Islam and Muslims in UK: More threat to British Muslims in smaller towns, says a report
- More threat to British Muslims in smaller towns, says a report
LONDON, Dec 24 (APP)- Anti-Muslim sentiment and violence are seen as problems of big British cities with large immigrant populations from countries where Islam is the official religion.But new research suggests that threats and intimidation are more of a problem in small market towns and suburban areas.Many cases, the University of Exeter report found, are not reported.The new study ‘Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies,’ reveals unprovoked incidents are largely a hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur.Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC), which produced the report, said Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business. Through our research we have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and market towns there is a
feeling of being under siege.
“Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials: ‘We can see this is bad, why don’t you move the mosque?’”
The report is part of a ten-year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society.
The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced.
Case studies examined by academics from the University of Exeter reveal examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a “terrorist” in front of her petrified daughter are not uncommon.
Such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police. She also played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress, and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim.
Findings show that, since the 9/11 attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically and smaller or isolated Muslim communities have become especially vulnerable.
The report also analyses the local activity by the British National Party, English Defence League and sister organisations. Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied.
Dozen held in UK anti-terror raid
British police arrest 12 men in a major operation aimed at foiling a new plot in the country.
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2010 11:05 GMT
British police have arrested 12 men in a large-scale "counterterrorism operation" after conducting raids on homes in three cities.
West Midlands police they had detained five men from Cardiff in Wales, four from Stoke in central England and three from London, the capital, on Monday.
"All were arrested at or near their home addresses, with the exception of one suspect from Stoke who was at a domestic property in Birmingham," a spokesman said.
"They've all been held on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK."
They added that searches were still being conducted at the home addresses, while the suspects were held at police stations around the country.
The group, aged between 17 and 28, were detained by unarmed officers at around 05:00 GMT, police said.
'No link to Sweden'
A senior Iraqi official had said last week that he believed al-Qaeda was planning attacks in the United States, Britain and Europe around Christmas, a year after a failed attempt to bomb a US-bound airliner.
The arrests, which follow several weeks of surveillance, are not believed to be linked to other recent plots against Europe or the recent bombing in Sweden.
John Yates, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, who is in charge of counterterrorism policing nationally, said that the swoop was a large-scale, pre-planned and intelligence-led operation involving several forces.
"The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time about the suspected offences," he said in a statement.
"However, I believe it was necessary at this time to take action in order to ensure public safety."
Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reported from London that at this early stage police are being very tight-lipped about it and the details are very sketchy, but "it doesn't necessarily implicate guilt."
"They [the police] are not saying where in those cities, the raids took place and the search is continuing."
He also said that the UK interior minister was briefed in advance of the raids taking place.
"Police used unarmed officers to conduct the raids indicating that they were expecting little or no resistance," Brennan said.
The arrests are the most high profile anti-terror raids in Britain since April 2009, when 12 men were detained in northern cities over an alleged plot to bomb a shopping centre in Manchester.
Those suspects were later released without charge, though some men were later deported over immigration offences.
According to 2008 figures, 1500 arrests were made in the UK under alleged terrorism offences but two-third of those were released while remaining were charged, sometimes with other offences and not terrorism.
The 'bubbly' Luton radical who became a suicide bomber in Sweden
Police investigation will focus on how and where Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly became radicalised
When he decided to move from Sweden to Britain in 2001, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly found himself living in a small community that has thrown up more than its fair share of violent jihadists.
Police and security service officers in Sweden and the UK are now attempting to discover how Abdaly came to be radicalised to such an extent that he would attempt to mount a mass-casualty attack in Sweden, the country that became his home when he was 10 years old. They will be particularly anxious to establish whether any individuals living in Luton played a part in the process.
The Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt last night said Swedish authorities were "co-operating closely" with the UK on the investigation and were making an "intensive" effort to work out if Abdaly was acting alone or with accomplices. "That is obviously something that the authorities are extremely keen to try to find out," he said.
Swedish media were reporting that Abdaly "was profoundly transformed by something that happened while he was in the UK," he added, but that authorities didn't know "and it might be that we never find out."
Abdaly's family home in Luton was cordoned off yesterday and police removed a car believed to belong to his wife, who runs a hair and makeup company. Abdaly moved to Luton in 2001 to study sports therapy at the University of Bedfordshire. In 2004 he married Mona Thwany, 28, and they had three children. He had recently advertised on dating sites for a second wife.
