'A month to help those in need': Ramadan relief around the world

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 June, 2018 - 15:27

While Ramadan calls for fasting during daylight hours, eating is also vital. In some countries, though, food is more expensive during the holy month – and in conflict-hit areas it can be scarce at the best of times. Islamic Relief has a special Ramadan distribution scheme that reaches hundreds of thousands of people

  • All photographs by Islamic Relief

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is an important month for fasting and prayer. But it is also a time for family and friends to break their fasts together and, of course, celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

Islamic Relief has a special Ramadan distribution, and this year the NGO is distributing more than 200,000 food parcels to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in 35 countries around the world.

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Breaking bread, piercing prejudice: how a Ramadan meal united faiths | Amrit Dhillon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 June, 2018 - 11:56

Concerned about the portrayal of Muslims in India, author Nazia Erum hosted a multi-faith dinner in New Delhi to lay a few misconceptions to rest

At a dinner in a Delhi home on Sunday, guests around the table were asked to write down one stereotype that they – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus – had about one another. The purpose? Breaking prejudices while breaking bread together.

The interfaith meal was prompted by the hosts’ desire to address preconceptions about Muslims, whom they feel have been targeted under Narendra Modi’s government.

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Why do I want my teenage Muslim boys to fast in Ramadan? | Emily Richardson

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 June, 2018 - 07:39

Living in regional Australia, it’s not easy to get into the spirit of Islam’s holiest month. But my kids have embraced its hidden benefits

Like most teenage boys, my sons love to eat. Most nights, my 15-year-old polishes off two large servings of dinner before heading directly to the fridge in search of more food.

So as a Muslim kid, how does he – and his younger brother – cope with not eating all day during Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset? And what is the point of it for them?

Related: Eid al-Fitr around the world – in pictures

The Arabic word for fasting is “sawm”, which means “to refrain” – a skill I want my teenage boys to be proficient in

Related: Muslims on Ramadan: ‘Fasting is really about mind over matter'

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The White People’s Party

Indigo Jo Blogs - 13 June, 2018 - 21:10

A mailshot from Zac Goldsmith's campaign from 2016.Over the last few months there have been some low-profile media stories about Islamophobia at various levels of the Conservative party. Yesterday there was an interview on the Independent with a former Tory parliamentary candidate who defected to the Liberal Democrats over its treatment of Black and minority-ethnic candidates, Kishan Devani, who said that the party had lurched rightwards since the 2016 referendum and had attempted to become “UKIP-lite”. Former party chairman and minister without portfolio Sayeeda Warsi, who has been outspoken about Islamophobia in the party in the past, spoke to Business Insider saying that the ‘poison’ was very widespread and existed at all levels from the grassroots to the top levels of the party and that the party refused to deal with the problem because they saw it as a vote winner. She attributes it partly to the influence of Michael Gove and former campaign manager Lynton Crosby.

She mentions the London mayoral campaign, run by Crosby, in which Zac Goldsmith’s team accused Sadiq Khan of being an extremist (mostly on the basis of his former human rights work as a lawyer) and made a pitch to Hindu and Sikh voters claiming that Labour supported a “wealth tax on family jewellery” and that Goldsmith had attended Narendra Modi’s appearance at Wembley stadium while Khan had not, and had called for him to be banned from entering the country (on the grounds, let’s not forget, that he oversaw a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat while he was first minister there, and that Muslims are routinely subject to arbitrary violence in parts of India that are under BJP domination — ironic that he accused Sadiq Khan of having links to extremists while cosying up to this fascist). In this case, while their main pitch was to the suburbs, they also tried to peel off one group of brown people at the expense of another (as Warsi put it, saying “these are the acceptable brown people and those are the unacceptable brown people”) but that was a special case in a city which generally votes Labour (Boris Johnson won by downplaying his extreme and bigoted views which have become more obvious since he left that position, and was helped by Labour putting Ken Livingstone up after he lost in 2008).

