Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Do You Want To Be Interrogated By The Thought Police?

This June will mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta — yes that bill of rights that gave every man the right to a fair trial. Now in 2015, the Government is trying to sneak through the CTS Bill which is an infringement of the Magna Carta.

There are many organisations that are thankfully making noise and trying to spread information about the CTS Bill so that the public are aware of it. Reading the letter addressed to the Government will help understand how ridiculous it is, you can read and sign the petition against the CTS Bill here. It's extremely important everyone does this, because it seems like everyone has the right to a free trial, unless you're Muslim in which case, evidence by association is enough to detain you. I discussed this in my last post as well, but this CTS Bill is moving us closer and closer to being governed by the thought police.

The CTS Bill will give the rights to doctors, teachers, nursery staff and other non-legal professionals to be able to detect 'radical' behaviour and report it according to their definition of 'extreme'. People who don't know Muslims and only know what they see on the news, will be able to judge what extreme views are. It's really worth checking out the Stop The Bill website and have good look through the articles and evidence against the bill. Another good article written by Dilly Hussain also highlights the problem with the CTS Bill.

Speaking of moving closer to a police state, I read an article this week, which describes how authorities in the US are monitoring Muslims — one way is by seeing who opts for a 'Muslim' meal on an airline. Perhaps the way to get round this is to order a Kosher meal (which is permissible to eat) or a vegetarian meal — what nonsense! And this pretty much sums up the fear I and many other Muslims have, being interrogated, arrested or criminalised for being a Muslim who practices their faith, which is what all this legislation is leading to.

Moving on to more discerning news related to Muslims, a halal abattoir is being investigated after Animal Aid planted secret cameras there. Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire has dismissed one of their workers and revoked three mens' licences after they were caught kicking sheep and treating them in an appalling manor. If you want to see videos of this click here. This is completely against Islamic principles as halal meat also covers the welfare of animals and treating them kindly. Disgusting behaviour by these men and of course they should be prosecuted accordingly. This meat actually will not be halal because of the inhumane treatment of the animals, and it's quite sickening to know that we are eating this meat. I am 100% sure that this kind of behaviour towards animals takes place in regular abattoirs too, and the meat being 'halal' has little to do with it. It's despicable that irresponsible and ignorant Muslims can behave this way and give everyone yet another excuse to have a go at Islamic practices.The Food Standard Agency are investigating a number of abattoirs now, not just halal but regular ones too.

This week will also see the much loved and much hated (if you're a friend of Israel) George Galloway appear on BBC Question Time (Thursday 10.45pm).This week QT will take place in Finchley, North London which has the biggest Jewish community in the UK. Obviously it was a move cleverly crafted by the BBC to attract controversy in the media especially in the Twittersphere. It will be explosive, and an entertaining hour of telly no doubt.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Most of you will be aware that the British Government is trying to pass a new anti-terrorism bill, which really is a slap in the face of ‘freedom of speech’ and everything else the mainstream media have been shouting about post-Paris shootings. The freedom to express our thoughts and the freedom to criticise and question the Government and their foreign policies is a key part of our British values. However the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill (CTSB) proposes quite the opposite. In response to the number of Brits joining ISIS, these are the main points of the proposed bill: (taken from iengage.com)

  • Police officers or border officials able to seize passports for up to 14 days (with renewal up to 30 days via Magistrates’ court) 
  • Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs) that can ban a British citizen from entering the UK for up to 2 years and leave them effectively stateless during that time 
  • Relocation of 200 miles enforced on individuals subject to TPIMs raising concerns about mental health and family life
  • Government seeking power to intercept communications raising grave privacy concerns
  • Airlines and carriers forced to adopt ‘authority to carry’ scheme which can effectively enforce ‘no fly’ lists on entire nationalities 
  • ‘Prevent’ to become a statutory requirement in Councils, schools, universities and more 
  • Universities required to operate an ‘extremist’ speakers policy 

Whilst some of these proposals may seem acceptable in the light of characters like Jihadi John the worry is that the wrong people will be targeted. We have seen this time and time again, just looking at some of the prisoners who have and have not been released from Guantanamo Bay and the number of innocent Muslims whose homes have been targeted by terror raids. Frankly I have little faith in our Government or the secret service to be able to differentiate between a religious Muslim and a violent extremist Muslim. And of course then we come back to the same question ‘How do you define extremism?’. Ask ten different people and they will give ten different answers.

