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The Criminalisation of Islam in The British Media

Professor Paul Baker of Lancaster University, in the U.K., carried out a unique research entitled, ‘The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the UK Press 1998-2009′. Along with three other academics, Professor Baker embarked on a rigorous study that involved the analysis of more than 200,000 articles, equating to over 147 million words of journalism. The use of “corpus linguistic methods” in creating an “acceptable bias” was amongst other objectives of their endeavour.

There were some interesting conclusions that were drawn from the research:

– For every positive article there were 21 negative articles.
– Words such as “extremist”, “radical”, “terrorist”, “fundamentalist” and “cleric” have become synonymous to Muslims in the media.
– The use of “moderate Muslim” is used in every positive article, and it appears that “moderate Muslims” are conveyed as good for not being “fully Muslim”.
– Many newspapers that publish anti-Muslim/Islamophobic bloggers/columnists exploit the PCC’s (now IPSO) defence of “individual robust opinions”.
– Muslims as a religious minority tend to be guilty by association of faith for the crimes of a minority of their coreligionists.

The political context behind the above findings were the 9/11 attacks, the subsequent War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the 7/7 bombings in London. However, the demonisation of Islam and the biased coverage of Muslims have worsened since.

Whether it’s women’s dress code, halal meat, support for the Syrian revolution, charities, banning speakers from universities, human rights activists or aid workers, the criminalisation of Islam and Muslims in the British media has increased since Professor Baker’s research. The disproportionate coverage of crimes committed by Muslims in comparison to non-Muslims, and the constant reference to a Muslim’s religion when it has no relevance to a story is also another emerging pattern in recent times.   »»» Huffington Post (U.K. ed.)

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Australians support Muslims amid Sydney siege

Australians came out in solidarity with the Muslim community on Monday following a siege at a Sydney cafe, as tens of thousands tweeted the hashtag #illridewithyou to counter concern about an anti-Islam backlash.

The hostage-taking at the Lindt chocolate cafe triggered a security lockdown in the heart of Australia’s biggest city, with the government and Muslim leaders condemning the attack and calling for unity.

Amid uncertainty about the hostage-taker’s motives and fears of reprisals after an Islamic flag was raised in the cafe, an Australian woman reportedly started the #illridewithyou hashtag to show solidarity with Muslims who might feel threatened on public transport.

Within hours, Australians around the country repeated the hashtag, with more than 40,000 tweets making #illridewithyou one of the top trends on the social media site.

Australia’s race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said he was heartened by the campaign, adding: “let’s not allow fear, hatred and division to triumph.”

More than 40 Muslim groups jointly condemned the siege, saying that they rejected “any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being or to instil fear and terror into their hearts”.

“Any such despicable act only serves to play into the agendas of those who seek to destroy the goodwill of the people of Australia and to further damage and ridicule the religion of Islam and Australian Muslims throughout this country,” the statement said.
   »»» The National (Abu Dhabi)

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Iowa food supplier charged with falsely selling $4.9m worth of beef as halal

A food supplier for several years falsely marketed beef to Muslims around the world as meeting strict halal standards, exporting products that were not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, federal prosecutors allege in a major fraud indictment.

Midamar Corp, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sold at least $4.9m in beef to customers in Malaysia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and elsewhere that did not follow the halal practices promised in its labeling and advertising, according to the indictment returned on 5 December by a grand jury.

Midamar and its directors, brothers Jalel and William “Yahya” Aossey, are charged with conspiring to make and use false statements and documents, sell misbranded meat and commit mail and wire fraud.

Also indicted is another company the brothers controlled, Islamic Services of America, which is one of the few organizations approved by Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE to certify beef for import into their countries. The defendants are charged with 91 other counts of making false statements on export certificates, wire fraud and money laundering.

Midamar and Islamic Services of America told customers all of its cattle were slaughtered by hand by specially trained Muslim slaughtermen who always recited a prayer. Midamar also said it did not use penetrative captive bolt stunning, a process commonly used in meatpacking in which an animal is killed when a steel rod is shot into its brain.

In reality, Midamar’s primary beef supplier from 2007 to 2010 was a Windom, Minnesota, meatpacking plant that used bolt stunning to ensure all cattle slaughtered “were rendered senseless and were dead”, the indictment alleges. The plant, which was not certified for export to Indonesia and Malaysia, often did not have Muslim slaughtermen present and did not pray or recite the “Tasmia” prayer, the indictment says.

