Backlash after UK limits SBW named on list of 500 The Islamic child refugees scheme most influential Muslims Caliphate
Oldham Trojan Hoax News and Sport
Continued on page 3
Clarksfield Primary School in Oldham found themselves under the media spotlight with sensationalist reporting from certain sections of the media playing up the story of a Trojan horse style plot being hatched by those running the educational establishment. Schools in Birmingham were evoked y rtified b
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leaving UK Muslims to assume for a moment that history was somewhat repeating itself once again. However, elements in the media especially those of a right-wing and neo-conservative persuasion reported that the school in question was being hijacked by elements from the Muslim follow us on fb
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community to ‘Islamize’ the school in relation to the day to day running of the organisation as well as claims of threats made towards the headteacher. In order to understand how the story played out in the media it is necessary to separate fact from fiction. The general consensus amongst some sections of follow us on You Tube
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“The Prevent duty turned my young clients’ lives upside down” “Our lives are divided into before and after. “Before that day, my children were just children. They trusted their teachers and friends – school was a safe place. Before that day, I was just another mum: chatting at the playground gates, reading with other children in school, helping out at the PTA, planning my dream life in a country village. “Since that day, my children are scared and I’m scared – both for them and for myself. Every small interaction with anybody outside our home results in hours of self-doubt and musings as to how we are seen.”
These are the words of my clients’ mother, after an incident at her young sons’ school turned her family’s perception of their place in their local community, and society, upside down. In March last year the brothers, aged just seven and five, were separated from their classmates and questioned by police – because of the Government’s Prevent strategy, and the colour of their skin. The eldest boy told his teacher he had received a toy gun as a present from his parents. Conscious of their duties under Prevent, the teachers, who say they never doubted it was a toy, decided to call the police to ask whether and how to make a Prevent referral. The children were taken from their classes, isolated from other pupils and detained for around 90 minutes in the library. When their mother came to pick them up, she was told she couldn’t see them until the police arrived, but was denied further information. Officers quickly realised there was no genuine concern. But not before
they had been seen by other parents and children who were present for an event, highlighting that an incident had taken place and marking out my clients as “other”. In a meeting with teachers the following day, my clients’ mother was told that the teachers’ other grounds for suspicion were that the 7 year old had spoken Arabic, and had mentioned going to the mosque with his father. But the family speak no Arabic, and the children have never been to a mosque. It was immediately apparent to her that the teachers’ real suspicion, was based on race and their perception of a faith which they do not even practise. In their mother’s words, the boys were left “confused and terrified”. Discrimination Following legal action by Liberty, Bedfordshire Local Education Authority (LEA) admitted breaching the children’s human rights, and discriminating against them. They also amended their guidance to schools on reporting Prevent suspicions. Prevent itself places a legal obligation on schools, health authorities and other bodies to report perceived signs of radicalisation – vaguely defined as “opposition to fundamental British values”. It is
poorly drafted, poorly disseminated, and poorly executed. The consequences for not complying with the duty are severe as schools face criticism and even downgrading by Ofsted – but there are no consequences for improper reports. Inevitably such a system encourages teachers to be suspicious of their pupils and perhaps they feel it is better to call the police, regardless of the impact on the children’s lives if those suspicions are unfounded. Repeal and review It’s positive that the LEA has amended its Prevent guidance for schools in light of this case and has agreed to conduct a further review. However while the Prevent duty exists, it will continue to legitimise discrimination in our classrooms. Far from countering terrorism, it is destroying trust between pupils and teachers; stifling and alienating children in the very place where we should encourage their curiosity and growth. Ministers must learn the lessons of this case, repeal the Prevent duty and subject the wider strategy to a full, independent review as requested by many. Only then can we reject discrimination and restore trust in our classrooms.
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Oldham Trojan Hoax
I March 2017
Continued from front page
the media was that certain governors were attempting to undermine the secular ethos of the school and to impose Islamic values as far as its strategic leadership management philosophy was concerned. If we separate the truth from fiction, we see that the school in question was failing to deliver upon its educational targets for which the headteacher of the school bore sole responsibility. The headteacher it is said being under considerable pressure to turn around the fortunes of the school concocted a story that there was a plot by some on the governors’ board to initiate and execute a plot that was on a par with the Trojan Horse scandal that erupted in schools across Birmingham a few years ago. It seems that the headteacher in question to all intents and purposes had a desire to deflect the attention from her ineffective management style to those on the board of
governors using the pretext of the existence of a sinister plot to take over the school. GMP’s counter terrorism unit, Oldham Council and the Department of Education having conducted a thorough investigation found that the governors were too absolved from any wrongdoing and deemed innocent in the process. However, despite the governors of the school in question being exonerated of any foul play, nevertheless, the whole sorry episode has tarnished the reputations of the individuals concerned and furthermore, it has cast an unwanted shadow over the Muslim community in the United Kingdom once again. Dr Mohammed of Education Trust said “However, this story should act as wake up call for Muslim schools across the UK in that there is no smoke without fire especially when we examine what had happened in Birmingham a few years ago. It would be rather naïve of us to think that
Hate crimes in the United Kingdom have risen to record numbers in the three months following Britain’s referendum to exit the European Union, according to a new analysis. More than 14,000 hate crimes were recorded by police departments in England and Wales in the three months following the Brexit vote, an increase of 27 percent, according to data compiled by the Press Association. The Metropolitan, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire police departments each recorded more than 1,000 racist incidents against immigrants in the three months ending in September 2016, the analysis found. A hate crime generally refers to a criminal act that is motivated by bias against a specific group. Hate
crimes may involve physical assault, bullying, harassment, damage to property, verbal abuse or insults, offensive graffiti and hate mail. The report prompted the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Britain to warn the country’s police departments to prepare for more hate crimes as Brexit negotiations get underway with the EU. “The vast majority of people who voted to leave the European Union did so because they believed it was best for Britain and not because they are intolerant of others,” David Isaac, chair of the human rights commission, told the Press Association. “It is clear, however, that a small minority of people used the Brexit vote to legitimize inexcusable racism and prejudice. We cannot
there no Muslims or organisations that aim to Islamise educational institutions and in the process reject the law of the land. Furthermore, Muslims must stop burying their heads in the sand and acknowledge that there are some in the community that give the faith a bad reputation from time to time and that we cannot always activate conspiracy theory mode. “It is imperative that Muslim schools and their respective governing bodies understand that they must run schools in accordance with Department of Education guidelines (DfE) guidelines at all times and must not circumvent established protocols in favour of cultural and religious norms. Muslims must remember that they are a minority in the UK and have a duty to ensure that children are equipped from a secular and religious perspective in order to make an effective contribution as citizens in the real world.”
