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Following complaints by MEND, The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and members of Britain’s Muslim community, The Times has changed its appalling headline regarding the murder of Imam Jalal Uddin who was brutally beaten to death last Thursday. The graphic above shows the reference to ‘sex grooming’ in the headline prior to the complaints and the absence of ‘sex grooming’ after the complaints.

In his complaints to the Times, The Chief constable commented “Your headline and its irrelevance to this case has the potential to cause community tension.  It is also offensive to the thousands of peaceful and law-abiding Muslims and non-Muslims living in Rochdale who are shocked by this murder”.

Following the amendment by the Times, MEND Founder Sufyan Ismail, in a response to the Times commented “For your paper, to link this tragic murder to ‘sex grooming’ problems which may exist in certain parts of Rochdale, when even the Police have yet to conclude on the motive, was at best truly distasteful and at worst a total mockery of this abhorrent crime and deeply disrespectful to the deceased and his family. I am therefore pleased that you have acted swiftly in amending the headline”.

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Letter from Ian Hopkins, The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police

Letter

The 5 Pillars of Islamophobia

Between 14 and 17 September 2015, MEND organised a speaking tour with Professor David Miller, co-founder of Spinwatch, to explore the findings from his most recent publication on ‘The Henry Jackson Society and the degeneration of British Neo-conservatism: Liberal interventionism, Islamophobia and the War on Terror’ and investigative research examining the players, modalities and strategies of the Counter-Jihad Network.

Professor Miller had his research team have identified ‘The 5 Pillars of Islamophobia’ and drawing on this work, MEND initiated a tour to disseminate the research findings among Muslim communities for the purposes of public awareness and enhancing public debate, equipping Muslim communities with a knowledge base to challenge Islamophobic narratives and the players who perpetuate them, and to engage with local communities more widely at a time when one of the identified pillars of Islamophobia, counter-extremism policy, was creating considerable unease among communities with the introduction of a new statutory duty on Prevent and its implications for a host of services delivered by local councils and other statutory bodies.

image 1As an NGO dedicated to challenging Islamophobia and improving Muslim participation in media and politics, the speaking tour was a new campaign among our established campaigns and projects on Muslim community engagement and development. We run regular workshops on media and political literacy and a workshop on Islamophobia: Causes and Cures with the sole purpose of capacity building in local communities. Training local community organisations to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice is one of our stated aims and the ‘5 Pillars of Islamophobia Tour’ was devised to build on this existing work utilising Professor Miller’s recent research.

The tour was hugely successful with high attendance and an even higher volume of online engagement facilitated by our social media team, which was present at all tour locations.

The tour visited four UK cities (attendance figure in brackets): London (249), Leicester (70), Leeds (130) and Manchester (183).

MEND_Spinwatch_Over the course of the four days, public engagement on our social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, related to the tour specifically, looked like this:

  • On Twitter, there were 604 Retweets (average of 151 RT per day) with our Twitter reach spanning 110,243 impressions (average of 27,561 per day).
  • On Facebook, the reach of our posts over the course of the tour was 73,829, an average of 18,457 per day).

Some sample messages posted on our pages from participants; online and in attendance, are reproduced below.

Media coverage of the Spinwatch tour can be read on the following links:

Ilford Recorder, 18 September 2015

Socialist Worker, 22 September 2015

We hope to build on this initial work with a follow up tour next year visiting new cities and further disseminating the findings from the research on the Counter-Jihad Network. With the growing threat to Muslim communities in the UK and Europe from counter-extremism policies and their expansion into new areas of civil rights, and the resurgence of far right activity across Europe, we hope to continue to inform and educate civil society, particularly British Muslim citizens, about the Counter-Jihad Network and the 5 Pillars of Islamophobia the better to train them to tackle threats to their faith identity and to individual and collective security.

 

As salaamu alaykum,

As many of you may know, the Government’s proposed Counter-terrorism and Security Bill (CTSB) is nearing the end of its passage through Parliament with a view to becoming legislation very shortly.