It scares the hell out of me to think one woman Theresa May, and further down the road we could have a UKIP Home Secretary, could have the power to implement such divisive policies which are so vague, open to interpretation and could be easily misused. My definition of what constitutes extremism will be different from even my parents’ definition for example. This excellent article summarises the possible consequences and what murky road Britain may be heading down  You can write to your MP and ask him/her to vote against this bill in its current form by clicking here.

Also this week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles sent a letter to over a 1000 mosques and Islamic organisations, asking them in a nutshell to catch extremists. This obviously annoyed many Muslim leaders and Imams who have been working incredibly hard over the last 10 years to flush out hate preachers and extremist interpretations of Islamic literature. Not only was the letter patronising it was pointless and badly timed. While Muslims are still reeling after the Charlie Hebdo incident, this is the last thing they need. I think the Government needs to get real. Mosques do not radicalise young people anymore. The Internet and social media plays a much bigger part. Chances are if you go to the mosque regularly, or to an Islamic school you will not be taught violence extremism. You will be taught everything but that. However if you leave your Islamic education to the Internet then you can be influenced by anyone from anywhere in the world. My advice to young Muslims would be to go an seek knowledge from mosques, from Islamic books and not from ISIS videos.

To end I will leave you with a story from The Daily Star. In France, the same country that champions freedom of speech and expression, banned a couple from naming their child ‘Nutella’ today. So much for freedom of expression eh?

Friday, 16 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo — Clarifications and Questions

