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Muslims schools knock UNESCO launch antiThe Islamic off London grammars discrimination campaign Caliphate

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Trump Threatens Issue: 106

February 2017

Apocalypse

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Donald J Trump on Friday the 20th of January 2017 became the 45th President of the United States of America and the most powerful man on the planet. However, the Muslim community worldwide hardly rejoiced at the coming of Trump the demagogue threatening to change the face of the world with a stroke of the proverbial pen from the Oval office in the White House in Washington DC. Muslims worldwide feel trepidation coupled with a sense of anxiety and unease at the prospect of Trump targeting their way of life. This fear as far as observers is well founded considering several statements made by Trump in the last three years which hardly inspire great enthusiasm for the incoming administration as far as the Muslim community worldwide is concerned. Only last month, Trump made his pitch by declaring ‘war’ on Muslims and Islam during the inaugural address on Capitol Hill Washington DC when he declared “We will ... unite the civilised world against radical Continued on page 3 y rtified b

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I COMMENT

thePassion

www.pi-media.co.uk I February 2017

By Miqdaad Versi

Assistant Secretary General Muslim Council Britain

The UK media too often misrepresents Muslims with dangerous results Terror in Spain: Gunman screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ opens fire in supermarket” screamed a Daily Express news story recently. This headline is the latest in a long list of false and inaccurate stories I have identified as part of my work challenging the misreporting of Islam and Muslims in the media. This story in the Express, also covered in the Sun (now corrected) and Mail Online, was complemented by a subsequent claim that the information came from the police – despite the police making it clear that the individual had spoken Basque and that it was not a terror attack. Such blatant misrepresentation of the facts has real consequences that are the motivation for my efforts. On one hand, it tars the brilliant and careful work by many journalists across the country. Yet trust in journalism lags near the bottom of Ipsos Mori’s Veracity Index – a serious concern given the importance of the media in challenging authority in our democracy. On the other hand, it leads to increasing hostility against Muslims, as shown by academics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Leicester. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance even called for the UK media to “avoid perpetuating prejudice”, and that “fuelling prejudice against Muslims” was “reckless” given the dangerous consequences, in line with the United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who urged the UK to “tackle tabloid hate speech”. Unsurprisingly, and in a similar way to many of the other stories I have identified, this false terror story has been shared thousands of

times, including by far-right groups and extremists. Initially, my work to correct inaccuracies was sporadic at best. But as my fears have worsened, I have adopted a more systematic, focused and analytical approach where I evaluate articles on Islam and Muslims that go against the editors’ code of practice that the papers have themselves chosen to abide by. To Fleet Street’s discredit, rarely does a week pass where an article has not been corrected: there have been a staggering 13 corrections following my complaints in the past seven weeks. Let’s not forget this excludes discriminatory pieces and hate speech against Muslims in opinion pages of newspapers, which are not covered by the current regulator (in spite of Lord Leveson’s recommendations). Given that I cannot attribute motive without evidence, I am careful not to do so. But given their professional duty and undertaking to the press regulator as well as to society at large, newspaper editors need to seriously consider what are the drivers for this misreporting. I suppose this may be reflective of our current age, where click-baiting or web traffic are more valued in some newsrooms than the graft of old-fashioned journalism. While for some misreporting might be reflective of a lack of religious literacy, I do worry that in certain cases it may be due to anti-Muslim prejudice. We desperately require greater care in the reporting of breaking news stories, better training, greater diversity in newsrooms, and a religious literacy clearly lacking at present, along with a consistent

use of terminology that takes into account its consequences for our society. These are some of the issues that I have raised with national media outlets’ managing editors, ombudsmen and legal teams who have engaged with me following complaints. For what it’s worth, while some of the “engagement” seems to be grudging and more aimed at attempting to placate me, others have been very receptive to ideas, with constructive discussions as to how to move forward. Most recently, for example, a managing editor shared a correction with the whole of the online team as an example of what needs to change. Conspiracy theorists have bizarrely suggested that my motives are to control the media, with the aim of silencing criticism of Islam or even introducing a blasphemy law through the back door. Such individuals or groups fail to provide a shred of evidence, and have even resorted to blatant lies to back up their assertions. One example is the claim that the press regulator forced Mail Online to state Islam does not support honour killings, when it did no such thing and only required accuracy and justification for Islam as a driver. I am an advocate for free speech as well as frank and honest discussions on challenging issues. Yet I am also wary of those who masquerade behind this important principle in order to seek a privileged position to attack minorities. None of us want to live in a world where our children feel the media is out to get them. All I’m looking for is responsible reporting. Is that too much to ask?

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I February 2017

Continued from front page

Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth”. In March 2015, President Trump told CNN that “Islam hates us” and later defended his comment, saying “large portions of Muslims” have “tremendous hatred” for the West. It seems that the world has gone back in time to the George W Bush presidency that served America between 2000-2008 during which the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington took place. George W Bush on that occasion declared that ‘this crusade it will take a while’ and for many Muslims especially living in America will be thinking that history is about to repeat itself with dire consequences to follow. However, we need to ask ourselves what does the Trump administration have in store for Muslims in the next four years. On the domestic front, we can expect to see further measures being passed that will make it harder for Muslims to practice their faith in the guise of reinforcing homeland security. The right-wing press and politicians will no doubt lobby Trump and attempt to castigate Muslims as the ‘fifth column’ and the ‘so called enemy within’ with the aim of trying to outlaw Islam expressed in its current form. In terms of US foreign policy, the appointment of former military General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as Defense Secretary clearly sends a message to the Muslims in the Middle East that Trump will attempt to seek and destroy the capabilities of the labyrinth of Jihadist networks operating out of the Middle East and beyond. It is at this juncture we need to pause and reflect that will heavy handed actions coupled with enhanced rhetoric defeat the so called Islamic State (ISIS) in the medium to long term? Or on the contrary, will we see a repeat of the stirring of the hornet’s nest post-2003 invasion of Iraq that facilitated the yet savage and brutal insurgency

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claiming many American and Iraqi lives in Al-Anbar province. The incoming Trump administration will attempt to forge closer links with Putin’s Russia from a strategic perspective to destroy ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, as the former sees the Sunni bloc as the greatest enemy rather than the Syrian regime or its Shiite proxies namely Hezbollah. However, the problem with this rather simplistic policy is that it comes with the risk of further exacerbating the Sunni-Shiite tensions and conflict that now affects the entire Middle East. One is of the view, that Trump has now decided to abandon the Syrian and Iraqi Sunni populace to bolster Assad and Hezbollah albeit in an indirect manner through closer co-operation and dialogue with the Russians. Trump, it should be said is playing a game of high stakes by engaging with the Russians in the hope of keeping Assad in power who is increasingly been seen in Washington and London as the best partner to deal with from a bad group of unsavory people. This shift is quite marked from the divergent approach to that taken by Cameron and Obama after the Syrian civil war had started in 2011. The problem with this approach one can argue is that Iran which is seen as the enemy by the US and its proxies namely Hezbollah will possess greater balance of power across the Middle East much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia that considers itself as the self-styled defender of Sunni Islam. One should not be in any doubt that Trump will use the Shiites indirectly vis a vis Russia to weaken the Sunni influence in the wider Middle East before he and future presidents turn on Iran as it will have become too powerful for it to handle. It should be said that the greatest beneficiary of the Trump administration’s foreign policy will undoubtedly be the State of Israel which will go from strength to strength