Generally, the Tories play to a white, provincial and suburban voter base: they appeal to a normative, ‘real’ England of small towns and villages and foster a suspicion of the city, especially the inner city, with its ‘foreign’, ‘troublesome’ ethnic minority and immigrant populations and cosmopolitanism. This is why David Cameron was able to sell his vision of a “big society” where volunteers do things locally that the state had been paying people to do: people should be “looking after their community”, but those of us who live in urban areas know that they are generally impersonal and people’s idea of ‘neighbours’ means those who live one or at most two doors down, if that. It only works in a village. More recently, Theresa May jibed at Remainers at the Tory party conference following the 2016 referendum that “if you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”, implying that Leavers were “real Brits” and those who wanted to remain in the EU were, to borrow Stalin’s phrase, “rootless cosmopolitans” who had connections outside the country and aspirations to live, work or marry abroad. The fact that there were also ethnic minority Leavers who had connections to other countries besides the EU does not figure in this kind of analysis.

The Tories have calculated that they can win general elections without needing to worry about ethnic minority votes, and the threatening overtures made by not only councillors but various MPs over the years do not harm either their individual electoral fortunes nor the party’s general election record. These threats, from attacks by sitting Tory MPs on the face veil (Phillip Hollobone, 2010) to association of FGM (which is practised by Muslims and others, mostly in Africa, and has not spread to Muslims that previously did not practise it) with Islamic extremism (as David Cameron did in his 2015 “extremism” speech) to calls for “muscular liberalism”, meaning open contempt for cultural practices these ‘liberals’ do not like, play to white voters in the suburbs and shires whose knowledge of Islam and Muslim culture comes from the media, particularly the commercial press, and for the most part do not know any Muslims. We are just a foreign mass to them, found in the ‘ghettoes’ of Luton and Leicester. “Those people.”

This is ultimately why the Tories refuse to seriously investigate the general issue of Islamophobia in their party — the fact that incidents keep happening, and that the party attracts bigots. The party has promoted bigots to the highest offices; not only Michael Gove, but also Boris Johnson, who as editor of the Spectator printed not only hostile copy from the likes of Mark Steyn but outright untruths about Muslims in the UK from Patrick Sookhdeo. We know it is possible for the leader to remove a parliamentary candidate, as Michael Howard did with Howard Flight in 2005, but Boris Johnson has seen no restraint to his ambitions since then despite his noted dishonesty (he is the source for a number of the false media stories about the EU which have circulated, and is known to have written both pro-Leave and pro-Remain pieces in the run-up to the 2016 referendum) and lack of diplomatic ability. The problem has been compared with the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party, but the difference is that Tory Islamophobia targets ordinary Muslims in this country, while nearly all the reports of anti-Semitism in the Labour party relates to (often well-justified) harsh attitudes to Israel or stereotypes about Jewish élites, not ordinary Jews.

It’s true, there are a small number of Tory MPs who are not bigots and who respect human rights and the rule of law (e.g. Dominic Grieve). However, there are a number who are and who will not face serious consequences for their careers as long as they express their bigotry in polite terms, i.e. avoid crude slurs. We must avoid giving them our vote, but we must lobby for stricter controls on the propaganda issued by the commercial tabloids which demonise and stereotype us for the entertainment and self-confirmation of people who do not know any of us. The rest of us are subject to arrest if we swear in the street or post an offensive tweet; the commercial media should be subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

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How seven World Cup squads have prepared during Ramadan

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 June, 2018 - 20:51

Fasting during daylight hours is obligatory during the Muslim festival, and the seven teams in Russia from largely Islamic nations have found various ways of tackling the issue

As World Cup 2018 begins in Russia, the Muslim festival of Ramadan is ending around the world. With fasting during daylight hours obligatory for all adults, Ramadan provides challenges for seven nations taking part in the World Cup with majority or large Muslim populations. Here is how the squads from each country have responded.

Related: Football while fasting: life in the Ramadan Midnight League | Nick Miller

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Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar sacked over anti-Islam tweet

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 June, 2018 - 14:37

Dubai hotel ends contract with chef who tweeted that Islam had ‘terrorised’ Hindus for 2,000 years

A Dubai hotel has terminated its contract with the Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar after he tweeted that followers of Islam had “terrorised” Hindus for 2,000 years.

The London-based chef, who is associated with the Rang Mahal restaurant in Dubai as well as five others in the UK and Spain, had been reacting to an episode of the US TV programme Quantico.

