My Story: Untold Personal Stories of Faith and Spirituality

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My Story is a new project launched by Faith Matters, which brings forward the untold stories of faith and spirituality within local, national, and international contexts. If the stories are separated by distance, they are bound by a unifying aim: to promote change and to promote tolerance and understanding in their communities, and in communities abroad.

Through My Story, Faith Matters hopes to empower young activists and bring their unique voices forward and support them in reaching a wider audience.

In this project, we would like to offer our audience a close-up experience of personal stories, encouraging listening and opportunities to reflect on the experiences of others. The main aim of My Story is to challenge those who seek to divide communities by offering a different story, an individual, personal, and honest story.

Participants explain, in their own words and images, how their faith is not a passive act, but an act that is both deeply personal and a way of being.





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Categories: communities, Faith Matters, interfaith, My Story, News, Publications / Reports, Young People and Faith

Muslim mother told to ‘go back to Syria’ in front of her child on London Underground

A Muslim woman, who wears the hijab, was travelling on London Underground with her young child when a man racially abused her and told to ‘go back to Syria’ and ‘f*ck off back to your own country’.

The incident occurred on February 24.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that when she reported the racist abuse to Transport for London (TfL) staff, she described an overall ‘lack of empathy’ for her situation.

She then observed a member of TfL staff ‘shaking hands’ with the perpetrator and allowing him to board the next train.

Further allegations concern the failure of other members of TfL to disclose the name of the employee accused of shaking the perpetrator’s hand.

The woman has written a complaint with TfL.

Tell MAMA, who is supporting the woman, will also be writing to TfL to raise our concerns about their handling of this Islamophobic and racist incident.

The British Transport Police are investigating the incident.

In 2017, Tell MAMA verified 107 reports of Islamophobic and anti-Muslim incidents on transport networks. In the interim period of 2018, between January and June, Tell MAMA verified 17 incidents which took place on transport networks.

Tell MAMA has documented several examples of Muslim women being assaulted, abused, or sexually harassed on trains.

Other examples highlighted in our previous annual report show how Muslim girls and women have been called “ISIS” or referred to as “terrorists”.

Individuals can register complaints against the TfL online, in-person, in writing, or over the telephone, according to London Travel Watch.

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 Muslim mother told to ‘go back to Syria’ in front of her child on London Underground appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Hijab, London Underground, News, Syria, TFL

Amazon removes Tommy Robinson’s book on Islam from sale

The online retail giant Amazon has removed copies of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s (Tommy Robinson) co-authored book ‘Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill For Islam’.

The book, first published in 2017, was available to purchase on February 25, 2018, but following Facebook’s decision to ban the far-right provocateur from its platform and Instagram yesterday, the book is no longer available.

Credit: Google Cache

To search for the book through Google brings up the notification that the page is ‘no longer functional’ on Amazon.

Nor can you find the book through Robinson’s author page on Amazon, as the listing remains unavailable. His book ‘Enemy of the State’, however, remains on sale.

Amazon states that products “that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views” are prohibited from sale.

Amazon also “reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings on its site, and remove any listing at any time.”

Facebook had warned Robinson that if he continued to break Community Guidelines on the platform, he risked having his personal and professional pages removed.

In a blog post, Facebook said: “When ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society – in some cases with potentially dangerous offline implications – we take action. Tommy Robinson’s Facebook page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims. He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organized hate.”

Posts which broke guidelines on hate speech included a post calling Muslims “filthy scum bags”, a post urging people to terrorise and behead those who follow the Qur’an, and a post which urged individuals to “make war” on Muslims.

Nor will Yaxley-Lennon be able to create new profiles or business pages on Facebook in the future.

YouTube remains the only major platform where Robinson remains active, despite the Google-owned video sharing platform de-monetising his channel for breaching advertising rules.

Last November, PayPal banned Yaxley-Lennon from its service, and Twitter banned him in March 2018.

Nor is ‘Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill For Islam’ without heavy criticism.