It's been an incredibly stressful week for Muslims around the globe. The horrific shootings that took place in Paris last week seem to have dominated the news agenda. Despite 2000 people being killed in Nigeria, and Muslims killed and driven out of their homes in CAR, the 17 lives lost in Paris seems to be what everyone wants to talk about. When I say everyone I mean non-Muslims. Muslims are pretty fed up of the hypocrisy, Mehdi Hasan sums it up pretty well in his piece this week. The backlash since the shootings has been extortionate. From mosques being vandalised in France to people like Rupert Murdoch (perhaps one of the most powerful people in the world) stating Muslims are collectively responsible — Muslims are really feeling the brunt of this. We've heard condemnations from many Muslim scholars and organisations but what does it all mean and what are we really thinking? Here are some clarifications that I feel need stating.
  1. Murder is a sin. It is haram (not permitted) in Islam. Blasphemy is a punishable crime in Islam. But the punishment can only be carried out within a legitimate Islamic state, after a fair trial has taken place and only then by the appointed executioner. The shootings were unislamic on so many level. For a start France is not a Muslim country nor does it have Islamic laws. Secondly a normal citizen is not under any circumstance permitted to go and murder people they believe have committed blasphemy. I hope I've cleared that up? So if you hear Muslims condoning the shootings then they are ignorant of Islamic teachings and have let their emotions run away with them.
  2. Just because I think Charlie Hebdo is a blasphemous publication, doesn't mean I want the writers/cartoonists dead. I hate the rubbish that Charlie Hebdo print in the name of satire. I AM NOT Charlie. For me Charlie Hebdo represents racism, Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and vulgarity. 
  3. The Prophet Muhammad NEVER responded with violence to anyone who hurled abuse at him verbally or physically. Examples of how he dealt with haters are can be found here.
  4. Depictions of any prophet of Islam are not looked at favourably. I have blogged about the reasons why. To explain further, the Prophet Muhammad is as important to us as a parent. He is our role model, we emulate him and live our lives by following the Quran and using his examples as our moral compass. He was kind, humble, patient and tolerant. From how to eat to how to pray, his example dictates a Muslim's daily activity. To then go and insult, make crude jokes about him, you can begin to see why Muslims would get upset. Upset, frustrated and provoked are some of the feelings you would feel if somebody kept mocking and insulting your loved one over and over again. Out of 1.8 billion Muslim some will lose their mind and commit violence. Not justified but it should explain why we get so upset. Also note not all Muslims care, some do and some don't. We are a diverse bunch. The cover of Charlie Hebdo after the shootings showing an upset Prophet Muhammad stating 'you are forgiven' and 'I am Charlie' didn't offend me. The actual depiction may offend some people — the image shows Prophet Mohammad with beady eyes and a big nose. Not flattering but then caricatures never are.
  5. There is no such thing as true freedom of speech or expression. In Germany, it is a crime to deny the holocaust, in France pro-Palestinian marches were banned this year after so many Palestinians were killed by Israel, and in the UK a man was convicted for burning a poppy. There are many examples. Many things are distasteful and offensive and editors make decisions every day about what they should print and what they shouldn't. They don't want to offend anybody deliberately, which leads to my next point. 
  6. We are British, and the one thing British people don't like doing is offending. We maintain a stiff upper lip if we don't like anything. That's not to say we should always be politically correct, but be mindful of people's sensibilities. Why is that such a bad thing? Why should we seek out to offend a minority? What is one going to gain out of it? It's not British and it's not clever. Perhaps the French don't have this in their culture? This is not a curtailment of freedom of speech. As journalist and novelist Will Self said on Newsnight — 'Freedom of speech is a right, and with every right comes responsibility.' Absolutely spot on, just because we are allowed to make disgusting jokes about somebody, does that mean we should just for the sake of it, without thinking about how it will affect thousands of people?
  7. The media has really whipped up a frenzy with the continuing news coverage of the Paris shootings. Giving attention to terrorists is what they want and we are giving them exactly that. Who were the killers? Were they just evil men who hated the West or was it more to it then that? Finding out what drove them to commit such a dreadful act is important and relevant. Writing them off as evil enemies of freedom is not helpful. The root cause of their actions must be examined. Their background and their upbringing all count.
  8. Stop asking Muslims to apologise. The more you ask ordinary Muslims to apologise the more cheesed off they're going to get. Christians weren't asked to apologise for Christian fundamentalist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people so why the double standard? The impression I've got over the years is that if I don't say anything as a Muslim it means that I condone it. Where does this logic come from and why does it apply to Muslim crimes only? 
I'm going to leave it there for now and hope to have a weekend free from terrorism talk. More next week!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The World And Its Double Standards

We are halfway through Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims and this last week has been difficult to say the least. I'm not referring to the fasting aspect, I'm referring to attack on Gaza. All week myself and many others have been posting pictures and articles about the reality of Operation 'Protective Edge'. Over 150 Palestinians have died in less than a week, many of those women and children. I don't need to sit here and retell the disgusting attitude and ideology of the Zionists who rule over Israel and many other governments in the world. But I will ask this: Why is a Palestinian life worth less than an Israeli one? Is it because the masses have become desensitised by the struggle of the Palestinians? A struggle that has gone on for over 60 years where Palestinians have been denied human rights. A struggle against apartheid, and a struggle to keep their homes from being destroyed and their land stolen so that illegal settlements can be built. The settlements (illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention) give Jews the right to come from anywhere in the world and live there — The Law of Return, which is the main tenet of Zionism, is racism at its best. Torture the existing residents to such an extent that they flee the country, or bomb them so they die thus making room for the Jewish people around the world who already have homes in other countries. Crazy law which so many believe in.

