For Mostar bridge-diving champion, success takes more than gravity

Lorens Listo’s name may not headline the world’s sports pages, but on the streets of his native Mostar he is hailed as a champion among champions in a sport that is central to the Bosnian city’s identity: high diving.

Mostar is home to the Stari Most, a 16th-century Ottoman peaked bridge that spans the river Neretva and, at its highest point, stands 79 feet (24 m) above the water.

The picturesque town has become famous for the diving competition from the white bridge, rebuilt in 2004 and a symbol of reconciliation after it was destroyed by Bosnian Croat artillery in 1993 during the Bosnian war.

Listo won the competition’s head-first diving category for the eleventh time on Sunday with his trade-mark swan dive, before a crowd of about 5,000 people. It was the 451st contest held since the first in 1556.

“Jumps are the identity of Mostar,” he said. The plunge from the bridge is a ritual for local youths to signal their transition into manhood. It is also a major tourist attraction, and a unifying force in a divided city.

Croats and Muslims, known as Bosniaks, live on opposite sides of the river and tensions linger from Bosnia’s 1990s war that saw fierce fighting between the two communities. But post-war, Croats and Bosniaks come together for the diving contest.

“Jumps connect both sides because we are together, looking forward to see who is winning. Boundaries are just in people’s mind, they actually don’t exist,” he said.

Approaching 40, Listo has a muscular physique, adorned with tattoos on his arms and thigh, and a buzz-cut hairstyle.

“I could say that everything that I do, my business, my life, my family, everything is dedicated to jumping off the bridge for at least 18 years”, he said, adding that he saw diving as a second full-time job, rather than a hobby.

Listo, who works as the local director of a fuel company, says the threat of injury hangs over the sport. “We fly, we don’t just jump,” Listo said, adding he had broken a finger and injured his back over the years diving from the bridge.

Others have not been so lucky. Listo said a handful of people have died jumping from the bridge over the years, though never during the competition. Listo’s friend Andrej Beuc also died last year diving in a different competition in Bosnia.

The post For Mostar bridge-diving champion, success takes more than gravity appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Bosnia, Bosnian Croat artiller, Christian, Croats, Mostar, Muslim, News, Stari

Angry locals remove antisemitic, anti-Muslim posters in Scotland

A new white nationalist group had its propaganda posters torn down in Scotland, according to The Courier.

The racist propaganda recycles historic antisemitic canards to demonise Muslim communities.

Vanguard Britannia is modelled on the openly fascist and white supremacist group Vanguard America.

The group’s official website went live on June 15, 2017. Days later, a post on the ‘censorship-free community platform’ Voat, appeared on the /v/Identitarian thread. Such an appeal to the Identitarian movement is consistent with another far-right group Scottish Dawn. A recent investigation has revealed links between the banned terror group National Action and Scottish Dawn.

By June 29, Vanguard Britannia had its own Twitter account, which boasts no more than a few hundred followers.

A propaganda video uploaded to YouTube on July 25 suggests that other posters have appeared on a bus stop and walls. An earlier video, captioned, ‘Why are the Jews so interested in helping other non-whites migrate to Europe?’ further visualises their race hate.

Other social media propaganda concerns the promotion of ‘Fashwave’ electronic music.

Another far-right group was also born last month. The openly National Socialist NS131 first appeared online on June 12. Its sole purpose is to promote National Socialist street art and physical propaganda. Within hours of uploading its first video to YouTube on June 12, the Facebook page Difficulty II had also uploaded it, attracting over four thousand views.

NS131 held its first graffiti training session shortly after. Photos of this event appeared online on July 19, where the numerical code ‘131’ features heavily alongside more traditional far-right iconography. This code refers to the letters of the alphabet (A.C.A) and its anti-capitalist message.

A propaganda still from a recent NS131 video.

It mirrors German groups like Antikapitalistisches Kollektiv (AKK) and Aktiv für Deutschland (Active for Germany). Both serve as networks for autonomous National Socialists. NS131 also takes inspiration from similar groups in Russia, Poland, Spain, and France.

Any links to National Action, however, is still unclear. Graffiti and anti-capitalist messages did feature in their physical propaganda and proved popular with its dissolved London chapter.

Like National Action, NS131 uses the encrypted email service Tutanota. It also promotes anonymous web browsing. But this may also reflect inspiration, as groups like Scottish Dawn and Vanguard Britannia use similar email services.

Towards the end of June, a thread on 8Chan discussed NS131. On July 23, a thread in the /pol/ section of 4Chan promoted Scottish Dawn, NS131, and Vanguard Britannia. Notorious hate site the Daily Stormer then promoted NS131 three days later.