UK hate crimes at record levels after Brexit vote
allow such intolerable acts of hate to be condoned or repeated. The triggering of Article 50 is the next major milestone and we must do all we can to discourage hate attacks and to support people who feel at risk.” The new figures support recent studies as well as anecdotal reports that have showed a spike in hate crimes across the country following the EU referendum vote. Eastern European migrants to Britain were specially affected in the aftermath of the June 23 EU referendum. Within days of the Brexit vote, Polish communities reported a series of hate incidents, including the distribution of pamphlets describing them as “vermin” and racist graffiti outside a cultural center in London.
I UK NEWS
I March 2017
Muslim charities have been vilified, says Baroness Warsi
The Conservative peer Baroness Warsi has criticised the level of scrutiny and vilification faced by Muslim charities in the UK. Speaking at the inaugural Muslim Charities Forum’s Humanitarian Awards in London, Warsi said: “In the last decade it has been brutal being a Muslim in public life. I speak from experience, as do many of you. From outright accusations of what you are doing, why you are doing it and what your agenda is to more subtle nudgenudge, wink-wink chipping away at people’s reputations.” She said that people from the Muslim community and the charitable
sector had had a “ginormous spotlight” shone on them in recent years. “The level of scrutiny and daily vilification that you have faced makes me question how you keep going,” she said. Warsi criticised the government’s approach to working with the Muslim charity sector after she resigned as a foreign minister over the escalation of violence in the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014. “Within four months of me leaving government, the wonderful partnership we had built up with the Muslim Charities Forum was stopped on accusations that were never proven,” she said. Warsi also questioned the direction
the Charity Commission had taken under William Shawcross, its chair. The regulator has been criticised by some in the charity sector for having a disproportionate focus on Islamic extremism, but the commission has rejected this. Warsi compared Shawcross to the Jungle Book characters Baloo, the friendly bear, and Shere Khan, the aggressive tiger. She said: “While we admire the zeal, enthusiasm, fervour and passion of the nice Mr Shawcross, I would sleep a lot better if I could be sure that he was a Baloo and not a Shere Khan.” But Warsi said that Muslim charities must raise their game. “If you look closely enough at organisations, especially voluntary ones, you will find a loose thread that you can latch on to and you can unravel the organisation,” she said. “We must strive for no loose threads. No inadequate trustees, no sitting on huge funds, no murky areas with partners.” A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said it did not wish to comment on Warsi’s remarks. She added the regulator had been delighted to attend the awards.
BBC pays libel damages to a prominent Muslim for false claims The BBC has paid “substantial” libel damages and broadcast a full apology to founder member of the Muslim Council of Britain who they falsely alleged had advocated the lynching of author Salman Rushdie. Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who is also a former chairman of the charity Muslim Aid, sued the corporation over a transmission on the BBC Radio 5 Breakfast Show by journalist Nicky Campbell in August 2016. The corporation, which also agreed to pay Mueen-Uddin’s legal costs as part of the settlement, broadcast its apology on 20 January. Mueen-Uddin, who was represented by Adam Tudor and Helena Shipman of law firm CarterRuck, said: “I am very pleased that
the BBC has apologised for what it accepts is a completely unfounded allegation, and that the matter is now resolved. “I, like many Muslims, found the Satanic Verses highly offensive to Muslims and our faith; however at no stage did I advocate or campaign for Mr Rushdie to be lynched or in any way harmed, or condone those who did.” He added: “I am pleased that the BBC has acted quickly to bring
this highly distressing matter to a conclusion.” The suggestion was made during an interview with Omer el-Hamdoon, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
I March 2017
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I March 2017
Muslims urged to raise concerns about Britain’s terrorism legislation
Muslims were urged to raise their concerns about Britain’s terrorism legislation as the country’s new terrorism watchdog declared that he will be ready to recommend the abolition of unnecessary laws. Max Hill QC said he wanted to “take soundings from all quarters” about the way that counter-terror powers were working and particularly wanted to hear from those groups, including Muslims, most affected by the legislation.
He said that he would also be examining the Terrorism Acts, and other relevant legislation, to assess whether there were offences “introduced in knee jerk reaction” to terrorist atacks that could be abolished because they were either little-used or had become outdated. He added that his own experience as a former prosecutor of terrorism cases, during which he secured the conviction of the failed 21/7 bombers and the jailing last year of two Luton-
based Islamic State supporters over a plot to kill a US serviceman, had shown him that parts of the law were “less fit for purpose” than others. Mr Hill’s comments to the Evening Standard came in his first interview since being appointed this week as the country’s new independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. He said that he was determined to listen to views from all sides, including critics, of the existing laws and to help ensure that the needs of national security and public safety continued to be balanced with the need to avoid excessive infringements on individual liberty. He added: “This is a golden opportunity to take soundings from all quarters and all parties to the debate. I would like to hear from those, particulary Muslims, whom the terrorism laws impinge on most.
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Emirates accuses UK’s aviation body of acting ‘unprofessionally’
Emirates has accused the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of acting unprofessionally over claims it breached laws by not paying compensation to passengers who experience a delay. The Dubai-based airline denied breaking any law with regard to payment of passenger compensation for delayed flights, after the CAA launched enforcement action against it and four other international carriers. The CAA said the airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines – breached consumer law by not paying
compensation to passengers who experience a delay on the first leg of a flight that in turn causes them to miss a connecting flight and thereby arrive at their final destination more than three hours late. Passengers on long-haul flights who experience delays of between three and four hours are entitled to 300 euros ($316) compensation, while those delayed by more than four hours are entitled to 600 euros ($632). The CAA said the airlines’ refusal to pay compensation in these instances fails to meet European Union laws regarding passenger
rights requirements for flight disruption. Etihad Airways also hit back, saying: “Etihad Airways has been engaged in constructive dialogue with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK on the issue of passenger compensation over several months. “We take such matters very seriously and in no way look to breach the law. Therefore, before even completing the dialogue, we find the CAA’s approach wholly ‘unprofessional and unacceptable’ to publicly blame Etihad Airways for infringements to passengers’ rights which we unreservedly deny.”