After the orders arrived at Midamar in Cedar Rapids, employees removed federally required labels showing the beef came from that plant with acetone or nail polish remover, the indictment says. Employees allegedly then put on fraudulent labels indicating the meat came from an Omaha plant that was certified to export to Malaysia and Indonesia. Midamar allegedly included the false representations about the source on export forms and certificates that were presented to and approved by the USDA.   »»» theguardian.com (U.K.)

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Pope Francis prays alongside Muslim cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

Pope Francis prayed silently alongside a senior Islamic cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Saturday, in a gesture of inter-religious harmony in a country bordering the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Francis took off his shoes as he entered the huge mosque, before bowing his head in prayer for several minutes, facing Mecca and standing next to Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran, in what a Vatican spokesman described as a joint “moment of silent adoration” of God.   »»» Reuters

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Nigeria unrest: Kano mosque attack ‘kills dozens’

Dozens have been killed in a gun and bomb attack during Friday prayers at one of the biggest mosques in the Nigerian city of Kano, reports say. Many more people have been hurt, with one rescue official putting casualty figures at just under 200.

The Central Mosque is where the influential Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, usually leads prayers. The emir recently called for people to arm themselves against Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The group has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009 and has killed more than 2,000 people this year, rights groups say.

The rescue official, speaking to Agence France-Presse, put the casualty toll at 64 dead and 126 hurt, although this has not been independently confirmed.

It is clear it is not only Christians who face the threat of violence in northern Nigeria. This is a major mosque, frequented by one of the country’s most influential Muslim leaders, Kano’s emir.

Emir Muhammad Sanusi II has criticised Boko Haram and only last week urged civilians to take up arms against the group. T   »»» BBC News

Boko Harem in Nigeria, like ISIS in Iraq and Syria, are guilty of major crimes against thousands of people, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity. They cloak their socio-political objectives under the banner of Islam but in fact they are Muslim renegades, blasphemers and heretics. The Qur’an calls people like them “munafikun” (hypocrites) because they pretend to follow the Laws of God but in fact do not. The Qur’an says that they will be consigned to the lowest depths of hell.

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Indiana man beheaded in Syria remembered in Muslim prayer service

Muslims in the U.S. state of Indiana held a funeral service on Friday for Abdul-Rahman Kassig, formerly known as Peter, who was beheaded by Islamic State militants in Syria after being held captive for a year.

Kassig adopted Islam while he was a hostage. His family said he made a sincere conversion in a process that began before he was captured by Islamic State, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and is the target of U.S. bombings.

Friends and family of different faiths attended the funeral service in Fishers, an Indianapolis suburb, which included a sermon by a prominent Syrian exile, cleric and Muslim scholar Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, formerly Imam of the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

“He took every risk in order to help the Syrian people, to remove some of their tragedy, to offer them some relief,” al-Yaqoubi said. He called Kassig “one of our brothers who sacrificed his life for the sake of God.”

He offered condolences to the Kassigs, calling their son a great hero “who carried in his heart the principles of Islam even before becoming a Muslim.”

Kassig’s parents, Ed and Paula Kassig attended the service. During their son’s captivity, the Kassigs repeatedly called on Islamic State to spare their son, who became the fifth European or American captive killed by the militants.

Kassig was a medic and former U.S. Army Ranger who served briefly in Iraq in 2007 in the U.S. Army. He returned to the Middle East in 2012 for a spring break trip while studying political science.

Moved by the suffering of Syrian refugees, he went to Lebanon and volunteered as an emergency medical technician.

He later founded an aid organization to provide food and medical supplies to refugees from the conflict in Syria, where some 200,000 people have died and millions are displaced.   »»» The Star Online (Malaysia)

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Islamic State decapitates American convert to Islam

According to several media reports, the Islamic State has beheaded a convert to Islam, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. The 26-year-old victim of ISIS justice had been in Syria on a humanitarian aid project. He was formerly known as Peter Kassig. A video purporting to show his grisly execution emerged on November 16.

The Islamic State or Caliphate carried out the death sentence of Kassig just weeks after it had promised to do so in retribution for US and allied air raids.   »»» Spero

Even if ISIS had the right to claim that it is conducting jihad to restore the Caliphate (which it does NOT), its killing of prisoners of war who are Muslims is forbidden. This is covered in the classic manual of Islamic law written by Ahmad ibn Naqib Al-Misri as a recension of Imam Nawawi’s great 13th century (C.E.) work, which specificall covers the punishment for three categories of prisoners.

