Belittled by burqa row, British Muslims fear rise in hate crime

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 18:56

‘When people attack you, you feel like the only thing you have to cling on to is your religion’

“I mean just what is his problem? He comes out with disgraceful stuff like this all the time. It’s not funny, it’s dangerous. He is peddling this rightwing rhetoric and shrouding it in humour.” Waqas Siddiqui is exasperated and fears yet another rise in hate crime in his home town of Blackburn after Boris Johnson’s controversial remarks about the burqa.

Related: Boris Johnson: pressure mounts in Tory party over burqa remarks

Related: Tory peer accuses Boris Johnson of making 'hate crime more likely'

Related: Burqa bans, headscarves and veils: a timeline of legislation in the west

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What Muslim women ought not to wear isn’t a matter for Boris Johnson | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 18:08
Readers respond to the former foreign secretary’s comparison of Muslim women in burqas to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’

I’m appalled by Boris Johnson’s comments on the niqab being compared to a “letterbox” (Johnson should apologise for ‘offensive’ burqa remarks, says May, 8 August). As an Ahmadi Muslim woman who has chosen to wear a hijab, I find Mr Johnson’s words to be utterly offensive. A Muslim woman – or any woman, in fact – has a right to wear what she pleases. Why does the media consistently target Muslim women who wish to wear Islamic dress? It’s not a government’s place to ban Islamic or any religious clothing. It’s absurd that running around naked seems to be OK but wearing clothes is offensive. Surely Denmark should focus on pressing issues such as climate change, pollution and the gender pay gap.

In a new working paper, Henrik Kleven states “The arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20%” in Denmark, penalising a woman for having a child. These are the real issues Denmark should focus on. As for Mr Johnson’s offensive remarks, I urge himMr Johnson to think about the way he talks about women. The Qur’an (chapter 24, verse 32) teaches: “Restrain their looks and guard their private parts, and that they display not their beauty or embellishment except that which is apparent thereof and that they draw their head-covering over their bosoms.”

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Being middle-aged is like taking a warm bath – if you remember not to care | Zoe Williams

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 16:44

I turned 45 this week, but I have no intention of ‘acting my age’. In this respect, my latest birthday was just like all the others

The middle-aged have pulled off an almighty swizz on the world: 40 is no longer old and only a really old person would remark upon your advancing age, while 50 is a fait accompli; of course you are middle-aged and if anyone wanted to mention it they should have done so years ago. It is a fabulous act of cunning, as if a 16-year-old told you that it was the most suburban thing that they weren’t allowed to vote, then turned round at 21 and said: “What did you let me vote for? You can see that I’m still basically a child.” Except a young person would never do that, because they have more honour.

There is a hard ball of truth among this candyfloss of spin, which is the age of 45. You’re not 40. It’s not the new 35. You are not some symmetrical, nothing number – 42, 44 – to which no meaning can be attached. You are not mourning your youth, which is years behind you, but you are no longer in that enjoyable limbo where there is no name for what you are. You are more than a bit middle-aged: you are its dictionary definition.

Centrism says: 'Aren’t we all patriots at heart​? Don’t we all hate immigrants and politicians?'

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Dominic Grieve: I will leave party if Boris Johnson becomes leader

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 15:52

Former attorney general says comments about burqas show Johnson is not a ‘fit and proper’ person to lead Tories

A former Conservative minister has said he would leave the party if Boris Johnson were elected leader, as recriminations mounted over the former foreign secretary’s description of Muslim women in burqas.

The former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who has become a prominent advocate for a soft Brexit, described Johnson’s comments in a Telegraph column as “very embarrassing”. Meanwhile, more Tory MPs called for Johnson to apologise.

We are now into full bandwagon jumping territory on @BorisJohnson article. Seeing some of the tweets from colleagues desperate not to get left behind I can't see they can even have read it. If they did they clearly didn't understand it.

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May must learn from Labour mistakes and stamp out Tory Islamophobia | Jonathan Freedland

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 12:33

Boris Johnson’s burqa remarks were not a one-off. The Conservatives need to show zero tolerance to such damaging derision

Now we know that Boris Johnson’s defining ideology – cakeism – spreads beyond Brexit. In his Telegraph column on the burqa that has led to calls for his suspension from the Conservative party and demands from the prime minister that he apologise, the former foreign secretary wanted, yet again, to have his cake and eat it.

