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Issue: 93

January 2016

Humanity Communities come together to help flood victims

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www.pi-media.co.uk I January 2016

By Craig Murray

Former Ambassador Human Rights Activist

Henry Jackson Society as bad as Donald Trump

Last month I spoke at a conference in Edinburgh on the changing face of racism, and how Islamophobia is now not only mainstream but actively promoted by government. Donald Trump’s remarks have brought appropriate condemnation, but the Henry Jackson Society got there first. In February 2006 Douglas Murray, Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society, stated : “It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop. In the case of a further genocide such as that in the Balkans, sanctuary would be given on a strictly temporary basis. This should also be enacted retrospectively… Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition.” Douglas Murray also came out with a straight defence of the use of torture by Western intelligence agencies.

Yet the politicians who pretend to be outraged by Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the US, line up to support the man who declares “All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.” Not only Jim Murphy, but a role call of top Blairites sits on the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society – Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant, Gisela Stuart etc. All of course enthusiasts for bombing Syria. It astonishes me that the Labour Party is now complaining about “infiltration” by groups on the left when a large number of very senior figures can belong to an organisation which is avowedly neo-conservative, is linked to the US and European far right and is funded by the CIA. The Henry Jackson Society is the go-to organisation for broadcasters looking for comment on Islamic affairs. I was both pleased and surprised to see the Henry Jackson Society named two days ago in a Guardian article on the mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Pleased because the maximum exposure is necessary to make

people understand what people are getting when they see “independent” HJS staff interviewed on the BBC and Sky, and surprised because the Blairite controlled and US marketed Guardian doesn’t usually run this kind of stuff anymore. I tucked it in to the back of my mind until I came to write this article. Guess what? The Guardian Editors have now excised all mention of the Henry Jackson Society from the article on the mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Interesting that, isn’t it? The Henry Jackson Society seconds staff to the Quilliam Foundation. This extraordinary organisation is a career vehicle for “reformed jihadists” to milk huge salaries and luxury lifestyles from government money, in return for fronting an organisation run by the security services. Quilliam specialises in denouncement of Muslim organisations and talking up the Jihadi threat, offering “expert advice” on the government’s anti-free speech strategy. At the same time, it seeks to maximise the income of its directors. One interesting collaboration to make money was its collaboration with the current head of Pergida UK, and former head of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Alias Tommy Robinson). Quilliam have received millions from the taxpayer for their dubious “work”. But their application for Home Office funding to split with YaxleyLennon remains an episode beyond belief. Several of Quilliam’s staff are “lent” by the CIA-funded Henry Jackson Society. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Communities from across the UK answered the call for many people who were helpless and distraught when severe floods hit many parts of the UK. Muslims from different parts of the UK descended in Cumbria, York, Hebden Bridge and other flood affected areas to bring hope and much needed help. One charity based in Batley, West Yorkshire raised £5,600 in just 5 days, and World Charity Organisation (WCO) launched the Cumbria

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Flood Appeal 2015 after seeing the unfolding tragedy that afflicted Cumbria last month. The organisation raised £5600 in 5 days and collected much needed items generously donated by the Muslim communities of Batley and Dewsbury. WCO visited the Old Fire Station Penrith in Cumbria where a cheque of £5,600 was presented to trustee Ian Burke of Cumbria Community Foundation (CCF) and donated goods were handed over to the Eden

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Flood Appeal on Wednesday 23rd December 2015. The organisation hopes that the efforts of the people of Batley and Dewsbury will go a long way to alleviating the plight of those affected by the floods in the coming weeks. Yusuf Patel Founder of World Charity Organisation (WCO) said ‘’WCO is honoured to have taken part in this worthwhile cause raising much funds for the people of Cumbria boosting sprits during the season of goodwill ’’ PI Media spoke to many residents in the flood affected areas who felt that the government had not done enough. One resident who speaking on a condition of anonymity said “The government seem to find enough money for war but forget the people they meant to serve, it is a good thing that so many young men and women are here to help us, where the government has failed us the community of the UK has come and they are the true heroes in our eyes’’.


‘UK councils to lose power of boycotting Israel’

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The British government is set to take away a power of local councils, which allowed them to “boycott and sanction” foreign organizations or regimes such as Israel, UK media reports say. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has confirmed it is drawing up new guidelines to prevent local authorities from mounting their own “boycott and sanction” campaigns. The directions, which will be issued early in the New Year, are expected to make clear that councils’ procurement and investment

policies must be consistent with UK government foreign policy, the Guardian reported. “Councils should not be using pensions and procurement policies to pursue their own boycotts and sanctions against foreign nations,” a DCLG spokesman was quoted as saying in the report. “We are tightening up the rules to ensure taxpayers’ and the UK’s interests are protected.” The planned move comes against the backdrop of a growing international campaign against Israel over its policies against Palestinians.

The international movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement - the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land particularly through settlement constructions in the occupied Palestinian territories. The movement against the Israeli regime began in July 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations, calling for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.” More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 1967. BDS plans to widen its boycotts as tensions in the occupied territories have dramatically escalated in recent months due to Israeli regime’s imposition of restrictions in August on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.