He says:

1. “Whoever enters Islam BEFORE being captured may not be killed or his property confiscated or his young children taken captive.”

2. “When a [non-Muslim] adult male is taken captive [during warfare in a Muslim land]…the Caliph determines the prisoner’s sentence: release, death, hard labour or ransom.”

In the case of Mr. Kassig, the third rule apples:

3. “IF A PRISONER BECOMES A MUSLIM WHILE IN CAPTIVITY…HE MAY NOT BE KILLED AND ONE OF THE OTHER THREE ALTERNATIVES IS APPLIED.”

ISIS routinely commits other atrocities that are prohibited in Islam, but its summary execution of innocent people is a striking reminder that psychopaths and sociopaths can be very clever in using (i.e. misusing) religion to draw people into their web.

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Israeli settlers burn mosque in West Bank (Palestine)

Israeli settlers have torched a mosque in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, amid growing tensions and violence in the territory and occupied East Jerusalem.

The attack on the mosque just before dawn on Wednesday, near the Jewish settlement of Shilo, came after separate Palestinian knife attacks on Monday killed a settler in the southern West Bank, and an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv.

“The settlers set fire to the whole of the first floor of the mosque” in al-Mughayir village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, a security official said.

Police confirmed the incident and opened an investigation.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from inside the destroyed mosque in Mughayir in Ramallah, described seeing
religious books turned into ashes and windows being blown out.

“There an awful lot of anger in the community,” he said.

Also overnight, a molotov cocktail was thrown at an ancient synagogue in the Arab Israeli town of Shfaram, causing minor damage, police said. The structure is not currently used for worship.

The attack on the mosque comes as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are soaring, mostly against the background of competing claims to a holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ongoing unrest has been triggered by Muslim fears of Jewish encroachment at the sacred site where the Al-Aqsa mosque stands, a hilltop plateau known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
   »»» Al Jazeera English

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Maryland school district to strip religious names from calendar after Muslims seek recognition

The U. S. state of Maryland’s largest school district has voted to strip religious labels from holidays on next year’s school calendar after Muslims sought recognition of a holy day.

The stripped labels include Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, and the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

The 7-1 decision by the Montgomery County’s Board of Education on Tuesday came after Muslim leaders in the community asked that equal recognition be given to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.

School still will be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays and students will get the same days off. School will remain open for the Muslim holiday.

Muslim leaders say they’re not pleased with the result. They didn’t want religious labels removed from the other holidays, just for Muslim students to be treated equally and to have their own holiday recognized.   »»» 

In the

Maryland is considered to be the birthplace of religious freedom in America, dating back to its earliest colonial days when it was made a refuge for persecuted Roman Catholic coming from England by George Calvert the first Lord Baltimore. In the beginning, school holidays reflected the religious background of the population. Later, when the Jewish population had grown, their holidays were added. Now that the Muslims are numerous, they have reasonably and properly asked for the same accommodation. The school board has turned its back on Maryland’s history and spit in the face of the Muslim parents and students.

Fox News

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In bid to counter ISIS’ rise, Jordan gives orders to clerics: Preach moderate Islam — or else

Several hundred robed Muslim clerics recently packed themselves into an auditorium to hear the minister of Islamic affairs issue their new marching orders. The meeting was mandatory.

“You clerics are our ground forces against the extremists,” Hayel Dawood told them.

Then he made himself clear: Preach moderate Islam — or else.

“Once you cross the red line,” Dawood intoned, “you will not be let back in.”

Stunned by the rapid advance of the Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, Jordan has fortified its borders and put its air force and intelligence service to work in the U.S.-led alliance against the self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq. To counter the low thrum of support for extremist movements on the home front, the kingdom is not only prosecuting Islamic State recruiters and cracking down on anyone waving an Islamic State banner, but it has turned its attention to the nation’s 7,000 mosques.

Jordanian authorities have begun a campaign to coax — and, when necessary, pressure — Muslim clerics to preach messages of peaceful Islam from their pulpits. The main targets are Jordan’s more than 5,000 imams, including lay clerics and those on the government dole, who give the traditional sermon that follows Friday prayers.   »»» National Post (Canada)

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