Related: Boris Johnson’s contempt for Muslim women is part of a dangerous pattern | Sayeeda Warsi

Related: I’m a Tory councillor. Islamophobia in my party goes beyond Boris Johnson | Hashim Bhatti

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Boris Johnson’s contempt for Muslim women is part of a dangerous pattern | Sayeeda Warsi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 10:25
Ridiculing people doesn’t make them more likely to integrate. The Conservative party is alienating a whole section of society

Tory peer accuses Boris Johnson of making ‘hate crime more likely’

On Monday, in a column in the Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson compared fully veiled Muslim women to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. Thankfully, both the prime minister Theresa May and the Conservative party chair Brandon Lewis have asked Johnson to apologise. Others in my party and in the media have seen fit to defend him. I’d like to set out precisely why his remarks are indefensible, and have no place in the modern Conservative party – and the action I think needs to follow.

Related: Boris Johnson: pressure mounts in Tory party over burqa remarks

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Tory peer accuses Boris Johnson of making 'hate crime more likely'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 August, 2018 - 10:24

Exclusive: Sayeeda Warsi says burqa jibe adds to view that Muslim women are ‘fair game’

One of the Conservative party’s most high-profile Muslims has accused Boris Johnson of making “hate crime more likely” with an indefensible, “dog-whistle” reference to fully veiled Muslim women.

Sayeeda Warsi, writing in the Guardian on Wednesday, said the former foreign secretary had used rightwing, “alt-right” language in criticising the appearance of the burqa, which contributes to a view that “Muslim women are fair game”.

Related: Boris Johnson’s contempt for Muslim women is part of a dangerous pattern | Sayeeda Warsi

Related: All apologies: the many times Boris Johnson has been told to say sorry

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Boris Johnson’s latest insult (and the Muslims who unwittingly side with him)

Indigo Jo Blogs - 7 August, 2018 - 20:33

Two women wearing the niqaab or Muslim face-covering walking in the streets of The Hague; one is wearing a dark blue scarf and veil, the other a purple scarf and veil and a lighter purple jacket, and both are wearing long black skirts or dresses. A woman is pointing a large video camera at them.Yesterday, in one of Boris Johnson’s new columns for the Telegraph (which you may recall the paper made a big announcement of after he resigned as foreign secretary), he registered his half-hearted opposition to Denmark’s ban on the face-covering worn by some Muslim women, but then spent more time informing us of how much he disliked it, comparing the women’s appearance to those of letter-boxes and bank-robbers. The article was immediately condemned by Muslims and the Labour party; the condemnation from the Tories has taken rather longer to start appearing; Alistair Burt criticised it on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning and party chairman Brandon Lewis has now said he asked Johnson to apologise in a tweet posted after midday today. His comments have naturally received support from other Tories, including the bane of the posh boys Nadine Dorries, who tweeted that “any clothing a woman is forced to wear that hides both her beauty and her bruises should be banned and have no place in our liberal, progressive country”, joining between illiberalism and racism with the assumption that it generally hides bruises. Presumably she also thinks a stab victim should go topless and a rape victim should go naked.

As ever, there is the lazy insistence on calling the face veil women wear a “burka”. There are two different garments which are called this and neither of them are worn by women here; they tend to wear the niqaab which is a simple veil which ties round the back of the head and covers the face, and can be flipped up when necessary. What is generally thought of as a burka is only worn in Afghanistan and neighbouring regions of Pakistan, and is sometimes called the “shuttlecock” (even there) because of its appearance, and is an all-over garment with a grille for the eyes. To suggest anything Muslim women wear resembles the dress of bank robbers, who are usually men, is highly insulting as well as inaccurate; bank robbers wear motorcycle helmets or balaclavas which look nothing like the niqaab.

But Boris’s rant is not the point of this article. My focus is on the response of Nazir Afzal, who posted a tweet yesterday which claimed that “there is no religious reason for wearing Burka (it’s not allowed in Mecca pilgrimage … I don’t like it either” before adding the proviso that “it’s also wrong for me or politician (sic) to belittle whatever a woman chooses to wear”. Nazir Afzal is the media’s idea of a “good Muslim”, a clean-shaven man who made his name prosecuting Muslim child sex abusers. He is not a religious scholar and his comment shows his ignorance. What people wear on the Hajj is not a guide for what they should wear at any other time, and the rule that a woman should not wear a veil across the face does not apply at any other time. Besides, when did you ever see a man wear anything remotely resembling the ihraam, the rough two-piece white garment worn for Hajj, at any other time? Even in the Hajj, some scholars have allowed a woman to wear a veil over their face as long as it does not actually touch the face, and some have said it was compulsory.

As for wearing it at any other time, a large proportion of religiously observant women at most times in Muslim history before the colonial era covered their face, often by pulling their head covering around their face as is found in parts of East Africa and Indonesia today. The niqaab is a modern invention, but it serves the same purpose. This tradition dates back to the time of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and is not a Byzantine or Persian import as some academics insist; the majority of scholars have said that the commandment for women to cover their beauty applies to the face although there is a specific hadeeth that indicates that showing the face and hands is acceptable. In this day and age, when the majority of women do not even cover their hair and the niqaab is commonly (though wrongly) associated with extremism, I would not go round telling women that they must cover their faces if they do not feel safe doing so. Wearing the headscarf, which actually is compulsory in Islam, is enough of a struggle for many women, especially those new to Islam.