UK’s spying program initiated under Blair govt A new report reveals that the UK’s current mass surveillance program was initiated under former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The report released by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden also said that the program has a specialist internet and phone tapping center at MI5’s London HQ under the code-name PRESTON. The National Technical Assistance Centre, a shadowy intelligence cell, was set up by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1999 to counter encryption and act as the UK’s codebreaking specialist, the report said. The report also noted that banks and airlines are included as authorized targets. Moreover personal financial details can be intercepted, stored, decrypted, and copied. Some airlines, including British Airways (BA), voluntarily hand over their passengers’ information, while other companies are subject to tapping warrants.

Last month, Snowden revealed that spy agencies in the US and United Kingdom were aggressively developing tools to hack mobile phones without their owners’ knowledge. Snowden is a US privacy activist, computer professional and former CIA employee who leaked classified information about NSA spying programs in 2013. He leaked classified intelligence documents showing massive collections of phone records of Americans and foreign nationals as well as political leaders around the world. “It’s no surprise that the successive

governments in the UK have been pressing ahead with a massive spying program,” a London-based analyst, Sukant Chandan told Press TV’s UK Desk. He went on saying that there is no difference between governments from left or right as all of them are just looking to snoop on the public more and more.


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European Parliament calls on Egypt to release Irish teen www.pi-media.co.uk

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on Egypt to release Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish juvenile who faces a death sentence for attending protests. In a vote this morning, an overwhelming majority of MEPs – 566 to 11 – voted for the resolution on Ibrahim’s case, which “calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him to the Irish authorities.” Ibrahim was 17 when he was arrested and tortured

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during the Egyptian military’s August 2013 breakup of protests in Cairo. He faces the death penalty in a mass trial of 494 people. The resolution passed, with no amendments, despite apparent Egyptian efforts to block it earlier this in emails sent to a number of MEPs, Egyptian officials made a number of false claims about Ibrahim’s case. They include the suggestion that Ibrahim, now 20, may not have been a juvenile at the time of his arrest,

in spite of a passport confirming his age; that he has been able to speak in court, when he has never had the opportunity to do so; and that he has not been subjected to physical abuse. The resolution repudiates these efforts, saying that the Egyptian authorities “have failed to recognise Ibrahim Halawa as a juvenile at the time of his arrest”, in violation of Egypt’s legal obligations, and that ”the prosecutor has failed to provide evidence that Ibrahim Halawa was involved in a single act of violence during the protests.” The resolution also “strongly condemns” Egypt’s the use of mass trials and the death penalty in relation to protests and the political opposition. The vote follows postponement of the mass trial for the 11th time in over two years. A series of chaotic hearings have seen defence lawyers prevented from taking part, and hundreds of the prisoners held in cages, where they are unable to see or hear the proceedings.

UK Muslim family barred from flying to US The US authorities refused to let a British Muslim family board a UK flight to Los Angeles, amid Washington’s Islamophobic policies. The family of 11 had been granted beforehand an online travel authorization for a flight on December 15 from London’s Gatwick Airport to spend their holiday at Disneyland and Universal Studios in southern California, but they were barred from boarding the plane on the day of departure by US homeland security authorities present at the airport, The Guardian reported. “It’s because of the attacks on America. They think every Muslim poses a threat,” said Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was supposed to travel along with his brother and nine of their children, aged between eight and 19, adding that they were given no explanation for the eleventh hour cancellation.

The case of the Muslim family was brought to light when Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, where the family resides, wrote a letter to David Cameron, asking him to intervene and to press US authorities after she “hit a brick wall” in her attempts to get answers from the US Embassy in London. Creasy wrote in a Guardian article that an increasing number of British Muslims claim they have been treated in a similar way, adding, “It is not just the family themselves who are livid. The vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fueling resentment and debate”. “Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be

allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy added. In response to Creasy’s letter, aides to Cameron promised that the premier would look into the case and respond in “due course”, an unnamed Downing Street spokeswoman told the British daily. According to Mahmood, the airline, Norwegian Air, had told them that it would not refund the £9,000 cost of their flights. All of the family members, who had never been in trouble with police, were escorted out by the airport security personnel after they were obliged to give back every item they had purchased from the airport’s duty-free shops. “I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated,” Mahmood further said.


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UK deploy military to Afghanistan

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I January 2016

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The UK has sent military personnel to Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand. Local sources in Afghanistan said the British forces were sent following reports that some parts of the province were on the verge of falling to Taliban forces. The UK ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2015. It has about 450 troops in the war-torn

country to support the Afghan army and security forces. Now it says a small number of personnel had been deployed to Helmand in an advisory role. British media reported that a unit of about 30 soldiers from Britain’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) and up to 60 US Special Forces had been sent to support the Afghan forces to defend the town. The Ministry of

Defence said the team would not be engaged in fighting. “These personnel are part of a larger NATO team, which is providing advice to the Afghan National Army, they are not deployed in a combat role and will not deploy outside the camp,” a MoD spokeswoman said. Helmand, a traditional Taliban heartland, has been the scene of fierce fighting for months as the militant groups ramp up attacks. Many of the more than 450 British servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan lost their lives fighting in Helmand. Now a London-based analyst Ian Willimas has cast doubt about the real intention of the UK to sent troops to the war-torn province of Helmand in Afghanistan. He emphasized that the UK is just doing what the US government has asked it to do. According to him, the deployment of the UK forces to Helmand is carried out to preserve the interest of the US in the region.

