by Soeren Kern
March 1. A new Channel 4 documentary series called “Extremely British Muslims” showed the inner workings of a sharia court inside Birmingham’s Central Mosque. In the first episode, viewers witnessed the case of mother-of-four Fatima, 33, as she sought permission to divorce her drug dealer husband she says has abused her throughout their 14-year marriage. According to sharia law, Muslim women must plead their divorce cases in court, while Muslim men need only to say the words “I divorce you” three times to obtain a divorce. Birmingham Central Mosque said it allowed the sharia proceedings to be filmed in an effort to “break down misconceptions about Islam.” Some 100 sharia courts in Britain are now dispensing Islamic justice outside the remit of the British legal system.
March 2. English actor Riz Ahmed warned that the lack of Muslim faces on British television was alienating young people, driving them towards extremism and into the arms of the Islamic State. Delivering Channel 4’s annual diversity lecture in Parliament, Ahmed said that television had a pivotal role to play in ensuring that Muslims felt heard, and valued, in British society:
“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism. In the mind of the ISIS recruit, he’s the next James Bond right? Have you seen some of those ISIS propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories — that they are valued? If we don’t step up and tell a representative story we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with ISIS in Syria.”
March 3. The Amateur Swimming Association changed its swimsuit regulations to allow Muslim women to wear full body outfits, after a request from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation. The rule was changed to encourage more Muslim women to take part in the sport. Rimla Akhtar, from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, said:
“Participation in sport amongst Muslim women is increasing at a rapid pace. It is imperative that governing bodies adapt and tailor their offerings to suit the changing landscape of sport, including those who access their sport.”
March 4. Ryan Counsell, 28, a jihadist from Nottingham who left his wife and two small children to fight with the Abu Sayyaf Islamist group in the Philippines, blamed his behavior on the Brexit vote. He told the Woolwich Crown Court that increased tension within the local Muslim community after Brexit sparked his decision to leave. He said that he wanted to escape Britain’s political climate and seek an “idyllic life” under sharia law. He was arrested at Stansted airport in July 2016 and was later sentenced to eight years in prison.
March 5. Homegrown terrorism inspired by the Islamic State poses the dominant threat to the national security of the United Kingdom, according to a comprehensive new report on violent Islamism in Britain. The 1,000-page report — “Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015)” — was published by the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank based in London.
The report found that number of Islamism-related offenses (IROs) in Britain doubled between 2011 and 2015 from 12 to 23 a year. More than half (52%) of IROs were committed by individuals of South Asian ancestry: British-Pakistanis (25%) and British-Bangladeshis (8%). Other offenders had family ties to countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Forty-seven percent of IROs were committed by individuals born in the UK.
The also report showed a clear link between terrorism and growing up in Muslim-dominated neighborhoods. London was the place of residence of 43% of IROs, followed by West Midlands, with 18%. Of the latter, 80% of IROs were in Birmingham. The third most common region was North West England, with 10% of IROs. Together, these three regions contained the residences in almost three-quarters (72%) of cases. East London was home to half (50%) the London-based offenders, while the three most common boroughs — Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest — contained the residence of offenders’ in 38% of all London IROs (and 16% overall).
March 6. British security services have prevented 13 potential terror attacks since June 2013, according to Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer. He also said that there were 500 live counter-terror investigations at any given time, and that investigators have been arresting terror suspects at a rate of close to one a day since 2014. The official threat level for international terrorism in the UK has stood at severe — meaning an attack is “highly likely” — for more than two years.
March 7. The National Health Service (NHS) revealed that there were 2,332 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain between October and December 2016. That brought the total of new cases in 2016 to nearly 5,500.
March 7. The managers of the cash-strapped Sandwell General Hospital near Birmingham are considering the construction of a special kitchen for preparing halal meals for Muslim patients and staff. The move follows complaints about the quality of halal meals that the hospital has outsourced to local vendors. A spokesman said: “We are still reviewing options around creating a separate halal kitchen and the best ways to provide a range of healthy halal options to patients and staff who want them.”
