Losing faith in Science
OF EVOLUTION IS UNDER ATTACK,WITH SOME SIGNIFICANT CONSEQUENCES SAYS
|As the bicentenary of
Darwin's birth approaches (in 2009) it looks as if his theory of evolution,
developed among the fauna and flora of the Galapagos may have to take a back
seat to older approaches to the reason Man exists. Creationism, the belief
that humans were created pretty much as is by God, appears to be taking hold.
|The surge has been at its most profound in the
US. A CBS News poll last October found that 51 per cent of Americans reject
the theory of evolution. This is having repercussions: last year, an exhibition
celebrating the life of Darwin at the American Museum of Natural History
in New York failed to find a corporate sponsor for its $l.7million operating
costs because companies were anxious not to take sides in the debate. Meanwhile,
the Creationist Museum, in Cincinnati, Ohio, attracted $3million in donations.
But the trend is not confined to the world's most powerful nation. According
to a study in July by opinion panel Research, nearly one in three students
in Britain shuns scientific evidence of the origins of man: while 56 per
cent believes in evolution theory.
Adjiedj Bakas, trendwatcher and author of Megatrends Europe, says:
'[Creationism] is on the rise because religious fervour in general is on
the rise. In the Netherlands 20 years ago, the majority of the Dutch population
called themselves atheists or agnostics. Now, 90 per cent believe again.
The minister of education wants to reintroduce creationism in Dutch schools.'
Bakas links the movement to a growing fear of extremism in other religions:
'[There is a belief that] you cannot beat Islam with
so you become religious again. Christianity is coming back but in a more
orthodox way. Teenagers love the Pope, they say: "He's strict, we understand
him, that's what we want.'
For those unable to swallow the strictures of creationist belief, there is
intelligent design, its 21st- century cousin, which also ascribes life to
some higher, but this time unspecified, intelligence. Last month, philosophers,
scientists and intellectuals gathered at the Vatican to discuss with the
Pope the benefits - or otherwise - of allowing the Church to become more
closely linked with intelligent design. 'Not everyone wants to see life as
something logical,' says Dr John Hall, Professor of Psychology at Oxford
University. [Intelligent design]
acknowledges there is emotion in the world that can't be explained by science.
So, in many ways, it is a compromise between old beliefs and new - a 21st
century view.' In June, however, the national science academies of 67 countries,
including Britain's Royal Society, issued a joint statement asking schools
worldwide to stop denying the facts of evolution. 'We urge decision-makers,
teachers and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries
of science and foster an understanding of the science of nature. Knowledge
of the natural world empowers people to meet human needs and protect the
planet.' The site of the debate is most patently the education system. Although
creationism is not taught as a subject in itself, different schools approach
science in different ways. At the University of Leeds, for example, creationism
has become a mandatory part of its zoology and genetics degrees - albeit
to show a contrast to
theories. Not all academics agree with this approach: 'It's not at all
good for the progression of education,' says Adrian Lister, professor of
biology at University College London. 'Creationism is based on faith,
whereas science is based on objective proof. What's more, it's unnecessary.
Science and religion are not mutually exclusive.' David Ward, spokesperson
for the Royal Society, agrees: 'It will create all kinds of problems in the
way students think if you present The Bible as fact. Education is based on
looking for evidence. The Bible says the world is 6,000 years old, where
years of gathering respected evidence shows Earth is 4.5billion years old.'
The Galapagos Conservation Trust and BRO Natural History
Unit present Galapagos Day at The Royal Geographical Society tomorrow from
6pm onwards. For more information visit
www.gct.org. The first pan of Galapagos,
a new three-part deoumentary for BBC Natural History and the National Geographic
Channel will he hroadcast on Friday on BBC2 at 9pm.
Dogma isn't a substitute for cold, hard fact
It comes as little surprise to me that people are so willing
to accept such rubbish as Creationism or
'intelligent design' as fact (Metro,
Tue). The increased exposure to religion in the media and the demise of critical
thinking allows people to feel justified in their beliefs that some higher
power rules their lives, and be less inclined to look at the 'difficult science'
reality of the universe. Creationism and ID are religious subjects and, if
taught, should be taught in religious studies lessons. It is simply incorrect
to suggest they are competing scientific theories. There is no science in
them, only religious dogma.
To say anything else risks confusing a generation of students and sending
our planet further into the arms of the delusional and religious, not to
mention undermining the efforts of thousands of hard-working scientists.
Edward Bozzard, London, E1
As a scientist who sees a divine design and order
to the universe, especially the Earth, I was delighted to read the article
highlighting what our existence is all about. However, what saddens me are
ill- informed comments by people such as David Ward, who states that 'the
Bible says the world is 6,000 years old'. That is inaccurate - he ought to
read it. The Bible says that 'in the beginning God created..', there is no
timescale as to when. Why is it that so many honest scientists run away from
the evidence of intelligent design out of fear?
In response to "scientist" Neil Sutcliffe (Metro,Wed) who sees "divine design
and order in the universe" - it is people such as he that are annoying people
like myself and Edward Bozzard - by confusing people - The bible date of
6-10,000 years has been computed by Bishop Usher as was stated in the Hillsboro
"Monkey Trials" and is obviously innacurate - scientists do not run
from Intelligent Design out of fear,but because it is provably erroneous
- evidence is the only thing which informs science and there is no evidence
of any design or purpose in this universe - for Neil's information - anything
which shows design or order can be explained by modern scientific theories
such as Chaos Theory and Complexity theory which show how
Order arises from Chaos spontaneously without the need for divine
intervention - if he does not know this then he cannot claim to be a
I was interested to read the piece on the origin of the
species.However, as I read in the subsequent pages about the latest ways
the human race has found to blow itself to smithereens, I was forced to conclude
there must be an alternative origin to those discussed as there is precious
little evidence for any form of creativity or intelligence.
