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  • Morocco 'bans the sale and production of the burka'

    Afghan women wait to cast their ballot at a polling station dressed in blue and white burkasTwo women wearing the niqab walk on the beach in CasablancaImage copyrightAFPImage captionMorocco has not made any official announcement on the policy

    Morocco has banned the sale, production and import of the burka, according to local reports.

    Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.

    There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to "security concerns".

    It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.

    A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that "bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes".

    The burka, which covers the entire face and body, is not widely worn in Morocco, with most women favouring the hijab, which does not shroud the face.

    Women in Salafist circles, and in more conservative regions in the north, are more likely to wear the niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered.

    The decision has split opinion in the North African kingdom, led by King Mohammed VI, who favours a moderate version of Islam.

    Image copyrightREUTERSImage captionThe burka is not popular in Morocco. Pictured: Women in Afghanistan wearing burkas

    Hammad Kabbaj, a preacher barred from standing in parliamentary elections in October over his alleged ties to "extremism", denounced the ban as "unacceptable", mocking the "Morocco of freedom and human rights" which "considers the wearing of the Western swimsuit on the beaches an untouchable right".

    Meanwhile, the Northern Moroccan National Observatory for Human Development said it considered the measure an "arbitrary decision that is an indirect violation of women's freedom of expression and wearing what reflects their identities or their religious, political or social beliefs".

    But Nouzha Skalli, a former family and social development minister, welcomed the ban as "an important step in the fight against religious extremism".

    Read more »
  • Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules

    Swiss Muslim girls must learn to swim with boys, court rules

    File photo: Students swim across the pool during a training session, Singapore, 2006Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionThe court ruled Switzerland was justified in enforcing the "full school curriculum"

    Switzerland has won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obliging Muslim parents to send their children to mixed swimming lessons.

    It said authorities were justified in giving precedence to enforcing "the full school curriculum" and the children's "successful integration" into society.

    The ECHR acknowledged that religious freedom was being interfered with.

    But judges said it did not amount to a violation.

    The case was brought by two Swiss nationals, of Turkish origin, who refused to send their teenage daughters to the compulsory mixed lessons in the city of Basel.

    Education officials, however, said that exemptions were available only for girls who had reached the age of puberty - which the girls had not reached at the time.

    In 2010, after a long-running dispute, the parents were ordered to pay a combined fine of 1,400 Swiss Francs ($1,380, £1,136) "for acting in breach of their parental duty".

    They argued that such treatment was a violation of article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    The chamber of the ECHR is seen in this file photo, with the European flag on the floor and seat for the panel in a circle around itImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionThe controversial case was decided on at the European Court of Human Rights

    In a statement, the ECHR said the refusal to exempt the girls had interfered with the right to freedom of religion.

    But it also said the law involved was designed to "protect foreign pupils from any form of social exclusion" and Switzerland was free to design its education system according to its own needs and traditions.

    Schools, it said, played an important role in social integration, and exemptions from some lessons are "justified only in very exceptional circumstances".


    Swimming, burkinis, and integration

    • In 2016, officials in Basel suspended the citizenship process for the family of two teenage Muslim brothers who refused to shake hands with female teachers.
    • Switzerland has also applied the law to other cases - a man of Bosnian origin was fined last year for refusing to allow his daughter to take part in swimming lessons during school hours, among other activities.
    • Germany also battled with the issue of mixed swimming lessons in 2013, when a judge ruled that a 13-year-old girl must attend - but allowed the wearing of a burkini.
    • In France, in 2009, a woman was banned from swimming in a public pool in her burkini. That would be followed in 2016 by a controversial official ban on the garment in public spaces - which was eventually overturned by French courts.
    • France, Belgium, and the Netherlands all have bans on Muslim veils in public, to varying degrees.
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  • Sudan Scholars - 'Tobacco Not Allowed in Islam'

     

    Khartoum — Last week, the head of the Sudan Scholars Corporation issued a religious decree banning tobacco.

    Sheikh Mohamed Osman Saleh, head of the Sudanese Scholars Corporation told the state-owned Sudan News Agency (SUNA) last week that tobacco is forbidden in Islam.

    The use of tobacco is no less dangerous and evil than the use of drugs, Saleh said.

    He demanded the Sudanese security apparatus to combat the cultivation, sale, and use of tobacco in all parts of the country.

     
     

    Asked about the donation of the North Darfur government of 10,000 tons of tobacco in support of the ruling National Congress Party, the sheikh said that the gift consisted of various in-kind materials. He accused the Sudanese media of highlighting the tobacco item, "for the purpose of creating sensation and chaos".

    In response, former North Darfur government adviser on economic affairs Rashid Ismail told reporters in Khartoum that "the fierce attack against tobacco trade in the country has led to the idea that it is something abnormal".

    According to Ismail, "the recent campaign against tobacco is probably intended to hit the Darfur economy. It will put the livelihoods of 900,000 Darfuris at stake".