I UK NEWS
I March 2017
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I March 2017
British spouses must earn £18,600 before foreign spouses can join them in UK
In Case You Missed It
An appeal to the Supreme Court over income rules which prevent thousands of British citizens from bringing their foreign spouse to the UK has been dismissed. The income rules stated that residents of the UK must earn more than £18,600 before a husband or wife from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can also settle in the UK. The preface behind the rule being introduced was to prevent foreign spouses becoming dependent on
UK taxpayers, whether that be their resident spouse or from benefits paid for by taxpayers. As aforementioned, the minimum threshold states that the UK residents must earn more than £18,600 before their spouse can join them to live in the UK. If the couple has a child who does not have British citizenship, then the minimum threshold rises to £22,400 and then by an additional £2,400 for each additional child. This law has received various
criticisms due to the strict and narrow nature of the aim of the law. The law does not consider the earnings of the non-EEA resident, nor does it consider the relevant qualifications or employments prospects of the non-EEA resident once they arrive in the UK. The seven justices whom sat on the case did criticise the threshold as “defective” given their failure to consider “the best interests of children”. However, they did state that the rules of the Government had a legitimate aim of ensuring couples do not just live a life of benefits and that they have sufficient resources to live a prosperous life in the UK and therefore they are “accepted in principle”. Supreme Court deputy Lady Hale held it is “accepted in principle” but it is “unlawfully fails to take proper account of the Home Secretary’s duty under the Border, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009” which relates to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Thousands of Turkish people living in Britain on a permit created by a special 1963 treaty are being told their situation will be “business as usual” during Brexit. However, the U.K.’s moves to leave the EU are throwing up complex legal questions which could affect thousands of Turkish people living in Britain. Turkey’s ambassador to the U.K., Abdurrahman Bilgic, said that those citizens living in Britain on a business document linked to the
September 1963 Ankara Agreement would not see a change in their status while the U.K. negotiates its departure from the European Union. Under the free-visa scheme, Turkish citizens are entitled to set up a business in the U.K. and live in the country with no further requirements. It has been a very popular initiative, with up to 20,000 Turks now living in the U.K. under the Ankara Agreement. However, Bilgic pointed out
the Ankara Agreement was not a bilateral U.K./Turkey deal. “Once the U.K. officially exits from the EU, it will not be a party to the Agreement, just like all the other agreements that the UK is a party to owing to her EU membership,” he said. Bilgic said the Turkish government was “well aware of the concerns” among its citizens living in the U.K. after the Brexit vote and said regular meetings were being held with Home Office officials.
Turks in Britain worry about future of visa-free deal
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Backlash after UK limits child refugee scheme
I March 2017
Campaigners accused Britain of betraying vulnerable children after a scheme to take in unaccompanied young refugees from Europe was limited to 350 people -- 200 of whom have already arrived. The number falls well short of the 3,000 proposed by the original advocate of the scheme, opposition Labour politician Alf Dubs, 84, who himself arrived in Britain as a child fleeing the Nazis. The government did not specify how many children it would take in when it announced the plan last year, amid widespread concern about the fate of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. Immigration minister Robert
Goodwill told MPs on Wednesday that the total number would be 350, including “over 200 children already transferred under section 67 (of the Immigration Act) from France”. This refers to children brought over the Channel from the “jungle” migrant camp in Calais on the northeast French coast. “We will announce in due course the basis on which further children will be transferred from Europe to the UK... to the specified number,” he said. The decision was based on an assessment by local authorities across Britain on how many children they could manage, with a government spokesman stressing
their often “difficult needs”. But the announcement was widely condemned, with Dubs himself warning that to shut the scheme would be “shameful”. “At a time when Donald Trump is banning refugees from America, it would be shameful if the UK followed suit by closing down this route to sanctuary for unaccompanied children just months after it was opened,” the peer said. “During the Kindertransport, Sir Nicky Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution virtually singlehandedly. I was one of those lucky ones. “It would be a terrible betrayal of his legacy if as a country we were unable to do more than this to help a new generation of child refugees.” Josie Naughton, the co-founder of the Help Refugees charity, also called it “shameful”, saying: “The government could do so much more.” Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition party, said it was a “betrayal of these vulnerable children and a betrayal of British values”. Goodwill said the government would continue to accept refugees, including 3,000 vulnerable children and their families from camps in countries bordering Syria by 2020. He said it had also taken more than 750 children from Calais who had relatives in Britain -- 50 of whom will be placed with local authorities.