Pigs’ heads dumped outside Markazul Uloom in Blackburn Two pigs’ heads have been dumped outside an Islamic school in Lancashire in what police are treating as a hate crime. CCTV is being scoured after the animal remains were left at the Markazul Uloom boarding school, in Blackburn. One of the heads is understood to have been left by the gates, while the other was thrown over the walls. Senior officers said they have stepped up patrols in the area to quell community concerns after the incident. Eating pork is forbidden in Islam

and Lancashire Police said the incident is being treated as a hate crime. Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said the act was “a provocation” and “a crime”. “These are not people who have done any harm to anybody,” he told the BBC. “It is a show of hate, in a sense.” Chief Inspector Sheena Tattum, of Blackburn Police, said: “This is being treated extremely seriously and we understand the concern that incidents like this, while thankfully

rare, can cause in the community. “We have put extra patrols on in the area to try to offer some reassurance. “An investigation is under way to identify those responsible and a team of detectives are carrying out numerous inquiries. “We have carried out house-tohouse inquiries in the area and done a search through CCTV and we would appeal for anyone who has any information which could assist the investigation to get in touch with us.” www.pi-media.co.uk


NSA helped British spies hack Juniper firewalls 10

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Leaked documents show the British spy agency enlisted the US National Security Agency (NSA) to help it hack firewalls made by the internet security provider, Juniper. The documents leaked by the US whistle-blower and former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, shows Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) enlisted the American agency’s help to access the firewalls. A six-page document dating back to 2011 reveals that Britain’s

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communication intelligence network was then looking for a partner across Atlantic in order to penetrate Juniper’s security products. The document entitled – Assessment of Intelligence Opportunity-Juniper- was written by an NSA employee working with GCHQ. “The threat comes from Juniper’s investment and emphasis on being a security leader,” it says. According to the document, Juniper was not the market leader but its products were of

The Sun apologizes for fake ‘6 Days to Terror’ story One of the U.K.’s most circulated tabloids, The Sun, has apologized for its fabricated story that claimed its freelance writer travelled all the way from Turkey to Paris without a passport. The misleading story “6 Days to Terror” by freelance journalist, Emile Ghessen, published on 5th December claimed that he not only traveled from Turkey to Paris without a passport, but also he managed to complete the feat in just six days. In its clarification, The Sun said: “In an article of 5th December, headlined ‘6 days to terror’, we published the diary of Emile Ghessen, a freelance documentary maker and former Royal Marine, who said that he had smuggled himself from Turkey to Paris without using a passport. “We have since learned that we were misled about his conduct during his journey. Contrary to what we were

told, and published, Mr. Ghessen used his passport to enter and leave the Croatian city of Zagreb. This has been confirmed by the Croatian authorities. We also now believe that he made use of his passport at the other border points within Europe. His story did not, therefore, demonstrate that the borders of Europe had lax controls.” The original story was published by the tabloid, but then was taken off from its webpage after Croatian officials shared records proving that Ghessen went through border checks. “We apologize for publishing misleading information. We have now changed our policy regarding the use of freelance journalists in stories such as these,” The Sun added. www.pi-media.co.uk

I January 2016

utmost importance considering its application in countries such as Pakistan, India, China and Yemen which were major targets of American and British spy agencies. The document is one of thousands classified intelligence documents leaked by Snowden in 2013, revealing the extent of spy activities by the NSA and its sister organization GCHQ. Both Washington and London were in hot water over revelations that the two countries’ spy networks collected phone and email data of millions of people including their leaders around the world. Snowden fled his country to avoid espionage charges and was granted asylum in Russia, where he currently resides. Many Americans regard Snowden as a whistle-blower and a national hero for blowing the lid off the US government’s global surveillance operations.

UK terror-related arrests hit record high The number of terror-related arrests in the U.K. has reached a record high in the year ending in September 2015, according to U.K. Home Office figures published. The overall number of terrorism related arrests rose one third to reach 315 compared to the previous year, while the number of women and children arrested more than doubled from 21 to 50, the report said. It said almost all the people who were taken into custody for terrorism-related offences were Muslims, and out of 137 people who are in prison, 131 are Muslim. The report added that the number of prosecutions also rose from 30 to 51 compared to the previous year.


Anti-Muslim prejudice expanding in UK

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A new report has revealed that antiMuslim prejudice is growing rapidly in the UK. According to the report by the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate, 24 different far-right groups are currently attempting to incite anti-Muslim hatred in the UK. The analysis, also suggests that Islamophobic sentiments have been on the rise following the terror attacks in Paris. The Infidels, an extremist group with increasing Nazi leanings, the South East Alliance, and the Henry Jackson Society, are among the organizations mentioned in the report. Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that the former leader of the English Defence League, Stephen YaxleyLennon, will make his political comeback by fronting the relaunch of the UK arm of Pegida, the German

anti-Islam organization whose provocative rhetoric has prompted attacks on refugees. Now, a London-based rights activist and political commentator blames the UK mainstream media for whipping up hatred toward Muslims. “Unfortunately, the mainstream media has been entirely irresponsible in the way it looked at anti-Muslim racism and islamophobia. We have a situation where, although there is an understanding of something called institutionalized racism, or structured racism in United Kingdom. The institutions themselves, like the mainstream media, haven’t been taking proper action and initially what happens is anti-Muslim bias…, Arzu Merali told Press TV. According to the Metropolitan Police hate crimes against Muslims

in London have increased more than threefold following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Now, British Muslims are concerned that they may face further attacks after MPs voted to launch airstrikes against Daesh terrorists in Syria. The Metropolitan Police has already announced that incidents of Islamophobia increased dramatically between October 2014 and 2015 – rising by 41.8 percent.


