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A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: January 2017 by Soeren Kern

  • “If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural struggle.” — German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

  • German authorities issued 105,000 visas for so-called family reunifications in 2016, a 50% increase over the 70,000 visas issued in 2015, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 105,000 visas for family members were in addition to the 280,000 new asylum seekers who arrived in Germany in 2016.
  • Police say Sudanese migrants, many of whom were allowed to enter Germany without having their fingerprints taken, have “created a business model” out of social security fraud. Local officials have been accused of covering up the fraud.
  • An employee at a social security office handed her boss a file with 30 cases of suspected fraud. After he refused to act, she contacted the police. She was fired for “overstepping her authority.”
  • Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble revealed that the migrant crisis would cost German taxpayers €43 billion ($46 billion) during 2016 (€21.7 billion) and 2017 (€21.3 billion).
  • The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a “post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity,” he said.

January 1. Some 2,000 “highly aggressive” migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East gathered at the central train station in Cologne and the square in front of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, where mass sexual assaults occurred on New Year’s Eve 2015. A massive police presence consisting of 1,700 officers deterred mayhem. Police reported three sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve 2016, compared to more than a thousand on the same day in 2015.

January 1. In Berlin, at least 22 women were sexually assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate, despite the presence of 1,700 police officers. Police initially reported six assaults, but after inquiries from local media raised that number. In Hamburg, at least 14 women were sexually assaulted. Police arrested three Iraqis, three Syrians, two Afghans, one Eritrean and one German-Russian.

January 2. Greens Party Leader Simone Peter accused the Cologne Police Department of racial profiling after a tweet referred to North African migrants as “Nafris.” The head of the DPolG, Ernst Walter, explained that “Nafri” is not derogatory but rather a technical acronym used by the police to refer to “North African intensive offender” (nordafrikanische Intensivtäter). “If a North African person is suspected of committing a crime, he is a ‘Nafri,'” Walter said. Cologne Police Chief Jürgen Mathies added: “From the experiences of the past New Year’s Eve, from experience gained by police raids as a whole, a clear impression has emerged here about which persons are to be checked. They are not gray-haired older men or blond-haired young women.”

January 2. Police in Saarland arrested Hasan A., a 38-year-old asylum seeker from Syria who solicited €180,000 ($192,000) in funds from the Islamic State in order to carry out a high-casualty terrorist attack in Germany. The prosecutor’s office in Saarbrücken said the man asked the Islamic State for the money to purchase eight vehicles (€22,500 each) which would be camouflaged as police cars, loaded with 400-500 kilos of explosives, and exploded into a large crowd. Hasan said he wanted the money to support his family in Syria, not to carry out attacks in Germany.

January 3. Amnesty International called for an investigation of the police in Cologne for the alleged “racial profiling” of North African migrants who were suspected of promoting violence on New Year’s Eve.

January 3. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called for a “reorganization” of the security structures in Germany in order to confront the challenges of terrorism, large influxes of asylum seekers and cyberattacks. He said the federal government should be given more powers than it has now.

January 5. North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Regional Criminal Police Director Dieter Schürmann revealed that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian Salafist who carried out the jihadist attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on December 19, 2016, was known by authorities to be a threat to security as early as February 2016 but that they had found no evidence to arrest him. Schürmann also said that Amri had also used a total of 14 different identities under multiple names to collect social welfare benefits.

January 6. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called for a “culture war” to defeat Islamism. “If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural struggle,” he said. “We must strengthen the cohesion of society and ensure that neighborhoods are not neglected, villages are not degenerated and people are not becoming more and more radicalized,” he added. Gabriel also said that “Salafist mosques must be banned, the communities dissolved and the preachers deported, as soon as possible.”

January 7. A group of five “Black Africans” (Schwarzafrikanern) sexually assaulted a 28-year-old woman in Hamburg. The woman, a nurse at the Asklepios-Klinik St. Georg, was walking to her car after her shift ended when she heard someone screaming for help in an adjacent park. When she went to lend a hand she was ambushed by the men, assaulted and robbed.

January 7. Asif M., a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, appeared in court on charges he raped one woman and attempted to rape five others in Berlin-Steglitz. He insisted that he was the victim: “As a refugee, it is difficult to find a girlfriend.”

January 7. An Emnid poll for Bild am Sonntag found that 58% of German women believe that public places have become less safe due the migration crisis. Nearly half (48%) say they avoid certain areas in their place of residence when it is dark, and 16% now carry pepper spray when they are on their own after dark.

January 7. Intelligence Chief Hans-Georg Maaßen warned that Germany’s Salafist scene is not only growing, but also becoming more decentralized, thus making it more difficult to monitor. He said the number of Salafists in Germany was 9,700, up 500 from 9,200 in October 2016.

January 11. The Interior Ministry reported that a total of 321,371 migrants arrived in Germany in 2016, compared to 1,091,894 in 2015. Of the new arrivals in 2016, 280,000 were asylum seekers, compared to 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015. As if the statistics were not sufficiently complicated, a total of 745,545 people applied for asylum in 2016, compared to 476,649 who applied for asylum in 2015. The 2016 figure includes migrants who arrived in Germany in 2015 but did not apply for asylum until 2016. Around 35% of the asylum seekers in 2016 were from Syria, 17% from Afghanistan and 13% from Iraq.

January 11. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that Germany’s security apparatus must be updated in order to combat Islamic terrorism. “Our security architecture dates back to the fifties and sixties when we were dealing mostly with regional crime,” he said.

January 12. Germany’s largest Islamic association, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), admitted that some of its preachers acted as informants for the Turkish government. DITIB is financed by the Turkish government’s Directorate for Religious Affairs, known in Turkish as Diyanet. DITIB has been described as the “extended arm” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who uses it to promote Turkish nationalism and to prevent integration among the Turkish diaspora. The spies sent information about followers of Fethullah Gülen, a 78-year-old cleric based in the United States and whom Turkey accuses of plotting a failed military coup in July 2016.

January 13. A YouGov poll found that 52% of Germans believe that police in Cologne did a good job on New Year’s Eve. The poll also showed that 63% of Germans do not find racial profiling problematic, compared to 27% who do. The poll followed criticism of a police operation in Cologne on New Year’s Eve in which hundreds of “Nafris” — a term for North African criminals — were arrested.

January 14. A “southerner” (südländischer Typ) assaulted an 80-year-old woman in Leipzig-Neulindenau. The woman was working in her garden at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when she noticed that a man was loitering nearby. He lunged at the woman and beat her so badly that she was hospitalized. Before getting into the ambulance, she asked someone to take a photograph of her bloody face to draw public attention to rising migrant crime. Her picture was published by Bild, the largest-circulation newspaper in Germany. “It cannot be that you have to be afraid of being on the streets even during the middle of the day,” she said. The perpetrator remains at large.

January 18. Member of the German Parliament Burkhard Lischka revealed that German authorities lost track of three of the 547 jihadists who are being monitored by German intelligence.

January 18. A 27-year-old Kosovar was sentenced to one year and ten months of probation for sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Freiburg. The man followed the woman into a restroom at a night club, told her that he was a narcotics detective, forced her to undress and then tried to rape her.

January 19. German authorities issued 105,000 visas for so-called family reunifications in 2016, a 50% increase over the 70,000 visas issued in 2015, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Almost all the visas were issued to Syrians and Iraqis. Family reunifications — individuals whose asylum applications are approved are subsequently allowed to bring additional family members to Germany — are not included in asylum application statistics. In other words, the 105,000 visas for family members were in addition to the 280,000 new asylum seekers who arrived in Germany in 2016.

January 19. Germany took back some 12,000 migrants from other European countries, in accordance with the so-called Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. Germany took 3,700 migrants from Sweden, 1,686 from the Netherlands, 1,277 from Switzerland, 1,109 from Denmark and 763 from Belgium, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. The migrants involve asylum seekers who submitted asylum requests in Germany but moved on to other European countries before the requests were processed by German authorities.

