Newlyweds identified as pair who targeted Indonesian cathedral on Palm Sunday

Indonesian authorities identified a newly married couple with suspected militant links as the attackers who used a pressure cooker to blow themselves up outside a Roman Catholic cathedral during Palm Sunday Mass.

The attack wounded 20 people, including four church guards, and broke windows at the church and nearby buildings in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.

The couple married six months ago and police were still investigating at their house in Makassar, National Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said.

“Investigations are still being carried out including uncovering other perpetrators,” Mr Yuwono said in a statement.

Police identified the couple only by their initials, L and his wife, YSF.

Neighbours of the couple identified the man as Lukman and his wife as Dewi, who were between 23 and 26 years old.

The attackers detonated their bombs when they were confronted by guards outside the church.

The pressure cooker bombs contained high explosive materials and nails to increase the harm to victims, said Makassar city police chief Witnu Urip Laksana.

Police carried out DNA tests from relatives to determine the attackers’ identities, Mr Laksana said.

The couple were believed to have been members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group and carried out a series of suicide bombings in Indonesia.

They included the 2016 Starbucks attack in Jakarta, which killed four civilians and four militants; an attack on a bus terminal in the capital that killed three police officers; and an attack on a church in Kalimantan that killed a two-year-old girl a year later.

Several other children suffered serious burns from the Kalimantan attack.

Indonesia’s last major attack was in May 2018, when two families carried out suicide bombings on churches in Surabaya, killing a dozen people including two young girls whose parents had involved them in one of the attacks.

Police said the father was the leader of a local affiliate of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah.

One of the attackers in Makassar was believed to have links to a 2019 suicide attack that killed 23 people at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in the Philippine province of Sulu, Indonesian National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said.

He said the two attackers were linked to a group of suspected militants arrested in Makassar on January 6, when a police counter-terrorism squad shot and killed two suspected militants and arrested 19 others.

The two men who were killed were being sought for their alleged role in the Philippine attack.

Mr Prabowo said police on Sunday arrested four suspected militants believed to have links with the attackers in a raid in Bima, a city on Sumbawa island in West Nusa Tenggara province.

Local media reports said Indonesia’s elite police counter-terrorism squad, known as Densus 88, made arrests in several places on Monday, including in Jakarta and its satellite city of Bekasi.

The attack a week before Easter in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation came as the country was on high alert following December’s arrest of the leader of the Southeast Asian militant group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been designated a terror group by many nations.

President Joko Widodo condemned Sunday’s attack and said it has nothing to do with any religion as all religions would not tolerate any kind of terrorism.

He ordered police to “thoroughly investigate the networks of the perpetrators and hunt them to the roots”.

Read more: Indonesia to deport British woman who married militant

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Categories: Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, Makassar, News, Palm Sunday Mass, Roman Catholic Cathedral, South Sulawesi

Petition in support of Batley Grammar School teacher reaches 50,000 signatures

A petition in support of a suspended teacher who showed students a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed has passed more than 50,000 signatures.

The Batley Grammar School teacher had apologised after showing the cartoon, widely reported as taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, during a religious studies lesson earlier this week.

He was suspended on Thursday pending an investigation.

The school, in Batley, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, is facing calls to reinstate the teacher after a petition in support of him reached more than 50,000 signatures in two days, hitting the figure just after 2.00am on Sunday.

Protesters gathered outside the school gates on Thursday and Friday, claiming the school has not taken the issue seriously.

Speaking “on behalf of the Muslim community” on Friday, one protester said: “The teachers have breached the position of trust and failed their duty of safeguarding, and this issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said suggestions that the teacher was in hiding were “very disturbing”, and branded the protests as “not right”.

“It must be right that a teacher can appropriately show images of the Prophet Mohammed,” he said.

However, Dr Alyaa Ebbiary, a researcher in Islamic studies at the SOAS University of London, disagreed with Mr Jenrick’s comments.

“From the majority Muslim community perspective it’s safe to say that showing images of the Prophet Muhammad would not be considered a ‘right’, but at best disrespectful, and at worst a provocation,” she told the PA news agency.

“For some pious Muslims, it’s so hurtful to the point of going beyond the realm of common decency – I know that’s hard for a Western liberal mindset to understand.

“The matter of depicting a Prophet in images is very problematic in the Islamic tradition, and so creating images, in and of itself, is considered disrespectful to someone held to be sacred.”

West Yorkshire Police said a number of complaints have been made in relation to the incident.

Officers attended both protests after dozens of people stood outside the school, partially blocking the road.

A police spokesperson said: “As might be expected given the high public profile of what has happened, there have been a number of complaints about various matters relating to this issue.

