Danish police investigate officer who hugged niqab-wearing protester

A Copenhagen policewoman is being investigated for embracing a niqab-wearing protestor during a demonstration against a ban on face veils, the force’s complaints body said on Wednesday.

The incident, in which the protester appeared to be crying, was captured by a Reuters photographer on Aug. 1 when a countrywide ban on the wearing of face veils in public took effect.

“The photo has made the police an involuntary actor in a very sensitive political debate which they should not participate in,” said Marcus Knuth, a lawmaker with the anti-immigrant Liberal Party, which is the biggest in the government.

He and others alerted the independent complaints body over the gesture. “The police’s job is to enact the law, not to hug people who are against it,” he said.

The officer’s lawyer, Torben Koch, said the officer felt she had handled the situation appropriately within her role as a “dialogue officer”, a role specifically created to ease tension during protests.

“It is complete nonsense. As my client said, if it had been any other person in the same situation she would have done the same, so it has nothing to do with her wearing the niqab,” Koch said.

The ban has exposed deep divisions in Danish society, with some arguing it upholds secular and democratic values and others that it infringes on freedoms of religion and self-expression.

Elsewhere in Europe, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.

Knuth said it was not clear if the protester was hugged out off sympathy or because she had been taken ill.

The officer who embraced her, whose name has not been made public, is white and Danish.

Copenhagen police did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Categories: Danish police officer, face veils, News, niqab wearing woman

French minister likens Italy’s Salvini to Pontius Pilate over migrants

A French minister on Wednesday accused Italy’s anti-immigration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, of behaving “like Pontius Pilate”, the Roman official who washed his hands of the fate of Jesus Christ.

Relations between Paris and Rome have soured since Italy’s new government took office in June and immediately moved to close its ports to charity ships that pick up migrants in the sea off Libya, forcing other EU states to step in.

In the latest such incident, France, Portugal, Spain and Germany agreed on Tuesday to take in migrants from the rescue ship Aquarius, after Italy refused to let the vessel dock.

“Mr Salvini today, he’s like Pontius Pilate. It’s obscene,” Loiseau told RTL radio.

Hours earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted as telling reporters that Italy had “decided to no longer follow international law, in particular humanitarian maritime law”.

Salvini, who is head of the far-right League, accused Macron of hypocrisy on Wednesday, saying the French had turned back more than 50,000 migrants from the Italian border “in recent months”.

“We do not accept lessons on rights or humanity from Mr. Macron,” Salvini said in a statement.

Italy has taken in more than 650,000 migrants over the past five years. Under European Union regulations, asylum seekers are meant to stay in the first EU country they enter until their application has been processed — a process that can take years.

However, many migrants reaching Italy want to head immediately to wealthier northern countries, including France. The French have barred migrants from crossing their borders, saying EU rules have to be respected.

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Categories: Italy, Matteo Salvini, News

To UK Political Parties: We need the politics of Hope and Not Hate

We have diligently followed the social and political discourse in the UK for over 6 years since the inception and implementation of Tell MAMA. Over that period, apart from helping individuals, we have also countered and campaigned against anti-Muslim hatred at a political level and against all forms of hatred and intolerance.

We have seen both political parties, Labour and the Conservatives, alienate both Jews and Muslims. Who would have thought that in 2018, we would have a situation where senior Conservative and Labour politicians would be making comments about the ‘burqa’ as women looking like ‘letter boxes’ and where antisemitism would be denied or reduced.

As Party seasons kicks into swing, let us hope that the politics of hope overcomes the politics of hate. The country is divided over Brexit and over how many see the future of our nation. These are turbulent times, but we need level heads and political discourse that brings people together, rather than dividing communities and religious groups.


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Categories: Conservatives, hatred, intolerance, Opinions

Italy: ‘Brothers and sisters’ of the Mafia, repent, pope says in Sicily

Pope Francis appealed to Sicily’s Mafia on Saturday to abandon a life of crime and violence, saying the island needed “men and women of love, not men and women ‘of honour,’” using the term mobsters apply to themselves.

Francis, in the Sicilian capital, said organised crime members – many of whom go to church and worship openly – “cannot believe in God and be Mafiosi” at the same time. In his appeal, he referred to them as “dear brothers and sisters”.