Days earlier, a photo of two National Socialists trampling on a rainbow flag, appeared on the NS131 blog. A National Socialist Twitter account then shared the photo a day later under the hashtag #PrideInHull.

The groups have likely used the message board service Discord to promote their cause.



The post Angry locals remove antisemitic, anti-Muslim posters in Scotland appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: hate crime, Neo-Nazi, News, NS131, Scotland, Scottish Dawn, Vanguard Brittania

German Islamist preacher sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison

FILE PHOTO: Salafist preacher Sven Lau appears behind a bullet-proof window at a high-security courtroom in Duesseldorf, Germany April 25, 2017. 

A German Islamist preacher was sentenced on Wednesday to 5-1/2 years in prison on four counts of supporting a foreign terrorist organisation.

Prosecutors said Sven Lau served as an “extended arm” of the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, an insurgent group made up of around 1,500 Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik fighters, which in 2015 pledged allegiance to the Nusra Front, then an al Qaeda affiliate. They said he collected funds and recruited fighters for the group, which is listed as a terrorist organisation in Germany.

Lau, a hardline Muslim preacher from Germany’s western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, had also turned up in the city of Wuppertal with nine supporters in tow, all wearing orange vests emblazoned with the words ‘Sharia Police’.

Prosecutors said this was an illegal gathering as he and eight others were trying to recruit others to join them.

Prosecutors had called for a 6-1/2 year prison sentence for Lau, while the defence had pleaded for an acquittal.

FILE PHOTO: Islamist preacher Sven Lau delivers a speech during a pro-Islam demonstration in Cologne, Germany June 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo

The post German Islamist preacher sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: German Islamist, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, News, Preacher, Prison, Salafist, Sven Lau

Pollution creeps over India’s holy Ganges River


The Ganges River is worshiped by a billion Hindus and a water source for 400 million, but the stress and pollution have turned it into an environmental disaster.

Known as “Mother Ganga,” Hindus believe that a dip in the river absolves a lifetime of sin. Here in the northern town of Devprayag where the head of the Ganges is formed, the waters appear crystal clear, drawing villagers to perform ablutions.

But as the 1,500 mile long river snakes its way through the densely populated plains of north India, so much water is sucked out that it’s nearly impossible to maintain a healthy, clean flow. Still, thousands immerse themselves in the river every day, some bottling the water to drink and use for crops.

Further downstream in the industrial city of Kanpur. Tannery workers haul chemical-soaked buffalo hides into huge drums and dump their run-off into the river. Industrial waste and sewage pour in from open drains and clouds of foam float on its surface.

In the ancient and holy city of Varanasi, Hindu pilgrims seek spiritual purification and cremate their dead along the river banks. Many pray that followers will keep the Ganges clean.

As the river widens it curves southwards, collecting debris as it passes through thousands more villages and cities. In the metropolis of Kolkata, people bathe and brush their teeth next to mounds of garbage.

The Indian government has proposed a number of efforts to restore the Ganges, but the $3 billion clean-up plan is badly behind schedule. An estimated 4.8 billion liters of sewage flows into the river every day. Less than a quarter of it is treated.

The post Pollution creeps over India’s holy Ganges River appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Ganges River, Hindus, India, Kolkata, Mother Ganga, News, pollution

The Al Haram Al Sharif Tensions Must Not Spill into the UK

We understand the deep impacts that Jerusalem and the Al Haram Al Sharif have on British Muslim communities in the UK. We also acknowledge the thousands of years of Jewish history that are connected to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as Muslims have a link to the Holy City for over 1,400 years. Each has a stake and each has a history that is written on the other and where each yard of Jerusalem is contested. That is why when tensions rise in Jerusalem, they are felt across the globe and where Islamic history is linked to the Al Haram Mosque and the mosque of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Islam’s link to Jerusalem runs deep through association with the Prophet of Islam and with being the first Qibla or point of call for prayer before Mecca. It is a connecting point for Muslims between this earth, the divine and all of the Prophets of faith in monotheism. It is therefore a central part of Islam’s link to the divine and is seen by Muslims in that context.

We know that as tensions rise in the Al Haram Al Sharif, (also known as the Temple Mount), there is the potential for Jewish faith institutions or cultural centres to be targeted for graffiti or broken windows or for online anti-Semitic comments. Jewish communities, through the work of the Community Security Trust, have demonstrated that there are links between tensions in the Middle East and a rise in attacks against British Jews. This is unacceptable and everyone who cares about the future of their children and their communities, should feel a revulsion that this is the case. We are therefore re-asserting the fact that the best of Islam and Muslims are based on campaigning for social justice and for the rights of others and at this time, let us re-enforce the fact that British Jews are not responsible for the actions of the Government of Israel and that they have no way of influencing actions in the region at this time. They deserve to live their lives free from fear, intimidation and harassment. They are also part of our local, regional and national family – a family that is based on the belief that what matters – are people and their dignity and care.