January 19. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel threatened to cut development aid to countries which refuse to take back asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. The threat applies mainly to North African migrants from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. “It cannot be that a country takes the development aid, but not its own citizens, if they cannot get asylum with us because they simply have no reason to escape from their country,” he said.

January 20. The trial began of Abubaker C., a 27-year-old Pakistani man who strangled 70-year-old Maria Müller in her bed in Bad Friedrichshall, and then painted verses from the Koran on her bedroom walls. Prosecutors said the murder was religiously motivated: The Sunni Muslim apparently murdered the woman because she was a devout Roman Catholic.

January 21. A 47-year-old asylum seeker from Syria was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for raping a 44-year-old mentally disabled woman in Soest. The suspect, who has been living in an asylum shelter in Welver at German taxpayer expense since 2003, had 23 previous convictions for offenses including assault, robbery and fare evasion. A neurologist who tended to the Syrian during his 13-year stay in Germany told the court that the man is “untreatable” (Therapieunfähig). “When he is drunk, he is unpredictable,” she said.

January 23. Muslims in Hamburg are finding it difficult to bury their dead: German burial laws are incompatible with Islamic Sharia law, according to Die Welt. “The different burial cultures must be brought together,” the paper stated. “The German funeral and cemetery regulations are incompatible with Islam in some respects. Believing Muslims reject cremation. The dead must be buried as soon as possible and in linen cloths. It is important that the earth is ‘virgin’…the soil should not be polluted by ‘unbelievers.’ The dead must also be able to rest for eternity…a re-occupation of the tomb is impossible even if the remains of the deceased are completely disappeared.”

January 25. Social security fraud perpetrated by asylum seekers is costing taxpayers in the state of Lower Saxony millions of euros, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. Police reported 2,644 known cases of fraud in 2016, including 487 cases by asylum seekers, up from 351 such cases in 2015. The fraud involves migrants using multiple identities to collect social welfare benefits in different cities and towns. In the city of Braunschweig alone, some 240 migrants defrauded the state of €4.8 million ($5 million) in 2016. Police say Sudanese migrants, many of whom were allowed to enter Germany without having their fingerprints taken, have “created a business model” out of social security fraud. Local officials have been accused of covering up the fraud, which came to light after an employee at a social security office contacted the police. In January 2016, she had handed her boss a file with 30 cases of suspected fraud. After he refused to act, she contacted the police in May 2016. She was fired for “overstepping her authority.”

January 26. A court in Celle sentenced a 16-year-old German-Moroccan female jihadist to six years in prison for stabbing and seriously wounding a police officer, the first lone-wolf terrorist attack in Germany inspired by the Islamic State. The incident occurred at the central train station in Hanover on the afternoon of February 26, 2016, when two police officers noticed that the girl — identified only as Safia S. — was observing and following them. The officers approached the girl, who was wearing an Islamic headscarf, and asked her to present her identification papers. After handing over her ID, she stabbed one of the officers in the neck with a six-centimeter kitchen knife. According to police, the attack happened so quickly that the 34-year-old officer was unable to defend himself. “The perpetrator did not display any emotion,” a police spokesperson said. “Her only concern was for her headscarf. She was concerned that her headscarf be put back on properly after she was arrested. Whether the police officer survived, she did not care.”

January 26. Upkeep for the 13,600 unaccompanied child migrants (unbegleiteten minderjährigen Flüchtlingen) in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) will cost German taxpayers €632 million ($670 million) in 2017. Child migrants are arriving in NRW at the rate of 300-400 each month. Each child migrant costs €4,500 a month to maintain, in addition to an annual administrative fee of €3,100 (Verwaltungspauschal). The children are from more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan (37%), Syria (36%) and Iraq (11%). Over 90% of child migrants are male.

January 27. Due to positive net migration (more people entering the country than leaving it), the German population increased by 1.14 million in 2015, and by another 750,000 in 2016, to reach an all-time high of 82.8 million at the end of 2016, according to preliminary estimates by Destatis.

January 27. Muslim students at the Emscher-Lippe school in Gelsenkirchen refused to participate in Holocaust remembrance activities. Some 40% of the 550 students at the school are Muslim.

January 27. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble revealed that the migrant crisis would cost German taxpayers €43 billion ($46 billion) during 2016 (€21.7 billion) and 2017 (€21.3 billion).

January 28. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian who carried out the December 19 jihadist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, could have been deported in October 2016, but that officials in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) failed to do so. De Maizière’s statement contradicted claims by NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger, who said he had no legal authority to deport Amri, whose asylum application had been denied.

January 30. Süleyman D., a 25-year-old German of Turkish descent, was arrested for raping one woman and attempting to rape two more at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

January 30. The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a “post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity,” he said. “Only those who do not know their own faith or do not take it seriously can consider a comprehensive integration of Islam as possible.”

The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said on January 30 that there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a “post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity,” he said. “Only those who do not know their own faith or do not take it seriously can consider a comprehensive integration of Islam as possible.” (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/StagiaireMGIMO)

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: January 2017 by Soeren Kern

  • “I am not ashamed of what I am. I am a Muslim, that is to say, submissive to Allah who created me and who by his grace has harmoniously shaped me.” — Salah Abdeslam, a Belgium-born French national of Moroccan descent and the main suspect in the November 13, 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

  • The Grand Mosque of Paris announced that it was withdrawing from the Foundation for Islam of France, a new, government-sponsored foundation charged with “contributing to the emergence of an Islam of France that is fully anchored in the French Republic.” In a statement, the mosque, which represents 250 of the 2,500 of the mosques and Muslim associations in France, said that it denounced “any form of interference in the management of Muslim worship.”
  • “An Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, with great courage, just said in a documentary aired on Channel 3: ‘It is a shame to deny this taboo, namely that in the Arab families in France, and everyone knows it but nobody wants to say it, anti-Semitism is sucked with mother’s milk.'” —Georges Bensoussan, a highly regarded Jewish historian of Moroccan descent, who is being prosecuted for talking about anti-Semitism among French Arabs.
  • “When parents shout at their children, when they want to reprimand them, they call them Jews. Yes. All Arab families know this. It is monumental hypocrisy not to see that this anti-Semitism begins as a domestic one.” — Smaïn Laacher, a French-Algerian sociologist, in a documentary called, “Teachers in the Lost Territories of the Republic.”
  • “Islamophobia is a weapon of intimidation and an invention to forbid debate.” — Pascal Bruckner.
  • Three months after French authorities demolished the “Jungle” migrant camp, migrants are returning to Calais at the rate of around 30 a day. Most of them are unaccompanied minors hoping to smuggle their way across the English Channel to Britain.

January 1. The Interior Ministry announced the most anticipated statistic of the year: a total of 945 cars and trucks were torched across France on New Year’s Eve, a 17.5% increase from the 804 vehicles burned during the annual ritual on the same holiday in 2015. Car burnings, commonplace in France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight over which can cause the most destruction. An estimated 40,000 cars are torched in France every year.

A van burns during a recent riot in a Paris suburb. Car burnings, commonplace in France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight. An estimated 40,000 cars are torched in France every year. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

January 2. Approximately 3.7 million crimes were reported in France in 2016, a 4% increase over 2015, according to Le Figaro. Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb which has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in France, ranks as the most dangerous part of the country, with 18.2 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants. It is followed by Paris, with 15.7 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants and Bouches-du-Rhône with 11.5 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants.

January 2. The Criminal Court of Paris sentenced Nicolas Moreau, a 32-year-old French jihadist, to ten years in prison for fighting for the Islamic State. He is the brother of Flavien Moreau, the first French jihadist to be sentenced for such an offense upon his return from Syria in November 2014. Born in South Korea, adopted by a French family at the age of 4, Nicolas became a delinquent after the divorce of his adoptive parents. He converted to Islam in prison, where he spent five years. Nicolas said he fled the Islamic State after 17 months due to its “excesses.”

