Grenfell Tower disaster and London Muslims


This British TV video says about itself:

Grenfell Tower: lawyers question appointment of “tainted” experts to inquiry panel

Sky News 6 July 2017

By Amar Azam in London, England:

A community devastated

Friday 7th July 2017

AMAR AZAM talks to activists at the al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove – which is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy

MOHAMMED ALHAJALI was the first of the residents laid to rest, in an east London cemetery, thousands of miles away from his war-torn Syria.

At his funeral last month, we learnt more of the gentle nature of the 23-year-old. He had fled the conflict in his homeland in hope of a better life in Britain.

Instead, it was cut short at a tenderly young age. Like those countless others that lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the details of his final moments are difficult to bear.

Alhajali was to perish in his 14th-floor flat in Grenfell Tower after attempting to reach his family on the telephone. His last message to friends was to tell his parents that he loved them.

Who knows, over time, the civil engineering student may have completed his studies and returned to help rebuild his nation.

Elsewhere in London on that same day, Mohammed Mahmoud, the imam at the Finsbury Park mosque which was the scene of an act of terrorism the previous night, was hailed by his community and honoured by Prince Charles for his actions in protecting the attacker in the immediate aftermath.

This has been a difficult few weeks for Britain’s three million Muslims. The backlash from the tragic incidents in London and Manchester has led to a rise in Islamophobic attacks as an entire community faces demonisation. These attacks continue to escalate. However, despite this Muslims remain stoic.

The al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Its rooms still contain surplus donations of food, clothing and toiletries, boxes stacked floor to ceiling.

In one of the offices Samer Darwish, the imam of al-Manaar, ponders the events of recent weeks.

“What that imam showed was the genuine face of Islam,” he says. “His actions were absolutely correct. He understood that he needed to show restraint and he also understood the repercussions had the attacker been hurt.”

He praised the reaction of the local Muslim community.

Darwish adds: “This tragedy has affected so many people and I was so pleased with the way Muslims reacted. The work carried out here has been for the benefit of all in the wider community. We have demonstrated that we can show humanity and compassion.”

After late afternoon prayers, some of the volunteers who are staffing the main hall and have provided all manner of support services for the victims and their families are leaving for the day.

Counsellors have been available for those that need emotional support, as have legal experts and those that have helped fill in forms, provide refreshments or just lent a sympathetic ear.

“We’ve met so many types of people and, personally, it has been a really challenging experience,” said Asif Bhayat, of the National Zakat Foundation, one of the British-based charities that has supported residents through immediate financial assistance.

“The ones that really stick in the memory are the ones that you can see really wanted to talk because they had no-one else to talk to.

“It is those interactions that will stay with me. The tears of those that have lost everything are difficult to bear. Hearing stories of the children affected has been tough.”

Hassan Awad, one of the duty officers at al-Manaar, insisted on leading the congregational prayer for his wife Rania and two girls, Fethia, five, and Hania, three. The outpouring of grief from the congregation was immense. No person should ever have to do what he did.

As dusk approaches at al-Manaar, the smell of cooked food begins wafting in as donations from local people and companies begin to turn up. It’s been like this ever since the day of the tragedy.

Fresh bread and cakes from a local firm in the nearby industrial estate arrive.

“We wanted to make a donation as we’ve seen our neighbours here go through so much,” says Shaz, one of the workers from Sally Clarke bakery.

“This is our way of doing our bit as we know that the food will go to a good cause.”

A team of volunteers begin the immediate task of distributing the food among the families in the area spending another evening in makeshift accommodation. Others remain resting, clearly left a little fatigued by the events of the day and the challenge of doing so while maintaining a fast of 18 hours in what has been the hottest week of the year.

The more we find out about our victims, the more and more it become difficult to detach oneself from the tragedy.

“I have been here since the morning of the fire,” says Tabassum Awan, 31, from nearby Notting Hill.

“I live near the tower, and I called in on the morning thinking they could need some help and was asked to man the phones as the switchboard was becoming inundated.

“What I’ve seen in my time here will stay with me forever. In this tragedy, you’ve seen people from all walks of life come together.”

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea is not only one of the most ethnically diverse in our capital, it is also one where there is a sharp contrast between rich and poor.

Make the short walk beneath the A40 Westway overpass to nearby Notting Hill and you will find the Methodist Church sitting among the white stuccoed townhouses and picturesque tree-lined streets that characterise this trendy part of London. Here you will come across one of many great floral tributes to those lost.

Faces peer out from beyond the flowers, some of them smiling. One of those is of Jessica Urbano, the 12-year-old was one of the younger residents not to escape the inferno. A reminder of how the fire did not discriminate.

