be around 2.7 million Muslims in England out of a total population of some 53 million. His comments drew criticism from Muslim groups and opposition parties. Andy Burnham, home affairs spokesman for the main opposition Labour party, accused Cameron of a “clumsy and simplistic approach” which was “unfairly stigmatising a whole community.”
UK government has apologized for protests and following incidents outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s office when he was visited by Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, government sources reported. The protesters have brought banners that some read: “Terrorist Turkish state,” “Murderer Davutoglu,” “Davutoglu - war criminal, ISIL supporter.” Sources suggest that British government expressed condemnation for occurences that happened prior and following Davutoglu’s visit to Cameron’s office. According to the reports, the Turkish officials were communicated the British government’s deep regrets and the unacceptability of such protests.
Criminal charges for demanding Sharia law in UK www.pi-media.co.uk
I February 2016
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UK Home Office may criminally charge those who demand that Sharia law replaces British legislation. According to a Home Office source, civil servants specifically cited Muslims saying “Sharia law should replace British law” as their top concern. “These activities would be criminal offences in the Counter Extremism Bill,” the source said. The extremely contraversial bill is being drawn up as part of a strategy
to tackle the “radicalisation” of Muslims in the UK. Home Office sources indicated that Home Secretary Theresa May wants to criminalise activities which undermine British law and target the military. They pointed to May’s counterextremism strategy published last October which voiced concerns at attempts to promote Sharia law. It stated that extremists “draw on the supposed incompatibility between liberal democracy and their
interpretation of the Muslim faith. They promote the idea of a war on Islam, creating a them and us narrative to stoke division. “Their ideology includes the uncompromising belief that people cannot be Muslim and British, and insists those who do not agree with them are not true Muslims.” A Home Office source also made it clear that May hopes to tackle groups who try to enforce Sharia law through separate courts which have no legal standing in the UK. Her strategy document also stated: “Many people in this country of different faiths follow religious codes and practices and benefit from the guidance they offer. “The overriding principle is these rules, practices and bodies must operate within the rule of law in the UK. “However, there is evidence some Sharia councils may not follow this principle and that Sharia is being misused and applied in a way which is incompatible with the law.”
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23,144 US bombs hit Muslim countries in 2015 www.pi-media.co.uk
I February 2016
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were killed in December). Remarkably, they also claim that alongside the 25,000 fighters killed, only 6 civilians have “likely” been killed in the seventeen-month air campaign. At the same time, officials admit that the size of the group has remained wholly unchanged. In 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated the size of the ISIL to be between 20,000 and 31,000 fighters, while Warren again repeated the 30,000 estimate. To summarize the anti-ISIL bombing calculus: 30,000 – 25,000 = 30,000.
Council of Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, has estimated that 23,144 bombs have been dropped by the U.S. on Muslimmajority countries in 2015. The chart, provided by the generally pro-State Department think tank, puts in stark terms how much destruction the U.S. has leveled on other countries. Whether or not one thinks such bombing is justified, it’s a blunt illustration of how much raw damage
the U.S. inflicted on the Muslim world in 2015. About 77 percent of the U.S. airstrikes targeted ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The problem with the U.S.’s “kill’em-all with airstrikes” rule, however, is that it is not working. Pentagon officials claim that at least 25,000 ISIL fighters have been killed (an anonymous official said 23,000 in November, while on Wednesday, Warren added “about 2,500” more
UN chief concerned by West Bank land expropriation UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned” about Israel’s appropriation of some 150 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank. The move would constitute the largest land expropriation by Israel since August 2014, Ban said in a statement issued from his spokesperson’s office. The Israeli government authorized the declaration of 150 hectares (370 acres) in the fertile Jordan Valley, south of Jericho, as so-called “state land”, according to media reports. Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now condemned the measure, saying that it comes
after several other declarations of confiscation in recent weeks. “The Secretary-General reiterates his call for substantial policy changes on the ground by Israel that will improve the lives of Palestinians,” the UN statement said. “Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict.” International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories,” considering all Jewish settlement building on the land illegal.
