18th April, 2011

Tabloids promote Anjem Choudhary’s Royal Wedding stunt; Muslim groups criticise it

by Sunny at 9:27 am    

You won’t be surprised to hear that publicity hungry fanatic Anjem Choudhary, formerly of Al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and countless other nutjob groups, is trying to get some publicity over the Royal Wedding.

Him and his latest reincarnation, Muslims Against the Crusades, plan to demonstrate against the wedding. Not only that, he predicts a terrorist attack:

Firebrand cleric Anjem Choudary has warned that a terror attack is ‘highly likely’ at the Royal wedding. The hate preacher has told all Muslims to stay away from Westminster Abbey on April 29, describing it as ‘a prime target’.

Choudary has also been preaching to followers of the hate group, Muslims Against Crusades, and is backing its plan for a ‘forceful demonstration’ at the wedding. Choudary said: ‘All Muslims should stay away from the public gatherings like the Royal wedding and the Olympics because there is a very high likelihood of an attack.

I bet the chances of Choudhary making it to even a mile near the Royal Wedding are less than zero. And yet the right-wing tabloids still promote his publicity seeking stunts. The Daily Mail in particular loves him.

The stunt has now been criticised by other Muslim groups. The Green Lane Mosque in East London Birmingham, which is a pretty big mosque, has issued a press release criticising the stunt. Be interesting to see if other Muslim groups follow suit. They say:

Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre condemns the proposed demonstration organised by ‘Muslim Against Crusades’, a previously unknown group that has surfaced recently and has conveniently chosen the day of the royal wedding to hold its demonstration hoping to capitalise on the attention of the mass media.

We ask all responsible organisations to stand united against such acts that undermine community relations as the sole purpose of these groups is to drive a wedge between Muslim and Non-Muslim communities, wherever they may be. As a community we can no longer afford to stand back and tolerate such bigotry.

(Got the press release in text now….)

Filed under: Religion
14th April, 2011

Happy Vaisakhi

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Today is Vaisakhi. In Sikhism, it commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa in 1699 by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, depicted here.

Readers may wish to refer to last year’s Pickled Politics article about Vaisakhi for a summary of the historical, ideological and theological factors involved.

Along with fully militarising the Sikh population, Guru Gobind Singh was also responsible for compiling the final version of the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes hundreds of sacred verses originally written by Muslims.

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Filed under: History,Religion,Sikh
11th April, 2011

UK rules out Burkha ban; protest against French ban, in London today

by Sunny at 10:07 am    

The Home Office released this statement yesterday:

It is not for government to say what people can and cannot wear. Such a proscriptive approach would be out of keeping with our nation’s longstanding record of tolerance. Accordingly we do not support a ban on wearing the burka.

That’s a welcome statement. There’s also a demo today at the French embassy to protest against the French ban, which comes into effect today.

Monday 11 April, 6pm
Outside the French Embassy: 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT (nearest tube Knightsbridge)
Called by Unite Against Fascism and One Society Many Cultures

Filed under: Events,Religion
6th April, 2011

Michael Gove goes down the ‘scary Muslims’ dog-whistle route

by Sunny at 11:44 am    

Education minister Michael Gove does not usually do this kind of stuff explicitly, so this is very unusual… and dangerous.

There’s some controversy over a proposal to build a mosque in Sandhurst, which wound end up being quite close to the military academy. This is Michael Gove’s constituency. Riazat Butt at the Guardian wrote up a summary of the controversy earlier.

In an interview with BBC London yesterday, Michael Gove says:

because of the way in which it would overlook the royal military academy, (the mosque) would also not be appropriate for all sorts of other reasons.

LabourList have picked this up and have the audio discussion. Mark Ferguson rightly asks:

Either Michael Gove should state why he considers a mosque to be a security concern, or he should state his “other reasons” clearly and openly. To do anything else is iresponsible for a politician with such a high profile.

Exactly. Time to come clean Mr Gove and explain yourself, or this is just plain dog-whistling. hat-tip @jamesmills1984

Video of the interview

Filed under: Religion
4th April, 2011

EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh faces excommunication by global Sikh authorities

by Jai at 9:00 am    

Further to the recent joint statement by multiple British Sikh and Hindu groups condemning the English Defence League (EDL) and any Sikhs who support them, the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh has been given an ultimatum by the Sikh signatories involved: He must publicly renounce the EDL by the end of the major Sikh festival of Vaisakhi on 14 April 2011.