The Counter-terrorism and Security Bill raises many, grave concerns for British Muslims and despite determined efforts by MEND and some members of the House of Lords to table amendments to address the hugely negative, and quite probably counter-productive, impact of this Bill on Muslim communities, the Government has not moved enough on the Bill.  Some of the key concerns are:

  • Passports can be seized for up to 30 days.
  • Temporary exclusion orders mean you could be banned from the UK for up to 2 years.
  • You can also be excluded from your own trial when trying to defend your right to return to the UK
  • The doomed Prevent policy to become a statutory duty on local councils, universities, schools, nurseries, healthcare sector etc
  • Entire nationalities of Muslim passengers potentially banned from entering the UK

What you must do:

  1. Write to your MP today – click here to send an email to your MP in 3 easy steps.  A template letter is given below. Please adapt from it and email to your MP.
  2. Please visit your MP at his/her local surgery this weekend or at least call them at their Westminster office and tell him//her you want them to reject the Bill. You can call the House of Commons switchboard and ask for your MPs office on 020 7219 3000.
  3. Make it clear to your MP that you cannot and will not support a candidate in the coming election who will not stand up for Muslims’ civil and political rights.

Dear [MP]

I am writing to express my huge disappointment at the Government’s approach to counter-terrorism and its proposed new powers contained in the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill.

I have been alarmed since the publication of the Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce report in December 2013 at the prospect, then suggested, of introducing a statutory duty on a range of public authorities to comply with the Prevent strategy or face sanction.

The Counter-terrorism and Security Bill will foster a climate of deep suspicion around British Muslims and will subject young Muslims to thought control from nursery age through to university graduation and beyond. It will leave Muslims vulnerable to passport seizure, exile from their home in Britain, internal exile under relocation orders, and compromised in their access to public services provided by local councils, healthcare authorities, hospital, university or prison chaplaincies etc.

This is a recipe doomed to failure. A previous Government expended huge amounts of public money attempting the same and what have we got to show for it: a disenfranchised, alienated and demonised Muslim minority whose civil and political rights have been steadily eroded. At the same time, the terrorism threat stands at severe and an increasing number of young people are being referred under counter-terrorism intervention measures or are going abroad to engage in bloody conflict.

If we do not pay heed to the fact that no strategy can succeed that works against Muslims, who want nothing more than to enjoy the liberties other British citizens take for granted, we will be doomed to repeating and magnifying the problems we currently face.

Counter-terrorism policy has already failed a generation of Muslims. With the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill, we will fail several more generations.

I urge you please, do not support this Bill. Muslims are the greater casualties of terrorism; in numbers killed and in retaliatory attacks. They should not be the greater casualty of poorly constructed counter-terrorism policy.

The collective security of Britons is too important an issue to be rushed through Parliament at breakneck speed with no regard for the consideration of consequences. We deserve a counter-terrorism policy that meets human rights obligations and protects British citizens, through full and proper judicial safeguards, against the draconian powers of the State.

Yours sincerely,

A year ago only 4 police forces recorded Islamophobia as a separate category of crime. MEND’s efforts have more than doubled that figure in a year to 10 forces, roughly equating to just under a quarter of all police forces in England and Wales. It is a striking achievement to say the least.

The challenge though has barely begun. With all UK forces starting to record Islamophobia as a crime, the need for a proper training programme for officers to help then correctly identify religiously motivated hate crime, and, most of all, awareness amongst Muslims of the need to report hate crime no matter how trivial, the challenge is far from conquered.

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MEND is one of the founding members of Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM). Every November various Muslim and non-Muslim organisations hold events, seminars, discussions and conferences to raise awareness of the rising tide of hate crimes against Muslims.

Download tools and resources for Islamophobia Awareness Month this year.


microphone_PNG7901Book one of our speakers to come and present one of our landmark presentation on Islamophobia. Contact us today.


Hire our Islamophobia Exhibition for FREEContact us today.

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Support this campaign by adding it to your Facebook and Twitter profile picture. Simply click on the link below and follow the campaign.

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Download our Khutbah on Islamophobia and help raise awareness at your local Masjid.

PART ONE:

One of the real tragedies of our time is that we definitely know of a problem clearly, hear about it regularly, see it sometimes, and even experience it ourselves every so often too, yet we actively do very little about it!

pdf-icon_smIslamophobia is that problem – i.e. where people give Muslims a real hard time whether by ridiculing them, inciting people against them, or even attacking them, just because that person identifies themselves as a Muslim – and it is on the rise. And it’s getting worse.