So what is the international community's problem? Why has the reporting of events in Gaza been so lacklustre in organisations like the BBC and American media? Demonstrations took place all over the world supporting the people of Gaza but very few media outlets reported it. Why are Palestinians lives worth less than Israeli lives? Is it because the West wants the only non-Muslim country in the Middle East to remain non-Muslim? Is it pure racism, even though the Palestinian and Israeli people are both Semites and actually have the same race? Is it guilt following centuries of persecution of Jews, and now it's ok for Jewish Israelis to swap roles from oppressed to oppressor? Is it because of the millions of dollars worth of trade in arms and goods that would be lost if they spoke out against Israel? America gives millions of its citizens dollars to Israel in weapons and aid. Why? Is it because of the Biblical prophecy which promises Jews the holy land? Or is it because the people at the top have bought into the Zionist ideology? Whatever the reason, apparently it's ok for Israel to kill 150 civilians because even if they're not part of Hamas, they probably know somebody in Hamas or if they are children then they will become terrorists. If they are women, that's ok because they give birth to terrorists. This is just some of the mindset of people who have been brought up listening to Israeli propaganda. Whatever the reason, this is not acceptable by any standards. 

Let's be honest and clear about this. The reality is this — Israel wants to get rid of all the Palestinians in Palestine for land and land only. They have been trying to do this for decades by making the lives miserable of those in the occupied territories, by building more and more illegal settlements and by simply attacking them with air strikes, bombs and other methods. Hundreds and thousands of Palestinians have fled since the creation of Israel, as their homes were destroyed and they were made refugees in their own country. (What about their right to return?) But for those that stayed they are still experiencing the ethnic cleansing and apartheid regime by Israel. They are resisting at the cost of their lives and their children's lives. Israelis love using the phrase 'human shields'. When you don't have anything and you will not leave your home under the pressure of Israel, what can you do? Only resist and throw stones. According to international law those in illegal occupied territories are allowed to fight and resist legally.

The situation is dire and the world leaders need to wake up and stand up against injustice. For us mere mortals all we can do is raise awareness and complain about one sided reporting. So please when you see injustice stand up and fight against it. Complain, demonstrate, share the truth, this is the minimum we can do. And maybe somebody will listen one day.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Ramadan Mubarak!

Today marks the first eve of the first day of Ramadan, which is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. In this month Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. I blogged about Ramadan last year, you can read more about fasting and Ramadan here.

I want to begin by explaining a bit more about Ramadan. Not eating and drinking is really only half of what constitutes a fast. At a much deeper level fasting is about your relationship with the Almighty. It is about reflection, righteousness, spirituality and submission. This month is also a month of mercy and blessings so why waste it doing trivial and unnecessary things. Which is why I won't be blogging that much this Ramadan!

Apart from this, one thing I find that I spend too much time doing is messing about on social media. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram plus add time checking emails and surfing the internet, I definitely waste a lot of time. This is a battle I'm sure many people have but I will try very hard to limit my use of social media. Let's see how it goes. There must be an app surely? If anybody knows of an app that can put an alarm on or something like that, let me know!

In the meantime enjoy Ramadan and the blessings it brings with it. Happy Ramadan to everyone whether you are fasting or not :)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

How Social Media Has Made Muslim-Bashing Completely Acceptable

I find it incredible that Islam and Muslims are interrogated and harassed on a daily basis over social media. It just doesn't happen to people of other faiths. There are people who have Twitter accounts for the main purpose of vilifying and insulting Islam. There are hundreds whose profiles reflect this. Hiding behind the lines 'British and proud' or 'English and proud', people are happy to espouse muslim hatred.

Read the whole article on HuffingtonPost.com

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Boris Johnson Has Lost The Plot

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote in his column for the Telegraph that he thinks children of 'radical Islamic extremists' should be taken away and put into the care system. Right Mr. Mayor what a lovely idea, but what in your mind constitutes a radical extremist?

Read whole article

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Mark Duggan - Killed Lawfully?

Over two years later, finally the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan has come to an end. The jury made up of ten random Londoners decided that Mark Duggan did not have a gun on him when he was shot and killed by a police officer in August 2011. Despite this the IPCC has came to the conclusion that Duggan was killed lawfully. I find the outcome quite shocking, as have the family of Duggan and hundreds of others.