Failure to do so will result in the matter being formally escalated directly to the most senior global Sikh authorities at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, India, who will be requested to issue an excommunication order to permanently expel Guramit Singh from the worldwide Sikh faith. As an ultimate sanction, this could result in him being formally declared a pariah to be ostracised by the world’s entire Sikh population, including being formally stripped of his right to be called a Sikh, along with being permanently banned from every Sikh temple in the world.

As confirmed by the extensive list of signatories involved, this action is endorsed by the British Sikh population, including numerous influential Sikh temples & organisations across the United Kingdom, particularly in London and Birmingham. This includes the two largest Sikh temples outside India — one of which involves the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, which was given an award last year by the Queen for its exceptional humanitarian activities and is run by “Bhai Sahib” Mohinder Singh, one of the most senior and respected Sikh figures outside India. Bhai Sahib was previously discussed on Pickled Politics here and here, and has been involved in interfaith bridge-building activities on an international scale, including efforts to counteract the increasing bigotry towards ordinary Muslims in Britain in recent years. Bhai Sahib was also responsible for escorting the Queen around the Golden Temple during her visit to Amritsar in the late 1990s.

In complete violation of core Sikh tenets, Guramit Singh has been heavily involved in the EDL’s persecution of ordinary Muslims en masse whilst explicitly representing himself as a Sikh and claiming to be acting in the name of Sikhism, including deliberately modifying & grossly distorting sacred verses by the Sikh Gurus in order to “inspire” EDL members present during his foul-mouthed public speeches demonising Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. Guramit Singh’s excommunication would therefore be entirely in line with historical precedents during the time of the Sikh Gurus along with the temporal authority permanently bequeathed to the Khalsa by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. As recently discussed on Pickled Politics, it has also been confirmed that one of the EDL’s founders is a convicted criminal for downloading child pornography, and that the EDL itself has multiple links to international terrorists.

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14th March, 2011

Poppy-burning extremist’s dad served 14 years in the Navy

by Sunny at 9:40 am    

Kudos to the Daily Mail for actually showing the other side of the extremist caricature it frequently perpetuates:

The father of a Muslim extremist who burned poppies on Remembrance Day served in the Royal Navy as a police officer for 14 years, relatives have claimed. Mohammed Gouse Miah, 85, is said to be devastated by the actions of his estranged son Emdadur Choudhury, who was fined a paltry £50 by a judge for setting light to poppies and yelling ‘British soldiers burn in hell’ during the two-minute silence on November 11 last year.

When he came to England, he worked for London Underground and later for British Rail as a ticket collector. Mr Miah, who is now retired, lives with his wife Hamida in a council flat in Bethnal Green,East London.

9th March, 2011

A growing campaign to defend Usama Hasan and free speech

by Sunny at 2:55 pm    

A group of people, including Yahya Birt, have set up a group on Facebook to rally people in support of Usama Hasan (background here):

In the case of Dr Usama Hasan, an imam at Masjid Tawhid in Leyton, London, who has been persecuted and victimised, we call upon religious scholars, imams, mosque committees, Muslim community organisations and Muslim communities as a whole to reaffirm the following principles so that we may strengthen the basic conditions for civilised and principled Muslim community life:

1. No imam or member of the Muslim community should be subjected to hate speech, intimidation or threats of violence on any matter regarding beliefs or religious rulings as this is contrary to the law of the land which British Muslims are bound to uphold, and most essentially that, under Islamic teachings and etiquette, mob rule has no legitimate place within our community life.

2. No religious scholar or any ordinary Muslim has the legal jurisdiction to declare any fellow Muslim outside of the faith of Islam (takfir) in the United Kingdom, and furthermore that they are duty bound to affirm freedom of religious conscience which is upheld in the United Kingdom.

3. Those who have made takfir of Dr Usama Hasan or who have acted in an intimidating or abusive fashion towards him must publicly retract their statements of takfir immediately and offer an unconditional public apology.