A few weeks later, we return al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, and the Eid festival laid on for the families affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a few hours old.

A packed main hall at the centre is awash with colour. Excitable young children burst from in between the food stalls clutching presents given to the mosque from generous donors.

Others sit there, proudly showing off their fresh henna patterns and newly painted faces as they enjoy the seemingly endless supply of cupcakes, popcorn and candy floss.

Present too are local residents, mingling freely. This is a day for the community here in this part of London.

The pain and anguish will remain as a scar on the collective consciousness of the community here in this corner of London for a generation and more to come, and long after the tower is razed to the ground and replaced with whatever memorial is deemed fit.

The pervading feeling is one of injustice; of lives lost due to greed, in the name of austerity or negligence. Let’s hope that their pain will ease over time, and the community can continue to come together to mend itself.

Painter Mondriaan, influenced by Islamic art


This 2016 video says about itself:

Showcase: Islamic geometric patterns– The possibility of infinite expansion

In this special edition, we’ll take a look at Islamic geometric patterns. Geometric designs have a special place in Islamic art. A combination of repeated squares and circles can be found on a variety of buildings, garden floors, carpets and even textiles. Far from being mere forms of decoration, these repetitive geometric designs are meant to connect the viewer to a higher state of consciousness.

In 2008, I blogged about the relationship between famous Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan and Islam. Specifically, a probably Muslim girl wore a headscarf with a colourful pattern, based on a Mondriaan painting.

Then, I did not know yet that there had also been influence the other way round: influence on Mondriaan by Islamic artists.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Mondriaan and Islamic geometric art

Hans Janssen, Eric Broug

Date: 22 June 2017

Time: 15:00 – 17:00 hrs.

Address: Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden

Room: 00.01

LUCIS will organize two lectures about Mondriaan and geometric art in Islam on June 22. Before the lecture, a free guided tour will start at Pieterskerkplein at 13:30 hours. Both the lecture and the tour will be in Dutch. Registration via: lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. More information at the Dutch page of this event.

Muslim imams refuse to bury London murderers


This video from Britain says about itself:

29 March 2017

London [Westminster Bridge] AttackAhmadi Muslim Women Gather On Westminster Bridge To Condemn

Fariha Khan, 40, a GP from Surbiton, said: “The feeling of what happened here on Wednesday was really strong. We thought of the ordinary people who were here and were mown down, standing here like this, it was very overwhelming.”

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

London imam does not pray for perpetrators of attack: ‘they hijack our faith’

Today, 07:45

“They should not pretend to represent Islam. The three attackers claim to represent us, but there are more than 3 million Muslims in Britain.” Shayk Yunus Dudhwala is an imam and often preaches in a mosque in East London, where the perpetrators of Saturday’s attack also are from.

He is one of the British Islamic leaders who refuse to say traditional Islamic prayers for the attackers. Over 130 of them have signed a statement. …

“I work at Royal London Hospital and we have received twelve victims. I arrived shortly after midnight. I saw two people who were in a bad condition and my first thought was: if you are a human and you have a heart then you should not make others suffer in this way.”

From the site of the Muslim Council of Britain, that statement:

Over 130 Imams & Religious Leaders from diverse backgrounds refuse to perform the funeral prayer for London attackers in an unprecedented move

5 June 2017

Imams and religious leaders from across the country and a range of schools of thought have come together to issue a public statement condemning the recent terror attack in London and conveying their pain at the suffering of the victims and their families.

In an unprecedented move, they have not only refused to perform the traditional Islamic prayer for the terrorist – a ritual that is normally performed for every Muslim regardless of their actions – but also have called on others to do the same. They said:

“Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

For the full statement and list of signatories, see below.

Notes to editors:

The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

Key contacts for the statement:

– Shaykh Yunus Dudhwala: +44 7931 735206⁠

– Sheikha Selina Begum Ali: +44 7946 270169

– Ustadha Rehana Sadiq: +44 7715 139834

– Imam Qari Asim: +44 7816 667282

– Sheikh Asim Yusuf: +447817 569 272
—————————–

Muslim Imams and religious leaders condemn the Manchester and London terror atrocities and urge fellow Imams to refuse to perform Islamic funeral prayers for the terrorists

“We, as Muslim Imams and religious leaders, condemn the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London in the strongest terms possible. Coming from a range of backgrounds, and from across the UK; feeling the pain the rest of the nation feels, we have come together to express our shock and utter disgust at these cold-blooded murders.

We are deeply hurt that a spate of terror attacks have been committed in our country once more by murderers who seek to gain religious legitimacy for their actions. We seek to clarify that their reprehensible actions have neither legitimacy nor our sympathy.