March 10. The BBC announced that it would begin outsourcing production of Songs of Praise, a Sunday worship program that has been produced in-house for 55 years. Critics of the move said they feared that Songs of Praise will lose its Christian focus in favor of Islam. Anglican priest Lynda Rose said a recent Songs of Praise episode featuring a segment about the Muslim faith, including Church of England children visiting a mosque, exemplified the “Islamization of the BBC.” More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling for MPs to investigate the BBC after it appointed Fatima Salaria as the BBC’s head of religious programming — the second Muslim in a row to hold the post.
March 11. Britain’s foreign aid budget is reportedly funding at least two dozen Palestinian schools, some of which are named after terrorists and murderers and which openly promote terrorism and encourage pupils to see child killers as role models. A Mail on Sunday investigation found pictures of “martyrs” posted on school walls, revolutionary slogans and symbols painted on premises used by youngsters, sports events named after teenage terrorists and children encouraged to act out shooting Israeli soldiers in plays.
Head teachers openly admitted to flouting attempts by British and European donors to control the curriculum at schools. They reportedly print overtly political study aids for pupils, some even denying the existence of Israel, while teachers boast of encouraging pupils to emulate teenage “martyrs” killed in terrorist attacks in the region.
One senior teacher from a prominent West Bank school, when asked what he would say to a pupil threatening to attack Israelis, said: “I would tell them go in the name of Allah.”
March 11. Islamic preachers may be asked to begin delivering their sermons in English under measures being prepared to rid Britain of hate preaching. The Telegraph reported that the government’s counter-extremism taskforce is working on the plans amid concern that preaching in foreign languages enforces divisions between Islam and mainstream British society and can foster radicalization.
March 12. An Islamic bookstore in Alum Rock, a predominately Muslim suburb of Birmingham that has produced 10% of all of Britain’s convicted terrorists, was found to be openly selling books promoting jihad. The Sunday Express visited the Madina Book Centre and bought a copy of the 440-page “Bringing up Children in Islam” for £5 ($6). The book encourages parents to “keep alive in the children the spirit of jihad.” It says:
“They [your children] may be inspired to strive for the restoration of the glory of Islam and Muslims. Jihad of warfare is where all humans spend their energies to stop a tyrant from being oppressive, for example when a tyrant makes it difficult for people to fulfill the commands of Allah to propagate Islam.
“Tyrants must be subdued whether they rule in an Islamic or non-Islamic land, or whether they are on a battlefield.
“It is the duty of Muslims to divert people from worshipping created things to the worship of the Almighty Allah alone.”
The book also rails against cinema and theater, arguing they are the work of “evil-minded” Jews, and warns of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The book supports adulterers being stoned to death and Muslim schoolchildren being kept separate from others: “Education under unbelieving and atheist teachers results in them going astray. Dangerous, communistic and materialistic ideas grow in their minds.”
March 14. A father who describes himself as “Anglo-Saxon” lost a legal battle to prevent his Muslim ex-wife from sending their 10-year-old son to an Islamic secondary school. The man, who was not named for legal reasons, said he wanted to prevent his son from attending a “school inside a mosque” on the grounds that he would be “marginalized” by his son if he enrolled at the London-based school. The man’s lawyer said that the mother and father had “different world views” and that it was client’s wish that his son be educated in a “neutral” environment. The man and his ex-wife, both in their 40s, had divorced more than three years ago following a nine-year marriage. The man had converted to Islam but renounced his faith following the separation. The lawyer argued that the boy’s Muslim faith could be adequately catered for at a secular school. A High Court judge dismissed the man’s appeal on the grounds that an earlier ruling made by a judge at a family court — that the man would not be marginalized by his son — was correct.
March 15. Lawyers warned that a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which allows employers to ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves at work under certain conditions, will not automatically apply in Britain. The ECJ ruled that prohibiting the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination. The judgment was delivered in cases brought by two employees, one in Belgium and one in France, who were dismissed for refusing to remove headscarves. Lawyers said that British companies adopting the ban could easily be sued for discrimination.
To read about what happened in the second half of March, go to Gatestone Institute.