4. That there is a positive duty to uphold the etiquette of differences of opinion, and to condemn those who actively promote hatred and division within our communities. We should all affirm the necessity of developing a mature and wise ethos within Muslim communities so that we may handle matters of controversy with tact and wisdom in recognition of our great diversity.

5. All matters of mosque governance should conform to the Charity Commission’s guidance or any other relevant legislation, and no ad hoc measures should be undertaken in contravention of these rules or legislation in either letter or spirit.

Those are good points that should apply generally too. I hope more people will stand up against this disgusting attempt at physical intimidation.

Update: The MCB have also released a statement condemning the threats.

Filed under: Islamists,Religion
7th March, 2011

Dr Usama Hasan and the campaign against him

by Sunny at 12:05 am    

Last week I blogged about a campaign against the London-based imam Dr Usama Hasan, by a group of Muslim fanatics. The fanatics wanted to oust him from his mosque in Leytonstone for talking about evolution, and saying women should be free not to cover their hair.

Some clarifications for those already following the story. It turns out that the letter I posted saying he had been ousted was a fake, circulated by the fanatics to make it look like it came from the Mosque. It didn’t. Dr Hasan still remains the imam there, though the fanatics are still after him.

The story has been picked up the Indy and the Guardian too.
From the Guardian:

Hasan, who has taken out extra security on his house where he lives with his wife and four children, said he was adamant he would not be leaving the mosque, although he would not be returning to give prayers for the time being.

“I’m not leaving,” he said. “I’ve been here for 25 years and I fear that the mosque could fall into the hands of extremists. There are plenty of other mosques in the country that have gone that way. My supporters [at the mosque] don’t want that and are encouraging me to stay to fight our corner.

“I’ve stopped giving prayers because they were interrupted by outsiders who were making some women members feel intimidated. Most people come to the mosque once a week for a quiet space to pray and find peace and inspiration and I want to respect that.”

Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, a group promoting Muslim engagement in British society, said there was “widespread ignorance” about evolution among the Muslim community. “Many traditional imams are grounded in ancient books in Arabic but have very little grounding in science. I find it staggering how they can be so strongly opposed to evolution without reading about it. That seems to be opposite of the very first commandment of the Qur’an, which is to read,” Bunglawala said.

I’m going to keep an eye on this story to see how it develops.

3rd March, 2011

Anjem Choudhary and mates latest publicity stunt: ‘Shariah 4 America’

by Sunny at 3:51 pm    

Remember Islam4UK? They got banned but came back as ‘Muslims Against Crusades’. Before that they were Al-Ghuraaba and before that Al-Muhajiroun.

Yes, it’s Anjem Choudhary and his 20 idiot mates back to their old publicity stunts again. Previous luminaries from this mob includes Abu Izzadeen and Omar Bakri (now reportedly hiding in Lebanon).

Anyway, their latest project publicity stunt is: Shariah 4 America. The best I can say for them is they have some competent graphic designers who are good at putting the bejeesus into any Tea Party nutjob.

You can tell its the same lot because they have a prominent ‘media enquiries’ page which links to a mobile number (07956 600 569) frequently given out by Anjem Choudhary & co.

Right-wingers are already hyper-ventilating, even though the chances of any of these chumps being able to fly across to the US are less than nil. I hope the US national media pay less attention than the over-the-top reaction British journalists usually exhibit.

Update: Yup, its Choudhary in front of the camera! Explaining why they’re ‘postponed’ their demonstration. (via @xbatasi).

Filed under: Religion
2nd March, 2011

Mosque expels Imam for preaching evolution and moderation

by Sunny at 9:30 am    

This is very worrying. Leyton Mosque in London has expelled its imam Dr Usama Hasan for holding a lecture titled ‘Islam & Evolution’ and saying the two were not incompatible.

He has also reported to have said in the past that Muslim women should be allowed to uncover their hair in public. You see read their letter here. (via Padraig Reidy)

The website MuslimPolitics reports:

In its announcement, the Mosque stated that the controversy first escalated following a declaration in late 2010 by a visiting Saudi cleric, Shaykh Salih al-Sadlan, that the Mosque congregation should not take part in prayers led by Dr. Hasan.

