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A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: September 2017

By Soeren Kern

October 16, 2017

September 1. Britain is home to up to 35,000 "Islamist fanatics," more than any other country in Europe, according to European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove.

September 1. Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, wrote: "There is a risk organization with the words 'British' and 'Cross' in its title is confused with a Christian, establishment organization." He added: "We are nowhere near as diverse as we need to be in our volunteer base, our staffing or our leadership... that is why, as CEO, I am personally leading our inclusion and diversity strategy."

September 1. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 26, was charged with a terror offense after he attacked police outside Buckingham Palace with a sword and "ranted" that the "Queen and her soldiers will all be in hellfire." The British-born suspect, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, was accused of one charge of preparing terrorist acts, which carries a maximum charge of a life sentence.

September 2. A Christian church in Wales was accused of a "lack of unity" after it rejected a Muslim group's request to hold Koran studies in its hall. The Muslims wanted to use the hall in the Feed My Lambs church for "Koran and cultural studies." Reverend Roger Donaldson said: "We are not against Islam; no way. Everybody has the right to worship as they please. Feed My Lambs is used for Christian worship."

September 2. Rabar Mala, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Iraq, was charged with supplying hundreds of SIM cards to Islamic State jihadists to set up social media accounts. Mala allegedly provided 437 cards and phone numbers to jihadists in Iraq and Syria so that they could have a platform to post propaganda online.

September 2. Sarah Champion, a former Labour MP, said that the British left was turning a blind eye to Muslim sexual grooming gangs for fear of being branded racist. She also said that many Labour members and politicians based in London had "never been challenged by a reality that's different" from their "multicultural world." She resigned under pressure after she wrote in an op-ed: "Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls."

September 3. Thousands of schools in Britain are allowing girls as young as five to wear religious headscarves as part of their uniform policies, according to The Sunday Times. The growing trend has been criticized by campaigners who pointed out the headscarf is supposed to be worn by a girl when she reaches puberty, not as a child. Muslim politician Amina Lone said: "In an Islamic context, the Hijab is commonly understood as being for females after they reach the age of puberty. There are very few Muslims who would say a child should be covered." Gina Khan, a children's rights campaigner, said that schools are listing the garment as uniform "because they are afraid of being called Islamophobic and they have been told that this is a religious garment."

September 4. Robbie Travers, a 21-year-old law student at Edinburgh University, was investigated for a hate crime that "puts minority students at risk and in a state of panic" after he allegedly mocked the Islamic State on social media. After the U.S. Air Force attacked an Islamic State stronghold in Afghanistan in April, Travers wrote on Facebook: "I'm glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins." A fellow student, Esme Allman, claimed that Travers breached the student code of conduct with his comments. Travers ultimately was exonerated.

September 5. Three members of a Muslim sex gang who used drugs to turn abuse victims into addicts and forced them to have sex if they wanted more drugs were sentenced to a total of 56 years in prison. Seventeen men and one woman from Newcastle were sentenced for crimes including rape, sexual assault, inciting girls into prostitution and drug dealing. They were part of a network of nearly 40 men, including Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Bangladeshi and Turkish nationals, who preyed on around 100 girls. Prosecutor John Elvidge said the victims who gave evidence in court were white British and the male defendants were "all of Asian extraction" but he insisted that the crimes were not racially motivated.

September 8. Michael Adebolajo, 32, who murdered the fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich, south east London, in 2013, demanded £100,000 ($133,000) after he lost his two front teeth when staff at Belmarsh Prison tried to restrain him. He filed the lawsuit claiming that he was left with a "psychiatric injury." Adebolajo allegedly warned prison staff to "watch themselves" and asked "Allah to strike down his oppressors." He claims that he was "verbally abused" before he was smashed into the bars of his cell windows. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The public will be rightly outraged at the thought of this offender claiming compensation from the taxpayer."

September 9. Kamal Hanif, a counter-extremism expert appointed by the British government to rehabilitate schools involved in the "Trojan Horse" scandal, said that some teachers, particularly those who work in schools with a high proportion of Muslim students, are afraid of teaching about 9/11 because they fear a backlash from Muslim parents for being "Islamophobic." Sir Steve Lancashire, the chief executive of a multi academy trust, said that a lot of teachers feel "uncomfortable" about the legacy of 9/11: "We need to address the nervousness of teachers to teach this kind of subject. Teachers don't feel well equipped on facts; there are a lot of conspiracy theories, a lot of misinformation. Its children saying 'you are attacking Muslims, you are attacking our faith,' that kind of thing."

September 10. The Ministry of Justice revealed that Muslim inmates at HMP Prison Send, a female prison in Surrey, will be provided with special outfits for when they are checked by sniffer dogs. The overalls will be given to female prisoners who follow Islam because many Muslims believe that dogs are "impure."

September 11. A Freedom of Information request revealed that Sammy Woodhouse, a woman sexually abused as a child by a grooming gang, was told by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), a government body, that she was not entitled to compensation because she "consented" to the sexual abuse. Woodhouse was 14 when she met 24-year-old Arshid Hussain, who was jailed in 2016. Hussain, known as Mad Ash around Rotherham, was one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls, including Woodhouse. He was jailed for 35 years for 23 offenses including indecent assault and rape. Woodhouse appealed the decision: "If an adult can privately think that it's a child's fault for being abused, beaten, raped, abducted, I think you're in the wrong job."