Gambia government employees need to wear hijab
The new rule was announced in a memo circulated to all ministries and departments, Jolloif News reported. It came a month after President Yahya Jammeh declared the Muslim-majority country an Islamic republic. Jammeh said that “in line with the country’s religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state.” “As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” he added. He said that other citizens of other faiths would still be able to practice. Gambia has a population of 1.8 million people and 95 percent are Muslim. The tiny West African nation, which borders Muslim majority Senegal, is now the second Islamic republic in Africa, after Mauritania. www.pi-media.co.uk
New regulations for Quranic schools in Mauritania 14
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Prime Minister Yahya Ould Hademine made the announcement adding that 16 new Quranic schools will be established in different parts of the country. A regional center is also planned to be set up with the cooperation of the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for the development of basic education,
he added. Hademine further said the government, in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank, plans to equip the Quranic schools in Mauritania with modern educational facilities. The decisions came after 5 organizations and associations in Mauritania released a statement
calling on authorities to reopen Quranic institutes and schools in the country. They asked related officials to expedite measures to open the Quranic institutes that have been shut down recently under the pretext of fighting extremism or lack of permits. They also called on Quranic centers in the country to obey the regulations and obtain necessary permissions. In December last year, several rallies were held in different parts of Mauritania, including the southeastern city of Mauritania, in protest at the government’s move to shut down Quranic institutes and schools. Religious leaders and preachers in the country have also warned against disrupting religious and Quranic education. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb region of western North Africa. The country’s population is estimated to be about 4 million and virtually all Mauritanians are Muslims.
Tel Aviv approves construction of New Town on Palestinian lands
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday that the new town “will advance the Druze population economically and socially.” He said it will be the first town for Druze community built in Israel since 1948. Netanyahu said the regime is “fulfilling [its] commitment to the community” of Druze people who have a high percentage in the Israeli military and also hold political office. The town will be built on the lands of former Palestinian villages of Hittin and Namrin, which were destroyed in
1948. Members of the Druze community, however, criticized the move. Citing sources close to Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muwaffak Tarif, the Israeli daily, Haaretz wrote that they were surprised by the decision. “We Druze cannot accept such a thing,” said retired police superintendent Khalil Halabi. “There is plenty of land near the Druze villages that could be developed.” Samer Swaid, the administrative manager at the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, also criticized
the move, saying, “It’s a moral issue. We don’t want it to be a new settlement,” Press TV reported. More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlement colonies built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. The United Nations and most countries regard Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured in a 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
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Tajikistan govt removes religious beards www.pi-media.co.uk
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Police in Tajikistan have shaved nearly 13,000 people’s beards and closed more than 160 shops selling traditional Muslim clothing last year as part of the country’s fight against what it calls “foreign” influences. According to Radio Free Europe’s Tajik service, the enforcement took place in the southwest Khatlon region, which borders Afghanistan. The region’s head of police said that 12,818 men with “overly long and unkempt beards” were “brought to
order” in 2015. The move is seen as part of efforts to battle what Tajik authorities see as “radicalism”. The country’s parliament voted to ban Arabic-sounding “foreign” names as well as marriages between first cousins. The legislation is expected to be approved by President Emomali Rahmon, who has also taken steps to promoting secularism and discourage beliefs and practices that
France to recognise state of Palestine if talks fail
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed a French initiative aimed at resuming peace talks between Palestinians and Israel. “We welcome the new initiative announced by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to hold an international conference to resume the peace process and resolve the Palestinian issue based on a twostate solution,” Abbas said at the 26th session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa. Abbas stressed the need to hold an international conference devoted to the issue and activate the UN Security Council’s role vis-a-vis the Palestinian national cause.
He also urged the international community to end the Israeli occupation through an abiding Security Council resolution and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people. “Peace negotiations must have a time limit and guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced France’s support for an international conference aimed at resuming stalled peace talks. Fabius said that, if the conference ended in failure, France would unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine.
he views as foreign or a threat to the stability of Tajikistan, Radio Liberty said. In September last year, 23-yearold Umar Bobojonov died in hospital after he was beaten by the police. His family said it was because he wore a beard. In the capital however of Dushanbe, some beards have been given the go ahead. A report in The Guaridan has said that Romish Ibrohimov, a designer and photographer who has a redhued hipster beard, insists he “did not grow a beard for religious reasons or because I wanted to be vulgar, but because it is beautiful”.