“These are being reviewed in more detail but this is an ongoing situation.”

Read more: Teacher suspended after students shown ‘offensive’ image of Prophet Muhammad

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Categories: 000 signatures, 50, Batley Grammar School, Cartoon, Muhammad, News, Protestors, Robert Jenrick

20 injured in suicide attack targeting Palm Sunday Mass in Indonesia

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island during a Palm Sunday Mass, wounding at least 20 people, police said.

A video obtained by the Associated Press showed a burning motorbike at the gates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.

The attack came as Indonesia was on high alert following the arrest of Aris Sumarsono, known as Zulkarnaen, the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, in December.

Wilhelmus Tulak, a Catholic priest who had been leading the Mass when the bomb exploded at about 10.30am, told reporters that a loud bang shocked his congregation, who had just finished the Sunday service marking the beginning of the Holy Week before Easter.

The first batch of churchgoers were walking out of the church while another group was coming in when the blast happened, he said.

He said security guards had suspected two motorists who wanted to enter the church and confronted them.

One then detonated his explosives and died near the gate. The injured included four guards and several churchgoers.

National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono told a news conference in the capital, Jakarta, that police are still trying to identify two attackers on a motorbike who used powerful explosives.

He said officers are investigating whether they were linked to a local affiliate of the banned Jemaah Islamiyah network or were acting independently.

Around 64 suspects had been detained by Indonesia’s counter-terrorism squad, known as Densus 88, in several provinces, including 19 last month in Makassar. The arrests followed a tip-off about possible attacks against police and places of worship.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has been battling militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, police and anti-terrorism forces and people militants consider as infidels.

A court banned Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008, and the group was weakened by a sustained crackdown. A new threat has emerged in recent years inspired by the Islamic State group’s attacks abroad.

The country’s last major attack was in May 2018, when two families carried out suicide bombings in the second-largest city of Surabaya, killing a dozen people including two young girls whose parents had involved them in one of the attacks.

Police said the father was the leader of a local affiliate of the Islamic State group known as Jemaah Anshorut Daulah.

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Categories: Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiyah, News, Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Suicide Bomber, Sulawesi

Racist spat at Muslim woman and shouted “you f****** Arabs” in park

A racist man spat at a Muslim woman and shouted, “you f****** Arabs” in a park in west London.

To protect their identity further, Tell MAMA has declined to disclose the precise location but can confirm that it occurred on February 2.

Speaking with our casework team, the Muslim woman described how the racist attack left her in deep shock as she had never been targeted in such a manner before, adding she had only recently begun to wear the hijab and an abaya.

An Islamophobic hate crime report followed, but she declined to pursue the matter further, fearing that the perpetrator may find out and target them again, as a Metropolitan Police officer offered their reassurance and told her to give them a call if she changes her mind.

She described how the man was stumbling across the park with a can of alcohol in their hand and was of Eastern European origin in his mid-to-late thirties.

Nor is this the only example of a man spitting or coughing at a Muslim woman during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic reported to our service.

The racist language targeted at the Muslim woman again demonstrating the importance of how racialisation works, as some academics describe the process of “ascribing sets of characteristics viewed as inherent to members of a group because of their physical or cultural traits.” It goes beyond skin tone to include various attributes including cultural traits – be it language, clothing, or religious practices.

Other academic research explore the gendered, intersectional ways racialisation targets Muslim women.

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, Hijab, London, Metropolitan Police, News

Teacher suspended after students shown ‘offensive’ image of Prophet Mohammed

A West Yorkshire teacher has been suspended after reportedly showing an “offensive” caricature of the Prophet Mohammed during a religious studies lesson, sparking a protest outside the school.

Protesters had gathered outside Batley Grammar School, near Bradford, on Thursday, following claims a member of staff had shown students a cartoon deemed offensive to the Islamic faith.

Pictures circulating on social media earlier in the day showed dozens of people stood outside the school gates, partially blocking the road.

The school has “unequivocally” apologised for showing “totally inappropriate” material to children and said a member of staff has been suspended pending an investigation.

Dr Abdul Shaikh, a local academic in Batley and Muslim activist, said he had heard about the incident on social media on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “I was shocked like many Muslims in the town that Muslim school children’s religious sensitivities were completely ignored by the school teacher who decided to show an offensive image that lampooned the noble Prophet Mohammed.

“Every Muslim around the world holds the Prophet in the highest esteem.

“I feel that the school should be allowed to complete their investigation in due course and find a fair and adequate solution that satisfies first and foremost Muslim pupils, their parents and the wider Muslim community in Batley.