It is also clear that the killings of 2 Israeli policemen in the Old City in Jerusalem has led to this position. The trigger factor and the killings of 2 people on duty cannot and should not be regarded as anything other than murder and the pouring of fuel on the emotions of Jews and Muslims, when the Al Haram Al Sharif and Temple Mount mean so much to local Muslims and Jews.

Furthermore, such incidents do not mean that the Government of Israel can be given a free pass for what is an occupation that has gone on for decades and that impacts on Palestinian lives through checkpoints, barriers, reduction of employment opportunities, travel restrictions and the killings of many Palestinians under circumstances that leave questions for their families which are not addressed. Many are young people whose lives have been cut short in violent circumstances. Yet, we also must acknowledge that Israeli Jews have been the subject of terrorism, suicide, rocket and vehicle attacks that have created enormous fear within a population which feels embattled, just as the Palestinians feel and voice on a daily basis. We therefore cannot accept and will not accept the killings of innocents on both sides which makes no-one safe in the region. Justification for any group that kills innocents in the region for political reasons, irrespective of which faith or community they come from, is justification for terrorism and that is never acceptable. Any group in the UK voicing such support for any groups which back the political killings of innocent men and women going about their lives and duties in Israel or Palestine, should be highlighted in their support for terrorism. Let us call it what it is.

That said, British Jews cannot and should not be seen as anything other than friends, citizens, neighbours and partners for a better society in our country, the UK. Whilst Muslims and Jews may have differences of opinions on Israel and Palestine, they can be conducted in a manner of civility and with a belief that we should stand up for each other’s rights if they are undermined in the UK. So we urge those reading this post, that we do all we can to send messages of trust and re-assurance to each other at this time. We cannot be anything other than agents of positive change, caring for our Jewish brothers and sisters at this time in our country.

The post The Al Haram Al Sharif Tensions Must Not Spill into the UK appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Al Haram Al Sharif, Israel, Jews, Opinions, Palestine, Temple Mount, Tensions, terrorism

Manchester mosque arson being treated as a hate crime

A suspected arson attack has left a Manchester mosque with considerable damage after the third suspected arson in three years.

At around 11:40 pm on Sunday evening, officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) spotted the fire at Nasfat Islamic Centre in Newton Heat, when out on patrol.

Around 30 firefighters worked to tackle the blaze.

Investigators have confirmed the offender had approached the premises and forced open a window before placing an unknown accelerant inside.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Walker of GMP’s City of Manchester Borough, said: “People are understandably shocked that someone has attacked a place of worship.

“We are investigating this as a hate crime which has damaged a place of worship used by members of the Nigerian community.”

An outside view of the damage. Credit: Tell MAMA Outreach.

The mosque has been subject to other anti-Muslim incidents this year, according to Monsurat Adebanjo-Aremu, the mosque secretary.

This includes vandals tossing pigs’ heads inside during prayers, and individual urinating outside the mosque. And three other major fire incidents in a year.

The fire ravaged the worship area, three classrooms, and the kitchen.

Forensics officers from Greater Manchester fire service entered the mosque on Monday morning.

Another outside view of the damage. Credit: Tell MAMA Outreach.

GMP has a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, and the arson comes after an unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim hate crime in the area, following the Manchester terror attack, but figures have returned to normal levels.

Our project received 139 reports of anti-Muslim hate in seven days following the attack – compared with 25 a week prior.

Other fire attacks came in the aftermath of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Some locals speak of a strong far-right presence in the area, but there’s little to suggest a link at this stage.

In 2014, a minibus the owned by the centre was torched.

The mosque has insurance, but the latest attack has left many fearful and uncertain. Despite the efforts to engage with the wider community.

Our staff continue to offer practical and emotional support to the staff of the mosque.

We’ve also mapped incidents against Islamic institutions since May 2013:

Anyone with information should contact police on 0161 856 9770 or through Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

You can get advice through 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 Manchester mosque arson being treated as a hate crime appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: arson, GMP, hate crime, Manchester, mosque, News

Father Opens Letter to Find Quran Page With Evil Written On It

We were notified of a case in London where a Muslim family received a Quran page that had been torn and with the word ‘evil’ wriitten across it.

Posted to the home address of the family, it was opened by the father who was extremely disturbed by a page from the revered scripture being treated in this manner. His daughter told Tell MAMA that:

“It’s hard to describe the emotion I felt when my father who was very disturbed by it, showed it to me. I think my initial reaction was shock, followed by anger and then a sense of fear.”