Related: Bollywood star apologises over Hindu terror plot row

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#MyRamadanIs – Facilitating Safe Spaces to Share Ramadan Feelings & Struggles

altmuslim - 12 June, 2018 - 18:04
This is Day 28 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. “How’s your Ramadan going?” These four words form the question of the month that can be heard within most Muslim homes and community spaces. It’s an innocuous question, perhaps even seen as compassionate and empathetic. However, along with this question there comes an acceptable set […]

‘Islamo-hooligan’ Médine performing at the Bataclan is a gift to extremists | Cécile Guerin

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 June, 2018 - 15:23
Putting the controversial Muslim rapper on stage at the scene of a terrorist attack plays into the hands of the French far-right

Since the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo three years ago, the debate about censorship and the limits of freedom of speech has rumbled on in France. It took a new turn this week with the revelation that the controversial rapper Médine will perform two shows in October at the Bataclan concert hall, where gunmen killed 90 people on 13 November 2015.

The 35-year French-Algerian Muslim, who describes himself as an “Islamo-racaille” (which can be loosely translated as “Islamo-hooligan”), is known for his provocative songs about Islam and France’s brand of secularism (laïcité). The controversy stems from his 2005 album Jihad, the Greatest Battle Is Against Oneself, which includes calls to “crucify secularists like in Golgotha” and statements such as: “I launch fatwas on the heads of idiots”.

Aucun Français ne peut accepter que ce type aille déverser ses saloperies sur le lieu même du carnage du #Bataclan.
La complaisance ou pire, l’incitation au fondamentalisme islamiste, ça suffit ! MLP #PasDeMédineAuBataclan

Related: The far right is rising, and Britain is dangerously complacent about it | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

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A Ramadan Consumed — Worry, Needs and Service to Family & Humanity

altmuslim - 11 June, 2018 - 20:46
This is Day 27 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers #Ramadan series. This Ramadan, I am consumed. Consumed by the need I see all across the world. Consumed by my responsibility to ensure that critical relief and assistance is delivered to the vulnerable and poverty-stricken individuals both at home and abroad. And, consumed by the personal challenges […]

Highly skilled migrants still face deportation despite Sajid Javid promise

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 June, 2018 - 18:07

Home secretary had said policy refusing leave to remain over tax errors would be paused

Highly skilled migrants are still being dragged through the courts under threat of deportation from the UK for making minor and legal amendments to their taxes, despite a government promise that cases would be paused.

Opposition MPs have said the continuation of the process “smacks of a government department unjustly and incorrectly misusing a draconian power” and “shamelessly ruining innocent people’s lives”.

Related: At least 1,000 highly skilled migrants wrongly face deportation, experts reveal

Related: Sajid Javid plans 'fairer, more compassionate' immigration system

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Hospice staff ‘trained to report dying patients as part of terror strategy’

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 June, 2018 - 17:21

NHS whistleblower says dementia sufferers also monitored as part of Prevent

Doctors and nurses are being trained to monitor terminally ill people and dementia patients and their visitors for signs of radicalisation as part of the government’s Prevent scheme, the Guardian has learned.

A senior NHS whistleblower who works on the programme said that its operations in the health system were so indiscriminate that she had carried out the training in hospices and said that she knew of other trainers who had operated in dementia wards.

Related: Sajid Javid’s counter-terrorism plans risk Britain’s freedom | Simon Jenkins

Related: Mosques launch anti-radicalisation scheme as alternative to Prevent

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Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged

The Guardian World news: Islam - 10 June, 2018 - 10:00
After a burqa ban, hardline rhetoric has entered the mainstream. In one coastal town, attitudes seem increasingly polarised

“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”

Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.

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Grenfell one year on: the mosque manager who took in survivors

The Guardian World news: Islam - 10 June, 2018 - 09:30

Abdurahman Sayed’s Al-Manaar mosque became an emergency support centre in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire

• The reverend who opened his church

It is a 20-minute walk from Grenfell Tower to the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage centre run by Abdurahman Sayed. The mosque became a central source of emergency support on the night of 14 June and has continued to help survivors. Sayed, a benevolent and softly spoken man, remembers: “I was at home – I live in east London – and it was around 5am when I got a text from a colleague stating there was a fire. I said we must open our door, welcome anyone, regardless of faith or gender.” Sayed had no idea of the fire’s scale. He thought everything would be resolved in no time.