Just days before his dismissal from the Mosque, Dr. Hasan published a statement stating that his “Islam and Evolution” lecture was “disrupted by a small mob of fanatics”. He also clarified his views on the subject in order, he says, to answer the “many vicious lies and slanderous statements [that] are circulating in some sections of society.”

This is deeply troubling because it looks like we have Saudi nutjobs running McCarthyite campaigns against sensible and moderate Imams in the UK. I knew / know Dr Hasan from his time at City Circle. I’m glad he took a robust stance against these people and did not let them shout him down… but the actions of the mosque are utterly cowardly and worrying.

Update: It seems the letter was ‘premature’ in that the people who wanted him ousted lost the vote to oust him. This letter may be fake… Dr Hasan remains an imam at the mosque I’m told… but there was/is definitely a campaign to oust him.

Update 2 The Mosque has released a statement saying:

This is an announcement by Masjid Al Tawhid & Sh[eikh] Suhaib Hasan that both have nothing to do with the so-called ‘Save Masjid Tawhid’ website.

In other words, that letter was not by them.

Filed under: Religion
22nd February, 2011

More Middle East demonstrations in favour of religious freedom

by Rumbold at 10:45 am    

After this, and this, now Tunisia is seeing protests in favour of religious harmony between Christians, Jews and Muslims:

As many as 15,000 of the demonstrators on Saturday were protesting against Tunisia’s Islamist movement, calling for religious tolerance a day after the Interior Ministry announced a Polish priest had been assassinated by an extremist group and following verbal attacks on Jews.

“We need to live together and be tolerant of each other’s views,” said Ridha Ghozzi, 34, who was among the protesters carrying signs and chanting slogans including “Terrorism is not Tunisian,” “Religion is Personal” and “Muslims, Christians, and Jews – we’re all Tunisians.”

8th February, 2011

Recent anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks

by Rumbold at 9:37 am    

The Community Security Trust, a group which monitors anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Britain, has reported a 31% drop in attacks in 2010, compared to 2009. Nevertheless, this good news is tempered by the fact that the number of attacks, 639, is still the second highest number since the Community Security Trust (CST) began reporting (and the 2009 figure was distorted by the war in Gaza). Part of the rise in the last two years (compared to historical averages), is no doubt in part down to a widening of the reporting net, with the CST now monitoring the internet as well. Even so, there was still plenty of physical assaults and verbal abuse too. The CST’s remit is quite narrow, as they deliberately exclude anti-Israeli attacks, and focus on incidents where it can be shown that an individual’s religion was the cause of the incident. This avoids the disingenuous argument that these attacks mostly occur because people dislike Israel’s policies, with the implication that if Israel behaved Jews would be safe.

Peter Oborne, in the wake of Baroness Warsi’s speech on Islamophobia, asked where the Muslim equivalent of the CST is. He then went on to list a number of recent attacks on Muslims he managed to find in just a few hours, including:

Police arrest four more men following attack on Mosque: Police have arrested four more man following last month’s attack on Kingston Mosque. The men were arrested yesterday on suspicion of involvement in the disorder and damage at the mosque in Park Road on Sunday, November 21. Elderly worshippers were terrified when a group of men tried to smash windows and threw beer and bacon at the building. (Kingston Guardian, 8 December 2010.)

Why have I written on both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks? It is not to downplay the importance of either, or create a ‘league table’ of attacks. Rather it is because these attacks highlight the similarities of the abuse that ordinary Muslim and Jewish victims suffer: the broken windows of a religious house; the crude religious component to attacks; the hateful language; and the self-righteous justification of a number of attackers.

4th February, 2011

Now Christians protect Muslims in Egypt

by Rumbold at 2:11 pm    

After the uplifting scenes in Egypt during Coptic Christmas, when Muslims formed human shields to protect their Christian brethren at mass after terror attacks on Copts, Christians have returned the favour during prayers, protecting Muslim protestors who were worried about attacks from pro-Mubarak thugs.

(Via: Maylor)

3rd February, 2011

British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL

by Jai at 9:00 am    

A number of the largest Sikh and Hindu organisations in Britain have formally released a joint statement forcefully condemning the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. The latter is of course particularly applicable to the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit (sometimes known as “Amit”) Singh; he was also one of the EDL members interviewed by BBC’s Newsnight as part of a documentary about the group which the programme showed earlier this week. As previously discussed on Pickled Politics, Guramit himself is currently being prosecuted by the police for “intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress, under Section Four of the Public Order Act 1986”, following a public speech by Guramit which included the following remarks:

“I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.”