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  • Nigerian Pastor beaten into a coma after condoms fell from his bible while preaching

    Mayhem broke out at Toyota Bus stop, in front of the popular Ladipo Spare parts market, this morning, when a Nigerian Bus Preacher was dragged out of a bus and beaten to a coma after Condoms allegedly fell out of his bible as he preached the 'Word of God'.

    The Pastor had embarked on his journey at Apapa and proceeded to preach to the people on the bus, using very strong words like "If you wear trouser you'll go to hell! The Devil invented Make up! Weave on is from Marine Kingdom! If you have pre-marital sex you will burn in hell and your skin will peel!"

    The people in the bus were so moved; some started falling under the anointing. Our eye witness, Mr. John Mbakogu, who was on his way to his shop at Ladipo told us:

    "People were just falling as he was laying hands. One man even fell out of the bus under the influence of the Spirit. It was amazing – until he raised his hands to cast demons out of one girl, and 2 Durex condoms fell out"

    The angry men on the bus who had been having pangs of guilt due to the pastor's preaching about sex suddenly got really angry and pounced on the pastor, who all of a sudden started shouting "I also preach safe sex! Safe sex is good!"

    Police in Nigeria had to be called to the scene to save the pastors life. So far 2 arrests have been made, and the Condoms have been kept as evidence.

     

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  • City Hall goes dark in support of trapped civilians in Aleppo

     

    Toronto City Hall is going dark Wednesday night as a show of support for civilians still trapped in heavily besieged eastern Aleppo.

    According to a media representative at City Hall, the Toronto Sign at Nathan Phillips Square will be dimmed at 7 p.m. in solidarity with Aleppo.

    The message was also Tweeted out by Cllr. Norm Kelly Wednesday afternoon.

    Aleppo, once the largest city in Syria, has been decimated by the ongoing civil war, and in recent weeks has seen scores of civilians killed in airstrikes and gunfights as government forces retake the eastern part of the city that served as an enclave for opposition rebel fighters.

    In late November, the UN estimated 275,000 residents were trapped in the area that’s been under siege since July.

    Civilians have been posting goodbye messages on social media in recent days as government troops advanced further into the streets of the former rebel stronghold, and although a ceasefire deal was reached Tuesday, it effectively collapsed by Wednesday morning as shelling resumed.

    With files from Associated Press

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  • Muslims and Hindus more likely to help someone being attacked than Christians, survey finds

     

    In a world that seems to be getting angrier and more hectic, lots of people have witnessed violent or aggressive incidents and wondered whether or not they should intervene.

    A thousand questions race through the mind: do you risk your own safety, are you actually witnessing what you think you are witnessing, and could getting involved even make things worse?

     

    new survey questioned 2,000 people about their willingness to intervene in an “extreme situation” and came up with some interesting findings. One was that greater percentage of people who identify as Muslims and Hindus said they would spring into action than Christians.

     

    Just 24 per cent of people said they would get out their phone and start videoing if they saw a police officer harassing an African American man for no reason, while 21 per cent said they would get out of it. Meanwhile - both typically and depressingly -  nearly twice as many people say would step in if they witnessed violence against a dog, rather than a person.

    The survey, entitled Bystander Backlash and which makes no claims to being entirely scientific, was conducted on behalf of Bay Alarm Medical, a California-based medical services company. 

     

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  • F.B.I. Monitored Muhammad Ali Connections to Nation of Islam

     

    The F.B.I. monitored Muhammad Ali and his ties to the Nation of Islam, newly released documents from 1966 show.

    The F.B.I. said in the 142 pages of documents that it had informants close to the Nation of Islam who let them know the details of Ali’s involvement with the group. That involvement first came into full view right after Ali first won the heavyweight title, by beating Sonny Liston in 1964.

    It was then that Ali affirmed he was a member of the group and that he would no longer be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali.

    Years later, Ali converted to orthodox Islam. But in 1966 the F.B.I. focus was on the Nation of Islam, which a hodgepodge of agency documents refer to as an “all-Negro, semireligious, antiwhite” organization. The records, which refer to Ali as Clay, show that the bureau was paying particularly close attention to the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.

    Any sign that Ali was growing closer to the group received scrutiny. His ordering and wearing of a captain’s uniform from the Fruit of Islam, the group’s paramilitary wing, was worth an entire memo. The documents also note several supposed disputes between Ali and the Nation of Islam, or Ali and Elijah Muhammad. One memo suggests Elijah Muhammad was “most upset” that Ali had allowed a reporter to follow him with a tape recorder.

    The bureau was also interested in any developments on the possibility that Ali would be drafted into the Army and whether he would seek conscientious-objector status. (The next year, Ali did decline to accept a draft call-up, resulting in the loss of his heavyweight title, although years later, he won it back more than once.)

    The significance of many of the documents was hard to gauge immediately because of redactions. Names of informants and others have been deleted. In a number of cases, Ali’s own name seems to have been redacted. Several pages are completely blank.

    Few details seemed too small for the F.B.I. to record. Ali’s divorce proceedings and traffic tickets are worth memos. All of the reports are cast in relation to the Nation of Islam and Ali’s faith in general. One memo highlights that in divorcing his first wife, Sonji, Ali said that she had not lived up to the Muslim faith, dressing immodestly and wearing lipstick.