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knowing that the Yinon Plan is close to fruition and more crucially ensuring that there is no one Arab country that can threaten it in the foreseeable future. The first few days of the Trump administration saw Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu give a high five to President Trump seen by many as a rebuke to former President Barack Obama which no doubt makes the US the good guys again in the eyes of the Israelis. Trump has also demonstrated and underlined his pro-Israeli credentials by giving the green light to the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a sign that power is shifting from the US to Israel. In respect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we can expect that Trump will throw his weight behind Netanyahu wholeheartedly and in the process, abandon and sideline President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). This approach will result in Trump giving the green light to the Israelis to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which in turn will exacerbate tensions and lead to increased violence in the Occupied West Bank and within Israel itself for that matter. Four years of Donald J Trump will lead to the polarization in USMuslim relations where Muslims can expect to be marginalized and increasingly viewed as being the enemy across the world. One can expect to see further tensions especially in the Middle East as a direct result of closer co-operation between the US and Russia but at the same time predict that the Sunni factions that are divided at present will unite under one banner to defend its interests across the wider Middle East. All in all, Trump’s decision to abandon the world in favour of the ‘American First’ ideology underpinned by protectionism and isolationism coupled with dealing with the Jihadists at arm’s length does not bode well for global security in an ever-uncertain world.


I UK NEWS

I February 2017

Two Muslims schools knock off London grammars 4

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In Case You Missed It

Two Muslim schools have knocked of hundreds of others in the UK and have been ranked in the top three schools in the country – knocking grammars down a new national league table for the first time. The Muslim girls’ and boys’ schools in Blackburn, Lancashire, run by the Tauheedul Education Trust, beat off competition from London grammars to top the annual school performance tables coming first and third.

The Islamic free schools, which opened in the mid 1980s, push their students hard and don’t accept background as “an excuse for failure”. Chief executive of Tauheedul Education Trust, Hamid Patel, said he was proud of the results. He said: “It is especially rewarding to see that some of our most vulnerable learners – those who join us from primary school behind the expected level of attainment and

those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds – have achieved such outstanding results.” “We are focused on building on this success across our family of schools and through collaboration with others, to ensure every young person has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.” Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association, said: “Grammar schools are doing an extremely good job of bringing pupils on. It’s clear proof of their success. “It’s yet further evidence to support the Prime Minister’s proposals.” Toby Young, director of the New Schools Network, said free schools were performing “exceptionally well”. He said: “Free schools often have longer school days and more after-school clubs. A lot of them have used their freedoms to go back to basics with strong discipline, high expectations, and competitive sport and we’re beginning to see that pay off.”

Council admits racially discriminating against two boys over Prevent toy gun referral A local education authority has admitted racially discriminating against two young boys and breaching their human rights when a school called the police after one of them told his teacher he had been given a toy gun as a present. The brothers, aged seven and five and of mixed Indian and Middle Eastern heritage, were questioned by uniformed officers in March 2016 after the school raised concerns they might be at risk of radicalisation. The boy’s teacher has insisted she never doubted the weapon was a toy. The school’s governors found teachers were unsure if they had a duty to report their concerns under Prevent, the government’s antiradicalisation strategy, and called Bedfordshire police. The school cannot be named in order to protect the children’s identity. After speaking to the boys,

police officers quickly concluded there was no cause for concern and the children were returned to their mother, from whom they had been kept apart for almost two hours. The school governors are understood to have found in April that teachers lacked confidence in the way they dealt with Preventrelated concerns, concluding they had shown “a degree of racial stereotyping” in the way the strategy had been implemented in the boys’ case. But after a legal challenge, in which the children’s mother argued no white child would be

referred to police for owning a toy gun, Central Bedfordshire council has admitted the children were racially discriminated against and agreed to pay damages. It also admitted breaching their human rights in the way information about the staff’s suspicions was handled by the school. - Guardian


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Catholic school prompts uniform row by banning Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf

Catholic school has prompted a uniform row by banning a fouryear-old Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf at school. St Clare’s School in Handsworth, on the outskirts of Birmingham, asked the girl’s parents to respect their strict uniform policy, which includes no headwear or scarfs. The primary school’s decision ignited a debate among community leaders after the girl’s father called on town hall officials to intervene. Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities, said that he had met with the head teacher and told her

the ban on the scarf was against the equalities act. He added: “I’m insisting this matter is addressed [as soon as possible] with a change of policy.” However, his colleague Majid Mahmood said that since it is a faith school, St Clare’s is “maybe within its rights to insist upon a particular dress code,” just as a Muslim faith school “may require girls to wear headscarves”. Dr Mashuq Ally, a former head of equalities for the council, agreed saying there is no religious requirement for girls of infant school age to wear the hijab.

He also pointed out that a faith school is allowed to set its own uniform policy and exempt from discrimination legislation. Dr Ally went on to say that if there are demographic changes which lead to a significant number of Muslim children attending a Christian school, then the parents should ask the school governors to consider changing the uniform policy. “I also would have thought a Muslim parent would have thought very carefully about sending their child to a Roman Catholic school and considered the uniform policy,” he said. “This should have all been discussed between school and parent, not been dragged into the public and political arena.” Women’s rights campaigner Gina Khan attacked Cllr Zaffar, accusing him of backing male parents who enforce the hijab on little girls as a means of control. She said: “Hijab isn’t compulsory for a child in Islam, but patriarchal biraadari power used to control Muslim school girls.” The Government does not proscribe to what extent religious attire is allowed to be worn by pupils, rather, it is each school’s decision to set their own uniform policies.