Tahir Hussain, a taxi driver who lives next door to the Abdaly family home, said he had been quiet and "seemed like a nice person". While it was obvious that Abdaly was religious, Hussain added – "his wife used to cover her face, and he wore a djellaba" – he had made no more public show of his faith than giving sweets to his neighbours' children at Eid.
Stockholm suicide bomber confronted by Luton mosque leaders
Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly had been challenged by leaders of Luton Islamic centre over extremist views
How Luton became the epicentre of the global clash of civilisations
Mark Hughes visits the Bedforshire town shaken by a dangerous cocktail of radical Islam and English Defence League provocation
Muslim challenge to tuition fee interest charges
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent
Muslim student leaders say changes to tuition fees in England could breach Islamic rules on finance, which do not permit interest charges.
The coalition government's plans to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 also include higher interest rates for repayments of loans.
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies says this will make loans unusable for many Muslim students.
A government spokesman said these were "not commercial loans".
As well as raising tuition fees, the proposals for university funding include changes to loan repayments - with some students set to pay more than at present.
Repayments will be structured so that higher-earning graduates are paying higher levels of interest rates, up to 3% above inflation.
Only those who earn below £21,000 will remain paying an effective zero rate of interest.
There are concerns that such interest charges are against Muslim teaching on finance and will prevent young Muslims from getting the finance needed to go to university.
Continue reading the main story
People are already drowning in debt”
Federation of Student Islamic Societies
"Many Muslim students are averse to interest due to teachings in the Islamic faith - such interest derails accessibility to higher education," says Nabil Ahmed, president of the FOSIS student group.
According to FOSIS, changes to interest rates on loans "ignore the sensitivities of many Muslim students and greatly restrict their accessibility to higher education".
There are different opinions within the Muslim community about whether such loans are acceptable under their faith - but Mr Ahmed says a "significant number" would be opposed.
A spokesman for the Business, Innovation and Skills department said student loans were not a form of commercial lending.
"The government heavily subsidises the student support system and will continue to do so - it does not, and will not in the future, make a profit from student support," said the spokesman.
Mr Ahmed says there is a wider principle about the raising of interest rates and increasing debt for students, which he describes as "unethical".
"People are already drowning in debt," he says. "We don't want people to be priced out of university."
Under the government's proposals, the loans to pay for the increased cost of university will be paid off over 30 years.
Mr Ahmed highlighted how this debt would stretch across generations.
Many students will be in their fifties when they finish paying for their degree courses - at which point they might then be expected to support their own children at university.
The government's plans for university finance, presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday, prompted an occupation by students at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Student union leaders have warned of further protests, particularly against Liberal Democrat MPs accused of failing to keep promises that they would oppose any increase in fees.
But the government has defended the plans as "progressive" - arguing that it will make universities more affordable to poorer students.
Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said: "Our reforms will give our universities financial stability and the resources to provide a world-class education in an increasingly global market.
"Graduates will pay less each month than they do now. Part-time students will no longer be faced with unfair, upfront fees. And the poorest graduates will pay considerably less than they do today."
Muslim school helps out secular neighbour
By Richard Garner, Education Editor
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
On the face of it the two schools have nothing in common apart from the city they share.
Tauheedul Islam Girls' School in Blackburn was one of the country's first state-funded Muslim schools, set up by parents who wanted an alternative to the state sector. Ranked as outstanding by Ofsted, it has some of the best exam results in Britain.
Blakewater College has traditionally served a more white working-class Lancastrian community in another part of the city. It has a chequered past, having problems with behaviour and exam performance.
But now Tauheedul is helping Blakewater turn itself round. It is the first time that a Muslim school has been asked to perform a rescue act on a non-faith state school, but the experiment is already paying dividends.
After only eight months the percentage of pupils gaining five A* to C grade passes at Blakewater has risen from 11 per cent to 26 per cent.
Alan Chambers, head of Blakewater College for the past year, said the link with Tauheedul – led by its principal, Hamid Patel – had helped immeasurably. "Hamid is a Blackburn lad and there is no doubt that he wants to put something back into the wider community that both of us serve," Mr Chambers said.