Roland Finch, Newcastle
Your article about Scientology refers to it as a cult because
of 'abuse of members and harsh punishment for dissenters' and also brainwashing
[Metro Thu].How is this different from any other mainstream religion? They
all encourage beliefs in unproven doctrines and discourage members from
challenging these,often with serious repercussions for dissenters. Either
all religions are cults or all cults are religions,there really is no difference.
Vincenzo Benghiat,London SW17
This tension is driving me out of the country
Thank you Chris Furphy (Metro, Fri). Finally
someone has said it! I too feel a total lack of respect and manners from
a certain section of society in this country. For the record, I live in Leyton
and I am not a Muslim. Each day I feel the hostility bubbling on the streets
and I feel increasingly uncomfortable I am not a racist - I have many friends
of different races and religions - some family even, but within this community
there seems to be a sense - of separation. People walk around with rather
large chips on their shoulders and think that they are owed something more.
There is an obvious bitterness and resentment towards this country that provides
for them and I think it is time that they stop demanding, taking and complaining
and be thankful for what they have like everyone else - only then will we
all be able to live in harrnony without fear of a religious attack either
way. But from what I can see this is a long way off and I fear for the future
here. Fortunately for me it is only a matter of weeks before I leave this
once beloved country and I hope not to come back because I do not want my
children brought up in this toxic environment. Sadly, I am not the only one.
Sarah Fowkes, London E10
I despise all extremism, including the arrogant rubbish spouted
out by C Furphy. I'm not particularly religious either but Mr Furphy uses
this phrase as a caveat to write some gibberish about minorities showing
courtesy to their hosts'. I could easily talk about how some minorities are
proportionally some of the most highly educated and law-abiding citizens
and of British imperialists sucking colonies dry during the days of the Empire,
but I choose to be positive. Let's look through barriers and not impose our
views on other people through harsh words or extremist violence.
P Shah, Birmingham
Many Muslims unwilling to inform
|Almost one in ten British Muslims would not tell the police
if they suspected someone of their faith was involved in a terror atack,a
new poll shows.The figure was even higher among young Muslim ,with 15 per
cent of 16 to 24 year olds saying they would keep quiet. One in 20 Muslims
thought the July 7 bombings on London were justified,the study revealed.
Also, 86 per cent said the prime Minister should shoulder some of the blame
for the continued terror attacks in Britain. However,86 per cent of th 502
people questioned by pollsters ICM for a Sunday newspaper would call the
police if they believed a Muslim was planning a terror attack.
Muslims need not grovel nor show respect
In response to Sarah Fowkes's
comments about Muslims showing a lack of respect for Britain (Metro. Mon),
for a start most Muslims and their parents were born here and raised as British
citizens. So the idea that they should show grovelling respect to their hosts
is not relevant. Focusing on the so-called 'Muslim community' is a red herring;
there is no single Muslim community. In terms of descent there are distinct
Indian, Pakistani. Bangladeshi, Caribbean, Nigerian, Arab, Albanian, Turkish
and other communities, each with their own set of socio-economic conditions.
Muslims are not an ethnicity or a race; it is a religion. There
a few hundred thousand white Muslims in Biritain too. Furthermore,Barry Leonard
claims that Moslem parents would sympathise with children becoming tenorists.
This implies that there is widespread support, among Muslim
parents,for young people killing civilians. This has absolutely no basis
Kaashif Nawaz London EC2
Many Muslims have been born in Britain. They have been raised
here the same as Catholics, Protestants, atheists, vegetarians and any other
denoimination or lifestyle. And if white people are free to choose their
own lifestyle,to love the government or hate it,to speak English,Welsh or
Gaelic, then surely non-whites have the same rights?
Hakim Miah,London E1
Ads demean women,not Muslim veils
Sue Hudson says that wearing a veil demeans women
(Metro, Mon). Has she ever asked a Muslim woman how she feels to wear it?
I can tell you that most women who wear the veil wear it out of choice .The
headscarf is required for women and those who wear it, as well as the veil,
feel more comfortable when they do. If a Muslim woman wearing the veil is
demeaned, how about the naked women on billboards used to sell cars? How
about the fashion industry pumping out clothes to reveal women's busts? All
these things bring out men's desires and increase the likelihood of women
being abused. Why do you need to see a woman or man's face when you speak
to them? Many Muslim men would feel uncomfortable talking to women in this
country who reveal their cleavage or other parts of the body. Muslim women
cover for protection, to stop being gazed at, which is very important in
a society where sexual assaults are becoming more and more common. Should
we ensure all women cover up modestly?
Sammy Rashid, London E13
In response to Hemzah Ahmed (Metro, Mon), integration means
much more than simply working hard and owning businesses and other possessions.
I am English and Greek, I work extremely hard and have pride in my job, I
socialise anid study to learn and understand. I accept my neighbour and am
open about my beliefs and customs, wherever they come from and whatever they
are. This is what integration is about.