January 3. Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the president of the Union of Democrats and Independents, a center-right political party, attributed the closure of a PSA Peugeot-Citroën automobile factory to an excess of religious demands by Muslim employees. “There have been difficulties even in my department, for example in Aulnay-sous-Bois. It has never been said, but part of the reason for the closure of PSA was due to the omnipresence of religion and the fact that there were religious demands at work, work stoppages, decreased productivity. PSA’s decision to close Aulnay was influenced by this aspect.”

January 3. The Administrative Court of Poitiers dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Coalition against Racism and Islamophobia (CRI), which tried to ban a 14-page document aimed at preventing radicalization in schools. The document called on teachers to monitor several criteria, including “uncut long beards,” “shaved hair,” “Muslim clothing,” “refusal of tattoos,” and “weight loss associated with frequent fasting.” The document also referred to behavior such as “identity withdrawal,” “selective exposure to the media,” and “political rhetoric” concerning Palestine, Chechnya and Iraq. The document urged teachers to monitor closely students interested in the “history of early Islam.” The court emphasized the strictly internal nature of the document, which was deemed to be “devoid of any legal effect” because it contains “no mandatory provisions.”

January 4. Of the 230 French jihadists who have been killed in Iraq and Syria, seven were killed by American drones, according to Le Monde. “The French targets had a twofold status: they were military objectives, the elimination of which is theoretically governed by the law of war, and they were also targets of judicial proceedings in France. In the name of the ‘self-defense,’ which the coalition states claim, military logic prevailed over the right to legal defense,” the paper complained.

January 4. Jean-Sébastien Vialatte, the deputy mayor of Six-Four-Les-Plages, ordered police to visit the Reynier Primary School there on two occasions after he heard rumors that the school was requiring students to attend Arabic language classes. The courses, which were optional, not mandatory, have since been cancelled.

January 5. The Magistrate’s Court of Rennes sentenced a 34-year-old man to 17 months in prison on charges of domestic violence for striking his female companion because she refused to convert to Islam. The woman said the man had “profoundly changed” after he visited Mali. “He has become radicalized,” she said. “He promises Allah will take revenge against the disbelievers who do not convert. Religion has taken an increasingly important place in his life. He believes he is good and all others are evil.” The man denied he ever “forced someone to be a Muslim.” He added, “Before, I was like her, I smoked, I drank, but it is over now.”

January 5. Farid Benyettou, a 35-year-old former French jihadist who indoctrinated the gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January 2015, admitted that he was partly to blame for the violence. “I bear a share of responsibility, I cannot deny it,” he said in an interview with Le Parisien. “I preached hate, I distilled this ideology even though it was not me who told him to commit this massacre. I served my prison sentence, I paid my debt to society, but not my moral debt.” He tells his story in a new book, “My Jihad: Journey of a Repenter.”

January 6. A statistical analysis carried out by François Desouche, an influential French blog, found a dramatic increase in the popularity of Muslim first names given to children born in France during the past 20 years. In Paris, for example, 17.1% of babies born in 2016 received Muslim first names, up from 9.4% in 1996. In Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb, 42.9% of babies born in 2016 received Muslim first names, up from 17.3% in 1996. The trend repeats itself across France.

January 6. Zineb El Rhazoui, a 35-year-old Moroccan-born journalist, quit her job at Charlie Hebdo because the magazine is now following an editorial line that “Mohammed is no longer drawn” — as demanded by Islamists before the January 2015 attacks. She said Charlie Hebdo now feels “too alone to go to the front.” But our colleagues “must not have died for nothing. If it were up to me, I would continue,” she said.

January 6. The Nice Criminal Court acquitted Pierre-Alain Mannoni, 45, for helping three Eritrean women who crossed the border into France from Italy. Mannoni, a teacher-researcher at the French national research center (CNRS), was arrested at the Turbie toll booth just beyond the Italian border in October 2015 and charged with “assisting the entry, movement and residence of irregular migrants.” The charge incurs five years in prison and €30,000 ($31,000) in fines. The prosecutor argued that people are not allowed to help illegal migrants move about the country. Mannoni said he was “protecting their dignity and integrity.” Christian Estrosi, the president of the Nice Côte d’Azur Riviera region, said the ruling was “an insult to the work of the security forces who put their life in danger to protect ours.”

January 10. Around 5,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel in 2016, according to the Jewish Agency of Israel, which released the data to mark two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January 2015. The departures in 2016 add to the 7,900 who left in 2015 and 7,231 in 2014. In total, since 2006, 40,000 French Jews have emigrated.

January 12. Salah Abdeslam — a Belgium-born French national of Moroccan descent and the main suspect in the November 13, 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris — said, “I am not ashamed of what I am. I am a Muslim, that is to say, submissive to Allah who created me and who by his grace has harmoniously shaped me.” Abdeslam is reportedly receiving stacks of mail “from Catholics with questions about his faith, from women who declare their love for him and say they want to bear his child, from lawyers who offer their services, it is incessant,” according to Libération.

January 12. A French couple were given suspended sentences for selling Islamic State flags online. They were caught after neighbors saw them boasting about their business in a television documentary about jihadi recruitment and called the police.

January 16. Asian tourists are avoiding France due to fears over terrorism and spiraling crime, according to Le Parisien, which interviewed Jean-François Zhou, President of the Chinese Association of Travel Agencies in France. Some 1.6 million Chinese tourists visited France in 2016, compared to 2.2 million in 2015, a 27% decline. The number of tourists from South Korea also declined by 27%, and the number of Japanese tourists declined by 39%. “Our tourists have turned to Russia, which is less attractive but at least it is a safe country,” Zhou said. “For Putin, it is an economic windfall.” Zhou explained:

“The decline is explained above all to the scourge of petty delinquency aimed especially at Chinese tourists. They are robbed in the Palace of Versailles, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in front of their hotel, when they exit the buses. In high season, there is not a day without tourists being assaulted. I saw an 80-year-old man seriously injured because he was trying to resist thieves. Women are pushed and when they fall their bags are stolen with all their papers. This has created a panic on Chinese social networks. The Chinese began turning away from France last year.

“The police have increased their numbers to protect tourists. But since the terrorist attacks, these forces have been mobilized elsewhere. We want France to stop its laxity. We, along with my traveling colleagues, are counting on the future government to get things done. I have been in France for twenty-five years, and I myself have seen the decline of France in terms of security. Before, the Chinese tour operators deplored the insecurity in Italy, today it is France and more particularly Paris and Marseilles which we speak. There are many regions in France where tourism can be leisurely pursued, but Paris is ranked No. 1 in Europe in terms of the increase in delinquency.”

January 17. The Magistrate’s Court in Paris acquitted Pascal Bruckner, a renowned intellectual and author, on charges of defamation after he remarked on the “28 minutes-Arte” television program that pro-Muslim activist groups such as “The Indivisibles” (Les Indivisibles) and “The Republic’s Natives” (Les Indigènes de la République) were “ideological accomplices” of jihadism. The decision was hailed as a “victory for the freedom of expression” in France, which does not have legal protections such as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing the freedom of speech.

January 18. One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up outside the Stade de France during the November 2015 attacks on Paris turned out to be an Iraqi jihadist, according to France’s DGSE intelligence agency. Until now, only one of the three bombers had been identified: a 20-year-old Frenchman living in Belgium. DGSE believes that one of that man’s accomplices, who was carrying a fake Syrian passport, was from the Iraqi city of Mosul. He and the third attacker, whose identity is still unknown, are believed to have slipped into Europe with a group of refugees who landed on the Greek island of Leros on October 3, 2015.

January 20. The Council of State (Conseil d’État), France’s highest administrative court, ruled that the mosque in Stains (Centre Culturel et Islamique de Stains) in Seine-Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, will remain closed. The Salafist mosque, which was identified as the last place of prayer for several French jihadists before they joined the Islamic State, was shuttered in November 2016 as part of a state of emergency.