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Israel plans over 55,000 new West Bank settler units: NGO

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Israel plans to build more illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli rights group Peace Now. The group published a report on 28th December 2015 based on government data obtained under a Freedom of Information Act, revealing that the Israeli regime’s housing ministry was seeking to build 55,548 units in the West Bank - including two new settlements - of which more than 8,300 would be in

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the contentious area of the occupied West Bank known as E1, which is located adjacent to East al-Quds (Jerusalem). E1 and the Maaleh Adumim settlement next to it form an Israeli buffer east of Jerusalem that the Palestinians say would divide the West Bank and severely undermine the likelihood of the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state. “The area of Maale Adumim and E1 is one of the most sensitive areas

in terms of the chances for two state solution,” Peace Now wrote. “For these reasons, whenever an Israeli leader tries to promote the plans in E1, the international community strongly condemns them.” International bodies including the United Nations and the European Union are all opposed to Israeli settlement building but have voiced particular concern about plans for E1. In 2013, faced with international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vetoed the construction of some 1,200 units there but Peace Now said the housing ministry has hired architects to prepare fresh blueprints. “This planning, which contradicts any possible commitment to a twostate solution, continues,” said the report. The Palestinians, for their part, say the tensions are at root the result of nearly 70 years of Israeli occupation and a lack of hope for gaining independence and frustration over repeated failures in peace. Israel’s settlement activities remain one of the major hurdles in the way of permanent peace in the volatile Middle East.

New Srebrenica mass grave uncovered Bosnian forensic experts have started exhuming the human remains from a recently uncovered mass grave believed to contain victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the war crime prosecutor’s office said. “So far remains of at least 15 victims have been recovered,” the prosecutor said in a statement. The mass grave was uncovered at Kozluk, a village some 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of Srebrenica. Some 8,000 Muslims were executed by Bosnian Serb forces as they captured this eastern Bosnian town in July 1995, at the end of the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia which claimed 100,000 lives. “Some 1,000 Muslim men and adolescents from the Srebrenica region were executed at this place. No one survived this execution,” the

prosecutor said, adding that some 200 victims remained unaccounted for. Twenty years after the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, the remains of some 6,600 of the Srebrenica victims have been found, identified and buried, most of whom in a memorial centre located near the town. But such exhumations have become rare events in recent years as the authorities claim to have no information on where the rest of the victims are buried. The last large-scale exhumation around Srebrenica took place in 2010, when the remains of some 50 victims were found. The site of the newly uncovered mass grave was unveiled by a Bosnian Serb, witness of the atrocities, Munira Subasic, president

of an association of Srebrenica victims’ families, told AFP. “This man came to talk to me in a small restaurant in Kozluk. He told me ‘I should tell you something. There is a mass grave nearby. I can’t sleep of guilty conscience’,” Subasic said. Three other mass graves, holding the remains of with 340 victims were uncovered in the region of Kozluk in 1999 by investigators of the Haguebased International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), according to Lejla Cengic, a spokeswoman of Bosnia’s Institute for missing persons. Hundreds of other victims of this massacre have been found in mass graves in other places. The Srebrenica massacre has been acknowledged as genocide by two international courts.


US University orders removal of Palestinian flag 14

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George Washington University has threatened to to sanction one of its students for hanging a Palestinian flag from his dorm window according to a report in Middle East Monitor. Palestine Legal, a civil-rights group which represents US citizens of Palestinian descent, said this action “threaten[s] to chill student speech on campus” and that it could be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following “many complaints” to the campus police department, a

campus police officer went to premed student Ramie Abounaja’s dorm room on 26 October and ordered him to remove the Palestinian flag he had up at his window. After Abounaja complied with the officer’s demand, the officer filed a police report. A week later, Abounaja received a warning letter from the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities saying he had violated the university’s code of student conduct and threatened to Abounaja with future disciplinary action did not

specify what rule he had allegedly broken In a letter to the university last month, Abounaja wrote: “I felt victimised and criminalised in front of my roommates… I was told I had to remove the flag because it broke university policy – but I have checked the Housing Agreement, the University Code of Conduct, and the Residential Community Conduct Guidelines and I couldn’t find language with respect to hanging flags and banners on bedroom windows.” Abounaja demanded GW retract the warning letter, issue a public apology and clarify its policy “in writing” on flags and banners, because other students are hanging them outside their residences with no consequences. The other flags are not Palestinian. Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU launched anyesterday demanding the university apologise for what they described as the selective “disciplining” of a Palestinian-American student.