It was Ramadan and at the mosque they had laid in supplies of water and dates for breaking their fast each evening. Sayed drove directly to the mosque, loaded his car with the dates, water and a few clothes, and headed towards the tower. He found Ladbroke Grove cordoned off. It was not until later, with the help of two police officers (“we have a good relationship with them”), that he was escorted through the checkpoints to deposit his offerings at the Methodist church. He was on automatic pilot; it was too early to think. He could clearly see that the building was shrouded in smoke yet in a situation of such severity he could think only about how to give comfort to survivors.

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Pro-Tory Facebook group filled with Islamophobic abuse

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 June, 2018 - 22:00

Angry Rees-Mogg says he was signed up without consent

A controversial pro-Conservative Facebook group has been exposed as containing Islamophobic, homophobic and racist comments about public figures including Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.

Comments include demands to “expel the London mayor” and “send back” immigrants, while another post states that “Islam should be banned”. There are also homophobic remarks about Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, posted after she announced that she was pregnant.

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First impressions: Garmin Dezl 780

Indigo Jo Blogs - 9 June, 2018 - 20:20

The new 7” Garmin truck navigation unit, the Dezl 780, is being released some time this month according to Garmin’s website; you can buy it through Amazon now. I got mine last Sunday after pre-ordering it in April (and was initially told it would be with me on 26th April, but when that day dawned without the item having been dispatched, Amazon finally admitted that they didn’t have it in stock then after all) and have been using it to navigate this week. A truck sat-nav allows you to enter the dimensions of the vehicle so that it can route you around weight, height and width limits so that you don’t get stuck down a narrow lane or rip the top of your trailer off by hitting a bridge. I had been using its predecessor, the Dezl 770, since it came out in 2015 and had used a Dezl 560 before that. I still have both (there was also a Dezl 570 and the 580 has been out for a few months now). The unit costs £429 (in the USA, it costs $399); there is also a version with a built-in dashcam which costs an extra £50. I was expecting an updated and improved version of its predecessor, but this is quite different from both its predecessor and the 580 and not always in a good way.

The biggest difference is that this is now an Android device and a lot of the new functionality is based on Android. It’s based on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) which is rather puzzling since there have been two major versions of Android (Nougat and Oreo) and another new version, version ‘P’ (Pancake?), is due out this year some time. It provides a few basic open-source Android apps such as the email client, a music player and a web browser (not Chrome) but none of the proprietary Google apps such as the Play Store, GMail or YouTube. All the configuration and some of the truck-related apps, such as the tachograph manager (which seems to be only relevant to the USA), are on the Android part of the software, while navigation still uses the familiar Garmin user interface. This means the interface is rather inconsistent, with the setting screens using stock Android icons and fonts, which are much less readable on a non-Retina screen at any distance (e.g. between you and your dashboard on some trucks). The curious thing is that, although some of the screenshots give it away, there is no mention of Android in any of Garmin’s publicity; you’d have thought they would have emphasised this given that it opens up many avenues of functionality for the device beyond navigation. But no.

The navigation screens have had a bit of a facelift; the graded colours on the old unit have been flattened (i.e. a panel of a solid colour rather than a rounded effect as on the 770) which has been the trend in graphical user interfaces for a few years now, and the new colours look a bit brighter although perhaps that’s partly because it’s a new screen with less dirt on it. It’s a bit more responsive than the old one and some of the annoying bugs in the old one (e.g. the one where it worked out alternative routes but did not display the second until after the third, if there was one, had been worked out) have been ironed out. Still, there have been some odd routing decisions; on a trip from Basingstoke to Telford, it tried to route me round the south side of Birmingham (sometimes a quicker route, because the route is further from the centre of Birmingham and less busy) despite the fact that (i) it’s a longer distance, (ii) there are some long-term roadworks on the M5 with a 30mph speed limit and lane closures which always cause major delays and (iii) the northern route was clear. The old device came up with a southern route using A-roads via Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, which might be worth considering if the M6 is seriously congested, but this one did not. On the same trip, like the 770, it tried to take me a round-about route to a site when a very direct one was available, and when I took the more direct route, the estimated journey time was reduced, as one would expect. It has locations that are of particular use to truckers such as truck stops and industrial estates, but (like the TomTom) fuel card coverage seems to be limited to the main fuel vendors and DKV, which is not used much in the UK and seems to correspond to a subset of Esso garages.