The speech is available on Youtube. Guramit has also previously boasted on his Facebook page about his murderous hatred of Muslims:

“the muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!”

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28th January, 2011

Bulleh Shah, “blasphemy”, and Pakistan

by Jai at 9:00 am    

Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of Salman Taseer (the assassinated Pakistani Governor of Punjab), recently wrote a poignant Guardian CiF article about her father’s murder which also mentioned Bulleh Shah:

“My father was buried in Lahore on 5 January under high security. Cleric after cleric refused to lead his funeral prayers – as they had those of the sufi saint Bulleh Shah – and militants warned mourners to attend at their own peril. But thousands came to Governor House on that bitterly cold morning to pay their respects. Thousands more led candle-lit vigils across the country. But the battle is not going to be over any time soon.”

Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757) is one of the most famous and revered Sufi Muslims in South Asian history; he was also one of the historical role models of the late Pakistani Sufi Muslim singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his family, who have themselves been Sufis since the medieval period. The saint’s shrine is in the Punjabi city of Kasur, now in Pakistan, and can be seen in the photo at the top of this article.

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21st January, 2011

The hysterical reaction to Sayeeda Warsi’s speech

by Sunny at 10:47 am    

Sayeeda Warsi was of course right to say that Islamophobia has become the last piece of accepted bigotry in the UK. You only have to read the right-wing press and their continuing obsession with ‘Muslim demographics’ to see the obvious. The Daily Mail, Telegraph, Express and even the Spectator don’t even bother hiding it.

Also predictable was the hysterical reaction from the same quarters: ‘ZOMG how dare she insult us all!!!‘. As usual, Peter Oborne, about the only intelligent and worth-reading Tory left in the British press, has it spot on:

What she said yesterday has desperately needed saying by a mainstream politician for a very long time. I know this because, over the past few years, I have visited many Muslim communities and spoken to scores of Muslim leaders. With very few exceptions (such as Anjem Choudary, the fanatic who tried to organise a protest march by British Muslims through Wootton Bassett) they are decent people. Many have come from countries which persecute their citizens and trash human rights. So they are even more keenly aware of what it means to be a British citizen.

But – and this is why what Baroness Warsi has to say is so important – British Muslims get spat at, abused, insulted and physically attacked. Vandalism and mosque burnings are common, and often unrecorded. The far?Right in Britain has changed its nature. In the 1980s, organisations such as the National Front and the BNP concentrated their hatred and odium on blacks and Jews. Today, racist organisations such as the English Defence League focus on Muslim immigrants.

Over at the Spectator, they’ve gone with the ‘OMG, she didn’t clear that speech with No. 10!‘. I wonder why the Spectator had that reaction huh?

Over at Harry’s Place, Edmund Standing patronisingly claims that Warsi’s comments are a ‘gift to Islamists‘ and cites several Muslims who he thinks would disagree. Except that, er, Mona Eltahawy has tweeted it approvingly and the Quilliam Foundation have come out in support of her comments. Nice try.

Now the narrative has become that Warsi is accumulating enemies within the Conservative party and will soon be turfed out. I highly doubt it. Tories hysterically jump from applauding her like the next coming of Christ when she says something they agree with, and take out the knives when she doesn’t. I suspect the more liberal Cameron team are less jumpy about this than the ideological Tory frothing-at-the-mouth activists who inhabit the online discourse.

Filed under: Religion
20th January, 2011

Dara Shukoh and the fate of Pakistan: Part 2

by Jai at 9:00 am    

This article follows on directly from Part 1, which detailed the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh, his philosophy and his interpretation of Islam. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read that part first before continuing below.

