May 1. Rana Irfan Aslam, a 51-year-old shopkeeper from Dundee, was sentenced to one year in prison for grooming a 12-year-old girl for sex during an 18-month period 20 years ago. The judge said it was the maximum possible sentence for the crime as Aslam did not engage in sexual intercourse with the girl. The court heard that Aslam gave the girl gifts of money, perfume and alcohol before sexually abusing her at various locations in Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross and Fife between August 1998 and August 2000. In a blog post, Natasha Phillips, an expert on family law, explained that nuances in sentencing guidelines for non-recent abuse are resulting in unduly lenient sentences: “There are very real concerns about the way offenders of non-recent abuse continue to be sentenced and which bolster the view that unmerited leniency has managed to find its way into the system.”
May 1. Lewis Ludlow, a 26-year-old convert to Islam from Rochester, was charged with planning “a large scale multiple casualty vehicle-borne attack” on tourist hotspots in London. He was also charged with trying to join the Islamic State, in the Philippines.
May 1. Karen Sunderland, a Tory candidate for Town Council in Lewisham, London, was suspended after comparing Islam to Nazism on social media. Her offending tweet read: “Love your optimism. The thing is, religion undermines the hard fought for values and tolerances of progressed countries…suppresses free speech and is auto immune from criticism. This is toxic and where the hostility comes from. Religion is totalitarian. Islam has become the new Nazism.”
May 2. Jamie Janson, a 42-year-old British aristocrat who travelled to Syria to fight against the Islamic State, was arrested when he arrived back in Britain on a bus from France. Janson volunteered with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and fought against the Islamic State in Syria. Pro-Kurdish campaigners were angered by the arrest, which came after two other Britons were charged for fighting with the YPG. Mark Campbell, of the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, accused the British government of weakening the fight against ISIS and other jihadi groups: “Theresa May should spend more time opposing Turkey’s aggression against the best fighters against ISIS, the Kurds, and less time attempting to criminalize UK anti-ISIS volunteers on behalf of the Turkish regime.”
May 2. Mohammed Zahir Khan, a 40-year-old shopkeeper from Sunderland, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for encouraging terrorism, disseminating a terror publication and stirring up religious hatred. Newcastle Crown Court heard how Khan, who is originally from Birmingham, shared messages on social media in which he said Shia Muslims should be burnt alive. He also posted on Facebook a statement about martyrs and an image of the Islamic State’s flag.
May 2. The Women’s Wellbeing Clinic at Cardiff Royal Infirmary became the first clinic in Wales to provide medical and psychological help to victims of female genital mutilation (FGM). An estimated 2,000 women and girls in Wales are living with FGM. According to the BBC, one case of FGM was discovered on average every three days by maternity staff in Wales in 2016.
May 4. The Independent Press Standards Organization, the independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in Britain, ordered the Daily Star, a tabloid newspaper, to publish a correction for an article that wrongly claimed that a “hijab row” would force all McDonald’s restaurants in the London borough of Islington to close. The Muslim Council of Britain, a Muslim umbrella group, complained that the article’s headline was misleading.
May 6. Melanie Phillips, a conservative columnist, ignited a firestorm of criticism after she said on BBC TV’s Sunday Politics that there is no equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia:
“Anti-Semitism is not just a form of racism, it is a unique derangement that is based entirely on lies and demonization. The same cannot be said of what is considered Islamophobia. The term Islamophobia itself is used to cover-up legitimate criticism of Muslims or the Islamic community.”
May 9. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) warned Muslim glaucoma patients not to stop taking eye drop medication during Ramadan because stopping drops even for a short period of time can cause permanent loss of vision. Some Muslims have stopped using their eye drops during Ramadan, believing that using them will break their fast. IGA Development Manager Subhash Suthar said:
“We want to reassure the Muslim community that drops can be taken before dawn and after sunset (known as Suhoor and Iftar), when food and drink can be consumed. We also suggest that patients close the tear duct when taking eye drops (known as punctual occlusion) as this means that fluid stays in the eye and does not drain into the throat and so cannot be tasted.”
May 9. The Sentencing Council, an independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines for courts to use when passing a sentence, published changes for public order offenses, which include stirring up hatred against people on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation. If approved, judges would be able to increase punishments for offenders who are “in a position of trust, authority or influence and abuse their position to stir up hatred.” The Independent reported that having a high number of followers on social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, could be among the factors considered when making sentencing decisions. The Telegraph noted that the changes would give courts more power when sentencing Islamic hate preachers. The changes, however, could also be used to silence outspoken critics of Islam.
May 9. The Sunday Telegraph paid “substantial damages” to Mohammed Kozbar, the general secretary of Finsbury Park mosque, after it falsely portrayed him as a supporter of violent lslamist extremism, according to the Guardian. Finsbury Park mosque was once run by the radical preacher Abu Hamza before it was shut down in 2003. Kozbar said he has since worked to rebuild the mosque’s reputation and sued the Telegraph in order to take a stand against “Islamophobic media coverage.” The Telegraph removed the article from its website, published a ruling accepting that the article was defamatory, and paid damages of around £30,000 (€34,000; $40,000) to settle the case.
May 10. The trial began of Safaa Boular, an 18-year-old would-be jihadi from London, who is accused of plotting a gun and grenade attack at the British Museum after her attempts to become a jihadi bride were thwarted. Jurors at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, commonly referred to as the Old Bailey, heard how Boular decided to become a “martyr” after her Islamic State fighter fiancé was killed in Syria. Boular pled not guilty to two counts of preparing acts of terrorism. Her older sister, Rizlaine Boular, 22, her mother Mina Dich, 44, and their family friend Khawla Barghouthi, 21, have already pled guilty to terrorism charges, in what has been called Britain’s first all-female jihadist plot. They will be sentenced later this year.
May 10. The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a specialized agency of the Home Office, reported 1,196 cases of potential or actual forced marriages in Britain in 2017. The victims in around 80% of cases were female; 256 of the victims were male. Where the age was known, 15.6% of cases involved victims below 16 years of age, and 29.7% involved under-18 year olds. The largest proportion of cases (17.9%) involved victims between the ages of 18 and 21. In 2017, children residing in Britain were sent to 65 different countries to undergo forced marriages. The top four countries with the highest number of cases in 2017 were: Pakistan, 439 cases (36.7%); Bangladesh, 129 cases (10.8%); Somalia, 91 cases (7.6%); and India, 82 cases (6.9%). In 2017, 120 (10%) of the cases had no overseas element, with the potential or actual forced marriage taking place entirely within the UK.
May 10. Yousef Abdul Latif Jameel, a businessman and philanthropist, donated £850,000 (€911,000; $1,075,000) to support scholarships at Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam. The center, part of the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, was established in 2005 for research and teaching about Islam and Muslims in Britain.
For the full monthly report, go to https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12480/islam-multiculturalism-britain-may