Interim leader says Muslims should sign a document renouncing parts of the Qur’an
Ukip’s interim leader, Gerard Batten, has reiterated his belief that Islam is a “death cult” and called for Muslims to be asked to sign a document renouncing parts of the Qur’an, in remarks that risk pushing the beleaguered party even further away from the mainstream.
Batten, an MEP for London, took over as party head on Saturday after Henry Bolton was removed at an emergency general meeting of party members, called when Bolton refused to step down following controversy about his personal affairs.
Jewish and Muslim leaders condemn first European country to propose ban
Iceland is poised to become the first European country to outlaw male circumcision amid signs that the ritual common to both Judaism and Islam may be a new battleground over religious freedom.
A bill currently before the Icelandic parliament proposes a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone carrying out a circumcision other than for medical reasons. Critics say the move, which has sparked alarm among religious leaders across Europe, would make life for Jews and Muslims in Iceland unsustainable.
Religion is growing in importance, for good and ill. Studying it teaches us about ourselves – even if we don’t believe
Why should anyone wish to learn about religion? Religion is, in the phrase of the sociologist Linda Woodhead, “a toxic brand”. In the public imagination the word summons up images of violence, patriarchy and irrationalism. The facile confidence of the “New Atheist” movement in the early years of this century was pushing at an open door. Religious studies nevertheless remains a surprisingly popular A-level subject, although this may owe something to its reputation as an easy one. A recent YouGov poll found that the British public thinks that RE is a subject scarcely more important than Latin, which the public, wrongly, does not care about at all. The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education has just launched an appeal for more teachers.
The association is quite right: religious education matters a great deal. At the very least it can function as a kind of ethnography, teaching people about the customs and beliefs of different religious cultures – something that is obviously desirable in a multicultural society. To know that Muslims and Jews won’t eat pork, or that Hindus regard cows as sacred, is really just a part of civics. There is nothing specifically religious about such teaching, even if it is by convention part of religious education. It could just as well be taught under geography or history, subjects profoundly influenced by the beliefs and actions of religious people. The real task of RE is much more ambitious.
Amanda Spielman to appear before MPs after giving her ‘full support’ to primary school headteacher
MPs are to quiz Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, about her controversial backing for a ban on girls wearing the hijab, following complaints from Muslim community leaders.
Parliament’s education select committee will question Spielman, the head of Ofsted, next month over her vocal support for a primary school in east London that barred girls under eight from wearing the headscarf – a move the school’s headteacher swiftly reversed after complaints from parents.
A bitter legal row in an affluent New Jersey town shows the new face of Islamophobia in the age of Trump. By Andrew Rice
Forty years ago, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, a Pakistani-born economist, made his home outside New York City. He came for an executive job at the telecoms company AT&T, and ended up working there for decades. Like many immigrants to the US, Chaudry came to wholeheartedly believe – perhaps more fervently than his native-born neighbours – in the triumphal story that Americans tell about their nation: how it was always growing stronger through change, melding the many into one through the process of assimilation. Chaudry was a devout Muslim. But to him, it always seemed the things that made him different mattered less than the ways in which he had proved he was the same.
Chaudry and his wife, who is from Italy, raised three children on a street called Manor Drive, in the town of Basking Ridge, in the centre of the state of New Jersey. This is not the “Jersey” of popular imagination – the land of belching smokestacks immortalised in Bruce Springsteen’s working-class anthems. Basking Ridge is out in horse country, an area of rolling green hills and white-steepled churches, not far from Bedminster, where Donald Trump has his summer estate. In keeping with the values of his adopted community, Chaudry became an active member of the local Republican party and a conspicuous civic presence, running for various elected boards. In 2004, at the height of George W Bush’s war in Iraq, Chaudry became the first Pakistani-American to serve as mayor of a municipality in the US.
Mashal Khan, 23, was stripped, beaten and shot by a gang made up mostly of students last April before being thrown from the second floor of his dormitory at Abdul Wali Khan university in the north-western city of Mardan.
Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat sought permission to build larger building for 9,000 worshippers
A temporary east London mosque that has been refused planning permission faces demolition after a high court ruling.
The Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat had sought permission to build a permanent mosque on a 17-acre site near the Olympic Park in Stratford. Its plans to provide a place of worship for around 9,000 people were opposed by Newham council in 2012.
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