Shah Jahan temporarily fell ill during the late 1650s. False rumours spread, claiming that he had died and that Dara Shukoh was now the Mughal emperor. Aurangzeb exploited this as an opportunity to grab power by mobilising his own military forces, ignoring his sister’s urgent correspondence confirming that their father was indeed still alive and that Aurangzeb was therefore committing an action of treason, and eventually imprisoned Shah Jahan opposite the Taj Mahal. During the resulting war of succession, Dara Shukoh was given some military assistance by the 7th Sikh Guru during one of the battles, but the prince was ultimately defeated later in the conflict, as Aurangzeb had greater experience as a military commander and was a far more ruthless individual. Dara’s weakened wife had already died while the family had been attempting to reach the safe haven of Persia, and Dara sent her body with an armed escort to Mian Mir’s shrine in Lahore for burial nearby.

The 44-year-old Dara Shukoh and his 15-year-old son Sipihr Shukoh were captured after being betrayed by an Afghan “ally” they’d sought refuge with (ironically, Dara had previously saved the Afghan from being executed by Shah Jahan). A few days later, Dara was humiliatingly paraded through the Mughal capital of Delhi, resulting in a huge outcry from the city’s inhabitants due to his immense popularity. He wouldn’t even survive for a single day afterwards, because Aurangzeb could see that Dara’s popularity amongst the mass population posed a severe risk of a huge uprising against the fanatical regime attempting to engineer a political coup, and Dara was also a clear final barrier to his own desire for the imperial throne.

Aurangzeb had access to some ultraconservative mullahs sympathetic to him, and rapidly had his brother impeached, declared an “apostate”, and sentenced to death on trumped-up charges of “heresy”. On the night of 30th August 1659, Dara Shukoh was unceremoniously beheaded in his prison cell, in front of his young son Sipihr, although Dara had put up a fight to try to physically defend himself. Dara’s older son Suleiman Shukoh was also eventually captured; as per Aurangzeb’s instructions, over an extended period of time the incarcerated Suleiman was gradually poisoned by being fed large quantities of opium extracts which, after effectively lobotomising him, ultimately killed him.

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19th January, 2011

Dara Shukoh and the fate of Pakistan: Part 1

by Jai at 9:00 am    

The recent murder of the Governor of Punjab in Pakistan, Salman Taseer, and the increasing escalation of visible religious extremism in that country brings to mind a notable historical precedent, involving a major figure in South Asian history who was also the governor of Punjab for a time. There are some serious implications for both Pakistan and the rest of the world if history is allowed to repeat itself.

The painting at the top of this article, commissioned circa 1650, depicts the builder of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, meeting the crown prince Muhammad Dara Shukoh (sometimes also spelt “Shikoh” or “Shikuh”). Dara Shukoh is the figure standing on the right.

Dara Shukoh, born in 1615, was Shah Jahan’s favourite son and nominated heir. Like most of the major Mughals during their reign in India, Dara was a liberal patron of music, dancing and arts (an example of an album of pictures he personally painted as a gift for his wife Nadira Banu can be viewed via the British Library); Dara was also closely affiliated with the Qadiri Sufi order, especially the Muslim saint Mian Mir, who had been invited by one of the Sikh Gurus to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The land for the temple complex and the city of Amritsar itself had been granted to the Sikhs by Dara’s great-grandfather, the Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, justifiably known as Akbar the Great.

Dara Shukoh himself was similarly heavily involved in promoting religious moderation, friendship and understanding between people of different faiths; with the assistance of some Hindu Brahmin priests, his activities included translating more than 50 of the most important ancient Hindu scriptures (especially the Upanishads) from Sanskrit into Persian so that Muslims could understand them better, with the intention that this would prevent unwarranted prejudice based on ignorance. Dara’s translations later proved invaluable in helping colonial-era Europeans understand the Hindu texts concerned, as they were originally more familiar with Persian than Sanskrit.

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17th January, 2011

The religious Muslims campaigning against Al-Muhajiroun

by Sunny at 4:00 pm    

A video from Luton, where a group of conservative Muslims are actively campaigning against the extremist group Al-Muhajiroun (aka ISlam4UK, Muslims Against Crusades).

Update: Jerome Taylor at the Indy wrote a piece about one of the organisers in 2009.

