Anti-Shia Hatred is Not Acceptable. As Ashura is Tomorrow, We Stand With All Muslim Communities

The shocking attack outside the Idaara Maarif-e-Islam mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, in the early hours of this morning, has left a young boy critically ill and fighting for his life. The full details are not known, though calls from Muslim communities have implied the possibility of an anti-Shia attack though the police are yet to classify the attack as being hate related.

Tomorrow is Ashura and a major event in the religious calendar of Shia Muslims. Whether the attack is linked to increased religious activity around this time, is not known. However, we know that sectarianism is one indicator of extremism and where anti-Shia sentiment needs to be monitored and actively challenged.

We would urge anyone who has information on this case to inform the police on 101 and if you come across or are subjected to anti-Shia hatred, please do get in touch with us in Tell MAMA. Anti-Shia hatred cannot and will not be tolerated.

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Categories: Anti-Shia, Birmingham, hate crime, Hussainia mosque, Maarif-e-Islam, News

Will the System Resistance Network be the next neo-Nazi group to be banned?

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has extended the ban on the neo-Nazi group National Action, to its alias groups NS131 (National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action), and Scottish Dawn.

From September 29, 2017, being a member or inviting support for the organisations carries a 10-year prison sentence.

The banning order, under section 3 (6) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2000 (a), was made on September 26 and put to parliament on September 28, affirming the belief that National Action was working wholly or partly under the banners of NS131 and Scottish Dawn.

An assessment of National Action led to its banning December 2016 that it was concerned with terrorism and its glorification of the terroristic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

“By extending the proscription of National Action, we are halting the spread of a poisonous ideology and stopping its membership from growing – protecting those who could be at risk of radicalisation,” the Home Secretary said in a statement.

NS131 largely operated as an autonomous blog for National Socialist-inspired graffiti artists, offering a graffiti training camp for members in July 2017, but clues to its National Action identity arose from its use of the Tutanona encrypted email service, and the fact that graffiti served as a key propaganda tool for regional branches of National Action.

Tell MAMA exposed the activities of Vanguard Britannia and NS131 in July.

Scottish Dawn’s links to National Action were exposed by HOPE not Hate and the Scottish Daily Record.

Little attention, however, has been paid to the emergent System Resistance Network (SRN), a neo-Nazi movement born from the ashes of the short-lived Vanguard Britannia.

Hampshire Police are investigating the distribution of their violently homophobic leaflets in the Southampton area in August.

Users on more notorious fascist forums have praised the actions of the SRN, borrowing the Chan-board language of /ourguy/ to solidify its new direction and leadership.

On September 23, the admin of the SRN website reposted a blog which claimed that homosexuality is either a form of mental illness, a medical deformity, or social degeneracy, and citing statistics from the Family Research Council, a designated hate group in the United States.

A subsequent SRN blog posted on the same day includes the writings of James Mason, a former member of the member of the American Nazi Party, and Charles Manson enthusiast. It’s perhaps unsurprising to see Manson appear in SRN propaganda.

William Luther Pierce, the neo-Nazi who founded the US-based National Alliance and authored the infamous ‘Turner Diaries,’ which inspired terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Pavlo Lapshyn, is eulogised in the same blog.

Academics have studied the enduring legacy of the ‘Turner Diaries’ in white supremacist networks.

Thomas Mair, the neo-Nazi terrorist who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, purchased books from National Vanguard, the publishing arm of the National Alliance.

System Resistance Network propaganda is not just aesthetically similar to that of National Action. It transplants key phrases like ‘Hitler Was Right’ into one of its recent posters.

Examples of hate flyers found on the System Resistance Network website.

Other posters are overtly antisemitic, as another recent poster is captioned ‘Stop The Faggots,’ a more violently homophobic poster with a noose, has disappeared from the SRN website.

On social media, SRN tweeted an image suggesting antisemitic plot behind recent acts of terrorism in Europe.

As with National Action and its aliases, the System Resistance Network requests that individuals use the Tutanota email service.

Support for the SRN has a wider, more concerning European and transatlantic dimension as its presence grows on various social media platforms.