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Swiss court rejects headscarf ban

The Swiss Federal Court has rejected a St Gallen cantonal commune’s ban on wearing Muslim headscarves, or hijabs, in school. The decision finalises a case that began in 2013, when the school authorities of the commune of St Margrethen objected to 14-year-old Muslim student who wore her hijab to class. The school’s complaint was based on a communal regulation banning the wearing of religious garments. The cantonal administrative court refuted the school’s protests after the

student’s parents refused to allow her to attend school without the hijab. The Federal Court decided fourto-one against the school’s appeal of the cantonal administrative court’s decision. The higher court argued that the ban against wearing a hijab was not a prerequisite for effective teaching. “Wearing a headscarf makes one neither rude nor undisciplined,” said Federal Judge Florence Aubry Girardin. The St Margrethen school case is not the only instance of objections

being lodged against the wearing of Muslim headgear in Switzerland. Canton Ticino voted for a ban on clothing that covers the face in 2013, a vote that was endorsed by the cantonal parliament this month. There have also been attempts (some ongoing) to bring in so-called burka bans in cantons Aargau, Zurich and Valais. In addition, a group of rightwing politicians are currently trying to bring about a nationwide headgear ban in Switzerland. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Muslim women bear the brunt of Islamophobic violence: Dutch report An independent Dutch citizen initiative released its first half-yearly report on Islamophobic violence in the Netherlands. “Report Islamophobia” was established by a group of Muslim researchers and professionals when they noticed a spike in Islamophobic abuse after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. They primarily used their Facebook profile to gather and verify reports and to create a solidarity and mutual support network. Islamophobic incidents have not previously been registered systematically in the Netherlands. The report presents findings collected between January and June 2015. The findings mirror research conducted elsewhere in Western Europe that reveals that Muslim women bear the brunt of Islamophobic abuse. From January to June, “Report Islamophobia” registered 89 reports of verbal and physical abuse, including slurs, beatings, and an attempted kidnapping. Around 90 percent of the victims were female and the majority wore the hijab when attacked. In the vast majority of cases, the attacker was a white male. In one third of all cases, physical violence was used against the victim. In most cases, victims did not report to the police due to lack of confidence that something would be

done with their report or out of fear of reprisals. In some cases, the police tried to dissuade victims of verbal and physical abuse from submitting a formal police report. Only 39 percent of the victims subjected to physical assault reached out to the police to file a report. The report also reveals that most Islamophobic incidents in the Netherlands took place in broad daylight in public spaces (87 percent): on the street, in supermarkets, at gas stations and on public transportation. Witnesses are frequently present (in 71 percent of cases). However, in 80 percent of the attacks no one intervened. The victim was usually alone (67 percent). In 11 cases, the victim was accompanied

by minors. Since the more recent attacks in Paris on November 15, the initiative is observing another spike in Islamophobic violence. They received 22 reports of abuse since the attacks, and new incidents continue to be reported daily.

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13 Palestinians shot in clashes after house demolition by zionist forces

The Zionist regime forces shot and injured 13 Palestinians in the Shufat refugee camp during clashes which broke out after the demolition of the home of camp resident Ibrahim al-Akkari, who carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem last year. The Palestinian Red Crescent in al-Quds said that a total of 43 Palestinians were given medical treatment following the clashes that erupted in the occupied East

Jerusalem camp. Thirteen were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets, while 30 others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation, the Red Crescent said. Locals said that more than 1,200 Israeli soldiers accompanied by Israeli police raided the camp, preventing the movement of residents inside while sealing roads leading out of Shufat, Ma’an news agency reported.

The forces were sent in to secure the area before the demolition of the family home of Ibrahim al-Akkari, who was shot dead after he drove his car into a light rail stop in Jerusalem on Nov. 5, 2014, killing an Israeli soldier and injuring 13 others. A 60-year-old Palestinian later succumbed to wounds sustained during the attack. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I January 2016

Unified global halal food standards to benefit suppliers, consumers

Selling halal food under unified global halal standards would help halal food suppliers and consumers, experts say. Nisham Mohideen, sales director at UAE-based packaged food producer Al Islami Foods, said that unified halal standards would help food suppliers cut down on paper work as they will need one halal certification and allow consumers to be certain that the food they are purchasing is completely halal. “The biggest advantage is the ease of doing business. The companies in the food business would know that they have to follow one standard. To the consumer, it means safeguarding their interests and making sure everything is Sharia compliant,” Mohideen said at the OIC

Halal Middle East exhibition Expo Centre Sharjah. Meanwhile, Mohanad Gassem, section head of the purchase department at Sharjah Cooperative Society, said that unified halal standards would make it easier for retailers to choose the halal products to put on their shelves. Islam requires Muslims to consume halal food, which basically do not contain alcohol or pork. Stunning an animal before slaughter is viewed by some scholars as not complying with Sharia, making the food non-halal. According to Mohideen, stunning is allowed in the UAE. The lack of unified halal standards has raised production costs for food and beverage firms as they have to

follow different national regulatory standards. There are between 500 and 3,000 certification agencies globally, 80 per cent of them in non-Muslim countries, said Sebnem Sen, head of tradeflow at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre. The market to process, produce and distribute halal food and drinks is expected to grow into a $1.6 trillion (Dh5.8 trillion) industry by 2018 from about $1 trillion in 2012, according to DinarStandard, a research firm specialising in Muslim markets. A growing Muslim population makes the halal food market lucrative. The Muslim population is expected to grow from 1.8 billion today to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a statement from Expo Centre Sharjah, the exhibition’s organizer. Halal standards made headlines last year when chocolate maker Cadbury recalled two products in Malaysia after traces of pig DNA were found. This prompted authorities in different countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, to test Cadbury chocolate bars to make sure they complied with Islamic standards. The three-day exhibition has attracted over 125 exhibitors from countries including the UAE, Malaysia, China, Morocco, Algeria and the Netherlands, among others.