At times when Islam and the Muslims are being attacked by an open and public racist, half-hearted or partial criticisms from Muslim public figures attached to ill-informed opinions about what Islam says do not help; they in fact offer the enemy in the press, Parliament and the street ammunition, since they can tell Muslims that this or that famous Muslim in fact agrees with them and not with their fellow Muslims. You cannot slap a racist down by agreeing with his opinions but disagreeing with his tone; you condemn him absolutely, while saving discussions about the virtues of the niqaab or whatever for another day.

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The Guardian view on Boris Johnson: it’s about him not the burqa | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 August, 2018 - 18:35
The former foreign secretary does not care about the damage he does. All he is interested in is the Conservative leadership

Thank goodness Boris Johnson is no longer foreign secretary. This is always worth saying. But it is particularly worth saying after his tasteless newspaper column joke about Muslim women who wear the burqa. Given his track record, the chances of Mr Johnson saying the same thing while representing Britain would have been high. So the one redeeming thing about his comments is that they do not come with the imprimatur of the British government. For that relief, some thanks.

Mr Johnson was not interested in a discussion about the burqa. He is interested in himself. In so far as he will have thought about the effect of his remarks – which is doubtful – his primary concern will have been to be noticed. Mr Johnson craves attention. He also still craves the Conservative leadership, a job for which he is peculiarly ill-suited but which too many members of his party think he would do well. They could not be more wrong. Mr Johnson’s remarks therefore say something very disturbing about both him and the Tory party, as well as the kind of Britain that it would be our misfortune to suffer if he was ever to return to power in any shape.

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Boris Johnson defies Tory calls for apology over burqa remarks

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 August, 2018 - 17:24

Former minister was asked to say sorry for comparing veiled Muslims to bank robbers

Boris Johnson is defying calls from Conservative party chiefs to apologise for his claim that Muslim women in burqas resemble letter boxes and bank robbers.

The former foreign secretary is understood to view the instruction as an attempt to shut down debate on a difficult issue that should be tackled head-on.

I agree with @AlistairBurtUK. I have asked @BorisJohnson to apologise.

Related: It’s no coincidence Boris Johnson has discovered strong views on the burqa | Nesrine Malik

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I’m a Tory councillor. Islamophobia in my party goes beyond Boris Johnson | Hashim Bhatti

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 August, 2018 - 13:59
Anti-Muslim imagery and rhetoric, like the kind used by Boris Johnson, are hurting my party. It’s time for an inquiry

I joined the Conservative party because it was a party of aspiration, one that promised I could realise my dreams if I worked hard. It’s the only party I have ever joined. And why wouldn’t I? It has produced the first female Muslim cabinet minister (Baroness Warsi), the first Muslim home secretary (Sajid Javid) and the first Muslim MEP (Syed Kamall).

I am a dedicated member of the party and a councillor in Windsor. I chair the youth wing of the Conservative Muslim Forum. I have been active in Conservative politics for more than eight years, and in all that time, I never had any bad feeling directed towards me because of my religion. However, I have been alarmed recently by the direction in which the party is going in tackling Islamophobia.

Related: Boris Johnson's burqa remarks offensive, says Foreign Office minister

When Zac Goldsmith fought Sadiq Khan for London ​​mayor in May 2016, the Conservatives ran a disgraceful campaign

Related: It’s no coincidence Boris Johnson has discovered strong views on the burqa | Nesrine Malik

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The Islamic school that ensures its boys understand the Israeli point of view

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 August, 2018 - 07:59
The private Abrar Academy is pioneering a groundbreaking method of teaching the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict

More than 550,000 students took GCSE history this summer, says Michael Davies, a history teacher at Lancaster Royal Grammar, a selective state boys’ school in Lancashire. “Of those, only 2,200 had studied Israel and Palestine. In comparison, 70,000 had studied the history of the American West.”

At Abrar Academy, a private Muslim boys’ school based in a former Methodist church in Preston, this year’s GCSE cohort did not take the Israel/Palestine option. Like so many schools of all dominations, they studied the first world war instead.