“This situation should not be allowed to happen again for the sake of community cohesion in the area.”

West Yorkshire Police said they were called to the protest at around 7.30am on Thursday.

A police spokesman said the school road had been closed for a short time, no arrests were made and no fines were issued.

In a statement, Batley Grammar School head teacher Gary Kibble said: “The school unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lesson.

“The member of staff has also given their most sincere apologies.

“We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school.

“It is important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs, but this must be done in a sensitive way.

“The member of staff has been suspended pending an independent formal investigation.”

In a letter addressed to Mr Kibble and shared online, founder of Batley-based charity Purpose Of Life, Mohammad Sajad Hussain, said he was “deeply hurt” by the “insulting caricatures of our beloved Prophet Mohammed”.

He said the charity is unwilling to work with or promote the school until the teacher is “permanently removed”.

However, the National Secular Society branded the protest as an “attempt to impose an Islamic blasphemy taboo on a school”.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the National Secular Society, said: “Teachers must have a reasonable degree of freedom to explore sensitive subjects and enable students to think critically about them.

“And the school’s weak response will fuel a climate of censorship, which is brought on by attempts to force society as a whole to accommodate unreasonable and reactionary religious views.”

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Categories: Batley Grammar School, Blasphemy, Cartoons, News, Prophet Muhammad, teacher, West Yorksire

Two men charged after windows broken at Derby mosque

Two men have been charged in connection with criminal damage at a mosque in Derby.

Derbyshire Police were called to the Faizan-e-Madina mosque in Malcolm Street in the early hours of Sunday (March 21) after reports that windows had been broken.

Scott Mouser, 33, of Hartington Street, Derby and Jason Mouser, 26, of Aston Close, Chellaston, were charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage.

The men appeared before a magistrates court the following day and are out on bail pending their next court date, and bail conditions prevent them from going within 100 metres of the mosque.

Tell MAMA provides tailored security advice for mosques and free safety tips to download.


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Categories: criminal damage, Derybshire, hate crime, mosque, News

Turkey pulls out of European treaty protecting women

Turkey has withdrawn from a European treaty protecting women from violence that it was the first to sign 10 years ago and that bears the name of its largest city.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decree annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a blow to women’s rights advocates, who say the agreement is crucial to combating domestic violence.

The Council of Europe’s secretary general, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, called the decision “devastating”.

“This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond,” she said.

The Istanbul Convention states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent gender-based violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

Some officials from Mr Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party have advocated a review of the agreement, arguing it encourages divorce and undermines the traditional family, which they say are contrary to the country’s conservative values.

Critics also claim the treaty promotes homosexuality through the use of categories like gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. They see that as a threat to Turkish families.

Hate speech has been on the rise in Turkey, including the interior minister who described LGBT people as “perverts” in a tweet. Mr Erdogan has rejected their existence altogether.

Women’s groups and their allies who have been protesting to keep the convention intact immediately called for demonstrations across the country under the slogan “Withdraw the decision, implement the treaty”. They said their years-long struggle would not be erased in one night.

Rights groups say violence against and killing of women is on the rise in Turkey but the interior minister called that a “complete lie”.

A total of 77 women have been killed since the start of the year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform. Some 409 women were killed in 2020, with dozens found dead under suspicious circumstances, according to the group.

Advocacy group Women’s Coalition Turkey said the withdrawal from a human rights agreement was a first in Turkey. “It is clear that this decision will further encourage the murderers of women, harassers, rapists,” their statement said.

Turkey’s minister for family, labour and social policies tweeted that women’s rights are still protected by Turkish laws and the judicial system is “dynamic and strong enough” to enact new regulations. Zehra Zumrut Selcuk also tweeted the government would continue to have “zero tolerance” for violence against women.

Mr Erdogan has repeatedly stressed the “holiness” of the family and called on women to have three children. His communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said the government’s motto was “Powerful Families, Powerful Society”.

Many women suffer physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or partners, but up-to-date official statistics are unavailable. The Istanbul Convention requires states to collect data.

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Categories: News

Police investigating racist and misogynistic harassment of Muslim woman on dating app

A Muslim woman had to involve the police due to the ongoing anti-Muslim and Islamophobic harassment she faced from a man on a dating app.

Having spoken with him initially, she had decided not to message further – his replies, however, grew more abusive and hateful – a mix of racist and misogynistic abuse.

He would write messages like “you’re not talking to me” before bombarding her with statements like “you’re a gold digger”, “you’re dirty and cheap”, “all Arabs and Muslims are dirty, cheap, and gold-digging”, and “you’re a bloody Muslim.”

