Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In Brief: Mosque opponents claim Islam not a religion

In Brief: Mosque opponents claim Islam not a religion

Posted: 04 Oct 2010 10:32 PM PDT

Angry anti-mosque protesters. Image: Dipti Vaidya, USA Today

My God is better than your God.

That's the dispute at the heart of recent hearings in a lawsuit aimed at derailing the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. What started as a zoning issue has turned into a fight over theology and the role of government in recognizing religion.

Mosque opponents say that Islam is not a real religion. They argued in a Rutherford County courthouse last week that the world's second-largest faith, with its 1.6 billion followers, is actually a political movement.

Opponents say local Muslims want to replace the Constitution with an Islamic legal code called Shariah law.

Read more HERE.

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Brit schools criticized for requiring niqab or burqa

Posted: 04 Oct 2010 07:38 PM PDT

Three UK Muslim girls' schools are being criticized for requiring students to wear the niqab or burqa when arriving and departing from school. At least one may have been partially taxpayer-subsidized.

Madani Girls' School in east London; Jamea Al Kauthar in Lancaster; and Jameah Girls' Academy in Leicester are private Muslim all-girls' schools. The Telegraph reports that each has a formal policy requiring students to arrive and depart wearing either the burqa or a headscarf with full veil upon arrival and departure. Critics decry the practice, enforced upon girls aged 11 to 18, as brainwashing, separatist, and damaging to cultural relations.

On its website, for example, Madani Girls' School explains, "If we oppose the lifestyle of the west then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system, which represents that lifestyle, should educate our children."

Jamea Al Kauthar requires its students not to bring family photographs to school, and prohibits them from cutting their hair or plucking their unibrows, under threat of suspension.

While these schools are presently private and require parents to pay tuition for their girls to attend, some critics are concerned that they will seek to become free — taxpayer supported — schools. Anastasia de Waal of think-tank Civitas expressed this very concern:

We now have a scenario where schools such as these will be able to apply to become free schools, under the Government's policy, and therefore receive state funding. We need absolute clarity on what the position is going to be on such applications.

Imam Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Trust of Oxford, had similar concerns:

It means that Muslim children are being brainwashed into thinking they must segregate and separate themselves from mainstream society.

The use of taxpayers' money for such institutions should be absolutely opposed. The wearing of the burka or niqab is a tribal custom and these garments are not even mentioned in the Koran.

Farfetched? A representative of the borough of Tower Hamlets in London comments, "The local authority is not currently in talks with [Madani Girls' School] to enable it to become voluntary aided but we were in talks previously."

The Tower Hamlets Council has recently come under fire for selling the school's property to it for 320,000 pounds below its current market value, based upon a deal struck in 2004. The sale was delayed for four years while the school raised funds to acquire the property, finally becoming able to purchase it in 2008.

Of greater import to some critics is the message sent both to the girls and to the surrounding society. The Quilliam Foundation, a think-tank focusing on countering extremism while creating a Western Muslim identity, takes a stance against this mandatory headgear. Quilliam's co-director Ed Husain comments:

It is absurd that schools are enforcing this outdated ritual – one that which sends out a damaging message that Muslims do not want to fully partake in British society.

The enforcing of the niqab on young girls is not a mainstream Islamic practice – either in Britain or in most Muslim-majority countries.

It is a desert practice which belongs to another century and another world.

None of the three schools returned the Telegraph's requests for comment.

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