Why Twitter didn’t delete anti-Muslim tweets

Ivana Kottasová, reporting for CNN:

The anti-Muslim videos were first posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right party Britain First. They depict violent assaults and the destruction of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

They also appear to violate the terms of use published by Twitter. It warns users: “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

Asked why the original tweets have not been deleted, a Twitter spokesperson said:

“To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability.”

Translating the above PR jargon into English – Twitter are scared of losing Trump from their platform.

Biggest Charity Fraud in Panama Papers

An article by Akber Choudry on Medium;

Money flows as charitable donations from ‘have’ countries like U.S.,. Canada, Pakistan, Germany and U.K. into AMJ International from where it is distributed into dubious projects around the world. The accounting in each country is kept up to date, but money gets lost in international transactions.

 

The actual work of the organization is carried out through just one charity?—?Al-Shirkatul-Islamiyyah, and curiously, its income and expenses almost balance every year.

 

Since Mirza Masroor Ahmad came to power, he has focused on investing in properties and totally unrelated to the goals of the organization. We see from the Panama Papers that the businesses are involved mostly in property investment.

The dubious accounting practises of the Qadiani Movement laid bare.

French official threatens lawsuits over internet photos of police

From Engadget.com;

Unfortunately, it’s all too clear that some government officials just don’t understand how the internet works. After police in Nice, France were shamed online for forcing Muslim women to remove burkinis and other tradition-honoring apparel at the beach, deputy mayor Christian Estrosi announced that the city would sue people who post photos of police taking action against those women. That’s right — your Twitter post showing police officers doing their job (in a non-threatening situation, no less) could land you in court. These pictures “denigrate” the force and put officers in danger, Estrosi claims.

Rather than the pictures denigrating the Police perhaps it is the law in France, which empowers these armed policemen to force women to take their clothes off in public, that is the problem.

How to Fast for Ramadan in the Arctic, Where the Sun Doesn’t Set

Marya Hannun in The Atlantic

This week, with the start of Ramadan, Muslims from Indonesia to Michigan began fasting from sunrise to sunset in observance of one of the religions’ primary holidays. But what happens in places where the sun never sets because the country is too far north? For many, this particular dilemma is a relatively new one, only apparent over the last two years. Since the month of Ramadan is pegged to the lunar calendar, it rotates on a yearly basis. The last time the holiday fell this deep into the summer months was nearly three decades ago in the mid 1980s, a time when few Muslim communities could be found above the Arctic Circle. But with Muslims from Somalia, Iraq, and Pakistan — to name a few places — increasingly immigrating to countries like Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the ethical dilemma posed for them by the endless summer days has become very real.

So how did they cope with this dilemma?

Sandra Maryam Moe, a Norwegian convert to Islam and manager of Tromsø’s community center and mosque, Alnor, echoed Ahmed’s statement: “since we have midnight sun during Ramadan this year, we’ve chosen to use the timetable for Mecca.” This means that if the sun rises in Mecca at 5:00 am, residents of Tromsø will begin the fast at 5 a.m. (Norwegian time). In addition to being a good symbolic choice, adhering to Mecca’s timetable, according to Moe, also provides a practical benefit: “they have very stable times for sunrise and sunset so that makes the prayers and the fasting quite balanced.”

The article above, from 2013, is a timely reminder that to agree as a community the start and end times for daily fasts for the sake of peoples health is the sensible thing to do. And invariably the sensible thing to do is usually the Islamic thing to do.

I Just Wanted to Be Free’: The Radical Reverberations of Muhammad Ali

From Dave Zirin in The Nation

When Dr. Martin Luther King came out against the war in Vietnam in 1967, he was criticized by the mainstream press and his own advisors who told him to not focus on “foreign” policy. But Dr. King forged forward, and to justify his new stand, said publicly, “Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression.”

 

When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, he said that Muhammad Ali made him feel like the walls were not there.

 

When John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists on the medal stand in Mexico City, one of their demands was to “Restore Muhammad Ali’s title.” They called Ali “the warrior-saint of the Black Athlete’s Revolt.”

 

When Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee volunteers in Lowndes County, Alabama, launched an independent political party in 1965, their new group was the first to use the symbol of a black panther. Beneath the jungle cat’s black silhouette was a slogan straight from the champ: “WE Are the Greatest.”

A must read on the effect that Muhammad Ali had on people’s lives.

Time shifts – The UK is on British Summer Time

It’s that time again

In the early hours of Sunday 27th March 2016 the clocks went forward an hour as the UK converted to ‘British Summer Time’. This means that the evening will have more daylight, and the mornings less.

This change is done in part due to a European directive that all European countries must implement a common ‘summer time’.

Why are you telling us

But why are we posting this information here on the Virtual Mosque blog? How does this affect us?

Well due to this change the Jum’ah (Friday) Prayers will start thirty minutes later at 1.00pm BST. Therefore our live broadcasts will start airing from around 12.55pm on Fridays instead of 12.25pm so please do make a note of the change otherwise you could end up missing some or all of the Khutba and Prayers.

How video games perpetuate Muslim stereotypes

From Nicole Lee on engadget;

“We are often just reduced to four or five stereotypes,” said Dr. Romana Ramzan, a game design lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK. “It’s usually summed up by the clothes we wear. So if you’re a woman, you wear a hijab […] If you’re a man, you have a beard or wear your national dress.” She added that Muslims are also often portrayed as aggressive and violent. “In games, we will be represented as the ‘other’ people who are the ones you have to kill. Usually it’s a slightly dark-skinned character shouting Allahu Akbar, carrying an AK-47. Or he has a camel or a goat.”