Though at no time is it acceptable, that such ruthless violence was perpetrated during the season of Ramadan, in which Muslims worldwide focus on pious devotion, prayer, charity and the cultivation of good character, demonstrates how utterly misguided and distant the terrorists are from our faith and the contempt which they hold for its values.

Alongside our friends and neighbours, we mourn this attack on our home, society and people, and feel pain for the suffering of the victims and their families. We pray to God that the perpetrators be judged in accordance with the gravity of their crimes in the hereafter. Their acts and wilful dismissal of our religious principles alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle (Q.5:32).

Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer for the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.

These vile murderers seek to divide our society and instil fear; we will ensure they fail. We implore everyone to unite: we are one community. In the face of such dastardly cowardice, unlike the terrorists, we must uphold love and compassion.

Such criminals defile the name of our religion and of our Prophet, who was sent to be a mercy to all creation.

We commend our police and emergency services – with whom we stand shoulder to shoulder – for their rapid response, arriving at the scenes while risking their own lives to protect the victims and public. Their response exemplifies the courage, humanity and honour we must exhibit in such difficult times.

We pray for peace and unity, and for all the victims of terror both at home and across the globe, who are targeted, irrespective of their faith.”

‘Allahu akbar’ is terrorism??


This 11 February 2017 Dutch video is about police having closed down shopping mall Winkelhof in Leiderdorp village.

According to the video, on 11 April 2017 two boys in shopping center Winkelhof had shouted ‘Allahu akbar’!

That means ‘God is the greatest‘ in Arabic. It is a very common saying in mostly Muslim countries; eg, at funerals. The expression expresses the hope of the person using the saying that the forces of good will ultimately prevail, even in difficult circumstances.

In a very small percentage of the saying being used, it is by ISIS or similar terrorists during acts of violence. It was also said by Canadian islamophobic terrorist and Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen supporter Alexandre Bissonnette as he commited mass murder at a Quebec mosque, as a cynical reference to Islam intended to wrongfoot police investigations.

However, in far over 99% of cases, saying ‘Allahu akbar’ has nothing to do with terrorism. Just like saying ‘Thank God’ or a similar expression from a Christian tradition in the big majority of cases does not mean that the person saying it is a Christian fundamentalist terrorist aiming at killing supposedly ‘un-Christian’ persons.

How did police react to the reported saying of ‘Allahu akbar’? According to a newspaper report (translated):

The shopping mall was searched for suspicious objects and the environment was closed off. Police allowed no one to go inside.

The police took the threat seriously and called on people to avoid the Winkelhof area. The bowling center and the gym could not be reached any more. A police helicopter was deployed to track down the perpetrators.

Who ultimately could not be found. Because no hazardous objects were found, the shopping center became accessible again at approximately 18.45.

Would police have reacted as massively to some non-Islamic saying?

When you send a helicopter to catch a candy thief — no really, they did that in Canada.

Saudi autocracy destroying country’s historic buildings


This video says about itself:

Armored vehicles attacking Al-Awamiyah – Feb 23, 2016

The Saudi security forces have attacked farming areas today Tuesday 23 Feb 2016 in Awamiyah; Eastern province in KSA, and killed a young Bahraini person (Ali Abdullah) and injured many others.

The security authorities in KSA confirmed the death of Ali Abdullah and repeated their usual justification in such circumstances by claiming Ali was wanted by the police.

Today’s events increased the tension in the Eastern province which is already very high after the execution of Shaikh Nimr Alnimr on 2nd Jan 2016.

Angry protestors replied by blocking the roads by burning tyres. Black smoke was seen in the sky.

The Saudi absolute monarchy is not only destroying beautiful historic homes and other buildings as part of their war on Yemen. They are also destroying the beautiful historic homes and other buildings of their own country. Not with warplanes, like in Yemen; but destruction is destruction.

From Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain in the USA:

ADHRB and UN Experts Urge Saudi to Halt Planned Demolition of Historic Awamiyah Neighborhood

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. Having experienced political turmoil in its Eastern Province associated with the Arab Spring in 2011, Saudi Arabia’s state practice is presently characterized by human rights abuses including widespread torture, arbitrary detention, censorship, and arbitrary execution. Read more here.

5 April 2017—Today, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on poverty, cultural rights, and housing called on the Government of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of the historic Mosawara neighborhood in the Eastern Province town of Awamiyah. The rapporteurs warned that the demolition may result in the forced evictions of many of the neighborhood’s 2,000 to 3,000 residents and may exacerbate an existing housing crisis, leading to a further increase in housing and land prices. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain strongly agrees with the UN experts and calls on the Saudi government to immediately halt and cancel all plans to carry through with the demolition.