French magazine banned in Morocco for desecrating Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) According to the Arabi24 website, the magazine has depicted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which is considered disrespectful by Muslims. Morocco’s Minister of Communications and Spokesperson of the Government Mustapha El Khalfi said the decision was made based on the North African country’s press and publications laws. French Magazine Banned in Morocco for Desecrating Holy Prophet (PBUH) Morocco had previously banned French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo for its blasphemous cartoons. Charlie Hebdo has drawn outrage from Muslims and others in the past few years for publishing cartoons desecrating the sanctities of Islam and other religions. Morocco is a Muslim-majority country in North Africa. Some 99 percent of the country’s population adhere to Islam.
Muslim warn Nigerian gov against banning hijab 16
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Chairman, Board of Trustees of MSSN, Justice AbdulKadir Orire, gave the caution during a meeting of the board in llorin. Orire, pioneer Grand Khadi of Kwara state’s Sharia Court of Appeal, said MSSN will not accept the ban of anything that is part of Islamic doctrines as divinely ordained by Almighty. He, therefore, condemned calls by some people for the banning of hijab which he described as part of dress of Muslim women.
Orire condemned insinuations that the use of hijab was aiding suicide bombings in the Boko Haram infested north-eastern parts of the country. He maintained that wearing of hijab was a divine commandment from Almighty and disagreed with those attributing spate of bombings to those wearing hijab as unfortunate. “Wearing of hijab is part of life of Muslims. Certainly Muslims will not accept the banning of anything that is part of Islam,” he said.
Orire was of the view that removing religions knowledge as a subject from schools curriculum would further compound moral decadence in the society. He said one of the factors that aided Boko Haram was lack of adequate religious knowledge which he said would be worsened if religious teaching was removed from school curriculum. “Anybody that is calling for the banning of faith teachings in schools curriculum is kidding. Muslims will not accept it,” he said. Member of the Board, Alhaji lsiaq Kunle-Sanni, called on the federal government to install screening machines at public places to curtail bombings and other security threats. He said the entry and exit in markets, churches, mosques and other public areas should be well guarded to prevent planting of bombs and other explosives.
The Howard County Board of Education in Maryland voted unanimously to add Eid al-Adha to the list of days off for religious holidays, as recognition of Muslim holidays grows within U.S. school districts. Alongside the Eid, the County boards also added Lunar New Years and the Hindu holiday Diwali. “I am extremely pleased by the Board’s ability to discuss and unanimously agree to seek ways to recognize the diverse backgrounds of Howard County’s students and families,” said Christine O’Connor, the chairwoman of the board, the Baltimore Sun reported. “We want to do our best to find flexibility within the calendar to provide opportunities for all students to experience all cultures within our community.” Back in March 2015, New York
City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that the city’s public schools would close for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, starting in the fall of 2015. “This is a common sense change and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city,” de Blasio said in a statement. School districts elsewhere in the country, including in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have made similar decisions to close on Muslim holidays. Some have recognized the holidays for years, while others have done so only recently. There has been, however, some criticism of the addition of the Muslim holidays. “We have 67 different languages spoken in Clifton homes, and we have many different ethnic groups,”
said James Daly, president of the board of education in Clifton, New Jersey, a school district that in 2010 considered observing Muslim holidays. “Once you start making accommodations for one group, where do you draw the line?” he asked, the Christian Science Monitor reported. Others contend that as school districts become more diverse, it’s fair — and necessary — to recognize different cultures and religions by observing their holy days. “When these holidays are recognized, it’s a sign that Muslims have a role in the political and social fabric of America,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the New York Times in March 2015, after New York City’s decision to observe both Eid holidays.