Muslim mum and daughter, first to wear hijab as police officers in Scotland A Muslim mother and daughter have told how they were compelled to join Police Scotland after the force reversed a ban on wearing headscarves while on duty. Shafqat and Aleena Rafi, of Clydebank, are set to become the first officers in Scotland - special or regular - to wear the hijab on the beat once they complete the recruitment process. It comes as Philip Gormley, chief constable of Police Scotland Chief Constable, admitted that the force needed to improve diversity within its ranks as only one per cent of officers in Scotland come from an ethnic minority background compared to four percent of the population as

a whole - rising to 12 per cent in Glasgow. In August, the force confirmed that headscarves would become an optional part of its uniform. Speaking at Tulliallan Police College ahead of a fitness test, Miss Rafi, 19, said that seeing police officers in headscarves will help to “break down the barriers”. “I had reservations about the hijab and how that was going to be accepted,” she said. “They said it wouldn’t be a problem but it wasn’t concrete at the outset, it is now. “People have stereotypes about people from ethnic minorities wearing a hijab - that they are oppressed or

forced to wear it. “People will see we can do anything - it doesn’t make us any less able.” Her mother Mrs Rafi, 50, said Police Scotland had been very supportive of their application to join, “Sometimes people just see the hijab and not what is underneath,” she said. “Our religion teaches us to help each other. Islam means peace.” The force has established a “Positive Action Team” as part of their recruitment process in a bid to attract more people from ethnic minority backgrounds. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I UK NEWS

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I February 2017

Reprieve seeks answers over Scottish police torture flights investigation

International human rights organization Reprieve has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice to ask for an update on Police Scotland’s investigation into the use of airports by CIA ‘rendition’ flights under President GW Bush. The investigation was opened over three years ago, in response to evidence showing that CIA jets used to transport prisoners around the world to face torture had landed at Scottish airports. Reprieve has sought clarification on whether Police Scotland have

been allowed access to a full, unredacted copy of the US Senate’s report on torture and rendition, which could hold evidence crucial to their investigation – but neither the Justice Secretary nor Scotland’s Crown Office have provided a clear answer. Commenting, Reprieve’s founder, Clive Stafford Smith said: “With torture enthusiast Donald Trump now president, the Scottish and UK Governments need to up their game. We know that Scottish airports were used in the Bush era by CIA jets carrying out ‘rendition’ operations – which saw people flown

around the world to face brutal torture in secret prisons. The Scottish and UK Governments need to make clear to Mr Trump that this will not be tolerated ever again. “That is why it is worrying that so little progress seems to have been made by investigations into Bush-era torture. Ministers must ensure that the police are being fully supported, and given the information they need to do their job. Otherwise, they will be sending a message to Donald Trump that Scotland is prepared to turn a blind eye to torture.”

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Man convicted for putting ‘Ban Islam’ stickers up in west London park A man has been convicted of trying to stir up religious and racial hatred after putting up “Ban Islam” and “Stop the White Genocide” stickers up in a park in west London. Patrick Collier, 40, was last month caught on CCTV posting the stickers on lamp posts and noticeboards around Lillie Road Recreation Ground in Fulham. The stickers were printed with phrases including “White race, Stop the White Genocide”, “Ban Islam” and “ Islam this is Europe”. Police had first spotted the Islamophobic material in October, with 12 more incidents reported to officers by members of the public.

Collier was later identified and arrested and charged on 14 December while walking his dog. Similar stickers were found on him during a search and other offensive posters discovered at his home, prosecutors said. Collier, of Fulham, pleaded guilty to intentionally causing racially and religiously aggravated harassment, alarm and distress between 17 October and 14 December last year. He was given a 12-month community order and a 35-day rehabilitation activity. A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said: “The posters clearly displayed a hatred for the

religion of Islam and clearly crossed the threshold of the offence of distributing material to cause alarm, distress or harassment. “It is wholly unacceptable for this kind of material to be posted around the streets of London. We will take strong action to stop people being targeted on the basis of their religion and ensure that all of the city’s communities feel safe regardless of their race or faith.” DS Sanj Bhanot, of the Met Police, added:”Hate crime is unacceptable and any offence is of great concern.”

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UK NEWS

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Redbridge Muslim charity gets green light to create 10,000 burial

A charity which caters to Muslim burial needs has been given the green light to create a contested 10,000 plot cemetery. Gardens of Peace which owns two sites in Redbridge – one in Elmbridge Road, Hainault and another at Five Oaks Lane, Chigwell – feared it would run out of space. But the concerns were alleviated when the planning inspectorate

agreed for the proposals to go ahead. “It’s good news,” said Gardens of Peace founding member Farouk Ismail. “I am delighted, of course we will work with the [Havering] council and community every step of the way.” The new cemetery will be built on disused land at Oak Farm, Maylands Fields, Harold Wood.

Despite both Havering Council and Gardens of Peace agreeing the development would be an inappropriate use of the green belt and the overall size of the site increased, policy lists cemeteries as a permitted exception. The planning inspectorate also concluded that the development would safeguard the countryside from encroachment and remain essentially rural in character and appearance. Commenting on Facebook, Havering resident Dave Wackett said: “[I} do not agree with this, as I think most people in the area. It is a traffic black spot which would be made far worst if this was to be given the go ahead.” “I don’t like upsetting anyone from any community,” Mr Ismail continued. “I like community cohesion and we are going to do our very best to make everyone happy. That is what’s important.”

‘F*** Muslims’: Tourists racially abused in wake of Old Firm game A man who racially abused a family following an Old Firm match has been branded a “disgrace” by a judge. Christopher Tague appeared before Sheriff Cameron at Glasgow Sheriff Court on January 19 after pleading guilty to the charges. Following the Celtic vs Rangers football game on September 10, 2016, Tague approached a family who were visiting Scotland on holiday and were having something to eat in George Square. The 33-year-old proceeded to subject the pair to racially motivated abuse. The Procurator Fiscal depute said that he said phrases including “f*** Mohammad”, “you’re terrorists” and “f*** Muslims”. Several witnesses and passersby

in George Square attempted to interject before the police were called. As officers approached Tague, of Quarryknowe Street, Parkhead, as he was seen to be waving his hands. It was noted that he was heavily intoxicated. Officers arrested the accused and transferred him into police custody. While in custody he told officers he was free to “say what he wants”. His was accused of shouting, swearing and uttering racial remarks which placed the complainers in a state of alarm. The court also heard that he committed a breach of the peace which was “racially aggravated”. Tague’s defence agent told that the actions of his client were “deplorable and disgusting”.

His solicitor added that he is “remorseful” for the events that took place. He added that Tague had been drinking on the day due to the Old Firm match but that this is no excuse for his behaviour. Sheriff Cameron described the accused as “a disgrace.” Adding that the only thing preventing him from sentencing Tague to time in prison is the fact that he has a job. He was handed a community payback order which requires him to undergo 155 hours of unpaid work with 25 of the hours added in relation to racial aggravation. He was given six months to complete the order. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Libyan wins right to sue UK ex-minister for rendition

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Sapna Malik from the law firm Leigh Day said: “We hope that the defendants in this action now see fit to apologise to our clients and acknowledge the wrongs done so that they may turn the page on this wretched chapter of their lives and move on”. Straw responded to the ruling in a statement saying: “As foreign secretary I acted at all times in a manner which was fully consistent with my legal duties, and with national and international law. “I was never in any complicit in the unlawful rendition or detention of anyone by other states,” Straw said.