Leftheris Ridgeway, London W1
If hoodies we being banned from some public places, what's the
implication for those in niqab veils?
Paul Williamson, Leeds
Sammy Rashid displays exactly the kind of oppression
which Muslim men use upon their women - they think they are supposed to cover
up or get raped. In our country, women are entitled not to be raped no matter
what they wear.Whilst some judges think women "ask for it" by being provacative
- it is a woman's right to wear what she pleases,though one hopes they use
common sense. If we hark back to the "thong debate" which the metro ran -
we might say that displaying such things or cleavage means such women "deserve
what they get" - I am afraid Sammy Rashid is
a victim of her belief
system,women should not be at the behest of men's desires,and it is exactly
her repressive values that I do not want in this country - we live by freedom
- but covering one's face is not using common sense when male terrorists
can disguise themselves using religion as a cover. She is obviously not wearing
a veil from choice but because she is worried she will enflame men's desires.
They should look after their own desires and not expect women to do it for
them. That is how it demeans women. Racy ads are women being free to do what
they wish without fear of being raped. That is what our values stand for.
Terror man used 'burka as disguise'
BY DANIEL BATES
'We must not get hysterical'
||A TERROR suspect allegedly used a burka to disguise himself
as a Muslim woman to avoid capture, it emerged yesterday.
The man evaded arrest for several days despite a nationwide manhunt in which
his description was circulated to ports and airports.
The suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was eventually caught
and is now in custody awaiting trial. The news comes just days after House
of Commons leader Jack Straw claimed Muslim women wearing veils harmed community
Security agencies have been worried about male Islamic militants wearing
female clothing which, in the case of the niqab veil, shows only the eyes.
However, this is the first time a male suspect has allegedly disguised himself
as a Muslim woman in Britain.
Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, said he hoped the reports would not
add to the tension caused by Mr Straw's remarks. He added: 'If true, it is
the first case of its kind in Britain. We must not get hysterical about it.
'The important thing is the police feel comfortable about stopping anyone
who they have suspicions about, whatever they are wearing.' Yesterday, tabloid
newspaper columnist Anila Baig claimed she she passed through Leeds-Bradford
airport in a veil without being asked to lift it. This is despite Home Office
rules stating eyes, nose and mouth must be visible in passports and travellers
will be asked to lift veils.
Women in veils 'are held back'
BY JO STEELE
MUSLIM veils are an obstacle to female participation in society, Constitutional
Affairs minister Harriet Harman has claimed. Wearing the veil could get in
the way of a woman standing for Parliament, she told New Statesman magazine.
Ms Harman, who is standing for Labour's deputy leadership, added: 'If you
want equality, you have to be in society, not hidden away from it. 'How can
you stand as an MP when nien's faces are on posters, and voters can't see
yours?' Britain's race watchdog yesterday said it was 'perfectly reasonable'
for Jack Straw to ask Muslim women to remove their veils Trevor Phillips.
head of the Com mission for Racial Equality, told MPs the Commons Leader
was 'unequivo cally' right to raise the issue. Speaking to the Commons Education
Select Committee, he added: 'I think it is perfectly reasonable for him to
say he feels uncomfortable about it. 'It is right for him to say 'would you
mind not making me feel uncomfortable" as long as it is clearly understood
the answer to that can be 'no'. Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said Muslim
groups would get financial aid if they prove they are trying to outlaw extremism
in their ranks. But some Muslim groups condemned the move, saying the Government
was trying to create it's own 'state-sponsored Islam'.
Veils do not protect from rape
|I really do wish fellow Muslims such as Wafa Islam (Metro,
Wed) would not say: 'We wear veils to prevent ourselves from being ogled
by perverted men,' or statements along those lines. I have yet to see a skimpily
clad woman in Darfur and yet women there fall victim to rape, maiming and
even murder while doing the most mundane tasks, such as collecting firewood
to cook for their families (even during the holy month of Ramadan). And who
are their attackers? Their fellow Muslims. It is not the veil that protects
but a society that allows everyone to live freely regardless of race, creed,
colour or religion. And I do believe this is the society we have in Britain.
If you are going to argue to wear your veil, it should be because it is our
basic human right to do so.
Are women such as Wafa Islam who wear veils to protect themselves from 'being
ogled' and from sexual assault aware that there is such a thing as veil
Jason Dilplock, Sheffield
|RADICAL Muslims have accused computer giant Apple of mocking Islam -
with the design of its new shop. The giant cube entrance to an Apple store
was branded 'a blatant insult' for its supposed likeness to the Kaaba structure
inside Islam's most sacred mosque in Mecca. A message on an extremist website
expressed hope 'that Muslims will he able to stop the project'. The store
on New York's Fifth Avenue opened five months ago. Website pictures comparing
the black-covered Apple cube with the black-enshrouded Kaaba were said to
have been taken while it was still being built. Apple insisted: 'The entrance
is not an attempt to resemble the Kaaba.'
Have the Muslims a monopoly on cubes? Perhaps OXO should watch out - when
are we going to stop catering for these people and their daft religious ideas?