Plans for 1st state-funded Islamic Primary school in Scotland
New plans have been revealed for Scotland’s first state-funded Islamic primary school. Plans for First State-Funded Islamic Primary School in Scotland Revealed Shaykh Zoheeb Iqbal, founder of Al Falah Academy was the man behind the first ever council-backed
Islamic nursery in Glasgow, and is now hoping to secure permission for a new primary. Iqbal said: “We would promote tolerance and teach the children about other religions. But, like in Catholic schools, there would be a religious ethos and a time for praying and learning about Islam. It is only
fair to have Muslim schools if you have Catholic schools and other faith schools.” Iqbal opened Little Wonders Islamic nursery in Govanhill a year and a half ago, which was granted partnership with Glasgow City Council last month. www.pi-media.co.uk
I UK / WORLD NEWS
I March 2017
UK Govt spends £¾ million on torture cover-up attempt
The British Government has spent £744,000 in its attempts to ensure a case involving the kidnap and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife is never heard in court, documents obtained by Reprieve show – even though the victims have offered to drop the claim in return for an apology. In 2004, the UK organised a joint operation with the CIA in which Abdul-hakim Belhaj, an anti-Gaddafi dissident, and Fatima Boudchar, his wife, were kidnapped, abused and ‘rendered’ to Colonel Gaddafi’s
prisons. The role of senior MI6 officer Sir Mark Allen in the operation came to light in documents which emerged following the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. In 2012, Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar brought a legal case against the UK Government over the part it played in their ordeal, which reached the Supreme Court last year. However, the Government argued that the case should not be heard because the operation was undertaken jointly with the US – an argument which was rejected last
month by the UK Supreme Court. Documents obtained by Reprieve under Freedom of Information show that the Government had spent £744,174.92 on legal costs associated with this attempt to stop the case receiving a hearing – even though the couple have offered to drop the case in return for an apology, an offer which ministers have consistently rejected. The rendition took place in the same month as then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’ with Colonel Gaddafi, which established much closer relations between the two countries. During the ordeal, Ms Boudchar, who was five months pregnant at the time, was held in a secret CIA prison or ‘black site,’ chained to the wall, and subsequently taped tightly, head to foot, to a stretcher. Mr Belhaj was subjected to years of imprisonment and torture under the Gaddafi regime. Documents found in the office of Moussa Koussa – Gaddafi’s spy chief – show Sir Mark claiming credit for the operation, pointing out that the intelligence which enabled it was British.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat the threat posed to the democratic process, notably from alShabaab terrorists, was highlighted by a shooting at a village hotel in Puntland, northwest Ethoipia, on Wednesday. Police said six people were killed in al-Shabaab’s attack. Four mortar bombs exploded around Mogadishu. There were no casualties. The president was selected from among 22 candidates for a four-year term. Among the contenders were current incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, 61, who was seeking a
second term after being selected to lead Somalia’s first constitutional government for 20 years in 2012. Mohamud is credited with turning away from clan-based politics and supporting anti-corruption measures, reconciliation and economic reforms. Many of Somalia’s political elite, including 20 of the presidential candidates, hold foreign passports, leading to suspicion among some voters about their overseas ties and possible foreign influence in the country. According to local media, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is also a U.S. citizen.
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo becomes Somali’s president Some 328 lawmakers have elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as Somalia’s president after five hours of voting in the capital Mogadishu. Farmajo won in the second round with 184 votes, becoming the country’s ninth president. Outgoing president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the second place candidate, received 97 votes. Members of the federal parliament met at a former air force base outside capital Mogadishu. The venue was chosen to provide maximum security to the MPs. The swearing-in ceremony took place in same base after
I March 2017
Political rhetoric creates ‘dangerous and divided world ‘ says Amnesty
Politicians using toxic rhetoric, reminiscent of the 1930s, are creating a dangerous and divided world, said Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. The Annual Report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, warns that an ‘us v them’ narrative of blame, hate and fear is undermining the very foundations of universal human rights and leaving the global response to mass atrocities and the refugee crisis perilously weak. The report, which delivers the
most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights around the world, covering 159 countries, shows how divisive fear-mongering is having an increasingly pervasive impact in our societies. Governments have turned on refugees and migrants: often an easy target for scapegoating. The Annual Report documents how 36 countries violated international law by sending refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk. “We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis since the Second
World War and wealthy nations like the UK and the US have shown an appalling lack of leadership and responsibility,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty spokesperson. “History will judge us for this.” In the UK, where Nigel Farage infamously unveiled a poster which showed a queue of refugees and migrants with the slogan ’Breaking Point: The EU has failed us all’, the Government has shirked its responsibility for the global refugee crisis, pushing thousands of vulnerable people into the hands of people smugglers. And its decision to prematurely close the ‘Dubs Amendment’ scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children already in Europe to the UK is shameful. There was a 57% spike in reporting of hate crimes in the week immediately following the EU referendum in June.
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Palestinian groups challenge Israeli settlement law In Case You Missed It
Palestinian legal rights groups are planning to challenge a controversial new law on Israeli settlements in Israel’s Supreme Court. In a joint statement, Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah and the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre said they plan to lodge a formal petition on behalf of Palestinian local councils in the occupied West Bank, the main target of Israeli settlement building. “The primary aim of this law is to ‘validate’ more illegal settlements in the West Bank,” Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara said in the statement. “These political considerations
directly contradict the UN Security Council resolution passed on Dec. 23, 2016, which reconfirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements,” Bishara added. Along with allowing 50 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank to be retroactively approved under Israeli law, the new legislation -- passed by Israel’s parliament on Monday -- also allows for Palestinian land to be seized for the construction of Israeli settlements in a clear breach of international law. The law has drawn widespread criticism from Palestinians and the
international community, which see it as threatening a “two-state solution” to the perennial Palestine-Israel dispute. Having voiced opposition to the law earlier, Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is now considering testifying against the legislation, according to Israel’s Channel 2 television network. Mandelblit reportedly believes that the law will serve to increase the chances of Israel being investigated by the International Criminal Court. www.pi-media.co.uk
6,000 Iraqi civilians return to homes in eastern Mosul 14
I WORLD NEWS
More than 6,000 displaced Iraqi civilians have returned to their homes in areas recently recaptured from the ISIL extremist group in eastern
Mosul, according to an Iraqi aid official. Iraqi forces have driven ISIL extremists from most of Mosul’s
I March 2017
eastern districts as part of a wideranging Iraqi army offensive launched last October to retake the city, which was overrun by the extremist group in mid-2014. “More than 6,000 people, mostly women and children, have now left the refugee camps and returned to their homes [in eastern Mosul],” Iyad Rafed of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told Anadolu Agency. According to Rafed, the return of refugees to their homes is being overseen by Iraqi security forces in coordination with humanitarian relief officials. The Iraqi authorities estimate that more than 191,000 civilians have fled their homes in eastern Mosul since the army’s Mosul campaign began four months ago. Iraqi officials said some 60,000 people had returned to their homes in “liberated” parts of Mosul, once considered Iraq’s second largest city in terms of population.
Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt unveil 5-point Libya initiative In Case You Missed It
Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt last month unveiled a new initiative for reaching a comprehensive political settlement in crisis-wracked Libya. At a joint press conference in Tunis also attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and Algerian Minister for Maghreb, African and Arab Affairs Abdelkader Messahel, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis Alaghinawa read out the “Tunis Declaration” encapsulating the initiative’s five points. The initiative, Alaghinawa said, was based on earlier proposals for resolving the crisis in Libya tabled by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. The five points of the initiative, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency, are as follows: That the three declaration signatories (Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) would step up efforts to achieve comprehensive reconciliation
in Libya through dialogue with all relevant parties and under the auspices of the UN. That the three signatories recognize Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and believe that a political solution -- based on the December 17, 2015 Skhirat agreement -- represents the only way out of the country’s political crisis. That the three signatories reject any military solution to -- or external interference in -- the Libya crisis, acknowledging that a viable settlement can only be achieved by the Libyan people themselves. They also called for ensuring the continuity of Libyan state institutions as was stipulated in the 2015 agreement. These institutions include the Presidential Council, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council of State. Signatories to the declaration also called for the
preservation and unification of the Libyan Armed Forces in accordance with the 2015 agreement. Signatories also called for convening a tripartite summit in Algiers devoted to the Libya crisis (for which no date was given) to be attended by Tunisian, Egyptian and Algerian representatives. Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power. In the wake of the uprising, the country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and the other in capital Tripoli. In an effort to resolve the political standoff, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in late 2015 in the Moroccan city of Skhirat establishing a government of national unity.
I March 2017
Yemen ‘refuses more US raids’
The government of Yemen has reportedly refused permission for the United States to carry out any further ground operations on its soil, after a US raid on a village saw several civilians killed, including children. According to reports today, two senior Yemeni officials said the country’s government had “sent a firm message to the US administration condemning the January 29 operation”, which took place in the village of Yakla. One
Yemeni official said: “conducting a raid was the wrong option and failure was written all over it. The only side that gained is al Qaeda.” International human rights organization Reprieve, which assists the civilian victims of covert US operations, has established that at least 23 civilians were killed during the secret raid. Among the civilian dead was a newborn baby, an eight year old girl and an 80 year old tribal elder. A US Navy Seal was also killed
during the operation. The US program of covert attacks has drawn international criticism, as it takes place in countries where the US is not at war, and has led to hundreds of civilian casualties. A 2014 study by Reprieve found that previous secret attacks by the US have frequently missed their target; in Yemen and Pakistan, US attempts to target 41 named individuals led to the deaths of 1,147 unknown people, often leaving the ‘target’ unharmed. Speaking yesterday, US Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the Yakla raid as “highly successful.” However, US officials have said privately that “almost everything went wrong” in the operation. Commenting, Jennifer Gibson – Drones and Kill List Project Lead at Reprieve – said: “Not only did this ill-advised raid result in an appalling loss of civilian life – the fallout is now threatening our relations with allies. Let’s be clear – secret, unaccountable attacks that kill children on foreign soil will do nothing to make Americans safer. The President’s advisers must urge him to change course, before he does any more damage to the US’ standing abroad.”
Athens mosque construction to finish in April 2017 The construction of the first mosque in Athens in over 100 years is due to finish in late April, according to sources at the company building it. The construction company sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that the mosque, begun last November, is due to be completed within two months. Construction of the mosque’s metal skeleton is nearly finished, and the work is going as planned, the sources said. The mosque in the Greek capital will be located at a former naval base
in the downtown neighborhood of Votanikos. Greece’s parliament last August passed a bill greenlighting the mosque -- the first since the 19th century -- but an occupation of the premises by self-proclaimed Greek “patriots” stalled its construction. Construction restarted in early November after police interceded to end the occupation. The mosque will be low-rise and will not include a minaret. It will be able to accommodate up to 350 worshippers as well as a parking lot and recreation area over its two-block-wide site. The budget for
its construction is around 887,000 euros. After the construction, the administration of the mosque will be under a board consisting of state officials and Muslim community representatives designated by the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religions. Muslims in Athens are currently fulfilling their religious duties in approximately 70 underground masjids, or smaller mosques. After the opening of the Athens mosque, the 70 underground masjids will need to obtain licenses in order to continue their services.
I March 2017
Cyber-attacks can bring Germany to its knees: Spy chief In Case You Missed It
Growing digitalisation is making Western countries deeply vulnerable to cyber-attacks from spy agencies and propaganda of terrorist groups, Germany’s domestic intelligence chief said. Speaking at the European Police Congress in Berlin, Dr. Hans-Georg Maassen warned that cyberspace did not only offer new chances for industrialized countries, but also involved major risks for national security.
“Even a few but very good trained cyber warriors can be enough to bring an industrialized country to its knees,” he said, expressing grave concern over increased reliance on digital technologies in Western countries. Maassen said foreign spy agencies had stepped up in recent years their activities in cyberspace to carry out espionage, disinformation and influence operations, benefiting from vulnerabilities of digital
infrastructures. “In the last two decades, vulnerabilities in cyberspace were largely exploited by criminal hackers or criminal organizations. Today it is mainly exploited by foreign intelligence organizations,” he said, stressing that cyber-attacks had proved very efficient and costeffective, compared with traditional methods employed by spy agencies. Maassen said their investigation into several recent cyber-attacks targeting Germany, including a hack on the parliament’s servers, pointed out the possible involvement of Russia, but they were not able find any hard evidence. “In case of doubt, we can never identify a smoking gun, which could help us determine who was behind the cyberattack. There is always the possibility that the hackers might have used a backdoor, and the state concerned can tell us that in fact it was not involved, and it was a false flag operation of another state,” he said. EU’s largest economy adopted a new cyber security strategy late last year amid a growing number of cyber-attacks, which targeted not only politicians and ministries, but also high-tech companies. German officials view Russia and China as the two main actors behind cyber-attacks targeting the country.
Danish man charged with blasphemy for burning Quran
A Danish man was charged with blasphemy for burning a Quran in his backyard on Dec. 2015 and posting footage of the incident on his social media account, a prosecutor said. Prosecutor Jan Reckendorff said in a statement the incident violated a blasphemy law that says ‘’public mockery or scorn against religion’’ is illegal.
The 42-old-man shared the video on a Facebook group called ‘’Yes to Freedom, No to Islam’’, said Reckendorff. The penalty for blasphemy in Denmark is up to four months’ imprisonment, but Reckendorff said the penalty would be a fine in this case. There is no date set for the first
hearing which will be in Aalborg court. This is the fourth time in Danish history that anyone has been prosecuted under blasphemy clause, the most recent case was in 1971. Danish newspaper JyllandsPosten published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban in 2005 without facing blasphemy charges.