A British court ruled that a former Libyan can sue a former foreign minister and an ex-MI6 officer over his rendition in a landmark case that could pave the way for more lawsuits. “The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the government’s appeals,” the court said in a statement. “The cases may proceed to trial,” it said. Belhaj has alleged that he and his wife were detained by US intelligence officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand in 2004 when he was leader of the anti-Kadhafi Libyan Fighting

Group. His wife was several months pregnant at the time. The couple were then taken to Tripoli, where Belhaj was jailed for six years. Belhaj claims British involvement in his illegal rendition. Files unearthed from Kadhafi’s archives after his fall suggest he was captured due to a British tip-off. Belhaj’s case is against Jack Straw, who was Britain’s foreign minister in 2004, and Mark Allen, who was a senior MI6 counter-terrorism officer at the time, according to lawyers in the case.

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Muslim Job-seekers disadvantaged in Britain: Government Muslim job-seekers in Britain are disadvantaged, the British government has acknowledged after Muslims were found to be facing significant pay gaps compared with those who identify as Christian. The British government’s Equalities Office (GEO) has published its response to last year’s hard-hitting report by the women and equalities select committee on employment opportunities for Muslims, the Evening Standard reported. Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims were found to have the highest levels of

disadvantage in finding work and face significant pay gaps compared with those who identify as Christian. The GEO accepted a “lack of comprehensive data” is hindering progress in gettin more Muslim people into higher education, which in turn has an impact on their chances of employment. It said more could be done to raise awareness among employers about workplace discrimination and it also accepted that informal recruitment practices mean bias may not always be “picked up”.

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The Government said it will not come up with a specific plan to tackle workplace inequality for Muslims, despite this being one of the report’s recommendations. Instead it highlighted its work to support disadvantaged communities. The GEO said it will ask universities to extend the admissions data they collect beyond the current “Asian, black, mixed and white” categories. It will also meet commerce and industry leaders to discuss the best way of raising awareness of the Equality Act 2010 with employers.


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I WORLD NEWS

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I February 2017

First Muslim woman to become an MP in Australia fights back at trolls

A Muslim woman has become a member of parliament in Australia for the first time. Now she is fighting back against social media trolls that attack her with sexist and racist abuse. Mehreen Faruqi said there is a real vile mix of racism and sexism happening within the country and she believes it comes from people who think she doesn’t belong in Australia. Faruqi is an Australian Greens Party MP in the New South

Wales Upper House and a former environmental engineer. In 1992, she fled from an oppressive regime in Pakistan with her husband and then infant son. Now she finds herself in a cascade of abuse from internet trolls. The internet abuse makes her feel like some people do not want her to be in Australia. She said it may be due to her colour or religion. “That is pretty upsetting,” Faruqi told the BBC

in Sydney. But Faruqi, a member of parliament in Australia’s most populous state since June 2013, is not allowing racism and sexism abuse ruin her life. Instead, she is fighting back against her tormentors by launching a Facebook project. Faruqi’s online project is called Love Letters to Mehreen. She explained that she and her staff pick a particularly hate-filled message every few weeks and respond to it in a humorous way. And the Facebook project, she said, has really taken off. She thinks people appreciate that hate issues are being discussed. Faruq said it is quite cathartic for herself, as well as for her staff. An example of hate-filled message that Faruqi receives are questions like how a Muslim has been let into Australian politics. She believes that anti-Muslim views are nothing new, but chooses to respond to them “with just a touch of sass” and hides the identity of her critics when she reposts their offensive messages. www.pi-media.co.uk

Palestinians raps Trump’s planned embassy move Thousands of Palestinians staged demonstrations across the occupied West Bank in condemnation of US President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to fulfill an election campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city of Quds (Jerusalem). Hundreds of demonstrators waved Palestinian flags during a protest in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, situated approximately 49 kilometers north of Jerusalem al-Quds. They also held signs reading, “AlQuds is the Key to Peace and War,” and, “Moving the American Embassy

is a New Balfour Declaration for Palestinians.” Nasser Abu Jaish, a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, said the US embassy relocation would be equal to declaration of war on Palestinians as well as Arab and Muslim nations, Press TV reported. “Especially at this time, moving the embassy would confirm that the US administration has decided to end the peace process in the region,” he said. Protesters in the central West Bank city of Ramallah also voiced their strong opposition to Trump’s plan, stressing that Jerusalem

al-Quds must be recognized as the capital of the independent Palestinian state. On January 15, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned of “extremely serious consequences” if Trump relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for 68 years, to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had warned that any such attempt will destroy the prospects of any political process between the Palestinians and Israel, and fuel extremism across the globe. www.pi-media.co.uk


Palestinian embassy opens in the Vatican

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I February 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated the Palestinian Embassy in the Vatican and held a meeting with Pope Francis., Abbas said the embassy’s opening is a sign that “the Pope loves the Palestinian people and he loves peace.” The embassy was inaugurated in Porta Angelica street in the Vatican, Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. “This [the embassy] is a sign that the Pope loves the Palestinian people and he loves peace,” Abbas

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to find a just and lasting solution.” The private audience was the third meeting between Francis and Abbas. The pontiff visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories in 2014 and Abbas made a trip to the Vatican the following year for the canonisation of two Palestinian nuns. Relations between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority turned a new page in 2015 with the signing of an agreement to create a Palestinian embassy at the Vatican. The agreement -- two years after the Vatican recognised Palestine as a state -- provoked the ire of Israel, which was also angered when said, the newspaper reported. Francis called Abbas “an angel of Among the gifts exchanged, peace” during their meeting in May Abbas offered the pontiff a stone 2015. from the Church of the Holy “I met with His Holiness. The Sepulchre in Jerusalem, according to Vatican has fully recognized Greg Burke, spokesman for the Holy Palestine as an independent state, See. I hope that other states take their A Vatican statement regarding example from the Holy See,” Abbas Israel and the Palestinians added: later told journalists. “Hope was expressed that direct The Vatican later released a negotiations between the parties may statement, saying that attention be resumed to bring an end to the should be “turned to the peace violence that causes unacceptable process in the Middle East.” suffering to civilian populations, and www.pi-media.co.uk

US backs $1B bond for Iraqi government The U.S. administration provides guarantee for the Iraqi government issuing a $1 billion bond, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “The Republic of Iraq successfully closed on its offering of a $1 billion sovereign bond issuance guaranteed by the United States of America,” the statement read. “This loan guarantee underscores the strong and enduring commitment of the United States to support the government of Iraq in this critical moment in the fight against ISIL,” it added.

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The guarantee is part of an international assistance package and an IMF supported reform program, and is expected to help Iraq access to low-cost financial tools to adopt institutional reforms, facilitate growth, and achieve economic stability in the long-run. Iraqi government offered $1 billion worth of five-year bonds. Iraq has been fighting against a terrorist ISIL overrun since 2014, which has been costly for the country. Baghdad has been receiving help from the U.S. in terms of military expertise.