Maryland school district to recognize Muslim holiday
NY Police settle lawsuits over spying on Muslims www.pi-media.co.uk
I February 2016
Under the settlement, the police force in the US’s largest city agreed to strengthen safeguards against launching investigations and conducting surveillance against Muslims based on their faith. The department also agreed to reinstall an independent civilian watchdog that will monitor NYPD’s counter-terrorism activities to ensure investigative practices are in accord
with the Constitution, according to the settlement. “This settlement is a win for New York Muslims and for all New Yorkers, who have a right to be free from discriminatory police surveillance and to practice their religion without stigma or fear,”Hina Shamsi, the director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
“For the first time, this watershed settlement puts much needed constraints on law enforcement’s discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims,” she added. The lawsuits were among a number of legal actions that followed a Pulitzer-prize winning series of stories published in 2011 that revealed the NYPD’s intelligence branch engaged in religious profiling and surveillance of Muslims in the city and beyond since 2002. Police singled out religious and community leaders, mosques, nongovernmental organizations and individuals for surveillance that was not conducted against institutions or individuals belonging to any other religious faith, The Associated Press’ reports documented. “We are committed to strengthening the relationship between our administration and communities of faith so that residents of every background feel respected and protected,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. De Blasioended the controversial surveillance program shortly after taking office in April 2014.
Austria gets first Islamic bank account An Austrian bank has announced it will be piloting an Islamic current account in February, the first of its kind in the country, The Independent reported. Vienna-based BAWAG P.S.K. said it will offer current accounts that adhere to Shariah law, which prohibits the charging of interest or making money on savings. The Islamic law also prevents adherent banks from dealing with businesses that are considered sinful, or un-Islamic. These include any that deal with alcohol, weapons, or gambling. Banks get around laws on “usury” by lending money without interest fees, but encourage patrons to pay
back money borrowed in installments instead. The bank’s decision has not come without criticism. A barrage of complaints followed BAWAG’s statement on its Facebook page, by people who felt Islamic customers would get preferential treatment. However, the Austrian bank noted that anyone, regardless of creed, can open up a Shariah bank account if they believe it will give them a financial advantage. The UK has long been an important finance center for Islamic banking. Lloyds offer an Islamic current account, and at the al-Rayan bank - formerly known as the Islamic Bank of Great Britain - profits have
been rising for the last 18 months. Speaking to The Independent, Mohammad Khan, head of Islamic finance at the PwC, explained how a Shariah account is established: “There has to be no interest involved and it has to be extremely transparent. It has to be really clear where all the fees are.” He said: “To qualify, a Shariah board has to sign it off; that’s where at least three Islamic scholars look at the product, its marketing, its terms and conditions, and its fees.” Islam is Austria’s second largest religion and BAWAG PSK has said its target audience are the 600,000 Muslims living in the country. www.pi-media.co.uk
I WORLD NEWS
www.pi-media.co.uk I February 2016
Germany wants Algeria, Morocco to repatriate nationals In Case You Missed It
Berlin wants Algeria and Morocco to take back their nationals with no residence permits in Germany after a sharp rise in asylum seekers from the two North African countries, officials said. German authorities have in recent weeks underlined problems arising in the expulsions of Algerians and Moroccans, noting that their countries of origin are often unwilling to take them back because of missing identity documents.
“We have a repatriation agreement. That means, everything is regulated on paper. But in practice, we know that it remains problematic in some cases,” said Steffen Seibert, government spokesman. “That must be dealt with so that the agreement can be put into action,” he said, adding that it is a “topic of discussion that we have with these countries,” he said. “All foreigners who, after a legal process, have been found to not
EU adopts resolution criticising Israeli settlement activity The European Union has unanimously adopted a tough resolution criticising Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories, despite fierce efforts by Israel to persuade some EU members to block it reports The Guardian. The resolution was agreed by the EU foreign affairs council after Greece, one of five countries Israel had hoped would block acceptance of the resolution, backed down following a weekend of wrangling and pressure from Palestinian officials and other European diplomats. The resolution emphasised that EU agreements with Israel applied only to the State of Israel within the pre-1967 border, adding that the “EU
must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. This does not constitute a boycott of Israel, which the EU strongly opposes”. Hinting that further measures may be in the pipeline, it continued: “The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications and will consider further action in order to protect the viability of the two-state solution, which is constantly eroded by new facts on the ground.” The adoption of the document is the latest diplomatic setback for an increasingly isolated Israel after Netanyahu’s failure to derail the Iran nuclear deal, which came into force over the last month.
have residence rights here would have to leave this country. And that applies, too, to citizens of North African countries and there we have to talk about how the repatriations can be carried out,” he added. Chancellor Angela Merkel had already raised the issue when Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal visited. The numbers of Algerian asylum seekers arriving in Germany rose from 847 in June to 2,296 in December, while those from Morocco jumped from 368 to 2,896, the interior ministry said. Alarmed by the spike in North African arrivals, German authorities want their countries of origin to help in their swift repatriations, in order to free up resources to deal with a record migrant influx. The issue has also gained new urgency following a shocking spate of sex assaults against women on New Year’s Even blamed on Arab and North African migrants. Cologne police said 652 complaints have been filed over the violence, including 331 relating to sexual violence. Of 19 suspects identified by Cologne police so far, 14 are from Morocco or Algeria.
