Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paris Attack: As a Muslim I am disgusted how ISIS can carry out this violence and claim to represent my faith. We cannot let the terrorists win by dividing our nation. by Miqdad Versi

Published in The Independent News
Copyright, All Rights Reserved
Saturday 15th November 2015

The condemnation and the sense of horror has been the universal human reaction to the events in Paris. Even if we aren’t directly affected, we still feel some of the pain of the families of those killed and injured.

As a Muslim I am not only shocked at the evil and carnage inflicted on innocent people, but I am equally if not more so angry that these people should do so through some misguided and warped grasp of my faith.
But there is also a real concern that in the days ahead, there will be those who will try to use the Parisian atrocity to divide the British society and as an excuse to launch attacks against Muslims, as happened after the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year.

With a number of horrific tweets talking about killing all Muslims and with people such as Richard Dawkins equating Islam with Nazism, we need to be vigilant. WikiLeaks has suggested that it is indeed the strategy of Daesh in France is to provoke a crackdown on Muslims.

Verbal assaults against Muslims have already begun to take place. At a bus stop in the UK today, a man shouted, “They need to all die, these Muslims need to die. Look what they're doing in Paris,” to a young Muslim woman. There are also unconfirmed reports of a glass bottle thrown at a young Muslim woman in West London this morning. This adds to the fear amongst some Muslims, after a string of recent Islamophobic incidents including a woman who was pushed into a moving train earlier this week.

Some parents have therefore been advising their daughters to remove their headscarf for fear of attack, and many women, including my own wife, feeling unsafe to go out today even though the attacks happened in France.

In the past week, British Muslims have also been rocked by suicide attacks devastating Beirut which killed over 40 people, and in Baghdad, which took over 20 lives. Da-esh or the so-called “ISIL” (who are anything but Islamic) have claimed responsibility for each of these attacks. These incidents come on the back of thousands being killed by Daesh in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, amongst others.

There are many who feel wary of trying to restate the fact that #MuslimsAreNotTerrorists, which is currently trending on Twitter – given these actions are anything but Islamic. Once again there will be a debate as to whether Muslims should be compelled to condemn those terrorists who kill in our name. Sadly, I feel we have no option but to make sure our voice is heard.


Muslim have come out in united condemnation to stand apart from this evil. Many Muslim organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) have condemned the bloodshed in the strongest possible terms, describing the actions of the perpetrators as ‘outside the bounds of our faith’. 
There is also a desire to move beyond words and show solidarity through action. It is remarkable to see the scale and speed of reaction from Muslim communities across the country. By this morning - less than one day after the attack - a silent vigil had been organised by the Christian-Muslim Forum with support from the MCB and numerous other groups across the country. At 6:30pm, tea lights and blue, white and red flowers will adorn Trafalgar Square for the vigil.

As we all mourn the devastation caused by these terrorists, who try and claim legitimacy from the faith of Islam, and as we all support effective methods to keep our nation safe and secure, we cannot let the terrorists win by dividing us. Together, we must stand united.

We must destroy ISIS but not play into their hands - the wrong response would create countless new recruits

By Sunny Hundal
Published in The Independent News
Saturday 14th November 2015
All Rights Reserved, Copyright
The worst response to a tragic and horrific attack like that on Paris last night would be one that strengthens Isis. When President Francois Hollande said we are at war with Isis today, he was right. But it is a war we can only win if we don’t get provoked into the response they want from us. The response they expect.

Parisians are sadly becoming all too used to this kind of violence. It was only in January this year when the attack on Charlie Hebdo left most of its staff dead or maimed. And now this, an attack so ferocious and brutal that Paris may take years to recover. Seven years ago, to this very month, gunmen also ran amok in Mumbai and unleashed terror that was to last four days and claim 164 lives. This is global war, and and it could be very well be a generational war.
As I watched the horror unfold on TV last night, I was asked: “why are they doing this?” - which seems like a naive question but is actually an excellent place to start from. If Isis were indeed behind this (they have now claimed responsibility) - why would they do this?

Isis are doing this to provoke us. They want us to attack them on their soil: in Iraq and Syria. They want to see western troops back in those lands because the chaos and backlash that would create would play directly into their hands. It would create countless new recruits for them.

Isis are also doing this to create division and exploit tension in our modern multi-racial societies. They want western Muslims to feel unwanted in their homes in Europe, and to instead join them in Syria. They want western Muslims to feel that they can only truly be at home at the Isis Caliphate.
And Isis want to see western countries become closed, authoritarian societies where we live in fear of them and their capabilities. They hate what we stand for and they want to provoke us into changing that.
Isis are doing this to provoke us. They want us to attack them on their soil: in Iraq and Syria

The temptation to react to Isis in the way they want will be strong in the aftermath of Paris. Francois Hollande says our response to Isis must be “merciless” - and I agree - but it must also be strategic so we don’t fall into their trap.
We must stand for our values: liberalism, secularism, openness, free speech and equality: those are the values we swear by and those are the values we must now strain every sinew to live by.

When Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would offer shelter to Syrian refugees earlier this year, Isis released a dozen videos in panic, encouraging Syrians to come back. But the damage was done. Syrians saw that Europe was more willing to offer them refuge and dignity than many Muslim states. That they were not heading to the Isis Caliphate was a slap in the face.

The attacks in Beirut and Paris is their response. They want us to brush away humanity and compassion with suspicion and division. By following that script we do exactly what Isis want us to do. The destruction of the Isis Caliphate must happen, but it must come from a Muslim-led force. After all, ordinary Muslims have been its biggest victims.

That isn’t to say we must do nothing. We have to challenge Islamism and its sympathisers in the west, and we have to stand for our values. There’s also no doubt we must win the war against Isis. But we cannot win it if we’re provoked into the response they want. We cannot win with a response that strengthens them rather than weakens them.

Thoughts and prayers for Paris as we condemn terror in all parts of the world today

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Majority of British Muslims have witnessed Islamophobia – study 60% of respondents to survey say they have seen abuse or discrimination directed at fellow Muslims, up from 40% in 2010

By Vikram Dodd
Published at the Guardian
Wednesday 11th November 2015
All Right Reserved, Copyright

The majority of British Muslims say they have witnessed discrimination against followers of the Islamic faith and that a climate of hate is being driven by politicians and media, a study has found.
Six out of 10 Muslims in Britain surveyed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said they had seen Islamophobia directed at someone else, up from four in 10 when the survey was first conducted in 2010. Then, half of Muslims said they had not witnessed Islamophobia – a figure that has now crashed to 18%.

Furthermore, feelings of being increasingly demonised and discriminated against are rising, according to the report, which says Muslims suffer physical and verbal abuse, as well as discrimination in the workplace.

The study is based on interviews with 1,780 people and repeats questions asked in 2010.
In the latest study, nearly every headline finding is worse. The results paint a picture of alienation among a community seen by Whitehall, police and security officials as crucial to helping provide intelligence to thwart terrorism.

More than two-thirds of Muslims told the survey they had heard anti-Islamic comments by politicians, and half thought politicians condone Islamophobic acts. Nearly nine out out of 10 thought discrimination was driven by the way Muslims are portrayed in media coverage.
The findings come amid controversy about a planned crackdown on what the government says are extreme views, which are currently lawful, which some British Muslims and even police chiefs warn will create further alienation.

Subtle effects of discrimination are also on the rise, the study claims. It found 63% said they had experienced “being talked down to or treated as if you were stupid; having your opinions minimised or devalued,” up from 38% in 2010.

More than half said they had been “overlooked, ignored or denied service in a shop, restaurant or public office or transport”, while three-quarters said they had been stared at by strangers.
The IHRC report links rising prejudice to politicians and the media and says: “Just over half believe that politicians condone discriminatory acts against Muslims. This perception indicates that the level of political discourse is seen to be poisonous and one of attribution of blame to Muslims.”

Since 2001 the government has been trying to counter a rising terrorist threat, and it says the threat of attack by those driven by an extremist Islamism ideology is high.

The report says: “The hate environment created by negative political and media discourse, mutually constituted with laws that discriminate … work together to create a hate environment within which the negative experiences of hated societies are produced and as this research shows, in the UK context, have worsened over the five-year period.”

The IHRC has critics, among them the Henry Jackson Society, which the commission says is a front for neo-Conservative propaganda. The Henry Jackson Society said: “The IHRC’s claims that the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy is designed to criminalise Islam and Muslims fuels fear within Muslim communities. We believe this to be far more divisive than any efforts to identify individuals who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.”

Others welcomed the report. Rowan Williams, he former archbishop of Canterbury, said: “This will make very uncomfortable reading; not all will agree with every aspect of the analysis, but it is painfully clear that physical and verbal violence against Muslims has risen spectacularly in recent years. What is described here is a serious reproach to our society’s most humane ideals and values.”

Prof Ian Law, of the University of Leeds, said the study shed light on the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice: “This report identifies a shocking deterioration in the quality of everyday life since the last report in 2011. Increasing hostility in political and media discourse, increasing hostility on the streets in terms of physical attacks and abuse and increasing hostility in the labour market and in educational contexts are some of the key markers of increasing anti-Muslim hate identified here.”

The findings match what some senior police chiefs have told the Guardian about their assessment of Muslims communities.