Americans promise to fight for rights of Muslims

Following the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president, the Metropolitan Denver North Islamic Center has received many letters from their neighbors assuring Muslims that they will stand by them and protect their right to practice their religion. In one letter, the unnamed sender promises to “fight against any person or force that tries to impinge on the rights of any Muslim-American.”


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Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled against a proposed ban on the far-right National Democratic Party, or NPD. Federal judges unanimously rejected an application filed by Germany’s 16 federal states to outlaw the NPD. It had argued the party’s activities were a threat to democracy. While recognizing concerns over the anti-constitutional aims of the NPD, federal judges claimed the party did not have the potential to realize these goals. Judges said: “The NPD acts in a

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systematic manner and with sufficient intensity towards achieving its aims that are directed against the free democratic basic order. However, (currently) there is a lack of specific and weighty indications suggesting that this endeavor will be successful.” “If, on the contrary, the acts of a party do not even suggest that it might possibly succeed in achieving its anti-constitutional aims, it is not necessary to protect the Constitution preventively by prohibiting the party,” they added. The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, which represents

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Germany’s 16 federal states, applied to the Constitutional Court in 2013 to ban the NPD. A 250-page file presented to the court listed examples of NPD activities alleged to constitute a threat to Germany’s democratic constitutional order. The decision marked the second failed attempt to ban the far-right party, which has seen increased support in recent months amid the refugee crisis and has mobilized thousands in anti-refugee and antimigrant rallies. In 2003, the court turned down a similar application to outlaw the NPD on the grounds that there were various informants and undercover agents belonging to the domestic intelligence agency in key party positions. Founded in 1964, the NPD has been the most active far-right party in the country. In the last federal elections in 2013, it failed to pass the five percent threshold needed to enter the federal parliament, but managed to get 1.3 percent. The party receives around €1.4 million euros ($1.5 million) in state funding. www.pi-media.co.uk

Azerbaijan downs Armenian drone

Azerbaijani troops shot down an Armenian drone detected flying over Azeri military positions, the defense ministry in Baku said. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was destroyed Sunday morning in the western Tovuz region near the border with Armenia, the statement said. The ministry also said that the Armenian army had violated the cease-fire 51 times in the past 24 hours, firing mortars from different directions on the front line. The Azerbaijani army destroyed five Armenian drones last year: one in April, one in November and three in December.

The two countries remain in dispute over the occupied Karabakh region. Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with Armenian military support and a peace process has yet to be implemented. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-year war over occupied Karabakh in the early 1980s until a 1994 ceasefire. Since the end of war in 1994, Armenia and Azerbaijan have held talks under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group. An agreement-in-principle was reached in St. Petersburg, Russia,

following talks late June involving Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. This April, according to the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry, more than 270 military personnel were killed in the worst breach of a 1994 treaty between the sides. Three UN Security Council Resolutions (853, 874 and 884), and United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 19/13 and 57/298 refer to Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.


Norwegian bank tests interest free ‘Halal’ loans

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A Norwegian bank is considering a loan scheme for Muslims who won’t pay interest based on religious principles. Charging fees or interests on loans are forbidden under most interpretations of Islam. Storebrand, one of Norway’s largest banks, is trying to appeal to Muslims by getting around the principle.

The idea is to jointly own houses with customers and let the loan taker pay rent until they become the sole owner. Storebrand recently launched a website to get feedback from Muslims on the proposal. “We wanted to find out if this can be another way for people to get into the housing market with ever higher prices,” the bank said on the website.

“The product may be appropriate for young people, for graduates and people who cannot take up ordinary mortgage due to religious considerations.” More than 300 people expressed interest during the first week, and the bank is now moving forward with the product. “Storebrand is now currently evaluating the market potential for such a loan and considering what the product might look like,” Bjorn Erik Saettem, the bank’s communication manager, told Vart Land. “We have also been approached by financial advisers in the UK and Malaysia who want to help us to put together this type of loan.” Saettem said the bank has received some negative reactions for the “halal loans” and that some customers even left the bank in protest.

A blind Lebanese entrepreneur has been named on a prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list for teaching life skills to blind children in Lebanon. Sara Minkara, who became legally blind when she was seven years old, has been recognised for her social enterprise, Empowerment Through Integration, in the business magazine’s annual list of young social entrepreneurs. When she was growing up in the US, Minkara received support to live with her disability through government and private organisations. But when visiting family in Lebanon she realised disabled children did not enjoy the same privileges. The 27-year-old then founded ETI, which works with blind children in Lebanon to instill confidence in them, teaching life skills like how to walk with a white cane or how to use

a computer. ETI also runs a summer camp for both blind and sighted children, community volunteering and seminars for parents. “When I was seven I lost my vision and at that time, as a blind kid, there were technical challenges,” Minkara, who was raised in Boston, told The Daily Star. “But because I had a support system from my parents, my teachers and community, I was able to pursue a very integrated life and pursue my dreams. I never thought because I was blind I couldn’t do anything.” Minkara’s trips to Lebanon posed a challenge but gave her a taste of the difficulties that people with disabilities face there. “That’s when I thought that my blindness was something wrong because of a stigma, a narrative and how society perceives someone with

a disability [in Lebanon]. I thought I was a burden on society,” she said. “You hear the words like ‘Allah Yshfeke’ [May God heal you] or ‘ya haram’ [expressing pity], but those are the basics.” Founding ETI was a response to the stigma Minkara sees surrounding visually impaired people. “I had no plans ever to start a nonprofit, but then I did this project one summer with a friend where we brought together blind and sighted kids and focused on integration,” Minkara said. “And I saw the value of this and how it impacted the kids from both ends, this is when I felt that this is where my heart lies and this is how ETI got founded, from one project. Making it to the Forbes list has given ETI a major boost, Minkara added. “It has been a blessing for ETI. I think it will open a lot of doors.”