I March 2017
1.4 million children face famine in four countries: UNICEF In Case You Missed It
Almost 1.4 million children suffering from severe malnutrition could die this year from famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen,
the UN children’s agency said. In Yemen, where war has been raging for nearly two years, 462,000 children are suffering from acute
malnutrition while 450,000 children are severely malnourished in northeast Nigeria. Fews Net, the famine early warning system, said some remote areas of Nigeria’s Borno state are already affected by famine since late last year and the disaster is likely to continue as aid agencies are unable to reach those in need. Drought in Somalia has left 185,000 children on the brink of famine but that figure is expected to reach 270,000 in the next few months, said UNICEF. In South Sudan, over 270,000 children are malnourished and a famine has just been declared in parts of Unity State in the north of the country, where 20,000 children live. UN Security Council ambassadors are due to travel to northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger next month to draw international attention to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict with Boko Haram militants. www.pi-media.co.uk
Bosnia submits papers in Serbia genocide case Bosnia and Herzegovina officially filed appeal papers to the UN’s International Court of Justice in The Hague to revive an genocide case against neighboring Serbia. The appeal centres on the court’s decision in 2007 not to indict Serbia on genocide charges stemming from atrocities committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Bosnian leaders had indicated they would seek to re-open the case against Serbia. Following the adoption of the application in The Hague, the identified items will be sent to Belgrade. Meanwhile last month, an
extraordinary session of the Bosnian Herzegovina Council in the capital Sarajevo was halted when the body’s Bosniak member, Bakir Izetbegovic, walked out of the meeting. Talking to reporters later, Izetbegovic said the decision to reopen the genocide case had caused tension in the country recently but added: “We are accused of making a crisis because we did not withdraw the decision. The main crisis-makers are those who deny the genocide they committed, praise war criminals and give the names of war criminals to their dormitories.”
However, Mladen Ivanic, the Serb member of the Council, said he was not worried about the reopening of the genocide case. “It will soon be proven that the decision is not legal… decision making and parallel structuring outside Bosnia’s institutions worry me the most,” he said. The leader of Bosnia’s Serb entity -- Republika Srpska -accused those behind the appeal of trying to abolish his republic. Serbia’s Prime Minister Alexandar Vucic has also described the appeal as setting back relations between Sarajevo and Belgrade by years.
Poland’s right-wing govt ousts top generals
I WORLD NEWS
www.pi-media.co.uk I March 2017
In Case You Missed It
About 90 percent of Poland’s top military brass have been replaced in an overhaul launched by the rightwing government, the defence ministry said. Several leading generals had already resigned over the past year as Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz pushes to consolidate the government’s control of the
armed forces. Macierewicz has also said he wants to stamp out all traces of the communist era, by blocking promotions of servicemen who joined before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, especially those who attended military schools in the Soviet Union. The defence ministry did not say how many generals had left the
According to media reports, 24-year-old Sheila Szmerekova, of the central Slovakian city of Ruzomberok, recorded herself desecrating and setting on fire what appeared to be a Quran. The authorities took note of the incident after the video went viral on Facebook in December 2016. In the video, Szmerekova declared war on Muslim ‘parasites’, insulted the book, then set it on fire, with the national flag behind her. She was also heard making threats to Muslims. “I will hunt you all step by step. No matter if it is a woman, a child or a man. I will bump off anybody
A Special Court in Banska Bystrica ruled that Szmerekova will be kept in custody before she faces trial for her case, the Mirror reported. She is accused of creating extremist promotional materials, defamation of a nation and race and incitement of national, racial or ethnic hatred. The spokesperson of the general prosecutor’s office Andrea Predajnova said that the video was shared online in December 2016. A police spokesperson who had seen the video said that in the video the accused “shows a book with the title The Quran and she repeatedly said that it was the Quran”.
army, which now stands at 106,000 soldiers, up from 96,000 in 2015. Opposition parties have criticised the departures of key four-star commanders in the army’s general staff, at a time of heightened tension with Russia. Last month, General Mieczyslaw Gocul, chief of staff of the Polish armed forces, resigned and was replaced by Lieutenant-General Leszek Surawski. Gocul’s departure had followed that of General Miroslaw Rozanski, who had shifted chains of command in the army, air force, navy and special forces to improve the general staff’s strategic planning. The move was said to have infuriated the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has vowed deep reforms of the judiciary, state media and other institutions. Major General Jaroslaw Mika has taken up Rozanski’s position.
Compulsory Slovak woman faces jail teaching of for desecrating the Quran Holy Quran A Slovakian woman who defiled a who gets in my way. I do not care bill approved copy of the Quran may be sentenced about the criminal complaints. It to six years in prison. will not stop me. I have a message Slovak Woman Faces Jail Time for everybody, including the police in Pakistan for Desecrating the Quran — nobody will stop me.”
Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training unanimously approved “The Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill, 2017”. The meeting of the committee was held in Islamabad with MNA Dr Amirullah Marwat in the chair. According to the bill, Nazra Quran will be taught from class one to five while from 6th to 12th class students will be taught the Holy book with translation.
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WORLD NEWS I 19
Zionist regime ministerial committee asses ‘muezzin bill’
The Zionist regime’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation endorsed a draft law aimed at silencing the Muslim call to prayer. Zionist Regime Ministerial Committee Passes ‘Muezzin Bill’ The committee released a statement which said the “bill for prevention of noise from public address systems in houses of prayer” had been “passed” without giving further information. Despite the bill making no mention of any specific religion, it has become known as the “muezzin bill or law” as it blocks the traditional Muslim call to prayer that is
heard here long before the racists of the (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and will after them.” If the law is passed, it will be enforced in East Jerusalem alQuds and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories apart from around the al-Aqsa Mosque. AlAqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed tensions ever since Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015. Nearly 280 Palestinians have broadcast through speakers mounted lost their lives at the hands of Israeli on the mosques’ minarets, according forces since October that year. to Press TV. www.pi-media.co.uk A former version of the bill was rejected because it would have also blocked the siren broadcast in ws /PIMe iane Jewish regions at sunset on Fridays. d e dia im The new version prohibits the @p playing of amplified sounds from 11:00 pm local time to 7:00 am, a period which encompasses the first of Islam’s five daily calls to prayer. “This law does not deal with noise nor with quality of life, just with racist incitement against a national minority,” said Palestinian MP Ayman PI TV News and Sport Odeh. “The voice of the muezzin was
Turkey’s female officers allowed to wear hijab Turkey has for the first time allowed female members of the armed forces to wear headscarves while on duty as part of their uniform. Women serving in the armed forces “will be able to cover their heads” under their caps or berets so long as the headscarf is “the same color as the uniform and without pattern”, said a new defense ministry regulation announced on
Wednesday. The lift on the ban is going to come into effect once the regulation is announced in the Official Gazette, according to Turkish media. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has long pressed for the removal of restrictions on women wearing the headscarf in the officially secular state.