Historic mosque attacked in Russia
A historic mosque in Ay-Serez village in Russian-occupied Crimea’s Sudak region has been attacked. Police have already started a search for the unidenified assailants, a security forces source reported. “On one of the walls of the mosque, which is currently under re-construction, it has been desecrated with a drawing,” a police source said. Currently, an investigation has been launched. The procedural decision has not been made yet, the source added.
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Uganda probes 1979 Muslims massacre
I February 2016
An investigation has been launched into the killings of 67 Muslims in Uganda following the fall of dictator Idi Amin in 1979. Announcing the probe, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said a team had been set up to “carry out a thorough verification exercise of all the claims by victims of the 1979 Muslim massacre and report back within three weeks.” He said: “The findings of the verification exercise will form the basis for compensation. We need to find a lasting solution to this matter.”
WORLD NEWS I 19
The investigation will be led by the solicitor general. In the chaos that followed Amin’s fall in April 1979, gunmen attacked two villages in southwestern Uganda’s Sheema district, killing 67 Muslims and dumping their bodies in the Rwizi River. Nine mosques and dozens of houses belonging to Muslims were burnt down and Muslim’s crops destroyed. Many were forced to hand over land in exchange for their lives. The attack came as Muslims were suspected of supporting their
10 Yemenis freed from Guantanamo arrive in Oman
Ten Yemenis freed from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp arrived in Oman, the Omani foreign ministry said in a statement. Oman’s official news agency reported that the move came in response to a request by the U.S. government. The news agency said the former prisoners will stay in Oman for humanitarian reasons until they can go back to Yemen, which is currently facing major instability. U.S. President Barack Obama had promised to close Guantanamo during his 2008 presidential campaign and his administration
has since managed to release a significant number of detainees from the infamous prison. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the prisoners will go through a rehabilitation program by Omani government. He added that of the 93 remaining detainees, 10 were subject to criminal charges and that the administration felt it had enough evidence to prosecute. Thirty-four others have been evaluated and are deemed safe for transfer while 49 are still eligible for transfer. www.pi-media.co.uk
co-religionist Amin. Under his eightyear rule, hundreds of thousands of Ugandans were killed in political and ethnic violence. Rugunda’s announcement on Saturday followed an order from President Yoweri Museveni to compensate families that lost relatives and property in the massacre. Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, spokesman for the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, said he hoped Museveni’s order would be followed. “I hope he fulfills the pledge, we have been pushing it for a long time and no one was listening to us,” Mutumba told Anadolu Agency. During the 2011 election campaign, Museveni promised to examine the killings but the issue was later dropped. “You can’t persecute people just because of their faith,” Mutumba said. “Islam was here before Amin came to power.” He claimed the government had previously avoided an investigation because “some leaders in these governments were part of those orchestrating and participated in the killings”. Umar Kassaja Mutono, a member of the Sheema survivors’ committee, said Muslims were butchered by their attackers. “Our people were killed using machetes,” he said. “They were gathered and slaughtered like animals including children and pregnant women whose babies were cut out of their wombs.” Some victims had their hands or legs hacked off before being thrown into river to drown, he added. Kassaja said Museveni, who was defense minister in the regime that replaced Amin, was sent to investigate the killings in 1979. When he became president in 1986, seven people were imprisoned but two were later pardoned. “President Museveni pardoned two others who now live in the same village where they killed our people and this hurts us,” he said.
www.pi-media.co.uk I February 2016
DAMAGE TO PROPERTY
West Yorkshire Police now recognise that some victims of hate crime are targeted because of their religion ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������
IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY FORM OF HATE DIRECTED AT YOU BECAUSE OF YOUR RELIGION, REPORT IT TO THE POLICE, IMMEDIATELY. TELL THEM IT’S AN ANTI-MUSLIM HATE CRIME WHEN YOU CALL.