Blind Lebanese entrepreneur named in Forbes 30 under 30


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Amnesty International - ‘Draconian’ EU anti-terror laws target Muslims

The human rights group sounded the alarm over security measures adopted over the past two years in 14 EU nations, including expanded surveillance powers. During that period, several attacks, mostly claimed by the Daesh terrorist group, have fanned

tensions over immigration, fueled the popularity of right-wing parties and made security a key theme in upcoming French, Dutch and German elections, Reuters reported. “Right across the EU regional space we see Muslims and foreigners being equated with

terrorists,” said Julia Hall, an Amnesty International expert on counterterrorism and author of the report. “This stereotyping so disproportionately affects these communities that there is a high degree of fear and alienation.” She warned that “draconian” surveillance measures and powers of search, detention and arrest like those introduced in France since November 2015, when attacks killed 130 people, could be abused to target activists or minority groups that did not pose a genuine threat. Amnesty’s report said new measures to crack down on glorifying or being an apologist for terrorism were shrinking the space for freedom of expression. Amnesty condemned what it dubbed the “Orwellian” use of curfews, travel restrictions and police check-ins to monitor individuals who were not convicted of crimes and often did not know what they were accused of. Hall criticized what she described as “governments looking at a person and saying: ‘You look very suspicious to me. So I’m going to restrict your behavior because I think you might commit a crime.’” www.pi-media.co.uk

Morocco lower house endorses return to African Union

The lower house Moroccan parliament unanimously voted to allow the country’s return to the African Union, following a hiatus of 33 years. The House of Representatives adopted the bill to approve the reintegration with 395 votes in favour, with all MPs present. Speaking at parliament session, Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said the constitutive act would provide necessary procedures to reintegrate the African Union. King Hassan II, father of

incumbent King Mohammed IV, withdrew from what was the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 after it inaugurated selfproclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member. Western Sahara, a territory in southern Morocco, was a Spanish colony until 1975. It has been disputed by Morocco and the Polisario Front backed by Algeria. After many years of conflict, a cease-fire was signed in 1991 between the two parties under the auspices of the United Nations,

which maintain a field mission that was mandated to organize a selfdetermination referendum. Last July, Morocco expressed interest in rejoining the regional bloc. “For a long time, our friends have been asking us to return to them, so that Morocco should take its natural place within its institutional family. That time has arrived,” King Mohammed VI said at the time. He also called on the organization to correct a “historic mistake” and adopt a “constructive neutrality” on the Sahara issue.


Tunisia strikes deal on Libya border trade www.pi-media.co.uk

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Tunisian and Libyan parties struck a deal to resume vital trade through the Ras Jedir crosspoint after a weeks of unrest, a source close to the negotiations said. Lawmaker Ahmed Laamari, who took part in earlier negotiations on the issue, said separately that the

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deal is now in force. The terms of the accord were not immediately clear and the interior ministry was not available for comment. Ras Jedir is the main crossing between western Libya and southeastern Tunisia, a region

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largely dependent on cross-border trade, both legal and illegal. For around a week, social unrest has rocked the Tunisian border town of Ben Guerdane, with demonstrators demanding the free flow of trade through the frontier. Protesters were still blocking the road from Ras Jedir to Ben Guerdane, where calm had returned after the clashes between demonstrators and the police. A previous deal for a new customs system was signed in May 2016 after a previous wave of unrest over paralysed trade at the border, but was never implemented. Tensions have been high in recent months, with a part of the population accusing the authorities of ignoring their plight. Tunisian authorities have said the issue is thorny in view of the political chaos and fighting between militias in Libya.

Malaysia urges Muslim world to help oppressed Rohingya

Malaysia urged an organization of Islamic nations to help end the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, while Indonesia offered to be a facilitator to find a solution to the crisis. Prime Minister Najib Razak told the opening of a special meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that the violence against Rohingya, which has galvanized Muslims in Southeast Asia, was no longer Myanmar’s internal affair as it has fueled an exodus of refugees that could destabilize the region. He warned that the violence must end otherwise militants including the Islamic State group could infiltrate and radicalize the Rohingya. “OIC member states are well

aware that terrorist organizations such as Daesh could seek to take advantage of this situation,” Najib said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. Security forces in Buddhistmajority Myanmar are accused of widespread abuses against the Rohingya, including killings, rape and the burning of thousands of homes that have driven an estimated 65,000 refugees across the border into Bangladesh in the past three months. Najib urged Myanmar to stop all discrimination and attacks and repeated calls for the free delivery of aid and safe return of refugees, AP reported. “This must happen now. ... The government of Myanmar disputes the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic

cleansing,’ but whatever the terminology, the Rohingyas cannot wait,” he said. Najib said Malaysia will donate another 10 million ringgit ($2.25 million) for humanitarian aid and social projects in Rakhine, where most of the Rohingya have lived for generations. They are denied Myanmar citizenship. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on the sidelines of the meeting that Jakarta was “more than ready to play a bridging role” to help Myanmar and its Muslim minority. A small group of Rohingya gathered at the building where the OIC ministers were meeting and repeated calls for an independent investigation into their plight.


Free Islamic clinic unveiled for Florida poor

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In Case You Missed It

Providing a free medical help for vulnerable and uninsured Americans, American Muslim leaders in Central Florida unveiled a new clinic offering free medical service for people of all faiths, a move they hope will help counter negative stereotypes about their faith. “Our goal is to serve humanity — no strings attached. Everyone is welcome,” Atif Fareed, the chairman of the American Muslim Community Centers Clinic (AMCC) in Longwood, told Orlando Sentinel. “We have over 40 physicians who come to our mosque, and we have

11 of them signed up to volunteer here. So we are very, very blessed.” The clinic will offer general health care to anyone in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties who is uninsured and earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which works out to $23,760 a year for an individual and $48,600 for a family of four. Patients can make appointments online at amssclinic.org, and Longwood Pharmacy has agreed to fill many common prescriptions for free, Fareed said. The community centers raised

$250,000 to buy and refurbish the clinic building, a former doctor’s office. It has at least two exam rooms and space for lab work. The clinic, located at 588 Wilma St., just off State Road 434, was widely praised by local religious leaders. “It’s a blessing,” said Senior Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, a Longwood mega-church, who joined in the celebration. “The way you build trust in the community is that you serve everyone. I think anyone who comes to this clinic will leave with a favorable view of Islam.” Longwood Commissioner John Maingot said the facility will help fill a deep need. “We know there are thousands of people in Central Florida who could use a facility like this,” he said. “And if they don’t get help here, they tend to wind up in our emergency rooms as many as possible,” he said. “Our mercy should not be constrained.” Thee clinic is not the first effort by Muslim doctors to offer free medical service.

Austria has announced plans to ban full-face veils in all public places in aim of fending off the challenge of the far-right. Chancellor of Austria Christian Kern stated that the governing coalition has agreed to ban the veils in places such as courts, and schools. The move comes as part of a package of reforms drawn up after more than weeks of negotiations. The plans were outlined in a new 35-page document, which hopes to implement the new policies over the coming 18 months. Papers also state that migrants

granted the right to stay in Austria must sign an ‘integration contract’ and a ‘statement of values’. The coalition of Social Democrats and the centrist People’s party also agreed to prohibit police officers, judges and magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing head scarves. It was stated that the ban was in the interest of appearing ‘ideologically and religiously neutral’ while serving the state. The document includes plans to increase Austria’s surveillance and security services.

It also promises the government will lower taxes and non-wage labour costs, restrict access of foreign workers to the Austrian labour market and create 70,000 new jobs. A statement in the document states: ‘Those who are not prepared to accept Enlightenment values will have to leave our country and society.’ Christian Kern said: ‘The full-face veil will be banned in public spaces.’ He added that he wanted to avoid ‘giving 600,000 Muslims in Austria the feeling that they are not part of our society.’