Just because someone makes something similar to something else,does not mean
it mocks it,or that it is offensive - and even if it is - so what? That's
what free expression is all about - something muslims don't seem to
Do not be glib about 655,000 deaths in Iraq
Dave Degen's comparison of the 655,000
Iraq dead with the Holocaust (Metro, Fri) is wrong. The 500 killed a day
in Iraq does not rival the rate of killings of the Jews under Nazi Germany
during World War II in two ways. First, roughly six times as many Jews were
killed per day in Germany and, second, the killings were carried out
indiscriminately by the Nazis, which is not the case with the Allied troops,
apart from the actions of a handful. It disgusts me that the initial response
of most people to the publication of this statistic is glee that the US is
being 'exposed' as a Holocaust perpetrator, rather than sadness at the state
of Iraq. It makes me question the true agenda of those liberal anti-Americans
who preach peace and point gladly to the number of dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These people may also do well to ask themselves whether it's thc Americans
or Iraqis who blow themselves up when surrounded by defenceless women and
Adam Hirschovits, London N3
The report into the Iraq slaughter may seem politically
'convenient' to Iraq death toll: Relatives mourn Andy Murphy (Metro, Fri)
but so is his dismissal of it. Which part of the report does he not believe
- that there were 547 deaths in the 1,849 families interviewed? Or that this
translates to a death toll of between 400,000 and 900,000? The same methodology
was used to estimate the number of deaths as a result of the South-East Asia
tsunami and Darfur crisis. Does be dispute the scale of these disasters,
Mark McLaren, London EC1
I trust America
The comment made by D Marsdon (Metro, Thu) that only America
used a nuclear weapon on an enemy is true but also implied that the US is
itself an 'axis of evil'. However, the US did what it had to in the face
of adversity. It chose to use the nuclear bomb to avoid a sea and air assault
on the shores of Japan, which would have stopped at nothing to destroy and
enslave the whole of Asia, and thereby cut World War II short by a number
of years. This was a battle of good versus evil. The world needed and needs
the US, whether people are prepared to admit it or not.
Veil row spills over as minister urges sacking
'You cannot teach wearing a veil'
BY SARAH GETTY
THE veils row threatened to spill over yesterday when a minister called for
a Muslim teaching assistant to be sacked for refusing to remove hers at school.
Race Minister Phil Woolas said 24-year-old Aishah Azmi should be fired for
'putting herself in a position where she can't do her job'.
MsAzmi has been suspended from Readfield Church of England Junior School
in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, after refusing to remove her niqab in front
of male colleagues. Mr Woolas added. 'She cannot teach children wearing a
veil .You cannot have a teacher who wears a veil simply because there are
men around.' But the Muslim Council of Britain said Mr Woolas should not
interfere. 'It is wrong for a minister to wade into a sensitive case to score
political points,' a spokesman added.
Labour's Lord Ahmed, the first Muslim peer, said it was unprecedented
for a minister to call for the sacking of a classroom assistant. Mr Woolas
should concentrate on discrimination in Muslim communities rather than attacking
them, he added.
Commons leader Jack Straw sparked the debate on veils earlier this month
by suggesting that wearing them separated communities His comments were supported
by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, who said Muslim leaders risked a 'voluntary
apartheid' in Britain. Meanwhile, a Christian has been banned from wearing
a cross around her neck at work. Nadia Eweida, 55, who works for British
Airways at Heathrow, claims she was forced to take unpaid leave after refusing
to remove the cross, which is about the size of a 5p coin. She now plans
to sue the airline.
1999 Hamza file rejected by cps
BY SARAH GETTY
POLICE tried to charge race-hate cleric
Abu Hamza as far
back as 1999 but their evidence was rejected as insufficient, it emerged
yesterday. Scotland Yard submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service
in March 1999 and a second in June 2003. On both occasions, prosecutors said
there was not enough proof to convict him. It was also claimed yesterday
that three of the four London sucide bombers heard Hamza's inflammatory speeches
at Finsbury Park mosque in North London. That prompted some critics to claim
the attacks on July 7 last year could have been avoided had Hamza been prosecuted
earlier. Tory security spokesman Patrick Mercer said: 'If these young men
were inspired by Abu Hamza, surely this suggests this man should have been
put away several years before.' The first two files related to claims that
Hamza was linked to the kid-apping of 16 tourists in the Yemen in 1998, in
which three Britons died. It was not until a third file was submitted in
2004- about his speeches and material found at his house - that the CPS decided
to prosecute. The 47-year-old was subsequently tried at the Old Bailey and
jailed for seven years for inciting racial hatred and terror offences on
Tuesday. Scotland Yard yesterday said it had 'no evidence' to suggest any
of the July 7 London bombers had been preached to by the cleric. And in a
joint statement with the CPS, the Yard said the earlier two files had been
[Metro Thursday, February 9, 2006]
Cleric likens women to meat
A senior Australian Muslim cleric has triggered national outrage for likening
women who dress 'immodestly' to meat that is left out for animals to eat.
Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali's spokesman said the cleric's comments in a sermon
last month to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan had been taken out of
context in a report in The Australian newspaper.
But the spokesman, Keysar Trad, did not challenge the accuracy of the paper's
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in
the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without cover, and the cats
come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat's?''
The Australian quoted al Hilali as saying. "The uncovered meat is the problem.''
"If she [a woman] was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem
would have occurred,'' he said, referring to the headdress worn by some Muslim
Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said al Hilali, a
high-profile cleric who has advised the government on Muslim issues, should
now be rejected by the country's Islamic community.