Filed under: Islamists,Religion
10th January, 2011

Egyptian Muslims protect Copts at church

by Rumbold at 11:09 am    

After the recent murderous attacks in Egypt on the Coptic Christian minority, thousands of Egyptian Muslims, outraged by these attacks (which many believe are due to foreign terrorists), have banded together to protect Copts at church:

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea. Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

(Hat Tip: A PP reader)

25th December, 2010

Merry Christmas

by Jai at 8:30 am    

According to Christian tradition, today marks the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christianity actually has a very long history in the subcontinent; there have been settled communities of Christians in India for hundreds of years longer than there have been Christians in northern Europe (including Britain). Thomas the Apostle is also believed to have been sent to India by Jesus to spread his message; St Thomas is buried in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Apocryphally, there are some unconfirmed legends of Jesus visiting Buddhist monasteries in northern India and Tibet during the “missing years” between his childhood and his early thirties.

More recently (relatively speaking), several of the Mughal emperors, who were all Muslims, were particularly broad-minded about Jesus, Christianity, and Christian artefacts.

For example, the arch over the gateway to the main mosque in Akbar the Great’s old imperial capital near Agra displays a quote attributed to Jesus; a large mural of the Nativity was displayed in Akbar’s sleeping chambers; and Jesuit missionaries were allowed to set up a chapel within the imperial palace itself.

Akbar’s son & successor Jahangir, who owned a large carving of Jesus on the Cross, kept large-framed pictures of Jesus and the Madonna in his own sleeping quarters.

In fact, Jahangir appeared to be so amenable to Christian theology that Jesuit missionaries mistakenly believed that he was on the brink of formally converting from Islam right until the very end. During the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir, missionaries built churches at several locations in the Mughal Empire, and Christians were free to openly celebrate major festivals such as Christmas and Easter.

Multiple paintings and murals depicting various aspects of Jesus, Mary and Christian saints were commissioned by the Mughals, and were displayed not only on the walls of the palace but also on Mughal tombs and caravanserais. The picture at the top of this article is a painting of the Nativity, created during the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah, circa 1720. During the 1850s, the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s own physician formally converted to Christianity, to which the emperor simply replied that the man’s faith was his own private matter and “there was no cause for shame in what he had done”.

In modern-day India, Christmas is a major national holiday.

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Filed under: History,Religion
22nd December, 2010

Anjem Choudhary and mates behind ‘xmas is evil’ stunt

by Sunny at 5:12 pm    

The Daily Mail has found the ‘war on Christmas by Muslims‘ it always wanted. The news report is practically salivating at their amazing find. I went to www.xmasisevil.com – it doesn’t work but redirects to islamicrevival2010.com – run by Al-Muhajiroun / Islam4UK.

Just to be clear, all Anjem Choudhary and his mates needed to do was set up a blog, put up a few posters, send the pictures and link to the Daily Mail. Job done
via @mjrobbins

Update: Oh look, Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick has also demanded they be ripped down. Now, I don’t really care for stunts etc, but when will it occur to this obnoxious MP that the best strategy is to ignore these idiots rather than fuelling tabloid rage / extremist stunts?

Update 2 The Daily Mail has also recycled its ’40% of British Muslims want Sharia and to kill us all’ story from 2008. Martin Robbins has dissected the dishonest way it’s reported.

Filed under: Religion
21st December, 2010

The bigger tragedy behind the assault on Afshan Azad

by Sunny at 6:32 pm    

The story of young actress Afshan Azad, assaulted by her brother because her boyfriend was not Muslim, has hit the headlines because she starred in Harry Potter.

But there are thousands of girls like her every year who aren’t able to tell anyone their story. They don’t just face domestic violence, but are sometimes forced into marriages to avoid any further such embarrassments. In extreme cases she could also be the victim of “shame” based violence.

Afshan Azad’s ordeal is common, and not just prevalent among Muslims.

When my mother found out I was dating a Muslim girl while at university, I faced a stern, disapproving talk about how she wouldn’t tolerate me marrying a Muslim girl (yes,most Asian parents are obsessed with marriage). But I got off lightly.

One night a group of Sikh guys came to our university and stabbed (in the leg) a Muslim guy who had been going out with a Sikh girl. In stark terms they told him to ‘leave our women alone.’