He visited Palermo to commemorate Father Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi, a priest shot dead by Mafia hit men in 1993 because he challenged the organisation’s control over one of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods.

Puglisi was killed on his 56th birthday during a bloody Mafia offensive against the state and anyone else who threatened the group’s existence. Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were killed in twin bomb attacks in Palermo in 1992.

“A person who is a Mafioso does not live as a Christian because with his life he blasphemes against the name of God,” Francis said in the sermon of a Mass from some 80,000 people in the port area of the Sicilian capital.

The crowd interrupted his sermon with applause each time he denounced the Mafia.

The Catholic Church in southern Italy has had a chequered history of relations with the mob. Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, who was archbishop of Palermo from 1945-1967, denied the Mafia’s existence, considering communism the Church’s biggest threat.

“I say to Mafiosi: Change, brothers and sisters! Stop thinking about yourselves and your money … Convert yourselves to the real God, Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters,” he said in his dockside sermon.

“I say to you, Mafiosi, if you don’t do this, your very life will be lost and that will be your greatest defeat,” he said.

“Today, we need men and women of love, not men and women of honour; men and women of service, not of oppression.”

Later, on his way to the airport, Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray and lay flowers at the spot on the highway where Falcone, his wife and three police agents were blown up as their motorcade passed on May 23, 1992.


Many members of organised crime groups in Italy, such as Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and Calabria’s Ndrangheta, see themselves as part of a religious, cult-like group, invoking the help of saints for their activities.

Particularly in smaller towns and cities in the south, they take part in Catholic sacraments and in some cases have also found complicity by some churchmen.

Puglisi refused to play along. With little support by the Church hierarchy in Sicily, he preached against the Mafia from the pulpit of his church in the rough Brancaccio neighbourhood, then controlled by the Graviano family.

He helped young people in an area with high unemployment avoid the snare of the Mafia, asked parishioners to help police investigations, refused donations from mobsters and banned them from joining traditional religious street processions.

Puglisi’s murder was ordered by local bosses Filippo and Giuseppe Graviano. The bothers and four men who planned or carried out the killing were convicted in 1998. All but one received life sentences.

One of the killers, who later turned state’s evidence, said that as Puglisi was dying he said: “I’ve been expecting you”.

In 2012, former Pope Benedict decreed that Puglisi died as a martyr in “hatred of the faith,” and ordered that he be beatified, the last step before sainthood in the Church.

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Categories: Cosa Nostra, Mafia, Mafiosi, News, Pope Francis, Sicily

Steve Bannon drafting curriculum for right-wing Catholic institute in Italy

Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church.

Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there.

Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defence of what used to be called Christendom”.

Bannon’s increased engagement with the Institute demonstrates how his involvement in Europe extends beyond electoral politics to an effort to build a populist faction inside the Catholic Church.

Bannon told Reuters this week that after Nov. 6 Congressional elections in the United States, he will spend “80-90 percent” of his time in Europe building up his Brussels-based populist “Movement”.

Bannon, who has visited the Institute’s home at the 800-year-old Monastery of Trisulti and addressed the organisation by video link, is helping to draw up the coursework for a training programme for conservative Catholic political activists and leaders, Harnwell said.

Bannon is also raising funds for the institute in both Europe and the United States, he added. The institute has set “very high academic standards”, Harnwell said.

Harnwell, a former European Parliament staffer, also is advising Bannon on his campaign to build a populist Movement across Europe that will support far-right parties in next year’s European Parliament elections, he and Bannon said.

Bannon and the Vatican did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.


Harnwell said he founded the institute while working as an aide to a British Conservative European Parliament member. At the time, one of the legislature’s committees was trying to block Rocco Buttiglione, a confidant of Pope John Paul II, from becoming European Commissioner for justice and security.

During a confirmation hearing, Buttiglione, who was nominated to the European Commission by then-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, described homosexuality as a sin and said the principal role of women was to have children. Amid political uproar, Buttiglione withdrew from consideration for the Commission.