DON’T ALLOW HATE TO WIN
REPORT IT TO THE POLICE
If you experience any form of Islamophobia, report it to the police. It is crucial that you report any kind of hate, whether it is physical, damage to property, graffiti or verbal abuse.
of British Muslims surveyed by the British Crime Survey had experienced Islamophobia.
IN AN EMERGENCY CALL: 999
HATE CRIME HELPLINE: �
Where can I find out more? Email: email@example.com or Call (0113) 2773330
MCSF MUSLIM COMMUNITY
SAFETY FORUM (Serving West Yorkshire)
Building Bridges is a project developed by the Hamara Centre (www.hamara.org.uk), funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (www.jrct.org.uk) to address Islamophobia across Leeds.
US threatens to add Fatah to ‘terror’ list
I February 2016
Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah’s central committee, has alleged that the U.S. was threatening to add the movement to Washington’s list of “terrorist” groups if it attempted to have Israeli leaders indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Zaki made the assertions in a speech he delivered in Jordan on Saturday to mark the 51st anniversary of the “Palestinian National Revolution”. “Fatah sees 2016 as the year of [Palestinian] national unity, during which it will reconsider its relationship with Israel,” he said. The movement, he added, “has diverse means of putting pressure on Israel, including the submission last year of complaints to the ICC against
WORLD NEWS I 21
Israeli leaders for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories”. Last April, ICC spokesman Fadi al-Abdullah announced that Palestine had formally joined the court “as a full-fledged member”. Since then, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has submitted several complaints to the ICC accusing Israel of having committed war crimes and of pursuing a policy of illegal settlement construction. Speaking at the same event in Amman, Atef Tarawneh, Jordanian speaker of parliament, warned that “the inevitable result of ongoing [Israeli] crimes and violations in Palestinian towns and villages will be a religious war… that will
have disastrous consequences for everyone”. Tarawneh went on to stress Jordan’s commitment to “safeguarding Jerusalem’s holy places and combatting Israeli violations based on the Hashemite custodianship of the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites and [Jordan’s] continued pledge to maintain the Arab identity [of Jerusalem]”. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the total number of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces since Oct. 1 now stands at 151, including 27 minors. Over the same period, the ministry added, 4,714 Palestinians had been injured by Israeli gunfire. Some observers attribute the recent uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence to a July arson attack in the Israeli-occupied West Bank by suspected Jewish settlers that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian child and both of his parents and which led to an international outcry.
Italy moves to create ‘Italian Islam’ In Case You Missed It
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano established a council for relations with the country’s Muslims, an advisory body the government hopes will help the minority to better integrate. The council, made up of academics and experts in Islamic culture and religion, will be tasked with coming up with proposals and recommendations on integration issues based on “respect and cooperation”, the ministry said in a statement. Alfano said he wanted “a
community with all those who - while from different countries, cultures, religions and traditions - intend to contribute to the peaceful development and prosperity of our country, in full compliance with our laws and our Christian and humanistic tradition.” The body will keep the government in the loop on Islamic issues in Italy and help shape “Italian Islam,” the statement added. Experts put the number of Muslims in Italy at over one million, most of whom are immigrants, plus a
small number of converts. Alfano, head of the New Centre Right (NCD) party, sparked controversy following the deadly attacks in Paris last November by saying the government would crack down on illegal Muslim places of worship in the fight against terrorism. Such places are often set up because Muslim communities find it exceptionally difficult to establish authorised places of worship in Italy, a country with only four official mosques. www.pi-media.co.uk
SBW makes immediate impact in Sevens debut 22I
www.pi-media.co.uk I February 2016
Portuguese Soccer Coach Lauds Egyptian Qari’s Recitation
Sonny Bill Williams turned from villain to hero as the All Blacks Sevens pipped South Africa 1914 after the hooter and capped a triumphant start to the world series tournament in Wellington. Cross-code star Williams, in his debut sevens appearance, was the central figure in the dying moments of the opening day’s final game, between two unbeaten powerhouse sides. Entering late off the bench with his side 12-7 ahead, Williams threw an offload to nobody with a minute remaining which was pounced on by the Blitzboks, who hit the front through a converted Cheslin Kolbe try.
