Monthly Archives: November 2009

    Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, writes in the Daily Telegraph today on the controversy sparked by David Cameron’s ill-informed remarks last week on the two schools run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation.  

He writes:

‘We must never forget that – as well as the police and security services – the people who are working hardest in our country to tackle Islamist extremism are British Muslims themselves.

‘And what undermines their efforts to tackle extremism most is when the media or politicians make false accusations which smear every Muslim with the same extremist brush.

‘whatever the political and media pressure – politicians cannot and should not make organisations unlawful simply because they find their views offensive and deplorable without the necessary evidence.

‘Nevertheless, David Cameron and Michael Gove continue to call for Hizb-ut-Tahir to be banned – without providing the evidence and ignoring the legal advice Ministers have received.’

  Watch coverage of the Communities and Local Government committee’s oral evidence sessions, part of its inquiry into Prevent, on BBC Democracy Live here

    Tariq Ramadan in the Guardian’s Comment is Free reflects on the outcome of the Swiss referendum to ban the building of new minarets. 

‘For the first time since 1893 an initiative that singles out one community, with a clear discriminatory essence, has been approved in Switzerland.

‘The minarets are but a pretext – the UDC (Union Démocratique du Centre) wanted first to launch a campaign against the traditional Islamic methods of slaughtering animals but were afraid of testing the sensitivity of Swiss Jews, and instead turned their sights on the minaret as a suitable symbol.’

Read the article here.

    Leaflets distributed by a BNP activist in St. Albans, against a mosque planning application submitted by a local Muslim group, are being investigated by police for incitement to racial hatred.

The BNP leaflets headlined “Do you want to live under an oppressive Islamic Sharia government?” were distributed in London Colney by party activist, Danny Seabrook. The leaflet claims that the planning application to turn Cemex House in Barnet Road into a mosque was part of a wider plot to turn St Albans into an Islamic city.

Seabrook denies inciting racial hatred saying information on the leaflet is “factual and to the point”.

He went on: “A mosque would be out of keeping in the village. St Albans is a Christian city. You give an inch and they take a mile. They’ll have minarets up there next.”

It’s not the first time BNP literature has been referred to the police for investigation. Police charged Anthony Bamber with incitement to religious hatred for leaflets he distributed blaming Muslims for the heroin trade.

    The Jewish Chronicle today publishes letters in response to Martin Bright’s article last week on the need for a ‘strategic alliance between British Jews [and] anti-Islamists’ against the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre. 

The letters from Ayub Khan, secretary of the East London Mosque, Neil Jameson, of London Citizens, and Revd. Alan Green, chair of Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, challenge Bright’s description of the ELM and LMC as ‘Islamist extreme right’ and his claims that the institutions are run by individuals ‘promoting a sectarian Islam’.

If Bright had actually spoken to groups that have formed strategic alliances with the ELM/LMC on civic initiatives in the East End he might have more accurately portrayed the ethos and work of the two institutions. But as David Cameron so ably demonstrated at Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday, the facts often run secondary to a malign intent to demonise and misrepresent Muslim groups in the UK.

  Harrow Central Mosque (pictured) has urged anti-fascist campaigners to stay away on December 13th when the Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) group will revisit the town for another ‘anti-Islamic extremism’ demonstration.

Ghulam Rabbani, general secretary of the mosque, said: “Our message to the young people who will be attending is not to fall into the trap from those who clearly want to provoke you into an angry response.

“Foremost, our message is: if you want to help, then stay away on the day. We have the fullest confidence in the police to safeguard the mosque.'”

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The subject of two Muslim schools run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, which the Conservative leader yesterday claimed had links to Hizb ut-Tahrir, features in many of today’s newspapers (IndependentExpressMailTelegraph), as Cameron retreats over claims he made that the schools were in receipt of money allocated from the government’s preventing violent extremism fund.

In a letter to David Cameron, the Prime Minister yesterday wrote to say: “I can confirm that no funding related to Preventing Violent Extremism has been given to the schools.”

Other aspects of the Conservative leader’s disinformation relates to claims that the schools were disseminating ‘extremist’ teachings in their curriculum.

The Schools secretary, Ed Balls, refuted this citing evidence taken from Ofsted inspections into the schools. Balls said:

The question is: were these schools promoting terrorism or extremism? We have sent in Ofsted advisers, who have gone in and said ‘No’. I looked across the curriculum and the evidence was ‘No’. In the last few weeks…Haringey and Slough looked at the facts and there was no evidence that extremism has been promoted.

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  The Speaker’s Conference, convened by the Speaker of the House, John Bercow MP (pictured), published its second interim report on parliamentary representation yesterday in which it recommended that political parties publish fuller details on candidate selection.

The report states that since members are elected on a party ticket, political parties are effectively the ‘gatekeepers to the House of Commons’.

On addressing the problem of under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people, the report states:

People from under-represented groups who are putting themselves forward for selection are still proportionately less likely to be selected, or to be selected for a seat the party thinks it can win, than their counterparts.”

“Each of the parties monitors its progress on candidate selections internally. The fact that this information is not collected and placed in the public domain, however, means that there is no public accountability; unless the performance of the different parties can be compared with each other (and with the performance of parties throughout the world) there is likely to be insufficient pressure for the political parties to pursue the cultural change which is needed from them before we can have a House of Commons “fit for the 21st century”. ‘

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  David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, during Prime Minister’s Question Time today questioned the PM on the subject of public funds allegedly given to two Muslim schools that are said to have links to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Cameron also touched on proscribing the group arguing that despite an ‘explicit promise’ by the former Prime Minister to ban HT, it remained active in the UK.

Referring to letters sent by the shadow minister for Children, Schools and Families, Michael Gove MP, to the Schools Secretary Ed Balls MP, Cameron asked the PM to assure MPs that the group had not received any public money from the Pathfinder fund.

The PM replied to say that the schools in question, run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation (ISF), had recently been inspected and that the inspection results would be closely studied. The PM did not answer on the question of public funds to ISF saying that without looking at the evidence he could not answer the question but that the letter sent by the shadow minister would be properly answered.

The PM refused to be drawn on the issue of proscribing HT arguing that any such decision should be ‘based on evidence looked at in detail and in the cold light of day’.

The PM also said that ‘The vast majority of Muslims in our country are part of the law abiding majority of this country. I do not want it to be said that those people who are citizens of this country who hold the Muslim faith are to be held responsible for acts of terrorism. Where there is abuse it will be investigated. In the case of Hizb –ut-Tahrir we have investigated it, we have looked at it. It is not a proscribed organization. If he [Cameron] has new evidence that should make us proscribe it we shall look at this again. As far as the two schools are concerned, they will be properly investigated and every argument he makes will be looked at closely.’

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  Muslim gravestones in a Manchester cemetery have been desecrated for the third time.

Over 20 headstones at the Southern Cemetery in Manchester were pushed over sometime between Friday 20th and Monday 23rd November. 

It is the third time that the Muslim section of the cemetery has been targeted by vandals. On 29 September 2009, 26 Muslim headstones were vandalised and on 2 November 2009, 27 were similarly targeted. The police are treating the incident as a racially motivated hate crime.

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