January 21. Kevin Guiavarch, a 24-year-old convert to Islam, was charged with terrorism offenses after being extradited from Turkey. He is believed to have been a member of both the Islamic State and the former Al-Nusra Front. He was arrested in Turkey in June 2016 after leaving Syria with his four wives and six children. Guiavarch, a Breton who converted to Islam at the age of 14, is believed to have gone to Syria in 2012.

January 23. The Grand Mosque of Paris announced that it was withdrawing from the Foundation for Islam of France (Fondation de l’Islam de France), a new, government-sponsored foundation charged with “contributing to the emergence of an Islam of France that is fully anchored in the French Republic.” In a statement, the mosque, which represents 250 of the 2,500 of the mosques and Muslim associations in France, said that it denounced “any form of interference in the management of Muslim worship.” Others said the mosque’s rector, Dalil Boubakeur, 76, was angry that he was not named to be president of the foundation.

January 23. The Administrative Court of Marseilles effectively terminated a project to build a €22 million ($23 million) mega-mosque with a capacity for 7,000 worshippers. In July 2007, the municipality granted a Muslim association a parcel of land in the 15th arrondissement to build the Grand Mosque of Marseille, but the project has been plagued by legal and financial problems. The cornerstone was laid in 2010, but since then nothing else has been built. In October 2016, the city terminated the lease for the land because the association had not paid the rent since 2013. According to the court, “the materiality of all the facts alleged against the association does not appear to be seriously contestable.”

January 23. Benoît Hamon, the presidential candidate for the Socialist Party, lashed out at critics of Islam:

“There is ultimately a desire to say that Islam is incompatible with the Republic. This is not true. It is unbearable that we continue to make the faith of millions of our compatriots a problem in French society. Let us stop making Islam an adversary of the Republic.”

January 25. The trial began of Georges Bensoussan, a highly regarded Jewish historian of Moroccan descent, who is being prosecuted for talking about anti-Semitism among French Arabs. During a debate on Radio France Culture, he said:

“An Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, with great courage, just said in a documentary aired on Channel 3: ‘It is a shame to deny this taboo, namely that in the Arab families in France, and everyone knows it but nobody wants to say it, anti-Semitism is sucked with mother’s milk.'”

Bensoussan was referring to a documentary entitled “Teachers in the Lost Territories of the Republic,” aired on Channel 3 in October 2015. In this documentary, Laacher, who is a French professor of Algerian origin, said:

“Antisemitism is already awash in the domestic space. It rolls almost naturally off the tongue, awash in the language. It is an insult. When parents shout at their children, when they want to reprimand them, they call them Jews. Yes. All Arab families know this. It is monumental hypocrisy not to see that this anti-Semitism begins as a domestic one.”

Laacher was not prosecuted but Bensoussan was. The court’s decision will be rendered March 7. “This witch-hunt against Bensoussan is symptomatic of the state of free speech today in France,” wrote the French journalist Yves Mamou.

January 26. The Administrative Court of Bastia in Corsica validated a burkini ban in the village of Sisco. Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni argued the ban was necessary to avoid a repeat of fighting between local youths and Muslims in August 2016, when five people were hurt. The court rejected a similar ban in Ghisonaccio, due to a lack of evidence that the garment was a threat to public order.

January 27. Pascal Bruckner, a renowned author and intellectual, in an essay entitled “An Imaginary Racism,” wrote that Islamophobia is a “weapon of intimidation” and an “invention to forbid debate.”

January 27. “The Halal Market: The Invention of a Tradition,” a new book by anthropologist Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, argues that “buying halal is not a religious obligation.” Although the Koran and Sunnah (the teachings and practices of Mohammed) prohibit pork, blood and alcohol, they do not impose rules dictating behavior, according to Bergeaud-Blackler.

“Eating halal is presented today as an obligatory practice for Muslims, even though the term did not exist in the Muslim world before it was exported by developed countries,” she told FRANCE 24. Bergeaud-Blackler, who has studied halal for the past 20 years, said the market has flourished in non-Muslim countries because of immigration. “There’s a recent poll by the Montaigne Institute which shows that 40% of France’s Muslim population thinks eating halal is a pillar of Islam; this notion is false,” she said.

In reality, the halal food industry is a product of the “random convergence of neo-fundamentalism and neo-liberalism” during the early 1980s, Bergeaud-Blackler explained. “At the time, these two ideologies were dominant on the international scene. Their convergence would change the theological definition of halal from ‘recommended’ to ‘required’ and which is a hallmark of fundamentalism,” she said.

January 29. Three months after French authorities demolished the “Jungle” migrant camp, migrants are returning to Calais at the rate of around 30 a day. Most of them are unaccompanied minors hoping to smuggle their way across the English Channel to Britain.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: February 2017 by Soeren KernA Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: February 2017 by Soeren Kern

  • Children and women are being raped by human traffickers inside the Camp de la Linière, a migrant camp in the northern French city of Dunkirk; they are forced to have sex in return for blankets, food or the offer of passage to Britain. A volunteer worker referred to the children as being like “little steaks” because they were considered so appetizing and vulnerable to traffickers.

  • The breakdown in law and order in Muslim neighborhoods in Paris is being fueled by impunity for criminals and a lenient judicial system, according to Hugues Moutouh, a former advisor to the Interior Ministry.
  • “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up.” — French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, cancelling a meeting with the Grand Mufti of Lebanon.
  • The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

February 1. The Interior Ministry reported a 45% decline in attacks against Jews and Muslims in France in 2016, but a 17.5% increase in attacks against Christians. The ministry said there were 1,125 attacks against Jews and Muslims in 2016, down from 2,034 attacks in 2015. It also reported 949 attacks against Christians in 2016, up from 808 attacks in 2015. Attacks against Christians jumped by 245% between 2008 and 2016.

February 2. Undercover police wearing burqas and qamis (traditional Arab gowns) were filmed apprehending a drug dealer in the Marseille’s Bricarde district, a notorious no-go zone. Police confirmed the “totally normal camouflage technique” after the cellphone video was posted on social media. A local resident complained: “This gives the impression that you basically have to be Muslim or look like a Muslim in order to blend in.” Another resident said:

“I think that trying to blend into the crowd in order not to attract attention is a good way of catching traffickers. What’s more, the police are not really respected on the council estates, which have become no-go areas. Even the police are scared to go there, which isn’t right. So it’s hardly surprising that when they come they have to disguise themselves — although I can understand why lots of people are criticizing them for it.”

February 3. Abdallah El-Hamahmy, a 29-year-old Egyptian national, attacked four French soldiers at the Louvre in Paris. He was carrying two backpacks when he approached the soldiers, who were on patrol at the entrance to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall, beneath the museum. When they told him that he could not bring his bags into the mall, he lunged at them with a machete and began shouting “Allahu Akbar.” After a brief struggle, one of the soldiers opened fire, leaving El-Hamahmy in critical condition. El-Hamahmy had arrived in Paris legally on January 26 after obtaining a one-month tourist visa in Dubai. Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the attack “terrorist in nature.”

February 5. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-establishment National Front party, officially launched her campaign to become the next president of France. Speaking at a rally attended by thousands of her supporters in Lyon, Le Pen launched a two-pronged attack on globalization and radical Islam. She promised French voters a referendum on remaining in the European Union, and also to deport Muslims who are deemed a security risk to France.

February 5. A police officer was charged with raping a 22-year-old man named Théo during an identity check in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. The man was allegedly beaten and then raped with a police baton. He was subsequently hospitalized for injuries to his rectum that required surgery. The arrest sparked riots in Paris and other cities across France. The Inspector General of the National Police (IGPN) later determined that the sodomy was an accident which occurred after Théo refused to allow himself to be handcuffed. “It is undoubtedly very serious, it is violence that has resulted in permanent disability, but it is not a rape,” the IGPN said. The police finding sparked another wave of riots.

February 7. A majority (61%) of French respondents agreed with the statement, “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped,” according to a Chatham House survey of European attitudes toward Muslim immigration.