The college now assesses the performance of pupils as soon as they arrive, giving them extra support if they fall short. It has also approached parents to get them more involved in the process – a tactic previously honed by their colleagues across the city.
"At Tauheedul, we get 90 to 95 per cent parental attendance," said Mr Patel. "If they don't come we ring them and say 'Come tomorrow'. We keep doing that until they come." Another of the key challenges, he said, was to raise pupils' aspirations.
Mr Patel has already written to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, outlining plans for a countrywide network of schools like Tauheedul – using the "free schools" initiative to get them up and running. Tauheedul was run as an independent school for more than two decades in terraced houses, accepting financial contributions from parents.
It joined the state sector in 2006 and has since expanded, now having to turn away more than 200 applicants a year. Mr Patel said that within five years he would like to open the doors to non-Muslim pupils, as white families are already asking for its prospectus on the strength of its exam results.
"Come back in five years and I guarantee [we] will have white families. In some areas of the country there are Church of England schools that are 100 per cent Muslim because they like the ethos of the school," he said.
Mail's Wikileaks 'revelation' about Muslim students is their own 2008 story
The Daily Mail's latest Wikileaks 'revelation' about British Muslims is actually a story they published in 2008, and it's as dodgy now as it was then.
Spot the difference: Today's Daily Mail carries the headline "The latest WikiLeaks revelation: 1 in 3 British Muslim students back killing for Islam and 40% want Sharia law." If that sounds awfully familiar, it should: back in 2008 the paper revealed that "one third of British Muslim students say it's acceptable to kill for Islam," and that "40 per cent want to see the introduction of Islamic sharia law in Britain."
The Mail in 2010 claim the figures are from a "a survey revealed by the WikiLeaks' publication of U.S. diplomatic cables," but in fact the cables simply repeat a survey published in the, er, Daily Mail two years ago.
The figures were dodgy in 2008, and they're dodgy now, painting a spectacularly misleading picture of the results of a poll of British Muslim students conducted by the Centre for Social Cohesion. Unfortunately the original poll is no longer online, but luckily I worked through some of the actual questions two years ago (Edit: Now found. Many thanks to Press Not Sorry on Twitter for digging out where the poll results had moved to.)
Let's take the two big assertions, summarized neatly in the Mail's 2010 article: "1 in 3 British Muslim students back killing for Islam and 40% want Sharia law." What questions were actually asked?
"How supportive, if at all, would you be of the official introduction of Shari'ah Law into British law for Muslims in Britain?"
Very supportive - 21%
Fairly supportive - 19%"
The headline conveniently drops the clause "for Muslims", and in 2008 the clause was buried from the article completely. 2010's reporting is fractionally better, but still implies a black & white debate when in reality the question accomodates a range of views - what does "fairly supportive" mean, for example?
But the biggest and clearest misrepresentation is the claim that "one third of British Muslims students say it's acceptable to kill for Islam." This is such a blatant distortion that it's hard to explain how journalists could twist the results of the poll in such a perverse way by accident. The actual question asked was:
"Is it ever justifiable to kill in the name of religion?"
Yes, in order to preserve and promote that religion - 4%
Yes, but only if that religion is under attack - 28%
32% said that it was acceptable to kill in the name of a religion - not Islam, any religion. Of those, 87.5% said "only in self-defense", while the tiny remainder said yes to an answer that includes the confusing conflation "preserve and promote". I'm curious to know what percentage of Christians would give similar answers, and what proportion of human beings in general if we substitute "religion" for "philosophy" or "way of life".
In fact Kenneth Ballen at the Christian Science Monitor tackled this point quite neatly in 2007, in his article on "the myth of Muslim support for terror," pointing to opinion polls that showed, for example, that:
"...only 46 percent of Americans think that 'bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians' are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are 'often or sometimes justified.'"
You could report that as "54% of Americans think it's fine to kill civilians in the name of capitalism!" but then you would be as stupid as the ubiquitous anonymousity who lurks under the name "Daily Mail Reporter." [Note: Edited to correct missing words and failure to add up properly]
Curiously, more positive results were ignored both then and now. 89% of those surveyed said women should be treated equally, with only 5% disagreeing, only 25% had an issue with homosexuality, nearly 80% said it was possibly to be equally Muslim and British, 92% had a range of friends across cultural boundaries, and nearly 80% had respect for Jews (with only 7% expressing disrespect), while a similar number respected Atheists. More than 70% said they were more liberal than their parents.