Harnwell said Buttiglione was a “founding patron” of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, whose mission he described as “defending the Judeo-Christian tradition” and promoting “human dignity based on the image of God”. Harnwell added: “If you don’t have a culture of religious principle, we no longer have a credible basis for life.”

Buttiglione, who described himself as a convinced pro-European, said there were some differences between him and Harnwell. “I am interested in a cultural dialogue with the so-called Populists but I am not one of them and, first and foremost, I am a Catholic and I stand by the pope,” he said in statement to Reuters.

Harnwell said the Institute was setting up two training programmes: a leadership course that Bannon is helping to design, which Harnwell described a an “academy for the Judeo-Christian West”, and the Cardinal Martino Academy, named after a former papal ambassador to the United Nations, which will promote pro-life Catholic social teachings.


Bannon, a rabble-rousing conservative media entrepreneur and activist popular with Trump’s base, was fired from the White House a year ago, but the former adviser remained a Trump ally.

Bannon returned to the right-wing Breitbart News website, which he had headed before running Trump’s presidential campaign. In January, Bannon quit as Breitbart’s executive chairman after angering Trump by harshly criticizing his eldest son.

Leaving Breitbart threatened Bannon’s dream of leading a new political movement that supports his “America First” agenda of tougher trade deals and immigration laws.

Harnwell said the Institute expects to present its first courses next year. The monastery is large enough to accommodate 250-300 students at a time.

Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis, has been a leading light at the Institute since 2013 and is an outspoken critic of some policies of Pope Francis.

Since Francis’ election in 2013, Burke has led the charge by conservatives who have sharply criticised the pope, saying he has left many faithful confused by pronouncements that the church should be more welcoming to homosexuals and divorced Catholics and not be obsessed by “culture war” issues such as abortion.

Burke is president of the Institute’s “advisory board”, Harnwell said. The cardinal has condemned Islam as a threat to the West, a position that strongly parallels one of the principal political campaign themes of both Bannon and Trump.

In 2014, Pope Francis removed Burke as chief of the Vatican’s Supreme Court, the Apostolic Signatura, and demoted him to become patron of the Order of Malta, a charitable organisation.

Bannon is in “communication” regularly with Burke, although Harnwell acknowledges that the three-times divorced Bannon “doesn’t pretend to be a model Catholic”. Harnwell said the institute itself “takes no view on the pope” or his policies.

Burke has met several times with Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister, Harnwell said. Earlier this summer, Salvini ordered Italian ports to stop allowing landings of ships carrying refugees fleeing Middle East strife.

After meeting Bannon in Rome last weekend, Salvini announced that he was joining the populist Movement Bannon was setting up aimed at disrupting the European Union.

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Categories: Benjamin Harnwell, Berlusconi, Dignitatis Humanae, Italy, News, Salvini, Steve Bannon

Afghanistan: Taliban says founder of militant Afghan Haqqani network dies

Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the militant Haqqani network, one of the most powerful and feared groups in the Afghan insurgency, has died after a long illness, the Taliban said on Tuesday.

Haqqani, who founded the network in the 1970s, gave up operational leadership of the group some years ago to his son Sirajuddin, who is now deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban, with a $5-million U.S. bounty on his head.

“Haqqani had become quite old and was suffering from different health problems,” said one Taliban source close to the Haqqani family.

The Taliban issued a statement on Haqqani’s death but did not say where or when he died but said he had been ill and bed-ridden for several years.

Defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the death was not expected to mean any major change for the Haqqani network, blamed by Afghan and U.S. security officials for some of the most devastating suicide attacks of the past decade.

“Operationally, his death will not have an impact on the group,” he said, adding that Haqqani’s role in recent years was ideological rather than practical.

Haqqani achieved prominence as a guerrilla leader in the U.S.-backed campaign against Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan during the 1980s but later allied himself with the Taliban, fighting American troops after the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Haqqani is considered to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan, where it was previously unknown, and his group became notorious for complex, well-organised attacks on both Afghan and U.S. military, as well as civilian targets and high-profile kidnappings.

Last year, a bomber believed to have been sent by the network blew himself up in the heart of the government and embassy district in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing about 150 people.

With hopes for peace talks raised by an unprecedented ceasefire in June, news of the death of one of the most notorious militant commanders comes at a sensitive time for both the Taliban and Kabul’s Western-backed government.

Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death has been reported a number of times over recent years and the reports have never been disproved.

A security official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted by name, said Afghan intelligence services believed that Haqqani had in fact died some three years ago.

The official said the announcement of the death should be seen in connection with increased pressure from the United States on Pakistan over U.S. accusations Pakistan is not doing enough to defeat militant groups on its territory.

U.S. and Afghan officials have long said the group was based in Pakistan’s border region of North Waziristan, was for years close to al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and operated with the support of Pakistani intelligence services.

Pakistan has rejected that accusation and has pointed to the network’s early links to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency as it grew in strength during the anti-Soviet Mujahideen war of the 1980s.

No comment was immediately available from the Pakistan.

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Categories: Afghanistan, Haqqani, Haqqani Network, News, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Waziristan

Man threatens to ‘lynch’ Muslim woman in niqab

A Muslim woman, who wears a niqab, was threatened with being ‘lynched’ as she passed a man in a quiet London street.

The abuse began when the man disparaged her appearance, shouting “does your breath stink that much that you have to cover it?” as she passed him.

Ignoring the personal abuse, he continued in a more threatening tone, again, shouting: “I fought in the war for this country, go back or I’ll lynch you” multiple times.

When she turned to photograph the man he had raised his middle finger at her.

She shared the photograph with Tell MAMA after contacting our service for support, and, after giving her consent, agreed to let us contact the police on her behalf.

The incident occurred on September 13 at around 15:42 GMT.

Tell MAMA continues to document the often disproportionate abuse, discrimination, and threats directed at Muslim women who wear the niqab. We saw a large uptake in reports following Boris Johnson’s comments about the niqab last month, with over 20 reports from Muslim women since Mr Johnson’s column appeared online, compared with five reports in the previous week.

In 2017, 62 per cent of Muslim women reporting to Tell MAMA were wearing Islamic clothing when anti-Muslim and Islamophobic incidents took place, and, of that figure, almost one in ten had worn a niqab.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.



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Categories: hate crime, London, Metropolitan Police, News, Niqab

Pork chops left on the car of Muslim family

CCTV footage captured the moment a man placed pork chops on the car of a Muslim family in London.

Tell MAMA spoke with a family member who confirmed that the Metropolitan Police are investigating the Islamophobic incident.

Footage of the incident, seen by Tell MAMA, suggests that the incident occurred on the evening of September 8.

Tell MAMA has, on the request of the family member, declined to share the CCTV footage.

The family felt targeted due to their ethnicity, and that some family members wear the hijab, but having lived in the area for decades, had no previous experience of racist or Islamophobic incidents.

In 2017, vandalism was the third most common Islamophobic incident category reported to Tell MAMA, up 56 per cent from the previous reporting year, with 81 reports (10 per cent).

Tell MAMA defines vandalism as Islamophobic graffiti, damage to property, or the dumping of pork products or alcohol.

The perpetrator identified in the CCTV footage is a white male, described as being in his 30s or 40s.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.





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Categories: hate crime, London, News, pork

For families of some 9/11 victims, new DNA tools reopen old wounds

NEW YORK: A breakthrough in DNA analysis is helping identify more victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, but the scientific advance is of little consolation for families of those whose remains may have been buried in a Staten Island landfill.

The official death toll in the attacks on lower Manhattan’s World Trade Centre is 2,753, including the missing and presumed dead. Only 1,642 of them, or about 60 percent, have been positively identified.

The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office has worked for 17 years to identify the remaining 1,100 victims. Using advances in DNA extraction techniques over the past five years, it has made five more identifications.

The advances have been bittersweet for 9/11 families who unsuccessfully fought to stop the city from making a park out of Staten Island’s enormous Fresh Kills landfill, where 1.8 million tons of Twin Towers debris was dumped and buried.

“We are grateful that the identification continues, but there is more material that could have been part of that had the city not been so cavalier with us,” said Diane Horning, who led a failed court battle by a group called World Trade Centre Families for Proper Burial that hoped block the park project.

Horning led the group, although her son Matthew was one of those identified early on. Matthew, 26, a database administrator for an insurance company, was working the 95th floor of the North Tower when the planes hit.