With time up and New Zealand close to their tryline, a sweeping move upfield was capped when another Williams offload put Joe Webber clear 40m out and ensured the tournament defending champions made it three from three in pool play. The transition of All Blacks back Williams was always going to be the talking point and he let nobody down, scoring with his only touch off the bench in their 38-7 win over Russia. The 30-year-old started against Scotland and was solid, if unspectacular, in their 27-7 win. It was an encouraging debut for a player who has his sights set on selection for the Rio Olympics. www.pi-media.co.uk
Real Madrid invite 5 year old Palestinian arson survivor
Real Madrid say they have invited a young Palestinian boy who is the sole survivor of a West Bank arson attack last summer to visit the team and meet star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Team spokesman Raul Serrano Quevedo said that the team sent an official request to the Palestinian Embassy to organize a meeting
between Ahmad Dawabsha and Cristiano Ronaldo. He said details are still being worked out, and it’s not clear when the 5-year-old boy will visit. Ahmad is still recovering in hospital from the July 31 arson attack by Jewish extremists that killed his 18-month-old brother and their parents.
José Vítor dos Santos Peseiro heard master Ahmed Ahemd Noaina’s recitation in a memorial service held for Egypt and Zamalek’s soccer legend Hamada Emam who died last month at the age of 73. The memorial service was held at the headquarters of Zamalek sports club in Cairo. “I didn’t understand what you were reciting but it touched my heart,” Peseiro told Noainia after the recitation. Portuguese Soccer Coach Lauds Egyptian Qari’s Recitation Born in 1954 in the city of Mutubas, Egypt, Ahmed Ahmed Noaina began learning the Holy Quran by heart at the age of 4 and managed to memorize the entire Holy Book at 8. He studied styles of Quran recitation with Master Mustafa Esmaeel, and at the same time continued his academic education in Pediatrics. Noaina is considered as one of the most prominent Quran recitation masters in Egypt and the Muslim world.
Iceland defeated by UAE in friendly match www.pi-media.co.uk
SPORT I 23
I February 2016
UAE coach Mahdi Ali said he was positive his side can progress to the third round of Fifa World Cup qualifiers after coming from behind to beat Euro 2016 qualified Iceland 2-1 in a friendly at Al Nasr Club last month. Vidar Orn Kjartanssan headed the visitors in front from Andres Mar Johannesson’s cross on 14 minutes. But Omar Abdul Rahman inspired a fight back, first chipping Esmail Al Hammadi through on goal for the equaliser on 25 minutes and then supplying Ali Mabkhout via a deflected free-kick for the winner on 49 minutes. The game served as preparation for The Whites’ remaining second round World Cup qualifiers at home to Palestine and Saudi Arabia in March. Mahdi’s men are second in their group, three points behind leaders Saudi. But they must win their remaining games against two sides they respectively drew and lost against on their travels, if they are to keep their dreams of reaching a second World Cup since 1990 alive. However, following this inspired victory over Iceland, who are 28 positions higher than the UAE in the Fifa World Rankings, Ali expressed
hope. “I am very happy with the performance of the team especially as they played against a very strong side,” said Ali. “It was a good chance for us to see how ready they are for upcoming matches and I hope this win will give them more confidence for our future games. “I am always optimistic and positive, but we have to work very hard. We are very keenly awaiting these two games. It’s good they are both at home but we have to focus on the first game because that is the
key for the next game. “Of course, I have to be positive and optimistic for the future as that’s my job and that’s the difference between the coach and everybody else. But I have confidence in my team and players and hope they will do well.”
