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29 July 2009

Testing Times for UK Muslims

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Ada sahabat hantar artikel ini melalui email. Tuan-tuan sila baca betapa umat Islam di UK diserang, ditindas, diancam dan dihina dari pelbagai sudut. Moga-moga umat Islam UK terus berjuang dengan tabah sehingga berjaya. UK- Sebuah negara bertamadun dan terkenal sebagai pejuang hak-hak kemanusiaan tetapi dalam masa yang sama masih mengamalkan 'perkauman'. Sikap 'double standard' ini bercanggah dengan 'human rights' yang mereka laung-laungkan selama ini.
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http://helwa-lancs.blogspot.com/2008/01/next-week-tazkirah.html

Testing Times for UK Muslims
By
Inayat Bunglawala

The conviction of the white supremacist Neil Lewington, a British national, on terrorism and explosives charges this week will have left the UK’s Muslims with distinctly mixed feelings. On one hand, the case of Lewington, who was charged under UK’s
Explosives Act, has served as a reminder that terrorism in the UK is by no means the preserve of some Muslim extremists despite the impression left by some sections of the UK media. However, there is also the worrying fact that Lewington’s conviction is just the latest piece of confirmation that the far-right is becoming increasingly bold in their anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Muslim hostility.When the police raided Lewington’s home, they found what the prosecution described as a veritable “bomb-making factory.” Lewington had stockpiled chemicals, powders, circuitry and wiring. The police found a note written in Lewington’s own hand-writing which says:
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“ A new group has been formed, the Waffen SS UK. We have 30 members split into 15 two-man cells. We are highly trained ex-military personnel and will use incendiary and explosive devices throughout the UK at random until all non-British people as defined by blood are removed from our country.”
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An Explicitly Anti-Islam Party.
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Griffin described Islam as “a cancer eating away at our freedoms” Lewington’s conviction comes in the wake of the far-right British National Party (BNP)’s breakthrough last month which saw the BNP leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Andrew Brons successfully elected onto the European Parliament. The BNP has sought to exploit growing hostility towards UK Muslims by rebranding itself as an explicitly anti-Islamic party. In a 2006 article, Griffin wrote:"We should be positioning ourselves to take advantage for our own political ends of the growing wave of public hostility to Islam currently being whipped up by the mass media." Griffin’s observation is an interesting one in that he appears to suggest that increasing anti-Muslim hostility is part of a wider trend in UK society which the BNP are only too happy to exploit for their own electoral purposes.
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Islam, Civilization, & Hate Speeches
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In any case, hopes that Griffin’s behavior would perhaps be moderated by his election to the European Parliament were soon dashed after he openly described Islam as “a cancer eating away at our freedoms” and said that “there was no place in Europe for Islam” in an interview broadcast on Channel Four News. The BNP leader also announced that he agreed with a candidate for the Flemish far right party, Vlaams Belang, who had declared, "We urgently need global chemotherapy against Islam to save civilization."
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Inayat Bunglawala Prosecutors in the UK have already noted the difficulties posed by current incitement to racial hatred legislation in securing prosecutions against the BNP's anti-Muslim incitement. Griffin’s comments to Channel Four News will raise again the question of whether sufficient legal mechanisms exist to combat hate speech by the BNP which constitutes incitement to religious hatred. Had Griffin made the very same remarks about Judaism he would almost certainly be facing prosecution as Jews in the UK are for the purpose of law treated as a racial group, which offers them greater protection under the racial hatred laws, while Muslims are not.
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Greenwich, Luton, & Stortford Attacks
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Last June saw an arson attack on Greenwich Islamic Centre which caused thousands of pounds of damage and could have been much worse had it not been for the bravery of the mosque's caretaker, Mohammed Koheeli.Koheeli received burns on his left arm and to the side of his face as he tried to fight the blaze while waiting for the fire brigade to arrive. The Greenwich borough commander, Richard Wood, has assured worshipers at the mosque that he has "assigned a team of highly trained detectives" to the case. No one has been arrested to date over the attack but many worshipers suspect it to have been far-right inspired. The arson attack on the Greenwich mosque comes after a very similar attack on a mosque in Luton the previous month and an attack on a mosque in Bishop's Stortford and its Imam the month before that.
"We urgently need global chemotherapy against Islam to save civilization," declared a candidate from Flemish far-right party. Earlier this month the Glasgow branch of the well-known charity Islamic Relief was torched and the home of a Muslim community organizer, Noor Ramjanally, in Loughton, Essex, was also set on fire after he was sent a threatening letter by suspected far-right activists. Every week Ramjanally had been hiring a community hall for the purpose of holding the Friday prayer.
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Ramjanally told the local paper:
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“Every Friday we have our prayers and meetings, then we disperse. This Wednesday, I received a threatening letter saying: 'We don't want you to carry on at this. We know which school your kid goes to and which car you drive.' On Thursday they set fire to the front door of my home. They used an accelerant. It's with the police and they are doing all the checks. I'm OK, but my wife and kid are very disturbed. I've had to take my kid out of his school. It's definitely targeted. They don't want the Islamic community centre in Loughton, I don't know why.”
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A Proud Racist
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In Scotland, Neil MacGregor is currently waiting to be sentenced following his conviction on a charge of breaching the peace–racially aggravated. MacGregor, 35, was convicted in April after having admitted to threatening to blow up Scotland's biggest mosque and to behead one Muslim a week until every mosque in Scotland was shut down. MacGregor had been found to have sent Strathclyde police an email in which he said:
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They don't want the Islamic community centre in Loughton, I don't know why, ” said Ramjanally to a local newspaper.“I'm a proud racist and member of the National Front, is a far-right and whites-only British political party. We as an organization have decided to deal with the current threat from Muslims in our own British way like our proud ancestors ... Our demands are very small. Close all mosques in Scotland, we see this is very easy – even you guys can handle that ... If our demands aren't met by next Friday we'll kidnap one Muslim and execute him or her on the internet, just like they did to our Ken Bigley.”
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The UK Government’s Input
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In view of the serious nature of the above crimes it is disturbing that not a single senior Minister in the British government has spoken out against this tide of anti-Muslim bigotry. On the contrary, under the former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, the UK government was busy trying to sideline the UK’s largest Islamic group, the Muslim Council of Britain, while funding and promoting new Muslim groups like the Quilliam Foundation which have no legitimacy amongst UK Muslims but are willing to adopt a more submissive and docile posture towards the government. Quilliam’s co-director Ed Husain astonishingly stated in a newspaper article last year that “most Muslims would be hard-pressed to identify Islamophobia in their lives.” Alas, Blears found herself disgraced in the recent expenses scandal that rocked Westminster and subsequently resigned as the Communities Secretary. It will be interesting to see if her successor, John Denham – who it should be noted is well-regarded by many senior UK Muslims - continues with the same policy or will seek to rebuild relations with UK Muslims and make clear that anti-Muslim prejudice should have no place in the UK and ought to be challenged as vigorously as all other forms of xenophobia.
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