Austria announces ban on veils in all public places


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Zionist regime approves new settlements after Trump inauguration In Case You Missed It

Israeli regime officials approved the construction of hundreds of new Israeli settler units in East Jerusalem al-Quds, despite international calls to end the unlawful practice, including by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Meir Turjeman, the deputy mayor

of Jerusalem al-Quds, who also heads the so-called Jerusalem District Zoning Committee, said officials had approved plans to construct 566 new Israeli settler units in the occupied territories, AFP reported. The new approvals came despite

a UNSC resolution in December last year condemning all Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territories. The landmark Resolution 2334, passed on December 23, 2016, called Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds a “flagrant violation of international law.” The resolution also demanded that Israel stop all such construction. Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem al-Quds since 1967. The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle to efforts to establish peace in the Middle East. The ratification at the UNSC of Resolution 2334 came about with the refusal of the United States to veto it, a practice it had long employed against anti-Israeli resolutions at the world body. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the US of having conspired with Palestinians to have the resolution passed, a rare accusation that was rejected by Washington. The approval of the new settlements is seen as a scolding directed at the Security Council.

European court rules muslim girls must swim with boys A European court ruled that Muslim girls must take part in mixed school swimming classes after rejecting a case by a Turkish-Swiss couple who had requested that their daughters be exempted from such activities. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last month accepted that the refusal by Swiss authorities to excuse children from the compulsory swimming lessons interfered with their religious beliefs, but ruled that it was justifiable on the basis of protecting children from social exclusion.

School has “a special role in the process of social integration, particularly where children of foreign origin were concerned,” said the ECHR. It added that swimming lessons are “not just to learn to swim, but above all to take part in that activity with all the other pupils.” The ECHR further noted that “very flexible arrangements” had been made accessible to the family, such as permitting the girls to wear burkinis during lessons, Press TV reported.

It also stipulated that a $1,380 fine levied on the parents for noncompliance to former warnings was appropriate “in order to ensure that the parents do send their children to compulsory lessons, which is above all in their own interest, for socialization and successful integration.” In May, Switzerland ruled that if Muslim students refuse to shake their teachers’ hand at the beginning and end of lessons, their parents will face fines of up to $5,000. www.pi-media.co.uk


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UNESCO launch antidiscrimination campaign in Spanish football

A new campaign was launched last month in Madrid, Spain, aimed at fighting discrimination in football in Spain and Latin American countries. Entitled “Sin respeto no hay juego” (ENG ‘No respect no game’), the campaign is the result of a partnership between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

and Prisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language radio group. It aims to promote the values of respect, diversity and tolerance as steps to prevent discrimination and intolerance in football and the wider society. The launching event brought together Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social

and Human Sciences, Andrea Agnelli, President of Juventus FC, Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid CF, and Josep Mª Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona. “Discrimination is a problem that we face almost every weekend in Spanish stadiums. Sexism, racism and homophobia are amongst the most common forms of abuse that players, coaches, referees, and of course, fans endure. “It is a situation that can be changed and that only depends on us,” said the radio sports journalist Dani Garrido. A round-table with prominent players and coaches will also be held. Moderated by Manu Carreño, director of the Cadena Ser show El Larguero, it will address racism and discrimination in football and the different means to promote sport values.

Huddersfield Town appoint Muslim club ambassador Huddersfield Town Football Club has appointed Mohammed Bhana to an ambassadorial role in order to help the club attract fans from Asian and minority backgrounds. Mohammed first came into contact with the Terriers through Huddersfield Town’s Schools Focus initiative, which provides cheap matchday tickets to youngsters across Kirklees and beyond. Town’s Ambassador admitted that if it wasn’t for his son’s persistence then he wouldn’t have been offered the role or even have come to the John Smith’s Stadium. “My 8 year-old son kept on nagging me, asking me to take him to

a Town game,” Bhana told the club’s official web site. “I said I’d take him if he learned his times-tables, which he did – all the way to 12. That’s how much he wanted to go and experience a match. “I wasn’t sure what to expect and my wife was also a bit apprehensive about going; we had a few misconceptions because we had never been before. “For a start we didn’t realise how passionate and loud the fans would be, and the high quality of the football was also something we didn’t expect. We thought that Huddersfield was a small club, but we now know that’s

not the case!” Huddersfield Town are in fifth place in the Championship table and Mohammed believes the Club his beginning to attract in a larger following; especially due to the teams exciting brand of football. “More people are starting to realise that they don’t have to travel to Liverpool or Manchester to watch first class football; they could just go a few miles down the road and watch football just as good, if not better, at Town for much less. “There’s no need to support a club from another part of the country when you have one on your doorstep that you can get involved with.”


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Darmstadt release Anis Ben-Hatira over links to Islamic charity

Darmstadt have released midfielder Anis Ben-Hatira from his contract over his ties to an aid organisation for an ultra-conservative branch of Islam. Ben-Hatira, 27, has been linked to Ansaar International, which

German police allege has strong ties to extremist elements of German Salafism. Ansaar International is under observation by the North-Rhine Westphalian constitution protection. “After reviewing the overall

situation, it makes no sense for both sides to continue the cooperation,” Darmstadt president Rudiger Fritsch said in a statement on the club’s official website. He said the termination of the player’s contract had been “mutually agreed.” Fritsch added that the club “feels Ben-Hatira’s private humanitarian assistance for the organisation, the one he is serving, is wrong.” Darmstadt fan groups protested against Ben-Hatira’s links with Ansaar International and urged both club and player to distance themselves from the organisation. Their calls were backed by Hesse Home Secretary Peter Beuth, who urged the club to take a clear stance. Berlin-born Ben-Hatira had said on his official Facebook page that he faced a “smear campaign” but did not respond to accusations about Ansaar International. The Tunisia international joined Darmstadt last summer and has scored one goal in 11 appearances for them.

Mount Cricket Club from Batley celebrate successful year

Mount Cricket Club celebrated another successful year as it hosted its annual presentation event in front of a packed audience last month. The club scooped four trophies in 2016 and also secured victory over a side from the Vatican at a celebration game that took place at Headingley last September. The awards night drew a crowd of huge amount of people. As well as club members and those from the local community, members of the cricket elite were also present including members of the English & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and Collis King, the ex-West Indian cricketer who played in the 1979 World Cup final against England.