Church schools quotas dropped
BY AIDAN RADNEDGE
LAWS forcing faith schools to accept pupils from non-religious backgrounds
were abruptly scrapped last night. Education Secretary Alan Johnson said
Catholic and C of E schools had voluntarily agreed to take a quarter of students
from non-Christian homes. But his department refused to say if a similar
deal had been struck with Muslim or Jewish schools. The move came just a
week after Mr Johnson threatened to enforce the 25 per cent quotas to prevent
faith schools being 'divisive'. Critics claimed members of different religions
would be unlikely to go to 'rival' faith schools and the Government faced
a damaging backbench rebellion. Last night Mr Johnson accepted the opposition
was too great and backed down. He said: 'I don't feel the legislative route
is necessary or appropriate. 'Consensus was reached with all faith groups
to place a new duty on all school governing bodies to promote community cohesion
and to ensure that Ofsted inspect all schools on this element of what they
do.' There are around 600 secondary and 6,400 primary schools in England
designated as faith schools - including 4,744 Church of England, 2,000 Catholic,
36 Jewish, seven Muslim and two Sikh. The U-turn was welcomed by UK Muslim
Parliament leader Dr Ghaya- suddin Siddiqui. He said: 'The best way to move
forward is not to force changes on schools, but just encourage them to co-operate
more often.' Canon John Hall, the C of E chief education officer, said: 'The
Government promised all along to listen to the views of faith groups and
this is a result of their having done so.
'Racist GP drove her 4x4 at mother-to-be'
BY SUZY AUSTIN
A RACIST GP rammed her 4x4 car into a
mother-to-be and wedged her against a post, a court was told yesterday. Dr
May Arnaot, 50, left six months pregnant Sarah Chambers in 'unbearable pain'
on a petrol station forecourt, jurors heard. She allegedly yelled at the
terrified nursery nurse: 'You're Tony Blair's bitch, all you white people
are the same - you all vote for Tony Blair.' Ms Chambers was a passenger
in her fiance's Ford Fiesta when Arnaot, from the Middle East, drove at them
in her Nissan X-Trail, causing them to swerve. The two cars pulled over at
a nearby petrol station where the nurse went over to Arnaot to ask for her
insurance details. But the 25-year-old was instead met with the racially-fuelled
tirade, jurors were told.
not libelled by a Danish newspaper which infamously printed cartoons of the
Prophet Mohammed, a court ruled yesterday. Religious groups sued the
Jyllands-Posten paper over the cartoons, which caused outrage worldwide.
But Aarhus City Court decided they were not defamatory.
'[Arnaot] was really angry and the only way I can describe her outburst is
violent and abusive,' said Ms Chambers, whose statement had to be read because
she was too ill to attend court. 'As I went to turn back I suddenly felt
this almighty pain in my back. The four-wheel drive had moved forward into
me and squashed my stomach into the post. 'I was trying to scream, but I
couldn't and I had pins and needles. 'The pain was so unbearable. I was so
frightened I wet myself.' Fortunately, a paramedic was at the scene and Ms
Chambers has since given birth to a healthy baby. Arnaot, of Erith, Kent,
denies six charges including dangerous driving, damaging property and assault
in August last year. The trial at London's Blackfriars Crown Court continues.
Malaysia terminates 'un-Islamic' vampire exhibition
By Ruth Elkins
Unveiled women 'are inviting rape'
BY ANNE CAMPBELL
A Malaysian state has closed down an
exhibition on ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings alter Islamic clerics
declared it detrimental to Muslims' faith. The exhibition at the state museum
capitalises on widespread fascination in Malaysia with other-worldly creatures
from local mythology. Artefacts on display reportedly included alleged
carcasses of vampires and a phoenix. Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the
fatwa council which advises the government on Islamic regulations, was quoted
as saying: "We don't want to promote a belief in tahyal [supernatural]
and khurafat [superstition] which we do not know about. We do not
need to focus on such things or play them up by having such exhibitions."
Some 60 per cent of the 26 million population are Muslims. Last year, a
three-month exhibition on "Mysteries, Genies, Ghosts and Coffins" drew tens
of thousands of visitors to view among other objects, a preserved mermaid,
the shrivelled skeletal remains of a half woman, half-snake, and a goblin
in a bottle. Critics were divided between those who accused it of being
un-Islamic and others who suggested the items could be
|A LEADING Muslim preacher has caused outrage
by saying some women attract rape by the way they dress. Sheikh Taj el-Din
al-Hilali told followers that women who did not wear a head-dress, or hijab,
were like uncovered meat'. His comments, reportedly made at a meeting in
Sydney, were condemned as 'appalling and reprehensible'. 'The idea that women
are to blame for rapes is preposterous,' said Australian prime minister John
Howard. Sheikh Hilali is the senior cleric at Sydney's largest mosque and
once served as an adviser to the Australian government on Muslim issues.
He was quoted as saying: 'If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside
without cover, and the cats come to eat it, whose fault is it, the cats'
or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.' Australia's sex
discrimination commissioner, Pru Goward, said the comments were an incitement
to rape and called for Sheikh Hilali to be sacked. 'Young Muslim men who
now rape women can cite this in court, can quote their leader in court,'
she said. Waleed Ali, a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria, added:
'Anyone foolish enough to believe there is a relationship between rape and
the failure to wear a hijab clearly has no understanding of the nature of
sexual crime.' The controversy comes at a time of heightened tensions between
white and Arab communities in Sydney. Sheikh Hilali also triggered a row
in 2004 when he said the September 11 attacks were 'God's work against
the oppressors'. Last night, he denied he condoned rape when he made
the comments last month. He also apologised, saying Muslim women were free
to dress as they wished.