The daughter also went onto say that:

“As a family this has come at a horrible time. It has been barely 2 months since my father buried his mother who was a massive part of our lives. She lived with us for over 20 years so her loss is one we are all still very much dealing with. So now, this sense of being targeted and even watched is a terrible feeling. However, I am also touched by the overwhelming support and positive messages I have received. It goes to show that our community is in majority a fantastic one with a few exceptions. I find comfort in this.

In fact, it is her words that are inspirational.

The post Father Opens Letter to Find Quran Page With Evil Written On It appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: anti-Muslim hatred. Evil, family, Hate Crimes, Hate Literature, Muslim Family, News, Quran Page

Muslim family life explored in ‘The Big Sick



When Pakistani actor Kumail Nanjiani and his American wife Emily Gordon wrote a film about the surreal circumstances that brought them together, little did they expect that their love story would be put under a political spotlight. “The Big Sick” explores Nanjiani’s cultural conflict as a Pakistani Muslim comedian in a post-9/11 America. His life is further complicated when he falls in love with Gordon, played by Zoe Kazan, and goes against his family’s wishes that he marry a Pakistani woman. The film, out in limited U.S. release on Friday (June 23), is “coming out at a time when there’s a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment, there’s a lot of Islamophobia,” Nanjiani said in an interview. “By depicting a Muslim family as like normal people, that’s its big political statement,” said Nanjiani, who is also the first Pakistani leading man in a Hollywood romantic comedy. The movie arrives after U.S. President Donald Trump’s call during his 2016 election campaign for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. Now in the White House, Trump is seeking to ban travellers from six Muslim-majority countries in a case awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Nanjiani, 39, best known for playing snarky programmer Dinesh in HBO’s comedy “Silicon Valley,” and Gordon said they did not predict the film would wade into a hot-button issue. In “The Big Sick,” Nanjiani’s family struggle with his decision to pursue comedy as they try to arrange a suitable marriage, while he secretly dates the smart, nerdy Emily. Nanjiani’s world is upended when Emily falls into a coma with an undiagnosed illness and he keeps a bedside vigil alongside her parents. “The Big Sick” arrives as Hollywood films such as “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” are starting to break the white, male-dominated movie mold and show that audiences will pay to see films with minority leads.

The post Muslim family life explored in ‘The Big Sick appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Big Sick, Donald Trump, Emily Gordon, film, Kumail Nanjiani, News, Pakistani Muslim Comedian

Man threatened to hit Muslim woman ‘in the c***’ with beer bottle

A man threatened to assault a Muslim woman’s genitals with a beer bottle in an unprovoked hate crime last week.

It occurred in the central Bristol area in the early evening of July 7.

The Muslim woman, who wears the hijab, contacted Tell MAMA for support and wants her story told to raise awareness, and encourage other women to report.

As she was walking in the street, she noticed a man in a red chequered shirt, pointing a beer bottle at her, muttering statements.

When the male approached her, she heard him say: “I’m gonna f****** hit you in the c*** with this”.

He then tried to throw the beer bottle at her, but she managed to get to safety without physical injury. She describes him as a white male in his 30s.

This an extreme example of how misogynistic language intersects with anti-Muslim hatred. Verbal abuse from men often carries misogynistic, racist and Islamophobic overtones, as outlined in our previous annual report.

The report also found that the largest proportion of incidents involves Muslim women, usually wearing Islamic clothing – be it the hijab, abaya or niqab. Perpetrators were disproportionately white males.

Avon and Somerset Police are now investigating the incident following a report on behalf of the woman from our staff.

You can get advice through 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.

Individuals can report non-emergency hate crimes through 101 or online.

The post Man threatened to hit Muslim woman ‘in the c***’ with beer bottle appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Avon and Somerset Police, beer bottle, Bristol, hate crime, Misogny, News

South Yorkshire Police arrest suspect following race hate attack

South Yorkshire Police have made an arrest following a racially aggravated offence.

Following social media discussions, Tell MAMA staff spoke with contacts in the force to confirm the details of the offence and reassure communities that the police are investigating.

In the early hours of this morning (July 13), a takeaway delivery driver had arrived at an address in the Masborough area where the occupants took the food but refused to pay.

The owner of the business then visited the address to recover the costs of the food delivered.

An occupant then verbally abused him and spat at him.

After reporting the incident to South Yorkshire Police, officers soon attended the address and have made an arrest.

He is now being processed.

We will update communities on this matter when updates are given.

Come across stories on social media? You can get advice through 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 South Yorkshire Police arrest suspect following race hate attack appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: News