Arsenal have completed the signing of Mohamed Elneny from Basel, according to manager Arsene Wenger. The 23-year-old midfielder arrives at the Emirates for a fee of around £7 million. Speaking after his side’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool Wenger confirmed that the club had completed the signing of their first player in the January
transfer window. “Elneny will of course join us. He has joined us,” said Wenger. A deal had been in place between Arsenal and Basel for several days but was delayed as the club looked to secure a work-permit and visa for their new signing. Egyptian international Elneny made 26 appearances for Basel this season, weighing in with six goals
from a deep-lying position. Over three seasons with the Swiss giants he has won the Super League every season. Elneny fills the defensive midfield role that Arsenal have been crying out for in the absence of Francis Coquelin, with young centre-back Calum Chambers drafted into the role of backup for Mathieu Flamini. www.pi-media.co.uk
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Arsenal sign Eyptian starlet Mohamed Elneny
The Value of Humanity in Islam
Following atrocities committed in the name of Islam, such as those in Paris, once again misconceptions regarding Islam and Muslims make the headlines and infuse tensions in our society. I believe all of us are duty-bound to contribute to efforts that clear these misconceptions and misunderstandings and share the true nature of this beautiful religion. The value of life In light of Islam’s teachings of mercy and tolerance, it is impossible that oppression or the taking of innocent life is permitted in any circumstance. The life of every human, Muslim and non-Muslim, is equally precious and sacred. The value of life is captured in the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an: “...Whoever kills a person not in retaliation for a person killed, nor (as a punishment) for spreading disorder on the earth, is as if he has killed the
www.pi-media.co.uk I February 2016
whole of humankind, and whoever saves the life of a person is as if he has saved the life of the whole of humankind...”(5:32) As Muslims, we value human life irrespective of geography, race and gender. We do not distinguish between the poor and the wealthy, women from men, the less able from the able bodied, as a life is a life, hence sacred and precious. Therefore, a loss of life in any corner of the world is a cause of grief and sorrow for every true Muslim. During such moments we pray to Almighty, the Creator, that He grants everyone guidance and fills this world with peace and security. For those who have suffered loss of life, may Almighty grant them patience and courage. If families have lost their breadwinner, may Almighty safeguard them from want and poverty. May Almighty grant relief to all from oppression and give every
human the good fortune to live in peace and prosperity. When the hearts and minds of humans become corrupt, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, then they no longer remain human. In their eyes, the worth of a human life becomes devalued and no thought is given to who is being killed, how many are killed and how the lives of innocent people, children, the elderly and women are destroyed. There is total contempt for humanity. We pray that Almighty grant those involved in killing innocent people, whether they be individuals, groups or governments, the essence of humanity and the ability to recognise the value of human life. Developing a proper understanding of Islam Following the tragic events in Paris, there is a significant focus on Islam and Muslims. At this juncture I would
I February 2016
urge my fellow citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims, to learn the teachings of Islam from practising Muslims with knowledge; not from the media. Those in the mainstream media, have not studied Islam in the correct manner and therefore do not appreciate the sciences of Islam and the relationship between them. Many times they comment on verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith which are out of context, as they are unaware of the method of how to interpret them and as a result reach incorrect conclusions and cause confusion. It is unfortunate that nonMuslims and ill-informed Muslims also express views based on their own interpretation, without the appropriate requisite knowledge. This has led to the distortion of Islam resulting in the misconceptions we see today amongst the general public, with regards to Islam and its teachings. I, therefore urge all Muslims to study and embrace the teachings of
FEATURED I 25
Islam and live their lives according to it. We need to deepen our understanding of the true essence of Islam by benefitting from reliable ‘Ulama and reading authentic literature. This will enable us to spread the correct message to others and explain the true qualities, attributes and characteristics of Islam. We must also ensure our individual mistakes do not tarnish and distort the image of Islam and Muslims. We must all study Islam to the extent that we are able to present and explain, without any hesitation, the Islamic point of view regarding topics that are commonly misunderstood by non-Muslims. Bringing a change We also need to bring a positive change in our lives by wholeheartedly turning to Almighty and repenting sincerely from the disobedience to Almighty. Not only have we neglected our Deen on a
personal level, we have also not shared its beauty with others; a major negligence on our part. In our current circumstances Tawbah and Istighfar will be extremely beneficial as it is stated in a hadith: “Whosoever holds fast to Istighfar, Allah will make for him a way out from every difficulty and will grant him relief from every anxiety and will grant him sustenance from where he expects not.” (Abu Dawood) Let us refrain from every act of disobedience to Almighty and become firm on our belief and worship. It is only when we become the personification of Islam through our dealings (mu‘amalat), social conduct (mu‘asharat) and good character (husn akhlaq), that the true merciful and tolerant character of Islam will be observed and appreciated by all. By Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat (MZ)
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I February 2016
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I February 2016
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