Remain calm, says Islamic scholar
MUSLIMS must not react 'emotionally' to politicians making
controversial statements about wearing the veil, a leading Islamic scholar
said yesterday. 'Some politicians are using this issue because they have
an agenda to push,' said Prof Tariq Ramadan. He was responding to Commons
leader Jack Straw's controversial call for women to ditch the veil, saying
it was a 'visible statement of separation'. Prof Ramadan, a visiting professor
at Oxford University, told an inter-faith summit in Tower Hamlets, East London,
that instead of hitting back at politicians, Muslims should 'say thank you
for the question and discuss it within our communities'. He added: 'This
may be the way to a critical and intellectual approach, with wisdom that
is profound, about the questions Muslims are facing.'
Poor white people 'at most disadvantage'
POOR white people are 'at the bottom of the social heap' and are rapidly
being overtaken by those from ethnic minorities, a study revealed yesterday.
Working-class whites do less well at school than people from other backgrounds
and go on to lower- skilled jobs, an investigation by The Economist
magazine found. 'The nation's most troubled group is poor, white and
British-born,' it reported yesterday. The investigation focused on Dagenham
and Leicester, where fewer than a third of white children attained five A
to C grades in their GCSE exams last summer. Many of the white pupils ended
up unemployed and those who did manage to find work got jobs in manufacturing
- an industry in long-term decline. By contrast, the children of immigrants
found jobs in expanding sectors, such as the public sector. They were also
well-represented in health and social work, finance and the hotel and restaurant
Veil teacher loses bias claim but wins £1,000
BY MIKE TAIT
'I fear consequences for Muslim women'
A MUSLIM teaching assistant who refused to remove her veil during lessons
yesterday lost her claims for discrimination and harassment. Afterwards,
Aishah Azmi, 24, criticised Tony Blair for intervening in the row as part
of the debate about the ways Muslims integrate into British society. Mrs
Azmi said she was 'fearful of the consequences for Muslim women in this country
who want. to work' - An employment tribunal dismissed three of her claims
of discrimination and harassment but found she was victimised by Headfield
Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and awarded
her £1,000 for injury to feelings'. Kirklees Council suspended her after
she refused to remove her veil while teaching. The school said face-to-face
Communication was essential for Ms Azmi's job as a bilingual support worker.
She said last night: 'Muslim women who wear the veil are not aliens, and
politicians need to recognise that what they say can have a dangerous impact
on the lives of minorities they treat as outcasts. Integration requires people
like me - to be in the workplace so that people can see that we are not to
be feared or mistrusted. 'Sadly the intervention of ministers in my case
- against the ministerial code - makes me fearful of the consequences for
Muslim women in this country who want to work. 'I will continue to uphold
my religious beliefs and urge Muslims to engage in dialogue with the wider
community, despite the attacks that are being made upon them.' Mrs Azmi,
of Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, remains suspended on full pay from the school.
She said she was willing to remove her veil in front of children - but
not when male colleagues were present. The Prime Minister said the veil
row was part of a debate about the way the Muslim community integrates into
British society. He added that the veil was a 'mark of separation' which
makes people of other ethnic backgrounds uncomfortable. The tribunal said
it was 'most unfortunate' that politicians made comments on the case while
it was sub judice.
Muslims 'believe they are victims'
THE Church of England's only Asian bishop
has criticised some British Muslims for having a 'victim' mentality. The
Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said some Muslims wanted
both 'victimhood and domination'. He added: 'Their complaint often boils
down to the position that it is always right to intervene when Muslims are
victims, as in Bosnia or Kosovo, and always wrong when the Muslims are the
oppressors or terrorists, as with the Taliban or in Iraq.'
He said failure to counter these beliefs had allowed radical Islam to flourish
in Britain and stricter checks were needed to keep out extremist clerics.
The 57-year-old, who was born a Catholic in Pakistan but converted to
Protestantism at the age of 20, said he believed the Christian faith was
intermingled with British values. Bishop Michael, who moved to Britain in
the 1980s also joined in the row about Muslim women wearing full face veils
saying they were unsuitable in some circumstances. 'Those at the cash tills
in the supermarket need to be recognised. Teaching is another context in
which society requires recognition and identification,' he said. However,
Muhammad Abdul Bari,of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his words would
not help community relationships. Mr Nazir-Ali became the youngest bishop
in the world at the age of 35. [Metro Nov6,2006]
Justice for race victim
BY SARAH HILLS
|THREE Asian men who burned a school-boy alive just because he was white
were jailed for life yesterday. The group killed Kriss Donald, 15, because
he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, stabbing him 13 times before
setting him on fire. As he was attacked, the defenceless teenager pleaded:
'I'm only 15, what did I do?' Yesterday, his family spoke of their relief
after gang ringleader Imran Shahid, 29, his brother Zeeshan Shahid, 28, and
27-year-old Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq were locked up for a total of 70 years
for the murder. Kriss was abducted in a random act of racially motivated
revenge while walking with a friend near his Glasgow home in March 2004.