This is not a khutbah where we give you examples of the threat, or tell some of the horrific stories reported. If you don’t know this already, you have a bigger problem: keeping yourself so ignorant of your very own community’s difficulties is very irresponsible and also against the Sunnah. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in Sahih Muslim (2586):

“The believers, in their mutual mercy, love and compassion, are like a (single) body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will join it in staying awake and suffering fever.”

pdf-icon_sm-268x3002This is a reminder to us all, that if we just sit back and remain in our apathetic states thinking we can ride out the storm, and that we should only protect ourselves and our individual iman, then we will fail. Spectacularly fail.

Practising this form of secular Islam is not permissible. Firstly, Islam is bigger than just you, and your actions alone. Secondly, keeping yourself to yourself and nothing else is anti-Islamic, because part of Islam is to be established for the benefit of others as well. Thirdly, such an approach of sticking your head in the sand or hoping that others will step up and sort it out – when actually, they are also just thinking the exact same as you – is disingenuous and will lead to the fitnah increasing and then lead to an even bigger threat and problem.
There’s a very interesting hadith, authentically narrated by Ibn Majah (304), that Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddique (radhyAllahu ‘anhu) came to some of the Sahabah and recited this verse to them:

“O You who believe, you are responsible for your own souls; if anyone else goes astray it will not harm you so long as you follow the guidance.” (al-Ma’idah, 105)

Then he turned to them and said, “The people are taking this verse and not applying it properly.”
What he wanted to say is that some of the Companions were understanding this verse in a very restricted sense, i.e. that if there are problems affecting the community, affecting others, well, as long as you look after yourself, then that’s all that matters. Which is completely wrong, because Sayyidina Abu Bakr then said:

“But verily, I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “When a people see an Oppressor and do not hold him accountable, or they see an evil and they do not change it, Allah will punish them all.”” (Ibn Majah, 304, authentic)

So the ruling is clear. Yes we concentrate on ourselves. And yes we know that our enemies cannot harm us along as we stay upon Divine Guidance.

But when there is harm and evil and oppression and injustice in front of us, and when our brothers and sisters need our help, then we must ACT! Immediately!

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in Sahih Muslim:

“Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith”

So whatever one does, but you have to do SOMETHING. Doing nothing is NOT an option.
And what you do is based on your ability, things which you really CAN do. No-one is going to ask you to do the impossible, and heal the world in a week. But what you WILL be told is to come out of your comfort zone and work together to make sure that the threat of Islamophobia doesn’t reach a state where neighbours start murdering one another, such as what we saw around the corner in Bosnia, or even in the Central African Republic today.

These are not scare tactics. If we don’t all do something to change the status quo, if we don’t get out there and create our own narrative as per the Book of Allah, then those who hate us will create that narrative for us!
Those who sacrifice their time, strategize, plan, protest, engage, all in the hope of doing what is right and forbidding wrong, are truly the best of people and what we should all aim to be:

You are the best community singled out for people: you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah. (Ale-‘Imran, 110)

And if we keep thinking there are enough activists out there doing what’s needed, then there isn’t. We need far more people, doing far more for themselves and the Ummah. And if it’s not going to be you helping out, then WHO is going to be helping out? And what was you created for anyway? Just to pray in the Masjid? And so what happens where we get to a situation where all the applications for Masajid are refused, and whatever Masajid left are under attack all the time from the EDL and other hooligans?

Brothers and sisters, these are NOT fairy tales. This could really happen if we don’t take control right now.

PART TWO:

So what CAN you do in order to fulfil your obligation of preventing evil, and working for the sake of your community when it comes to a problem like Islamophobia?

Here is a three-pronged plan:

Number 1. Educate yourself and other Muslims on hate crime in particular Islamophobia and encourage people to report every crime to the Police

You MUST report these to the police. Groups like MEND have worked very hard to get many Police Forces to even recognise this category of hate crime. Why is that important? Because then we have the cold hard facts to show to the authorities and prove that there is a real quantifiable problem that fluctuates here and there and can be traced back to events, policy decisions, and other factors by which we can hold our leaders accountable, in a court of a law even if necessary.

