United Kingdom

Last month Nelson McCausland, DUP assembly member and Northern Ireland culture minister, wrote to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland about how "to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions" of the region. This included a more specific stipulation – referring explicitly to the Ulster Museum, the letter called for alternative views of the origin of the universe to be accommodated. In other words, creationism was to be incorporated into the museum's natural history displays. That an elected minister should make such a suggestion is a development that should be taken seriously.

A new report by One Law for All has found Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights (see report here). The report is being launched to coincide with a 20 June 2010 rally on the issue of Sharia law.

فى خطوة تثير الكثير من الجدل قامت المؤلفة الكندية المسلمة راهيل رازا بإمامة المصلين في صلاة الجمعة اليوم في المركز الإسلامي بمدينة أوكسفورد البريطانية لتكون أول امرأة ـ ولدت مسلمة ـ تتولى هذه الإمامة في بريطانيا. وكانت رازا والتي يطلق عليها أحيانا "راحيل رضا" قد دعيت لهذه الصلاة من جانب الإمام تاج هارجي الذي يدير المركز التعليمي الإسلامي في أوكسفورد والذي يؤيد الصلاة متعددة الأجناس ولا يعارض إمامة النساء في صلاة الجمعة. وتعد رازا ناشطة حقوقية من مدينة تورنتو الكندية ومدافعة عن حقوق المرأة المسلمة وتوليها الأدوار القيادية في المساجد، وقد تعرضت لبعض التهديدات بالقتل بعد أن قامت بإمامة المصلين ـ من الرجال والنساء ـ في صلاة الجمعة من قبل في تورنتو قبل خمسة أعوام.

A Canadian author will become the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers tomorrow in a highly controversial move that will attempt to spark a debate about the role of female leadership within Islam. Raheel Raza, a rights activist and Toronto-based author, has been asked to lead prayers and deliver the khutbah at a small prayer session in Oxford. She has been invited by Dr Taj Hargey, a self-described imam who preaches an ultra-liberal interpretation of Islam which includes, among other things, that men and women should be allowed to pray together and that female imams should lead mixed congregations in prayer.

‘STOP COVERING UP OR WE START CLEANING UP’: 28th May 2010 is the 49th anniversary of Peter Benenson’s launch of Amnesty International. But as the organization begins planning celebrations, Gita Sahgal asks whether Amnesty International’s leaders have lost their grip on reality. Do sections of the human rights movement lend their credibility to protecting Islamists rather than protecting their rights?

Newly elected Conservative MP Michelle Donelan appears in this Channel 4 news video with Lesley Abdela debating the issue of women in politics. Watch and cringe - she is, of course, against quotas. We need quality, not quantity, she cries. 

UK Feminista's states that its mission is to get as many people as possible actively campaigning for a world where women and men live as equals. In the UK alone, 100,000 women are raped every year, women are paid 23% less than men, and just 22% of MPs are women. For too long, the myth has persisted that we live in a 'post-feminist' age - and the struggle for gender equality assumed to be over. But the times they are a-changin'. Feminism is stepping out from the margins and reclaiming its position as one of the most important movements for social justice of our age.

Sun, Sea and Halal is a project initiated by 'Islamic Circles' "to encourage Muslims to enjoy an Islamic Beach holiday around the Muslim world.... Away from the alcoholic resorts, located in the Mediterranean seaside city of Alanya, Turkey... enjoy a Golden beach holiday with all the activities but within an Islamic environment." Based in the UK, it states its Aims and Objectives as "Enjoying and relaxing in an Islamic Beach holiday without compromising your values.". On their website they state that "Sisters are permitted to travel and the Tour Lead will act as the Amir... Sisters who are travelling are advised to request permission from their Mahrams and if possible travel with them."

Gita Sahgal had to leave Amnesty International last week after questioning its association with a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay. Now, in an exclusive article for DNA, Sahgal asks human rights groups to introspect about the dangers of legitimising a violent ideology in their eagerness to find poster boys for their campaigns.

I, Kiana Firouz, an Iranian Lesbian, born in 1983 in Tehran/Iran, have sought asylum in the U.K but my application was turned down by the Home Office, despite accepting the fact that I am a lesbian. I accordingly submitted my appeal which was dismissed incredibly by the adjudicator. According to my solicitor’s point of view there is a little chance to grant a permission to appeal against the adjudicator’s decision. It means that I will face with deportation soon.

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