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1st December, 2010

Airbrushing Christianity? Christianists think so

by guest at 5:02 pm    

A guest post by Hannah Mudge:

Today Christian Concern launches its ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign. This new intiative hopes to provide an opportunity for Christians in the UK to spend December standing publicly for their faith, due to concerns that Christianity is being erased from the public domain.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has declared his support for Not Ashamed – on its website and in national newspapers – by speaking of the way Christianity is being ‘airbrushed’ from UK life, using examples of Christmas cards proclaiming ‘Season’s Greetings’ (forgive me if I’m wrong but cards like that have been around for decades, right?) and local councils using the word ‘winter’ instead of ‘Christmas’, which as we all know is part of our old favourite – the Winterval myth – the festival which, despite having only ever happened in one city in 1997 and 1998, continues to outrage tabloid readers every single year.

Just recently I’ve become aware that Christian Concern is a sister organisation of The Christian Legal Centre, which is, to be honest, not a group I’d want to align myself with. CLC and its director, self-described fundamentalist Andrea Williams – have been on the radar for a while but in the past few years they’ve received much more attention with regard to the debate on abortion and also due to court cases involving Christians who feel they have been discriminated against because of their faith.

The CLC and another group, The Christian Institute, have represented some of these people – such as Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar who refused to officiate at civil partnerships due to her beliefs and lost her religious discrimination appeal. Other cases receiving media attention in recent months have been those of BA employee Nadia Eweida – who plans to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights – and nurse Caroline Petrie, who was suspended from her post after offering to pray for a patient who was worried that others might be uncomfortable with this. Mrs Petrie later returned to work.

The inevitable focus on these cases – primarily covered by the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, have prompted a host of accusations that Christians are now being victimised by the law and by society, which is supposedly favouring minority groups at the expense of a faith group which has been a major part of British life for centuries. In October, a group of seven prominent clerics wrote to the Telegraph, warning that Christians’ freedom to express their faith is at risk. (more…)

19th November, 2010

Tabloids lie about Muslims (again) PCC does nothing

by Sunny at 3:09 pm    

In late October the Daily Mail ran with this story:

Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan because neighbour claimed ‘smell of frying bacon offends Muslims’
A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan – because the smell of her frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims. Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour’s Muslim friends had felt ‘physically sick’ due to the ‘foul odour’.

Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is ‘unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity’.

You can predict the I’m outraged! These Muslims are taking over! comments. Given that the Telegraph has also become a tabloid rag, it followed up with a re-write of the same story. As did the Metro.

The article was dissected by Tabloid Watch, which pointed out:

But then it becomes clear that the complaints about the smell coming from the cafe’s extractor fan were not from random passing Muslims. Indeed, the planning application details appear to show that there was just one official complaint – and that was from the person who lives next door to the cafe:

Notice he says the smell makes him ‘physically sick’, not his Muslim friends, as the Mail claimed in the second paragraph. And yes, he does mention his ‘Muslim friends’ couldn’t ‘stand the smell’. But using the term ‘Muslim friends’ strongly implies he’s not actually Muslim himself – if he was, it’s likely the Mail would have mentioned it somewhere.

But of course that’s not how the Daily Mail and Telegraph wanted the narrative to be. They wanted it to be about Nasty Muslims Banning Our Way of Life.

Anyway, after the Tabloid Watch blog went up, three people decided to complain to the Press Complaints Commission.

The PCC has now cleared the Mail, on the grounds that, “readers would not be misled as to the circumstances surrounding the refusal for planning permission.”

As Roy Greenslade points out – that is not the impression one gets from reading the comments in the article, which are aimed squarely at Muslims. Not only does the PCC downplay the importance of the misleading headline, but assumes people will actually read between the lines and get what the real story is. They don’t.
But there is one comment on the original DM article worth highlighting:

I am the neighbour who complained! Well done DM for asking for my comments on the matter, but if you had there would be No Story To Print! This vent is affecting my children’s health and that is why the council denied planning!

Yes, I have some Muslim friends who it offended, but nothing was said about my English friends who avoid my house within opening hours of the shop!

Shame on you Daily Mail. You have stirred up lots of racial tension in my area now, so for you its ‘mission accomplished.’

Mission accomplished indeed. It’s worth noting these incidents of mainstream bigotry go largely unremarked in our media culture except one or two small places.

Filed under: Media,Religion
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