    Although some of the documents are based on information from informants, others are simply newspaper and magazine clippings.

    One memo merely repeats a gossip item from Jet magazine speculating that Ali would marry one of the daughters of Gamal Abdel Nasser, then the president of Egypt. Ali did not, but the memo concludes, “The 9/29/66 issue of ‘Jet’ magazine is being retained in Chicago file 100-35635-B.”

    The documents include an angry letter from Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, then the head of the Selective Service system, blasting Ali and complaining that the news media was overly favorable to him. The letter, which was addressed to The Voice-Jeffersonian newspaper in Kentucky, said of the possibility of Ali’s traveling to Montreal for a fight, “This will be good riddance for the crowd supporting Cassius and his ilk.”

    In one document, the F.B.I. expresses displeasure with an article by The Chicago Daily News Service that contended that the bureau was watching Ali. The memo says the article was “irresponsible journalism based on supposition or a desire for sensationalism with a total disregard for or lack of the true facts.”

    That memo did acknowledge that the Nation of Islam was “under continuous investigation by this bureau for a number of years” but claimed that Ali himself was not the subject “of an active investigation.”

    In a May 1966 memo, the bureau says it is interested in Ali because of his notoriety and his “close relationship” with the Nation of Islam. But it says that it will not conduct an investigation into his activities for fear that he would charge the bureau with harassment.

    It concludes, “Should information be received indicating Clay is definite security threat, we would, of course, then institute active investigation of all his activities.”

     

    Read more »
  • F.B.I. Monitored Muhammad Ali Connections to Nation of Islam

     

    The F.B.I. monitored Muhammad Ali and his ties to the Nation of Islam, newly released documents from 1966 show.

    The F.B.I. said in the 142 pages of documents that it had informants close to the Nation of Islam who let them know the details of Ali’s involvement with the group. That involvement first came into full view right after Ali first won the heavyweight title, by beating Sonny Liston in 1964.

    It was then that Ali affirmed he was a member of the group and that he would no longer be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali.

    Years later, Ali converted to orthodox Islam. But in 1966 the F.B.I. focus was on the Nation of Islam, which a hodgepodge of agency documents refer to as an “all-Negro, semireligious, antiwhite” organization. The records, which refer to Ali as Clay, show that the bureau was paying particularly close attention to the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.

    Any sign that Ali was growing closer to the group received scrutiny. His ordering and wearing of a captain’s uniform from the Fruit of Islam, the group’s paramilitary wing, was worth an entire memo. The documents also note several supposed disputes between Ali and the Nation of Islam, or Ali and Elijah Muhammad. One memo suggests Elijah Muhammad was “most upset” that Ali had allowed a reporter to follow him with a tape recorder.

    The bureau was also interested in any developments on the possibility that Ali would be drafted into the Army and whether he would seek conscientious-objector status. (The next year, Ali did decline to accept a draft call-up, resulting in the loss of his heavyweight title, although years later, he won it back more than once.)

    The significance of many of the documents was hard to gauge immediately because of redactions. Names of informants and others have been deleted. In a number of cases, Ali’s own name seems to have been redacted. Several pages are completely blank.

    Few details seemed too small for the F.B.I. to record. Ali’s divorce proceedings and traffic tickets are worth memos. All of the reports are cast in relation to the Nation of Islam and Ali’s faith in general. One memo highlights that in divorcing his first wife, Sonji, Ali said that she had not lived up to the Muslim faith, dressing immodestly and wearing lipstick.

    Although some of the documents are based on information from informants, others are simply newspaper and magazine clippings.

    One memo merely repeats a gossip item from Jet magazine speculating that Ali would marry one of the daughters of Gamal Abdel Nasser, then the president of Egypt. Ali did not, but the memo concludes, “The 9/29/66 issue of ‘Jet’ magazine is being retained in Chicago file 100-35635-B.”

    The documents include an angry letter from Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, then the head of the Selective Service system, blasting Ali and complaining that the news media was overly favorable to him. The letter, which was addressed to The Voice-Jeffersonian newspaper in Kentucky, said of the possibility of Ali’s traveling to Montreal for a fight, “This will be good riddance for the crowd supporting Cassius and his ilk.”

    In one document, the F.B.I. expresses displeasure with an article by The Chicago Daily News Service that contended that the bureau was watching Ali. The memo says the article was “irresponsible journalism based on supposition or a desire for sensationalism with a total disregard for or lack of the true facts.”

    That memo did acknowledge that the Nation of Islam was “under continuous investigation by this bureau for a number of years” but claimed that Ali himself was not the subject “of an active investigation.”

    In a May 1966 memo, the bureau says it is interested in Ali because of his notoriety and his “close relationship” with the Nation of Islam. But it says that it will not conduct an investigation into his activities for fear that he would charge the bureau with harassment.

    It concludes, “Should information be received indicating Clay is definite security threat, we would, of course, then institute active investigation of all his activities.”

     

    Read more »
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