Don’t penalise all Britons – just Muslims

“Americans are at last waking up to the threat posed by British-born Islamists…. The fact that Americans are worried is gratifying. This column was among the first to warn about the radicalization of the British Muslim community. But there is a risk that, having ignored the danger hitherto, Americans may now overreact by penalizing all Britons, not just the minority who really do threaten security.

“It is true that opinion polls show that a significant proportion of British Muslims have at least some sympathy for jihadist extremism, and that even their leaders are unwise or unscrupulous enough to use the threat of terrorism to put pressure on Tony Blair to abandon his support for America and Israel. It is also true, however, that the overwhelming majority of non-Muslim Britons are just as hostile to Islamist terrorism as Americans.

“Even more significantly, the British – like the Americans – are now much more concerned about Islam than was the case five years ago. They no longer believe the assurances of ‘moderate’ Muslim leaders or their non-Muslim apologists that Islam is a religion of peace. People are much better informed and understand that there is a real problem about Islamic theology, which is constantly used to justify jihad against America, Britain and Israel, while suicide ‘martyrs’ are glorified.

“About half of all Britons now see Islam as such, not merely its most extreme versions, as a potential threat to their way of life – not before time. It is not only the war on terror that has to be won; there is a culture war, too. This involves resisting the encroachments of aggressive multiculturalism, which acts as a Trojan horse for Muslim demands to live under Shariah law or to censor legitimate criticism or comment.”

Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun, 31 August 2006

Islamophobia Watch: a statement

Islamophobia Watch was launched in early 2005. On the tenth anniversary of its foundation I have decided that the time has come to wind it up. (The site will remain online but will no longer be updated.)

This is not because the threat of anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred that we set out to challenge ten years ago has receded. On the contrary, as the rise of PEGIDA in Germany and the recent arson attacks on Swedish mosques demonstrate, if anything the situation has grown worse.

The problem is that IW set itself overambitious aims. Reporting examples of Islamophobia from across the western world as well as producing comment and analysis in response to these developments is well beyond the capacity of a one-person blog. I’ve become increasingly frustrated by IW’s inability to perform this role effectively.

There is clearly a need for a properly resourced and preferably Muslim-led organisation to extend and deepen the work Islamophobia Watch has done over the past decade. But the continued existence of IW itself is an obstacle to such an initiative.

In any case, IW’s main function as I saw it was to provide a searchable online database of Islamophobic incidents – over the years I recorded thousands of such cases – for the use of the Muslim community and others involved in the struggle against racism and fascism.

That function of IW was destroyed two years ago when I was excluded from the original website and had to set up the present site, minus the archives. (In the absence of anyone prepared to put the necessary effort into maintaining and updating it, the original site soon became moribund and was then abandoned.)

I have transferred some of the material from the original site to this one, with the objective of restoring the database, and I intend to persevere with this task, but it will be a long process.

Finally, many thanks to all those who have supported Islamophobia Watch over the past ten years.

Reports and comment from Islamophobia Watch 29 December‑4 January

Reports and comment from Islamophobia Watch 29 December 2014-4 January 2015

Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed’

Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.

The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan. Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.

The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.

The consultation paper adds: “Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups. They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.”

But concern was raised over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers.

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Sweden mulls national strategy to counter ‘Islamophobia’ after arson attacks on mosques

Uppsala mosque graffiti (2)Sweden’s government is planning to develop a new national strategy to counter the growing prejudice against Islam in the country, according to Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish minister of culture and democracy.

Kuhnke said at a Stockholm protest rally against the spate of attacks on mosques that the government will coordinate with local Muslim communities to find ways to fight Islamophobia by spreading awareness about Islam among people, BBC News reported. The term “Islamophobia” is used to refer to the hatred toward, and fear of, the religion of Islam.

“The big problem is that some people have these sets of values which make them prepared to carry out these horrendous deeds. We won’t change that with more window bars, cameras or guards,” Ria Novosti quoted Kuhnke as saying, adding that the minister would start consultations with local Muslim organizations in February.

On Friday, thousands of people took to the streets in three of Sweden’s largest cities, including Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, to demand an end to the attacks on mosques. At a protest rally, outside the parliament in Stockholm, demonstrators held leaflets saying, “Don’t touch my mosque,” to show their solidarity with the Muslim community in the country.

“I came here because I am against the mosque attacks. They are not only attacks on mosques but also against Swedish democracy,” one of the protesters told The Local, a Swedish media outlet. “I am a Swedish citizen first and I am also a Swedish Muslim seeking to protect my rights and to show solidarity with others to deal with this Islamophobia.”

A mosque in Sweden’s fourth largest city, Uppsala, was attacked on Thursday in what was reportedly the third arson attack on a Muslim center in the country within a week. The attack followed another incident on Monday, when a fire broke out at a mosque in the southern town of Eslov. An earlier Christmas Day attack on another mosque in Eskilstuna city, 86 miles west of the Swedish capital Stockholm, had wounded five people.

International Business Times, 3 January 2014

See also “In Sweden, the land of the open door, anti-Muslim sentiment finds a foothold”, New York Times, 2 January 2015

MP urges Czechs: Walk your pigs near mosques

Tomio OkamuraTomio Okamura, who heads the Czech opposition Dawn of Direct Democracy movement, has called on people on Facebook to bother Muslims in the Czech Republic by “walking pigs” in the vicinity of mosques, for example, which, he emphasised, is no incitement to intolerance.