When somebody makes a mistake, which leads to a criminal offence, they have to face the consequences. A punishment is given to everybody who is found guilty of committing an criminal offence. The difference here is that this officer is not being punished for his mistake. The officer believed that Duggan had a gun-this was the officer's mistake. He went ahead and shot him and he died as a consequence. Of course being an armed officer, he is permitted to shoot if the subject is a threat. But with no gun, where is the threat? So this police officer mistakenly thought Duggan was a threat. Any mistake anyone makes in a court of law, they are punished for. This wasn't a court of law though, this was the police investigating the police in reality.

There are discrepancies in this case, and the question I want to ask is whether Duggan, a black man, would still be alive today if he was white? A question that can never be answered, but one we should all stop and think about. As someone from an ethnic minority, cases like this really worry me. It's 2014 and the majority of the black community believe the outcome of the inquest was completely wrong and a big cover up. This is bad news for London. Whatever happens next, with the family promising to fight for Duggan's innocence, the relationship between the police and the black community has been severed.

Also we musn't forget that it wasn't just Mark Duggan who was killed that summer. His killing whether lawful or unlawful is also responsible for the events that lead to the murder of three men in Birmingham six days dater who were protecting their community from rioters. Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were violently run over and left to die by a group of men taking part in the riots. One split second judgement made by one marked policeman can yield such destruction is actually pretty terrifying.

A Note About Patriotism

I wrote this many years ago and just came across it recently.

28 February 2009 at 01:01

Recently I read something about patriotism, specifically Pakistani patriotism and realised that I can’t identify with it in the slightest.

When I was growing up I used to support the Pakistani cricket team and I didn’t mind going to Pakistan every year for holidays, it never used to be much fun but it wasn’t too bad either. But I've realised in the last few years or so my fondness for Pakistan has diminished and I'm not sure why! I don’t feel like I am Pakistani. Yes my parents are Pakistani and I have lots of relatives who I’m very fond of, living there, but that doesn’t mean I’m Pakistani does it? But time and time again I have to say ‘I’m Pakistani’, or ‘originally I’m from Pakistan’ as I don’t look Caucasian or English. But then as I’m not English looking I’m not 100% British either, which poses the question. What am I? And where do I belong?

The notion of nationalism sort of passes me by. Just because you are born in a particular country why do you have to unconditionally love it? Most Pakistanis I meet absolutely adore their country. Despite all its flaws and lets be honest Pakistan has more than it’s fair share, they blindly love it. So much so that it defines them. Why do I not feel that way about England? Is it because I have Pakistani blood so that makes me less British? I can’t be more Pakistani than British if I wasn’t even born or raised there. I make fun of Pakistanis but I also make fun of British people, as I know the cultures too well having been influenced by both. A lot of people say ‘don’t forget your roots’. Erm what roots exactly? Pakistani ‘roots’ have derived from Indian ‘roots’ and most things in Indian culture come from Hinduism. This could be a generalisation but I don’t think it is. I understand about the language thing, yes we should all know how to converse in Urdu so we can talk to our elders and teach our children Urdu too but the only reason for that is so that children can communicate with their grandparents better. I really can’t see any other benefit of my children learning Urdu!

Psychologically people feel they need to belong to somewhere so that it can define them and describe them. In all honesty the only thing I feel is Muslim. If you want to add more of a description then I would say a ‘British Muslim’ as I hold a British passport. The bottom line is I don’t feel like I need to belong to anything more than the Muslim Ummah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Muslims who hate Britain. I love living here and there are many many things I like about this country but there are probably just as many I don’t like. Are there a whole load of 2nd generation ‘Brit-Asians’ who feel the same?

I wish that nationalism wasn’t such a big deal. The cause of many wars and deaths. I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious but I wish other Muslims realised that their nationality actually isn’t very important at all. Identifying as a Muslim is of the utmost importance. Your nationality is just a means of allowing you to move around the world freely by allowing you to own a passport. Your parent’s nationality means even less.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Are There Any Role Models Left For Our Girls?

After Rebecca Adlington's revelations this week in 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here', it got me thinking about role models. Rebecca became a national treasure after winning us a gold medal in swimming last year in the Olympics, and is a superb role model for any young girl. She is one of the very few females in the public eye who is liked and appreciated for her talent rather than anything aesthetic.
Click here to read more....