Islamic radio launched in El Salvador An online Islamic radio network was launched in El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador. According to Mustafa Elsalvadori, head of the Islamic Society of El Salvador’s Shia community, it was inaugurated in a ceremony. He said the radio station, named El Minarete, broadcasts programs in Spanish for Spanish speaking countries of the region. He added that launching the radio network was part of the projects undertaken by the

Fatemeh Zahra (SA) Islamic Center in El Salvador. It will play a major role in promoting Islam in Latin America, Elsalvadori went on to say. Those interested can listen to the radio’s programs at http:// elminarete.net. El Salvador is a Central American country on the eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America.

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WORLD NEWS

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7500 Mosques established in Russia during Putin’s presidency

A senior Russian Muslim cleric said some 7500 new mosques have been established in the country during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. Sheikh-ul-Islam Talgat Tajuddin said the mosques have been built by

Russian Muslims, the website of the Caucasus Islamic Center reported. He said the establishment of so many mosques in unprecedented adding that the number is much higher than the Muslim places of

worship built during the rule of former president Boris Yeltsin and last Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Islam is the second most widely professed religion in Russia. Muslim minorities make up around 15 percent of the country’s population. Elsewhere in his remarks, Tajuddin referred to extremism and the terrorist activities of such groups of Daesh (ISIL), urging all Muslims to unite against the Takfiri terrorist group. ISIL is a militant group operating in Iraq and Syria which is believed to be supported by the West and some regional Arab countries. The terrorist group claims as an independent state the territory of Iraq and Syria, with implied future claims intended over more of the Levant, including Lebanon, occupied Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus, and Southern Turkey.


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I WORLD NEWS

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Gambia president declares country an Islamic republic

Gambia’s population of 1.8 million people is 95 percent Muslim. He said that other citizens of other faiths would still be able to practice. Jammeh pulled Gambia out of the Commonwealth in 2013, calling it neo-colonial. Despite strong commercial ties with Britain and other European countries whose citizens are regular visitors to Gambia’s white-sand beaches, relations with the West have deteriorated in recent years.

Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh declared the formerly secular country an Islamic republic in a move he said was designed to distance the West African state further from its colonial past. The tiny sliver of a country, named after the river from which British ships once allegedly fired cannonballs to fix its borders, joins

the ranks of other Islamic Republics such as Iran and Afghanistan. “In line with the country’s religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state,” said Jammeh on state television. “As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” he added, Reuters reported.

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Malaysia launches world’s 1st halal data pool

Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corp (HDC) has launched the Global Data Halal Pool (GDHP), the world’s first halal data pool, to connect Malaysia with the international halal supply chain. GDHP will bring together and connect accredited halal suppliers, manufacturers, product service providers, buyers and retailers in the global marketplace. The Southeast Asian country’s Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Ahmad Maslan, said GDHP will serve as a central point of control and access that enhances global marketplace penetration and provide a consolidated dashboard for supply chain management that upholds halal integrity.

“Most importantly, it provides the basis of information, analysis and strategy needed by manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and even consumers,” he said when launching the GDHP in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The GDHP is a collaborative effort between HDC and GS1 (a Belgiumbased non-profit), adopting standards with portfolio ranges from BarCodes to eCom (electronic commerce tools) to next generation technologies. GS1, with its head office in Belgium, is an international organisation dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors.

Meanwhile, HDC chief executive officer, Jamil Bidin, said the GDHP system will facilitate the growth of Malaysia’s halal products and services by creating opportunities for export participants, including small and medium enterprises, through linkages established with 34 existing data pools globally. “A standard format will make it easier for business owners to upload detailed product information including ingredients, expiry dates, package size, pricing and pictures.” “The common formats reduce the need for reformatting based on different countries or retailers, reducing the time to go to market and provides wider market access,” said Jamil.

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US high school students join Muslim peers in wearing hijab Students of a high school in Chicago, the US, joined their Muslim peers in wearing hijabs as part of an event. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) of Vernon Hills High School in Chicago hosted an event “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab” aiming to provide a better understanding of the Muslim faith. The event gave students of other religions an opportunity to wear the hijab in an attempt to challenge stereotyping of Muslims Six members of the school’s MSA devoted an entire morning placing hijabs on 17 non-Muslim girls as they conversed about the beliefs of Muslims. Teachers and students at the school were encouraged to ask questions about the hijab if they came across a student wearing one. “I wanted to learn more about the religion, considering my uncle is also Muslim,” Charli Mosley a junior at the school said while wearing a red hijab. “With more people wearing a hijab around school, it could bring more acceptance to the religion and have more people become more aware.” Yasmeen Abdallah, president of the school’s MSA said, “You can’t really understand or judge a person and their beliefs until you understand why they do it and what it’s like for them to do what they’re doing.” “This event is to hopefully denounce negative stereotypes.”

Abdallah said the event was a good experience, and hopes that it will become an annual event. Many of the girls got helpful feedback from other students and benefited from the experience, she said. While expressing his admiration for Muslim students at the school, the school headmaster said the event is an opportunity for the kids to embrace the Muslim community at the school. “I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community, and in America,” he said. “I think this is an opportunity for our kids to embrace the Muslim

Pastor to go on trial in Belfast for anti-Islamic comments An evangelical preacher accused of branding Islam “satanic” in an online sermon is going on trial in Belfast. Pastor James McConnell faces two charges connected to a controversial speech he made from the pulpit of his church in the north of the city last year. Mr McConnell, 78, from Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, is being prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act. He faces two charges -

improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network - after remarks made at Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast were streamed online. The evangelical fundamentalist denies the charges. Three days have been set aside for the trial at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

community within the school. For other kids outside of this organization, to understanding what it’s like for these girls to walk through our halls in this garment in a way that stands out from other kids. So, I’m proud of them,” he added.