The book is also unavailable from Waterstones.




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Categories: Amazon, Far Right groups, News, Tommy Robinson

PM Assassination Plotter’s Friend Jailed for Planning To Join Islamic State

A friend of an Islamic State terrorist who plotted to assassinate the Prime Minister has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Mohammed Aqib Imran, 23, planned to travel for jihad, while Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 21, was set on a suicide attack on the heart of Government.

Imran, from Ombersley Road, Birmingham, researched travel and tried to secure a false passport in online communication, fearing his mother would stop him if he used his own passport.

Rahman, from Finchley, north London, admitted helping his friend by recording an IS sponsorship video for him, the Old Bailey heard.

The pair were snared by a network of online role-players from the Met Police, MI5 and the FBI.

Rahman’s plans to kill Theresa May were scuppered when undercover officers handed him a jacket and rucksack packed with fake explosives.

Following a trial in July, Rahman was found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years.

Imran was convicted of possessing a terrorist handbook entitled How To Survive In The West.

Following a retrial, former student Imran was also found guilty of preparing acts of terrorism abroad on or before November 28 2017 in December.

On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC jailed him for eight years and six months for preparing to join IS with an additional three years and six months on extended licence.

He also handed Imran three years and nine months in custody for possessing the terrorist publication on his Kindle, to run concurrently.

The judge accepted Imran was “immature” for his age and “more of a follower than a leader”.

While he did nothing to put off Rahman from carrying out his plot, the judge said he would not sentence him on the basis that he encouraged it.

He said: “Mr Rahman was a very dangerous man and that must have been evident from any time spent with him but also from the messages the defendant exchanged with him.

“I am afraid nothing I have seen demonstrates a change of heart by the defendant or a real insight into what would be necessary to achieve that. His defence was simply this was talk, he never intended to follow through and the jury rejected that.”

Acting Commander for the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command, Alexis Boon, said: “The idea was that Rahman would kill the Prime Minister, and Imran would subsequently have a video from a martyr recommending he be accepted into the terrorist organisation. Such a video would have held weight with Daesh.

“Of course, this was never going to happen because MI5 and the Counter Terrorism Command had been investigating the pair for some time and in fact a covert police officer had been meeting with Rahman to establish how serious his plans were.

“I am pleased with this result. Our police investigation has stopped Imran from joining Daesh on the ground in Libya, where his subsequent actions could have assisted the terrorist organisation to further their aims.”

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Categories: Islamic State, Mohammed Aqib Imran, Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, News, Theresa May

IS Bride’s Return to UK Could Open ‘Floodgates’ for Terror Suspects

Floodgates could be opened for Islamic State supporters coming back to the UK if Shamima Begum succeeds in getting back into the country, a former counter-terrorism police chief has warned.

Scott Wilson, who helped lead the response to the 2017 London Bridge attack, said monitoring the teenager would cost millions of pounds and the security services and police would “never be able to take their eye off her” if she did return.

Begum, who left her east London home to join IS in Syria in 2015, wants to return to the UK for the sake of her newborn third child, but has been stripped of her British citizenship.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the move on advice that she qualified for Bangladeshi citizenship through her mother, although authorities there have said they will not let her enter the country.

Mr Wilson, who was UK National Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator for Protect and Prepare until last summer, said: “When you look at all the background to her going out there, I know they are trying to say she was a groomed child, but there was a lot of planning that went in with her and her group to get herself out there.

“It’s not just the bringing her back, the deradicalisation programme; the security services will end up spending years monitoring her.

“They will never be able to take their eye off her for the simple reason that they don’t know what could happen. If she did do something in the UK, the Government and the security services would get the blame for it.

“It’s the millions of pounds of monitoring that it’s going to cause, not just the bringing her back and putting her through a deradicalisation programme.”

Last week, Oxford-born terror suspect Jack Letts, known as Jihadi Jack, said he wants to return to the UK, and misses his mother, pasties and Doctor Who.