New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2009 that accusations that the city had mishandled the remains at Fresh Kills amounted to “lack of due care,” which was not sufficient to successfully sue the city.

New York officials said at the time that the city did not intend to be insensitive or offend victims’ families.

To create the park, Fresh Kills Landfill was covered with layers of soil and other materials to prevent the release of toxic gas from decomposing trash into the atmosphere, according to the Freshkills Park Alliance, New York City’s nonprofit partner in developing the park.

Charles Wolf lost his wife Katherine on September 11 and her remains have not been identified.

If they are in the sealed landfill, he considers it “God’s will” and he is “at peace” with it.

“What’s the remedy? Dig everything up and risk exposing all those toxins again to the environment?, Wolf said. “No, that’s not the answer, because all of a sudden now the cure is worse than the disease.”


The ability to identify more victims is the latest chapter in a saga of pain that began on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when two airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.

Destruction of the Twin Towers was part of the coordinated hijackings of four airliners by al-Qaeda militants that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed in a farm field. The attacks triggered an escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East that persists to this day.

A scientific breakthrough in the extraction of genetic material was made this year and announced by the New York City chief medical examiner last week, as the 17th anniversary of the attacks approached.

The new technique places bone fragments in a chamber containing liquid nitrogen to make them more fragile so they can be pulverized into fine powder. The more a bone is pulverized, the more likely it becomes to extract DNA.

It is the latest effort in the largest forensic investigation in U.S. history, involving a medical examiner’s team of 10 scientists working on remains once thought too degraded from jet fuel, heat and other conditions to undergo testing.

“We’re going back to the same remains that we’ve tried five, 10, 15 times,” Mark Desire, who heads the Medical Examiner’s crime lab, said in the briefing last week.

“We are making DNA profiles from remains we had no hopes of identifying in the past,” he added.

Wolf, who was not among those who opposed the Freshkills Park project, was gratified by the renewed effort.

“It warms my heart that possibly there will be remains found for people who still want them,” he said.

“I’ve gone through a lot of trauma with nothing to grieve over,” Wolf said, choking up in a telephone interview. “I remember watching Nancy Reagan touch her husband’s casket. I miss not having that.”

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Categories: 9/11, Commemoration, News, Osama Bin Laden, World Trade Centre

‘She’s gonna blow’: how children taunted a Muslim mother on London bus

A Muslim mother, travelling on a bus with her young son in London, was subjected to repeated taunts and abuse by a group of children who made references to grenades and explosions.

The incident occurred on September 3.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the mother, who consented to have her story told anonymously, described how a group of six children, sat close to them throughout their journey, said “she’s gonna blow”, “we’re gonna strap that baby to a grenade”, and other Islamophobic comments.

She felt targeted due to her ethnicity and hijab, adding that she was the only Muslim woman on that journey who was wearing Islamic clothing.

The abuse escalated when each child shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they exited the bus.

Last year, Tell MAMA documented how a male student at a school in the West Midlands had refused to apologise to a female Muslim student after he had shouted: “Allahu Akbar” having earlier thrown an object against a wall, arguing that this ‘was the language of “Muslim terrorists”’ which caused her a great deal of upset.

In Islam, the phrase “Allahu Akbar”, known as takbir, alludes to the greatness of God. Moreover, it forms part of the call to prayer and is a phrase that is of intrinsic importance to Muslims. As Arsalan Iftikhar has argued, the phrase “is the rhetorical equivalent of the English phrase “Hallelujah” for many Westerners today,” adding that for many Muslims, the phrase takes on a more everyday quality to celebrate positive events – like the birth of a child or a successful marriage proposal.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident, and Tell MAMA urged her to also contact Transport for London regarding the incident.

The children were described as being white, aged between nine and ten-years-old.

More than one in 10 reports to Tell MAMA in 2017 occurred on transport networks, defined as an incident which occurred on public transport networks, including railways, buses, coaches,  trams, and the London Underground.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.

The post ‘She’s gonna blow’: how children taunted a Muslim mother on London bus appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: hate crime, Metropolitan Police, News, TFL