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Muslim group takes French government to court over raids

Muslims have launched more than a dozen legal challenges against the French government. Authorities in France have carried out more than 2,700 raids and enforced 360 house arrests in the month since the Paris terror attacks, which left 130 dead. A state of emergency has been in place since the co-ordinated shootings and bombings, giving authorities extra powers to conduct

raids without a court warrant. Those caught up in the police investigations have now launched proceedings against the state, arguing the counter-terror operation that has ballooned since the attacks has unfairly targeted them. They say the government acted illegally in placing people under house arrest for unjustified reasons or based on misinformation. Many of the complaints also

state their property has been damaged in the raids or that those being investigated have been left emotionally distressed by the intrusion. Under French law, the Interior Ministry is allowed to target anyone it believes poses a threat to public security. Those put under house arrest must remain in their homes at night and report to police three times a day, with some forced to wear electronic bracelets. Paris lawyer Xavier Nogueras is representing 12 Muslims under house arrest.

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Malaysia’s first Islamic compliant airline takes off

Malaysia’s first Islamic-compliant airline Rayani Air began operations with its maiden flight taking off from the capital to the resort island of Langkawi, local media reported. In-flight meals served on board its flights are completely halal, with alcohol consumption strictly prohibited. Muslim flight crew must don the hijab while non-Muslim crew are to be decently dressed, managing director Jaafar Zamhari told reporters. There will also be prayer recitals before take-off, AFP reported. “We are the first Malaysian airline to be shariah-compliant based on

guidelines by relevant authorities. We are proud of this,” Jaffar was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper. “The shariah-compliant aspects will be refined as time goes by,” he added using the Arabic word for Islamic law. There are already other shariahfriendly carriers operating around the world, and UK-based Firnas Airways is planning to offer similar flights next year, according to a Bloomberg new agency report. Under the concept of halal -- meaning “permissible” in Arabic -pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Islamic procedures are all “haram” or

forbidden. Halal standards also apply to products such as cosmetics, which may contain animal-derived ingredients, and the conditions under which they are prepared and stored. A company recently introduced halal bottled mineral water in Malaysia, and Islamic speed dating sessions -- where single women are chaperoned -- have been embraced. A halal convention in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year, which drew thousands of delegates and hundreds of exhibitors, showcased products ranging from food and cosmetics to collagen produced from yaks in Tibet.


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Syrian refugee to debut as football coach in Spain

Syrian citizen Osama Abdul Mohsin, received in Spain as a refugee, will make his debut as a football coach when he leads Villaverde Boetticher club in a friendly match against Sant Cugat Esport on January 3, next year. The friendly game will be held within the framework of an initiative launched by CESAL NGO, Coaches Training Centre, Sant Cugat Esport, Sant Cugat district municipality and Ramon Llull University, with the aim of raising awareness about the refugees and fund-raising, reports Efe. Mohsin came under the media

spotlight when he was kicked by a journalist and fell over while he was carrying one of his sons at a border crossing. The photographs were widely circulated around the world and the journalist was fired from her job, while Mohsin and his child were received in Spain as refugees. However, Mohsin does appear to be having a few problems in Spain because of administrative procedures he faces to obtain visas for his wife and two other children, who are still in Turkey, so that they can all be reunited in Spain. www.pi-media.co.uk

UAE youngsters miss out on Super Bowl win

A team of young American football players from the UAE came within seconds of winning a coveted Super Bowl tournament in Orlando, Florida. The EAFL Falcons Under-13s conceded a 70-yard touchdown in the final play of the championship match against Mexico Azul in the 59th annual Pop Warner Super Bowl.

It meant they came away with a record of three wins and three defeats over the course of the eightday tournament in early December, a remarkable turnaround after failing to win a match at the 2014 event. “This year the entire team was in it as a unit,” said centre Costas Livadaris, who was part of the team

that lost every game last year. “We made it into second place and we’re very happy with that. “ Linebacker David Spikes added: “The best part was the championship game – it was heated, it was fun, it was intense.“ Two all-star outfits, made up of the best players from the seven domestic Emirates American Football League teams, travelled the 12,500km from the UAE to take part in the Under-13 and Under-15 editions of the competition. The Under-15s also came away with three wins, evidence of the pace at which the sport is developing on these shores. Head coach Patrick Campos said: “It’s definitely a step forward. The games we lost were games we should have won. That shows how far we’ve come.“

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I January 2016

Messi named best player at Dubai awards www.pi-media.co.uk

In Case You Missed It

Lionel Messi was the biggest attraction at the Global Soccer Awards that took place last month and the Barcelona forward and Argentina captain walked away with the best player award during the gala night held as part of the Dubai International Sports Conference at the Madinat Jumeirah.