It was also reported that Abu Hamza’s son, Sufyan Mustafa, 23, is fighting the decision to revoke his British passport.

Mr Wilson believes a slew of suspected IS supporters will want to return to the UK if Begum succeeds in doing so.

“I don’t think the British Government should give her the way to get her out of Syria and get her back here, that’s the point,” he said. “If she gets back here then it’s on their plate to deal with it.

“If you start making a free way for them to get back then where do you stop?

“I can see floodgates opening. I don’t think we should make it easy. If you make it easy then you’re just opening the floodgates for it and suddenly you’re monitoring people forever.

“I don’t sound very sympathetic because I just see the consequences. I dealt with London Bridge on the streets.

“When you see the consequences of this, I just think this country can be too sympathetic at times. She made the decision so she will have to stick to the decision she made.”

Begum’s father, Ahmed Ali, said his 19-year-old daughter should face justice in Britain despite previously appearing to back the removal of her citizenship.

The teenager, who married Dutch IS fighter Yago Riedijk, had two older children who both died.

Mr Ali told ITV News: “I don’t think he’s (Sajid Javid) done the right thing because she is a British citizen, and if it turns out she has committed any crimes, then she should face justice in the UK.

“She belongs to this country, she belongs to England.

“My daughter was a little child, she made a mistake, she didn’t properly understand.”

The post IS Bride’s Return to UK Could Open ‘Floodgates’ for Terror Suspects appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Ahmed Ali, Islamic State, Islamic State supporters, London Bridge, News, Return, Scott Wilson, Shamima Begum, Yago Riedijk

Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page is Shut Down

This is the note that Facebook have put out. This is extremely welcome news and a long time coming. We would like to thank Facebook in the decision it has made.

Removing Tommy Robinson’s Page and Profile for Violating Our Community Standards – Facebook Statement

One of the biggest questions we face is around what we allow on Facebook – and we spend a lot of time trying to get this right. This is hard and critically important. We want Facebook to be a place where you can express yourself freely and share openly with friends and family. At the same time, when people come to Facebook, we always want them to feel welcome and safe.

This is something we take incredibly seriously. So when ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society – in some cases with potentially dangerous offline implications – we take action. Our public Community Standards state this sort of speech is not acceptable on Facebook – and when we become aware of it, we remove it as quickly as we can. Our rules also make clear that individuals and organizations that are engaged in “organized hate” are not allowed on the platform, and that praise or support for these figures and groups is also banned. This is true regardless of the ideology they espouse.

Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims. He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organized hate. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have removed Tommy Robinson’s official Facebook Page and Instagram profile. This is not a decision we take lightly, but individuals and organizations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook and Instagram.

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Categories: Facebook page, hatred, News, Shut down, Tommy Robinson

Home Secretary Claims More Powers are Needed to Tackle Online Abuse and Extremism. We agree.

Sajid Javid has insisted there are not enough powers to tackle online abuse and extremism, adding he is “taking very seriously” calls to reform treason laws.

The Home Secretary was pressed by MPs to act urgently to force major internet firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to do more to stamp out extreme content.

Conservative Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, also raised concerns over “vile extremism” spread over the internet which encourages people to join terror group Islamic State and others.

He added: “Will (Mr Javid) agree with me that the opportunity has really come to change the law here and to look at how we can charge people with treason?

“Will he look at the espionage bill that is coming before the House soon and seeing whether or not the Policy Exchange report that was written by me and (Labour MP Khalid Mahmood) could perhaps be used as an inspiration to some amendments to that law?”

Mr Javid replied: “It’s an important point.”

He noted the Government has received new powers to fight terrorism via the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, adding: “He also raised the issue of further potential powers, including powers around treason.

“These are issues that I’m taking very seriously, we are looking at this and I’d be happy to meet with him to discuss this further.”

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, earlier said he has not received half as much “vile stuff” compared to his female colleagues. He added: “I get threats, I’ve had people arrested for some of the things they’ve posted on my website.