He was taken on a terrifying 320km (200-mile) journey in a stolen
Mercedes across Scotland. His body was found semi-naked at
a secluded spot on the banks of the River Clyde the next moming. Yesterday,
the three men, who fled to Pakistan after the killing, were convicted at
the end of a six-week trial. Sentencing them, Judge Lord Uist called it a
'savage and barbaric' crime which 'shocked and appalled the public'. He added:
'None of you has shown any remorse for what you have done. 'The agony which
he must have suffered during the period between being stabbed and set alight
and his death is just beyond imagination.' Outside court Kriss's mother,
Angela. praised those who helped the inquiry 'into the hellish murder', adding:
'Justice has been done.
Asian gang which murdered schoolboy was thirsty for revenge
Killed for being white
ringleader of an Asian gang which stabbed and burned alive 15-year-old Kriss
Donald was 'thirsty for revenge on white boys', a court heard. Imran Shahid,
29, was angry at being attacked with a beer bottle outside a club by white
youths. He threatened to 'chop them up and take their eyes out'. Later that
day, Shahid and four accomplices, including his brother Zeeshan, 28, and
their friend Moharrimed Faisal Mushtaq, 27, packed tools in a bag and stole
a car to search the streets of Pollokshields for the culprits. Walking with
a friend and they happened to find Kriss pounced, launching a savage beating
on them both. As they threatened Kriss with a knife and 'a shooter', he pleaded:
'I'm only 15. 'What did I do?' Kriss's friend Jamie Wallace, 22, fought to
save him as the gang surrounded them. Kriss clamped his hands on the car
door frame to avoid being bundled in. Shahid's gang then took Kriss on ajourney
to Dundee and back as they phoned friends looking for a house to take him
to. Having no success, they returned to Glasgow and took him to a riverside
walkway near Celtic FC's training ground. There, they held his arms and stabbed
him 13 times before dousing him with petrol and setting him alight, probably
while he was still alive. He was found semi-naked the next morning, having
suffered what prosecutors said was 'a lonely, frightened death'. Shahid set
the Mercedes alight in the city's Hillhead area - but DNA tests linked both
him and Kriss to the vehicle. The killers fled to Pakistan but wete extradited
back to Britain more than a year later. Trial judge Lord Uist said: It was
pre-meditated cold-blooded execution. It truly was an abomination.' Accomplice
Damish Zahid, 22, was jailed for at least 17 years at an earlier trial.
City in fear of the Shielders
IMRAN SHAHID, a powerfully set bodybuilder nicknamed Baldy,
was at the heart of the trouble which led to Kriss Donald's murder. He took
control of a feared Asian gang called the Shielders in Glasgow in the 1990s.
The son of a Pakistani businessman, he was born in Huddersfield but raised
with his four brothers and three sisters in Pollokshields, on the city's
south side. Imran and brother Zeeshan, known as Crazy, shunned traditional
Pakistani morality and hard work to terrorise the neighbourhood. In 1994,
when just 17, Imran made his name as a 'tough guy' by battering a 25-year-old
with a baseball bat and leaving him in a coma with brain damage. He is said
to have tried to escape justice by fleeing to Pakistan, as he did later after
Kriss's murder. when he eventually returned to Scotland, he admitted assault
and was jailed for four-and-a-half years. Such was his fearsome reputation,
Shahid was rumoured to have chopped off the fmger of his sister's boyfriend.
Shortly before kifling Kriss, he served time for felling a 42-year-old woman
motorist with a single punch and trying to run her over after a minor collision
in Glasgow's East End.[Metro Nov9,2006]
It is quite wrong for correspondents to argue against the death penalty by
saying we can never be certain of the suspect's guilt (Metro, Fri). It is
a sad fact that we have far too many murderers in prison today, of whose
guilt there is not the slightest doubt. The chair of the Police Federation
recently said 'Life should mean life' and I couldn't disagree more with her.
Committing a person to prison for life should not be applauded; it should
be viewed as a failure. Any person who is so dangerous that they can never
be released should not be in prison. They should be dead.
Chris Hudson-Gool, London SW1
Whilst I sympathise with Chris - if we are the ones who would pull
the trigger or electrify the chair we are as guilty of murder as those who
commit the crime -Set the example,don't fall into the same gutter.
Three violent thugs will swagger around prison and the general public will
pay for their food, shelter and entertainment for the next 20 years at a
minimum cost of £2,000,000. And this is justice that shows respect for
the life of Kriss Donald?
David Evans, London W5
Nobody deserves to die, no matter what atrocities have been caused. It is
not for us-to decide the right of anyone else to live. Will executing Saddam
Hussein bring back the thousands of Kurds and Shias who died under his regime?
No. Will it deter other despots around the world from their own crimes against
humanity? No. Will it teach Saddam a lesson? No. Let him live the remainder
of his natural life contemplating what he has done and let him realise the
error of his ways. Capital punishment does not solve problems, it only serves
to appease vindictive minds. As Gandhi said: 'An eye for an eye makes the
whole world blind.'
L Oswald, London El
Well said Mr Oswald - a society that allows hanging and torture of criminals?
Have a look at the middle east and tell me you want that sort of a
society! Justice does not involve killing.
must turn the other cheek
So Hamas vows violent
revenge for the deaths of 18 Palestinians in an Israeli tank strike?
(Metro, Thu). How much more powerful would the Palestinian case seem if instead
they all vowed to make a strong, universal but peaceful protest gesture?
Israel would stand condemned throughout the whole world and the Palestinians
would emerge as heroes. As it is, Hamas's response means we can dismiss the
lot of them as one bunch of kiddy-killing thugs slugging it out with another.