Related: Exam boards drop Israel-Palestine from syllabus as schools fight shy of conflict

Related: Secret Teacher: the emphasis on British history is depriving students of balance

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‘We’re a people destroyed’: why Uighur Muslims across China are living in fear

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 August, 2018 - 06:00

Gene A Bunin has spent the past 18 months talking to Uighur restaurant workers all over China. These conversations reveal how this Muslim minority feel the daily threat of arrest, detention and ‘re-education’

It was about a year ago that I first walked into Karim’s restaurant, intending to write about it as part of the food guide I was putting together about ethnic Uighur restaurants in the traditionally Chinese “inner China” of the country’s east and south. Having already spent a decade researching the Uighurs – a largely Muslim ethnic minority group based mainly in the westernmost Xinjiang region, outside inner China – this food-guide project was intended as a fun spin-off from my usual linguistic studies. Or even a “treasure hunt”, you might say, given the rarity of Uighur restaurants in such major inner-China cities as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, where the Uighurs are migrants and where the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group that account for more than 90% of China’s population, are the great majority.

While my travels for the guide would involve visiting almost 200 restaurants in more than 50 cities, Karim’s was particularly memorable. I found the usual pilau rice and hand-pulled laghmen noodles – central-Asian dishes that are staples of Uighur cuisine, and which Karim’s kitchen did very well. More important, though, were the sense of warmth and feeling of community, which made sitting there for an additional hour or two a real pleasure. Karim was a great host, and his diners would often chat with each other across the tables, touching upon serious issues while maintaining a certain levity and humour.

Related: The great firewall of China: Xi Jinping’s internet shutdown

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Daily Mail removes 'Powder Keg Paris' report after complaints

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 August, 2018 - 20:16

Article claimed 300,000 ‘illegal migrants’ were living in crime-ridden suburb of Saint-Denis

The Daily Mail has removed a report from its website that described the French capital as “Powder Keg Paris” following accusations that its reporting contained inaccuracies and misrepresentations about the impact of migration on one suburb.

The piece described a “devastating report” that suggested 300,000 “illegal migrants” were living in the suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, where drug dealing, crime and poverty were rising due to the “quite simple” explanation of “immigration on a mammoth scale”.

Hello @MailOnline. I've read your "devastating" article on "illegal migrants in Saint Denis". We too in France have tabloïds who couldn't care less about the truth, but I really have to say: you're in a league of your own. Everything in your paper is wrong. A fact checking:

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It’s no coincidence Boris Johnson has discovered strong views on the burqa | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 August, 2018 - 18:10
Is owning the Tories’ pet ‘Muslim problem’ now part of the former foreign secretary’s new ambition?

Who had bet that it would be three weeks before Boris Johnson was back at it? It was only a matter of (a very brief period of) time. It was really mystifying to see some people celebrate Johnson’s resignation as foreign secretary last month, as if that implied in any way that he was purged. He was merely resting, recalibrating, repositioning.

And so three weeks later he re-emerged. What did his brief time away from the political fray instil in him? Some humility perhaps? Some sense of genuine distress at the no-deal Brexit that the country seems to be hurtling towards? Some concern for his own party, riven with internal feuds while under the leadership of a prime minister who is standing in the middle of a circular firing squad?

Related: Boris Johnson's burqa remarks 'fan flames of Islamophobia', says MP

Related: No Etonians in the cabinet? How will we ever cope? | Jess Phillips

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The Guardian view on Muslim marriage: one way forward | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 August, 2018 - 17:59
A judgment in the English family court suggests a way to extend rights to some married Muslim women without recognising sharia law

English law does not recognise sharia courts. Nor should it. Yet they still have a considerable influence in England, especially in the area of family life. Women have fewer rights against their husbands under sharia law than those who marry under civil law, which is why last spring’s independent review into the workings of sharia law recommended strongly that all Muslim marriages be registered with the civil authorities as well. If they are not, they are not legally marriages at all, which deprives the women and their children of much of the protection of the law if the marriage collapses. The review was entirely plain on this: no one who gave evidence disputed that “sharia councils engage in practices which are discriminatory to women”.

Yet many devout Muslims feel that their marriage is not real unless it has been religiously blessed and celebrated. This isn’t something the law or society should trample over, any more than it would do so in the case of Christian sensibilities. The requirement that marriages be celebrated in both forms is an entirely sensible compromise. But even if this were to happen tomorrow, it is a reform that would do nothing for the tens of thousands of women who now find themselves outside the protection that the law intends for all married couples. And it won’t happen tomorrow. The independent review observed that one motive for failing to register a Muslim marriage was a simple calculation of financial self-interest on the husband’s part.

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Indonesian imam continues prayers in Bali during earthquake – video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 August, 2018 - 12:34

Footage of an imam reciting evening prayers in Bali while a deadly earthquake struck the neighbouring island of Lombok has gone viral, with people praising him for his unwavering faith.

The video, recorded on a smartphone, shows him supporting himself against the wall as the room shakes violently and some worshipers flee.

The powerful quake has killed scores of people and damaged thousands of buildings on Lombok.

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