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Categories: Amber Rudd, National Action, Neo-Nazi, News, NS131, System Resistance Network, terrorism, Vanguard Britannia

Muslim woman called ‘terrorist’ and ‘ISIS’ hours after Parsons Green attack

A group of teenagers repeatedly shouted ‘ISIS’ at a Muslim woman in the Lancaster area, hours after the terror attack on a London Underground train on 15 September.

Speaking to Tell MAMA staff, the woman, who wears the hijab, and attends the local university, was walking towards a bus stop, when a group of eight to ten teenagers, aged 14 or 15, began shouting at her as she passed an off-licence at around 7:30 pm.

The group made repeated references to terrorism, accusing the woman of being a ‘murderer’ and ‘terrorist’ as others shouted ‘ISIS’ at her.

No member of the public attempted to intervene or console her, which left her feeling ‘disconcerted’ when compared to other anti-Muslim abuse she has previously experienced.

She walked off in a hurry, hoping to get on the next available bus. The hate crime left her in tears several days later, she now worries about leaving her home.

In a statement given to our staff, she said:

“I think the most valuable thing taken away from me when this incident happened is my time. It took me a full week to feel like I can function normally again. Other than that, now I notice how wary I am in large crowds. I like socialising, and this has certainly affected me in the way I connect with other people. As a postgraduate student, many would agree with me if I say that you would be lucky to finish your degree without any major stress. This even has certainly added stress to my mental wellbeing and affected my study progress.


I choose to report this incident to Tell MAMA because the public should understand that this racist abuse is not something we can dismiss as a one-off incident. This is not the first time it happened to me, and sadly, this will not be the last. It is also not easy to discuss this incident with other people. I had mentioned about racist abuse towards hijabi’s once to a friend, but the reply was the question “perhaps you are being too sensitive?” It is not being too sensitive when you are racially abused for who you are and what you wear, in broad daylight, in public, it’s as simple as that.”


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Categories: abuse, hate crime, Hijab, News, Parsons Green

Parsons Green: Aladdins takeaway and Yahyah Farroukh abused and threatened online

Staff at a fried chicken shop received threats and abuse after an employee was arrested and then released without further action during the Parsons Green attack investigation.

A Facebook post from Aladdins Fried Chicken in Hounslow, west London, said staff faced abuse and threats on social media, over the telephone, and in person, following the arrest of Yahyah Farroukh, 21, on September 16.

The post added: “The investigation brought Yahyah, his friends, family, place of employment and the wider Muslim community under scrutiny and indignity.”

Mr Farroukh, and a 48-year-old man from Newport were both released without charge on September 21.

Police never formally identified Mr Farroukh as a suspect by name, but it emerged in the media.

During the short-lived investigation against him, Mr Farroukh’s Facebook profile remained accessible, and, in the absence of information, came speculation, and a natural curiosity to make sense of the unthinkable, to understand the motives behind this recent terrorist attack, which injured thirty passengers.

Within days, we learned of Yahyah Farroukh’s ‘party lifestyle,’ his place of employment, how he arrived in the UK as a refugee from Syria, and family visits to London and Scotland.

By September 22, however, an 18-year-old man named Ahmed Hassan, was charged in connection with the terror attack. His charges include attempted murder and maliciously causing an explosion.

During an interview on LBC, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, spoke of how deadly the bomb was, as it contained triacetone triperoxide (TATP), an explosive used in the Manchester, Paris, and Brussels terror attacks.

After the release of Yahyah Farroukh, it has now emerged that his mother suffered a heart attack after learning of her son’s arrest, hospitalising her in Egypt, as doctors are, however, confident that she will recover.

In the days before his release, the public Facebook page of Mr Farroukh became a temporary magnet for abusive posts from users within the UK and Europe. Disturbing comments accused him of being a terrorist, some wished death upon him, as others hoped he would face rape and sexual violence in prison.

Graphic abusive comments written on Yahyah Farroukh’s profile before the comments were deleted.

Others spammed his wall post with broader anti-Muslim invective. In one such example, an account with a notable interest in ‘white power’ had posted several comments with pig emojis. Several posts made explicit reference to Islam and pigs, including a desire to rub pork in Mr Farroukh’s face. Days later, a user posted a grotesque meme linking Muslims to bestiality, adding the racial slur ‘black b*stard’ hours later.

A further example of the anti-Muslim abuse directed at the profile of Yahyah Farroukh before the comments were deleted from Facebook.