“Could we have action now because it’s a culture we’ve got to change, people writing anonymously, horrible threats, disgusting stalking. Let’s put an end to it now.”

Mr Javid replied: “I very much share the sentiment of (Mr Sheerman).

“He’s pointed out there is some action the police and law enforcement could take today but it’s not enough, I don’t think there are enough rules and laws in place to tackle this, and that’s why we’re working across government to see what more needs to be done.”

Labour MP Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) also asked: “What penalties does the Home Secretary envisage imposing on the internet giants who have so far proved reluctant to help stamp out extreme content online?”

Mr Javid said Ms Sherriff and other MPs have suffered from “vile content” directed at them online, noting this was “absolutely unacceptable”.

He went on: “That’s why more needs to be done.

“We are working closely across government, especially my department with the culture department, on the online harms white paper.

“I don’t want to prejudge and announce now what’s in that paper but I can assure her that we’re taking this issue very, very seriously.”

The post Home Secretary Claims More Powers are Needed to Tackle Online Abuse and Extremism. We agree. appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Home Secretary, Internet Powers, News, Paula Sheriff, Sajid Javid

Shamima Begum: “I Regret Speaking to the Media”

Islamic State bride Shamima Begum said she regrets speaking to the media and wishes she had found a different way to contact her family.

The teenager, who fled London aged 15 to join Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria, has said she wants to return to the UK with her newborn son.

Ms Begum, who has had her British citizenship revoked, was one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join the terror cult in 2015 and resurfaced heavily pregnant at a Syrian refugee camp last week.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph from the al-Hol camp in Syria, Ms Begum said: “They are making an example of me. I regret speaking to the media. I wish I had stayed low and found a different way to contact my family. That’s why I spoke to the newspaper.”

The Home Secretary revoked Ms Begum’s British citizenship in a move only permissible under international law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

It was speculated that Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, may have citizenship there but Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam denied this.

Her family have written to the Home Secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain.

The letter to Sajid Javid said the baby boy was a “true innocent” who should not “lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country”.

Her sister Remu Begum, writing on behalf of the family, asked how they could help the Home Secretary “in bringing my nephew home to us”.

The family said they have had no contact with Ms Begum and had only learned she had given birth to a boy through media reports.

They made clear that they were “shocked and appalled” at the “vile comments” Ms Begum had recently made to the media.

Mr Javid’s removal of her citizenship came amid heated debate over whether the teenager should be able to return to the UK after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp with the terror group’s reign nearly over.

While many do not want to see Ms Begum return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions, and attempts at deradicalisation.

The Begum family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, which was confirmed by the Bangladeshi minister.

The post Shamima Begum: “I Regret Speaking to the Media” appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Bethnal Green, Islamic State, News, press, Sajid Javid, Shamima Begum

Church of England Votes to Tackle Racism Targeted at the Traveller Community

The Church of England is to give more support to tackling racism and discrimination directed towards the travelling community, with a bishop declaring it is “still tolerated”.

The church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favour of a motion on Saturday to speak out publicly against racism and hate crimes directed against Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma.

The Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion, with 265 supporting it and one voting against.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell – who put forward the motion, told the synod: “If one of us in any situation was to use racist language about some other person or group, it is very likely in today’s society that we would, and rightly so, be immediately called out.

“Racism against Travellers and Roma and Gypsies is still tolerated.

“The Equality and Human Rights Commission have found that discrimination and racism towards Gypsies and Travellers is common, frequently overt and seen as justified.

“The police have said that a prejudice against Gypsies and Travellers in endemic in our society, and often fuelled by stereotypes in the media.”

A report by Anglia Ruskin University was cited, which found that nine out of every 10 Traveller children had experienced racist abuse.

He then added: “Sorrowfully, we, the church of God are no exception, there are examples of the racist hostility and exclusion meted out by the church.

“Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people deserve particular support, hence the motions call to the leadership of the church to speak on these issues for every diocese to think about appointing a chaplain.”