February 8. A new study by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) offered a partial view of the ethnic composition of French society. Journalist Yves Mamou wrote:

“In 2015, 7.3 million people born in France had at least one immigrant parent (11% of the population). Of these 7.3 million people, 45% are of European origin, most of whom are children of immigrants who arrived in France from Spain (8%) or Italy (12%) as early as the 1930s, or from Portugal in the 1970s onwards. One can assume, although it is not written in the study, that these people are of Christian origin.

“Another group is composed of Africans. 42% of the 7.3 million children born in France to an immigrant parent are of African background, mainly North Africa. They came from Algeria (15%), Morocco (11%), Tunisia (5%) and sub-Saharan Africa (11%). Although it is also not specified in the study, it would seem that the great majority are Muslim.

“Another group, children from Turkish migrant families, represent 4% of the 7.3 million. These people are classified as Asian; they are not included in the African and Muslim group. Most of these Turks are also presumably Muslim.

“A conclusion therefore would assume that 46% of the descendants of immigrants are Muslim and 45% are Christian. The remaining 9% are from East Asia or the Americas.”

February 8. Two jihadists who were under house arrest in Bayonne evaded French authorities and left for Syria to join the Islamic State. The duo was intercepted in Slovenia. “This does not mean that Bayonne is a fertile ground for radicalization,” said Éric Morvan, the prefect of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. “We are very far away, even if some individuals are closely monitored.”

February 9. The Paris mayor’s office announced a plan to build a 2.5 meter-high (8ft) wall of reinforced glass around the Eiffel Tower to protect against jihadist attacks. If approved, the €20 million ($21 million) project will begin later this year.

February 10. The Constitutional Council, the highest court in France, ruled that a law adopted in June 2016, which makes it a crime to consult jihadist websites, is unconstitutional. The ten-member council ruled that the law, which sets a two-year prison sentence and €30,000 ($32,000) fine for anyone “habitually” consulting jihadist websites, infringed on the fundamental freedom of communication. The case was brought before the court by Sami Khankan, a lawyer whose client, a convert to Islam named David Pagerie, was found guilty of the offense and was sentenced for two years by a court in Anger.

February 10. Cédric Herrou, a French farmer who helped migrants evade police to cross the French-Italian border, was handed a €3,000 suspended sentence. A court in Nice found him guilty of meeting migrants, most of them Eritrean, on Italian soil to bring them to France. The court found him not guilty of other charges, in particular housing illegal immigrants and placing them in a disused holiday home belonging to the SNCF rail company. France’s immigration law punishes people who facilitate the illegal entry, movement or residence of a foreigner in France. The law allows for sentences of up to five years in prison and a fine of €30,000. After the verdict, Herrou vowed to carry on helping migrants.

February 10. The Pentagon confirmed that it targeted an Islamic State jihadist, Rachid Kassim, a French national, in a strike by the U.S.-led coalition near Mosul, Iraq. Kassim, who was in his 30s and originally from Roanne in the Loire Valley, is believed to have inspired the June 2016 attack on a senior French police officer and his partner, and the July 2016 murder of an elderly priest, whose throat was cut.

February 11. Children and women are being raped by human traffickers inside the Camp de la Linière, a migrant camp in the northern French city of Dunkirk, according to the London-based Observer. Corroborating accounts from volunteers, medics, refugees and other officials revealed that sexual abuse is common within the camp, and that children and women are forced to have sex in return for blankets, food or the offer of passage to Britain. Accounts from those at the camp, which currently holds up to 2,000 refugees, of whom an estimated 100 are unaccompanied minors, portray a squalid site with inadequate security and atrocious living conditions.

A volunteer coordinator, testifying on the condition of anonymity, said:

“Sexual assault, violence and rape are all far too common. Minors are assaulted and women are raped and forced to pay for smuggling with their bodies.

“Although the showers are meant to be locked at night, particularly dangerous individuals in the camp have keys and are able to take the women to the showers in the night to force themselves on them. This has happened to women I know very well.”

She said that one of the most in-demand products distributed to women in the Dunkirk Camp are adult diapers: “Women are too scared to go to the toilets in the night,” she said. “None of the locks in the women’s toilets in the camp work.”

The volunteer also recounted several incidents where minors had been attacked:

“A 12-year-old girl was groomed in the camp by a man well over twice her age. When she no longer wanted to speak with him because his behavior towards her had become so obscene, he threatened her. A 13-year-old boy ended up returning to his home country having been raped in the camp.”

Another statement provided by an ex-NGO worker, who spent more than three years volunteering at Dunkirk, said men targeted women and children because they were so vulnerable. “You see women in a male environment with men that are disconnected from reality, so there are serious incidents such as rape. Women, children, young teens, male and female.” The worker referred to the children as being like “little steaks” because they were considered so appetizing and vulnerable to traffickers, of whom dozens reside on site.

One woman travelling by herself said that unaccompanied individuals were viewed as prey: “All men see that I’m alone, and it’s the same for the children. Men see me and they want to rape me.”

February 13. The South Korean embassy advised Korean tourists to avoid parts of Paris after a tour group was robbed in a tour bus stuck in traffic in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis).

February 13. The breakdown in law and order in Muslim neighborhoods in Paris is being fueled by impunity for criminals and a lenient judicial system, according to Hugues Moutouh, a former advisor to the Interior Ministry. In an essay for Le Figaro, he wrote:

“Another night of riots in the Paris suburbs. Again and again the same scenes of urban violence, the same images of cars burned, attacks of police stations, Molotov cocktails launched on the forces of law and order….

“A part of the French political class, on the left, is even an accomplice to these abuses by justifying the revolt of those whom it still persists in calling ‘young people’…

“The suburbs of our big cities are being gangrened by gangs of traffickers…. They no longer fear the police and increasingly do not hesitate to attack them violently. Public utilities, schools and police stations are routinely ransacked. Our forces of order are exhausted and disgusted… Politicians, by their attitudes, may also give the impression of endorsing or even encouraging public disorder.”

February 13. A hundred Eritrean and Sudanese migrants rioted at a rest area in Steenvoorde, on the highway linking Lille to Dunkirk, in northern France. Police said the fight was over “control of the territory” for trucks on their way to Britain. “When the police arrived, the migrants scattered in the woods and there were no arrests,” police said.

February 13. The Paris City Hall installed large boulders to dissuade migrants from setting up makeshift camps outside an official migrant shelter at Porte de La Chapelle. Migrants often sleep outdoors while waiting for one of the 400 spaces in the shelter to become available. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city wants to carry out “a reflection on the appropriation of public spaces to avoid the installation of new migrant camps in Paris.”

February 14. Two men and a 16-year-old girl were charged in southern France on suspicion of planning a terror attack that the authorities said was imminent. The three, arrested on February 10 near the coastal city of Montpellier, were identified as Muslim convert Thomas Sauret, 20; his partner, a 16-year-old named only as Sarah; and Malik Hammami, 33. They were indicted for “criminal association in connection with a criminal terrorist enterprise.”

February 18. The LigneRock Festival, an annual music festival in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron, Vendée, was cancelled after concert organizers received three anonymous phone calls warning of a “bloodbath” if the event went ahead as planned.

February 18. Police reported escalating tensions between Afghans and Sudanese at a new migrant reception center in northern Paris. “It was tense for a week,” a police source told Le Monde. “The Sudanese and Afghans are not friends.” The facility also reported a surge in migrants from Germany and Sweden. “Seventy percent of arrivals may not satisfy the criteria for asylum in France,” the source said.

February 19. A 32-year-old man shouting “Allahu Akhbar” and “we are going to kill all of you” was shot by police after stabbing a female passerby and then attacking an elderly couple in Montauban, near Toulouse. The public prosecutor’s office ordered the man to be hospitalized for treatment of “psychiatric disorders.”

February 21. Prosecutors in Paris launched an investigation after two French Jews, aged 29 and 17, reportedly were assaulted by a group of men described as having a Middle Eastern appearance. The incident allegedly occurred at a traffic light in the Paris suburb of Bondy (Seine-Saint-Denis). The attackers pulled the victims, who were wearing skullcaps, out of their vehicle and attempted to sever their fingers with a hacksaw. The attackers hurled anti-Semitic slogans at the victims, including “Dirty Jews, you’re going to die.” Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux expressed “outrage” and pledged to do everything he could to find the perpetrators.