Facebook did remove a violent comment from a man in the Czech Republic who wrote ‘F*ck you Muslims’ in a broader rant that referred to Muslims as both ‘parasites’ and ‘pigs’ on September 19. Before its deletion from the Mr Farroukh’s profile late light night or today, the Facebook thread had generated almost 200 comments since September 16.

But questions remain as to why his Facebook account was not disabled during the investigation.

Prominent anti-Muslim hate sites in the United States, jumped on the news of Mr Farroukh’s initial arrest, hoping to further their anti-refugee narratives, but have, unsurprisingly, failed to update their coverage to reflect his release.

A 17-year-old male has today been released without further charge, as two men, aged 25 and 30, remain in custody under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.



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Categories: News, Parsons Green, terrorism

This Year Sees Alignment of the Jewish & Muslim Calendars

This year sees the alignment of main holy days in the Jewish and Islamic calendars – Rosh Hashanah, which translates as the ‘beginning of the year’ in Hebrew, began at sundown on September 20, marking the start of 5778 on the Jewish lunar calendar, lasting for two days.

The Islamic New Year of Al-Hijra marks the first day of the month of Muharram, which marks the Hijrah, when in 622 CE, the Prophet Muhammad and his companions migrated to Mecca moved from Medina, begins on September 21, which in the Islamic calendar year is Muharram 1,1439 Hijri.

Both Abrahamic faiths use the lunar calendar, which falls short of the solar calendar, to remedy this shortfall, both the Islamic and Jewish calendars have, when needed, inserted an extra day or month in their respective calendars to align closer to the solar cycle.

For Muslims, this low-key affair puts focus on what the Hijrah means, to understand how the spiritual and earthly life are bound together in devotion and obedience to God, in the first Islamic community, where the strength of this bond was proven by the actions of the Prophet Muhammad, who, by turning away from the norms of his own tribe, gave an example to his companions that the bonds of Islam were stronger.

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world, and a day of judgement, where Jews believe that God weighs up the good and bad deeds of a person from the previous year, and decides what the year ahead will bring them.

The Jewish New Year also offers time to reflect on the bonds between God and humans, to consider optimism when faced with adversity, to seek forgiveness, and ponder more existential questions about achievements over the year, and what a person holds most dear.

Rosh Hashanah begins with the blowing of the ritual ram’s horn (Shofar), in Hebrew, the term derives from the verb שפר, which means to enhance, improve and succeed.

Muslim and Jewish communities welcome in the new year with sweet dishes in the hope of a sweet and prosperous year ahead.

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Categories: Hijrah, Islamic, Jewish Calendar, Muharram, News, Rosh Hashanah, Shofar

Far-right party likened to Nazis to shake up German parliament

The first far-right party set to enter Germany’s parliament for more than a half a century says it will press for Chancellor Angela Merkel to be “severely punished” for opening the door to refugees and migrants.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has also called for Germany’s immigration minister to be “disposed of” in Turkey where her parents come from, could become the third largest party with up to 12 percent of the vote on Sept. 24, polls show.

That is far less than similar movements in other European countries – in France far-right leader Marine Le Pen won 34 percent of the vote in May and in the Netherlands far-rightist Geert Wilders scored 13 percent in a March election.

But the prospect of a party that the foreign minister has compared with the Nazis entering the heart of German democracy is unnerving the other parties. They all refuse to work with the AfD and no one wants to sit next to them in parliament.

Leading AfD candidate Alexander Gauland denies they are Nazis, saying others only use the term because of the party’s popularity. It has won support with calls for Germany to shut its borders immediately, introduce a minimum quota for deportations and stop refugees bringing their families here.

“We’re gradually becoming foreigners in our own country,” Gauland told an election rally in the Polish border city of Frankfurt an der Oder.

A song with the lyrics “we’ll bring happiness back to your homeland” blared out of a blue campaign bus and the 76-year-old lawyer said Germany belonged to the Germans, Islam had no place here and the migrant influx would make everyone worse off.

Gauland provoked outrage for saying at another event that Germans should no longer be reproached with the Nazi past and they should take pride in what their soldiers achieved during World War One and Two.

The Nazis ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945, during which time they killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and invaded countries across Europe.