The results are fairly meaningless of course unless you're going to compare them to the general population as a control, but this hardly looks like a menace to social cohesion.
Which is more than you can say for the comments left under today's article:
"Who now can say - without irony - "tiny minority of extremists"?"
"Ever remember the law called TREASON? I am so sick of PC UK and EU. This is why UK is a hotbed for terrorism!"
"And we're still fighting terrorism where again? Oh right Afghanistan perhaps we should target schools in the UK."
"The hatred that these people demonstrate is sickening to see and would not be tolerated if it were Christians behaving so in a Muslim country."
"In which case.... kick OUT the 40% and the 1 in 3 as We DON'T need or want them here."
"Its not that this is not know rather our gutless Governments failure to do what is necessary about it!"
"they are not content with just ruling their own countries - they want to rule the world!"
"the Quran commands them to either destroy or convert us."
"A perfect reason to vote BNP."
And so on, ad nauseum. I'm not saying there aren't problems with radical Islam in the UK and further afield, but this reaction is dire. Who's the bigger threat to society here, the average British Muslim student, or people leaving comments like the above, egged on by outrageous reinterpretations of the facts? I know who I'd rather be locked in a room with.
US tried to recruit Bollywood to stop British Muslims being radicalised
The United States tried to recruit Bollywood film directors to fight a war against terror within Britain's Muslim community, according to diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
By Dean Nelson, New Delhi 4:53PM GMT 15 Dec 2010
Washington dispatched two senior diplomats to London in October 2007 amid growing concern about the rise of militantcy among Muslim youths in Britain and the number of attacks involving British Muslims.
The diplomats met Foreign Office officials, then International Development minister and Britain's first Muslim MP Shahid Malik, and a number of leading British Asian film-makers, including Channel Four's Farouk Dhondi.
Following a discussion with a number of film-makers linked to popular Indian film stars, the diplomats reported that "Bollywood actors and executives agreed to work with the USG to promote anti-extremist messages through third party actors and were excited about the idea of possibly partnering with Hollywood as well."
Farah Pandith, who was appointed by Hillary Clinton as the US State Department's first Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and Jared Cohen, another Clinton advisor, reported that alienation within Britain's Muslim community and the need to use the arts to ease tensions.
"Government officials stressed that the UK's problem with extremists is a domestic as well as a foreign policy issue, since all recent successful and thwarted terrorist attacks were perpetrated by individuals from Muslim communities in the UK. Muslim youth from deprived areas expressed less concern with UK and US foreign policy than with the chance to have their voices heard in British society, while those with more education focused on disagreements with UK foreign policy and the need to use the arts to address cultural tensions and reconciliation," they said.
On Oct 10 2007, they met Farouk Dhondi, Channel Four's head of multicultural programming, and other influential film figures "to discuss the potential of working with the Indian film industry - "Bollywood" - on delivering an anti-terrorism message" in Britain.
The cable, dispatched to Washington by the United States' London Embassy reported the involvement of the singer-actress Humeira Akhter, who had "strong links with top Bollywood actors/actresses," and added:"A lively discussion produced a number of possible ideas, including developing ways to promote existing anti-terrorist films, and to develop funds for similar productions. Once such an anti-extremist genre is established, participants believed that major Bollywood figures would be willing to speak out on the issue. Humaira Akhtar has already gotten back to Pandith on possible stars in Bollywood interested in such a project."
Washington has long admired the "soft power" India enjoys through the influence of its Bollywood films, which are hugely popular throughout Asia, north Africa and in Britain. Many carry messages of love affairs which cross the Hindu-Muslim divide and, more recently, the impact of terrorism. Dil Se, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta tells the story of a news reporter who falls in love while interviewing a female terrorist. Mission Kashmir, starring Hrithik Roshan, who plays an orphan who joins a special forces team tracking terrorists in Kashmir so he can have revenge on those who killed his parents.
Indian film-maker Jag Mundra, who directed the anti-terrorism film Shoot on Sight, said while such messages might not reach those already radicalized, they have a "cumulative effect" on those who have yet to make up their minds.