Number 2. We need to initiate Public Awareness Campaign to help non-Muslims understand the impact of anti-Muslim prejudice and hate crime on Muslim communities.

We must disseminate better the fact that Islamophobia is a problem for society to tackle as a whole, not just Muslims. That this is a blight on ALL our society and reflects all of us, and not just the criminals. Your non-Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues can present a case or argue our side far more effectively than Muslims can, and it’s a more impassioned appeal when they really FEEL the problem themselves. You have to educate them.

Finally, Number 3. Getting involved – we want to get the message out there that until we fully engage as citizens of this country and realise our duties we will not make progress on stemming this form of hate crime.

This means we must comment, challenge and even commend – yes, thank and appreciate – the media appropriately. We will not be silent voices on the side and remain ignored.
This means we must engage our politicians whether councillors or MPs on taking a robust stand against Islamophobia

This means we must as Muslims not only portray our deen correctly and positively but reach out to non-Muslims by organising informal meetings with your friends and family, and then more formal open days and events, and you need to speak, engage, educate etc.

Dear elders, respected brothers and sisters:

We have to learn quickly that just because a certain act of ‘ibadah – and yes it IS ‘ibadah, this work IS ‘ibadah and that’s what our ‘Ulema have 100% confirmed! – that just because this act of worship doesn’t have a label saying Namaz, or Zakah, or Hajj, or Charity, that this is somehow a lesser act of worship.

Tell that to the Hijabi sister getting beaten on the streets. Or the brother rejected at his job-interview because of his beard. Or to the Muslims who have to read that we are the scum of the Earth every single day on the cover of every newspaper, and in the first five top stories of every TV News broadcast.

No. This is blessed work, the work of defending the Deen, defending the Believers, defending the Honour of Allah. And once we act and get busy, Allah will help us as well as He promises:

“O you who believe, If you help aid (the Deen) of Allah, Allah will aid you, and make you stand firm.” (Muhammad, 9)

Please see the posters outside and get involved with the campaigns organised by MEND and others to ensure we make a difference.

Ya Allah, make us from the guided, guide others through us, and make us a reason that others are also guided.

Ya Allah, bless us all with tawfeeq, and give us success over those who wish to harm us and weaken us.

Ya Allah, strengthen this Deen, and its Believers, in our country here and in all parts of the world.

Parliament today took the historic decision to recognize the state of Palestine. The vote was won by 274 to 12 after a lengthy debate in the House of Commons.

The motion passed stated:

“That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.”

The initial motion proposed by Grahame Morris MP was amended to include the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

The UK’s official position is that the Government, “reserves the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace”.

With little progress in peace negotiations over the last few years despite a concerted effort by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the recent announcement of more illegal settlements to be built on Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories and the Israeli incursion into Gaza this summer, with the huge loss of Palestinian civilian lives, the motion on recognising Palestine underscores the importance of our acknowledging that the moment “when it can best help bring about peace” is now.

Palestine-PollThe Labour party imposed a 3 line whip ensuring that those MPs attending the debate would vote for the motion. Conservative ministers abstained from voting though a number of Conservative MPs, Crispin Blunt and the Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan among them, attended the debate and supported the motion. Liberal Democrats ministers also abstained from the debate though backbench MPs from both Coalition parties enjoyed a free vote on the issue.

Although today’s vote is not binding on the Government, the issue of recognition is a symbolic gesture which affirms parliamentary and public support for the Palestinian state. At a time when illegal settlement activity continues apace in the occupied territories and the peace process is at an impasse, today’s vote recognising the state of Palestine brings a new impetus for peace.

MEND would like to thank all the MPs who voted for the motion and all the members of the public who supported it but we should be reminded that the backbench motion, though significant, has no binding power. As we approach general elections next year, all those in support of a Government position favouring recognition must look to party manifestos and the pledges of party leaders for a shift the UK’s official position. So while we celebrate the incredible symbolic victory achieved today let us not lose sight of the greater challenge ahead

View information about this debate and find out how the votes were placed in the link below:

Recogising the State of Palestine debate