 Joe" and buttons that say Accept and Reject, and underneath, a blurb that says "The benefits of Bluetooth" and a claim that you can "enjoy the benefit of hands-free calling without diverting your attention from the road".A major omission from this device is the ability to control the phone through the voice command interface, which was a big advantage to the old 770 model and meant you could safely make calls without touching either the unit or your phone (call history and phone book dialling were reliable; voice dialling with numbers wasn’t). That’s gone in this unit and I’ve asked Garmin why, both through email and Twitter, and they have not answered my question yet. The publicity states that it offers hands-free calling but the “Phone” command is missing from the voice command list and if you say “phone” it will mistake it for “volume” which is what the 770 did when the phone was not connected. I am presuming that this is an error, or maybe there is another way of doing it on this unit, but as the manual is not available for download (it results in a “file not found” error when you follow the links on their website), I have no way of knowing. It also offers “smart notifications” whereby the sat-nav will tell you if you have a text message, but this requires the use of their “smartphone link” app which should not be necessary; there are some car and truck radios that offer this functionality without a special app.

So, this unit isn’t what I’d been expecting, and I would have been satisfied with an updated 770 in much the same way as the 580 is an updated 570 which does retain the voice dialling feature. It feels like the old Garmin navigation features are crudely tacked on to a lacklustre stock Android operating system, with nothing having been done to ‘skin’ the Android features to make them look in place on a Garmin sat-nav; skinning is something every Android device manufacturer does and it should not have been impossible for Garmin either to apply its own fonts and other visual features. I suspect that finding Android developers to develop new apps such as the American tachograph feature is easier than finding someone capable of writing for Garmin’s own OS, but it does not justify the lazy approach to the look and feel. I had been expecting this device to clearly outperform the new TomTom truck sat-nav I bought and then sent back in disgust last September, but sadly that isn’t the case until they restore voice dialling and bring out a serious update which remedies the user interface deficits — TomTom have left them an open goal but the ball still hit the post. If you have a 770 and it’s working fine, this is not an essential upgrade.

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Ramadan is an Opportunity in Culinary Diplomacy

altmuslim - 9 June, 2018 - 19:38
The first time I fasted in Ramadan I wasn’t a Muslim; I was a curious young woman who had recently experienced a very short but very impactful trip to Morocco during the blessed month a few years earlier. I learned that the Islamic way of fasting was quite different — detailed and comprehensive — in […]

Football while fasting: life in the Ramadan Midnight League | Nick Miller

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 June, 2018 - 14:00

An idea to help people who might not otherwise feel able to play during Ramadan is gathering momentum in Birmingham

Just after 10pm on a warm Friday evening Obayed Hussain stands outside the Aston Villa academy building, the North Stand of Villa Park looming behind him. He is wearing a white jubbah, the traditional robe worn by Muslim men. Just before going inside he removes it to reveal a Birmingham FA tracksuit underneath.

A bit more than an hour later the first of around 100 or so people, mostly young men, arrive to play and watch football, which they will do until around 2am. It is not the most obvious time for recreational sport but this is the Ramadan Midnight League. Conceived by Obayed and executed with the help of Villa and the local and national FAs, this is an initiative designed to help those who might not otherwise feel able to play during their Ramadan fast.

Related: Transfer window 2018 – every summer deal from Europe's top five leagues

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How Fasting Connects Us All – Remembering the Past

altmuslim - 9 June, 2018 - 04:00
This is day 24 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series. Assalamu’Allaykum, Ramadan is a time of reflection and connecting with Allah (swt). However, through fasting we are not just connecting with Allah (swt); we are also linked to everyone that has fasted before us. In the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us “O you who believe! […]

Turkey condemns Austria's 'racist' move to close mosques

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 June, 2018 - 11:11

President’s spokesman attacks plan to shut seven mosques and expel up to 60 imams

Turkey’s presidential spokesman has lambasted Austria’s decision to expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and shut seven mosques as an “anti-Islam” and “racist” move.

“Austria’s decision to close down seven mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country,” İbrahim Kalın said after Vienna announced the move in a crackdown on “political Islam”.

Related: Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent?

Related: 'It's been looming over us for decades': Austrian voters on the far-right

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