February 21. Three men were arrested in separate counter-terrorism raids in Paris, Marseille and Clermont-Ferrand. “The suspects had a plot that was sufficiently advanced for the police to decide to arrest them,” according to anti-terrorism prosecutors in Paris.

February 21. The Paris region lost an estimated €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) in tourist income in 2016 due to a steep decline in tourism since the 2015-2016 terror attacks on France. The number of tourists visiting Île-de-France, a region which includes Paris and the surrounding area, fell by 1.5 million in 2016. The steepest decline was in Chinese and Japanese visitors.

February 21. French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen cancelled a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti after he insisted that she wear a headscarf. “The highest authority in the Sunni world did not have this requirement, therefore, there is no reason to wear the veil,” Le Pen said in reference to her meeting with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt, in May 2015. “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up.”

On Feb. 21, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen cancelled a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti after he insisted that she wear a headscarf. “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she stated. (Image source: France24 video screenshot)

February 22. The government’s flagship program to deradicalize jihadists is a “total failure” and must be “completely reconceptualized,” according to the initial conclusions of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on deradicalization. The report reveals that the government has nothing to show for the tens of millions of taxpayer euros it has spent over the past several years to combat Islamic radicalization in France, where 238 people have been killed in jihadist attacks since January 2015. The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

February 22. A court in Paris sentenced two French jihadists, Ibrayima Sylla, 37, and Pierre Roubertie, 26, to a combined 38 years in prison for invading the home of Jacques Penhouet, a post office teller in Seine-et-Marne, and taking his pregnant wife and son hostage, in August 2013. While Roubertie, a convert to Islam, guarded the mother and son, Sylla dragged Penhouet to his workplace to empty the post office safe. The attackers made off with a meagre €2,080 ($2,100). Prosecutors said the two men had planned to use the stolen money to fund jihadist attacks on French soil.

February 28. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, during a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, insisted that there is no connection between Islam, radicalism and terrorism. “Terrorism has no nationality or religion,” he said.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: March 2017 by Soeren Kern

  • “Have you seen some of those ISIS propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative?” — Riz Ahmed, actor.

  • 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.
  • An estimated 400 home-grown jihadis have returned to the United Kingdom after fighting in Syria, but only 54 of those have been prosecuted, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation, which also discovered that some returned jihadis are roaming free on the streets of Britain.

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. The Muslim Council of Britain, the country’s largest Islamic organization, condemned the ruling:

“At a time when populism and bigotry are at an all-time high, we fear that this ruling will serve as a green light to those wishing to normalize discrimination against faith communities. Many will be worried that this action will prevent Muslim women who choose to wear the scarf from securing jobs. And it sends a message that we cannot accept a plural society that recognizes and celebrates religious differences.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said that the government should not tell women what to wear:

“We have a strong tradition in this country of freedom of expression, and it is the right of all women to choose how they dress and we don’t intend to legislate on this issue. There will be times when it is right for a veil to be asked to be removed, such as border security or perhaps in courts, and individual institutions can make their own policies, but it is not for government to tell women what they can and can’t wear.”

March 17. The former owners of a bookstore in Bradford apologized after copies of the Koran and other Islamic literature were found in a garbage dumpster outside the store. Police were called to the store after a group of Muslim males began shouting at and abusing staff. The imbroglio began after the bookstore’s 80-year-old owner decided to close down his business, and the new owners gave him a month to move out the stock, which included a number of Korans and other Islamic books. A spokesman for the bookstore said:

“It has come to our attention that some Islamic materials were found in a skip [garbage dumpster] next to Book Centre. While the Book Centre site is being cleared, no Islamic material of any sort was purposefully disposed of. A small workforce was instructed to clear two storerooms from which some material made its way into the skip. This is wrong, unacceptable and a genuine mistake. The skip will be looked at as a matter of urgency and any materials removed.”

A spokesman for Baker Reign Solicitors, which represents the new owners, said:

“Should our client have been aware that the previous owner would have sought to dispose of the Holy Koran and other books in this manner, they would have assisted in distributing the books to various mosques throughout the city.

“Our client now hopes that the previous owner takes a more responsible course of action by distributing the books to those less fortunate and in need of Islamic guidance.”

March 17. Zameer Ghumra, a 37-year-old Leicester pharmacist accused of showing a beheading video to two young children, was released on bail until his trial begins at Nottingham Crown Court on September 25. He has been charged with distributing terrorist publications under section two of the Terrorism Act 2006.

March 18. The BBC apologized after a tweet from the BBC Asian Network account asked, “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?” The tweet provoked criticism that the BBC appeared to be endorsing harsh restrictions on speech. In an apology posted on Twitter, the network said it had intended to debate concerns about blasphemy on social media in Pakistan. “We never intended to imply that blasphemy should be punished,” it said.

On March 18, the British taxpayer-funded BBC Asian Network account asked, “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?”

March 19. A British jihadist reportedly used social welfare payments to move his family to Syria to join the Islamic State. Shahan Choudhury, 30, who was radicalized at Belmarsh Prison while serving an 18-month sentence for allegedly stabbing to death a 17-year-old hospital worker over an alleged £15 ($18) drug debt, vanished from his apartment in London and has since used social media to urge other British Muslims to carry out terror attacks in the UK.

March 20. Mohammed Karamat, 45, an imam at a mosque in Coventry who assaulted four children as young as nine, was spared jail time. Magistrates watched footage of Karamat twisting a child’s arm, slapping a child, and using a pen to stab a child and pricking a child’s hand with the lid of a pen. He was filmed attacking the children during a six-day period. Karamat, who admitted to four counts of assault by beating, was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.

March 21. Minister for Higher Education, Jo Johnson, ordered British universities to include a clear commitment to freedom of speech in their governance documents to counter the culture of censorship and so-called safe spaces. In a letter, Johnson wrote that it was the “legal duty” of universities to ensure as far as practicable that freedom of speech is secured for “members, students, employees and visiting speakers.” This meant that all university premises should not be “denied to any individual or body on any grounds connected with their beliefs or views, policy or objective.”

March 22. Khalid Masood, 52, drove a car at pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge and, armed with two knives, stormed the parliamentary estate. He killed five people and injured more than 50 before he was shot dead by police. Masood, a convert to Islam, was born in Kent as Adrian Elms. During his school years, he used his stepfather’s surname, Adrian Russell Ajao. A former English tutor, he was unemployed at the time of the attack and had been living on social welfare benefits. Masood, who had a history of criminality — he had previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences — was reportedly radicalized in prison.

March 23. A total of 29 people were charged after girls as young as 11 were raped and sexually abused in Huddersfield. West Yorkshire Police said the 27 men and two women men face numerous offences including rape, trafficking with intent to engage in sexual exploitation, sexual activity with a child, child neglect, child abduction, supply of Class A drugs and the possession and making of indecent images of children. They are accused of committing the crimes against 18 girls in Huddersfield when they were aged between 11 and 17, between 2004 and 2011.

March 23. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Westminster attack. “The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition,” the group’s Amaq news agency said in a statement.

March 23. Prime Minister Theresa May said that it would be “wrong” to describe the jihadist attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament as “Islamic terrorism.” Instead, she said, it should be referred to as “Islamist terrorism” and “a perversion of a great faith.”

March 25. Mark Ashdown, a childhood friend of Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood, described how Masood had completely changed after prison, where he converted to Islam. Ashdown said:

“When he first came out he told me he’d become a Muslim in prison and I thought he was joking. Then I saw he was quieter and much more serious. I gave him some cash-in-hand work for a few months as a laborer. He said he needed time to pray and read the Koran — something about finding inner peace. I heard he’d split from his partner and got even more deeply into religion.”