The Mosawara neighborhood is an historic quarter in the town of Awamiyah with a rich history and significant cultural heritage. The neighborhood’s architecture is unique: it is a walled village with mosques, farms and farmers markets, Shia places of worship, and businesses. According to Karima Bennoune, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, “the planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” Despite its significance, the Saudi government is planning to redevelop the area into a commercial and service zone. Philip Alston, the Rapporteur on extreme poverty expressed concern that in the process of moving residents from the area, the government would “remove people from the areas where they live and work, resulting in loss of livelihood and difficulty in securing housing.” In this way, the redevelopment may worsen an existing housing crisis that is exacerbated by increasing housing and land prices.

The government is planning to move ahead with the redevelopment plan despite housing concerns and the concerns of the neighborhood’s residents. The experts noted that, “the demolition has been announced without any meaningful consultation with the residents, without having considered less damaging alternatives, or adequate[ly] informing them about the demolition plans.” The government has also pressured the residents to leave their houses and businesses, including by cutting the power to the neighborhood and refusing to allow charities to help elderly and sick residents.

“The Saudi government’s actions towards Mosawara and its residents are demonstrative of its high-minded approach to development. Though the plan for the neighborhood will surely harm hundreds of Saudis, the government seems not to care for their well-being,” states Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain. “Authorities must immediately halt the planned demolition and re-evaluate any development scheme, so as to place the needs and welfare of its citizens at the forefront of any future moves.”

Authorities’ demolition of Mosawara’s cultural heritage is emblematic of the kingdom’s view of cultural heritage sites. The Saudi government has embarked upon the concerted demolition of ancient landmarks, archaeological heritage, and cultural sites since before the kingdom was founded. Since 1925, the al-Saud family has overseen the destruction of tombs, mosques, and historical artifacts in Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, al-Khobar, and Awamiyah. It has destroyed sections of two cemeteries where family members and companions of the Prophet Muhammad were buried. The destruction encompasses secular as well as religious sites. During the government’s project to expand the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi authorities destroyed 10,000 properties in Mecca, including 126 mosques and whole neighborhoods. As a result, the government has destroyed more than 90 percent of the country’s landmarks.

The planned demolition of the Mosawara neighborhood despite local concerns is illustrative of the Saudi government’s approach to historic and cultural sites. The destruction of the neighborhood will not only erase a unique historic area and a symbol of the region’s past, but has the potential to have significant detrimental effects on the residents of the neighborhood. The demolition may entail the forcible eviction of hundreds of residents and increase the level of poverty in the town. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain therefore calls upon the Saudi government to immediately halt and cancel the planned destruction of the neighborhood and to re-evaluate its development standards so as to protect culturally and historic significant sites.

United States Muslim solidarity with vandalized Jewish cemetery


This video from the USA says about itself:

Muslims Organize Fundraiser For Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

22 February 2017

An anti-semitic act of vandalism is being fought with love and solidarity. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

“There has been an outpouring of support around the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.

“There is a concept in Jewish teaching and thought known as tikkun olam — It translates literally into ‘repairing the world,’ but what it means more broadly is that we all have an obligation to one another and to be of service,” wrote Greitens. “It is in moments like this that the world is in most need of repair, and we must do our part.”

A fundraising campaign organized by Muslim Americans — Linda Sarsour of MPower Change and Tarek El-Messidi of CelebrateMercy — has raised more than $64,000 in support of the rebuilding efforts, more than triple the initial goal of $20,000. The funds remaining after the cemetery is restored will be contributed to repair other vandalized Jewish centers, the campaign said.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” the campaign wrote on its fundraising landing page. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

On Wednesday, Missouri’s governor and community members will gather at the cemetery to help clean and repair the damage. As of Tuesday afternoon, the cemetery was able to reset about 50 headstones.”

Read more here.

European Muslims’ numbers overestimated


This video says about itself:

Young Muslim Americans react to Islamophobia

14 January 2016

Fusion interviewed a group of young, Muslim Americans about the rise of Islamophobic rhetoric in the U.S., and common misconceptions about Islam and Muslim people.

Dutch NOS TV reports today about a poll by Ipsos Mori.

How many Muslims are in the Netherlands? 19% of all residents, Dutch respondents estimated. The real 2010 figure was 6%.

How many Muslims are in France? 31% of all residents, French respondents estimated. The real 2010 figure was 7.5%.

How much of terrorism in Europe is by Muslims? All of it, the racist extreme right says. Most of it, the ‘moderate’ ‘center right‘ says. In fact, international police organisation Europol calculated that in 2009, 0,4% of all terror attacks in Europe were by Muslims. Most terrorism in Europe is by white nationalists.