September 11. TheCityUK, London's top lobby group, urged the British government to prioritize Islamic finance to retain its status as Europe's financial hub ahead of Brexit negotiations to exit the country from the European Union. A 32-page report showed that assets of British firms offering Islamic finance services surpassed $5 billion (£3.8 billion) in 2016, up 11% in two years. Britain was the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors. At the time, former prime minister David Cameron said: "I don't just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world. I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world."

September 12. British Muslims are twice as likely to espouse anti-Semitic views, according to a survey produced by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research. "The prevalence of negativity towards Jews and Israel is, on average, twice as high among Muslims than the general population," said the 85-page report.

September 14. A Dundee woman found a handwritten note on a city bus pledging that "the sword will be used" to institute Sharia law. The note read: "Sharia law will be for all human beings with Islam. The sword will be used to reach this goal." The woman said that she believed the message to be "some sort of call to Jihad." She said: "I went to sit on the seat and there was a bit of paper and I happened to look at it. I read it and then I gave it to my partner to read and we both said that it was really worrying. It just didn't seem right. I didn't know who I should get in touch with. I thought the best person would be the driver, so I gave it to him. These days, we can't ignore things like this. Even if it's nothing, it should be looked into. We just didn't expect to find something saying that on a bus in Dundee."

September 15. A homemade bomb exploded during rush hour on a train at the Parsons Green tube station in West London, injuring 30 people. The bomb, which failed to detonate properly, had been packed with knives, screws and shrapnel, as well as hundreds of grams of a homemade explosive known as TATP. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahmed Hassan, an 18-year-old refugee from Iraq, was charged with attempted murder.

September 17. The Lancashire County Council Cabinet re-opened a debate on whether it should use meat from animals which have not been stunned before slaughter. It revived a row from 2012, when the authority banned all meat that was not pre-stunned from its 600 schools. The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) advised Muslim families to boycott all such meat because it was not Sharia-compliant. As a result, thousands of Muslim children refused to eat meals containing the meat. LCM chairman Abdul Hamid Qureshi said: "The LCM position is and always has been that stunning before slaughter means the meat is not halal [permitted]." Council leader Geoff Driver said: "In my view, it is abhorrent to kill an animal without stunning it because of the distress it causes. We will bring it to a full council meeting where members can vote with their conscience."

September 18. Online jihadist propaganda attracts more clicks in Britain than in any other European country and the main internet companies are failing to curb it, according to Policy Exchange, a think tank. The report, "The New Netwar," said that the Islamic State is still producing, at a conservative estimate, about 100 items of new content each week, including execution videos and bomb-making instructions, despite big military defeats in Iraq and Syria. It also said that the jihadist online "ecosystem," the core of which is rooted in the Telegram app, is resilient and reaches an audience of, at minimum, tens of thousands, including large numbers of users in the UK.

September 20. Oliver was the top name for baby boys in England and Wales in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics, which also reported that the name Muhammad ranked eighth. Muhammad, however, was, in fact, the top name. With variations in spelling, the name Muhammad was given to 7,084 boys in 2016, compared to 6,623 boys named Oliver.

September 20. Shabir Ahmed, a 64-year-old inmate at Wakefield prison, was found guilty of repeatedly stomping on an elderly fellow inmate's face and head after an argument about the March 2016 Brussels terror attacks which left 32 victims dead and 340 injured. Ahmed flew into a rage when he heard 71-year-old James Palmer say that the bombers should be "eradicated." Ahmed, a former taxi driver, is currently serving a 22-year-prison term for leading a sexual grooming gang in Rochdale. He was sentenced to a further 12 months in prison on top of the term he is already serving.

September 22. Hussain Yousef, a 21-year-old fast food restaurant worker who arrived in Britain from Afghanistan in 2010 and lived in London, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State. Yousef had six Facebook accounts from which he posted Islamist propaganda and execution videos. He also shared a list claiming to be details of U.S. military personnel, including their addresses. Kingston Crown Court heard how Yousef, before becoming an enthusiastic supporter of the Islamic State, had been a gifted student who excelled at school.

September 25. London Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed that since March 2017, police had foiled seven jihadist plots in the British capital. Those seven plots were in addition to the four successful attacks at Westminster, Borough Market, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green. Khan also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump over his "Muslim travel ban" and his "ignorant" views about Islam. Khan accused Trump of adopting the language of the Islamic State: "They say that there is a clash of civilizations, it is not possible to be a Muslim and a westerner, and the west hates us. And you are inadvertently playing their game, you are helping them."

September 25. Muhammad Rabbani, the director of Cage, a Muslim advocacy group critical of British anti-terrorism laws, was convicted of an offense under the Terrorism Act after refusing to hand over the pin code to his mobile phone at Heathrow Airport. Rabbani, 36, was stopped on November 20, 2016 after returning home from a wedding in Doha. He refused to give his pin number or the password to his laptop, citing privacy and civil rights. Westminster Magistrates' Court convicted him of one count of wilfully obstructing a stop-and-search under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act. Schedule 7 gives officers their right to stop and search people "with or without suspicion." Rabbani was sentenced to one year conditional discharge; he plans to appeal.