March 25. Police investigating the Westminster attack concluded that Khalid Masood acted entirely alone for reasons that may never be known. “We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this,” deputy assistant Metropolitan police commissioner Neil Basu said. “That understanding may have died with him.” Meanwhile, British security services reportedly do not like the term “lone wolf” because they feel it glamorizes an attacker. They prefer using “lone actor” instead.

March 25. An estimated 400 home-grown jihadis have returned to the United Kingdom after fighting in Syria, but only 54 of those have been prosecuted, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation, which also discovered that some returned jihadis are roaming free on the streets of Britain.

March 28. Kevin Lane, a convicted murderer who spent 20 years in British prisons, including HMP Woodhill and HMP Frankland, told the BBC that he saw many inmates pressured to convert to Islam and carry out attacks on other prisoners. “I have seen many attacks within the prison system,” he said. “One man boiled fat and poured it over someone’s head because of an insult to Islam.” A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “The allegations put forward by the former prisoner are historic.”

March 29. The BBC tried to downplay Westminster attacker Khalid Masood’s ties to radical Islam by airing an interview with a former employer of Massood. The man, identified only as Farasat, was a manager at an English language school where Massood worked between 2010 and 2012: The interview follows:

Q: Who was the man that you knew?

A: As a teacher, a very professional man. He was an excellent teacher. He got on well with his non-Muslim colleagues. A very friendly, stable kind of guy, really. He was not interested in the politicized version of Islam. He had no contact with any of the extremist groups. He was more a practicing Muslim who was committed to his faith, committed to his family and was focused on his career. I don’t think he was influenced by extremist groups at all…. In fact, I’d go as far to say that he was the antithesis of a violent radical.

Masood was, in fact, known to police and security services and had once been investigated by MI5 over concerns about violent extremism.

March 30. Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Craig Mackey said there was a slight increase in “Islamophobic incidents” following the Westminster terror attack. Breitbart London reported: “The statement which New Scotland Yard sent along with its figures suggests the rise may not be due to a genuine increase in Islamophobia, but could instead be due to a ‘community engagement plan’ which sees the authorities actively encourage Muslims to come forward with allegations following what they describe as ‘trigger events.'” The Met, the police service for the Greater London area, now employs 900 specialists focused on monitoring so-called Islamophobia.

March 31. A new biography of Prince Charles revealed that the heir to the British throne tried to halt the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to “honor” Ramadan. He made the plea in an “urgent call” to William Farish, the American ambassador to London, four weeks into the huge military operation launched after the 9/11 terror attacks. Farish recalled: “Prince Charles asked me if it would be possible to stop the invasion to honor Ramadan, and if I could convey that request to President Bush.” The ambassador replied that it would be difficult to halt a military invasion already in full swing, but the prince allegedly protested: “But Americans can do anything!” Farish asked: “Sir, are you really serious?” Prince Charles replied: “Yes I am.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: February 2017 by Soeren Kern

  • Muslim pupils outnumber Christian children in more than 30 church schools, including one Church of England primary school that has a “100% Muslim population.” — Sunday Times.Six Muslim men shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court for a total of 81 years for sexually abusing two girls — including one who became pregnant at age 12 — in Rotherham.

  • “By 2030, one in three people will be a Muslim in the world — that is a huge population.” — Romanna Bint-Abubaker, founder of modest fashion website Haute Elan.
  • A Chatham House survey of more than 10,000 people from ten European countries found that an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped.

February 1. Jim Walker, a 71-year-old volunteer at Carnforth Station, was banned from the premises after someone complained about an alleged racist comment. Walker, who, for more than a decade, has been winding a famous clock at the station, was overheard discussing a newspaper article about young migrants entering Britain from the French port of Calais. Walker said:

“Carnforth Station Trust received a complaint from a visitor who was not happy about me speaking to somebody about the issue…. What they are doing is outrageous. It is absolutely unbelievable, it is a violation of free speech….

“I must be the only man in Carnforth who has a document saying where he can and can’t walk and all for expressing a point of view and quoting an editorial from a newspaper. Now [winding the clock] is no longer possible.”

February 1. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that women should feel free to wear the hijab, a traditional Islamic headscarf. Several European countries have imposed bans on parts of Muslim religious dress. “What a woman wears is a woman’s choice,” May said after she was asked — on world hijab day — if she supported the right of women to wear the garment.

On February 1 (“world hijab day”), UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that women should feel free to wear the hijab, a traditional Islamic headscarf, stating: “What a woman wears is a woman’s choice.” Pictured above: Theresa May (then Home Secretary) wears a headscarf while attending an interfaith event at Al Madina Mosque in East London, in February 2015. (Image source: Imams Online video screenshot)

February 2. Six Muslim men shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court for a total of 81 years for sexually abusing two girls — including one who became pregnant at age 12 — in Rotherham. Three brothers and three other men were convicted of crimes including rape, indecent assault and false imprisonment after the pre-teen victims were “systematically groomed.”

February 4. Almost half of the new homes built in the next five years will go to migrants, according to government figures. Soaring immigration means that Britain will need to accommodate as many as 243,000 new households each year for the next 22 years. It is estimated that an extra 5.3 million new properties could be needed to meet the growth in population, and an extra 2.4 million of the new homes will be needed for migrants alone. In other words, one new home must be built every five minutes to house Britain’s burgeoning migrant population.

February 5. Muslim pupils outnumber Christian children in more than 30 church schools, including one Church of England primary school that has a “100% Muslim population,” according to the Sunday Times. St. Thomas in Werneth, Oldham, is reported by the local diocese to have no Christian pupils, while at Staincliffe Church of England Junior School in Batley, West Yorkshire, 98% of pupils “come from a Muslim background.” The Church of England estimated that about 20 of its schools had more Muslim pupils than Christians and 15 Roman Catholic schools had majority Muslim pupils, according to the Catholic Education Service. Some church schools include Islamic prayers in their services.

February 6. The Deputy Mayor of London, Sophie Linden, warned that people who inflict female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls have escaped justice “for too long.” Linden said that “inconsistencies in the way these crimes are recorded” had allowed perpetrators to avoid charges, despite FGM being a “widespread” problem. Although FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for such offenses.

February 7. Zakaria Bulhan, a 19-year-old Norwegian national of Somali origin, was sentenced to indefinite confinement at Broadmoor Hospital after he admitted to killing American tourist Darlene Horton and wounding five others in a rampage in central London on August 3, 2016. Bulhan, from Tooting, South London, pled guilty at the Old Bailey to “manslaughter by diminished responsibility” on the grounds that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attacks. He had been charged with murder and attempted murder, but the court accepted his plea. During his arrest, Bulhan repeatedly muttered “Allah, Allah, Allah,” and police found a Muslim prayer book, “Fortress of the Muslim,” in his pants pocket. The court decided that Islam was not a factor in Bulhan’s behavior.

February 7. A Chatham House survey of more than 10,000 people from ten European countries found that an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed. Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain.

February 9. A 44-year-old man from Hertfordshire was arrested at Gatwick Airport on terrorism charges after he disembarked from a flight from Iraq. He was charged under Section 5 of the 2006 Terrorism Act: suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

February 12. A National Health Service (NHS) project based on research by Leeds University claimed that Muslims with mental health issues could be helped by re-embracing Islam. Traditionally, therapists have shied away from talking about religion as part of treatment. Lead researcher Dr. Ghazala Mir, of the university’s Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, said:

“We know that in Muslim populations people can get quicker results from faith-sensitive therapies that have been tested elsewhere in the world. They tend to use religion as a coping resource more than people in other religious groups.”

Mir has helped to create a new treatment. Patients are asked if faith was part of their life when they were well. Those who stopped being religious because of depression are re-introduced slowly using a self-help booklet, which highlights passages from the Koran that illustrate that “even people with strong faith” can become depressed and that it does not mean Allah is displeased.

February 13. Nadeem Muhammed, a 43-year-old Pakistani national, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London after security officials at Manchester Airport discovered a pipe bomb in his hand luggage prior to boarding a flight to Italy. Muhammed, who lives in Greater Manchester, was arrested on January 30 but was later released on bail and was allowed to travel. He was re-arrested when he returned to Britain on February 11 and charged with possessing an improvised explosive device.