Colin Graves, Chairman of the ECB, sent a special message congratulating the club. He said: “From their tireless work in the local community to their success on the field, Mount Cricket Club is a shining example of what a community club should be. “We believe that cricket truly is a game for all and can bring people together from different walks of like, faiths and cultures. “Mount Cricket Club represents that and more.” Many awards were handed out on the night including a media award for our own deputy editor Shakir Ahmed for his tireless contribution and coverage of the Vatican tour on ITV News. Hanif Mayet, Chairman of

Mount CC, said: “Mount’s annual presentation evening is a keenlyawaited occasion for our supporters, sponsors and stakeholders where we celebrate the achievements made both on and off the pitch. “I said that 2015 was a great year, but 2016 has eclipsed this which has been even more memorable. “I am particularly grateful for the efforts of all my colleagues, volunteers, supporters and contributors to the club as well as all our sponsors. “We were honoured to be selected for the special cricket fixtures and inter-faith events to win hearts through the medium of cricket.” www.pi-media.co.uk


The conflict between journalists and the constitution of 2014 in Egypt

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After the revolution of the 25th January 2011, during the first transition phase and the second transition phase up to the 30th June 2013 Egyptian society committed the development of a constitution supporting the rights and freedoms of journalists. The second constitution of 2014 included in its provisions articles regarding freedom of expression, access to information, and the media. Article 65 guarantees freedom of thought, opinion, and the expression thereof. Article

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68 declares that all official state documents and information are the property of the people, who have the right to access such materials in a timely and transparent manner. Articles 70, 71, and 72 govern the press, providing for many of the rights that support a free media environment. They guarantee the freedom of the print, broadcast, and digital sectors; enshrine the right to establish media outlets; ban all forms of media censorship, including the suspension and closure of outlets; ban prison terms for press crimes;

and declare the independence and neutrality of all state-owned media outlets. The constitution also calls for the establishment of independent regulatory bodies tasked with supporting and developing both private and state-owned media and administering all relevant regulations. In contrast however, Article 71 also authorizes media censorship “in times of war or general mobilization. The same article, which ostensibly eliminates jail terms for media offenses, leaves room for imprisonment for crimes


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related to incitement of violence, discrimination, and defamation. The constitution notably fails to specify the composition and appointment procedures of regulatory bodies, and this article includes both exceptions and ambiguities. Thus meaning that the government controls journalistic legislation which enables political influence. In actuality the constitution includes several articles that can be used to imprison journalists. For example, defamation is identified as a criminal offense within the constitution, with sentences of up to five years in prison. Also identified is exploiting religion or spreading, either by words, or through any style of journalistic writing techniques, extreme ideas for the purposes of inciting strife, or damaging national unity. Furthermore, there are many laws referred to in the constitution that are not in place in Egypt, for example, freedom of information legislation which we do not have and to date the government has made no progress on progressing the draft freedom of information legislation that was initially debated in 2013. In light of the absence of the public sharing of data, information, and knowledge there is a resultant dire need for a law that controls and guarantees the information flow inside Egyptian society, and which provides full transparency for public opinion. The second proposals regarding the draft media law were developed

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by Egyptian media professionals, in consultation with government officials, on the regulation of print and digital media outlets. The proposed legislation contained a provision setting very high capital requirements for the establishment of new outlets. But what is the conflict between journalists and the Constitution? As we see from the thorough analysis of the articles pertaining to press freedoms in the Egyptian constitution there is conflict in that that there are articles and proposals of press freedoms, but not protection for the journalist. Working on behalf of journalists in February, 2016 the Press Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee issued its annual report which included many documented cases of violations of press freedom by the Egyptian authorities. This report noted( 782) documented violations against journalists in 2015, including imprisonment, pre-trial detention, arrests, raids of homes, fabricated charges, draconian rulings, prohibition from practicing the profession, destroying equipment and cameras, writing bans, legal prosecution, raids of newspaper or news website headquarters, disabling publication of print newspapers and confiscation of already printed copies. The report also noted that the government had in 2015 issued (14 )gag orders ( 12 )by the public prosecutor and two by

courts violating the public’s right to knowledge and freedom of information. As can be seen this is inconsistent with the Constitution, as the Constitution and laws guarantee the freedom but this is not the reality in Egypt according to Freedom House. This organization issued the following statement, press freedom score 77 / 100 and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) Egypt in 159 Center on the Global Press Freedom Index published on the 20th April 2016, reflecting the gradual decline in the country since the end of the Mubarak era where the country then ranked 127 (out of 173 countries). In contrast, Egypt had retreated under President Morsi, 2012 and 2013, to 158th (out of 178 countries). To sum up, and to answer the question about what the conflict between journalists and the Constitution is, we find that whereas there are laws in place for the protection of journalists, these laws are not being implemented. It seems the El-Sisi government is persecuting journalists in an unprecedented way, and is demolishing freedom of speech in Egypt. This conflict did not end until after the true democratization not by laws , by modifying and repairing government corruption. By Miral AlAshry ,PhD Assistant Professor Department of Journalism School of Communication Canadian international college ( CIC)

Design House * Posters / Leaflets * Menus * Business Cards * Letterheads * Magazines * Wedding Invites and much more

Contact: Shakir on 07506 466 385 for FREE Qoute


The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context

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Part 11

Umar Ibn al-Khattab, one of the staunchest opponents of Islam becomes a Muslim has no qualms in setting about his mission to embrace the faith by demanding to see the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) immediately. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was informed that Umar Ibn al Khattab had arrived with the intention to see the later. Hamza Ibn Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated that he was prepared to kill Umar Ibn al-Khattab if he attempted to inflict harm on the apostle of God but would show restraint if had come with peaceful intentions. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enquired of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and said why have to you come to see me to which the latter replied that I have come to attest my faith in Allah and in his apostle’s mission.

The Prophet Muhammad rejoiced at the fact that one of the staunchest and most powerful men of Arabia had surrendered his will to Allah and rejected the traditions of his forefathers in the process. Umar Ibn al-Khattab’s acceptance of Islam had major ramifications for the upper echelons of the Quraysh as they were lost in terms of how to respond to this unexpected move. There was much resentment and bitterness towards Umar further compounded when the latter knocked on the doors of the homes of the most powerful elders of the Quraysh tribe informing them that he had submitted to the will of Allah and accepted Islam in the process. On the other hand, the early Muslims received a tremendous boost that one of the most influential people of Makkah

had abandoned the camp of the polytheists. It is said on the authority of Ibn Hisham that no one dared challenge Umar and each that attempted to do so consequently embraced Islam. Following his conversion, Umar went to inform the chief of Quraish, Amr ibn Hishām about his acceptance of Islam. Umar who was known for his courageousness and bravery thereafter openly prayed at the Kaaba as the Quraish chiefs, Amr Ibn Hishām and Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, reportedly watched in anger. This further helped the Muslims to gain confidence in practicing Islam openly. At this stage, Umar even challenged anyone who dared to stop the Muslims from praying, although no one dared to interfere with Umar when he was openly praying.

Passionate about writing featured articles? Why not send them to us at info@pi-media.co.uk


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VERBAL ABUSE

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GRAFFITI

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

FACT

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: �

101

Where can I find out more? Email: admin@mcsf.org.uk or Call (0113) 2773330

MCSF MUSLIM COMMUNITY

SAFETY FORUM (Serving West Yorkshire)

Building Bridges

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.


26

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