Matthew Huntbach, London SE9
Vast crowds of Palestinians are in agony over the devastation the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought on their people, so they cry out:
'God is great!' Why?
Uka Cirtek, London SE20
Muslim woman 'told husband to be martyr'
BY STEPHEN DEAL
A YOUNG woman encouraged her husband to become
a Muslim martyr, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. In a letter, she urged him
to fight against non-believers and vowed that their baby son would follow
in his footsteps, it was claimed. The letter was read out to the jury trying
Bouchra El Hor, 24, for failing to disclose information on terrorism. Her
husband Yassin Nassari, 28, is charged with having documents and data on
terrorism. The couple, who had a five-month- old son when they were detained
in May, last year, deny the charges. Bouchra El Hor allegedly said in her
letter. 'I am so proud of my husband. I am happy that Allah has granted you
the chance to be a martyr. 'I am writing to let you know that you have my
support and to remind you to be strong and do not let Satan influence you.
to remind you that jihad is now compulsory and we are now obligated to protect
Islam, to help our brothers and sisters to fight the kuffar [non-believer].
'Maybe one day I can follow you. If I can't, I will send our son to you-so
he can follow his father's footsteps.' The letter was photocopied by police
at Luton Airport when the couple's luggage was searched as they returned
to Britain from Holland, jurors heard. Mtab Jaffeijee, prosecuting, said
its true significance was recognised only after police analysed the hard
drive of a computer seized at Nassari's home in Ealing, West London. It was
found to have instructions on how to make missiles and handle explosives.
El Hor, who is Dutch, and London- born Nassari were followers of 'extreme
ideology', Mr Jaffeijee said. He added. 'His wife was not only aware of his
intention, but positively encouraged it - despite the fact that his actions
would almost certainly result in his death in some form of combat, and would
also result in their son being without a father.' The trial continues today.
'We are now obligated to fight to protect Islam... to fight the
You cannot compare us with Sudan
A Sulaiman (Metro, Fri), who tries to draw a parallel between the punishment
of Gillian Gibbons in Sudan with what would happen in a similar instance
under Britain's Racial and Religious Hatred Act, cannot be serious. Teaching
impressionable youths that murdering behevers of other religions is not only
acceptable but, in some cases, justifiable and desirable, is hardly the same
as naming a teddy bear after the Prophet is it? Please let me know the last
time a teacher in Britain was jailed for allowing her class to name a teddy
bear Jesus. Until then, I'll continue to be angry with the Sudanese government
for its gross overreaction.
A Scott, London W2
If A Sulaiman wishes to draw comparisons, he should do so correctly. How
many devout Christians are crying blasphemy because schoolchildren have named
their dolls Mary?
J Thomas, London N3
Unjustified: Sudan protests E
I am disappointed by the views of people who blame all Muslims for the actions
of a minority or a single person. One cannot blame the whole of Yorkshire
for the wrongdoings of the Yorkshire Ripper, so why are Muslims treated in
this way? Many people seem to forget that every individual is different and
has a different outlook.
A Hussain, Glasgow
BY ANNE CAMPBELL
Porker: The bloated animal just before it was
THE world's heaviest pig has been sacrificed as part of a religious ceremony,
sparking fury among animal welfare
groups. The animal, which was force fed sand and metal to reach its record
breaking weight of 908kg (143 stone), could not even stand as it had its
throat slit at the ritual in Taiwan. Activists filmed the animal squealing
in tenor before it was bled to death and paraded before a crowd on Saturday
- even though officials have banned the event. The annual Pig of God festival
involves a heaviest pig contest, with the winner sacrificing their animal
in honour of the president. A World Society for the Protection of Animals
spokesman said: 'We want to bring a complete end to this grotesque freak
show.' Police in the town of Hsin Chu are reluctant to enforce a ban on the
If we were all atheists and didn't believe in silly things no one
can prove - we would have none of the above problems:Let's try to remember
there is no such person as "Allah" or "God".It is muslims who incite
race and religious hatred and do not accept that they live in a country which
does not have their rules. They are intolerant and belligerent,and want
everything their own way. Imran Kahn said on Channel Four that the law should
stop people being offended. He offends me - but I don't want a law that forbids
him doing so.
I don't think he has read 1984 or understands the history of the Western
World. By comparison,the West is tolerant and has accepted muslims and they
find every opportunity to BE offended - in this country the law protects
the right of people to offend other's sensibilities - we do not gag
people just because we do not like what they say,if muslims do not like our
rules - they are free to live in their own oppressive regimes - oddly
they choose to live here,where we have free speech. They seem to want to
tell others to live like they do - whilst saying that no one should
tell them how to live - they are supremely arrogant - believing that their
values are the best ones.
The Channel 4 programme indicated that 2/3 of the studio audience including
muslims believed that free speech should be curtailed when it came to religion
- I am here to say that free speech should include the right to criticise
beliefs held by other people - especially if those beliefs preach intolerance
and criminal intent - ie beheading those who "insult Islam"-Muslims may believe
there is a God,but I do not - and I do not accept the morality imposed by
their made-up superstitious rubbish
I would like to point out to Ms Azmi that men are not aliens either and
wearing a veil is offensive to me. If you think that by covering your
face you are saving yourself from being accosted -you are making
offensive assumptions about men.-LB