The AfD could end up as the biggest opposition force in the national assembly if there is a re-run of the current coalition of Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats (SPD) — one of the most likely scenarios.

That would mean it would chair the powerful budget committee and open the general debate during budget consultations, giving prominence to its alternatives to government policies.

Georg Pazderski, a member of the AfD’s executive board, told Reuters his party would use parliamentary speeches to draw attention to the cost of the migrant crisis, troubles in the euro zone – which the AfD wants Germany to leave – and problems related to the European Union.

“We’ll have a voice when we’re in parliament,” he said. “We won’t be an easy opposition.”

He expects other parties will shun the AfD for a year or two but ultimately work with it, pointing to the regional assembly in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the AfD and Merkel’s Christian Democrats voted to set up a committee to investigate left-wing extremism.

Gauland told Reuters the AfD would call for a committee to investigate the chancellor after entering parliament: “We want Ms Merkel’s policy of bringing 1 million people into this country to be investigated and we want her to be severely punished for that.”

For an interactive graphic on German elections click –


MPs have already changed the qualification for the ceremonial post of doyen of parliament to the longest-serving MP rather than the oldest, likely to have been an AfD member.

Sahra Wagenknecht, top candidate of the radical Left party, told Reuters it was important to look at individuals for committees but added: “I won’t elect any AfD member who belongs to Bjoern Hoecke’s wing and who really represents Nazi views into any position of responsibility.”

Hoecke has denied that Adolf Hitler was “absolutely evil”, described Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial as a “monument of shame” and demanded a “180 degree turnaround” in the way Germany seeks to atone for Nazi crimes.

The justice minister said some of the AfD’s programme like its demand to ban minarets is unconstitutional.

Alexander Hensel, who studied the AfD’s role in regional parliaments for the Otto Brenner Foundation, said debates in state assemblies had become more polarised since the AfD arrived and some other MPs would not shake hands with the newcomers.

“The AfD’s aggressive right-wing positions have intensified the debates while the tone and way people deal with each other in parliament has become noticeably rougher due to the AfD’s tough rhetoric and targeted provocations,” he said.

Unlike previous right-wing movements in Germany the AfD – founded in 2013 by an anti-euro group of academics – has become socially acceptable so radicalised people from the middle class feel able to vote for it alongside classic radical right-wing voters, said Manfred Guellner, head of Forsa polling institute.

“You don’t vote for skinheads but you can vote for professors in suits,” said Guellner, referring to the likes of Gauland, who tends to wear tweed jackets.

The AfD is unlikely to gain much more support though, said Jackson Janes, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, predicting worsening infighting over whether to aim for government or stay in opposition.

“They’ll add to the yelling and screaming in the Bundestag,” he said, but added: “I don’t see them spreading like a cancer through society.”

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Categories: Adolf Hitler, AfD, Alternative for Germany (AfD), Angela Merkel, Far Right groups, Nazi, News, refugees

Pakistan army pushed political role for militant-linked groups

A new Pakistani political party controlled by an Islamist with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head is backing a candidate in a by-election on Sunday, in what a former senior army officer says is a key step in a military-proposed plan to mainstream militant groups.

The Milli Muslim League party loyal to Hafiz Saeed – who the United States and India accuse of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people – has little chance of seeing its favoured candidate win the seat vacated when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court in July.

But the foray into politics by Saeed’s Islamist charity is following a blueprint that Sharif himself rejected when the military proposed it last year, retired Lieutenant General Amjad Shuaib told Reuters.

Three close Sharif confidants with knowledge of the discussions confirmed that Sharif had opposed the “mainstreaming” plan, which senior military figures and some analysts see as a way of steering ultra-religious groups away from violent jihad.

“We have to separate those elements who are peaceful from the elements who are picking up weapons,” Shuaib said.

Pakistan’s powerful military has long been accused of fostering militant groups as proxy fighters opposing neighbouring arch-enemy India, a charge the army denies.


Saeed’s religious charity launched the Milli Muslim League party within two weeks after the court ousted Sharif over corruption allegations.

Yaqoob Sheikh, the Lahore candidate for Milli Muslim League, is standing as an independent after the Electoral Commission said the party was not yet legally registered.