Turkey lifted a ban on the wearing of headscarves on university campuses in 2010. It allowed female students to wear the garment in state institutions from 2013 and in high school in 2014. In August 2016, the AKP government lifted the ban on headscarves in the police force. www.pi-media.co.uk
www.pi-media.co.uk I March 2017
SBW named on list of 500 most influential Muslims
All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams has made the list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. Williams gains a place on the list headed by Egypt’s Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al-Tayyeb, the highest scholarly authority for a majority of Sunni Muslims who runs the largest Sunni Islamic university with close to 400,000 students. “The Muslim 500” is produced
annually and Williams’ inclusion makes him a leader among the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. They only list the top 50 numerically and Williams was included in an 11-strong celebrities and sports category which included football stars Zinedine Zidane, Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba as well as England’s Olympic athletics star Mo Farah.
In announcing Williams’ inclusion, the judges noted his rugby prowess and boxing skills. “He was the first Muslim to play for the legendary All Blacks. In 2013, he was judged the world’s best rugby league player at the annual RLIF Awards. He memorably gave away his Rugby World Cup winners’ gold medal to a young supporter just after the 2015 final.” The 31-year-old Williams converted to Islam in 2008. In 2013 he spoke to CNN about his faith, saying: “I’ve become a true Muslim. It’s giving me happiness. It’s made me become content as a man, and helped me to grow. I’ve just got faith in it and it has definitely helped me become the man I am today.” Last year he concentrated his incredible sporting energies into sevens rugby and made the New Zealand team for the Rio Olympics though his tournament was cut short by an Achilles injury. He is still recovering from that injury which will delay his debut for the Blues in Super Rugby.
New spot-fixing arrest by police British police announced a third suspect had been arrested in connection with their investigation into international cricket spot-fixing. A statement issued by the National Crime Agency said officers had arrested a British man in his thirties this morning in the Sheffield area (in northern England) as as part of its investigation into the spot-fixing of cricket matches. He was later bailed pending further inquiries. Two men, also in their 30s, were arrested by NCA officers on February 13 and were bailed until April.
Earlier this month, amid a corruption probe involving players in the Pakistan Super League, the NCA said they were “working closely” with the Pakistan Cricket Board and International Cricket Council’s anticorruption units. Pakistani cricket officials charge Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif for spot-fixing in a corruption probe that threatens to undermine the PSL. The pair, suspended after being accused of meeting a suspicious person linked to an international betting syndicate, could face up to a life ban from international and
domestic cricket under Pakistan Cricket Board corruption rules. Another former player Nasir Jamshed was also provisionally suspended over allegedly influencing the two players. Jamshed was reportedly arrested in London last week but was granted bail until April. Both Sharjeel and Latif have denied any involvement in the alleged corruption. The PSL, a five-team tournament, is largely being played in the UAE because of security concerns although Lahore is the scheduled venue for next month’s final.
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UAE players told get haircuts or face bans www.pi-media.co.uk
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I March 2017
Shaggy-haired UAE and Al Ain forward Omar Abdul Rahman has been omitted from a list of 79 players who have been told by the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) to get their haircut. Al Wahda midfielder Suhail Al Mansouri, who sports a similar do, is on the list however, along with Ghana and Al Ahli striker Asamoah Gyan and Al Jazira’s Brazilian striker Leonardo. Al Mansouri has since been to the barber and said he got he got a trim out of respect for the UAE FA but added that he didn’t know what his hair had to do with football.
A source from the UAE FA told Gulf News that referees had been monitoring haircuts in recent fixtures and had made notes on what the authority decrees is objectionable style and length, ready to present to the UAE FA disciplinary committee. Of particular concern are ‘Qazastyle haircuts’, where parts of the head are shaven but others not. The disciplinary committee then sent out letters to 46 players from top-flight Arabian Gulf League clubs warning them to cut their hair, followed by a further 33 letters to players in lower tier UAE football, totalling 79.
Michael Bennett announced last month that he would not take part in a scheduled trip to Israel with other NFL players, with the Seattle Seahawks lineman saying “I will not be used” as a pawn by the Israeli government in a heartfelt statement he tweeted.
The news of his backflip has come just days after his brother, Martellus, said that he would not be joining his teammates at the White House when they are honored by President Donald Trump as Super Bowl champions. www.pi-media.co.uk
NFL player pulls out of Israeli propaganda tour
“It’s to do with our rules and our culture,” said a source at the UAE FA. “The rule has always been there, but it hasn’t been activated until now.” Asked why it had suddenly been implemented, the source replied: “I don’t know but before six months the local media started concentrating on player’s haircuts and then the board decided to find a solution because it doesn’t set a good example to youth.” The source added that general warnings were first sent out to clubs over three months ago, but it’s only now that those warnings have been followed up by singling out offending players. “This is not a new thing and it’s not a surprise,” said the source. Players have been told that if they don’t get a haircut before the next round of league fixtures they will be fined, and if they still don’t get a haircut before the next round of fixtures after that, they will be given a two-match ban. The source couldn’t confirm how much the fine would be or what would happen if players still didn’t get a haircut after two rounds of fixtures, but they did allude to the possibility of an indefinite ban. Asked why Omar’s hair is exempt from the ruling, the source replied: “A board member said it was OK but it was just long.” Omar is widely considered to be the UAE’s best player, and is renowned for his distinctive look, which even featured on the cover of the Middle East edition of the video game Pro Evolution Soccer last year. This isn’t the first time footballers have been told to get their hair snipped. Last year, the Saudi Arabia Football Federation issued similar order — and, in 2012, Al Shabab Riyadh keeper Waleed Abdullah had to have a pitch-side trim after the referee said his hair was ‘un-Islamic’. Mohawk-like hairstyles — where some of the head is shaven and other parts are not — are considered to be particularly frowned upon in local culture. www.pi-media.co.uk
www.pi-media.co.uk I March 2017
Facebook: Social Networking or Social Engineering?