Other statements shared with Tell MAMA include messages like “f****** Indian”, “stupid little girl”, and “you don’t even know how to speak good English, you dirty little sl**”. Other misogynistic abuse included a message where he called her a “b****”.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, she described how the abuse left her unable to sleep, adding that men act like this when women reject their advances.

The Metropolitan Police investigation remains ongoing, as Tell MAMA liaises on behalf of the woman impacted.

She described the perpetrator as being a South Asian male in his mid-to-late thirties, with the abuse beginning early last month, and consented for Tell MAMA to write this story anonymously.

More broadly, academics have explored the dangers of “gendered cyberhate“, misogyny, malicious trolling (and the personality-oriented characteristic of web trolls), racism on dating apps.

Much has also been writing about racism, fetishisation, and algorithmic bias on dating apps in the news media.

The intersection of misogyny with anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia continues to be a critical trend in annual and research reports and case studies from Tell MAMA.

Whilst a clear majority of reports to Tell MAMA in the online world on Facebook and Twitter, we urge those who experience or witness abuse on other digital platforms – be it dating apps, newspaper comments, message boards, or other social media platforms to report in confidence or anonymously through the Tell MAMA app (for iOS and Android) or online.

The post Police investigating racist and misogynistic harassment of Muslim woman on dating app appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: dating app, hate crime, Metropolitan Police, News, online

New Zealand marks two years since Christchurch mosque killings

New Zealand on Saturday marked the second anniversary of one of its most traumatic days, when 51 worshippers were killed at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.

Several hundred people gathered at the Christchurch Arena for the remembrance service, which was also live-streamed.

A similar service planned for last year was cancelled at short notice due to the sudden spread of the coronavirus.

Kiran Munir, whose husband Haroon Mahmood was killed in the attacks, told the crowd she had lost the love of her life and her soulmate.

She said her husband was a loving father of their two children. He had just finished a doctoral degree and was looking forward to his graduation ceremony when she last saw his smiling face.

“Little did I know that the next time I would see him the body and soul would not be together,” she said.

“Little did I know that the darkest day in New Zealand’s history had dawned. That day my heart broke into a thousand pieces, just like the hearts of the 50 other families.”

Temel Atacocugu, who survived being shot nine times during the attack on the Al Noor mosque, said the slaughter was caused by racism and ignorance.

“They were attacks on all of humanity,” he said.

He said the survivors would never be able to erase the pain in their hearts and would never be the same.

“However, the future is in our hands,” he said. “We will go on and we will be positive together.”

In the March 15, 2019, attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant killed 44 people at the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers before driving to the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more.

Last year Tarrant, 30, pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism, He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the attacks, New Zealand quickly passed new laws banning the deadliest types of semiautomatic weapons.

During the service, the names of each of the 51 people who were killed were read out. The efforts of first responders, including police and medics, were also acknowledged.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd that when preparing her speech, she had been at a loss for what to say because words would never change what happened.

“But while words cannot perform miracles, they do have the power to heal,” she said.

The Muslim community had experienced hatred and racism even before the attacks, she said, and words should be used for change.

“There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15,” Ms Ardern said.

“Much of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation.”

Read more: William’s emotional speech to Christchurch mosque survivors

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Categories: Anniversary, Brenton Tarrant, Christchurch, New Zealand, News

Sri Lanka announces plan to ban burka and close Islamic schools

Sri Lanka announced plans to ban the wearing of burkas and said it would close more than 1,000 Islamic schools known as madrassas, citing national security.

The country’s minister of public security Sarath Weerasekara said he signed a paper on Friday seeking the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to ban burkas — outer garments that cover the body and face worn by some Muslim women.

“The burka has a direct impact on national security,” Mr Weerasekara told a ceremony at a Buddhist temple on Saturday, without elaborating.

“In our early days, we had a lot of Muslim friends, but Muslim women and girls never wore the burka,” Mr Weerasekara said, according to video footage sent by his ministry.

“It is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently.

“We will definitely ban it.”

The wearing of burkas was temporarily banned in 2019 after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 260 people.

Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have been blamed for the attacks at six locations — two Roman Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three top hotels.

Mr Weerasekara also said the government will ban more than 1,000 madrassas, saying they are not registered with the authorities and do not follow the national education policy.

The decision to ban burkas and madrassas is the latest move affecting the Indian Ocean island nation’s minority Muslims.

Muslims make up about 9% of the 22 million people in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists account for more than 70% of the population.

Ethnic minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus, comprise about 15% of the population.

Read more: Buddhist mobs target Sri Lanka’s Muslims despite state of emergency

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Categories: ban, Burka, Madrassas, national security, News, Sri Lanka