But Saeed’s lieutenants, JUD workers and Milli Muslim League officials are running his campaign and portraits of Saeed adorn every poster promoting Sheikh.

Another Islamist designated a terrorist by the United States, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, has told Reuters he too plans to soon form his own party to advocate strict Islamic law.

“God willing, we will come into the mainstream – our country right now needs patriotic people,” Khalil said, vowing to turn Pakistan into a state government by strict Islamic law.

Saeed’s charity and Khalil’s Ansar ul-Umma organisation are both seen by the United States as fronts for militant groups the army has been accused of sponsoring. The military denies any policy of encouraging radical groups.

Both Islamist groups deny their political ambitions were engineered by the military. The official army spokesman was not available for comment after queries were sent to the press wing.

Still, hundreds of MML supporters, waving posters of Saeed and demanding his release from house arrest, chanted “Long live Hafiz Saeed! Long live the Pakistan army!” at political rallies during the past week.

“Anyone who is India’s friend is a traitor, a traitor,” went another campaign slogan, a reference to Sharif’s attempts to improve relations with long-time foe India that was a source of tension with the military.


Both Saeed and Khalil are proponents of a strict interpretation of Islam and have a history of supporting violence – each man was reportedly a signatory to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring war on the United States.

They have since established religious groups that they say are unconnected to violence, though the United States maintains those groups are fronts for funnelling money and fighters to militants targeting India.

Analyst Khaled Ahmed, who has researched Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity and its connections to the military, says the new political party is clearly an attempt by the generals to pursue an alternative to dismantling its militant proxies.

“One thing is the army wants these guys to survive,” Ahmed said. “The other thing is that they want to also balance the politicians who are more and more inclined to normalise relations with India.”

The military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency first began pushing the political mainstreaming plan in April 2016, according to retired general Shuaib, a former director of the army’s military intelligence wing that is separate from the ISI.

He said the proposal was shared with him in writing by the then-ISI chief, adding that he himself had spoken with Khalil as well as Saeed in an unofficial capacity about the plan.

“Fazlur Rehman Khalil was very positive. Hafiz Saeed was very positive,” Shuaib said. “My conversation with them was just to confirm those things which I had been told by the ISI and other people.”

Saeed has been under house arrest since January at his house in the eastern city of Lahore. The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Then-Prime Minister Sharif, however, was strongly against the military’s mainstreaming plan, according to Shuaib and three members of Sharif’s inner circle, including one who was in some of the tense meetings over the issue.

Sharif wanted to completely dismantle groups like JuD. Disagreement on what to do about anti-India proxy fighters was a major source of rancour with the military, according to one of the close Sharif confidants.

In recent weeks several senior figures from the ruling PML-N party have publicly implied that elements of the military – which has run Pakistan for almost half its modern history and previously ousted Sharif in a 1999 coup – had a hand in the court ouster of Sharif, a charge both the army and the court reject.

A representative of the PML-N, which last month replaced him as prime minister with close ally Shahid Khaqi Abbasi, said the party was “not aware” of any mainstreaming plan being brought to the table.


Some analysts worry that mainstreaming such controversial groups would be a risky strategy for Pakistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened sanctions against members of Pakistan’s military and even raised the spectre of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

“It will send a wrong message,” said analyst Zahid Hussain, who nevertheless thought that Saeed’s new party would have a “negligible” effect on Pakistani elections because religious parties have never won more than a few seats in parliament.

Others are not so sure.

Sheikh, the MML candidate in Sunday’s by-election who says he was handpicked by Hafiz Saeed, vowed to establish strict Islamic rule and “break” liberalism and secularism.

Analyst Ahmed warned that few existing religious parties have a charismatic leader like Saeed, and Pakistan may find itself unable to control a rising tide of Islamist sentiment.

“If Hafiz Saeed comes into the mainstream, it’s not that he is going to be politicised,” he added. “It’s that he is going to make politics more religious.”

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Categories: Ansar ul-Umma, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Milli Muslim League, Mumbai attack, Nawaz Sharif, News, United States

Inspired by ‘blasphemy killer’, new Pakistani party eyes 2018 vote

The head of a new Pakistani Islamist party that lionizes the killer of a provincial governor said it would take its rallying cry of “death to blasphemers” to next year’s general election, after its surprisingly strong showing in a recent vote.

The Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan party, which won more than 7,000 votes at a weekend by-election, was born out of a protest movement supporting Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik waved photos of Qadri, who became an icon for Muslim hardliners after his execution last year, at campaign rallies in the eastern city of Lahore, where it won 6 percent of the vote in a contest for the seat vacated by ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“He is a hero,” party leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi said when asked about Qadri, adding that after its third-place finish in Sunday’s by-election it would focus on next year’s poll. “Our preparation starts from today. We will contest bravely.”

While the party has almost no chance of gaining power next year, it is part of a new crop of political movements that espouse stricter Islamic rule as a remedy to corruption accusations and squabbling among Pakistan’s three main parties.

A stronger showing for Islamists could give them more influence after the election, expected to be hard-fought after the Supreme Court barred Sharif from holding office.

In an interview with Reuters, Rizvi outlined his vision of governance according the Barelvi branch of Islam, of which he is a prominent cleric.

Frequently citing Koranic verses and Pakistani history, he said his party could solve corruption problems “in a day” through stricter adherence to sharia, or Islamic law.

“Sharia will have to be enforced. No one should be worried about it,” he said, sitting in the upper room of a Lahore mosque surrounded by followers, many who had adopted Qadri’s signature look of long hair and kohl-lined eyes.

He acknowledged his vision would mean some changes to daily life, giving the example of barring women from working as airline flight attendants.


In its party platform, Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan calls for free education, free healthcare and social justice.

But it is best known for its public and passionate support for Mumtaz Qadri – campaign rallies featured posters with Qadri’s photo – and its insistence that Muslim-majority Pakistan’s blasphemy laws should remain among the world’s harshest.

Dozens of people convicted of blasphemy are currently on death row and at least 65 Pakistanis have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to the Center for Research and Security Studies.

One of the highest-profile killings was of Punjab Governor Taseer, who had called for the laws to be re-examined after a minority Christian woman was sentenced to death for blasphemy.

After his arrest over the killing, bodyguard Qadri drew a slew of admirers among Islamists who showered him with rose petal at court hearings. Tens of thousands thronged his funeral last year to condemn Sharif’s government for his hanging.

Tehreek-e-Labaik spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi said the party started out as The Movement to Free Mumtaz Qadri, but changed its name and entered politics after his execution.

Asked about Qadri’s role as an inspiration to the party, leader Rizvi said: “He is a hero until doomsday. He is a hero beyond doomsday.”

Asked if any Muslim has the obligation to kill a blasphemer, Rizvi said: “No … there is a law. Hand him over to that.”

But Qadri, he added, was justified because Pakistani police had failed to charge Taseer with blasphemy for criticising the law.


Tehreek-e-Labaik surprised many by its relatively strong showing in the Lahore by-election to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant when the Supreme Court ousted Sharif over unreported income, in a case initiated by opposition figure Imran Khan.

The seat was won, as expected, by Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party’s share of the vote in the constituency was cut to 49.3 percent from 61 percent in a 2013 election.

Khan, a former cricket star, saw his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party increase its share to 37.6 percent from 35 percent in the last vote.

But much of the PML-N’s margin loss came from votes cast for candidates of new Islamist parties.

In addition to Tehreek-e-Labaik, a newly declared party linked to Hafiz Saeed, named by the United States and India as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, won about 5 percent of the Lahore vote.

Religious parties have never gained more than a few seats in Pakistan’s parliament because they tend to appeal to one particular sect or a single issue, such as blasphemy.

Still, a surge of support for the ultra-religious parties could drain away votes from mainstream groups and potentially give Islamists leverage in policy-making.

Tehreek-e-Labaik’s Rizvi said his only goal was to see a stricter vision of Islam enshrined in the law of the land.

“We want to bring the religion of Islam to the throne,” he said.

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Categories: Blasphemy, Mumtaz Qadri, News, Qadri, Rizvi, Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan party

How the myth about Muhammad as the most popular name for baby boys endures

The Sun’s coverage of the most popular boys’ name in England and Wales recycles an unhelpful tabloid myth about the popularity of the name Muhammad.

This myth endures because it privileges all the variations of Muhammad, but not others.