The Dawn discussed the text of the appeal with lawyers before releasing it, he told the server.

In the past, Okamura repeatedly asserted that he is not a xenophobe, in spite of his controversial statements about Romanies and foreigners in the Czech Republic. For example, Okamura once visited a man convicted of a racially motivated murder in prison.

The text that Okamura released on Facebook is the Dawn’s “instruction for the protection against Islam.” It is signed by Dawn member Jiří Kobza.

The Dawn advises people to keep dogs and pigs and to go to walk them in the vicinity of mosques and other sites visited by Muslims. People should also lead [seedy-looking] homeless people to such places, Dawn recommends. It says people should not buy kebabs, a meal often offered by Muslim vendors.

The article is also aimed against immigrants in general. It calls on people not to vote in support of politicians who promise advantages to immigrants.

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Germany: Muslims to march in protest of widespread racial hatred

In the face of massive anti-Islam protests organized by Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), Germany will witness a major counter-demonstration on Jan. 5 to protest widespread hatred toward Muslims in German society, which has a long history of fear of foreigners, dating back to the Nazi regime’s extermination of the Jewish community. Since then, neo-Nazi movements have led ongoing discriminatory practices and violent attacks against immigrants.

At least 13 nongovernmental organizations of Muslim and ethnic Turkish immigrants in Germany released a joint declarations stating that they would give significant support to the upcoming demonstration against PEGIDA, while calling for other organizations to join the counter-protest in Cologne. “We are calling on all citizens to join the demonstration in Cologne on Jan. 5 and take a stance against racism, xenophobia, hatred against foreigners and hostility against Islam,” the organizations said in a joint statement, as reported by Anadolu Agency. “We will support all democratic initiatives and allies that oppose PEGIDA and other groups inspired by it,” the statement added.

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Twitter and Facebook ‘allowing Islamophobia to flourish’ as anti-Muslim comments proliferate

Twitter and Facebook are refusing to take down hundreds of inflammatory Islamophobic postings from across their sites despite being alerted to the content by anti-racism groups, an investigation by The Independent has established.

The number of postings, some of which accuse Muslims of being rapists, paedophiles and comparable to cancer, has increased significantly in recent months in the aftermath of the Rotherham sex-abuse scandal and the murder of British hostages held by Isis.

The most extreme call for the execution of British Muslims – but in most cases those behind the abuse have not had their accounts suspended or the posts removed.

Facebook said it had to “strike the right balance” between freedom of expression and maintaining “a safe and trusted environment” but would remove any content reported to it that “directly attacks others based on their race”. Twitter said it reviews all content that is reported for breaking its rules which prohibit specific threats of violence.

Over the past four months Muslim groups have been attempting to compile details of online abuse and report it to Twitter and Facebook. They have brought dozens of accounts and hundreds of messages to the attention of the social-media companies.

But despite this most of the accounts reported are still easily accessible. On New Year’s Eve the author of one of the accounts reported wrote: “If whites had groomed only paki girls 1 It would be a race hate crime. 2 There would be riots from all Muslim dogs.”

Other examples of extremist postings on Twitter include:

*A user posted an image of a girl with a noose around her neck with the caption: “6 per cent of white British girls will become sex slaves to the Islamic slave trade in Britain”.

*A tweet which reads: “Should have lost World War Two. Your daughters would be getting impregnated by handsome blond Germans instead of Pakistani goat herders. Good job Britain.”

*On Facebook a posting in response to the beheading of Westerners in Syria is also still easily accessible despite being reported to the company weeks ago. It reads: “For every person beheaded by these sick savages we should drag 10 off the streets and behead them, film it and put it online. For every child they cut in half … we cut one of their children in half. An eye for an eye.”

When the comments were reported, Facebook said that they did not breach the organisation’s guidelines.

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‘Love bombing’ at Uppsala mosque

Uppsala mosque solidarity messages

Paper hearts have been pasted on to the doors of a mosque in Uppsala following the suspected arson attack there Thursday and hundreds joined a demonstration there Friday morning in solidarity with Swedish Muslims.

Among those demonstrating in Uppsala was Sweden’s minister for public administration, Ardalan Shekarabi.

Speaking to Swedish Radio in Uppsala, Shekarabi said: “We’re seeing a wave of Islamophobic propaganda. It’s obvious that we have to take a stand against Islamophobia and for the equal value of every person. All people, no matter what their faith, should feel safe in Sweden.”

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Stockholm rallies against mosque attacks

Stockholm demonstration don't touch my mosque banner
‘Don’t touch my mosque’ – banner on Stockholm demonstration

Thousands of people turned up to a rally in Stockholm in support of Sweden’s Muslim community on Friday afternoon following three arson attacks on mosques, with other demonstrations scheduled to take place in Gothenburg and Malmö.

The crowds in Stockholm waved placards and listened to speeches from leading figures within the city’s Muslim community as they gathered on the cobbled streets outside the Royal Palace in the Swedish capital’s Old Town, known as Gamla Stan.

The largest banner at the demonstration read: “Don’t touch my mosque”.

Anti-racism campaigner Yasin Ahmed, 43, told The Local he was “surprised and thrilled” that so many people had turned out for the event on a cold January 2nd.

“I came here because I am against the mosque attacks. They are not only attacks on mosques but also against Swedish democracy. I am a Swedish citizen first and I am also a Swedish muslim seeking to protect my rights and to show solidarity with others to deal with this Islamophobia”.

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