“[I’m] obviously very happy but all these awards are for the whole club,” Messi said. [It’s] difficult to choose one moment as we were winning wherever we played. It has been a fabulous year for me and for the entire club.” Barcelona also won the best team

award with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu on hand to collect the trophy. “I thank the jury for selecting us as the best team. It is difficult to win such an award but all credit to the players and the technical staff. The important thing is to play well and make the fans happy. We have done that. The team has kept performing better and better. We expect them to continue to do that,” said an elated Bartomeu, who also walked away with the best club president award. “This award is for all the 59 presidents who were before me. They have all done a good job and the award is for all the work that we did for 160 years of clubs history. What we want is to keep changing the world a little bit through football as everyone understands this game,” added Bartomeu, whose team also bagged the best media attraction award. Italian warhorse Andrea Pirlo and former Chelsea mainstay Frank Lampard were both handed career awards. Belgium coach Mark Wilmots was named best coach.

Kuwait opens new stadium despite international bans Kuwait has opened its new stateof-the-art sports stadium weeks after being suspended from multiple international sporting organisations including the Olympics and FIFA. Former football stars including David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Portugal’s Luis Figo and Brazil’s Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos played in a friendly match against a Kuwaiti all-stars side to mark the opening of the 60,000-seat stadium last month. The facility was planned to host major international sporting events as well as local competitions but since October Kuwait has been suspended

from more than a dozen sports bodies over concerns of government interference. International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said

his organisation remained open to resolving the dispute with the Kuwaiti government but it must change its sporting law, which does not comply with its rules on independence.


A South American Adventure 24I FEATURED

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Travel Blog

Life over there is different from here in Europe. People work harder for less money. Their nature is richer and their culture too, as it’s a continent where centuries old traditions are still alive. In the fall of 2015 I got the privilege to travel around Peru and Bolivia for a month. I travelled with Machete Tours, an eco-tourism company, who has their main office in Cusco. As a tourist it feels good to travel with a local tour operator, who ensures that my visit benefits the local people, rather than intrude on their way of life. I chose to travel to South America in the fall since

it enabled me to trade in the rainy autumn weather at home for a couple of weeks with sunny spring weather. It was a good experience and while travelling I discovered a fascinating continent and got an increased understanding of how people live on the other side of the globe. In Peru people doesn’t only speak Spanish, but native languages like Quechua and Aymara are still being spoken. On Lake Titicaca are the Uros People still living on their floating islands made of Totora reed. Their way of life appears to be unchanged for several generations. Even though when you scratch a

little underneath the surface you learn that is not exactly true. A guide named Enrique, tells us that their life expectancy have dropped from 105 years in the 1960s to 75 years now. The reason for this very negative development seems to be the urbanization. Because in recent years a lot of the Uros people have abandoned their natural way of life on the floating island and have relocated to Puno. But there are places where life remains largely unchanged and nowhere is that as clear to me, than when I visit the silver mines in Potosi. The devil’s mountain as it is called in folklore has swallowed millions of


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I January 2016

Bolivian miners in the 450 years that the mountain has been exploited. Walking around in the narrow mine shafts it is difficult not to think of the horrible working conditions the miners faces. The miners work hard for little money and every day they risk their lives by going down in the mines. The place is not up to European security standards. There are no big machines driving the minerals, only carts that the miners push by hand labor. There are no safety lines when they climb up and down the shafts on wooden ladders and ropes. The beams holding up the roof are broken and look like they could cave in at any moment. This makes working in the mines extremely dangerous. Yet the miners keep working 15 hours shifts. The youngest are around 15 years old. In Europe those boys would be at school, but here in Bolivia they are in the mines working to support their families. Suddenly in the mines I came to a realization of what life in the Welsh coal mines must have been like at the beginning of the last century. I think of Richard Burton who escaped a life as a miner and became a celebrated actor instead and suddenly his achievements seem all the more impressive, considering the background he came from. In some ways Peru and

FEATURED I 25

Bolivia seems like they are more homogeneous countries than the European nations. Most of the people living there are of Indian decent with a little European mixed in there. But the people living in Peru and Bolivia still looks more like their native ancestors did than the Europeans. Peruvians and Bolivians are typically shorter, a result of the high altitude they are living at. Huber, one of our guides who is about my height, explained to me that tall people have a harder time to get enough oxygen into their blood, which means that natural selection has favored short people for centuries. The ladies still wear traditional clothing with colorful long skirts and their long black hair braided on their backs. They wear their packing in bags rather than suitcases and sell their handicrafts to tourists for a cheap prize at the many Indian markets. The people who work at the market seem genuine and nice. Maybe that is why nobody took offense when they decided to strike when we visited Machu Picchu. Because we understood that they had to protect their livelihood and we were on their side. There are more European looking people too, but most of them can be found in the cosmopolitan cities such as Lima and La Paz. These two capitals are also strikingly different. Lima with its skyscrapers

and shopping malls feels distinctively Western and could just as well have been a capital in a European country. It feels like at home. La Paz on the other hand fascinates me as it’s built into a crater with the mountain tops circling the city. The locals travel around in cabin cars to go to school and work, kind of like we take the bus or the tube. Another thing that strikes me about South America is that there are not many immigrants from the Middle East. In Europe the Syrian refugees seem to be everywhere, while over there they are strangely absent. I ask one of our guides Rolig, why that is so and he explains that it’s because traditionally the Peruvian boarders have been closed. However now the politicians have reconsidered and are planning to welcome a couple of 1000s Syrians refugee into their country. They have however specifically requested people who work in restaurants, since that way they can open up Arab restaurants in their continent, which is something that will benefit the locals. So instead of viewing these refugees as a burden to bear and be divided equally between the nations in the EU, like our politicians seemingly does, the politicians in Peru view these people as an asset that can add something to their already rich culture.


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