For example, the Sun’s coverage ignores the fact that Harry is a diminutive of Henry, combining these variations gives us a total of 8,811, making their original claim redundant, as all variations of Muhammad fall below that figure, totalling 7,992, according to the Sun’s analysis.

Olivier only falls narrowly behind Muhammad if we include other variations (Olly and Ollie), bringing the total to 7,840, hardly a ‘whopping’ difference.

Muhammad has entered the top 10 most popular boys’ names, but it’s not the most popular.

The MailOnline perpetuated the myth in 2016 and 2014, despite the Guardian debunking the claim years earlier.

Analysis from the Official of National Statistics (ONS) did find that Muhammad is the most popular name in London and the West Midlands, as Harry and Oliver were the most popular boys’ names in other parts of the country.

Nick Stripe, Head of Life Events at the Office for National Statistics, offered a list of predictions for the most popular boys’ names in 2026, in a blog for the Huff Post UK, and Muhammad did not make his list. This prediction perhaps reflects how inflated the issue has become in some sections of society.

Nor does the article consider the historical significance of the name Muhammad in England and Wales. Data confirms that the name Mohammed has ebbed and flowed in popularity between 1924 and 1994, appearing in successive top 100 lists for boys’ names.

In 2016, the ONS visualised this trend in a helpful graph, including a discussion about changing religious demographics since 2001.

As Dr Seán McLoughlin pointed out to the Guardian about this very topic, in December 2014, that Muslims in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan consider it an esteemed blessing to bestow boys with the name of the prophet, as it serves symbolically as a first name, unlike in the Christian tradition.

Dr McLoughlin added that the number of variations in the name Muhammad owes to the transliterations in various Muslim communities.







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Categories: Baby names, Media, Muhammad, News, the Sun

Did a prison in Surrey give ‘special outfits’ to Muslim prisoners?

The Sun newspaper claimed that HMP Send, a women’s prison in Surrey, is offering Muslim prisoners and visitors special clothing when around sniffer dogs, in an exclusive yesterday (September 10).

A prison service spokesperson contradicts the Sun’s central claim, adding that overalls are available to prisoners, visitors, and staff where their faith prohibits contact with dogs, making no reference to any one faith group.

“Overalls are available for prisoners, visitors and staff during dog searches where their faith doesn’t allow direct contact with dogs – this has no impact on the dogs’ ability to detect weapons or drugs.”

The full statement is buried in the final paragraph of the Sun’s coverage, written by the anonymous ‘Sun reporter,’ as it also recycles stock images of women in the hijab or niqab (face veil), the MailOnline coverage follows the same pattern.

Within hours, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, who remains banned from entering Britain due to his anti-Muslim views, editorialised the Sun’s latest coverage, as the English Defence League also tweeted the MailOnline coverage.

The stories, however, tap into a wider trend of so-called ‘Muslim privilege’ in the prison system regarding dogs, a distortion that has endured in parts of the tabloid press for almost a decade.

Take, for example, in 2008, a series of headlines discussed how Muslim prisoners would ‘get clean clothing’ if they came in direct contact with dog saliva, in a similar vein to the infamous ‘Sniffer Dogs Offend Muslims’ front page from the Daily Express. This story concerned a Department for Transport trial of sniffer dogs in London and Brighton train stations who had conducted stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Of the Muslims surveyed for the research, some did express concern that contact with a dog would invalidate wudu (ritual washing before prayer). Researchers acknowledged that the Muslims surveyed would have proven more receptive had the dogs only sniffed luggage, as with the London trial. The demographic differences between London and Brighton meant that researchers struggled to recruit Muslims and BME communities more broadly. Others expressed concern about racial profiling. Issues not discussed in the Express article.

Around this time in 2008, the Sun had published and then later deleted a story about the transfer of a sniffer dog called ‘Allah’ from HMP Belmarsh.

An FOI request sent to the prison service in 2012 had cited the Express article on Muslim prisoners, but as their documentation makes clear, sniffer dogs should not come into contact with any religious artefact (2:40). Prisoners can request a change of bedding if they believe such a search had ‘defiled’ their bed.

The Religion Manual, with amended guidance added in 2002 (4550), advises (2.14) that drug dogs do not touch visitors who would find this act of touching offensive on religious grounds.









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Categories: Daily Express, MailOnline, Media, News, press reporting, Prison, the Sun