The big question is, ‘What is social networking and how is it useful?’ Of course you will hear the usual bleating saying, ‘It is so nice to know what my sister is doing….blah, blah.’ So ask this person, ‘Why can’t you send your sister an email asking what she is doing and she can respond to you. Or even better, if you can, call your sister and talk to her.’ But no, I must talk to my sister in a space where it is not only the sister who is listening but almost anyone who cares to listen, even if that person is a total stranger. So is it about your concern for your sister or is it something else? So also in this space are pictures which really have no place outside the home – like the pictures showing you hugging your sister or wife or whoever! And so on and so on. I don’t think I need to describe all that there is to people who put it there in the first place. Yes, of course there are controls. Tell me all about them. Tell me also how come almost nobody uses them. How many Facebook profiles do you
know who have the maximum control activated where only their immediate family can see them? And of course in the end, all control is only as good as the techies and geeks on the Facebook site allow. After all they can access all that information anyway. So what is really being achieved by Facebook, Twitter and so on? (Twitter?? Whoever coined that term was clever. Talk about under the belt. Who twitters? A twit!! – but then I suppose a twit doesn’t know that he is a twit, right?) So what is achieved? What is achieved is what would be the equivalent of peeping in through your window. Wanting to know what you are doing all the time. I want to know what you are doing all the time and I want you to know what I am doing all the time. Intrusion into privacy when it is done against your will is unpleasant. So what is better? Get you into a state of mind where you will volunteer to tell people all about your internal organs on your own. See the
change? An intruder is an intruder only when he intrudes against your will. If you invite him in, then he is a guest, not an intruder. Same person, same you but different rules. And that’s what it is all about, the rules of engagement. So is it ‘social networking’ or is it ‘social engineering?’ The purpose is to change the rules of the society. Break barriers. Destroy the boundaries that protect us. And where does this lead to? Addiction and intoxication. Addiction to seeing what others are doing and telling others what you are doing on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis. And being intoxicated with the false feeling that you are so interesting that people are really interested in what you are doing. Not realizing or willing to believe that these are the actions of other intoxicated people. You don’t like the word ‘intoxication’? Just don’t log onto your Facebook or Twitter account for two days and monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure, tremor in your
I March 2017
mouse, whatever and you will see what I mean. And all this for what? What is achieved with the time that you spend reading about other’s adenoids and telling them about yours? Incidentally I know what adenoids means and that you don’t talk about them. But let us not mention what facebookers really talk about! So what did you achieve? Just ask yourself this question, ‘What did I achieve by being on Facebook and Twitter (or whichever of these infernal social networks you are on) over the past month, year or whatever period.’ Remember this is a serious question because you Muslim/ah are spending your time (life) doing it. And that makes it among the first questions that you will have to answer to Allah. So what did you achieve? Prepare the answer. You will need it. Social networking is social engineering. Its purpose is to change the values and ethics of people. This is done, in its most benign form, to encourage
FEATURED I 23
you to indulge more and more in the consumerist society that is all consuming. We think we are the consumers. But we are in reality the consumed. Just think, how many of you buy things, see shows, go to restaurants (and other places), like or dislike things because of campaigns on Facebook and Twitter? See what is happening? Your minds are invaded, your thoughts are influenced, and consequently your actions are manipulated and you may not even realize it. Today Muslims the world over are very angry with the latest offensive of the Facebook. But an impulsive reaction will hardly do us any good. Just staying off of the offensive site for one day, as many have advocated, will only highlight our capitulation to it. It is time we rethink what are we doing with our lives and say no to social engineering. It is time to get off of Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites that are destroying us from within. BY: Mirza Yarwar Baig
If you have a Question regarding this topic or any other featured articles we have covered please email us at info@pi-media. co.uk and we will forward it onto our team of Scholars to answer.
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The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context
www.pi-media.co.uk I March 2017
There is no doubt that Umar Ibn al-Khattab’s acceptance of Islam sent shockwaves amongst the most powerful echelons of the Qur’aysh tribe. The tribal leaders who had listened to Umar renowned for his wisdom and intelligence were left bewildered on the basis that they had never expected such a major move to materialise. Historical records attest to the fact that Umar Ibn al-Khattab was a courageous man who after embracing Islam visited the elders of Qur’aysh and proclaimed that he had indeed submitted to Allah and became a Muslim in the process. At the funeral of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Umar Ibn al Khattab once again showed his astuteness in the field of diplomacy. The Ansar (helpers) in Madina held a meeting in order to discuss who would take the helm of the Islamic state but the negotiations crucially omitted the emigrants (Muhajirun). Umar Ibn al-
Khattab got wind of these secret negotiations and argued that the Muhajirun could not be omitted and that it was imperative the Prophet’s family and clan be involved in the process of consultation (shura). The Ansar (helpers) were adamant that any leader that was appointed would have to be from their camp and on the other hand Umar Ibn al-Khattab was equally insistent that the next leader had to come from the Muhajirs (emigrants). Hence, a political statement ensued with no political settlement in sight. The Khazraj also had political designs of their own and aimed to install their own preference namely Sa’ad Ibn Ubada. Umar Ibn al-Khattab then aimed to drag the Ansar (helpers) around the negotiating table and two days of strenuous debate and discussion led to splits amongst the Ansar (helpers) who having been united went the opposite direction and fell into disarray with each potential
leadership candidate arguing with one another in an attempt to win the contest outright. It is at this juncture that Umar Ibn al-Khattab showed his brilliance and played his hand by presenting a unity candidate at Saqifah namely Abu Bakr al-Siddiq to be the successor to the Prophet Muhammad and simultaneously assume the mantle of Caliph (Khalifa). After much deliberation, the Muhajirun and Ansar came to an agreement after much reluctance that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq would be the next leader of the Islamic state. Some historians have argued that Umar Ibn al-Khattab decisiveness at Saqifah was prompted by a desire to ensure that the next leader would be from the Qur’aysh and after sensing that the Ansar had been very close to installing the next leader by ostracising the Muhajirun. www.pi-media.co.uk
I March 2017
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