Movies and video games often take their inspiration from current culture and news and at this point in history Islam and Muslims are seen as an easily identifiable “bad guy”. The easiest way to represent this “bad guy” is to fall back on stereotypes so that little explanation is needed and the story can quickly move forward. It is a point which is causing some Muslims to demand that changes are made as it reinforces negative images of Muslims. I certainly see the point being made, as shows like Homeland, do reinforce the idea that Muslims are all terrorists, however this is nothing new. For years during and after the Cold War Russians were stereotyped as the typical villain in movies, even as recently as last year Hollywood blockbusters were depicting Russians as the typical “bad guy”. After the World War II the Germans and Japanese become the villains.

So is this a demonisation of “The Muslims” or is this just the lazy way that Hollywood and the media work?

Khan also singled out upcoming titles like The Sun Also Rises (about civilians caught in the Afghan war), Dujanah (the story of a girl living in a Muslim country) and Saudi Girls Revolution (where the main characters are female motorcycle heroes who drive across post-apocalyptic Saudi Arabia) that show a different side of the Muslim world. The last in particular is a game developed by a Saudi prince, which Ismail said could inspire change.

Rather than complaining some people are taking direct action and working on titles which depict Muslims in a different light far removed from the usual stereotypes. More work like this is needed but as the Russians have found out little will change the medias’ ability to fall back on sloppy, lazy stereotypes.

What Are the Real Motives of Groups Like ISIS

Analysis of every terrorist attack suggests that religion is a mask for the real intention of controlling resources and land

Isis fighters

It is a common belief that groups like ISIS are motivated by their radical theology, a twisted version of Islam and their aim is for this “islam” to be forced on to the Worlds population. Robert Pape, a scientist from the University of Chicago, however believes that this is far too a simplistic view. Having studied every suicide bombing since 1980 (around 4600 in all) he has the data to back up his claims.

What 95 percent of all suicide attacks have in common, since 1980, is not religion, but a specific strategic motivation to respond to a military intervention, often specifically a military occupation, of territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly. From Lebanon and the West Bank in the 80s and 90s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and up through the Paris suicide attacks we’ve just experienced in the last days, military intervention—and specifically when the military intervention is occupying territory—that’s what prompts suicide terrorism more than anything else.

This idea is backed up by multiple reports of captured ISIS fighters who when interviewed had little or no knowledge of Islam. Pape argues, in detail, that our basic misunderstanding of the motives and objectives of groups like ISIS is why to date we have failed to stop them.

You can listen to the complete interview with Robert Pape below;

Anti-terror police question schoolboy for wearing pro-Palestine badge

Teenager referred by his teachers after trying to raise money to help Palestinian children

From Matt Broomfield in the Independent;

A schoolboy has been questioned by anti-terrorism police because he wore a “Free Palestine” badge to school.

Rahmaan Mohammadi’s teachers at Challney High School for Boys in Luton referred him to police under Prevent – the >controversial government anti-radicalisation programme, which critics have claimed is heavy-handed, discriminatory >and ineffective.

As well as wearing pro-Palestine badges and wristbands, Mohammadi was in possession of a leaflet advocating >Palestinian rights by pressure group Friends of al-Aqsa. He had also asked for permission to fundraise for children >affected by the Israeli occupation.

Questioned by Police for trying to raise money to help save the lives of little children? Whilst the Police were following procedure having received a report under the Prevent scheme, this seems a gross overstep by the teachers and administrative staff at Challney High School for Boys.

Internal police statistics obtained via a Freedom of Information request suggest only 20% of people referred to >Prevent are assessed as at risk of radicalisation.

Action should be taken against the teachers to stop frivolous reporting in the future, but as the statistics above show the mentality of gather up everyone and hope for the best is the one that prevails under the Prevent Programme.

France’s anti-terrorism laws leave Muslims in a state of fear

From The Verge:

Marie isn’t the only one looking for answers. There has been a steady stream of similar stories in the French media since President François Hollande implemented a state of emergency following November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. The laws, which were extended for three months in November, give security forces expanded powers to conduct warrantless house raids, seize personal data, and place people on house arrest — all without authorization from a judge. Thousands of raids have been carried out at homes and businesses, and hundreds of suspects have been placed under house arrest on what some say are tenuous grounds. A UN human rights panel, Amnesty International, and other rights groups have condemned the state of emergency laws, but Hollande’s administration has shown no signs of backing down.

Amar Toor reports on the story of Maria, a French Muslim who was subjected to a terrifying raid on her house due to her religion. Thousands of other  people have endured similar violations and threatening behaviour from the police.

It may not be in their constitution but in France being a Muslim is a criminal offence.

Evidence of Modern Astronomy in Ancient Babylon

From The New York Times:

Ancient Babylon, situated in what is now Iraq, south of Baghdad, was a thriving metropolis, a center of trade and science. Early Babylonian mathematicians who lived between 1800 B.C. and 1600 B.C. had figured out, for example, how to calculate the area of a trapezoid, and even how to divide a trapezoid into two smaller trapezoids of equal area.

 
For the most part, Babylonians used their mathematical skills for mundane calculations, like figuring out the size of a plot of land. But on some tablets from the later Babylonian period, there appear to be some trapezoid calculations related to astronomical observations.

A fascinating article which, due to the discovery of the meaning of some new tablets, disproves the notion that calculus was a technique discovered by scholars in England and France.