February 14. Clayton McKenna, a 22-year-old Briton who converted to Islam while in prison, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court after he carried an axe through the streets of Boldon Colliery, apparently with which to confront his Christian father over “religious differences.” McKenna allegedly told police that he was on his way to his father’s home “to ask him to bow down to me.” Judge Penny Moreland told McKenna:

“It appears you were sober, you had not been drinking or taking drugs. There has been an examination by the mental health team and they are satisfied there are no mental health issues I ought to be taking into account.

“You made a series of statements, both at the scene and in interview shortly afterwards, as to what you intended to do and what was in your mind. It is right to say they were confused and contradictory.

“The statements included a suggestion that you were going to use violence against your father, amongst a number of reasons you said was because he was a Christian and you were a recent convert to Islam.

“I am concerned that there is no real explanation for your confused thinking that morning, nor for those threats made, even though they appear to have been without substance.”

February 15. Faisal Bashir, a 43-year-old father of two from Ilford, was forced to move out of his home after he renounced Islam and stopped attending mosque. Bashir said he was subject to harassment, but police dismissed his pleas for help as “just a nuisance.” He explained:

“These people knew I had become an atheist and soon enough my whole family was being harassed. At least once a week they would hang around near my house, shouting and swearing at me. I was called an apostate, a non-believer, I was told I had betrayed my God and my faith. Sometimes they would even say things to my children — they are far too little to know what was happening, they were very frightened.

“Police always said they could not really do anything because no physical altercation ever took place. But I am not the kind of person to get violent with anybody. Also, it was always different people so they claimed they could not log it as similar complaint. Eventually a police officer told me I should just move house to get away from it all.

“We were not left with any other choice…. The new house is over a mile away, but they still managed to find us again.”

The Chairman of the Ilford-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), Wilson Chowdhry, said:

“Police and councils up and down the country just don’t understand the level of animosity people choosing to leave Islam can face.”

February 16. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Britain’s top police officer, urged Muslim scholars to step up their efforts to counter the violent ideology of the Islamic State. He said he believed that IS fighters and terrorists were “political criminals” who were carrying out “horrific violence” which had no justification in Islam. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Hogan-Howe repeated the politically correct dogma that the Islamic State is not Islamic:

“The hardest part for the Western world is to interrupt this philosophy that Daesh [Islamic State] is perpetuating which is that Islam in any way supports this horrific use of violence.

“There is no interpretation I would argue that could say that, but some people are getting away with that. Muslim scholars have got to come up and be really challenging of that and be very clear that this can never be acceptable. There is no interpretation that can ever conclude it is okay to kill people. We cannot be at all sensitive to religious beliefs. We have all got to say that is wrong.

“The Muslim community feel particularly sensitive because Islamism is about people who profess to be Muslims. I would argue that they are political criminals — it just happens to be masked in religion. But when you are dealing with that issue you have to be sensitive to the majority who are good people trying to do the right thing.”

February 18. Britain’s first-ever “modest” fashion event was held in London with more than 40 designers displaying garments that comply with Muslim values. Event organizer Romanna Bint-Abubaker, founder of modest fashion website Haute Elan, told Sky News:

“The fastest growing global consumer is at the moment the Muslim market. By 2030, one in three people will be a Muslim in the world — that is a huge population.”

February 19. Counter-terrorism police launched an investigation into claims that Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School in Oldham, was being forced to work from home after death threats from Muslim parents opposed to her Western values. O’Donnell reportedly has been subject to “harassment and intimidation” in the form of “aggressive verbal abuse” and “threats to blow up her car” from parents pushing conservative Muslim ideals. The school is mostly filled with Pakistani pupils who do not speak English as a first language.

February 20. Members of Parliament debated U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s state visit to Britain. Left-wing MPs called for the invitation to be withdrawn to protest Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Conservative Party MPs accused their opponents of hypocrisy and insulting the American people. The debate was triggered after an online parliamentary petition seeking to prevent Trump from making a state visit attracted nearly two million signatures. A counter-petition received over 300,000 signatures. After three hours of debate, Sir Alan Duncan, the deputy foreign secretary, reaffirmed the government’s intention to host Trump on a state visit, tentatively set for October 5-8, 2017.

February 21. Rezzas Abdulla, a 33-year-old man from South Shields, was sentenced to eight months in prison, a sentence then suspended so that he could receive treatment for mental health problems, for assaulting a woman and her nine-month old baby. Rebecca Telford, 25, and her daughter Layla-Jean, were strolling in South Shields in January 2016 when Abdulla leaned into the baby carriage and spat into the baby’s mouth, and allegedly said, “white people shouldn’t breed,” before launching into a tirade of racial abuse. Telford told police:

“There was no eye contact and no words had been exchanged. I had never seen him before. I believe he spat on her purely because we are white, I was a lone female and an easy target.”

February 22. Jamal al-Harith, a 50-year-old British convert to Islam, blew himself up at an Iraqi army base in Mosul on February 20. He had received £1 million (€1.1 million; $1.2 million) in compensation from the British government after being freed from Guantánamo Bay in 2004. Al-Harith, originally named Ronald Fiddler, was born in Manchester to parents of Jamaican origin and took the name Jamal al-Harith when he converted to Islam. He was also known more recently as Abu-Zakariya al-Britani. Captured in Afghanistan in early 2002, and released from Guantánamo Bay after two years, he later joined IS.

February 23. The BBC paid “very substantial” libel damages and broadcast a full apology to Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, founder member of the Muslim Council of Britain, who was falsely accused of calling for the lynching of author Salman Rushdie.

February 26. Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani, a 33-year-old Iranian-born convert from Islam and who is set to be ordained as a Church of England priest, accused Oxford University of discrimination and bias after he was told he could not ask a lecturer critical questions about Islam. During a seminar about love in religion, Minlib Dallh, a research fellow at Regent’s Park College in Oxford, allegedly pointed at Ashrafkhorasani and said: “Everybody can ask a question except you.” Ashrafkhorasani said that Dallh had discovered during a coffee break that he was a convert from Islam. He said that Dallh refused to let him ask questions about the lecturer’s description of Islam as a religion of love and peace. Dallh’s project was partly being sponsored by the King of Jordan. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who was a senior fellow at Wycliffe Hall until last year, said that a “politically correct” atmosphere is “very widespread in the university as a whole.” He added: “If people are taking money from these [Muslim] sources, then that can limit the critical approach to the study of Islam and Muslim civilization generally.”

February 27. A spokesman for the West Midlands Police wrote on social media that parents caught practicing female genital mutilation (FMG) on their children should not be prosecuted. He revealed that the force is opposed to “prosecuting/jailing” parents for FGM because it would be “unlikely to benefit” children who fall victim to the crime. He added that the best course of action is to focus on “education.” Tim Loughton, a member of the Home Affairs Committee, condemned the reluctance to pursue prosecution:

“It is absolutely key to expose perpetrators and to nail them for it. The police must go after offenders. This is deeply disturbing because a key part of eradicating the violence of FGM is exposing, prosecuting, and nailing the perpetrators. Every time a prosecution fails to materialize, it encourages those that are behind this that it is not a serious crime, and they can get away it.”

February 28. Patrick Kabele, a 32-year-old convert to Islam, was found guilty of preparing terrorist acts — namely attempting to travel to Syria — contrary to the 2006 Terrorism Act. During his trial, jurors at Woolwich Crown Court heard how Kabele, from Willesden in North London, tried to join the Islamic State in Syria, where he wanted to buy a “nine-year-old virgin, the younger the better.” He added that if he had enough money, he would buy four wives. Kabele was arrested after he tried to board a flight from Gatwick to Istanbul, Turkey on August 20, 2016 with £3,000 in cash. Kabele, who was born in Uganda and became a British citizen, told police after his arrest that he did not “owe an oath of allegiance” to the United Kingdom.

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