September 25. Most British voters believe that Arabs have failed to integrate into British society, and that their presence has not been beneficial, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Council for Arab-British Understanding and the Arab News newspaper. Only 28% believe that migration from the Arab world has been beneficial to the UK, and 64% believe Arabs have failed to integrate.

September 26. Zameer Ghumra, a 38-year-old pharmacist from Leicester, was accused of showing beheading videos to young boys and telling them that they "had to kill" anyone who insulted Islam. Nottingham Crown Court heard that Ghumra believed in a "very, very, very extreme" form of Islam. He used a rented house to teach children about jihad and told them that they were not allowed to have non-Muslim friends. Ghumra also asked them to choose between going to Iraq or Syria, or staying in the UK and encouraging others to support the Islamic State.

September 26. Police launched a probe into an alleged sexual grooming ring targeting teenagers in Glasgow. Girls as young as 14 are thought to have been targeted by men in the city centre. A social worker told the Evening Times that the area is "rife" with child exploitation problems. One of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, is understood to have been taken to houses in Govanhill and Dennistoun for sex with multiple men. A relative said: "This really is just our worst nightmare, it's this Rochdale and Rotherham-type stuff but it's happening here in Glasgow in a big way. Nobody seems to be doing anything to stop it, all the girls have been made to believe these men are their boyfriends. It is white females they are hitting on, aged 14 to 19."

September 26. The Wolsey Infant and Junior Academy, a school in New Addington, announced that it would only serve Halal meat in the canteen. The move sparked outrage among parents, who insisted that Halal should be optional.

September 26. The National Secular Society (NSS) reported that girls in dozens of schools in England were being made to wear the Hijab or a headscarf as part of their official uniform policy. NSS research found that out of 142 Islamic schools that accepted girls, 59, or 42%, had uniform policies that suggested a headscarf or another form of Hijab was compulsory. Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for the Council for Mosques, said: "We have to accept that Britain, and a city like Bradford, is a multi-faith society, and faith is an important part of people's identity. It is about tolerance and respect, and making efforts to understand people's different way of life. People should have choices without the fear of being criticized."

September 27. A crowd of men wearing Islamic dress gathered outside a church in East London and repeatedly shouted "Allah u Akbar!" ("Allah is the Greatest") into a microphone while playing gunshot sounds at top volume on a loudspeaker. A video of the incident can be viewed here. A witness said: "I was alarmed, I did not know what was going on. When someone shouts Allah u Akbar while playing gunshot sounds on a speaker it is deliberately trying to alarm." Another witness said: "I was alarmed at first but you come to expect things like that, it's become common place in East London." London police said they were unaware of the incident.

September 28. Kamran Hussain, a 40-year-old imam at a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of two charges of supporting the Islamic State and six of encouraging terrorism. The Pakistan-born Hussain was secretly recorded by an undercover officer giving a series of sermons in which he told children as young as ten that martyrdom was better than academic success. "When you don't fulfil the command of Allah, I'm coming to remove your head," he said. Hussain argued that the ability to discuss "difficult concepts in a challenging world" was an essential part of religion and claimed he was exercising his right to freedom of speech. Prosecutors said the 10 out of 17 sermons investigated "strayed beyond the mainstream moderate Islamic thought."

September 28. Soruth Ali, a 42-year-old restaurant owner in Manchester, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for beating his 17-year-old daughter and her secret boyfriend. Bolton Crown Court heard how Ali, a devout Muslim, went into a rage and grabbed a hammer when he found the two in bed together. The daughter said she had been forced to live "two lives" at home and was forced to wear a headscarf in front of her father. She added that she wanted to "live her own life." The court also heard that in 1995, Ali was convicted of raping a 15-year-old school girl and served seven years in prison. Ali has been banned from contacting his daughter for three years under the terms of a restraining order.

September 29. Henry Bolton, a former army officer, was elected to lead the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Bolton, the party's fourth leader in a year, beat the two favourites, Anne-Marie Walters, an anti-Sharia activist who describes herself as "an opponent" of Islam, and Peter Whittle, who has publicly spoken of his opposition to boycotts of Israel. Bolton has pledged to take a softer line on Islam: "I absolutely abhor the rhetoric that says we are at war with Islam." He also promised to review UKIP's "integration agenda," which calls for a ban on full-face veils in public. The policy changes are likely to reduce UKIP's role as the country's primary opposition party resisting the Islamisation of Britain.

September 30. British universities hosted 110 events featuring extremist speakers in the last academic year, 2016/17, with the highest proportion taking place in London institutions, according to a new report by the Henry Jackson Society. The extremist events were overwhelmingly organized by Islamic societies and groups and speakers included former Guantanamo Bay detainees and Islamists. The findings suggest that despite Prime Minister Theresa May's claim that "enough is enough," British universities continue to be a target for extremists promoting their messages.

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