The motion would call for each diocese to be encouraged to appoint a chaplain to Travellers, to help the potential for church growth, and work to combat racism in the church and wider community.

The Synod then discussed instigating a commission on sites for Gypsies and Travellers to encourage the local and national church to make land available for new sites managed by Housing Associations.

Mary Durlacher, a parishioner in the north of Chelmsford diocese, spoke in opposition and said: “Being near to the A12, we found one day, that one of our two churches had a car park completely full of Travellers.

“Police advice was, don’t go there, let us deal with it, in the meantime it meant no services, and on a Friday of a bank holiday, the church was inaccessible.

“People wanting to visit their relatives or their families buried in the churchyard couldn’t, there was a lot of upset and there was fear because there is a link with a rise in petty crime – I don’t know the exact figures, but there is a correlation.

“They did leave, but they left on the Saturday, about three o’clock and we had quite a job.

“There was the issue of excrement and my husband and I got on our gloves because the smell was quite interesting. They hadn’t done too much damage but they might be back said the police”.

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Categories: Church of England, Irish Travellers, News, Traveller Community

“I miss pasties. And Doctor Who.” Says Man Nicknamed ‘JIhadi Jack’

The man nicknamed Jihadi Jack has said that he wants to return to Britain, but he thinks it unlikely he will be allowed back.

Jack Letts, 23, speaking from the Kurdish jail where he has been held for two years on suspicion of joining IS after he ran away to Syria in 2014, said he missed his mum, pasties, and Doctor Who.

He told ITV News: “I feel British, I am British.

“If the UK accepted me I would go back to the UK, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Born in Oxford, the Muslim convert also has a Canadian passport thanks to his father’s nationality, but admitted: “I don’t know if that will still be valid.”

He told the broadcaster that he had lived on “the Oxford Street of Raqqa”, and married an Iraqi woman who has given birth to the couple’s son.

Mr Letts, a former pupil of Cherwell School, also confessed that he was pleased when he first heard news of the Paris terror attacks in 2015, and blamed his reaction on his experiences of coalition airstrikes in Raqqa.

He said when asked about the Bataclan atrocities: “At the time, I thought it was a good thing.

“At the time we had this idea, living in Raqqa, getting bombed every five minutes by coalition jets. I’ve seen children burnt alive.

“You have this idea of ‘why shouldn’t it happen to them?’”

But he claimed he has since had a change of heart, and sympathy for the innocent people killed, as he “realised that they had nothing to do with it”.

The Home Office said: “In recent days the Home Secretary has clearly stated that his priority is the safety and security of Britain and the people who live here.

“In order to protect this country, he has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless.

“We do not comment on individual cases, but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly.”

Mr Letts, who was a teenager when he fled to Syria, has not seen his parents in half a decade, and is missing some elements of his life in the UK.

He added: “I miss people mostly, I miss my mum. Five years I haven’t seen my mum, two years I haven’t spoken to my mum.

“I miss pasties. And Doctor Who.”

Mr Letts’ parents, John Letts and Sally Lane, from Chilswell Road, Oxford, are awaiting trial in the UK accused of sending money to their son.

They have denied three charges of funding terrorism.

This is not the first time Mr Letts has spoken to the British media since he fled his home.

In 2016, he told Channel 4 News that he missed Krispy Kreme doughnuts and kebabs, and had narrowly survived an airstrike with just a “scratch”.

And when asked if he was an IS fighter, he replied “Currently I’m not” before saying later in a statement that he opposes the militant group.

Mr Letts’ interview comes the day after the family of Islamic State bride Shamima Begum confirmed they would be challenging the Home Office’s decision to revoke the 19-year-old’s British citizenship.

Ms Begum was one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join the terror cult in 2015 and recently gave birth to a baby boy, her third child.

They said in a letter to the Home Secretary on Thursday: “We must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship.”

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Categories: Cherwell Student, Home Secretary, Jack Letts, Jihadi Jack, News, Raqqa